Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Whitney Bees in the News

In case you were in Madagascar studying carnivorous fossa a few weeks ago and missed reading the Talk of the Town in the New Yorker - the one with the cover featuring yet another iconic American tale of vacationing with our dogs, in the vein of Travels with Charley, The Incredible Journey and Old Yeller, but, as Gail Collins wisely reminds us, different – and in case you want to know what really happened on the roof of the Whitney that winter day, just click here and find out.
Yes, the estimable Calvin Tompkins and the charming Dodie Kazanjian were there with CSB and yours truly, winterizing the bees and extracting bee barbs from exposed body parts. That is all true, and you know it is true because the Fact Checker made sure it was true.
The Fact Checker was marvelous. Before he even called us he had spoken with an entomologist at the Agricultural Extension at UC-Davis to check all my bee facts. (I think it was UC Davis. But please be aware that SQD has not been fact-checked.) Also, he wanted to ascertain that CSB is as tall as he is, and me, as short. I could have spoken all day with the Fact Checker.
While it is true – and this too was fact-checked – that CSB did not wear a bee jacket, it went unmentioned that I have recently acquired for him a very stylish bee jacket from Sheriff’s of England, hoping that he will occasionally wear it and get stung by fewer bees. It is probably a vain hope. And bee stings are good for your arthritis anyway.
Likewise unmentioned, but true, is that we burn sage in our bee smoker. We grow the sage in our garden and then dry it in the fall, suspending picturesque nosegays from a beam in the basement. The thing about sage is that it smells like pot when it burns, or at least it smells like pot as I recall it, and sometimes – as we are tending the bees - I find myself looking around to see who has a joint. It’s just an odd moment, a flash, of living multiple lives.
Other unchecked facts: Calvin wore a leather jacket. Dodie had enviable fur-lined clogs whose provenance I might have inquired about had I known her better, or at least not just met her for the first time. Bees don’t like leather or fur, but we didn’t mention that.
But really, the question you are all wondering about, the really pressing question, is: What do the bees on the roof think about this year’s Biennial? The question should be: Do bees even think about Biennials? But since that answer would be something of a dead end, we will go with the first question. Bees prefer flowers to collages and video, but performance art involving nectar is appreciated in a post-modernist way.

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