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Archive for September, 2010

Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Guess Where. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

ATZ first learned of the existence of this stone face on Coney Island’s beach last spring via a tweeted photo. Since its exact location was not tweeted, we asked Coney Island resident and photographer Bruce Handy if he knew. After a summer-long search, Bruce finally found and photographed the Easter Island-like stone face carved into a rock on Coney Island’s beach! “I like how the people are laying on the rocks, unaware of the Easter Face,” he says.

Guess Where. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Guess Where. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Can you guess the stone face’s location? Hint: It is somewhere between Seagate and Brighton–all of which was Coney Island when Coney was an island. If anyone knows who carved the rock and when, please leave a comment below. Hey, maybe the Easter Islanders made a trip to Coney Island?! Or is it a depiction of Neptune, the god of the sea?

Guess Where. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Guess Where. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Related posts on ATZ…

February 26, 2010: Photo of the Day: Snow Mermaid on Coney Island Beach

January 25, 2010: Bruce Handy’s Photo Album: Doomed Dreamland Artist Club Mural

January 8, 2010: By the Numbers: Coney Island New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim 2010

December 20, 2009: Coney Island Photo of the Day: First Snow on the Cyclone

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CI film festNext weekend, the 10th Annual Coney Island Film Festival will screen 90 films in 17 different programs after Friday’s opening night screening and kickoff party. The must-see list includes JL Aronson’s “Last Summer at Coney Island,” Gary Beeber’s “Dirty Martini and the New Burlesque,” and a special event honoring Darren Aronofsky and a screening of his “Requiem for a Dream.” Our selection of SFW teaser trailers from films in the festival begins after the jump.

ATZ attends the Coney Island-themed programs every year and this year is no exception. Here’s a shout out to our friends who are premiering films in Program 13 on Sunday, Sept. 26, at 2 pm! “Gizmo Kaleidoscope,” an experimental short by artist Susan Shaw, is described as “a multilayered love poem to Coney Island. It’s like being inside a ****ing pinball machine.” (Not our asterisks!). In the short “Coney Island: Secrets of the Universe” by historian Charles Denson, “Coney’s iconic cosmology comes into play when a mysterious crypto-governmental force seeks domination of the island.” Photographer and filmmaker Lou Dembrow’s documentary “Last Night in Astroland with Jimmy Prince” features the owner of Mermaid Avenue’s Major Market.

Ticket prices range from $6 for the majority of screenings to $45 for a weekend pass. Some of the programs, including a special screening of “The Warriors,” are expected to sell out, so it’s best to purchase tickets in advance via the festival’s website. Kudos to Indie Rob Leddy for once again assembling a stellar selection and Happy Tenth Anniversary!

Opening Night, Friday, September 24th…”Shape of the Shapeless” by Jayan Cherian. “This documentary tells the story of the spiritual quest of a performer, a yogi, and an artisan who transgresses the boundaries of traditional notions of body, gender, and sexuality.”

Program 6, Saturday, 6 pm…”Last Summer at Coney Island” by JL Aronson, Feature. “Coney Island is known throughout the world as the birthplace of the hot dog, the roller coaster and popular culture itself. But Coney Island is not what it used to be and the area has lingered for years as a specter of its former magnificence. Now, after years of false starts, change is coming. This film profiles a legendary amusement park at the precipice of transformation; a time and place where every summer feels like that last.”

Program 9, Saturday, 9 pm…”Springtime in November” by Jane Dorogoyer. Documentary. “A pastiche of playful images and heartfelt emotions from a Coney Island Polar Bear Club wintertime swim off the beach of Coney Island.”

Program 15, Sunday, 4 pm… “Gelber & Manning in Pictures” by James Lester. A short pilot featuring a vaudeville couple trying to keep from being torn apart in an era when gangsters ruled and burlesque sizzled.

The Coney Island Film Festival. September 24-26, 2010, at Coney Island USA, 1208 Surf Avenue, Coney Island

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August 28, 2010: Video: Grand Prize Winner of Luna Park Coney Island’s Film Contest!

