Eat $h*t

Dearest poopers, There's a lot to be excited about around The POOP Project right now.  An article I wrote about the swaddled American experience, "Huggies for Hanukkah," just came out in Alef: The NEXT Conversation. This Monday night from 10-11 EST, I'll be giving an interview to Danny Valdes on Radio Provacateur. And this Wednesday at 7:30pm, my new one man show, Eat $h*t: How Our Waste Can Save the World will premiere as a work-in-progress in the lounge at Dixon Place.  It's FREE!

Imagine a world that utilizes our most natural bodily function instead of flushing doo into our drinking water. This renewable resource can fertilize fields, build homes and power cities, while we confront an international sanitation crisis that kills a child every 20 seconds. But to do this, we’re gonna have to own our $h*t.

Journey from kitchen to commode for an uncensored look at the imbalanced bowels of an American society consuming itself.

Eat $h*t: How Our Waste Can Save the World Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie Street 7:30-9:00pm FREE! Light refreshments will be served.

Created and Performed by Shawn Shafner Developed with the help of director Simon Hanukai, dramaturg David Carter and chef Amanda Melpolder.

Green Your Home from the Bottom Up!

Dearest Poopers, Thanks so much to all those who made it out this past week for our POOP Project events; they're always poopy, but never crappy! We fed our metropolitan minds on the topic of urban farming last Tuesday with visionary ideas from Inger Staggs YanceyAnnie Novak, Dr. Dickson Despommier and surprise guest Alec Baxt in a panel conversation with the Visitor's Center at Newtown Creek. Then Saturday night we ranted, raved and exorcised the demons of shameful shitting at the VENT Performance Festival. And look! I even got my name printed on the wall like a fancy artist!! Mama would be so proud...if only it wasn't about poop.

But it is about poop. It always is.

And it gives me great pleasure to know that this Saturday, Oct. 1 from 11am-5pm, I'll be helping people green their homes from their bottoms up! The POOP Project will be holding court at GreenHomeNYC's NEW New York Block Party, a revolutionary reinterpretation of the traditional street fair that will transform one city block into an urban classroom and bring practical, environmentally-friendly ideas straight to your doorstep. That is, if you happen to live on North 11th Street between Berry and Wythe in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, because that's where the event is. Otherwise, I invite you to make that block your temporary doorstep for the day!.

But wait--there's more!

People often say to me: "Puru! I love you. You know so much about poop! Do you want to get married?" And I say, "No. Anyway, not to you." To which they say, "Ouch! Oh, wait. I'm over it! Still, oh great Puru, how can I put some of your wise environmental principles into practice with my very own potty?"

In answer to this query, it brings me even greater pleasure to know that this Saturday I'll be bringing you two--count them--1, 2 ways to put your money where my mouth is. The POOP Project has partnered with two companies that excite me so much I just might tinkle! Which is exactly what they'd want me to do.

So, what are these mystery organizations? It's a mystery!!! That will be revealed over the next few days.

Till then, 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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZe1AeH0Qz8

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

Discover A Sustainable Future, July 12!

Dearest Poopers, Please forgive my delay in updating the site of late. I've been deep in the Northwoods of Wisconsin traveling, camping, and pooping in holes. Meanwhile, there's so much excitement happening back in New York, with two POOP events coming up next week, and one special event I know you'll enjoy.

The POOPs!

1. Tues, 7/12, 6:30pm, "A Sustainable Future: Green Innovations." A panel conversation with Andrew Faust (Center for Bioregional Living), Paul S. Mankiewicz, Ph.D. (The Gaia Institute) and John McLaughlin (Bureau of Environmental Planning and Analysis, DEP). Hosted by the Visitor Center at Newtown Creek, and moderated by The Puru.

2. Sat, 7/16, 10am-4pm, City of Water Day Festival. Stop by the POOP table during this FREE day of entertainment, education & adventure on Governor's Island celebrating the potential of our NYC/NJ waterfront!

The Special Event!

