Over the next four weeks, OutsideLeft will unveil excerpts of Joe Ambrose's forthcoming book, "Chelsea Hotel Manhattan." Websites and publishers usually charge a fee for this kind of stuff, but you're getting a first look for free. You may know Joe by his OutsideLeft column, "Moshpit," or his published books "Serious Time," "Too Much Too Soon" or "Gimme Danger" - all which can be found on Amazon.com. That's right friends, we have a published author in our midst and we're lucky to have him. So here's a preview before it goes to press: "Chelsea Hotel Manhattan."
Lydia Ambler - a.k.a. The Duchess - is a great lady, or so it seems to me. I find her friendly in bed, none too demanding, and she always smells sexy. I guess she must be about fifty two, based on what she says en passant and old photographs on her wall.
"My first boyfriend when I moved in here," she tells me over toast and cheese the morning after our first night, "was the very sort of German you don't ever want to meet. Not a blue eye, a blonde hair, or a wild idea in sight. Don't ask me how Emil ended up in the Chelsea. Some sort of hapless accident or maybe it was just that rooms here were cheap then and he liked cheap, he sure liked cheap. He was a geographer of all things, here in town on some sort of exchange programme. Some New Yorker was stranded over in Freiburg or some such hellhole so this asshole could be holed up in Manhattan. Emil liked pizza - that was just about the only human thing about him. He used to pronounce it like "Pete sez." So it'd be like "Hey, vhy don'twe order some pete sez." When he crawled like a snake back to Germany I took over his room."
She was gradually brought into the drug business by one Rudolf Dimitrios, bastard son of a phoney from Germany and a Turkish whore who reared him well and educated him well using funds provided by his father. Shortly after meeting The Duchess he sniffed out the lie of the land at the Chelsea and moved in, only it wasn't entirely to his taste. Either you like this type of thing or you don't.
According to The Duchess, Dimitrios doesn't have a bohemian bone in his body. "He is just a content, pudgy, little Turkish man who likes making money like some guy with a corner shop likes it or some asshole with a painting and decorating business likes it." she says. "He was just getting established here in America himself at that time so the Chelsea suited him fine as a launching pad. Later he rented this damn palace out in New Jersey where he lived in great style with a supposed wife."
"I first met Dimitrios in this cheap Polish cafe where I ate every evening in those days. I guess I was still on a sort of European circuit then. You know? When you move to a great city and you're still hanging out with people from whatever provincial shithole you originated in. For me it was Porto in Portugal, which, in all honesty, is not a bad place. I hadn't a pot to piss in so I was staying with my older sister. She had a room about the size of the toilet here on Avenue C and she worked as a PA for the CEO of some aerospace scam. This was the time of Richard Nixon. I'm not too sure of the year but Nixon was in trouble and the talk of the town. The Polish cafe, I forget the name, Marek's I think, was a great place for leftish Europeans and Jews, fairies and crims. Un-nice unacceptable to polite society. I was as crooked as they come, even then, having studied art in Porto for two years. I guess you have bent written all over your face if you're bent. And it takes one to know one. So Dimitrios saw me for what I was. By the time I'd moved in here with Emil I could navigate my way around town drug-wise and petty crime-wise. When Dimitrios heard I was living here he knew instinctively that I was where the action was so I started shifting a little junk around the corridors."
Continued tomorrow on March 26, 2005.../p>
Joe Ambrose has written 14 books, including Chelsea Hotel Manhattan and The Fenian Reader. Joe is currently working on his next book, Look at Us Now - The Life and Death of Muammar Ghadaffi, which is an expanded version of a story first published in the anthology CUT UP! Visit Joe's website for all the latest info: JoeAmbrose.co.uk.