About these ads
Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Dick Zigun’

One of the pleasures of going to Coney Island for the New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge is greeting friends and luminaries on the Boardwalk, at Ruby’s Bar and at Coney Island USA’s Freak Bar. Among the people ATZ wished a “Happy New Year!” today were Jimmy Prince of Mermaid Avenue’s Major Market, which closed in 2009, and John Dorman of Philips Candy of Coney Island, now in Staten Island. These two old friends have a long tradition of meeting on the Boardwalk on New Year’s Day.

On a day when New York City was inaugurating its first new Mayor in a dozen years at 1pm (the same time as the Polar Bear Plunge), Coney Island USA’s Dick Zigun remained “The Permanently Unelected Mayor of Coney Island.” And tattooed ladies, the MetroCard Man and other zany characters were gladly posing for photos. Cheers to another fun season at Coney Island’s beach and boardwalk!

Dick Zigun

Dick Zigun at Coney Island USA on New Year’s Day. January 1, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Related posts on ATZ…

January 2, 2014: Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge’s Best Dressed of 2014

December 25, 2013: Just Do It! January 1st Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge

December 18, 2011: Playing Santa at the Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge

Jan 2, 2010: Photo Album: Coney Island Boardwalk, New Year’s Day 2010

Share

About these ads

Read Full Post »

Creepshow at the Freakshow

Creepshow at the Freakshow Banner by Marie Roberts, painted in 2004. Photo taken October 27, 2012. © Tricia Vita

Artist Marie Roberts, whose sideshow banners adorn Coney Island USA’s facade, painted this one for Creepshow at the Freakshow in 2004. ATZ snapped this photo last October, but never got to post it or review the play since it was cancelled the very next day due to Superstorm Sandy! This year’s Creepshow, titled “Coney Island Criminals,” is opening this weekend, and Marie’s banner, which survived the storm, is once again in the window on Surf Avenue beckoning passersby to stop and buy tickets.

Written and directed by Dick Zigun, the interactive play takes its inspiration from an episode in the early career of Al Capone. The gangster got his nickname “Scarface” in 1917 after getting slashed at Coney Island’s Harvard Inn where he worked as a bartender/bouncer. More of Marie Roberts art will be seen in the show, including a painting of an Ivy League rowing club and the logo of Yale University’s secret society Skull and Bones, which is beguiling considering that the Harvard Inn was owned by a gang boss known as Frankie Yale and Dick Zigun is a Yale School of Drama grad.

The play also features CIUSA outside talker Scott Baker as Jimmy Durante, who got his start playing piano in Coney Island. Set design is by Kate Dale, the Juilliard prop shop supervisor and veteran “Best Mermaid” who has been the Creepshow’s designer for the past eight years. Since the Harvard Inn burned down long ago and even Seaside Walk, the street it was on, is no more, being in the audience at “Coney Island Criminals” and possibly getting hit in the face with spaghetti or made into the mob is as close as you’ll get to this place.

Coney Island USA, 1208 Surf Ave. Corner of Surf Avenue and West 12th Street, Coney Island. Creepshow at the Freakshow runs from October 11 through Halloween. Check website for days and showtimes. Tickets are $15 in advance or at the door.

Share

Related posts on ATZ…

October 4, 2013: Art of the Day: John Dunivant’s Bizarre Midway

September 13, 2013: Coney Island Always: Visiting the Big CI Year-Round

June 27, 2013: Photo Album: The Front of the Show at Meadowlands Fair

August 6, 2012: Art of the Day: Madame Twisto by Marie Roberts

Read Full Post »

Mangels Shooting Gallery

1970s Photo of Shooting Gallery Under the Wonder Wheel Made by W.F. Mangels Co., Coney Island. Photograph © 1975 by Charles Denson

A rare vintage 1940’s Coney Island shooting gallery that used to be under the Wonder Wheel is about to come out of retirement and make a comeback on Surf Avenue. Last night Dick Zigun, artistic director of Coney Island USA, announced in a series of tweets that the iconic shooting gallery, which had operated for many decades next to Spook-A-Rama on Jones Walk, would reopen at 1214 Surf Avenue.

