Here is Danny (far right) on tour with his band Cipher.
IT'S NO SURPRISE that some of my favorite people have, at some point, been on tour. There's a unique sense of wanderlust and a punk rock spirit that is required to be an adult and live out of a van for the sole purpose of playing music. These are my people.
I first met Danny in college in 1999. I had seen him at punk/hardcore shows on Long Island prior to that, but had never spoken to him. Danny had this cool surf dude demeanor mixed with a Long Island accent and hip hop influenced vocabulary. If Danny were a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, he would be Michelangelo. In addition to being a brilliant surfer, Danny was also a black belt in karate. AND he knew how to tear it up on a skateboard. Can you see why I was intimidated?
Once we started hanging out, Danny introduced me to new music including independent hip hop. He made me a mix tape featuring Aesop Rock, Sole, Buck 65 and Sage Francis, and explained how it was different than mainstream hip hop, and how THAT was different from Gang Starr and Common. Homeboy gave me a crash course in hip hop and helped me appear to have way more street cred than I deserved.
Danny was the first person who I ever ate Indian food with. I have a white girl palate with very low tolerance for spice. At that point, I was also an unadventurous vegetarian who existed on burritos and tofu hot dogs. When I saw an "eggplant vindaloo" on the menu, I ordered it because it was the first vegetarian option that jumped out at me. Danny failed to warn me that vindaloo is quite possibly the most spicy dish in all of Indian cuisine. One bite and three pints of water later, I was certain Indian food wasn't for me. It took me about 5 years and a move to the UK, but I have finally discovered the wonder that is Tikka Masala and Korma. Thank you, Danny.
Our time spent in Albany is a blur of dorm room parties, shows and hanging out at Bombers. Danny went to Australia on a study abroad program, and when he came home convinced me that I had to do a semester abroad before graduation. I'll never forget his excitement when he told me that he had seen actual wombats. Though Australia didn't offer the program for me, I did wind up applying for a study abroad in Glasgow, Scotland which changed the course of my entire life. He gave me the courage to branch out and see the world, and for that I am forever grateful.
After we both graduated, Danny and I would see each other intermittently. I moved (back) to the UK and he became a high school math teacher. I loved hearing stories about his students and how enthusiastic he was about actually relating to them. If I had Danny as a teacher in high school, I would have done better in math. "Yo, there's this kid in my class named Anup. Pronounced Anoop. I call him Anup Dogg," he explained, flashing his signature massive grin. No wonder his students stalked him on My Space. Have you ever had a teacher who participated in extreme sports, used teenage-approved lingo and played in a hardcore band? Me neither.
It was during this time that he met Rachel, the love of his life. I will always remember the genuine elation in his face when he told me about her. Rachel is the type of person who you meet once and feel as if you've known her forever. I knew they were a perfect match.
Danny passed away last week. He was surfing in Indonesia, and the elements were harsh. The outpouring of love that I have witnessed over the past two weeks is a testament to the fact that he was an immensely influential, genuinely kindhearted, passionate person. He continues to inspire me as I think back on our friendship and the positivity that simply radiated off of him.
Danny and I exchanged emails fairly often when I was living abroad. I leave you with an email that I received from him when I was being a hobo and backpacking through Europe. His free-spirited nature and positive outlook was something that helped me to believe in myself and my transient yet happy life at the time, even when the world was telling me it was time to grow up and settle down.
what up girlie pop.
glad to hear of your travels..
happen to be on the same tip my self..
i´m in puerto escondito mexico (southern pacific coast) where the weather is hot as fuck and the waves are
huge as fuck....
i´m here for a month and i fucked my self up big time no day 6.
i ruptured my ear drum pretty bad...not a pleasant thing...
i have lost hearing temporarily from my right ear and have been bleeding and oozing fluid from my
head for the last 4 days...im trying to think positive but its hard...its also hard to comunicate wit hthe spanish
speaking doctors...crazy shit...what an experience...waves here have been up to like 15 feet...
well anyway yea i´m with my friend mike..he got hurt too but only 3 stitches in his chin...they stitched it with
fishing line so he can still surf...hahaha
that bastard...so yeah otherwise shit is ill here...slow moving pace..good food and nice people..
lots of euro backpackers and hippie types too..but mostely surfers and local mexicans...
everything is dirt cheap too...we have a nice place we rented right on the beach..
so i´ve just been reading and doing some yoga and practicing my spanish....could be worse but its really
dissappointing...maybe i´ll be back in the water in a week with ear plugs..we´ll see what the doctora says..
so yeah...i´ve been killin time in the internet cafe obviously...
keep having a blast in europe...eff the naysayers cause you are livin life the right way..
peace and love girlie popdanny
There are few people in this world who embrace each day the way my friend Danny did. He serves as a reminder that we should all live our lives to the fullest, see the brightest side of everything and drive around blasting Slayer every once in awhile, just for the hell of it. Play in a band, go on tour, never let go of your interests. Eff the naysayers. Right?
Rest in peace, Danny. You will never be forgotten.