Tuesday, November 1, 2011

In the Martian Scaffold

With the scaffolding gone up around 9 Second Avenue and Mars Bar, a miserable sight in blue plywood, we can just glimpse the last Martian mural in bits of color.

There's the sign through the gaps that says we will all be missed. It waits to be turned to rubble and dust. There is no life left here.

Or is there?

Further down, a man has finagled his way through the plywood. Doors open onto his makeshift shop against the dripping walls--wobbly surfaces laden with ancient comic books, monster magazines, cassettes, and video tapes (Desperately Seeking Susan). There are shoes and shirts, packs of underwear, blue jeans, and bags. There are record albums (Abbott & Costello, Who's On First?) and miscellaneous tchotchkes.

An art brut painting of a nude woman, modestly missing her genitals, is tucked back in the corner, away from passing eyes.

It feels like a scene out of the old East Village, and I think: Only this building, in its death throes, could spawn such a thing.

On the table, a TIME magazine declares the death of JFK, Jr., inspiring the peddler to talk about John F. Kennedy Senior, and the "fucking bastards" that killed him, with all the passion of 1963, as if the assassination just happened.

A young man comes in and asks, "What size are those shoes?" The peddler looks at the young man's feet, sizes them up, and answers, "Those shoes are too big for you!" The young man runs away.

Another man comes to offer a stack of records, and while the two are conducting their business, I take a peek down the inside of the scaffolding. It's a miserable corridor, not much to see, just the refuse of a lost world, closed gates on what had been something simple and important.

For a moment I find myself hoping that the developers run out of money, that the project will stall and the scaffolding will turn into a weekend flea market, a thieves' market and hobo squat, a weird slice of our old world. But that's just wishful thinking.

Also read:
Wu Tang at 7 1/2
7 1/2 Sills
9 Second Avenue
The Loss of Mars
Before Mars Bar


cityofstrangers said...

Fascinating, I'll have to go down and have a look. Amazing what life grows up in the cracks when a place is abandoned in a city as crowded as Manhattan. Yes indeed - what would take root there if development was halted for a year or more? Here in this corner of Brooklyn, no such life took root. Aside from the odd squatter, the empty, half-built condos remained just that - empty.


Ken Mac said...

I never thought I would see THIS. For some reason I thought Mars Bar was immune. That somehow it would remain. What the F....was I thinking?
The other night I had a date with a Wall Street attorney (don't ask me why, just horny I guess). As usual I couldn't stop myself, started ranting as we walked past Mars Bar location to the Bowery. She looked the other way as I moaned about loss, gentrification, blindness, NYC history. She just didn't get it.

Marty Wombacher said...

Nice slice of life post. Great observations, as always.

BabyDave said...

That’s an inspired post. I initially mistook it for fiction, so evocative – almost dreamily so – is the description.
Must have a look – and snag that copy of “Desperately Seeking Susan” for a peek at Love Saves the Day.

Laura Goggin Photography said...

I had the best Halloween ever at Mars in 2010. We knew nothing of what was to come. Last night, a year later, I walked by and was so saddened to see the once wild and lively corner absolutely dark and silent.

I'm hoping some good graffiti comes along...

Anonymous said...

thieves market, hobo squat, and east village pee mecca. yes I said mecca, so don't be offended