Thursday, April 10, 2008

Heads Up San Francisco!

tim discovers chelsea
My friend Timothy James in tourist mode at the Chelsea Hotel

If you are a fan or follower of the heyday of punk rock, New York City and the Chelsea Hotel and are in or around the San Francisco area later this month - HEADS UP! Ed Hamilton, author of Legends of the Chelsea Hotel: Living with the Authors and Outlaws of New York's Rebel Mecca, will have a reading and signing on April 24, 2008 at 7:30 p.m at The Beat Museum, 540 Broadway, SF CA.

deedeeramone
Dee Dee Ramone, Hotel Chelsea habituee

Ed Hamilton is the man behind the Living With Legends: Hotel Chelsea Blog in which he has and continues to chronicle the events of the hotel and the neighborhood in NYC. It is both current and reflective and thoroughly comprehensive. A great read for a few minutes or a few hours.

Here are some images of people who hung out at, stayed at or lived at the Chelsea.

yoga guru lance
Lance Loud - Lance and his mother Patricia Loud were seen in his room at the Chelsea Hotel in the PBS television series, An American Family

Patti, Dark & Light
Patti Smith lived in the Chelsea with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Smith would also figure into Lance Loud's musical career, having conscripted original Mumps drummer, Jay Dee Daugherty for her own band

Sex Pistols
Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen lived at the Chelsea and Nancy died there.



I stayed at the Chelsea for a night in 1984. I was on tour with the Australian band, The Church, and I arrived in NYC the night before they did, and I stayed in the hotel with another friend who had traveled with me from California. That friend, Martina Stanek, also a photographer (and now based in Paris, France) took the photo below of me, Church singer and chief songwriter, Steve Kilbey and our mutual friend Roxanne Fontana.

tk kilbey roseann nyc
me, Steve Kilbey, Roxanne Fontana, NYC, 1984

My own experience that night at the Chelsea reflects not just the times - a more rough-edged NYC, including a more rough-edged Hotel Chelsea - but also the kind of travel that one is willing to undertake while on the road, on a budget and in the company of like-minded fellow travelers. Of course, the fact there was a fire on my floor in the middle of the night and we were not evacuated says alot too, about how that kind of "emergency" just seemed to be taken in stride. Martina and I shared a room with a transient population of cockroaches, so we slept ON the beds, rather than in them, and also with the lights on. There was a certain Naked Lunch romance to it (and Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs was written in the Chelsea, as were so many popular and enduring literary works). Fine for when you're in your 20's... nowadays, not so much.


Regardless, the only-in-NYC experience of the early 80s did not deter me from living in the neighborhood when I moved to NYC. In fact, I lived on 7th Avenue between 22nd and 23rd Streets, with a view from my bedroom window of the rear of the Chelsea Hotel! On the right is a view of Chelsea from my rooftop. The apartment building, 216 Seventh Avenue was on top of a bodega frequented by my neighbor, Johnny Ramone, who lived on 22nd Street before relocating permanently to my old home town of Los Angeles.


I always thought that Johnny lived in the best possible location, given his penchant for guitars and comic books. On 23rd Street, just west of 7th Avenue and in between the corner and the Hotel Chelsea stood both a vintage guitar dealer and a comic book store. As far as I know, both shops are still there, but the building just north of my apartment building was turned into a hotel sometime in the mid-to-late 90s. It is not competition for the Chelsea at all.

The Chelsea Hotel is legend and legends of culture have passed through her halls and stayed in her rooms. Pick up Ed's book and read more about it... read his blog and if you're in San Francisco, meet him and have him sign your copy of the book! April 24!

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