I guess it should come as no surprise to fans of the Chelsea Hotel that the recently departed Eartha Kitt had close friends at the Chelsea Hotel.Jazz.com writer Arnold Jay Smith recalls talking to Ms. Kitt at former resident George Kleinsinger’s memorial service at Judson Memorial Church.Smith had earlier met Kitt at Kleinsinger’s apartment and they both fondly recalled Kleinsinger’s famous menagerie which Smith remembers included birds, monkeys, reptiles and a kola bear.We’ve never heard the one about the kola bear before but it sounds like it would be right at home in the Chelsea. We kinda doubt that Kleinsinger or Eartha Kitt for that matter would find the Chelsea Hotel so welcoming these days.
The Chelsea community was saddened by the recent passing of one of its legends: artist, sculptor, and filmmaker Doris Chase.Doris moved into the Chelsea in 1972, after raising a family and divorcing her husband, and lived here for 30 years, though she split her time between New York and her native Seattle.Doris is most famous for her abstract sculptures, especially her nesting ovals and arches, including two large public works in Seattle : the 15-foot “Changing Form” at Kerry Park overlooking the city, and the 17-foot “Moon Gates” at Seattle Center. Though perhaps her most famous film is 1985’s “By Herself: Table for One,” starring Geraldine Page, Doris is undoubtedly most well know around the Chelsea for her film “The Chelsea,” from the early 90s, when free spirits still roamed these halls. Doris was the subject of a book, “Doris Chase, Artist in Motion: From Painting and Sculpture to Video Art,” by art historian Patricia Failing. Doris died of a combination of Alzheimer’s and a series of strokes, though she reportedly kept her good humor until the end.She is survived by two sons and their families.The hearts of the members of the Chelsea community, her other family, go out to them.
Here’s an account of a dinner party thrown by Chelsea Hotel legend Arnold Weinstein (30-plus years in residence), Broadway librettist (“Red Eye of Love”) and famous Bon Vivant, known and loved by many at the hotel.It seems Arnold’s dinner parties must have been quite memorable, because poet Jascha Kessler still recalls this one.But then, it seems to have ruined Kessler’s life, as he feels he was rudely deprived of the Yale Younger Poets Award by a diabolical anti-Semitic, homosexual plot—or something of the sort—hatched between fellow diners W.H Auden and the eventual winner, John Ashbery (who if I’m not mistaken still lives in the Chelsea neighborhood).Too bad Arnold is not around to comment on the controversy, as I’m sure he would have had something to say about it, but he passed away, sadly, in 2005, his friends celebrating his life with a memorial show at the Walter Kerr Theatre.Well, no doubt a fine time (or at least an interesting time) was had by all! -- Ed Hamilton (Photo: Opera News -- Bill Balcom, Arnold Weinstein and Arthur Miller at work in the Chelsea Hotel on the opera based on Miller's play, " View From the Bridge."
Just in case you haven’t noticed, there are now brand new shiny security cameras on all wings of the hotel.So be sure to fix your hair and put on your make-up before you take out the trash!And don’t try stepping out into the hall for a smoke, or they might just turn on the sprinklers!But hey, we all want to be famous here, don’t we?It’ll be like we’re all actors on a new, hip HBO sitcom!The kind with partial nudity and lots and lots of cursing.
What’s that you say, happy Chelsea campers?Oh, don’t be so paranoid! Of course these weren’t installed to intimidate us.It’s not like this is some sort of Hard Rock Hotel in Oceania or the maximum security wing of Rikers or something.The management reportedly told staff members that the cameras were installed to prevent guests from stealing the flat screen TVs, and of course there’s no reason to doubt their word.The devious guests (those in the more expensive rooms, obviously, so maybe they thought they were owed a refund) had reportedly been able to smuggle the TVs past the cameras in the stairwell.This should stop the thieving scum dead in their tracks, since of course they will be sure to drag the TVs out into the hall before concealing them.
