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Archive for October, 2010

Halloween at Cha Cha's 2009. Photo © Coney Gal/Mindy via flickr

Halloween at Cha Cha's 2009. Photo © Coney Gal/Mindy via flickr

On October 31st, Ruby’s Bar will host their annual closing party. “Come celebrate Halloween at Ruby’s, wear a costume and get a free beer,” Rubys Host says. The Grill House will have Coney Island band Neptune Jam’s Halloween Jam on the Boardwalk from 1- 5 pm. Cha Cha’s, which is decorated for Halloween year round, will celebrate from 2:30 pm with music by Killer Joe and the Warriors. Come out to playyy! It’s the last day of the season for Coney Island’s legendary dive bars as well as for the other Boardwalk businesses, including Paul’s Daughter, Steve’s Grill House, Gyro Corner and Lola Star Gift Shop.

Lola Star Gift Shop and Gyro Corner. August 20, 2010. Photo © Mattron via flickr

Lola Star Gift Shop and Gyro Corner. August 20, 2010. Photo © Mattron via flickr

The 11 Boardwalk businesses have leases with the City through Oct 31 for the 2010 season. Zamperla USA/CAI, which is taking over management of the City-owned Boardwalk properties, is expected to offer new 9-year leases to some, but not all, of the businesses after reviewing their business plans.

Paul's Daughter in Coney Island. September 24, 2010. Photo © SaucyPinkJesus/Christopher Duff via flickr

Paul's Daughter in Coney Island. September 24, 2010. Photo © SaucyPinkJesus/Christopher Duff via flickr

“Some will stay, some won’t. We’re exploring our options,” Zamperla USA CEO Valerio Ferrari told the Brooklyn Paper earlier this month. The catch is we don’t expect to find out who’s getting a new lease till the end of the month. Hey, it is the end of the month! Rumors abound, but an official announcement has yet to be made. If you have a sentimental favorite on the Boardwalk, come out on the last day of the season and show them some love. And don’t forget to take souvenir photos. UPDATE October 31….Business owners told us that they would find out on Monday whether or not they’d get a new lease from Zamperla/CAI!

Wild Women & Wise Guys. March 15, 2009. Photo © Justin Korn via flickr

Wild Women & Wise Guys. March 15, 2009. Photo © Justin Korn via flickr

ATZ will be in Coney on Halloween to hang out with friends and revisit old haunts. We’ll snap photos as if it were “last call” for the vernacular signage and gritty authenticity of these Boardwalk mainstays. Just in case. If they get erased from the Coney landscape, we’ll still have our memories and our photos. The oldest existing business is probably Paul’s Daughter, formerly known as Gregory & Paul’s. The family-run business has been at its Boardwalk location for more than 40 years. Cha Cha’s and Nathan’s satellite location are in the former Club Atlantis building,which requires extensive rehab to bring it up to code.

Behind the Counter at Ruby's Bar in Coney Island. April 16, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

Behind the Counter at Ruby's Bar in Coney Island. April 16, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

The namesake of Ruby’s Bar–Ruby Jacobs–bought the bar in 1975. That’s his portrait with the Parachute Jump amid the vintage photos on the oft-photographed wall. After Ruby’s death in 2000, West 12th Street was named Ruby Jacobs Way in his honor. His daughters and son-in-law continue to run the family-owned business.

Shoot the Freak (I felt like I had stepped back in time). October 7, 2010. Photo © Marniepix via flickr

Shoot the Freak (I felt like I had stepped back in time). October 7, 2010. Photo © Marniepix via flickr

The world-famous Shoot the Freak is a relative newcomer having arrived on the Boardwalk in 2002. By the next season, the game was world famous. ”Look, this is a country where there was the pet rock,” Shoot the Freak’s creator Anthony Berlingieri told a reporter for the New York Times. ”I always figure that after that, everything stands a shot.”

Last November, Berlingieri made headlines when he appeared at the City’s press conference about the $95.6 million land purchase from Thor and posed the question directly to Mayor Bloomberg: “Is there a place for us?” NYCEDC President Seth Pinsky gave a diplomatic reply: “Our intention is for the foreseeable future to keep all the tenants in place, certainly through next summer [2010]. And we’re going to be looking to work with each of you to figure out where it makes sense for the various tenants to remain as we build out the amusement park.”

Does this mean the EDC is committed to relocating the small businesses displaced by the redevelopment of City-owned property in the new Coney Island? Stay tuned.

