American conservatives still cite Andres Serrano's controversial art piece, Immersions (Piss Christ) thirty years ago, as reason enough to shut down the National Endowment for the Arts in the President*s budget.
Yet evangelicals keen to beat the Gospel into whatever looks like the heads of aliens via a big new NASA appropriation for space travel to Mars may already be, unawares, pissed off here on earth:
Astronauts who live on the International Space Station drink their own urine, which is recycled into purified and potable water. If you live in San Diego or Singapore, you have probably sipped highly treated sewage water straight out of your tap—the California city has said it will use treated wastewater to provide one-third of its water supply by 2035.
Even a few enterprising brewers are starting to experiment with it. San Diego-based Stone Brewing recently showed off its aptly named Full Circle Pale Ale (a one-time event, so it's not currently for sale), which is made of recycled water. "It has notes of caramel and tropical," spokesperson Colleen Gatlin told me. Mayor Kevin Faulconer declared it delicious.Urine therapies- and enthusiasts- abound. Madonna (well, wouldn't you just know) and J.D. Salinger sang its praises. Well, Salinger didn't, not really, not vocally.
Perhaps the first American acquaintance with two-way uses of the stuff came in 1978, during an American tour by the then 82-year-old prime minister of India, Moraji Desai, who couldn't STFU about
his practice of drinking a glass of his own urine every day, and as veteran journalist M.V.Kamath...noted rather despairingly, the problem wasn’t just that Desai did this, but he was very eager to talk at length about it: “in a 15-minute appearance on a very popular Sunday TV show called ’60 Minutes’, Mr.Desai was seen taking practically half the time to commend urine therapy.”
How sensational this was in the US can be seen in celebrity TV interviewer Barbara Walters memoir where she writes of how, when Desai first revealed this to her, ABC news for which she filed the story was so repulsed it didn’t carry the story. Only when CBS (which ran 60 Minutes) came out with the story “finally, then, playing catch-up, ABC ran my footage. The network urine wars.”
Desai was admirably unfazed by such American attitudes. [The Times of India] reported how on the plane from San Francisco to Washington ‘belying his image as a rigid, unsociable person, Mr.Desai remained in the company of travel-weary reporters.” Standing in the aircraft aisle he lectured them on going vegetarian and how nature-cure – on which he would write a book – could deal with many diseases.
Desai lived to be 99 years old. Serrano is 66 and his photo still drives people nuts.