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Posts Tagged ‘Amy Nicholson’

Zipper Doc

Cinematographer Mark Schwartzbard filming at Chance Factory in Wichita, Kansas in 2011. Photo via Zipper Facebbok

It’s beyond cool that Amy Nicholson’s documentary “Zipper: Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride” is traveling this weekend to a film festival in Wichita, Kansas, the home of the Zipper. Part of the film was shot at Chance Rides factory in Wichita, where the classic ride was invented in 1968 and the company’s elderly founder Harold Chance and his son Dick Chance were interviewed. Coney Island’s Zipper was number 34 of the 224 that were built.

The film will be screened at the Tallgrass Film Festival at 1:30pm on Friday, October 18, and at 2:30 pm on Saturday, October 19.

From ATZ’s review of the film when it premiered last year: “A small-time ride operator and his beloved carnival contraption become casualties in the battle over the future of Coney Island” is the film’s capsule description. Eddie Miranda, who worked on Coney Island’s rides since he was a boy, owned and operated the Zipper and Spider for a decade. In the doc, Eddie’s Zipper represents all of the mom-and-pops who were displaced by the real estate speculation that was set off by the Bloomberg administration’s plan to rezone Coney Island.”

Zipper has an upcoming screening at Nitehawk Cinema in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on Wednesday, October 30th, 9:30pm and is also available on itunes.

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Zipper: Coney Island's Last Wild Ride

Extended through August 29: The Documentary “Zipper: Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride” at IFC Center in the West Village. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

In the waning days of summer, there are two things we suggest you put on your to-do list if you’re in the City. “Zipper: Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride,” Amy Nicholson’s documentary about the rezoning of Coney Island and the City’s standoff with Thor Equities’ Joe Sitt, opened earlier this month at the IFC Center to great reviews. If you haven’t seen it yet, the film has been held over for matinee screenings through August 29. Or see it in LA, beginning August 30. We had a second look at the Coney Island doc after having reviewed the film when it opened at DOCFEST last year. As we wrote last November…

Eddie and his Zipper crew–Don, Joe, Larry and Jerry–are a likeable bunch of guys who cut up jackpots about how far back they go in Coney and with each other. Watching them disassemble the Zipper is heartbreaking, all the more so because in the film, this scene happens as the City Council votes “Aye” on the rezoning that will shrink the amusement zone and allow retail and high rises on the south side Surf Avenue. It’s poetic license because the vote was held in July 2009, two years after the Zipper had left Coney Island. But it is exactly right, because the land remained vacant all that time.

The Zipper site is presently part of Wonder Wheel Way and Scream Zone, which along with Luna Park was built after the City ended the stand-off with Joe Sitt shown in the film and bought 6.9 acres of his land for $95.6 million in November 2009. “It’s a vision offering major new opportunities for retailing and thousands of new housing units,” says Mayor Bloomberg at the City Hall press conference announcing the land deal and the City’s own redevelopment plan for Coney Island.

In the doc, Eddie’s Zipper represents all of the mom-and-pops who were displaced by the real estate speculation that was set off by the Bloomberg administration’s rezoning of Coney Island and the rebuilding that followed the City’s purchase of Thor’s land. The names of the businesses, including Batting Cage and Go Kart City, Shoot Out the Star, Shoot the Freak and Steve’s Grill House, are memorialized on the screen in the final credits.

During the Q & A after a recent screening, a couple said they knew the Cyclone and Wonder Wheel were protected because they’re landmarked, but they wanted to know if any other mom-and-pops had survived. They hadn’t been to Coney Island in four or five years!

Grandma's Predictions

Grandma’s Predictions, newly restored 90-year-old fortunetelling machine under the Wonder Wheel in Coney Island. May 12, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Go before the end of the summer and help keep the surviving old timers alive and thriving. The good ol’ Coney Island to-do list includes getting your fortune told for 50 cents by Grandma’s Predictions, a 90-year-old arcade machine beneath the 93-year-old Wonder Wheel; clams on the half shell at Paul’s Daughter, the 50-year-old Boardwalk restaurant and clam bar formerly known as Gregory and Paul’s; marshmallow treats and candy apples at the nearly 75-year-old Williams Candy, Coney’s last old school candy store; and a ride on Eldorado Auto Skooters, a 40-year-old disco palace of bumper cars whose motto is “Bump Your Ass Off.”

ATZ also recommends the Coney Island History Project’s exhibit of murals from the demolished Playland arcade; the 25-cents-a-dance “Miss Coney Island” doll and the row of games next door; the restored 1940s Mangels Shooting Gallery at Coney Island USA; Spook-A-Rama, Deno’s classic 1950s Pretzel dark ride renovated post-Sandy; and Ruby’s, Coney Island’s oldest bar, where part of the ceiling is made from 1920s Boardwalk wood, making it one of the only places where you can still walk “Under the Boardwalk.”

Paul's Daughter Coney Island

Clams on the Half-shell at Paul’s Daughter, Coney Island Boardwalk. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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May 7, 2013: Video of the Day: Restoration of Grandma’s Predictions

July 17, 2012: 50 Years on Coney Island Boardwalk for Paul & His Daughter

April 27, 2012: The Dancing Doll “Miss Coney Island” Speaks

March 14, 2010: Eldorado Auto Skooter: Coney Island’s Disco Palace of Bumper Cars

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The most popular videos posted on Amusing the Zillion in 2012 include a music video by a country star, new films by Coney Island photographers Charles Denson and Jim McDonnell, two films that premiered at festivals in 2012 and rediscovered footage from Coney’s past.

