Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mars Creamed

Back in April, the Hamptons boutique Blue & Cream mounted a "Tribute to Mars Bar" photo exhibit in their Bowery location. Locals were appalled. I wrote about it then, but dared not venture inside for fear of coming out with post-traumatic stress disorder. Well, the exhibit is still up, and I couldn't help myself.



Above racks hawking $600 dresses and $1,000 shoes, the ghosts of the old dive bar hang like trophies on a hunter's wall. The faces of barflies look back at shoppers from vanished stools, like the faces of the old Bowery, recalling Skid Row's down and outs--today washed away by the luxury Bowery Tsunami. Where did all those people go?

At their feet, the price tags on designer leather jackets flutter ($1,350). The color of the leather? Cognac.



At the cash register there's a pile of postcards for the taking. On the front, Blue & Cream has chosen to showcase one of Mars Bar's last murals. The words "The East Village Is Dead" are drenched in blood and flanked by images of its killers. In this space, it feels like a victory flag.

The fellow on the right looks like he shops at this very boutique. Isn't that him, across the room, fingering the fabric of a $285 Pique Polo (perfect with its collar popped)?


front of card

On the back of the card, the boutique informs us that the iconic bar was brought down by a condo developer's wrecking ball.

You cannot make up irony as cruel as this.


back of card

18 comments:

Ms. said...

"THEY PAVED PARADISE, PUT UP A PARKING LOT--TOOK ALL THE TREES PUR 'EM IN A TREE MUSEUM--DON'T IT ALWAYS SEEM TO GO, YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU GOT TILL IT'S GONE..." Joni Mitchell

Anonymous said...

The Blue & Cream logo on the back of the card couldn't be more appropriate: a skull with two crossed tennis rackets in place of bones.

Seriously, what-a-bunch-of-ASSHOLES!

Anonymous said...

More proof that the interlopers haven't got a fucking clue!

Marty Wombacher said...

I just threw up...a lot.

JAZ said...

Can't imagine something more ridiculous than Blue & Cream of The Hamptons having a postcard with The East Village Is Dead mural. This all has to be one sick joke, right? Because when I think of places where the popped collar frat boys giving the "FUCKIN A, BRO!" high five, and the Buddy Holly glasses wearing scenesters on trust funded urban adventure would shop in the EV, Blue & Cream is one of the likely suspects.

I wonder if Blue & Cream ever gets together with Varvatos to admire each other's hunting trophies.

shiborigirl said...

no it can't. and leads me to wonder what hollow (not hallowed) haunts will be left to look back on by the folks who only temporarily have taken residence here.

Anonymous said...

Sad, they don't even see what they've done.

Goggla said...

I know a couple of the people in those photos...and the artist who did the mural. Did B&C get their permission to use their portraits and artwork?

laura said...

this is not unique. when developers barge in, they take what was there before (if it is interesting) & use it. its always some watered down version of the real thing. i kind of like the photos i saw, & they do look nice on the walls. hip sells for upscale. remember soho? later it became a place to buy postcards, & a retail center. & some cheesy corporate galleries moved in. the other thing thats happening (world wide) are developers going to traditional places in the 3rd world. taking the land, building hotels & condos, or walmarts & apt buildings. then using the displaced people as cheap help (its called "job creation"). these people had their own businesses, like selling chickens, or a vegetable store & lived upstairs. after developers stole the land, they let some people sell crafts outside as a tourist attraction. really sad, as they are selling in a parking lot. it seems nothing is "real" anymore. everything becomes a side show. i never heard of mars bar prior to this blog, & its the last place i would ever go. but the building was falling apart, you cant expect it to last for ever. would have been nice to have a more useful store.

laura said...

goggla, its an art show. it is legal to exibit anything they choose too. they can NOT however use it in an advertisment, unless they get a release form the artist or the models. payment arrangement is between the artist & the client. i think your taking this minor thing too far.

JAZ said...

@laura - maybe I am misinterpreting what you are saying, and if so please correct me, but are you stating that it's too bad that the spot on 2nd Ave & East 1st wasn't a 'more useful store'? If this was your point, then I think you are seriously underrating the importance a bar has to a community as a place where people can vent, meet new people, forget their troubles for a few hours and after a few drinks, listen to stories from interesting people in a setting where everyone's hair is down a bit, exchange local news, catch up with old friends, listen to music, and just have a few laughs in a world where a few laughs are pretty hard to come by. Some of the best friends I have ever met were people I met at bars. Just because these things can't be measured in a material sense does not mean that they are not more useful to someone's peace of mind than the items on the shelf of some store.

One of the most effective ways to rip the heart out of a community's character is to have a long standing bar get shut down. The fact that this one was another victim of hyper-gentrification of the most unnatural sense just makes the wound more sensitive - and these displays by the very forces that destroyed it are just the purest form of adding insult to injury.

Goggla said...

@laura - as a regular customer of Mars, and as someone who took a lot of pictures there, I know many people in there who would *not* be happy to know their photos are on this wall. I usually asked people permission if I could take their photo and I would never use them as an art show unless I had their permission and gave credit. Maybe it's totally legal, but I just feel uncomfortable about it, especially in this context.

@JAZ - you're spot on. I feel like I've lost a family.

onemorefoldedsunset said...

Ugh.
Everything is ripe for commercial pillage ... a bar, a neighborhood, a city.
A friend of mine saw his house in Absolut Brooklyn (hah)ads - plastered all over the subways. Perfectly legal.

laura said...

goggla, re read the post. i said the building was crumbling, it would not be there forever. then i said too bad it "wasnt be a more useful store". should read: too bad "the replacement IS not a more useful store". it wasnt clear. if they are going to demolish crumbling buildings (i understand that structure was on its last legs), it would be nice to have something practical. there are too many retail outlets. since people still live there, as its residential (rich yes middle class? & lower? whats the demographic now)?, i can think of many things the area needs. (rather than more clothes). as for the people in the photo, its called "journalism". i would always get releases when i started to take photos, as i was published in magazines-& the people posed for me privately. (i doute your friends care of their names are mentioned, since they hate the place, & dont belong there). later over the years i stopped the signed release forms. @least the boutique choose nice decorations for the walls. it is respectful these days to ask permission, w/the internet & all the youtube posting.

laura said...

jeremiah most of my last comment tonight, was responding to JAZ. sorry i misdirected to goggla. but the last part about the photos was for her. sorry i put both of them together! & J i hope my comment went thru & was published. its important as i was misinterpreted.

randall said...

It's like the conquering army placing the heads of its vanquished on pikes.

everettsville said...

JAZ, your description of a good bar as "a place where people can vent, meet new people, forget their troubles for a few hours and after a few drinks, listen to stories from interesting people in a setting where everyone's hair is down a bit, exchange local news, catch up with old friends, listen to music, and just have a few laughs in a world where a few laughs are pretty hard to come by" is poetic and strikes a chord.

For me personally, Mars Bar felt a little too hard-core and I never went in (hats off, Goggla) but it gave me some pleasure to know that it existed and that I COULD go in if I wanted to.

Those places you describe seem to be harder to come by in this city now. A current description would have to include wall-to-wall flatscreens and people yelling at the top of their lungs to hear each other.

Oh, and no dancing or smoking, please, as "you let your hair down."

Katrink said...

Despicable.