There must be a story behind Robert Lambert'slatest painting. If you see him in the lobby chatting on his cell phone ask him what's up with Sid the Kid. Maybe next he'll paint Dylan Thomas and his 18 whiskeys.
“The new generation of bands, they’re all nice boys,” chirps a boutique hotel owner (“Just Call Our Band the Model Guests,” David Brown, New York Times, 11/25/07).Articles such as this appear from time to time--obviously based heavily on press releases from the hotel industry—trumpeting the end of hotel-trashing behavior.For you see, the guys from Led Zeppelin and the Who need walkers to get around these days, and the new generation of “rock stars” are more interested in gyms and spas and high-speed internet access.
As the article/press release says, these days one is, “. . . unlikely to encounter many bands with larger-than-life personas.”Which makes me wonder why anyone would give a rat’s ass about them.The function of rock stars in society is cathartic: to live the lives of speed and excess that the rest of us can only dream of—and that includes, obviously, throwing TVs from hotel windows.Of such behavior, a drummer from an obscure band with the hateful name of the Editors even goes so far as to say, “It’s not. . .respectful,” causing both John Bonham and Keith Moon to roll over and vomit (or dry-heave at least!) in their graves.
The purpose of such articles is twofold: 1. to promote the false worship of American-Idol-type stars, manufactured by the record companies because they are easier to control than actual, talented musicians, who inevitably carry the requisite baggage of inner demons to be exorcised; and 2. to sound the death knell of quirky old hotels with actual character, together with the ascendancy of sterile, soulless boutique hotels.
To the later point, the article contains the requisite predictions of the death of the Chelsea (which it calls a “party palace” and a “sleaze-rock emporium”), together with—something new—a bit of gloating over the fact that one of their own damned and demented breed, BD Hotels, has seized control of the revered counterculture Mecca.
Regrettable as that is, however, BD has not quite managed to snuff out our legendary life-force as yet, and so the real rock stars--albeit perhaps without major label support--will continue to make the pilgrimage to the Chelsea for as long as they can still slip in undetected.Though the new flat screens don’t have quite the POP! of the old tube TVs, they will still provide quite a spectacle when they come crashing down onto the newly gentrified 23rd Street.
And as for all those fancy-schmancy new boutique hotels: the fixtures will become old in time, and perhaps even develop some character; and because the lure of sex, drugs, and Rock and Roll will forever remain strong, with the power to corrupt even studio-manufactured lip sync-ers and air guitarists, the fine art of hotel trashing will rise Phoenix-like from the ashes of its own too-hastily predicted demise.To this day our illustrious proprietor Stanley Bard will tell you that Sid Vicious was a nice boy too. -- Ed Hamilton
For our Japanese readers, be sure to tune in to Sekaigumi TV #9 tonight (November 28 - Fuiji TV Network) for a documentary on the Chelsea. A full hour long, this film, focuses on the history of rock music associated with the Chelsea, profiling Sid and Nancy, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, etc., and taking the viewer on tours of some of their former rooms—including the infamous bathroom where Nancy was stabbed to death in 1978 (since renovated, of course, though it probably still looks about the same as it did back then). I was able to view an advance copy of the film, and, though I don’t speak Japanese, I still found it fairly entertaining. In particular, there was a lot of very good music playing throughout the film: Velvet Underground, Jimi, Janis, the Sex Pistols, etc.; and a lot of footage of Bob Dylan from the Newport Music Festival where he went electric. As I watched, I couldn’t help thinking that they must have spent a good deal of money buying the rights to all these songs. There’s a long segment on Harry Smith, who compiled the influential Anthology of American Folk Music, and his collaboration with Allen Ginsberg, as well. The film also profiles current residents, including composer Gerald Busby, painter David Combs, photographer Linda Troeller and of course our illustrious proprietor Stanley Bard. They also talked to Mike the DJ about how it feels to live in Bob Dylan’s room. There’s also a segment on the blog, and I get to tell my story about meeting punk rocker Dee Dee Ramone, and how he subsequently challenged some construction workers to a knife fight (a version of this appears in my book, Legends of the Chelsea Hotel.) The director and the various crew members kept asking me about Harry Smith’s recording of Allen Ginsberg’s folk songs, but I knew nothing of that and wondered why they even cared about something so obscure, but maybe, after all, Harry is big in Japan. Nobody believed me when I told them that Harry kept a Zombie at the Chelsea. The photo shows some of the members of the film crew, who were great fun to work with. They were jazz fans—or at least one of them was--and I showed them a poster from Shirley Clarke’s film about roformer Chelsea resident Ornette Coleman (obtained from a resident who lives down the hall and knew him back then). Noticing that I had several works of Japanese literature on my shelves, they were kind enough to recommend a couple of authors—Natsume Soseki (I read Botchan and Mon—both of which I greatly enjoyed) and Osamu Dazai, to round out my education. -- Ed Hamilton
