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Posts Tagged ‘Sandy’

Takeshi Yamada with Baby Mermaid in his Coney Island Studio. Photo via AMC Immortalized

Before Sandy: Takeshi Yamada with Baby Mermaid in his Coney Island Studio. Photo via AMC Immortalized

Tonight at 11 PM, Coney Island artist and rogue taxidermist Takeshi Yamada competes against a challenger in a “Heaven and Hell”-themed taxidermy contest on the 8th and final episode of AMC’s reality series “Immortalized.”

“I really don’t care about the others, Takeshi is the only one I want to watch,” says one of his fans on the series’ Facebook page. We agree, but he is one of our Coney Island friends. Yamada and his sea rabbit Seara are often seen strolling on the Boardwalk and we missed their usual promenade on New Year’s Day and Opening Day. The pair have been on an odyssey since Sandy. Says Yamada:

One of the themes of the show was “Odyssey.” It was exactly what happened. I faced Hurricane Sandy. Hurricane Sandy tried to kill me. It actually destroyed my house with over five feet of water lashing into my sculpture room, bedroom, and living room. And I saw it before — that is why I shipped my first art work [for Immortalized] a week before. If I hadn’t sent it, it would have been completely destroyed.

In Episode 3, “Odyssey,” which aired in February, Yamada displayed a bat-winged, dragon-tailed five-headed goat/fox monster with dragons circling above it and a hand-painted backdrop depicting hell. The “Heaven and Hell”-themed taxidermy art will be revealed in tonight’s episode.

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November 29, 2012: Coney Island Taxidermist Takeshi Yamada in AMC Reality Show

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Shoot the Clown

Shoot the Clown on Coney Island’s Bowery. March 31, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

Shoot the Freak has been reborn in Coney Island! A paintball game called Shoot the Clown opened on the Bowery this past weekend with a human target wearing a mask and body armor like the Boardwalk freak of yore. As you may remember, the game was evicted bulldozed by Zamperla in 2010 and replaced by the entrance to Scream Zone. But it seems long, long ago because so much has changed in Coney Island since then, including the building of Coney’s first new roller coasters in nearly 40 years and the devastation of Sandy.

Just to be clear, Shoot the Clown is run by longtime Coney Island game operator Caesar, who had to come up with a quick replacement for the Derby Racer destroyed by Superstorm Sandy. Framing a paintball game in the space was more practical than buying a brand-new track derby. In fact, another Coney Island operator had also considered the idea. The operator of Shoot the Freak on the Boardwalk was Anthony Berlingieri, who also operated Beer Island.

Shoot the Freak on Fourth of July. July 4, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

Shoot the Freak on Fourth of July. July 4, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

It wasn’t until Shoot the Freak got evicted that we began to realize how intensely some people loved it and others hated it, including some of our close friends. There were even obituaries for the popular game like Gawker’s “Sad Things: America Loses A National Treasure: Shoot the Freak” and New York Magazine’s “Let Us Now Mourn the Loss of Coney Island’s Shoot the Freak.” They’re worth a re-read and so are the comments by people who called the game amazing, annoying or a dump. We like this one best: “How do you mention Shoot the Freak without mentioning the announcer? I always thought that getting told, “ya a freakin’ losah and my dead grammuddah could shoot bettah den ya, ya freakin’ freak!” by some grody carny was the high point,” says NYAARON in New York Magazine.

Shoot the Clown has a talker too, an unseen presence calling people in to play. Since the game had no customers when we passed by briefly on Sunday, we didn’t get to hear much talk or see any action yet. It’s 5 shots for $3, ten for $5, and 25 for a tenner.

Somebody needs to tell Amanda Burden. The City’s Planning Commissioner once said that she “loved” and “would put in a vote for” Shoot the Freak even though she hadn’t tried it. That was back in 2007 at a press conference hyping the rezoning of Coney Island. Here’s the vid of the Mayor, Burden and then Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff answering a reporter’s question about whether the new Coney Island was going to have room for Shoot the Freak and sword swallowers. The videographer is the late Bob Guskind of Gowanus Lounge, who was Brooklyn’s blogfather and the inspiration for Amusing the Zillion.

Update: The Shoot the Clown game on the Bowery has closed.

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May 16, 2013: Shooting Gallery Revival in Post-Sandy Coney Island

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October 28, 2010: Photo Album: Requiem for Coney Island’s Shoot Out the Star

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12th Street Amusements, Coney Island

Post-Sandy Reconstruction Underway at 12th Street Amusements, Coney Island. March 24, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

While Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Luna Park, Scream Zone, the Cyclone and Eldorado Auto Skooters opened on Palm Sunday, post-Sandy recovery was still underway at the Guerrero family’s 12th Street Amusements. A crew working on the Polar Express told ATZ they expect to have the popular Himalaya ride open for Easter Weekend. Their Saturn 6 and Bumper Cars are also expected to reopen by Sunday, but the Ghost Hole dark ride may take a bit longer.

If you’ve never gone for a spin on the Saturn 6, it’s a classic flat ride and a rare find. “Right now, I believe the only one in existence is at Coney Island,” says a ride fan on the CoasterBuzz forum. “Some people think the newer Dartron Hurricane’s are the same thing but the Saturn 6 cars are fastened directly to the arm in a manner so as they do not pivot when they are raised. This is one of those rides you can hear from way down the midway. The loud pop of compressed air being released as the arms raise up & down.”

