Guide for the Pooplexed

By Steed Dropout
April 9, 2016


Former Berkeley Art Museum. Photo by Ted Friedman.

Let’s say you’re Southside, seeking restrooms. Yelp is no help.

We have held off our restroom recommendations for decades, not wanting to cause a stampede at our favorite piss destination.

Most Berkeley neighborhoods don’t even have public toilets. Urgencies must rely on the largesse of coffee shops, libraries, supermarkets, and abandoned construction-site port-a-potties.

Restroom largesse doesn’t get any larger than at Pappy’s, on Telegraph/Durant, where you can duck in the doors, unobserved, and downstairs to restrooms which have served Cal students for seventy-one years. You can almost smell the original sawdust/peanut/ shell floors and imagine the 50s fraternity- sorority paddles.


Southside has four, maybe five, public toilets. Three of these toilets you may be disinclined to use. The city and the university provides them all, with various degrees of utility.

The Berkeley Art Museum toilet digs (pictured above)—Durant entrance—were best-of, but closed when BAM/PFA moved downtown, recently. If the university re-opens the old museum site as university offices, the restrooms might still be available.

These restrooms (male-side) were as good as it gets, in a field where it is hard to shine. Right off, you knew you were dumping in an art museum. Chrome-framed prints greeted you at the start of what was to be one of the most pleasant squats of your life.

Toilets at the renovated student union, are cramped and barely adequate, and there have been ‘incidents.’


Downstairs, from the Sproul Hall foyer, is a1920’s-style crapper, worth a visit, whether urgent or not. This pit-stop is four-star; all marble, oak, brass, and inlaid mosaic floors. Just goes to show how far we’ve declined as a species.

In case you’re making a list, and you should–note the university police are headquartered near the historic Sproul pit stop, and (don’t riot!) you might see some elephantine feet in an adjoining stall. UC cops will give you the once-over, but, in return for the security (who would go to police headquarters to commit a crime?), it’s worth it.

When it comes to a pee, it’s always worth it.


Park it here. Photo by Ted Friedman.

On or near Telegraph lies a tale of two toilets. Toilet number one, a city-run Southside toilet in the city’s Southside (between Channing/Haste) parking garage…now this would be a fine facility let’s say in the Sahara. But it has an important feature, a restroom door guarding the can that you can lock, sort of, but it’s worth a try. You won’t want to try to fit on the narrow aluminum rim of an alleged toilet seat, but might be able to aim your waste from the waist, in a number two crisis.


Peoples Park. Photo by Ted Friedman.

If you miss with a stand-up number two, you get the aura of the second public toilet, this one run by Cal, at People’s Park. If the People’s Park restrooms sink below human standards, maybe it’s because the university’s people’s park division is paying for beefed up security at the restrooms and had to poop, recently, for extensive arboreal work in the

Swarms of flies, leaking excrement, and foul odors characterize this shit-hole.

Medhead’s head. Photo by Ted Friedman.

When Caffe Mediterraneam’s Craig Becker directs you to the People’s Park dump-hole, thank him for his service, then wait until his back is turned, and dart upstairs to the head of Medheads. (The head, Naval usage, for shit-hole).

A surprising oasis in the Southside desert of dismay, the Med’s head is a pleasant surprise, and offers the latest in tagger-inspired Telegraph street-art. Leave a tip in the counter-jar.


Moe’s Books, which excels at books, excels in restrooms.Founder Moe Moskowitz spent decades dealing with restroom unrest at the famed used book bonanza before installing a fool-proof token-based system.

Be sure to follow Moe’s posted restroom access directions to avoid unwanted restroom guests breaking in on you.

“Please don’t eat the urinal cakes,” a disappearing sign of Americana, is unnecessary at Moe’s. The Moe’s urinal, now art, has been kaput for thirty years, perhaps a sign of the unnecessary male.

You’ve reached the end. Still time to take the notes (and carry) that may make your day (or, dump) on Telegraph.

This for TNT, who just says no to any public toilet. More Berkeley Reporter photos:

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