A Ballerina's Bowels

Dearest Poopers, There's much big news! The POOP Project is excited to be participating in the NY Green Festival this April 21 and 22 at the Javits Center. It's going to be HUGE, packed to the gills with green goodies.  And tickets are cheapish!

What's more (What is, Puru? What is more?), we've been officially accepted to premiere Eat $h*t: How Our Waste Can Save the World at the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival.  It's a fantastic opportunity to make feces the focus at the world's largest arts festival. We're working hard behind the scenes to get everything ready, bringing in partners, designing, scripting, all that and a bag of poo-tato chips.  More info on how you can help coming soon...

In the meantime, maybe you'll join me in taking in some tasteful, highbrow entertainment? A ballet perhaps? Oh! This one sounds nice!

"A satirical ballet designed to confront one of the last taboos of man, shit. In this nightmarish dreamscape, we follow a very refined lady as she battles her darkest fear, her own excrement. Horror, humor, wild theatrics, silent movie era kitsch, you truly don't want to miss this one. Remember, behind even the nastiest crap is a good man or woman- or at the very-very least, a great show."


I'm going this Thursday at 8pm to Bowel Movement by Jamie Benson (it was pictured in the preceding post). It's also playing Fri April 13 as part of the Comedy in Dance festival at Triskelion Arts in Brooklyn.

Peaceful pooping,

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

Salty Stool

Dearest Poopers,

The POOP Project is proud to invite you to our final event of the year, in partnership with The Salt Salon.

Join Shawn “The Puru” Shafner this Sunday, Dec. 18 at 5:00pm for a journey through the bowels of history, from the fall of Rome to the modern day, as we unearth the rise of “civilized” man over that most uncivilized of actions. A communal Mediterranean meal by chef Marina Berger will be served in a casual, home setting (togas optional, Bacchanalian revelry and lounging expected). Guests are encouraged to bring your own bottle of wine. $10, Brooklyn locale off the Church Ave. 2/5. More information on The Salt Salon invite.

Why Mediterranean? Why togas? Why revel in Bacchanalian fashion?

For most of us, the holiday season means making time to pop in the ol' Mr. Hankey DVD, light your alternative energy menorah, or beat that wooden log until it poops out candy and nuts. When the days are getting dark, it sure is nice to feel that maybe--just maybe--everything is right with the world.

For our ancient Roman brethren, December was the time when everything was wrong, and society turned upside down. After spending the Autumn planting and sowing, December 17th began a 7-day festival generally known as Saturnalia. The most popular holiday of the year, Saturnalia was a time of reflection and celebration in honor of Saturn (Kronos in Greek), the God of agriculture and the harvest, as well as his wife, Ops, Goddess of bounty, and Consus, the God of Storage. Because all that grain isn't gonna put itself away.

Saturnalia was the Roman equivalent of the RESET button. The celebrated God had presided over Earth's most prosperous time until his son, Jupiter (Zeus), deposed him. But for seven cold days each year, the ropes binding Saturn's feet were loosened and so were the rules of everyday life.

Gambling was allowed in public. Slaves were permitted to use dice and did not have to work. Instead of the toga, less formal dinner clothes (synthesis) were permitted, as was the pileus, a felt cap normally worn by the manumitted slave that symbolized the freedom of the season. Within the family, a Lord of Misrule was chosen. Slaves were treated as equals, allowed to wear their masters' clothing, and be waited on at meal time in remembrance of an earlier golden age thought to have been ushered in by the god. (Encyclopaedia Romana)

Saturn is of particular interest to the POOP because he (or his son, depending on who you consult) was sometimes known as Stercutius, the demigod of manure ("Stercus" means poop; you might also find him called Sterquilinus and Sterculius, as he is referred to in the Beavis and Butthead episode below.). Saturn was the grain--the life, growth, and nourishment. But he was also the scythe--the death, decay and, in his role as Stercutius, the doody. Because you can't have one without the other.

During the medieval Feast of Fools, inspired by and adapted from Saturnalia,

[Excrement] was used in place of incense during the serious service, and later the clergy rode in dung-flled carts 'tossing it at the crowd (147)' (Janik and Bakhtin)

Sure makes you wistful for the old days, doesn't it?

This Salt Salon, the second night of our glorious holiday, I'm hoping we can turn things upside down by bringing a little potty talk into our dinner conversation. It's like a revival of the communal baths, but different. Io, Saturnalia!

Wishing you a wonderful season, and a new year full of peaceful pooping.

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

Tinkle, Tinkle Little Star

Dearest Poopers, I am so looking forward to tabling at The NEW New York Block Party this Saturday, Oct. 1 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. But even more exciting are the FREE giveaways we'll be featuring to help you green your home from your bottom up!

Drumroll please...

