Flushed: Bathrooms of Boston
Okay, this was my review for the Spirit of Boston until I realized that I wasn't on the SoB, I was on Some Other Boat (hm, still SOB). Katie H has informed me that I was in fact on the "New Boston," which is kind of chuckle-worthy in itself. Otherwise, the old review still stands:
I guess because of the simple fact that this is a boat, dudes are expected to pee in a trough. Really.
There are two restrooms labeled as unisex. I'm waiting in a rather long line when it occurs to me that I'm the only male in said line. Before long, however, I am informed that there's a separate room for the fellas. Luckily, I'm also informed that it's a communal trough, literally a bucket of ice on the floor that guys stand in a circle around. I decide to keep my place in line with the women.
Every five seconds someone approaches me and angrily says, "Hey, the men's room is over there." Um, I definitely see pants on that stick figure next to the room I'm waiting for, but thank you for your concern. So here I am, pretending I'm far gayer than I really am and talking clumsily about handbags with my compatriots in the unisex line just to avoid being forcefully relegated to the scratch&sniff quarters, simply because I prefer peeing into something that has a handle and flushes.
Having to use a rounded waterfall with a drain on the floor in a nightclub in Milan was traumatizing enough. I'd sooner go up to the deck and pee off the side of the boat.
Imagine my dismay upon walking into the men's room here after having been in the immaculate Nile restroom down the block just a few short hours before.
Sure, the color scheme is pleasing to my aesthetic sensibilities, but the urinals! There are two of them, and they are practically on top of each other with no divider! So there I am, tending to my business when I feel something rubbing against my shoulder. Cruel fates, it's another shoulder. But then (here's the part where you know it's Allston) the guy took a step back so he could have more room to spit into the urinal while he peed. Loogie after loogie after loogie floating downstream, whi-puh, whi-puh, whi-puh. I don't think I've peed and run so quickly since I was five and my siblings told me that Jaws lived in the toilet.
The size of the men's room reflects the size of the place itself, which makes the close urinal quarters even more perplexing. Plus (here's another part where you know it's Allston) I was definitely the only guy washing his hands. The humanity of it all.
Otherwise, the place gets one more star out of me because the house gin is Beefeater and they are generous with it. Then again, that just makes you need to pee more.
This place has a five-star restroom, let me tell you.
Read Yi-Hwa's review for all the handy factual information you might need to know. In summary: the shisha is great, the owners are awesome. Now, for the personal highlight of my trip --
What a fantastic restroom! Spacious, clean, AND the lighting gave me cheekbones. The mirror is large and is complemented by an equally large sink. The blue accent wall featuring the mirror and sink is a handsome touch, as well. Also appreciated is the large silver trashcan, the kind with the foot pedal controlling the lid. No paper towels on the floor in this establishment! Toilet's just a tad bit short, but I didn't let it ruin my evening.
There are so few acceptable places in Allston to pee, I'm very happy to have discovered this one. The sofas, shisha, Zero 7 on the stereo, Baraka on the plasma screens, and awesome staff are a nice bonus.
I took a friend here for her 21st birthday because I was trying to think of the meanest possible thing I could do to her. It was my first time, so I wasn't quite expecting to have to pull out my social security card in addition to ID, passport, student ID that expired years ago, and library card. After signing in (they'll never be able to trace Michael Smith from Connecticut), we were surprised to find that there were only about ten people in the bar. Seven of them were ritualistically throwing some balls into a hoop on the wall and slapping each other around every time one went in. The other three probably worked there. I pulled up a seat next to the gallon jug of ammonia decorating the bar and braced myself for the awful things I was about to do to my body. Lucky for me (?), there was a problem with the taps and we could only have bottled beer -- except they were out of all of those, too, save for Busch Light. I got a rum and coke, although I wasn't watching him make it (big mistake, I know, but I was trying to count the rings on the partially opened Snickers bar in the vending machine) so I think that ammonia was used in place of rum by mistake. Or not by mistake.
I wish I had read Brian's description of the men's room before braving it myself. I was in there, taking care of business, admiring the Final Destination 2 sticker collection on every wall, when I noticed a strange sensation. No, I hadn't caught anything in my five minutes there (that I'm aware of), I was feeling someone else's back rubbing against mine. I don't know why they even bothered with installing toilets in there, if they want to fit as many people into a pee-closet as possible they should have just gone with the traditional bucket of ice. Kumbaya my Lord, etc.
