Thursday, April 10, 2008

Woody Guthrie Lived in Coney Island for a While

Bet you never thought Mr. Dust-Bowl-Folk-Singer lived in Brooklyn, right? Well, he did. And it's where Arlo was born. For those of us who have explored more of Coney Island than the Wonder Wheel, the boardwalk, and Totonno's, the lyrics to "Mermaid's Avenue" will seem just a tad outdated. I don't know how much lox you'll find meeting up with bagels right around there. You might have some luck in one of the nursing homes located down past the Brooklyn Cyclones' stadium.

Some things he mentions are definitely still similar. Sea Gate is still, well, gated. And if you're lucky, you'll find evidence (imprint of physical) of activities under the boardwalk. Either way, it's great to re-live how Coney Island was seen through Guthrie's eyes, especially now that it's changing so radically once again. After reading the lyrics over, I have a craving for halvah.

Hey! Did you also know that Joyva, the largest US manufacturer of halvah is also in Brooklyn? Yes! I think I heard that first on a Food Network show. I get mine at Sahadi's, but I'm sure it's around much closer.

Sorry, I digress. Here are the lyrics, which I'm counting as my April 10th contribution to National Poetry Month.

from "Mermaid's Avenue"

Mermaid Avenue that’s the street
Where the lox and bagels meet,
Where the hot dog meets the mustard
Where the sour meets the sweet;
Where the beer flows to the ocean
(Where the halvah meets the pickle)
Where the wine runs to the sea;
Why they call it Mermaid Avenue
That’s more than I can see.

Mermaid Avenue that’s the street
Where the saint and sinners meet;
Where the grey hair meets the wave curls
Where the cops don’t ever sleep;
Where they pay some cops to stop you
When you hit that Sea Gate gate;
Where them bulls along that wire fence
Scare the mermaids all away

Mermaid Avenue that’s the street
Where the sun and storm clouds meet;
Where the ocean meets that rockwall
Where the boardwalk meets the beach;
Where the prettiest of the maidulas
Leave their legprints in that sand
Just beneath our lovesoaked boardwalk
With the bravest of our lads.

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