Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Gratitude for Waste Water Treatment - Annie


It was an amazing experience to witness first-hand where all the water in New York City goes once it gets flushed down the drain. The Go Team had a little field trip adventure recently to Greenpoint, Brooklyn to visit the largest waste water treatment facility in New York City… and it was truly a learning experience, which made us all appreciate the invisible infrastructure that we so often take for granted!


We enjoyed a great lecture, both from Connie Fitzgerald of the Department of Environmental Protection, and from the Waste Water Plant Supervisor, Jim Pynn. Here are a few interesting facts from our visit:


* New York City's water actually comes from a beautiful and clean source in the Catskill Mountains, about 100 miles north of the city, which is what makes our tap water taste so delicious. Amazingly, this water is delivered in an extremely eco-friendly manner: with GRAVITY! A hundred miles, with gravity... isn't that remarkable?!


* All of the water from our bathroom drains actually gets mixed with the run-off water from the streets of the city, and this grey water then gets channeled into giant filtration systems. But, extra debris in these filters requires extra energy -- so that means it's crucial not to flush anything other than toilet paper, and it's important not to litter in the streets. It's all connected.

* Some interesting objects have turned up in that filtration system in the past, representing the items that people have flushed… including heaps of counterfeit money!! No kidding.


* It's important to drink the tap water in New York City. Our water source in the Catskills is clean and pure, and drinking tap water in reusable containers cuts down on the use of plastic water bottles -- which take energy to create, and these bottles are a major nuisance when they become litter.


When we think about the fact that 2.5 billion people in the world don't have access to clean sanitation, it's especially remarkable to see the efficiency of our system at work here in New York. I have already written a little bit about sanitation on an international scale (see my blog entry "Potty Talk & Public Health" from Dec. 18th). On that note, a good friend of mine named Jamie, who is living in South Africa, just wrote to me about some of her recent bathroom adventures. Here is her description of a toilet that she experienced on a recent 13 hour bus ride in Mozambique, from Vilanculos to the seaside town of Maputo:


"After about four hours…I finally asked if there was a banho and was pointed to a 9-square foot area fenced in by 4-foot high 'walls' made of corn husks. This is where women where supposed to take care of biology… no holes, no toilets, just a patch of dirt with puddles… and piles… it really made me want to be a man for maybe the 2nd time ever."


Jamie mentioned that millions of South Africans don't have access to basic sanitation, which is defined as a ventilated improved pit latrine (or "VIP" latrine). This is particularly ironic, since South Africa also is the home to many Very Important People who own multiple marble toilets in their giant mansions. This discrepancy between have and have not may not be unique to South Africa, but it does demonstrate that anything is possible, anywhere in the world, with an investment of resources.


When we look at the clever design and efficiency and invisible magic of the waste water system in New York City, it causes me to think broadly and hopefully about creating such systems for the rest of the world. With that in mind, please consider donating to organizations such as:


The World Toilet Organization: http://www.worldtoilet.org/


Water Aid America: http://www.wateraidamerica.org/


Thank you very much to our hosts at the Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant!! With creativity, cooperation, and some investment of resources, hopefully we can create make similar sanitation treatment systems a reality around the world.

-Annie



Cody : Who gets the last Laugh?





Time flies by when you're having fun. What an amazing chapter in the life of Cody Melton. This will make a great little addition in my memoir!
Chapter 6: My Career is in the Toilet. I went from Unknown-Comedian to Unknown-Comedian all in 6 weeks. The "Go Team" Joan, Annie, Leah, and Antonio are like family to me. This experience has changed me in... wait! No it hasn't, I'm still the wise-cracking-chuckle-head I always was, but now I'm funny with some money!

Charmin has been so amazing to work for (TRUTH CAMPAIGN!) -- I really wish this job would never end. It's the kind of gig you dream about if you love people. We got to meet so many fascinating people from around the world and have really cool experiences. Decorating a toilet seat for charity, making funny videos, tweeting about the bathrooms daily, working with Charmin on various projects and performing with Broadway Stars in a musical!


Being a "Go Team" Ambassador put us in a position to use social media in every way possible. We made so many fr
iends who followed us on Twitter, watched our Facebook videos and sent us toilets from around the world.



