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December 4, 2008

The bathroom post

art?As you may have noticed, I have a thing about bathrooms.

I don't know exactly why, but for some reason, I tend to mention a bar or club's bathrooms in most of my reviews. It seems important to me while I'm writing the review, I guess.

When I plug my name into The Baltimore Sun's archive search mechanism, it tells me I've mentioned the word "bathroom" 17 times in 136 nightlife columns. That's a lot of times.

But the more I think about it, the more I decide that bathrooms are at least quasi-important. I mean, if you stay at a bar long enough, you're probably going to visit the bathroom ...

And though you're probably not going to go to a bar just because it has awesome bathrooms with XLerator hand dryers, it's always nice to know that they exist, methinks.

So I write about them. And some of you give me crap for it. But I don't care.

I'm hoping that somewhere along the line, someone who is reading my nightlife columns and/or this blog will be glad that I mentioned Ropewalk Tavern's nice new bathrooms -- or that you share a communal sink at the new Abbey Burger Bistro.

Maybe I'm hoping in vain. But maybe -- just maybe -- someone out there feels the same way I do. 

(Photo from Sun archives) 

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:03 PM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


Regarding the photo

"Fountain" is a 1917 work by Marcel Duchamp. It is one of the pieces which he called "readymades" (also known as found art), because he made use of an already existing object—in this case a urinal, which he titled "Fountain" and signed "R. Mutt". Duchamp submitted the piece to an art show as an act of provocation, but was lost shortly afterwards. The work, as well as the act of submitting it to the show, is regarded as a major landmark in 20th century art."

The rest of the background story is at Wikipedia:

The related song "Readymades" by The Bonzo Dog Band:

Heck yah, but I tend to rate them by how nasty they could possibly be, or the amount of bathroom graffiti. Fells, hands down, has the largest and greatest of these examples. Try to check out the men's rooms in the Wharf Rat, Bertha's, and Cat's Eye to get a glimpse at some divey nastiness.

whew, when I read the title of this post I thought you had just gotten a laptop with wi-fi or something

hahahahahahah i'm dedicated but not that dedicated ...

Just a little potty question for you: what if you've got to do number 2?

Guys, some of the aforementioned Fells bars have NO LOCKING DOORS. And, they are single stall loos.

As Sam said, "if you stay at a bar long enough, you're probably going to visit the bathroom.


I'm all about the bathrooms. Should we talk about how Kisling's nasty urinal looks like it was shattered into pieces and then painstakingly glued back together by hand? What about how some of the finer spots in this city put ice in the urinals (a quick google of that phrase will bring you to Liz's blog)? I'm also a big fan of bathrooms where the door swings out, and doesn't require you to grad a doorknob. I could go on and on :D


Maybe you should start contributing to . It's a bathroom rating site, where you can post reviews of good bathrooms, and of course, the crappy ones (da dun tzzz). There's even an iphone app.

Oh, and here's a Cat's Eye dilemma. There's a urinal and a can in the same single stall with no locking door. So, if one guy is taking a wiz, do sidle up next to him and use the other toilet. Or is that getting just a little too close?

Survey says??

Max, that's a good question. If you see someone go into a small bathroom with one urinal and one toilet, what do you do? Do you go in too?

I think it depends on how large the other dude is, how much you've had to drink and how full your bladder is. It could make for an awkward situation. But when you gotta go, you gotta go.

The urinal/toilet question is a good one, pretty common! I think it depends how close the urinal and toilet are to each other. And also as Sam mentioned, how much you've drank and the look of the other guy. I've run into this quite often myself, I usually just take a wizz if I've got to.

As far as caring about bathrooms, I usually don't pay attention unless it is horribly nasty or weird. The trough thing at Mother's used to bother me, like what am I supposed to do here? Friends' bathroom is one of the worst... just awful smelling, leaking and cold.

Montag -- yes! I love Friends but the bathrooms are frigid.

Mother's trough reminded me of a bathroom at an American Legion hall.

Oh man, the bathroom debate. I find myself in a Seinfeld episode every time I go to some bathrooms. Here is the my favorite bathroom: You enter, do your biz, you leave - AND NEVER TOUCH ANYTHING. The door automatically opens, the urinal automatically flushes, the sink automatically turns on at the perfect temp when you place you hands underneath, the xcelerator turns on and blows dries the skin of my bones (my personal fav) Empty, dry and having touched nothing, I turn and the door opens for me to rent more beer. Reality: I wait in the awkward line, I enter and it's a lone toilet with a sailboat sized sink that I manage to jam my pelvis into as I sidestep it to do my biz. I look around and wonder why the person who built this place put all wood in here, Someone opens the door again, I turn on the sink to arctic water and touch the wet lever to the empty paper towel dispencer, I turn to kick the door open hoping to hit the meat head on his cell phone, I miss but he got the hint, get napkins from the bar and wipe off my hands. Ladies, I feel so bad for you sometimes. The best thing I saw for toilets would be the automatic plastic wrapper around the toilet seat so you don't have to airwalk. I saw that in an airport in Chicago and thought what the hell is that gas powered mower on that toilet? As I approached, it turned on and wrapped the seat in plastic. I jumped three feet back, in awe. Yes I have issues, but at least I'm not hooked on heroin, just phonics!

Friends bathrooms are rank. I started going there in the late 90's and they've oddly enough gotten no better and no worse. It's like a spot "frozen" in time. And yes, they've always been frigid.

A place with surprisingly nice bathrooms is Horse You Came In On.

As for Max' question about deucing in a bar bathroom: You go home and accept the moniker Sh$%break for the rest of the night.

It's great to know someone else considers bathrooms an important part of enjoying a good night out, Sam! I'd go beyond the idea that bathrooms are just "quasi-important." To me, a great bathroom can enhance a dining experience, but a terrible one can steer a date's mood toward disaster. Bathrooms are probably less important in bars, but it's still good to know where the dive lavoraties are so readers can properly avoid them.

I've just started my own blog in an effort to uncover the best and worst restrooms in the downtown Phoenix area. (Check it out at I wish there were more localized blogs of this ilk -- people could really benefit from knowing where good bathrooms are, and it could go a long way toward keeping restaurants and other places honest and diligent with their maintainance.

Thanks again for keeping bathrooms in your work, Sam!

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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