The Hellcat Story

Hello and welcome to my first email!

In case you are curious about what I’ve been up to recently, here is the 23-word recap: At the end of 2019, I left my design job at Amazon in Seattle for New York City, to pursue photography full-time.

Since I’m always looking for new ways to force people to look at photos I made, I decided to start an email newsletter. My honest goal with these newsletters is basically to give you, the reader, a look into what my life is like these days. If there are ideas you have, questions you think I might be able to answer, or things you want to hear more about, reply to this email and tell it to me straight. I’d love to hear from you.

Okay, now that we’ve got the rules of the game out of the way, let’s get down to business.

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In this inaugural email, I’ll tell you the story of a cross-country trip I did almost 5 years ago, in an overpowered bright green car.

I filmed and photographed it - some people on YouTube seemed to like the movie. Here’s the latest comment someone left on it: This has got to be my favorite video on youtube amazing job ive watched it at least 10 times since it came out!”  An enthusiastic, oversized, and almost entirely punctuation-free sentence, which brought a smile to my face when it appeared in the world a few days ago.

In this email, I’ll be giving you a brief look into how it actually all went down. ExClUSiVe CoNtEnT.

It starts with toys. My buddy Ryan helped me land my first job at Hasbro, and in May 2015, he was getting ready to move from their Rhode Island office to their new branch in Los Angeles. For months he’d been telling me about this new car he had decided to pre-order: a 700-horsepower (officially 707, since that totally matters) Dodge Challenger Hellcat, in Sublime Green. A car that was obnoxious on many levels - power, noise, and paint color. He loved it.

Instead of sending the car to the west coast, I convinced him to have it delivered in Providence, pick up me and my cameras, and then drive both of us the 4,000 miles to Los Angeles. I’d already filmed one movie with him that he liked- a spontaneous speed-fueled story where we’d raced a train from one station to the next to catch it. So he said yes, and that was it.

Here was our full entire plan:

  • Take a northern-ish route since the weather was good enough
  • Call whoever we knew that lived sort of along the way, and meet up with them
  • Try and hit a couple national parks
  • We blew through our gallon-supply of Goldfish crackers, discovered whose bladder was smaller (mine), and he was a total sport with my constant requests to stop and set up shots. It was my first time going across the country.

    This is an email, and I’m a photographer, so I’ll keep it brief and link you to the photos and the video, because that’s the real good stuff.

    It took us five days. The last day was actually an all-nighter; we left from Grand Junction, Colorado, arrived at the Grand Canyon just in time for a rainstorm to reveal a 270-degree double-rainbow, and then fought off sleep to make it into Vegas at 2AM. At that point, we decided to just continue through the night.

    At 7am, Death Valley was 65 degrees, with a bluebird sky and absolutely nobody else around. Ryan slept 10 minutes directly on the asphalt of the deserted parking lot using his shoes as a pillow. From there it was a short trip into Los Angeles, where I forced us into downtown for more footage before we finally pulled into Santa Monica, walked up to the Pacific Ocean, and slapped the water to mark the official finish of the trip.

    I’ve done a couple of other road trips since then, but this is definitely still the coolest one.

    Actually in a way, this adventure is a great story to start off these emails. I’m embarking on a new adventure in the photography world, and I’ve done about as much planning as I did for the Hellcat adventure. I don’t know about you, but sometimes in life my gut confidently points me in a rough direction, and I just start running. Life would be pretty boring if you knew exactly what would happen next, wouldn’t it?

    If you enjoyed this email, awesome! Send me feedback, or tell me about your own coolest road trip!


    What I’m into this week:

    Listen: Lianne La Havas’s Blogotheque Take Away Show - An acoustic one-take performance in my 100% favorite soundscape in Paris - a cozy little square in Montmartre often filled with painters. A true escape.

    Read: I read one book recently and it was pretty underwhelming. Stay tuned for something good.

    Watch: What Kinda Music Documentary - A beautiful behind-the-scenes glance at a great new album collaboration between Tom Misch and Yussef Dayes. Listen to the album too.

    Buy: Pentel B100 0.6mm pens. More on that in the next email.

    Define: Tourism - “Distinguished from exploration in that tourists follow a ‘beaten path,’ benefit from established systems of provision, and are generally insulated from difficulty, danger, and embarrassment.”


    I hope this finds you making the most of the new constraints and opportunities the pandemic has created.

    -Dan



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