Archive for June 2008

2008 Mermaid Parade on Coney Island – Part 4

June 25, 2008

This is the fourth and last of my posts on the Mermaid Parade.

I don’t know what I really expected from the parade. More importantly, I don’t know what I got from the parade. Lots of skin, to be honest. There were some politics in there. Some showmanship. A bit of cleverness, but not enough. I guess I expected pretty much what I got: a parade that just reveled in being a parade with marchers that were a bit exhibitionistic and a little bit laid back.

For what it’s worth, I tell you one thing it lacked big time: excitement. I’ve gone to lots of parades and a good parade has a lot of music and a lot of crowd participation. Some of the marchers, especially those at the beginning, tried to rouse the crowd. But maybe it was too hot. Probably it was too silent. The times it worked? When there was a lot of music. The times it didn’t work? When the marchers were in their own little world and didn’t project to the crowd.

Back to the coverage…Stilt-walking woman with a Carmen Miranda hat and blue painted skin. Okay, that seems to sum up Coney Island for me.

Here’s another picture of the crowd, just to show that this is a pretty popular parade.

The next picture is at the end of a frenzy of picture taking. Almost every picture I took had another photographer in it. But I did catch a picture of the guillotine at the end of it. The part that was the big attraction: dancing Marie Antoinettes in high hair and short dresses. Maybe eight of them in total. What does it have to do with mermaids? They called it “Marine Antoinette”.

Okay, I have very little excuse for the next picture except I like it.

Perhaps the best costume of the day: Popeye. He got a few call outs from the crowd. Well, he is a sailor man so I guess he’s a fine addition to the Mermaid Parade.

You can’t read much on Famous Ankles without running into pictures of beauty queens and the like. Well, here’s Miss Use of Recycled Materials. Well done! Of course, you sure ain’t the normal “Miss” anything I post on, but I’m content with that.

It took me a moment to understand what the next group was doing. Okay, beyond the showgirl aspect. Their headgear is a salute to Coney Island rides. Nicely done. I just wish I had caught the one on the far right a moment earlier (she had the Cyclone on her head).

They were trying for whimsy (I guess). They were trying for funny (I suppose). They were trying for cleverness (I would hope). A cowgirl/mermaid and a viking? Come on folks. You didn’t hit any of them.

Here’s a float. It symbolizes…I haven’t any idea.

This is what a lull in the parade looked like. There was a crossing area right where the crowd is (where people could go from one side of the parade to the other to get, for example, from the beach to the food area). Those people are just encroaching on the parade route to get a picture.

Maybe the idea of a theme is too deep for this parade. The people below sure don’t seem wedded to the idea of depth and relevance.

I think the next group is just trying hard to make me wonder who they are supposed to be. Sea monster and can of tuna?

I’ve seen this group do stuff before. They take old Metro cards and glue them together for costumes and the like. Why? Heck if I know. But then, I don’t know what Aztecs and the Mermaid Parade have in common, either.

This young lady is loaded up with SPF 2000 or so. And a parasol.

I guess the “sea monster and the beauty” is something of a cultural constant, and here they are again.

I started feeling the heat so I left with maybe 30 minutes left in the parade. Hey, I was really wiped out. And then it took forever to get to the subway. That’s because the parade was still going on and I was inside the square that the parade was making going up to the Boardwalk, down it, then to the street and then back to the beginning point. The crowd on the street was huge. I’m really glad I stayed on the Boardwalk.

So, that’s the end of the parade for me. I left really tuckered out and a day later hadn’t gotten back to snuff. I’m not sure if I’d recommend the parade to others. Like I said at the beginning, I did edit out a lot of pictures to keep this safe for work. But it wasn’t salacious. Maybe it was trying, but it didn’t even reach that.

For what it’s worth: next year bring a lot more music and make the marchers be a little more than people walking down the Boardwalk. Oh, and keep the hula hoopers. You can never have too many of them.

-H

2008 Mermaid Parade on Coney Island – Part 3

June 24, 2008

This is the third of four posts on the parade. In my earlier post, I mentioned that the West Village Sea Monster Marching Band came on and started playing. Following them was an old favorite: hula hoopers. I always post pictures on hula hoopers; it’s the law.

