As for Lords of the Schoolyards relation to my first two books: the Chelsea Hotel of Legends of the Chelsea Hotel is a world unto itself, a secret society for sure—or a whole bunch of them, for who knows what’s hidden behind that weirdly painted door at the end of that dark, forbidding corridor? It’s a place where different rules apply and where deviance is a badge of honor. Creativity is valued above all, as artists, writers and musicians are the stars. And even junkies and schizophrenics rank higher than lawyers and business men —though anybody with money is certainly tolerated by the starving artists, that’s for sure! And regarding the characters in The Chintz Age, their comfortable subcultures are collapsing as the city gentrifies, they’re being evicted from their apartments and shops, and they’re struggling to carve out a niche for themselves where they can remain relevant (or at least remain in New York) as they ride out the onrushing societal juggernaut. Read the full interview here.
Famed hotelier Stanley Bard, the guiding spirit of the greatest experiment in bohemian living in the history of New York, if not the world, passed away this morning in Boca Raton, Florida, surrounded by his loved ones. Bard, 82, who had been ill for the last few years, succumbed to a massive stroke.
Known affectionately to all by his first name, Stanley was the majority owner and managing director of New York’s famed Chelsea Hotel. Built in 1883, the Chelsea was purchased by Stanley’s father, David, together with two other investors, in 1940. Upon his father’s death in 1957, Stanley took over as manager of the hotel, continuing in that post for 50 years, up until his departure in 2007. Though Stanley inherited a building that was already known as a haven for the arts, he presided over the greatest artistic flowering in the history of the hotel, playing host to the Beats of the 50s, the Warhol superstars of the 60s, and the punks of the seventies.
A list of Stanley’s guests, most of whom he came to know personally, reads like a Who’s Who of the New York art world: Dylan Thomas, Arthur Miller, Bob Dylan, Arthur C. Clarke, Stanley Kubrick, Virgil Thompson, Charles James, Leonard Cohen, Christo, Larry Rivers, Dee Dee Ramone, Nico, Dennis Hopper, Brendan Behan, Shirley Clark, Derek Walcott, Madonna, Robert Mapplethorpe, and the Warhol Superstars Edie Sedgwick, Viva, Nico, Holly Woodlawn, and Candy Darling, and on and on and on. A stay at the Chelsea has long been regarded as a right of passage for almost everyone who was anyone in the world of art, music, literature and the theater during the fifty years of Stanley’s brilliant tenure.
Born in 1934 to David and Fanny Bard, Jewish immigrants from Hungary, Stanley was just a boy when his family took over management of the hotel. He immediately fell in love with the old building, and soon knew it inside and out, crawling around in the crawl spaces and secret nooks and crannies as he worked as an assistant for Julius Krauss, the plumber and part owner of the Chelsea. In college, Stanley studied psychology, which he always claimed, half-jokingly, helped him to understand and deal with the odd and unusual collection of bohemians who passed through the hotel. (Photo: Arthur Miller, Arnold Weinstein and Stanley Bard by Rita Barros.)
Stanley’s final years brought new challenges. Despite the supercharged climate of gentrification and the pressure of investors to cash in on the hotel’s good name, he did his best to keep the rents affordable for the hundreds of artists, musicians, writers, and actors who called the hotel their home in the new millennium. Over the years, Stanley was well known for helping artists in any way he could, financially, emotionally, and by providing a nurturing environment that fostered creativity, and he would continue to fight for their well being up until the very end of his tenure. Stanley himself said it best: “Over the years people here have created some really beautiful, meaningful things, and they just needed that little bit of help to be able to do it. This hotel has heart and soul and it’s not all about the bottom line!”
Stanley was a genuine New York character, one of the people who make the city the great place it is. A tireless cheerleader for the Chelsea, Stanley’s love for the venerable hotel was such that he often said that the Chelsea was the most famous hotel in the world, sometimes going even further to claim that it was the most famous building in the world. And while he was understandably reluctant to discuss a certain notorious slaying in 1979, it was also quite difficult to get him to admit that anything bad had ever happened at the Chelsea. Director Milos Forman, jokingly attempting to get him to admit that the hotel has suffered its share of misfortunes, asks him, in Abel Ferrara’s movie Chelsea on the Rocks, if anyone has ever died at the Chelsea. Well yes, Stanley admits, in a building this old, certainly a few people have died. He then goes on to cite exactly one, the painter Alphaeus Cole, who lived to be 112! (Photo: Stanley and Alphaeus Cole by Allan Tennanbaum)
Stanley is survived by his wife Phyllis, by his two children, David Bard and Michele Bard Grabell, by their spouses, Debbie Bard and Mathew Grabell, and by five grandchildren. Stanley’s first wife, Alice, the mother of David and Michele, predeceased him, as did his older brother, Milton.
