Start Choppin’ by Dinosaur Jr.

This song is inseparable for me from an early-’90s weekend I housesat on East Fifth Street between A and B for Daniel Fidler, who I worked with at SPIN magazine. (I was a 17-year-old intern, he was in his twenties and worked in research).

Daniel was really nice, loved Fugazi, and had a mother cat and a bunch of kittens nesting under his sink. I took care of them while he was in Israel. I also listened to the above song over and over at his apartment, and it made me feel better about a recent breakup with my first serious boyfriend. I liked staying there, listening to all his albums, reading his magazines, and pretending his studio was my own. I drank a lot of coffee. I did some light snooping.

I found my first Bikini Kill fanzine at his apartment, and it changed my life. I immediately took it to Kinko’s on Astor Place to make copies. I called Daniel when his bike got stolen from the hallway. He asked me to describe the scene of the crime. I told him the tire was the only thing chained to the railing. There was a pause. “Shit,” he said somewhere in Israel. “I put the chain on the wrong part of the bike.” He was a little bit of a mess. I found it very charming.

Another week I was supposed to housesit for him, in spring 1994, he changed his mind and decided to stay in town. I’d been really looking forward to hanging out there, so I was disappointed.

Later I learned he was found dead there soon after of an apparent overdose. There was, in retrospect kind of a heroin epidemic going on in that crowd back then, which I was oblivious to at the time because I was pretty burnt out by the time I was fifteen, when thankfully the hardest stuff that was kicking around was acid.

The writer / former member of Guided By Voices, James Greer—who I just Google-stalked and am now kind of obsessed with—mentioned Daniel’s death twice in ’90s articles for SPIN. It was only recently that I realized Daniel died within days of Kurt Cobain. Daniel was really lovely. I’m so sorry he’s not around now.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Start Choppin’ by Dinosaur Jr.

  1. Ron Malek

    Is this blog still active? Dan and I were friends, but unfortunately we lost contact with one another after our freshman year in college. I’d appreciate any mor information you may be willing to share regarding Dan.

    Thanks.

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