Monday, March 22, 2010

The 2009 Mermaid Parade

One of the many highlights of my Coney Island experience was to not only be able to be in town for the annual Mermaid Parade.....but to actually be IN it. Unfortunately the epic June rains were still in full effect, yet the turnout was seemingly unaffected. The Parade floats and participants lined up right next to our tent on 21st so I was able to snap some pre-parade shots of people getting ready/hanging out.

The rain prevented us from wearing our show costumes so we were instead outfitted with RBBB t-shirts. Our pimp-ass ride more than made up for the lack of costumey grandeur. We rode in style crammed into soggy float cars from one of the big shows armed with bags of clown noses to throw at politely hand out to the crowd.

Earning their rightful place in 'Top 5 Disturbing Things I Witnessed During The Parade' included some dude clad in little more than a fanny pack leaving very little of his lot o' self to the imagination (not that you would EVER want to imagine THAT) and the corpse-like Harvey Kietel playing King Neptune who appeared to be one maniacal laugh away from full blown Cryptkeeper status.



I had met a dude during the parade lineup whose name I unfortunately have since forgotten, but he somehow spotted me along the parade route on the Boardwalk and I received an awesome shout-out:


video

The post-parade scene on/in the boardwalk/beach/ocean was...just incredible. Once again (notice a trend yet?) my attempt to capture those images and in words would be completely pointless....so here are a few pictures that provide a much more entertaining and accurate portrayal of the day's festivities....



Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cha Cha's

Just around the corner from the Freak Bar on the Boardwalk there lies another venue where one can go after sundown to experience a type of entertainment unique to Coney Island.....uniquely unique in this case, ha. Formerly known as Club Atlantis, the building was be re-birthed as Cha Cha's. The dude running the joint, JT, is quite an interesting character. Depending on which mood swing you catch him in the middle of, you'll either get an awesome story and new buddy, or an insane madman who will kick your ass out of the bar for no good reason. I remember asking him about an afternoon jam session I had peeked in on. And based on the sounds coming from the stage, the session consisted of mediocre blues musicians hacking their way through predictable material (but having a BLAST doing it so more power to 'em!). When I inquired about sitting in, he kind  of just stared at me for a while and said (well something along these lines) in a very serious tone: "You've got to be GOOD to sit in here. If you fuck up here, you'll never play anywhere in this town. So think about that before you come down here buddy." I guess the half dozen people in the bar when I passed by the session must have been super important....

Anyway, the first time I wandered in was during daylight hours and Cha Chas seemed to just be another dive boardwalk bar and good place to grab a beer and BS with some locals. As the summer wore on I obviously learned otherwise.

The vibe at Cha Chas is much much divier than the Freak Bar and the acts performing there are more "in your face" and "shocking" as opposed to the "classier" performances of the Freak Bar. While I did spend several late nights there with friends after the performances had already ended, I was able to attend a few Saturday night performances of the Philly based Squidling Brothers Circus Sideshow and was thoroughly entertained.

Some of the memorable performances I was exposed to (or were exposed to me in some cases) included some quite disturbing anatomically (in)correct muppets, "Lunch Box" eating moderately gross things and revealing more than necessary to make his point, monetary tips being stapled to both he and Jellyboy The Clown on a variety of body parts, spastic performances by Jellyboy's band The Hydrogen Jukebox, a super hot and extremely impressive Ariel Chain act by Anya Sapozhnikova, some rather dark and awesome burlesque performances including my friends Serpentina and the super rad Remy Vicious, the incredible Insectavora performing her fire act, and some (unintentionally) hilarious, horrendous magic tricks performed by the omnipresent and ever skeezy Mystic Marlow.

Cha Chas also played host to the Coney Island Rockabilly Festival, which was held the last weekend we were in town. I suppose I could go into more detail about my specific Cha Chas experiences but the nights are best remembered through pictures. Good times. Good peeps.




Monday, February 22, 2010

This......or That!

