Part 1 Episode Notes

First off, I would like you all to know that I *strongly* considered making the title of his episode: "Grumpy Gus: Look ma, no pants!" 😂😂😂 (it'll make more sense after you listen to Part 1)

Little Catholic Dan would probably have never guessed that the arc of his life would go something like:

STL > SF Bay > Boston > Around the world in his 20s > Back to the Bay > 5 hour interrogation, I mean, interview with yours truly 😇

Part 2 Episode Notes

In Part 2 we explore the transition pains he experienced with his entrée into the corporate world, his "love affair" with SURJ and what it was like canvassing in GA in 2020.

Oh, and I promise I don't beat up on him this much IRL 😏

Part 1 Transcript

Janelle Jolley  0:18  
Welcome to What's Left To Do? I'm your host, Janelle. Y'all know the internet meme "get you somebody that can do both?" Well, this week's guest is someone that perfectly embodies just that. Dan earned his new nickname, Grumpy Gus, from me during the Sanders primary campaign, 'cause homeboy would just be like walking around the office, skulking, wishing a motherfucker would. Little did I know, I could have just as easily began calling him Gentle Ben, as he is extremely fond of being in touch with his emotions and the emotions of others. Who do we have on today? Super glad you asked. I'm gonna describe him first before I say his name. Now, you're a leftist. You're a progressive. You mean business. This is the man you want volunteering on your campaign because he will haze the fuck out of everyone who comes in that office, so that everyone is on their P's and Q's. Does everyone have a mental picture of like a pledge master in college who'll just get in your ass just to make sure, you know, you know what it is? Well, that's what this gentleman does. He's so committed to climate change as an issue that he never wears pants because he wants to never forget how his body is exposed to the elements. He's angry, but for a purpose. Pants, they don't exist in his world. I think that mostly covers it. Though, the Instagram for this is going to be real dumb. So tune in. Grumpy Gus, everybody. Say hello.

Dan  2:08  
Hey, how you doing?

Janelle Jolley  2:08  
He's exactly that mean in person, so just, that's what we're dealing with. How are you?

Dan  2:20  
I'm doing great. Actually, the no pants comment reminded me of something from my childhood when my family moved from St. Louis to California. I would help this old man across the street put up his Christmas lights each year. Same was Mr. Posthauer. And he was kind of deaf, wore hearing aids and stuff. And he would call over and one time my mom had him on speakerphone. And he just said into the phone, "Is Danny still not wearing long pants?"

Janelle Jolley  2:53  
The answer is yes. Danny will never ever be wearing long pants. And that's just, that's his business. I mean, who am I?

Dan  3:00  
Gotta let these calves be free, you know?

Janelle Jolley  3:01  
You know, get a little sun on them 'cause he's a porcelain prince. Anyway. So I got to know you. He, 100% and I'm not even exaggerating. The first time I met him in the office, he cussed me out, and I was just like saying hello. And I was like, "Oh okay. I don't know why he's so angry." Little did I know, it was his prophetic view of the bullshit that was to come in 2020. So we should've all been that angry even though we won California, but that's fine. So I met your mean ass during the 2020 primary campaign and you were in the office every day, kind of like me, you were full time. You're a full time guy. So, I would like to understand, how do we get to that point? We're gonna rewind the tape. And I want you to start from the beginning. The day that you were born, frowning, and you maybe slapped the shit out of the doctor that slapped you on the butt, right after you came out.

So I was born at a very young age. And I was born in St. Louis, Missouri.

Oh were you?

Dan  4:14  
I was. St. Louis Missouri. Go Cardinals.

Janelle Jolley  4:17  
Go Cards.

Dan  4:18  
I don't care about sports anymore. And I lived there 'til I was 10. I've got an older brother and a younger brother. And my dad worked for Budweiser in sports marketing. So if you've been to a sports stadium around the country and seen a Budweiser sign, chances are good that my dad did the deal to put it up there.

Janelle Jolley  4:38  
Is your dad from the Midwest?

Dan  4:40  
My dad's from Omaha, Nebraska. My mom's from Cincinnati, Ohio.

Janelle Jolley  4:43  
Okay. All right. Proper, proper white America.

Dan  4:46  
I'm a proper white man. I'm so sorry.

Janelle Jolley  4:58  
The edit is gonna have to be so tight on this. But yeah, please continue.

Dan  4:58  
And so then my family moved to California when I was 10. What's that?

Janelle Jolley  5:04  
We're going back to St. Louis. That's like zero to ten. What was that like?

Dan  5:08  
Right on. I really loved growing up in St. Louis.

Janelle Jolley  5:11  

Dan  5:13  
My family lived in kind of like a big cul-de-sac thing with a beautiful park in the middle and there are a bunch of families in the neighborhood.

Janelle Jolley  5:20  
This is sounding real Sister Wives-ish. Is this the time that you want to come forward?

Dan  5:24  
Sister Wives? No.

Janelle Jolley  5:25  
Like an FLDS child or...?

Dan  5:27  
No, actually, we were Catholic.

Janelle Jolley  5:29  
Oh okay.

Dan  5:30  
My dad is still quite Catholic.

Janelle Jolley  5:33  
You're not Catholic?

Dan  5:35  

Janelle Jolley  5:35  
Or are you culturally Catholic?

Dan  5:37  
So that's an interesting thing. I don't know I guess I could say that. I feel like Judaism is the only religion where somebody could say they're like an atheist Jew. I wouldn't say like, I'm an atheist Catholic, you know?

Janelle Jolley  5:48  
Are you an agnostic Catholic?

Dan  5:50  
Yeah I also wouldn't say I'm atheist at all. I'm agnostic. Super down to talk about spirituality and religion and stuff. I love thinking about that and talking about it, but I don't know that this podcast is about that.

Janelle Jolley  6:00  
No, no, no. We're gonna...where it all goes together.

Dan  6:02  
Oh great.

Janelle Jolley  6:03  
'Cause that's probably connected to why you so deeply love the earth.

Dan  6:08  
Yeah actually. So we went to church every Sunday growing up at-

Janelle Jolley  6:14  
Were you an alter boy?

Dan  6:15  
Naw. I went to church every Sunday growing up at St. Louis University Church. Go Billikens. There's a Jesuit church, and talking about service and stuff, the Jesuits are what I've heard one priest refer to them as the loyal opposition within the church.

Janelle Jolley  6:31  
Huh. What does he mean by that?

Dan  6:32  
So the current Pope is a Jesuit, and everybody likes him. Well not everybody, but many people like him. In large part because they are sort of the more progressive, more in service of the poor, arm of the church. And so the loyal opposition, they are Catholic. They love all that shit. But they really pull against the sort of stalwart, dogmatic, 'sitting in their ivory tower' bullshit that a lot of other Catholics do.

Janelle Jolley  7:00  
How would you describe living in St. Louis as a child? Did you think that most other people in the world grew up like you? Had lives like you?

Dan  7:13  
No. So I'm certainly quite privileged. But my family spent a lot of the holidays, the church we went to was in the middle of St. Louis.

Janelle Jolley  7:27  
Like inner St. Louis?

Dan  7:28  
Yeah and so St. Louis in the early mid-90s, especially downtown, was not doing great. And so a lot of the holidays we'd spend, we would deliver like Christmas dinners to folks who weren't doing as great. Give out Christmas gifts, Thanksgiving dinner, stuff like that. So my parents made sure that we kind of had the window into lives that weren't quite as privileged as ours.

Janelle Jolley  7:54  
But how did you understand that as a child? Is it just like, "Ah! This is what Mom and Dad make us do?" How did you understand that level of service as a child, do you think?

Dan  8:05  
Huh, man, that's a great question.

Janelle Jolley  8:07  
Yeah, I know.

Dan  8:08  
God you're good at this. How did I understand that level of service as a child? I don't really know. I'm trying to think back. I just saw those families as families like ours. It felt kind of weird. I remember this one instance when we delivered Christmas dinner to somebody's house. It didn't seem like they were super poor. It was just a smaller house, but it felt strange to be going in their house and it felt a little embarrassing. Like embarrassed on their behalf maybe or something like that. So, yeah, those are the feelings that I remember.

Janelle Jolley  8:48  
Understanding maybe their embarrassment for being given food or...?

Dan  8:54  
Needing help. Yeah, needing help. So yeah, that was a lot of childhood. Went to public school. It was a really good school. For some reason, a few of the kids who I went to elementary school with are famous now.

Janelle Jolley  9:10  

Dan  9:11  
Yeah! Do you know Claire Saffitz? She's become famous for being this dessert baker.

Janelle Jolley  9:17  
Oh! Does she make bread?

Dan  9:18  
She makes a whole bunch of baked goods.

Janelle Jolley  9:21  
I think I know who you're talking about.

Dan  9:21  
So she came out with this book, Dessert Person, and she's super popular with a bunch of people who dig baking and shit. And it's strange because I remember being in elementary school with her and I know that strong, independent women are often called bossy. She was repeatedly called bossy.

Janelle Jolley  9:39  
As a child?

Dan  9:40  
Oh yeah.

Janelle Jolley  9:41  
And she's probably annoying, let's be honest.

Dan  9:42  
Yeah, she went to Harvard and then went to culinary school and became like a YouTube sensation or some shit. Anyways, so this woman, Joanna Firestone, who's a comedian and she's fucking hilarious. She's so good.

Janelle Jolley  9:57  
Were you in class with her? Or she just went to the same school as you?

Dan  10:00  
She and I went to preschool together. Claire Saffitz and I were in class together in elementary school. I have a memory with Jo. We were making plates together and shit as little kids. She's rad. She's cool. She's also in DSA.

Janelle Jolley  10:16  

Dan  10:16  
New York. Yeah, but anyways, that was kind of growing up in St. Louis.

Janelle Jolley  10:23  
How would people describe you as a child, from 0 to 10, in St. Louis? Describe yourself as a child. Were you like hell on wheels? Were you like a Goofy?

Dan  10:30  
No, no, I'm a good boy. I'm a good boy.

Janelle Jolley  10:32  
Okay, that's not true so let's-

Dan  10:34  
I think it kind of is, but it's like-

Janelle Jolley  10:39  
Were you good because you're the middle child and so you had to fit in between your two psychotic brothers?

Dan  10:43  
That's a good way to describe it. So I'm like a stereotypical middle child, like the mediator, the facilitator, the peacemaker. Somebody who just wants everything to be calm and good.

Janelle Jolley  10:53  
Because, what? What was your context of being the middle child mediator? Were your brothers hell on wheels? Were your parents like-

Dan  11:04  
My older brother was definitely not as emotionally intelligent nor did he give as much a shit about that. We're quite close now, but he is kind of like a bulldozer and he's really good at achieving his goals. He runs ultra marathons. He played college sports. He majored in liberal arts degree and then went back to school and did a whole shit in engineering and now he's a water resource engineer. He actually started the 'defund the police' movement up in Redding.

Janelle Jolley  11:39  

Dan  11:40  
No, Redding, Northern California. And so he's moving insanely clear sighted toward his goals. Whereas I'm paying more attention to kind of what's going on with people. So to go back to your question, "What was I like as a kid?" my parents would talk about they would be able to put me in a baby carrier, just sit on a counter during a party, and I would just sit there and look at people. Just smile. And it's still true now. I really, really- my happiest place is being around people I love and they're all chatting, having a great time, and I'm just sitting there watching. So I'm a lurker. Yeah, so yeah.

Janelle Jolley  12:23  
The Lurker of the Left. That will be the title of your show. You know, that's not problematic. Not at all.

Dan  12:30  
But it kind of extends all the way. What I really like to do is kind of help facilitate and empower people to be kind of the best versions of themselves, and then get the fuck out of the way. So I think that who I am as a person now, and what I want to do professionally, is rooted in that kid who just wants everybody to be mingling and happy at a party.

