Friday, January 13, 2012

No Patti, No Mob

Last night, at the request of the Chelsea Hotel's tenants, Patti Smith canceled her show at the hotel. She said on her website, "My motivation was solely to serve the tenants. If this serves them better, than I am satisfied."

The hotel tenants were happy and thankful. But then people wanted to know: Was the flash mob "die-in" still on? In the lead-up to the mob, I heard someone had planned to burn Patti's memoir, and an artist in the hotel sketched her as a witch crushed beneath the hotel. That all seemed a bit extreme--would people be showing up with torches and pitchforks?


from Living with Legends

I'm not sure you can cancel a flash mob once it's been called into existence. There are no "how to" instructions online for doing so and Bill Wasik, inventor of the flash mob, offers no advice in his book on the topic, And Then There's This. Since the die-in was meant to offer support to and solidarity with the tenants in their plight to save their homes and the integrity of the Chelsea Hotel, then why not let the mob be? Concert or no concert, a die-in at the Chelsea still seemed relevant.

By 7:55 a small crowd had gathered under the Chelsea awning, watching a crew load Patti Smith's sound equipment into a van. When 8:00 came, nobody dropped dead, nobody lit a lighter, and nobody recited any song lyrics. The crowd stood there, looking around, waiting for something to happen. A handful of reporters holding notepads and long-lensed cameras waited for something to happen. Nothing did. Who wants to lie down on a cold, wet sidewalk anyway?

People walked along carrying shopping bags and checking their texts. It was just another night on 23rd Street. Except that it wasn't. The tenants had succeeded in getting their message across. The mainstream media listened--and so did Patti Smith. If the potential for a mob helped, then the potential-mob did its job.

There are still many questions to answer about the hotel's future. Rooms are still being gutted. Tenants are still fighting eviction. When will the city sit up and take notice? As hotel tenant and blogger Ed Hamilton told WNYC, "one of the things that everyone's been harping about" is "why didn't none of these celebrities who’ve lived here come to our aid."

9 comments:

JAZ said...

"why didn't none of these celebrities who’ve lived here come to our aid."

Some probably don't even know. And as for others, the sad truth is that they got what they needed out of being immersed in the great creative culture of the hotel, and the Chelsea neighborhood in general(pre-High Line), and no longer need it or feel any deep connection to the past that more than helped mold them. Lots of people among all walks of life are guilty of forgetting 'where they came from'; unfortunately actors, artists and musicians are no different.

Every day in this city it's the same shit, and my heart hurts for everyone of us who still cares.

Jeremiah Moss said...

JAZ, you said it.

EV Grieve said...

This is all just getting started. The questions. Wonder how this might impact her legacy.

Jeremiah Moss said...

definitely. i assume she is still, in her own words, "participating in the development and preservation of the
artistic cachet of the hotel."

like Ed said, why hasn't she--and other famous former guests--come to help the tenants? they are artists, already in residence. the hotel is the people, beyond the building. and the people are being washed away.

Nasruddin said...

The self-righteous and ill-informed comments I see here and elsewhere here that are critical of Patti Smith are sadly reminiscent of the infantile screeds one reads in the letter-to-the-editor sections of the tabloids.

The truth is, few artists have shown more credibility and integrity that Smith, who has consistently spoken out about injustice when others have remained silent for fear of damage to their careers. She is the opposite of a careerist, and hasn't had a manager or publicist for decades.If there is an antonym for 'sell-out', it surely has a picture of Patti next to it.

She is not naive, and I have no doubt that all she intended was to humbly create an positive atmosphere where things will work out for the best. Seeing the juvenile comments of bloggers and the pile-on of pompous anonymii underscores the dismal entitlement to resentment so prevalent everywhere today.

This is a case of no good deed goes unpunished. Ms Smith was undoubtedly trying to help with no personal gain. How can it be said she hasn't come to help the tenants? The nay-sayers would do well examine their own intentions, actions and accomplishments before lobbing their grand opinions at someone who was only trying to help and was caught in a crossfire of unfounded speculation and a rush to judgment.

Jeff said...

Peopl need to know this : Patti smith performed at the request of Gene Kaufman . She really did not and does not have any connection to Chetrit or Scheetz etc. everyone is pointed fingers and blaming Patti ... But it's Kaufman that set this ( and I believe her) up ! He arranged the whole thing ...probably white washing the whole real situation at theChelsea to Patti so that she thought that she was doing a wonderful thing by bring peace to the situation. That said ... Of course Chetrit and management knew about the Kaufman plan and were 100 % behind it thinking it would be great PR And draw attention away from the horrible situation at the Chelsea. Kaufman ( along with Chetrit,Scheetz) did this to Patti ...his friend ! Nice thing to do ....ambush a friend !

Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks Jeff. you seem to know her. do you know why she is involved with this group at all? it seems like the best thing would be to hold a fundraising concert to help the tenants pay their legal fees as they fight eviction.

jeff said...

I assume the reason why she is involved is that she truly believed that she would do some good... in that she would participate in helping artists in the future with the Hotel .. some kind of Artist in Residence mentor program. As I said before , she knows nothing of the owners personally ..I don't even think that she has met them ! and if she has , she didn't realize who the were . Kaufman is the one that set this "connection" up. Patti is a wonderful woman ..a great soul... she Im sure had know idea what was going on . And yes, some could say well it's quite obvious that their are major problems ..but you must remember it's obvious to people that are connected on a daily basis! which she is not. Look, she was mislead , that's all. She's a trusting kind heart person and sometimes people ( who say they are friends) do things for their own benefit no matter what damage and harm is caused.

jeff said...

Let me clarify my last post .
When I said "sometimes people ( who say they are friends) do things for their own benefit no matter what damage and harm is caused."
I meant Kaufman . As he caused the harm out of his own selfish reasons.