3. Wed, 7/13, 7-10pm, Panoply Performancy Forum XIV at BOB the Pavilion.  Featuring theatre, music and dance at a composting toilet and inflated platform on the Columbia University campus.

DETAILS!!

1.

Click the picture above to see the full flyer, or click HERE to get complete directions to the Visitor Center at Newtown Creek.

2.

July 16: City of Water Day Festival in NY & NJ From the upper Hudson to Raritan Bay, we are a City of Water. Spread the word and come to the waterfront on July 16, City of Water Day! On this day, the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance gathers many partners to showcase the potential of the New York/New Jersey Harbor. Come, enjoy, and help us revitalize the waterfront with this annual, one-of-a-kind festival for the entire family!

This year, festivities will take place at Governors Island and Liberty State Park. Free ferries will get you to Governors Island from Manhattan and Brooklyn (click here for the schedules) and to Liberty State Park. (Click here for the schedule of free transportation between Governors Island and Liberty State Park, and here for information about other ways to get to Liberty State Park.)

FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHTS

  • FREE boat tours for thousands on historic and educational vessels. Click here for more information
  • FREE kayaking, rowing and fishing opportunities
  • Dozens of FREE arts, crafts, games and activities for kids
  • FREE ferries between Governors Island & Liberty State Park
  • An amazing range of demonstrations, hands-on projects, free merchandise and water-related literature at the Waterfront Activity Fair--INCLUDING THE POOP PROJECT TABLE!
  • Car-free waterfront bicycling
  • Delicious food from award-winning vendors
  • Live music, and much more!!!

If you can't make it to Liberty State Park or Governors Island on July 16, enjoy City of Water Day festivities at other waterfronts around the metropolitan region, including Harlem River Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Staten Island, Bronx River Park, Battery Park City and Hudson River Park. Click here for information about City of Water Day in Your Neighborhood.

3.

PERFORMANCY FORUM XIV organized by PPL AT BOB THE PAVILION

Wednesday, July 13, 7-10:00 PM

TESS DWORMAN performing an intimate, solo dance piece

PAUL PINTO AND JEFFREY YOUNG (OF THINGNY) performing a mini opera tentatively entitled Jeffrey Young and Paul Pinto Run for Office with the Help of Paul Pinto as his Wingman.

ANYA LIFTIG * performance art * performance art *

BEN SPATZ/MAXIMILIAN BALDUZZI/URBAN RESEARCH THEATER 

MATTHEW STEPHEN SMITH an excerpt from A Gathering of Very Articulate Individuals 

CHRISTY WALSH performing her I had a dream of an endless string of beautiful days in the desert, a dance/video work

and

PPL composer BRIAN MCCORKLE, performing an excerpt from the work-in-progress Institute_Institut concert-style with MEGAN COOPER, GREG LOEWER JR, DANIELLA FISCHETTI, AND MATTHEW STEPHEN SMITH

Bob the Pavilion is a composting toilet and inflated platform for performance and more http://www.bobthepavilion.com/

Bob The Pavilion was supported by a grant from Columbia University School of the Arts (SOA) and Graduate School of Architecture, Preservation, and Planning (GSAPP).

--

Very much looking forward to seeing everyone there and wishing you, as always, peaceful pooping.

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

What About Bob?

Darling poopers, It is with great sadness that I announce Bob's delay (Bob is a communal, composting toilet soon to be in the midst of Manhattan). I received this from Bob late yesterday:

Yes, rush over to the pavilion on the Columbia University campus to see what's happening, but know that Bob has not yet arrived.  Know, also, that I will alert you as soon as Bob does.

In the meantime, peaceful pooping.

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

Your Anus is Not Uranus

Today, I'd like to get personal. Like an all up in your space kind of personal. Like so personal, in fact, it's in your pants.

Your anus is not Uranus.

First of all, Uranus is the seventh planet from our sun and your anus is that opening at the end of your digestive tract, opposite from your mouth.  Secondly, Uranus belongs to no one, whereas your anus belongs to you and whomever you might temporarily and consensually entrust it to.  Though we could go on, suffice it to say that they don't even have to be pronounced the same, as Uranus can be said two ways.  They're not the

Are you loving your anus, or treating it like Uranus?

