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.


Filed under Ada

5 responses 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.


  2. Hilary

    Thank you for posting this. I was a good friend of Daniel’s, and I remember well the tiny studio on 5th Street and all the cats and kittens he fostered. I miss him and just fancied Googling his name late in the afternoon during a slow day at work and was very happy to read your post!

  3. Hi Hilary and — very belatedly — Ron, This blog hasn’t been active for years but now I’m glad I left it up! Thanks for your comments…

  4. Tracy

    I also worked with Daniel at Spin and think about him sometimes and what a great person he was. After reading your blog I realize how much he and I had in common: we worked together. I lived in his building on Fifth street, which he hooked me up with, but I only moved in after he died. My bike was also stolen from the railing! And I live in Israel now, where his dad is from. We were all traumatized and shocked by his passing. He was definitely one of the good guys and his life was cut short way too soon.

  5. Uncle

    Bless your heart Ada for keeping this blog alive.
    I’m Daniel’s uncle. As others did, I looked up his name online, and saw your blog. I am still with him in mind and heart, almost on daily bases.
    It is nice to read that there are still folks who remember him, well over twenty years since he passed, which now is already 25.
    He was a pure spirit which burnt much too fast.
    Stay well and keep the flame going strong.
    Cheers all

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