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Leonard Cohen immortalized on 23rd St.
Published: Thursday, November 5, 2009 2:46 PM CST
By Patrick Hedlund
The Chelsea Hotel unveiled its newest plaque to honor a distinguished guest on Fri., Oct. 23, commemorating the pioneering poet/songwriter Leonard Cohen.
Cohen, who wrote about the legendary lodge in his song “Chelsea Hotel #2,” which detailed a dalliance with the late Janis Joplin, stayed at the hotel frequently during the 1960s and ’70s.
The plaque was designed and paid for by the Leonard Cohen Forum, a joint message board hosted by two Web sites, LeonardCohenFiles.com and SpeakingCohen.com. Forum member Dick Straub coordinated the plaque’s acquisition, and conducted the dedication ceremony with Leonard’s sister, Esther Cohen.
The forum accepted donations from fans around the world to pay for the plaque. Any additional contributions were donated to the Fund for Reconciliation, Tolerance and Peace, which Cohen established to aid peace efforts in Israel and Palestine.
“There’s few things that the Chelsea Hotel owners agree on,” said hotel manager/stakeholder David Elder at the presentation, “but this one was unanimous.”
Cohen himself did not attend the event, as he was preparing for his concert that night at Madison Square Garden. The plaque’s inscription for the iconic musician, who turned 75 last month, quotes lyrics from his 1974 ode to the Chelsea, reading: “I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel…”
The plaque joins an august group of former tenants immortalized at the entrance to the W. 23rd St. landmark, including Arthur Miller, Dylan Thomas, Brendan Behan, Shirley Clarke, Thomas Wolfe and Arthur C. Clarke.