January 1st, 2006

Chris Keeley

My room is a box - it's the size of a prison cell


Cheap Rooms, and 'a Drug for Every Floor'

The Greenpoint Hotel is still listed in a few tourist guides, which promise cheap rooms and warn of the brusque if efficient staff. But few map-carrying bargain-hunters stay there these days. The hallways stink of marijuana and urine; the bathrooms - one per floor - are caked in dirt, and hot water is rare. The front desk is barricaded shut with sheets of plywood. Theft and violence are a constant threat.

"My room is a box - it's the size of a prison cell," one resident, Jaime Rodriguez, said as he stood outside a deli near the hotel recently, swaying slightly, his eyes cloudy. Mr. Rodriguez said he had lived at the Greenpoint for a decade, paying rent with disability checks. "This whole place is a prison," he said.


Most of his clothes, along with his leopard-print blanket, were lying on the roof outside his window, casualties of a late and raucous night of drinking. "I got a little out of pocket last night, man," he said, leaning out the window and examining the pile of clothes. "If I hadn't trashed my room last night, it wouldn't be too bad."

He sucked on his cigarette, pondering the chair. "I'm going to put a loveseat in here," he said, "with, like, some mosaic tiles."

Alain Delaquérière contributed reporting for this article.

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Chris Keeley

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The "Hostel" poster uses a daguerreotype image by the photographer Mark Kessell.

January 1, 2006

Not Just Another Half-Dozen Pretty, Floating Faces

SINCE the dawn of film marketing, studios have relied on posters featuring "floating heads": as many movie star faces as can be crammed onto a single page. In 1927, for instance, state-of-the-art ads for "The Jazz Singer" featured two disembodied Al Jolson heads - one in blackface, one without makeup.

Since then floating heads have become an industry cliché: the formula that once guaranteed success is now so ubiquitous that posters in that vein are nearly invisible. So what does it take to get noticed some 80 years later, especially when you're selling yet another horror film, without the luxury of big stars?



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