Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Blue & Cream on Mars

Tonight, the upscale Bowery (via the Hamptons) boutique Blue & Cream will be hosting a "Tribute to Mars Bar" photo exhibit. Says the press release:

"Photographer and native New Yorker, Debby Hymowitz, has captured the essence of this gritty and martyred establishment through her brilliant photos that will help carry on the Mars Bar essence, just as it should be remembered. After all, this is Blue & Cream’s neighborhood."

photo: Debby Hymowitz, Blue & Cream site

Back in 2010, when the bar was still standing, Blue & Cream's back to the Bowery lookbook described how the photographer "envisioned how a girl who has everything one could want in her wardrobe would dress when confined to this local dive bar."

The writing was already on the wall--authentrification at its height.

photo: Debby Hymowitz, Blue & Cream site

Of course, we have a thorough understanding of how the forces that birthed Blue & Cream on the Bowery--the forces that turned CBGB into a John Varvatos boutique and disgorged the Avalons complete with Whole Foods--also led to the recent death of Mars Bar.

From the Marc Jacobsian front on Bleecker to the Great Wall of Highline to the bloody Battle of the Bowery, we're in a culture war and our side is not winning.

photo: Debby Hymowitz, Blue & Cream site

The news of this event, buzzing across the blogosphere this week from Gothamist to Racked, has made more than one observer express the wish that the real Mars Bar regulars would show up at tonight's opening--to do what they do best.

But I have to wonder: Wouldn't the presence of Mars Bar regulars only feed the authenticity hunger of the New Bowery? It reminds me of Derelicte, the too-true satire from the movie Zoolander.

We see this all over the New Bowery, where flophouses become trendy boutique hotels, complete with homeless men included. Where tenement laundry lines become selling points for luxury hotel views. Where "Bowery" has become a luxury brand. Somehow, alcoholism, marginalization, and poverty have become hip to exploit.

As Mugatu says in Zoolander, it's "the future of fashion."

Everettsville: Looking east along 1st St. in 2002

Same view today: Chase and Blue & Cream

Also read:
About "authentrification" and the Bowery
The Loss of Mars
Bowery Tsunami
Varvatos Reimagined


Anonymous said...

Jesus wept.

Uncle Waltie said...

I just commented on another blog about the same topic: I'm elated that I now can view MB pictures while shopping for a couple of 220 dollar t-shirts. They'll go well with my 600 dollar khakis.

abrod said...

When news first broke about this photo exhibit I thought it'd at least be an actual exhibit, however misguided.... but this is just shameless, calling it an exhibit but actually using it as an advertisement for their clothes. It's disgusting, and above all shows a marked lack of respect for their own customers. (Nevermind that their customers are likely of the more-money-than-taste variety, but still.)

Casey said...

Gag. I just watched ON THE BOWERY for the first time last night, so it's appropriate that you posted this today. I HATE these photos; your analogy of the victor displaying its victim's head on a stick is brilliant.

Anonymous said...

A similar moment was NYU's recent display of objects they found while destroying the Edgar Alan Poe house on W 3rd St. I walked by recently and saw these ancient vases and bottles. They were arranged in the front window of the historical house, as if to say, "Here's some cool stuff we found when we destroyed some local history!"

esquared™ said... I think they've been consuming too much orange mocha frappucino. Will they be serving that too for tonight's "tribute". Blue and cream this...

Such a slap on the face, man. These are the same people who would've never stepped foot in Mars Bar and/or the old Bowery/EV.


Then again, no different than when the pilgrims held a tribute dinner for the natives after stealing their lands.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ms. said...

A poet friend, and long time East Village resident turned me on to your excellent blog recently, and I can only echo the thoughts of others commenting here. Isn't this the oldest story in the world? To the victors go the spoils as the vanquished become fodder for their designs. I can't turn a corner on any week, but find another disappearance, another replacement irrelevant to those of us who've lived here for decades. Dust to dust. They too will go the way of progress when their time comes. Meanwhile, just the courage to continue within the ruins. Keep documenting. You are the future's historian.

Anonymous said...

The whole idea of the swank-o-bots co-opting the 'authenticity' of the Bowery reminds me of 'The Regular Guy Look' in the Rodney Dangerfield movie 'Easy Money'.

I don't think this a culture war at all, it's a culture TAKE-OVER. The old is being bulldozed by the new under the guise of 'progress' and capitalism. Two philosphies that don't get challenged much because they're 'good things'.

I love this blog, but let's not pretend that there's a battle going on here. It's over. As hard as it is to believe, the city is over. I never thought a place as strong as NYC would succumb to something like this, but it's happening and it's just evidence of a broader event happening in popular culture and American society in general. For lack of a better term people DON'T CARE anymore. They're more interested in becoming consumer slaves than anything else and the culture of the city reflects that.

