Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Take A Walk Around The Blog With Us Here At Kinetic Carnival

"A Walk Around The Blog" is series that profiles Brooklyn bloggers. It is a part of the news magazine program Brooklyn Review that airs on Brooklyn Independent Television.

In this episode Ben Nadler of Kinetic Carnival
talks to some of the folks at Surfside Gardens in Coney Island about the future of their community garden as development plans threaten to convert their beautiful garden to low-cost housing.

Threatened Community Gardens
Brooklyn Independent Television

Coney Vid: Another Look At "Fatty" Arbuckle's Coney Short

The Voyages Extraordinaire website brings us the "Fatty" Arbuckle comedy short "Coney Island" (1917). If you haven't seen this one before, there are a few shots of Luna Park. You can see all three parts.

Voyages Extraordinaire writes:

After our look at the historical Coney Island amusement park, a turn-of-the-century icon of American entertainment, it is only fitting to present the 1917 comedy short Coney Island. This film stars Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle and his then-partner Buster Keaton, but is as notable for both The Great Stone Face's emoting and its scenery of Coney Island.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Gowanus Lounge Celebrates Birthday With New Look And Site

Happy Birthday to one of the best blogs around. The Gowanus Lounge has proven to be a dynamic source of news and information covering Brooklyn - one of the most interesting places in the world. While doing so they were sure to never fall short of their keen passion for Coney Island.

The Gowanus Lounge writes:
The time has come. We've gone live with our new GL site, Please reset your bookmarks or get used to typing in and leaving out the blogspot. Most important, please, please, please reset your RSS feed. We apologize for this one-time inconvenience and really hope you'll stay with it. We think the new look is better and easier to read and give us a lot more functionality. GL will still be here, but other than reminders to move, we won't be putting up new posts here. The archives, of course, will remain, but we've also migrated them, in full, to the new site.

Happy Birthday
Gowanus Lounge. We look forward to your next year and thousands of daily postings!

Charles Denson on The New Plan

The city's revised plan was first announced two weeks ago in a New York Times article. It's therefore only fitting that the best criticism of the plan should be found in the Village Voice's Neil deMause article:

Coney Island historian Charles Denson was shocked to hear, in a phone call the night before the Times piece ran, that the city was switching gears. "The original plan was a compromise, and I supported that completely," says Denson. "In exchange for saving the amusement area, they were allowing 5,000 condos at the outer edge. Now it's such a reversal --although it does preserve a small amusement area, it's so completely different from what they'd initially proposed that you have to wonder what's going on behind the scenes."

Locals Fear City Will Destroy Coney Island In Order To Save It [The Village Voice]

- post by Ben Nadler

Roller Coaster Pioneer Honored With Street Corner

The corner of Stillwell and Mermaid Avenues has been dedicated as "Granville T. Woods Way" in honor of a prolific African-American inventor of the early Twentieth century. While Woods is best known for creating subway safety technology, he is most important to Coney for his contributions to the creation of roller coaster technology. A true Coney Island hero, if ever there was one.

Recchia Announces Street Renaming To Honor Technology Pioneer [Brooklyn Daily Eagle]

- post by Ben Nadler

Friday, April 25, 2008

Coney Events: The Surf Cafe Grand Opening

Coney Island's newest edition celebrates their 'official' grand opening this Saturday.

From 12 - 3 pm we will be giving away:
Ciao Bella Gelato Samples
Corona King Ices

Tickets For Dinner Cruise around NYC
Tickets to Hot 97 Jam Concert

Plus Big Bird, Elmo, Dora and many other characters will be there!

So, come on out to the
Surf Cafe, brought to you by Karen & Christine. They're directly across from Nathan's.

The new Surf Cafe Grand Opening
Saturday, April 26th, 2008
Noon - 3pm giveaways
1317 Surf Avenue

Sideshow School Registration Now Open

From the Coney Island USA e-mail announcement:

Have you ever dreamed of running away with the circus? Did anyone evercall you a freak? Well, now's your chance to become one! Coney Island USA will be offering three different programs during this summer's Sideshow School sessions!

Sideshow Skills will be offered during the summer for the first time!See dates, times and enroll for class

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Before This Coney Blog There Was Another!

As with typical Coney tradition - well before the Brooklyn blogosphere exploded onto the scene a couple of years back, there was already a Brooklyn blog right here in Coney Island. And we thought Kinetic Carnival was the first Coney Island blog.