Janelle Jolley  12:54  
Sure. Can't we all just get along?

Dan  12:56  
You got it kid.

Janelle Jolley  13:01  
Did your mom work outside the home?

Dan  13:03  
She did on and off in different ways. Throughout my childhood, she worked at this company called Merits. I have no fucking clue what they did. She was in marketing too. Both my parents are very smart, hardworking people. My mom graduated high school in three years and college in three years. She's since worked in a couple different capacities but right now does development work for a private high school down the peninsula in Woodside. So it raises a bunch of money. Interfaces with people you probably met at Google and gets them to try and give money so their kids can have a fancy school. But, yeah.

Janelle Jolley  13:45  
So after 10?

Dan  13:46  
So after 10, wow. After 10, we moved to California. Moved to Menlo Park.

Janelle Jolley  13:53  
Huh! What brought them out there?

Dan  13:55  
My dad had been working at Budweiser and doing marketing work. And I think that a juncture came up in his career where his boss was leaving and so he and another peer were up for promotion to that boss's job. His peer got the promotion and his peer did not like him. So it was either, get out quick and find another job or end up getting let go at some point. That's my understanding, at least. So he got a job at VISA doing marketing and that brought us out here.

Janelle Jolley  14:30  
What were your recollections of the differences and the changes from St. Louis to California when you guys moved? Other than not really needing pants.

Dan  14:43  
Yeah. "Is Danny still not wearing long pants?" Differences. I feel like people in the Midwest are just kinder. I saw this thing on the internet the other day that said "people on the East Coast are kind and people on the West Coast are nice." Which pisses me off as somebody who now identifies as a West coaster, but, I think is directionally true. But Midwesterners are both nice and kind.

Janelle Jolley  15:10  
Depending on where you're at.

Dan  15:11  
Like, not North Midwest.

Janelle Jolley  15:13  
Like, there's 'Minnesota nice'.

Dan  15:15  
Yeah, not that shit.

Janelle Jolley  15:15  
That's different than Missouri.

Dan  15:18  
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I just I remember having the idyllic childhood of baseball games in the summer, and snowing on Christmas Day, and all that stuff. Then coming to California, and I remember the first Christmas and my dad has one of those old janky video tape recorder things. I'm 33, so you can do the math. And it was just green and beautiful outside on Christmas, and I was just like, "This is kind of bullshit." So I remember that. We moved into Sharon Heights in Menlo Park, which is a pretty nice neighborhood. My dad jokes that the average age of residents there is deceased. A lot of old people. So there weren't a lot of kids on the street. Where I'd grown up before, it was just, you could walk to school or ride my bike. I deliver the newspaper to an old lady. I helped other old ladies like sweep up their leaves in the Fall and stuff.

Janelle Jolley  16:18  
In Menlo Park?

Dan  16:18  
No, no, in St. Louis when I was growing up. I never really fit in middle school and didn't really feel like I- I mean, again, does anybody feel like they fit into middle school? I don't know.

Janelle Jolley  16:27  
I mean, I did. Though, why do you feel like you didn't fit in?

Dan  16:33  
I don't know. At first, when I first moved there. I just felt like I didn't grow up with these people and there wasn't a ton of welcoming energy. I don't remember that. Then I felt kind of out of place.

Janelle Jolley  16:48  
Meaning it took you a while to understand the kids around your age and or feel welcome with a group of kids around your age? Is that what you mean?

Dan  16:58  
Yeah. Which I never felt that way in St. Louis. In St. Louis. I felt extremely comfortable.

Janelle Jolley  17:03  
All the time?

Dan  17:03  
All the time. Yeah, I remember actually, it was kind of funny. Two weeks before my parents told us we were moving to California, I have this distinct memory of being in the car with my mom and being like "Mom, I really love living in St. Louis. I hope we never leave." Literally two weeks before she was like, "Fuck!" Yeah, goddamnit.

Janelle Jolley  17:22  
What about the kids out here? Maybe it was like an inchoate kind of like- I can't really describe it. But if there is language for it, what about the kids out here made it difficult for you to kind of find your place for a bit?

Dan  17:39  
It felt cliquey. I felt like there were popular kids and pretty girls and athletic boys and the whole sort of social strata that didn't feel like it existed in elementary school or middle school. Maybe that was I left after fourth grade and that stuff starts to develop in middle school. So it would have happened in St. Louis too, but I would've been like more of a fixture of it and so wouldn't have been able to examine it from outside, I guess. But then entering into it at that stage, it was like, "Oh, this shit." 'Cause there were some kids who were super nice like the fat kids were really nice and the nerdy kids were really nice. I've got a belly so I can say that.

Janelle Jolley  18:25  
Shout out to the nice fatties from middle school.

Dan  18:28  
Hey, I'm one of them. So, what's up my people? Just had a big ol' bowl of tortellini, support our troops. That is not a dirty word all right? Fuck that shit. It's another topic we could talk about for a long time. I got a lot of opinions about that.

Janelle Jolley  18:45  
No, listen, we're gonna hear all of them. That's why I have 18 layers of clothes for when the temperature drops.

Dan  18:51  
I'm sweating.

Janelle Jolley  18:51  
When you did find your niche, socially, who was it with? And why do you think that became yours?

Dan  19:06  
I'll be honest, so I'm gonna skip one step. When I went to high school, I went to high school 30 miles away. I went to a Catholic high school. Jesuit Catholic School in San Jose.

Janelle Jolley  19:18  

Dan  19:19  
Private. The only people from my middle school who I continued to be friends with or keep in touch with or were the same people who went to that high school, which was like five guys. It was an all boys high school. Meaning that I don't know that I ever really found my social niche in middle school. I was friendly with some people and I remember this one guy. We'd play like Pokemon cards after church on Sunday sometimes. But I ended up going to high school together and weren't friends in high school. The- pretty much one guy, actually. His name's Adam. He's rad. He's super into aquariums and Corvettes now. Smokes more weed than anybody I know. He's a good man. Yeah, he's a good man.

Janelle Jolley  20:04  
Did you want to go to a private high school or your parents wanted you to go to private high school?

Dan  20:08  
I have an older brother.

Janelle Jolley  20:11  
The bull in the china shop?

Dan  20:12  
The bull in the china shop. The very headstrong soccer player. The high school I went to, Bellarmine, at the time had the best high school soccer team in the nation. It's an all boys high school of like 1400 boys and it's one of the oldest schools in the country. So there's just these long standing traditions and so then it becomes a funnel school. So he went there, and so then my parents wanted all their kids to go to the same school. Also, he'd had such a lovely experience the first year, so. I think single sex education has its pluses and minuses and certainly the idea of an all boys school producing emotionally intelligent, thoughtful, kind, young men seems maybe incompatible with the way we consider male dominance.

Janelle Jolley  20:55  
Really? Why do you say that?

Dan  20:56  
Because I think that we often consider male dominated spaces to not be that sort of thing.

Janelle Jolley  21:00  
But why? I mean, I'm pulling on a yarn here. Why? In your understanding?

Dan  21:08  
I don't know. Well, I guess my understanding- It's a tough question because I'm making an assumption about what other people would think about something that I experienced and wasn't the same thing.

Janelle Jolley  21:19  
And why is that thought there?

Dan  21:21  
Yeah. "Why is that thought there?" I don't know.

Janelle Jolley  21:29  
You do know!

Dan  21:30  
'Cause, I don't know. "Men are trash?" I don't know. I hear shit like that all the time? I don't know.

Janelle Jolley  21:34  
And you believe it?

Dan  21:35  
I don't know. I hear it all the time. No, I don't believe it. But that's what I'm saying is that I feel like this is what other people may think and so that my experience was contrary to what I think other people may think.

Janelle Jolley  21:43  
So describe your experience and disabuse that notion for people.

Dan  21:45  
Great. That's an easier question for me to answer. So it's an all boy Jesuit Catholic school. It was a, in general, really loving environment. I never saw a fight in high school, which I think is atypical. You start your high school experience off with the freshmen retreat, where it's a couple night retreat. And there are a lot of really emotional things where you talk about, I think, for lack of a better term, your trauma, your family history, with a group of 14-year-old boys and led by seniors. And so you have that sort of behavior demonstrated to you by these people who are super intimidating and elevated. So you're shown it's okay. Then you've got teachers who are there as well who are facilitating this stuff.

Janelle Jolley  22:35  
All male teachers?

Dan  22:35  
No. Mostly male teachers. But the female teachers are fucking rad in general. If they enjoy teaching in that environment, they tend to be some pretty awesome people. Like the current principal is a woman and she was my freshmen high school English teacher. She's cool. So yeah, so that freshmen retreat is a really big thing and is talked about for years afterwards by a lot of people there.

Janelle Jolley  23:02  
Because it's such an indelible bonding experience?

Dan  23:05  
Totally. And it's, I think, an opportunity to be vulnerable.

Janelle Jolley  23:13  
That most American male children, who are presumed to be heterosexual, are not allowed?

Dan  23:21  
Yeah. Or told you're weak if you do so. Or you're a sissy or whatever the hell. And we all love Brené Brown in this household.

Janelle Jolley  23:31  
Do we?

Dan  23:32  
I don't know. Is she canceled? What, do I not know something?

Janelle Jolley  23:36  
No, I'm just- No, go ahead.

Dan  23:38  
Okay. Well, you know, vulnerability being the invitation to intimacy that it is, I think-

Janelle Jolley  23:44  
He goes "I don't know. Is she canceled?"

Dan  23:46  
Did I miss something? I don't know! The look on your face. Sorry, you can't hear looks on faces in the podcast, so you don't know what I'm dealing with right now. So anyways, vulnerability being the invitation into intimacy that it is is a nice moment to share intimate moments with 14-year-olds. Your fellow students. Yeah. Which is shocking and also liberating. Because then you can be your full self. And being a preteen in seventh and eighth grade, going through puberty, getting braces, being chubby, you don't feel super great about yourself and not fitting in and all that kind of stuff. And by you, I mean, me.

Janelle Jolley  24:33  
No, I was chubby at that age too. No braces, but I'm still chubby.

Dan  24:38  
Yeah, you have beautiful teeth. Yeah, you can't hear that on the podcast either but perfect teeth. So anyways. And so then having that experience for me to be in a place where I wasn't being judged. Where there weren't these social strata that existed that I was being thrust into. Where I could share how I felt with teachers or students or maybe even some upperclassmen because your retreat leaders stuck around, they're still there, was wonderful, especially for a sensitive boy like me.

Janelle Jolley  25:16  
Why do you say you're a sensitive boy?

Dan  25:18  
'Cause I am, Jesus Christ. I cry all the time. I mean, you call me Grumpy Gus and say I'm mean, but underneath that gruff exterior is a gentle man.

Janelle Jolley  25:30  
There's gonna be such a dramatic reenactment of how not gentle he was in the office. So please tune into the IG for this fucking episode. Anyway. But as an adult, you would describe yourself, even as an adolescent, as sensitive?

Dan  25:45  
Oh yeah!

Janelle Jolley  25:46  
Why are you laughing like that!

Dan  25:49  
'Cause I think it's so funny that your perspective of me is what it is. I mean, I'll tear up watching pretty much any movie or TV show that has the slightest bit of sensitive stuff. I mean, I cry watching the Great British Bake Off on the regular. Like, "are you kidding me?"

Janelle Jolley  25:56  
But you were that sensitive as an adolescent?

Dan  26:20  

Janelle Jolley  26:21  
Why do you think that was?

Dan  26:23  
Oh, "Why do I think that was?" I dunno, I see myself as a man and I see my dad and I see how similar we are. I remember this memory, of the first time I ever saw him cry, was when he was watching Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. "Move that bus!" I think I got a lot of it from him just being a sap.

