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Mermen v. Juggalos

It’s fitting, almost poetic, that the 2016 Gathering of the Juggalos coincided with the week of the Republican National Convention. Members of the former group dressed as clowns, while those in the latter required little or no makeup — just pitchforks and fear.

This coincidence is the backdrop for writer Nathan Rabin’s story about reconnecting with his estranged half-brother — a Juggalo who showed up to his door unannounced bearing the gift of a handmade sword. Because in the ICP universe, that’s how you say, “I’ve missed you.”

Read the full story of this unlikely reunion here

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

The survival of the merman depends on how well Channing Tatum can jump while wearing a tail. Author Bennett Madison discusses the cultural evolution of the merman and what’s at stake in the Splash remake that is set to feature Tatum sporting the scales.

Check out the unsung history of mermen here.

THREE QUESTIONS

Science journalist Ed Yong has spent more time than almost anyone thinking about the bacteria inside our bodies. His new book I Contain Multitudes is a deep dive into just how influential the microbiome (as scientists call those germs) can be. Writer Ryan Bradley caught up with Yong this week to learn more.

I love your description of the immune system as acting more like park rangers, trying to keep these ecosystems inside us in check. It’s not simply going to war with invaders. Oftentimes the invader is in our body already; it’s just that one microorganism population suddenly tips the scales.

That was one of the things that most blew my mind: that we’ve long thought of the immune system through militaristic metaphors, as this defense force that recognizes self from non-self, domestic from foreign, then annihilates the latter. But obviously we have so much non-self in the body: We have all these microbes that are living with us all the time, and the immune system isn’t going berserk all the time. It’s sort of controlling which species are present, where they get to live, the make-up of these communities.

I live by this health-food market, and because it’s the market closest to me I end up there all the time. They have an entire aisle of probiotics and people hang out at the juice bar and talk about their gut bacteria situations and what pills and supplements they are going to take. I wonder what you make of this movement.

There’s reasonable evidence that probiotics are pretty good for some kinds of infectious diarrhea, but not a huge amount else. And we know that when you take them you’re adding a very small concentration of often proprietary, heavily industrialized strains of microbes that aren’t massively well-suited for life in the gut anyway. So they sort of enter, they maybe do a few things, some of which might be beneficial, and then they leave again.

I was fascinated by this notion of endangered microbes and even more so by, I guess you’d call them “ancient man microbes” or microbes that appear in the guts of hunter-gatherer societies still. Paleo-microbes, I suppose. Can you see a future in this kind of boutique bacteria?

[Laughs] I mean, I’m sure that will happen. Whether it’s a good idea or not.

Read the full interview here.

THE MEL MOVIE

When electroshock therapy is self-administered, the result is funny in that “I’m laughing because this is hard to watch” kind of way.

Click here to watch Andy Quitmeyer, a Ph.D. candidate at Georgia Tech, zap his brain for pleasure.

MEL RADIO

There’s not one among us who — in our quieter, more pensive moments — hasn’t fantasized about ditching our adult lives to embark on some grand, fanciful adventure. Drew Magary has reimagined that trope, only this time starring an emasculated suburban dad, in his new book, The Hike. Magary spoke with MEL Radio about The Hike, how fatherhood hasn’t changed him, what it’s like being GQ’s “white trash correspondent” and why he was one of the few people to accurately predict Donald Trump’s political ascendance.

Read the full interview here or listen to the podcast here.

PUBIC DISCOURSE

Does a full-on pube forest make you more of a man, or does it demonstrate a lack of care? Steven Blum investigates where our hair down there is trending.

Check out his findings here.

WHAT IT’S LIKE TO TAKE ON MICHAEL PHELPS

“One of the things Phelps does — no matter how hot it is outside — is wear a parka with a hood so big that it covers his eyes. And underneath his hood, he’s got his headphones on. He essentially hides himself. I learned from the guys who’d been around for a while that in the ready room you do not shake, you do not breathe hard, you do not show weakness.”

Michael Cavic, who took home the silver medal at the Beijing Olympics, on losing the 100-meter butterfly to Phelps — when still photos suggested that Cavic won.

Read the full article here.

TASTE TEST

Weed pills are the edible of choice for anyone too lazy to chew.

Read our weed columnist Eloise LeBel’s review here.

THREE MORE PIECES TO KEEP YOU RELEVANT

Good Listeners Make Better Leaders

In a culture that considers speaking a sign of status and leadership, don’t underestimate the power of being a good listener

Moving Back South in the Year of Trump

What it’s like when your old childhood friends turn into Trump lovers

What’s It Like Running a Rub-and-Tug Parlor?

We talked to a masseuse and master of happy endings to find out

CLOSING SHOT

Meet Lulo, an angel sent from Heaven to help Los Angeles party. Photographer Jared Ryder shot her hanging out with weirdo rapper Candy Ken.

Check out the full shoot here.