Mars Bar Blues
July 19, 2011 11:08 AM   Subscribe

The East Village's glorious and infamous Mars Bar, on the chopping block since winter, is closed for good.

Daddy Long Legs eulogizes
posted by griphus (38 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I went there during a NY bar-tour vacation a few years ago and one of my friends was a bit frightened by how seedy it was. My other friend and I were much more concerned with how fucking awesome the jukebox was. Glad I went there, wish I had a chance to go back.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 11:12 AM on July 19, 2011

Wait, is Max Fish permanently closed too? Or was the underage drinking thing a one time deal?
posted by wcfields at 11:13 AM on July 19, 2011

posted by zvs at 11:14 AM on July 19, 2011

A friend of mine used to live on that corner (1st and 2nd) and had a photo blog of the Mars Bar corner for a couple years. The blog was mentioned here a bunch of years ago.
posted by blaneyphoto at 11:14 AM on July 19, 2011

The East Village has to be dead to me (DEAD TO ME) ever since they took down that portrait of her at the former Mission Cafe.

posted by The Whelk at 11:17 AM on July 19, 2011

(and coming on the heels of Don Hill's demise, I'm glad I'm not doing stage shows anymore let me tell me. )
posted by The Whelk at 11:17 AM on July 19, 2011

Boy that place was a dump. Glad it's gone.. except it probably means they'll put in another chain type bar/restaurant with a name like "Corvette Club" or "Mustang's Taint"
posted by ReeMonster at 11:19 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Max Fish is not permanently closed.
posted by newpotato at 11:20 AM on July 19, 2011

I could never drink there because by the time I'd had enough to enjoy myself I'd have to pee and thus suffer the horror of that toilet.
posted by elsietheeel at 11:21 AM on July 19, 2011

EV Grieve has been keeping a sort of running Mars Bar deathwatch.
posted by lalex at 11:23 AM on July 19, 2011

I hate it when bars that have history and character have to get closed down because of the encroachment of the bland people who only like things sanitized for their protection....either by way of landlords quadrupling the rent, or because all of the old regular customers have left the neighborhood.
So much of that happening these days. I guess we can leave the east village to the upper west side types who want to feel cool about themselves by saying they live in the East Village.

Seriously, Reemonster, You're glad it's gone? You dislike it so much that not patronizing it isn't enough? You have to dance on it's grave?
posted by newpotato at 11:26 AM on July 19, 2011 [7 favorites]

From the NearSay link: "Additionally, a shared sketchbook would make its way around the bar at any given time during the day or night for patrons to add sketches or words to a growing collective art book."

Has anyone scanned/posted any of those pages anywhere online? I have a soft spot for drunken doodles and ramblings, and since they had a lot of artist patrons, I'm sure there was some good stuff. I'm surprised I haven't seen more of the "bar sketchbook" concept.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 11:30 AM on July 19, 2011

Longest funeral ever...I walked by yesterday and saw the cardboard closed sign.

I could smoke out front and imagine that vacant lot that was there. It was the first time I ever saw GHOST do one of those massive power spray tags.

I don't blame him for closing it. People were stealing the square glass panes and the cardboard they were putting up to replace it.

I also couldn't imagine subjecting myself to that same goddamn conversation day in and day out about the bar, the neighborhood, blah blah blah...I've listened to that conversation about this city since 1996. and every asshole in the world in the past few months probably sat in there and repeated the same thing that the last guy that just left said. I would not have the patience for that.
posted by lslelel at 11:36 AM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

and if you survived the trip to the bathroom, you might just come back to a roach in your drink

posted by Calloused_Foot at 11:36 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

. x 1000

Any place that would pour a rocks glass full of booze and call it a 'shot' was alright by me. Plus, yeah, it was one of the best jukeboxes I've seen in NY, hands down.

Didn't matter that feces and blood were occasionally smeared across the toilet walls. That was just part of the Mars Bar Charm.™

I asked my brother to meet me there once, after he arrived in town from Chicago. He looked it up on Yelp to get the address, and the first comment read: 'The Mars Bar is a great place to go, if you think you've just killed someone and need a few hours to think things through.'

RIP Mars Bar!
posted by interrupt at 11:41 AM on July 19, 2011 [4 favorites]

There was no better place to be an unemployed alcoholic at 1:30 PM on a tuesday.
posted by keratacon at 11:46 AM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm going to miss that place. So many awesome/awkward dates. So many bizarre conversations. So many fruit flies.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:50 AM on July 19, 2011

Last time I was there, about seven years ago, I was sat next to a man who had a puffy pink scar on his neck, extending from ear to ear. You know, from having his throat slit. And surviving.
posted by incomple at 12:23 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

In maybe? 2005? myself and a couple other of my dearest friends- all dumb 20 somethings that had gone to college together and who'd all had our hearts stomped relatively recently- we decided to go on an east village bar crawl, in an effort to
a] get truly messed up and
b] some members of the opposite sex to show any amount of interest in us.

b] was a total failure.
a] was medium successful, aided in large part by a stop at Mars Bar.

