Todd Forrest says: "Plastic plants are easy to care for." Photo by Glynnis McDaris
How often have you found yourself at some horrible family event having mind-numbing conversations with 300-pound behemoths about the minutiae of pregnancy and babies? If you listen closely you'll realize all their talk of the runs, abdominal pain, and relaxed deep-breathing techniques is, in essence, all about shit. They are just repackaging the graphically scatological in Mommyspeak. As Freud brilliantly pointed out: Penises, infants, and poop are all solid bodies that stimulate membranous passages. Every conversation anyone has ever had always comes back to shit. Therefore, young urbanite, we provide you with the A to Z of poo.
Dr. Sigmund Freud postulated that our adult psyche stems from the relationship we cultivate with our feces as toddlers. Those who grow up ashamed or traumatized by pooping retain their feces unnaturally and later in life prize cleanliness, order, and high blood pressure. Anal expulsive tendency is the flip side, wherein kids shit everywhere with huge grins on their faces and grow up to live in a studio apartment strewn with laundry where they type up A–Z guides three days after the deadline and have maggots in their Cheerios box (although, when captured in a jar, these white caterpillars with black heads seem to spin webs, so I'm not sure what the fuck they are—moth larvae?).
More Shit: Aloe Charmin actually aggravates the anus with long-term use and leads to a very itchy bum with raw skin.
Girls don't really shit. Instead they drop these little pellets in the bowl and call it a bowel movement. That's like dumping a Lego set out and saying you made a castle. What comes out of girls' bums is the fecal equivalent of a miscarriage. See, what happens is, food leaves the stomach in a series of runny little wet balls called chyme, which eventually mush together in the colon and dry into a firm log. (Note: Your colon reclaims approx. 1.5 liters of water this way every day.) However, girls dehydrate their systems with coffee, diet pills, Midol, mimosas, you name it… and there's not enough wetness in the stool to bind a turd together. A mild version of the above affliction is the cluster poop that looks like a bunch of grapes squished together.
More Shit: Biggest colon ever had 40 pounds of impacted feces and is currently on display in Philadelphia.
What's funnier than Elmo pinching a loaf? Children's books are a trip because they explain the sordid facets of life in this Technicolor world where "Even Dinosaurs Divorce." The winner is Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi, which is done with that "too cool to actually draw well" mentality that VICE celebrates when kids who spray-paint bubble letters transition to being "artists." Ms. Gomi's book relaxes anal-retentive kids about shit, raising the Zen question "What does whale poop look like?" The final spread, showing a lion, gorilla, giraffe, goose, pig, and little Asian boy all shitting in solidarity, should be the next pictograph on interstellar satellites.
More Shit: Cloaca was built by this guy from Belgium and it's a replica of the digestive system that is fed an actual meal, and 27 hours later, excretes a poop. It's 33 feet of tubes, pipes, glass jars, pumps, motors, and weird shit. Apparently someone figured out this is "Contemporary Art" and you can buy this shit at www.cloaca.be. Just don't tell the post office. Mailing feces is a felony.
Yes, Dorothy, we do digest corn. If you root through your poo and pull out one of those so-called "undigested" pieces you'll notice that only the outer husk remains. The kernel inside is gone. This outer sheath is so fucking tough it inspired bulletproof Kevlar.
More Shit: Dead bacteria makes up a third of your poop's weight. The rest is indigestible fiber, fats, intestinal mucus, cells sloughed off from your bowel's lining, dead blood cells, and a whole bunch of toxic compounds.
ENEMAS AND COLONICS
These are very beneficial and important if you are a fucking idiot that doesn't know anything about science. Enemas are for show. All they do is make your inner ass look nicer for, say,a severe butt reaming later on (like straight people plan anal sex that far ahead). They make you shit because they put saline in your rectum which draws water in and helps lube out stool but they really only flush out the five-inch pouch of your rectum and can't reach the colon. Colonics, on the other hand, flush out your large intestine, where, according to wackos, five pounds of undigested red meat and ten pounds of hardened, impacted feces line your walls. The medical community (ie: those who actually went to school) says this is nonsense.
