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Today's Banksy is in Coney Island. October 28, 2013. Photos via banksyny.com

Banksy in Coney Island. October 28, 2013. Photos via banksyny.com

WOW! Ask and you shall receive. On Friday, ATZ posted “Banksy Does Bumper Car, Has Yet to Do Coney Island” entreating the famed artist to visit Coney during his month-long “Better Out Than In” tour of New York City streets. Today he made it and our wish came true! Thank you so much, #banksyny. Banksy left this endearing robot spray-painting a barcode on a wall at Stillwell and Neptune. If you’re wondering about the significance of the number, it’s a nucleotide sequence for homo sapiens, according to Street Art News.

Banksy Coney Island

New Banksy on Neptune Avenue in Coney Island. October 28, 2013. Photo © Edward Muniz

The artwork is located at 1402 Neptune Avenue on the Stillwell side of a building that once housed a sign shop called Sign-O-Rama–how appropriate! Since Sandy devastated the neighborhood a year ago, it’s a former convenience store. This morning, ATZ messaged building owner Anthony Ruocco, a cousin to the Russo brothers of Gargiulo’s Restaurant, to give him a heads up about his good fortune and ask him to protect it. Since one of Banksy’s murals has sold for over $1 million, New York building owners who become the “accidental owner of a Banksy” have been hiring security guards and installing rolldown gates.

Banksy in Coney Island

Photographing the photographers taking photos of Banksy in Coney Island. October 28, 2013. Photo © Edward Muniz

Ruocco had been asked by the NYPD if he wanted to file a complaint against Banksy. Photographer Edward Muniz interviewed the building’s co-owner who said “I’m happy he chose us” and ordered a rolldown gate after his brother almost painted over the mural by mistake. Muniz had bicycled over to Neptune Avenue to take photos of people who had gathered to admire the Banksy. He noted that no one had tagged or defaced the artwork. “I’m so proud of Coney Island today! Everyone is respecting the piece and each other, everyone is getting their shots and having a good time,” he said in a post on a Facebook group. “I talked to people from all five boros, New Jersey, France and London! And after they got their shots they all walked down to the Boardwalk and Nathan’s to enjoy the sun.”

Banksy Coney Island

Rolldown Gate Installed to Protect Banksy in Coney Island. October 28, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

By 5PM, when photographer Bruce Handy arrived, the gate had been installed and the Banksy show was about to close for the day. A pregnant woman persuaded a worker to open the gate so she could pose for picture. Who knows, maybe she’ll name her baby Banksy? Jay Dow of WPIX also showed up, so you can see Coney Island’s Banksy on the 10 o’clock news.

We’ll update this post on Tuesday with info about viewing hours. The work, which is two blocks north of Surf Avenue, has the potential to draw tourists north of Stillwell Terminal.

Banksy Coney Island

Selfie with Banksy in Coney Island. October 28, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

As noted in our previous post, Coney Island has a rich tradition of street art. Os Gemeos, the Brazilian twins whom Banksy collaborated with on 24th Street in Chelsea have a 130-foot mural on Coney’s Stillwell Avenue across from the terminal that dates back to 2005. Work by Steve Powers, whose Dreamland Artists Club in collaboration with Creative Time brought new signage to Coney Island, can be seen on the staircase at Coney Island USA, the facade of West 12th Street’s Miss Coney Island and Skin the Wire, and the Eldorado Bumper Cars on Surf Ave. Sideshow banners by Marie Roberts have emblazoned the facade of Coney Island USA’s headquarters since 1997.

Banksy Coney Island

The Banksy artwork in Coney Island is two blocks north of Stillwell Terminal. October 28, 2013. Photo © Edward Muniz

UPDATE October 30, 2013:

The rolldown gate has been closed since it was installed on Monday evening. Pix of the gate and graffiti added to the wall are being posted on social media by people who came out to Coney to see the Banksy and were disappointed. The building owner needs to have a viewing schedule like the one in Williamsburg!