Here’s a photo of Coney Island’s Saturn 6 in action a few years ago by amusement park photographer Jim McDonnell:

The classic Saturn 6 ride is part of 12th Street Amusements. Photo © Jim McDonnell via smugmug

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Steeplechase Pier

Repairing Coney Island’s Sandy-damaged Steeplechase Pier, March 13, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Yesterday in Coney Island, for the first time we saw repair work being done on the Sandy-damaged Steeplechase Pier. The 1,000-foot-pier is a popular spot for fishing and for watching the Friday night fireworks, which begin on June 21st. In the past, it was also a favorite place for pier divers, who defied the “No Diving” signs for the thrill of the jump.

ATZ asked one of the workers when the pier would be open again. “We hope to have it open by July,” he said. When more info is available from the Parks Department we’ll post an update. Along with the Parachute Jump, which will be the centerpiece of the new Steeplechase Plaza, the rebuilt pier is a survivor of George C Tilyou’s Steeplechase Park.

UPDATE 4:17pm

ATZ received an email from Meghan Lalor of the Parks Department Press Office confirming the above info: “The entire Steeplechase Pier is being reconstructed. We expect to complete construction by July 4.” Yay and Hooray! Excited the pier will be open for fireworks watching for most of the summer. (Work was still underway on the pier as of Labor Day.)

UPDATE October 1, 2013

Over the weekend, word on the Boardwalk that Coney Island’s Steeplechase Pier would reopen today, Oct 1, almost but not quite true. After it’s inspected, sometime in October, a Parks Department spokesman tells ATZ. Soon!
Coney Island’s Steeplechase Pier to Reopen in October, ATZ, September 30, 2103

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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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Nathan's Surf Avenue

Post-Sandy Reconstruction: Nathan’s Famous on Surf Avenue. March 2, 2013. Photo © Jim McDonnell

The first Nathan’s hot dogs and french fries to be served in Coney Island since Sandy struck more than four months ago are on the horizon. In two weeks, the famous franks will be back on the Boardwalk! Nathan’s Boardwalk location, which expanded last season and suffered less damage from Sandy than the Surf Avenue store, is set to open in mid-March. One source tells ATZ the Nathan’s Boardwalk store will open on March 16, a Saturday, while another says March 18. Either way, we’ll let you know ASAP. UPDATE 1:35pm: ATZ confirmed with Nathan’s Corporate Office that the official opening date of their Boardwalk restaurant will be Monday, March 18th.

Over the weekend, the gut rehab at Nathan’s Famous original location on Surf Avenue continued with workers ripping out the counter and steel shutters, as seen in the above photo by Jim McDonnell. The interior as well as electrical and plumbing were ruined by the flood water and sewage that surged into the store during Superstorm Sandy. Sources tell ATZ the target date for completing the work and reopening Nathan’s main store at Surf and Stillwell Avenues is Memorial Day Weekend.

Ahead of March 24’s Opening Day for Coney Island’s amusement rides, some of Nathan’s neighbors on the Boardwalk such as Brooklyn Beach Shop, Nathan’s Gift Shop, and Ruby’s Bar and Grill have already been open “by chance” and expect to open on the weekend of March 16th. Lola Star Boutique and Paul’s Daughter are set to open on Palm Sunday Weekend. Tom’s Restaurant, which has been serving breakfast and lunch all winter, was exceptionally crowded over the weekend. Coney Island photographer Bruce Handy, who eats there every Sunday said, “Today we got the last table and they were holding people at the door.” Spring is in the wings and the crowds are coming back to Coney!

UPDATE March 7, 2013:

Nathan’s and Major League Eating announced they will hold the first qualifier for the 2013 Nathan’s 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest on Saturday, March 23, at 1 pm, at the Boardwalk restaurant as part of opening-weekend celebrations for Coney Island.

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Dunkin Donuts

Rebuilding After Sandy: Mario Tuna, owner of Dunkin Donuts in Stillwell Terminal, Coney Island. February 22, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

On an average weekday in February, nearly 12,000 people swipe their MetroCards at Coney Island’s Stillwell Terminal, the terminus for the D, F, N and Q lines, but there’s no place to stop and get a cup of coffee since Sandy. Unless you count the food truck at the Stillwell Avenue entrance. Four months after flooding and sewage ravaged the terminal during SuperStorm Sandy, the 24-hour Dunkin’ Donuts at Surf and Stillwell remains closed. On Friday we talked with Mario Tuna, the location’s franchisee, who happened to be painting the orange trim when we passed by. “We’re having a grand re-opening around March 15,” he told ATZ. The rehab of the store has been underway since January.

Painting

Painting in Progress. February 22, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins first opened in the reconstructed subway terminal in 2009. Due to extensive storm damage, the restaurant had to be completely renovated from the floor up and will get all new equipment. The cost of repairs is the responsibility of the franchisee, Tuna said. After Sandy, the stores that have managed to reopen in Stillwell Terminal are Subway, which is open 24 hours, and the newsstand. Neither of them sell coffee. The Bank of America’s ATMs have also been replaced.

Seasonal shops such as Lola Star Boutique, Brooklyn Beach Shop and two other gift shops in Stillwell Terminal also suffered damage and remain closed. Coney Island Gourmet Shop/Magic Gyro has not been been touched and essentially looks like it did in the days after the storm. McDonald’s on Stillwell and Mermaid Avenues, which was also open 24 hours, remains boarded up and closed but the majority of stores on Mermaid have reopened.

Dunkin Donuts Renovation

Dunkin Donuts Renovation: New floors, walls. January 30, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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