Friday, December 22, 2006

Tales of the corporate dystopia/signs that the end is nigh, first in a possibly continuing series

...then again, i'm not sure what could top this. Via Ilyka Damen, Sheila of The Sheila Variations, who is braver or more unfortunate than i and thus has been to Times Square more recently than I've dared/had to, has made a Sighting.

There is a new monstrosity in the middle of Times Square right next to the Virgin Megastore. I had strolled by there on my way to the Actors Equity office a couple of times and wondered what the hell it was ... but frankly, it terrified me too much to investigate. The entrance is enormous. Blinding white tiles confront you from within, and 2 escalators going up. Into nothingness. That is all one sees. However, happy-crappy sing-song Barney-shit music emanates onto the sidewalk, and compels one to see what the hell is going on in there.

...Maybe on my 2nd trip past ... I realized that it was a BATHROOM version of the Virgin Megastore. Now tourists do not have to struggle to find a place to pee and poop in their meanderings through Times Square. They do not have to queue up in line in the two Starbucks in that area. Now there is an entire STOREFRONT devoted to bathrooms. This is a good idea. I get that. But what's with the happy-crappy music (literally) and the baggy pants brigade with the bear claws? And ... where do the escalators go? What is up there??

I decided to investigate...

There's a small blue-carpeted corridor (and everything is very controlled - there are barriers to keep the crowds in line) and then you emerge into a space that defies description. It is part playroom, part disco club, part bed and breakfast, part TV studio at Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory and part FREAKFEST. There is an enormous open space over to the left that you cannot get to unless you want to leave the line. (And why would you want to leave the line? Don't you just want to poop, pee, and get the hell out?) But no, many people had left the line. Perhaps they were waiting for their slower-defecating friends. Who knows. Everywhere you look is blue carpet. And also Charmin signs. Big plushy white couches line the walls. There is a fake fireplace (I am not kidding). There are also TV screens everywhere, and huge video monitors and ... I honestly wondered if I dreamed this part of it ... but I did not. Playing over and over and over again is a video - with happy smiling dancers, a multicultural mecca of talent, against a blinding white screen - and music blares from speakers - as the "dancers" do their thing, lip synching to a song about toilet paper. I'm not kidding. At one point, all of the dancers line up like the family Von Trapp in "So Long Farewell" ... and they sing, full on, face front, "We're singing in two-ply harmony!"

Watching that (or, rather, being unwillingly subjected to that) I suddenly despised the entire human race.

...Over to my right was the REAL terror. A huge tiled open space - with 3 walls - lined with bright white doors. These were the bathrooms. No lines of stalls like in Port Authority - no. We each will get our own room. Now - this is actually smart - because a public bathroom in that locale would get trashed within 5 minutes of regular use. Just because 500 people peeing and pooping in the same area is gonna get nuts without some serious monitoring. So here is how the Charmin Wackos handle it. They have a staff - who all stand in the middle of this tiled space. They are all wearing latex gloves, and they are all incredibly cheery. Like Mickey Mouse Club cheery. And the line slowly moves forward - and people come out of the bathrooms - and people go in ... but here's the worst part. Whenever anyone emerges from the bathroom - all of the staff goes nuts. Cheering, shouting, a cacophony of voices, "WHOOOOO!" So you, who have just pooped, have to stroll through that congratulatory mayhem, just trying to move on to make your matinee. I gotta give it to that staff. They were completely enthusiastic. But there was something so unbelievably fucked up about the entire thing. Oh - and each bathroom is "cleaned" after each patron. One person comes out of the bathroom and is greeted with cheers of congratulations from the Charmins staff. (And some of the people in line got into it and cheered as well. There was a group dynamic going on that was SO not what my bathroom-self needed. I go to the bathroom and it's a private affair. I don't need you to CHEER when I am successful in this particular venture.


****

You know how, in the Eternal Subject Debates, there had been some argument about whether sex work is automatically, inherently, always more degrading than any other line of work?

