Turns out the rumors of Mars Bar's last last call were a bit premature. An Observer operative is now reporting that—though the building it lives in has been emptied to make way for condos—the punk institution will close "in four to six weeks." And honestly? Fine, whatever.
There has already been much handkerchief-wringing over the bar's eventual demise by both the watering hole's regulars and those who would like you to think they were. And you can be assured there will be a bunch more. Which is understandable. Mars Bar, like others before it, has been a steady presence in the neighborhood and has symbolic meaning to patrons and poseurs alike. But Mars Bar closing is not the final gasp of "old Manhattan"—that city died years ago!
The era of Bowery bums, punks and junkies is long gone. Which, if you lived and were sober in the neighborhood back then, we suspect you would agree is a good thing. That we learned to count by counting crack vials on the street is a funny (and true) anecdote, but also gives a good sense of just how grim the area used to be. And no matter how many times you go and stare at that "decade-old bottle of railroad rot-gut shit with green phlegm bubbling out its top, black gunk at the bottom and chunks of decayed fruit bobbing in its tide," those days are not coming back (unsettling developments in other neighborhoods aside).
New Yorkers old and new have, in the past decade especially, grown fixated on preserving New York in an image that never existed. Historic districts keep coming left and right (the East Village is next). And to a certain extent that is a shame. New York is, in the context of world cities, still a kid that hasn't hit puberty yet, and trying to force its businesses and buildings to stay by sheer force of will seems short sighted. If you loved Mars Bar you should mourn it (you loved it after all) and move on. Trust us, the owners will be fine. But please—oh, please—when it finally closes can we not turn it into the commercialized fake memory that CBGB's has become, with T-shirts sold to tourists by the truckload? Because, to use a phase often heard in the bar, fuck that.