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Most paraders don outlandish costumes, like this one . . . how could there be a chicken-of-the-sea


named Lady Gaga.


And these next two photos MIGHT puzzle you . . . since the woman in black shorts and boots seems to command a lot of attention even though she is not particularly be-costumed.


Lots of attention and with a weird parasol.


Besides music and dance, I enjoy the costumes–however over-the-top or under-the-bottom– they may be.  Even librarians dress up and carry conventional parasols, as


do museum folk.


And it’s fun, except for the man in blue shirt blocking half the street and bombing lots of my photos;  I’m sure I’m not alone in finding that just loutish.  His press pass can’t license him to photobomb that shamelessly, can it?  Maybe someone with a press pass can weigh in on protocols for photographers at events like this?


Sometimes paraders break out of the procession and pose with the kids at the parade.  I like that.








If you haven’t seen the 1979 movie called The Warriors, here’s a reference to that.  I like that movie now because it depicts what parts of the city are said to have looked like 40 years ago.


Well, start counting down the days until the 2017 parade and make plans to be there.


All photos by Will Van Dorp.  If you didn’t recognize the woman in the black shorts near the top of this post, here’s the story.

Meanwhile, here’s my second shorter recording of Gypsyfunk Squad.  Here was the first one.

Soon after this shot, the queen of hearts and troupe danced for the judges with this on a loud sound box.  That makes for a good day, even though I can’t remember Alice, a rabbit, or the dormouse.  But that’s one of the things I love about the parade . . . good music and dancing.


After then parade, Gypsy Funk Squad played on . . .  Here’s my phone-recorded sample of King Jack Neptune playing the oud, with a mermaid queen, percussion and dancers.  Hear more oud–related to the lute–here.


Of course, Dick D. Zigun, honorific mayor of Coney Island,  always leads off the parade with his drum and band.


I’ve never seen this sort of Mexican dancer in the parade, but they surely raised the bar for quality.


And of course, mermaids can make politics much more palatable than most politicians or media marketeers.


But mostly, it’s exuberant music and ecstatic dancing.


How many starfish have you seen trumpeting?


And high octane drumming overcomes stasis.


Enjoy the photos, the solstice, and the strawberry moon.












Click here for mermaid parade years and here for annual solstice mermaid migration years.

All photos here by Will Van Dorp, who WAS a judge!


Let’s follow the evolution of this boat.  Two years ago she went by Coney Island.  I was looking forward to having a tugboat by that name in the sixth boro.   A check of the USCG vessel documentation site showed that previously she had gone by Mister Jordan, a vessel I’d never seen.


The builder’s plate showed that prior to using the Mister Jordan name, she was Beth I.  That sent me to the Blount site, where I also learned she was first built in 1958 for Bethlehem Steel, and that Vulcan III might be a twin.


Next I saw this vessel high and dry and in different colors. Now watch what happens with the stack.  It’s a black “muffler” here, and then when next I saw her,


the black housing was gone and there were two pipes with smallish mufflers sprouted from the back of the house.


Enjoy a few more shots taken in the past few months of Coastline Bay Star.


A handsome vessel working past the half century mark, launched the same year as this powerhouse and  one of these.


All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

With apologies to Johna, here are the pastries, a merman,

a merbike, but no meryak!!  Guess that one will challenge us til next year.

Horns aplenty  (more than in Pamplona Seattle)  feted the solstice, as did

hooks on lures,

harlequins of

many genres,

spiral horned,

orchestrated horns,

harlequins with parasols,

and here . . . beyond the cowboy in blue toga, library maids and masters with a classic edition of Jules Verne . . . .

By the next day, revelry had migrated to Red Hook, where theatrical scenes of fund-raising on behalf of PortSide NewYork took place, involving officers of

someone’s flotilla bearing keys to the city.  By the way, if you can make it to the Community Board 1 meeting TONIGHT by 6 pm, I’ll see you there.  Important! 

And someone commented . .  asking what this mermaidographer looked like, click here and go to #9;  thanks for these to Claudia Hehr.

Cheers.  Summer is here . . . and I may tomorrow be agallivantin . . .

Meanwhile, if anyone got good pics of the librarian mermaid/mermen contingent . . .  please share?

aka  . .  pastries pasties and paint, starting with the self-described  “naked cowgirl.”







put up






See you at south Brooklyn aka Isle of Coney next year.

