Hella Crazy 

Are we laughing with Dan K., or are we laughing at him?

Page 4 of 7

The Fox guys were loving it and shot each other looks that said "the kid is a natural." They kept egging Dan for more material. The older of the two cameraman adopted his vernacular, urging him to "give it up for your dawgs here," meaning all the other guys in the bus. Dan complied and gave it up for his dawgs, promising a healthy return to the slopes. He even managed to get in a plug for his next CD, Urban DK.

"Today I got worked, but tomorrow I'll be back," he told the cameras.

But after the cameras were off, his bravado faded, and Dan didn't seem so optimistic. "Face it, buddy, I'm gettin' old."

Two days later, Dan Harris was back at the animal house in the South Berkeley neighborhood he and a dozen or so other guys call home. He pays $600 a month for a room in this quasicommunal, three-story bachelor flophouse on Benvenue Avenue. He has one of the better rooms in the place, with balcony access and even its own bathroom, where he stores his bikes. But the place is far from luxurious. Dan wrote a funny rap about it called "Crazy at Benvenue":

"Holes been punched in every wall/Phone only works for local calls/Windows busted, but you need fresh air/Because the furnace smells like grandpa's chair. ... The walls are tarnished, the wood needs varnish/The toilet's broke and that's not the harshest/They don't make enough traps to catch up all the rats/There's varmints in the garbage and they're scaring the cats."

Given Dan's reputation on the block for throwing wild house parties, some of his neighbors consider the Benvenue pad a place in need of a little human vector control. "Our ways of life are different, our vocabulary is different, our outdoor habits are different," neighbor Ann Matranga groused to Livin' Large about the bachelor pad. "My neighbors have a very different way of life." Dan later nicknamed Matranga "Onionhead" because "everything that comes out of her mouth stinks."

Then there was the time Dan's buddies blocked off both ends of his block with their cars for his "guerrilla block party video shoot," as he called it. Anyone else who lived there and came home during this spectacle would have had a hard time getting through the blockade to their driveways. Dan pulled off a scene in which he was chased by a "bloodthirsty bike gang." The scene culminates with a shot of him jumping over four cars parked vertically from the curb. Just before the shot, when Dan was sizing up the jump, a little kid asked him, "Think you can do it?" Dan gives two thumbs up and tells the kid, "Nope."

On any day of the week at practically any time, you can drop by the Benvenue pad and seemingly find somebody partying. On a recent Thursday afternoon at 1:30, I dropped in to find Dan and a friend sucking down a six-pack of Budweiser and watching ESPN2. Dan had just finished a construction job in Oakland (being a lifestyle stuntman doesn't pay the bills just yet) and was chillin'. A few minutes after I arrived, another Benvenue boy came home during his lunch break to smoke weed from his two-foot bong.

After the skiing accident, Dan reluctantly went to the doctor. He was reluctant because he feared the doctor would say exactly what she did say: No bike racing. The doctor's warning meant Dan couldn't defend his title at the upcoming Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, billed as the second largest cycling event in the world (only the Tour de France is larger, promoters say). Dan had dominated the amateur dual slalom event -- a one-on-one competition just like the ski slalom race -- for mountain bikers the year before. And he had big plans for this year's Sea Otter. Not only did he plan to defend his amateur title, he also wanted to jump up to pro on the final day of the five-day event.

Now he could only watch the races as he nursed his knee back to health. Still, he insisted on making an appearance at the Sea Otter at least one day as a civilian. Of course, he wouldn't be just any civilian. Dan K. Harvest was comin' to Monterey hella juiced!

For a guy who likes having the spotlight to himself, Dan never seems to go anywhere without a posse. The day we all set out for the Sea Otter at Laguna Seca Race Track in Monterey was no different. Joining us for the festivities were his sidekicks Cody and Kirt. Cody met Dan when he used to live across the street at Benvenue. Short, stocky, and goateed, he plays Joe C. to Dan's Kid Rock, supplying a needed guffaw or a biting under-the-breath remark when the MC needs a lift. When Dan raps onstage, Cody is there beside him, waving his hands and provoking the crowd. Dan's other sidekick for the day, Kirt, was a twentysomething Berkeley dude whom I initially mistook for a latent hippie because of his ponytail. I was quickly convinced otherwise when he uttered the salutation "Blood" with an authentic ghetto drawl.

A shameless self-promoter can't go to a big event like the Sea Otter without something to promote. Dan stuffed his backpack with Hella Crazy CDs and T-shirts, as well as copies of Str8 Mackin' to hawk at the race. He also had his various corporate sponsors to consider. He handed me a black hoodie from Ridin' High -- a San Jose-based athletic-wear company that features Dan -- to wear. But he couldn't promote his new signature Dan K. Harvest sunglasses from Optic Nerve, a Colorado shades company specializing in eyewear for snow-sporters, surfers, and cyclists. His last batch of sunglasses had accidentally gotten crushed on the bus to Tahoe.

Before we even get two blocks from the bachelor pad, we make a pit stop to buy a keg of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Next stop, a friend's garage, to pick up a boombox to play Dan's CD, and a dolly to carry the keg for this mobile party.


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