Direct from Coney Island USA, in early 2002 with a couple of posts, the Coney Island News and Events blog began. Though it lay dormant and floating out there in the world wide web, it has now been revived. This April, the blog has been started up again as a construction blog - posting about the Coney Island USA building renovations currently taking place. They also invite you to come inside and see for yourself the transformation in the process. Below are photos from the space that used to house the recruiting office.

The Coney Island News and Events blog

All New And Improved Blog!
You probably didn't even know this existed, did you?

It's been years since anyone updated this, but I'm going to jump back into things now, with a series of updates about our building project. As reported in the news, we here at Coney Island USA bought our building last year and we're starting the renovations necessary to move into the storefronts on Surf Ave. It's not a huge project by the standards of most businesses, but it's a pretty big step for us and it's going to make a HUGE difference on Surf Ave. and to the Museum.

Aaron Bebe

I guess one of the problems with working in a cave-like office with no windows or climate control deep in the bowels of an old building in Coney Island is that you forget how little the people outside actually know about what you're doing.

That's why this blog is such a
great idea.

The project is expected to be completed by mid-May with a grand opening party. The new expansion will give the museum and Freak Bar a bigger presence on the street to draw in the crowds. Also new will be the Coney Island Lager on tap, along with a few new sideshow beers, as well as brand new merchandise for sale at the giftshop.

Visit the
Coney Island News and Events blog for all the inside exclusive information!

Coney Island Film Festival Deadline Is Almost Here

The regular deadline for entries is THIS FRIDAY April 25th, 2008 (postmarked). The entry fee is $25 and the late deadline June 25th, 2008 (postmarked). The extended late deadline is July 3rd, 2008 (postmarked).


Entry categories: Feature, Short, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short, Experimental, Silent Film, Animation, Music Video.

The Coney Island Film Festival is open to filmmakers working in ALL GENRES, SUBJECTS AND FORMATS.

For all the info visit the Coney Island Film Festival website.

It's Time for the Coney Island USA Spring Gala!

From the Coney Island USA website:

Come out and celebrate the 2008 season with us, as we kick off the summer with a big blowout at the Angel Orensanz Foundation. See mermaids, burlesque performers, and practitioners of the sideshow arts while helping support Coney Island USA, the not-for-profit that produces the Mermaid Parade, the Coney Island Circus Sideshow, Burlesque at the Beach and that operates the Coney Island Museum.

On May 21, we'll be celebrating the 4th Annual Coney Island USA Spring Gala with popcorn, cotton candy, silent auction the Mini-Mermaid Parade and some of the best and craziest performers that New York City has to offer. We'll be putting the "fun" back into fundraising!

Tickets are $100 ($80 tax deductible) for regular Gala tickets and $250 ($200 tax deductible) for VIP tickets that include access to the VIP seating area, a gift bag, table service for food and drink, and meet and greets with our performers!

Coney Island USA Spring Gala May 21, 2008
7 PM to 11 PM
Angel Orensanz Foundation
172 Norfolk Street

Visit the the Coney Island USA website for more details in ticket information.

See the video of last year's event below

Coney Island USA Spring Gala 2007

Highlights of the 2007 Coney Island USA Spring Gala. Edited and shot by Alpay Kasal and Dennis Catalfumo of Featuring Dick Zigun, Mat Fraser, Julie Atlas Muz, Bambi the Mermaid, Bunny Love, Little Brooklyn, Saturn, Ekaterina, Armen Ra, Todd Robbins, The great Fredini and More!

Posted by fredini [YouTube]

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

For the Man Who Has Everything

Blogs are not a medium known for focusing on or endorsing neckties. However, it must be pointed out that this parachute jump tie - found on the photostream of flickr user 'toybreaker' - would make a great accessory for any Coney Island aficionado.

- post by Ben Nadler

Coney Events: 2nd Annual Congress of Curious Peoples

This coming week, Coney Island USA will hold it's 2nd Annual Congress of Curious Peoples. As the post-colonial name implies, the Congress is a gathering and honoring of some freak show elder statesmen.

Many great events will be taking place over the course of the nine day Congress. Highlights will include an appearance from the legendary tattoo artist Spider Webb, and a performance by the Bindlestiff Family Circus.

2nd Annual Congress of Curious Peoples
April 25-May 4, 2008

Sideshows by the Seashore
Surf Avenue & West 12th Street

- post by Ben Nadler

Friday, April 18, 2008

Some Thoughts on The New Plan

The decision to allow property owners to maintain control over their properties in the amusement are may not be ideal, but it was inevitable that some sort of compromise was going to have to be made in order for the plan to move forward.

