Birds on the Wires: Like a Bird on a Wire, I’ve Tried in My Own Way to be Free

Birds on the Wires: Like a Bird on a Wire, I’ve Tried in My Own Way to be Free

Photography by:  Joseph O. Holmes, NYC

Birds on the Wires: Like a Bird on a Wire, I’ve Tried in My Own Way to be Free

Like a bird on the wire,
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.

-Leonard Cohen

Birds on Wires is a one-minute musical short film created by the Brazilian filmmaker Jarbas Agnelli.  According to Agnelli, one morning while he was reading a newspaper, “I saw a picture of birds on the electric wires.  I cut out the photo and decided to make a song, using the exact location of the birds as notes (no Photoshop edit).  I knew it wasn’t the most original idea in the universe.  I was just curious to hear what melody the birds were creating.”   He produced the short video by using the photo, the score (composed by the birds) and the music created from their score.  Agnelli has brought an idea of an everyday experience to life, which turns out to be a story very few people would ever think of telling!

Birds on the Wires: Like a Bird on a Wire, I’ve Tried in My Own Way to be Free

Please Share This:

Share

The Cannes Film Festival Premiers “Chelsea on the Rocks”

The Cannes Film Festival Premiers “Chelsea on the Rocks”

Noted in The Huffington Post

Chelsea 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) threaded together archival footage and interviews with many of the artists, writers and actors who have lived there, in typical documentary fashion.

He also hired actors to play Janis Joplin and Sid Vicious, both of whom battled drugs and demons during their stays there. Leonard Cohen wrote a song about a sexual encounter with Joplin on an unmade bed there. And the Chelsea is where Vicious’ girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, died of a stab wound. The Chelsea has been a mecca for bohemia for decades, attracting brilliant, often desperate and doomed artists. Dylan Thomas, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, Andy Warhol, Arthur Miller and Arthur C. Clarke are just a few of the greats who spent time there.

Actor Dennis Hopper, who stayed there early in his career, told reporters at the Cannes festival, “We were all living on the edge, the edge of what, I’m not sure, but we were living on the edge of it. A number of us fell in the hole, and some of us stood on the rim, and some of us got out of there,” he said. “But it was a really special, exciting time, and I’ll always cherish it.”

Ferrara’s film includes interviews with actor Ethan Hawke, who sings a song he wrote during a stay at the hotel, Hopper, director Milos Forman and cartoonist R. Crumb. Another important figure is Stanley Bard, who ran the hotel for nearly five decades, helping many artists along the way. Bard was pushed aside last year in a management change that has left residents worried that the Chelsea Hotel is destined to quickly become just another standard Manhattan boutique hotel. Bard’s departure, and fears for the hotel’s soul, are the backdrop for the documentary.

Chelsea On The Rocks: A Documentary by Abel Ferrara

Rufus Wainright Sings Chelsea Hotel#2

TechnoratiTechnorati: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Please Share This:

Share

The Remarkable Rufus Wainwright: A Revered Diva and Flawed Hero

The Remarkable Rufus Wainwright: A Revered Diva and Flawed Hero

Rufus Wainwright has been nominated for best International Male Solo Artist at the Brit Music Awards to be held at Earls Court in London on Wednesday night, February 20, 2008. He has been nominated for the single Going to a Town, from his album, Release the Stars (2007). Described by Robbie Williams as “the talent I want to turn into,” he comes from an acclaimed family of folk musicians (his mother is Kate McGarrigle and his father is Loudon Wainwright III).

He has been befriended by artists ranging from Elton John to Debbie Harry and Neil Tennant. However, relatively early in his musical career, expressions of intense, flamboyant extravagance and narcissistic self-absorption drove Wainwright to the very edge of self-destruction. His career almost ended abruptly because of his substance abuse, which led him to enter rehab in 2002. Recalling those days, he has described how the journey back to sanity, back to normality, has been pretty tough for him.

