I'm not really into "worst" lists. For one, labeling anything the "worst" sounds so negative. This is a music blog. Just as you would after using a restroom, you should walk away feeling better about the few minutes you spent here than worse. Right?
Also, there's a fine and subjective line between something being incredibly rank and that same thing having timeless, endearing character. One man's trashy restroom is another man's urine-caked treasure.
And finally, my experience suggests no 50-year-old beer guzzler should turn his or her nose up at any place that offers sweet relief during a long night out. Still, these water closets could use a makeover.
LOLA'S DEPOT This entry is an honorable mention since the legendary dive bar isn't truly a music venue. But lots of musicians drink there and some insisted on Lola's making the list. One of those musicians, Matt Fries, plays the washboard for my son's band. He also lives at The Doctor's Office, which has a surprisingly clean unisex restroom.
He's okay with the barfly scrawl on the walls. It's a great place to read drunken wisdoms like "Wayne Newton is a dyke," or "Live slow, die whenever." His biggest issue is the design of the men's room. It does seem a little too al fresco for a place where dookie is served up hot. There's no door to pull shut and it's set off from the rest of the bar only by some plywood walls erected to create an open-aired, makeshift hallway.
Fries says anyone who eats the free hot dogs Lola's serves its hungover hungry on Sunday mornings is going to need a toilet by Sunday afternoon. In the men's room, that means popping a squat within arms' reach of dueling urinals. Thankfully, your restroom neighbors at least have their backs to you while you're downloading brownware.
And judging solely from the photo my wife snapped of it, the women's room at Lola's seems much more accommodating for women who poop.
NUMBERS The last time I was at Numbers gas was 86 cents a gallon and The Goonies was playing at the Shamrock 6. The restrooms were unisex. I don't recall whether they were especially clean or not.
I had it on good authority Numbers' restrooms belonged on this list, so I attended the recent Wild Moccasins album-release party to see for myself. Really, they weren't all that bad. Yes, the men's room was dungeon dark; but, it's Numbers. The a motif really doesn't involve a clean, well-lighted place.
Its stalls are painted black and give the impression you're in a prison, trapped by your own human bodily functions. I kinda like that. In a corner stall, there were even signs of a jailbreak, with ceiling tiles missing. I imagined some former inmate scaling and clawing his way to freedom, to relish in the weird and beautiful world, symbolized by Numbers' expansive and seemingly eternal dance floor.
GRIFF'S The odor of a thousand years of leprechaun pee. It won't seem too offensive after your fourth or fifth drink, though.
I think it's time to acknowledge these selections are heavy on men's rooms. The people who visit the ladies' rooms in establishments tend to view a man standing there with a camera as a criminal. While I always strive to bring you the finest in Pulitzer-worthy photojournalism, I'm not going to jail for you.
Maybe frequent bar patron -- professionally speaking, of course -- and societal critic Angelica Leicht will one day survey the worst of the women's rooms. Just like the French army, she's hilarious in attack mode, so we'd all be entertained and informed by this important public service.
List continues on the next page.
RUDYARD'S There was a time, not all that long ago, when the downstairs facilities at Rudyard's would have commanded the top spot on this list. Maybe you can't tell by the photos here, but it seems there's been a recent makeover. They didn't hire Martha Stewart for it, but trust me, it's a lot better than it used to be.
As at Lola's, Rudyard's failed to find the guy with the restroom-engineering degree when it opened its doors. You can almost high-five your toilet mates -- not sure why you'd want to -- in the downstairs WCs. Also, you can be snapped back to sobriety if you're standing at the urinal and see someone's arm stretch long and creepily for the paper roll that's just a bit too far from the toilet seat. It's like watching a scene from a Guillermo del Toro movie when that happens.
NOTSUOH While many, many I discussed this bit with implored me to make Notsouh the standard for piss-poor restrooms at Houston music venues, I just couldn't do it. I love this bar. It's always made me think I was in Loisada waiting for a spoken word poet to open for a punk act. As far as I'm concerned, its graffiti-riddled, dimly lit restroom puts the "Whee!" in wee-wee.
It's like a Jack in the Box taco or a Wesley Willis song, things that are so bad they somehow become amazing. Before Dean's transformed into whatever it is now, it also had a dark, smelly and potentially dangerous restroom. But gentrification in the restroom neighborhood arrived there recently. I really hope it doesn't worm its way next door.
MANGO'S I wish I had a trophy to give Mango's for this dubious but very deserving distinction. Maybe a little gold plastic toilet, with its seat askew, atop it.
One can't blame Mango's proprietors for not offering the finest in toilet-going needs. As with its cheap PBRs and out-back smoking deck, it's simply catering to its clientele with its lowly and sad lavatories. What punk in his or her right mind wants to fool with a bidet?
Additionally, there's little point in sending Mr. Clean in to spruce the place up when four songs later he'll just be back in there, sweat beading on his bald head, cursing under his breath at the showgoers whose aim is worse than all the Die Hard villains combined.
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