I was never afraid of elevators until I rode in the elevators at the Regency Hotel. There are three of them, equally spooky, lit with bare white fluorescent bulbs. Carved swastikas and gang symbols scar the wood-paneled walls. The emergency-phone compartments hold dangling wires, pistachio shells, cigarette butts, scorched pizza crusts and broken crack pipes. Some floor buttons are missing, and many of the rest don't light up when pressed. When the elevators ascend, they squeak and rattle and creep along, as if they are being pulled up by hundreds of chinchillas running on treadmills. Going down is worse. Much worse. Going down, the elevators don't rattle and squeak -- they shudder and groan as the lights flicker. And they are prone to sudden, blood-chilling plunges, like small planes hitting air pockets in... More >>>