I have so many memories to carry with me as I depart, my favorite being "Truth Campaign." Some other favorites:

Joan: Saying "I grabbed that little Brother!" Me saying "I'm allergic to nuts "Joan's reply " You ain't allergic to dough-NUTS"

Antonio: saying "That is So Cute"

Leah: Calling everyone "Honey penny" and her saying everyday for six weeks " I wanna do my Cabaret songs today" (Still waiting...)

Annie: Being wonderfully neurotic about everything! And I would have to give her a truth campaign talk... plus her obsession with posting Potty Dance pics and videos!


My favorite thing to do was make "enjoy the go" videos. I had so much fun being creative and talking with people.



I hope I continue to have as much fun in my life as I did working for Charmin. Thank you Charmin I really did "enjoy the go".
Your Prince Charmin:
Cody Melton













Ending on a High Note: Performing on Broadway- Antonio


The Charmin restrooms provided me with one of the most thrilling days of my life. I am a musical theatre performer. I’ve done regional theater productions and tours and am working my way onto Broadway. Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights Aids joined with Charmin to present Bathrooms Over Broadway, a 15 minute musical performed by Broadway stars and giving us, The Go Team, a chance to be their ensemble.

I mean, we were backing up Broadway heavy-hitters: Christopher Sieber, two time Tony Award nominee and currently in Shrek the Musical, starred. Maya Days (Aida, Rent, JCS), Joy Hermalyn (Fiddler on the Roof), Bernard Dotson (Finian’s Rainbow, JCS), and Marya Grandy (Damn Yankees) completed the cast. Michael Lee Scott, creative director for the Rosie Family Cruises, directed and choreographed. They were all incredibly nice.

Now here’s the deal. We learned our parts separately and when we came together to rehearse as a group, IT WAS MAGICAL! It really felt like we were in a Broadway show. The voices blending in perfect harmony and the choreography as a final product had the rousing feeling of a musical’s finale. Leah was visibly excited so I asked, “you’re about to explode, aren’t you?” Her eyes welled up with tears as she nodded. I kept my cool (I think) but was just as excited as her. A couple run-throughs and we were ready for the next day. The show was a hit. The audience loved it and we all had a blast doing it. I learned a lot by watching the actors rehearse and perform. The way they command the stage and tell a story through song was a fantastic lesson.

Bathrooms Over Broadway was the perfect ending to this fantastic experience. In these past six weeks, we’ve made dear friends, met a plethora of interesting people, and shared stories with all of you. Like the end of camp, it’s inevitable to get a little sentimental as we wrap thing up and my moment came during Marya Grandy’s rendition of “Squeeze Me, Mr. Whipple”. The emotional melody of the torch song, the hope of one last moment, the thrill of performing- it all caught up with me and made me choke up a little bit.

For now, I leave the Charmin Restrooms and continue to tread my way to the Broadway. Until then—KEEP THE FAITH.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

International Words for the Bathroom - Annie


When traveling abroad, I always try to learn at least a few phrases in the local language. My favorites include: hello, goodbye, please, thank you, and "please give me chocolate ice cream!" However, the most useful phrase of all is: WHERE IS THE BATHROOM? Since I began my toilet paper ambassadorship a few weeks ago, I've continued to collect different ways to ask for the bathroom in as many languages as possible. New York has a fairly diverse array of people, so it has been a really fun project… although it has been a challenge to find an appropriate way of writing it with English letters to convey the correct pronunciation, so please excuse my spelling!


Actually, in English alone, we really do have quite a few options. We can say that "nature calls" or ask to powder our nose. We can ask for the restroom, the washroom, the can, the john, the toilet, the throne, the commode, the powder room, the facilities, or the little girls' room or little boys' room. If we're British, we would ask for the water closet, the loo, or the WC. I hadn't heard of "the bog" until corresponding recently with a friend from Canada, but that's an option too. Apparently, you can also say: "I need to spend a penny!" (Assuming, of course, that the other person understands what you're talking about!)