Several new cameras have also been installed in the lobby and in front of the hotel, though security personnel will carry remote controls to turn them off in the event of real trouble—such as an assault on a resident. Let me reiterate before any of you chowderheads get the wrong idea: the world famous haven of the arts and Rebel Mecca, welcoming to free spirits and deviants of all stripe who come to breath our refreshing air of openness and unbounded creativity, is not being turned into a police state.If anything, management has not gone far enough, since there are no cameras pointed down the little corridors.Yesterday I was almost overcome by the urge to dance to the bathroom in my underwear, but what’s the point, since the camera is all the way out in the main hall! -- Ed Hamilton
It seems that our fellow SRO tenants, the folks at the Riverview Hotel—to whom we lovingly bequeathed Glennon “Gigi” Travis —are getting a taste of what happens when you let these scoundrels get their hands on a Certificate of No Harassment: rampant construction resulting in rat infestation and no heat or running water.(And of course rude behavior, though that’s a given where Gigi is concerned.)It’s this sort of construction that’s designed to get rid of the remaining holdouts at the Riverview, and as such constitutes a form of harassment in itself.Think of what the Chelsea would be like if what was happening on one wing of our second floor -- harassment targeting one outspoken tenant -- were happening on several floors at once! Congratulations are in order, however, to the folks of the Riverview for taking it to the streets, protesting—fittingly and somewhat hilariously—in front of the celebrity hash house, the Waverly Inn and in front of Born & Drukier's Bowery Hotel.Why should these real estate profiteers be allowed to hobnob with the hoi polloi when real New Yorkers have to come home to the living hell they’ve created?Why not let Leo and Gwyneth know where their money is going?We could probably take a page from their book and pay a visit to minority shareholder Marlene Krauss’s favorite eatery.I, for one, would relish the opportunity to lob a loogie or two into her watercress soup.An extra helping of the Special Sauce for you Marlene! -- Ed Hamilton (Photo: curbed.com)
It's been a very busy year for filmmaker Stephen Kijak. He's back home in NYC just long enough to oversee the weeklong IFC screenings of 30 Century Man, his 2007 documentary on 60's pop icon turned musical enigma Scott Walker. Anyone actively following the cutting edge of Modern music will be familiar with Scott Walker's creative evolution from his chart-topping days with the Walker Brothers to his mysterious chameleon-like turn as a highly perfectionistic singer-songwriter of dark, beautiful and challenging "operettas". Buried forever are the approachable lovelorn anthems such as the 1966 Walker Brothers hit "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore". The singer's current presence in music occupies a space in which only Walker resides. Few other composers can evoke such a polarity of emotional opinion as Scott Walker as he constructs sonic form out of punched meat sounds and bleating donkey calls. Few other working composers are as brilliant and uncompromising, leaving both David Bowie (executive producer of 30 Century Man) and Brian Eno speechless and grasping for superlatives on film when attempting to describe their awe of Walker's scope and talent.
30 Century Man has been winning praise at film festivals in Hong Kong, London, Sydney and Berlin (just to name a few!) while delighting Walker enthusiasts along the way with the gift of illuminating just what it might be like in the very private world of this musical enigma whose persona has been self- exiled in secrecy for decades.
Luckily, Stephen Kijak is more open to discussing his craft. It is clear that the documentarian seems drawn to telling the stories of idiosynchratic characters driven by their passion for the inexplicable. In the film Cinemania, from 2002, his camera follows five film buff enthusiasts all teetering on the edge of a neurotic need to claim the dubious achievement award for who can warm the most theatre seats in NYC within a lifetime. The film mines for gold and finds it. You just can't make this stuff up. Thinking about it, it becomes more clear why Kijak would take an interest in the Hotel Chelsea, "a vital and significant cultural spot", in his own words.
One can say firsthand that Stephen knows how to stir the interests of fans to his films similarly to the way a filmmaker controls the tension and release of action within a sequence. Intrigued by Walker's brooding compositions and psychology, I have attempted to purvey a preview copy of 30 Century Man for over a year now and Kijak is very good at controlling the time and place. "Like all things in Scott's world, it will be worth the wait."
And with this week's screenings at the IFC Center in Manhattan, the time is Now.
I met up with Stephen on Wednesday at IFC for what was the first in a schedule of daily screenings up through December 23rd only. Among all the excitement of the free giveaways during the director Q and A following the film, I neglected to mention that I have rarely seen a documentary so seductive in it's approach and I felt I was genuinely led by the hand and taken inside the sometimes lovely sometimes harrowing Walker compositions. That night, Stephen confessed that his film had been held back for about a year in the U.S. due to miles of red tape: "lots of song copyright issues and American lawyers".
1."Why did you feel that a story on Scott Walker was important for you to tell at this time?"