Janelle Jolley  26:51  
Do you think your dad made it okay for you to emote? Is that what it is? Seeing him be emotive like-?

Dan  27:01  
That was after we'd moved to California? So it wasn't an early lesson I learned. I mean, I don't know how you would define early as but I don't know when that was on TV? But I was maybe 11 or 12? So maybe, I think having those models is super important. But I think also, I don't know, I feel a lot. I have two brothers. My older brother is the bull in the china shop. My younger brother is like the best athlete in the world and super competitive, but he also feels a lot too. We all do, but I think it was my role in the family. I felt like it was my role in the family to be in touch with how everyone was doing. And be the kind of conductor of that. Maybe it was a middle child thing, maybe it was a codependent thing. Who knows? I don't know, I have a lot of memories of male role models not displaying their emotions properly, like uncles or, well, uncles. And just not understanding why they're angry or why they're behaving the way they are.

Janelle Jolley  28:05  
Do you think your behavior was in response to that? Like, "I don't want to be that?"

Dan  28:08  
Totally. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I see this in myself what I see it in my brothers too, which is like an impatience for people to figure their shit out and be considerate of others and understand how their actions affect others. And so when other people aren't self aware of how their behavior is affecting other people, it's like, come the fuck on. Figure it out, you know? And so yeah, for some reason, part of growing up in the way we were raised, we're just like super attuned to how other people are doing. For better and for worse, I think.

Janelle Jolley  28:44  
Do you think that as a child, using your words, you're feeling a lot was like the locus of that was your family and maybe your immediate social circle? Or was it just broad in terms of your understanding of the world at the time? Where was that? How big was that?

Dan  29:09  
At what age?

Janelle Jolley  29:11  
Let's say high school.

Dan  29:12  
High school? High school, I was still Catholic, and going to church every Sunday. Jesuit school too. So this high school is pretty rad, actually. So I was a freshman in high school in 2001. And I remember we have these things called CLCs, Christian Life Communities. Which were basically clubs, but they would have a teacher facilitator. And we had a gay/straight Christian Life Community at my Catholic high school 20 years ago, all boys, and had a ton of progressive teachers and they even put on like a mass. And not in a repressed "Oh, being gay is a sin. We're gonna help you out" way. It's like, "No, you're great. Put on a mass" way. And my high school was rad in the sense that--I'll get to your question. I'm not avoiding it. We do sponsored protests like going to the what was formerly known as the School of Americas but is now known as the Western Hemispheric Institute for Security and Cooperation. Which is at Fort Benning, Georgia. And went to a protest there and have helped run, fundraise for our- We have a sister community in El Salvador called Agua Escondida and built a preschool there and help pay for a teacher and help spray for mosquitoes and stuff to keep malaria rates down and all that kind of business. And so the school is pretty fucking rad. And all that.

Janelle Jolley  30:39  
It instilled some notion of a practical Christianity.

Dan  30:43  
Yeah, the motto of the high school is from a quote from a priest named Pedro Arrupe, which is "Men for others."

Janelle Jolley  30:51  
I'm too mature for that. Go ahead.

Dan  30:53  
Well, "men and women for others." How's that? But I went to an all boys school. And so yeah, so it was a big part of it. There was a service requirement at our high school. You had to do 25 hours of service each year. I think the first year was with homeless folks or maybe the elderly, kids. And then I forget which one it was. Freshman, sophomore, junior year, then senior year, you can pick your own and do 30 hours. So anyways, I, through high school, would pray every night before I went to bed. Or actually, when I was in bed. And I would pretty much do the same prayer every single night, which I've since learned is a pretty rad meditation I like to do now and I somehow landed on it on myself. Which I would just basically make the sign of the cross and then lay there and think about myself as like love leaving my body and sort of like growing from my body and infusing everybody on Earth and the whole planet. And just everybody being infused with love. And so in high school, I felt a lot for not just my family and my local community but I felt this kind of conflict. I mean, when did the Iraq War start? When was 9/11? It was 2001, right? So I remember, I was like a week or two into high school and that's when 9/11 happened. And so, so much of high school was framed in a global context of understanding. Like, I didn't even know what the fuck the Twin Towers were when they got hit. I'd never been to New York. But then your worldview broadens like "Oh okay. What is Iraq? What is Afghanistan? Okay."

Janelle Jolley  32:34  
Why do they matter? Why are we sending people there?

Dan  32:37  
"And why are we sending people there and why did they fly planes into these buildings? So what's going on?" And so kind of broadening our understanding of what's going on in the world and why it's working the way it is. And, again, going back to that idea of me being that kid sitting on the counter, wanting everybody to just have a good time at the party, and people are not having a good time at the party. And so then feeling like, "Okay, what can I do to kind of help us get there?"

Janelle Jolley  33:03  
Where did the majority of your sense of service and/or your desire to emit love to the entire world come from? Was that kind of the exposure to social inequity that you got from school and high school? Was it kind of just your Catholicism that started before you got to California? Was it your parents? If you had to try and pinpoint or locate where the most of that kind of instinct came from, where would you say it came from?

Dan  33:45  
Having trouble coming with a concrete answer. I think that Catholicism thing is a big part of it for sure. I mean, service rooted in that. I know that 'service' isn't the word du jour nowadays, but that's what we talked a lot about back then. Now it's working for our collective liberation. Yeah, which feels a lot less patronizing. But yeah, the Catholic thing I think I don't often reflect on it, but certainly had a big push on it because my parents are good people and also they didn't really do like a ton of service work. And it wasn't a super big topic of conversation around the house. I knew my parents cared about politics, my dad more than my mom.

Janelle Jolley  34:29  
How would you describe their politics? Or how did you understand their politics as a child?

Dan  34:33  
Democrats. I mean, for us now that's a full answer, but back then- my dad has become more progressive with age. Which I fucking love about him.

Janelle Jolley  34:46  
Really? He didn't mellow out? He got more radical?

Dan  34:48  
Yeah, my dad voted for Bernie and wore Bernie pin to the classes he takes at community college and wants to use the right pronouns for people and so he's asking me how to how do you navigate pronoun conversations. And I look like him except he has whiter hair and more wrinkles. Otherwise, we're very similar looking. And so yeah, I think something I admire about my dad so much, something we both share is we have very strong opinions until we don't.

Janelle Jolley  35:20  
Meaning you leave your mind open enough to be changed?

Dan  35:23  
Sure! I love having spirited discussions and talking shit. But if you're right, then I'm super down to change my mind. And I think he's similar. Like, we'll have a heated argument about something, and then the next day, my point of view will be incorporated into his worldview. He won't admit it but it's like "oh, it's not his idea." Which is fine. So he's way more into politics. My mom-

Janelle Jolley  35:47  
And he's always been way more into politics? In your words?

Dan  35:51  
As far as I can remember, yeah. Now my mom's super down with other stuff. Like she has always had a lot of gay friends.

Janelle Jolley  35:58  
Because she's an artist? Or just because that's the kind of gal she is?

Dan  36:03  
She's a musician, also. She was in the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and she was in the choir. So I think a lot of her gay friends in St. Louis were gay men from the choir.

Janelle Jolley  36:11  
The Catholic choir?

Dan  36:12  
No, this is the orchestra.

Janelle Jolley  36:14  
Oh, like the city orchestra? Like the grand orchestra of St. Louis?

Dan  36:17  
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So a couple of her great friends from then were gay men from the choir. And so she was pretty tapped into HIV/AIDS stuff. Like yeah, so in the 80s and 90s even. My uncle with whom I'm closest with has been married to his husband or with his partner for as long as I can remember. So gay rights stuff has been a pretty big fixture of my worldview for my whole life. And so I haven't heard her talk as much about politics stuff. She certainly cares a lot and we talked about it more this election because, I mean, who the fuck didn't talk politics with this election?

Janelle Jolley  37:03  
You're saying your father was more explicitly political?

Dan  37:06  
Yeah, I mean, he's tapped in MSNBC and has that shit infused into his brain. But she is interested in like- you know, reads about it but is less directly interested in that stuff.

Janelle Jolley  37:16  
Describe your high school experience or your teen years? 'Cause it sounds like those were better times than your preteen years after just moving out here?

Dan  37:30  
Well, pluses and minuses. I definitely felt more comfortable socially. At the same time, it was a high school 30 miles away from where I lived. So I took Caltrain every day.

Janelle Jolley  37:41  

Dan  37:42  
Yeah. And there's a stop there that was literally right at the high school called College Park. And so get off at that stop but the problem with that is, you get back on the train at the end of the day and then you're 30 miles away. And so having a social life outside of school was quite difficult, until I got a car and was able to start socializing with people. And so pretty lonely for the first couple of years, but then I joined a shitload of extracurriculars. That's how I play music. So I was in the band.

Janelle Jolley  38:09  
What'd you play?

Dan  38:10  

Janelle Jolley  38:11  
Okay. Like the symbol? The triangle?

Dan  38:13  
Sometimes, but mostly like marimba and xylophone and shit. You know, I do what needs doing, Janelle.

Janelle Jolley  38:19  
So you joined the band. What else?

Dan  38:23  
I joined the band. I joined Junior Statesman of America. That was nerdy as shit. Which was actually the coolest thing about that is that there were girls there. So there was a dance that they had and they were dancing. I was like, "Fuck yeah, this is great." The one conference I went to, I was in a debate about, I think, the resolution was that "cutting taxes was the best way to stimulate the economy" or some shit.

Janelle Jolley  38:51  
How did young Dan think about that?

Dan  38:54  
Oh, I was against it. And I won.

Janelle Jolley  38:57  

Dan  38:57  
Thank you very much.

Janelle Jolley  38:58  
Okay. Mic drop.

Dan  38:59  
Mic drop. So there's a ton of addiction and alcoholism in my family. Which might also tap into the codependence, 'want to solve all the problems,' stuff.

Janelle Jolley  39:14  
Or that's part of it.

Dan  39:15  
Part of it. And so I was in a- you know MADD, right? For high school, it's called SADD, Students Against Destructive Decisions. And so I would like legit go to middle schools with other SADD students and talk about- Yeah, it's pretty funny. Drug use and drinking and stuff like that.

Janelle Jolley  39:38  
Were you hyper vigilant about that because you are aware of your family history?

Dan  39:43  
Two things. One, family history, and two, my dad was scary with that shit. He was super not okay with us doing that. Maybe because he knew. So it's not his side, it's my mom's side. And so I think he was hyper aware of those issues.

Janelle Jolley  39:59  
The predisposition.

Dan  40:00  
Yeah and so smoking pot or drinking was a terrifying proposition and me being the Goody Two-Shoes that I was, I wasn't about to not do-

Janelle Jolley  40:07  
You didn't step outside the lines on that, at all, as a teenager?

Dan  40:11  
Second semester, senior year of high school, I smoked weed for the first time and drank for the first time.

Janelle Jolley  40:17  
Ah, okay. Were you super nervous about it? Were you like, "Ah, I might be awakening the dragon!"

Dan  40:25  
It was interesting thing. It wasn't a conscious part of my math at that point. And it really wasn't for a long time until I realized that I--I don't drink or smoke anymore. And I realized that I was starting to head down that path. So I'm like seven or eight years sober?

Janelle Jolley  40:42  

Dan  40:43  
Thanks. So I started to realize I was heading down that path and saw a therapist and-

Janelle Jolley  40:52  
Nipped this in the bud?

Dan  40:53  
Yeah, well, maybe it was more of a blossom than a bud.

Janelle Jolley  40:57  
Sure, sure. But you nipped it?

Dan  40:59  
Yeah. I got involved in student government and was class rep for a couple years and then I was student body president. Thank you very much.