Grill House Color. August 26, 2009. Photo © verphotoman/Joel via flickr

Grill House Color. August 26, 2009. Photo © verphotoman/Joel via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

September 17, 2010: On Coney Island Boardwalk, Ruby’s & Cha Cha’s Rock This Fall

April 23, 2010: Photo Album: Coney Island Boardwalk Businesses Open for 2010

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

December 18, 2009: Ciao Coney Island! Will Ruby’s, Shoot the Freak, Astrotower & Other Oldies Survive?

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Demolition of Thor Equities-Owned Bank of Coney Island. October 28, 2010. Photo © Eric Kowalsky

Demolition of Thor Equities-Owned Bank of Coney Island. October 28, 2010. Photo © Eric Kowalsky

On Thursday, the attack of the jackhammers began after Verizon finished removing phone lines for the area from the roof of the doomed Bank of Coney Island building. Photographer Eric Kowalsky has been valiantly documenting the demolition-in-progress. In the photo below, which was taken on Tuesday, Thor’s gang finish putting up the demolition scaffolding.

For more info on the building, see “Photo of the Day: The Bank of Coney Island, Now & Then” (ATZ, October 14, 2010) and “A Rare Peek Inside Endangered Old Bank of Coney Island” (ATZ, October 9, 2009).

Demolition Scaffolding at Thor Equities-Owned Bank of Coney Island. October 26, 2010. Photo © Eric Kowalsky

Demolition Scaffolding at Thor Equities-Owned Bank of Coney Island. October 26, 2010. Photo © Eric Kowalsky

Related posts on ATZ…

October 20, 2010: Joe Sitt’s Gang Punches Holes in Bank of Coney Island Building

October 8, 2010: 40 Day Demolition of Historic Coney Island Buildings Set to Begin

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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Lynn Kelly in front of Lynn's Trapeze in Luna Park Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Lynn Kelly in front of Lynn's Trapeze in Luna Park Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Last night at Lynn Kelly’s Bon Voyage Party at Vig Bar in Nolita, men in suits and blue wigs were spilling out onto the sidewalk by the time we arrived. The invite had said “Leave Your Everyday Hair Color at Home.” The guest of honor was clad in the pink wig and sequined dress that have been her signature costume for Coney Island’s Mermaid Parades and Galas.

After four years as vice president of the City’s Economic Development Corporation and president of the Coney Island Development Corporation, Kelly is leaving for a new career as president/CEO of Snug Harbor Cultural Center in Staten Island. But we think she has sand in her shoes and will come back to Coney to visit Lynn’s Trapeze, which was named in her honor, and bring a Snug Harbor float to the Mermaid Parade.

Now just a sec, while we order a drink from the customized menu. What’ll you have? Lynn Fizz….Kami-Kelly….Lunapolitan? How about a Coney Island Iced Tea…

Cheers and Congratulations!

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Related posts on ATZ…

October 11, 2010: Is Lynn’s Trapeze Still Lynn’s? What about the B & B?

June 7, 2010: Fence Wrap Advertising Comes to Coney Island’s Stillwell Avenue

February 22, 2010: Coney Island’s Luna Park Launches Blog Site, Lists Job Openings

November 25, 2009: Photo Album: Coney Island Shines at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009 in Vegas

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Out the Star

Out the Star. October 15, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Somebody swiped “The Star” from the Shoot Out the Star sign on Thor Equities-owned Henderson Building, exposing an earlier version of the signage. We’re glad they did. At least it won’t be destroyed with the rest of the building.

Following the fortunes of Shoot Out the Star on Coney Island’s Stillwell Avenue is one of our longtime obsessions. One year ago this week, the game was open for business. After cutting up jackpots with the operator and helping him call people in to play, ATZ posted “Coney Island’s Shoot Out the Star Still Open… Players Wanted!” Coney’s rides and the rest of the games were closed by Columbus Day as usual, but the shooting gallery was open almost every day. CB, who ran the game for Slim, kept it open year round. We’re told that Shoot Out the Star was in operation at the Henderson for about 20 years.

Shoot out the Star--Players Wanted! Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

One year ago: Shoot out the Star--Players Wanted! October 30, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

On the day of my visit, CB wasn’t looking any further ahead than the next couple of days. In fact, the operator was locked out a few weeks later by Thor and never opened again. When spring came, CB found a hole around the corner on the Bowery. Shoot Out the Star remained shuttered for the 2010 season though it was “liberated” on Memorial Day Weekend by a couple of guys. We snapped a few photos, careful not to capture their faces. As far as we know, these are the last images of Shoot Out the Star in operation. It was the shooting gallery’s last hurrah. Along with Faber’s Fascination, Shoot Out the Star was among a handful of year-round amusement destinations in Coney Island. Now both are gone.

Shoot Out the Star. May 29, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Last Hurrah: Shoot Out the Star. May 29, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

As ATZ reported previously, the City issued a demolition permit for the former Henderson Music Hall, which has undergone asbestos abatement and is now surrounded by demolition scaffolding. The Shoot Out the Star sign above the awning is still intact, awaiting its fate. In May, NY1 did an interview with Joe Sitt in which he claimed the buildings were “horrible rundown relics.” According to the reporter “Sitt said he’ll re-use the vintage signs in a more modern setting.” After seeing the Fascination sign on the Henderson cannibalized by a tenant and the Surf Hotel sign offered to a bystander, we’re skeptical about ever seeing this historic signage again.

The Star. May 29, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Last Hurrah: The Star. May 29, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Shoot out the Star’s iconic signage is the work of Dreamland Artist Club founder Steve Powers, who also painted the Cyclone roller coaster seats, the Coney Island Museum steps, and the Bump Your Ass Off sign for the Eldorado. In 2003, Powers teamed up with Creative Time, the non-profit public art agency, to bring artists to Coney Island to create new signage for the stands along Jones Walk and the Bowery. The first year’s funding was $80,000. When the murals and signage debuted in June 2004, Powers told the Times: “A large percentage of them will be up forever.”

Last month, when we realized the Henderson signage was endangered, we urged Powers and Creative Time to come out to Coney and rescue their work! Don’t the signs actually belong to Creative Time? Haven’t heard back. We hope “The Star” found a good home.

Lettering on Thor Equities banner Dwarfs Shoot out the Star.  Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Lettering on Thor Equities banner Dwarfs Shoot out the Star. January 1, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Related posts on ATZ…

September 29, 2010: Saved or Not? Signs from Coney Island’s Henderson Building

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

November 3, 2009: Coney Island’s Shoot Out the Star Still Open… Players Wanted!

August 16, 2009: Coney Island Carnival Games: My Photo Album

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This Friday at 4 pm, Coney Island artist and rogue taxidermist Takeshi Yamada is giving his annual art talk at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Coney Island branch. Titled “Dragons and Mermaids: Coney Island Sideshow Special,” the free show-and-tell will feature rogue taxidermy specimens of dragons and mermaids created by the artist for his Museum of World Wonders. You’ll get to meet the six-foot-long mermaid pictured below at Secret Science’s Carnivorous Nights Taxidermy Contest.

The Japanese-born artist and Neptune Avenue resident is one of Coney Island’s most recognizable eccentrics. In the summer, you’re apt to find Yamada clad in a black tuxedo and Mardi Gras beads strolling the Beach and Boardwalk with his taxidermied sea bunny Seara.

Takeshi Yamada with his Six Foot Fiji Mermaid.  November 2, 2007. Photo © istolethetv via flickr

Takeshi Yamada with his Six Foot Fiji Mermaid. November 2, 2007. Photo © istolethetv via flickr

If you haven’t seen Yamada’s long-running “Museum of World Wonders: Cabinet of Curiosities” yet, the exhibition is on view through Dec. 31 at the Coney Island Library.

–“Dragons and Mermaids: Coney Island Sideshow Special,” Art Lecture by Takeshi Yamada, October 29, Friday, 4 – 5pm, FREE. The library is a five-minute walk from the Stillwell Avenue subway terminal.
–“Museum of World Wonders: Cabinet of Curiosities,” Coney Island Library, 1901 Mermaid Ave (at W 19th St), Coney Island, Brooklyn, 718-265-3220. Through December 31, 2010, FREE. Check library hours here.

Skull of the Sea Dragon by Takeshi Yamada. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Skull of the Sea Dragon by Takeshi Yamada. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Related posts on ATZ…

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

September 18, 2010: Photo of the Day: Takeshi Yamada’s Freak Baby Museum at San Gennaro

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

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Philomena Marano with cut paper installation Giant Lolly

Philomena Marano with cut paper installation Giant Lolly, Homage to Philip's Candy. Photo © Tricia Vita

Earlier this month, we visited the Gowanus studio shared by Coney Island Hysterical Society co-founders Philomena Marano and Richard Eagan. In this two-part post, ATZ’s photos are interspersed with the artists’ own words about their Coney-inspired artwork.