I recently came across this hilarious video by Superhero Clubhouse.  They are "a society of theater artists engaged in making original plays and events about the natural world via a green and collaborative process."  Cool, right?  (And they're having a benefit party tonight if you can make it!) The video is a promo for their upcoming production URANUS (a play about waste), and highly instructive in detailing anal abuse.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fqBIXwe7-c&feature=player_embedded

OUCH!  If you're working that hard to move those bowels--especially on a regular basis--it might be time to reassess your anal relationship.  Let's face it, you both deserve better.

Unlike Uranus, your anus is attached to you.  And it might actually be quite talkative if it weren't always being sat on or pushed around.  So take a moment to listen in.  Is your anus clenched and tense?  Reeling from a spicy snack?  Feeling...drafty?   Anuses get overworked easily, but you can help them to be happy by making sure your poo is healthy.  Unlike that constipated feeling of opening a jar of old pickles, when your anus is relaxed, that healthy poo will slide right out.

Try cheering up your anus by adding more fiber to your diet.  Vegetables, fruits and whole grains are loaded with roughage that doesn't quite digest, instead joining forces to create a solid poo as it slides through your digestive tract.  The other half of that glue, however, is water, which gets reabsorbed from the poo by your intestines and colon in its exodus.  So as long as you're commemorating the upcoming World Water Day, make a toast to healthy, hydrated poo!  Feel free to eat a carrot-raisin bran muffin while you do.

So here's to eco-theater, end-conscious eating, Uranus and your expressive anus.  From me to you, peaceful pooping.

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

Celebrity Scat

I am happy to announce that we are now beginning to release some of the footage from our highly acclaimed World Toilet Day New York event this past November 19th, 2011.  For your viewing pleasure, I give you Ms. Megan Gerlach and Mr. Justin Lang, "Nerds and Turds." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyxLJNDSv-M

In other celebrity news, Oprah poops. I understand that this may not qualify as news.  Oprah and her creation, Dr. Oz, are pioneers in promoting poop-positive TV programming.  Nonetheless, it turns out that Oprah's own fame has forced her to become what Dave Praeger, in his book Poop Culture, describes as a 'shameful shitter.'  More on that soon.

In the clip, she says:

"This is me, who does not take public bowel movements, okay?  I am not gonna go, like, Number 2 in a regular... (Someone else: "In a stall...")  Oh my God, no."

At first I was offended.  Perhaps it was the tangible disgust and horror in her tone, or her choice of the word "regular," as if her derriere deserved much better.  Poop, like death, is a great equalizer; you can eat from a diner, a dumpster, or a deluxe 12-course banquet, but then the lines blur into a mighty blast of brown.  Of course, money can buy you a nicer place to deposit your doo.  $6,000 recently bought American Idol host Ryan Seacrest a luxurious birthday bidet (the gift that keeps on giving), while in the developing world, only the wealthy can afford the privacy of a home toilet.  So what about privacy for the super rich and famous?

Oprah continues:

"[laughing]...the only thing anybody's going to do is go home and say, 'Guess who was in the bathroom today?'  No!"

And you know she's right.  Oprah can poop in a public potty just like anybody else, but it could just make 'the splash heard round the world.'  Sure, your curry vindaloo explosion might make you the office laughingstock by the end of the day, but by the end of her day, the lady who's iPhone recorded Oprah playing the butt trumpet would have her own reality TV show on Fox.  The audio clip, in equal parts delightful and disgusting, would be downloaded in droves and remixed for the dance floor, hitting the pop charts and the elevators at Harpo, reaping royalties for Oprah long after the reality star had faded.  At least that's what I think; you can see Jimmy Kimmel's take in the video below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cD2DUmDbeQ4

The Urban Dictionary (clearly an irrefutable source of accurate information...) defines Dave Praeger's "shameful shitter" as someone who, "will hold it in for hours before daring to go into a public restroom."  If they must use the toilet, "they will do it in a continued state of terror and anxiety that someone will come in and smell their aroma or hear their farts..."

