The Melancholy Danes

We had only been in the new place a few days when the Public Radio Danes came to visit. There were still boxes everywhere, and I had just poured my morning coffee when Aslak and Kaare joined me in our new home office to talk death for a few hours. Sometimes I don’t understand how these weird, wonderful situations pop up into my life, but it sure is fun.

Tony Smyrski, an extremely talented visual artist I knew from Philadelphia, put us in touch. Aslak and Kaare have been doing a RadioLab-style show in Denmark called Road Radio, where they drove across the United States and interviewed people about mobility. They figured they’d talk to me at the end of their cross-country trip about death as the final journey and the ideas surrounding our upcoming Death Salon event. What they didn’t expect was that, at the outset of their journey from Philadelphia to LA, they would get in a terrifying car accident with a tanker truck in which they could have easily been killed, yet emerged completely physically unscathed. They also happened to be recording at the time of the accident, so after an hour of the most intense philosophical conversation I’d had in recent memory (most of which, perhaps thankfully, didn’t make it to air), the hosts played their accident for me and we talked about near death experiences and their own harrowing brush with death.


Aslak & Kaare were incredibly articulate and interesting, and though we had only planned to talk for an hour, we ended up talking for two. It was a pretty funny situation, because we went into the office in hopes it would be quiet enough for audio recording (having previously been a reporter for NPR myself, I understand the importance of these things) and we couldn’t put the AC or a fan on for that reason. Then one of my neighbors was operating some sort of loud machine so we had to shut the window. Then Etan came home from brunch with some friends so we had to shut the room’s door, so by the end of the two hours of incessant, deep conversation, we had pretty much had an impromptu sweat lodge in there. You can kinda hear the dehydrated loopiness in my voice, and it makes me smile.

So if you’d like to hear me go on semi-coherently about death and the history of medicine, you can listen to the episode here, my English talking starts around 42:00. Most of the rest of the audio is in Danish, obviously.

Speaking of Death Salon, we’ve made a lot of updates on the site about our public events, which you can view here. I’m totally excited to help bring this program to people, it is going to be really great. I would be stoked just to go see it, even if I weren’t organizing! Advance ticket sales for Death Salon Cabaret should be up any day now. It’s all really happening…


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