The final Friday of every month during the Summer season yields a very special and consistently unforgettable event at the Freak Bar. Regular rotating burlesque troupes are given temporary to make way for "America's Favorite Burlesque Gameshow", This or That!.



I was privileged enough to experience the June, July, and August episodes. While both the July and August episodes were quality, wisps of the June episode seems to have lingered the longest and left the deepest impression scar.

Clad in an incredible purple polyester suit armed with a game show style mic and smile, The Great Fredini commanded the stage accompanied by Julie Atlas Muse playing a cracked-out Vannah White packing an arsenal of the most hilarious facial expressions ever presented to an audience. The iconic 'Fisherman' warmed up the audience from behind his snare drum/cymbal kit armed with his "big hand" prop playing a 'Rod Roney' to The Great Fredini's 'Bob Barker/Richard Dawson/Chuck Barris' hybrid. Although the show is no longer aired live as it once was, it is still taped and 'commercial breaks' are taken to hawk ridiculous products/prepare the contestants. The cast is rounded out by the 'This or That Girls' (Bambi and Bunny) who would emerge from behind either curtain with either an act or to become rather personally "involved" with the contestants during the challenges.

The stage set's central piece is a typical game show wheel that when spun, lands on such phrases as 'Free Act', 'This or That', 'Buy an Act', and 'Mystery?'. "Round and round it goes; where it stops.......makes absolutely no difference." The wheel is flanked by curtains labeled "This" and "That" respectively. The audience is encouraged to weigh in with their opinion when the opportunity presents itself for the contestants to make the all important choice of "This......or That!" One of two things can happen after the choice has been made. Either a "normal" burlesque-style act will saunter out from behind the curtain.....or a "Dear Lord I am now blind and spewing blood from my burned out eye sockets" style burlesque act will slink across the stage.  Either way....the act is sure to make a lasting impression.

6 audience members (3 female and 3 male) volunteer are forcibly volunteered by their friends, or singled out by Julie and beckoned/dragged up on the the stage to compete in a preliminary contest that will result in one "lucky" volunteer from each sex gracing the stage for the remainder of the show as an 'official' This or That contestant.

The contest is quite simple in theory yet became much more complicated in practice: "You have 30 seconds each in turn to give the audience your best orgasm impression." Results of the simple command ranged from the annoying "oh I'm so embarrassed so I'll just kind of participate but mostly laugh into the mic and look at the ground" to all out "here's more about me then you ever wanted and ever will want to know" that stopped just short of fetal position thumb sucking in the corner of the stage.

One of the special guest Sideshow cast members visiting for the summer was "Seal Boy" Mat Fraser, who is an incredible performer (and drummer). Mat's a "Thalodomide Baby" born in the 60s with phocomelia of both arms. I would see him perform in various settings (sometimes seeing more of the dude than I had bargained for....yikes) throughout the rest of the summer but This or That was my first introduction to the dude. He preformed his own Burlesque Act involving the shedding of prosthetic arms.



Once the contestants have been chosen (based on audience response) and have been asked to "tell the audience something about yourself", they are sent backstage to prepare for the game. In the interim the rules of the game are eloquently explained by the illustrious host. The contestants answer questions/participate in 'Double Dare' (with a burlesque twist) style 'Physical Challenges' to accumulate 'totally worthless' This or That Dollars.

One staple of the show (kind of serving as the first "showcase showdown") involves the contestants frantically stripping in order to swap clothing with one of the This or That girls. Sometimes there was an ungodly amount of orange spray tan involved and the revealing of way more flesh then one would ever expect to see.....for better or worse.....usually worse. It was incredible to watch the contestants transform from nervous volunteers into shameless exhibitionists. But when you realize everything is in good fun and the people running the show excel at making everyone feel comfortably uncomfortable....radness obviously will ensue.

The Climax if the show culminates with the This or That "Super Showdown"in which there is some sort of food product, and it's never how much you eat, it's how "sexy" you consume said food product....with a generous amount of "assistance" from the This or That girls.

