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Archive for November, 2012

Coney Island Artist and Taxidermist Takeshi Yamada is one of the Immortalizers in AMC’s new series Immortalized. Photo via AMC

ATZ has learned that Coney Island artist and rogue taxidermist Takeshi Yamada will be one of the stars of the new AMC TV reality series “Immortalized” premiering on February 14th. “My sea rabbit will be a household name,” said Yamada, who is one of Coney Island’s most recognizable eccentrics. He is frequently photographed clad in a black tuxedo strolling the Beach and Boardwalk with his sea bunny Seara, a taxidermied wonder with webbed feet and a mermaid’s tail.

In the TV show, Yamada will be one of the taxidermists known as the Immortalizers. According to the press release for the unscripted new series: “Each episode will feature one of four highly regarded ‘Immortalizers’ facing off against a ‘Challenger’ in a competition. Their task is to create a piece to be judged on three criteria: originality, craftsmanship and interpretation of the designated theme. Whether the artists are known for their classic or rogue creations, each week they will work to perfect this centuries-old art form in an unprecedented battle.”

Rogue taxidermy is the creation of oddities and curiosities using traditional taxidermy materials and techniques. “I hope more people will be interested in the art of taxidermy (traditional taxidermy) and rogue taxidermy (freak show taxidermy or sideshow taxidermy) by watching this television show,” Yamada told ATZ. “I had a great time creating truly monumental scale and spectacular rogue taxidermy monsters for this TV series.”

When we first met Takeshi back in 2004, he was creating these gaffed specimens for traveling sideshows and museums. He uses a variety of natural materials to create his taxidermy art, which includes Fiji mermaids, two-headed babies, dog-headed spiders, and a mummified six-fingered hand. Having seen Yamada defend his Grand Master title at the Secret Science Club’s annual Carnivorous Nights Taxidermy Contest at Bell House, we can honestly say his challengers are up against a formidable competitor.

Despite the fact that the first floor of Yamada’s home and studio on Neptune Avenue in Coney Island were devastated by five feet of sewage water during Hurricane Sandy, destroying most of his artwork, the artist remains stoic. “The show must go on,” he says. Takeshi was in the middle of producing two giant sculptures and a wooden crate to ship them to Los Angeles when the storm struck. “Some of the artwork was destroyed or heavily damaged. So, I stayed at my house with no heat, gas, land phone line or electricity for over a week after the hurricane for repairing them –some of my artworks were not saved– and finally FedExed them before the temperature dropped to 27 degrees.”

The AMC series “Immortalized” consists of eight, half-hour episodes and premieres on Thursday, February 14 at 10pm.

Dragons, mermaids, and other wonders on display at public lecture of Dr. Takeshi Yamada at Coney Island Library, October 29, 2010. Photo © Takeshi Yamada via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

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

December 7, 2010: Art of the Day: Freak Taxidermy Skull by Takeshi Yamada

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

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

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Sandy Cleanup Volunteers

Hurricane Sandy Cleanup Volunteers from the Barman’s Fund, Coney Island Boardwalk. November 11, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Among the last Hurricane Sandy volunteers to leave the Boardwalk on a recent Sunday evening was this bartender and her customers. They were from the Barman’s Fund, a group of bartenders who pool their tips to donate to charitable causes. This group told me they used the tips to buy the shovels and spent the day shoveling sand from the Coney Island Boardwalk. They were among the over 3,000 volunteers who participated in volunteer weekends organized by the Alliance for Coney Island’s Coney Recovers initiative. Cheers!

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November 25, 2012: Photos of the Day: Coney Island Street Dunes by Jay Singer

October 23, 2012: Photo of the Day: Flyering for the Boardwalk, Not Sidewalk!

June 9, 2011: Photo of the Day: Mango Vendor in Coney Island

January 27, 2011: Photo of the Day: Coney Island Snowmen at Dawn

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Street Dunes

W 15th Street Dunes, Coney Island. November 25, 2012. Photo © Jay Singer

During Hurricane Sandy, Coney Island’s beach lost two to three feet of sand. Windblown sand covered the boardwalk and adjacent streets, burying the kiddie rides and parking meters. Volunteers spent days sweeping and shoveling it back where it belonged. Over the weekend, the Parks Department U.S. Army Corps of Engineers closed West 15th Street and created temporary sand dunes from the Boardwalk to Wonder Wheel Way, and they are still adding sand. It looks like a movie set. Somebody should make a movie before these dreamlike street dunes disappear. “The sand was all trucked over from the huge sand dunes the storm created at the foot of Ocean Parkway,” says Coney Island photographer and filmmaker Jay Singer, who snapped a series of surreal photos. “Fresh clean sand, to be redistributed back onto the beach.”

Parachute Jump and Street Dune

Parachute Jump and Street Dune. Coney Island. November 25, 2012. Photo © Jay Singer

UPDATE November 27, 2012:

More info on the street dunes via today’s post on the U.S. Army’s official homepage! According to the update, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and contracted crews have been working 12-hour night shifts to clear up the sand blown by Sandy onto Coney Island’s streets. In Army parlance, the West 15th Street dunes are a TSS –temporary storage site — and since Saturday over 230 trucks carried an estimated 4,600 cubic yards to the TSS.

To date, the Army Corps has moved an estimated 32,000 cubic yards of sand, the equivalent of roughly 12 Olympic-size swimming pools, out of Coney Island neighborhoods to nearby Jacob Riis Park, a temporary collection site currently used for holding Sandy-related debris.

Last week though, Riis was nearing its capacity for sand placement. In order to avoid any delays to cleanup, the Army Corps decided to establish a temporary storage site, or TSS, at West 15th Street on Coney Island. The site is located directly adjacent to the amusement park, home to such landmarks as Nathan’s Hotdogs and the Cyclone rollercoaster. With the street blocked off, the Army Corps has set up a scissor lift in order to scan trucks.

The article says the sand will eventually be returned to area beaches by the city’s Department of Environmental Protection after being inspected for public safety. In the meantime, instead of referring to Coney’s 15th Street dunes as a “TSS,” how about calling them a “TTA” – Temporary Tourist Attraction!

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November 1, 2012: Photos of the Day: Devastation at Coney Island’s Sea Gate

October 31, 2012: Photo Album: Hurricane Sandy’s Aftermath in Coney Island

October 29, 2012: Photos of the Day: Hurricane Sandy Approaches Coney Island

September 25, 2012: Video of the Day: Gotta Love Coney Island by Jay Singer

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