It is because of those harrowing past experiences that Wainwright is desperate not to waste his chances all over again. Reviewers who have watched him get ready to perform now have remarked that looking at him prepare you see a diva, but you also see a perfectionist. One of the reasons other musicians have come to like him so much is because he is a flawed hero. At London’s Brit Awards ceremony, Wainwright will be in his element. Mika, who is expected to walk away with several awards, is one of Wainwright’s most dedicated fans.

Rufus Wainwright: Going to a Town

The music video presented below is a version of Hallelujah, which was originally performed by Leonard Cohen. It was recorded live at the Tribute Concert for Leonard Cohen that was held in Australia at the Sydney Opera House in 2005. The recording features Rufus Wainwright, his sister Martha and friend, Joan Wasser. This particular performance of Hallelujah is remarkably touching for its candid emotional tone of simple, natural dignity.

Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright, Joan Wasser: Hallelujah

The final video shown below is from a documentary that aired on England’s BBC Channel 4 in 2005. This particular clip from the documentary focuses largely upon the period of time related to Wainwright’s substance abuse difficulties, the people who helped him get through that wearisome phase, and his re-emergence from the dark and deadly pit of escape back into the real world.

All I Want: A Portrait of Rufus Wainwright

TechnoratiTechnorati: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Please Share This:

Share

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.

TechnoratiTechnorati: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Please Share This:

Share

Painting the Town Pink: A Composition for The Chelsea Hotel

Painting the Town Pink: A Composition for The Legendary Chelsea Hotel

The Chelsea Hotel: Starry, Starry Nights

The Chelsea Hotel on West 23d Street in Manhattan is an elegantly shabby Victorian-Gothic hotel, which is registered as a national historic landmark. Long a mecca for bohemian artists and eccentrics, one resident once fondly described the hotel’s surreal atmosphere as ”a cross between the Plaza and the Port Authority Bus Terminal.” 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, Arthur Miller, Sam Shepard, Tennessee Williams, Edith Piaf, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Leonard Cohen, Willem de Kooning, Jane Fonda, 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.

After Andy Warhol’s film, Chelsea Girls, was released upon the world, the hotel’s reputation became the stuff of urban mythology, attracting artists from all over the world. Edie Sedgewick, Andy Warhol’s patroness and advisor, the Factory artists and other pop art figures were all there. Bob Dylan produced a record and a son there. Sid Vicious stabbed his girlfriend in Room 100.

Rufus Wainwright: Chelsea Hotel No. 2

The video above is selected from I’m Your Man, the critically acclaimed 2005 documentary celebrating the poetry, music and life of Leonard Cohen. This particular clip presents Rufus Wainwright performing Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel No. 2.

I Remember You Well in the Chelsea Hotel

According to recent, widespread New York City and national media coverage, it has recently become relatively clear that the Chelsea Hotel may well have finally met its day of reckoning. The legendary Chelsea has witnessed all kinds of insufferable incidents over the course of its long and quirky history, but never an administrative coup. As described in my posting two days ago, the hotel’s managing partner, Stanley Bard, has been pushed out by its board of directors. Bard’s part in transforming the Chelsea Hotel’s name into an urban myth is hard to overstate. He has ruled with a powerful. albeit eccentric influence over over the spirit and exuberance of the lodgers inhabiting the grand old brick heap since back when Leonard Cohen amorously cuddled there with Janis Joplin.

Adding further to the uncertainty about the hotel’s future is the fact that its ownership structure is somewhat clandestine. It was originally split by three families, but Bard’s family is the only one that had continued with day-to-day, direct management; the other two families are represented by a board. Now, at that board’s bidding an outside management company, led by two upscale New York City hoteliers, will take over Stanley’s day-to-day duties. These events have aroused the hotel residents’ fears, as well as a sense of alarm within the wider urban art community, that the hotel is headed either toward imminent condo conversion or transformation into a posh boutique hotel serving the hot, extremely profitable Manhattan hospitality market.

