Monday, June 23, 2008

Mermaids in Peril

This past weekend, amid a sense of impending doom and passionate protest, the mermaids paraded once again through Coney Island, many of us wondering if it would be for the last time.

You couldn't miss the message. T-shirts at Lola Starr's and Ruby's urged "Save Coney Island." There was an odd requiem or two here and there. Through a fence bannered with the words "The Future of Coney Island," you saw a view of flattened earth and digging machines. And in a window on Surf Avenue, sailor girls prepared a place for Queen Mermaid, Savitri D, to hold a hunger strike to rescue Coney from the "gentrifying apocalypse of retail entertainment hell."

She and King Neptune, Reverend Billy, led off the parade, following the big drum of Dick Zigun, the former unofficial Mayor of Coney, recently resigned in protest. One troupe sent evildoing real-estate developers in yellow hardhats, with money spilling from their stuffed shirts, running down the boardwalk while the good guys tried to capture them in nets. The onlookers booed and hissed. Thor pulled a luxury high-rise inviting people to the June 24 Community Scoping Meeting.

The rest of the parade was a swirl of glittering jellyfish, topless mermaids, and other people who love any excuse to get dressed up in some crazy outfit--proof that New York is still New York, at least once a year, in places like Coney Island.

After the parade Billy and Savitri gave their King and Queen speeches to a small but rapt crowd. Billy urged us to save Coney. Savitri spoke of her deep-sea sorrows and planned starvation. The rest of us crossed our fingers and prayed for a miracle.


Anonymous said...

looks like a great time--sorry I missed it--was uptown--another closing of sorts--Apthorp Cleaners has a closing sign in their window--but they bought a building in the Bronx and will continue to service their customers from there.

Anonymous said...

Were there any yunnies there laughing and taking pictures?

JakeGould said...

You know, I support anyone fighting for Coney... But Rev. Billy and his "Church of Stop Shopping" have literally done nothing substantial to ever stop or truly affect change in cases like this. If anything, they often come in after the fact—when the corpse is near death—dance around and bit and then leave.

Coney is pretty much on it's way to being dead and this is all window-dressing at this point.

Jeremiah Moss said...

jack, that may be true, but i'm not doing anything substantial either. sometimes, just being a bit of a character and drawing attention to issues is "something" and reverend billy is doing that. he gives me hope--shows me that not everyone agrees that eccentric NYC should go the way of the dodo.

Anonymous said...

I wish people would stop talking about every Mermaid Parade being "possibly the last". Dick Zigun has said over and over that this is not so. Coney Island USA owns their building and they plan on having parades in the future. (That does not mean that there isn't a real threat to the "entertainment core". Much of the nutty funky center of Coney IS in danger of being redeveloped with condos and stores and the area set aside for amusements keeps shrinking as the plan keeps getting revised.)