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Archive for January, 2013

This clip for AMC’s new reality show “Immortalized” introduces Coney Island artist Takeshi Yamada and his world of rogue taxidermy. It’s exciting to see our friend and his sea rabbit Seara, who are among the Boardwalk’s most recognizable eccentrics, on the cusp of TV stardom.

“People love freak show. People are attracted to freaks,” says Yamada as he shows off the taxidermied oddities in his Museum of World of Wonders. “I am one of the most famous freak show gaff masters. A freak show gaff master’s job is to make fake creations such as Fiji Mermaid, Chupacabra, Hairy Trout, those kind of things…”

In the unscripted series, Yamada is one of four “Immortalizers” who will face off against challengers in a taxidermy competition. “I had a great time creating truly monumental scale and spectacular rogue taxidermy monsters for this TV series,” Yamada told ATZ in an interview (“Coney Island Taxidermist Takeshi Yamada in AMC Reality Show,” Nov 29, 2012). “Immortalized” consists of eight, half-hour episodes and premieres on Thursday, February 14 at 10pm.

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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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Tin Toy

La Boule Mysterieuse Tin Toy, 1906. Potter and Potter Auctions

Legend has it that circus contortionist Leon LeRoche took his inspiration for “La Boule Mysterieuse” from a popular gambling game that set up outside the show’s tent in Romania. After gamblers placed bets on one of several numbers, the showman let a ball roll from the top of a foot-high spiral, shouting as the ball made its way to the winning number. LaRoche’s legendary act, which was celebrated by this 1906 tin litho toy, had him scaling a 12-foot high spiral while inside a metal ball that rolled slowly and mysteriously upwards.

Boule Mysterieuse

La Boule Mysterieuse Tin Toy, 1906. Potter and Potter Auctions

“If it had not been evident that the idea of the trick had come to him from seeing the spiral of the Turkish showman, one would positively have believed the whole thing to be a miracle,” according to LaRoche’s story in the 1928 book Star Turns. The trick was regarded as “an unfathomable mystery, a sudden stroke of genius. Everywhere the agents arranged performances of the Man of Wonder with his troupe.” LaRoche doubled the height of the spiral to 24 feet and by the time he began touring with Barnum and Bailey in 1896, the track was 30 feet tall.

“Pull the string on the toy and it duplicates his feat,” says the catalogue description for the antique toy, which was made in Paris by Fernand Martin. On February 2nd “La Boule Mysterieuse” will be on the auction block at Potter & Potter in Chicago. The pre-sale estimate is $800-$1,000 and the online sale already has bids.

Serendipitously, Tin Mania in the U.K. also has one of these rarities for sale and made the delightful video below to publicize it. The price is 1,119 GBP (1,889 US Dollars)

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Related posts on ATZ…

December 22, 2012: ATZ Review: Legendarium at The Big Apple Circus

February 22, 2012: Rare & Vintage: 1930s Tin Litho Bumper Car Wind-Up Toy

July 13, 2011: Circus Portraits: Photography by Kevin C Downs

December 19, 2010: Rare & Vintage: Original Coney Island Motordrome Bike

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Coney Island: Winter's First Snow

Coney Island: Winter’s First Snow. January 25, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

It’s about time it snowed! In past years, ATZ has posted Bruce Handy’s first snow of the season photos in December and once in October during the weather event known as Snowtober. “I was on the beach near the water earlier about 5, when I felt the wind shift, all the seagulls took off, the snow front had arrived,” says the Coney Island resident and photographer, who took this series of photos on Friday night. His elongated shadow appears on the snowy boardwalk in the photo above.

Coney Island: Winter’s First Snow

Coney Island: Winter’s First Snow. January 25, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

On the roof of Paul’s Daughter, Papa Burger looks out at the sparkly boardwalk and the silent and motionless rides of Luna Park and Wonder Wheel Park. Luna Park’s colorful Balloon Expedition, seen below, looks like a sugar coated confection.

Coney Island: Winter’s First Snow

Coney Island: Winter’s First Snow. January 25, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

“The snowflakes were very light, very silvery, and it was not cold,” says Bruce Handy, who only saw one other person on his photowalk. “Timeless feeling when it snows, like a dream, you can imagine the rides running packed with people.”