Stanley is survived as well as by thousands of people in the arts who have called the Chelsea Hotel their home—for a night, a week, a month, a year, or for several decades—and who will continue to honor his memory in their lives and their art for many years to come. And even beyond that, as long as the Chelsea Hotel stands, the spirit of Stanley and his undying dedication to the arts he so loved will live on.
Services will be Thursday at 10:00 at Temple Emmanuel, 180 Piermont Rd., Closter, NJ. 07624.
Deena Kaye Rose is a Nashville songwriting legend. She has written songs for some of country’s most renowned stars like Johnny Cash, Jerry Reed, John Denver and wrote the theme song to the all-time American classic movie, Smokey and the Bandit. In Deena Kaye Rose’s new book, Some Days Are Diamonds, she chronicles the best and worst times of living the raucous and crazy musician life all the while knowing that she was suppressing her true feminine self.
In the mid-70s, she landed at the Chelsea Hotel. As she writes in her book,Some Days are Diamonds, “The manager had given me a “long-term artist's” rate: $60 a week. Of course, nothing in my room worked properly and I think I had housekeeping once a week, whether I needed it or not. As a hotel, possibly the worst. As an inspiration for a creative artist, probably the best. And I loved it dearly.” Download "Alive and Well at the Chelsea Hotel - Chapter 28" from Some Days are Diamonds.
How did you learn about the Chelsea Hotel?
I learned about the Chelsea Hotel from studying about creative artists who had spent time in New York City. The Chelsea has long been that citadel of the muse for so many.
How’d you rate your room at the Chelsea?
On a scale of one to ten, it was about a minus two! But as inspiration it was ten to the tenth power!
Can you describe the Vibe of the Hotel at the time (mid-70s)?
There were some full time residents at the Chelsea who were quite interesting characters; one old fella dressed like a cowboy all the time. Out on the streets of New York he looked a little out of place but at the Chelsea, he fit right in. There was one middle-aged guy who dressed like a pirate complete with silk pantaloons, a black sash, and a pirate doo-rag. I thought perhaps he was a doorman at a seafood restaurant, but no, he was a pirate!
Daytime piano music drifted down from the upper floors that contained small studios and at least one grand piano. It was beautiful.
Do you think the Chelsea has a special creative energy?
Absolutely! I always felt a physical tingle, a buzz of electrical energy from just walking through the entrance. The thought of so many great artists and creative souls who had walked these halls, trod upon these stairs, or occupied a bar stool in the first floor bar was thrilling for a romantic like myself. Sitting in my room and looking out on Twenty-Third would invariably lead me to muse about others who had gazed upon this same midnight, this same street scene, as they also awaited a visit from the muse.
Have you written any songs about the Chelsea Hotel or songs that were inspired by your experience staying at the Hotel?
I wrote the liner notes for my third album while living at the Chelsea on one nocturnal evening, gazing out through the ornate cast iron balcony.
Thumb-humped rhythms in the A.M. Quiet,Star-crossed words in a hot tea buzz...
Has your song writing been influenced by any artists associated with the Chelsea Hotel?
My goal has always been to never try and emulate other songwriters. If I learn to write exactly like Steven Sondheim it wouldn’t mean a thing. We already have a Steven Sondheim. My focus has been with poets, novelists, film makers, artists that create in a genre entirely different from the one I am attempting. Dylan Thomas was certainly a poet whom I admired greatly. Thomas Wolf, yes, and I even have some leaves that I picked up along the sidewalk of his boyhood home in Ashville, North Carolina. But there is one songwriter/poet of the Class of Chelsea whom I love dearly—as a fan. That would be Leonard Cohen. Genius!
Are there any transgender role models who you admire who are/were also part of the Chelsea Hotel scene?
