Saturday, September 23, 2006

For the Birds!

As the lights on the Parachute Jump seemed dim to begin with – it’s now lights out for the famed structure.

Well, at least, not completely but rather during the fall and spring seasons. So far the Parachute Jump is the only Brooklyn building or structure to be part of the "Lights Out NY" program and only one out of six structures citywide.

“Lights Out NY” is a program in its third year that encourages buildings to turn off lights late at night. The lights interfere with the migratory patterns of birds that pass through New York City on route to their breeding grounds. The program is also an incentive for an opportunity to save energy. “Call it, Save two birds with one stone”, says executive director of Building Owners and Managers Association, Roberta McGowen.

A coalition of public and private interests which include the New York City Audubon Society are encouraging other building owners and managers to join the program to save the birds. Five million birds fly through New York City during the migration season. With the stars and the moon as their usual navigation reference, thousands never make it to their destined breeding grounds. So many of these birds of various species which include sparrows, hawks, and warblers to name a few, become disoriented and clash with buildings or encircle them exhaustively until most of them plummet.

This has been a problem for many years. “The World Trade Center’s Twin Towers were once hated in aviary circles for the way in which they ensnared birds in their glow - an irony considering the events of 9-11”, says Yigal Gelb for the New York City Audubon Society.

“I’m happy to be a poster child” for the “Lights Out” program, said Parachute Jump lightning designer Leni Schwendinger. She went on to further explain that she was more than happy to re-program the tower’s lighting scheme which will take place during the fall and spring migratory seasons.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006



The 6th annual installment of the Coney Island Film Festival hits the shores of Coney Friday, October 6th through Sunday, October 8th. This year's festival features eighty-one films from around the world; a stunning array of high and low-brow fare, as diverse as the neighborhood it represents. Subjects range from the profound to the profane, showcasing the independent spirit and irreverent nature of the one and only Coney Island. This year's centerpiece film is director Stephen Verona's lost classic Boardwalk, starring film legends Ruth Gordon, Janet Leigh, and Actor's Studio founder Lee Strasberg. Unseen since its limited original release, the film is a dramatic look at life during Brighton Beach and Coney Island's dark days of the late 1970s (the same era as The Warriors, which also screens in the festival). Three outstanding documentary features will have their New York premieres at CIFF this year; American Carny: True Tales From The Circus Sideshow, a tour through America's modern sideshows starring Coney's own Todd Robbins; My Life as an Underdog, about Suzanne Muldowney, the fame-hungry dancer and costume designer who through sheer force of will became one of NY's most noted parade fixtures; and Holes In My Shoes, the life story of unsung hero Jack Beers (94) – a true New Yorker’s film! Raised in sheer poverty, Jack was New York City's Strongest Boy, erected the famous Radio City Music Hall marquee and Empire State Building spire, shortened WWII, was a professional dog trainer, and was in over 200 films...this infectious and inspiring man is still going strong (and performing feats of strength)! [Jack Beers, now 96, will be attending] The Coney Island Film festival also offers a huge variety of shorts, from award-winning experimental films (The Clean Machine), to new shorts from master animators (Signe Baumane's Dentist and Bill Plympton's Guide Dog), and even an educational film highlighting the struggles of day-to-day life as a zombie (Zombie-American, starring The Daily Show's Ed Helms). A cavalcade of shorts (9 to be exact) which use Coney Island as their backdrop, screens at 2pm on Saturday. This program features The Green Flash (1989) which stars Omar Epps (House, The Mod Squad, Major League 2) in his first film role. The festival will begin with an Opening Night Gala on October 6th. American Carny: True Tales from the Circus Sideshow screens at 7:30pm at Sideshows by the Seashore followed by an opening night party, 9:30 p.m. at The Coney Island Museum. It's an evening of live sideshow performance, music, and burlesque that will kick off the festival with a riotous bang. For the full schedule and a complete list of films and events at the festival visit The Coney Island Film Festival is produced by and is presented in partnership with the non-profit arts organization Coney Island USA. The mission of Coney Island USA is to operate a multi-arts center offering affordable museum and theater programming to an audience of all New Yorkers. Through an imaginative approach combining the performing and visual arts rooted in the traditions of P.T. Barnum, vaudeville and Coney Island itself the non-profit seeks to revitalize the community from which it takes its name.

Event: The Coney Island Film Festival
When: Friday, October 6 - Sunday, October 8, 2006
Prices: Opening Night Gala screening & party: $25
Screening Tickets: $6
Festival Pass: $45 includes everything except “The Warriors”
Saturday Day Pass: $15 includes everything except “The Warriors”
“The Warriors”: $10
Sunday Day Pass: $10
Where: Films screen at Sideshows by the Seashore (3006 W. 12th St.)
and the Coney Island Museum (1208 Surf Ave.) in Coney Island, Brooklyn.

