December 22, 2013
I remember you well at the Chelsea Hotel…
Once the residence for the famous and infamous of New York’s bohemian scene, the future of the Chelsea Hotel now looks bleak.
Listening to the news on BBC world last night, I heard that the hotel, which is closed for renovation, currently has no fixed date or even any plan for reopening.
Located at 222 West 23rd, between Seventh and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan, the hotel has been the home of numerous writers, musicians, artists and actors.
And every room tells a story. Dylan Thomas drank himself to death in 205, playwright Arthur Miller got over his break-up with Marilyn Monroe in 614, Bob Dylan stayed up for days in 211 writing Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands, Sid Vicious claimed he couldn’t remember stabbing his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, to death in 100 but Leonard Cohen never forgot what he got up to with Janis Joplin in 415. Jack Kerouac wrote his Beat Generation bible On The Road, in one drug-fuelled, three-week marathon, Arthur C. Clarke wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey, first daughter Chelsea Clinton was named after a song Joni Mitchell wrote while staying there, Andy Warhol directed “Chelsea Girls” and Madonna lived at the hotel in the 80s then shot her controversial book “Sex” there in room 812.
More notable guests or residents have included Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Satre, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Jasper Johns, Mark Twain, Tennessee Williams, Tom Waits, Iggy Pop, William de Kooning, Patti Smith, Charles Bukowski and Jimi Hendrix, the list goes on and on and on.
When I visited New York back in 1997, I desperately wanted to stay at the hotel, but on a shoestring budget tighter than a photo finish, this was not an option. So I had to settle for a dorm bed in the not so notorious Chelsea Hostel just round the corner on West 20th.
The Chelsea Hotel was the epicentre of 20th century pop culture and I hope that plans for its future are now in the pipeline, so maybe, when I earn enough money, I can return to New York and be one of its guests too.