The Great Metropolis face-off, Burning Man vs. the Big Apple, round 2: finding a restroom

One difficulty of living in cities is finding a public restroom, especially when under pressure from the pee-pee dance, or worse yet, the pressing need of an explosive #2.

Gotta go, gotta go in the Big Apple:
In cities like NYC, accessing a restroom is not an easy feat. NYC has virtually no public restrooms, other than those located in the parks. This missing public amenity forces pedestrians to memorize restroom locations scattered throughout stores, restaurants and cafes, libraries, transit hubs such as Penn Station, etc. Alternatively, those who have Internet access can consult online guides such as this map.

Singing the portapotty blues at Burning Man:
Because of Burning Man’s temporary location in the desert, Black Rock City denizens rely upon large banks of portable chemical toilets, which are relatively easy to locate. Contracted services regularly clean the portapotties by pumping out waste and replacing the toilet paper, but users must take care not to dispose of anything BUT human waste or toilet paper. Foreign objects clog the hose used to pump out toilets, causing possible injuries to the cleaner.

True to the Burning Man spirit, Burners have applied their creativity toward refashioning portable toilets into a more enjoyable experience. For example, artist and documentary-maker Susan Barron hand-sewed and placed 170 Mr. Hanky (the “Christmas Poo” from the animated South Park show) dolls in the doors of portable toilets. Another year, someone hid an electronic chip (the kind that makes greeting cards sing) that relentlessly hummed the lullaby “Rock-a-bye Baby” throughout the week, making one’s time in the portapotty a more surreal experience. Others have redecorated individual units such as this one. Burners have also reported that groups host games, such as a Jackson 5 trivia contest, to enliven the wait to use portable toilets. Finally, the Pee Funnel theme camp provides funnels for those who wish to stand and pee, rather than hover or sit.

Ease of finding restroom: Burning Man: 1, Big Apple: 0.
Creativity applied to enhancing the restroom experience: Burning Man: 1, Big Apple: 0.

Half flush versus full flush option (hint: paper needs full flush)
Half flush versus full flush option (hint: paper needs full flush)
Larger view of flush options in the David Brower Center, Berkeley, CA
Larger view of flush options in the David Brower Center, Berkeley, CA

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