Friday, July 17, 2015


Yesterday in The New York Times there was a story about changes in city policy regarding public urination. I bring the story up because it included a quote (emphasis added) that I don't think Times reporters Matt Flegenheimer and J. David Goodman fully examined:
For two decades, police officials viewed the enforcement of minor infractions as a way to prevent crime and violence. “Quality-of-life enforcement works to reduce crime,” wrote Jack Maple, a primary architect of the approach during [William] Bratton’s first tour as police commissioner in the 1990s, “because it allows the cops to catch crooks when the crooks are off duty, like hitting the enemy planes while they’re still on the ground.”

On the issue of public urination, enforcement need not be evenhanded, according to Mr. Maple. In his 1999 memoir, “The Crime Fighter: Putting the Bad Guys Out of Business,” he wrote that “Wall Street analysts doing Jell-O shots” on Madison Avenue may be just as likely to urinate in public “as a crew of robbers drinking malt liquor” in East New York, Brooklyn. “But only one of those groups is likely to include somebody who’s relaxing after a long day of robbing,” he added, suggesting that officers should more heavily enforce the law in those areas.
Um, no. The drunk Wall Street analysts are very much likely to be "relaxing after a long day of robbing." I'd like to think we all understand that now, though probably not.

Public urination has become an issue here in the city because the New York Post has devoted two recent front pages to a homeless man caught relieving himself in public on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It's been noted that this is where Post editor Col Allan lives, which explains why he put a minimum of sixteen reporters on the story of one homeless guy whizzing. The irony is that Allan, as noted in a 2007 New York magazine profile by Lloyd Grove, has interesting bladder habits himself:
Allan likes to intimidate employees via public urination: “It was also at the Telegraph that he perfected his management techniques -- which included an unnerving alpha-dog habit of urinating in his office washbasin during editorial meetings. Today, Allan insists the washbasin was behind a closet door.”
Rupert Murdoch can't die soon enough.


Yastreblyansky said...

Lovely conjunction of pee stories putting them in exactly the right perspective.

On alpha pisher Col Allan, I'd like to mention that it's my neighborhood too, and I've seen John Tucker not peeing several times a week for the past 17 years. He's an extremely unthreatening person who doesn't even panhandle; he's fond of directing traffic at 79th and Broadway, and though obviously mentally ill he does a fairly good job.

The worst thing to me about the story was the way Allan and Murdoch use it as a pretext for attacking Bill de Blasio, as if Tucker hadn't been a fixture on the street throughout the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations. (Allan may not have lived up here all that long, it wasn't so fancy back in the day.) Giuliani's personal responsibility for the numbers of homeless sufferers from mental illness on the NYC streets is pretty well known.

Victor said...

As a guy who has been known to whiz in the back streets of NY City in my teen's and 20's - after drinking gallons of beer - I understand why people object.
And it's usually a male thang, 'cause we can just whip it out and pee, and not have to crouch and cover-up.

Sure, it's objectionable.
Sure, it's disgusting.
But in case people don't know it, there are few if any public toilet's in the streets.

Sure, you can go in a bar or store. But, they make you buy something first.
I can't tell you how many times I paid for a seltzer that I didn't drink, and tipped the bar-keep for the seltzer I didn't drink, just because I had to piss, and it was daylight, with too many people out - and this is without drinking gallons of beer!
Some of us are on medications which make you urinate.

I can understands why bars and stores require you to purchase something so that you can use their bathroom - because if they didn't, people would be using their facilities beyond the establishment's ability to keep it at least relatively clean.

I remember NY City's attempts at providing public bathrooms back in the late 80's and 90's, but those efforts failed. Not everyone has change in their pockets.

And, having smelled some of the pedestrian tunnels from one line of subway to another, I can vouch for how revolting that it.

But if a city doesn't provide places for people to pee and poop, what are people to do?
Sure, the homeless are a major problem. But they're not the only ones! I've been down near Wall Street at night, and seen plenty of guys in very expensive suits leaning against a 'wall' on the 'street,' and pissing like race-horses.

Because of my handicap, I haven't been on the streets in NY City since 2007.
All I know is that after a great pastrami on rye at Katz's Deli, when I walked through my old Ukrainian neighborhood in the East Village back then, I had to pee.
So, what did I do?
I went into The Telephone Bar (I was shocked it was still around), paid for a seltzer which I didn't drink, pissed, and left.

Public bathrooms, Mr. Mayor!
Clean ones.
And pay people to work to keep them clean!

retiredeng said...

I suppose it's amusing or or not how you see this video.

John Taylor said...

I like the way that the UK handles this problem. Stainless steel urinals that raise up from the sidewalk after pubs close. Some towns have stainless steel toilets that are easily cleaned and virtually indestructible. Has to be a more civilized way to pee.