On a practical level, he was about to make a new album, so the timing was perfect - and I had been such fan for such a long time and had always tried to spread the word about his music, it was, in a way, a chance to make a cinematic mix-tape of my favorite Scott tunes and have his work communicated to a lot of people. And there's a great story there as well, the story of the evolution of a songwriter, and in that, a lot of lessons that can be learned about the creative process and creative life.
2. "Scott Walker is still a bit of a mystery to his fans. Why has his mystique continued within the music industry for decades, even among his collaborators?"
Because he doesn't play the pop star game. He may not be as much of a mystery as people actually think, but we're so programmed to think that musicians naturally do interviews and appear on MTV (or at least they used to!), and have this desire to be public figures, that when someone pulls away from that, especially after having achieved the level of fame he did (in the 1960's) it throws us off. Fans are greedy, we want and sometimes expect too much of an artist - so he recedes, and lets the music speak for itself.
3. "You started out in journalism. 30CM and Cinemania can be looked at as psychological pursuits in a way. What do you think?"
I don't really see it as psychological - I never want to be seen to be pathologising a subject - especially not with Cinemania - I see film more in psychic terms, whether its documentary or narrative, you still have to try and enter that psychic, creative space, where you try to see the actual spirit of the film, and then you try to adhere to it and give it form. And on the other side of that is the craft, where it is more journalistic - documentary filmmaking has a long histories and many traditions, and I'm just still learning my way through that. At the end of the day its about finding some sort of truth, and I look for an emotional truth that I hope reflects the subjects in a true way.
4. "Besides Walker, who would be the other vocalists working today that you feel are "pushing it" or really exploring something new and authentic? "
That's a hard one, because Walker isn't just a "vocalist", he is a musician, a composer, the soundworld is total. I honestly can't think of one. I'm more inclined to look at an artist, like, say, Anselm Kiefer- someone working in the visual arts, making conceptually rigorous and seriously imposing pieces that carry a weight of myth and history in them. From Walker, I just spin off more into art like that. It's hard for me to find other music to connect to it now.
5. "Is there any one subject that you would never personally investigate via film?"
Myself. Filmmakers who turn the camera on themselves generally irritate the hell out of me. I don't want to be that confronted by ego.
6. "Do you have any words of advice for student filmmakers that might be reading this interview?"
Yes. Celebrity lasts for a minute. Art lasts for a lifetime. Trends come and go, but it's the story, vision and craft that make for good filmmaking.
7. " Lastly, I feel I should ask what is the largest misconception regarding making films today..."
That we make money doing it!
The IFC Center is located at 323 Avenue of the Americas, Manhattan. 30 Century Man shows daily through December 23rd only. Stephen Kijak in attendance for the 7:40pm shows this Friday and Saturday.
For the long-suffering residents of the Chelsea Hotel: the swift return of the Bard Family to a management role at the hotel; a government bailout for those of us behind on the rent and facing eviction
For Chelsea Hotel minority shareholder Marlene Krauss: a summit meeting with God and Satan; eternal life and youth; dominion over all the creatures of the earth
For Chelsea Hotel general manager Andrew “Piccadilly” Tilley: quiet retirement to New Jersey; a stocking full of hair care products; a job at the new fake Chelsea Hotel in Atlantic City
For New York City: a glass and steel shortage to go with the money shortage; Club Fed memberships for the developers and stockbrokers who pillaged the city
For the High Line: beaucoup boutiques and upscale eateries, as well as private access for all the condotels, to keep the rich jet setters off the streets; extension north of 30th St., and to the ends of the earth
For Florent: a Phoenix-like rebirth over the ashes of the increasingly ridiculous Meat Packing district
Use the comment feature to add your wish to the list:
State Senator Tom Duane’s office—and in particular his aid Jared Chausow— was very helpful in getting the Department of Buildings (DOB) to issue the Stop Work Order halting the illegal construction in the building (including Bob Dylan’s room), and for that we owe them a huge debt of gratitude.As Duane stated in a recent Chelsea Now article, the crux of the matter is whether or not a Certificate of No Harassment(CONH) is required for major construction work—and that’s for the DOB to decide. However, the DOB can’t do its job properly if it doesn’t have the correct information in front of it, and that’s what happened in this case: the DOB granted a permit based on false information.Andrew Tilley, as general manager of the hotel, is ultimately responsible for guaranteeing the legality of any work that goes on here, but it wasn’t him who falsified the permit application, since the document was submitted to the DOB before his tenure began. So who falsified the Permit application, saying that the Chelsea is not an SRO? The obvious place to start is with the people who signed it: minority shareholder David Elder, representing the ownership of the hotel, and an architect who also happens to be a tenant of the hotel.Now if you’ve been following this blog then you know that we don’t have much good to say about Elder, who is living at the hotel rent free and seems to be trying to make a living by bilking old men out of their money and property (ie. Stanley Bard and Piri Thomas).We would expect as much from Elder. But what of the Tenant-Architect, a person well-liked and respected around the hotel, apparently an ethical person as well?Aside from the potential damage to his fellow tenants, we find it hard to believe that he would knowingly endanger his livelihood—risking his architectural license, as well as his right to sign off on permits of this sort—for such a half-assed boondoggle of a job.Admittedly, it may be hard for people to feel sympathy for somebody who was hired asan expert to sign off on the construction permit, but we have reason to believe that certain lies were told to him, and certain promises made, that may have influenced his judgment in this matter. Still, it will be difficult for us to prove that this tenant-architect was unknowingly used to commit what is coming to look increasingly like fraud.We can only urge him to step forward and let his story be told, before he’s used as a scapegoat in this case.