If you're curious as to why they're so strict about the IDs, here's a link to a rather insightful Globe article about their string of liquor license violations: boston.com/news/local/ma…
"It feels like East Berlin in 1988, but even there they probably let you drink." Yeah, I'd say that covers it.
I never have been able to figure out the enormous appeal of this place. I like a good dive bar (or at least I thought I did), but this just isn't doing it for me.
One time there was a fellow in some sort of holiday cardigan that was sitting at the bar. As I walked by him, he handed me a plastic cup of PBR and said something relatively incomprehensible about my eyes, or maybe my forehead. I had a momentary lapse of reason and thought, "Why not? I haven't had one since freshman year of college." A PBR, that is, utterly muddled conversations with Allston Admirers are somewhat more common occurences. One sip and I immediately felt ashamed about the whole thing; I can't drink this stuff, and I don't care how cheap it is, I'm terribly claustrophobic, I bathe twice a day, and I'd rather hold it for a few hours than ever go in that bathroom. At least in the South you could smoke in the dive bars, kind of masking the terrible, terrible smell.
I don't play darts or pool, so that's certainly part of the problem. I'd say if you don't either, you may as well just keep walking. If you're similarly claustrophobic, hike up the street to the Model -- the obnoxious hipster quotient is a bit higher, but you can at least breathe there thanks to a slightly more open layout. Perhaps I've only been to the Silhouette at peak hours, but I always feel on the verge of panic because of how difficult it is to get around.
My Allston days truly are over.
This is one of my absolute favorite places, and that is only partially because the inside makes me feel like I'm in Finding Nemo (what with the color scheme, submarine windows, giant aquarium, and... tables hanging from the ceiling?).
I almost always get the vegetable dumplings and the tofu bi bim bab, although the few veggie sushi experiences I've had were equally satisfying. The entree portions sometimes border on huge -- once I even had leftovers, which is rare since I'm 6'5" and often feel an urge to eat the table and place settings when I'm done with my meal (especially at Thai restaurants, sadly).
The only not perfect experience I've had here was on my last birthday, although in retrospect I'm convinced that birthday was doomed anyway. My bus broke down on the way, making me rather late for my reservation, which they had somehow not written down; my party had to wait an hour to be seated. This was made up for, though, when the servers somehow gathered that it was my natal anniversary and surprised me with a giant plate (yes, plate) of ice cream with tea lights on top. The accompanying song was so precious that I accidentally spilled a drink all over myself, which they replaced and didn't charge me for.
Although I usually stick to the sake, my few cocktail attempts were all rather successful. I especially enjoyed the Tokyo Tea (basically a Long Island except with Midori), which went straight to my face. The bathroom is spacious and clean, thank goodness. Gold stars all around.
There is really only one reason to ever go here (other than to say hi to the girls at the MAC counter -- ask for Brandi, she does makeup for my band and is amazing): There's a public restroom, so if you really just can't make it to your destination this place will do, kind of. Perhaps in an effort to keep the bums out, you practically have to jump through hurdles to get there -- why do department stores always make men walk through the lingerie and Junior Miss sections to get to the toilet? And, of course, when you're waiting for a girl that's using the restroom, you get to stand around with your arms awkwardly folded in the festive middle-aged "frock" section on the upper floor, trying not to make eye contact with the other uncomfortable guys holding 10 of their girlfriends' shopping bags. Plus there's no cellphone signal up there, so you can't even keep yourself amused by taking photos of the frock-shoppers and sending them to people.
I did buy something here once, though, from the strategically placed teenage girl section by the Escape Escalator: a neon pink t-shirt with "BUSTA RHYME NOT A CRIME" in neon blue letters across the chest. My friend Steph got a matching black one with "DROP BEATS NOT BOMBS" in pink lettering. That's right, I'm so ironic I shop for my retro clothes in the basement of Macy's and then Yelp about it. Uh...? Anyway, they were on sale (even more so than the tag indicated, in fact), so perhaps if you're 12 and feel nostalgic for the '80s even though you weren't born yet you might find some wonderful bargains here.
For the record, I cut the sleeves off, so it's only kind of as horrifying as it sounds. Still not as horrifying as the word "frock", which is entirely awful though uncannily descriptive.