Every language has numerous ways to ask, so my list was getting long. Just today, I realized that I might be able to find more by using the incredible tool known as the internet, and my list has suddenly expanded even further! Thank you, Wikipedia! My new favorites include the Tagalog language (from the Philippines), which calls it the "comfort room" or "the CR" and the polite Japanese way of asking, "may I wash my hands?" Other useful ones might be the Pig Latin, "Excuseay emay, erewhay isay ethay athroombay?"


Take a peek:


In Afrikaans: Waar is die toilet? or Waar is die badkamer?

In Albanian: Ku është banjo?

In Arabic: Wain al hamam? or Wein ha mam? or Ayna Al Hammam?

Egyptian Arabic: Men Fadlak, Fen El Hammam?

Moroccan Arabic: Fin el bit al ma?

In Austrian: Tschujdigung, wo isn dees Scheisheisl?

In Bengali: Bathroom Kothay?

In Bulgarian: Къде е банята? Kade e banyata?

In Catalan: On és el lavabo?

In Chinese:

Cantonese: Ching men, sei sou gan (washroom) hei been? (polite)

Chi soh (toilet) hei been? (casual)

Mandarin Chinese: Qing wen xishoujian/cesuo zai nai li? Qing wen, ce suo zai nar?

In Creole: kot twalet la ye?

In Croatian: Oprostite, gdje je kupaonica?

In Czech: Kde je záchod? or Prosim Vas, Kde jsou toalety?

In Danish - Hvor er toilettet? or Undskyld mig, hvor er badeværelset/toilettet?

In Dutch: Waar is de batkamer? or Pardon, waar is de W.C.

In Esperanto: Pardonon, kie estas la banejo?

In Estonian: Vabandage, kus on tualet?

In Fijian: Au sa via mi (i need to pee)

In Finnish: Missä on kylpyhuone(vessa)? Missä on vessa/WC

In French: Où sont les toilettes?

In Gaelic/Irish: Ca bhfuil an leithreas?

In German: Wo ist die Badezimmer? Or Wo ist die Toilette, bitte?

In Greek: Parakalo, pou ine i tualetta? or Pou einai i toualeta?

In Hebrew: Slikha, ehfo hah sherooteem?

In Hindi: Mere ko bathroom jaana hai? or Saunchalay kahan hain?

In Hmong: Honm naj nyob qhov twb os?

In Hungarian: Elnézést, hol (van) a vécé?

In Icelandic: Hvar er salernið/klósettið?

In Indonesian: Permisi, di mana kamar mandi?

In Italian: Dov'e il bagno?

In Japanese: Toire wa, doko? or more politely, Otearai wa doko desu ka? (Where can I wash my hands?)

In Korean: Hwajangsil odie issuimnika? or Huajiangsiri eodiyijjo?

In Lao: Hong nam yuu sai?

In Latin: Ubi est latrina?

In Latvian: Atvainojiet, kur ir tualete?

In Lebanese: Waynil hemehm?

In Lithuanian: Atsiprašau, kur yra tualetas?

In Malay: Tandas/bilik air kat mana?

In Malayalam: Bathroom evide ah?

In Maltese: Fejn qiegђed it-toilet?

In Mongolian: Uuchlaarai('ʊ:tʃ|ɑ:ræ )

In Nepali: Baatroom snaan kaksha kahaan cha?

In Norwegian: Hvor er toalettet? or Hvor er doen? (casual way) or Hvor er dassen? (teenage way)

In Persian: Bebakhshid, dastshoee kojast?

In Polish: Przepraszam, gdzie jest toaleta?

In Portuguese: Aonde esta o banheiro? or Faz favor, onde é o lavabo?

In Punjabi: Bathroom/Gusal Khana kithe hai?

In Romanian: Unde este toaleta, va rog?

In Russian: Gde tualet? or Skazhite pozhalusta, gde toalet?

In Samoan: E, 'O fea le faleuila?

In Senegalese: Fun moy douche bee?

In Serbian: Izvinite, gde je kupatilo?

In Setswana: Kopa toilet or toilet e kae?

In Slovak: Prosím vás, kde sú toalety?

In Spanish: Dònde està el baño?

In Sranan Tongo: Pe a wc de?

