Thursday, September 25, 2014
This is a ode to Dan ™ Wang.
The web is a place for pretenses, pretty things, and the shiny side of life, especially blogs. Bringing reality into focus is maybe not something we turn to the web for, but reality it is. Shit has certainly reigned. Two weeks ago, we lost a great friend; and at the risk of being too personal, forthright, whatever, I'd like to take a minute to immortalize him on the web.
Ro and I met Dan at a birthday party four or five years ago. He was awkwardly standing around, and when the dancing started, he awkwardly danced along. His gumption to join in the dancing while being so painfully self-aware made him instantly likable and highly relate-able. As we began to see him at numerous social occasions, it became clear that despite his discomfort in social situations, Dan was quite possibly the most social person we'd ever met. He was always leaving the party/movie premiere/New Years celebration/dinner to run to another function. We enjoyed giving him a hard time whenever he tried to make an exit.
He was a part of innumerable, and I do mean innumerable, social and environmental activist groups. The Occupy Movement, Non-GMO advocacy, the community garden, city beautification, the yoga center, Burning Man, the list has no end. I have no idea how he was able to be involved in so many diverse projects.... But he was a doer and a believer in community. He was always frustrated by the complacency and isolation of those around him. Whether he knew it or not, he had a huge community; people came out en masse for him at the memorial held at the garden last weekend.
The crowd was as diverse as his range of interests. Any given topic would take steroids when he entered the conversation. Chatting could take an abrupt left turn and end up considering web-savvy Afghan weavers who listen to rockabilly or anarchist post punk (that was a real conversation). He worked in computers, so Ro and he often splintered off into riveting conversations about Linux and remote servers. His embrace of all things nerdy, computer software, Simpsons, Burn Notice clashed well with his ride: a loud, but Eco-friendly motorcycle.
Coming out of the memorial I was inspired by two strongly positive thoughts. First, it is hard not to take notice of Dan's vigilance and consistency. In millions of small ways, he worked to make his community and the world a better place, one parking lot, one sign, one label at a time. Secondly, as we all traded stories and stepped back to see him from this twisted perspective, I was again inspired by his sometimes comical, but always constant individuality. How many bread-baking Led Zeppelin and acid metal rocking, pothead Chinese-American, environmental biker activists gardeners do you know... only one.
You are free to be who you are. Dan lights the way.