The Vourderis family's Deno's Wonder Wheel Park has been- and will undoubtedly continue to be- an integral part of the amusement area, so it makes sense to allow them to continue to maintain and develop their own property makes sense.

However, things such as the inclusion of the generic corporate monoliths of Dave & Busters and NikeTown, and the construction of hotel towers on the south side of Surf Avenue make a lot less sense. One can't help but wonder if this new Coney Island is going to look like Coney Island at all.

What is most troubling is that the amusement area has been whittled down from 15 acres to 9 acres. Hopefully, this number will not continue to be whittled down as plans continue to develop.

City's Coney Island Design Revised to Break Deadlock [New York Times]

- post by Ben Nadler

Baseball on a Sunday?

This year, the Brooklyn Cyclones will play seven Sunday home games at Keyspan Park here in Coney Island.

According to an interesting article in Thursday's
Brooklyn Daily Eagle this would not have been possible in the early twentieth century. The article outlines how Sabbath protecting 'blue laws' forbid baseball on Sundays, and the various conflicts which this caused between baseball fans and Johnny Law.

Blue Laws = Blue Baseball Fans [Brooklyn Daily Eagle]

- post by Ben Nadler

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Letter From CIDC's Prez Lynn Kelly On Changes To Coney Plan

Lynn Kelly has sent out a letter via e-mail regarding a few adjustments to the Coney Island zoning framework. Explained and outlined, the letter is posted in its entirety below:

April 17, 2008

Dear friends and residents of Coney Island:

From the moment we started drafting the City’s comprehensive plans for the rezoning and redevelopment of Coney Island, we have maintained there are certain core principles that are critical to the success of any Coney Island plan:

- Long term preservation of a vibrant amusement district is paramount, and the mapping of such a district as parkland is necessary to ensure its viability

Property owners in Coney Island have to be invested in the success of
this plan along with the City

- We must take active steps to help transform Coney Island into a year-round destination, and enclosed amusements and entertainment retail are essential to this transformation

- The plan must provide an integrated development vision for the entire neighborhood – not only the amusement core in Coney East, but also Coney North and Coney West – and create real opportunities for new housing and economic development

While the zoning framework we announced last Fall was a detailed and thoughtful realization of these core principles (and many more), we said from the outset that it was also a work in progress and that we would continue to work with Coney Island’s elected officials, community leaders, land owners and residents to ensure that the final plan was the best it could possibly be.

I am pleased, therefore, to be able to update you on some recent modest adjustments to the Coney Island zoning framework that have both strengthened our finalized plans and will help to move this critically important project toward completion. This revised framework represents an extremely strong foundation for Coney Island’s revitalization and we are excited about now moving forward with it through the public review process.

While we will be sharing much more detailed information with you and other Coney Island stakeholders soon, we wanted to share just a few brief updates on some of these modifications:

- We have increased development opportunities for enclosed amusements and year-round entertainment retail uses

- To accommodate this increased development, while still preserving a major amusement district and enabling us to develop a world class amusement park, we have decreased the size of the new mapped parkland from 15 to 9 acres

- We have created the opportunity for existing land owners – such as long time Coney Island boosters like the Vourderis family, owners of the Wonder Wheel – to develop their properties

Along with these positive changes, we have maintained our commitment to the fundamental aspects of the Coney Island plan, such as the need to create additional active, exciting, year-round entertainment-related uses in Coney East and prevent the district from becoming a generic seaside shopping mall; our steadfast belief that residential housing is not appropriate for the amusement district; and a continued effort to limit higher-density hotels and taller structures to the areas along Surf Avenue, away from the Boardwalk.

As you can see, while some details have been altered in our quest to make this plan a reality, what hasn’t changed is our commitment to our core principles and our overall vision for what Coney Island should – and shouldn’t – be as we secure its long term well-being.

We are proud that we are already receiving positive feedback from key stakeholders on our recent efforts – for example, as you will note in the attached article, Councilman Domenic Recchia, Borough President Marty Markowitz and key landowners such as Dennis Vourderis told the NY Times that they were “optimistic” and believed the City “was headed in the right direction” – and we look forward to bringing you up to date with additional information in the near future.

Lynn Kelly

City Softens Stumbling Blocks In Their Coney Parkland Plans

(Click image for larger view)
Over the past few months the city has been meeting with property owners and has made changes to their plan announced by Mayor Bloomberg last November, reports The New York Times.