Coney Island: Winter's First Snow

Coney Island: Winter’s First Snow. January 25, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

The 12th Street side of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park is illuminated by vintage light fixtures made by amusement ride manufacturer William F. Mangels, whose factory was once on 8th Street in Coney Island. The park’s vintage kiddie fire engines and pony cart rides were made there.

Coney Island: Winter's First Snow

Coney Island: Winter’s First Snow. January 25, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

“And as I’m walking, I’m having a future memory of how this spot will be in the future, the B&B Carousell music playing,” says Bruce Handy of this shot of the Parachute Jump and the new pavilion for the antique carousel, which will open this season. “When I’m in the falling snow, I lose all sense of time, could be years, could be seconds.”

Coney Island: Winter's First Snow

Coney Island: Winter’s First Snow. January 25, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

Snowy midway in Wonder Wheel Park and wintry Cyclone! In just 56 days –March 24, 2013– the wheel will spin and the roller coaster will go for its first run of the season.

Coney Island: Winter's First Snow.

Coney Island: Winter’s First Snow. January 25, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

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Related posts on ATZ…

October 31, 2011: Photo Album: Snowtober in Coney Island by Bruce Handy

December 27, 2010: Photo of the Day: First Snow on Coney Island Boardwalk

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

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

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Friday’s forecast of snow showers with accumulations of less than an inch makes us feel nostalgic for the snowstorms of past years. Jonathan Pineau Bonetti shot “Coney Island Song of the Silent Snow” in Coney Island and Brighton Beach on Christmas Weekend 2010. That was the year the Polar Bears, who appear in the film, got a snow swim as a Christmas present! Time to bring in the snow machines?

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January 1, 2013: Videos of the Day: Coney Island Polar Bear New Year’s Day Plunge 2013

December 28, 2012: Amusing the Zillion’s Top 10 Coney Island Videos of 2012

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

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

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Occupy Sandy

Twitter Page for Occupy Sandy’s Warehouse in Coney Island

Last week, Occupy Sandy said goodbye to 520 Clinton Street as their main distribution center and opened a warehouse in the basement of the landmarked Childs Building in Coney Island’s amusement area. Helpavists, as Occupy Sandy calls volunteers, pumped flood water out of the basement, which was still there two and half months after Sandy. They proudly took their first delivery of supplies: 600 gallons of water on 22 pallets from City Harvest.

Located on 21st Street, the site is steps away from the Parachute Jump and across the street from where the Seaside Summer Concerts are held in the summer and school buses park during the winter months. Unlike the Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew in Clinton Hill, the Coney Island warehouse is not open to the public: “@OSWarehouse is NOT a public hub but a decentralized warehouse. Please visit http://www.occupysandy.org & @SandyRegistry to support our efforts!”

According to the Coney Island page on Occupy Sandy’s website: “In Coney Island, the main volunteer hub that we are working out of is across the street from 2828 Neptune Ave. We are currently organizing volunteering events on certain days – but the location is not open regular hours. So, in order to volunteer to help with canvassing and supply distribution in Coney Island, please register as an Occupy Sandy volunteer and we will send you emails when volunteering events are scheduled in Coney Island.”

Designated a New York City landmark in 2003, Coney Island’s terracotta palace by the sea has been boarded up for the past few years after being enlivened by the Mermaid Parade Ball and Lola Star’s Dreamland Roller Rink. The rink operated rent-free on the Boardwalk side of the property for two years until 2010, when the high cost of insurance caused leaseholder Taconic Investment Partners to shutter the space. In August, there was news that the City planned to develop the building and an adjacent lot into an entertainment complex for Borough President Marty Markowitz’s Seaside Summer Concerts, but an official announcement has yet to be made.

UPDATE September 26, 2013:

The City’s plan to convert the former restaurant into an amphitheater for live concerts is now working its way through City Planning and the City Council approval, though it was voted down by the community board. “Clock Ticking on Plan for the Landmark Childs Building,” ATZ, September 25, 2012.