Rob Leddy, Festival Director,
Dick Zigun, Coney Island USA,
Members of the media seeking credentials email

Sunday, September 17, 2006

CIFF Oct 6th - Oct 8th 2006

As described in the CIFF Web Site: The mission of the Coney Island Film Festival is to raise funds for the non-profit arts organization Coney Island USA and to present an engaging and entertaining program of films in the heart of Brooklyn's most storied neighborhood.
The Coney Island Film Festival screens a truly eclectic range of films from the U.S. and all over the world and much to the delight of our audience features a number of "made in Coney Island" productions each year. In 2006 the Coney Island Film Festival is celebrating it's sixth anniversary.
The festival's ties to carny culture are undeniable. The main screening venue is the legendary Sideshows by the Seashore theater, home to America's last authentic 10-in-1 circus sideshow. Our infamous opening night celebrations feature live performances by sideshow & burlesque stars.

The Coney Island Film Festival 2006
at the Sideshows by the Seashore
and the Coney Island Museum

3006 W.12th St. @ Surf Ave.
Oct 6th - 8th
Tickets: $6.00

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Bindlestiff Family Cirkus Doc Screening

Bindlestiff Family Cirkus: The First Ten Years documentary screening at Coney Island September 16, 2006 Coney Island, NY. CONEY ISLAND SATURDAY NIGHT FILM SERIES presented by & Coney Island USA is hosting the NY debut of the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus: The First Ten Years documentary. Now, for the very first time, Bindlestiff recounts its history, presenting an astonishing extravaganza of highlights from its first decade of performances. They come to you in an unparalleled digital command performance.
Join them at the Coney Island Museum
1208 Surf Ave., between Stillwell Ave. & W. 12th St.
Tickets $5.00. Free Popcorn!
Shows start at 8:30pm, doors open 8pm.

ALSO catch the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus at Spiegeltent in NYC

This September the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus will be presenting shows throughout the month under the Big Top. Come down to the South Street Seaport in Manhattan and experience a grand spectacle.
In the memorable Spiegeltent
at the Fulton Street Fish Market
South Street under the Brooklyn Bridge
Pier 17, NYC.
Six - all ages shows. One - adults only show!

Friday, September 15, 2006

A Coney Cousin Gets the Trump Axe!

[I Miss Greyton -]
This summer will be the last for an Atlantic City institution.
Leave it to a Trump to do away with another remnant of ‘America's Favorite Playgrounds'
After more than 100 years, the Steel Pier will close at the end of the summer season. The pier is owned by Trump Entertainment and Resorts, and will make way for a mixed-use development including stores, restaurants and hotel rooms.
Seems Atlantic City is gearing itself more to adults. Because as it is, there is very little in the form of amusement options for the young.
The steel pier, which opened in 1898, now offers amusement rides and carnival games, and once was the home of the famous diving horse. The exact closing date has not been announced
The Boardwalk amusement park adjacent to the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort was famous for many popular acts making this storied century-long run destination as the "Showplace of the Nation".
Opening in 1898, the Steel Pier delighted crowds for decades with big-name entertainers ranging from Al Jolson to Frank Sinatra, daredevil stunt performers and hard-to-believe animal acts that included the diving horse and Rex the Wonder Dog, a water-skiing canine in the 1930s. One memorable oddity was the diving bell, which took thrillseekers underwater in murky seas. W.C. Fields got his show-business start as a minstrel at the Pier. It also hosted many big musical acts and had five entertainment theaters in its prime

Anthony Catanoso and his family have operated the Steel Pier amusement park for about 15 years under contract with Donald Trump's casino company. 'We are not happy to lose the pier,' Catanoso said. Known as the 'Showplace of the Nation' during its glory days.

Fears are that the Steel Pier's closing will mean the end of family entertainment in Atlantic City. They urge Trump to scrap the redevelopment plan so that the pier could be preserved for children's amusements

Catanoso noted the pier's place in community charity work, including days when the amusement park is opened to local children for free and to reward students for perfect attendance in school. All that, he said, will disappear when the pier closes.

However, Donald Trump says he is close to hooking up with a Tokyo video games giant, Sega Enterprises Limited, to renovate the Steel Pier here.
Trump officials said the $20 million plan included a high-tech, family-oriented amusement park. They did not say whether they would bring back the pier's famous diving horse.

Steel Pier [Official Site]

Jersey Steel Pier pic & history Site [Steel Pier]

Many Remember High Diving Horse Show [NBC 10 - Philadelphia]
(Video & Picture Slideshow included)