WBGO Jazz 88.3 FM

I stopped by WBGO this month to see if the green fluff ball guy I made was still where I dropped him off in the studio. I left him there back in 2013 and would see his googly eyes looking back at me at each of my regular visits for months after. I was a bit disappointed that he had disappeared but was glad to know that the place was being cleaned at least once and maybe even twice a year.

What'll happen if I don't?I was also impressed to see that producer Simon Rentner had tidied up his office space, a room that I could hardly stand to look at before with its overflowing piles of CD cases and stuff. It was great to see that cleanliness had made it onto the agenda in this time of transition for the jazz radio station. One of the changes is the long-time host of The Checkout Josh Jackson moving to a station in Virginia, passing the torch to Simon.

I used to do work for the show and before I started editing segments remotely, I would go to the station regularly on Monday nights after my day job. When Simon introduced me as the intern one evening to host Awilda Rivera she replied with an incredulous “mmm-hmm.” It’s possible that says something about what she thinks of Simon. It’s also possible that she made assumptions about me. I’m beginning to understand beyond the obvious why my parents plead with me not to stay out late. Though I conduct myself with integrity, I’m likely to be framed as a scheming tart because I’m a young woman. To further illustrate, when a woman I know was kidnapped, more than one person responded asking if the kidnapper was very handsome.

WBGO radioWBGO downstairs sinkWBGO downstairs toilet

WBGO women's stall signsThere is an art gallery, which is essentially a hallway with paintings hung on the walls, but what I really recommend you check out is the women’s restroom on the second floor. Whoever curates the signs in the restroom definitely has a voice and a penchant for color-saturated pictures of flowers. I always look forward to using one of the two stalls so that I can read the two signs posted on each door reminding ladies to deodorize and check that the toilet has completely flushed. As with all great art, it has become a source of inspiration and pushed me to put up a similar sign at my office. Now I find the toilet fully flushed more often than before but it hasn’t been a complete success. Do you think I need to add clip art?

WBGO women's roomWBGO women's sinks

There is a restroom on the ground floor for on-air and production staff with a radio tuned to WBGO. Switching the light on used to interfere with the radio signal but I noticed that this issue had been resolved, possibly as a result of the new corner placement of the gadget.

New Jersey used to feel like a state distinct from New York before I started going to Newark for WBGO. I have since accepted it as the sixth borough of the city and have become fairly skilled at taking NJ Transit and PATH. Back from a period of exile in Princeton, my once-again Manhattanite friend Gokul tells us how to say “Where’s the restroom?” in Malayalam. It seems he has nearly forgotten how to ask in his mother tongue so it’s a good review as he goes home to Kerala in South India before plunging into his new job in Stamford, Connecticut.

Toilet evideyanu?


blue whale

Last night I went to the most happening jazz club in Los Angeles, blue whale, for a show of original pop tunes, reharmonized standards and spoken word led by vocalist Joyce Kwon with pianist Matt Politano, bassist Dominic Thiroux and drummer Kevin McDonald.  I almost thought I wouldn’t be able to make it because an abnormal swelling developed to the left of my throat, leaving me in pain for most of the weekend.  It was humbling to realize that just like that, I could lose my voice and my livelihood.  Music is an extreme sport.

For this special Los Angeles edition, we took the entire team of JAZZ TOILET correspondents.  A small Asian girl like me with a Ken® doll may not have been so conspicuous at blue whale, at least according to one Yelp review which noted that there were too many inter-racial Asian female/ Caucasian male couples.  Not only do you have to deal with issues that arise in relationships where a hegemonic culture merges with a minority culture, you have to deal with others who find it problematic.  But perhaps it’s worth it.

blue whale ladies sinkHere’s a brief history of the ladies room at blue whale.  The toilet used to have a rectangular seat but it has since been replaced by a conventional round shape.  For a period in the past, there was a sticky note on the open toilet top that asked the patron to lift the lever up, because the external handle to flush was broken.  That has been fixed and I also noticed that a new soap pump had been installed on a wall adjacent to the sink.

I’ve been curious to know why multiple men come out of the bathroom in succession if it is a single person restroom without stalls, like the ladies room.  I haven’t known guys to flock to the bathroom in groups to hang and gossip so I wondered just what goes on inside.  Our men’s room correspondent KMac demystified the situation with his investigative photography: there is a urinal and a toilet so that two people can use the room at once, even though there aren’t stalls with separate doors for privacy.

blue whale men's toilet: it still has the rectangular toilet seat.

So that you don’t accuse me of yellow journalism, I enlisted the help of our West Coast correspondent, Eunice, to provide footage of toilet perspectives other than mine.  Watch the clip below for interviews with blue whale patrons on how they would describe the restrooms.

The restrooms are indeed spacious, chic and modern, just like the rest of venue (that is, withholding the private disco room in the back).  The club is impeccable, the music is killing and the concept, inspiring.  But the standout feature of blue whale is the people.  From Big John’s stern greeting at the door to Mitch’s generous concoctions at the bar to Joon’s sincere support for the musicians, I have not found a better club anywhere in all of my assignments.

The place holds countless treasured memories for this LA girl and I wish that I could be in multiple places at once, hanging at blue whale and living my life in NYC simultaneously.  I think of blue whale each time I use the Shure Beta 87A that they gave me as my going away present, when I moved to New York almost a year ago.  I may be biased but ask anyone else who has been and they will tell you that blue whale is a truly special place.

JAZZ TOILET presented the first best bathroom award last night to blue whale, with an official certificate and a placeholder trophy made of toilet paper rolls to tide them over until their prize of a case of 2-ply household rolls arrives.  I would like to thank our sponsor, ToiletPaperWorld.com for providing the Charmin’ toilet paper.  The heart of blue whale, owner Joon Lee tells us how to say, “Where’s the restroom?” in Korean —

Hwa-jang-sil ee uh dee joh?