If you'd told me in 1986 that Daniel would be headlining shows across the country, that he'd even play at the Hollywood Bowl at one point, I might have believed you. I had heard his tapes, heard his raw talent, could hear the perfect songs behind the thumping and the chord organ and the coyote saying aroo-aroo-aroo.
And here I was, young for a night, heading backstage on a school night. It's not the thrill it once was as I've got an eye on the clock the whole time, never quite able to overlook that I have to work in the morning. And it's not like you can bluff your way in at these big shows--you need to set up a pass in advance.
I sat outside at the counter at Two Boots just before the show, and a homeless guy came by asking for money. "That could've been Daniel with a few twists of fate," I thought. He's lucky his family accepted his problems as their responsibility. And he's lucky to have a tolerant diaspora of friends he has known for 30-40 years. He is complicated, to say the least. His memory is strange to me—he doesn't remember the people he's met in the room, but he remembers taking me to a Butthole Surfers show in 1986, and going to the movies in West Virginia in 1992. He remembers me getting out of my car and lifting up the seat to let him into the back with Louis and Nick from the Chronicle. He remembers I work at Marvel. I don't. I work for DC now and I've told him that a half-dozen times. That's not how his memory works anymore.
He and I snapped a few photos together. I help my phone out and we looked at them.
"I don't even recognize myself in photos anymore," he said.
I knew exactly what he means. He's aging faster than I am—he is on medication, doesn't exercise, drinks too much Mountain Dew. But I see it in myself too.