Glennon finally got a clue and took his Myspace page down. But just because Glennon wouldn't be our friend on myspace doesn't mean that his friends don't want to be our friends. Quite the contrary they have much to tell us about Glennon and his various peccadilloes.One of Glennon's friends shot us an e-mail to let us know that Glennon is engaged to be married in June 2008. Congratulations Glennon!(Surely the bride-to-be wasn't embarrassed by that eurotrashbeachbum Myspace page!) Here's a link to the registry if you want to buy a gift. We noticed that the couple wants some bar ware items. From the pictures we’ve seen they're gonna need those high ball glasses for when those party animals Richard Born and Ira Drukier come to visit. But surely you can come up with some better gift suggestions on your own.Or just send lawyers, guns and money!
When we got back from our Thanksgiving Holiday, the first thing we heard – before we even got through the door of the hotel actually – was an outpouring of resident appreciation for Chris Shott’s Observer article about the Chelsea’s supposed manager, 26 year old Glennon Travis. Certainly it is a must read for anyone interested in understanding what’s going on at the Chelsea.One important thing that Shott points out is the perception that Glennon shows favoritism toward transients at the expense of permanent residents. Though this formulation oversimplifies the problem, as Glennon is actually nasty to transients whenever they express an interest in the history of the hotel, it points out BD Hotels ultimate goal: to rid itself of all permanent tenants as it converts the Chelsea to an exclusively transient hotel. They are using Glennon to alienate us so we’ll get sick of his bullshit and move out. (Photo: Richard Born and Glennon Travis) It’s actually a master stroke of harassment on BD’s part, because, even without his abrasive personality, someone like Glennon is almost completely incomprehensible to any sort of creative person. Though I’m not generally one to brag, when I was 26 I was sitting at a table in a cheap rooming house, chain smoking cigarettes and banging away on an old typewriter as I drank myself into a stupor.For someone to squander his youth in the way that Glennon is doing – dressing in suits and writing memos – is to me a tragedy of unexampled proportions. Glennon says to watch for the good stuff coming up. Though he is clueless in this regard, here’s what will most likely happen: In time, BD will hang Glennon out to dry, and then they will trot out a new, marginally more appropriate manager to “save” the Chelsea. Yippeee! And I’m sure there will even be a few people stupid enough to believe the hype. On a positive note maybe this will be a wake-up call for Glennon, and he’ll take to the bottle – or alternately the needle – and with any luck be able to salvage what’s left of his misspent youth. Oh, by the way, I’m pleased to note that Living with Legends is a now officially a “gossip site” we should get even more traffic now! -- Ed Hamilton
Wow, talk about an unrevealing interview (Hotel Chelsea by Brendon Lemon, Interview, 11/07).Though it’s good to hear from majority owner and former hotel manager Stanley Bard, and to see that he’s still upbeat and optimistic and hasn’t let his ouster get him down, he doesn’t say anything we haven’t heard before, and in fact when I first opened the magazine I thought I had mistakenly picked up an issue from 30 years ago.They trot out some of Anton Perich’sphotos from the early 70s, as if no one has photographed the hotel since then.(In fact there have been three books of photos about the hotel, by Claudio Edinger, Rita Barros, and, most recently, by Linda Troeller; and another, by Julia Calfee, is on the way.)Bizarrely, there’s not even a photo of Stanley, probably because the only one Perich had was of Stanley in his 30s.About the only thing in the interview itself that tips you off that it’s current is Stanley’s startling revelation that his son (and planned successor) David Bard believes in the Internet! For those of you new to the controversy, Stanley Bard, the majority shareholder of New York’s famed Chelsea Hotel, the man who created and nurtured the creative dynamic of the hotel, was ousted from his management role in June by the minority shareholders, represented by board members David Elder and Marlene Krauss, who accused Bard of financial improprieties.(Basically, in New York’s super-heated real-estate market, Bard simply wasn’t making what they considered a sufficient amount of money.)Krauss and Elder hired a corporation, BD Hotels, run by Richard Born and Ira Drukier, to make over the haven for writers and artists as a strictly money-making operation.