March 30, 2010: Super 8 Movie: I Had A Dream I Went To Coney Island

September 27, 2010: Video: The Museum of Wax by Charles Ludlam

September 28, 2009: Q & A with Filmmaker Craig Butta: “Sea Legs” at the Coney Island Film Festival

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Play Fascination by Philomena Marano

PLAY FASCINATION by Philomena Marano. Cut paper collage, 1990s

In 2007, artist Philomena Marano’s signature art piece, “The World’s Largest Paper Lollypop,” paid tribute to Coney Island’s much-missed Philip’s Candy, which moved to Staten Island when Stillwell Terminal was rebuilt. Her latest tribute to a vanished Coney icon is this cut paper piece done in the early 90s and dedicated to Faber’s Fascination.

When Marano recently learned that Faber’s sign had gone dark, she posted the image on Facebook along with a note: “Do you remember the ‘FABERS FASCINATION’ sign made up of a million light bulbs? Visible as you got off the train station on Surf Ave- well, the sign was taken down recently. Tears.”

The piece is from Marano’s Coney Island series “American Dreamland,” which spans over 20 years (1979-present). “I think Faber’s Fascination, all lit up, was symbolic in the fact that it was the introduction to ‘Fascination’ in general…. as you left the train station & stepped into the Coney Island world,” says Marano.

In 1981, the Brooklyn native co-founded the Coney Island Hysterical Society with fellow artist Richard Eagan because they were “Hysterical” at the rate that the amusement rides and attractions were shutting down. Her work is currently on view in “Urbanessence,” a group exhibition at New York Institute of Technology’s Gallery 61 through October 7th. One of the pieces, “Vision for the Parachute Jump Pavilion,” is a composite of design ideas in collaboration with architect Philip Tusa for the Van Alen Institute competition in 2005.

Related posts on ATZ…

October 26, 2010: Studio Visit: Philomena Marano of the Coney Island Hysterical Society

September 9, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Faber’s Fascination Goes Dark After 50 Years

October 4, 2009: The Wonder of Artist Philomena Marano’s Wonder Wheel

June 13, 2009: June 13: Coney Island Hysterical Society Artists in Conversation at A.M. Richard Fine Art in Williamsburg

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Freak Baby Museum of Dr. Takeshi Yamada at Feast of San Gennaro, Little Italy. September 16, 2010.  Photo courtesy of Takeshi Yamada

Freak Baby Museum of Dr. Takeshi Yamada at Feast of San Gennaro, Little Italy. September 16, 2010. Photo courtesy of Takeshi Yamada

At last year’s Feast of San Gennaro, ATZ photographed quite a few Coney Islanders who’d decamped with their games, sideshows and food stands to top off the season in Little Italy. One of the strangest sights at this year’s feast, which runs through September 26th, is Dr. Takeshi Yamada and his freak baby museum from Coney Island. The Neptune Avenue resident, whose studio is known as the Museum of World Wonders, has quite a family: There’s a Two-headed Baby, Mermaid Baby, Octopus Baby, Lobster Baby, Penguin Baby, and Three-headed Baby. “His” is not just a figure of speech–the six rogue taxidermy infants are made from Yamada’s own skin!

Yamada, who has an MFA in fine art from the University of Michigan School of Art and was Grand Champion of the Minnesota Association of Rogue Taxidermists in 2006, considers his artwork “specimens” rather than examples of self expression. He uses a variety of natural materials to create his curiosities including some that might be considered controversial.

When we wrote about the babies last year, readers inquired how the artist collected his skin. Yamada replied: “During summer months, I shed skins multiple times, and I carefully remove them from my body, save them, and preserve them as ‘specimens’ for my Cabinet of Curiosities. I mounted my own skin specimens on the super-realistic replicas of freak human babies, which I created. In this way their body surfaces look really real, [more] than ones replicated in other materials (rubber, plastic, fiberglass, clay etc.). In loose terms, my freak babies are my clones.”

