When I lived in a rental unit in a swanky condo building in SoMa — because it was 2009, at the nadir of the housing market, and the management company was about to go into receivership and desperately wanted to rent out whatever they could — I washed my clothes at BrainWash Cafe. Because I typically procrastinate until I have absolutely no clean underwear left, it was always a schlep walking a very heavy laundry bag over there. But no matter what, the names of the washers and dryers would make me smile. Especially Blanche Devereaux and Judith Butler.
I moved to another apartment with a washer-dryer in the unit, and seldom had the need to return to BrainWash much after that. And somewhere along the line, Rush Street became one-way and the staff replaced (and renamed) all the appliances. With the news that BrainWash’s time in this world may be drawing to an end — nearby construction has hurt business bigly — we wanted to salute the best laundromat in town by ranking the names of its washers and dryers. We’re not going to RIP them just yet, but here are all 40-something, minus the one who’s nameplate got ripped off, in ascending order of awesomeness. (And hang in there, BrainWash!)
Jack Bauer. I’ve never seen a single episode of 24, but I blame it for Americans’ comfort with the idea of torture.
Toddler. Not a vote of confidence in this machine’s skills.
Joker. Or this one.
Mousie. Or this one.
Old Baby. Ditto. Then again, maybe not?
Iceman. Not terribly inspired.
Dewey. Huey and Louie were sold for scrap.
Saddam. Kinda dated — til you remember that Trump said he admired the Iraqi dictator’s moxie. Just no.
Tugboat. Plucky; adorably ugly; a workhorse.
Agonutes. It looks like “Argonauts” or “Agonistes,” but the only reference Google turns up is to a Milton poem. Hmmm, sounds like a staff inside joke.
Mike Skott. Another curious one. @mikeskott hasn’t tweeted in a long time, but on Instagram, @mikeskott likes to go sailing in Hawaii.
Joe Goldman. The head of the Democracy Fund, possibly? Hurray for civics.
Captain Kirk. Magenta Klingon blood in zero-g may require a spot-clean first.
Dr. Who. The TARDIS is full of dust bunnies and other schmutz.
Mutt. Your faithful companion.
Hank. Dog names make good dryer names. Pat this front-loader lovingly, like a trusty friend.
Frank Zappa. A complicated figure in “pop” music, rapidly anti-Establishment yet sort of a domineering jerk.
Shiksa. An unattainable dream, a la Philip Roth’s American Pastoral?
Sadie. Not a real shiksa name, that’s for sure.
Dweezil. Frank Zappa’s son. Is that common knowledge?
Thin Lizzy. For hastily scrubbing the blood off your prison issue, after the jailbreak.
DJ Cheese. An important figure in the history of turntablism, no doubt.
David Bowie. Sigh. Still not over it.
Rush. Is this a speedy washing machine? Just playing word association, I think “Limbaugh,” “poppers,” “Paula Abdul,” and “why is Geddy Lee’s voice so high?” in that order.
Dick. Wash your mouth out with Calgon, perv.
Newt. As with “Rush,” all you can think of is “Gingrich.” Or maybe “eye of.” Either way, wash it out, wash it out, wash it out!
Hunka Munka. An Italian prog-rock musician, so yeah, “Rush” is probably the band.
Joe Montana. Someday, you’ll win the Super Bowl with clean undies.
RuPaul. Somebody here likes drag. Good luck washing that sateen, tho.
Alice Cooper. Flush the fashion!
Jay-Z. You know, to wash $1,000 T-shirts from his own line.
Tammy Fay. This mascara stains on this unnecessarily high-collared blouse simply will not come out!
Bertha. She’s big. Big Bertha. Get it?
Whoopi. “Molly, you in danger, girl.”
Moon Unit. Frank Zappa’s daughter. Very appropriate for an appliance.
Yo Mama. “Yo mama so dirty, the roaches wrote her an eviction notice.”
Jesus H. Best if yelled upon malfunctioning.
Mr. T. Stop your jibber-jabber!
Heklina. How much attention does this queen need?
Willie Brown. Not normally associated with cleanliness, in the political sense at least.
Tony Sparks. A frequent host of comedy nights at BrainWash, he has been commemorated with a washing machine. There can be no finer tribute.
Divine. The queen of filth, when asked for her politics, said “Kill everyone now!”
Carol Doda. The “New Twin Peaks of San Francisco” is the obvious winner. She went topless and bottomless, just like the elusive dream-date in so many people’s twisted laundromat fantasies.
BrainWash Cafe, 1122 Folsom St., 415-861-3663 or brainwash.com