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October 26, 2013: Banksy Does Bumper Car, Has Yet to Do Coney Island

February 16, 2013: Photo Album: Post-Sandy MERCY Graffiti in Coney Island

October 10, 2011: Photo of the Day: Coney Island’s Famed “Hey Joey!” Doomed

April 15, 2011: Photo Album: Whimsical Murals Blossom in Coney Island

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The news that Nashville-based string band Old Crow Medicine Show is coming to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on March 7 reminded us how much we like their carnival-themed music vid for “Wagon Wheel.” Played more than 20 million times on YouTube since its debut in 2006, the video has the band on the bally stage of an old-timey carny girl show, with the girls shimmying up to the musicians as the ticket-seller counts his cash and the Rock-O-Plane whirls on the midway. It was shot in Smyrna, Tennessee, next to Snyder & Metts Amusements, which was owned by Hill Snyder and is now part of carnival history, says a poster on Matt’s Carnival Warehouse.

The band members have roots in Virginia and upstate New York, where fiddle player and vocalist Ketch Secor wrote “Wagon Wheel” as a teen. The song took its inspiration from bootleg tapes of Bob Dylan’s “Rock Me Mama” to which Secor added lyrics about hitchhiking to North Carolina.

According to music writer Peter Cooper, when Secor sought to copyright the song with Dylan for use on an album, he learned that Dylan credited the “Rock me, mama” chorus to bluesman Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, and Crudup probably borrowed his idea from an early 20th century recording by Big Bill Broonzy. “That song drags a heavy chain,” Secor told Cooper. “In a way, it’s taken something like 85 years to get completed.” Released in 2004, the song went platinum this year and the band was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.

Tickets for the March 7, 2014 concert at Barclays go on sale Friday, October 18, with pre-sale to fans via OCMS’s website now available. The band’s 2014 tour dates in support of the Avett Brothers also include Boston, Pittsburgh and Fairfax, VA. On December 30 and New Year’s Eve, OCMS will play Nashville’s legendary Ryman Auditorium.

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January 8, 2011: Music Video: Strange Powers by the Magnetic Fields

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Dragonfly

Dragonfly Visits Brooklyn Beach Shop, Coney Island Boardwalk. July 16, 2013. Photo © Maya Haddad Miller/Brooklyn Beach Shop

“We don’t know anything about what the dragonflies do when they get in the vicinity of the city,” says Michael L. May, a professor of entomology at Rutgers University in an article in the New Yorker. Now we do, they like to shop for beach gear in Coney Island.

On Tuesday, we received an email from Maya Haddad Miller of Brooklyn Beach Shop on the Coney Island Boardwalk: “Is this an annual thing? Hundreds of dragonflies show up around the same time each year? When I arrived this morning, it looked like over a hundred of them were swarming the boardwalk. I had a few in the shop from the night before. They fly in and out all day. I had a about five in the shop at the same time. I’m thinking its cause of the heat.”

Is Coney Island on the dragonflies’ migratory path or are they simply coming out to the beach to beat the heat like everyone else? A web search turned up a tweet from last year around this time that said, “Omg Coney Island is swamped with dragonflies – Williamsburg Night at the Cyclones game…” And also led us to Backyard and Beyond’s lovely photos of “Weekend Dragonflies” in Brooklyn Bridge Park two days ago. It’s definitely dragonfly time in Brooklyn

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June 17, 2013: Photo of the Day: Paquito the Chihuahua in Coney Island

May 21, 2013: Photo of the Day: Pretty the Coney Island Cat

May 8, 2013: Traveler: The Cats of Rimini’s Italia in Miniatura Park

April 1, 2013: Sea Rabbits Swim Ashore in Coney Island, Up For Adoption

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Friday Night Fireworks

Friday Night Fireworks with Wonder Wheel in Coney Island. Photo © Bruce Handy

UPDATE May 10, 2014: Readers are already starting to ask about this year’s fireworks, so here you go: The first Friday night fireworks show of Coney Island’s 2014 season will be on June 20, the eve of both the first day of summer and the Mermaid Parade. Schedule for 2014 fireworks is here.

The first Friday night fireworks show of Coney Island’s 2013 season will be on June 21, the first day of summer and the eve of the Mermaid Parade. This free weekly event continues every Friday through August 30. Sponsored by the Alliance for Coney Island, the pyrotechnic extravaganza starts at 9:30 pm. Best viewing is on the Boardwalk from West 10th to West 12th Streets or from the Wonder Wheel. Another popular viewing spot, Steeplechase Pier, is currently under renovation after damage from Superstorm Sandy and expected to reopen in July.