More Shit: Ebola liquefies your inner organs, which you then shit out as endless diarrhea.
FLOATERS VS. SINKERS
You don't need to take a trip to the Russian baths to know that fat floats. Most vegetarian poops sink because they don't have the animal fat content, which lowers the specific gravity and allows for flotation. Some claim trapped gas leads to floaters, but that's not possible, as most gas formation is caused by bacteria nibbling on your already-formed stool. It's all about the fat content. Which is why floaters are soft as downy pillows.
More Shit: Fiber isn't about creating more mass to push things along, but rather its function is to absorb water and therefore bring hydration to your colon. Not enough water is the real source of constipation.
Farts are formed by friendly bacteria that live in your colon and eat the nutrients left in your stool that weren't absorbed by the small intestine. The bacteria give off the vitamins B and K, in addition to ten liters of gas. Your body absorbs the nutrients and expels the gas it doesn't want to the tune of one-to-three pints of flatulence a day. Anytime sugar makes it to the colon (sucrose, fructose, lactose) it's a bacteria feeding frenzy and, therefore, fart city. Besides obvious shit like beans, you also get a lot of farts from cabbage, onions, cauliflower, dairy, bananas, and apples. Lactose intolerance is when your small intestine (which absorbs nutrients) fails to consume the sugar in milk, which the bacteria in your large intestine (a.k.a. colon) feast on. If you've ever heard Perry Caravello after a glass of milk you know how severe this ailment can be.
More Shit: Gum that you swallow does not stay in your stomach for the next 40 years. It comes right out, because the gastrointestinal tract is constantly secreting mucus and shedding, leaving your gum nowhere to stick.
Sick of having to go shit every day? Forget Kaopectate, heroin will dry out your gastrointestinal tract instantly because it tells the peristaltic propulsive momentum of your intestines to slow down from 12 waves a minute to "whenevs" (we're quoting your ass here). Drugs suppress the activity of the bowels, and this is why Elvis had a swollen colon. At five inches in diameter, it was twice the normal size and packed with feces so ancient they had turned ash white. Despite popular health-food propaganda, Elvis's fried banana/PB&J diet didn't have shit do to with it.
More Shit: Highbrow insult of the month—Feculent (adj): To be full of shit.
Do you have an itchy asshole? Well, if you've ruled out wiping material, there's a good chance pinworms and your subconscious are to blame. You see, the pinworm reproduces by laying eggs in your butt crack, which later hatch in your mouth. Amazingly, they figured out to irritate your ass every morning at around 5 a.m. (no joke) while you are sleeping, so that you unconsciously scratch your butthole and then your mouth. I know it's scary, but don't freak out. These little buggers live in your intestines and can be cured rather easily.
More Shit: Interesting fact—the FDA allows for one piece of rat shit per 50 grams of food product. The guy who came up with this guideline is so gnarly and grody he ought to change his name to Gnarles Grodin.
And you thought Germans were bad. What do you say about a country with vending machines of soiled schoolgirl panties and automatic miniature bidet squirters inside high-tech toilets? This is the place where Hiroyuki Nishigaki's hipster coffee table book How to Good-Bye Depression: If You Constrict Anus 100 Times Everyday. Malarkey? Or Effective Way is already in its fifth reprint. Shit, there's even restaurants where you can order the freeze-dried feces of pretty girls pictured on the menu. Sort of like a formal, sit-down version of the Jack in the Box disaster (remember that? the E. coli outbreak that came from feces in the ground beef?).
More Shit: Jif will get you excused from military conscription. To prove his mental unfitness for duty in Vietnam, Frank Zappa squeezed peanut butter up his ass prior to the draft physical. During the exam, he casually put a finger up his bum and then sucked off the brownness.