Admittedly, Stanley can be a bit secretive at times.But even the accompanying introduction doesn’t tell us anything, and seems to have been written at the end of June.It asks, “What would the change do. . . ?” as if it were all still up in the air.(Did it ever occur to the author that he might have asked someone who actually, presently, lives at the hotel?)Well, we now know what the change is doing: in accord with BD’s plan to remake the Chelsea as a transient hotel, long-term residents are being pressured to leave through exorbitant rent increases and other tactics, and no new permanent residents are being allowed into the hotel.(This is a virtual death sentence for the Chelsea’s creative community, as Bohemia needs new blood to survive.)Furthermore, although as stated in the Interview article, BD Hotels did indeed allow Stanley to hang around in the lobby (as a “Goodwill Ambassador”) for a few weeks after his ouster, he is now rarely to be seen around the Chelsea, and when he appears he is inevitably escorted by a board member who monitors his conversations.
The Interview article could have been a call to action for the artistic community.Instead, in effect it just pooh-poohs Stanley’s ouster and the subsequent corporatization of the hotel.Furthermore, showing old photos (and interviewing past residents like Betsey Johnson and Jean Claude and Christo) perpetuates the myth that the Chelsea had its heyday in the sixties and that nothing has happened here since.Quite the contrary, the hotel is still a vibrant place artistically.Among many films, music videos, and TV episodes that have been filmed here, in recent years The Interpreter was filmed here; former resident Ethan Hawke made Chelsea Walls; and director Abel Ferrera (The King of New York, Bad Lieutenant) is presently shooting a documentary about the hotel.
Musicians Ryan Adams and Rufus Wainwright both wrote albums while in residence; Patti Smith lived here in the late nineties and recently gave a concert in the basement club; and concert pianist Bruce Levingston, who frequently collaborates with composer Philip Glass, calls the Chelsea his home.Composer Gerald Busby lives here as well.As for the visual arts: Philip Taaffe continues to make great art in his tenth floor apartment, and recently had a show at the Gagosian; Julian Schnabel had a studio here until just recently; and well known painters such as Donald Bachler, Joe Andoe, David Remfry, and Michelle Zalopany, either lived here recently, or still do.Arthur Miller frequented the hotel up until his death in 2003, collaborating on a play with the late librettist Arnold Weinstein, who had lived here since the 60s.
Other residents of note include: fashion designer Zaldy; gallery owner Daniel Reich, who recently hosted a series of artistic events in the hotel’s grand ballroom; Warhol collaborator Victor Bockris, author of ten books on counter culture figures (and himself a recent casualty of the takeover); poet, art critic and Warhol figure Rene Ricard; party hostess Susanne Bartsch and her husband, fitness mogul David Barton; and Vogue editor Sally Singer, who lives here with her husband and three healthy children, one of whom, apparently, is planning a career as a rock-n-roll drummer.And that’s not to mention the scores of lesser-known, but no less photogenic and engaging, eccentrics, some of whom will no doubt be famous twenty years from now.
On the literary front, in addition to my own book, punk musician Dee Dee Ramone wrote a novel about the hotel, Chelsea Horror Hotel, Joe Ambrose is publishing a collection of interviews and essays, and a history by Sherrill Tippins is in the works.