Yamada’s full explanation, titled “Creatures as Art Supplies,” can be read in the comments section of a post written last year, “Thru Dec 31 at Coney Island Library: Artist Takeshi Yamada’s Cabinet of Curiosities.” It remains one of ATZ’s top 25 posts, thanks to curiosity about such curiosities as a mummified six-fingered witch’s hand and a three-eyed human skull. The free exhibition of oddities and rogue taxidermy artwork is currently in its fifth year at the Mermaid Avenue library, a six-minute walk from Stillwell Terminal. But if you want to see the freak babies, head over to San Gennaro or pay a visit to the nursery at Coney Island’s Museum of World Wonders.

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November 29, 2012: Coney Island Taxidermist Takeshi Yamada in AMC Reality Show

December 8, 2011: Takeshi Yamada’s Jersey Devil Set for Bell House Taxidermy Contest

November 7, 2009: Thru Dec 31 at Coney Island Library: Artist Takeshi Yamada’s Cabinet of Curiosities

September 24, 2009: Photo Album: Coney Islanders and Carnies at San Gennaro

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Ruby's Bar & Grill, Coney Island. May 28, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Ruby's Bar & Grill, Coney Island. May 28, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

According to our copy of The Old Carny Almanac, the first day of fall arrives on Wednesday, September 22, at precisely 11:09 pm Eastern Time. Our days of standing behind a counter and calling people in are over until the whole crazy business starts up again next spring. Meanwhile, on the Coney Island Boardwalk, the legendary dive bars Ruby’s and Cha Cha’s rock on.

Anthony Latorre of Neptune Jam at Cha Cha's. August 1, 2010.  Photo © Coney Gal/Mindy via flickr

Anthony Latorre of Neptune Jam at Cha Cha's. August 1, 2010. Photo © Coney Gal/Mindy via flickr

Cha Cha’s, “Home of Wild Women and Wise Guys,” stays open through Halloween, but they keep their decorations up year round. Ruby’s last day of the season is November 21, says Rubyshost, who is tending bar on weekdays from around 10:30 in the morn. “We are now getting into our favorite time at the beach,” she says. “Hot sunny days and cool nights with friends on the boardwalk. On Wednesdays till Oct 27th, Ruby’s will have live music from 5 to 8:30 pm. The beer will be ice cold and the sausages will be hot. Come on out relax with friends at Sundown on the Boardwalk.”

Last night the place was packed. “Had a great fun crowd– a few regulars but a lot of European tourists,” says Rubyshost. “I could have gone till 11 but we were all tired so we closed at 9:30. Paul Sanchez of Neptune Jam will be back every Wednesday evening at Ruby’s with acoustic music. He does a l’il jazz – reggae – country – blues – a bit of everything,”

Robert “Bluesman” Ross and friends have upcoming gigs at both Ruby’s (October date TBA) and Cha Cha’s (October 15th)

Hank 'Coyote' Wagner on harmonica & Robert 'Bluesman' Ross on Guitar. Photo © 2010 Norman Blake. All Rights Reserved

Hank 'Coyote' Wagner on harmonica & Robert 'Bluesman' Ross on Guitar. Photo © 2010 Norman Blake. All Rights Reserved


Here’s Ruby’s schedule. We recommend confirming time and date with Ruby’s Facebook page or the Coney Island Fun Guide event calendar.

Sept 12 – Every Sunday after about 4 pm – Coney Island band Neptune Jam will be playing at Rubys through Nov 21st,Oct 31st, the last day Ruby’s is open this season. The Polar Bear Club begins their winter swims on Sundays in November, too. As daylight changes the time for band will move up slightly. There may be some Sundays they are at Grill House instead.