The Corn Flakes guy (remember our circumcision article?) is the biggest scat legend next to Mel Torme. Aside from the Cleveland Steamer, he basically pioneered every rectal phenomenon you've ever heard of. Surmising that all good health revolves around defecation, he invented breakfast cereal (ie: daily bulk laxative), massive colonics, and warm bacteria-rich yogurt enemas. Nowadays the current alternative-medicine guru lunatic is the best-selling bearded pussy Andrew Weil, who claims fecal encrustation of the colon is a myth and that anyone into colonics does so for either sexual gratification or because they have the same "it's dirty" neurosis that makes women douche.
More Shit: Keep your left hand for wiping and your right hand for eating, otherwise the locals will become irate and your pleasantly debauched sojourn as a heroin-addled bisexual expatriate in Northern Africa will end in bloodshed.
Despite bulimics crossing their fingers and hoping the laxatives they just took are going to shoot that ice cream cake right through their system unabsorbed, they're probably just ejecting last night's dinner prematurely. Ex-Lax, Ducolax, Senocot, and the like speed up intestinal contractions, but most of the stuff they shoot out is old, digested shit that's already done its damage. If it's green and it burns like hell then congratulations, you managed to stop some food from being digested. If it's pooey then you're still going to get fat.
If you're not doing it to lose weight and you just want your poo to come out easier, you're better off with things that draw water to your colon like Milk of Magnesia and saline. Stool-softener suppositories melt away your turd, true, but the glycerin burns your asshole worse than fire. If you really want it to slide out of there drink baby oil and you'll notice it travels through your system and coats your stool, enabling it to slip out like butter. As for bulk laxatives comprised of fiber, good luck—they take days to work.
More Shit: Leaning forward and bearing down exerts the most abdominal force in pushing out a turd. Just imagine yourself squatting in a downhill-skiing position. This is why hovering over a public toilet results in the biggest shits.
Treatment involves primarily skimming off "floatables" and then secondarily oxygenating the liquid filth to promote bacteria growth and waste breakdown. The solid end result is termed "sludge," and for years has been polluting oceans (dumping), ground water (landfills), and the atmosphere (incineration). That was until Congress starting banning some of this. Now the easiest way to get rid of all this human waste is by following Asia's lead. Since 1992 the E.P.A. has renamed sludge "beneficial biosolids" and is campaigning for this new fertilizer in American farming. The fact that every worldwide disease epidemic is traced back to Chinese farms doesn't seem to be worrying people too much. Incidentally, you're not supposed to flush condoms because they don't break down during sewage treatment and often slip past the filters, right into Lake Michigan. However, if you pull out of her ass and it's so covered in shit it curls up like an elf shoe, then by all means turn that sucker inside out and flush it.
More Shit: Magazines make shitting fun. That's why you can read the majority of VICE articles in the time it takes to have a poo. Ironically, this is one of the few articles that is too long for one sitting. You need to bookmark it with toilet paper. That's ironic too.
NOT FUNNY PLACES TO POOP
On the beach in Goa (locals squat in front of you and the tide carries it out—thanks!), semi-concealed in a phone booth, atop the plastic wrap someone placed over the rim and under the seat, in a condom that's sent floating down the lazy river of a water park, in the commode inside your holding cell, anywhere in Astor Place (you need a caged canary to safely enter the Barnes & Noble restroom, Starbucks is junkie central with vein-obscuring dim red lights, and K-mart's toilets are apparently a great place to hang out and menacingly sway back and forth if you're homeless).
More Shit: Nitrate kills the bacteria responsible for spoilage and allows hot dogs, cold cuts, and beef jerky to sit around for months. Unfortunately, this same toxin poisons your bowels, so it's best allowed to form naturally, which happens anytime a food is smoked, BBQ'd, or cured.
OH SHIT !
Whilst perusing for potty books, I came across a gem of young-adult reading material titled Daddy's Roommate. The cover shows some beefcake young lad wearing a tank top, in a rowboat along with his middle-aged, pencil-mustached new BFF. Of course on page one Mommy and Daddy get divorced. Shortly thereafter we visit Daddy's new apartment and meet Daddy's new friend, who is anally vacuuming whilst wearing a "Le Theatre" T-shirt. Later that day Daddy gets in a big fight with his roommate after finding an ironing stain on his white dress shirt. However, don't fret, young reader, because Daddy and the new "roommate" cuddle and make up on the next page. I now understand the footnote in Saga of the Volsungs, where it explains that in medieval Norse culture the worst possible insult was to be called "passively homosexual."
