Plus! Inside the restroom at Jay Street-MetroTech!!
seems like a thing both of them have going for them is being really comfortable w being alone/quiet - makes it a lot easier to be with yourself! not everyone can live like these monks full time but their practices can be incorporated by us lay-people.
(also noticing that just like the monks, these guys have a dedicated support staff of women connecting to outside social networks more regularly!)
Last time I was in a subway bathroom it was the 80s, and people lived there. Maybe that’s why the video reminded me of a bad industrial release from that time; it just needs a few rapid cuts and some jumps, and of course, lots of grinding and clanking over a stolen beat. “Dispenser Truth, the only release from NYC’s little-known Unverwüstliche Toilette Papierspender, is default ringtone on the new Cafe Anne modular phone.”
Love this! As the father of a 16 y/o who has her iPhone surgically attached, the mobile phone is the bane of my existence - though seemingly essential to hers. It’s a double-edged sword: just this morning on the way to school I had to make her look up to see the incredible sunrise. She did - and promptly took a photo and sent it to a friend. Of course, I’m writing this on my phone at the moment while waiting for parents evening to start, was able to arrange an appointment between lessons and have sorted numerous other things .... all while lamenting the very thing I’m using. 🤦
I read this on the C, heading towards Manhattan & almost got off at Metro Tech to check out the bathroom situation. Maybe next time.... although by then it’ll probably be really gross!
Also: how do these people read all the Substack newsletters without a smart phone!? I couldn’t possibly read s as many as I do if I had to wait to get in front of my computer😂
After reading about this idea somewhere, last year I made and collaged a special box that my phone was to go into when I was working in my studio and didn't want to feel the pull of its siren call. It was a great method! It worked! But I haven't used it for over a year 😅. It's truly frightening how seductive our phones are. I feel sad when I see, for example, young mothers pushing their babies down the street in strollers but they have their heads down, looking at their phones. Excuse me but, don't you have a BABY with you? Or anyone really who could be taking in their environment, but instead they're looking down at their phone. Yikes. Not good.
so delightful to read my dad's interview, and his fellow no cell phone comrade! :) the story of the time he successfully made a cell phone call has gotten a lot of play lol. i'm also curious to find some of this OPS in the wild!
I am one of the 3%. And unlike the two people you profiled here, I am a woman and in my 40s. I am an introvert and would not want to be contactable everywhere I go (except by my husband, but he doesn't have a cell phone either). I like being alone with my thoughts, and I always have a book with me in case I want distraction. I also have privacy/tracking concerns around cell phone use, something neither of these men mentioned.
The way I see it, I have not changed -- everyone else has. They decided to sign up for this., while I continue doing things the way I did 20 years ago. I phone and email people. I arrive at the agreed-upon place on time. I rely on my own sense of direction, or use a paper map, or look at an online map before I leave home. I take pictures only when I have deliberately brought a camera along. I think I should get to decide how much technology I want in my life. I do use the computer a lot, actually more than I would like, but even from that I take a weekly break as I observe a digital sabbath.
Some things have become more difficult as society has decided to assume everyone has a cell phone and sometimes fails to provide alternative ways of accomplishing tasks. Pay phones are becoming rare. My work did provide me with a token for 2FA. I print out concert tickets and the like. When something is impossible to do without a cell phone, I just abstain from it.
Another great Cafe Anne! My father used a flip-phone for many, many years. He would get frustrated by the group chats he was in and couldn't see emojis or get/take any good mobile photos. He was a staunch flip phone guy. My family finally just said screw it and we bought him a smart phone. He now loves it. He can take quality pics, listen to the Mets with his phone on the beach and do just about anything. I commend these guys for not having a cell phone but it has to be a giant pain at times.
Full disclosure: I am Peter Hirsch IRL. Hoping that being both a commenter and featured subject is not so egregious a conflict of interest that it creates a black hole vortex and turns the universe inside out (though that might be interesting to see).
Seeing that the post that I am in starts with a hard-hitting investigative report on subway bathrooms and toilet paper, subjects dear to my heart (or - wherever) was very encouraging. Even those incurious about what sort of weirdo doesn't have a cell phone would find themselves seduced in by the information packed at the head of the article.