Holly Woodlawn! Yes, yes, YES. This courageous lady made her statement in a time when it was most difficult to express an alternative lifestyle. She definitely took a “Walk on the Wild Side.” Holly Woodlawn was one of the Godmothers to us all. The footprints of her high heels are always to be found on the pathway before me.
How did you get interested in Country music?
My childhood was spent in western Missouri, a mostly agrarian part of America. Our “popular” music was the folk music done by artists like Woody Guthrie, the Western Swing of Bob Wills and mixed with the Appalachian influences of European Americans. We didn’t have a symphony but we had a square dance every Saturday night where the local musicians played things like “Wildwood Flower” and “Under the Double Eagle,” songs from the nineteenth century.
Chet Atkins once said, “There are only two kinds of music; good and bad!” That has always been my feeling. It seemed to me that Rock and Roll was always so optimistic: “We’re gonna do this and it will be great!” Jazz was more like; “We’re Doin’ this and isn’t it great!” But Country Music was more like; “We did this and it wasn’t always that great!” I love real life emotions told with great lyrical lines.
What was it like working with the greats of country music?
Terrific! During the time when I was writing for Johnny Cash, I thought, Wow, I am writing for someone who actually was a great influence in shaping “how” I write now. I once played John a song and I said, “I stole this idea from you and one of your songs.” John listened and said, “I don’t hear any theft there.”
What is your favorite song that you wrote and why?
Songs are like children: a parent could never choose one over the others. Feels to me that at any given time I will always have two favorite songs: the last one and the next one!
Perhaps some of my works could be singled out as having some historical significance in regards to my career. “East Bound and Down” has played over a million times in broadcast play in North America alone, as has, “Some Days Are Diamonds.” And, yes, each of these compositions was a financial Pleasure! But there is another song that I wrote and that was recorded by The Kingston Trio entitled “Jock and the Trapeze Lady” that didn’t make nearly as much money but that I love just as dearly.
Can you tell us about your experience transitioning into a woman?
Well, I guess I first had the feeling that I should have been a girl rather late in life—I was three years old! But knowing that I was trans for the whole of my life and deciding to do something about it were two different things. The most surprising thing about my life after Transition was the soul-deep JOY that I have found. I was prepared for disappointments but I had not anticipated being so HAPPY. Since transitioning three years ago, the worst day I have had as a woman is better than the best day I had as a guy in the dozen years before that in Nashville.
Do you think it is easier now for people who transition?
Certainly there are more resources available and a little more understanding in the cisgender community. We have learned that there are others just like ourselves. Gender reassignment is not something that one can undertake on a whim. The decision is a lifelong commitment. It is not akin to walking through the pet store and suddenly deciding to buy an Angel Fish.
How was your transitioning received by your fellow artists in the country music industry?
Wonderful! The old friends who have reached out to me have been great. I have a dear friend in the onstage, performing area of the Entertainment Business who, as guy, I have known for over thirty years. Just a few months ago, I reached out to him and explained my “cha-cha-cha, Changes.” He was much more excited about him and his wife getting together with me to have dinner and talk about creativity and music, without having superficial conversations about Transsexuality! We have done just that several times.
I am still a creative artist; it is just that now I am a female creative artist.
What inspired you to write your book?
My first thought about a post-transition life was that I would live in “stealth,” a term used by transpeople to denote living in a new gender without referring or alluding to the previous life as the old gender. Hence, we call our birth name our “deadname.” But I noticed that a common misperception was that Trans folks are totally incapacitated by being transgender: that we have spent our pre-transition time hiding in dark places waiting for grs so that our lives could actually begin.
In recent years, many post-transition persons have made it a point to embrace achievements conducted in the previous gender, the gender assigned at birth. The Wachowski Sisters, genius film makers and transladies, Kristin Beck, former Navy Seal and Transgender woman. Chaz Bono, Jennifer Leitham, and, of course, Caitlyn Jenner, and many others have been effusive in acknowledging previous successes I felt it was my obligation to my trans family that I should make my statement: that even a male Country Music songwriter from Nashville, who wrote for Johnny Cash, wrote for macho, truck drivin’ Burt Reynolds film, Smokey and the Bandit, was not immune from being transgender. I did not choose Transgenderism—Transgenderism chose me.