My point is not to name drop, but to demonstrate the fact that, when Stanley Bard was thrown out and a corporation took over the operation of the Chelsea, it wasn’t just a musty museum of ancient history that was lost, but rather a living, breathing, artistic community like none other in the world.The Chelsea’s demise is only the latest chapter in the ongoing creative suicide of New York City.We need to pressure our politicians to strengthen rent protections and landmarking laws, and, in general, to stop favoring the profits of development corporations at the expense of community and diversity.As for the Chelsea Hotel itself, though it may be a long shot, we are still calling for the reinstatement of Stanley Bard. -- Ed Hamilton
According to an article in the City Review (Edward Short, 11/16/07), Ashcan painter John Sloan didn’t give a damn when NYU tossed him out of the old Judson Hotel at 53 Washington Square South.He just packed up and moved to the Chelsea Hotel.Also, according to the article, he didn’t care that the old buildings around New York were being torn down and replaced with skyscrapers.
This rather seems like an odd position for Sloan to take, given his fixation on the mundane and seedy details of the city life of his day, and particularly since the one quote from him, as the author notes, can be read as expressing a pro-preservation sentiment.
But Sloan certainly did seem to take a fancy to what must have been the monstrosity of the day, 1 Fifth Avenue, as he photographed it under construction and later painted it, rising in its gargantuan splendor over the low-rise town houses surrounding it, dwarfing the Washington Arch.Sloan saw at the time what few could see then but what most of us can see now: that 1 Washington Square is a really nice building.
So perhaps there’s a lesson in this for those of us who bemoan the recent spate of development that’s replacing hundred-year-old, human-scale buildings with soaring, futuresque towers of glass.Maybe, but I doubt it.1 Washington Square is a stately, solidly-built construction with fancy Art deco touches, while most of these glass houses are just pre-fab, cookie cutter boxes made of the cheapest materials possible.1 Washington Square is a structure that the architects and the builders took pride in, rather than just sitting down and figuring out how to cut costs.If, in 80 years, preservationists are fighting to save these glass houses from demolition, we will know that the architecture of the day has sunk to a previously unimagined low.
And maybe Sloan wouldn’t give a damn about what’s happening at the Chelsea these days either; he could just pack up and move.Or, maybe not: back then there were places to move to; this time there’s no place left in the city that’s even remotely affordable. -- Ed Hamilton
Photo: One Fifth Avenue under Construction, 1927 Photograph, 2 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches John Sloan Manuscript Collection, Delaware Art Museum
“There’s this guy staying on the other end of the hall,” Carla, the beautiful dancer, said as she passed me in the hall.“And he was smoking crack in the elevator!”
“And nobody said anything?” I asked.
“What do you think?Of course not,” Carla said.“And in the lobby!” she added. “You know who I’m talking about?”
I thought I did.“He’s a Southerner?”I said that because he reminded me of the guys I used to hang out with when I was a kid.
Carla considered it.“Uh, no,” she said, shaking her head decisively.
I tried again: “He looks like a garage mechanic?”
In fact I had run into the guy.The night before my power had gone out and so I put on my slippers and went out to the fuse box in the hallway.As I was resetting the circuit breaker, a goofy, manic guy, moving jerkily, burst through the door from the other side of the hall and bounded up to me.“Was some asshole messing with that?!” he said.
Though I didn’t have my glasses on, I could see that the man, in his early thirties perhaps, wore a trucker hat and a worn football jersey; his hair was greasy and scraggly and he sported a three-day growth of beard.A Southerner ironically, I suppose.
“I don’t think so,” I replied, puzzled by his question.“Did you see somebody messing with it?”
“Just you,” he said.“If nobody’s been messing with it, then what are you doing?”
“My fuse just blew.”
He popped his head up close to get a better look.“You want me to look at that?” he asked.
“No, I think I fixed it,” I replied, still wondering as to why he was so interested.“Did your fuse blow too?”
He didn’t answer.“I’ll get somebody who knows what the hell they’re doing to look at that,” he declared as the elevator arrived.
“Smoking crack in the elevator and the lobby!” Carla reiterated.“You’ve got to write about that!He told me he was paying $1000 a night in rent.”
That sounded even more remarkable.“I guess he’d have to be smoking crack to pay that,” I said.“But even so, he should be able to think of better things to spend his money on.”