This was one of the best points in the parade. The music was loud and catchy (I think) and the marchers broke into dance. A very fun few moments.

The next picture shows one of my favorite moments. You have to understand that there were a ton of photographers around, and many were inside the Boardwalk fencing (they had press passes of some sort). They kept getting in the way on some pictures. Well, this next young lady had gone past and the music and dancing got a little more frenzied and she put on one heck of a dance sequence (you can see a male marcher looking on in appreciation, too). Toward the end of it, the photographer in front of me apparently noticed my intense picture taking and turned to see her finish her bit. I think he missed taking any photos at all. Ha! But Famous Ankles was well aware. That’s another photog right next to her, but I think he was too close for his camera to capture her. In a couple of my pictures, he’s just staring.

This next lady was in a group called the “Pink Lady Salmons”. Thanks for the smile.

The second picture in a row of a pretty girl smiling at me. I am so predictable.

I confess, I love the next picture. In the first post of the parade, I mentioned how I would have enjoyed a bunch of people in olde-time swimsuits. Well, I guess I got one more here. Sort of.

And yes, that’s three pictures in a row like this.

Perhaps the biggest non-sequitur in a parade that reveled in meaninglessness: a participant dressed as a mermaid being groped by a gorilla. That’s one woman with a gorilla costume set on her shoulder and legs. On top of that, her (human) hand has a banana and she’s dressed a bit like a Fay Wray mermaid. A “Fay Wray mermaid”?

The next picture captures someone I think I’ve seen before. In one of my posts on the 2008 Dance Parade in Manhattan, I saw this little girl (at least I think it’s the same girl) walk a long ways on her stilts. She’s not only talented, but determined. Well done, young lady.

Ah yes! Hula Hoops. Lots and lots of them.

You’re seeing one of the best parts of the parade. The hula hoopers were in control and it was just fine.

More hula hoops! Yes, more. I gotta love it when they do this. It isn’t quite as good as dancing and all, but it works for me. And this lass was really good.

One of several King Neptunes in the parade. This guy went to some trouble. Good for him. And the eyeglasses make it even better.

The next batch of people were just a gaggle of semi-costumed types. Well, them and a guy as a squid. I approve of the squid-man!

I love pictures of people on stilts. I have no idea why, but I just have to post it. (Okay, okay. People who know me know I like to juggle and I always view stilt-walking in the same vein, except I never learned how to stilt-walk.)

As I’ve mentioned, the parade was filled with non-sequiturs. Below is a cowgirl on a bicycle. Well, the bike is supposed to be a fish. So, I guess this is a cowgirl on a fish. With a gun.

“Defenders of the Galax-Sea”, indeed. I like this picture, but I also liked the picture I took a moment later (and didn’t put in here) of Wonder Woman. It was a fine Linda Carter immitation. But what does that have to do with mermaids?  Or Coney Island?

This was the biggest thing that made it to the Boardwalk. The most interesting part: there was water shooting from its mouth. I, and many others, had to protect my camera when it pointed my way.

I always love the winged dancers / fan dancers / whatever. I have to post this one just to keep my streak going.

When I took the next picture, I knew it would be a good’un. She looked at me preparing to take a picture and threw the confetti right when I clicked. Thank you very much.

I presume the long dresses are supposed to evoke the mermaid tail. It doesn’t click with me, but maybe I’m not their target audience. But I still don’t really understand why people come without any real costume and parade. Except for the opportunity to be the center of attention, I guess.  Strictly speaking, this wasn’t a parade about mermaids or summer or Coney Island.  It was an exhibitionists’ parade celebrating their ability to flaunt.  I guess.

If it’s a Mermaid Parade (or at least named as such), I guess we’re not supposed to expect men in geisha outfits. And I didn’t expect them. I presume it isn’t a subtle jab at the Japanese custom of the very pale makeup being displayed on a day of more-or-less sun worship. Of course, that could have been an interesting study of cultural mores.

Well, the below picture is a study in the “themelessness” of the parade. Pirate guy all dressed in black. One lady a study in contrast: out for a lot of sun, but carrying a parasol to keep the sun off of her. The other two in costumes… Hey, they ain’t costumes. They’re just walking down the Boardwalk.

Topical tropical. Women in grass skirts.

