New York Shitty Cares: The No Toilet Left Behind Project

Or: When I learned complaining is futile and did it my damned self.

To Preface: I had initially planned presenting this project after the last of my toilet trifecta was deployed (preferably at a Parks & Waterfront Committee Meeting). But given recent events, this being having it made quite clear to me that our Community Board General Manager and Parks & Waterfront Chair do not give a shit (pun completely intended) I have come to conclusion this is the time. I do give a shit. And what’s more, I want to help my fellow citizens take one. That means YOU. So, here it is.

I am content with being a “Greenpoint blogger”. The perquisites (there are some), respect (next to none); and working conditions (best imaginable— I make my own hours, there is no dress code and sexual harassment is a given) which come with said sinecure reach my level of expectations. However low they may be. A very wise man once wrote:

I’ll remain below and from below I’ll spit on their social ladder. Right, spit on every rung of it. In order to climb it, it’s necessary to be forged steel-assed from head to toe. And this I am not.

As a result yours truly has become quite the connoisseur of crappers in north Brooklyn. Under my rather gruff, steely (if colorful) exterior resides an incredibly soft place: my ass. And it, I personally assure you, is not made of steel. So I pick my privies wisely. This is why I will, for example, avoid McCarren and McGolrick Park. These “comfort stations” are generally repulsive. Cooper Park, on the other hand, is generally well-maintained and clean. My only caveat is the toilet seat in the womens’ lavatory at this location is made of metal and in cooler weather the experience can be quite, well, “bracing”. However, in summer this can be can be quite refreshing.

If I, the self-elected queen of crappers, had to tender a (very general) summary of the state of women’s lavatories within the confines Community Board 1 Brooklyn it would be this: those located in the 34th City Council District are generally nicer than those located in the 33rd City Council District. I will leave it to you, gentle readers, to ponder why this is the so and test my hypothesis for yourselves. At your own risk.

Hence why I made this crapper— located in the 34th City Council District— my “pit-stop”of choice during my peregrinations. Until that fateful day.

This was what awaited my delectation on August 17th. The toilet paper strewn upon the floor is nasty to be certain, but what really bothered me was the absence of a toilet seat. This may seem trivial (and all things considered, it is) but this is a playground. Playgrounds are generally inhabited by children. And despite this being the 21st century most of the caretakers of children— be they mothers or nannies— are (still) women.

As chance would have it, Open Space Alliance (which is headed by the very same person who is also the Parks Supervisor for north Brooklyn) was conducting a “town hall meeting” that very evening. The ostensible purpose of this meeting was to ascertain what we, the people, wanted to see happen with our open spaces. Not since kindergarten (and the iron curtain fell) have I beheld such a bureaucratic attempt at crowd/mind control. Upon entering we had to sign in. Upon signing in, he/she was given a pamphlet documenting OSA’s achievements and member organizations (some of which were highly questionable) and assigned a number. This number dictated at which table said person sat (so as to facilitate “small discussion groups”). Thus family members and concerned citizens were separated.

Did I get a number? No. I exercised my right as a “Greenpoint blogger”. I sat where I damned well pleased.

First we had to sit through a presentation extolling upon the manifold benefits this, our, private/public partnership has bestowed upon my community. Speeches from our local elected officials followed. Then, with the assistance of a minder from OSA, each discussion group was assigned to make a list of ten things we would like to see happen with our parks. After these findings were announced by our respective groups— and noted on poster-board— we were each given three green stickers. These three green stickers constituted our vote towards any given project/idea we fancied and were to be applied accordingly.

ASIDE: The first memory I have of a sticker-based economy is a getting gold star for simply telling my Kindergarten teacher I brushed my teeth on any given morning. I didn’t fancy such micro-management then and I certainly didn’t like it three decades later.

If I am going to be treated like a child,

I thought to myself

I might as well have the pleasure of acting like one.

So I brought the missing toilet seat matter to everyone’s attention. A chap named Joe Garber—  a man, I will add, who is renowned in the Community Board 1 circle — backed me up.

I made the call for a toilet seat. Was it heard? Absolutely. Did it get any “stickers”? No. Should such a modest request— one a reasonable person would presume to be a matter of routine maintenance— require a sticker? No.

Yet, over a month later (and despite our Parks Supervisor informing me after the aforementioned convocation that they had fixed the roof in said crapper and to wit I replied “Yes, and now it needs a toilet seat.”) nothing was done. That’s when I crossed the Rubicon and became an outlaw. You read me right O-U-T-L-A-W.

Fuck this shit!

I grumbled. I noted the make and model number of said crapper…

and proceeded to the closest hardware store without delay.