Janelle Jolley  41:07  
Is it because you rolled up on bitches like they owed you money?

Dan  41:10  
You goddamn right I did. Goddamn right I did. Somebody's got to run this ship. Jesus Christ! The plane is crashing into a mountain and I'm gonna take control, all right Janelle? Somebody's got to make sure these people have a good time at the party and if it means that some people at the party are gonna have a bad time. Well, that's your own fucking fault.

Janelle Jolley  41:27  
Well I'll be that guy. Does getting involved make all the difference for you?

Dan  41:33  

Janelle Jolley  41:34  
Yeah, yeah.

Dan  41:35  
It was really helpful. I have some pretty introverted tendencies. But I think-

Janelle Jolley  41:40  
Who!? You!?

Dan  41:40  
Yeah, can you believe it?

Janelle Jolley  41:42  
Please. Listen, this is all an act, okay? He looked up the demographics of this show. They don't exist, but let's just walk through here. He's like, "You know what, it's 60% ladies. I'm gonna play it up and see what comes back."

Dan  41:58  
Yeah exactly. Strong silence type.

Janelle Jolley  41:59  
Would you describe yourself in your teen years as kind of the beginnings of a political awakening?

Dan  42:09  

Janelle Jolley  42:10  
In a political awakening to what end?

Dan  42:13  
I fucking hated George Bush. Fuck that fucking guy.

Janelle Jolley  42:16  
Fuck that guy.

Dan  42:17  
I mean, it's so fascinating to hear people talk about like, "Trump's the worst president ever!" No, he's fucking not.

Janelle Jolley  42:21  
No he's not! Not by a mile.

Dan  42:22  
Oh my god. Yeah, Jesus Christ. I mean, did he kill a million people? No. Well, I mean, with COVID. Depends on how you do the math. We're getting there. But all the same, like holy shit, do you remember?

Janelle Jolley  42:33  
That's right. How did you understand at the time, the whole post-9/11 kind of realignment and ensuing Iraq War thing? How do you think you understood that then?

Dan  42:48  
So, I mean, it changed, it changed. So I remember after a piano lesson, my dad picked me up and he said, "They started bombing Iraq." I remember that distinctly. And I remember the feeling in me was a little excitement because "Oh, we're the good guys! And we're gonna go get the bad guys!" Because I was fucking 14 or whatever. And over time, as it just got worse, and then Katrina happened. And it was like, "Holy fucking shit." And seeing the pictures from Katrina. It's like "Those aren't... Is that the U.S.? Is that our country? Like we did that? We can't help people? When we're not helping them?" It was really intense. And I remember more feelings than I do remember thoughts, but I remember just the constant pit in my stomach and anxiety knowing that George Bush was president. I remember that he would never ever- I think the thing that drives me nuts as like somebody who's very justice minded, is he never admitted when he was wrong and he never said he was sorry. I mean, Trump does the same thing. Trump took everything that he learned from Bush and the Bush administration, and turned it into whatever he turned it into. But he never admitted when he was wrong and it fucking drove me nuts. It was such a bad example of leadership. To my eyes, everything that I knew what it meant to be like a good honest person in society was everything that guy was not doing publicly. I fucking hated him. I remember- so I was involved in student government as- you'll love this, too. I was in all boys high school, we didn't have cheerleaders, we had yell leaders. I was a yell leader. And we were unloading this thing from the back of this dude's truck. Just stuff for a game. And he had a bumper sticker on his truck. He was a sophomore in my high school and I was the fucking student body president. And he had a bumper sticker that said, "I'm proud George W. Bush is our president." And I just looked him in the eye. I was like, "Why?"

Janelle Jolley  44:59  
"Bro, you're never getting laid."

Dan  45:01  
Yeah, exactly. And I was just like, "Why?" And he was a little shocked and walked away.

Janelle Jolley  45:06  
Oh he couldn't even answer? He didn't have an answer?

Dan  45:09  
I was a couple years older than him and it probably wasn't a super tactful way for me to go about having that conversation at the time. But I couldn't really help myself.

Janelle Jolley  45:19  
What are some of your fondest memories from being in college, if you have any?

Dan  45:24  
Oh no, I have a lot of very positive memories from college. So I had the drinking and partying thing. But then sophomore year, I got into this volunteer group called 4Boston, which is a service learning group where you were part of a placement and did 4 hours of service a week at that placement. And then you had 1 hour reflection with your fellow volunteers in a group setting each week. And my placement was at the Suffolk County House of Corrections in Boston. And that's when I got super into prison abolition stuff.

Janelle Jolley  45:58  
Why? What did you see? What did you come away thinking? What were the thoughts that developed?

Dan  46:04  
The reason I got into it to start with is I wanted to be doing service work and 4Boston was the most intentional, thoughtful one. It wasn't just like, going to a homeless shelter once a month and serving soup. Which is fucking no shade on that, actually. Super fucking important. But it was like an investment in the community. It wasn't just like coming down from your ivory tower, wants to feed us, make yourself feel better. It was actually seeing the same people, developing relationships, working toward collective liberation. Instead of gifting of myself. And so I looked at the placements and the really popular placements are like children's hospitals, because a lot of the pre-med kids wanted to do that. Or tutoring kids and all that. And that's rad and that's good but I have a pull toward the, I don't know, rough and tumble. I don't know.

Janelle Jolley  46:53  

Dan  46:53  
I don't really know.

Janelle Jolley  46:54  
Yes, you do.

Dan  46:55  
Let me think about it. Let me say "I don't know first." That's part of my process. I worked in restaurants. We didn't talk about that at all, but when I was 15, I started working in restaurants. I was a busboy at this fancy restaurant in Palo Alto called Lavanda. And it kind of just blew my mind. People doing cocaine and talking about sex and like-

Janelle Jolley  46:58  
The patrons or the staff?

Dan  47:22  
Staff. And being super crude and cursing at work. And I was like 15 with braces and I just deeply love these people who don't fit in with what society says is the right way to live your life but who are really deeply loving good people. Maybe because I see that a lot in my family members I've had who have addiction and stuff like that. And one of my personal joys is talking to somebody and getting to know their solid gold center. And I find that to be even more satisfying with people who have a rougher exterior because it takes a little more work, but then when you do find out how amazing that person is, it's so much more satisfying. And I also just felt like it was a badass fucking thing to do. Like, "I go to a fucking prison. Fuck you. You go to like a tutoring center? Great. That's cool. I go to the fucking prison. Yeah. All right. I'm a badass."

Janelle Jolley  48:28  
So your love of the badass came from your job at 15?

Dan  48:33  
I think that's part of it. Yeah, yeah. I guess so. I also grew up in a fancy ass suburb and went to a private Catholic school and all that kind of stuff. So the deviant, the socially unconventional had its appeal to me. And so I felt drawn to it. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So yeah, so I was drawn to it. And also the kids who are in the prison group were just the coolest fucking raddest, raddest people at BC. So I had my friends who I talked about who are working Goldman Sachs, or finance or attorneys and stuff like that. But then I'd met these friends who are people who you would interview on this podcast. Who are just some of the most amazing people in the world.

Janelle Jolley  49:33  
Why are they amazing to you?

Dan  49:37  
My housemates call me out on this a lot, but whenever I talk about somebody I really like and admire, one of the first few words I ever use "smart" or "intelligent." That's certainly a value I have. A lot of the kids who were in this group for one reason or another were some of the few kids at BC who were on full academic scholarships. Part of this program called the Presidential Scholars Program.

Janelle Jolley  50:00  
What did you do after college? What was it like leaving school?

Dan  50:04  
When I graduated school, I went to go work in Alaska with my older brother. I was a dishwasher in a national park. Glacier Bay.

Janelle Jolley  50:13  
Why was that something that you wanted to do?

Dan  50:16  
You've asked me a few times if I knew what I wanted to do when I was in high school or when I was in college. The answer is "fuck no." And that persists.

Janelle Jolley  50:25  
But that's a separate question from going to fucking Alaska and being a dishwasher. So I'm saying why did that seem appealing?

Dan  50:31  
My brother had traveled around a lot after college and seeing the way he lived his life seemed really fucking rad to me.

Janelle Jolley  50:36  
He was kind of nomadic?

Dan  50:38  
Kind of. He got his master scuba diving license in Honduras. He taught English in China. He worked on a farm in Uganda. He worked with some folks in Jordan. He was all over the place. Actually, with one of my housemates now, he worked on her Fulbright project in Kenya building a water reclamation project. Which is started how he's now a water resource engineer. And so yeah, so that seemed rad. I actually had visited him in Alaska when he had been working there a summer or two before and saw that it was awesome and also a good way to make cash. And I didn't have any money and I didn't know what to do. So why not go do this?

Janelle Jolley  51:19  
How long did you do that?

Dan  51:20  
For the summer.

Janelle Jolley  51:22  
Okay, what did you do after that?

Dan  51:24  
Immediately following that, we went to the Midwest where we went back to St. Louis and visited some people who we hadn't seen in years. I went to St. Louis and saw some college roommates. We took the train from Chicago to LA to visit my grandma, who since passed this year. Rest in peace, Grandma. And went to Halloween in West Hollywood. I dressed in drag, got my butt squeezed a lot. That was fun.

Janelle Jolley  51:51  
You must send me a picture from this time.

Dan  51:53  
Okay.  Don't share with anybody though, right?

Janelle Jolley  51:57  
No, I will not.

Dan  51:58  
Yeah, of course not.

Janelle Jolley  52:00  
Did you shave your beard? Were you in heels? And what was the outfit? I need you to paint a picture.

Dan  52:10  
Did not shave my beard. Did wear makeup. Was wearing a dress. Did not wear heels. I can't walk in heels. I do have a distinct memory of standing in line for a porta potty. A guy coming up behind me squeezing my button and telling me I was very pretty though. Reader, just so you know, I'm not pretty. Yeah.

Janelle Jolley  52:30  
But he blushed and he felt pretty.

Dan  52:32  
Yeah, I felt like the belle of the ball. I can understand how a lifetime of that would feel pretty degrading to people who do endure that. But at the moment felt pretty good. Anywho. Then I went and taught English in Spain.

Janelle Jolley  52:50  
For how long?

Dan  52:51  
6 months in the Basque Country.

Janelle Jolley  52:53  
Did you feel rudderless during this time? Or did you feel like early 20s adventurous?

Dan  52:58  
Early 20s adventurous. There were moments of rudderlessness, like when I was waiting for my visa to go to Spain, hanging around my parents house, just fucking farting around. But then I got to Spain and the Basques are the fucking raddest people ever. If you wanna know some fucking rad people, Basques. They're the shit. And so I spent 6 months there teaching English. And by teach English I mean, I went to class and spoke in English with them. I barely did anything. I lived on a farm for a month after that near a town called Irun. And the farm was a community of super fundamentalist Christians/hippies. It was this organization called Twelve Tribes or Doce Tribus. Here comes that Spanish again, you know, it just rolls off the tongue. And they came out of the Seventh Day Adventists and decided to put together intentional communities of people where all aspects of life were- it feels culty, it sounds culty. Well, so I actually don't understand the difference between a religion and a cult. And I've kind of struggled to come up with a good differentiator between the two. They didn't drink Kool Aid and there wasn't a single male figure who was in charge. Except for Jesus. Praise be. And I was very happy there. People were loving.

Janelle Jolley  54:26  
What did you do with this-?

Dan  54:27  
I worked on the farm.

Janelle Jolley  54:28  
Like as a farmhand?

Dan  54:29  
Manual labor. Yeah, manual labor. So I broke up a boulder with a sledgehammer one time or I planted tomatoes or I collected potato bugs and killed them.

Janelle Jolley  54:41  
How long did you live among the people on this-?

Dan  54:43  
A month.

Janelle Jolley  54:45  
Oh okay, just a month.