Related posts on ATZ…

December 7, 2012: Photo Album: Signs of the Times in Post-Sandy Coney Island

November 4, 2012: Coney Island Post-Sandy: A Few Stores Reopen, Most Delayed by Damage

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

August 24, 2012: New Life for Coney Island’s Terracotta Palace by the Sea

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Usually we tweet event listings instead of posting them on the blog, which is why you should be following ATZ on twitter. Today is an exception since there happens to be a trio of Coney Island special events outside of Coney, where it’s freeeezing on the Boardwalk. The three events are pretty much at the same time so you’ll have to choose…

“Last Summer at Coney Island” at Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture

When “Last Summer at Coney Island” premiered in August 2010 at BAM, the audience got teary eyed during the scene in which Astroland’s lights were extinguished, ride by ride, for the final time, and the illuminated Astrotower made its last descent. The award-winning documentary by JL Aronson chronicles changing times in Coney Island with riveting scenes featuring Thor Equities CEO Joe Sitt and Astroland owner Carol Hill Albert, among others. The film ends with the City Council passing the rezoning in July 2009. Presented as part of the Film Wax series “Brooklyn Reconstructed,” the screening will be followed by a discussion with the film-maker and Nate Bliss of the Alliance for Coney Island and NYC Economic Development Corporation about how Coney Island is faring today.

Wednesday, January 23rd at 7:00pm at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture, 53 Prospect Park West in Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY, 11215. Suggested $5 donation.

Coney Island Circus Sideshow at the Slipper Room

While Coney Island USA’s theater is closed for renovations after flood damage from Superstorm Sandy, the Coney Island Sideshow is performing on Wednesday nights all winter long at the Slipper Room. This week’s stars are knife-thrower extraordinaire The Great Throwdini and his target girl Lynn, and sword swallowers and fire eaters Kryssy Kocktail and Adam Realman. Last week Adam debuted the sensational act shown in the video — blowing up a hot water bottle till it bursts!

Wednesday, January 23rd. Doors at 7:00 pm, Show at 8:00 pm. Slipper Room, 167 Orchard St, New York, NY, 10002. Over 21. Tickets $10.

Brews for the New York Aquarium at Brooklyn Brewery

Sponsored by the Young Patrons Program of the Wildlife Conservation Society, Wednesday’s “Brews for NYAQ” is a fundraiser for the New York Aquarium, which is also closed due to damage from Sandy. The event includes drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and a presentation at 8:30pm by Jon Forrest Dohlin, WCS Vice President and Director, New York Aquarium. In Charles Denson’s film shown above, Dohlin dives Coney Island Creek in a Mark V diving helmet. The film was shot several days before the hurricane and the flooding of the Creek.

Wednesday, January 23rd from 7:30pm-10:30pm. Brooklyn Brewery, #1 Brewers Row, 79 North 11th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11249. Tickets $50 online, $65 at door.

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Related posts on ATZ…

December 10, 2012: Coney Island Nonprofits Begin to Raise Funds After Sandy

December 7, 2012: Photo Album: Signs of the Times in Post-Sandy Coney Island

November 24, 2012: Coney Island Post-Sandy: A Few Stores Reopen, Most Delayed by Damage

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

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Chance Skydiver Car

Chance Skydiver Car. Neven + Neven Moderne, Hudson, NY

It’s sad when retired carnival rides go unsold or are broken up for parts. We can only hope the old cars find an appreciative new home. For $3,500, you can spin yourself silly in this restored Skydiver ride car being offered by Neven + Neven Moderne, an art dealer in Hudson, New York. “Has wheels (not attached), for moving. Can be mounted to spin, or can sit on wheels,” according to the item’s description.

Produced from 1965 to 1979 by Chance Manufacturing, the Skydiver was a Ferris wheel-like ride whose cars were equipped with a steering wheel that let riders do barrel rolls. It’s considered a classic by ride aficionados but very few parks and carnivals have Skydivers nowadays.

During its heyday, state fair midways featured as many as three Skydivers in a row for the flash. Coney Island had a Skydiver as well as Chance’s one and only double Skydiver, called the Tumbler. Both rides were owned and operated by the McCullough family, who had rides in Coney Island for more than 50 years.

If you want to ride, you can still find a Skydiver at Lakemont Park in Pennsylvania, Silverwood in Idaho, and at fairs played by the traveling carnivals Christiansen Amusements, Campy’s Amusements and Powers Great American Midway.

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September 4, 2012: Exclusive: McCullough’s Kiddie Park Closing After 50 Years in Coney Island

May 18, 2012: Rare & Vintage: Pinto Bros. Pony Cart from Coney Island

December 19, 2010: Rare & Vintage: Original Coney Island Motordrome Bike

May 21, 2009: Astroland Closed But Your Kid Can Still Ride the USS Astroland This Summer!

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