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Inside the Dream Palace: The Life and Times of New York's Legendary Chelsea Hotelby Sherill Tippins
Synopses & Reviews
Winner of the Marfield Prize, National Award for Arts Writing
andldquo;Tippins tells riveting stories about the Chelseaandrsquo;s artists, but she also captures a much grander, and more pressing, narrative: that of the ongoing battle between art and capitalism in the city.andrdquo; andmdash; The New Yorker
Since its founding by a utopian-minded French architect in 1884, New Yorkandrsquo;s Chelsea Hotel has been a hotbed of artistic invention and inspiration. Cultural luminaries from Bob Dylan to Sid Vicious, Thomas Wolfe to Andy Warhol, Dylan Thomas to Dee Dee Ramone andmdash; all made the Chelsea the largest and longest-lived artistsandrsquo; community in the world. Inside the Dream Palace tells the hotelandrsquo;s story, from its earliest days as a cooperative community, through its pop art, rock-and-roll, and punk periods, to its present transformation under new ownership. By exploring what it takes to maintain a creative community and how artists have enhanced and informed New York City life, Tippins, author of the acclaimed February House, delivers a lively and masterly history of the Chelsea and those who cohabitated there.
andquot;Not only essential to the understanding of this crucial New York City andmdash; and therefore American andmdash; cultural landmark, but as majestic and populous as the edifice itself, and completely entertaining.andquot; andmdash; Daniel Menaker, author of My Mistake
andldquo;With her lively Inside the Dream Palace, literary biographer Sherill Tippins succeeds where other historians studying New York landmarks have failed: She understands that even the most splendid buildings are mere settings for the personalities that inhabit them, and wisely bypasses rote chronology for the vigor of cultural excavation . . . The Chelsea Hotel may face an uncertain future, but Tippinsandrsquo;s enchanting book guarantees its renown for generations to come.andrdquo; andmdash; Time Out New York
The history of New York's legendary Chelsea Hotel,and#160;whereand#160;artists of all stripes, legends themselves,and#160;have lived and loved and workedand#160;for more thanand#160;a century.
February House is the uncovered story of an extraordinary experiment in communal living, one involving young but already iconic writers — and the country's best-known burlesque performer — in a house at 7 Middagh Street in Brooklyn during 1940 and 1941. It was a fevered yearlong party fueled by the appetites of youth and by the shared sense of urgency to take action as artists in the months before America entered the war.
In spite of the sheer intensity of life at 7 Middagh, the house was for its residents a creative crucible. Carson McCullers's two masterpieces, The Member of the Wedding and The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, were born, bibulously, in Brooklyn. Gypsy Rose Lee, workmanlike by day, party girl by night, wrote her book The G-String Murders in her Middagh Street bedroom. Auden — who along with Britten was being excoriated at home in England for absenting himself from the war — presided over the house like a peevish auntie, collecting rent money and dispensing romantic advice. And yet all the while he was composing some of the most important work of his career.
Sherill Tippins's February House, enlivened by primary sources and an unforgettable story, masterfully recreates daily life at the most fertile and improbable live-in salon of the twentieth century.
The next best thing to having a room key to the Chelsea Hotel during each of its famousand#8212;and infamousand#8212;decades
The Chelsea Hotel, since its founding by a visionary French architect in 1884, has been an icon of American invention: a cultural dynamo and haven for the counterculture, all in one astonishing building. Sherill Tippins, author of the acclaimed February House, delivers a masterful and endlessly entertaining history of the Chelsea and of the successive generations of artists who have cohabited and created there, among them John Sloan, Edgar Lee Masters, Thomas Wolfe, Dylan Thomas, Arthur Miller, Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe, Andy Warhol, Sam Shepard, Sid Vicious, and Dee Dee Ramone. Now as legendary as the artists it has housed and the countless creative collaborations it has sparked, the Chelsea has always stood as a mystery as well: Why and how did this hotel become the largest and longest-lived artistsand#8217; community in the known world? Inside the Dream Palace is the intimate and definitive story.
Today the Chelsea stands poised in limbo between two futures: Will this symbol of New York's artistic invention be converted to a profit-driven business catering to the top one percent? Or will the Chelsea be given a rebirth through painstaking effort by the community that loves it? Set against these two competing possibilities, Inside the Dream Palace could not be more fascinating or timely.
About the Author
SHERILLandnbsp;TIPPINSandnbsp;is the author of February House: The Story of W. H. Auden, Carson McCullers, Jane and Paul Bowles, Benjamin Britten and Gypsy Rose Lee Under One Roof in Wartime America. She lives in New York City.
Table of Contents
The Chelsea Associationand#8195;1
The Coast of Bohemiaand#8195;33
Four Saints in Three Actsand#8195;57
After the Falland#8195;136
A Strange Dreamand#8195;171
Epilogue: Second Lifeand#8195;341
Appendix: Cost Equivalenciesand#8195;349
Authorand#8217;s Note and Acknowledgmentsand#8195;353
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