While we all know somebody who talks regularly about their colon health and strolls into the bathroom proudly carrying a newspaper, most of us struggle with shameful shitting to a greater or lesser degree. We might walk in to an occupied bathroom and pretend to be there just washing our hands, or tell the date who's been waiting at the table that it only took us so long because the restroom line was unusually long.  We're worried that someone will find out what we all already know, that as pretty and put together as we may look, all sorts of icky things ooze out of us once the door's been closed.  We deny poop because, as the "dirtiest" object with the lowest status, it has the magical, Midas-like power to pollute and bring down whatever it touches.  When the pedestal's been placed at celebrity height, the counterweight of poop can mean quite a fall.

Consider the case of Paris Hilton.  She made headlines in 2007 when she was sentenced to 45 days in prison for violating a reckless driving probation.  Three days into serving her term, and Paris wound up sedated in the medical wing after having refused to eat or drink since she arrived. Apparently the toilet was placed opposite a window through which the court guards could see everything. A Hilton insider quoted in the article reports, "'She was absolutely terrified that one of the guards or staffers would get her with the cell-phone cam and it would wind up on the Internet.'"

To be clear, you can find clips of Ms. Hilton in coitus with just a few clicks of your mouse.  Could the shame of someone (or the whole world) seeing you poop be that much worse?

Grimani Breviary- The Month of February (1490-1510)

Norbert Elias' classic text, The Civilizing Process, quotes old missives on manners to show the complex social maneuvering that first led Western Europeans to adopt now-common, "civilized" behaviors. Unlike Adam and Eve, who learned shame in the time it took to eat some fruit, humans 1,000 years ago had to be conditioned over time to look down on those who blow their snot onto their sleeve, eat with their fingers, or poop in the hallways.  Lest you accuse me of exaggeration, consider this passage culled from the Brunswick Court Regulations of 1589:

"Let no one, whoever he may be, before, at, or after meals, early or late, foul the staircases, corridors, or closets with urine or other filth, but go to suitable, prescribed places for such relief."

If it was necessary for someone to write this, obviously there was a problem.  But that's exactly it--these ideas are only obvious to you and me because society learned to be disgusted by such acts, and to shame those who committed them into seeking privacy for such things.  Modern society gives the responsibility of molding well-adjusted citizens to Mom and Dad, yet Community Led Total Sanitation programs are just now convincing rural communities in the developing world to feel shame and disgust over outdoor and/or public defecation. (For more information, read this article by The Last Taboo co-author Maggie Black.)

In reaction to our former animalism, we may have learned the rules a little too well, allowing for few shameless ways to shit.  But if Paris and Oprah ever want to ease their bowels, we may need to ease up on a cultural stigma in which we're all complicit.  We wind up shaming anyone who makes us aware that poop exists, paradoxically stoking people's interest through censorship, and thereby giving Oprah's poop the potential to make international news, whether she likes it or not.  But if Oprah pooped in a forest and everyone heard it, maybe we'd understand that she's really just like us.  And if we're all just like Oprah than we're all just like each other.  We'll beat swords into plowshares, doves will soar overhead, and Oprah's poop will leads us to an era of world peace.

Prosperous Pooping in this New Year,

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

Picasso's dove

Jonathan Swift Poo-etry Event CANCELED

Dear Poo-etry Lovers, I regret to inform you that tonight's reading has been canceled due to weather and the inability of planes to get me from Denver to New York.  We look forward to re-scheduling in the near future, and in the meantime encourage you to step outside, look up at the snow, and imagine that each white flake is a piece of poop.  Because if you were in the ocean, that's what that falling, snow-like morass would be.  (More here: http://culturingscience.wordpress.com/2010/08/19/marine-snow/)

Wishing you all a warm blanket, a warm beverage, and a wonderful New (poo) Year.