If you're visiting the blog for the first time because you saw the segment on Channel 7 Eyewitness News this morning, welcome. I’m sure you’ll find much of interest here, including updates on what has transpired since the beloved Stanley Bard was ousted as manager over the summer. In a nutshell, the long term manager and majority owner of the hotel, Stanley Bard, was accused by the minority share holders Marlene Krauss and David Elder of being a bad businessman and forced out in a hostile takeover. The bottom line is, the hotel had simply become too valuable and the millions that their shares were producing for them just wasn't enough. They brought in glass tower developers Richard Born and Ira Drukier to manage the hotel. Media outrage ensued and the bohemian vibe of the Hotel was forever altered. We’d like to see the Bard family reinstated, and for that reason the attention generated by WABC News is doubly welcome. In many ways, the Chelsea Hotel is a microcosm of New York. The city is encouraging luxury development at the expense of affordable housing, and middle class and working class New Yorkers are being priced out. Landmark protections and rent protection laws need to be strengthened if New York is to retain its diversity and remain on the cutting edge. Please let politicans know of your concern on these issues. As far as the Chelsea itself, an important cultural institution is being destroyed because the new management company (BD) refuses to take in new permanent tenants, preferring instead to convert all rooms to transient use. The heart and soul of Chelsea Bohemia is the building's mix of permanent tenants and transients over a wide range of economic situations. In addition, rent-stabilized units are being lost. Once again, please voice your displeasure to your state & local representatives. You might also want to call the hotel, or even drop by, to complain. -- Ed Hamilton
At least two of these memos and maybe more have appeared on doors at the hotel this week. Just because Marlene Krauss, Harvard MBA, says that you only have three days (or in this case until the 20th since it seems like Marlene doesn't know how to count) to pay doesn't mean squat. We believe that you actually have 90 days to come up with the money. (Don't take our word for it. Be sure to consult a lawyer.) Also remember that even if they commence eviction proceedings against you it will take them at least a year to get you out. The judge will most likely give you an opportunity to pay anyway. So don't panic and think you have to leave your apartment immediately. Even if you can't pay you have plenty of time to make other arrangements. Once again, most importantly, be sure to talk to a lawyer. If you can't afford one you can contact the West Side SRO Law Project at 212-799-9638 and they may be able to provide free legal advice.
Last night when I arrived home the lobby was filled with junk – lights, cables, trunks, cameras, you name it—and people running around this way and that. All of the seats in the lobby were taken by extras or whoever and even Stanley’s office had been commandeered.I went to get on an elevator.Sorry this elevator is out of service one of the hipster helpers told me. Given over apparently for the use of the film crew.He told me to use the other elevator.(That’s crap.In all of his years Stanley never let them have an elevator for their own personal use. This constitutes a reduction of services for the residents of this hotel.) (Photo is from earlier in the day when they were moving in.)
There was a woman in the elevator wearing a brightly colored blue skirt and yellow socks and a lot of baubles and bangles and scarves around her head.I thought to myself for a minute, is this a tourist?Then I looked closely at her face, Liza Minnelli eyelashes and thick pancake make-up.I get it, they’ve hired someone to play an eccentric old lady.Maybe they had cluelessly intended her to represent a gypsy or a real Bohemian that is someone from the country of Bohemia. They had dressed other people up as bohemians as well even as their real life counterparts stood by. Asking around I discovered that these faux bohemians had been employed by the rock band Depche Mode.Not even remotely cool since the 80s the Mode had descended upon the hotel to shoot a music video. What we want to know is have the band members been apprised of the situation at the hotel, that is to say the fact that Stanley Bard has been ousted and replaced by corporate suits.Being musicians I’m sure they are aware of the cultural significance of the Chelsea.It may be possible that somebody in their organization set this up and they have no knowledge of the situation.It’s either that or they’re just trying to tap into the recent press coverage of the Chelsea to resurrect their moribund street creed. If the latter shame on them.If the former they should fire whoever is responsible for setting up this video shoot.
