Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Before the Mars Bar

[Photo by EV Grieve reader Shannon O'Toole]

At the Times this past weekend, Dan Glass checks in with an article on the artistic history of the Mars Bar. And there's this passage about the bar's debut:

When the bar opened in 1984, at First Street and Second Avenue, the facade was gleaming. “We thought, 'Oh no, another sushi bar; there goes the neighborhood,'" said Jim Sizelove, who was part of the rowdy art scene called the Rivington School.

As Glass notes, that crowd hung out at the bar/performance space No Se No at 42 Rivington St. near Forsythe. When No Se No closed several years later, "Mars became the unlikely new home."

Fortunately, there is a well-curated website for The Rivington School and No Se No. You can find it here.

A few shots from the site... showing the bar's exterior and interior...

Per an essay by Freddie the Dreamer: "Getting to No Se No on Rivington Street was a trip through shattered and burnt buildings, empty lots of scattered bricks bordered by sagging cyclone fences, once were homes but now were fields where whores and junkies were busy about. Respite from the desperation of the streets, warmed with thick smoke and black lights, cheap beer and whiskey, through the door of No Se No and the magic of life became an impending adventure."

There are also photos and background on The Rivington School Sculpture Garden on Rivington at Forsythe featuring Cowboy Ray. (Access that here.)

The garden-clubhouse was adjacent to Adam Purple's space. The city bulldozed the Rivington School Sculpture Garden in late November 1987.

[All images ©1980-2009 and photos ©1980-2009 Toyo Tsuchiya]


Utherben said...

I definitely remember walking past No Se No as a kid back in the '80s - it was quite a scene!

This past April I was looking through an old copy of NY Rocker and found a small article on No Se No, if anyone's interested I scanned & posted it here:

EV Grieve said...

Thanks, Utherben. I may post that later.

nygrump said...

Genocide is not just mass murder but the systematic destruction of a culture including its arts and economy.

Anonymous said...

did nygrump just compare the closure of mars bar to genocide? uhhh, really?!

Anonymous said...

Where are your regulars bemoaning the loss of this joint? Oh wait, they're transplants.

AC said...

@anon 4:23

Enlighten us then. What are your memories of No Se No?

Maybe Grieve will let you write a column about how great the city was before transplants like Richard Hell, Allen Ginsberg and W.H. Auden arrived and ruined it for everyone.

Starzstylista said...

I went to the Mars Bar like the first week it opened. Almost got into a fight - I was a nasty drunk back then. It was very glass bricky. Glass bricks were the ne plus ultra of the modern industrialist look of the 80s. Ask any questions, and I will attempt to answer them about the EV from 1977 to present. Those pictures are of me and my friends.

Patti Sirens said...

I was the bass player in Mistaken Identity, a band that played No Se No several times. It was such a small and narrow space that the drummer set up on the bar and I had to sit on my amp. One night the ceiling above us was leaking water onto the guitar player. That ended that set early. It was a great space to play at. I remember there was a fire eater there once too.