This weekend, the East Village celebrated the Grand Opening of another TD Bank -- on the sacred ground that once held Mars Bar.
With free coffee and cookies, games to play and raffles to win, the energetic TD Bank people flanked the sidewalk in suits and ties, accompanied by a green-faced, wedge-shaped mascot who waved his mitts and thrust his pelvis in a delirious attempt to attract new recruits. It's all part of TD's aggressive expansion throughout the city.
"Win prizes!" the bank people called as East Villagers walked by, some of them stopping for cookies. "Take a chance! You know you want to!"
Inside, a bored-looking DJ in a TD Bank polo shirt played watered-down versions of 1980s punk and New Wave classics.
If you stand on the spot where the long wooden bar used to be -- at the front by the windows where the sunlight used to ooze in through smeared and graffiti-covered glass -- if you stand there, with your back against the ghost of the bar, and look out at what had been the Mars Bar view, you will be faced with a phalanx of ATMs.
Three clones in a row, extruded from some multinational design, with their bellies full of bills, like slot machines they wait for their buttons to be pressed.
No one is telling stories or cracking jokes. No one is slapping art on the walls. And the yeasty smell of beer has been replaced by new carpets, slowly off-gassing their volatile organic compounds.
Vivienne Gucwa, flickr