The revised plan is the result of meetings with local property owners and others since November.

But in a departure from the original plan unveiled in November by Mayor
Michael R. Bloomberg, those owners would be able to develop the remaining parts of their property themselves as long as they followed the city’s master plan, which must still undergo an environmental review and a land-use review.

“I’m guardedly optimistic,” said Jesse Masyr, a real estate lawyer for Thor Equities, which has been at loggerheads with the Bloomberg administration. “We have to look at the size of sites we have left and what we could build.”“We’re optimistic,” Mr. Vourderis said. “We’re hoping that they’re going to let us develop our own roperties.”

The “stars may finally be realigning,” said Brooklyn’s borough president,
Marty Markowitz, a longtime advocate of revitalizing Coney Island.

Gowanus Lounge writes:

There are more details to the changes, but it's safe to characterize them as a major reversal in that it would cut the amusement park envisioned by the original proposal by nearly half and would allow hotels along Surf Avenue.

This discussion can be followed on the Coney Island USA message board.

City’s Coney Island Design Revised to Break Deadlock [The New York Times]
City Makes Huge Change to Its Coney Plan [The Gowanus Lounge]

The Sideshow School in the Press

Coney Island USA's Sideshow School has been getting a lot of press lately. Most of this attention has been from local print outlets, such as the Daily News. Now, the school is being featured in more surprising places, such as in a career advice blog on Reuters and here in a segment from New Tang Dynasty TV (NTDTV), "an independent, nonprofit Chinese language television station established by overseas Chinese."

It's great to see the good folks at Coney Island USA getting so much attention.

Sideshow School in New York

New York's Coney Island is famous for its old fashioned Wonder Wheel, but it's also a training ground for sideshow acts. Cathy Pratt came all the way from Oklahoma to the sideshow school to learn, among other things, how to eat fire.

Posted by NTDTV [YouTube]

Professor Vomit, I Need More Fire! [Reuters]
Sideshow School in New York [YouTube (NTDTV)]

- post by Ben Nadler

Coney History: 1896: First Escalator is Coney Island Ride

In response to the last post, the first moving stairway; the escalator was actually a ride in Coney Island.

In 1891, Jesse Reno patented a moving stairway – actually a moving ramp – that was known as the "inclined elevator." In 1896, Reno installed his version of an escalator at the Old Iron Pier at Coney Island. The amusement park ride, which transported riders on a conveyor belt built at a 25-degree angle, was considered a novelty by the 75,000 people who rode it during its two-week Coney Island exhibition. Another inventor, Charles D. Seeberger, developed a moving stairway with wooden steps. Both were displayed at an international exhibition in Paris in 1900, where the word "escalator" was coined. The Otis Elevator Company bought both patents, ultimately merging the two designs to create the escalator that is commonly used today. An early escalator is shown here in an 1899 photo.

1896: First Escalator is Coney Island [It happened in New York / Newsday]

That Brooklyn Hustle

This past Saturday's installment of 'From the Brooklyn Aerie' - a trivia column which runs regularly in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle- included an interesting account of how a Coney amusement provided a way to hustle bookies:

There's a reason gamblers who bet on races could hardly believe their good fortune when the Otis Company installed one of its elevators as an attraction at Coney Island in the early 1900s. Seems with a pair of binoculars, they could look over at nearby Gravesend Racetrack, spot the winners, and place their bets on them before the bookies got the news of how the races came out.

From The Brooklyn Aerie [Brooklyn Daily Eagle]

- post by Ben Nadler

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

KC Exclusive: Interview With Aquarium Director Jon Dohlin Part 2

Last month, The Wildlife Conservation Society named Jon Forrest Dohlin as the new director of the New York Aquarium. Last week, Kinetic Carnival had the pleasure of meeting with Dohlin.

We are happy to continue sharing with you the highlights of the (lengthy) discussion. Yesterday, (Click
here to read Part 1) we had some views from Dohlin on subjects such as conservation and the aquarium's role in the neighborhood and community.

Today, we wrap up our aquarium feature with thoughts from Dohiln on things such as Marty Markowitz and the redevelopment of Coney Island.

On the redevelopment of Coney Island:

"For all these development plans, there will come a point when they really need community buy in. And I don't mean what they're doing now, just this generalized picture of what could happen, and everybody's waging this skirmish. I don't think either one of those proposals is necessarily reaching out to the community. They're both pretty much about 'let's bring in people form the outside.' "

"There are these beautiful, generic architectural renderings that immediately deracinate the whole experience. It could be Atlanta, it could be Maine, it could be anywhere.

