by Mike Errico, 12/29/2010
Photo: Alexander Thompson
There are still traces of an earlier, grittier era in Chelsea, when artists stayed here not because it was hip but because it was cheap. Chelsea postcards generally include the iconic, mostly functional sign for the Chelsea Hotel, where Bob Dylan wrote, Jaco Pastorius flopped and Dylan Thomas spent his final days. The entryway is decorated with plaques commemorating the many artistic milestones the hotel has hosted, and the lobby alone is worth the trip to see artwork from past patrons (some allegedly "donated" to the building in lieu of payment). Next to the hotel is Chelsea Guitars, a sliver of a store that is packed to the ceiling with vintage guitars and mics that are so stunning, there is a side business renting them out as props to film studios. Further west, there's Alan's Alley Video, voted 2009's "Best Remaining Video/DVD Store" by The Village Voice, where a haphazard filing system is easily navigated by a famously friendly and knowledgeable staff. It's easy to walk in for a copy of Hannah and Her Sisters and end up spending an hour petting the store's cat and discussing Woody Allen's place in film history.