Thursday, August 9, 2012

Coney Ride '87

On a hot summer day in 1987, join Michael Musto and friends for a graffiti-splattered subway ride from (unrecognizable) Union Square to (recently demolished) Coney Island. It's another gem from filmmaker Nelson Sullivan.



When artist Albert Crudo gets on in Bensonhurst he tells of "these horrible girls" on the platform who commented on his gender presentation: "It's a guy! It's a guy!" Musto passes the time by defacing images of 1950s Hollywood starlets.

Today they'd be hipsters. But it's not today. It's the '80s.

And, look, it's the Loew's Oriental movie palace--shuttered in 1995 and turned into a Marshall's.



When they finally arrive at their destination, the glimpse of Coney's ghosts might break your heart.

22 comments:

Elwood D Pennypacker said...

Just a little subway history context for this great slice:

That's the West End Line so in 1987 that would have been the B, not the D (and you see the B icon after they swing past the Loews onto 86th St). Back then, the D was the local on the Brighton line and the Q was the express. There was still signage back then for a BQ train - a relic of the double letter days. I remember it because my mother would take me to work with her in the summer some days, and I always hoped for the BQ to show up and see where it would go.

Elwood D Pennypacker said...

Just a little subway history context for this great slice:

That's the West End Line so in 1987 that would have been the B, not the D (and you see the B icon after they swing past the Loews onto 86th St). Back then, the D was the local on the Brighton line and the Q was the express. There was still signage back then for a BQ train - a relic of the double letter days. I remember it because my mother would take me to work with her in the summer some days, and I always hoped for the BQ to show up and see where it would go.

Ms. said...

Oh, yes--broken hearted--again.

marty said...

Great video, thanks for posting it. I'm going out to Coney Island today to see the free Joan Jett show and enjoy the few crumbs of fun that are left there.

Goggla said...

Nelson Sullivan's videos are fantastic. I've spent many hours pouring through them - so sad to lose his talent so early. As I walk around the city today, I like to imagine how he would see things.

Anonymous said...

Is that the Palladium they met in front of?

Crazy Eddie said...

@Elwood-Elwood-thanks-in the 60’s, going to visit my Aunts in Bensonhurst, we would take the Sea Beach (N) line to the 18th Avenue stop. Going back to Manhattan the sign at top of the stairway to platform said: “To The City”.

@Anony 1:12-Yep.

Anonymous said...

@Elwood D Pennypacker: It was the QB, not the BQ train.

Artie Gold said...

The QB ran on Broadway.

The video? I remember those days. I can smell them. Unspeakably awful. And unspeakably beautiful.

Phew.

Caleo said...

This beautiful time capsule emanates heat and grit and sweat and the rough and tumble joy of a pre luxurified-pre I-zombified New York.
This is a New York I was lucky enough to live in and now only exists in memories and photos/video.
Just wonderful.

Anonymous said...

the most shocking thing to me is how willing they were to touch bare skin to subway seat. that doesn't really happen today.

space Pope said...

What Caleo said. It was almost like a tribal initiation rite to be born, grow and prosper there back then. Yes I tend to look at that time and place with nostalgia goggles, but with the odds stacked against me to live past 20 there, I hold it as a badge of honor that I did it.

Although not captured in the video, there was a derelict roller-coaster that once stood there before it was torn down and the MCU Stadium erected on its grave-site. I used to always stand in front of the chain-link fence and stare at it for a while. I dubbed it the 'Haunted Coaster'. it just had that atmosphere to it. I have a picture of it; maybe I'll put it up later.

Anonymous said...

I lived in NYC from 1977 until 1994 and Michael Musto was one of my first NY friends so I really enjoyed this! I lived in Manhattan for two years, then Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, for the rest of the time. I've only been back to NYC twice in the past 18 years. It really changes every five years, I've heard, and I think that's true. I went back in 1998 for eight days of business and had forgotten what a noisy place it is and the mood was very upbeat then, which was nice. I visited again very briefly in 2010 and it was quite an unknown place to me. The subway lines had different names (and the stairs were still rough!) and NYers seemed to have really changed. They seemed kind of out of it. It used to be you'd ask a NYer a question and they'd jump out of their skin and be on the alert but everyone seemed to be kind of a shuffling zombie when I was there, but hey. That's just my impression. Coney Island was always really ragged. I am glad I took my French spouse there in 1994 and put him on the roller coaster immediately before he could argue. He liked it a lot and we went many times.

Joseph the Butler said...

Michael Alago on FB sent me here. So glad to see this. Fascinating indeed.

Jeremiah Moss said...

hi Joseph--welcome aboard!

BarBarSeven said...

“Today they'd be hipsters. But it's not today. It's the '80s.”

Jeremiah, please elaborate on that comment. Do you hate hipsters? I think you do. And as someone who grew up on the D line, I indeed remember seeing these "artists" make trips to the neighborhood & understood it to be nothing more than slumming.

I appreciate this video, but what you are looking at wistfully is not only an era gone by, but also the first seeds of city-wide gentrification.

Just watch "hipsters" head out to Rockaway on the L train… Not much different than this video in any way.

Uncle Waltie said...

My new book "How to pick up women in the East Village" will be available early October. Look for it at your local book seller.

Anonymous said...

What is a hipster ? Do the have talent ? Interests ? Culture ? Anything beyond flannel shirts and "artisinal food" ?

It seems like there is no agenda political or otherwise

Anonymous said...

That's what I thought

Shawn Chittle said...

Love Nelson Sullivan - all his stuff is fantastic.

I doubt they'd be hipsters today. Hipsters like safe suburban locales. Not seedy underworld crime-ridden areas.

Coney Island then and now - still a magical place in my heart.

Mary said...

"Hipster" has become a catch-all for every young mildly fashionable yuppie who moves to New York, but keep in mind a lot of young activists, musicians, artists, and weirdos often have appearances people deride as hipstery, just as many would have during this time. The people in this video ARE hipsters, they are fashionable, hip, artsy young people, and as pointed out, in some ways they are slumming.

If the term really is supposed to encompass both the wealthy young J. Crew clad people of Manhattan drinking $14 drinks AND the type of people I'm thinking about who genuinely care about DIY stuff and politics etc (yeah not a ton of them in New York, but they do exist) but are also wearing tight jeans and have shaggy hair, then it just goes to show it has no real meaning.

Anonymous said...

Thanks I think.

Im just a person.