Post tagged with


The Day | Bank to Replace Mars Bar

EAST VILLAGE view empty streetGloria Chung

Good morning, East Village.

In one of the more extreme transformations to hit the neighborhood, word comes that a branch of TD Bank will occupy the ground floor space of the 12-story apartment building under construction on Second Avenue at East 1st Street. An answer, at last, to the question: what could possibly replace Mars Bar?

Perhaps less jarring, the Lower East Side Ecology Center has laid out a proposal for a wetland at East River Park–which, after all, is very wet a lot of the time. The plan calls for fencing off part of the area already used for composting, and would use naturally filtered water generated by the composting process.

By the way, do you call 311 to complain about rats in the ‘hood? Hardly ever, according to this interactive map. I guess we just got used to them.

A Year After Mars Bar’s Closing, One Last T-Shirt Up for Grabs

Mars Bar closed and all you can get is this lousy t-shirt.

It’s been a year (plus a couple of days) since the dive was shuttered, and the former regular who designed the “Marz Bar” shirts is selling the very last of them. “This building has been marked and stocked as a fallout shelter,” the t-shirt reads.

“I thought I had sold out of them last year but this one turned up in a box of records for some reason,” writes the designer (who goes by the name of Ecto-Glow) in an eBay listing, adding that he won’t be reprinting the shirt. The size-small is going for $25 and at the time of posting, a little over 4 and a half hours were left on the auction.

In an earlier blog post, the shirt’s designer, who says he grew up on Lafayette Street, explained that he first designed a “DEFEND MARZ BAR” shirt because “everyone wanted a shirt, including me. I asked someone to ask Hank [Penza, the owner] for me and he was cool with it so the first lot came out and sold out fast.” The fallout shelter shirts followed, and a little under 300 shirts were sold in the end.

“I’ve been to tons of Bars in NYC,” wrote Ecto-Glow, “but the only place I’ve been to at least triple digits was Mars (stoops and 40s don’t count) and I could probably fill a book with stories about the place (as I’m sure most could).”

If you’re not a size small or the auction’s over, don’t worry: Sergey Aniskov’s drunken Santa shirts are also still available for purchase.

Mars Bar Site Hit With Stop Work Order

IMG_3295Stephen Rex Brown The Mars Bar site today

The Department of Buildings smacked a partial Stop Work Order on the former Mars Bar site today. A sign posted on the plywood construction fence at First Street and Second Avenue, where a 12-story condo is being erected, indicates that “all chopping and saw cutting on foundation walls” must cease.

It’s uncertain what provoked the order (we’ll let you know what we hear from the D.O.B.), but it isn’t the first hiccup at 25 East First Street. According to paperwork, a partial Stop Work Order was served last month after the Department of Buildings received a complaint that a crane appeared to be unsafe, and an inspector found that the project’s engineer of record hadn’t signed off on it. That issue has now been resolved.

In December, before the dive bar was toppled, another stop work order was issued after a worker was injured during a ceiling collapse.

The Day | More Photos and Video from May Day

Photos: Scott Lynch

Good morning, East Village.

Yesterday we spent 19 hours live-blogging May Day activities throughout the city: you can find our initial report here and our follow-up here. There was even a David Byrne cameo. Now a video of one of the arrests has popped up on YouTube (hat tip to Google Alerts). And above, here are Scott Lynch’s photos of Tom Morello’s “guitarmy” in Bryant Park and the festivities at Union Square.

Elsewhere: More Than Usual spots a swastika on the construction plywood at 51 Astor Place.

Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York discovers that sculptor Randy Hage has created a miniature version of Mars Bar. Read more…

Watch the First Five Minutes of Jonas Mekas’s Mars Bar Movie, Opening Friday

With its former home at First Street and Second Avenue now a hole in the ground, a couple of Mars Bar’s neighbors are paying tribute to it in the next days.

Tonight from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. (to the dismay of some bloggers) upscale boutique Blue & Cream will launch an exhibition of photos that Debby Hymowitz took at the old dive in 2010 (you can see some of them online). And tomorrow, Jonas Mekas’s love letter to the watering hole, “My Mars Bar Movie,” opens at Anthology Film Archives. It’ll be its first screening since an underattended premiere at the Greenpoint Film Festival in October.

From the film’s first five minutes (excerpted exclusively above), it’s clear this isn’t a traditional documentary. The director said as much yesterday afternoon, nursing a beer and a double shot of vodka at Anyway Café. Read more…

The Day | Strand Workers Reject New Contract

The Strand: Army of One, Let Art Be Your WeaponScott Lynch

Good morning, East Village.

