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.
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 as much as possible.
Figured that I might as well share all the thoughts and feelings I have documented over the years. Perhaps a part of me still wants people to know just how serious the dedication to my lifestyle is. While other treat it like the latest fashion trend, and constantly make a profit while proclaiming 'love of the art', obviously my position has not changed over the years, and most likely it never will.
[Originally written on 10.17.2003]
I see photos of a place that I dream about and long to be there. Every time I go, I never want to leave. Of course I'm talking about Coney Island.
I fell in love with the place the first time I went [three years ago], and ever since, I can't seem to keep myself away. I am addicted; drawn in by the being that is. I could read about the history of Coney Island for days on end and never grow bored. There's 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.
It took me awhile to figure out what I want to do with my life. The first time I saw the sideshow...well...my mind was made up. I live for it now. I was born with sawdust in my veins, and I was meant to do this. Right now, I am doing as much as I possibly can to be successful at it.
To be honest, I don't think anyone understands how I feel, unless they love the Island just as much as I do. It is not something that you can just put down in words, though many have tried with brilliant works. There's just 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. It is truly unique, and there will never be anything like it again.
There's a certain feeling that washes over you when you're there. The sea is what calls out to me. 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. 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.
By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea...