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Photograph by Sarah Phelan

Mystery of the Missing Fish Parts: We know, sort of, who built the fish, but we don't know where the fish head, torso and tail have been laid to rest.


Fish Tale Anniversary

Exactly one year ago this week, a GIANT SILVER FISH turned up on the east bank of the SAN LORENZO RIVER just south of the Soquel Bridge. It was 30 feet long, made out of wood--and weighted down with cement. After a year of sleuthing, Nüz has managed to solve the mystery. Or, more accurately speaking, someone involved simply told us what happened.

The reasoning is fuzzy, but reports suggest the idea was spawned by someone upset that somebody else had been digging out the seasonal burm, or sandbank, in the river mouth near the BOARDWALK, thereby prematurely flushing out all the little baby fish into the hostile BAY.

The project began in August of 2003 at three separate sites, where the fish's head, torso and tail were constructed individually. By mid-March 2004, the fish--"a salmon based on a picture of a salmon from a book entitled Salmon from the downtown library" according to our source--was assembled and shipped via U-HAUL to the ROYAL TAJ parking lot, where it was dragged over the curb and down the bank into the water. To prevent the fish from swimming away, its torso was then filled with sacks of concrete.

Within a few days, the fish was deconstructed and removed from the river. With city officials claiming no knowledge of the fish's current whereabouts, Nüz is left with another unsolved mystery: Where is it now? Give us another year and hopefully we'll get back to you.

What Can Brown Do For You?

The hunt is on out in HOLLISTER, and it's not an early EASTER thing. Dubbed "The Great Colorectal Cancer Hunt of San Benito County," a drive to suss out colon cancer from every last resident in and around Hollister is under way.

Part public health effort, part publicity stunt, the hunt is backed by two foundations, STRIDES OF LIFE and THE GARD FOUNDATION, both of which were founded in memory of victims of colon cancer, and by a company called EXACT SCIENCES, which has invented a noninvasive colon cancer screening process called PREGEN-PLUS. The company's strategic accounts director MELISSA WOOD, a.k.a. "The Poop Lady," who lives right here in Aptos, says the new method will save lives by detecting the cancerous polyps--which Wood says exhibit few, if any symptoms--before the cancer spreads in people who avoid colonoscopies for a very simple reason: they don't want a camera up their butt.

So how does the new test work? From a patient's standpoint, it's quite simple: Poop in a bucket, wrap it up, freeze it, then send it off via UPS to the lab. No special diet restrictions beforehand, no medication issues, no activities worse than picking up dog poop. (But remember, once it's in the ice box, be sure to let your kids know that it ain't no pudding pop.)

Assuming your little package doesn't get lost in the mail, lab technicians begin the hard work of testing your fecal sample for traces of mutated DNA.

"The real crazy science is," says Wood, "how in the world can you find mutated DNA in a pile of poop? Well, the lining of your colon renews itself every three days, and the lining, the cells, they die and they slough off. You get new cells, and the stool specimen has all this DNA in it. It turns out the DNA is extremely stable in stool."

Wood emphasizes that colonoscopies are still the "gold standard" of colon cancer screening procedures, but she also insists that the new method is second only to colonoscopies. She also says Blue Shield has approved the test, although the fine print on the press release indicates that approval does not guarantee coverage--a significant detail given the whopping $795 price tag.

Whatever the future of PreGen-Plus, Wood points out that more than 50 percent of Americans have never been screened for colon cancer, while 155,000 new cases are diagnosed every year, and 57,000 people die each year as a result of it. For more information, call 831.662.0997.

Poop If You Love Peace

On the tail end of last weekend's antiwar rallies comes a new effort to stop the violence. According to the press release from the POOP REPORT, "On April 15, poopers everywhere will take a moment to meditate on their movement. They'll think of the children of America and the children of Iraq. They'll think of Kim Jong Il on his gilded throne and George W. Bush on his porcelain one. And they'll realize: whether it's from curry or chili or couscous, every single human being suffers equally under the tyranny of the bowel."

While its connection to politics is a stretch, the Poop Report's philosophical musings about the egalitarian nature of pooping is undeniable:

"Poop is the one experience all human beings have in common. On this there is no disagreement: the power of an impending poop is always the highest calling. Side by side in a public bathroom, any two human beings are stripped of their differences and reduced to their most basic essence: a pair of feet sticking out below the stall, and a pair of butt trumpets performing a greasy symphony in lament of humanity's nonnegotiable deference to the call of the vile." Gross. See www.poopreport.com/Peace.

Collection Call

The city has recently commissioned a professional facilitator to organize two large community events in April that address the city's new general plan. As part of the extensive exhibits, organizers would like to include people's private collections of whatever it is y'all happen to collect, whether it be troll dolls, ukuleles, dried poop from around the world, or whatever. Send a one-page description to Metro Santa Cruz, Box 601; 115 Cooper St.; Santa Cruz, 95060.

Peak Oil

The concept of "Peak Oil" is now a favorite among environmentalists, who warn that our increasing demand for oil and oil-based products will soon outpace supply, which would result in a massive collapse of our economy and way of life. Some, like RICHARD HEINBERG, a journalist and lecturer, believe that we are headed the way of the ancient Romans, the Mayas and the Easter Islanders. More than just a doomsayer, though, Heinberg also points to the possibility of a more sustainable future in his talk, titled "Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World." Heinberg speaks Wednesday, March 23, at 7pm at the Vets Hall, 846 Front St., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $5$15.

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From the March 23-30, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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