A Chelsea Rhapsody: Chelsea Mournings

A Chelsea Rhapsody: Chelsea Mournings

Jedd Giles has published a long article on Ed Hamilton the legendary blogging chronicler of the life and times of the Chelsea Hotel, and about the continuing demise of The Chelsea Hotel on West 23rd Street in today’s edition of The New York Times, which begins:

“The Chelsea Hotel describes itself as a rest stop for rare individuals, a euphemism that still manages to pass the truth-in-advertising test if you take “rare individuals” to mean artists and addicts, and “rest stop” to mean possible death. Have sober, productive people ever bedded down for the night at the famous ghost ship on West 23rd Street? Have they even moved in permanently? Of course. One of the strangest rumors to emanate from the place over the decades is that some people actually raise children there. Still, it’s not the upstanding folks whose stories have echoed down the years and drawn generations of tourists and bohemians, it’s the legacies of giants who could barely stand up.

The Chelsea is where Dylan Thomas was living when he fell into a fatal, whiskey-induced coma. Where William Burroughs wrote Naked Lunch. Where Leonard Cohen rolled around with Janis Joplin, he recounted her kindly ministrations in his song Chelsea Hotel No. 2, and where drug-addled Sid stabbed drug-addled Nancy, then couldn’t remember if he had done it or not.”

The Chelsea Hotel on West 23d Street in Manhattan is an elegantly shabby Victorian-Gothic hotel, which is registered as a national historic landmark. The Chelsea has a long history of serving as a sanctuary for the the avant-garde. Through the years, those who lived at the Chelsea have included Jack Kerouac, Thomas Wolfe, Arthur Miller, Sam Shepard, Tennessee Williams, Edith Piaf, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Jean-Paul Sartre, Leonard Cohen, Willem de Kooning, Jane Fonda, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Milos Forman, Jimi Hendrix, Dennis Hopper, Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith, Vladimir Nabokov and Wes Klein. Dylan Thomas drank 18 straight whiskies there. His last. Arthur C. Clarke wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey while living there.

Recently, a corporate-style management team has taken over running the Chelsea, and its artist-residents are worried that the hotel will be transformed into a posh New York “boutique” hotel. A national grassroots protest is underway, and this posting is in support of that protest. This article presents a recent documentary about the hotel prepared by Michael Maher of the Australian Broadcasting Company, a music video of Rufus Wainwright (a former resident) performing Leonard Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel #2, and a beautiful photo-gallery that presents photographs of the Chelsea, as well as of some of the artists and celebrities who have lived there.

Living With Legends: A Documentary on the Chelsea Hotel by Michael Maher

Rufus Wainwright Sings: Chelsea Hotel #2

To learn more about The Chelsea Hotel, please visit: Living with Legends: Hotel Chelsea Blog

Also see this brief article from today’s edition of The New York Observer here.

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6 Responses to “A Chelsea Rhapsody: Chelsea Mournings”

  1. Revisiting Patti Smith: A Dream of Life « Et Cetera: Publick and Privat Curiosities Says:

    […] her sister and started doing performance art. When Smith returned to New York City, she lived in The Chelsea Hotel with Mapplethorpe, and they began frequenting the then fashionable Max’s Kansas City and CBGB […]

  2. chrisgedge Says:

    Nice article. I was wondering if you could help me out? I have now started planning to visit New York and have been looking at some hotel reviews (in the link http://www.expedia.co.uk/destinations/north%20america/united%20states/New%20York.aspx). They are quite useful but some mixed thoughts. Can anyone recommend anywhere to stay near the center?

    Thanks
    Chris

  3. The Cannes Film Festival Premiers “Chelsea on the Rocks” « Et Cetera: Publick and Privat Curiosities Says:

    […] on the Rocks, the new documentary about New York City’s Chelsea Hotel, premiered last Friday at the Cannes Film Festival. Director Abel Ferrara (Bad Lieutenant) […]

  4. Hotel New York City Says:

    I have the same opinion.

  5. Otel Says:

    very thanks you

  6. Dream of Life: An Intimate Portrait of Patti Smith « Et Cetera: Publick and Privat Curiosities Says:

    […] her sister and started doing performance art. When Smith returned to New York City, she lived in The Chelsea Hotel with Mapplethorpe, and they began frequenting the then fashionable Max’s Kansas City and CBGB […]


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