Joe, Casebeer & Tosh booked their room back in April before the despicable hostile takeover of the hotel. In other words, the reason they wanted to come to the hotel was for the Bard family and the Chelsea Hotel family, not for the 99 cent Internet room specials that BD is promoting to drive up the short-term occupancy rate. When they found out about the take over they didn’t know whether to come to the hotel or not because they certainly didn’t want to be seen as supporting BD in any way. They decided to come on anyway and show their support for the Bards. Since they are peaceful folks torches and pitchforks were out of the question. These great tee-shirts are what they came up with.Leave it to the Chelsea tourists to find a creative solution. (Some residents may recognize this family as they lived here at the Hotel in 2000 & 2001. Joe is a musician and Casebeer is a painter. Be sure to welcome them home.)
(Photo: Tosh, Casebeer & Joe check in to the Hotel wearing their "Bring Back the Bards" tee-shirts designed by Casebeer. Click through to read their fascinating story!)
Why did you decide to move into the Chelsea?
I'm not sure it was an actual decision. Is obsession a decision? I do know it happened--whatever it was--when we were staying at the Chelsea for the first time while Joe was in New York performing at Lincoln Center. What was it? I don't know. But it was a remarkable feeling. We went back to Thomas Wolfe's room after trespassing on the rooftop gardens and I carved our names in the windowsill outside the kitchen. The obsession was ferocious. We returned to Arizona, and our two small children, and I spent an inordinate amount of the next 10 months writing the hotel tormented love letters. " Dear Hotel Chelsea...". (I suppose this should be a little embarrassing). Anyway, even Joe, who is much more sensible than I, didn't object to the love letters. I suppose he was as afflicted with it as I was. On the more reasonable side of things, I wrote actual hotel residents with requests for a sublets.
How did you score your apartment?
I love this question. There's a novel in every score. We lived in two different apartments while, one of which we had twice. We were in 1024, then 324, then 1024 again. I will not go into the long version, but it was tricky:
One day a response came back to my crazy love letters and requests. It was from a resident in 1024, a man we'd met in the lobby on a visit. A man who shall remain nameless for good reasons. His apartment was available for six weeks So we sold our car and left Arizona for the Chelsea. This was our entire plan. We thought, very foolishly, that our having those 6 weeks in the Chelsea would get us our own place there, that by being connected to someone in the hotel would improve our chances with Stanley. We had no money, so we had to operate on serendipity. The problem was Stanley didn't like this man who had illegally subleased the apartment to us, and as we were later to understand, the guy owed him an extraordinary amount of back rent, even by Chelsea standards. We came, by association, to be seen by Stanley as probable assholes. And so he poo-pooed us every time we asked him for our own apartment. This went on for weeks, and distressed us all greatly. And then our son, Tosh, who was taking even more personally than us, had this big sad cry in the lobby about how Stanley didn't like us, wouldn't let us live there. It was this, perhaps, that changed Stanley's mind. Three days before the man 1024 was to reclaim his apartment, leaving us with no plan B, Stanley changed his answer. We signed a lease-like paper, seemingly from 1959, with only the names "Casbeer and Joe" on it, and a line that asked for our bank account number (but not the bank). Robert handed us the little green key to 324, and said, "You'll never leave". The four of us lived in that long single room that was at that time green walls, green carpet, green ceiling, for the first six months. Our arrangements were so tight that Joe played his harp guitar in the hallway and started recording the album Troubled Notes from the Hotel Chelsea and various sonic things you find at the Chelsea, in the stairwell and the hallways and the elevator and in the lobby (it was still marked "LOOBY" at that time). Eventually, strangely, we did end up back in 1024 and started getting extraordinarily behind on the rent ourselves. We were much better regarded by Stanley, and the residents, once we were thousands behind on the rent. We left, broke and heartbroken from the events of that September, owing more money than was ever going to be feasible to catch up on, in late October 2001. Stanley said, "You'll get some rest. You'll make some art. You'll come back." Only at the Chelsea. Stanley sold a piece I painted in 324 (that I left in the stairwell) to someone in the hotel to settle our bill. Perfect.
Editors note: You can't buy and sale this kind of loyalty! Here's the painting and Casbeer would love to know who bought it.