Best Toilets of 2010 (by John Hollenbeck)

In keeping with the upcoming “end of year” lists, I would like to offer my own.

Ladies and Gentlemen, (in no particular order):

John Hollenbeck’s BEST TOILETS OF 2010!

Zurn in la

1) Zurn – LA Convention Center, site of the Grammy Awards; (also Newark Airport Terminal C): classy, smooth, but a little splattery for my tastes. (Special indentations for lines of coke are just for the LA version.) I was looking the other way, but Matt Moran claims that we drove past the Zurn factory somewhere deep in Texas. I was turned on (if I can really say that) to Zurn by Steve Feigenbaum, Cuneiform Records “grand poobah.”


2) Keramag – Karlsruhe Jazz Club, Germany: Can’t go wrong with a nice green background! Keramag’s hipness creates a comfortable atmosphere where one can easily get in a “zone”.


3) American Standard: classic Americana design. I’ve encountered this model at many of the best educational institutions in the US: UCLA, Indiana University, Oberlin…In fact the closest I ever came to John Cage was in a university bathroom as we both relieved (or is it relived) ourselves. Mr. Cage was getting on in years as was his prostate. I was not timing him, but I think it took him about 4 minutes and 33 seconds to complete the process.

Sphinx AMS

4) Sphinx: the unofficial national toilet of Holland – it is like there is a toilet mafia in Holland. Almost everywhere you go, there are Sphinx toilets. The design is modern and quirky in a spacecakey kind of way (not that I would know anything about that.)


5) crane merit: I love that font! The Hollenbeck family toilet with a classic, northeastern-homey-Ivesian (actually very Iversonian too!)-ambient-vibe, gives you that homespun feeling of relieving yourself in front of a crackling fire and warm friends…yeah, you know what I’m talking about.

Ideal tegel copy

6) Ideal Standard: the official toilet of the Berlin Tegel Airport-such a hip little airport with hip little toilets. Unfortunately this airport will close in a few years, where will all the toilets go? (Isn’t that a song by Pete Seeger?)


7) Armitage Shanks: besides colonizing, one of the many things that the UK used to be good at was making toilets (there is another joke in there somewhere…Drew?) You can find this brand in any older building in the UK. I was especially taken with the dazzling array of them in the lobby of the Southbank Centre. Special judge’s prize for “best name.”


8) Pozzi-Ginori: A new star on the scene as far as I tell. This one is at the newly renovated Stadt Rosenheim Hotel, Munich (the “Jazzclub Unterfahrt” hotel). Check out the shape of this thing, it says (in Italian probably), “Don’t worry, I can hold a lot of s**t!”

Uridan australia

Rising Star Toilets-for my money this is where the really vibrant stuff is! Just to see if you know your s**t, you tell me the names and locales of these hot designs! The winner gets a free Orchestre National de Jazz “Shut Up and Dance CD” (Claudia Quintet members NOT eligible!)

Disclaimer and Reclaimer:

I actually know very little about the history of toilets, so it is very possible that something like “Pozzi-Ginori” which I’m touting as a “new” thing could be a recreation of an older former avant-garde model and just new to me. If this is true, I expect to be told by the experts (I know you are out there!). In the world of music criticism, I often miss an “expert” analysis that is supported by a comprehensive knowledge of the history of jazz. Is Bob Brookmeyer, for example, identified as a ‘mere influence’ because most jazz journalists have not heard his music enough (especially the last 20 years of it!) to recognize it verbatim in various composers’ compositions? I wonder…how much history should we expect critics to know?