"Of course we're in dialogue with the city about what we think this should be. How much impact does that have? I don't know? But we also need to wait and see how this shakes out and then respond to it. It's a dialogue, going back and forth."

On the decision to not revamp the aquarium's appearance:

"It is a disappointment, but it is what it is. Here's what's not going to happen - except in my dreams: we're not going to blow the place up, and start over. Even something as completely agreed upon - in terms of need and priority - as the perimeter, we can't just say, 'OK, so next year we're going to be closed for a year, and redo the whole perimeter in this fantastical thing,' because there's huge questions of where we're going to find the money. And in terms of where the priorities are: do people come here from the look of it from the outside, or for the experience on the inside. Obviously they come for both, I'm not trying to say the perimeter's not important. But whatever happens, it's going to have to be a gradual process. That's where we get to Shark [the exhibit]. First I want to focus on the guest experience, and have it be as good as possible.

"Part of the question with the perimeter too, do we do something with absolutely no contextualization with what's going on with the rest of boardwalk experience, or do we start to see what's going on, and inform by how that shapes."

"Over the last year and a half there's been a real focus and re-attention on the guest experience. In the small but really meaningful ways: are we clean, are we open, are we friendly, are we giving people a great value for the money, do the exhibits look as good as they can look, given the constraints of what they are. Just all the things you think about when you think about, 'am I going to have a good time at this place.' There's been a renewed focus on that, and I think it's really paid off."

On Marty Markowitz:

"I think Marty Markowitz is the best thing that could happen to the aquarium. And I'll you why- He wants this aquarium to be great.

"I think his idea of taking it out of the WCS was based on only partial information, perhaps, on what the relationship with the aquarium was. And also on a legitimate perception that over the course of 50 years the aquarium has been neglected."

On keeping admission prices low:

"If you compare our entrance fees to any other aquarium in the northeast, it's like a third of the cost. And that's cool, I think that's great, because I want to be available to as broad a spectrum of people as necessary. And that's a decision that's driven as much by the city as by WCS. I'm in complete agreement with the city about that.

"It doesn't do me any good to raise prices beyond what my neighbors can afford. That's just dumb. Also, from a conservation and education standpoint, the kids that I most desperately want to reach are the kids that are right around here. Those are the kids who don't have the chance to go to camp. I don't want to generalize or be patronizing, but studies have shown that for a lot of those kids, going to the zoo or aquarium is their connection to nature. Certainly, Coney Island Beach is their connection to nature. In my quest to save the world, I want to provide as many of those kids as possible with their connection to nature. I've got to keep my admission price where I can do that."

- post by Ben Nadler

The Bobsled Postcard

Stuff From The Park - a blog which collects 'images and other items from Disneyland, theme parks and other amusement parks' - has provided some information on The Bobsled, a ride which graced Coney Island from the '40s through the '70s:

The coaster was purchased from the World's Fair and moved to Coney Island in 1940. The track, if you want to call it that, is a half pipe and the cars run down the half pipe, banking on the curves and gaining speed. The cars are in a train similar to other roller coasters. The Bobsled was shuttered in 1974 and subsequently demolished in 1975.

Coney Island Bobsled Postcard [Stuff From The Park]

- post by Ben Nadler

Coney Island History Project's 2008 Summer Events Announced

From the Coney Island History Project website:

Exhibit: Woody Guthrie Hall of Fame induction and photo exhibit about the famed activist's Coney Island years.

Exhibit: William Mangels: The Wizard of Coney Island Photos and artifacts from the factory of Coney's premier amusement manufacturer.

Exhibit: Coney Island's Amusement Icons Ever wondered what it was like to ride the jump, or how the Wonder Wheel spins, or what drives the Cyclone's lift chain? This exhibit explains it all!

Dates and times of these events and more be announced on the CIHP web site soon!

Something Simply Irresistible New At Coney Island

Get ready for the spaghetti ice cream to be the next big thing in Coney Island. The new offspring to the Coney Island Surf & Turf Grill is the Surf Cafe and it's going to be simply irresistible!



We carry World Famous Ices from "THE LEMON ICE KING OF CORONA"

Looking for something different try our "Spaghetti Ice Cream"

Get your refreshing treats before and after the beach.

