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January 13, 2008

Toilets of the Times

If I told you that the New York Times had a review of toilets on Friday, you would naturally assume I had been reading the Arts pages. You know, perhaps a review of Serrano's "Piss Christ -- Number 2."

But you would be wrong.

You would be wrong, because New York City has been trying to provide public toilets for years, perhaps centuries. Which is a very, very long time to hold it.

And the future is finally here: "Greetings, Earthlings. Your New Restroom Is Ready."

I don't want to spoil the review for you, so I will just give you some highlights:

* Indecent exposure:

What follows is possibly the longest and most awkward 20 to 30 seconds of a person’s day. The door slips open like an elevator, but then it stays open, to accommodate those who need extra time getting in. Meanwhile, men and women in suits walk past. It is very difficult to look inconspicuous in a bathroom on a sidewalk in New York with the door open. There is just nothing to do but stand there. And the delay will not please those who are in distress.
* The cost and size:
This toilet, which cost more than $100,000, is very spacious, large enough to accommodate a wheelchair. One cannot touch the side walls with arms outstretched.
* The toilet itself:
Sadly, these little surprises are forgotten with the first look at the toilet itself, an imposing, metal, cold-looking receptacle in the corner. There is no little stall around it, and so it looks exposed, like the facilities available in many prisons. It, too, is quite damp, for perfectly good reasons explained later, but the image first evokes a dungeon or a scene from one of the “Saw” pictures.
Surely, by now, if you haven't gone back to click on the link I gave you, you're thinking, "Is there a photo of this monstrosity?"

Why yes, yes there is.

With toilets like these, it's really no wonder Mayor Bloomberg has his eyes on the White House.

(hat tip: Mrs. A)

UPDATE (1/15): When you write things like what I wrote just above about Mayor Bloomberg, some people just don't pick up the ironic tone. I'm now on the Draft Bloomberg mailing list. Bwahahaha! I'm as likely to support him as Hillary. Not very.