Amanda Palmer Is Watching The Collapse Of America From New Zealand

American singer-songwriter Amanda Palmer was part-way through a world tour when COVID-19 shut the world down. As luck would have it, she was in New Zealand when her flights were cancelled.

"I think I won the jackpot on this one very much by accident, but I am really, really lucky, as an American and especially as a parent of a small child," Palmer says.

Palmer has spent her time in New Zealand finishing a podcast she started two years earlier. The podcast, The Art Of Asking Everything, has Palmer interviewing artists and activists, including Tim Minchin, Dan Savage and Tim Flannery. Palmer recorded interviews on tour, tracking down the thinkers she’d always wanted to speak to.

"I used the podcast as an excuse... to just go very very deep with someone I wanted to befriend anyway, and I use it as my excuse to talk to them and cut through all of the small talk and the bullshit," she says.

"I've recorded about 20 episodes of it, and it's just incredibly deep personal conversations with big thinkers. Mostly artists, but also psychologists and climate scientists and all sorts of people who were just great conversationalists."

Recording the episodes so far in advance, Palmer was "afraid that the episodes would get stale and wouldn’t stand up in a COVID world" but she was pleased the conversations are "much deeper than that, so they’re evergreen conversations".

And her fans supporting the project on Patreon have access to "live follow-up chats with all of the guests, to just check in post-COVID. Where are we, where is your work at, how was your lockdown?" she says.

"The painful paradox of the pandemic is that in times of crisis, we are instinctively called to move towards one another and to gather and to rely on our collectivism and our collective effort. And we've been physically unable to do that.

“That's the big one-two punch and the big paradox of this pandemic is that we've been separated and then separated again."

Palmer has been watching the civil unrest, protests and failed response to COVID-19 with horror – a completely predictable horror, but a horror nonetheless.

"It's devastating. I just feel like we are watching the wheels fall off the bus. I wake up every day and I read the news and listen to what's happening and there's … a part of me that shakes my head and thinks, 'This can't be happening. We live in a constitutional democracy. The President's not allowed to say that.'

"So I am doing what I think most Americans are doing, which is I am not trying to forecast, because I feel that that's probably a waste of energy. Instead Ir'm trying to batten down my emotional hatches and try as best I can to use my platform to get people to register and to actually vote."


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