Bone Up!®

By R. D. Flavin


     As a favor for a friend, I recently put up some web-pages about his seaweed products and hot pepper sauces (see:  He'd some bad experiences with Go-Daddy's hosting services and is now considering buying a domain through Network Solutions.  Apparently “opening the door a crack” is all that's required for some, as I've been pitched three ideas already this week.  The first involved importing smog from China to make various American Chinatowns (New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, etc.) smell more like “home” for the newly immigrated.  The second idea concerned eco-friendly excarnation and would be too costly to bring together, but the third intrigued me – group specific bone marrow dietary supplements.  Sure, it's beef or chicken, more or less, choosing between Lone Stud Texas steers and Kosher corn-fed chickens from Iowa, ...and I've already made up my mind!  'Cause a man's gotta' do what a man's gotta' do, it's time to Bone Up!®

Moon-Watcher going Nietzschean on a tapir skeleton (from 2001: A Space Odyssey).

     After three minutes of György Ligeti's Atmosphères playing to a blank screen, Richard Strauss' “Sunrise” portion of his tone poem, Also sprach Zarathustra, begins as an alignment from the Moon of the Earth and the Sun is shown and culminates with the title credits for Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.  “The Dawn of Man” segment opens on to an ancient dismal savannah with a man-ape (australopithecine?), Moon-Watcher, hanging out with his fellow man-apes, passing time and competing for the scarce vegetation with tapirs (who never existed in Africa outside of Kubrick's imagination), trying to avoid leopards, and shouting to protect their favorite water-hole from “The Others,” a neighboring tribe of man-apes.  Moon-Watcher wakes one morning to the sight of a large black monolith half-buried in the dry dirt a couple of dozen feet from where he and his homies had spent the night (while “The Kyrie” of Ligeti's Requiem plays).  And, of course, Moon-Watcher must touch the smooth, alien monolith, which encourages his fellow man-apes to do the same.  Later, as Moon-Watcher is contemplating the sun-bleached bones of a dead tapir, an alignment is shown from the monolith to the Sun and the Moon, and Moon-Watcher (with Also sprach Zarathustra beginning again) gets an idea to use a long bone as a tool to smash things.  He smashes the tapir skeleton, and as as he pounds on the skull, images of a dying tapir are juxtaposed.  Still later, Moon-Watcher and his fellow man-apes are seen enjoying fresh meat and the scene concludes with a young man-ape examining a long bone and wondering how to get at the nutrition inside.  The final scene in “The Dawn of Man” segment shows “The Others” once more attempting to take over Moon-Watcher's favorite water-hole.  This time shouting alone doesn't work and Moon-Watcher gives one of “The Others” a nasty whack with his long bone smashing tool.  Seeing the wounded man-ape lying on the ground, Moon-Watcher's homies take turns whacking the wounded man-ape to death with their smashing tools.  As “The Others” are driven away from the water-hole, Moon-Watcher is shown celebrating his victory by throwing the long bone high into the air.  Four million years pass in an instant and a new segment begins.  Now, as the idiom goes, “What goes up must come down.”  Kubrick jumped four million years into the future, but what happened to the bone?  I'd guess that it fell at Moon-Watcher's feet, split open and revealed the yummy bone marrow inside.  It would be another million and a half years before Homo habilis got around to using stones to bust open the bones...

[Note: The soundtrack album of 2001: A Space Odyssey lists Ligeti's Atmosphères as an “Ouvertüre,” the end credits of the film translates Strauss' Also sprach Zarathustra as Thus Spoke Zarathustra, and while the film credits Ligeti's Requiem, the soundtrack album gives its full name as Requiem für Sopran, Mezzosopran, zwei gemischte Chör & Orchester.]

     Eating bone marrow passed from prehistoric to historical times with mentions by Homer of both its fine taste as well as its medicinal properties.  Roman and ancient Chinese recipes established the versatility of bone marrow, medieval menus assume inclusion as traditional, and modern dishes ...seem desperate for attention.  Grilled  marrow bones with Rosemary-Lemon Bruschetta?  Really?  Around the same time that medical science was defining human bone marrow as the seedbed of our blood, clever marketing was pushing animal bone marrow as a healthy foodstuff and elixir.

Virol, a bone marrow product sold as a restorative.  Yeah, try some on toast points!

     Companies often make a name for themselves with one product and then try to introduce similar or associated products with an eye ever affixed on more profit.  Bayer Pharmaceuticals had a tremendous success with aspirin and in 1889 introduced the Heroin brand as a “non-addictive” cough suppressant and morphine alternative.  That same year, the Bovril Company of England was founded to sell its meat extract and beef tea base product.  Bovril was originally made as “Johnston's Fluid Beef “ and peddled to Napoleon III in 1870, but soon afterward won over the British.  “Fluid beef,” aye?  In 1899, Bovril began marketing Virol, self-described as “A preparation of bone-marrow” and “An ideal fat food for children & invalids."  Its Edwardian advertisements sought to undo the Victorian (i.e. Dickensian) approach to care-giving with such claim as, “Virol.  May save your child's life.  It has restored many wasted children whose parents despaired of them.  Virol is recommended by doctors and used in hospitals for Anaemia, Rickets, wasting diseases, & c.”  Production of Virol ceased in the late 1930s, though it remained on some shelves until the early 1950s.  Bovril (now owned by Unilever), on the other hand and refinement aside, remains popular to this day in the U.K., Canada, and Australia.  Well, Bayer still sells aspirins...

