a quick letter from a smoke-covered city.
*i will be online for the next hour or so to chat and answer comments. its about 11:30 melbourne time. hit me. i’ll edit this away when i’m off*
**im off. GOODNIGHT I LOVE YOU**
good god. what started as “bad news from the east” when we landed here in australia two weeks ago has turned into a full-blown state of emergency. the fires are raging and it’s right outside.
i’ll have a more coherent (or maybe less coherent and more poetic) post for you tomorrow but for now i’ve had one of my favorite pj harvey tracks running through my brain all night:
Sometimes it rains so hard
And I feel the hurt
In my heart
Feels like the end of the world
I see the children
Sharp as knives
I see the children
Dead and alive
I just feel like
It’s the end of the world…
(from “Big Exit”)
this is melbourne at the moment.
shrouded in smoke from the fires, with a light rain. walking down the streets here feels surreal…look to the left and people are wearing masks, look to the right and people are in restaurants, ordering cocktails and pasta. it’s all just so weird. everyone is coughing. me. ash. neil.
we are going to bed.
the people all over australia who have been displaced – they’re all somewhere. some have come back to melbourne. some are sleeping in their cars. some are in friends houses, hotels, tents.
i keep wondering: if the fires decided to engulf the city, how would we know? it’s not likely to happen. but if it did….
would a town crier ride up and down the street, screaming at us all to wake up and race to the beach, on foot? where would the alarm sound? how?
what would i take with me? food and water for ash, our passports, cash, a bag, a towel? my laptop? both with clothes? a collection of silly things to soothe our kid, which doesn’t seem silly?
i find myself thinking about the refugees all over the world. what it feels like to go to bed like this. what it must feel like to go to bed like this every night, when it’s strange but real, when you’re always one breath away from possible flight. one moment away from mystery displacement. this is where the world is heading in so many ways and for so many reasons.
hold tight, australia.
hold tight, everybody.
easy does it.
i love you all so much.
many friends and family checking in on me & neil, to see if we are okay and we are fine. i love you all for caring. we are here in melbourne where no fires rage, but the inner rage in people is simmering.
people are seriously fucking angry at the government. the rage is massive. i am starting to understand why, slowly, after many conversations and reading many articles. i went to a yoga class in fitzroy yesterday with a packed room of people and during the final resting pose the teacher suggested we all imagine the clouds forming, the rain coming.
and i started to cry.
i don’t believe that our thoughts have the power to bring the rain – no, not exactly – but i do believe in the power of what it feels like to be in a room of human beings all wishing the same thing at the same time. there is power in collective feeling. it’s what we get from being in churches and campfire circles and music concerts and what we have needed since the dawn of time.
it sends us back into the world with a different way of being.
that’s real. that’s not bullshit. and it’s the fundamental separation we are creating – every person a deluded self-sufficient island, every country believing it can function regardless of the whole – that is leading to a lot of the primary conditions that are destroying all this life. don’t forget how powerful we are when we feel together, when we work together. then we make change together.
meanwhile, it feels like everything i post – or anyone posts – on the internet is wrong. it feels like the world is so fragile. the idea of purity is killing everyone. i couldn’t even post something about great it is that lizzo is playing in australia right now (she’s in melbourne on wednesday) without someone on instagram bellowing that the country needs rain and not music and that i should shut the fuck up.
i don’t take it personally. i know it’s coming from pain.
we need more rain and less pain.
it was greta thunberg’s birthday the day before yesterday. patti smith posted this picture of her to her instagram feed. the connection over the generations made me happy and weepy.
poetic missives, pixels, words, wishes…while huge parts of australia are burning. over 15 million acres have burned (that’s 23k square miles), an area almost as large as west virginia. 23 people dead (so far). 1,400+ homes destroyed. HALF A BILLION ANIMALS HAVE BEEN KILLED. half a billion. half a BILLION. my babysitter, beth, came into the kitchen in tears: her uncle’s house is gone. her friend’s wildlife sanctuary has burned. they couldn’t do anything to save the animals.
another friend just texted. his father‘s house is gone.
burning man. burning animal. burning land. burning world.
a news host at sky news australia, peta credlin, just told a TV audience of millions that “so-called experts” have been forced to admit “climate change isn’t the cause of these bushfires” and that “two decades of climate change activism is making them worse”.
bullshit, bullshit, bullshit.
the science is in. from scientists.
2019 was the hottest year on record in australian history, and real goddamn experts know what is happening and have been ringing the alarm bell for too long.
these fires are going to get worse, this is just the beginning of the fire season down here. this is just. the. beginning. may this be a wake up call to the world and to everybody who has a vote and a voice: this is not a drill. act now or lose your habitable planet.
neil and i are working with some local australian activists to see what we can do to help from down here over the next few weeks and months: we plan to help as much as we can. i am touring and will try to galvanize my little community in whatever way i can. it’s hard to know what to do. raise more money? raise more awareness? create our own network of help?
all of it, probably, but always with eyes on the larger prize: the problem is not australia’s. it’s global. we are connected.
one burns, we all burn.
somebody just posted this to instragram; they got this tattoo after seeing the There Will Be No Intermission show and enduring my speech-rant about radical compassion:
i’m starting to feel more and less alone.
meanwhile, to my friends and immediate community in australia: stay safe, stay brave, we are all here for you. we will do what we can.
so…please stay tuned for action/news.
i love you all. we will do what we can while we are here.
there will be a lot to do. if you are feeling moved at the moment, head to the australian red cross, always safe, always needed: https://www.redcross.org.au
and neil and i are both working on aligning with some local efforts where the dough will get to the places and cracks and crevices that it needs to.
i can assure you, we will make creative use of the patreon. that’s what we’re here for. i know you’ll be there to support.
wonder twins, activate.
i’ll write again tomorrow.
while all this is happening, neil and i are trying to go on with our normal lives: emailing, writing, scheduling, planning, dealing with the groceries. it’s all so strange and mundane. yesterday i noticed that the organic eggs we had were from one of the towns that burned. i found the farm’s facebook page. they hadn’t burned. they were donating eggs to people who needed them.
…and if you’re out there in oz, please drop me a comment. i would love to know how you’re all feeling and doing. where are you ? you ok ? tell amanda.
i love you.
i love you.
——THE NEVER-ENDING AS ALWAYS———
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