Zigun said that the historic shooting gallery will be a “major working exhibit/game fronting CIUSA’s new Art/Culture gallery formerly Denny’s Ice Cream.” The nonprofit arts organization bought Dennis Corines’ ice cream shop and building next door to Coney Island USA’s headquarters last March for $1.3 million. Unfortunately, Denny’s was one of the first casualties of Superstorm Sandy in Coney Island’s amusement area. The building had to be gutted and there was talk of replacing the ruined ice cream machines with a paintball game, mini-golf or a roller rink. The idea of using the Mangels shooting gallery in storage at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park came up when it had to be moved during renovations after the storm.

Pictured above in a 1975 photograph by Coney Island History Project director Charles Denson, the gallery has cast-iron targets in the shape of soldiers, paratroopers and torpedo boats. It was manufactured in Coney Island by William F. Mangels, the inventor of such early 20th century thrill rides as the Whip and the Tickler, and the builder of the mechanism for the B & B Carousell. Researching a story on antique carnival pieces for Games Magazine a few years ago, we learned from a collector that Mangels held the most patents on shooting gallery targets. From the early 1900s until 1969, well after other manufacturers had gone out of business, his shop on 8th Street produced a wide variety of targets.

Coney Island shooting gallery target

Morphy Auctions

Intact Mangels shooting galleries are exceptionally rare since most were long ago sold for scrap metal or broken up by antique dealers. Last April, ATZ wrote about this Mangels’ paratrooper target up for auction in Pennsylvania. It appears identical to the large paratrooper seen in Charles Denson’s photo. The price realized for the single target was $1,020. In 2009, an intact Mangels mechanical shooting gallery installed at Duke Farms and used by heiress Doris Duke during parties at her home sold at auction for $43,200!

Share

Related posts on ATZ…

January 31, 2012: Remnant of Under Boardwalk Bar Found in Coney Island

February 1, 2011: Bring Back the Whip! A Birthday Gift for William F Mangels

October 28, 2010: Photo Album: Requiem for Coney Island’s Shoot Out the Star

February 25, 2010: Happy Belated Birthday to Coney Island’s William F Mangels

Read Full Post »

Coney Island Post-Dandy

Coney Island Post-Sandy: Interior Demolition of Storm-Ravaged Denny’s Ice Cream, Surf Avenue. November 17, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

One of the first casualties of Sandy in Coney Island’s amusement area could be replaced with mini-golf or a roller rink. Which do you prefer? Over the weekend, while storm-ravaged Denny’s Ice Cream on Surf Avenue was being gutted by volunteers, Coney Island USA founder Dick Zigun asked his followers on twitter: “Miniature Golf or Roller Rink to replace Denny’s Ice Cream? Opinions so far polling 50/50 & no one supports Paint Ball or Spin Art…hmm…”

Last week, word on the street was that the beloved ice cream shop established in 1978 and now owned by CIUSA would become a paintball game emporium a la Shoot the Freak. Replacing the ruined ice cream machines would be too costly for the arts organization, whose Freak Bar and theater next door was also damaged by the storm.

Dick’s new proposals signaled the start of a social media battle between #TeamRollerRink and #TeamMiniGolf. Just so you know, ATZ has added “Artist-Designed Mini-Golf Enthusiast” to our resume. We see the attraction as a quirky new successor to the mini-golf that used to be part of Batting Range and Go Kart City on Stillwell Avenue. There’s no reason it can’t also be a Black Light Mini-Golf with freaky interactive holes and a booth selling Denny’s signature banana pistachio soft serve and other fave snacks. #TeamMiniGolf had this to say….

The nonprofit arts organization bought Dennis Corines’ ice cream shop and building next door to Coney Island USA’s headquarters last March for $1.3 million. At the time, Zigun told ATZ: “Since we own an ice cream parlor and have no money to renovate, Denny’s might or might not continue next year. Even once we renovate the building will maintain a 500-square-foot storefront taking up most of Surf Avenue frontage that will always serve light food to street plus lobby inside.”

