Remembering Danny

Sitting here trying to create some new discs for the house stereo. I’m trying to find new stuff, music to set and change moods that we haven’t all heard a million times…

So naturally I download an entire Gary Numan retrospective.

“Down In The Park” still takes me to places I’ve never been, and probably never will see beyond my own imagination.

I had a very odd friend back in high school. Well, okay, I’ve always had a lot of odd friends. It’s funny to realize I’m generally the most normal person in my circle.

Danny was… indescribable. A bum, quite likely, yet also a fine conoiseur of alternative music before there ever was Alternative Music. Hell, he was a massive collector of alternative music before anyone ever coined the term New Wave. David Bowie at his most Ziggy was just standard background stuff for Danny’s tastes.

Danny used to be a roadie for Pat Benetar, if you cared to believe him, before he wrecked his back forever. It was hard to believe him, of course, but he did have his ear and nose on some of the weirdest stuff to ever escape the depths of New York.

He lived on welfare and worker’s comp because of his various injuries. He rented a room from a gay landlord who was constantly trying to sneak in to his bed at night. He would have loved to have moved out but the rent was the cheapest anywhere so he just kept his door shut tight and alarmed the stairs to his bedroom with a random scattering of boxes and foil wrappers that were impossible to get past without making some kind of sound.

He walked everywhere and ate the cheapest food possible. He was socially awkward to the point of eccentricity but managed to avoid the line that crossed into offensive. Being slight of frame he managed to clothe himself from whatever he could afford at the salvation army.

All in all I suspect he managed to survive on about 100 bucks a month, including rent.

The rest he spent on records and, occasionally, gaming material. His room was like a hobbit hole dug out of a strata of vinyl, cardboard and paper. There was just enough room for him to sit on the floor next to his bed and stereo so he could make mix tapes.

Living in the small town of Saskatoon (city of 150,000, sophistication of a town of 15) we’d never heard of any of the artists he collected, like Nina Hagen and many other German punk imports. He never bought the regular commercial stuff. If there were any bits he liked he’s just borrow it from the city library and tape it for himself. He reserved his hard scrounged cash for stuff you couldn’t find anywhere else.

By the time I’d heard Gary Numan’s “Cars” and gushed with boyish glee about it Danny already had a half dozen of the man’s albums. When he found out I like Gary’s single hit he mixed me a couple of tapes of his better stuff. I immediately fell in love with “Are Friends Electric?” and set about trying to find original copies for myself. I think I managed three tapes in all.

For a couple of years Murray and I gamed with Danny, gathering in Murray’s basement every weekend. We’d start sometime on Saturday afternoon and usually finished up around six in the morning. I’d spend most of Sunday just sleeping to recover in time for school.

Good times, good times.

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