The Brooklyn Cyclones have also scheduled fireworks on the following six Saturdays after their home games as well as on one Tuesday – the team’s opening day, June 18th –and one Wednesday, which falls on July 3rd. This year every Saturday night fireworks show will have a special musical theme, including Jimmy Buffett, Bruce Springsteen and the Beatles. Ebbets Field 100th Anniversary, an old-time baseball exhibition, Scout sleepovers and other special events as well as the starting times for the games are listed on the Cyclones promo schedule.

Tuesday June 18 – BROOKLYN CYCLONES OPENING DAY – vs. Staten Island Yankees – Homecoming Fireworks
Saturday, June 22 – vs. Aberdeen IronBirds – Jimmy Buffett Fireworks
Saturday, June 29 – vs. Hudson Valley Renegades – Girl Power Fireworks
Wednesday, July 3 – vs. Staten Island Yankees – Patriotic Fireworks
Saturday, July 20 – vs. Batavia Muckdogs – Springsteen Fireworks
Saturday, Aug 10 – vs. State College Spikes – Billy Joel Fireworks
Saturday, August 17 – vs. Vermont Lake Monsters – Disney Fireworks
Saturday, August 31 – vs. Aberdeen IronBirds – Beatles Fireworks

The fireworks after the home games are shot off from MCU Stadium located between West 16th and West 19th Streets and are best viewed inside the ballpark or from the Boardwalk or adjacent streets.

UPDATE: A special Fourth of July Celebration and Fireworks Show was announced this week. The Brooklyn Cyclones and the Alliance for Coney Island are hosting the event at MCU Park. This means that Coney Island will have fireworks three days in a row — on July 3, 4 and 5! According to the news release for the July 4 event:

Admission is free, however donations will be accepted to benefit the Brooklyn Public Library and #ConeyRecovers, an initiative of local organizations working in partnership to assist with the recovery of the Coney Island community.

The gates will be open at 4:30 p.m. and all ballpark concessions and restrooms will be available to the public.

During the event, attendees can enjoy:
• A pig roast presented by Thomas Joseph Catering
• “Beers of New York” Beer Garden
• A special performance by the String Orchestra of Brooklyn
• Live music from oldies and Top 40 cover bands
• Family activities including the “Fastest Arm in Brooklyn Competition” on the Brooklyn Cyclones speed pitch

The event will culminate with a tremendous Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza at 9 p.m., preceded by a performance from the Brooklyn String Orchestra.

Fourth of July in Coney Island kicks off with the world-renowned Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest beginning with the women contestants at 11:30AM and the men at 12 noon at the Original Nathan’s of Coney Island located on Stillwell Avenue. Pre-show entertainment begins at 10:30AM

For more information, please call 718.37.BKLYN

When the weather is iffy on a day that fireworks are scheduled, check the Coney Island tweeters on Coney Island Fun’s list for updates. Thanks to People’s Playground photographer Bruce Handy for his splendid photo of one of last summer’s fireworks shows.

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May 13, 2013: Grimaldi’s Rings in Coney Island Comeback with Dreamland Bell

April 16, 2013: Photo of the Day: Coney Island Sunset by Bruce Handy

April 2, 2013: Shoot the Freak Reborn in Coney Island as Shoot the Clown

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The Wonder Wheel Cars Were Put Back on the Wheel on Saturday..March 17, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

The Wonder Wheel Cars Were Put Back on the Wheel on Saturday. March 17, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

After being rolled out of winter storage last week, the Wonder Wheel’s cars were put back up on the wheel on Saturday. The annual ritual is the first sign of spring in Coney Island. Being there to see the 24 cars go up, the Swinging ones first and then the Stationary, is like seeing crocuses bloom before your eyes. The date the cars go up is subject to the vagaries of wind, weather and work schedules. This year, we managed to miss seeing it once again! Luckily, Coney Island photographer Bruce Handy was on the Boardwalk when the brackets went up around noon, followed by the red and blue cars. You can see a slide show of his set here. The Wonder Wheel and the rest of Coney Island’s rides go for their first official spin of the season on Palm Sunday, which is just five days away.

Wonder Wheel

Stationary White Cars Ready to Go Up on the Wonder Wheel, March 13, 2013. Photo via Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park flickr

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March 17, 2013: Photo Album: Coney Island Getting Ready for Opening Day

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RAE

Street Art by RAE in Coney Island, March 16, 2013

Brooklyn street artist RAE created this wonderfully quirky sculpture the other day in Coney Island. The figure made from a chair and pieces of a police barrier strikes a debonair pose in his shiny metal top hat and painted cane. We hope he sticks around. In January, RJ Rushmore of street art blog Vandalog named RAE one of the “10 Street Artists to Watch in 2013” in an article for Complex:

Rae practices good placement, which is one of the most important considerations for exciting street art. He installed a sculpture at a New York City Subway station entrance that looked like a piece of public art and a mural in Chicago that took into account the surrounding trees. I can’t wait to see what he tries next.