Sept 22 Wed, 5 – 8:30 pm – The House Band featuring: Mermaid Hawley, Lady Minerva, Lina Moon, & Finkadelic on vocals & glitter; Alan “Fuego” Nunez on percussion & squeezebox; G Laundry on vocals & baritone guitar; Hank “Coyote” Wagner on harmonica & vocals, & Robert “Bluesman” Ross on guitar, & vocals. UPDATE: Will be rescheduled due to JT’s wake and funeral being week of Sept 20. October date TBA.
October 23, Saturday, Grill Out Party, 2:30 PM
October 31, Halloween, End of Season Closing Party

Cha Cha's

Cha Cha's Bar & Cafe on the Boardwalk in Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Here’s Cha Cha’s schedule. There is no cover but that may change for certain bands

Sept 16, Thurs – Karaoke with Amethyst
Sept 18, Sat- Mel “Guitar” Williams
Sept 19, Sun – Richie Lupo & Changes
Sept 23, Thurs – Karaoke with Amethyst
Sept 24, Sat – James Brown Jr “Saxman”
Sept 25, Sat – Rick & Nassau Chainsaw Benefit
Oct 2, Sat – Rock Against Dystrophy Concert
Oct 15, Fri – Robert “Bluesman” Ross & Blues Manian (rescheduled from Sept 12)
Oct 16, Sat – The Rockinghams
Oct 17,Sun – Tribute to JT – All Day Jam Session from 3pm
Oct 31, Sun, Haloween Party with Killer Joe & the Warriors, from 2pm

The sad news of the passing of JT-John Thomas– longtime manager of Cha Cha’s and its predecessor Club Atlantis– was first reported on Cha Cha’s blog and sent out via email…

JT on Easter Sunday 2009 in Coney Island: Boardwalk Closed for Reconstruction, "Cha Cha's Bar is open!"  Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

JT on Easter Sunday 2009 in Coney Island: Boardwalk Closed for Reconstruction, "Cha Cha's Bar is open!" Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Recently we learned of JT’s passing on Sept 10, 2010 mid afternoon. JT was the GM/ Club Promoter for Cha Cha’s in Coney Island the past several years but was also the Manager of Club Atlantis back in the day. He would welcome all strangers to Coney with stories of the past and show you where Danny Dreher got his start singing DooWop on the boardwalk. His stories of the Ghost that live in the basement of Club Atlantis that came alive every Halloween will continue to be told to new visitors.

We will update with Funeral arrangements once they have been finalized. Possibly the week of Sept 20th – in Coney Island, NY. For more info call Cha Chas Club – 718-946-1305 or check on Facebook Fan Page.

After Ruby’s closes on November 21 with a post-Polar Bear swim birthday bash for Rubyshost, the next time you can belly up to the bar will be New Year’s Day 2011. Owner Michael Sarrel is confident the bar will be open as usual during the January 1, 2011 Polar Bear Swim, Rubyshost told ATZ. That’s good to hear because Ruby’s and Cha Cha’s are among the 11 Boardwalk businesses required to submit business plans to qualify for a lease with new landlord Luna Park/CAI. The Coney Island Rumor Mill is all over the place on this one: some folks say the majority of the businesses will be back, others claim that only a couple of them will return. Who knows? Personally we can’t imagine anybody not renewing the lease of a bar that was voted the 14th sexiest beach bar in the world by the Travel Channel.

Outside Ruby's Bar on New Year's Day, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Outside Ruby's Bar on New Year's Day, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The Coney Island Rumor Mill has been sayin’ since last spring that some or all of the Boardwalk buildings will be torn down to make way for the new Scream Zone. According to the rumor, the buildings would be replaced by new ones. The only reason we even mention it is this could be the last season for Ruby’s and Cha Cha’s as we know them. The vintage photos and kitschy memorabilia could be in completely new digs by spring 2011! Go while you can and savor the last days of the 2010 season, which seems destined to go down in history as the first year of Coney’s re-birth.