Dan  54:46  
It was pretty cool.

Janelle Jolley  54:47  
After you were done teaching or while?

Dan  54:49  
After I was done. Because after that, then I was traveling to Southeast Asia with a friend of mine from college. We ended up dating for like a month. We went to Vietnam and Laos for a month. I swung back around. I lived in Michigan, where my manager from Alaska was and had a job for me. I was totally broke and so I went there and waited tables on Mackinac Island, Michigan.

Janelle Jolley  55:10  
That sounds terrible.

Dan  55:11  
It's pure Americana tourism.There are no cars allowed on the island. There are fudge shops and novelty t-shirt shops. And it was terrible because Michigan was one of those states that, at least at the time, was legally allowed to pay you below minimum wage if it was a tipped position. So I made $2.60 an hour. This was in 2010. Mind you, folks, this still exists in your United States of America. So I made $2.60 an hour before tips and if I didn't make, I think the actual minimum wage, something like $8.50, if I didn't make that with tips then I had to go to HR and request that they bump up my pay.

Janelle Jolley  55:46  
Wow. How long did you do that?

Dan  55:49  
Just for a couple months to recap some money and figure out what the fuck I was doing next.

Janelle Jolley  55:52  
How old were you at this point in Michigan?

Dan  55:58  
22? You know that scene in the first Christian Bale Batman movie where he goes to the mountains to learn his own martial art shit? Similar to that, except this was me getting sober.

Janelle Jolley  56:10  
Ah. While you were back home?

Dan  56:13  
When I switched from Simply Hired to Tune In as a rep, but right about that time when I stopped drinking and smoking, and started going to therapy every week. And my principle focus was like, "Okay, I have a steady job. That gives me good health insurance and housing." It's like mental health, emotional well-being. All that kind of stuff was the work to be done at that moment. Had to get my mind right.

Janelle Jolley  56:38  
If you're comfortable saying, what was the like 'Moses in the burning bushes'? What was the thing like, "Whoa, okay, this needs some attention."

Dan  56:49  
It was my birthday, 8 years ago and I'd made plans to hang out with some friends who were coming from the South Bay. And then my uncle called me and invited me to lunch and I was like, "Oh, great. Let's have lunch." So, went over and had lunch. My family came up and we had a lovely lunch in--my uncle at the time had an apartment over by the Ferry Building. And had a lovely lunch and walked around. Then he's like, "Okay, you come back for dinner, we got a cake for you and everything." And I was like, "Oh, but I made plans for the evening. I wasn't planning to-." "Oh," he's like, "Oh, you can just cancel them." I was like, "I don't fucking cancel plans on people normally and also these people were driving like an hour to hang out with me on my birthday." So I was like, "I can't cancel them," and he got upset with me. And I was just like all twisted up. And then I ended up leaving and I went to go hang out with my friends and I was smoking weed like nobody's business trying to make myself feel better. But that was just, at that point, having the anxious effect. And I just remember lying in my bed that night, my eyes wide, heart beating out of my chest. Just like "This is not how I should be feeling," and kind of realizing objectively: I've got a good well paying job. I have a nice apartment in one of the more desirable cities in the country. I have a loving family. I have good friends. And I feel like absolute horseshit. Objectively, my life is good. Subjectively, my life feels fucking terrible.

Janelle Jolley  58:21  
And there's room for betterment?

Dan  58:23  
There's something off. And so I had had this contact information for a therapist. So I sent him an email. Went in for my first session. Told him everything. And he was like, "Well, we can do a lot of things to make you feel better, but the first thing you can do is to get sober." And I was like, "Goddamnit," because I knew that's what he was gonna say. I had moments with smoking pot where I would, beforehand, be bringing the pipe to my lips. Like "Why am I doing this? Why am I doing this? Why am I doing this? Why am I-," then smoke it and forget why. And sit there and have fantasies about the kind of life I wanted to lead, like having a garden or being in a relationship or getting in shape. I play piano and I hadn't played piano for a year. All these things that depressed people do. Yeah, I think I was really struggling with a lot of things. One of them, having this sense of wanting to live a special blessed life. And suddenly I'm working an office job in Silicon Valley. And like, "Is that my life?" I've been traveling around doing all this rad shit. And then, this is what it is? Talking about the agnostic God piece, it was around then, in combination with both smoking a ton of pot and having an existential crisis. And this one video, which is really fun, highly recommend watching it on YouTube, which it basically like starts looking at a woman who's lying down in a field and it zooms out. So you see all of Earth and it zooms out so you see the solar system, then it zooms out so you see the galaxy. Then it keeps zooming out all the way to the edge of the known universe. And I saw that and I was just like, "How The fuck can God be a real fucking thing?" Like, "Who the fuck can see this and think that God exists?" Like, "Fuck you. Come on. That's some bullshit." I understand if it's like 16th century and the entire world was everything you know and the sun is a messy bitch who causes drama or whatever. But like, "If that's all it is...?" But, I don't know, it was tough to believe in God seeing that video, then being at that point in my life when I was both depressed and anxious and having an existential crisis altogether. So all that combined was kind of that moment. Like 'come to Jesus' moment.

Janelle Jolley  1:00:44  
And these are 'come away from Jesus' moments.

Dan  1:00:47  
There you go.

Janelle Jolley  1:00:48  
But this is all happening around the time where you started to work as a quote, "professional?"

Dan  1:00:53  
You got it.

Janelle Jolley  1:00:55  
Interesting. Just so you all know, I will not rest until I find evidence of that night that Dan was in drag. All right. We're back tomorrow with Captain No Pants here, being raked over the coals by yours truly. See you soon.

Part 2 Transcript

Janelle Jolley  0:20  
Welcome back to What's Left To Do. I'm your host Janelle. So we're picking back up on Part Two with Dan, where we talk through quite a bit, including his experience canvassing in Georgia with SURJ in 2020. And of course, his fantasies about inhabiting a future where we coexist with the environment in a mutually respectful way.

Dan  1:00  
There was this misconception in my head, which I still kind of struggle through, which is that I saw this my father a lot, who his entire life was his family and his job was that if you have fulfilling work, that's enough. Which is not necessarily the case. For some people, maybe I don't know. But for me, it was a lot of therapy was both working on myself and also learning that this is my one life- what do you want to do?

Janelle Jolley  1:29  
That's right. You became a journeyman at Tune In you worked your way up from entry level-ish to like a part of the executive team. You decided during that time you were- there was a lot going on with your life- you were getting sober. You were rediscovering yourself as a sober person, and, you know, finding like what are the things that you like in life, like gardening and playing piano? And you know, all these things and kind of going through this sort of existential...

Dan  2:03  

Janelle Jolley  2:03  
Yeah, rea- thank you. I've got the words Dan, thanks. This existential-

Dan  2:09  
I'm gonna mansplain my own journey, thank you. That's a good summary. There's one other piece, we're sitting next to the house that I live in. I have a memory that shortly after I left Tune In, I think that there's- I think, part of the reason that it was hard to leave or part of the reason I didn't leave sooner is that it's really hard to acknowledge one's role in the capitalist system, so long as you're a part of it.

Janelle Jolley  2:42  
Say more my brother.

Dan  2:45  
I, at least, so I was like, lying on my carpet up there just like having the kind of freewheeling thoughts that you can have when you don't have a job. And I was just laying there thinking about stuff and kind of like, came to the realization that capitalism is the root and vehicle of climate change.

Janelle Jolley  3:02  
That's going in the dramatic reenactment how you used to bunny people about the environment,

Dan  3:08  
Root and vehicle of climate change, and I think that at least for myself, you've touched on how I can be self critical. I don't know that my-

Janelle Jolley  3:16  
I don't think you're self critical. I think that you- I think you are self diminishing, and it's not as- you're not, you don't acknowledge yourself in the way you should.

Dan  3:30  
So I don't know that I could have survived acknowledging my full complicity in the damage that capitalism had wrought. So long as I was a part of it.

Janelle Jolley  3:48  
We're gonna double click on that. Tell me what you mean, because you're- you've got things jumbled in a knot. Go ahead, tell me what you mean. We'll walk through it.

Dan  3:59  
Yeah, after I left Tune In, I was able to think about all the ways in which working for a purely for profit company or organization within a capitalist system to me results in so much destruction, so much extraction. And I feel like so long as I was there, I didn't examine it or was unable to examine it. Because if I do-

Janelle Jolley  4:31  
You weren't able to examine your company's role or your role as a worker, or both?

Dan  4:41  
Both. Like the fact that like, the whole part- by participating in the system, you enable the system, I feel like. I don't know if that's true or not.

Janelle Jolley  4:49  
No, it's not true.

Dan  4:50  
Yeah, it felt that way to me. That was the feeling that I had

Janelle Jolley  4:55  
I gotcha. Okay.

Dan  4:57  
I'm nothing of that cartoon of like the fucking serfs or whatever, you know, what cartoon I'm talking about, like "Capitalism is bad, we should improve it somewhat," then like the other guy bumps out of the well and is like, "Haha, and yet you participate in it?"

Janelle Jolley  5:12  
Well, we don't have a choice though. That's what I want to get to but yeah, go ahead. But at the time-

Dan  5:17  
Well, at the time that I was receiving government assistance and not actually working, I felt...I felt apart from it.

Janelle Jolley  5:24  
Hmm. Why?

Dan  5:28  
Because I didn't have a job. I wasn't going to work. I wasn't the-  I mean, like, a lot of my job was working on revenue stuff. And I just, like, couldn't stop thinking about money and trying to get the most money out of it.

Janelle Jolley  5:36  
I see, I see. So that was the part that you felt unsettled about only after leaving, like when you when you reflected on it? I see what you're saying. Okay. Describe your experience volunteering and were there any revelations? Were there any revelatory experiences that you experienced during or-

Dan  6:03  
About myself or just learning about other stuff?

Janelle Jolley  6:05  
However you want to answer that.

Dan  6:06  
Well, it was fun when I got there, because like I- well, I don't know if fun is the right word. I came with my own sense of like, what I'm capable of doing and what I'm good at. And I walked in, and this is before there was the Oakland office. So like, those staffers were still there. And I was like, "Hey, like, I just, I'm here. I'm like, down to do anything y'all need doing. I'm going to come in every day. And I just want you to know that, like, I'm down to do whatever you need." And they're like, "Great. Can you make phone calls?" And I was like, "Yeah, totally. I just want you to know, like, I can do like anything you want me to do. Like I have experienced doing people management or like data stuff or whatever." And they're, like, "Great, can you make phone calls?" And my ego is just like, "Oh." And so then I sat down and made some phone calls. And then another volunteer came in and Alex, Alex White, he was like, "Hey, can you help train this person up?" And I was like, "Great!" And so then I helped them make phone calls. At the end of the day, I like, talk to Alex, I was like, "Hey, Alex, this was great, thanks. Just wanna let you know, I'll be in tomorrow. I can do anything. Like, if you need work done at home, I can bring my computer, I can do whatever." He's like, "Great, great, sounds good." And kind of like, moved on with his day. Because I think a lot of what the staffers deal with is like these people who just come in once or whatever and like, also dealt with like a lot of people who were kind of in their own world. And so the lesson I learned is just like, when least with that as like, A: They're only gonna come to depend on you if you come in like every single day and actually demonstrate that you're not just some person with good intentions. And also that it doesn't matter who the fuck you are. Literally, the most effective thing you can do is go fucking talk to people. Like, that's it. It doesn't matter- like I've had- since I've gotten really into politics this year, I've had really gifted, intelligent, highly educated, professionally accomplished, people reach out to me being like, "Hey, I want to get involved. Like, what can I do?" Like, "Can you make phone calls?"

Janelle Jolley  8:00  
Yeah, that's right.