More Shit: "One that got away"—that regret right before we flush a mammoth bowl snake eating its own tail, where you wonder if the one-hour-photo guy will notice the photo you just snapped.
PARISIAN SEWER FLOTILLA
Directly underneath the historic sidewalks of Paris, a war is raging. These guys cruise around the sewers in barges atop a foul brown river looking for accumulated "shit dams" that could clog the ancient system. When they find one, dude hops into the deep effluent and goes to work shoveling mushy crap downriver. When not battling typhoid or sewer gators, these civil servants are available on call to look for and sometimes actually find wedding rings that slip down the drain.
More Shit: Proctologists' top finds: vibrators, salt and pepper shakers, pens, candles, a tapered chandelier lightbulb, and a glass bottle, shattered by the patient's attempt to retrieve it themselves (try not to shudder when picturing that).
Seriously, have you ever heard of rectal prolapse? It's when your ass muscles are super-Kegeled from straining with chronic constipation and you exert so much force that your rectum ejects out Uranus and turns inside out. This is most common during childbirth. Of note, 90-year-old gynecological manuals suggest manually prolapsing a patient's rectum by placing two fingers inside her vagina and pushing down and backwards against her...suffice it to say, it sounds like some clinical celebration of womanhood that lesbians confuse with hot sex.
More Shit: Questionnaire results: 1/4 of people stand to wipe, 3/4 of people check soilage on TP to determine if another wipe is warranted, and, by majority, women fold toilet paper whilst men crumple.
The fart stench is a combination of a few gases, chief among which are skatole, hydrogen sulfide, and methane. To deal with the environmental damage from 280 liters of methane-laced cow farts in America every day, some farm towns are going beyond Thunderdome and have harnessed "cow power" by fermenting their cattle dung to produce methane gas, which in turn fuels a power generator. When you light a match in the shitter, however, the methane is too dissipated to be burnt. Instead, the sulfur receptors in your nose get overloaded by the burning match head, deactivating the characteristic fart bouquet. That's why it doesn't work with lighters.
More Shit: Roto-Rooter jobs usually involve recovering personal items lodged in the toilet (65% of the time). Recent top finds: vibrator, six-foot boa constrictor (alive), complete bedspread, seven-foot rattlesnake, piranha, and a working Timex watch.
SIR THOMAS CRAPPER
Mistakenly credited with inventing the flush toilet, he was a mysterious figure in British toilet manufacturing who attained notoriety when American servicemen noticed his imprint on English toilets during WWI. Hence the birth of "the crapper." The "Sir" makes no sense as he was never knighted, but he did installing plumbing for Queen Victoria.
More Shit: Swollen Colon: name of the tuxedo-clad prom band comprised of The Walkmen and The French Kicks.
TOILET SEAT DISEASES
Slut Alert! Slut Alert! You know Marcia who got mono from the loo on the Greyhound bus and missed junior prom? Total bullshit. Because according to microbiologists, it's impossible to get mono, AIDS, chlamydia, hepatitis B and C, genital herpes, gonorrhea, or anything from a toilet seat. These bugs just don't live on your thighs and buttocks. Actually, the transmission of disease in the bathroom comes from touching the faucet handle (people wipe and then…see?) or the aerosol mist from a flush that settles on your toothbrush. Yet toilet-seat protectors are a $2 billion worldwide industry, with the top-end model being the mountable Hygen-A-Seat, which comes in a shoulder bag. It's really just an eerie "personal yet shared" mindfuck, like hearing all about your girlfriend's "big slut" phase from five years ago.
More Shit: The water in the Southern Hemisphere doesn't flush in an opposite direction to the clockwise Northern Hemisphere flushes. Thanks to VICE Australia, we now know the Coriolis Effect is just bullshit invented for extra credit on geography tests.