Some of you may be wondering why, with occupancy for the past weekend at about 40%, and housekeeping staff reportedly being laid off, we continue to see new hires bebopping around the hotel. Chief among these is Larry McLaughlin, who, out of the blue, has sent tenants a couple of memos lately.
Oddly enough, as he wears a suit to work, McLaughlin is being billed as Chief of Engineering.Obviously he doesn’t intend to get his hands dirty in this job, so don’t bother asking him to fix your toilet or change a lightbulb.As no other engineers appear to have been laid off, McLaughlin seems to represent simply another layer of management inserted between the actual engineers who do the work (and who have their own boss, apparently still in charge) and the high command.Nice to know we have money to burn around here.
Seriously, though, folks, what’s the real story?Well, this can perhaps be gleaned by looking at McLaughlin’s work history.He held a similar post at the Paramount/Hard Rock Hotel, Piccadilly Andrew Tilley’s old stomping ground, but more important, he’s presently the Hotel Sub-Committee Chair of the Codes and Regulations/Government Affairs Committee of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of New York, an organization that consults with, and lobbies government on, issues relating to building codes.In other words, McLaughlin is a code specialist.The idea, apparently, is for McLaughlin to use his expertise to bring the Chelseainto compliance with existing building codes, so that the hotel can then apply for a Certificate of Non Harassment, which will allow renovations to the hotel to proceed legally.(BD Hotels was in the process of implementing a similar plan, remember, but minority shareholder Marlene Krauss felt they were moving too slowly.)
Far from hinting at any ulterior motives that might suggest themselves, we think this is a great idea.As long as individual tenants’ rights are respected, the hotel should be brought into compliance with building codes, which are there, after all, to insure our safety.And if, when the building is brought up to code, the HPD sees fit to grant the hotel a Certificate of Non Harrassment, we will welcome a minimal, non-disruptive, historically sensitive restoration of the hotel, by licensed contractors under proper governmental oversight.
That’s a far cry from what’s going on now, with permit applications being falsified so that historically-significant rooms (such as Bob Dylan’s) can be quickly trashed by sledgehammer-wielding vandals with no compunctions about spreading potentially-hazardous dust throughout the hotel.
I can’t imagine that this sort of anarchic construction boondoggle is what McLaughlin had in mind when he took this job.Happening as it did on McLaughlin’s watch, this blatant disregard for the law and for tenant safety, not to mention the utter contempt shown for all governmental authority, can’t but reflect to his discredit.As a respected professional, McLaughlin must be quite concerned about the potential damage to his reputation.On the other hand, the DOB Stop Work Order levied against the hotel may perhaps give McLaughlin the opportunity to assert his authority in insuring that the building is brought up to code before further construction is attempted. -- Ed Hamilton
Unable, due to a DOB issued Stop Work Order, to follow through on his plans to turn the Chelsea Hotel into a fancy boutique hotel, Manager Andrew Tilley has broken down and decided to allow new permanent tenants into the building.Soon, it should be just like the good ole days!Let’s give a warm welcome to our first new neighbor, actress Helen Hanft, seen here heading out for a night on the town.The other photos are of a hall blocking film shoot. We can probably expect more of these shoots in the future as the Chelsea Hotel is offering a discount to the media and entertainment industry.