Self-consciously hip hotel designer Andre Balazs, (rhymes with mirage, persiflage) appears to be having cash flow problems.How else to explain his decision to unload half of his hotel portfolio, including New York’s QT Hotel and the Standard Hotels in Los Angeles, Hollywood, and Miami?(I guess he knows no one would want to buy the gargantuan blunder that is the Standard on the Highline where, I believe, BD Hotels may also be involved.)The explanation that he wants to focus on the hotel management business doesn’t hold water, as management and ownership certainly aren’t mutually exclusive.The only other possible explanation is that he’s seeking to dump these duds because he believes the market has topped-out.In which case Caveat Emperor, to say the least. In other hipper-than-thou news, we’ve received tips to the effect that one or more young designers have checked into the Chelsea to begin the clandestine redesign of various hotel rooms.Reportedly, this use of novice, no name designers is one of the hallmarks of the Balazs approach to hotel renovation, as it makes it easier to take credit for their work.(Note to the young designers:If you’re really hip, tell Balazs and BD where they can stick it.It’s uncool to mess up a landmark of the counter-culture such as the Chelsea.) --Ed Hamilton
Well the hotel really isn't full but at least the e-mail server is full. Maybe that is what BD is talking about when they are claiming 100% occupancy. Check out the following letter:
I tried to email the Chelsea today to arrange my trip on my grant money. I couldn't decipher their new website *it's really boring*...so I emailed them. I got it back.
The reason for the return? :
Sorry, this user (email@example.com) is out of disk space.
OUT OF DISK SPACE? A NYC hotel, out of disk space? I might have to return my grant. This is both annoying and more trouble than it might be worth. I was hoping to catch the Chelsea before it sunk. I think I'm too late. Bon Voyage, le Hotel Chelsea.
I hear there's cool stuff in St Louis. Maybe I'll check that out instead.
Yes, I hear St. Louis has a big arch. New York is still the place to come to but as for this hotel its seen better days.
We’re not experts in the hotel business by any stretch of the imagination but we thought the idea was to rent as many rooms as possible in order to achieve a high occupancy rate.But we must be wrong. Recently we’ve overheard tourists being told that the hotel is 100% booked through the end of the year.On the other hand, we’re aware of rooms that have been sitting empty for months.These are rooms that were being rented prior to this summer, that is during Stanley’s tenure. Some of these rooms have been recently vacated by permanent tenants while others have long been transient rooms but mainly of the higher priced variety.What we’re asking is, since the demand is clearly there why are rooms sitting empty?Wouldn’t that diminish the cash flow? We are truly a bit puzzled by this odd and seemingly inexplicable way of doing business. Does anybody else have any ideas?Send in your theories to the comments box.
I was on the Joey Reynolds show Tuesday night promoting my book, Legends of the Chelsea.It was great meeting Joey and his friend Cha Cha, who was on the Sopranos and acted in a couple of Abel Ferrara movies, in addition to owning a restaurant on Mulberry Street.Joey and Cha Cha are two genuine New York characters of a kind that are, unfortunately, a vanishing breed.They just talked about their day-to-day life in New York —about dieting and going to the diner and such--but managed to make it interesting just by the force of their personalities.(A rare quality these days, as they pointed out: the guys on TV talk shows apparently need a team of dozens of writers.)It was a pleasure to watch them work, and I wish I could be as entertaining as they are. In fact, I guess I was worried about that.In the studio before the show we were talking about the great director (and living Chelsea Legend) Abel Ferrara and his upcoming documentary about the Chelsea Hotel.Joey asked me if I was going to be in the film.“Well,” I said, “He interviewed me for it, so maybe.Though for all I know he may decide I’m too boring and cut my part out of it.” “Please don’t tell me you’re boring right before I put you on the air,” Joey sagely advised.
We talked mostly about what it was like to live in a hotel: they wanted to know if I got the sheets changed (definitely not); how it was having a bathroom down the hall (junkies get in, but at least the maid cleans it); and what it’s like having a procession of transients coming in and out (a mixed bag, though some fantastic musicians have stayed in the room next door).Joey said he’d rent me a room for less than I was paying.
Anyway, Joey and Cha Cha’s questioning was great for me, because I didn’t have to make anything up on my own.(I did manage to get in my speil about the injustice that has been done to the Bard family.)But after the interview was over I started thinking that maybe I hadn’t described the book very well.“Did I even remember to mention the title?” I asked the production assistant.“Yeah, don’t worry, you did,” he assured me.
Well, that’s a relief.The next guest after my hour was up was a guy who was going to talk about investing in gold.Thank heavens I didn’t have to go on with him, because I know I can’t compete with that.The gold we have here at the Chelsea may not quite be fool’s gold, but it is somewhat immaterial at best. -- Ed Hamilton
Writers have been expending a lot of ink lately in trying to figure out who in their right mind would want to move into one of these leaky aquariums developers keep building all over New York City.The short answer, according to Penelope Green in Sunday’s Week in Review section of the New York Times (“Yours for the peeping,” 11/4/07), is that it’s people who want to expose themselves.(Like that oblivious hipster with the cell phone who strolled around nude in Times Square recently, I suppose, though he’s to be commended for going about it more directly.)Green then launches into a long analysis of this tendency, worthy of the best speculative ramblings of Freud, which seems to conclude, basically, that You-tube and Facebook have confused these people to the extent that they don’t know what’s appropriate anymore and so have thrown up their hands and decided that they don’t care if the whole city sees them prancing around naked or not.
Though I’m sure Green has a point, I believe the real answer is a bit less complex, at least psychologically, though it does have two parts.A blurb accompanying the article claims that these people are “goldfish by inclination,” but then again, even the goldfish don’t live in their bowls by choice.If they stopped to think about it, they would probably rather be in a nice, spacious pond somewhere.Unfortunately, they can’t do anything about it: someone just threw them in the bowl, and there they must live.Analogously, the first part of the answer is that these people live there because that’s what developers are building these days.
So then the question becomes: why are developers building these monstrosities?Well, because the glass houses are cheap, pre-fab structures.Quick and easy, down and dirty: you don’t have to pay a brick layer or a stone mason, you just slap up a truckload of rectangular panels and before you know it, you have a twenty-story skyscraper.(The ones that were built early in the boom are a bit different, in that they are more unique, and often feature wavy glass and other nice touches, but they were the wedge that allowed the later cookie-cutter glass boxes to avoid scrutiny.)The one nod to aesthetics is that at least the panels are transparent.The buildings look nicer, admitedly, than if the developers had just slapped up sections of plywood or opaque fiberglass, but the practical result is the same.Who cares if they leak, or if residents don’t have any privacy?As long as they can be sold before they fall apart, developers stand to make millions of dollars.
By a strange coincidence, the second part of the answer as to why people live in these glass towers is provided by another front page story in the very same issue of the New York Times, this one in the real estate section (Foreign Buyers Take Manhattan).Though I suppose Green wasn’t allowed to read the article in advance, what the author, Christine Haughney reports is that foreign buyers have purchased 1000 new condos in Manhattan in the past 18 months, constituting an amazing one-third of all condo sales for that period.These apartments are sold, often sight unseen, to buyers who often have no intension of living in them, but are just planning to rent them out until the market takes an upturn, in which case they will sell them for a profit.In other words, they are speculating in real estate as if it were the stock market.So for one thing, they don’t see the glass towers, and for another, they don’t care what they look like or how they’re built.As Green notes, when you do see inside of one of these apartments, it looks like a dorm room.And that’s because it is: the speculators sublet the apartments to students (their captive “goldfish”), who are easy to get rid of when the time comes to sell.
Speculation drives up the cost of apartments for those of us who actually want to live in New York City, and indeed forces a lot of the working and middle class out of the city entirely.The real estate market outside of New York has recently been rocked by the subprime lending scandal, as banks gave mortgages to high-risk homebuyers.But as Haugnney implies in her article, foreign buyers are risky as well, as they have no credit history in the U.S.Perhaps New York, in so many respects on the cutting-edge, is just a little bit behind the curve in real-estate trends. -- Ed Hamilton
It was like the Murders in the Rue Morgue, only at the Chelsea Hotel.On August 15, 1922, the diabolical Finnegan escaped from his cage in a pet store at 256 West 23 St.After a jaunt across various roofs and flag poles and other high points of the area, he scaled a drain pipe at the Chelsea Hotel and entered a window.Over the course of the rest of the day he roamed the hotel and the neighborhood at will, apparently traveling between rooms at the Chelsea by means of the balconies.By nightfall his crimes included the killing of two birds belonging to the manager of the Chelsea Hotel (no it wasn’t Stanley—he’s not quite that old), the theft of two ears of corn from a neighborhood vendor, and the frightening of several women.By the next day, the rogue was still at large.
