Category Archives: art
No. 3 – In which I discover that the Allurement of Nautical Maidens by Means of Tartini’s Devil Trill is Vainglorious.
The Galleons of Mephisto come forth from the Fog, bearing Landward the Unholy Seamen of the Dead
me in front of the camera for once…
photo by Ron Gejon Photography
I’d forgotten about the Chelsea Hotel. Even though I’m in the neighborhood at least once a week, its presence always eludes. Which is appropriate, because as its long-time residents age, and the NY real estate vultures circle, it’s no longer the place it once was – it hasn’t been for decades now.
And it really doesn’t matter. The place “it once was” never really was, except in the stories it created. And these are perpetual, as long as anyone cares to remember.
Without expecting to, I came upon it yesterday. And out of nowhere those old legends began to tumble forth.
It is a magnificent building. One of a kind. Gargantuan, imposing, and gothic, but with touches of grace here and there. If it didn’t already carry so much cultural baggage, it would have made an even more terrifying setting than the Dakota in Rosemary’s Baby,
It opened in 1884, and its roster of short-term and long-term guests and residents is a staggering cross-section of the 20th century’s creative core. Mark Twain and O. Henry were early residents. In 1953, Dylan Thomas died here after his famous binge at the White Horse Tavern. Jack Kerouac wrote On the Road here not long after. Not long after that, Arthur C. Clarke wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey in his room here. The 1960’s and 70’s saw Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Andy Warhol, Stanley Kubrick….
In the 60’s, actress Edie Sedgwick burned her roomed with an unattended cigarette, Warhol filmed Chelsea Girls; and in 1978, Nancy Spungen was found stabbed to death in the room she was sharing with Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols.
The litany goes on and on and on, and is the subject of more extensive research than mine.
In high school, during the late ’90’s, a couple of friends and I tried to sneak up the ornate staircase to get a glimpse of one of the rooms. We were stopped, but had a chance to speak with a longtime resident in the lobby, who “had seen it all”.
The Chelsea Hotel has inspired many a song. Here are two favorites:
Of course, one of the best things about the city is stumbling upon the unexpected. Brooklyn is rife with random finds. Among many other chance encounters, I’ve ran into raging warehouse parties, and even costumed “headless” horsemen trotting down dark residential streets.
This past Saturday, on an afternoon wander through Park Slope, we came upon an open garage on 17th Street that was adorned with the art of James Leonard, an exhibition entitled “927 Days at Sea”
Later on, in the refreshingly clear early-autumn night, there was a dance performance, “if you look up”, by Anna Azrieli. A modest audience gathered on the sidewalk in front of the garage, which was a beacon of light along an otherwise dark block overlooking the Prospect Expressway. The piece was serene and silent, focused on exploring the relationship between the subtle and strong energies of movement. Most of the performers moved softly and expectantly while a lone dancer became increasingly drawn into confident and broad motion.
There is something rare and amazing that sometimes happens in these moments. Everyone was completely quiet, from the kids sitting on the ground to the rest of us drinking beer, and in this humble garage on this dark street, with the hum of the nearby highway, there was a certain unspoken coming-together.
The Open Source Gallery hosts a multitude of performances and exhibitions and has been on the Brooklyn scene since 2008. Remarkably, the community surrounding the gallery has rebounded from a fire which last November completely destroyed their original home.
Check them out here: http://open-source-gallery.org/