Archive for June 2008

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.



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.


The End of 42nd Street

June 20, 2008

42nd Street is one of the most famous streets in all of NYC. (Okay, Broadway and Wall St. have it beat, and maybe 34th Street…and maybe 57th and a few others…)

42nd Street cuts across Manhattan pretty much right in the middle of the island. At the east side (which is what the below picture shows), the street goes right past the United Nations and then plunges into the East River as it tries to link into Queens. Okay, scratch that. It actually merges into FDR Drive which runs north-south.

I was looking at it the other day and just thought it was interesting that the street at this point is really mundane.


A Small Spalding Gray Memorial

June 19, 2008

I’ve been to the area about five to seven times; Tompkins Square Park. One of my favorite spots is the Temperance Fountain. That fountain was established a hundred years ago to provide fresh water and (hopefully) wean people away from alcohol.

I had never noticed that the pavers around the fountain had dedications. Not all of them, but a bunch. As I circled it and looked (‘cuz I’m that kind of guy), I spotted a familiar name: Spalding Gray.

I never knew him or met him.  I best remember him in the movie “Swimming to Cambodia”.  He was something of a mezmerizing storyteller.

The paver reads “To The Best Dad in The World Spalding Gray All our love Marissa, Forrest Theo”.  According to Wikipedia, Marisa was his stepdaughter and the other two were his sons.  (And Wikipedia spells Marissa with one “s” whereas the paver has two.  I don’t know the right one.) [UPDATE:  Spalding Gray webmaster John Boland has provided the correct spelling:  “Marrisa”.  So the paver ought to read “To The Best Dad in The World Spalding Gray All our love Marrisa, Forrest Theo”.  This would correct the spelling of Marissa/Marrisa.]

But I do know that I enjoyed his monologue in Swimming to Cambodia.  Absolutely riviting.  I saw parts of “Monster in the Box” and enjoyed that, too.


Wall Street Subway Stop

June 18, 2008

Strange as it may seem, one of the first subway stops I ever used in NYC was the Wall Street stop.

It’s strange because I’ve only been through it about five times in four years and it was perhaps the second stop I used (having started from Grand Central). And as grand and huge as Grand Central is, the Wall Street stop is tiny and blech.

It’s about as small a station as you’ll ever find in NYC. You think about how many people must come here, and how tiny the space is next to the tracks.

But then, they don’t come to this stop to wait around and enjoy the view.


Re-Visiting the Berlin Wall

June 17, 2008

I’ve posted on the New York City Berlin Wall exhibit before.  I was walking by it again last Sunday and knew it was there.  I just peeked over and noticed it was deserted.  No big deal.  I had my camera and took a quick snap.  Once again, no big deal.  I doubted I’d get a post about it…or rather, I doubted I could figure out an angle to share some more pictures of the Berlin Wall in the blog.

But I have.

It’s one of the rules of tourism.  Nobody sees nothing until somebody sees something.  After a few moments, I walked over to the wall, and all of a sudden at least three groups of people converged on the spot.  They may have seen me taking a picture or just staring at the Wall and then joined in, having noticed the Wall themselves.  Or they saw other people watching me looking at the Wall. Or maybe…

Or maybe they wanted to take a look at the Wall themselves and had come thousands of miles to see it in solitude and couldn’t ’cause some guy spoiled the one moment that the Wall was undisturbed.  (Not pictured, a Japanese couple who had me take their photo up against the Wall.)