Tuesday, August 14, 2007

And now for something completely different...

On Sunday, my parents, Joel and I went to Coney Island. Coney Island has always kind of been tawdry, run down, a place for prostitution, gambling. Even in the 1800s, that's what it was, frankly. They're pretty much tearing it all down once autumn comes and putting up condos. The truth is, though, that the latest "urban renewal" proposal is just one of dozens of brilliant ideas developers have had throughout the centuries. Yeah, centuries. People have been trying "to clean up this town!" since the Spanish-American War. Seriously, Coney Island had problems with gang wars in the 1950s. That's saying something.

Walking on the boardwalk is actually dangerous, with all the boards coming up, splintered wood that nearly slices your ankle when someone else steps on it. I only packed my small camera (okay, it's a 20D, but that's small for me!), one lens, one digital card. I mostly brought it along to take the usual silly pictures of us, the ordinary weekend pics that fill my flickr account.

I wasn't expecting it to be quite as run down as it is- graffiti everywhere, boarded up businesses. The place practically breathes with an audible death rattle. I was completely, totally inspired. I almost wish that I worked for the T!mes, that Coney Island was close enough to my coverage area that it would have warranted an entire picture story. If I had thought of it, I would have been there for Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, the most recent hot dog eating contest. I would have tried to get access to the people who still put themselves on display on the "live freak show." Really, they're just working actors in New York, though that is a rarity in itself, depending on who you talk to.

In any case, something captured my imagination, something took hold in my mind's eye. Joel and I definitely plan to go back at least once to do more work like this, on the last summer at Coney Island. Here you are, a complete departure from my usual color palette, cropping style and composition.

For the moment, I'm calling it "Beautiful Decay."


shannon said...

Those are really beautiful, Angie.

ethnically ambiguous said...

Growing up in the Coney Island projects/spending many weekends on the boardwalk with my family these pictures bring up that bittersweetness that comes with urban renewal. I didnt know they were going the condo route, the last I had heard they were going to update the boardwalk and breathe some life back into Astroland park. I'm sure its going to turn into some hipster paradise (barf) when all is said and done but I hope they dont go too far with the clean up. Coney Island is supposed to have that carny vibe - handpainted signs, lots of lights, bad disco music, the only rollercoster i refuse to get on, and a touch of the freakshow sleaze. I guess I'll have to waddle my preggo butt back to da' hood for old time sake and get some before pictures for Baelin. le sigh

Carl said...

Hmmm, maybe you should put a book together. You know, one of those big coffee table/waiting room books filled with striking photos and interesting historical notes.

Michelle said...

It is amazing to me how much those pics look like you took them about 50 years ago because of the style/color scheme/etc.

So cool.

Judy Gaul said...

I can't believe I rode the roller coaster on Sunday! I am usually too "scared" but since my 54th B-day 2 years ago, I've tried to do things that I've never done before (or usually to scared to do) that are legal. Legal is a key word.

The last time I rode a roller coaster, Angie was about 4 yrs old. I HAD to ride it because she really wanted to do it and needed a parent to go along. Her Dad rode with 6 yr old Amanda and I rode with Angie. When we got off the ride, I chugged a bottle of baby aspirin.