This is so weird! I just happened to be thinking about Danny this morning as I was walking down from my campsite. Thinking about some memories of him back when he was “Dumpster Danny” and hung out by Cody’s. What’s truly weird is, I haven’t thought about Danny in years! But for some reason, he just happened to pop into my head this morning. Thinking about him and wondering what he was up to these days.
And then I go to Facebook and see this picture posted on Moby’s page. Weird.
The last time I saw Danny was about 3 years ago. I had to go to an AA meeting as part of my “community service” to work off an “open container” ticket. And Danny was working for the city at the time, doing volunteer work for different AA and NA programs. Looked great. Still hippy-ish, but clean-cut and well-dressed. He’d been off the streets for several years at that point, had kind of cleaned up his act. He’d periodically have a few problems with “substances.” Danny liked to have fun, and every now and then maybe he had a little too much fun. Ha ha. But he had been straight for many years by this point, and was using his expertise in the field of “substances” to help other people as a counseler. And I’m sure he was good at it.
The thing I remember about Danny, he was always smiling, always laughing. Had this infectious cackle of a laugh. One of those guys who just seemed to really enjoy life, always happy. Always had a twinkle in his eyes as he strolled around with his hands in his pockets, never in a hurry, it was like he whistled his way through life. Reminded me of an elf. One of those guys, you couldn’t imagine Danny having an enemy in the world.
He was a couple years older than me. I think he was one of those guys who had been a hippy in the ’60s and just never changed. He was a Telegraph fixture for many years. When I knew him in the ’90s he used to hang out by the Cody’s building behind our vending table. Had been homeless for years. It was like the streets were his living room and he was perfectly at home on them. Never had much money back then. Mostly lived off what he scrounged and dumpster-dived. But he never seemed needy. Always seemed perfectly satisfied with his lot. I’m not sure what his spirituality was, don’t remember him talking about it. But he had the demeanor of an enlightened spiritual master — a wandering street sage — who knew the answer, but kept it to himself, like he was in on a great secret and knew that everyone else would find out about it in their good, sweet time.
One of the most impressive things to me (as a guy who’s kind of a curmudgeon) is how Danny seemed to like everybody, seemed to get along with everybody. Had absolutely no venom or bile in him. Was just one of those very rare people who was completely sweet, through and through.
God, it’s so weird. The memory that popped into my head this morning was about the time he hooked up with this crazy homeless black woman. “The Gorilla Woman” as she was known. The woman just turned up one day on our corner and planted herself there. And she made everybody nervous. Because she obviously had serious mental problems. She was always raving to herself, muttering and shouting at imaginary enemies. And she was in a constant rage. There was a barely (and I mean just barely) suppressed violence that eminated from her every pore. Plus, she was built like an NFL middle linebacker. Just one more raving Telegraph wingnut on a street that was famous for them. But it was un-nerving to have her stomping around our vending table all day long, just seething with rage. Like a ticking time-bomb that was bound to go off sooner or later. And probably sooner.
But then, much to everyone’s surprise, Danny made a play for her. He was a bit of a lady’s man who truly loved the ladies. Practically all the ladies. Ha ha. And before you knew it, they were a couple. After that, the woman would sit quietly alongside Danny on his blanket. Just sort of humming along. Danny had that calming effect on virtually every one who came into his orbit.
I lost touch with Danny after he got off the streets. And now he’s probably circling around the planet earth with a twinkle in his eye as he embarks on his next soul journey.