Curbside service available, call in your order ahead of time and we will bring it out to you.


The Surf Cafe opens this weekend. Grand opening is next Saturday from 12pm to 3pm with character visits free balloons and give aways!

Tender Coney Video "Words Don't Come Easy"

Words dont come easy

words don't come were made in coney island on an amazing, spring evening.

Posted by
ana21angel [YouTube]

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

KC Exclusive Interview With NY Aquarium Director Jon Dohlin Part 1

Last month, The Wildlife Conservation Society named Jon Forrest Dohlin - a ten-year WCS veteran with a background in biology and architecture- as the new director of the New York Aquarium. Last week, Kinetic Carnival had the pleasure of meeting with Dohlin (and his three turtles, all named Bob).

We are happy to share with you the highlights of this stimulating discussion. Today, we have some views from Dohlin on subjects such as conservation and the aquarium's role in the neighborhood and community. Tomorrow, we will wrap up our aquarium feature with thoughts from Dohlin on things such as Marty Markowitz, and the redevelopment of Coney Island.

On conservation:

"What's not going to change [at the aquarium] is our commitment to an underlying conservation message - we are a conservation organization.- and our commitment [is] to educating people to what they can do to save wildlife and wild places."

"We're different from the other institutions at Coney Island. While we are about entertainment, we are about fun, we are about a carny atmosphere, and we are about people having a great time, if at the end of the day I'm not also saving the world… and I know that sounds absurd, but nonetheless, that's my goal in life, and my goal working here at WCS, and WCS's goal is to save the world, essentially, to save wild animals and wild places. If I don't accomplish that, then I'm not doing anything.

"Having said that, I don't think being a conservation organization means that we have to be stuffy, that we have to be holier than thou, stand apart from the Coney Island community, or pretend like we are not also in the entertainment business, or also in the guest experience business."

On being located in Coney Island:

"It involves the fun part of being part of Coney Island, which is, 'let's just have a blast here!' But we also do have a real opportunity to reach out to the community. But we're always going to have an educational aspect to what we're doing. When you see our float in the Mermaid Parade, man, you're going to be like, 'Yes! Look at it! They did it! It's funny, and it's conservation!'

"For example- and this just a small thing, we got a gazillion of these small things, and they're going to happen- with the Parks department, we're going to start putting nature interpretation all along the Coney Island experience. There's all this nature that happens out at the beach, but nobody thinks about it this way. It's almost like the beach is just an artificial construct. But when you think about it, if you go down to the jetties, and just watch for two minutes, all of a sudden there's all this life. So we're working with the Parks Department to put up all this interpretive signage about these things. Then, eventually, we're going to change over one of our exhibits to be a Coney Island beach jetty, So we can interpret it one way inside, than when you go outside and actually experience it, there will be this signage partnered with the parks department and the aquarium about what's actually going on."

On reaching out to the community:

"As happy as we might be to add to our base, we're never going to ignore that foundation we're based on, as a local institution.

"So it's not just being a nice neighbor, it's smart to reach out to the Russian community, it's smart to reach out the Orthodox Jewish community, to the Latino community, to the African American community. These are our neighbors, but they're also our customers. Some of the things are so simple. Besides reaching out to the Russian community by having a Russian singles night or something, we're also getting funding to have bilingual dosens. Russian speaking and Spanish speaking. To make the kinds of experiences we already have available, available to everybody, across the board. It's pragmatic. That's sometimes a dirty word, but it's not in this case. It's simply to my benefit to make this place as approachable to anyone as possible. And since I know that most people come from the neighborhood, and I know what my neighborhood looks like, I want to be as friendly to my neighbors as possible."

"Yeshivas come in and get this lecture on the laws of kosher, and then our educational director comes in and gives the scientific basis for what they're seeing. With [treif] food, shellfish and stuff like that, they're talking about aspects of kosher law. But then Dr. Kafka can come in and talk about it within the ecology of the coral reef, and that's a very interesting sort of dialogue that can happen there. Because, you can start to make these sort of larger connections, not only between the neighborhoods, but between different paradigms. Both of those things could be working towards the same goal. If we're saying that conch fisheries are wiping out portions of the population that are crucial to coral reef health, suddenly bringing in the idea that conchs are verboten in the kosher world is really cool. You're actually helping to save the world by eating kosher!"