"Krauss, expressionless and tough, continued to wreck the building, apparently having no interest in its intrinsic beauty, breaking more of the big mirrors and building more partitions, so that big rooms were reduced to little ones with paper walls through which occupants could hear one another. However,those with leases refused to move and large pockets of rooms managed to preserve their original calm."
In Tuesday's New York Post, a "hotel spokesman" lets us in on why workers trashed Dylan's room. He claims the destruction was meant to shore up an unstable wall! Excuse me for being cynical, but how, exactly, is beating a wall with sledgehammers supposed to shore it up? Were the workers surprised when, instead of being strengthened, the wall came tumbling down? How much are we paying this rocket scientist of a "hotel spokesman"?
Manager Arnold Tamasar really made legendary photographer Terry Richardson feel at home in the Chelsea yesterday. Richardson was doing a shoot for Vogue in a room at the Chelsea, when he thought he might like to have a shot or two looking into the room from the hallway. No problem, right? Especially when Vogue is paying $5,000 a day in addition to renting several rooms. But when he got wind of this, manager Arnold Tamasar totally freaked out and sent security to shut the shoot down. The flabbergasted producer went down to negotiate with Tamasar, who told her that they couldn't continue the shoot unless the Chelsea had full legal approval of all photos they run! When asked the reason for this bizarre demand, Tamasar reportedly replied, How do we know you're not going to run something obscene with drugs and nudity and things? (Drugs and nudity in the Chelsea?! Quel Horreur!) The producer said, in effect, We're Vogue, for God's sake! After going back and forth for two hours, being allowed to shoot and then being shut down again, the producer finally asked to speak to the owner. Tamasar then produced David Elder, who said it was fine to shoot in the hallway! The shoot resumed, but then, amazingly, Tamasar shut it down again, demanding another $500. The producer got the Okay, but then Tamasar changed his mind again reportedly giving as his reason, I don't like you! On her way out, when the producer politely said good-by to Tamasar he merely snorted in reply. -- Ed Hamilton (Photo: Terry Richardson and Barack Obama)
The demolition of Bob Dyan’s room, 211, was carried out based on falsified permits, and far exceeded the scope of those permits in any event.Who do we blame?General Manager Andrew Tilley!Tilley will say that the falsified permits were applied for before he became manager, which is true, but the illegal “construction” occurred on his watch.Obviously he must have known that the permits were for bathroom and kitchen renovation only, since he was the one employing the contractors, and presumably, since he’s responsible for what goes on in the hotel, he would have checked in to see what they were doing a couple of times.But even if he was totally clueless and hence just an incredibly lousy manager, he couldn’t have failed to notice when the DOB officers came into the hotel and slapped a Stop Work order on the building!And he had to have known that when the construction workers came in the next day and casually took up where they had left off, this was in blatant disregard of the Stop Work order.
Tilley also has a code officer on the staff now, in Larry McLaughlin (how much are they paying this guy?Housekeeping staff are being laid off, you know), and you’re telling me this guy wouldn’t have informed him that the work exceeded the scope of the permits?!Far from trying to stop the “construction,” Tilley seems to have been desperate to allow it to proceed, possibly because he was hired to renovate the place (albeit presumably in a legal manner) and the tyrannical minority shareholder Marlene Krauss was breathing down his neck.And so we have to ask, now that he’s failed in this renovation attempt and hence has outlived his usefulness to Marlene, how much longer will Tilley be sticking around?Will he be able to overtake BD Hotels?The scorecard reads:
Stanley Bard: 50 years BD Hotels: 8 months
Andrew Tilley: 5 months and counting
Adding insult to injury, the destruction of Bob Dylan’s room was carried out in a slipshod and negligent manner, with workers breaking the place up with sledgehammers with no regard for the consequences to the health and safety of the residents of the building.Dust was broadcast throughout the building because the incompetent workers didn’t bother to cover vents or, apparently, to take any other obvious precautions such as damping the dust down.In one resident’s apartment, three floors up, white dust hung in the air and thickly coated every surface in the kitchen, living room, and bedroom, forcing the resident to flee the apartment out of concerns for his health.(I was in the room for five minutes, tops, and I was coughing all night!)The clean-up for this room alone reportedly cost the hotel $3000!!!(Tilley has reportedly threatened to evict people for less.)And Manager Arnold Tamasar told another resident that the dust went all the way to the tenth floor!How could Tilley not have known that this was going on?