I was anticipating (hoping for?) some degree of scorn and mockery while awaiting the post going live, so it was surprising how polite and positive the comments have been. And this is New York (assuming even those non-residents reading this are virtual NYC'ers). I'm sure there must be some out there affronted by my willful eschewing of the universal core value of being always connected and always available. There must be some out there looking at me walking around and wondering "since his gaze isn't affixed to a index card sized screen in his hand, what the hell could he looking at, and why".
To close this overly solipsistic comment, I'd like to share an interesting factoid that did not come up in the zoom interview with Anne. - Believe it or not, you do not need a smart phone or any other type of cell phone to receive a text. I have no idea how it was done, but I once checked my answering machine (my kind of hi-tech) and found a message delivered by an inanimate voice. It told me that I had been sent a text and then proceeded to deliver it. I have no memory of the content, just that the voice had trouble pronouncing the text as words that resembled anything recognizable. Who sent it and how they did it remains a mystery to this day.
I once wrote a column ranking public bathrooms in Philadelphia award plies of toilet paper. The Four Seasons, for example, was awarded four plies of toilet paper. Our public transit restroom got half a ply. Macy’s received three and a half ply. I gave them a extra ply because you had to walk through women longerie to get there.
I have to start with this: That gottdamned "Luke C." is a genius!
As for a Cafe Anne phone, I think it should record the phone numbers of any potential mate who comes within arms-length at a dance-club; especially when drunk. It will prevent "Frankie X Syndrome!"
As for the new "modern" public restrooms: "Not really—the hand dryer was definitely old school"
Well that would be all I needed to know!! It has to have one of those new, jet-propelled, hand-driers, or it might as well be a restroom without a lock on the door at an old ESSO gas station in the hinterlands. https://youtu.be/kcBnJm14r6s
WOW!! That Archer OPS system is other-wordly!! It's punk-ass proof!! What a Brave New World we live in!
**Which brings up the issue of girls trying to go their entire lives without using a public restroom; physiology and God's curse of a monthly cycle makes it almost de rigueur for girls to use public restrooms more than boys, yet boys will park their asses on the dirtiest toilet seats without a blink.
As for going without a cellphone I agree with David's sentiment: "I only need so much stimulation, and then I need recovery." After I read the Cafe Anne newsletter on Monday, I'm wiped-out for the rest of the week!
Peter must have a great internal navigation device because I think the navigation function of a smartphone is akin to the discovery of fire, the wheel, and the Archer OPS!
Speaking of NYC public bathrooms, have you been to the bathrooms off of the Bethesda Terrace staircase in Central Park? The stall doors are TINY and barely came up to my shoulders when standing. I felt like a farm animal!
It’s time to start making tanks out of OPS paper-mache.
I wrote a bittersweet farewell to nyc. Thanks for covering the city with optimism: https://yuribezmenov.substack.com/p/escapefromnewyork
Great post Anne. The paper towel and toilet tissue thing is amazing. I applaud the company who invented the Ops. I have often noticed how much paper waste is found in public restrooms. Not to mention clogged toilets. You would think that anyone with common sense or respect wouldn't clog the toilets like they do. But anyway, The gentlemen without cell phones I get. I do carry a cell phone but I don't feel the need to be on it constantly. I often wonder myself if people who are walking around with their face to the screen are aware of anything else. I am a person who likes to observe nature and hear it as well. Not to mention being aware of what's around you is important to prevent the possibility of a criminal attack. It bothers me when I see women running or walking with earbuds in their ears. People may call me paranoid but I'm just cautious. When you can't hear what's going on around you, you are a possible target for a crime. There are times when I wish cell phones were never invented but then, they do come in handy when your car breaks down or need to call for help.
This was fascinating and worth a reread. I like that the two men seem like the type to wander. Distance running or hiking... they’re discovering what Wikipedia won’t tell them at that very moment. It’s nice to be unplugged, not always on the unconscious hunt for content. I read once we remember things better that we don’t take pictures of. And it’s true about GPS. London cabbies had parts of their brains shrink once they got GPS. Imagine memorizing a chicken wire map of streets, remembering each little alley or shrub, then missing it all because you’re minding a voice prompt. There’s a bit of tragedy in that. Then again, some things are not in everyone’s capacity so it helps us all. As always, great job, Anne.