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ATZ’s “Top 10 Coney Island News Stories of 2011” was based on page views, but our fave posts didn’t make the cut. “Sometimes really great posts fall through the cracks, are too esoteric to be popular, or at least deserve another visit,” writes blogger Visualingual, whose exquisite “Looking Back: Best VL Posts of 2010,” (and 2011) inspired us to put together this round-up of ATZ faves. In Part 1 and 2 (tomorrow), you’ll find videos, photos, and an antique image or two to while away the last hours of 2011…

cat

Target the Cat, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

In February we dropped by the Bowery to visit Target the Coney Island Arcade Cat & His Friend Pretty. When the games are open for business, the gregarious Target is likely to be found sitting on the counter of the Balloon Dart. Even in the winter, he can be seen making his rounds.

Also in February, ATZ paid tribute to a legendary Coney Island ride inventor in “Bring Back the Whip! A Birthday Gift for William F Mangels.” But if you want to ride the Whip, you’ll have to take a trip to Rye Playland, Knoebels, Kennywood, Trimper’s or any one of the other parks or carnivals listed on ATZ’s Whip Census in the post. Coney Island, where this classic was invented in 1914, doesn’t have an operating Whip! In this video by sodadaze, you can see the ride in action at Knoebels set to the tune of Devo’s “Whip It.”

In March, ATZ posted historian and Coney Island History Project director Charles Denson’s latest video “Cyclone Roller Coaster: Four Seasons.” This behind-the-scenes look at Coney Island’s landmark roller coaster lets you walk the tracks – summer and winter – and get up close to the machinery in the motor room.

In March, ATZ learned via twitter that Coney Island’s Inexhaustible Cow, a 19th century attraction which dispensed milk for 5 cents a cup, had apparently survived. A Pennsylvania dealer of Americana was selling the wooden cow (milk not included) for $78,000. In Inexhaustible Cows & Bottomless Cups of Chocolate Milk, we looked into the history of the Coney Island cows –there was more than one–and reminisced about bottomless cups of chocolate milk for a quarter at the Michigan State Fair.

Cow, Coney Island from Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views. New York Public Library, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs

If you’re adept at reading letters backwards you’ll like this Flickr Slide Show: DNALSI YENOC –> CONEY ISLAND. The letters frame the view from Stillwell Terminal as visitors exit onto Surf Avenue. DNALSI YENOC is also the name of a flickr group started by Coney Island photographer Barry Yanowitz. The collection of photos document the view, which changed irrevocably in 2010 when the Henderson Building and Shore Hotel across the avenue were demolished by Thor Equities. A new building –touted as “The Retail Ride of a Lifetime” by Thor– is now rising on the empty lot.

One of our favorite photos of the summer of 2011 is this Photo of the Day: Umbrellas on Coney Island Beach. On the Fourth of July, photographer Jim McDonnell took this amazing shot of Coney Island’s beach brimming with colorful umbrellas. “The 4th itself started out hazy but turned hot, humid and incredibly crowded!” he said.

Beach Umbrellas in Coney Island

Beach Umbrellas in Coney Island. July 4, 2011. Photo © Jim McDonnell via smugmug

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Related posts on ATZ…

December 31, 2011: Amusing the Zillion’s Fave 11 Posts of 2011 – Part 2

December 27, 2011: Amusing the Zillion’s Top 10 Coney Island News Stories of 2011

November 15, 2011: Coney Island 2012: What’s New on the Boardwalk

January 1, 2011: Amusing the Zillion’s Top 10 Coney Island News Stories of 2010

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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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How did we miss this delightful little music video tribute to Coney Island made in June 2007 until today? We’ve fallen under the spell of the quirky arrangement and whimsical lyrics of “Million Dollar Mermaid.”

Make yourself green and wear something scanty
And we’ll make out to the sounds of sea shanties
Screams of the Cyclone, the sweet symphony
Photobooths, bumper cars, sideshows
And you’re here with me….

“Million Dollar Mermaid” is the work of genius keyboardist, composer and arranger Joe McGinty. He wrote the song as an homage to Coney in what was expected to be the last summer of Astroland. “Big changes are in store for Coney Island, and I wanted to capture my favorite memories in song,” McGinty wrote at the time. His cousin Edward McGinty made the beguiling video in which a boy and a girl enjoy a ride spree in Wonder Wheel Park, their grown-up counterparts waltz on the Boardwalk, and McGinty and his band Circuit Parade play “Million Dollar Mermaid.”

The former member of the Psychedelic Furs operates a vintage keyboard studio in Brooklyn and has released original music as part of McGinty and White, Circuit Parade, Baby Steps and Space Nutz. Visit Joe McGinty’s website for more marvelous music.

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