By Peter Bennett
The message came in the mail
and it wasn't news to me. As an art and theatre critic I'm acutely aware
that the same sentiment is shared by whole busloads of people. What
was new, was the novel way in which the message was enforced. It came
wrapped around a jar of dried kangaroo excrement with a label attesting
to its authenticity as "gift poo".
Now, when one receives a
jar of dried kangaroo excrement in the mail what should one do, what's
the protocol? The first thing that struck me was that it weighed almost
nothing but I had no idea of the specific gravity of any other kind
of poo with which to make comparisons. Does wildebeest poo float; does
elephant poo make good Frisbees?
I peered into the jar, shook
it, examined it from all angles and then did the obvious - I unscrewed
the lid and smelled it. Strange stuff kangaroo poo, it was like marble
sized horse poos with seeds and pieces of grass protruding from it.
And it didn't smell. Aha, I thought, it's fake. Somebody 's taken a
few scats from Australia's national icon, made molds of them and now
they're knocking out plastic poo by the ton in some Nike-like Pakistani
sweatshop using child labor. It certainly seemed like it could be the
real thing and according to the label on the jar it was from Down Under.
Down Under, come to think of it, is the region from which most poo originates
with the possible exception of flying fox poo when evacuated at rest.
I threw a nugget of it into the loo. It floated.
The next thing to ricochet
off the outer reaches of my thinking apparatus was "who is it that thinks
I'm so much of a s-t that they reinforce the message by sending all
the way to Australia for a jar of kangaroo crap just to tell me about
The next day I took the
stuff into the office. Everybody there thought it was "a scream a hoot,
a giggle". My editor - born 15 years before Jumpin' Jack Flash was recorded
- said it was a gas. "No", said the features editor, "it's definitely
a solid." Amid a barrage of wisecracks of the Thunder from Down Under
variety I headed for the newsroom and asked the crew if anyone else
had received a jar of marsupial fertilizer. Nobody had, but in the 80s
our investigative journalist had had a whole load of horse manure dumped
in his parking spot by someone he'd written a not too complimentary
At home that evening I did
a little investigative journalism myself. I sat down at the computer
determined to find, on the net, an Australian Company purveying kangaroo
poo. Surely it couldn't be too difficult to find an animal poo purveyor?
How many could there be?
Well, animal poo, of one
kind or another, seems to be in fashion these days. I found a company
in the good ol USA called Inajar selling not only bull but chicken product
and another company called DogDoo selling just that. Then there was
a gift shop in Fairbanks Alaska selling genuine Moose poo products together
with kids candy and swizzle sticks in look-alike sugary moose poo. There's
ZooDoo who sell zoo animal poo made into a variety of animal shapes
which you place in your garden and watch as they slowly dissolve in
the rain and there's even some outfit in Montana selling fossilized
dinosaur dung. I decided to qualify my search by asking the search engines
for Kangaroo Poo. In return I got a company in London England called
The Kangaroo Poo Clothing Company. They sold all kinds of kids apparel
but didn't sell the genuine article. When I finally tracked down the
firm in Australia who'd sold the jar of poo to whoever sent it to me,
I was disappointed. It only cost them $20! At twenty bucks it was the
cheapest poo on the net. My detractor was a cheapskate. Original maybe,
but a cheapskate nevertheless
If he/she had gone to INAJAR
it would have set them back $59 and DogDoo or ZooDoo would have set
him/her back a packet. But twenty bucks, twenty lousy bucks. Did this
person expect to be taken seriously?
The True Blue Roo Poo Company
was interesting though. Their site kept my partner and I entertained
throughout 15 minutes of our regular nightly TV news. The quality was
just as good and it was a helluva lot more interesting. While others
sat in front of their TV sets watching yet another reprisal killing
in the Middle East, and keeping up to date on how Nicole Kidman is coping
with her separation; we were educating ourselves on the toilet habits
of Australian marsupials.
Until then we didn't know
that young Tasmanian devils only relieve themselves 5 times a week or
that kangaroos live in such a dry climate that they drain all the moisture
out of their feces before evacuating them. Nor were we aware that koala
bears evacuated their bowels whilst sleeping and that their turds are
torpedo shaped "to stop their buttocks closing with a bang.". There
was even a photograph of a copulating kangaroo accepting a viagra tablet
from a "trainee roo poo inspector" named Jason. All stirring stuff!
Before I went offline I
wound up buying a pair of koala bear poo earrings for the person I suspect
sent me the jar of kangaroo poo. The label said "Guaranteed to be absolute
s-t or your money back."
The True Blue Roo Poo Company
certainly present the most "tasteful" of the poo sites and, speaking
now as an art critic, they offer the most visually appealing products.
The gilded Tasmanian devil poo paperweights are way past post modernism
and wouldn't be out of place at the Guggenheim or the new Tate gallery.
I can imagine a whole pyramid of them al la Pompidou Center glinting
in the sun outside the offices of Microsoft. What could be more appropriate?
The gilded koala poo earrings
slot comfortably into both baroque and rococo periods and would complement
perfectly the chandeliers of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg tinkling
above the Dutch masters in their hideously overworked gilt frames.
As for the kangaroo poo,
I'd let the art students have their way with it but I'd suggest some
kind of installation with a marine theme - the piece I threw down the
toilet has so far proved unsinkable!
But strange people these
Aussies. They were also selling cell phone cases and fanny packs made
from Cane Toad leather!!