Thursday, January 12, 2012

Flash Mob at Chelsea Hotel Tonight to Protest Patti Smith Concert for Developers

If you're anything like me, you grew up thinking the Chelsea Hotel was kind of a sacred institution. When I moved to the neighborhood in the 1990s and found myself walking past the legendary place Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, Edie Sedgwick, Jack Kerouac (who wrote "On the Road" there), Tennessee Williams, Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith once called home, and where Nancy Spungeon met her cruel fate, it never ceased to awe me. (I'd stroll by and try to act cool -- I live here now -- yet I'd still be peeking in the window each time I'd go by, wondering what I might be missing.)

A lot has changed since then -- management changes, ownership changes, dilapidation -- but things have come to breaking point this week as Patti Smith performed a free concert for the hotel's new owners/developers last night, and is scheduled to perform another one for the building's residents. While this may sound like a case of "no good deed goes unpunished" -- Smith insists she is doing this out of the goodness of heart and for the love of the Chelsea -- many feel she is being used as a pawn (would she really support someone who is gutting rooms and evicting residents?) by a new owner who wants to turn the place into a luxury destination, the antithesis of its artist-in-residence roots, and have been calling on her to cancel tonight's show. Thus far she has not. So a flash mob is planned for 8 p.m. outside the building.

For the full story -- it's very convoluted and I'm doing my best to synthesize it here -- please visit the Chelsea Hotel Blog HERE. For specifics about the flash mob, go HERE. I support the preservation of the hotel -- and it's hard to believe Patti Smith doesn't as well. Here's hoping we can start a dialogue tonight and work out something amenable to all. It would be a tragic loss if we could not.

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