Seemingly apropos of nothing in particular, a reader named Kim wrote in last week to remark how I’d left the Mars Bar off my 2012 list of 5 Great Missing NYC Dive Bars. At first I was going to sniffily write back that, at the time of that post’s composition, the Mars Bar was still operational. But that actually doesn’t add up (its final night of pouring was in 2011, I believe). I think I overlooked it in writing that entry, as it still seems inconceivable that the place no longer exists.
It’s now been about five years since the Mars Bar closed up shop, replaced by an ersatz Emerald City of condos that has entirely changed the once-endearingly-desolate atmosphere of that strip of East First Street (which is where, let’s remember, that 1990 photograph of the Lunachicks was snapped by Joe Dilworth). It’s an entirely different scene, now.
As it happens, I took a long, circuitous walk home from the office last night, weaving around bits of the Lower East Side and into the East Village. In doing so, I hung a right on the Bowery at East First street. Technically, the footprint once occupied by the Mars Bar is split into two or three concerns these days –- one of which, farcically, is a goddamn bank (I can’t think of a more telling summation of this city’s state of affairs than that). Just to the west of that, the other half seems to be a juice bar of some kind and then the entry way into the residential condo that houses it all. This is probably old news by now, but I only just noticed that the lobby for same “pays tribute” to its address’ former incarnation by way of giant light fixture … shaped like the planet Mars.
ADDENDUM: My significantly more astronomically savvy comrade Erik rightly pointed out that the light fixture below bears a closer resemblance to Jupiter (thanks to the signature eye) than Mars. My bad.
Anyway, I’ve already exhausted my anecdotes about the Mars Bar elsewhere on this blog, but as a mea culpa to Kim, herewith some photographs I shot of its fabled, art-slathered exterior over the years. If you like these, find more at my Flickr page.
Incidentally, the planet Mars actually looks like this....