City Room reports that unionized workers at the Strand have rejected a proposed new contract because it would’ve cut vacation days, frozen pay for a year, increased the cost of health care, and cut benefits for newer employees. The bookstore’s management says the move is to compensate for sales that have fallen roughly 5 percent over all since 2008.

Though citywide rents remained relatively high throughout the winter, an MNS report picked up by Curbed brings good news about the East Village rental market: “The biggest decreases in rents from February to March took place in the East Village, where non-doorman studios are now 6.5 percent less.”

Gothamists sees bitter irony in the fact that upscale boutique Blue and Cream is paying tribute to grungy Mars Bar via a new photo exhibit: “Because if there is one thing we can all agree on about the old girl’s clientele, it was how much they just loved the kind of people who buy and sell $220 black t-shirts!” Read more…

Stocking Stuffer Alert: The Mars Bar Drunken Santa T-Shirt


As Mars Bar disappears, an artist who lived across the street from the dive and was regularly featured on its walls is honoring its memory by selling t-shirts. Last year, Sergey Aniskov marked Christmas at Mars Bar by painting a mural of a booze-swilling anarchist Santa Claus (see it below). This year, he has printed the image on limited-edition t-shirts that are going for $22.99 on eBay and will also be sold, said the artist, at Reason Clothing at 436 East Ninth Street.

“I was a regular at Mars Bar for ten years,” said Mr. Aniskov, 41, who came to New York from Moscow in the 1990s and now works at Animation Collective. “It was the place where you went when you were really having problems. You knew you’d find good company and get good feedback from the real people and the real East Village. I felt like I had to do this as a memory.” Read more…

Mars Bar Out, 7-Eleven In

If you want a piece of Mars Bar, now’s the time to ask. As you can see in video shot this morning, the wall separating the old dive from its neighbor has come down, and construction workers are clearing away wooden beams.

Meanwhile, a few blocks away, the 7-Eleven that had been slated to open on the Bowery last week was accepting deliveries this morning. A worker on the scene said it would finally open this Friday (an early Christmas gift to the East Village?). We’ve asked corporate headquarters for the official word.

Have your own photos of the Mars Bar’s demise? Add them to The Local’s Flickr pool.

One Injured After Ceiling Collapses at Mars Bar Building

Stephen Rex Brown Shots from the scene of the accident and photos of the demolition taken from an adjacent rooftop.

One construction worker suffered a leg injury after an accident on the third floor of the Mars Bar building at around 1:45 p.m.

A battalion chief with the Fire Department, Bob Sputch, said that the worker was removing a piece of ceiling when a beam collapsed, possibly breaking the worker’s leg. Several witnesses at the corner of Second Avenue and First Street said that the injury did not appear to be serious.

“If you’d heard the bang, you would have thought it was something serious. But I think he’s alright,” said Malik Johnson, a construction worker at the site. Read more…

A Glimpse of Mars Bar Before the Fall

marsconstructionDaniel Maurer

Demolition work continues at 25 East First Street. Today, protective netting shrouded the scaffolding that The Local spotted yesterday, and a gap in the construction barrier offered a glimpse of the bygone dive known and loved as Mars Bar. On Second Avenue, a dumpster was being filled with debris, and the storefront next to Mars Bar was a gaping hole. Asked when demolition of the bar itself would occur, a construction worker said in about a week.

This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: December 23, 2011

An earlier version of this article misidentified the avenue where the construction dumpster was located.

Jonas Mekas on His Mars Bar Movie

Last night, just a couple dozen people braved the rain and cold to help kick off the first Greenpoint Film Festival with the premiere of Jonas Mekas’s new documentary, “My Mars Bar Movie.” The film, which Mr. Mekas, 88, said he had recorded during trips to Mars Bar over the course of fifteen years at Anthology Film Archives across the street, begins with a close-up of the archivist and filmmaker’s first name carved in the bar, followed by admiring shots of an insect-ridden fly strip and then the first of countless clinking tequila glasses.

Throughout the documentary, Mr. Mekas’s camera darts frenetically – almost kaleidoscopically – from the graffiti on the walls to the ceiling fan to the pinball machine to a cigarette perched in an ashtray (later in the movie, after years have passed, bar-goers complain about having to smoke outside), stopping only occasionally to concentrate on the stoney-eyed female bartenders and the international array of fellow filmmakers and artists that serve as Mr. Mekas’s drinking companions. Read more…

The Day | Jonas Mekas Gets His Teeth Into Mars Bar

JR InsideOut Project: East VillageScott Lynch Inside Out Project, East Village.

Good morning, East Village.