Coney Island is a long way from Nashville, but in December 2011 country singer Alan Jackson was spotted filming a music video on the Boardwalk. Released in January, this poignant ballad about the end of a love affair had the very likeable Jackson singing “I’ll be the SOB, if that’s what you need from me. So you don’t have to love me anymore.” The shuttered stores and lonely beauty of Coney Island on a December day suit the lyrics, which are sorrowful yet defiant, in the way that the best country songs often are. (“Music Video: Alan Jackson’s So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore,” ATZ, January 13, 2012)

Coney Island historian Charles Denson’s 10-minute film of “Climbing the Parachute Jump” was released in January via his “Coneyologist” Channel on YouTube. Featuring video footage by Seth Kaufman and his own exquisite photos, Denson’s film captures the fulfillment of his boyhood dream to once again see the view from the top. “I grew up a few blocks from the Jump and have documented it since it closed,” he writes. “When the city decided to dismantle and renovate the Jump ten years ago, my engineer friend Seth Kaufman had the only copy of the original plans. The city needed them so we made a deal: We got to climb it legally.” (“Video of the Day: Climbing Coney Island’s Parachute Jump,” ATZ, January 18, 2012)

ATZ found this spoof of Robin Leach’s Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous from an early Conan O’Brien Show in which comedian Andy Richter and actor Abe Vigoda travel to Coney Island on a rainy day in December 1994. “Come join the stars as they escort Andy Richter to their wonderful weekend getaways on Runaway with Andy,” Leach says in the intro. He describes Coney as “a sleepy island of exotic delight.” You’ll catch glimpses of such vanished attractions as Faber’s Sportland Arcade, the Thunderbolt roller coaster, Hell Hole, Jumbo Jet, the Zipper ride, and a food trailer called Trashy Trudy’s Goodeating. (“Blast from the Past: Andy & Abe Tour 1994 Coney Island,” ATZ, February 9, 2012)

“Coney Island Lights” by photographer and self-described “footage guru” Jim McDonnell is lyrical and bewitching thanks to masterful editing by McDonnell, who knows Coney Island and has a talent for distilling its essence into a short film. Watch for Luna Park’s Air Race ride, the dancing lights of the landmark Cyclone and Wonder Wheel, and the blinking red eye of the Spook-A-Rama Cyclops (“Video of the Day: Coney Island Lights by Jim McDonnell,” ATZ, July 8, 2012)

This is the trailer for Amy Nicholson’s Zipper: Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride, the award-winning new documentary about the rezoning and redevelopment of Coney Island. “A small-time ride operator and his beloved carnival contraption become casualties in the battle over the future of Coney Island” is the film’s capsule description. Eddie Miranda’s Zipper represents all of the mom-and-pops who were displaced by the real estate speculation that was set off by the Bloomberg administration’s plan to rezone Coney Island. ATZ reviewed the film when it premiered at DOC NYC in November. (“Film Trailer: Zipper, Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride,” ATZ, July 26, 2012)

ATZ happened to come across this raw footage shot in early 1960s Coney Island from the collection of Anthology Film Archives. The clip above titled “Coney Island – Night – Silent work-print” has atmospheric scenes of a grand carousel, amusement games and Nathan’s packed with people. The “Steeplechase Carousel” was on the Boardwalk at 16th Street and according to a reader, its frame and some of the Illions horses are likely part of the Flushing Meadows carousel today. (“Video of the Day: Raw Footage of 1960s Coney Island,” ATZ, August 27, 2012)

Posted on Labor Day, “Coney Island Dancing 2012″ opens with the legendary Tony Disco before segueing to the legendary dancing mannequin known as “Miss Coney Island.” For the past two seasons, photographer and film editor Jim McDonnell has released an annual video of the season’s best dance moves on the Boardwalk and the Polar Express and at Luna Park, Wonder Wheel Park and the Mermaid Parade and Ball. Here are links to his dance vids from 2010 and 2011 in case you missed ‘em. Party on!(“Video: Coney Island Dancing 2012 by Jim McDonnell,” ATZ, September 13, 2012)

“Gotta Love Coney Island” by Brooklyn native and Coney Island regular Jay Singer is frenetic and hypnotic. It was one of the films in ATZ’s “5 Coney Must-Sees at the Coney Island Film Festival”, where it premiered in September. “It is 275 separate scenes at various speeds composited into a ‘one reel’ experimental film,” Jay told ATZ. “The goal was to capture the ‘pulse’ of Coney Island on a busy day, with intercuts of vintage footage filmed by my grandfather alongside contemporary footage of my own.” (“Video of the Day: Gotta Love Coney Island by Jay Singer,” ATZ, September 25, 2012)

Coney Island History Project director Charles Denson rode out Hurricane Sandy in Sea Gate where his apartment flooded up to the windows and his car floated away. He posted this dramatic video footage of Sandy making landfall at Sea Gate on October 29th. (“Photos of the Day: Devastation at Coney Island’s Sea Gate,” ATZ, November 1, 2012)

Set to “I Remember Coney Island,” a 1981 recording by the Lounge Lizards, Dave Pentecost’s Coney Island Time Lapse features footage shot in the summer of 2012 of the Wonder Wheel, Brooklyn Flyer and other amusement rides in action. “This circular fisheye video is intended to be projected in the digital dome in the new Lower Eastside Girls Club community science and art center,” says Pentecost. (“Video of the Day: Coney Island Time Lapse by Dave Pentecost,” ATZ, December 3, 2012)

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December 26, 2012: Music Video: Jamaica and the Wishing Shrine by Agent Ribbons

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August 16, 2011: Video of the Day: “IT Girl” Clara Bow in Coney Island

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