Einstein’s eyes?                                                                                                                        Yeah they’re still around,                                                                                                            In a jar
In a safe deposit box
Somewhere in New York.
His brain is somewhere in the vicinity too;
Not altogether in one piece admittedly;
A bacon slicer was allegedly utilised.
His wish was to be cremated
And his ashes scattered in a secret location;
But if it happened
It was minus the aforementioned parts.
‘Having his eyes means his life was not ended’
He’s not dead because I have his eyes’
So says Henry Abrams
The current keeper of those genius eyes
(though rumours are that an auction is imminent)
‘He’s not dead because I have his eyes’
How creepy is that?



God made the bucolic country

But the devil made the town

And was influential in creating Studio 54

Where some heavy shit was always going down.

Even Sodom and Gomorrah

Synonymous with all kinds of vice,

And infernos of wicked delight,

Was guaranteed a run for its money

In Manhattan’s sleazy parlour of the night

Inside this depraved cathedral

of mashed, entangled bodies,

Female cowboys consorted with defrocked nuns,

And male ballerinas dressed as randy swans

Or lady Godiva frolicked on a white horse

And the altar-piece was a glittering neon sign

Depicting the Man in the Moon snorting cocaine or worse.

Ten percent were were lesbian or transvestite

Twenty percent gay men, pumped up and popper-ed

The rest celebrities, celebrated for their bad behaviour

More than any talent they had to offer.

All came to worship at this altar of sleaze

Where they could drink, dance, drug themselves

And public sex was a jolly good wheeze

The right to seek happiness

Was pursued with a frenzy that was benighted

And Andy Warhol took pictures that he later recycled



One of the best books I have read on the theatre, and on the people who people it,
is John Osborne’s DAMN YOU ENGLAND. He doesn’t suffer fools gladly.
Surprisingly, he has plenty of time for Brendan Behan. Here he is on their first meeting;
“Brendan Behan lurched into my life early one Sunday New York morning. Pounding on my hotel
room door. ‘Is anyone in this fucking cathouse alive?’ he roared. ‘My name is Brendan Behan.
I don’t smoke, I don’t eat and I don’t fuck, but I drink. You can always tell the quality
of a country by two things;its whores and its bread. And neither of them are any fucking good here’.
Brendans life was a ballad, the wild outpouring of a pure, forgiving heart. Who is there in Ireland
or England to take up his matchless song now?


dylan thomas poet Dylan Thomas

Bob Dylan, Sid and Nancy, Leonard Cohen, Andy Warhol, Janis Joplin were among a long list of artists and musician who stayed at the Chelsea Hotel NY at one time, adding to its reputation as a decidedly bohemian enclave. Musicians and artists dominated the headlines through the 13 decades since the Chelsea’s construction in 1884. But the grand hotel-for-the-arts on New York’s West 23rd Street has inspired literary works as well, and often it was the writers who shaped the narratives on which artists working in other disciplines based their work. 

Below are a few of the writers who stayed there:

DYLAN THOMAS  “Excuse me,” Dylan Thomas apologized, following a terrible fit of coughing and retching into his rusty Chelsea hotel sink. He suffered from a medical condition, he explained. “I think it’s called cirrhosis of the liver.” The popular Welsh poet drank too heavily to produce much of literary merit during his numerous stays at the Chelsea Hotel.

BRENDAN BEHAN  Alcoholism had not only gotten the Irish playwright and novelist Brendan Behan kicked out of Algonquin and Bristol Hotels by 1963, it had also destroyed his ability to hold a pen. At the Chelsea, though, the choreographer Katherine Dunham and her dancers were able to nurse him back to health. At the Chelsea, the writer dictated Brendan Behan’s New York, a lyrical tribute to his favorite city, into a tape recorder when not singing Israeli songs with the poet Allen Ginsberg, dancing in the halls with Communist leader Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, befriending Eugene O’Neill’s ex-wife Agnes Boulton, or carrying on affairs with male and female lovers while managing visits from his long-suffering wife as well.
Learning from Roger Ebert through Brendan Behan Brendan Behan


