J.D. Salinger liked to take the piss out of himself … literally.
Margaret Salinger’s memoir of her father, Dream Catcher (published Sept. 6 by Pocket Books), catalogs many of reclusive J.D.’s less-than-savory eccentricities, including the fact that he drank his own urine. It’s not really such a shockeroony; after all, he did it decades ago, when everyone who was anyone sat in an orgone box and employed his own yogi.
But guess what? Quelle horreur ! It’s back and it’s flooding the nation! Taboo-busting renegade New Yorkers are partaking of golden gargles, and they’re loving it! Eeeeuw ! The extra ‘e’ is for extra eeeeeeeuuuw !
Convinced of the health and beauty benefits of this verboten activity, these “open-minded” urbanites are enthusiastically partaking of their own piddle on a daily basis. But prominent urine guzzlers are– quelle surprise –less than enthusiastic when it comes to making it public. “I’m a devotee,” a magazine editor told me on condition of the strictest anonymity, “and I never get colds. My Japanese uncle taught me how, but it’s not the subject of dinner-party chat. It’s between me and my pee.”
“It’s healing and cleansing and, yes, I think it’s really catching on,” said a fashion consultant and stylist. “If you do drugs or booze, you can taste it the next day. I’m very careful about who I tell. If word got out, I could never show my face at the Four Seasons again.”
Others know no such reticence. “What’s the big deal?” said New York photographer Johnny Rozsa. “Urine therapy has been around for so long and the benefits are so well documented. I’m not a golden-shower queen: I started doing it to help my psoriasis. During that period I noticed my skin was like a baby’s bottom–a clean one, I might add. People think of piss as dirty, they associate it with poop. What I’ve discovered, along with many others–including Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri–is the pure magic of pee. It’s mostly urea, which has so many gorgeous properties!”
Mr. Rozsa is currently not partaking. “My psoriasis is better. Plus the whole thing is a bit of a palaver,” he said. “You see, you have to drink the middle pee when you wake up.”
“You pee out the first bit, then clench, then pee into a glass, clench again and pee the rest down the toilet. I add apple juice to the ‘middle’ urine and gulp it down.”
Mr. Rozsa, like many of the adherents I spoke to, became a convert after reading The Golden Fountain: The Complete Guide to Urine Therapy , by Coen van der Kroon, and Your Own Perfect Medicine , by Martha Christy. Both contain a steady stream of tepidly convincing historical and anecdotal data from Indian yogis, plus the alleged cure rate on everything from baldness to cancer and AIDS. Mr. van der Kroon insists that drinking your pee is less harmful than canned soda and “less distasteful than gelatin made from hooves and tendons.” Coen, darling, ever heard the expression “two wrongs don’t make a right”?
If you are contemplating a golden guzzle, then please, before you unzip, please , do me a favor and read the “urine therapy” entry on http://www.skepdic.com. Robert Todd Carroll writes fascinatingly of the pros and cons, ultimately labeling it a fairly harmless practice. Pee is, after all, 95 percent water; the rest is nitrogenous waste from the liver, including a few excess minerals and nutrients that might get absorbed if you gave them a second chance. However, he writes, “as a daily tonic, there are much tastier ways to introduce healthful products into one’s blood stream.” Mr. Carroll does highly recommend drinking pee “for those rare occasions when one is buried beneath a building or lost at sea for a week or two.”
P.S.: Gandhi notwithstanding, the only person approximating a urine-therapy celebrity proponent would appear to be Dame Edna Everage. In her Coffee Table Book , she talks buoyantly about “the Cinderella of secretions.” According to her Dameship, it’s great for corns: “Place one and a half pints of fresh fluid”–Australian trannies must have large bladders–”in a spotlessly clean enamel bowl and soak your feet in it–taking care of course to remove your shoes and stockings first!” After a week, corns will “loosen their grip and fall out.” Re: freckle removal–one memorable summer, Dame Edna’s grandmother successfully banished “a mass of hideous freckles” from her little face by anointing it with the young Edna’s own “little jobs” every morning.
Dame Edna, like my prissy self, comes out strongly against “some authorities who recommend the drinking of ‘little jobs’ to cure you of various ailments. These folk tend in the main to be ratbags.”
Last season you carried your stuff around in a Prada bowling bag. This season is all about dressing like a lady, and as you have probably observed if you’ve ever been to the Bowlmor Lanes on University Place and 12th Street, ladies don’t often go bowling. Ladies go to smart cocktail parties–and ladies keep their stuff in a clutch bag. More specifically, a clutch bag by Neal Decker.
This de rigueur fall 2000 accessory comes in black or poo-brown leather with Donegal tweed flaps–and at $168, Neal’s clutch is a damn good buy. So rush into Henri Bendel and grab one while their stock lasts. But before you take it out on its maiden voyage, test-drive it in the privacy of your own living room (i.e., learn to carry it correctly). Trust me, it’s not just as simple as sandwiching it in a vice-like grip between your bicep and your torso à la Joan Collins. There are nuances. The three basic positions are: 1) Into the Gutter; 2) Horizontal Hold; and 3) Hello, Sailor! (See my demonstartion on the previous page.)
Aug. 22 was the anniversary of Diana Vreeland’s passing; and if you were churlish enough to have left this important occasion unmarked, then you always have next year. The most appropriate way to remember the Empress of Fashion is to follow one of her edicts.
I fully appreciate that your schedule may preclude you from dragging “your Aubusson rug to a waterfall” for a picnic or rinsing “your blond child’s hair in dead champagne to keep its gold.” But how much time does it take to put your sweater on backwards? Yes, D.V. once said, “I always wear my sweater back-to-front; it is so much more flattering.”
Though seemingly more mundane than much of the recorded Vreelandiana, this particular piece of advice happens, in my opinion, to be her most useful. Sweaters–and for that matter, tightly cinched belts–always look better when worn back to front. That tired old cardigan which some of you Upper East Side girls still insist on tying around your neck like a dead cat would be a hell of a lot more flattering if you actually inserted yourself into it–back to front, of course–with the top button undone to draw attention to the nape of your neck, which is now visible thanks to your new shorter hair.
Every time friends gather chez toi , you go on a mad scramble through your CD collection (chipping your manicure) to find something appropriately ambient and yet life-enhancing.
I hate to break it to you, but those Burt Bacharach and Carpenters CD’s have lost their camp resonance, and your friends are starting to roll their eyes at you behind your back.
Run immediately to Mondo Kim’s (6 St. Marks Place, 598-9985) and buy El Baile Alemán by Señor Coconut y su Conjunto ($11.99). Hailing from Santiago de Chile, these first-rate musicians deliver poignantly faithful versions of Kraftwerk songs in the Latin idiom–meringues, cumbias and cha-chas.
Even guests with a limited acquaintance with the Kraftwerk canon will be spellbound by Señor Coconut’s version of “We Are the Robots–cha cha cha.”