In Swahili: Choo iko wapi?

In Swedish: Var är toaletten? or Ursäkta mig, men var finns toaletterna?

In Tagalog: Pwede po bang malaman kung nasaan ang banyo? or Saan po ang baño? or Saan po ang CR? (for "comfort room")

In Tamil: Bathroom enga irukku?

In Telugu: Bathroom ekkada?

In Thai: Hong nam yu nai kha/khrab? or Hong suam yuu thi nai? or Hong nam yoo tee nai?

In Tigrinya - Sha'uq abey alo?

In Turkish : Toalet/WC nerde?

In Urdu: Bathroom kidhar hay?

In Vietnamese: Cho hoi, nha` ve^. sinh o da^u va^.y?

In Visayan/Bisaya: Asa ang banyo?

In Welsh - Pardwn ble mae`r ty bach?

In Zulu/Xhosa/Siswati: Celi itoilet? or Ikuphi itoilet?

(note the "c" is a click. sort of like the click in English when chastising, usually spelled "tsk tsk.")


These phrases should help you find a bathroom, wherever you find yourself on Earth. But of course, if you find yourself in outer space, you might need the Klingon phrase from Star Trek: nuqDaq 'oH pacha''e'?


If you have questions or comments, write to me at: annie.thegoteam@gmail.com !



Saturday, December 26, 2009

Out in SoHo- Antonio

SoHo has long been a neighborhood known for style. Designer boutiques, art galleries, modeling agencies, trendy restaurants and bars make this neighborhood a coveted destination for visitors and locals alike. Heck, GQ voted the corner of Prince and Broadway as the one with the prettiest people in America. One Thursday night we did a little bar hopping in the neighborhood.

Our first stop was Peep, A Thai restaurant on the Travel Channel’s Extreme Bathrooms list.

The bathroom is behind a one-way mirror, so while you’re ‘going’ it’s totally private, but you see people at their tables eating and stuff. Cool design and concept, I guess, considering the name of the place. Maybe with people at the tables it would’ve been funny, but it was a little weird.

Recommended by Dustin, our Go Team’s wrangler,

our next stop was ‘The Room’, an awesome, dark, sexy wine and beer bar. The industrial build of the place is ‘cozied up’ with velvet couches and comfy corners to snuggle up with a date or a friend (hey, don’t judge; some friends are really friendly). The bathroom shows the mix of styles of the place.

It’s like a designer took a stone cottage, and keeping the feel of the place, made it chic and stylish.





Next up was Bar 89 on Mercer Street, the first bathroom I was recommended to see upon becoming a Go Team-er. Sleek, modern, minimalist style restaurant/bar yada yada…but the bathrooms. On the second floor of the loft-like space, the bathroom lounge is a large area with six glass doors.

The pods are narrow yet roomy, and when you clasp the hook to lock the door the glass fogs up to give you complete privacy! The word ‘occupied’ lights up on the door as well. It was pretty wild; an extra little thrill before you ‘go’.

We headed East on the island Manhattan for one last foray in search of a chic bathroom to share. Cutting through the chill of the night and trying to ignore some idiots who were purposely smashing glass bottles in the middle of the road, we were looking for ‘Goldbar’. Gold in Spanish is Oro. Spanish is the language of my home country. I saw a sign that said “ORO”, and took us there for a drink and a ‘Go’. Dara, the cute Texan blond bartender, made us some delicious fresh herb infused drinks. The bathroom was alright. Clean, simple, standard; nothing special. It was time to call it a night. On our way home we see two bouncers outside a big wooden door and inquire as to what this place is. “Goldbar,” they respond. We looked at each other and cracked up that we had totally gone to the wrong place. By this point, though, we were done. It was cold and late and the bouncers were none too pleased with our laughing.

Leah & Antonio-Sonny and Charmin Debut... "I Got Poo Babe!"

Antonio, Cody, and Leah had a great time being crazy-silly and drawing a huge crowd toward the
"Canfessional" recording studio as we broke it down as Sonny and Charmin. Remember, you're never too young or too old to Potty like a Rockstar!!
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Thursday, December 24, 2009

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM THE "GO TEAM"

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Hoping you have a very Charmin Holiday!