JACK KEROUAC  It was one of those nights of “metropolitan excitements,” Kerouac wrote of the night in 1953 when he and William Burroughs encountered Gore Vidal at the San Remo bar. Already drunk with joy over the publication of Burroughs’s Junkie, the two writers eagerly incorporated Vidal into the night’s revelries. But as the drinking progressed, Burroughs peeled off–leaving Kerouac and his handsome fellow writer to muddle-headedly resolve to pay tribute to their predecessors Thomas Wolfe and Dylan Thomas by consummating their friendship at the Chelsea Hotel.

jack kerouac Jack Kerouac

THOMAS WOLFE  “The desire for it All comes from an evil gluttony in me,” confessed Thomas Wolfe, who had moved into the Chelsea on Edgar Lee Masters’s recommendation and whose rumbling, Southern-accented voice permeated the corridors as he paced the floor each night dictating scenes for a novel. To Masters, who invited Wolfe down for a nightcap occasionally, the writer seemed a force of nature, loudly decrying the changes he saw in his countrymen in the wake of the Depression. America had lost its way, Wolfe insisted.

ARTHUR MILLAR  Arthur Miller came to the Chelsea in 1962 to escape his disastrous marriage to Marilyn Monroe, but once he started writing, he found he couldn’t duck his history quite so easily. His new play, After the Fall, was meant to explore, in this post-Nazi era, the individual’s responsibility for the fate of a fellow human, but it soon became clear that Miller was also exploring his role in Monroe’s self-destruction. Even after the announcement of Monroe’s suicide, Miller denied the true identity of his play’s female protagonist.

arthur miller playwrightArthur Millar

ARTHUR C CLARKE In 1965, long-time Chelsea veteran Arthur C. Clarke checked in for a stint at the hotel, pounding out 2,000 words a day on a novel-length accompaniment to 2001: A Space Odyssey, his collaboration with filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick had tried to work with Clarke at his own office in Manhattan, but after one day’s work the writer returned to the Chelsea to draw on conversations with William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Arthur Miller and others for inspiration for his work. 

WILLIAM BOROUGHS  William Burroughs and his close friend, the Canadian artist Brion Gysin, arrived at the Chelsea Hotel in 1965 to market a new invention, the Dream Machine, a contraption consisting of a spinning paper cylinder with slitted sides and a light bulb inside whose purpose was to create a psychedelic experience for the viewer without the use of drugs. When it failed to make them rich, the pair turned to a new collaboration equally in tune with the Chelsea Hotel zeitgeist: The Third Mind, a exploration of the synergetic power of creative collaboration. 



Looking at these images reminds me of my own time in the steel/construction industry. In more than 30 years I worked variously as a welder, rigger, banksman, foreman, and sometimes all 4 at the same time. The pictures show a time when health and safety didn’t exist as a concept;there were no safety nets, hard hats, harnesses; you were your own safety officer, comon sense prevailed. And if you didn’t have any you didn’t last very long.

We had all the modern safety equipment bu t it still still didn’t prevent accidents or deaths. I remember working on the biggest construction site in Europe in the early 1980s, Aughinish Island Aluminium Extraction Plant in west Limerick, and on the first day we had to attend an induction course. We were lectured about safe working practices, and told that according to statistics x amount of workers would be injured and seven would be killed. I don’t remember how accurate the injury forecasts were, but over the course of the 4 years the complex took to build 7 workers were killed. Most were falls but a couple were hit by falling objects.

Remember, the construction site is a dangerous place. SO TAKE CARE

to purchase or read extracts from any of my books click on my Amazon page; http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tom-OBrien/e/B0034OIGOQ/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1388083522&sr=1-2-ent







Old women with polished perms on fat heads

Men tinkering with diseased cars

Dogs taking their owners to the park –

Where they converse with their friends

And crap indiscriminately.

The Postman, the Milkman and the Gasman,

Two door-to-door leaflet saleswomen

A stray cat or two

And twenty five chimney-stack pigeons.

Then there are all those aerials-

Like one-legged storks-

Looking down on the patched-up pavements.


Where have all the front gates

 Absconded to, I wonder?

Frightened away by all the leering

FOR SALE signs

Constantly peering over their shoulders?

I guess that must be it.