“I want to work in a cooperative manner with residents to restore this place,” Tilley told Chelsea Now, vowing to “refurbish and renovate the hotel while preserving the heart and soul of the building.”Instead, he sprung this half-assed “renovation” on us unawares, rushing willy-nilly to trash a beloved historic room before anyone could get wind of it and try to stop him.Tilley came to the hotel without doing his homework, thinking he was going to turn this place into another Hard Rock theme hotel.Tilley is an outsider, with none but the shallowest understanding of the history of the hotel, and, as recent events demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt, he absolutely must not be entrusted with its legacy.
(But hey, maybe he’ll let us hang our paintings in the rubble-strewn wreckage of Dylan’s apartment!) -- Ed Hamilton
Some of you may have received notices lately advising you not to use your fireplaces. Additionally, some people were reportedly told that the reason was that the fireplaces were initially gas burning and that they are going to be reoutfitted for gas. (Is that what happened to the fireplace in Bob Dyaln's room? Reoutfitted for gas!) Well, that sounded absurd to us, so we asked Chelsea Hotel historian Sherill Tippins, author of the upcoming Dream Palace, to look into the matter for us:
In Hubert & Pirsson's "The Chelsea: Home-Club Apartments," the cooperative's prospectus written by the architect Philip Hubert and dated 1884, the building is described as having steam heating powered by boilers in the basement, with radiators in the apartments. Steam is also used for cooking, though "provisions have been made for those who desire to use gas for cooking, thus giving tenants the advantage of all known improvements." Otherwise, it seems, gas is used only for lighting.
The fireplace in the lobby is described as "an open fire-place for wood fire, with a handsome mantel beautifully carved and inlaid with tiles."
The brochure includes an illustration of a fireplace with a wood-burning fire, though there's no indication whether this is supposed to be the fireplace in the lobby or in an apartment.
There are several paragraphs about the purchase of coal for the apartments. "The Company will buy their coal by the cargo at the lowest price, and will serve it to tenants in cans by a system of tickets, each ticket entitling the holder to one can containing one hundred pounds of coal....All kinds of fuel will be served after the same manner, so that you pay for what you receive and no more..."
So, it looks like they used coal for the private fireplaces, and for their kitchen ranges in most cases, I guess, and wood for the lobby fireplace. But there's absolutely no reference to gas logs or gas-fed fireplaces--which in any case don't seem to have been introduced to New York City until around 1893.
"Thus was the Hotel Chelsea, New York's first co-operative apartment complex, introduced into the city's fierce rental food chain. An excerpt from the March 29th, 1884 Record and Guide betrays the optimism of the experiment's earliest participants: "The owners of the various apartments do not think that running expenses will cost them anything, as the stores on the ground floor & the two upper stories are retained for tenants, so as to bring in an income." In addition to the points enumerated in the Real Estate Record and Guide, the building included wrought-iron balconies, apartments of one to seven rooms (built to the purchaser's specifications), high ceilings, fire and sound-proof walls, wood-burning fireplaces, and private penthouses. A unique iron staircase, constructed with a wrought-iron balustrade and mahogany banister, ran (and still runs) from the lobby to the twelfth floor."
Unfortunately, Andrew Tilley’s corporate Visigoths, using a falsely obtained construction permit, have trashed Bob Dylan’s old room, 211, pulling down walls and ripping out a mantelpiece.The good news is that the Department of Buildings responded promptly when informed of this wanton destruction, determining that the “work” being done in 211 exceeded the scope of the permit (which was just for bathroom and kitchen renovation), and issuing a FULL STOP WORK ORDER covering the entire building.Incredibly, though the DOB issued the Stop Work Order on Thursday evening, the message somehow failed to penetrate Tilley’s thick skull, and workers, in an act of flagrant disrespect for the DOB, were back at it again on Friday and then on Saturday morning, this time in Room 203.The DOB had to send out an Emergency Response Team to shut them down again!
This is the fourth Stop Work Order to be issued since the Bards were ousted in July of last year.The last time Tilley attempted to defy a Stop Work Order, in July of this year, the hotel was slapped with a $5000 fine .This time, the fine will no doubt be more.