It took one of New York’s Finest, Policeman Ernest Freeberg, to subdue the dangerous miscreant.The officer tracked the monkey to an apartment in one of the upper floors of the Chelsea Hotel, and was able to trap him inside the room before he could flee through the window.As reported in the New York Times, the following hair-raising struggle ensued:
"Freeberg jumped for the animal just as the monkey jumped for him.They met in the center of the room.The monkey got the better of the first encounter.It caught the policeman’s fingers in it’s mouth and for a few minutes the room was filled with monkey and policeman.After the first break both sides sparred for an opening and in about the third round Freeberg, with a right uppercut to Finnegan’s jaw, put the monkey scientifically to sleep."(New York Times, Aug 17, 1922)
While he had the chance, Freeberg stuffed the momentarily unconscious Spawn-of-Satan into a handy pillow case and delivered the soon enough writhing, shrieking bundle to the West 30th Street police station, where it was entered into the log: “One monkey, two feet high, color brown, name unknown, disposition terrible.”
While it’s unknown if Finnegan ever returned to the Chelsea in life, in recent years there have been tales of a particularly ill-tempered little phantom scratching at the ankles of tourists on dark, moonless nights.Such is the psychic pull of the fabled hotel, undiminished even by the grave. -- Ed Hamilton (Editors Note: This is a story that Ed wanted to include in his book, but he forgot.)
Facing Other Ways: Herbert Gentry & African American Abstraction This exhibition will showcase prints, drawings and original paintings by Herbert Gentry (1919–2003), best known for his colorful figurative abstractions. The exhibit will also include biographical materials selected from the Herbert Gentry Papers as well as work from Gentry’s colleagues and admirers including Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, Beauford Delaney, Sam Middleton, Larry Potter, Ed Clark, and Chester Himes. October 15, 2007 - March 1, 2008, Rare Books and Special Collections, Rush Rhees Library, 2nd floor, University of Rochester,River Campus, Rochester New York
Opening reception: Thursday, November 8, 6:30 - 10:30 p.m. Jean Pearson Gallery presents "Noman's Show" an exhibit by photographer Rita Barros. The show will also feature works by Jean Pearson and Lindsay Isola. The show runs November 8 and 9. Suite 219 Chelsea Hotel 222 West 23rd Street, NY NY
It came as a strange but pleasant surprise when a friend from San Francisco told me that my book had been mentioned on the Howard Stern Show.The occasion was that Artie Lange had given it to Richard Christy as a Halloween present.(Thanks, Artie) Though they didn’t mention my name, they discussed Sid & Nancy and Dylan Thomas and the 17 whiskeys, and so the book got over a minute of air time – whoo hoo!One thing that disturbed me, however, was that Howard said the gift wasn’t a goof.Let me assure you that my book is indeed a goof! In a sense anyway.The book is filled with humor and I’m sure the Howard Stern show is responsible for at least some of it.I listened to the show quite frequently when all this madness was going on, and I only stopped listening in later years because I couldn’t get any work done with it on.Maybe with my royalties I’ll get a Sirius radio and listen again – though I doubt they’ll pay me enough.
Our fellow artist and bohemian Lothar has been moved from New Jersey to a hospital in Manhattan. His wife Linda Troeller reports, "He still has many many weeks to go and cognitive and physical therapy..so prayers are meaningfully being put to good use! He could use some visits from hotel friends to spark up his life."
Send your cards and well wishes to: Lothar Troeller C/O Hospital for Joint Diseases 301 E 17th and 2nd Ave. NY NY 10003 212 598 6000 Visiting hours are 4-8pm weekdays and 11-8pm weekends
The lobby of the hotel was temporarily transformed into a den of thieves straight out of the Arabian Nights yesterday as Board Member Marlene Krauss (Harvard MBA), BD Hotels executives, Bluebeard, Al Capone, Jesse James, and various of their desperate, cut-throat partners in crime assembled to debate how to carve up the Chelsea into cookie cutter boxes filled with docile mid-western tourists on Zoloft.
Their Lord and Master Satan, presumably, awaited them in Stanley’s old office.No word on whether Count Dracula was expected to put in an appearance.An anonymous resident, spying the villainous band as he passed through the lobby said it best when he remarked to them, “I wish I had a hole deep enough to drop all of you in.” -- Ed Hamilton