Cody: Sonny and Charmin teaser trailer...

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COMING SOON A NEW VERSION OF YOUR OLD FAVORITE
"I GOT POO BABE".


Monday, December 21, 2009

Joan: When he/she finally gets it


This material was referenced from Potty Training for Dummies, written by Diane Stafford and Jennifer Shoquist, M.D.

When that little hardcore balker finally gets a handle on his/her potty program -- and he/she will --be the first in line to congratulate them.

Check out those dry pants as often as possible right after she/he is trained, and let them know how proud you are of their efforts.

Keeping those rewards coming!

But don't dare heave a heavy sigh and assume you can slack off on the rewards. Not so fast. Hedge your bets by supplying a steady stream of good feedback: kudos from relatives, you're- such-a-big-kid acknowledgments from lead caregivers.

A child who is newly trained is still shaky, at best. So you have to reinforce the good stuff and make sure he/she stays trained.

Also, don't be too fast in proclaiming "great- you're done it!" Why? Simple. That may signal a second -wave protest; your toddler gets his/her back up and takes a new slant. like withholding bowel movements.

Saying, "I knew you could do it!"

Just because you feel like the weight of the world has been lifted from you shoulders -- thanks to her/him finally using the toilet -- don't assume that your child knows that you appreciate their efforts. What probably still looms large in your toddler's mind is how frustrated you seemed when he/she balked at using the potty- and when you switched gears and suddenly relinquished the reins entirely.

Clearly, he/she may be a bit confused by all of it. And, no doubt, she/he definitely needs you to jump in shower her/him with hugs and kisses and love declarations.

Naturally, if you try the ideas listed and your child continues to oppose potty training altogether, the see-your doctor definitely applies.

Do look forward to the completion of his/her potty training. But, don't make it your life. Then, one fine day, he/she will come to you and smillingly say, "Oui-oui, me wee!

A quiet celebration is in order. You don't need to break out the champagne; a simple spread of cookies and juice, served tea-party style, will do. Maybe an ice-cream drink.

Anyway, as you've surely guessed by now, most hardcore balker-kids are just channeling Frank Sinatra. Their mantra is -- and always will be -- "I did it my way."

Flush = Cha-ching! enjoy the go(od)- Leah

We all know life is better with an empty bladder, but Charmin has truly taken this a step further. We are happy to report that "Going for Good" is in full swing! Every time someone flushes at the Charmin Restrooms in Times Square until December 31st, Charmin is donating a dollar to one of five worthy charities. Thank goodness what goes in must come out!


The Go Team was super psyched to be asked to design a seat to be displayed in the restroom. The creative process was wild, and with sequin and feathers flying, we created "Potty Time 2010"! On December 17th, actor/comedian Mario Cantone, helped us unveil the celebrity seats.

Mario was such a great guy, and when asked how he felt about the project had this to say, “I am thrilled to unveil the five specially-designed toilet seat covers today, including my own. This is such a creative way to raise money for charity during the holiday season, and I had a lot of fun bringing my own vision to life!” When The Go Team asked him how he 'enjoys the go' Mario admitted that he is just happy he still goes!

Everyone had very different artistic visions for their special seat, but when all was said and done, the overall vision of helping others in need, was the finest design. I was honored to make a contribution. Thanks Charmin.

MARIO CANTONE, MARIO LOPEZ, MARTINA MCBRIDE, SHERRI SHEPHERD, AND THE GO TEAM all got crafty on behalf of these charities: Broadway Cares; Boys & Girls Club of America; love is respect, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline; The Harlem Children’s Zone; and Angels in Waiting. Charmin is donating up to $10,000 per charity for a total donation of $50,000. click on read more below to see the video enjoythego(od)!


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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Funny Man Cody: Artist's "enjoy the go"


I am an actor and comedian and I constantly find myself doing very weird and random things in pretty much any space, so of course the bathroom has great acoustics for serious things such as a monologue rehearsal or practicing that song you have prepared for your next big audition. I was lucky enough to talk with a "seriously trained actor" and an "accomplished opera singer" and ask them both how they "enjoy the go."

