The Hotel des Artistes is gone, no longer a presence at 1 West 67th St in New York City. You cannot go there looking for a trace of Harry Crosby and Josephine Rotch Bigelow, though perhaps their impetuous spirits still lurk somewhere in the vicinity. But that’s doubtful. They are as gone as gone can be.
Eighty-five years ago today they set out for parts unknown. For Harry, there was the sun. For Josephine? There was Harry. For them both, today, in the 21st century, there is a general unimportant absence. There is the myth.
Myth and literary obscurity.
The longer ago the 1920s become, the more compelling that era grows. The Great War. Paris. The Jazz Age. Shakespeare and Company. The Black Sun Press. Ocean liners.
Perhaps it is the banality and cultural emptiness of the present that makes Harry Crosby such a fascinating and extraordinary artist. As Caresse Crosby described him, Harry was “electric with rebellion.” Despite his madness, his violence, his ridiculous demise, he LIVED. Briefly, yes, but with intensity, with enthusiasm, with certainty.