We walked in the door, and it was immediately clear that we were beyond out of our element. We were liberal arts students in school, we were Highly Sensitive Young Men. Mars Bar, meanwhile had bar stools that were chained to the rail so you couldn't steal them or use them in a fight.
Seated at the bar, the only person in the place on a weekend evening was a man who looked very much like Eddie Izzard, if you'd filtered Izzard through a lifetime spent taking extraordinarily hard drugs.
He looked us up and down, as we stood, uncertain, in the doorway, and said, in a thick English accent, 'Tell us a joke.'
It became clear that our survival might well hinge on making this man laugh. Fortunately, we knew a large number of dead baby jokes.
As I recall, he enjoyed himself at our expense, and we drank our drinks quickly and left. We were looking for ladies, after all. And we were very very intimidated.
I regret that I never went back, it was a really neat place, and 10 minutes in it gave me a pretty great story. It seemed like the type of place that existed for the purposes of giving its patrons stories. I hope there's room for places like it in the future on the LES.
posted by qnarf at 12:35 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I could never drink there because by the time I'd had enough to enjoy myself I'd have to pee and thus suffer the horror of that toilet.

But at least you'd be entertained by the no-ass-fucking sign on the bathroom door!
posted by brina at 12:41 PM on July 19, 2011

I went to the Mars Bar once. It wasn't really that cheap for a stinking shithole, the ceiling leaked water into my beer, no one was social, the jukebox actually didn't work and some hipster motherfucker took my picture without permission. I'm not happy it's closing, but even the owner doesn't seem to care and I think the place was mostly hype.
posted by fuq at 1:17 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Metafilter The East Village: the owner doesn't seem to care and I think the place was mostly hype.
posted by griphus at 1:40 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Dive bar" has been diluted through overuse. Making Mars Bar more of a "dungeon bar" or "schizophrenic's hoard bar" or "tuberculosis bar." Sort of sad it's gone, in the large sense of the E-Vil and NYC generally having turned into a playpen for millionaires, but also sort of like...relieved? That I'll never have to go in there against my will?
posted by Zerowensboring at 1:43 PM on July 19, 2011


One story: One Thursday evening in 2003 (I remeber because it was the day of the Madrid train bombing), I was meeting firends there because we were going across the street to see films at Anthology, and at the bar among the career boozers was a fellow who was passed out face down. Nothing special there, but the next afternoon, I had a lunch date and my friend and I were were walking past and I told her how scummy the place was and that she should look through the window to get an idea. She did, and there was the same guy, passed out at the bar, in different clothes. The next afternoon, I'm walking past the bar with another friend and telling him the story and we look in again and sure enough, there's the same guy, passed out at the bar, in another set of clothes.

Anyone know what happened to Felix, the dwarfish, deaf-mute artist who always sat int he corner of the short side of the bar next to the pinball machine?
posted by AJaffe at 1:46 PM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Man, that place was battered. Even among dive bars that joint was wasted. I hadn't been in many years and I wouldn't have chosen to go again now that I don't stay out til 6 am. I'm surprised it lasted that long.
posted by Liquidwolf at 1:56 PM on July 19, 2011

I once threw a werewolf out of Mars Bar.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 2:01 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

(Interior is cheated from somewhere else)
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 2:02 PM on July 19, 2011

I once saw some couple out of their minds on who know what screw on the couch in there. God was that disgusting.

Still, stiff drinks cheap.
posted by lumpenprole at 2:18 PM on July 19, 2011

It looks like a great bar, I don't drink but I'd enjoy going there if only for a short while, just to be there, so often it seems that Tacky meets Art in a great way. Probably it'd help that I have no sense of smell, but I'd have wanted to go anyways, just because.

lumpenprole: "I once saw some couple out of their minds on who know what screw on the couch in there. God that was disgusting."
(sigh) Love is so beautiful ...
posted by dancestoblue at 2:42 PM on July 19, 2011

While I was there once with a friend someone stole her jacket, which was not surprising.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:27 PM on July 19, 2011

Wow, what a shitty-looking bar.
posted by tumid dahlia at 3:43 PM on July 19, 2011

Ugh, that place was always medieval levels of filthy. Just looking at pix of the bathroom makes me feel like my eyeballs have crabs.
posted by elizardbits at 4:25 PM on July 19, 2011

Sad to think the tradition of McGurk's Suicide Hall is gone.
posted by The Whelk at 4:27 PM on July 19, 2011

The Mars Bar was closed because inspectors observed approximately 850 fruit flies in various areas of the restaurant and in a bottle of alcohol," [said the NYC Department of Health press secretary].

"These were tagged and placed into a rehabilitation facility, and will be released into the wild in the next few weeks," she continued.
posted by tumid dahlia at 6:28 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Heh. When I lived in NYC, Mars Bar and Doc Holiday's were two places nobody planned on going; you just kinda ended up there. What's funny is there's a place like that in SF, except it's actually called The EndUp. The one in SF is arguably worse, because it's a $20 cover and they have a dance floor. So yeah, lots of getting bumped into by people who shouldn't even be trying to walk, let alone dance.

Good times.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:20 PM on July 19, 2011

I spent a lot of time there in the late 80's early 90's.
It was brilliant at what it was brilliant at, but it wasn't a very 'civilized' place.
posted by From Bklyn at 7:32 PM on July 19, 2011

*sigh* Another chunk of my life closed up. The Anarchy Cafe turned into a McDonalds, the Astor Diner a Starbucks, Mars shut down. Feh.
posted by Aversion Therapy at 7:45 PM on July 19, 2011

I love you New York but you're bringing me down.
posted by bardic at 8:38 PM on July 19, 2011

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