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I donât watch The Wire, but Iâve heard an awful lot about it.Â Thus, when descending the stairs to the menâs room in the Talking Head Club, I was fully prepared to find two dealers drowning some strung out kid in the toilet while a crooked cop took swigs from a bottle of Jack and cackled manically. Thatâs what happens in that show, right?
I was almost disappointed when I discovered the bathroom empty, but it certainly seemed like the kind of place where television violence of that sort would happen.Â The bathroom itself is at the bottom of a narrow flight of stairs, next to an emergency exit that didnât really look like it would open in an emergency.Â The walls are painted an especially foreboding version of black, seemingly designed to allow the yellow graffiti to stand out more prominently.Â I assume that they were dangerous gang signs, because that would be a lot more exciting than the truth, which is that some nervous kid named Phil probably found a can of yellow spray paint and decided to show everyone how badass he was.Â But I digress.
My favorite part of this bathroom was that the stall door had been bodily torn from its hinges and is now missing in action.Â I like to picture some drunken frat dude waking up in his dorm room, wondering where that huge plank of wood came from.Â Or, in keeping with the theme, a huge bald guy in a suit wailing on a narc with a bathroom stall door.Â Thatâs what happens in that show, right?
Pathetically, this is the closest Iâve ever come to any kind of real TV danger: 7/10
FINAL GRADE: 28/50
And we’re back! New York was a busy time, with too much press and not enough bathrooms. Excuse my tardiness.
Last time we met here, we talked about the Xlerator, which was a successful attempt to perfect the automatic hand dryer that we all know and have mixed feelings about. Today, I’d like to talk about one company’s quest to reinvent the hand dryer industry as we know it.
Dyson is a company that is best known for its work in the field of vacuum cleaners. I’ve never actually used one of their products, but the late night TV infomercials make them seem like pretty sturdy machines. Having achieved success in the vacuum market, Dyson has started branching out into the hand dryer business, hoping to prove that they can blow as good as they suck. And thus, the AirBlade was born.
With the AirBlade, Dyson replaces the traditional “hold your hands under the dryer while it blows pathetically on them” design with a futuristic “move your hands up and down inside a weird chamber” motif. Dyson’s website claims that the AirBlade can dry hands in only 12 seconds, whereas a regular hand dryer takes around 22. I don’t have an AirBlade handy to time, but the hand dryer here took about 49 seconds to dry my hands completely. I don’t know how this affects Dyson’s claim, but at least now I look like I’m willing to put some leg (or hand) work into my writing.
The main problem with the AirBlade is that it confuses people. The design makes sense, and Dyson posts a helpful diagra, but people don’t like change and the AirBlade completely alters the hand drying ritual that people have been performing for years. For that reason, and for the reason that it kind of looks like its going to cut off your hands with a laser, it may be difficult for Dyson to corner the market.
The AirBlade does work, though, but I can’t help but think that theres a serious design oversight. If one AirBlade can dry your hands in twelve seconds, couldn’t two dry them in six seconds? Or three in three seconds? Maybe they should give the design team over at Gillette a call.
Again, I have no particular criteria to rate this on, so I’m going to give them a frowny face on a paper plate and hope that they heed my advice about adding more blades.
Weâve all experienced the dubious pleasure of drying our hands with an air dryer.Â As the little label will tell you (if it isnât covered by a crude drawing of male genitalia), hand dryers increase hygiene and decrease waste, all at once.Â Magic!Â Unfortunately the design process skipped over the moderately important step of actually âdryingâ the âhandsâ.Â Instead, the hand dryer emits a pathetic burst of cold air that serves only to push the water on your hands up your sleeves, spreading the chill onto your forearms.Â Magic!
Recently, some enterprising soul realized that there was money to be made in creating a hand dryer that actually did what it was meant to do.Â And hence the Xlerator was born.
The first time I was in a bathroom where one of these puppies was installed, I was fairly sure that a jet had made an emergency landing in the next stall over.Â After washing my hands, I approached the gleaming silver device with some trepidation.Â It looked like it was going to solve the wetness of my hands by removing them permanently from my body.Â But Iâm not one to shy away from a potentially dangerous appliance, and so I intrepidly thrust both hands beneath the vent.
You know that thing that happens in movies where someone will be in a fast moving vehicle and the skin on their face starts to ripple comically?Â Thatâs exactly what the skin on my hands did when the Xlerator kicked into gear.Â Iâm not exaggerating, this thing was actually pushing human flesh out of its way in an unstoppable quest to obliterate every single droplet of water left on my skin.Â And by God, did it ever work.Â I left the bathroom looking like Iâd just emerged from one of those huge centrifuges they use to train astronauts to withstand G-force, but my hands were as dry as theyâd ever been.
I canât think of five categories to rank the Xlerator in, but for the achievement of being the first hand dryer that ever properly dried my hands (as well as for looking like a jet pack and having a badass name), I am proud to award the Xlerator Hand Dryer the Official Bathroom Blog Award of Technical Merit.
