[FIRST PUBLISHED IN INPRESS MAGAZINE, 01.09.2011]
Saul Jarvie smells of filth and righteous mango.
|Toowoomba Waste Management Centre.|
In the summer of 2002, I got this job with my two housemates. Brad and Ed and I went on contract with the Toowoomba Council, working at the rubbish dump on the north-east outskirt of the city. $20 an hour, we were auditing the waste, pegging it out in three by three metre squares then dividing it in accord with a supplied list of categorisation. We would segregate and weigh each mound – vegetable matter: 15.2 kg, cardboard (thin): 1.9 kg, nappies (soiled): 8.6 kg, animal fur: 0.7 kg, putrescence (unidentifiable): 4.0 kg.
That summer was a hot one, a proper Queensland one, and there was this week where it hit above 40 Monday to Friday. I don’t know if you’ve ever ripped open a bag of vet’s waste that’s been gently baked at 42 degrees for a fortnight, but it’s something you don’t forget.
But with all this, with the sunburn and the stench and the hills of maggot-heavy chicken carcasses, I remember that time as one of the greatest.
I can see it: the days over, we’re piling into Ed’s ute and sending it rolling out of town, down the range towards Brisbane and home. Just before the big descent we stop at the fruit and veg barn and get that tray of mangoes for $10 – then the three of us sit on the bonnet with our backs against the windscreen; sun setting, the juice running down our arms and our chins.
Those nights we did nothing but see bands. We would go to The Healer and watch our favourite: Saul Jarvie’s gang, Watership Down, who then became Rival Flight. Other friends would join us, ask why we smelled like we did, drink cheap beer, cheer, and we were our own gang.
A decade on, it’s winter in a different city and the idea of gangs seems all too far away, but Saul is here, and with friends he’s calling himself Microflora.
There is a new thing he has given the world; just black plastic, seven inch diameter, just music. But these tracks, just these two, are better even than the amazing music of Saul’s past, and that’s saying a goshdamn of a lot. “I asked him Egan, ‘Why are you sketching swords?’, and with his back turned, he refused to answer, but he’d always draw the same sword”: ‘Egan’s Sketchbook’, it’s one beautiful son of a bitch. Go to the shops, the internet, somewhere, buy the thing, it will kill you proper.
I’m going to take this vinyl record, and there will be so much more to follow, as a signal not that summer’s back, but that it never went away.
A flash: I see my housemate Brad stumbling onto a garbage-bagged treasure of porn at that tip. He loaded up the ute with those sacks of stinking videos and magazines. He was so, so, fucking happy. I think of Toowoomba and Saul and long-buried landfill, and I think that the past has no right to be better than now.