Danny Dean Wilson. The front of the train caught Danny above the chest and threw him perhaps sixty yards forward.
  • Danny Dean Wilson. The front of the train caught Danny above the chest and threw him perhaps sixty yards forward.
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Danny and Poodle were running down D Street in Encinitas when they spotted Tim, who gave them shelter. Danny recognized Tim as one of the few punks in town and told him that he and Poodle needed a place to stay — right that minute. A white Ford Fair- lane was following them around the comer. They didn’t know who was in it, but they didn’t care to find out. They’d just pulled a dine-and-dash out of Billy Bob’s Pit Bar-B-Que on First Street (it used to be the A&W), and they were pretty hyper after leaving the tab, and their dirty plates, and a litter of empty Heineken bottles on the patio table, and jumping the fence and running along the railroad tracks behind the La Paloma Theatre, then down D Street to the beach, where Poodle’s car was parked.

1380 Hermes Avenue, December, 1982. Danny moved into a small building near the main house. He called it the Pit.

Actually, Poodle doesn’t remember the part about the Ford Fairlane, but that may be because he was ripped, or because it happened three years ago when he was a different person. After leaving the crowd of North County misfits of which he and Danny were so much a part, he finally quit drinking, got married, and lives now in his native Los Angeles. Danny didn’t make it. Though he seemed indestructibly young, he died on the railroad tracks in December, not long before his twenty-first birthday.

Momma Karin gave him a mohawk. ‘ ‘I'm going to be a warrior now,” she remembers him saying as she cut his hair.

Whether or not the Fairlane was there, Tim remembers inviting the guys back to the beach apartment that he and his brother Mike were sharing on Moonlight Lane. Danny immediately named it the Punk House (he was always the one for naming things), and he and Poodle ended up staying there through the summer.

As they were crossing Vulcan and entering the ice plant by the railroad track, they saw the Amtrak train coming up from the south. Danny and Max started running for it.

What a summer it was, said Tim. Parties day and night; everybody drinking Lucky beer — "Breakfast of champions,” you said before popping a top — and Danny giving haircuts to the teen-agers who came over. No matter that he didn’t know how to cut hair. That was the point: not to have hair that looked nice. Don’t care about being nice, Danny told the people he brought to the Punk House. Think about your own heart. Everyone’s giving us bullshit. Why can’t people just do what they feel? Why does everyone have to be the same?

Of course, Danny had had long, conventionally blond hair during his surfer days. Though born in Los Angeles, he’d been raised in Cardiff- by-the-Sea in a loving and conventional family, had fed upon natural foods, had learned the more difficult Beatles tunes on the guitar. A friend who had known him since high school said he had tried to be a leader, standing up for his friends, protecting them in the after-school arguments that kids get into. She said Danny ‘‘wanted everyone to feel the same things he felt.” He wanted to lead — but not where everyone was already going.

Sometime in 1980 — some punk-rock friends of Danny pin it down to a particular party, with entertainment by a band named Political Crap — he dropped out of the surf scene and became a missionary for punk. It was easy to point the way: Whatever is the comfortable and approved thing to do, do ye the opposite. And whatever the punks around him were doing, Danny was compelled to do the most, the hardest, the fastest, the longest — he did all he could do in the extreme. His girlfriend at the time of his death said, ‘‘There was Danny, who was a normal, considerate person, with the same feelings as you or I, and then there was ‘Danimal,’ which was not just his nickname but the person that he became when he had to show that he was on top.”

That summer at the Punk House, Danny “spread infection,” his nickname for giving a custom haircut. He’d take the orange-handled stationery shears out of the kitchen drawer and set his punk-convert on a chair between the apartment buildings. The landlord hated those haircuts on his slab-concrete patio, more than he hated the music and drinking and flophouse vagrants, but what were the punkers to do? They would have given haircuts inside the apartment, but so much hair was falling that summer they couldn’t be bothered to sweep it out.

Evicted in September, the punks moved downstairs to the apartment of a sojourning couple from France. When the couple moved out, they had left the rent paid through October, which turned out to be the best month of all, said Tim. No rent meant more money for Lucky. One night they were doing beer bonks — filling a funnel with brew and downing it, via gravity, in a stunningly short time — when the sheriffs came to throw the trespassers and their belongings out the door. Tim remembers trying to stay upright in the alley behind the apartment while a sheriff was standing on his foot and pushing him over; not that Tim resents the way he was treated — he said he had it coming. He remembers the moment because he was worried about not having a place to live.

Later that night at a party Danny and Poodle and Tim met a teen-ager who invited them to her apartment to stay for the night. Her mother had rented her a studio at 2166 Montgomery Avenue in Cardiff: one room floored mostly by a waterbed, with a kitchenette and bath, and a back door leading to a hillside cellar that seemed like the bottom of the world, a perfect place for partying. That night the girl slept on the waterbed and the punks lay head-to-toe on the horseshoe of carpeting around it. The arrangement wasn’t bad, and the rent was free. They stayed till the following spring.

The studio became known from San Diego to Los Angeles as the Black Hole of Cardiff. The name was more ominous than the goings-on: Danny, Poodle, Tim, and a few other regulars spent their days drinking and listening to music, or scamming for provisions for a party. Danny, fearless among his peers, occasionally pulled a “mad runner” — grabbing a bottle of liquor from a store shelf and sprinting for the door. When low on money, they sold some albums at Lou’s Records in Encinitas, until they were told to keep out of the store for having sneaked off with a P.I.L. Can edition of Public Image Limited — a three-record set by the rock group, packaged in a film can.

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