When I see friends and family take health risks during the COVID pandemic, it scares me. Some take risks my wife and I both find unacceptable for ourselves. Why do they think so differently about this?
Experts who study the way we think and make decisions say that it can be more than politics driving our decision-making this year. The unprecedented nature of the pandemic undermines how we process information and assess risk. Need proof? Look around.
January 16th marked the 26th anniversary of the debut of Star Trek: Voyager on the UPN network. I loved the series so much I named my boat “Voyager” and created graphics for its stern matching the Star Trek font.
I’m not a graphic designer so I labored for hours over this single word 20 years ago. This font does not exist in the wild. Scanning and lifting graphics wasn’t as easy back then as it is now. It looked super cool on the back of my cruiser.
“Voyager” was especially notable for the bad-ass female characters in the cast. That resonated with me as a Dad trying to raise two smart, independent daughters. There’s a book out “Star Trek: Voyager – A Celebration”.
From the synopsis: “STAR TREK: VOYAGER was groundbreaking. It was the first STAR TREK show with a female captain and had the franchise’s most diverse cast. It pushed the boundaries of visual effects and makeup further than ever before, and literally took the show into new territory when Voyager was stranded in the Delta Quadrant, home of the Borg Collective.”
My dear friend, Daniel Kanipe, known as Danny King or “Young Daniel” during his broadcasting career, passed away (non-COVID) suddenly on January 5th. He was 75. I was asked to write and record a eulogy for his memorial service this past Tuesday.
The voice you are hearing is that of Daniel Kanipe’s friend, Allen Brown. A few years ago, in writing, Danny asked if I would say a few words at his memorial. Like many, I am isolated because of the pandemic restrictions, so I have recorded my thoughts to share both with you who have gathered together and those who, like me, want to be here but find it impossible.
Remembering loved ones could be compared to an artist’s portrait. We each carry within ourselves a unique pallet of color with which we paint our memory. All of us could step forward with our brushes and add to the picture. On some colors we would agree. On some we would not. Today, I will briefly paint my picture of Danny.
I can’t tell you much about Danny’s early life but there are flashes of color there about Sturgis, Kentucky, and his granny, and her Chow Chow recipe. I remember hearing about an assortment of uncles, aunts and cousins whose names he mentioned as if he expected me to know them. That was a beloved quirk of Danny’s. Anyone who has spent time in conversation with him knows the names of people in Danny’s life populated his stories, and he spoke of them as if they were well known to everyone. He would say “That reminds me of so-and-so.” “Who?” I would ask. He’d take off his glasses, and with that Jack Benny-like take, he would say, “Allen, I’ve told you about him. Remember?” Before I could answer, he continued on with his story. The picture of Danny’s childhood also had some dark colors. He told me about things that happened in his family, and he would cry. I listened, but I forgot them and did my best to help him forget – – because I was his friend.
Danny’s working career, and the connections many of us made through that work, intertwine with thousands of lives. There was a time when someone would rent a hall, usually a school or church auditorium, hire a band, hire security, advertise the event and, like magic, a couple hundred kids were dancing to a local band. There was no magic – it was hard work, – – it was Danny’s work. So, there are those who will remember Danny as the organizer of teen hops and the booking of bands through local talent agencies.
Danny’s connection to local musicians led him to the business of recording, establishing King Sound. There are local artists and recording technicians who credit Danny with giving them their start or a boost in their recording career.
Danny had a microphone in his hand early on as a dispatcher for the Jeffersontown Fire Department so he was bitten by the radio bug as a youngster. Danny and I each had early starts in broadcasting at separate little stations in New Albany, Indiana. Our paths didn’t cross until the early 70’s at WAVE radio in Louisville. We became close friends and shared our love of the radio business in every way. Danny became a well-known Louisville radio personality. At his frequent personal public appearances and remote broadcasts, he was always smartly dressed and represented the station and our clients perfectly. If our advertisers were given a choice as to who they wanted broadcasting from their house at Homerama or glibly inviting mall shoppers to take “The Pepsi Challenge” or riding in their hot air balloon, the first choice was almost always Danny King. His dedication to broadcasting projects was especially appreciated when he was doing something in the charitable or public service vein, such as staying awake for 48 hours straight to host the annual Leukemia Radiothon. Or, after his broadcasting career, the hard work he and Linda did on behalf of the Louisville Zoo.
Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa said “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” We know what was revealed of Danny’s soul through his experience with the kids and staff at Thomas Jefferson Middle School and Kennedy Middle School. Danny’s wife, Linda, told me she noticed that Danny brought very little money home from that job. That was because he was spending it on those kids. One TJ student, Rodney Watters, wrote an especially heartfelt remembrance of Danny. He wrote “I’ve seen him feed kids everyday when he worked at TJ Middle. I joked with him about how much money he had and the bank was tired of seeing him. If you’re hungry he’ll pay for your meal! He wouldn’t let any kid go without eating. He will leave school to go to the bank to get more money. If the cafeteria was closed or not serving food he will go buy you food!” . . . “I respected you by calling you Mr. Kanipe. You told me to call you Daniel.”
A man’s life can only partially be accounted for by what he did. Danny’s spirit is also reflected in what and who he loved. Danny loved music. I think the choices he made in his life and career were partially a reflection of the emotion he felt with music and the poetry he found within. Whether classical, pop or country, a well-turned phrase and powerful orchestration or harmony sent him into ecstasy. Many were the times I would see him close his eyes during music and right at the moment he loved most his fist would close, his arm would rise and down the fist would go as if his heart was torn out. He would say “Yes!” with the enthusiasm sports fans have for a basketball slam dunk.
Danny also loved animals. His beloved Golden Retrievers, of course, but also wild nature. Can’t you hear him now? “Allen, look!” I’d look and there was a deer. “Linda, look!” and one of his beloved songbirds would be at the feeder. “Buffy look!” and there was a hummingbird. He saved his less tender expressions for squirrels, however.
The capacity to love others is the brightest color in any portrait of Danny. Two friends can’t be as close as Danny and I without seeing each other have our hearts broken. It’s almost like we made a pact to stand as each other’s best man until we finally got it right. Danny finally got it right when he met the love of his life, Linda. She has been his steadfast love and I know that Danny’s wish would be that we open our hearts to her, and support her in every way. Not only in this time of grief, but in love and friendship when we can all gather together once again.
And now, a few words about my friendship with Danny. Danny and I became almost inseparable during our WAVE radio years. If I went to lunch, Danny was with me. If I just wanted to drive around for an hour, Danny was with me. If I needed to go vote, Danny was with me. He once went with me on election day to my polling place at an old one room school house in Westport, Kentucky. The little old lady running the place saw Danny standing near the door, in his custom sunglasses, his open collar Lands End shirt, taking a long pull on a cigarette. She hollered at him “WHO are YOU?” Danny said “I’m with him.” She said “Are you registered in this county?” Danny “No.” “Well, git out of here!”
We were even roomies for a while, which led me to the conclusion that even the best of friends are not always suited for co-habitation. Danny and I would dress in suits and hit the local disco. Try to imagine the Blues Brothers – or maybe more like Brooks Brothers – mixing in with all those John Travolta wannabes. It was a total blast.
We had long conversations where dreams and opinions flew fast, especially after a few rounds. However, as flighty or fun as we might be, when things were serious we had a firm understanding that we were to call each other on any BS. It was a rule, we were NOT to BS each other on the serious stuff.
I recall being with Danny on a creek bank in front of a bonfire, staring into a star-filled sky, pondering the deep questions of human existence. I have so many personal memories, but time has made many of them as whispy as the smoke from that fire.
When talking with Linda the day after Danny’s passing she told me what I already knew – “Danny loved you.” He said it almost every time I spoke or texted with him. His last words to me were in a text after Thanksgiving. “Happy Thanksgiving to the Brown family.” He said. “Sorry I’m late. Hope we get to see each other in person once more before I kick the bucket. Love you. DK.” Sadly, we didn’t get to see one another again. I told Linda that I am running out of people who can honestly and unabashedly say “I love you.” So, if he ever said it you, you know they were not casual words. He always meant it. Truly.
And so, this portrait of Danny is really more like a sketch. I know you’ll fill in the colors you remember.
Farewell to a husband, father, respected veteran broadcaster, educator and dear, dear friend to so many.
Danny signed off every radio broadcast with these words:
“Have a Danny King Day – and tell somebody you love ’em.”
Let that be Danny’s legacy.
We will always love you “Young Daniel.”
Danny chose the piece of music that played after my recording:
“The End” by Earl Grant
– courtesy of Thomas Brown, madwillow.com
“May all sentient beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May all sentient beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May all sentient beings rejoice in the well-being of others.
May all sentient beings live in peace, free from greed and hatred.”
— Prayer (Buddhist)
Grief – 1894 Albert Edelfelt, Ateneum Art Museum, Helsinki, Finland