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Today's LJ Mash-up - One monkey typing Shakespeare, one post at a time

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June 17th, 2006


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08:21 pm - Today's LJ Mash-up


After a hearty breakfast of blueberry muffins, bacon, and scrambled eggs I headed out to Coney Island to spend the afternoon with friends along with a number of LJers visiting from Los Angeles, Cincinnati, and Toronto, in town for the Rufus/Judy/Carnegie Hall concert and NYC's Leather Pride Weekend: 2fruition, turbillion, chrisglass, mattycub, telemann, umkinda, and a Live Journal Non-Believer Infidel Who Shall Not Be Named (even though he's damn cute). Look for pictures on their journals.

We ate hotdogs at Nathan's Famous, cotton candy, banana and pistachio soft ice creams, rode the bumper cars, went on the Cyclone roller coaster and the Wonder Wheel (a specially engineered Ferris wheel with cars that swing from the center toward the outside, a marvel of engineering, which Disneyland replicated for their newest amusement park), shot the freak (a shooting gallery where you get to shoot paintballs at a live person), and had fun with a photo booth machine that lets you superimpose new hairstyles on your head (look for new user icons by several of the above).

While several of them went to the Sideshow to see the tattooed man, the sword swallower and the fire eater and such (I'd already seen the show), I went to the small and charming Coney Island Museum, where they displayed artifacts from the lost Coney Island, including beautiful signage, funhouse mirrors, classic bumper cars and wicker boardwalk strollers, one of the mechanical horses you rode that circumnavigated the park a century ago, and all sorts of other memorabilia and ephemera.

Most moving was an installation by the artist Lee Deigaard to observe the 100th anniversary of the execution of Topsy, a Coney Island elephant that was cruelly put down by electrocution, which 1,500 people gathered to witness. It was a decorated mutoscope incorporating the 1903 film footage of the execution by Thomas Edison (who was both the executioner and documentarian). On the mutoscope's placard was a haunting poem in elegy and memorial. I can't do the beautiful sideshow-playbill typography justice, but here is the text of the poem:


I WILL REMEMBER WHAT I WAS

6,600 volts; 1,500 OAFS LOOKED ON!
I HATE THEM, EVEN THOUGH I AM AN ELEPHANT...

BEHOLD:
IF THE RIVER IS TURBULENT,
I AM NOT FRIGHTENED

BEHOLD:
A STAR OF DEATHLESS
& PAINLESS PEACE

NO ASTROLOGER CAN FIND IT

UNDER THE LOTUS PLANT, THE REEDS, THE MARSH...

TAKE ME WITH HOOKS? YOU'LL NOT DO IT AGAIN.

I AM SICK OF ROPES & SNARES


-- Lee Deigaard, 2003


During Coney Island's nadir about 15-20 years ago, especially on visits during its off season when what remains out there is shut down, I've called it "a shadow of a ghost." This sunny and hot but not too hot afternoon it was a vibrant explosion of sights and sounds and colors and tastes and faces and screams and blaring music and rumbling subway trains. And with the development coming to Coney Island, in another 15-20 years much of this will no longer exist.

I also have decided that Coney Island is exponentially more fun the more friends you go with. As we returned to the city on the F train, as members of our group were getting off at their various stops, everyone kept risking having the doors closing and missing their stops, giving everyone long hugs goodbye. An artist and teacher of mine once observed that the thing about amusement park rides is -- all they are, really -- is that "they move your body in ways it's not used to moving." So do friends. Thanks, guys.


(6 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:danbearnyc
Date:June 18th, 2006 03:29 am (UTC)
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The footage of the elephant execution is on that 7 dvd set of avant garde cinema.
[User Picture]
From:annoyinghandle
Date:June 18th, 2006 04:03 am (UTC)
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It's hands down the most bizarre early film ever.
[User Picture]
From:shawnsyms
Date:June 18th, 2006 04:50 am (UTC)
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Such a lovely post. Thanks for it, and for a very nice day.
[User Picture]
From:ejo_muc
Date:June 18th, 2006 09:47 am (UTC)

Oktoberfest

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sounds like big fun.

remember you can have all these things and much more here during Oktoberfest time too. just add:
- greasy knuckles of veal or pork
- smoked mackerel
- spit roasted chicken
- pork roast or the even better Krustenbraten
- Schmalznudel (Bavarian version of a donut - just much better, especially when my mum makes them for you)
- a beer tent with about 5,000 gays on Sunday, September 17th; half of them dressed in Lederhosen
- the traditional costume and riflemen's parade on that same day
- and all other interesting things in and around Munich, esp. the castles of King Ludwig II.
It really would be great to have you and bill here in the heart of Munich and Bavaria this September.

more here!

[User Picture]
From:tycho_anomaly
Date:June 18th, 2006 02:16 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for the smiles I got reading about this.

The picture of Topsy is haunting. And strangely enough, it's not the only elephant execution on record.
[User Picture]
From:beastbriskett
Date:June 18th, 2006 07:36 pm (UTC)
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What a great day! Thanks for sharing these glimpses.

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