Hot on the heels of that doom-laden announcement about the Mars Bar (which actually got picked up by Grub Street), comes news of the senseless, impending demise of another storied downtown bar. Back in the 1990s (that still sounds weird to say), Max Fish was a regular stop … if not a base of nocturnal operations … for myself and my gaggle of like-minded reprobates during the era of skronky, downtown ‘pigfuck’ rock and -- for want of a better term -- proto-grunge. I remember many an evening wherein myself and some likely compadres were sequestered at Max Fish, back by the oft-inaudible juke box or embarrassing ourselves on the pool table in between ill-advised sorties out into the Lower East Side in search of trouble. The surrounding neighborhood was still more of a veritable frontier at the time (that’s honestly the nicest way to describe it), and Max Fish felt like the only place worth being at. That it also sold relatively cheap beer, boasted a rockin’ juke box (fleetingly featuring favorite selections by bands like Cop Shoot Cop, Swans, Sonic Youth, Foetus, Royal Trux, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Pussy Galore, Surgery, Helmet et al.) made it a required stop. I remember hanging out there on different occasions and suddenly finding myself chatting with Dean Wareham of Galaxie 500 or Franz Treichler of the Young Gods or playing pinball with comedian Toby “Go to Hell” Huss. Many of my fondest memories of that era involve hours logged within its subversive-art-covered walls.
As I mentioned back in this post in 2008, however, there came a point shortly afterwards that I suddenly felt too old and no longer hip enough for Max Fish. The place became too bright and too crowded with youngsters (as did the whole of Ludlow Street, for that matter). Around the same time, the bands on the juke box started to change. I knew fewer and fewer of them. Any time I stepped in there afterwards, I felt like the creepy uncle crashing his niece’s basement party. And no one wants that. As such, I stopped going.
And now comes news that Max Fish is closing for good. While I cannot say that I'm at all surprised, I do have to say that it makes me a bit sad. While, no, I haven't spent any quality time in there for the better part of the last decade and change, I still liked knowing it was there. It's a place that handily encapsulates a period of my past, and I'm sad to see it go. I may have to go darken its doors one last time before it's gone for good. So should you.
Pour one out for the `Fish.