Cleaning Up Hamburg’s Nightclub District


If I did not occasionally check in on Reuters I would have no thoughts, one way or another, about the problems of public drunken urination in the nightclub district of Hamburg. I don’t think I’m being shortsighted in this, what with my not being in or near Hamburg and having no particular responsibility for the nightclub district. I suppose we’ve all got some responsibility for public drunken urination, supporting or opposing, but I come down on the opposing side because I’ve never figured how you would wash your hands properly afterward, using warm water, soap, and a good lather. The best I can figure is go in somewhere that has a bathroom and then the public-drunken-urination part of things seems like pettiness rather than real need.

But according to Reuters the drunken public urination problem in Hamburg has been getting worse, and I’m going ahead and assuming that’s because modern liquids are so much more moist and damp than old-fashioned ones are. I’m assuming we’re making liquids more liquidy than we used to, what with advances in materials science and how much blenders have come down in price. Apparently Germans even have a great name for people who go drunkenly urinating in public, “Wildpinkler”, which makes the whole phenomenon sound like it’s an aggressively whimsical musical microgenre, possibly including pianos.

So according to Reuters, Julia Staron, who organized a local interest group that I am from context assuming opposes the public drunken urination phenomenon, said, “Wild peeing has been a problem here for a long time”, which delights a side of me that’s more immature than even I imagined. In fact, this whole essay I know is going to ruin some people’s image of me as a rather mature, faintly stodgy person sitting in the corner and not wanting to get to close to all that foolishness over there. They’re never going to go back to seeing me as a person who literally and unironically responds to some things by going “teehee”.

Staron’s group thinks they’ve got a solution to the Hamburg public drunken urination problem, and it’s in what the article calls super-hydrophobic and oleophobic nano-coating, which isn’t a terrifying pile of words to throw against one another like that at all. But that’s because you’re making an understandable mistake: the oleo they’re phobic of is not the short bits vaudevillians did in front of the curtain while more complicated acts were set up behind. I’m glad to clear that up. Still it does sound like this is a kind of paint that just can’t get along with anybody. I hope it likes bricks at least.

But the result of all this hydrophobic oleophobic stuff is that it’s a kind of paint that liquids splash back off of almost perfectly, so someone trying to piddle on the wall ends up piddling right back on themselves. I can’t see any unwanted consequences arising from turning groups of drunken revelers piddling on buildings into groups of drunken revelers who tried to piddle on buildings and instead urinated on their own legs. And in fairness the plan is to have signs around the hydrophobic buildings that warn “Do not pee here! We pee back!” in all the key languages of drunk people in Hamburg’s nightclub district, so the drunken revelers will be able to use their good judgement about where to urinate after receiving a warning and threat from the local signage. My suggestion would be, maybe a step or two farther back from the building.

It’s a fairly expensive paint, coming in at about eight dollars per square foot, so I guess we’re not going to see water towers painted with it just for the fun of making the city’s water supply feel insecure. And the news article reports that the urine-reflecting paint was developed by Nissan, in a research project that I feel must’ve been pretty far under way before someone asked, “Paint to make German nightclubs less attractive to drunken revelers? Aren’t we supposed to be making cars?” And then everyone slaps their head and says, “Cars! Oh! Right! We were confused.” But by then they were far enough along it was silly to stop. If I’m wrong I don’t think I need to know.

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Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there.

9 thoughts on “Cleaning Up Hamburg’s Nightclub District”

      1. The Australian who posted the pic that I spoke to about it said that public urination in the bar districts was so bad that the city was trying whatever they could to curb the problem and these toilet stalls would only be available at night.

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        1. Could be. I suspect only the really deeply obsessive-compulsive can understand how soothing it can be to do something that gets stuff cleaned, even if they have to make a mess of themselves doing it.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. That paint was very interesting, but I’m not sure how successful it will be on a drinking person’s brain! And then the person will have urine all of over them and wherever they sit they will bring urine along with them. Yuck! That Australian open night urinal seems to be a better idea … of course, that’d never fly in the US because any view of people’s nether regions, even if only urinating, they will be deemed a sex-offend if caught by police!

    Apparently there are many places around the world where it’s difficult to make your bladder gladder!

    India is another place for toilet problems, albeit different problems, but problems nonetheless … apparently it’s not uncommon for some Hindi (Hindu?) women to be raped or assaulted at night while they venture out to go the bathroom as most of their homes don’t have a toilet.

    Article #1: http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/06/09/319529037/indias-rape-uproar-ignites-demand-to-end-open-defecation

    Article #2: http://www.theglobalist.com/indias-potty-problem/

    I am so thankful for the plentiful toilets in most of the US. I really am. Strange thing to be thankful for, but it’s true. The Seattle Zoo has an alarming number of toilets by the way … I know because, well, I got food poisoning from raw oysters and learned about all the wonderful porcelain gods the zoo has! 🙂

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    1. I wouldn’t joke about being thankful for good toilets. It’s hard to be comfortable and healthy without them. It’s also outright evil that people are denied good access to clean toilets, and I’m honestly not being snarky about that.

      Liked by 1 person

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