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‘Times,’ Toilet Meet Cute

Toilets

"Aslan? Is that you in there?"Photo: Gerald Holubowicz / Polaris

When we heard about futuristic new self-cleaning public toilets that the city unveiled, we went right to our favorite sources for this type of coverage. "WHAT A RELIEF," the Daily News said, under a headline that read: "AND A-WEE WE GO" The Post led with "Helle-LOO-jah," and a headline of "TOILET IS GOOD TO 'GO.'" But imagine our surprise when we found that the best write-up of all was in the New York Times. They go through the experience of using the toilet in detail, in a style that can only be described as architectural-review-meets-anthropological-study:

There are two architectural flourishes, both on the roof: a small pyramid of glass, like a little model of the Louvre, and an anachronistic metal stovepipe, reminiscent of a cozy shanty or an old outhouse with a crescent moon carved into the door…


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.

There is no seat to raise or lower, just the wide rim of the bowl, with covers made of tissue available in a dispenser to the side. Sitting down is a leap of faith, like falling backwards into a stranger’s arms at a corporate team-building retreat.

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.

That's right. Run, don't walk, to Madison Square Park to check this baby out yourself!

Greetings, Earthlings. Your New Restroom is Ready [NYT]
Update: Someone just pointed out to us that the Times story was billed as a "Facilities Review." Amazing. Do you think they had to use the toilet six times before they could review it?

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