Daniel knows where the bodies are buried, which is why he’s been a trusted member of OZY’s PDB team while stationed in Laos and is a much-valued reporter now that he’s back in the good ol’ USA. Having been gone for just a year, the one-time NBA hopeful — those dreams got dashed when he measured up to a paltry 5’2” his freshman year in high school (though he’s 5’11” now) — is finding America a far different country than the one he left just 12 short months ago.
His wheelhouse? National politics, and he’s excited to be beating a path once again to the nation’s capital, where you can catch him schmoozing with buddies at Capitol Lounge or Iron Horse on visits, even though his home base is further south in North Carolina. But Daniel is also a sucker for true crime. Once, while working for The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Daniel was doing the graveyard cop shift when he caught an intriguing news story about a local guy who had buried a woman in his front yard. When he went knocking, Mr. Greenthumb — nope, not his real name — said he didn’t like how he’d been portrayed on television. So Daniel convinced him to talk, and the man — who had yet to be arrested or charged — spilled the beans. He had befriended an older woman, moved in with her and returned home one day to find that she had died in her sleep. Not having any money and with no way of reaching her estranged family the man decided to take matters into his own hands. Under cover of darkness, he dug a hole and buried her in the front yard. He then proceeded to cash the woman’s Social Security checks … until, that is, her long-lost son came calling with police a couple years later.
Having grown up in Alexandria, VA, covering national politics was almost inevitable. But Daniel did get away for school at UNC-Chapel Hill and for stints in Pittsburgh and Laos. While covering all things Washington for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, his calling card there wasn’t so much his written word as his voice. Daniel made a series of raps relating to Georgia state politics in 2014 that the AJC put online for a lark. Gawker poked fun at one, helping it go viral. Such was Daniel’s rap fame that even Georgia’s secretary of state greeted him as “the rapper.”
From Washington, he decamped to Laos for a year-long adventure along the Mekong River that included staying one step ahead of immigration authorities and government censors. If anyone asks, he was a writer and sometime bar manager who most certainly did not commit any journalism inside the country. Apart from skirting a few laws while overseas, Daniel claims he just has a couple of bad habits: eating unhealthily when his wife’s not looking and swearing like a sailor — the latter often coming during intense UNC basketball games. Keep an eye out for his reporting on the Trump administration and please stop asking him when the rap mixtape is coming out. You can’t just will art.