“Some day we can transfer air rights from the landmark Childs Building, match the two-story front of Childs then do a setback with an additional five to seven story tower on top of the base,” Zigun noted. The renderings that he showed last year at a Coney Island presentation at the AIA included a whimsical homage to the Elephant Hotel, which in the meantime would make a dandy hole for Mini Golf. Unless of course #TeamRollerRink wins this one…

Share

Related posts on ATZ…

November 21, 2012: Coney Island Post-Sandy: Flooded Spook-A-Rama to Get New Stunts

November 13, 2012: Coney Island’s Eldorado Wins Lease But Bumper Cars Soaked by Sandy

November 9, 2012: Update on Coney Island’s Amusement Area After Sandy

October 30, 2012: Photo Album: Hurricane Sandy’s Aftermath in Coney Island

Read Full Post »

Shore Theater

Vacant and for Sale: The Shore Theater, on left, viewed from the Thunderbolt lot, a 3-acre development site. July 30, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The above photo taken yesterday shows Coney Island’s long-vacant Shore Theater, on the left, viewed from the three-acre development site where the Thunderbolt roller coaster, illegally demolished by the City in 2000, once stood. Both are owned by Horace Bullard and are among two dozen privately owned properties advertised for sale or lease on a Coney Island Development Corp. map of retail opportunities in 2011 and 2012. The Shore Theater has an asking price of $13 million and the Thunderbolt parcel says “Submit all Offers.” Nobody snapped ‘em up yet. If you think about it, buyers are few in Coney’s over-priced amusement area. There’s the City and Thor Equities. Plus Coney Island USA, which bought the building next door to their sideshow headquarters.

Coney Island USA’s artistic director Dick Zigun and Brooklyn Daily deserve credit for calling attention to the plight of the Shore Theater, which has been shuttered for more than 35 years. In December 2010, the City landmarked the exterior and presumably would like to see the building restored. But in our opinion, Zigun saying that the City should seize the Shore from its owner and the Brooklyn Daily doing a reader poll on the E.D. issue is grandstanding to make a point.

The Shore Theater, formerly the Loew's Coney Island, is up for City landmark designation. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The Shore Theater, formerly the Loews Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The Bloomberg administration was right to back off from the idea of taking land by condemnation from Thor Equities and other Coney Island property owners during the rezoning hearings in 2009. Under sharp questioning by City Council land use committee members, the EDC’s Seth Pinsky was forced to admit, “I’m not saying we will use eminent domain, but in fairness to your question, I’m not saying we won’t.” In order to get Council members to agree to vote for the zoning, the EDC instead had to negotiate an agreement to buy property from Thor Equities. At the same time, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and other property owners were no longer threatened by E.D.

As for the Shore, the City should either come up with the money to buy Bullard’s property or find a buyer. Community Board 13’s land use committee voted yes on the Coney Island rezoning, but one of the non-binding stipulations was that the City buy the theater and make it into a community arts center. What happened to that idea? Ideally BP Marty Markowitz could use the $64 million set aside for the Seaside Park amphitheater to purchase and renovate the Shore. Or somebody can start a “Chip in” to buy the Shore and Mayor Bloomberg can make it one of his charitable projects. The City should buy the Thunderbolt parcel too and use it to right Mayor Giuliani’s wrong and rebuild either the Thunderbolt or the Tornado.

As far as we know, there’s no precedent for the Landmarks Preservation Commission taking property by Eminent Domain. There is however the precedent of a Demolition by Neglect lawsuit which, if successful, requires the owner to fix up the property or sell it. As ATZ reported at the time of the Shore’s landmarking in December 2010:

If the building is landmarked, Demolition by Neglect laws could come into play. The New York City demolition by neglect ordinance states, “every [owner] of a landmark site or historic district shall keep in good repair (1) all of the exterior portions of such improvement and (2) all interior portions thereof which, if not so maintained, may cause or tend to cause the exterior portions of such improvement to deteriorate, decay or become damaged or otherwise to fell into a state of disrepair.” NEW YORK, N.Y., CODE § 25-311 (2001).

Last year [2009], in a precedent setting lawsuit, the City was awarded $1.1 million in civil penalties and gave the owners of the landmarked Windermere apartments a choice of fixing the property or selling it. “This settlement sends a message to owners of landmarked buildings that they must keep them in a state of good repair,” said Robert B. Tierney, chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission in a New York City Law Department press release about the case. “Buildings like the Windermere are an indispensable part of New York City’s architectural heritage and must be preserved for future generations.”

