Phillip Lopate describes the shape of Manhattan Island as‘a luxury liner, permanently docked, going nowhere’. This feeling of being tethered to the land, unable to get to sea, was a feature of New York life for much of the twentieth century. New York was an island without a coast. The West Side piers that once welcomed the Lusitania spent most of the twentieth century crumbling or behind barbed wire, while the East Side’s coves and points were cut off from pedestrians by six lanes of the Robert Moses-designed Franklin Delano Roosevelt Drive. It wasn’t much easier to reach the shores of Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx, either: with a few exceptions, they were largely reserved for municipal or industrial use, and easiest to see from the Staten Island Ferry (en route to the borough with the most beaches). Now, slowly, the city is reclaiming its shoreline, with some spectacular results.

Dead Horse Bay by the Deedle Deedle Dees

Words and music by Lloyd Miller

(c)(p) 2010

Broken baby dolls and animal bones
that’s what I found at Dead Horse Bay
Pets used to come here
and leave as glue
So if you hear a bark or neigh…

Put your Leopard-skin pocketbook on your shoulder… now sashay
Fill up your wooden pipe even though it’s far decayed
Shake your silver rattle, don’t listen to the sound
Pour your tea before the spout falls to the ground

Dead Horse Bay
Can Sitar Boy sing without a head?
Dead Horse Bay
Can a heel from a shoe walk without a leg?

These are the things we found while walking one day
along the beach at Dead Horse Bay
I’d like to come here,
leave as glue
hold together the next thing you make

The Deedle Deedle Dees are an educational rock band based in Brooklyn, NY. Since October 2003, the band has been entertaining family audiences with songs inspired by history and science–”Underground Railroad,” “Nellie Bly,” “Rancher Ants”–as well as simple movement-based tunes like “Play Your Hand” and “Vegetarian T-Rex.” The Dees current line-up features Ulysses S. Dee (aka Lloyd Miller, teacher) on upright bass, rhythm guitar and vocals; Innocent Dee (aka Anand Mukherjee, teacher) on lead guitar and vocals; Booker Dee (aka Chris Johnson, teacher, choir director) on keyboards, banjo, ukulele and accordion; and Otto Von Dee (aka Ely Levin, writer) on drums. You can find them online at