Pre-interview Warm Up: Songs of the Beemaster (It's More than a Game)
hola! today’s article was going to be an extensive interview with jake webb from methyl ethel. but i munched my hand a little playing footy so it’s too difficult to type it all up. nick was going to type it instead but then we watched a bit of a bee documentary and it was just too much.
this documentary, called ‘more than honey’, like footy is ‘more than a game’, was following the bees so closely from behind. it showed footage of the man who discovered the ‘waggle dance’, where the bees draw complex shapes with their asses to show the way to get to sweet things. i had a friend john who was a brilliant writer and introduced me to kerouac, properly, by reading kerouac to me as i lay on his couch in cottesloe with ocean air coming in through the balcony windows. he would always make chai with fluffy milk, taking a very long time, and my in-loveness made the fluff and the extra sprinkling of cinnamon on top into a really big deal. anyway, john was in a big group of singers and they created and sung a huge cycle of acapella songs entitled ‘songs of the bee master.’ this week i went to hyde park to read some kerouac to long jamie, he was in yellow leather allstars, and we began ‘satori in paris’. satori, in one of the ways kerouac describes it, is like a ‘kick in the eye’. i’m going to be in paris in three weeks, hopefully getting kicked straight in the eye daily.
so, the documentary followed the bees, and followed men who followed them, in pick up trucks [utes], in white allover suits and extreme googles worn so as to not be killed by the same spray they were spraying on the bees, and other men following the bees just with their eyes (one man was sitting in a field at a desk, on which sat a small jar of sweet things for the bee to find, the man noting ‘red675, arrived at source’).
jake used to like that cd, ‘songs of the bee master’, one of my many cds thrown into the glove box as if i didn’t care about them. if you treat them unkindly, they can’t last forever (cds, bees). so down at hyde park i kicked a piece of palm tree out into the lake, trying not to scare the birds, but then the next day that i tried to catch a ball sailing over from nicholas at the other end of the small field inside the bigger field that our activity had designated. in this moment, i was the sweet thing, and the yellow and black (yes, a burley) football was heading towards me. i put my hands up, like for prayers later asking for my finger to be fixed, and the rock ball hit the finger and i heard a crack and went down to the ground.
there was a moment in the film where a bee is sprayed by the man in the white suit and the strange yellow goggles. the bee slows a little, teeters a little, and then drops to the ground. in my mind i said ‘get up!’, but we were never shown if the little guy (of course, they’re all males) gets back up again. they could do that in football games, to increase the tension. just never cut back to the player who goes down.
down on the ground my face was covering in sweat, and from my lips the words ‘fuck, fuck, fuck’ dropped in little hard whispers. as we were sitting there watching the female bees spew drops of honey back into the structure i looked across at nick and thought ‘will he ever eat honey again?’ he’s been speaking about eating weetbix and honey for days, but he’s there seeing this too, will being reminded honey is bee puke change things?
one time i was friends with a WAFL (western australian football league) player. i got fascinated by the motions he had to go through to prepare for games. he would send me long messages detailing ice baths and how many weetbix he’d eat and what songs he’d play before going out on the field. we had a deal to stop eating sugar together – honey was not included. i still remember the first bite of chocolate i had after the deal ended, a tiny nibble after my body and mouth had got used to the change. it just seemed way, way too sweet.
there’s a recording of jake and i singing a song called ‘dr. honey’s whistle’ on a piano where the bass notes didn’t play and we were in a room full of all our friends. little rex was sitting under the table with one hand reaching up backwards to some high notes to play a few notes into the song, all bodies and friendships intact.
while we were playing basketball and soccer in the sun in jake’s backyard before the interview i said ‘maybe we could just play a series of games together and i’ll put the scores instead of writing an article.’ that’s not going to happen, but if you want today’s article stats, this piece references:
1 song cycle
1 kerouac novel
3 sports sessions in the past week
and an undisclosed number of weetbix.