A rare glimpse of the ornate interior of the Shore Theater, photographed by historian Charles Denson, is on view at the Coney Island History Project exhibit center though September 3rd.

UPDATE August 4, 2012

Charles Denson’s beautiful photos of the Shore Theater interior made into a heartbreaking video. Watch it here.

Coney Island Theatre Building.  Photo © katherine of chicago via flickr

Coney Island Theatre Building. Photo © katherine of chicago via flickr

Share

January 10, 2012: Will Casino Gold Rush of 1970s Replay in Coney Island

December 23, 2010: Coney Island Christmas Wish List: $12M Shore Theater

December 14, 2010: Amid Demolitions & Evictions in Coney Island, City Landmarks Shore Theater

March 8, 2010: March 23: Rescuing Coney Island’s Shore Theater from 35 Years of Neglect

Read Full Post »

Dennys & Eldorado

Denny's Ice Cream & Eldorado Bumper Cars at Night. Easter Sunday, April 24, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Thor Equities paid $4.5 million for Coney Island’s Eldorado Building according to the deed recorded on Thursday for the March sale of the property. The recorded buyer is a newly formed foreign limited liability company with Thor Equities listed as the contact. The multi-parcel transaction included the 4,500-square-foot building at 1218 Surf Avenue housing the Bumper Cars and the 6,123-square-foot building at 1215 Bowery where the arcade is located, according to Property Shark. ATZ first reported the sale in “60 Years of Family History in Coney Island End with Sale of Eldorado” (ATZ, March 20, 2012).

The price per square foot was $423, which is in line with the most recent comparable sale. Last November, the nonprofit arts organization Coney Island USA bought Denny’s Ice Cream for $1.3 million. The price per square foot was $465.

Neighbors for more than 30 years, the owners of the Eldorado and Denny’s Ice Cream were among the few remaining longtime property owners with businesses in Coney’s amusement zone. The business owners were at the age of retirement and lacking a next generation to step in decided to sell. The Eldorado Disco Palace of Bumper Cars opened in 1973, but the building was purchased by the Fitlin and Buxbaum families in 1971. Denny’s Dennis Corines has owned and operated the ice cream shop, where specialties include pistachio-banana soft serve, since the late ’70s.

Both businesses are expected to continue for at least this season. As ATZ reported last week, Gordon Lee, who operated the Eldorado Bumper Cars and Arcade for the Fitlins last year, has plans to reopen the business in the coming days for one last year.

On Friday, we watched workers getting Denny’s ready for Coney Island’s Opening Day. CIUSA’s Dick Zigun tweeted, “Just ate the very 1st ice cream of the year at DENNY’S: a big hot fudge Sunday! There goes the diet…”

Zigun tells ATZ: “Since we own an ice cream parlor and have no money to renovate, Denny’s might or might not continue next year. Even once we renovate the building will maintain a 500-square-foot storefront taking up most of Surf Avenue frontage that will always serve light food to street plus lobby inside.”

Denny's Ice Cream

Denny's Ice Cream Getting ready for Coney Island's Opening Day. Now owned by Coney Island USA. March 30, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

“Some day we can transfer air rights from the landmark Childs Building, match the two-story front of Childs then do a setback with an additional five to seven story tower on top of the base,” Zigun noted. The renderings that he showed last year at a Coney Island presentation at the AIA included a whimsical homage to the Elephant Hotel.

While the rezoning of Coney Island offers property owners the opportunity to increase the FAR –floor to area ratio–of their properties, Joe Sitt of Thor Equities got a big bonus: the controversial rezoning for “hotels” of up to 27 stories on the south side of Surf. One of these parcels is the corner of Surf and Stillwell, where Thor demolished the century-old Henderson Music Hall to build a one-story building that remains vacant. Sitt is expected to tear down the Eldorado building, which dates back to 1928, and the Coney Island Rumor Mill is saying Thor will try to acquire other property on the Bowery.

Nearly three years since the Coney Island Rezoning was approved by the City Council, we’ve seen a few demolitions by Thor but have yet to see any new construction in Coney East that wouldn’t also have been possible before the rezoning. The marquee of the Eldorado and Denny’s signage enliven Surf Avenue and will forever remain in our memories thanks to many people’s photos. Their old school authenticity will be missed in the new Coney Island.