In second half of the interview Dohlin discusses the redevelopment of Coney Island, Marty Markowitz,
revamping the aquarium, and more.
- post by Ben Nadler

Coney's Todd Robbins Publishes Book

Coney Island's own Todd Robbins publishes "The Modern Con Man: How to Get Something for Nothing", a stoy of perhaps the ballsiest con man in the history of New York. Grifting his way by selling New York City landmarks to gullable suckers. Pubished by Bloomsbury this book is a, "tongue-in-cheek lifestyle book (as well as including a bunch of true stories and history, and yes, even a mention of Coney Island in its "Continental Grift" section" says co-writer Gadi Harel.

The book excerpt by the New York Post from last November can be read
here. The book has a blog as well: The Modern Con Man - a blog, a book, a DVD series.

New Images Of Old 40s Coney

As with most already seen old Coney videos one is bound to see familiar images. But here in this video are a few more rare shots of Coney circa 1940s. This two-part video was added to YouTube last August of 2007.

Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York Circa 1940 Part I

Musical Documentary about Coney Island Beach and amusement park around 1940.The Barry Sisters sing CONEY ISLAND in YIDDISH/ENGLISH. This is an abridged version of the documentary.

Posted by
albertdiner [YouTube]

In part two, the first three minutes is the same as part one but in the last three to six minutes of the video you'll find the more rare footage (including Luna Park).

Coney Island Brooklyn NY 1940 part 2

more of Coney Island Beach and amusement park. Documentary filmed in 1940.

The video begins with the song CONEY ISLAND sung in Yiddish and English by the Barry Sisters. Then it shows a circus with tiger sand their tamer, then it shows more rides such as Steeplechase Mountain ride and other rides. With a musical background.

Posted by
albertdiner [YouTube]

Monday, April 14, 2008

Endangered Coney Island Video

Found on The Gowanus Lounge, here is a wonderfully done video done by Getty Images.

Endangered Coney Island

Famed New York amusement park Coney Island faces an uncertain future due to commercial and residential development in its surrounding area.

Posted by
gettyimages [YouTube]

City Fences In Coney Boardwalk Businesses

The further deterioration of the boardwalk which has already caused injuries is still being ignored by the city. Now, the city has put up a huge fence, blocking many of the businesses from the rest of the boardwalk. Lead by Dianna Carline aka Lola Staar, they are fighting back.

Lola Staar has sent out e-mail press release: FREE THE BOARDWALK!

The folowing is the e-mail in it's entirety:


Contact: Dianna Carlin, Lola Staar Souvenir Boutique 347-731-7593
Michael Farrell, Ruby's Bar and Grill 516-967-6866


NY Parks Department blockades Coney Island businesses!

The condition of the Coney Island Boardwalk has declined into state of tremendous disrepair. The perilous neglect of the Boardwalk has resulted in many injuries, millions of dollars in lawsuits and now it is causing the loss of business for many of the Coney Island boardwalk businesses. Yesterday, without warning, the Parks Department erected an ominous fence which is obstructing the entrances to an entire block of businesses on the boardwalk between 12th Street and Stilwell Ave. Ruby's Bar and Grill, the Lola Staar Souvenir Boutique, Gyro Corner and the Coney Island Souvenir shop are currently obstructed by this five ft tall, wire and wood fence.

These businesses were told by the Parks Department that this barricade would be obstructing the entrances of their businesses for the entire summer. They stated that the fence was necessary because this section of the boardwalk is a hazard to public safety. This will result in tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue. These businesses are already struggling to survive the transitional period of redevelopment in Coney Island.

Businesses are rumored to be taking matters into their own hands. "If the Parks Department dose not fix the boardwalk we will get wire clippers, hammer, nails and plywood. We will remove the fence and fix the boardwalk ourselves!" one business owner said.

Thor To Set Up Short Term Carnival Rides At Coney

Reports that developer Joe Sitt and Thor Equities would be setting up carnival rides in Coney Island, located on the empty lots that Thor had cleared last year have surfaced.

According to
Brownstoner, Thor Equities has announced that they will indeed be setting up a mini carnival on the lot for the duration of a week: from May 22nd to June 1st. Reithoffer Shows is the company that will be operating the carnival.

According to a poster on the Coney Island message boards,
The Gowanus Lounge writes:

OSHA cited the company for alleged safety and health violations at two Pennsylvania carnival sites, with proposed fines totaling $62,000, including one incident in which an employee fell from the top of a ride.