Do you have any new creative projects coming up that we should look out for?
I am working on a book of poetry that will include all new, never before published works. I have a ton of new songs I wrote for and about the Trans community. Some pending speaking engagements are on the horizon. And, of course, there is the current autobiographical book, “Some Days Are Diamonds”, that is available on Amazon at this very moment. Believe me, it has a happy ending!
ABOUT DEENA KAYE ROSE
Deena Kaye Rose is a Nashville songwriting legend. She has written songs for some of country’s most renowned stars like Johnny Cash, Jerry Reed, John Denver and wrote the theme song to the all-time American classic movie, Smokey and the Bandit. In Deena Kaye Rose’s new book, Some Days Are Diamonds, she chronicles the best and worst times of living the raucous and crazy musician life all the while knowing that she was suppressing her true feminine self. Today Deena is a transgender woman and activist, sharing the history of her journey in performances and lectures around the country. She is letting trans persons know they are not alone. Deena’s hope is that her tale of growing up knowing she was a transgender woman in a time when those topics were considered either taboo or nonexistent in the Bible Belt of the United States, may add a positive note to the transgender conversation.
The Chintz Age is about bohemians and the middle class struggling to survive and maintain relevance in an urban climate that has become overly expensive and increasingly hostile to their very existence. While the stories are set in NYC, the themes they deal with are equally relevant to any rapidly changing urban environment.
Can living in a bland glass and steel tower erode your soul? In “Highline/Highlife,” a young writer who enters into a marriage in bad faith to advance his career, willing himself to be a sort of master of the literary universe, becomes trapped in his glass apartment overlooking the Highline, the disintegration of his life and career on display for the amusement of poorly dressed tourists. The writer is driven to adultery, and then madness, through living under the constant scrutiny of passersby.
The displacement of mom and pop shops by chain stores and bank branches has become a hot button issue of late, as cities become increasingly standardized and suburbanized. In “Fat Hippie Books,” a bookshop owner, faced with the imminent closure of his small East Village shop due to skyrocketing rent, sets off on a journey of self discovery intended to mirror one of Beat legend Jack Kerouac’s famous road trips.
The decrease of affordable housing has led to a climate of increasingly cutthroat competition for living space in NYC. In “The Retro-Seventies Manhattan Dream Apartment,” the novella that completes the collection, a schizophrenic dinner theater actress and a psychopathic computer programmer, dark soul mates bound together in a twisted love affair, engage in a battle of wills in a bid to control a valuable piece of rent stabilized real estate.
The Chelsea Hotel community mourns the passing of Jerry Weinstein. Jerry was born October 3, 1933 and spent his early years growing up in the Bronx, which is where he met the Bard family. After a career in Social Work he joined the Chelsea Hotel staff as the front desk manager in 1979. A job offered to him by his childhood friend, Stanley Bard. Jerry served as Stanley’s right-hand man up until 2007, when the Bard family was ousted.
“I can't imagine a Hotel Chelsea where the people at the desk (and doorman?!?) don't have a clue about the history. I still remember the first time I stayed, upon checking in, Jerry went into a long story about an actress (who has the same name I do) and her husband and their stays at the hotel... of course, I always learned something new about The Chelsea everytime I stayed. I LOVE THAT!”
And, former Chelsea Hotel employee Charlie wrote:
Personal Note To Jerry, Hey Jerry, I hope you chance thisnote of thanks. The one thing that made my day, everyday, workingwith you, was your singing, "Charlie Me Boy", and your daily joke. I have one for you...
A new manager of a hotel reviewing a potential employee's application notices that the person never worked in a hotel before.
He says to the person, "For someone with no experience, you are certainly asking a high wage."
"well Sir," the applicant replies, "the work is so much harder when you don't know what your doing."
Hey Jerry, That makes you PRICELESS! Your Friend, Charlie
Jerry is survived by his wife Rose, daughters Tammy, Lisa & Beth. Grandchildren Hayley, Joshua, Sam, Jordan, Rachael, & Chelsea. Sister-in-law Janice and Son-in-laws – Alan and Leon. He is also survived by many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
Services will be held Tuesday at 11 am. Louis Suburban Chapel, Inc. 13-01 Broadway (Route 4 West) Fair Lawn, NJ 07410 tel: 201-791-0015 toll-free: 800-525-3834
(Photo: Rita Barros)
The family will begin greeting guests at 10:15 am and services will begin promptly at 11:00.
