|in the land of thrills, a one-eyed spook is king|
I have only hazy recollections of visiting Coney Island, Brooklyn, USA. It was April 1989, and a day out to the once-famed New York resort and amusement park during a brief stay in New York. I know that I wanted to see place - it was in the lyrics of ‘Oh Oh I Love Her So’ by the Ramones after all. More importantly for me then was the American poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s classic 1958 book ‘A Coney Island of the Mind’. It’s a fabulous title, inspired by Henry Miller’s ‘Into the Night Life’, and which also contained selected poems from a previous Ferlinghetti publication, the also superbly titled ‘Pictures of The Gone World’.
|woman in red, boardwalk|
|digging for victory, boardwalk|
It was definitely the boardwalk that I was drawn to, as it felt a bit like walking on a typical English pier, except that the wooden boards were set alongside the landscape, and not protruding out of it right into the sea. I chatted with the stall holders, ate several hot dogs and was also compelled to photograph the relics of amusements past.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s I was very keen on using colour 35mm transparencies. It was an exciting process sending the film off for processing, and about a week later getting a package in the post. I went for the strips of film which I’d then cut up the individual images, and carefully slip each slide into a glass-windowed mount. Then came the ritual of loading them into the carousel, with the exact precision needed to turn them around and then up and down to make sure that they would be projected correctly (and not back to front) on my collapsible stand-up screen.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti opened his epic poem ‘A Coney Island of the Mind’ with the lines “In Goya’s greatest scenes we seem to see the people of the world exactly at the moment when they attained the title of ‘suffering humanity’...”. He describes the poem as “a kind of circus of the soul”.
These photos were taken when that circus had by and large left town.
But, let's scroll the years forward by a quarter of a century, and today the one and only Coney, according to it's very own website: "...is a thriving, year-round entertainment destination full of fun things to do, both historic and brand new".
|two men, a dw lk|
|parachute jump and deserted boardwalk|
|stop or stuffed|
|reading by Mary, win a TV|
|be a winner|
|Jason's, Red is Smiling|
|Caged Thunderbolt: |
"Then we went down to Coney Island on the Coaster and around again" The Ramones 1977
|Coney Island baths|
|my own copy, 22nd printing|