Per an obituary in The Times, Swami Bhaktipada, a controversial ex-leader of the American Hare Krishna movement, has died near Mumbai at the age of 74. A Times article from 2004 tells more: “Mr. Bhaktipada was one of the first American followers of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, an Indian holy man who opened a temple in the East Village in 1965. His organization, the International Society of Krishna Consciousness, was seen by young members of the counterculture as a thrilling novelty. Known as Hare Krishnas, his followers were famous for dancing around Tompkins Square Park in saffron robes, beating drums and chanting.”

The Post reports that a man was arrested after posing as a realtor and getting a woman to hand over $3,500 for the key to an East Sixth Street apartment. Problem was, the apartment was occupied and the key didn’t work.

Speaking of property disputes, Bowery Boogie points to an interesting BlockShopper item: It’s reported that the Charles D. Saulson, the sculptor turned developer who was accused of flinging feces at an art gallery next door, has sold his condo at 259 Bowery for $2.321 million. Read more…

After The Lab, Lot Will Become Sculpture Garden – and Maybe a Cat Park?

Robert Sestok SculptureCourtesy of Robert Sestok. “First St. Iron.”

What will happen to the BMW Guggenheim Lab once it packs up its video screens and moves on to Berlin? Members of First Street Green – the community group that for years lobbied the city to renovate the lot at Houston Street and Second Avenue – held a brainstorming event at the Lab on Saturday to answer just that. This much is certain: They’ve secured approval from the Parks Department, which owns the land, to install a new sculpture by Robert Sestok, a Detroit-based artist who has been visiting New York for three decades.

Mr. Sestok, who said he has been involved with Detroit’s influential Cass Corridor art movement since the 1970s, called “First St. Iron,” his welded steel sculpture, “a tribute to my past associations with the city of New York.” The piece was inspired by the wrought iron fences lining the streets near a friend’s house in the East Village. Read more…

The Day | Walking Against Gentrification

SlowScott Lynch

Good morning, East Village.

East Village cyclists have been put on notice. City workers plan to discard several abandoned bikes near East First Street between Avenue A and First Avenue, according to a Department of Transportation sign spotted by EV Grieve. Better pick yours up by the end of the day.

The New York Daily News profiled former CBGB bartender Jane Danger, owner of Jane’s Sweet Buns. The shop, at 102 St. Marks Place, features baked goods with hints of alcohol, like a Rum Runner bun with nutmeg, cinnamon, raisins, brown sugar, Galliano liqueur and aged rum.

Finally, Neither More Nor Less, Marty After Dark, EV Grieve, and Gothamist have photos from Saturday’s protest against East Village gentrification. Activist John Penley and his crew started at East Third Street, found its way to the BMW Guggenheim Lab and ended at what used to be Mars Bar. A poem was read. A cigarette was lit. Signs were waved, and then the protestors went home.


The Day | Is Aziz Ansari The Mayor of the East Village?

Laundromat, Lower East Side, New York City - 0001Vivienne Gucwa

Top of the morning to you, East Village!

Ephemeral New York mourns some bygone record shops, including the Saint Mark’s Music Exchange, but it’s not all doom and gloom on St. Marks. EV Grieve notices that the space that briefly housed the CBGB store now hosts a tattoo and tobacco accessories shop. Speaking of CBGB, Bowery Boogie reports that John Varvatos and Jesse Malin of Niagara are teaming up to host a Sirius XM show, “New York Nights…Direct from the Bowery.”

EV Grieve notices web postings indicating that Bar on A seems to be for sale and Banjo Jim will close on Tuesday; meanwhile City Room remembers Mars Bar’s alternate identity as an art gallery, and WNYC also revisits the dive’s closing. Elsewhere on the art scene, EV Grieve gets a glimpse of the BMW Guggenheim Lab’s food menu, by East Williamsburg pizza destination Roberta’s; and the Times considers Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s online gallery of photographs from the East Village in the 1980s, also on display at the Asia Society.

Finally, New York magazine strolls the neighborhood with onetime “mayor of the East Village” Aziz Ansari. The actor and comedian identifies “East Village dogs” and interrogates a NYC Icy employee: “This is pumpkin flavor, not pumpkin-pie flavor. Pumpkin pie has pie crust in it.”

The Day | Targeting Stolen Bikes

Bicycles on 6th Street, East VillageAdrian Fussell

Good morning, East Village.

The Times reported that the police conducted an undercover sting operation in the East Village trying to find people who would purchase stolen bikes. The sting targeted bike messengers, specifically mentioning those at S’MAC on 12th Street and Haveli on Second Avenue. Gothamist said that the sting, which lead to three arrests, should be called “Operation Bark Up The Wrong Tree.” Sting operations are not uncommon, and the Department of Consumer Affairs is currently recruiting public participants to help them catch supermarkets who are overlooking basic requirements.

