There are many well written books on the subject of Coney Island, numerous films that depict beautiful images of what once was, and millions of people who have walked across its sandy beaches. It draws you into the history and allows appreciation of the fact that it even existed in the first place. Truly it was a wonder of its time, long before there were theme parks and advances in technology to allow for competition of bigger, taller, faster and the most extreme rides. Four different parks were born and subsequently destroyed or closed within a matter of decades, but the evidence is clear that there was indeed something very unique and spectacular that once existed on this slice of Brooklyn
At one point in my life, I was constantly making the 18 mile journey from where I lived in Elizabeth, New Jersey to a place where all your dreams could come true. No matter if the amusement area was open for business or not, there was something that constantly drew me to the Island. On a few very special occasions, I had an unforgettable adventure, and I certainly enjoyed photographing various objects and landscapes there as much as possible. Figured that I might as well share all the thoughts and feelings I have documented over the years from these visits. Perhaps a part of me still wants people to know just how serious the dedication to my lifestyle is and that there are certain things which will always be with me.
[Originally written on 10.17.2003]
When I see photos of a place that I dream about and long to be there, my imagination is ignited and my mind is taken on a journey to the most fantastic place in the world. Every time I go, no matter why I am there or how long I stay, I never want to leave. Of course I am talking about Coney Island. Suffice to say that I fell in love with the place the first time I went [about three years ago], and ever since, I cannot seem to keep myself away. In a way I feel as though I am addicted; drawn in by the being that is. Reading about the history of Coney Island for days on end would keep me captivated and I would never grow bored of learning something new. There is just so much about it that I find terribly fascinating. It has taken over me; it is inside of me and it refuses to get out.
After I graduated high school, it took me a while to figure out what I want to do with my life. The first time I saw a performance at Sideshows by the Seashore, my mind was made up and I live for it now. All of my past experiences combined with what has been happening over the past couple of years and having the honor of know Jon, someone who has lived the things I dream about, I know that I was born with sawdust in my veins and I am meant to do this. Right now we are doing everything we can to be successful, but that is a topic to discuss another time.
To be honest, Jon is pretty much the only person who understands how I feel, partly because he loves the Island just as much as I do. It is not something that I can just put down in words, though many have tried with brilliant works. There is something about the Island that reaches out and grabs you – once you are hooked, it’s like you can’t live without being there. It is the end of America where millions upon millions of people have passed before. It is something man could not handle, so he actively seeks to change it and destroy the history it holds. It is truly unique, and there will never be anything like it again.
There is a certain a variety of feelings that washes over us when we are there. The sea is what calls out to me, as I always find myself at peace when the sand is beneath my feet and the water is stretching out into infinity. The Island has had a rocky history since it was spawned, and yet it still exists, while other things are long gone. There is history all around you there, and you are a part of it. By now I have been there at almost every time of day, from early afternoon to the evening to sunset to sunrise. Beautiful blue skies uninterrupted by any clouds, and I have even seen the beach blanketed by snow.
One of my fondest memories has to be watching the sun rise. Of all the times I paid a visit to the Island, I had never stayed to see this. When I did, something happened to me. Maybe I was just in awe of what I was witnessing, or perhaps overjoyed I could share the experience with someone who means the world to me. The moment was as perfect as it could get. A sort of bliss settled over me. There were no worries, bills to pay or traffic to be annoyed by. No television or radio. No distractions at all. No ignorant people. No drama. No bullshit. Just the sea – I could sit on that beach and listen to the sea for hours. The thought has entered my mind on a number of occasions to just say ‘fuck it’ and live by the sea.