Reprinted with permission - Click on image to enlarge
The hand rail at Washington's Headquarters in Valley Forge was original to the 18th C stone farm house. Visitors loved to touch it knowing George Washington had done so. Little else was original. "Furniture from the period." "Paint shade researched but..."
The Chelsea is original. Thomas Wolfe walked through the small lobby. So did Mark Twain, Arthur C. Clarke, Dylan Thomas and Sid Vicious. And Jane Fonda, Milos Forman, Henri Cartier-Bresson, John Houseman, Arthur Miller and Janis Joplin. With so many famous residents the unknown take on greater celebrity thanks to photographer Claudio Edinger who documented them in this 1983 book.
Ann Van Ess, Molly Parkin, Don Normal, Man Lai and today's semi famous, Suzanne Bartsch. I never got to know them but I'd flip through this book and wonder about them. Just as I might if I saw them walking through the lobby. There are few places I feel at home. A hotel in South Kensington. A restaurant on 60th. A farm house in North Carolina. And here.
I lived a few blocks away in 1984. I hung out in the lobby and often had black bean soup at a Cuban Chinese (La Chinita Linda on 19th St. and 8th Ave) restaurant a few blocks south. One afternoon, I stared at Blair Brown eating -- until she shot me a nasty look. I looked down at my black beans in shame and promised never stare at the famous again.
In 1992, I stayed a couple nights at the Chelsea in a $75 room. There was a TV without a remote and a poem written in the closet. The room was bright with light during the day and there was not a sound at night. I felt as if something would happen but it never did.
The summer of 2001, I proudly walked into the lobby as a prospective tenant. There was a studio apartment painted royal blue with a hot plate and a sink for a kitchen. Mr Bard told me the rent was $4,500 a month. The next apartment I saw had been occupied by Bob Dylan. A one bedroom but with a kitchen larger than the studio. It was $7,500 a month. I could select my furnishings from a diverse collection in the basement.
I'm not sure what'll happen to the Chelsea or all that furniture. I know I'll never live with her but I still like to see her. Just as friends.