Although I am not one of those who finds her calling to be working erotically with/for men (and yes, there are those who do), and tho' i recognize how degrading something that intimate would be if you -didn't- want to do it...

I think I can safely say that given a choice between giving handjobs and working as a smiley insane Disney cheerleader for tourists in a corporate Ode to Poop, particularly in those conditions (ZOMG that video looping ALL DAY LONG), depending on the working conditions and pay rate and control over clientele and setting, there'd just be no contest at all. Handjobs win hands down.

jesus.

as Sheila noted on her blog, in the comments,

I honestly don't know if it will last or not - It's obvious that such a structure is needed, it definitely is needed - because the situation in Times Square forever has been brutal if you really needed to go. There are NO public toilets.


well, yah; but somehow this, well, this; this...

it's like someone Up There went, hahaha! you want toilets, Plebian Rabble? we'll GIVE you toilets! muhahahahaha!

...the goal being to make people take one look and go,

you're right, o great Owners, what was i thinking; clearly, i was wrong to think i was entitled to void my bowels without first paying for an overpriced cappucino or something like that. There is no such thing as a free lunch! There is no such thing as a free crap! There is no such thing as society! Viva the brave new world of mega-corporate capitalism! VIVA!!

11 comments:

Stroll said...

Fascinating. I have peed on the street so many times, including during broad daylight hours, always feeling guilty about it...but you gotta do what you gotta do. Also I have a friend that has a horrendous #2 story. I won't go into that.

I will say this for Starbucks, though. It is the one reliable place (excuse me, one million reliable places) in the City that you can both use the bathroom and/or sit down for a minute for free. Never once have I been denied access to the bathroom there because I wasn't buying anything. For this reason alone, I support their right to exist.

belledame222 said...

I've never been denied access to a Starbucks bathroom; but i've been in some where they've given me the fisheye, or even point blank asked me "so, what can I get you?"

and sometimes they're locked, the bathroom, and one has to ask for the key, and...

the also tend to be super-disgusting; but, when you gotta go, you gotta go...

actually Barnes and Noble is usually a better bet for both sitting and doing one's business. except for the one on 6th Ave and 8th St., goddamit, they don't have a public bathroom at all.

Times Square has no B & N, of course...I don't think. they do have the insane movie megaplex/Virgin center; -maybe- if you go down far enough you can find a public bathroom, (down into the bowels of the city to void one's bowels), but, by the time you've gotten there, you could've gotten the fuck out of Times Square.

i cannot even be around there. i can't. or Herald Square, to a lesser degree, but it's still bad. i can actually feel my blood pressure soaring.

Renegade Evolution said...

disney is evil

kh said...

There must be something we don’t understand about this, like Balinese cock fighting.

Could they be trying to impress upon people that it’ll be noticed if they’ve left things in bad order?

belledame222 said...

i don't know. i suppose now i'm going to have to go check out the fucking thing myself, aren't i, goddamit.

send a search party if i don't return in a week or so.

Vanessa said...

I wish I lived in New York!

I'd get a job there and try to destroy it from within.

belledame222 said...

oh, my god. i'd sooner try to infiltrate and destroy the Lyndon LaRouche party.

you -think- you can fight the forces of Darkness just like that. you think you will not be drained, nay, -flushed-. You do not know...the power...of the Charmin...

KH said...

Please don't go.

Rootietoot said...

I just go to the McDOnalds. SD buys a teeny fries while I go upstairs for the facilities. We're southern that way- if we use the john we must buy something.

FoolishOwl said...

I find it's very rare for a restaurant or cafe to have a public restroom. The three or four Starbucks around where I work certainly don't. I wonder if this is a regional thing?

fastlad said...

I actually saw this on Thursday evening; I saw the staff members dressed in oversized gag toilet bowl outfits (their heads popping out over the bowl).

I was briefly immobilized by a great tidal wave of grief. Recovering, I tried to smile at one of them but it wasn't in me. So instead I consoled myself by imagining how much more scarring the sight of that would have been if I had been Evelyn Waugh, say.

Horseman, pass by!