Artsy denizens of the embattled Chelsea Hotel turned out en masse to the not-so-bohemian Barnes & Noble on Sixth Avenue and 21st Street last night, as fellow hotel inhabitant Ed Hamilton read passages from his new book, Legends of the Chelsea Hotel.
"It’s good he decided to dress up," one attendee joked as Mr. Hamilton took the podium dressed in jeans, a button-up shirt, and a blue baseball cap bearing the logo of a recent New York blogger summit. (Mr. Hamilton also operates a hotel-centric blog called Living With Legends.)
Painter Hawk Alfredson and photographer Mia Hanson (who’s also pictured in the book) were among those present.
Before delving into the text, Mr. Hamilton waxed nostaglic for the hotel’s old junky-friendly vibe and bemoaned its becoming "more and more of a fancy boutique hotel."
He described the book as part fact, part fiction. During the reading, Mr. Hamilton pulled from two chapters—"scary stories for Halloween," he said—one involving a druggie Dead-head zombie reanimated on the hotel’s rooftop and another describing a seemingly personal encounter with the purported ghost of writer (and former Room 829 resident) Thomas Wolfe during the 2003 blackout:
"[A] large, hulking man," Mr. Hamilton described the phantom. "His broad back curved over a drafting table where an array of papers was spread out before him. He seemed to be working on some sort of outline… The man was wearing a starched white shirt, and the papers were white, which added to the brilliance of the scene."
Later, as the author autographed copies, this reporter asked him how much of the Wolfe ghost story was true.
"Well, it didn’t happen during the blackout," Mr. Hamilton said. And, he added, "I don’t know if it was him."