The most publicized bar in the neighborhood — Mars Bar — is set to be demolished next month. The owner, Hank Penza, and his associates are taking bricks from the walls and the cinderblocks from the exterior wall to use in his rumored new bar.

While Jeremiah continues to lament the loss of the “Chow Mein” sign, Off The Grid has a really lovely post on the oft-overlooked fire escapes that greatly impact our urban landscape. In addition to taking a serious look back at the history and need for fire escapes at the turn of the century, the post also includes pictures of some of the more artistic instances of such “iron in the sky.”

Even though the rats in Tompkins Square Park may be over-publicized at the moment, the issue is still alive and well in the East Village. Rat traps were spotted by an EV Grieve reader outside of the new BMW Guggenheim lab which is set to open next Wednesday. The public’s distaste for rats is so evident that it has lent the sentiment to a new reality series: The Animal Planet is going to air a six-part reality series called “Rat Busters NYC” which focuses around two managers of an extermination company that “tackle rat families bigger than their own, and other metropolitan pests like roaches, mice, bedbugs, raccoons and pigeons.”

The Day | Wedding Bells

Same Sex Couples Marry in NYSusan Keyloun

Good morning, East Village.

In light of the first day of legalized same-sex marriage in New York, Manhattan was seemingly covered in rainbow confetti on Sunday, and the East Village was no exception. Community board member Dominic Pisciotta and his longtime partner were one of the hundreds of couples to wed throughout the city yesterday. One hotspot was Trinity Church, where Pastor Phil Trzynka said he will be marrying same sex couples for free all year. Congratulations to all.

Tompkins Square Park had quite a collection of inhabitants this weekend, as it played host to both the Fifth Annual New Village Music Festival and an inordinate amount of rats. The photos, taken by Bob Arihood at Neither More Nor Less, back up claims made by The Villager that rats are on the rise in the park.

Several new gin joints and grub spots are being whispered about in the area, with Prime & Beyond New York bringing some steak to St. Mark’s last week. For the more health conscious, Mikey’s Pet Shop on Seventh Street near Avenue A will be turning into an organic health food store in near future. When it comes to libations, EV Grieve says that rumors are rampant about a supposed new bar that Mars Bar owner Hank Penza is planning to open in the neighborhood. Lastly, progress is being shown on construction of the Hyatt Hotel in Union Square, which will feature “an upscale restaurant, destination lobby bar, an exclusive rooftop lounge” and much more when it opens in fall 2012.

Jeremiah takes us on a trip up the stairs and down memory lane back to the somewhat seedy past of Movie Star News. The longtime store that is currently found on West 18th Street was once at home in the East Village, where movie stars and movie star wannabes went to have pin up photos taken.

Viewfinder | Mars Bar Murals

Julie Turley, Shawn Hoke, Kenan Christiansen and Lindsay Wengler, members of The Local East Village Flickr Group, share their images of a murals outside Mars Bar in recent years.

Mars Bar, The End is Near, East VillageShawn Hoke

Read more…

A Day in the Life of Mars Bar

Phillip Kalantzis Cope Mars Bar closed its doors Monday.

It happened a little before 4 p.m. The patrons were let out, the door was shut. And with the resignation of a whimper in place of the much anticipated bang, Mars Bar closed, forever.

On any other afternoon, the iconic bar — a symbol of a time gone by for a neighborhood experiencing an era of commercial development — would be sprinkled with regulars yakking away about the day’s gossip with a sympathetic young bartender.

Debates over the distinction, if any, between bands like Foreigner and Journey would be overheard as music from John Fogerty to Wesley Willis bounced off the bar’s graffiti-laden walls. Glasses of whiskey and discount red wine would be filled to the top, and the beer was always served ice cold.

But by late Monday afternoon, Mars Bar had finally served its last drink.

Raymond Bell, 60, a longtime regular with a taste for red wine, described being on the scene Monday afternoon when the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene closed the bar down — only a few weeks before the building’s demolition to make way for a new 12-story condo.

“I didn’t even get to finish my last drink,” he said. While other customers lingered outside, Mr. Bell said he “just walked away.”
Read more…

Images of Mars Bar

Roey Ahram, Clark Carr, Rachel Citron, Phillip Kalantzis-Cope, Joshua Davis, Dave DiRoma, Vivienne Gucwa, Shawn Hoke, Meghan Keneally, Scott Lynch, Clint McMahon, Michael Natale, Michah Saperstein and Lindsay Wengler — all members of The Local East Village Flickr Group — share their images of Mars Bar through the years.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

If you’d like a chance to see your best shots appear on The Local, join The Local East Village Flickr Group.