Bum Boosa Bamboo toilet paper is one bathroom product your behind can get behind! When toilet paper first came out in the 1860s, it was a total flop. The very idea that people should use a clean, new product reserved specifically for wiping their butts just to dispose of it immediately after was completely foreign to a population used to cleaning themselves with the Sears Catalogue. Seriously. (You can read about that and see many fascinating vintage TP advertisements at the Virtual Toilet Paper Museum.) Still, the idea that we should be cutting down fresh, virgin trees for the same purpose--especially those from the Canadian Boreal Forest, as Kimberly-Clark did until Greenpeace stopped them in 2009--is just as ludicrous. Unfortunately, it's the only way to get the long fibers that make that lusciously soft toilet paper Americans crave.

In those terms, recycled toilet paper is a MUCH better option. However, recycled toilet paper contains all paper types, including thermal papers like receipts, which are loaded with Bisphenol A (or BPA), a known carcinogen, estrogen mimic, and endocrine disruptor. Thus, using recycled toilet paper puts these chemicals directly onto your tender derriere and, when flushed, ushers them into the water system--just one of the many chemicals and pharmaceuticals currently in our drinking stream according to this US Government Accountability Office report (PDF). To quote the Dresden University study (PDF) that first made this issue known:

“Toilet paper was shown to being an important source of xenoestrogen emissions to wastewater. Thermal paper again is estimated being a major source for the contamination of recycled paper with BPA. Thermal paper represents a very small portion of the entire paper production but due to its extremely high BPA content it certainly mainly causes BPA input into the paper cycle...”

Let's file that under bad news. The good news? Bum Boosa bamboo toilet paper!! Unlike traditional paper trees, bamboo grows 2-3 feet each day, and can be harvested sustainably to make all sorts of paper products, including the toilet papers, baby wipes and other environmentally friendly personal products made by Bum Boosa. Interested? See their website to buy online or find a retail location near you, OR stop by our booth at the block party tomorrow and you just might win a squeezably soft, sustainable roll of your own!

Now, I've often written about the amazing fertilizing powers of urine (see The Puru Pees in His Plants), and as a male, it's easy for me to get urine into my watering can. Less so, I'm afraid, for women and trans men. Until now!

Introducing, The pStlye!!

Ever been camping, on a long car trip, faced with sitting on a nasty port-a-pottie seat, or simply wanted to pee standing up? The pStyle is a discreet, reusable funnel that tells women and trans men, "Urine Charge!" with a powerful pee-pee tool. Made by the same mastermind as the reusable menstrual solution, The Diva Cup, the pStyle is incredibly easy to use--and fun!  Just unzip, pull aside your underwear, and maneuver the widest part of the pStyle directly under your urethra. Tilt down and watch the water flow, feeding the plants and flowers with the nitrogen they need to thrive. (Note that you will actually want to dilute your urine with water, especially for home use, as too much nitrogen will burn their tender buds. See Carol Steinfeld's Liquid Gold for complete information.)

Wanna know more? Visit the POOP table at The NEW New York Block Party where we'll be raffling off 2 pStyles, browse the pStyle website for complete usage instructions, or watch their charming promo video below.

(The pStyle presented by afriska.ch from Franziska Neuhaus on Vimeo.)

Till then, may you all tinkle like little stars and enjoy peaceful pooping.

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

Pooping Is Not a Crime

Dearest Poopers, First off, there's still room for YOU to join us this Saturday, 7/30 at 7:30pm for a rooftop screening of Gasland! Read the original post to learn more or just go express track and and RSVP here! And now for the news...

Pooping is not a crime. Dumping poo in the river is. So said your trusty Puru via cardboard and marker yesterday at the rally held by New York Senator Adriano Espaillat. While there have been many individuals and organization (like Riverkeeper and the SWIM Coalition) hounding the city and state for years to provide adequate signage in the event of a CSO, perhaps the Senator's rallying cry will put a stop to this heel-dragging on the part of those responsible, and get this thing moving. (By the way, you can see a cool video showing how scientists think the spilled sewage was moving through New York's waters from the fantastic SeaAndSkyNY.)

In case you missed it, you can learn more about yesterday's rally in this great article at DNAinfo (in which the above picture and some of my own comments are featured), or take in a short video about it from NY1 (in which I am not featured).

All the best, and peaceful pooping.

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

One Gas That's Not Okay to Pass

Dearest Poopers, Here at The POOP Project, we agree with Ben Franklin that natural gas is okey-dokey (see "Not Everyone's Against Gas"), and that us humans should be able to pass it without scrutiny. But one place where methane is definitely not welcome is in our drinking water. Unfortunately, with a new process for getting methane out of rock shale, called hydraulic fracturing (or "fracking"), this is precisely what might happen.

The Academy Award-nominated documentary Gasland: A Film by Josh Fox is helping to inform people all over the country about this critical issue. If you haven't seen it yet, I encourage you to rent this film and share a movie night with other people who like drinking clean water. You can watch the trailer below.


