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Legends of the Chelsea Hotel: Living with Artists and Outlaws in New York's Rebel Mecca Paperback – November 2, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"One of the recurring pleasures of Ed Hamilton's "Legends of the Chelsea Hotel" is his sly rendering of its former proprietor, Stanley Bard, an eccentric patron of the arts who almost pathologically refused to acknowledge that the Chelsea was anything other than a crystal palace inhabited by muses and magicians. Early in the book, Hamilton passes along a former tenant's story of seeing a swarm of policemen on the ninth floor and assuming that Joe the junkie had finally OD'd. Bard corrected him: the police officers were in fact guests at the hotel, and the junkie was vacationing abroad. The tenant, it seems, had been misled by the stretcher, the corpse and the body bag.
In "Legends," Hamilton evokes a similar sense that the past and the present are constant bedfellows on 23rd Street. The book may be uneven and overstuffed, but there's something remarkable about the way the author manages to celebrate the Chelsea's singular atmosphere -- the exuberant aspiring artists, the divorced movie stars, the disheveled blonde who may have Tourette's who lingers in the lobby hissing like a snake -- without ever forgetting how toxic the air is for many of the people who come desperate to breathe it."
Kansas City’s Pitch Weekly blog, 2/11/10
“I recommend picking up Ed Hamilton’s Legends of the Chelsea Hotel, which has many more stories of the famous landmark where Smith, Mapplethorpe, and many other renowned writers, musicians, and artists stayed.”
Top Customer Reviews
There is misinformation. The author has William Burroughs not only staying at the hotel, but writing Naked Lunch there. It is common knowledge that he wrote the book in Tangier. So, one has to question all the historical information.
But history isn't really the question - it is the vibe of living in the Chelsea, and the author does a good job of describing his experiences. He is not a professional writer, and it shows - the book could have used a good edit (which apparently publishers don't do anymore).
For a good history of the Chelsea in earlier years, read At the Chelsea by Florence Turner (which may be out of print - worth hunting down). Turner is a far better writer, and her memoir shines.
Hamilton writes so beautifully I found myself going back and re-reading chapters just for the pleasure of enjoying his writing again. And while he spares no gruesome details, this book feels like a love letter to the Chelsea, which Hamilton seems to love despite its gritty side. After all, how can you not love the opportunity to know Storme DeLarverie, Stanley Bard, Gerald Busby, Hiroya, and the whole colorful cast of characters that Hamilton gives us a peek of in this book? I first became fascinated with the Chelsea when I saw Lance Loud move there in the 70's on PBS's "American Family," the first reality TV show. When they showed Holly Woodlawn come strolling into Lance Loud's room there I thought "I have to GO to that place!!"
My only wish is that there will be a "sequel" to the book... I can't get enough of these stories!
There are some photos in the middle of the book, which are nice to have.
Hamilton never strays from the rich and colorful history of The Chelsea. He manages to pay homage to its former residents and guests, both famous and infamous, while giving us a bird's eye view of his own life as a current Chelsea tenant.
Clearly, the foundation of LEGENDS is firmly rooted in The Chelsea Hotel's rich bohemian history and undying mystique that makes for an entertaining and educating read.
Hamilton's own observations (often humorous with a cynical flair) of the present day atmosphere in which he lives, seamlessly draws upon the "six degrees of separation" connection that links so many of its former residents and guests through a web of who's who. Hamilton creates an ambiance that is representative of the moody and dark history that belongs solely to The Chelsea.
Early on, the hotel itself begins to emerge as the main character, and it soon becomes clear that we are in a special place, a holy place even (by some standards of excess and debauchery), that somehow deserves our attention-- if for nothing else than to breathe new life into the myths and legends of the brilliant and crazy artists who have holed up there for the past 100 years.
Hamilton's passion for the Chelsea Hotel is evident; his anecdotal style offers readers a fast paced peek inside its walls that draws you into a world that is both strange and wonderful.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fascinating read if you are interested in the past residents of the Hotel Chelsea in NYCPublished 8 months ago by M. Tarrats
My thoughts on Ed Hamilton’s LEGENDS OF THE CHELSEA HOTEL are similar to how my college American History viewed statistics. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Stacy Helton
I thought this was trite and boring. Poorly written also. I'm really glad I bought it second hand.Published 20 months ago by M.
I lived at the Chelsea Hotel in the 70s, met Richard Berstein and many other artists there. I lived in a junior suite on the 2nd floor rm 201. Read morePublished 22 months ago by David Gorman
Hamilton has a fluent writing style and his topics are of some interests. However, his sometimes disjointed narrative reads like excerpts from a diary or journal. Read morePublished on July 17, 2014 by Edward J. Bordeau
I liked it, however, it seemed to "drag on" a bit. Maybe it was just me, I was fascinated about the people who lived there, etc. Read morePublished on January 20, 2014 by Lea
From Stephen's Girlfriend: Only partially read it so far and I love this book. I wish the Chelsea Hotel was still open. Read morePublished on January 14, 2014 by Stephen R Stefanoff
Full of short stories about the folks that came through the hotel. Time frame 1885 - 2007. The history of the hotel and it's owners / managers, residents
it clears up lots of... Read more