Send me your--now hear me out--bowel pictures

It's not quite what it sounds like.

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Hello Sternal Journalists,

For the past few weeks, I’ve been amassing pictures in a folder on my desktop called “Bowels Screenshots.” STOP! Don’t worry! These are not screenshots of bowels.

This newsletter is for all ages and, more importantly, it is free. I’d have to charge for stuff like that.

No, the folder includes a number of screenshots like this one:

That was a screenshot of an ad, so I’m gonna show it to you one more time to make clear that we’re talking about the same thing:

What a joy. I get these ads all the time. But it’s never quite the same. Sometimes, the man is there. Sometimes, he isn’t. Sometimes, it’s that specific picture that I guess is a foodstuff (emphasis on “stuff”) even though the ad totally implies that these are the emptied bowels and he’s crossing his arms in victory like he just showed his grandson he does still got it. But sometimes, it’s eggs or something else gross (Maybe those are eggs. Are those eggs?!).

They fascinate me because of their not quite right-ness. Look at that caption: “This simple trick empties almost immediately your bowels every morning.”

That sentence is uuuuugly. Weird placement of the adverbs, but also, does the trick work immediately? Or does it work every morning? If you do the trick at happy hour, is it still gonna wait until morning or what? Or does it just, effective immediately, empty your bowels for all mornings in perpetuity? Truly a syntactic disaster.

But again, I love it. I love it for the same reason I love this place in Santa Monica called “Hair’s the Place!” Which is a play on… I guess, “Here’s the place?” Which is not a common phrase. “Here’s the place” is something you say if you’re a mafia tough and you’ve just arrived at the Cannoli Establishment where your target is eating a birthday dinner with his family.

And these ads, like “Hair’s the Place!” are so confident in their wrongness. They are so poorly designed, they convey no information, they are the opposite of enticing. And yet, as they occupy all that space, they are quite literally smirking at you with a “mission accomplished” crossing of the arms.

I’ve done a little research so that you don’t have to. The man in the foreground is not some poor stock image soul, but rather Dr. Steven M. Gundry, the man behind these very ads. He seems to be a Dr. Oz-wannabe who wears fun ties, publishes books with titles like The Plant Paradox, and sells dietary supplements that just so happen to solve all the problems detailed in his books.

And I would like to do a true deep dive on Dr. Steven M. Gundry and just how these ads came to be conceived of, but first I need to see all of them. And I mean all of them. I’m collecting them myself, but you, dear reader, if you’ve read this far, I would absolutely love for you to share with me any and all ads of the “gut doctor,” “bowel doctor,” “these three foods,” and whatever else the internet throws your way.

A) I wanna make sure I catch em all. But B) I wonder if it’s targeted at all?

Maybe it’s very targeted! Maybe none of you have ever seen these ads and it’s embarrassing that I’m sharing them with you.

But in any event, if you come across one, and you so desire, screenshot and send it to me at julianmstern@gmail.com (or you can even just reply to this email).

Of course, if you don’t want to do free research work for the newsletter that arguably invited itself into your inbox, that’s perfectly fine as well. Still! I implore you to, should you come across one of these wild ads in your sidebars; or between the annoying eight paragraph essay they put on every cooking blog recipe and the recipe itself, I implore you to enjoy it! Take a second to chuckle at the picture, the arrangement of words, and thank Dr. Gundry for these little bits of folk art he’s dropped across the internet.

And now, Recommendations:

Nomad. Film. This is another Oscar Best picture nominee that I very much enjoyed and am flabbergasted included so much peepee and poopoo (the other being last week’s rec of Minari). [available on Hulu!]

Ted Lasso. Television. After being burned by recommendations of Mr. Mayor (sorry, Evan) and Schitt’s Creek (sorry, World), I was skeptical about tuning into this Jason Sudeikis-led soccer comedy that everyone said was “really great.” But I’m enjoying it! It’s very cozy and friendly in a way a lot of comedy understandably doesn’t attempt.

Lost Hills. Podcast. When I recommended this story about the murder of a man camping in Malibu to a friend of mine who is into true crime, she said, “Oh, what’s it like?” And I’m still not really sure. I think there are some Serial S1 comparisons to draw, and in some ways, it feels like a better version of Neil Strauss’ borderline exploitative To Live and Die in L.A. But mostly, I appreciate how deep the host and New Yorker staff writer Dana Goodyear goes on showing the strangeness of Malibu. She at one point heavily implies with decent proof that the Sheriff may be taking information from a local woman who is getting her information from… her psychic. Also, as someone who lived through the D.C. Sniper era DMV, it’s kind of wild to hear a story about a similar string of shootings that law enforcement tried to keep a secret(!).

Sunny Came Home. Song. One time, a friend trying to help me get into Young Thug (so a real friend) told me I should read the lyrics to gain appreciation. It worked. I feel like I’ve heard this Shawn Colvin song in the background many times in the past couple decades, but today I listened to the lyrics, and read them, and liked it more. It’s spooky-ooky! (P.S. if you want to see ODB give an iconic speech right before this song won a Grammy, check it out here.)

—And finally, especially if you’re an Angeleno, do check out the continued reporting at Knock LA on Echo Park Lake, including Jamie Loftus’ “Former Echo Park Lake Residents, Internal LAHSA Communications Contradict Housing Placement Claims.”

AND SEND ME THOSE BOWELS!!!!

In return, I send all the love!

Julian