Dan  8:03  
And they're like, "Well, I think I could be really good at this thing." It's like, "Have you knock on doors before?"

Janelle Jolley  8:09  
Yeah, that's right.

Dan  8:09  
Like, you should go knock on doors. That's, that's it. That's the meat and potatoes.

Janelle Jolley  8:16  
Why is that the meat and potatoes? Well, how do you?- How did you come to understand that as the meat and potatoes?

Dan  8:22  
The first bit was not practical experience, but with conversation with Faison, who-

Janelle Jolley  8:26  
No, what I'm asking you is, what is your takeaway of why? Why that is the thing that you cannot avoid doing? The talking to people the pressing of the flesh?

Dan  8:37  
Oh, well, I mean, now you're getting to like the...this is the lesson that I keep learning over the last couple years of my life, which is that you can have this vision for the way you want the world to be and you can shout out and stomp your feet and try and pull everyone along with you into the direction you want to go. But the only way you're going to go anywhere remotely forward, is if you all move forward together. And the only way you're going to move forward together, is if you are also open to listening and being pulled along in the direction with the people you're talking to.

Janelle Jolley  9:23  
Talking to people in real life, not just online or whatever. How does that get incorporated into any future vision or vision of a future that you hope to be a part of creating? Like, what does that- how do you take that in and think about it going forward?

Dan  9:44  
I am an optimist, and I love people. I really, really love people. Like, a lot. It really fucking bums me out when people say like, "Oh yeah, I hate people. People are the worst, aren't they?" It's just like fucking- oh God, I have no patience for it.

Janelle Jolley  9:59  
Hmm. Why?

Dan  10:01  
Because I think it's lazy. And it's like, you know, we've only got one another.

Janelle Jolley  10:10  
It's lazy. And it's not true.

Dan  10:11  
Yeah, it's so frustrating to me. And maybe that is a defense mechanism born of trauma and more power to you on your own journey as you explore that. But like, if you close yourself off to intimacy with others, then you're gonna live a fucking dark life.

Janelle Jolley  10:27  
After Biden got the nomination, which is completely absurd, I will never-

Dan  10:30  
We'll call him Robin. He's Robin.

Janelle Jolley  10:32  
Yeah, after Robin got the nomination, you- even though you're a Bernie person, you know, you pulled up stakes and went to Georgia to you know, canvass and help try and like, turn Georgia blue, which, you know, you were a part of doing. So, in a way, even though annoying people like me would be like, "Why would you do that for him?" You decide- you thought that that was a worthy endeavor and you stayed there through the special election, I think, huh?

Dan  11:02  
More or less, right. So I- after Bernie dropped some friends of mine here who are actually from my Burning Man camp, we decided before-

Janelle Jolley  11:12  
Of course you're a Burner! I should have assumed that.

Dan  11:14  
Of course I am. From before the election, before even Bernie, we had agreed that we weren't going to go to Burning Man this past year that we were going to instead put our energy towards helping whoever the nominee was, beat Trump.

Janelle Jolley  11:28  
Whoever that person was. Ok.

Dan  11:29  
Yeah, and also to try and flip the senate if we could. And so we started an organization called 30 Friends. And we did what we call creative campaign support for on the ground progressive organizations in swing states. So we worked with Our Wisconsin Revolution, we worked with Field Team 6, which is doing progressive voter registration, specifically, folks who have been purged from the rolls. We worked with this organization, which is my favorite organization, just called SURJ, which stands for Showing Up for Racial Justice. I am in an old, deep, deep love affair with SURJ. SURJ is an organization of mostly white people who do anti racist work in white communities. And oh, my goodness gracious.

Janelle Jolley  12:13  
What does that mean?

Dan  12:14  
What does that mean? It means listening with empathy.

Janelle Jolley  12:18  
To white people.

Dan  12:19  
Goddamn. Right.

Janelle Jolley  12:20  

Dan  12:20  
And white people doing this work. I think there's been like a ton of different threads throughout the uprisings and stuff like that in the past year. And one of them that's been a really interesting is like, I've heard from a lot of black folks who really like feel resentment, that they feel like they're expected to explain to white people why like, racism is bad.

Janelle Jolley  12:43  
You heard this from real black people in your life? Or just from the internet? The ambient kind of-

Dan  12:48  
Probably the internet. Thank you for clarifying that. And so it'd been interesting for me to think about this stuff. Like what as like, a white dude, is my role in doing anti racist work, because I want to be a part of it. But like, I'm not gonna occupy or even try to occupy a leadership position in a lot of these organizations because like, it doesn't make any fucking sense.

Janelle Jolley  13:10  
Does it not? Why does it not make sense?

Dan  13:14  
Because I'm not black.

Janelle Jolley  13:15  
So that means you cannot hold any leadership position in an organization with black people?

Dan  13:20  
No, in like Black Lives Matter? It just it feels incongruous to me.

Janelle Jolley  13:25  
Because you're white?

Dan  13:26  
Yeah. Does that not feel weird to you?

Janelle Jolley  13:28  
No. Okay, go ahead.

Dan  13:32  
Part of the reason I dug SURJ is because it felt like a natural fit to me that racism, specifically, anti black racism, and white supremacy was built in the white community, and- you don't agree with that either.

Janelle Jolley  13:45  
Um, I's not what we...go ahead, go ahead. Well, we might get there. Go ahead.

Dan  13:53  
Okay. And so it felt like, so much of this problem exists in the white community, most of the problem exists in the white community.

Janelle Jolley  14:01  
But are you- do you- okay, so we're here now, but do you think that this problem, these problems, do these problems have any antecedents that are economic in particular? Like, I...the net that I have is that I think a lot of people who mean well, and I include you. You mean well and you're very earnest in your anti racist articulation of, you know, uh, you know, your articulation of a society that is anti racist. And I think you are genuine. I think you're authentic in that. But the way I I hear it discussed is that this thing- this racism, white supremacy exists independent of its genesis, which is capitalism, you understand, I'm saying? So I'm saying-

Dan  14:55  
I definitely don't mean to imply that.

Janelle Jolley  14:57  
Okay. So I'm misshearing. Okay.

Dan  15:01  
We just haven't got there yet.

Janelle Jolley  15:02  
Gotcha. Okay.

Dan  15:03  
My understanding of where racism, white supremacy comes from reading The New Jim Crow, and how she talks a lot about how white supremacy was a creation of the ruling class specifically to keep the white working class down and happy with their lot, so long as they had white supremacy to hold over enslaved people. Does that feel real? Okay.  And so yeah, I don't think that it is apart from capitalism.

Janelle Jolley  15:36  
But that still doesn't answer my question. That's still I'm still gonna pressure on this. So if there were a mixed race organization, be it Black Lives Matter or whatever. I don't know. But if there were a mixed race organization, not one that was just purely, quote, "white people doing the work," I see that phrase a lot. That is a little weird for me, but you still wouldn't feel that it was appropriate for you to take a leadership position if you were committed to doing the work alongside other people equally. Not as their, you know, not as their, you know, white savior, or you know, boss, but, but as a colleague, as a comrade?

Dan  16:12  
I feel like at the time, no, because I had no experience doing the work whatsoever. So it was both an experience and a demographic thing. I feel like with time, after having done this work more then I might feel more comfortable doing it.

Janelle Jolley  16:26  
Okay. But I still hear some, some hesitance or some easiness, about you being white in these spaces.

Dan  16:32  
Yeah. I guess what I am afraid of doing is occupying a space that should otherwise be occupied by a person of color.

Janelle Jolley  16:42  
What does that mean? And why does that- what does that mean? Tell me what that means? Is it because only-  go ahead. I don't want to-  

Dan  16:51  
Can you finish your question?

Janelle Jolley  16:54  
Is that because you think that only people of color can understand and therefore institute the work that needs to be done that is most effective? Is that what you're saying? Is that what you mean?

Dan  17:14  
No. Oh, maybe my brain is just rotted by Twitter?

Janelle Jolley  17:20  
It absolutely is. But I'm trying to understand it.

Dan  17:24  
Yeah. Just that I, maybe this is only on the internet. But I have heard, and I'm self conscious about being a white man who feels like he gets to be a leader, just because he's a white man, or inserts himself into conversations as an authority, when there are people who are better authorities than him. But you know, because white men are raised in our society to talk authoritatively on subjects or I don't know, feel entitled to those positions of power. I feel reluctant to step into them for all those reasons, especially when I don't have any expertise in it. I mean, like, I don't have to tell you that COVID has been a difficult time. And I think there's a lot of stuff that like we talk about it being difficult. But the fact that like, we're in a global pandemic that, you know, is showing us how all of our systems and structures either like, don't work or never did. We've, we're in the middle of a racial uprising. Both the Black Lives Matter uprising, and also the white supremacist uprising. And we're seeing so much of this stuff. And we're just like, we're also at this time in human history, where we have access to information at an unprecedented amount, and we can't leave our houses. So we're just fucking tapped into the Borg all the time. And so the amount of anxiety and stress that all of us are holding is, I really think at least for my generation, unprecedented. I can't speak for older generations who have been through maybe more difficult things. I wasn't involved with, but I was in love with the Occupy movement.

Janelle Jolley  19:05  

Dan  19:06  
I feel like the thing that is evil in our society is not individual people, but is the systems and structures and the 1% of the top who enforce them for their own benefits. And Occupy articulated that in such a fucking simple way to me that for the first time, I had an aha moment of the 99%. Yeah, it's all of us. Fuck you. Yeah, it's my cousin in fucking Ohio, who shoots deer with a shotgun. And it's like my friends in San Francisco who go to Burning Man, it's all of us against those fucking dipshits who are on Wall Street drinking champagne laughing at the Occupy protesters. Like, that clarified it to me. And then Bernie, used that same language. And it was like, "Oh, this is so clear." Like, I'm looking at, you know, we talked about 2008 and seeing the financial struggles my parents had, and like, you know, my parents had to sell my childhood home at the bottom of the market because they were out of money. And it was just like, a really rough time. And then just knowing that there are these people whose money just compounds and compounds and compounds and like, you know, the Bezos' and all those fucks just being so enormously wealthy and then not giving a shit about anybody else. And it was like, "Oh, this is the enemy it's so clear!"

Janelle Jolley  20:10  
You weren't even seduced- because you racialize and gender yourself- but you as a white man, you as a cishet white man, you weren't even seduced into- for a moment- into this like, "Nah, I'm gonna...I could be a Besos." Like, "I'm not you know, I don't really have to identify with this 99% thing. I'm, you know, things are a little tight right now but I'll get there." You weren't even-

Dan  20:37  
Absolutely not. Because I think the difference is like, the difference between being- having like a comfortable lifestyle and being a Besos is- they're different universes. It's like, yeah, I could conceivably in a career in tech make millions of dollars. And I'm still so much closer to a person who is unhoused out on the street than I am to Jeff Bezos.

Janelle Jolley  20:59  
Ah! Mm hmm.

Dan  21:01  
And so the idea that- no, no, I don't want to be a fucking- I think being a billionaire, like Bernie says is a moral failing. The fact that you have acquired and accumulated that much wealth. The way I think about it is like if you have a warehouse that's just full of a billion dollars worth of food, and there are people starving and you're just holding on to that food? You're a bad person. Unequivocally. So there are no good billionaires.

Janelle Jolley  21:23  
Even though-

Dan  21:24  
Bill Gates can fucking suck it.

Janelle Jolley  21:29  
Hope you heard that Mr. Gates. But to use that, to use that analogy, even though that I'm not- walk with me here- even though that warehouse full of a billion dollars worth of food, you could use the profits from that to donate to a shelter? Like you- could you not, quote, "do some good" with the money you make? Is that not- is that not a seductive proposition for you?