Happy summertime.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Coney Island–the reef–has existed within the sixth boro since time immemorial, this gathering has occurred since 1983, and tugster has blogged it since 2007, drawn by the natural beauty of creatures–like this one— with

their altruistic sensibilities, their

bio-diversity, their

breathing behavior in dry–if muggy- air, and … more.

But I couldn’t help noticing yesterday that  . . . as the mermaids school on this reef, so does another species . . . camera-bearers.  Even chief-liaison Dick Zigun has cameras turned on him.

And mermaids themselves sport cameras, maybe as mimicry.

But yesterday the camera-bearers were everywhere!

They schooled–dare I say swarmed–each time a seamaid emerged out of the reef.

Not that the mercreatures seemed to perceive threat;  in fact,

 it looked like mutual enjoyment

a case of fun, fanfare,

flourish, and frippery.

And camera-bearers feasted at every turn.

And how do you suppose I got these fotos of

such lovely creatures, who

traveled by a range of


More on that tomorrow . . . and the pasties and paint verson of the story.

OK, all fotos here by Will Van Dorp.

Totally related:  in the third foto from end above . . . one mermaid sported a tugboat atop her hear but my shot was blurry.  Also, I missed a shot of the “librarian mermaids,”  which, if anyone got, I’d love a link or a copy.

Back to that foto of the other day, the  third one down here that maybe baffled you . . . made you wonder if it got dropped in by error?    Well, it was taken at Coney Island last summer, the place I usually depict as  here or in fotos like the one below,



Coney Island is the location where the slightly sordid transaction involving tugster took place last summer.  Well, money changed hands although my heart was conflicted,

and folks in the sidelines encouraged me onward, not that I wanted to proceed, of course.  I didn’t want to see where this would lead.

It’s just a kid . . . I thought . . .  .  But this is Coney Island, where the inappropriate is appropriate, a fantasy land where rules are attenuated, or even temporarily suspended, where you’re supposed to see things differently if only for a few hours.

“Go for it!  You can’t stop now . . .”  and even more explicit taunts came from both in front of me and behind me.  I was slipping on a slippery slope, thinking I had resolve

but losing control over it  . . .  “Nah,  I can’t do this,” came the inner voice.

But the jeers rose from the pit and sneers tumbled from behind, and

there was but one way out.  Forward.  I had to see this through.

The invisible tiger was stalking me,

I could smell the feline and hear it breathe,

I proceeded.  To my surprise, when my magazine was empty, I had left beauty

marks . . . scumbling on the shield canvas. . . .   yes, canvas held by my assistant.  Eureka!

You must be thinking  . . . what on earth is this all about?  Simple:  today I turn 59, and Coney Island . . .  and these 6-month-old fotos from Coney Island . . . is my way to celebrate it.  I’m surging forward into a place I’ve never been, and hoping to create order and grace from angst and doubt.  And “Coney Island” after all is the anglicized version of konijn eilandt,” konijn being rabbit, and since–in honor of the year of the rabbit— I could find NO record of a vessel passing through the harbor here EVER with a name like rabbit or hare or bunny . . . .  this is the best I can do.

And that summer’s ritual of trespassing lines of convention . . . that one cannot be repeated.  I imagined I talked with the freak the other day  as he was taking my order at the coffee shop.

Somehow related:  the Manhattan Borough historian has declared Feb 9 to be “alligators-in-the-sewers” day.    I wonder if we can get the sixth boro historian to make such proclamations . . .

Clearly related:  SP-346 aka USS Edgar F. Coney . . . was a NJ-built  WW1-era tugboat.

All but the first three fotos by Faith.

Actually I’m creating the mystery, but I uncreate it after the fourth foto.  You might try to guess what’s happening.  I put in some lovely distractors.  What was happening on Coney Island this morning between 7 and 930 am?  Man with red shorts, a swimmer, and tug Edith Thornton (1951, ex-Signet Defender, J. K. McLean).

SUNY Maritime’s Empire State-all flags flying– returns from its three-month summer training cruise to the Mediterranean.

Man with red kite in the air;  black spot in between.

Man with green bathing cap wades in as a brace of jetskis bobs nearby.  So far, it’s all men with head gear, but

then Bowsprite approaches with camera;   yellow kayaks and NYPD as background.  She didn’t say, “We have you surrounded.”  This could mean only one thing:  click here and find out.  Here’s the site for CIBBOWS.