Jerry celebrating his 80th birthday with his grand kids.
It is with sadness that the Chelsea Hotel community learned of the recent passing of Nikki Nichols. According to his good friend, Gabriel Marchisio, Nikki was born in Portland, Oregon in August 1941and died there on December 7, 2014. Nicky Nichols was an actor and costume designer, best known for his work on Jodorowsky’sThe Holy Mountain (1973). Nikki resided at the Chelsea Hotel from 2003 - 2006.
Nikki at the Chelsea in 2010
During that time, Nikki and his pug Wallis, were welcome fixtures in the Hotel Chelsea lobby. Nikki was someone who could always be counted on to support the work of other artists in the Hotel by attending their events and shows. Nikki was also known as a gracious host. One of the most eagerly anticipated social events of the year would be the birthday party Nikki would host in the lobby on the occasion of Wallis' birthday. Champagne flowed freely and animal owners from all over town would attend.
Nikki came back for a visit to the Hotel Chelsea in 2010 and was looking forward to another visit at the time of his death.
Thursday, 8/21/14 – 8:30 PM On Thursday, August 21, “It’s so up and coming…” Khalid Rahmaan hosts the free comedy show in almost gentrified Brooklyn, with music from DJ Mike Styles. Every 1st & 3rd Thursday of the month @ 8:30 pm.
So you don’t feel like hitting a comedy club in Brooklyn for your dose of “gentrification art/entertainment” check out “The Landlord” a book by Kristin Hunter. It's available from the NYPL and amazon.com. The 1970 film classic based on the novel and directed by Hal Ashby, is on Youtube in its entirety. "The Landlord" is a comedy. Young Beau Bridges buys a Park Slope tenement, planning to evict the present occupants and construct a luxury home for himself.
Shetal Shah sang/read a wonderfully evocative poem about how when she was young New York City used to hum. She loved the grit and grime, and wandered through the city deliriously, her heart about to explode. But now that they’ve scrubbed the sidewalk down to sterility, she goes out looking for just a little bit of that authenticity. She seeks out the places that still hold the magic, little corners forgotten by Starbucks. (Please excuse the paraphrase of Shah’s poem. I was taking notes in the dark. The real thing is great, I assure you.) (Image by Mark Rywelski, White | Hutch | Productions.)
Pamela Sneed declares that “Brooklyn is the New Rwanda,” and tells us that when she gets mad about people of color being displaced from their longtime neighborhoods, she’s often told that she shouldn’t take it personally, that it’s just about money, or business, or whatever. But, she replies, when people like her, lesbians and people of color, are always on the receiving end, somehow it doesn’t seem so arbitrary. How can she help but take it personally?!
Andy Emiritz, of Field Theory fame, provided a welcome musical interlude. Finally, Vaimoana Niumeitolo read a very funny poem about “crois-nuts,” those mutant treats which are, or should become, some sort of symbol of the banality and vapidity of the people who are taking over New York. Have a regular doughnut at the Donut Pub on 14th St. in Chelsea, a neighborhood institution, before it goes the way of so many other great places before it.
The readings of the various poets were informed by a sense of urgency because, in addition to the pressures that all creative people face in their struggle to stay true to their own individual visions in a rapidly transforming city, their group, Poetic People Power, which has been presenting political poetry for 12 years, recently lost its funding and was only able to put on this year’s show due to a fortuitous, last minute donation from a private source. Even worse, the venue, Theatre 80 on St. Mark’s Place, a family business that’s been in the building since 1963, may soon be in imminent danger. Both recent mayors—Bloomberg and Di Blasio—raised the building’s property taxes, which climbed in recent years from $50,000 to $130,000 a year. Needless to say, if places like this go, then so does the theatre scene.
Far from simply bemoaning the situation, Poetic People’s Power does indeed seek solutions to the problems it poses. In response to a show about the water crisis in a previous year, producer Tara Bracco co-founded the Project Solution, which funds infrastructure projects in 11 developing countries. Bracco also put in a plug for Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, and I’d like to second that: it’s a great website documenting the ongoing decimation of old New York. Hopefully Jeremiah won’t be covering the demise of Theatre 80 anytime soon. Hopefully, too, Poetic People Power will be around for another show next year—perhaps about the triumph of art and the human spirit over the obscene greed of capitalism! As Andy Emeritz (once again, in my blind-as-a-bat paraphrase) says: The stream of art will not be stopped. Diversity of novel thought bubbles up from below, always making rivers, flowing from the New York underground. . . . - Ed Hamilton (Images by Mark Rywelski, White | Hutch | Productions.)
As Brooklyn social worker and performer Imani Henry points out, and as most of us are seeing first hand, “rents are increasing while incomes are decreasing.” In a recent article in The Guardian, Chris Toenes, a social worker who supports Henry's program, relates an anecdote about an older man who is astonished to find out that the old African American neighborhood of Braggtown, North Carolina, has now been rechristened as “Colonial Heights”, by developers hoping to attract a more well-to-do class of residents.
The neighborhood’s new name, of course, betrays an ominous significance. Gentrification is completely out of hand, not only in New York and San Francisco, but in cities large and small all across the country. Is it a vast social engineering project, or merely a confluence of many and disparate forces such as real estate speculation, privatization of resources, the weakening of unions, globalization, political corruption, etc. etc.?
It’s hard to say. But the important thing is to fight back on a local level in whatever small way we can. To this end, Henry has developed a web-based art project called “Before it’s Gone—Take it Back”, to have residents document neighborhood life in Brooklyn—“weddings, backyard barbecues, quinceaneras, bar/bat mitzvahs,” etc.—and to tie it to the history of their neighborhoods. It’s important to connect what’s happening today to the history of a place, because history is one of the main things that these developers want to expunge—or rather, to sanitize in order to present their own more palatable, squeaky-clean vanilla version of the past. Such an whitewash makes it that much easier to ignore the cries of the working and middle class people that gentrification displaces.
With their backs to the wall, creative artists are struggling to come to terms with the forces of gentrification that are altering their lives beyond recognition. So, in a sense, it’s no surprise to find a playwright wrestling with this subject, which after all, touches many of them personally. On the other hand, probably due to the complexities of the issues surrounding rent control, eviction proceedings, social engineering, city corruption, etc., there haven’t been many attempts. That’s why Between Riverside and Crazy, a new play by the Atlantic Theatre Company, represents a real act of courage by playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis. Handily defeating the dark, depressing nature of the subject matter, the play was hilariously funny, poignant, and infinitely enjoyable. Clocking in at just under two hours, the time went by in a flash. After the intermission, as an attempt is made to move the plot forward, the play becomes both less funny and less believable at the same time. However, the first act alone is well worth the price of admission.
The play opens in the kitchen of the rent stabilized apartment of the main character, “Pops,” an elderly retired cop played by Stephen McKinley Henderson. Having lost his wife a year ago, Pops is in poor health, he drinks a lot, and he’s fallen prey to his middle-aged son and his son’s no-account friends, an air-headed prostitute and a drug-addled thug who live in the apartment rent-free. Ominously, Pops has been ignoring court summonses from his landlord. To further complicate matters, Pops’s old NYPD partner and her corrupt upper-brass fiancé arrive to try to talk Pops into accepting a settlement in his lawsuit against the city. For Pops, it turns out, was disabled when a white cop, in an apparently racist incident, shot him in a bar eight years before.
The set, by designer Walt Spangler, is impressive: with the high ceilings, the ornate moldings, the tubular steel table and chairs, the accumulation of bric-a-brac, it really looked like an old pre-war apartment that someone had been living in for decades. My favorite touch is the apparently authentic glass-fronted art deco kitchen cabinets.
One of my few quibbles with the play is that, while admittedly still in previews, the plot is a bit convoluted, requiring some contortionists tricks at the end to pull all the elements together and then to tie up the loose ends. The reasons for Pops’s eviction aren’t really well spelled out, either. It’s suggested that he is being accused of violating the terms of his lease by harboring criminals engaged in shady enterprises—but whether this would be enough to evict an elderly, disabled former cop from a rent stabilized apartment that he had occupied for three decades, is open to debate. There’s also a few vague hints that the police, who want Pops to settle his lawsuit, may be colluding with the landlord in some way. And maybe that happens sometimes. But they’d also have to fix things with the courts and the various housing agencies. The logic of gentrification and eviction sometimes seems so arbitrary, so unfair, and so counterproductive and absurd that, for anyone not well up on the issues, it probably does just seem like it’s all controlled by the fiat of “The City”—or by some vast conspiracy of corrupt politicians and greedy developers.
In any event, everyone who cares about the state of our nation’s great cities, and in particular New York, should see this play, if for no other reason than to laugh in order to keep from crying. -- Ed Hamilton
Opening July 31, 2014.
Limited Engagement through August 16, 2014
Atlantic Theater Company at the Linda Gross Theater (336 West 20th Street)
In May, Brett Whietely’s “Tahiti” was auctioned by the Chelsea 23rd Street Corporation, the former owner of the Chelsea Hotel. It will be reoffered for sale in Melbourne in July. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, "...Paul Gauguin on the Eve of His Attempted Suicide, Tahiti,has been shown in public only once, during an exhibition in New York’s Marlborough Gallery in 1968. Like many other works produced by Whiteley during his time in New York, it never left the US. His other works painted at the Chelsea include two portraits of Dylan (one of which is missing)."
Stanley Bard and his wife Phyllis celebrated Stanley's 80th birthday in style earlier this month by dining at El Quijote. Stanley said that one of his all time favorite dishes was El Quijote's Chicken Villeroy, but he ordered something different just to change it up on this particular occasion, looked like the Fish in Green Sauce to me, another yummy dish. Phyllis also recommends the baked chicken. "It's the best in town," she said. Here's to Stanley celebrating many more birthday's to come in El Quijote. The famous off-key pink guerrilla was no where in sight.
Sadly, we have learned that Stormé Delarverié, a long-time Chelsea Hotel resident and icon of the LGBT community passed away yesterday. Stormé had been living at the CABS Nursing Home in Brooklyn since October 2010. UPDATE - The funeral service for Storme will be held Thursday, May 29 at the Greenwich Village Funeral Home from 7 - 9 pm.
Despite health issues in recent years, Stormé continued to remain active in the gay and lesbian community. She could be seen proudly waving from the Stonewall Veteran Association’s Cadillac during the Gay Pride Parade held each June in Manhattan.
Born on Christmas Eve, 1920, in New Orleans, Stormé worked professionally as a drag king and torch singer. Pictures of her in drag show her to be suave and handsome; uncompromisingly androgynous. In the forties through the sixties she was the emcee—or, better yet, the ringmaster--for the Jewel Box Revue, a traveling gay drag show, the first in America to be integrated. Playing to mixed race, as well as mixed gay and straight, audiences, the revue gained mainstream acceptance in larger cities around the country. In this context, Stormé was the subject of the 1987 film, Stormé: The Lady of the Jewel Box. Produced by DC filmmaker Michelle Parkerson, the movie emphasized Stormé’s appropriation of male symbols of power, such as suits and ties, in furtherance of the gay rights struggle. [And, as Stormé once told me, “I’ve got a story, I chopped off my hair, put on men’s clothes, and joined the Jewel Box Review!” ]
But Stormé’s real claim to fame is that she’s the person who threw the first punch at Stonewall, the rebellion (named for the bar) on Christopher Street that gave birth to the gay rights movement. Prior to Stonewall, gay people were subject to arrest, pretty much arbitrarily, for such offenses as kissing or holding hands in public, or for dressing in the clothes of the opposite sex. The police staged raids on gay bars at unpredictable times, arresting whoever they pleased. The night of June 27, 1969, was seemingly like any other, with one exception: earlier that evening the city had mourned the passing of gay icon Judy Garland in a funeral attended by twenty-two thousand people. Whether this had anything to do with what happened next is open to speculation, but this time, when the police raided the Stonewall Bar in the early hours of June 28th, they soon found that the gay people had had enough and were ready to fight back—in particular one formidable drag king.
I doubt that Stormé went there that night looking for trouble, but she wasn’t going to run from it either. When a plain-clothed policeman punched her outside the bar, she retaliated, slugging him in the jaw. When asked what the policeman did next, Stormé, in an interview for the gay TV news magazine, In The Life, replied, with characteristic terseness, “He was on the ground. Out.” -- (Excerpt From Legends of the Chelsea Hotel.)