As Patti Smith said 'find another city'...that is, if you can.

Marty Wombacher said...

This is really disgusting and it's hijacking Mars Bar to sell overpriced clothing. Skip this and go see the Jonas Mekas film this weekend at The Anthology Film Archives instead.

Laura Goggin Photography said...

@abrod - I expected the same thing and was disappointed to see this is just another ad. The Drew Barrymore photoshoot had more integrity.

Seth Gordon said...

Hahahaha... I mean, really.

Unless there's pee and stale beer residue on those photos, they're not really capturing the essence of anything...

Why - WHY are the B&C people even attempting to act as though they "get" the neighborhood? The actual old neighborhood people don't shop there - couldn't shop there, to be frank. No one who actually cares about Mars Bar would ever be in B&C to begin with. So why to they attempt to glom on to it, as if they missed it too?

I came up with a formal definition that I think works:

authentrification [aw-then-tri-fi-kay-shuhn]

1. the purchase and repurposing of homes and businesses in lower- and middle-income (generally urban) neighborhoods by upper-income individuals or businesses, and decorating them with remnants of the previous tenants and neighborhood in a misguided attempt to look as though they are celebrating the neighborhood's former unique character rather than having taken part in destroying it.

Dave - Everywhere said...

I am getting the sense that I have outlived my time. I had this sense in my 20's that as I got older, the world wwould become more substantial - deeper, more serious, concerned with function over form.

Obviously, this was a delusion and we are clearly headed in exactly the other direction.

Jeremiah Moss said...

can anyone go to this event tonight, take pics and write up a report or some notes? i can't make it.

JAZ said...


You nailed it - this is exactly the victor displaying the head on a stick; Authentrification in it's purest form - merely a downtown version of the museum peep booth all cleaned up and behind the cage - safe for the people responsible for domesticating it to peer at safely while commenting on how 'authentic' it looks. This is so sickening. I can just see these people patting themselves on the back for 'maintaining the vibe' at their next rooftop organic hummus and kale extravaganza.

The fact that their press release felt the need to pathetically point out that their photographer is a native New Yorker just shows how out of place they know they really are.

Big Brother said...

"Photographer and native New Yorker, Debby Hymowitz, has captured the essence of this gritty and martyred establishment through her brilliant photos".... and then ruined that essence by including the most vapid looking models fresh off the bus from Rhode Island who, by the way, have zero to do with Mars Bar! Please join us for a night of OMG and WTF! Wear your flip-flops!

Anonymous said...

Have you read the photographer's biography?

Have your barf bag ready.

laura said...

this is marketing. the comments reflect that they have not lived thru much of this. i HAVE. i have seen NYC neigborhoods come, go, change. (& in other pars of the world). it was a matter of tie that LES would be next for development. you may think its a cheap shot to play on the mars bar, but marketing is what it is. they do this world wide, & yes it can be offensive, as everything is generic. i do think the regulars on this blog have to stop the crying. even for me, its weird. (i felt bad when they closed ginos restaurant on lex). this mars place was a dirty bar, i never heard of it untill i found JMVN. it also is the kind of place i would never have gone too (even while in school). looks like a college dive somewhere off campus. if you all carry on this way @ 40-45 yrs old, what will happen later? when youre 60, 70? are you going to be crazy the rest of your lives?

Uncle Waltie said...

Blue & Cream & Hymowitz = East Hampton on the Bowery.

Anonymous said...

Who owned Mars Bar, and what are they doing now? Does anyone know?

Anonymous said...

Her bio is terrible! There's an article in Page Six Magazine that rambles on about her rich (ex)husband and her perfect life. She sounds as downtown as Bloomberg.

onemorefoldedsunset said...

"It’s time to pay our respects with a really great party. Just as any Bowery native would want it!"
What a travesty.

laura said...

judging by the comments here, it seems like you are all younger. & havnt lived through very many changes. i have seen neighborhoods rise & fall. & yes it is marketing (in this case), & can be offensive. but this is a bit weird even for me. i was sad to see ginos close on lex ave. (after 45yrs). i think you all have to stop crying. what will you do when you are 60 or 70? youre too young for all these memorials. its not christs birthplace, its not an old traditional place that went on for generations. its a fxxcking bar for god sakes. no one except you in this world would see this as a monument. think of the elderly who lost their diners & coffee shops, they arent mobile like you. find another bar. btw, i never heard of this place untill i found JVNY. it looks like a college bar somewhere off campus. (thats besides the point). grow up get on w/it. even i am losing patience here. your sense of self importance is a turnoff.

Uncle Waltie said...