Dan  21:56  
You could alleviate some pain, I don't know that you'd be doing good. But so long as the systems that you are deeply complicit in upholding, are the ones causing that pain. I mean, you can't fucking hit somebody over the head with a lead pipe and then give them Tylenol and say you're doing good. So-

Janelle Jolley  22:10  
Sure sure. But you're saying- I'm being cheeky, but I say oh, that's that you weren't even- you were at a point in 2016 where you were able to identify or have a have a conception of some sort of like class interest.

Dan  22:28  

Janelle Jolley  22:28  
Okay. And Bernie represented that for you in 2016.

Dan  22:31  

Janelle Jolley  22:31  
Though, after he got wrapped. But you did, you did what you thought you needed to do and you campaigned for Hillary. Did you think that she was gonna win? I think, I mean, I think everyone, whether or not you fucking were, I think everybody thought she was going to win. I think everyone thought that was a foregone conclusion. Or did you have some doubts?

Dan  22:49  
I'm not going to act like I knew what was gonna happen. I thought she was gonna win.

Janelle Jolley  22:55  
Okay. And when she didn't, what was your view of that?

Dan  23:00  
I was in an election watch party with a bunch of these neolib, you know, Washington aspirants firing people. And I walked across the street and got a pint of Chocolate Therapy of Ben and Jerry's. And I came back and-

Janelle Jolley  23:14  
Was that difficult? In that moment- was the election of 2016- was that the most challenging moment for your sobriety? I just thought about that.

Dan  23:21  
No, it was not.

Janelle Jolley  23:22  
Oh, okay. Okay. It didn't send you way into a tailspin.

Dan  23:25  
No different things have been way more challenging.

Janelle Jolley  23:27  
Gotcha. Gotcha. Okay.

Dan  23:30  
Different things have been way more challenging. Going through a breakup.

Janelle Jolley  23:33  

Dan  23:34  
Way more challenging. Yeah, that was just, that wasn't challenging. It's weird. There are some things that are super- being alone, being depressed. But like being around other people who are all really upset, like being with people? No, that's not.

Janelle Jolley  23:52  
So you went across the street and got chocolate ice cream?

Dan  23:54  
Yeah, I started eating out of the pint and they're like, "Do you want me to get you a bowl? Can you get you a bowl?" And I was like, "Dude. Who gives a shit?" Like, they were all slightly aghast that I was eating out of the pint and I was like, these are not my people.

Janelle Jolley  24:06  
No! Fuck no.

Dan  24:09  
And then we went home that night and I remember just like my girlfriend was crying and like, we were just lying in bed, shell shocked. And I think I remember talking with some people at the time, who were just like, "Why are you being so dramatic about it? Like, it's not that big a deal." And I know that like a lot of people maybe like your friends or people who listen to this or like, you know, the establishment's the establishment and whether or not it's Trump or Hillary, like, it's all the same. It is really bad for still a lot of people but also like, man, Trump made a lot of things really fucking bad. And all of the deaths. So many of the deaths we've seen from COVID, I think are, like directly related to his administration. And I've just, like, saw that kind of shit coming down the pike and was breathing in that moment.

Janelle Jolley  24:52  
Did you think 2020 was going to go different in terms of the rat fuckery than 2016?

Dan  24:58  
Yeah, I thought he was gonna win.

Janelle Jolley  24:59  
Mm hmm. And when it- when, you know, everything happened, Night of the Long Knives, blah, blah, blah, like how did you understand post-South Carolina, or South Carolina and beyond, how did you understand what was going on? Or how did you process it?

Dan  25:14  
How did I process it? My understanding is that Biden had gotten millions and millions of dollars of free advertising and cable news. And Bernie had gotten millions and millions of dollars of free bad advertising on cable news, or bad press.

Janelle Jolley  25:28  
Post-South Carolina?

Dan  25:30  
Before even, just the whole fucking time. My dad, who I had to- he was into, my dad was into, Kamala. I eventually talked him into being a Bernie supporter. And he would call me, he'd be like, "Damn, you know, I gotta tell you, these folks on MSNBC really don't like Bernie." And again, like he had MSNBC injected into his veins, he's like, a, he loves that shit. He was like, "They just, they're saying some outrageous stuff about him. Like, why do they not like him so much. It's out of control. And even Rachel Maddow, who's great, you know, she's saying all this stuff." And I was just like, "Yeah, dad. Like, that's kind of the deal. They've got these vested interests in things persisting in a lot of the ways that they are. And Bernie is challenging that." And I think it's tough for a lot of people to come to terms with that, because it feels like a conspiracy theory. Maybe I don't understand what this means, again, I'm not up on the theory shit, but like manufacturing consent. Is that the right-

Janelle Jolley  26:33  
Yes, that's the right term. You don't have to tiptoe around it. Yes, that's exactly-

Dan  26:37  
Because I've never read any of this. It's all learned from Twitter. And so far in this conversation most of my Twitter knowledge has gotten me in trouble.

Janelle Jolley  26:43  
That's correct. And will continue to do so.  

Dan  26:43  
So that's why I'm checking in. And so manufacturing consent, I feel like having that have that term and have it be a real thing that is defined makes it real for a lot of people like you and me, but not having it defined and saying it's just the media is against him makes it feel like a conspiracy theory. And so I think it's hard to convince people of that otherwise. So it was the media. And then also, it was like, you know, Bill Clinton said it at John Lewis's funeral right? There, you know, sits senator Clyburn, who with just a stroke of his pen, ended the family feud that we had going on.

Janelle Jolley  27:26  
Goddamn, I can't stand Clyburn. But, uh-huh-

Dan  27:28  
Yeah, and so everybody fucking knew. I mean, like it's out in the open. It's out in the open. So there's no conspiracy theory. It's like, the Democratic establishment decided that Bernie was not good. Biden was the one get rid of Bernie, despite the fact that he had this enormous mass of people behind him. And I gotta admit, I mean, maybe you can convince me otherwise here, but I do have some resentment for some of the way the Bernie campaign was run in states, not the first few states.

Janelle Jolley  27:55  
100%. Why do you think I would be upset about- why do you think I would take you to task about that?

Dan  27:59  
Cuz I don't know enough about it to speak authoritatively. And maybe I'm being resentful unfairly.

Janelle Jolley  28:04  
No, there's a lot of resentment to focus toward senator Sanders and the campaign. So what are some of your-

Dan  28:11  
It was super frustrating to have done all this work in California and know that this work works. Know that all these people are committed to it, know that those people exist, and that if you do the work, then we can connect with people and we can work together to go where we want to go. And to know that they just didn't do that work. And they failed in the other states.

Janelle Jolley  28:27  
You mean after California?

Dan  28:29  
Yeah. After California. The pandemic also fucked us. And so that can't go unacknowledged, and also the Biden campaign's like willingness to throw memaw and pepaw to the wolves of Coronavirus to go vote in the primary.

Janelle Jolley  28:42  
That's right. I mean, I'm of two minds about that. I don't know how to disambiguate the role that the unknown uncertainty of the pandemic had, you know, being new and like, what do we do? And yeah, I don't know how much of a role- I think it was pretty big- but I don't know how much of a role that played in things post Super Tuesday. And so I don't know how to separate that. It was pretty clear that the authoritarian nature of the Democratic Party voters was established post-South Carolina, when there was a 30 point swing over the weekend for Biden, that, you know, results-  now granted, they were still kind of tied after Super Tuesday because Bernie won California and Colorado and lost Texas by hair. But that tone had already been set going forward. So it's like, I think there are several different factors. And so I don't know how much to attribute to them not- I don't know if it was deliberate that they didn't insist on the same organizing operation post-Super Tuesday or if they had a skeleton of that in place but the pandemic disrupted that? I don't know. I don't know. But-

Dan  30:08  
I just know that I felt like I was part of a movement of people and I'd done my part and it had worked. And it felt like other people's parts didn't work and it felt like being part of a group project and somebody dropped the ball.

Janelle Jolley  30:19  
I see. You wanted to spend your time in Georgia canvassing for the general and for the special election. What was the calculation there? What was that experience like?

Dan  30:35  
The same sort of calculation that I had made when I was assigned to work on the Bernie campaign, which is like, what is the highest leverage thing I can spend my time doing to help in the fight against climate change. And if the Senate Republicans had control of the Senate, then no substantive climate change legislation is going to be passed, period. And the only way that anything can get passed, period, is if we have a Democratic majority. Maybe something won't be passed. But one is a zero. And the other is a chance. We're canvassing like only white people in the suburbs or rural areas in Georgia.

Janelle Jolley  31:10  
Okay. Because SURJ is the white organization?

Dan  31:13  
Yeah. I mean, there are plenty of other organizations trying to hit up the inner city Black vote. SURJ was going to rural white areas, and talking to middle class white voters.

Janelle Jolley  31:22  
And what was the reception that you got doing that?

Dan  31:30  
So I'll tell you what the pitch was, and I'll tell you what the reception was. Is that okay?Okay, great. So the pitch was first just to get out the vote pitch like, hey, just want to figure out if the person is Democrat leaning. So I would say like, "Hey, I'm with this racial justice organization, going around and talking with people about how they felt about Georgia going blue. So how'd you feel?" And if they say, like, "I think it was bullshit and is still election," I'd be like, "Thank you very much. Have a lovely day."

Janelle Jolley  31:56  
So this is after the general?

Dan  31:58  
This is after the general. For the general I did just, like, Get Out The Vote stuff in the city of Atlanta with the Democratic Party, which was super poorly, fucking organized and was deeply frustrating to me. So then, if they were stoked, and I was like, "Okay, great. I was excited about it, too. How do you feel about the runoff coming up? Are you planning on voting? Great. You gotta vote plan?" Put together the vote plan with them. And then, "Like I said, I'm with this racial justice organization, we go around talking with white people about issues of racism and white supremacy. We do things like this. But we also do things where we try and organize white folks to pressure lawmakers to put anti-racist legislation through like getting rid of cash bail, and stuff like that. Or we also do educational things like-  funny that you brought up yelling at your racist uncle, but they actually have a seminar on how to talk to your racist uncle at the Thanksgiving dinner table. And so we teach people how to have those conversations and do this kind of work. And so wondering if you want to get involved with that?" So for me, that part felt really uncomplicated and really good. And like basically knitting together a community of progressive people in the south, For a lot of reasons- one, I think the Democratic Party has completely abandoned middle class people in favor of the fucking whatever, you know. And so it felt really good to talk to a lot of folks who had felt abandoned by both parties who might have more progressive politics but are deeply susceptible to a populist movement.  And so felt really good to like- a lot of these people would open up the door and I'd ask them how they felt about Georgia turning blue. And they'd look out their door then look to the side and look to the other side and be like, "It was great." Because we had people who said- they would canvass people- and people would point across the street and like, "That guy's a kkk member" And, like, no fucking joke, you know, it's rural Georgia. And so it felt really good to, as a coastal elite, go to this place and not be telling them what to do, but instead connecting them with community in their area so they can do the necessary work in their area moving forward. So it felt really good. The Get Out The Vote thing- Ossoff is a nothing. Warnock seems like a pretty cool dude, I like the fact that he was arrested in the Capitol. Yeah, whatever, great, doesn't matter. Purely numbers. That's all I give a shit-

Janelle Jolley  34:17  
Ossoff is a nothing, I like that.

Dan  34:18  
Ossoff is a fucking nothing.

Janelle Jolley  34:20  
But is it that what made it worthwhile is not necessarily for the candidates that we're promoting but this was the field of play or the true benefit here was not for the candidates but was for connecting people who have not been organized or plugged into organizations that could, you know, channel their kind of popular sensibilities into something productive long term. Like, that was it.

Dan  34:53  

Janelle Jolley  34:53  
Not because you were an Ossoff fanboy?

