For some, it is an inconvenient and boring place, for others a paradise of relaxation. For some, the rooms of this hotel symbolize the devil, others have used them as a place to unwind after a long day. Then again, there are a few others who use hotels as residential centers.
Chelsea Hotel has been the inner oasis where the entire New York platform of the Beat Generation has been cooked. New York City is the largest concert arena, the largest open-air festivals in the world, the environment of rock and rap stars who are the same actors in the duel to dominate the city, the gradiacella and the disturbed architectural pieces of modern society that are a model for the whole world. This is the center of the universe, this is where it all begins. Art, culture and free trade. Original rock’n roll.
When we talk about New York City, we are talking more about Manhattan, because other neighborhoods such as: Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, are mentioned more only for space and population. Manhattan is like no other and nowhere else. Nowhere else is the visitor gripped by the magic of population and architecture, techniques and arts, speed and rhythm. This city is the childhood of rock’n roll all the way in the way of walking on the wild sidewalk “Walk On The Wilde Side” that Lou Reed used to sing about. This is the true equivalence of the stock exchange and value exchangers, traders, visitors as well as writers, painters and musicians. One of the key points is to find the natural rhythm which for Europeans means turning the clocks back six hours as they arrive at Kennedy Airport which is located 90 minutes away from the center…
Ok, let’s start our journey then in Manhattan, which in everyone’s primary vision has already remained from the well-known scenes in the memory, from the masterful creations of Woody Allen, from all his films, again and again. The second impression that remains in the memory is the grandeur, the size, the constant brightness, whether day or night, so much so that everyone calls New York the city that never sleeps. For all those who take into account all these impressions, who sweat under the rhythm of the city, who play and create their original rock, this is, so to speak, the first visit, it will never be the last visit. , in New York.
Until 1884 the Chelsea Hotel was the tallest building in New York. Today it is a wasteland somewhere in the suburbs of Manhattan. The glorious past has been destroyed by new constructions. Only the entrance with the memorial plaque reminds us that the hotel has a legendary past. The main reception hall is nothing but a wonderful museum gallery with paintings, engravings, original objects, typewriters, books, manuscripts, musical scores, which various artists have left there due to the inability to pay the rent. The counter area has the look of a black and white Hollywood movie.
The two single elevators move slowly up the ten floors of the building. Often from the inside the hotel resembles a shack. But the holes in the floor show that there are water pipes and warm steam pipes that make this place a hotel. Indifference is cultivated in this country. Luxury is an absurd pursuit. Extravagance and non-conformist nature dominate. Pomposity is viewed from the bottom-up. Today only 100 rooms are open to visitors out of the 400 that the hotel has in service on a normal day. All other apartments are occupied by permanent local residents. The most beautiful of all (room # 600) with marble floors and a bronze fireplace, a real luxury is permanently leased to a gay couple who write romance novels under the pseudonym Judith Gould. If you are going to stay and visit this place, reservations are made only two months in advance. And know that you pay (nearly $140 per night) for the name of the hotel rather than the real price of the comfort of the rooms. Each room has its own story. In room # 205 the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, whose reputation had inspired the young Robert Zimmerman to change his name to Bob Dylan, fell into a permanent fatal sleep after drinking 18 glasses of whiskey one after the other. Room #100 was occupied by Sid Viscious, bassist of the legendary Sex Pistols, and his girlfriend Nancy Spungeon. On the morning of October 11, 1978, Spungeon was found dead in the bathtub of this room. Viscious is arrested as a suspect in her death and some time later he himself dies of a heroin overdose. Jimi Hendrix lived, experimented with drugs and music for a long time along with his faithful guitar in the hotel. Here, Janise Joplin not only spent a love story with Southern Comfort but also a short romantic love affair with Leonard Cohen. The Canadian rock-poet loved the hotel so much that he said:
Chelsea is one of those few hotels that I love because it has exactly that atmosphere that all other hotels should have. I love hotels when you can quietly bring food, beer and young girls to your room at midnight and no one will know or bother you about it. His song “Chelsea Hotel” is not only a memory of his past love for Janise Joplin, but also a love hymn for the hotel under the lines: I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel / You were taking so brave and so free / Giving me head in the unmade bead / Wile the limousines wait in the street / Those were the reasons and that was New York / I was running for the money and the flesh / That was called love for the workers in song / Probably still for those of us left
And the list of writers, painters and actors who have written, painted, or passed through the hands of film or theater scripts before jumping on the stage, continues with personalities such as Jane Fonda, Jackson Pollock, Brendan Behan, Sarah Bernard, etc. .
– For many of these artists, Chelsea was just a temporary stay, while for some of them a permanent residence – remembers Stanley Bard, who has been managing the hotel for 40 years – Some of them lived there for more than a decade. At the exact same moment we were chatting, punk icon Patti Smith just walked out the main gate. Stanley Bard keeps the right distance beyond his own authority, happy when every now and then someone remembers about the legendary hotel. He directs us to his office where he finds special books.
– I collect every book that was written in my hotel – he says while taking out the novel “You Can’y Go Home” by Thomas Wolfe from the bookstore.
– Many things happened in the past here – he continues thoughtfully – Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janise Joplin used to do drugs here. Today, in the main reception hall, a large sign clearly says “No Smoking”.