So, armed with a Coney Island Blockhead I took my seat in the bleachers that June evening not having the slightest clue of what to expect.

It was Mat's involvement during the This or That Super Showdown that burned a permanent image into my retinas. The food item of choice for the June This or That episode were ever fragrant "hard-boiled eggs". Both nearly bare audience volunteer contestants readied themselves for the start of the "Sexy Hard-Boiled Egg Eating Contest" to determine the ultimate This or That champion for the evening.

The Great Fredini gave the cue and shit was ON. They attacked the eggs with unbridled passion, aided by the This or That girls who fed hard boiled eggs to the volunteers in several.......interesting ways. Eggs were ground into the stage, flung out at the audience, placed and 'sexily' retrieved from several unique locations. The smell lingered for days. My Blockhead Beer induced pseudo bad acid trip peaked when a Speedo clad, dancing Mat Fraser graced the stage singing 'Age of Aquarius' in a lounge style as the music pumped out of the speakers and the egg orgy continued at his feet. It was by far the single most unsettling, amusing, and awesome thing I had seen up to that point, ha.

There were two more This or That performances I was able to attend during our stay but this first one was by far the most memorable (the pic below is from the August episode...Bannans were the food item of choice that month).


More to come.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Enter: The Freak Bar (Sideshow Edition)

While Burlesque dominates the Freak Bar after sundown, there are those who work a "regular 9-5", gracing the stage with their unique talents and uncanny abilities to draw in and play an audience with all the grace and dynamic range of a concert pianist.

The Coney Island Sideshow began in 1985 as "the world's first professional non-profit theatre dedicated to keeping alive the American sideshow."

The 2009 regular lineup consisted of the following outstanding performers I'm happy to now call friends:

Donny Vomit
PHOTO BY LAURE LEBER
I met Donny early on during my own "residency" at the Freak Bar. He's an Oklahoma boy with a voice naturally built for the stage. There are few people who can project and their voice with such controlled velocity sounding neither forced nor irritatingly piercing.

Known as the "Human Blockhead" within the Sideshow Community, he specializes in...well...pounding freaking nails into his head. He's taken the classic act to the next level by utilizing an electric power drill during the act. The audience's gasps of horror and awe as the screaming drill nuzzled its way into Donny's receptive nasal cavity never got old.

Mr. Vomit is a conusment professional in all regards (as well as a super fun dude to hang, drink and BS with). He also blows a mean fireball:


Visit the most excellent 'Vomitorium' blog to keep up to date with his adventures.

PHOTO BY LAURE LEBER
Unfortunately I didn't get to hang with Kryssy all that much until later in the summer.....but the ensuing adventures I was a part of made up for it tenfold, ha: Crazy performances at Cha-Cha's with circus co-workers,  an evening in Brooklyn meeting interesting new people that stretched into the wee hours after her guest bartending shift (I think I have may have been dragged onto a stage to play drums while my motor skills were severely lacking), a memorable yet foggy afternoon/evening as a background extra for an episode of 'Bartender Wars' (the prop drinks were most definitely real, haha), and a particular evening at Peggy O'Neils with other sideshow cast where a certain drunken asshole Russian acrobat on the tour learned who NOT to mess with solidified my high opinion of this totally bad-ass chick.

Mediastorm.org produced an excellent short film about Kryssy. Check it out! Family Kocktail


Serpentina

I met Stephanie early on during our stay and it was of no big surprise that the already established trend of quality character and distinctly rad personalities found in everyone I had met continued. Fun times were had just hanging at the Freak Bar with her, Evarts, and her awesome partner-in-crime: Little Butch the dog. Steph had a very commanding stage presence during both her Snake Charming act and while fyring Kryssy in the electric chair. Her eleaborate 'Pinocchio' themed burlesque performance at Cha Cha's near the end of the summer was entertaining, creative, and memorable.





The remaining 3 cast members I unfortunately didn't get to know all that well.

I  spent an awesome evening at a Slipper Room event where I ran into The Black Scorpion who was there with Mr. Vomit (story of that evening shall be shared in a later entry ha) and Mat Fraser. Jason was a quality dude hailling from Austin, TX. I'm not sure if he's coming back again for the '10 season but if so, more hangination is most definitely in order!

Heather Holiday's mesmerizing sword swallowing act affects audience members in different ways depending mainly on age and gender, ha. She's an accomplished sword swallower and fire eater and has no problems at all completely enthralling her audience both on stage and off. I'll hopefully get to hang with her a bit more this coming summer. Heather's website.

Scott Baker is classic sideshow personified. The only time I saw him perform was the night the Sideshow Cast put on a special show for the Boom-A-Ring cast. It was great watching him do his thing....and he did it very well.

There were also some special guest performers that the Sideshow hosted throughout the summer that warrant their own entry. So yeah, more to come.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Enter: The Freak Bar (Burlesque Edition)

My introduction to the Freak Bar began with ordering up a Coney Island Blockhead. The Schmaltz Brewing Company released a line of beers forever immortalizing members of the Coney Island Sideshow on the label and in each beer's name. The tasty choices included the Sword Swallower (Heather), Albino Python (Stephanie), Human Blockhead (Donny) (more on these fine people later), and the 'ole standby Coney Island Lager. The Bottles were massive and proved to be the perfect accompaniment for catching a Burlesque or Sideshow performance.

The Burlesque Troupe for that evening were guests who could normally be found performing at The Slipper Room in the Lower East Side (another quality venue for shows of a similar vein....stories for another time). The official synopsis sums up the show perfectly:

Mel & Fanny in Zombies Take Manhattan

Mel & Fannie are hosting the show at the Slipper Room in Manhattan when the zombie plague hits. They manage to get across the Brooklyn Bridge with three of their girls in tow, only problem is that Mel & Fannie have already been infected and don't realize it. After each number they attack the girl. By the seconsd set all the performers are zombies. Lots of blood, guts, laughs, and a suprise ending.




Definitely a suitable introduction to the New York Burlesque Scene. I was hooked immediately (on the beer, the scene, and the vibe). This particular show had a live band backing up the host/hostess and performers.

If you haven't actually experienced one of these performances, fancy adjectives can only do so much to convey what actually transpires. It's not often you can use the words 'fun', 'creative', 'gross', 'hilarious', and 'hot' all within the same summation, but that's pretty much what you're guaranteed to experience at any show in the 'Burlesque at the Beach' Series.

A small sampling of the numerous other shows I caught during our stay:

Bump and Grindhouse

Lady Aye and Weirdee Girl are pleased to present: Bump 'n' Grindhouse -- the scariest thing to hit Coney Island since Thor Equities! Bringing together equal parts tongue in cheek, blood and gore and T'n'A, Bump 'n' Grindhouse is a shaking, shimmying, loving homage to the creature features and midnight movies of days gone by brought to you by some of New York burlesque's sweetest star attractions. All killer, no filler, it's burlesque that boils down cult films to the best part - the ominous trailer - without skimping on shock, schlock, or laughs-a-plenty!
The evening's all-star cast of nudie cuties include: Weirdee Girl, Nasty Canasta, Creamy Stevens, Fem Appeal, Minnie Tonka & Miss Kissy Wishes. Along with, your emcee, the sweetheart of the sideshow, The Lady Aye! Plus a half-time spooktacular with prizes from sponsors Live Fast NY and Something Weird Video! So, run, don't walk to see the standing room only, thrill ride that has had audiences screaming with delight. . .IF YOU DARE!
Note: The producers of Bump 'n' Grindhouse believe some of the images contained in this show to be so shocking that a nurse will be on hand to tend to any patrons who faint from sheer terror or mental over-stimulation. In addition, the management has arranged for each audience member to receive a "Shock Insurance" Policy indemnifying them against the pure thrills and entitling them to a chance at valuable raffle prizes!
Rated G for G-Strings.

Freakin' Awesome.





Skullduggery & Skin Show presents:
A Fistful of Pasties

The Wild West gets undressed when Sheriff Albert Cadabra & Deputy Donny try to tame the notorious outlaw Gal Friday and her Booby Bandits! Miss Friday leads an all-girl gang that's dead set against pasties interfering with the natural beauty of their breasts, but Sheriff Cadabra will keep their boobs undercover until things bust out in an eyeball-bulging, pastie-twirling shootout of bodies and bullets! It's a Fistful of Pasties that shows exactly How the West was Done!
featuring:
The Booby Bandits, Gal Friday, Jo Boobs, Nasty Canasta, Little Brooklyn, with, Albert Cadabra as the Sheriff, Donny Vomit as the Deputy, Porkpie the Pianist, & Blaine Kneece as the Old Coot!

You can't make this stuff up....

Fisherman's Love Luau

The Best and Only Tiki-themed Burlesque Show - Fisherman takes you on a vacation of the imagination, as the sultry sounds of the Xylophonic Orchestra (featuring Fisherman on the historic 100 year-old Harley Sadler Tent Show Marimba-Xylophone) inspire a bevy of the best Burlesque dancers in the world to cast aside all civilizational inhibitions and return to a primitive state of exotik abandon!
(Performers TBA)
www.fishermansburlesque.com

Fisherman was a really cool dude to hang with and an incredible marimbist/vibraphonist. He fronts his own Tiki style band 'The Xylophonic Orchestra' who most triumphantly enhance whichever troupe they are backing.


The Peach Tartes Let Their Freak Flag Fly!

The Peach Tartes are very kinky girls--the kind of girls you want to know...
Wave your freak flag high and celebrate Coney Island with us (it's our all-time favorite!) We're gonna get wild now and bring you everything from Little Egypt and Living Dolls to Siamese Twins and Snake Charmers! It's such a freaky scene!
www.myspace.com/peachtartes









THE SELF CENTERED LEO BURLESQUESHOW
WE PUT THE ASS IN ASTROLOGY!

What do Masturbation, Mirrors and Photographs have in common? The Leo! That's right on July 30th the sun will be in the center of astrological sun sign of the Leo. What else is special about this date? It's THE SELF CENTERED LEO SHOW! This burlesque show will highlight the fabulous nature of those born under the sun sign of the Leo! Starring sensationally talented Burlesque, Singers, and Performance artists: Darlinda Just Darlinda, Jo Boobs, Erin Markey, Fem Appeal, Sequinette, and Shelly the Singing Siren!
These internationally renowned Leo's are sexy, brilliant, confident, and bring you the best in Burlesque Entertainment the Astrological Chart has to offer(at least we think so!) We'll be honoring legendary Leo celebrities like; Mae West,Isaac Hayes, Madonna, Whitney Houston and our President Barack Obama!
Of course our stars, all born Leos, are ablaze with talent!

Ixion Burlesque presents "Down & Dirty Lounge"


Ixion's "Down & Dirty Lounge" began at the Coney Island Mermaid parade of 1999. Pianist Albert Garzon and blues vocalist Lex Grey did something unheard of at that time: they created a cabaret incorporating forgotten hits of the teens, 20's and 30's with dirty-sexy Jokes. Today the show has grown into a Two-Act, live-music burlesque starring:
Gal Friday (Miss Coney Island), Fleur de Lys, Madame Hari, Jasmine Blushes and Venus Velour.





Albert's ragtime/blues piano and Lex Grey's sultry voice are the perfect backdrop for authentic old-school burlesque. This show is Down and Dirty, with more than a touch of class!!

Dr. Lukki presents: PHANTASMAGORIA: A Land Where all the Beauties are Monsters and all the Monsters are Beauties









Once upon a time an unsuspecting academic researching a vital 21st century cultural phenomenon on gets swept away by her studies and literally lands in a fantasy land called Phantasmagoria. In Phantasmagoria, all of the beauties are monsters and all of the monsters are beauties. Though monster/beauty produces conceptual richness, it also creates curatorial nightmares as Dr. Lucky and Darlinda Just Darlinda attempt, in vain, to cast the show. A show within in a show, monster/beauty shows the limitations of a binary structure when dealing with a post-modern cultural concept. Along the way, they meet some of the most compelling beautiful monsters and monstrous beauties in the new burlesque scene including Bambi the Bambi the Mermaid, Devilicia, Little Brooklyn and Rose Wood. These monster/beauties teach our unsuspecting academic a few things about theory as they bring to life her essay entitled, "'It is the Ugly that is so Beautiful': Performing the Monster/Beauty Continuum in Neo Burlesque.

Needless to say, I made a lot of amazing friends doing amazing work that I am very much looking for to reconnecting with this summer. More updates on the way (with significantly less copying and pasting).

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.....

Coney Island is difficult beast to write about aside from recollecting personal experiences from the 12 weeks chock-full of blurry, yet vivid experiences and adventures. Paragraph upon paragraph could be laboriously churned out chronicling it's long and storied history and unfortunate recent decline. A lot of shit has gone down on "Rabbit Island", political and otherwise. Our arrival and residency in Coney Island was purported to be an effort to aid in the revitalization of the rapidly declining neighborhood due in part to a particular real estate dude. There are far too many twists and turns to that particular story and it's already been summarized far better than I could manage even if I attempted to. If you're interested in getting somewhat up to speed, here's one article that sums up some of the drama up to our arrival:

New York Times Article from APR '09

They day after my soggy arrival onto the lot, B and I took a stroll down the boardwalk our first experience of the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells (for better or worse....or much worse in some cases) of Coney Island. A cast of "colorful" characters were scattered about the length of the Boardwalk: Old dudes meditatively stretching, huffing, and puffing on the guide rails, withered and wrinkled sunbathers; shirtless but still fuzzy gray sweater adorned; hobbling schizophrenics muttering to themselves between cacophonous outbursts at everything/everyone and nothing/no one at the simultaneously, gangster thugs sizing us up as we strolled past in case we should haplessly wander back the same way after nightfall, children and adults alike indulging in typical boardwalk cuisine, sporadic hipsters here and there desperately scanning the boardwalk for people who may be checking out how rad they were for hanging out in Coney (without LOOKING like they were doing that of course), and random.....well freaks shuffling about.

Next door to Cha Cha's (a bar I would come to know better as the summer wore on) was the 'Shoot The Freak' game. You pay for a certain number of paintballs, take aim at a dude in the playing field hiding behind a shield, and fire away. It's kind of like nailing the ball boy at the driving range "Pete and Pete 'Rangeboy'" style substituting paintballs for golf balls.



Eventually the already unique sights we had passed had transitioned to something much more Eastern European which marked our entering the Brighton Beach section of the boardwalk. A string of excellent looking Russian cafes unfortunately did not mix well with the copious amount of stomach churning SpeedoKings parading about which justified our hasty retreat back towards the lot.

The lot was stationed next door to an incredible piece of architecture and Coney Island history: The Child's Building.



As we approached our turn off the boardwalk back onto the lot, awesome 80s music could be heard seeping out of this Neptune adorned structure. Continuing to the front of the building the source of the rad sonic vibrations was revealed: The Dreamland Roller Rink.



The place was radness incarnate. Full roller rink, great tunes, and a Coney Island boutique all in one. Very cool t-shirt designs and various other knick-knacks.