Dear Laura
April 11, 2012 9:19 PM

You lost me with your very first sentence. Since you evidently have no clue what we're talking about here, I shall refrain from engaging in any dialogue. Wishing you nothing but happiness.
Yours truly
PS. The government considers me a Senior Citizen.

Anonymous said...

I think what Laura, who posted twice and likely has something to do with this photos shoot, is missing out on in the level of gentrification we are experiencing. It isn't just a matter of a new business coming in to replace the old. That happens in life. It is new businesses coming in that serve only a wealthy clientele. That is a new phenomenon. Maybe we are losers in her eyes, but we can't afford to spend $400 for a pair of pants. Does that mean we have no value as people?

Ken Mac said...

I shall go to Blue and Cream and piss in their doorway. Flash Piss Party?

Zane Curtis-Olsen said...

While her argument is explicitly racial (and sexual), it seems bell hook's "Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance," is readily applicable to this and the whole "authentrification" phenomenon. A quote: "The commodification of Otherness has been so successful because it is offered as a new delight, more intense, more satisfying than normal ways of doing and feeling. Within commodity culture, ethnicity becomes spice, seasoning than can liven up the dull dish that is mainstream white culture... The 'real fun' is to be had by bringing to the surface all those 'nasty' unconscious fantasies about contact with the Other..."

Jeremiah Moss said...

Zane, thank you for this quote. it's perfect.

Shawn said...

Those photos are so hilariously sad. I mean, you can ONLY LAUGH at these.

It's like Christopher Guest was playing a photographer for one of his new movies, a "Spinal Tap" for photography. I can hear him in his english accent as Nigel Tufnel:

"These photos represent Mars Bar the way it should be, ya know, like wit pretty peepo innit."

"We were approached by da Purell corporation to have 'her drenched in Purell for da shoot, ya know to represent her puri'ty amongst all the filth. But it didn't look like Purell on camera, but something else entirely."

"I got the model to pose in da batroom, but she held her breath too bloody long and turned bloody purple and I couldn't Photoshop it out."

laura rubin said...

uncle waltie, if you are a senior, you should have seen this going on for decades. of cause they demolished a very old crumbling building. the marketing thing is a bit tacky. the photo show is medicore, come on, you saw the marketing from hippies to ghetto hip hop. you see that gay pays, especially in mainstream TV. its always been good old advertising. they marketed the old greenwich village, remember what a mess mac dougal became in the early 60s? yes i loved it, but i was 15. always the old hippy liberals will market the 3rd world (see the silly health food products). anon: 9:07, in real estate development no one has value as people (except the folks they are marketing too). i only feel bad for elderly & handicapped who need protections, & that has to addressed on a govt level. its that displacement that i care about. not how cool the bugs were in someones drink, tell that to someone in haiti. i think what makes me depressed (a theme on this blog) is the glorification of filth & dirt. i find it demoralizing, & insulting to me, as an artist & a visionary. kind of like you guys were slumming, pretending you were derelicts, when are really middle class college left overs. hmmm, pot calling kettle black. of cause its your right to like what you do. its all pretentious, whether you wear $500 pants, or a bad tattoo job. really honorable struggling people who escaped filth from the LES, would despise you. like my grandfather & his brothers & 4 the other boarders from 521 grand st in 1901. the neighborhood has changed, end of case. i AM aware of the level of gentrification its reached, the neighborhoods changed, you cannot win. & whats up w/zane curtis olsens "racial sexual" mention? how does this fit, does he mean me? do i see a pattern here? did you reap what you sow? how can you be so self righteous?? have some dignity for gods sacks. some of you are pushing 50. stop expressing yourselves like trash morons, stop using words like vomit. it brings the blog down.

Anonymous said...

Laura stop just stop. You act like people who lived and worked in these communities loved those crumbling buildings.
People wanted to do more for their community, without being priced out. Where are the people who have lived in these communities supposed to go? Oh another section of the "hood" until they are priced out of that one.
You are not Jeremiah, so you have no authority on how certain words "cheapen" the blog.
Who are you to say who needs protection. I bet the senior citizens and others of the like need more protection from those who want to gloss things over and make things "pretty" without thinking of the end result.

glamma said...

it phsyically hurts.
i believe it's called heartbreak.

Anonymous said...

No one from Mars Bar consented to have their photos taken and sold, no releases signed. When the photographer was questioned, she hung up the phone.
Theft of image that will now sell on t-shrts. The owner of the Mars Bar name/brand is rightfully upset.

Lisa said...

This event sounds depressing but more depressing to me are the two photos of 1st street. I left the LES for Philly in 2005, and on the rare occasions I return I simply do not recognize my old neighborhood. 7 years should not make that radical of a difference.

Anonymous said...

debby hymo is no native new yorker. she grew up with me in a tiny suburb of philadelphia called huntingdon valley.