Blue NotePosted: September 11, 2012
Ten toilets spread among five bathrooms—I knew it would be a busy night and took the team along to cover Blue Note on the opening night of guitarist/singer Lionel Loueke’s CD release last Tuesday. Joined by pianist Robert Glasper, bassist Derrick Hodge and drummer Mark Guiliana, the music possessed a rare quality that was at once both killing and accessible. It made me grin just to watch because the band looked and sounded like they were having fun.
It was an amusing night in general. Perhaps I expected a more corporate vibe from the renowned establishment, but instead a room full of laid-back employees dressed in t-shirts enthusiastically greeted me. Their office restroom was the best, with a pinball machine by the door you can play while you wait. Another restroom directly above was similar, though with wall tiles of a varying shade and a different toilet model, and not exactly unisex, but designated specifically for the owner and his guests.
The restrooms for patrons are located up the stairs on the second floor, with three toilets, a urinal and a sink in the men’s room and three toilets and two sinks in the women’s. The green room and office’s eco-friendly toilets have two buttons for flushing depending on how much water you need.
I would like to thank the Blue Note team for the warm welcome, the exclusive backstage toilet tour and the pinball tutorial. New York is the biggest little city, where it’s easy to feel like an anonymous nobody as you constantly rub shoulders with countless extraordinary people so I’m grateful for the encouragement. I must say that recognition as “the toilet girl” is much less pressure than my previous role as somewhat of a North Korean expert, though my current role requires just as much research. Also, you don’t have to worry about hate mail or being blacklisted when you cover a seemingly noncontroversial topic, such as bathrooms.
In actuality, bathrooms can be highly controversial. What does it mean when there are exactly two types of restrooms, one marked male and another marked female? What does the lack of diaper changing stations in men’s rooms signify? What about the scarcity of water and sanitation facilities in many parts of our world? There’s enough fodder there for an entire series of books that could be titled The Subversive Politics of Toilets.
But what do I know? I’m just a music student in a conservatory bubble.
And I hope be fully present my final year in the bubble, not wishing away the weekdays waiting for the weekend. I am amazed to have become a part of the city’s narrative in the midst of living here for school, as I remember thinking about New York eleven years ago today.
Lionel Loueke who emigrated from Benin tells us how to say, “Where’s the restroom?” in Fon –