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

Mr. Hankey Is Not the Only Christmas Poo

As Christmas Eve 2010 descends upon us, and sugar plum fairies stretch their quads, preparing to dance in our heads once again, The Puru wants to bring you in on a rather crappy Catalan holiday tradition.  But first, a plug for our upcoming event this Monday night! humorous chamber pot

This holiday season, skip Jack Black's reinterpretation of Gulliver's Travels and join The POOP Project for a taste of the REAL Jonathan Swift. Monday, Dec. 27 from 7-8pm, Shawn Shafner (me!) will be at Swift Hibernian Lounge drinking homemade gin and reading from the scatological poo-etry of the 18th century's greatest satirist. Hilarious, insightful, and all in rhyming verse, Swift has a gift for looking beneath the rosy facade, and reminding us that "though we'd like to thank our shit don't stank..." well, you know the rest.  For more information, please write The Puru, or see our Facebook Event page.

And now, for some straight poop on Christmas, take a moment to think about who's present in your average nativity scene.  Let's see...we've got the baby Jesus, mother Mary, Joseph, the Three Wise Men, some camels, sheep, and OH YEAH!  That peasant with his pants down, pooping in the corner.

Excuse me?

Meet El Caganer. Literally, "The Shitter," this figurine of a red-hatted farmer relieving himself has been seen in folk imagery in various parts of the world since the 16th century, and has been most famously hiding in Catalan nativity scenes since the early 18th century.  Mmm hmmm.  And why now?  It seems no one knows for certain, but his presence might have represented hopes for a bountiful harvest, symbolized regenerative powers of nature and God, or helped to connect a larger-than-life story to something real and "earthy."  For kids, finding the little stinker--placed inconspicuously for modesty's sake--is one of the holidays greatest joys.  (Even children with poor eyesight can find this record-making caganer in Barcelona; his stool alone stands taller than a 3rd grader.)

Nowadays, the caganer has loosened the shackles of tradition and not only appears in female form, but as almost anyone else you can think of.  Just a quick image search reveals the plastic pooping picture of everyone from Pope Benedict XVI to Barack Obama, Spiderman to Santa, with a healthy dose of Einstein, Woody Allen and Darth Vader thrown in the mix.  Admired as a kitschy collectible and art object, they have even spawned their own fan club: The Association of Friends of the Caganer.  Daniel L. Lisuk, an artist and a member of the association, helps us contextualize the pooping shepherd in modern times:

"I find that the caganer fits in with many issues of contemporary art: Why are the cycles of nature so profound in our lives? What is the relationship of man to nature and man to God? How can humorous imagery be used with profound subject matter? How do we show the stabilizing role of strong tradition in a rapidly changing society? ... Life is filled with deep meaning, but is also filled with warm humor. The ability of man to examine himself and his place in the universe and to occasionally laugh very loudly at himself makes this a wonderful world." (You can read the full essay here.)

Dayenu, nu?  But the Catalan keep it coming.  Not only have they enamored themselves with a nativity-crashing crapper, there's also the traditional Tio de Nadal ("Christmas Log"), or what's more commonly called the Caga Tio ("Pooping Log").  Originally this was a hollowed out log that was fed sweets, nuts, or dried fruit in the days leading up to Christmas, and was often covered with a blanket to keep it warm.  Come Christmas Day, however, the family would singe the wood in the fire, and then beat it with sticks while demanding that the log poop its treats out for them.  Today, the Caga Tio often has four legs, a painted face, and the traditional hat worn by the caganer, in addition to taking on the Santa-like responsibility of pooping out large gifts.  Now thanks to YouTube, we can all share this tradition with someone else's family halfway across the world!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pzm-4VQteJM&feature=related

Now aren't you glad nobody hits you with a stick and rhythmically demands that you drop a deuce?  Unless that's your thing, in which case, good luck with that.  However you choose to honor the holidays, we at The POOP Project wish you all the best for a joyous season and prosperous New Year.  Peaceful pooping, and looking forward to joining you in 2011.

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

P.S. If you haven't yet, be sure to check out what Professor Toilet said about our World Toilet Day event!

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