Swimmers in green caps (warming and limbering up)  did the 5 km race.

Long Island City Community Boathouse spotted, as did the jetskiers.

Cristian read the rules.

And the first wave went in, heading for the first

turn around the buoy.

The second wave (white caps) began their one-mile race to the Coney fishing pier and


Bowsprite served as beach-spotter at the finish line, where here arrive the first finishers in green caps.  After

five kilometers in one hour and 18 minutes it was this close.

Now the man with the kite . . . that speck was a camera.  Click here and here to see Scott Dunn’s amazing photography with kite-suspended camera.

Empire State and Edith Thornton . . . their role was to bless the race with their beauty.

This was my first swim race;  I plan to attend the one in November.  About the Aquarium, it served as venue for registration and celebration;  as we prepared there for the race in the wee hours before sunrise, I overheard some flush pinnipeds wagering their fishy breakfast on race outcomes.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

And here’s another swimming organization to learn about:  Swim Across America.  Recall the 2009 swim post by tugster . .  . uh,  me?  And someone’s unconventional techniques?

In recent years, the villains have included developers and politicians.  Let’s see if you can guess who got pilloried in 2010.  I give no clues, although I will show dirty pictures.

Eeeew!  Sullied skin and scales;  sticky besmirching gunk!

A polluted sea on the sidewalk,

such beauty begrimed,

a beached fowl befilthed by a fouling foam,

a pestiferous plague on pickup and passengers,  and

all drawing out righteous indignation.

Face it . . . many of us  are traumatized  . . .  and what can we do?

In the Gulf of Mexico and many other places our consumption has brewed a cruddy, nasty, soiled, nasty, stinky concoction that

chokes when brought to the mouth.

The sea . .. and the land and the shoreline are

yours and ours.  But how do we claim what is ours?

What must we all do to save beauty from beastliness?

Click here to see Rick (old salt’s) post with a great clip of the becrowning of Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed.  Here’s Lou Reed’s “coney island baby.”  From frogma, musica!

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Some related pieces:  a Frank Rich essay from Sunday’s NYTimes that I like, oil spills we don’t hear about,  a cautionary tale from Nigeria where oil has issued forth since 1958, info and pix about the momentous 1969 oil spill off Santa Barbara, and an article about life of the crew of vessel known as OCS-G 32306 integral to efforts at end this nightmare.

So who was the villain here?

My gratitude to all the performers for their theatre of grief.

Coney Island has such a distinct culture that the sixth boro (the watery parts between the five terra-boros) should just annex it.

Very introductory but fascinating  history of Coney’s evolution can be had in these short articles by Lisa Iannucci, Jeffrey Stanton, and Laurence Aurbach Jr. One theme of these articles is that Coney has a rich history of  inverting the genteel norms, entertaining rather than uplifting, dissolving the distinction between audience and performer, and (for a holiday) legitimizing some folks’ ideas of the illegitimate.  (Some of those phrases come from the lecture by Goeff Zylstra recently at Alongtheshore.)  It sounds like the alongshore of Coney makes a candidate for the capital of the sixth boro, and the Mermaid Parade its official holiday.

May these few fotos whet your appetite!  Doubleclick enlarges.  More tomorrow.  I took this foto almost immediately after arriving yesterday, and I was so happy I could have gone home satisfied.  Mermaids exude such grace!

Dick Zigun, mayor of Coney,  leads off the 20th annual parade.  Thanks for ALL your efforts, Dick and crew.  Oceans of appreciation to all the performers!

King Neptune and Queen Mermaid aka Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson ride the ceremonial cart.

Charm and


Fun for all ages, youngsters

of all ages:  THIS is the circus that has come to Coney.

Beplumed posteriors and

profiles,  they have given me a smile I can’t erase for days, months even.

Those black smudges . . . yeah, the parade did have its dirty parts, but for that, your patience until tomorrow is required.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

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Graves of Arthur Kill

Click on image below to order your copy of Graves of Arthur Kill, by Gary Kane and Will Van Dorp. 3Fish Productions.

Seth Tane American Painting

Read my Iraq Hostage memoir online.

My Babylonian Captivity

Reflections of an American hostage in Iraq, 20 years later.

Tale of Two Marlins

Blue Marlin spent 600+ hours loading tugs and barges in NYC Sixth Boro. Click on image for presentation made to NY Ship Lore and Model Club, July 25, 2011.


May 2017
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