I know that I’ve been curiously silent on the bathroom blogging front recently.Â The fact is that I realized fairly quickly that there wasn’t as much to write about as I’d originally hoped, and I didn’t want to run out of steam all at once.Â However, I’ve done some planning, and from now on I’ll be updating this here bathroom blog thrice weekly – Monday, Wednesday, and Friday – with thrilling tales of the most sordid and the most kingly bathrooms that the nation has to offer.Â I’ll also be offering up more specific reviews of bathroom appliances and accessories.Â So tune in tomorrow for the first regular installment of Bathroom Blogs, where I’ll be discussing the merits of the Xlerator Hand Dryer.
Now this is a bathroom worth blogging about. It doesnât happen often, but there are clean bathrooms out there, and theyâre usually at places like the Paradise. Itâs a perky little establishment that offers the usual assortment of seemingly fresh cookies and sandwiches, served up by a staff of friendly people with their home countries printed on their name tags. I assume thatâs an immigration department regulation.
Places like this actually get inspected every now and again, I guess, so they take good care of their bathrooms. The floors and walls are spotless and a pleasant fruity aroma greets you as soon as you walk in. The stall door latches and, saints be praised, there is enough toilet paper to prank every teacher you ever hated with plenty left over for all your wiping needs.
My favorite part of this bathroom was the hand towel dispenser. Iâm sure youâve seen the âno touchâ sensor operated dispensers that are popping up in restrooms everywhere. I think they operate by magic or something, I donât know and I donât care. The point is that they never, ever give you enough paper towel in one go. You stand there waving your hands like a lunatic and eventually it spits out a meager offering, hardly bigger than an index card. I believe this is meant to save paper, presumably because your hands are air dried by all the frantic waving long before any towels are actually dispensed. Fortunately for the Paradise, their dispensers have been adjusted by some kind person to actually give out a reasonable amount on every go. Good work, team Paradise!
Who puts that much horseradish on a sandwich? Seriously, it was all I could taste and it totally ruined my whole Paradise experience: 0/10
FINAL GRADE: 37/50
One of the many perks I experience as a touring musician is the joy of getting to relieve myself at all manner of gas stations along the highways of America.Â The gas station bathroom is a unique phenomenon that covers the gamut all the way from Godly luxury to festering poop sty.Â Near the bottom of this exceptionally deep barrel is the dreaded âits around back, heres the keyâ bathroom that can be found lurking near the exits of most major highways.
The Mobil in Pico Rivera is a particularly rank specimen.Â After the rounding the corner, the lucky traveler is greeted with a hand lettered âout of orderâ sign.Â He then has the pleasure of waiting uncertainly for several minutes before knocking on the door to see if it is out of order or merely occupied and, hearing an embarrassed grunt from the other side of the door.Â Upon finally entering (whilst studiously avoiding eye contact with whoever is leaving), he finds the room illuminated by a flickering fluorescent light, which is probably a blessing given the state of the walls.Â The floor is either grey or just really, really dirty, and an empty beer can is the only thing in the garbage.Â But its been hours since his last bathroom break, so the traveler is concerned only with getting to the urinal.
And what a kingly urinal it is!Â Apparently some frustrated entrepreneur once, in a last desperate act of self-sabotage, designed a urinal in a colour other than white, and the sickly blue monstrosity the resulted is displayed proudly here.Â Upon stepping up to it, it becomes uncomfortably clear that the urinal is not in fact connected to any kind of plumbing (although a fixture slightly above it on the wall suggests that it was once, in better days, possible to flush).Â Our hypothetical traveler is surprised at this juncture to note that the sink is still firmly attached to the wall, and the tap dispenses water that appears to be relatively clean.Â He thanks providence for small favours, and then goes back to his van to spend the next several hours in traffic, cursing his luck.
I really, really, needed to pee and would have been happy with a small hole or reasonably isolated flower pot: 10/10
FINAL GRADE: 22/50
The first time I used the bathroom at the Glass House in Pomona, last year, the fire alarm went off at the exact same time as I flushed the toilet, which was unnerving.Â I think it was just a coincidence, but all the same it was with mild trepidation that I stepped over the threshold again.
There are certain qualities that any good bathroom will possess, especially one in the backstage of a venue.Â One is a door that locks.Â Another is a toilet that flushes, and properly stocked soap and paper towel dispensers.Â The Glass House boasts all of these things, with the added bonus of a washer and dryer, which is a rare thing on the road.Â I used the dryer after the show and it didnât seem to burn the building down, so thatâs another point in their favour.Â So the bathroom at the Glass House is doing pretty well so far.Â Sure, its kind of spartan and it could be a little cleaner, but it doesnât smell and it works.Â Which is why the shower facilities stand out so badly.
I donât know the history of the Glass House, but from looking at the shower I can only conclude that the building was once some kind of torture playground for insane sadists, and whoever renovated it ran out of money before they could finish the bathroom, so they left the shower intact as a twisted tribute to the serial killers of yesteryear.Â Itâs the kind of shower that the people who made those awful Saw movies were trying to approximate.Â I canât imagine anyone actually using it to shower; Iâd be too busy waiting for the water to run blood red to get clean.Â The floor is even built on a slant to allow for maximum blood flow into the drain from the poor bastard who was hung from the ceiling by their ankles.
Iâll be awarding each bathroom I review a score out of 10 in five categories, for a final mark out of a possible 50.Â Lets see how the Glass House stacks up.
Not giving me the screaming night terrors for days after use:Â 0/10
FINAL GRADE: 27/50