Have I mentioned how much I love hula hoopers in parades? I guess I have. Here’s more.

I’m going to end this post with a picture of a purple guy. I think that makes it unique.

-H

2008 Mermaid Parade on Coney Island – Part 2

June 23, 2008

This is the second of at least four posts on the Mermaid Parade. As you’ll see, there’s really very little pulling this parade together. When I was watching it, I kept thinking of the supposed Winston Churchill statement: this pudding has no theme! The parade was the same way. It just seemed to be clever for the sake of being clever. But most of it wasn’t that clever. I don’t mind the exhibitionism, but that’s actually one of its only real charms.

In keeping with that, I have to admit I love this next picture for all the wrong reasons. She just utterly ignored the crowd. I’m not sure, but I think she was making a phone call. Hey, mermaid! We’re over here!

I don’t know if this is the real “Larry the Lighthouse” or an imitator.

The next picture is that the most elusive mermaid: the mermaid with the head of a fish and human legs. Along with its more prosaic cousin.

The next group called themselves “Carmen Mer-anda and the Samba Sharks”. Get it? Mer-anda – Mermaid? C’mon, folks. That’s just an excuse for the hats and not a clever take on anything whatsoever.

Next came a group called Oceanblue Divers. I don’t know who or what they do. Or even if it is a real group. Well, they have a sign, so they must be real. So few groups were marked that I should just be grateful that three groups in a row did carry a sign. Thank you.

Women with squirtguns. I don’t know if they are part of the group or not.

This isn’t the Polar Bear Club, but it is the Winter Ocean Swimmers.

The next bunch was a set of protestors. The below protestor was threatening something probably very near to the hearts of the crowd: Starbucks.

Anti-condo protest. Coney Island is undergoing a major set of renovations and these ladies don’t like it.

The next is a very subtle editorial by the protestors: evil capitalist threatening blonde.

I’ve got a couple of these protestors pictured doing the same thing: sea creatures catching developers in a net and hauling them away to their doom. Symbolizing? Hey, is this a terrorist threat?

Okay, I’m still mystified. This is part of the protest group. They have an octopus. The people holding the octopus are labeled “plankton”. Octopi don’t eat plankton. Why do the “plankton” carry squirtguns? What is this protesting?

A summer celebration called the Mermaid Parade on Coney Island. Let’s have feathered headdresses!

A few more protestors.

A marching band appeared (the West Village Sea Monster Marching Band). I usually sort of enjoy marching bands (more so when they are good at it), but having live music at any point was just fine with me. And, you know, I really don’t remember if they were real good. It was just good to hear music.

As you might expect from the West Village, they weren’t a regular high school marching band.

-H

2008 Mermaid Parade on Coney Island – Part 1

June 22, 2008

I did go to the 2008 Mermaid Parade. I’m glad I did, but it sure wasn’t what I expected…but I don’t know really what I expected.

It’s an odd parade. Part of it is on the streets of Coney Island, but half of it is on the Boardwalk. I knew that they wouldn’t have certain parts of the parade on the Boardwalk such as anything motorized, but I couldn’t resist watching the parade there. It was just too unusual to miss.

So, for a parade that started at 2pm, I got there early and started waiting in on the route at around 1pm. And I’m glad I was there that early. It filled up quickly. It’s a very-well attended parade, but I have to admit it was very unexciting in the sense of no real thrill to the crowd. Hey, it was hot. But mostly, I think, it was the lack of music. There were a couple of odd marching bands (and no conventional ones) along with some boombox music and the like, but it just didn’t have a real soundtrack to it.

In this and the posts to come, you’ll find that I’ve edited the selection of photos pretty extensively. You have to understand that NY laws state that if a man can go without a top, so can a woman. And a lot of women took that to heart. Not a tremendous number, but quite a few. So, in the interest of remaining safe for work and for family viewing, I’ve excluded a lot of my pictures. Many that I’ve included might be too much for some people, but I think they’re relatively safe.

I have no idea how many posts I’ll make of this. The parade had many small groups and I got photos of almost all of them, but some were eliminated for content and others for redundancy and others simply because the visuals were uninteresting. I plan to complain about this during some of the posts (or maybe all of them) because the parade was just too disjointed and all over the place. It was, I suspect, designed to look very playful and spontaneous, but it just ended up being another group with somewhat clever costumes being followed by another group with similar costumes. And then another. And another.