Lately I’ve been considering one of the strains that run through both of our works- something I coined as a “Fool the Guesser” concept- Loosely defined: things seem like one thing, but may be another -perhaps bordering on “optical illusion” but not in the strictest sense- more like a form of visual play.

Eagan has a series of painted target constructions which take on a kinetic quality as one changes their point of view, and I have work in which it is really tough to decipher the medium it was created in- printed, paper or painted… thus summoning a sense of wonderment or an invitation to a guessing game.

We’re planning to group these selected works and hope to find a venue for an exhibition.

My new PLAY FASCINATION piece actually revisits an earlier set of works with the same name, but it’s more “unhinged.” In this piece I used a perception shifting ploy. What seems to be flat is actually sculptural. Is it caving in or blowing out? – there is no “one way” to view it.

To create it I made a cut paper composition which I then cut up into pieces. Next I reassembled them so that the pieces sit on different levels, some tilted inward, some outward and some level, thus adding dimension and delirium.

I originally borrowed the type face I use in my PLAY FASCINATION works from a decaying metal sign that hung on the side of the Faber’s Fascination building on Surf Avenue. In 1990 I recomposed the elements and created 5 similar works with the same title; one in cut paper and four hard edged paintings. I recall viewers engaged in examining the work as it hung side by side in an exhibit, wondering or “guessing,” is this paper, painted or printed?

This “fun house” or” magic show of illusion” concept appeals to me because it parallels my subject matter. I think it’s time to explore & embrace this unique Coney Island essence a bit further- to pay tribute to it.

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Related posts on ATZ...

October 26, 2010: Studio Visit: Richard Eagan of the Coney Island Hysterical Society

October 1, 2010: Oct 2: Coney Island Hysterical Art on Gowanus Artists Studio Tour

September 19, 2010: Art of the Day: Play Fascination by Philomena Marano

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

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Artist Richard Eagan's alter ego

Artist Richard Eagan's lovely alter ego Kay Sera with Oceanic Baths. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

In 1985, the artists of the Coney Island Hysterical Society created and operated a Spookhouse behind Nathan’s, exhibited artwork at Sideshows by the Seashore and had a group show at LaMama. Society co-founders Richard Eagan and Philomena Marano continue to collaborate on Coney-themed art. A recent visit to the Gowanus studio shared by Eagan and Marano inspired this two-part post…

I began my career as a visual artist with a series of dreams about Coney island. Ten in one year (1978) – Steeplechase, The Thunderbolt, many locales, and I realized I had hand skills to evoke those places. Eventually I understood that’s what artists did. It snuck up on me. Generally speaking, I launched into a series of realist-based portraits of many of the places I had known in Coney Island. I needed to bring these places to life. Although my work has developed and changed through the years, I still return to the architectural portraiture of my early work.

Oddly, though, one of my very first pieces was an installation for “Tricks and Treats at the World in Wax Musee” curated by Dick Zigun back in… 1980? I filled a display case with a piece evoking the demolition of the Steeplechase Pavilion of Fun, titled “I Must Have Been Dreaming”- the curving space of the Panama Slide was filled with jagged, broken shards of wood.

During the Spookhouse Project of 1984-85, I began a series of paintings with bulls-eye imagery, and I imagined a few of them might want to have those shards bursting through the picture plane into real space, as if a wall had exploded out. Though they were not executed then, I returned to the idea in a series of small 12″ square canvasses in the 1990’s. They were an immediate hit, and I sold quite a few of those.

The short hop to combining the Coney work with the exploding architecture was a no-brainer once I accepted that the Coney Island of my childhood was imploding, burning, and would never return. I didn’t foresee the Thor paradigm, of course, but I needed to create pieces expressing my anguish over the ruins of my beloved playground. Hence the work with exploding shards, broken glass, and faded, ghostly signage. “Oceanic Baths” (not an actual Coney place name) was the first in this series, and the piece that helped me combine constructed sculptural work with abstract expressionist-style paintwork and pop culture imagery.

I expect I will be working the various styles in different combinations for some time to come as the future of the place of my inspiration and dreams unfolds.

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Related Posts on ATZ…

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

October 1, 2010: Oct 2: Coney Island Hysterical Art on Gowanus Artists Studio Tour

October 31, 2009: Traveler: Carnival Rides as Public Art at Toronto’s Nuit Blanche

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

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