ATZ has been following RAE’s work via twitter ever since one of his works popped up on a Coney street corner opposite the Cyclone. Good placement!

RAE

Street Art by RAE in Coney Island, March 16, 2013

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Friscia Pharmacy

Friscia Pharmacy, Mermaid Ave at W 15th St, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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“Mermaid Avenue that’s the street where the sun and storm clouds meet,” wrote Woody Guthrie in his 1950 song “Mermaid’s Avenue.” Four months after Superstorm Sandy devastated Coney Island, ATZ took a drive down the neighborhood’s shopping street to see how many stores had reopened. Our impression, seconded by people who live or work in the neighborhood, was about 70 per cent.

“A lot more places have opened up. It’s a credit to the Mom and Pops,” said Eric Levy, editor of Astella Action News. The local newspaper is published by Mermaid Avenue’s Astella Development. The not-for-profit community organization was one of several that lost everything and is currently sharing a trailer on West 17th Street with the Alliance for Coney Island, Coney Recovers, Project Hope and Brooklyn Community Services. Levy says they expect to move back to their rehabbed storefront at 1618 Mermaid Avenue next month.

7 N 7 Suprette

7 N 7 Suprette, Open 24 Hours, 3030 Mermaid Avenue, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The majority of the reopened stores are bodegas, drugstores, and small businesses like the local 7-Eleven lookalike in the photo above. Rebecca, whose family owns the pawn shop at Mermaid and West 21st Street, told ATZ that their store had a grand reopening party on December 15th. They brought in a pizza truck and gave out promotional items as well as raffle tickets for Nets games and cash cards.

It’s taking longer for some of the businesses that are part of the corporate world to rebuild after the storm. Among the stores that haven’t reopened yet are the MacDonald’s at 1403 Mermaid Avenue and 608 Neptune Avenue, which were still boarded up when we drove by. Cleanup efforts finally got underway over the past few days at the Mermaid Avenue restaurant. MacDonald’s Corporate Office did not respond to a request for comment. (A few days after this story was posted renovations started. In April they began hiring and expect to reopen in May.)

Citibank

Citibank, Mermaid Ave at W 30th St, Coney Island. February 22, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Citibank at 3002 Mermaid also remains closed. “Our temporary Citibank branch will open in July as we rebuild our previous location, which was severely damaged after Hurricane Sandy,” Catherine Pulley of Citi Public Affairs told ATZ. “Citibank is deeply committed to our customers and the community of Coney Island. We are working as quickly as possible to return to our previous location and reopen our doors.”

Chase’s branch on Mermaid at 17th Street is also closed due to storm damage, but the bank set up a mobile branch on December 6 and currently does business out of a trailer in their parking lot.

Coney Island Library

Coney Island Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. Mermaid Avenue at 17th St. February 22, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The post office, which was operating out of trailer until about a week ago, has reopened. But the saddest story on Mermaid Avenue has to be the shuttered Coney Island Library. When we drove by it looked even more abandoned than it did in December. Ruined books litter the boarded-up, fenced off entryway. Urban Librarians Unite’s mini-library box inviting one to “Take a Free Book” stands empty. The Brooklyn Public Library’s Bookmobile service is provided on Thursdays from 11am to 4pm in front of the library, but the children who used the computers must miss them. The branch of the Brooklyn Public Library is not expected to reopen until October at the earliest.

A few weeks after Sandy, the Daily News reported that five Brooklyn libraries wrecked by Sandy will require $10 million in repairs with the Coney Island location being one of the most seriously damaged. 35,177 books and DVDs were lost. You can make a contribution to rebuild the library on the Brooklyn Public Library’s website. Make sure to select “Additional Options – I would like to direct my donation to Coney Island.”

This set of photos was taken on Mermaid Avenue on February 22, 2013, and on December 5 and November 17, 2012. The most recent photos are first…

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February 27, 2013: Coney Island’s 24-Hour Dunkin Donuts to Reopen in March

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

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

June 21, 2012: Photo Album: Mermaid Avenue Murals and Public Art

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