If you're in New York, I welcome you to join me this Saturday, 7/30 at 7:30pm for a rooftop screening! This potluck evening is graciously hosted by Heather Brown and the Brooklyn Food Coalition on a rooftop at 17th Street & 8th Avenue in Brooklyn. You can learn more and RSVP here!

Wishing you, as always, peaceful pooping, but also fracking-free farting.

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner


It's a simple fact of life: put food and water together, mix it inside the human stomach for 12-72 hours, and voila!  Poop. As a Puru, I spend much of my time on the product, but this week I'm heading to a few cool NYC events that highlight the process.  This Thursday, April 14, I'll be at Cooper Union's Great Hall from 7-9pm for the Service to Sustainability Awards, and the launch of Water-Aid, USA: "a new initiative to ensure the purity of America's waters."   It's like two events for the price of one!  There'll be celebrities like Yoko Ono, Olympia Dukakis and Sabrina Artel of Trailer Talk, plus a lot of important people whose names we don't know!

Then, Saturday evening, I'm headed to Brooklyn for Sowing the Seeds, an event held in partnership with Food & Water Watch to get people involved in the upcoming Farm Bill .  We're going to be sprouting and fermenting with Barry Schwartz, learning 'bout the Bill (see Simple, Good and Tasty's primer here), and feeling ironic as we eat popcorn and watch King Corn, a documentary film about how corn has come to be the cream of all our crops.

Wishing you all the best of food and water, and may you enjoy peaceful pooping.

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

Eight Festive Flushes

The Puru has begun making house calls.  The house (that is) of the Lord. Last night, I found myself at Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn, eating latkes and eggplant parmesan alongside two dozen too-cool-for-religious school 7th and 8th graders. Following dinner, they lit the candles and sang Chanukkah songs while I drank ginger ale and worried about how this crowd would react to what I had to say.  And then I was on.

Most Jewish occasions are consecrated over food, which is itself consecrated by a blessing. Religious schools teach these blessings, well, religiously, and these kids knew them by heart.  None of them knew, however, that there's also a blessing for the other side of the food equation, called the Asher Yatzar.

I love this blessing. The basic translation is "Dear God, Thank you for making a body with many holes and openings.  Should any of them ever come open when they shouldn't, or close up when they shouldn't, I would really be in trouble.  Seriously, thanks."

Earlier that day, I had taken myself to the doctor after feeling for two weeks like I was in danger of wetting myself inopportunely.  (Ironic, I know, for the poop guy to suddenly have pee-pee problems, but the world works in mysterious ways...) After a flirtation with adult diapers (more on that soon) and two days on antibiotics, I not only have a renewed respect for modern medicine, but also for the importance of a working urinary and digestive tract.  You might say it's the best holiday gift one could receive.

But that would be corny.  So instead, and in honor of the last night of Chanukkah, the impending Christmas, solstice, Kwanzaa, etc., I give you:


1. After that afternoon coffee, make a pit stop at the Bryant Park public facilities, which were nominated for a 2010 Best Restroom Award.  Feel free to stop and smell the fresh cut flowers on your way in.

2. For a few years now, the Charmin toilet paper company has taken advantage of the holidays to provide a Times Square home for all those tourist tushes out there. It's all part of their "Enjoy the Go" campaign, and this year's offerings include the ability to poop in all 50 states.

3. For the technologically interested, WIRED has opened up a kinky-cool space on Broadway and 4th Street showcasing all sorts of gadgets and doo-hickeys, including the Envirolet FlushSmart Composting Toilet System.  Don't get caught with your pants down--the store is only open Wed-Sun until Dec. 26, and the composting commode is only for viewing.

4. Give yourself the gift of a well-washed rear, and try a Toto Washlet at a restaurant near you. (For more info, refer to prior post Wade in the Washlet.)

5. Head on out Dec. 15 for the free launch party of the new essay collection Toilets: Public Restrooms and the Politics of Sharing edited by Harvey Molotch and Laura Noren. 5:30-8, FREE + wine & cheese, but you gotta RSVP.

Mr. Hankey, the South Park masterpiece

6. Let the internet help you put the reason back into the season.  Click here to watch the episode that started it all: Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo.

7. Consider giving the gift that's both green and a little gross.  There are a few companies making beautiful stationary, picture frames and more out of all sorts of recycled poop.  Check out Haathi Chaap for paper primarily made from elephant poo, options of elephant, cow, horse, and panda PooPooPaper or even Sheep Poo Paper.  Just think: if you move to Wales then it could be YOUR job to pick up all those pellets!

8. Join The POOP Project on Monday, Dec. 27 at 7:00pm for a hilariously highfalutin reading of Jonathan Swift's 18th century scatological poetry.  Hosted by Swift's Hibernian Lounge.

Wishing you a very happy holiday season and, as always, peaceful pooping!

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner



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