The Village Voice has provided this recent account of the events taking place at the Chelsea:

“It hasn’t taken long for the new management of the Hotel Chelsea to lay down the law with the landmark’s longtime residents. Days after ousting the hotel’s longtime manager, part-owner and lifeblood, Stanley Bard, the new guard sent a short letter to long-term residents this week asking them to make sure they’ve paid all “outstanding balances.”

It’s the first time in 50 years that the hotel has sent such a note. Many residents see it as the precursor toward demolishing the novel payment system Bard instituted to nurture both artists and the hotel’s bohemian environment before the Chelsea is converted into a pricey boutique hotel or condos.

For many residents, it’s not merely about the destruction of yet another unique cultural institution as the rising tide of real estate prices homogenizes New York. It’s a question of survival…

Completed in 1885, the 12-story Queen Anne-style building has been a temporary home to luminaries in all fields of artistic endeavor. It’s famous because Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen wrote songs there, Arthur Miller worked on “A View from the Bridge” there, and Dylan Thomas got wasted there. It’s infamous because Sid Vicious fatally stabbed Nancy Spungen there.

The new management, BD Hotels, which operates the Maritime Hotel among many other luxury properties, said in a press release that it seeks to burnish and build upon the hotels artistic history. Longtime residents who occupy about 60 percent of the hotel’s 250 rooms see that so-called burnishing as a pretense for tossing them out.

The residents’ worst fears seemed to be confirmed today by a Page Six item, which reported that renowned hotelier Andre Balazs — the man responsible for the renovations at the Chateau Marmont, the famed Sunset Strip hotel where John Belushi shot his last speedball — will have a role in the renovations and new management of the Chelsea.”

GAG: Guerillas Against Greed

Chelsea Hotel residents have been organizing a nationwide grassroots protest opposing the recent developments at the hotel, specifically aimed at the new management team that’s been put into place. They’ve asked people who endorse or champion respect for the unique creative dynamic that the Chelsea represents to reach out and support them. It’s a dynamic that has fostered visionary imagination to the extent that nearly everyone who’s anyone in the New York art, music and writing scene has lived there at one time or another. Further, for years the commitment to inspired artistic work has been accompanied by attempts to keep rents manageable for the creative people living there, most of whom have little money, unlike the stars who have achieved prominence and moved on. But all of them are just as important in maintaining the famous Chelsea spirit.

So in the Chelsea Hotel’s blog, the residents are urging allies of the arts to join them in opposing the new corporate management team. What exactly can people do to become involved? Protest coordinators are proposing, “A large number of varied and diverse guerilla activities may – while perhaps not forcing their ouster – at least drive them out of their bloomin’ minds...respond with our creativity – after all, that’s what we’re known for around here. Here are a few suggestions – some of them sent in by readers – to start us all thinking in the right direction. Let’s make them wish their greedy hides had never been born:

No matter where you live, fly a banner from your balcony or window. In addition to the postcards being sent, buy flowers – they’re not expensive at the Korean grocers and you can sometimes get three small bouquets out of one big cheap one — and stick them in the railings outside the hotel, in the stairwell balustrade, wherever. Deliver them to the desk! Attach a big cheery card addressed to [the new management personnel] with the message of your choice.

Whatever protest is done, a banner, a postcards, a bouquet of flowers with a get well card, it should be photographed/videotaped, and posted online. Maybe your friends all tap-dance? Have them meet in the Hotel Chelsea lobby, and then tap-dance out of there. Have a spontaneous art party in the lobby, and if any from the new order complain just explain that you’re waiting for a friend. If they kick you out, make sure it’s on video. Then post the videos on YouTube and Vimeo (with a link here). Photos can be posted on Google Picasa or in the Hotel Chelsea Flickr group

Celebrities: when in New York, stop by to give David Elder a piece of your mind. Don’t forget to bring a film crew.”

If interested, readers can follow daily developments at the Chelsea here: Living with Legends.

Slide Show: The Legendary Chelsea Hotel

(Please Click Image to View the Slide Show)

TechnoratiTechnorati: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Please Share This:

Share

%d bloggers like this: