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Legends of the Chelsea Hotel

Ed Hamilton, who's devoted the last few years to blogging a kind of Arabian Nights of the preeminent node of funky, New York bohemia, has just released a book of his collected efforts: Legends of the Chelsea Hotel. That'd be … Read More

By / October 29, 2007

Ed Hamilton, who's devoted the last few years to blogging a kind of Arabian Nights of the preeminent node of funky, New York bohemia, has just released a book of his collected efforts: Legends of the Chelsea Hotel. That'd be where Janis Joplin was "giving me head on the unmade bed," where "me" was Leonard Cohen. Also where Maurice Girodias, owner of the ribald Olympia Press, solicited Valerie Solanas' SCUM Manifesto and convinced her that the male-hating tract would sell because Lolita did. (It sold because she shot Andy Warhol, really.)

Legends was reviewed in the Sunday Times:

What really resonates in the book, what makes it so sorrowful at times, is Hamilton’s evocation of all the young and old hopefuls who have just enough ambition to push their lives past the point of no return. “Legends” comes close to convincing you that, as destructive drugs go, self-delusion has heroin beat. Hamilton dedicates his book to a Japanese painter named Hiroya, who first appears as a giddy, heavyset young man phosphorescent with love for art and for the city itself: a hilarious self-promoter, fond of giving his paintings of bunnies to local shop owners. “He was from a wealthy Japanese family, who had sent him to New York — it’s my theory anyway — so as to get him out of Japan,” Hamilton writes. “Obviously he would have been an embarrassment to any halfway respectable family.” Soon, art-world hipsters adopt Hiroya as a mascot and insist that he change his clothes, his art, himself. “Once they had remade him,” Hamilton writes, “they decided he wasn’t all that original anymore.” The hipsters ultimately abandon Hiroya. You can predict his trajectory from here — steep and downward — but you’re surprised by how low it lays you.

Check out Ed's blog here.

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