Dan  34:55  
No, not at all. The first reason I went was for climate change, for hopefully getting something through. The reason I was fired up about it and the reason I chose to canvas with the organization I did, it'd been way easier to canvas in inner city Atlanta. You get like a little block and you can walk to every single fucking apartment. But with this I was driving long ass distances to one person in a cul de sac who's Democrat. But I believed in it for the reasons that I talked about. Long term work in this country is all of us walking together in a direction that we decide.

Janelle Jolley  35:29  
That's right. And you can't- in order to do that you can't get around pressing the flesh, being in front of someone, talking with someone with an open mind.

Dan  35:39  
That's it.

Janelle Jolley  35:39  
I understand. So I retract my sneering at you for being in Georgia because I get it now. Okay, I gotcha. I gotcha.

Dan  35:49  
And like, there were so many good conversations, because there are a lot of people- first of all, canvassing during a pandemic, highly recommended. Because these people are lonely.

Janelle Jolley  36:01  
Yeah, that's right.

Dan  36:02  
And so you go there with an N95 on, maybe a face shield, you got your hand sanitizer. You'd knock on the door, sanitize, step back 10 feet, then talk. But a lot of people haven't talked to anybody and it's the fucking South, man.

Janelle Jolley  36:13  
Do you think that- to this point that you're making- do you think Democrats made a terrible blunder during the general to foreclose on a ground game?

Dan  36:23  
100%. To be fair, there's a lot of weirdness with COVID and not understanding how transmittable it is, whether or not it's appropriate to even knock on somebody's door, all that kinds of shit. Once we learned that, it was pretty fucking safe outside wearing a mask. That it's like, okay, I'm gonna stand 10 feet back for this buddy wearing an N95 and a face shield. We're not gonna- and got tested every single week that I was there. You know, some of the quote unquote reddest states in the nation are not red. They're heavily gerrymandered, disenfranchised, blue states. I mean, Mississippi is the blackest state in the country. It's not a fucking red state. Like, come on now.

Janelle Jolley  37:03  
Yeah. How do we navigate? How do we subvert? How do we? How do we form a countervailing force against, etc, etc?

Dan  37:12  
Join a group. Join an organization of people who you feel like share similar values. Because they're, I think that there's, somebody said the other day that like, a lot of the things that seem like new ideas to you, or seem like new things have much longer histories than you can imagine. Because the work of organizing takes time. And so, if you are hearing about anti racist stuff for the first time in 2021, I mean, you know, there are people who have been doing that for decades and centuries. And if that's the first time you're hearing about it, then like, maybe seek out an organization that's doing that work. Because there are people who are experts, who are doing that work every day. And they'll tell you what to do. It's also nice, because then you don't feel so alone. I think that especially in COVID, it's this isolating thing, where we're sitting in our houses scrolling Twitter, feeling like the whole world is ending, and-

Janelle Jolley  38:10  
Is it?

Dan  38:12  
No, no, it's not.

Janelle Jolley  38:16  
Why do you say that?

Dan  38:16  
You know, to quote Jurassic Park, "Life finds a way." I told you, I'm an optimist, and I love people.

Janelle Jolley  38:27  
Is it optimism born out of necessity, or you really do-

Dan  38:30  
No. I think the only true optimism is rooted in a realist perspective. Like, if you aren't fully rooted in how fucked up things are you cannot actually be an optimist. You're just delusional. I mean, the same thing with if you lie to somebody or you lie to a little kid or something like that, they know. They know you're lying. And you know when you're lying to yourself, too, and it feels really bad.

Janelle Jolley  39:00  
So optimism is not about some delusional, like fantastical view of the future. Optimism is...?

Dan  39:09  
Wow. Optimism is the belief that through collective action we'll grow and survive together.

Janelle Jolley  39:19  
What are you focused on? What do you think that people should be focused on? You said join a group-

Dan  39:25  
Join a group is the biggest and, like, any group. And I mean, this seriously. If DSA is one that speaks to you, that's fucking great. If the Sierra Club speaks to you, that's fucking great. If you want to go join Friends of the Urban Forest and just plant trees that tear up a piece of the sidewalk and plant a fucking tree in San Francisco, that's great. Put your shoulder to the wheel of history and just help push because everybody's there. And you won't be alone, then you're part of it and it feels so good to be with everybody. And then, you know, we end up in the future, but we're all there together. I personally, have no fucking patience for the privileged liberal who says, "You know, I just couldn't stand listening to my conservative family members anymore and I just had to de-friend them on Facebook." Or, "I can't talk to them anymore." It's like, if you don't fucking talk to them, privileged ass, educated ass, wealthy ass white person, who the fuck is gonna do the work?

Janelle Jolley  40:19  
And how do you think it's going to get any better? If you just disengage?

Dan  40:24  
Who you are as a person- and I'm saying this about myself and about those, you know, that straw man I just erected, as well- who you are as a person is a culmination of countless conversations, books, you've read things you've listened to, experiences you've had, like, the labor that other people have done in educating your dumbass. You're the culmination of all of that. And if you take all of that, and put it in your proverbial warehouse, where you can fucking sit around and not be challenged in any way, by people who maybe feel or sound distasteful to you, you are abdicating your responsibility in bringing those people along on the journey that other people have brought you along on.

Janelle Jolley  40:57  
That's right. And to dig into this further, it's like- liberals do this, I think, more than leftists but leftists do it too- is when they end up reducing people's differences, particularly on the kind of right/left or conservative/liberal spectrum, to this moral failing of who you are as a person, as if that's not just a snapshot of you in time, that cannot be influenced, redirected changed, you know, massaged, whatever, you know, over time. As if your reactionary uncle or aunt or whomever, like the reason they are that way is because of some- like, their cells are deformed inside and their brain is atrophied. And they can only, always, ever be this thing. Don't be a dumbass.

Dan  41:56  
Yeah, I mean, it's the truth of all this. Basic empathy. Asking questions and listening. And actually being interested. A lot of these people who say hateful things and do hateful things are really lonely. They're alienated. And if their own family members who have progressive politics refuse to talk to them because what they say is distasteful or whatever, you are preserving your own little bubble of peaceful liberalism at the expense of so much- everything.

Janelle Jolley  42:28  
That's right.

Dan  42:30  
That's one of SURJ's mottos is "Collect your cousins," which I really dig. And it's fucking hard. It's really-

Janelle Jolley  42:42  
Like, for you? And your cousins.

Dan  42:44  
Well, yeah, I mean, I have family members who are Trump supporters. But I think, just in general, having conversations with people with whom you have history on these subjects is often pretty fraught and difficult. But if not you, who? If not now, when? My older brother is a pretty rad dude, and I think I mentioned this earlier, but he started a defund the police organization and movement in Redding, up in Northern California.  And, you know, the their name is Reinvest Redding. And the main thrust of their argument is that we just ask the police to do too much. And I think that is fair, coming at this from a place of compassion. I think the police are overburdened. They're meant to be a mental health counselors, drug counselors, domestic abuse counselors, marriage and family counselors. They're meant to also be law enforcement, they're meant to also be security, they're meant to- all these things, it's unreasonable. And just because we throw more money at it doesn't make these individuals capable of being all of these things at once. And so the thrust of his argument for with Reinvest Redding is to take a lot of those funds and pay for specialists to do this kind of work that needs to be done.

Janelle Jolley  44:00  
I was tapped to help on the reinvest and that s project that James started over the summer so, same thing.

Dan  44:06  
Yeah, and unfortunately, the Redding city council just voted to get three more police officers on board, which my older brother is super disappointed about-

Janelle Jolley  44:15  
But the fight doesn't stop.

Dan  44:17  
THe fight doesnt stop. I mean, this is the work of a lifetime, you know? But you know, in those moments it's hard to- he's, you know, he hands down does his fucking work, he works his ass off. And so then to have this thing come up, it's just super frustrating. But tomorrow he's back on the horse. That's the kind of guy he is. Very proud of my older brother. Oh, and environmentally, man. Oh, when I- I fantasize about this shit all the time.

Janelle Jolley  44:46  
Mr. No pants be fantasizing about the environment. Go ahead, go off.

Dan  44:51  
I mean, I just I think about like a world where we aren't actively destroying our only habitat all the fucking time. And I see people feeling- maybe this is the person who likes to take mushrooms speaking- but people in harmony and in contact with and in love with the world.

Janelle Jolley  45:14  
And by the world, you mean environment?

Dan  45:16  
No, I mean, I don't know. I-

Janelle Jolley  45:18  
You mean our physical world.

Dan  45:20  
I mean, like, feeling an understanding in your bones that you are of this earth, yet that you're made out of the same shit as shit that you made of the same shit as the dirt and concrete and trees. And that-

Janelle Jolley  45:33  
That's what Kat said. She said almost exactly what you're saying.

Dan  45:35  
And I think you guys also talked about psychedelics, right?

Janelle Jolley  45:37  
Yeah, that's right.

Dan  45:38  
I think she and I have a lot in common.

Janelle Jolley  45:39  
Okay, fine! I'll do shrooms.

Dan  45:43  
She said to. But to actually feel that and to really feel it and to operate as such, I want people to feel that way. I really feel like that if Mitch McConnell took a ton of shrooms that he wouldn't make some of the decisions that he makes. The only way we move forward as a people is through conversation and collective work together. Yeah, I feel the same way with us on the earth. We're not necessarily stewards of it. It's like, we are in partnership with it, constant partnership with this lemon tree, with everything else around us. And so long as we have this ego, that we are whatever around it-

Janelle Jolley  46:16  
We are above it and it is subordinate to us.

Dan  46:18  
No, we are of it. From dust, we come to dust we shall return. I actually dig a lot of what Catholicism as a religion has to say. Catholicism actually a lot more rad than I think it gets credit for. Especially in the leftist community, like looking at liberation theology, looking at some of the documents that the Pope has put forward on environmental stewardship and stuff like that. There are some pretty fucking rad Catholics out there. My problem is with the church, not necessarily with the religion.

Janelle Jolley  46:56  
Ah, okay. The institution-

Dan  46:59  
Is deeply flawed. And all the sex abuse scandal stuff makes it- I can't align myself with that. It's horrific.

Janelle Jolley  47:11  
But you still have a personal understanding of a copy that has been kind of like a through line, up until this point in your life?

Dan  47:20  
Totally. Still resonates, feels good to me.  haven't found anything that challenges that in a meaningful way that makes me want to feel or believe something else. I'm a pretty optimistic dude, I've said that a lot, and I make the choice to be optimistic, because I don't believe that pessimism serves a function that I want served. Meaning that I think that pessimism is a self preservation technique. I think that it protects us from emotional or psychological intimacy. It protects us from the terrifying vulnerability of hope. And I don't want that kind of protection, because that's a kind of half life, it doesn't feel worth living. So, if anybody's listening to this, I hope you hope. Yeah.

Janelle Jolley  48:30  
That's good. All right. He optimistic, but he's still grumpy. Don't don't get it fucked up. Homeboy, that got him in a real tender spot, but that ho is grumpy. But you can be both. We contain multitudes. All right. Well, thank you, Dan The Man.

Dan  48:47  
Thanks for having me. It was nice chatting with you. Let's do it again sometime.

Janelle Jolley  48:52  
Ah, high on shrooms? Yeah, we'll do it. So maybe I record when me, Kat and Dan inevitably end up doing shrooms? Won't that be a hoot? Oh god. I sure hope we get something substantive accomplished on the environmental front so that all of Dan's hard work and toil in Georgia will have been worth it. Come on Robinette. Okay, you know the deal. Gather your cousins as the fine folks at SURJ would say and share this little darling podcast with them. And you? Yes, you should go ahead and subscribe while you're at it. Do it. Do it now. Okay, see you next week.

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