Sundown on the Boardwalk. Photo ©  Rubys_host via flickr

Sundown on the Boardwalk. Photo © Rubys_host via flickr

Ruby’s Bar and Grill, 1213 Riegelmann Boardwalk, Coney Island, 718-372-9079

Cha Cha’s Club, 1229 Riegelmann Boardwalk, Coney Island, 718-946-1305

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If you’re a wimp when it comes to thrill rides, this on-ride POV vid is your chance to go for a virtual spin on Zamperla’s new Air Race. Woo hoo! From our article about Luna Park in the August issue of IAAPA Funworld: “Our intention is to have the latest rides that we develop in our park,” says Valerio Ferrari (CEO of Zamperla USA and Central Amusements International), who points to the Air Race, a prototype designed by Mega Disk’O creator Gianbattista Zambelli. The thrill ride, which sends riders upside down at up to 4 g forces, made its world debut in Coney Island.

Zamperla’s Luna Park in Coney Island opened on Memorial Day weekend. The park is currently open weekends through Halloween.

An off-ride POV video (also by Coaster Force) conveys the visual impact of the ride. When you’re standing at the perimeter, it really does feel like the aerobatic planes are diving towards you!

Related posts on ATZ...

August 28, 2010: Video: Grand Prize Winner of Luna Park Coney Island’s Film Contest!

August 27, 2010: Video: Coney Island Dancing by Jim McDonnell

August 24, 2010: Video: Coney Island Pier Divers by Kevin C Downs

April 17, 2010: Our Fave Coney Island Song: Joe McGinty’s Million Dollar Mermaid

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Thor Equities phone # dwarfs Shoot out the Star. Jan 1, 2009.  Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Thor Equities phone # dwarfs Shoot out the Star on Henderson Bldg. Jan 1, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

News to us: Joe Sitt, CEO of Thor Equities, the real estate speculator whose destruction of four historic buildings in Coney Island is currently underway, is into history after all! Today we learned that Sitt is president of a history museum. The Sephardic Heritage Museum, incorporated as a “non-profit or religious entity” in Delaware in 2005, had nearly $3 million in assets according to last year’s filing. The address listed for the museum is the same as Thor Equities office. The museum is not yet open to the public, we were told by a gentleman who answered the phone at a Lakeland, New Jersey number listed on the web. The filing states: “When the museum opens, it will maintain and publicly display objects of historical, cultural and religious significance to persons with Sephardic Jewish descent and their heritage.”

ATZ was tipped off to the existence of the fledgling museum via an invitation to a film screening at Lincoln Center that was forwarded by a reader. The invite says: Joseph J. Sitt & The Sephardic Heritage Museum present a premier screening of “The Syrian Jewish Community.” The first ever documentary film tracing our history. October 24, 2010. 6:00 PM screening of the film. LINCOLN CENTER, Avery Fisher Hall. Tickets on sale now $30 to $150. All proceeds go to The Sephardic Heritage Museum. All tickets are tax deductible.

Founding a museum and supporting a documentary film devoted to one’s heritage are commendable efforts. We just wish Joe Sitt showed a similar interest in the historical and cultural significance of Coney Island’s amusement district and the properties that he owns there. The Grashorn Building, Coney Island’s oldest structure, built in the 1880s; the 1923 Bank of Coney Island, the 1903 Shore Hotel and the former Henderson Music Hall have a date with the wrecking ball.

Grashorn Building in 1969. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project

Coney Island's Oldest: Built in 1880s, Grashorn Building in 1969. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project

In “Four Coney Island Buildings to Fall,” Friday’s Story of the Day on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s website, Thor spokesman Stefan Friedman said, “These are ramshackle structures, eyesores.” Historian Charles Denson countered by citing the Parachute Jump, which had been described by detractors as “an eyesore” and “dangerous” in the years prior to its rehab and landmark designation. In the article, Juan Rivero of Save Coney Island noted that an engineer has offered to assess the buildings’ structural integrity free of charge, if Thor Equities is willing to grant access to the buildings. How about it Joey Coney Island?

Related posts on ATZ…

December 27, 2010: Video:Tribute to the Henderson Theater by Charles Denson

September 12, 2010: Video: Coney Island’s Faber’s Fascination by Charles Denson

April 21, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Tattered Tents, Deathwatch for Historic Buildings

March 3, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt

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