January 29, 2004

can't keep track of each fallen robin

* Blake Bailey's biography, "A Tragic Honesty: The Life and Work of Richard Yates," has been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle award.

* John Cale on the Chelsea Hotel. an excerpt:

"Bob Dylan got married during his three-year stay in the Chelsea Hotel from 1961-64, and his first child Jesse was born there. After first arriving at the hotel in 1963, Viva (who went on to become an Andy Warhol superstar) gave birth to both Gaby and Alexander and married both her husbands during the 25 years she lived there. Leonard Cohen, however, preferred to write 'Chelsea Hotel No 2', a song commemorating fellatio with Janis Joplin in room 104, when he lived there in the 1970s. Patti Smith first stayed there in 1959, and in 1962-63 returned with a penurious Robert Mapplethorpe who could not persuade the owner Stanley Bard that his photography made an equitable exchange for rent. Stanley let them stay anyway. Joni Mitchell had 'Chelsea Morning'. BonJovi had 'Chelsea Midnight' and Nico and Andy Warhol had Chelsea Girls.

"Stanley Bard has been at the helm of the Chelsea Hotel for more than 40 years, since taking it over from his father David in 1957. The building was the first co-oped building in New York, having been built, complete with features such as artist studios, in 1882. It became a hotel in 1905, ended in bankruptcy, and rescued from the bank by a group led by David Bard in 1940. Now featuring 400 rooms, it has been the recent focus of morbid rumours of its imminent sale. It's not happening. What seems to have happened is that attention has been drawn to New York's Chelsea area in general as a result of the recent move there by so many art galleries, filling the blocks from 10th Ave and 24th St West to 11th Ave and 26th.

"In its relationship with the various art movements that flowed through New York, the hotel under Stanley's watchful eye, was always a noteworthy recipient of those fringe, and sometimes mainstay, figures that were active then. The list is long and fearsome, something like the opening verses of Genesis. It begins with Brendan Behan who needed to finish two books for Geiss and was allowed in on the proviso that there was 'no destruction of property'."

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