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At Crest Hardware I purchased a top-of-the-line toilet seat— but I did not stop there. I wanted this bequest to be special. I wanted it to be something its patrons would enjoy. I am of the firm belief (as a former and current child) that little things matter. On one fateful evening while strolling along Manhattan Avenue inspiration finally struck:

LADYBUGS!

They’re cute, easy to render and are shaped like toilet seats! Who doesn’t like ladybugs? Really?

A “ladybug” I did make. I took the added measure of preserving my “artistry” with coat of plastic resin (which also makes it easy to clean).

This lass’s installation, however, proved to be problematic. I, an aspiring good Samaritan, unwittingly breached said playground’s etiquette. I left the gate open instead of securing shut with a bike lock. For this offense I was questioned:

You have children, yes?

My lady Inquisitor inquired.

No.

I answered. I was then advised that I, a child-free woman, was technically violating the rules of this playground by simply being there. But she added I’d “probably” be okay. Nonetheless, the bathroom was locked and I had to go back to Greenpoint. With my ladybug. On the way I stopped by McCarren Park’s lavatory (so as to relieve myself):

Only to discover it too was lacking a toilet seat!*

So many toilet seats, so little time.

I thought to myself. Long story made a mite bit shorter…

The “ladybug” was installed October 13th. As of the writing of this post (okay, Monday afternoon), I have no idea whether she is still there or not.** This is because the lavatory in question was locked.

My educated guess is the ladies, delightful women both, who staff(ed) this playground were laid off “for the season”. This is a shame as they kept the premises and my “donation” quite tidy (the first photo being the exception to the rule). Conversely, I gave McCarren— our Parks Supervisor’s “Flagship Park”— a heaping helping of love.

By “love” I mean glitter, rhinestones and a melancholic expression. Would YOU want to be a McCarren Park toilet seat?

I didn’t think so.

Deployment Date: October 23, 2011. I am pleased to report that as of December 5th, she’s still there!

A reasonable person would presume the amount of time and effort Open Space Alliance North Brooklyn— a “parks conservancy group” which has boasted their concerts (that ostensibly benefit our community’s open spaces) have grossed $250,000 could see fit to allocate funds/manpower for something as simple as a toilet seat. But alas, our Parks “Advocate(s)” (and Parks Supervisor) are not reasonable people.

This is why we have a “pop-up park” on my fair burgh’s waterfront which— while purported to have been “ready” in June (per the Deputy Director of OSA) and available to Nuit Blanche/East River Ferry patrons in October— is still closed to the general public.***

And I had to resort to a life of crime.

In closing:

Usually I’d take someone shitting on my “work” as the ultimate insult. But in these unusual circumstances (and I suspect my college professors will back me up on this) “context is everything” and as such I interpret the above-depicted scat as high praise. It is prima facie evidence my humble creation is actually being used! The same cannot be said about aforementioned “pop-up park” or the benches— city/tax payer property all— contained therein.

If any of you toilet goers (and you know who you are) know of a womens’ “comfort station” lacking a toilet seat within the confines of Community Board 1 Brooklyn please shoot me an email at missheather (at) thatgreenpointblog (dot) com. I have a very special treat in store for you(r ass).

A seriously customized/blinged-out Magnolia** “Progressions” juvenile/adult toilet seat with patented “Gent’l Close” technology.**** (READ: it has dual seats for little ones and adults and cannot be slammed shut.)

This hippo’s getting very hungry. Let’s feed her, north Brooklyn!

*This photo was taken by a concerned toilet-goer October 1, 2011.
**It is!
***Which was mysteriously, inexplicably, open to the public the day after this post was published!
****Made in the good ol’ U.S.A. What’s more, they have the prestigious honor of being  “the official bathroom seat manufacturer for the NASA Space Shuttle”!

Comments

4 Comments on New York Shitty Cares: The No Toilet Left Behind Project

  1. rutila on Thu, 8th Dec 2011 9:28 am
  2. I was wondering what had happened to this project. As much as I was looking forward to leopard-print toilet seats, the ladybugs are adorable.

  3. SpillConspirator on Thu, 8th Dec 2011 9:54 pm
  4. I love it!!!!!!!
    As you know, when I saw these photos I wanted to jump up on my chair and scream, “put it in Barge Park”! However, we’d have to have… a toilet, to have a missing toilet seat. But maybe one day we’ll have our chance.

  5. Lisanne! on Fri, 9th Dec 2011 12:39 pm
  6. Nothing like a bit of guerrilla expression to embarrass the hell out of the powers that be. They dare not remove these!

  7. missheather on Fri, 9th Dec 2011 12:43 pm
  8. I prefer the term “direct action”— but whichever/whatever…

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