New York Diary by Glenn Belverio

Dear Shaded Ones,

I’m exhausted from days of writing about underwear (which happily involves staring at photos of bulging male crotches all day), trying to work on my book, spending time with my dad, and also my editor, her margaritas and fajitas and Elizabeth Taylor but I know I need to report to you about this past Saturday in Coney Island. Creative Time did a project called The Dreamland Artist Club in which they commissioned a bunch of artists to do new signs for various Coney Island snack and game stands. (I don’t have photos of the work yet, but instead here are some photos of my day in Coney Island taken by Angelo Fabara.) I went down there to meet my friend Ronnie Cutrone who is one of the artists involved.

Breakdanceride Ride

Ronnie and I talk about how much we love Coney Island all the time, in fact recently we attended a screening of Norma Kamali’s film "Coney Island Baby" and he was there with Richard Butler of the Psychedelic Furs who I was thrilled to meet because I’m a huge fan. Anyway, Ronnie has a "Plan B": If all fails with his art and romance careers, he will check into the Shore Hotel — a flop house — in Coney Island to write his great, depressing American novel. But instead of actually writing he will spend most of his time at Rubys – a bar on the boardwalk – getting shit-faced in the sun every day until his liver fails and he has skin cancer. I thought that sounded pretty glamorous.


Coincidentally, the reception for the Dreamland Artist Club show was held at Ruby’s, which is a Coney Island institution. Draught beer, liquor, raw clams and hot dogs are proffered in abundance by a mix of sassy young bar maids and salty, male bartenders with prizefighter fists and Sailor Jerry eyes. I have to say I love Ruby’s. It’s the perfect Lost Weekend-by-the-sea kind of bar. While I was waiting in line for the men’s room (after several Irish-brand beers) one of the bartenders – a red-faced, gruff, yet not unappealing hardcore Southern Brooklynite – sidled up to me. With the demeanor of someone who had achieved that Nirvana-like peak that only the right combination of crank and Jack Daniels can provide, he began regaling me with a long, rather complex joke. I can’t say that it made any sense but the punch-line seemed to involve German paratroopers and anal sex. Problem was he gave away the punch-line long before the end of the joke by repeatedly peforming the international sign for anal sex: slipping one’s index finger in-and-out of a circle formed by the other index finger and thumb. And he kept saying "anal sex" and winking at me. After I was done relieving myself in the men’s room stall, my sun-burned jokester was standing at the urinal. So I pressed myself very close to his backside — the other international sign for anal sex — and purred in his ear, "Thanks for the laughs, sailor."


Almost as good as anal sex — bettter, even — is a ride on the famous, rickety and terrifying Cylcone. I ran into my adorable friend Diana at Ruby’s and she, I and a bunch of her friends made a mad dash for the killer rollercoaster. After the first ride, we stayed on and rode it again. Diana almost flew out because she is pretty tiny.

Going_up Cyclone_cars Wonderwheel

After the Cylcone, we rode on the Wonder Wheel. Andre "Piss Christ" Serrano was in the car in front of us. He seems to go everywhere. We could see Ronnie Cutrone’s art for the snack shop down below which included a giant ice cream cone. I will post a photo of that when I have one.


Here I am with Diana on the boardwalk. The famous ruins of the Parachute Jump are behind us.


Dusk on Coney Isand’s Astroland. I got very melancholy at the end of the day. I couldn’t stop thinking about how this will be the last authentic Coney Island summer because some greedy companies bought up all the waterfront property and are building a mall and condos. Nathan’s Hot Dog’s, the Freak Show, Ruby’s…it’ll all be gone by next year (The Cyclone is a historical landmark and I hear it will remain standing). It made me very depressed but when I wrote to Diane Pernet about it she said "At least you got to experience it."



Glenn Belverio

Glenn Belverio is a writer and New Yorker. He has been reporting for ASVOF since 2005 and currently works at The Museum of Modern Art as the Content Manager for MoMA Design Store.