The Chelsea Hotel in New York City is a Bermuda triangle of rental living. Only the most daring go in, and only the strongest come out alive.
The legendary hotel held beds for a whoís-who of New York artists, musicians, writers and other insane inhabitants. Ed Hamilton is one of the insane, a writer with a dozen years of life spent at the Chelsea. He also happens to be one of its biggest fans.
Hamilton moved to the Chelsea with his girlfriend to pursue a writing career. Some legendary writers made their names at the Chelsea. Unfortunately, Hamiltonís name may be made at the end of times for the hotel.
Unknown to the proprietors and occupants of the hotel, Hamilton began a blog to document the life and times of the hotel; this book grew out of that experience. Hamilton writes as the lone sane person living in an institution. His passion for the hotel is admirable, and he sets each character upon the same pedestal for their moment in the sun.
The list of famous and infamous personalities will help sell a few books, but the most compelling characters are the lesser known. These are the artists who did not quite shake the world, or the junkies who did not go anywhere but the bathroom. The hotel design provides one bathroom to be shared among a few rooms. Each bathroom includes a rotating selection of junkies. Hamiltonís effort to keep a level of control in the bathroom is a common thread (and frequently the comedic heart) of his book. The commonality at the Chelsea of finding abandoned syringes and bodily fluids makes you look at your own bathroom in a much different light.
Another colorful celebrity of the Chelsea is longtime proprietor Stanley Bard. In mid-2007, the Bard family was removed from their management role at the hotel. The corporate man is taking over the bohemian hotel, and it will never be the same again. Apparently, there is money to be made, and Bardís friendliness to artists is not the best way to make that money.
Hamiltonís book and the future of the blog from which it spawned will chronicle the end of the Chelsea Hotel, or at least the end of everything it was known for, both good and bad. Goodbye, Arthur Miller. Goodbye, Sid and Nancy. Goodbye, transient junkies. Goodbye to a New York institution.