Another point that needs to be reiterated is that these two rooms, 203 and 211, are situated on either side of a resident, Arthur Nash, who was assaulted by hotel security for his pro-tenant activism, and who currently has a harassment case against the hotel pending at the DHCR.Of all the 250 rooms in the hotel, do you think it’s a coincidence that they picked these two?
As it stands now, Tilley and company are currently barred from doing any construction whatsoever anywhere in the building.So if you hear a hammer hitting a nail, or a saw sawing through a board, dial 311 immediately.Or, just for variety, dial 911!The police have a list of buildings that are under Stop Work Orders, and they will come and shut down any construction at the hotel as well.
Accompanying this article are photos of Dylan’s room before the “kitchen and bathroom renovation.”Although it’s unlikely that Dylan’s room can be returned to it’s former glory, at least these vandals shouldn’t be allowed to profit from their depraved act of destruction.
If you watched the Fox 5 News report on the destruction of Bob Dylan’s room last night, you may have noticed a slight error.Toni Senecal said that the building isn’t landmarked, when in fact it is a NYC and National landmark.(It was actually the very first building to become a NYC landmark back when the designation was established.)What the filmmaker interviewed appeared to be saying was that the individual rooms are not landmarked, which is true.Of course, Dylan’s room should have been landmarked, as it is the possibility of staying in the rooms of such icons that is one of the big draws of the Chelsea Hotel.Nobody who would ever think to stay here gives a rats hiney about I-pod docking stations.
There was a nice piece about the El Quijote in Chelsea Now last week, pointing out that the restaurant has been a fixture of the Chelsea Hotel family for 80 years, and celebrating it’s antique décor and affordable prices. Though the article, written by Dean P. Wrzeszcz, also notes that the El Q has 39 years left on its lease, and so will presumably be safe even if the rest of the neighborhood continues to gentrify, it fails to get at the real crux of the matter, which is that the Chelsea Hotel management would like to see the old timer out of there so they can open a trendier slop trough for rich scenesters.We hear that the new "brain trust" have been pestering the august eatery with a barrage of dirty tricks apparently designed to get them to throw in the towel and vacate.In the meantime, be sure to support El Q by giving them your business.
Oh, another thing: Wrzeszsc says that the casualties of the hotel’s recent drive to vacate its storefronts include include “a comic book store and fishing store.”Well, the comic book store has actually been gone for about 8 years, replaced long ago by a Container/Box Store.And the “fishing store” was none other than the famous Capitol Fishing Tackle, a fixture of the building for over 50 years, and the only fishing tackle store in Manhattan.(They have relocated to 36th St., taking their iconic neon sign with them.)The other stores purged are Balabanis Tailor (the family moved back to Greece ) and Chelsea Healing, the acupuncture shop (relocated to 321 West 24th St.). -- Ed Hamilton
Be sure to watch Fox News tonight (12/4) at 10:00 p.m. They stopped by the Chelsea Hotel today to cover the on-going destruction of Bob Dylan's former home. We saw the camerman out in front of the hotel, and he was not being allowed to film and being told to move on. By the time the news crew left, Tilley, Tamazar and Larry McLaughlin were all arguing with the cameraman and the cops had been called. Since when did the Chelsea become so media-unfriendly?
In case anyone wondered what we were talking about in our previous post about the Chelsea Hotel management falsifying construction permits, this should clarify matters. The pictures below were taken on Tuesday, after construction began in Bob Dylan's old room at the Chelsea Hotel (#211), where he lived in the 60s, writing "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands," and so many other great songs from his Blond on Blond album. As you can see, the room, which prior to Tuesday's vandalism, looked much as it did when Dylan lived there, has been completely trashed. In addition to not having the required Certificate of Non-Harassment the illegally obtained permits are only for bathroom and kitched renovation. Obviously, much more than that is going on. Significantly, workers have torn down a wall with sledgehammers, exceeding the mandate of their permits. -- Ed Hamilton (Unsourced photo of Bob Dylan at the Chelsea Hotel) (Thanks to a tipster for sending over the photos of the destruction.)
