I decided this would be a good time to give old Stan some crap and see if I could thoroughly disrupt his bean counting trance.
I strolled up to the counter doing my best "John Wayne just rode a horse for 32 hours and my ass is sore" walk, firmly planted my elbows on the old wood counter, and started to poke.
I said "Stan, when you gonna get rid of those crappy old boxes behind the counter and get us some nice shiny secure ones, so that when my transvestite neighbor gets an envelope of anthrax delivered to him, it doesn't creep it's way around that decrepid hole and infect my latest MENSA certificate?"
Mr. Bardenboar looked at me with what I can only describe as contempt mixed with a kitten dipped in hot sauce. He slowly removed his glasses and let them dangle from thier chain (in an obvious attempt to hypnotise me), placed his pen in his 90 year old ledger book so as not to lose his place, licked his lips and and began to speak with the fervor of a Pentecostal in a television store.
"Son, do you have any idea how long these mailboxes have been here?"
"Do you have any idea who's mail these mailboxes have held?"
"Some of the worlds greatest poets, artists, writers, and musicians have gotten their paychecks, letters from sweethearts, girly magazines, and even Christmas cards here."
"Let me ask you something Mykal, if these mailboxes were good enough for... (he now recited the entire list of famous residents from the 1800's to today, that he recited to me at least a hundred times before, including one time when I complained about a backed up toilet)".. and finished with "then why aren't they good enough for you?"
At this point, I couldn't keep a straight face any longer, and began to crack a smile, I think he started to realize that once again, i was just trying to get the old guy riled up for our entertainment. I had to admit, that on my very first trip to the hotel, the first thing I wanted to see was the old mailboxes, that epitomized the interior of the Chelsea to me.
This seemed to dismiss myself in the old mans eyes as he turned back to his book, and started to raise his specs back to his face. Before he got them all the way up, I stopped him in his tracks and said: "Hey Stan, when you gonna gut room 211, you know the one where that Zimmerman guy stayed, it looks all crapped up since that weirdo painted it all green and blue, can't you tear it out and put some shiny paneling in there?"
At this point I think he caught on that I was trying to kidnap his proverbial goat, he placed his finger in the air as if to silence the words before they left my tongue.
"Skall, I know the room isn't like Mr. Dylan left it, it's had a few coats of paint, and a few other people over the years, but it'll be a cold day in Hell's Kitchen when I ever have that room gutted."
"See, those coats of paint, and those people, are what makes the Chelsea Hotel what it is, no, not all of our floor tile matches, and every room is different, each one holds a piece of the person that stays there, and pieces of all the poeple before them, to gut that room would be like turning your back on the history of this place, and a dishonor to all of those people."
"You want a cookie cutter hotel where all the rooms look the same, and all the people act "normal"? Go down to the Holiday Inn, and ask them in which room was Blonde On Blonde written."
"But you already know that don't you Skall?"
"That's why you're here."
"Now leave me alone and go play with your poet friends."
"And while you're at it, why don't you pay your rent you deadbeat?"
We smiled in synchronicity, as he replaced his glasses, and turned back to writing in his ledger, without missing a beat.
I love that old man.
(Room 211 is now open for viewing in the Virtual Chelsea Hotel, unfortunately the only photos I had to work from were the ones showing the wanton destruction of this great piece of American history. Please visit www.hotelchelseablog.com for the story of the destruction of Bob Dylan's room.)