Well, lets just say I don't feel like a weirdo anymore...

(To see the videos, click "Read more" in red, or click the orange Blogger link above!)


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Little Havana in New York with a dash of Broadway- Antonio

When you step into Calle Ocho Restaurant, the infectious salsa music magically transports you out of the Upper West Side and straight into ‘Little Havana.’ The festive décor and ambiance accompany you all the way to your table, where the staff, dressed in ‘guayaberas’ (traditional Cuban button down shirts with four pockets), delivers some of the most delicious Latin food in NYC.



A couple mojitos and caipirinhas later, a trip to the restroom is in order.

Although easily accessible, the decoupage/collage walls camouflage the restroom halls.*

And then here’s what tickles me about them:



“Lucy, I’m hoooome!”


It’s Ricky Ricardo and I Love Lucy**.

A picture of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball indicates which bathroom you should use, and the same festive feel continues inside, music and all. (Word to the wise: guys, don’t dance while you’re ‘going’. It makes a mess. Just sayin’.)

* For the musical theater folk: 'decoupage/collage walls camouflage the restroom halls' is an accidental yet amusing Sondheim-esque internal rhyme as interpreted by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Hence, the sentence structure might not be ideal, but if you rap it like Usnavi in In the Heights or the witch in Into the Woods you'll see what I mean. Oh, and how cute are these walls?

**Yes, her name is Lucille Ball (or Lucy Ricardo if you go by the character), but I used to call her ‘I Love Lucy’ as a kid and still do when she shows up unexpectedly. hee hee


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Don't judge! I've never been able to rap.

Friday, December 18, 2009

International Outhouse Adventures - Annie


Anyone who has gone backpacking or spent significant time traveling in developing countries knows that going to the bathroom is often part of the adventure. While talking to one friend recently about a trip to Asia, she said that she never really feels like she has fully arrived in a new place until she has sampled a local toilet. I tend to agree -- and if you have read my previous blogs about "squatty potties" versus the complicated electronic Japanese toilets, then you are already familiar with some of the amazing global toilet diversity.


While in Tanzania climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2008, I had the joy of experiencing "long-drop toilets." Really, these aren't toilets at all, but more like a very deep pit dug into the ground. Usually, there is an outhouse-type wooden structure around the pit to provide some privacy. There is sometimes even a seat to sit on, although not always! Occasionally these long drop toilets are "squatty potty" versions of outhouses, if you can imagine such a thing. (I was always extremely careful to avoid falling in!) Fortunately, the pits are usually deep enough so that the experience inside isn't too stinky. Although, again, not always! I'm including a photo that I took of one of my favorite long drop toilets, the day before our summit day on Kilimanjaro. It's quite a scenic location for a potty!


One of my favorite international bathroom stories is an anecdote from my Canadian friend Jeremy, who just wrote to me about a toilet that he encountered while driving in a jalopy across the middle of Australia. Jeremy was traveling with two friends, and they were camping as they made their way across the continent, so they were always in search of reasonably clean facilities. On their 4th day of driving, they went swimming at a reservoir in the middle of the Outback, and were relaxing in the sun. Jeremy suddenly realized that he badly needed to go to the bathroom… so he writes:


"I located a small cinder-block building on top of a small hill, that contained a functional, if somewhat spartan bathroom. One of the many amenities that was missing was a toilet seat, and I was in a situation that normally would have required that particular piece of gear. But, needs must when the Devil drives, so I used the toilet, sans seat (chilly, and somewhat precarious), stood up, turned around, and flushed. And watched in horror as the long, green snake that was coiled around the inside of the toilet, just under the rim, was knocked out of it's perch by the flush water, and began to thrash around. To say that I experienced a "shrinking" feeling is no understatement! I beat a hasty retreat, feeling lucky that I had avoided a worse experience."



As much as I am looking forward to a trip to the southern hemisphere someday, I also have heard that Australia is home to the largest number of poisonous creatures in the world!! I will now always, always, always check under the rim when going to the bathroom in the Australian outback. Every time.


Share your favorite international toilet stories! Write to annie.thegoteam@gmail.com!

-Annie