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Daniel Knapp: 1955 – 2018

Daniel Knapp
Courtesy Photo

For Daniel Knapp

Spread these ashes, now
In honor of his freedom,
On the morning of Creation,
On the deep sea of Being,
On the waves of Becoming, his
At their end, in the on-going
Glory of life. Nothing left,
Bits and pieces, images, glimpses
Here and then gone, a hole
In the world, shaped
Like a man: Daniel Knapp

—Peter Marin

Daniel Knapp was born in Alhambra, California. Proudly being of Finnish descent, he grew up in Minnesota and moved back out west when he was 15 years old. He moved to Santa Barbara in 1978. Daniel didn’t always fit in with the social norms; he saw life in his own way. Daniel was a philosopher and would engage in marvelous debates with people.

He was young and full of energy. He was funny and creative in formulating street theater, and he also played a mean blues guitar. He loved the Raiders and the Vikings. He deeply cared about people, and he dedicated his life to homeless issues.

Daniel became homeless in the early ’80s. In Santa Barbara, he met like-minded individuals who were also fighting for homeless rights. He would come to volunteer for the Homeless Coalition. This is where he met the executive director of the coalition, Jane Haggstrom, who became the mother of his only son, Daniel Jr.

Dan drove the coalition van, providing the homeless with rides to the clinics and out-of-town meetings. He became a marvelous homeless activist. He participated in the adventures of the Homeless Civil Rights movement. We called him “Dan, Dan, the Media Man,” for he loved to contact the media for the many educational events we put on.

He and Bob Hansen, a homeless advocate and frequent mayoral candidate, became close friends. They eagerly formed a trio of “Bathroom Banditos” with Collin Atherton to protest the lack of public restrooms in Santa Barbara. They dressed up in Mexicali hats and serapes to torment the City Council with skits and props. They were tired of people getting tickets for eliminating in public. Justice prevailed with the appearance of a public restroom near State and Canon Perdido streets. Dan also participated in the Housing Now! rallies in Washington, D.C., representing the Santa Barbara Homeless Coalition and meeting several movie stars and national homeless activists along the way. The list goes on and on for Daniel.

Speaking with one of his street friends, we hear of a summer night on the back porch of SOhO Restaurant. The Pink Floyd tribute band was playing. “Danny gave me an hour dissertation of life, music, and philosophy. Danny, an Alameda Park Angel flying too close to the land. Bless you, my brother!” Neptune Public Radio reporting.

Daniel Knapp’s son writes, “And so my watch begins.

“Through the magic of life, he passed a world of gifts to me. My love and ability for music, the gift of gab, connecting people, and my unconditional love for all beings. I love you, Daddy-o.”

Even as Daniel lay in his bed after a major stroke, unable to move his left side, turn his head, or speak, he was able to flip his friends off, fist bump, raise his thumb for “yes,” and thump on the bed for “no.” He never lost his sense of humor, so we knew that Daniel was still with us. As the complications became too much for him to handle, we sat at his bedside playing the Eagles and the Beatles, singing to him, and loving him until he jumped off of the planet.

Daniel is survived by his brother Dave Knapp, his sister Denean Flowers, and his beloved son, Danny. He is survived by the many people he loved and who loved him on the streets of Santa Barbara. He was well-loved by many advocates still working for the homeless of Santa Barbara. It is a wish of Daniel Knapp for people to enjoy a documentary on YouTube called Streets of Paradise, a graphic documentary of the homeless. Many of the people in this movie are no longer with us, but we see Daniel playing “Stormy Monday” in the opening credits with his guitar. Rest in peace, our brother.

A memorial to honor Daniel Knapp will be held on November 8 at Alameda Park from 3 to 5 p.m.

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