Monday, June 6, 2011

Did I Die and Go to Heaven? Not Yet. But I Did Stay at...

Did I die and go to Heaven? Not yet. But I did stay at the legendary Algonquin Hotel for several days just last week, mere moments before its most recent sale at 82 million smackeroos.

For a writer, member of the Robert Benchley Society, and a humorist, visiting the home of The Algonquin Round Table is akin to a holy event.

The Oak Room. The mural. Me. This is my pilgrimage to the altar of wit, brilliant repartee, sophisticated quips, and cherished literary history.

Barb Best "A Vicious Circle" by Natalie Ascencios

A display case adjacent to the elevators displays a historical collection of cultural keepsakes from The Algonquin Round Table. Included are photographs of Robert Benchley and vintage copies of some of his books.
Let us not forget Matilda, the celebrity cat whose chaise longue adorns the front lobby. She has a popular book (a biography), a Facebook page, an active Twitter account, and (I suspect) a lucrative merchandising deal. Eat your heart out, Eloise and Taco Bell Chihuahua.

I had the pleasure of meeting Matilda in The Oak Room when I was luxuriating over a lengthy, late breakfast with a writer friend. She's quite sociable (Matilda, that is).

The wallpaper upstairs in the hallways is custom made from classic New Yorker cartoons. Thurber, Arno, Steig, Addams. I never thought I'd say this, but I am in love with wallpaper.

Seeking inspiration within The Algonquin?

There is a "Writer's Block" rate at The Algonquin. Simply show a manuscript or published work to qualify.
BARB BEST is a new member of the Robert Benchley Society and in the Top Ten in the RBS Humor Writing Competition.
She is also the 2010 Erma Bombeck Global Humor Winner. Her blog is Barb's Blast.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Barb's Algonquin adventure! Fabulous! I like the Writer's Block 'rate' at the hotel. Planning to visit my old hometown soon and this time stay at the Gonk, since it figures large in my new book, rather than the less fashionable lairs that appeal to those on a slim budget, (graffiti on the walls, creatures of the night skittering along the broken wood floor) but leave one nowadays with little red souvenirs on one's back, which, thankfully I have not experienced to date.
Also, FYI to the really strapped visitor, (I mention this as a public service) it is possible to avail oneself of even more modest accommodation - the A Train's rather spartan accommodations in its nightly perambulations between Washington Heights and the Rockaways, a full round trip taking a good part of the night. As a poor student in the early '70's this was often a Saturday night emergency accommodation for me and my posse, too cheap to pay the $1 extra fare for PC's 'Night Owl Service' back to Bronxville and Concordia College. The trip is entertaining, great for people watching and reasonably secure (but I recommend keeping all one's wherewithal on one's person). There is no room service but management is very easy going, as long as you don't lie down that is, and you can't beat the price, either! Where it would fall in the Michelin guide's star rating is problematic.

FYI - (tooting my own horn here with apologies - "Blaaaat!") if anyone's interest is peaked, my new book concerning the doings (hitherto unknown) of Dorothy Parker, Benchley & Co. please check out: Time Trippers: The Nights of the Round Table on

Robert Benchley Society

For more information about the Robert Benchley Society, local chapters near you, our annual Award for Humor, and our Annual Gathering, visit The RBS Website