As you can see from these photos, the hotel management (presently led by vice president David Elder, general manager Andrew Tilley and manager Arnold Tamasar) has obtained permits from the Department of Buildings (DOB) allowing them to begin construction on the Chelsea Hotel. (The permits allow them to renovate kitchens and bathrooms on two rooms on the second floor, and can be viewed on the DOB web site.)For about the past year the hotel had been under a Stop Work Order from the DOB due to management’s failure to meet the conditions necessary to obtain these permits, foremost among them the requirement that they obtain a Certificate of Non-Harassment (CONH) from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD).(The CONH is required in order to guarantee that a landlord is not attempting to pressure tenants into abandoning their rent stabilized apartments.) As you might imagine, given management’s ongoing efforts to evict tenants, as well as their failure to make necessary repairs to tenants’ rooms (considered a form of harassment), and to properly register the rooms as rent stabilized with the Department of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR), it’s going to be difficult for them to legitimately acquire a Certificate of Non-Harassment.But not to worry: the hotel management simply falsified the building permit applications.In a “PW1: Plan/Work Application” for the construction in the two rooms, whoever filled out the form falsely states that the Chelsea hotel is not a “Single Room Occupancy (SRO) Multiple Dwelling,” though in fact it is. (Item 9C) (It doesn’t have to be exclusively an SRO, just a multiple dwelling with some SRO units.)This is significant because any construction in an SRO requires a CONH from the HPD. (As of this writing, HPD does not have one on file for the Chelsea Hotel.) Further, when asked if the Chelsea “. . .contains occupied housing subject to rent control or rent stabilization. . .” the respondent falsely claimed that it did not.(To answer truthfully on the question of rent stabilization would have brought the hotel under the purview of the DHCR, and, as noted, the management refuses to properly register the rooms at the hotel; in addition, dozens of Chelsea Hotel residents have outstanding suits pending at the DHCR.) Falsifying this application, while a misdemeanor, could involve fines or jail time, or both, and a lawyer I consulted said that such falsification could constitute a felony if done willfully.Though there is a place for Marlene Krauss, as president of the company, to affix her signature, she has neglected to do so—perhaps significantly.Though this blog has accused Marlene of many things in the past year-and-a-half, stupidity has not yet been among them. One of the reasons that David Elder and Marlene fired the previous management company, BD Hotels, was that BD had failed to get a Certificate of Non-Harassment!As Elder states in a sworn affidavit (Page 2, item 3) in the hotel’s arbitration proceedings with BD:
. . . a Certificate of Non-Harassment must be secured from the City of New York before the renovation project can be launched, and BD NY has already made it clear that it intends to disqualify Chelsea from securing that certificate by refusing to remedy the violations that have been identified by city inspectors. . . .
Elder goes on in the affidavit to claim that BD’s failure to get the CONH could, by delaying construction, cost the hotel up to $20 million dollars in lost revenue!(Elder’s point is that, if the hotel files for a CONH, and is ruled ineligible, they will have to wait 3 years to reapply, losing the revenue they would have made from renting the newly renovated rooms.Further, no bank is going to give them a loan to do the construction if they don’t have the CONH.)And here he is signing a DOB application without the CONH, and actually allowing construction to begin!Most likely, this false filing will complicate the hotel’s legitimate attempts to get a Certificate of Non-Harassment, delaying legal construction further. In any event, this seems to add up to one conclusion: Elder’s incompetence.
Marlene and Elder fired BD for failing to get a CONH, and most likely they will sue BD if they feel they have lost revenue due to this failure.Obviously, there must be considerable pressure on general manager Andrew Tilley and manager Arnold Tamasar to obtain this elusive document.BD, for all its failings, was apparently attempting to do things by the book.Have Tamasar and Tilley just decided to forgo the Certificate of Non-Harassment and begin construction anyway—and see how long it takes the City to catch on? -- Ed Hamilton
Marlene must’ve slapped Andrew Tilley down after he said he wanted to put an I-pod docking station in every room, because it seems he’s no longer allowed to talk to the press.Marlene herself is shouldering that burden these days, and she reveals her true colors in a Guardian article when she reminds us that this is a business and she’d like to make more money.Additionally, she continues to air her fixation with dirt when she says she cleaned this place up.Looks about the same to us.She also claims that the service is better which despite the fact that there are twice as many people on staff now is just not the case.Clearly, Marlene Krauss doesn’t stop by the Chelsea Hotel very often.Oh, (like Born & Drukier) she is also being a bit disingenuous when she says that the only tenants forced out were those who weren’t paying their rent.The reason they couldn’t pay their rent was because she doubled or tripled the amount of their monthly payment. -- Ed Hamilton