URGE TO GO
It takes about 21 hours to graduate a poop (3 hours in the stomach + 6 hours in the small intestines + 12 hours in the large intestines). However, mass movements in the system happen 20–40 minutes after each meal (or coffee) to make room for the incoming. Solid, processed movements wind up in the pouch at the end of the colon, and when the rectum fills up to 25% capacity (200 grams), your inner butthole sphincter automatically relaxes. From this point on, you are consciously in charge of holding your outer brown-eye shut. This semi-full trigger is also why a finger up the bum makes you wanna poo. In fact, doctors often refer to "digital stimulation," which is a natural laxative provided by slipping a lubricated finger into your bum, like an upside-down gag reflex.
More Shit: Urban Myths—that one about the guy who wrapped himself in plastic wrap and climbed underneath a rest-stop outhouse at the Grand Canyon? Not true. Montezuma cursing the water with his foul revenge? True.
Stringy, watery stools are caused when your body senses there is something wrong with the food you ate, but it's too late to puke. Its reaction is to cut down on the time spent drying in the colon and just eject the crap before your body has a chance to reclaim its own water. This is why dehydration kills so many people with the runs in the Third World. However, if you're stressed, scared shitless, took stimulant laxatives, or have a viral, bacterial, or parasitic invader the transit time of your small intestine goes into overdrive. Meaning the excrement exits your system before the caustic bile has had a chance to break down. This results in burning, often-green squirts that scorch your sphincter. Foods known to trigger diarrhea: figs, prunes, chocolate, a thousand beers, shitty coke.
More Shit: Viz's Dr. Poolittle, who only talks to animals about constipation. Johnny Fartpants is good too.
WATER-FREE, NON-ELECTRIC, SELF-COMPOSTING TOILETS
Yeah, during the "freedom" of the Northeast blackout I was circle-drumming around a bonfire and scratching my dreadlocks thinking, "How can I be a bigger hippie douchebag?" Then I looked through Dwell magazine and was like, "Yes!" No, but seriously, the next day some hippie drove by us on a bike and yelled, "It takes a blackout for you to see your freedom!" Then he pedaled one more block and turned around to look back.
More Shit: Wet Wipes were once considered the celebrity ass-wipe material, but the chronic dampness leads to an irritated, cracked bum rash in need of a wadded-up TP "manpon."
I always hated that band. They sounded so gay doing those perfect harmonies. Why did anyone call that punk? They sounded more like some Northern California cult chanting about the imminent apocalypse. Anyway, I wanted to find out what their shit was like because X is the ultimate test for an A–Z list, so I called up John Doe and he said, "What? Who is this?" and hung up.
More Shit: Xeri, Xane, Xevi, and any other Anglo names reworked with the Chinese letter for "Shh" are fucking cool as xit.
Why is shit brown? Basically food leaves the stomach and immediately mixes with green bile, thus forming gooey green chyme. From thereon the bile oxidizes to brown during its trip down the digestive pathway. After neon green it turns to gray, then mustard yellow, then finally light brown when it reaches your rectum. If it stays too long in the rectum, it will continue to oxidize to a dark brown. Tar black poop is a bad sign, as it signifies digested blood, meaning you have internal bleeding. But don't freak, because overdoing iron supplements is also a cause of black poop. Amazingly blood-red poop isn't that dire, because it means you're bleeding somewhere past digestion, namely your rectum. For a concise primer on the rectal rainbow, just attend childbirth. There every shade and consistency of poop will come flying out.
More Shit: Your body will always find a way. If your poop chute is chronically backed up, say due to a large impacted stool, new pathways will form going from your rectum to a freshly created hole in your butt crack. These additional anuses are very grossitating and go by the name "fistula-in-ano."
A new prescription drug specifically for women who suffer from fake shits (see B). Basically it does the opposite of heroin and tells the wave-like propulsion of your intestines to "giddy up," but not as violently as a stimulant laxative.
More Shit: Z, the TV miniseries about aliens in human form eating rodents and looking all Berlin cool, was "The Shit" and doesn't get enough props—it's like a watchable Liquid Sky. Oh wait, that was V.