UPDATE April 12, 2012:

Good news! Gordon Lee of Coney’s Eldorado Bumper Cars phoned to say he’s operating the ride today & open for business! The arcade will also open this weekend for the season. Hours at the Eldorado are “12 noon till closing.”

Eldorado Coney Island

Eldorado Auto Skooter. June 29, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Share

Related posts on ATZ…

March 20, 2012: 60 Years of Family History in Coney Island End with Sale of Eldorado

March 12, 2011: Signage: Fresh Crispy Popcorn, Candy Caramel Apples

October 13, 2010: Rest in Peace: Scott Fitlin, Coney Island’s Eldorado Man

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

Read Full Post »

bannerline

New Bannerline by Marie Roberts for Coney Island USA. May 14, 2011. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

Artist Marie Roberts, whose sideshow banners have adorned Coney Island USA’s building since 1997, has painted a new bannerline that pays homage to the landmarking of the building by acknowledging artists of the past. CIUSA artistic director Dick Zigun’s idea was “Marie Roberts channels Snap Wyatt.” Marie explains….

We chose Snap Wyatt – I always think of his forms as more Platonic and Piero like. We based the designs on his banners.

The central “Sideshows by the Seashore” banner depicts a stage with actual stars of the past… Bobby Reynolds, Jack Dracula, Sealo, Albert/Alberta, all performed in our building. The General Tom Thumb is for Dick’s past, Lionel is for mine.

The color is deep and rich recalling the polychroming on the Parthenon, the figures frieze-like, like Egypt perhaps.

The first time I wrote about Marie was more than a decade ago as part of a travel story for Islands Magazine. This third-generation Coney Islander spoke so vividly about her Uncle Lester, who had been a talker with the Dreamland Circus Sideshow in the 1920s, that I felt as if he were alive. Photos of him working and socializing with Lionel the Lion-Faced Man and other famous freaks left an indelible impression on Marie and continue to inspire her work.

Other sideshow stars portrayed in the frieze include…

–General Tom Thumb, who was 25 inches tall and weighed 15 pounds, found fame and fortune touring Europe with PT Barnum. He was born in 1838 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, which is also Dick Zigun’s hometown.

–Bobby Reynolds, sideshow legend and self-proclaimed “greatest showman in the world,” brought his museum of curiosities to the now-demolished bank building across from Coney Island USA in the 1990s. He returned to Coney to perform this spring at the Congress of Curious Peoples.

Jack Dracula was first tattooed by Coney Island’s Brooklyn Blackie in the 1940s. He had over 400 tattoos on his body, including his face, and was famously photographed by Diane Arbus. One of the shows where he found work was Dave Rosen’s Wonderland Circus Sideshow, which occupied Coney Island USA’s building in the 1950s and ’60s.

Weird Girls

Weird Women Banner by Marie Roberts for Coney Island USA. May 14, 2011. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

The first time I wrote about David “Snap” Wyatt was in the late ’90s, when I chronicled the movement of sideshow banners into high-art venues for Art & Antiques, New Art Examiner and other magazines. Wyatt was a virtuoso who was snapping up work with traveling shows long before he attended Cooper Union and became one of the few banner painters with an art school education. During his 40-year career in the world of midway art, he also created figures of zombies and other creatures for several of his own sideshows.

My favorite Snap Wyatt banner is his Strange Girls gaff banner in the book Freaks, Geeks & Strange Girls, which Marie has reinterpreted as Weird Women. Strange Men and the new banners of individual performers have yet to be hung.

Marie is teaching a banner painting workshop at Coney Island USA’s Sideshow School in August. She is also a tenured professor of art at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Her painting student at FDU, Justina Cena, assisted with the pieces.

Share

Related posts on ATZ…

January 10, 2011: Coney Island Building Landmarked, Joe Sitt Sees the Light

October 21, 2010: Halloween In Coney Island: Behind the Scenes at Creep Show at the Freak Show

May 11, 2010: 21st Century Bars: Coney Island’s Freak Bar Featured in New Book

January 25, 2010: March 14-17: Coney Island Sideshow Banner Painting School with Marie Roberts

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 296 other followers