© 2023 WLRN
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Reporter's Notebook: A Musical Ode To A Roller Coaster

Coaster Monster Shot.JPG
Kenny Malone

The Dania Beach Hurricane was the largest wooden roller coaster in Florida. Depending on your definition of "is" and "roller coaster," it might still hold that title. The ride shut down in April 2011, but the monstrous jungle of lumber still looms over I-95. The track is still there. The trains are still there. The Hurricane just doesn't run anymore.

And now the coaster's owners are trying to give the entire thing away to charity. But, no surprise, that's proving difficult. (You can listen to that story above.)

The idea is that for the right charity (i.e. a charity that builds things) the Dania Beach Hurricane could provide plenty of lumber. In total, the Hurricane is made up of more than 1,000,000 board feet of lumber. In layman's terms: a hell-of-a-lot of wood.

Jungle of wood.JPG
Credit Kenny Malone
Wooden bones of the Dania Beach Hurricane.

You can start to understand how much wood by walking underneath the coaster and looking up. (See picture on the right.)

But what does 1,000,000 board feet of lumber sound like?

On a recent trip to the Hurricane, I knocked on the coaster's support beams and recorded the sound. I knocked on big beams. Small beams. Middle-sized beams. Middle-sized beams bisected by big beams.

Dania Beach Hurricane Paiting_0.JPG
Credit Artist: Gustavo Acosta / PanAmericanArtProjects, Miami, FL
PanAmericanArtProjects, Miami, FL
Gustavo Acosta's 2011 painting of the Dania Beach Hurricane was shown at the 2013 Art Wynwood fair in February.

Playing the roller coaster as an instrument was supposed to be a kind of audio explanation of how much wood makes up the Hurricane. Perhaps listeners could hear how many different shapes and sizes of boards it takes to hold the coaster together -- that there are so many different shapes and sizes of boards, that you can actually bang out songs on the roller coaster.

It was a pretty bad idea.

After rapping on about two dozen boards, my knuckles turned bright red. So I quit the rapping. The recordings didn't produce enough notes to prove the point. The closest thing I could create to a recognizable song was this: 

Almost Twinkle Twinkle.mp3
Name that tune in 7 notes... (answer at end of post)

First of all, the Dania Beach Hurricane is horrifically out of tune. 

But it did seem a terrible waste to have nearly smacked my knuckles bloody without any musical result.

Below -- what has to be the first-ever ode to the Dania Beach Hurricane actually played on the Dania Beach Hurricane. Enjoy.

Ode to Hurricane.mp3
An ode to the Dania Beach Hurricane played on the Dania Beach Hurricane.

Did you get the name the tune section? It's "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."  A stretch, I know.

If you got it right, here's your prize: watch a basketball being chucked off the top of the Dania Beach Hurricane. Pretty windy, apologies.