I was lucky enough to meet the owner and designer, Dianna Carling (Lola Staar) and hear a bit of her amazing history and received my introduction to what had been happening in and to Coney Island and how the battle to save it had begun. She was quite an incredible person with regards to her creativity in her designs and passionate activism defending and supporting the saving of Coney Island. I recommend checking out the short film about her here:

Lola Staar's Dreamland

Click 'WATCH THE FILMS' then click on 'CONTINUE TO THE FILMS', and then on 'DREAMLAND'

And her boutique website: http://www.lolastaar.com/

More importantly though, that night was also when the Freak Bar and Coney Island Sideshow were recommended to me as a rad joint venue to catch an awesome show/grab a drink. After B bailed back to the lot, I sauntered down The Boardwalk to check out the aptly named "Freak Bar" to experience my first Coney Island Lager and catch that evening's Burlesque show.  Twas to be the first of countless nights (and some afternoons, ha) spent amongst talented and unique new friends.

Coney Island Baby

2000 miles. The only thing standing between the show closing in Laredo, TX and 12 straight weeks without the inherit burden of packing up and driving the RV every Sunday after the last show. The drives throughout the course of those final Pre-Coney weeks had been sheer brutality. However, the pinpoint of light at the end of the 2000 mile long tunnel was slowly coming into view which was more than enough to focus on what was at that point Paradiso.

A quick one-day stopover in Pittsburgh was on the agenda en route to The Warriors' turf. We didn’t smash the drive as in past trips, but took a comfortable pace spending our nights outside of Waco, Memphis, and Louisville respectively with the last two nights at KOAs (screw 3 nights of Flying J’s and Wal-Marts).

My burgh visit was brief but nice. No trips into town to see any friends, just a relaxing fam day.

I met up with the Palkinator down the road a ways after our departure Thursday evening. After a second attempt to find ULSD on the lovely PA Turnpike we almost immediately entered a torrential downpour that showed no signs of letting up for hours. Very fitting weather for the last time we were going to be hauling our RVs for a while.

We had been strictly instructed to arrive in Coney Island between 12:01am and 3am Friday, June 12. The reason being was that we were to sit in a ‘holding lot’ as the powers that be figured out how to play Tetris with our RVs to squeeze them into the Clown Car-esqe parking area we had been allocated (envision 'Tron Guy' squeezing into that suit).

No between-town jump would be complete without some sort of confusing twist with regards to the prescribed route.  The easiest, quickest way to traverse the terrain at hand was to hop on the Belt Parkway after crossing the Verrazano Bridge from Staten Island. The catch for us was that no “trailers”, semis or otherwise are permitted on the Parkway. What this meant was that we had to detour into the heart of Brooklyn and snake our way around through multiple neighborhoods to avoid it.

We managed to navigate the streets without getting stuck and after watching the neighborhoods change from quaint and well-kept to run-down and shady, we eventually turned onto Surf Ave. The rain had finally let up and through the fine mist illuminated by soft lot lighting, a towering yellow and blue striped tent came into view.

As we turned into the lot, fully expecting a Fluster Cuck of trailers sprawled everywhere, everyone was already parked or had not yet arrived and we slipped right in with no problem. Playing by the 'rules' cost us an extra 3 days back home in Pittsburgh.

Throughout the entire tour, parking designation had been relatively painless; we always had adequate room on both either side and front to back of each RV. In Coney Island, we were stacked 4 deep bumper to bumper and had about a cozy 2ft between neighboring slide-outs. The show lot had been nicely paved to accommodate to the tent, but our entire parking area had been left as scattered gravel and dirt.

Soon after I hooked up my hose to the water tree (which was set up in the midst of old rusty razor wire (which was lacking from our fenced perimeter but fully present in the neighboring unused lot)), the soon to be infamous New York 2009 June Rains started to beat down.

'You can say these streets are rivers....you can call these rivers streets.'

Our parking lot quickly became a cesspool of multiple mini-lakes and mud. It was starting to look like a very daunting 12 weeks (notwithstanding the 12 show a week schedule). Luckily there were many new friends made, and experiences…umm well experienced along the way that overshadowed the dreary arrival and introduction to my new neighborhood.

Come out to pla-A-ay…….