Anyway, here’s what it looked like on the Boardwalk just before starting.

The parade started with a small marching band and a big Mermaid Parade sign.

Very quickly, we had our first mermaid. This one on a pretend phone call.

I liked the next one and thought it boded well for the parade. A celebration of subway cars that were sunk to help form an artificial reef.

The parade was filled with young ladies clad in their swimsuit finest, augmented with whatever accessories they felt like adding. Well, the next were young, but I’d hardly call these their swimsuits.

I didn’t really think much when I took the next picture. But, after the parade and after I reviewed the other photos I took; I kind of like this one. I think it might have been interesting to have an entire contingent of people in the olde-timey swimsuits.

I saw the next person and all I could think of wsa “glamor girl”. I haven’t the foggiest if it is a Jean Harlow impression or some other.

The next photo was for a group that protects women’s and children’s rights. The “Amethyst Women’s Project”.

The next picture is pretty much typical of much of the parade. Lots of girls in these sorts of tops.

Some people were interested in being outrageous. Or at least a little weirder than others.

Parasols on parade…at least in the background of the next photo.

A fan-dancer came up next.

The next picture is odd enough. A vampire fish woman with bears emerging from her waist? With a globe-like thing growing from her head.

More costumes. Well, the ones in the back are stylized jellyfish, but I’m uncertain about the showgirl. And the guy’s costume. Maybe some sort of plankton?

In the next picture, the best part is the little girl in the back. She has these huge fake crab claws.

Another little girl mermaid. Long tail. A bit more anatomically correct than mermaid costumes of my youth.

Mom with a parasol protecting her son from the sun, who has other things in mind. After all, he’s a pirate. With a misplaced eyepatch and a lollipop!

I could have gone a week guessing costumes, but I wouldn’t have thought of a family weather map.

The next was the most colorful group in the parade. Plus they did their own music. So little music in this parade…

Minimalist costumes…in the sense of not going way out of their way to create a costume.

There was so very little music to the parade. Or at least, I just don’t remember very much. This group brought their own music (note the woman on the left carrying a boombox).

A cute little mermaid followed.

A swooping sort of dancer designed to symbolize a swooping dancer, I presume.

The next seemed to be a pirate family of some sort. The family that pilages and sows terror on the high seas is a family…

You want kids in baskets? I got yer kids in baskets right here! Well, the baskets were decorated to sorta, I guess, be (maybe, possibly) turtle-types of things. Maybe.

Jellyfish man! The umbella with tentacles (jellyfish tentacles) was a popular theme.

Okay, another non-sequitur: Debbie D the Brown Haired Mermaid and a wizard. Debbie, I understand. The wizard? An available costume for the guy?

Channel 7 news was there for a feature. Like the rest of the Press, he got in people’s line of sight.

T’Other End of 42nd Street

June 21, 2008

In yesterday’s post, I showed the east end of 42nd Street. It’s only fair that I now show the west side of the same street. Balance is restored in the universe. Whew, it was close.

And here it is; the point where 42nd Street drivers would plunge into the Hudson River…providing they weren’t shunted to the side onto 12th Avenue by lots and lots of obstacles.

And the view from 12th Avenue of the intersection.  You may note some of the obstacles starting here.  If nothing else, lots of traffic.  In NYC, you see a lot of drivers push through a red light by following the car in front.  It seems to be nearly a requirement at this intersection.  I saw it more here than at most intersections…and I see it all the time at other intersections.

It’s true that the area doesn’t have a lot of retail.  But apparently it is getting a new entertainment complex.  Yes, bowling comes to NYC.  Okay, okay; there’s lots of bowling in NYC already.  But we’re getting more.

Here’s the other obstacle.  A marina.  Not just any marina, but the Circle Line.   I’ve said it before in this blog:  if you visit NYC, take the Circle Line tour of Manhattan.  In fact, take the longest tour you can and circle the island.  I think it’s about three hours long.  “A three-hour tour”?  Shades of Gilligan’s Island!

Of course, that’s Mid-Town West behind it.  Ain’t New York grand?  I’ll say it is.

-H