Deno's and Astroland Have Some Competition [Brownstoner]
Sitt Bringing Carnival Rides to Coney for a Week [The Gowanus Lounge]

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Coney In The Daily News

Over the past couple days, there have been a couple of Coney Island human interest stories in the Daily News. Frankly, it's great to see a paper like the daily news focusing on the positive side of Coney Island.

The first story was Tuesday's story on the
Coney Island Sideshow School. The web version of the story is accompanied by a nice sideshow slideshow. Considering the attention she's been getting recently, it looks like sword swallower Heather Holliday is on her way to becoming quite the celebrity.

The second story was Wednesday's installment of 'Big Town Big Dreams,' a series which features different immigrant New Yorkers who have achieved their 'dream in our great city.' In this case, the featured New Yorker was Jimmy Bissan, a Yemeni immigrant and Coney Island business owner. The article focused on the ways in which the now successful Bissan gives back to the Coney Island community.

Freakshow wanna-bes cough up $600 to attend Coney Island sideshow school [Daily News]
'You have faith in yourself and you decide you'll make it.' [Daily News]

- post by Ben Nadler

Krassner's Coney Days

In many ways, the blogs of today are the heirs of the underground press of the 1960s and 70s. Accordingly, as a blog about Coney Island, we are pleased to share the Brooklyn Daily Eagle's report that Paul Krassner (the "father of the underground press)" derives much of his characteristic zaniness and irreverence from his childhood experiences in Coney Island:

"Every summer, my parents would make a big deal that we would be going to our summer place in Coney Island," he said. "They would rent an apartment there for the summer, which was weird, because we lived in Astoria." […]

Krassner also would hang out at the funhouse, watching women's skirts getting blown over their heads by a compressed air blast that came from a hole in the floor.

It could be said that Krassner got his start in show biz at Steeplechase, when he turned the tables on the clown-suited dwarf whose job was to zap visitors in the buttocks with a cattle prod.

read the rest of the story about Krassner's antics- at Steeplechase and elsewhere- on the
Brooklyn Daile Eagle's website

On This Day in History: April 9 Satirical Mad Man [Brooklyn Daily Eagle]

- post by Ben Nadler

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

More Astroland Opening Day Photos

New York Nooks brings us a nice slideshow of this year's opening day at Astroland. Though most believe this is, for sure, Astroland's last year - some folks who own businesses down here in Coney Island have heard a different buzz: That Astroland may be back for yet another year. Reason being that a closed Astroland may spell some hardship for other Coney businesses. And with plans of what's to really become of Coney Island up in the air - It's in everyone's best interest to keep Astroland open for as long as it can be.

New York Nooks writes:
Will Astroland be open again in the years to come?

“Unless there’s an interim plan to establish Astroland here for another three to five years,” said Carol Hill Albert, Astroland’s current lessee and former co-owner, “I don’t see how we can.”

The Beginning of the End for Astroland? [New York Nooks]

What The Failure of Congestion Pricing Means for Coney

The plan to implement congestion pricing in New York City has been officially declared dead. This is unfortunate for both New York City in general, and Coney Island in particular. Southern Brooklyn does have a pretty strong car culture, and the plan would have involved charging people who drive over the bridges from Brooklyn into Manhattan. However, the majority of people who live in Coney Island rely on public transportation. One of the major features of the congestion pricing bill was that funds raised would go into a lock box account which would fund specific MTA projects. As City Councilman Domenic Recchia pointed out, this would be great news for Coney Island, as the proposed MTA projects included several plans that would benefit Coney Island residents, particularly express service from Coney to Manhattan on the F train.
- post by Ben Nadler

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Coney Built Carousel For Sale

The Associated Press has reported that a carousel built by the legendary W. F. Mangels Carousel Works of Coney Island is going up for auction later this month.

The carousel was part of a Pennsylvania amusement park for seventy years, and has more recently found itself leased to shopping centers and flea markets.

Local PA residents are reportedly quite upset at the carousel's impending sale, and hoping to raise the necessary funds (most likely between $1 million and $1.5 million) to purchase their beloved carousel back.

We at Coney Island can relate to this, as we almost lost our own Mangels built B&B Carousell. Luckily, the City of New York was able to purchase the B&B, and Coney Island will eventually get it back, restored and as good as ever. Hopefully the residents of Luzerne County, PA will be as lucky.

Northeast PA Carousel, hand-carved in 1909, to be auctioned [AP/ CBS]
Historic Looff/Mangels Carousel Going to Auction After 93 Years With One Family [The Carousel News and Trader Magazine]

- post by Ben Nadler