     It's a given that bone marrow has been used as a homeopathic treatment for a variety of complaints and maladies from ancient times to the present and as long as a widespread mistrust of science exists folks will consider backyard or backroom solutions and remedies.  But, in all fairness (and totally illogical), if hundreds of dietary supplements are on-sale at the local pharmacy, why not apply one's own spin on the sales platter?

Suggested Bone Up!® label for aggressive idiots.

     The third product idea of group specific bone marrow dietary supplements seems Nietzschean after a fashion, in that it examples the “That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger” advice.  Guys have been taking strange stuff (and doing even stranger stuff) to ensure virility since before the so-called “Oldest Profession” was invented.  Semi-retired porn-star, Ron Jeremy, personally guarantees several products to do this and that thing to a guy's thing.  And, Mr. Jeremy is just out of the hospital and the doctors have given him the go-ahead to return to fleecing the gullible public...  And, as we wind on down the road, a recent paper (Mautz, B. S. et al. 2013) suggests yet again that women are biased against the little guy (unless there's a lot of money involved).  Science!  Better to be hit on the head with an apple like Newton, than made to shave one's bottom and retreat...  I don't know what that means...  If achieving natural selection unnaturally is an option, there's likely to be a line forming somewhere.

     For those who enjoy the rodeo, Bone Up!® would be an understandable investment.  If we gainsay Gunnery Sergeant Hartman and rule out Joe Buck from Texas, it falls to fault that steers from the Lone Stud state should take care of Ratso Rizzo's limp, if ya' get the meaning, aye?  While acquiring the bones of the classic Texas Longhorn might be a little expensive, it appears to make good business sense to get the absolute cheapest bones of any Texas cattle and simply not inform the consumer.  It's “in the ballpark,” as they say, and what folks don't know won't usually hurt them ...too much.  An advertising campaign either featuring someone who claims to know Jon Hamm or not might work.  It's probably the correct thing to do, supporting support, and I'm going to continue to consider continuing...

Suggested CHICKEN LITTLE'S label for non-aggressive idiots.

     Now, if Bone Up!® represents the optimistic, then it follows that CHICKEN LITTLE'S suit the pessimists (not that they'd understand, anywho).  Only true losers wouldn't care if they wasted their money or not, so it's facilitating a means for someone else's end and cavities beware and all that.  The proposed solicitation of Agri Star Meat & Poultry, LLC, the new owners of the infamous Agriprocessors that shut down in 2008 because of really really bad press (and an earlier raid which netted 400 illegal workers), is inspired economics.  The new owners have cleaned up certain areas, but remain kosher and beheading more chickens an hour than any other slaughterhouse in the world.  The chickens get their heads chopped off so fast some rabbis believe it's not kosher to be that quick...  Speed, it's a good business practice...  And what other infamous people are known for the speed by which they killed?  Any guesses?  Right, moving back to Postville, Iowa and Agri's corn-fed chickens...

     In 2006 I was researching the so-called Davenport Tablets hoax and had occasion to track the movements of a Reverend Mr. Jacob "John" Gass (1842-1924) or, simply, Pastor Gass.  I wrote at the time: “The bad press took its toll.  Gass moved from Davenport to Postville, IA in 1882, became pastor of an existing congregation (German Lutheran Church of Postville; 1882-1894), was involved with the building of a new church and delivered its cornerstone dedication address in August of 1890 (it was renamed the German Evangelical Lutheran St. Paul's Church in 1894).  According to parish accounts, Pastor Gass was called “John,” rather than Jacob, and was highly thought of and known for his good deeds and thoughtful sayings (Schroeder 1971).  After leaving St. Paul’s, he tried farming, but with little success.  Gass eventually sold the farm and purchased a Sears Modern Home (Model No. 52?) through the mail, erecting it across the street from the church.  Today, it’s home to several Hasidic rabbis who work at AgriProcessors, the world's largest glatt kosher slaughterhouse.  The Rev. John Gass started a German language newspaper in 1892, the Iowa Volksblatt, and was its owner and editor for three years.  The newspaper wasn't profitable and the business was sold in 1895, becoming The Postville Herald in 1917 and publishing in English.  Gass then retired to a life of growing flowers and strawberries; a box of his fruit sold for ten cents each.  He’s buried in the Postville Cemetery.”  It somehow seems appropriate for crushed kosher chicken bones and dried out bone marrow to come from a little town in the middle of nowhere.  It means something, but I haven't a clue.

     Talking with or to Mr. ED* is a little before my time...  Let's see, 1961 to 1966?  I was watching NYC channels in New Jersey from late 1963 to early 1965, and actually do remember a few episodes.  Okay, McGraw Kaserne and Perlacher Forst in München didn't have American television in 1965 and 1966, and I don't remember any episodes in reruns in 1967 when we got to Kansas.  Be that as it probably wasn't, we did live in Wichita Falls, Texas for six months at the end of 1969, getting out a few months before a tornado took a third or so of the town away.  I've never been to Iowa and I'd be wary of getting behind anything from Texas, but if I had to choose, I might save my choice for another time.  Perhaps importing Chinese smog might work out after all...   *Erectile Dysfunction.


Mautz, B. S. et al. 2013. “Penis size interacts with body shape and height to influence male attractiveness.” By Brian S. Mautz, Bob B. M. Wong, Richard A. Peters, and Michael D. Jennions.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Published online before print April 8, 2013, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1219361110 PNAS April 8, 2013.

Schroeder, Stanley W. 1971. Our First Century 1871-1971: St. Paul Lutheran Church. Postville, Iowa. Postville, IA: privately printed

No more wasted days and wasted nights,

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