My Least Favorite Person In The History Of People

This is Dan Goodwin.

I’m pretty sure there’s a lot more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking. And I plan on finding out what that is.

Normally, I would point out that he looks like a total douche, but first of all, you can tell that for yourselves, and secondly, I’m about to make it abundantly clear to you just how big a douche he really is.

Dan’s been in the news recently because on Labor Day, he climbed the Millenium Building in San Francisco to call awareness to his causes and sell books.  Not in that order.  He released a statement about it on his website, stating the reason for the climb (and the several other skyscraper climbs he’s done in the past), as follows:

The reason for my scaling of the Millennium Tower today is twofold. One is to call attention to our nation’s continued vulnerability to attacks of terrorism upon our skyscrapers. Everyday, thousands of people in our country spend time in high-rise buildings above the seventh floor and beyond the reach of fire ladders.

That kind of makes sense.  Currently, the best fire engines in the world can only reach about 10 stories up, and if you’re above that you have to move yourself down, jump, or burn.  In the event of a fire in a high-rise, it’s very difficult or impossible to get people out.  So what’s the other reason, Dan?

My other reason is to increase public awareness of cancer. Despite my survival, cancer remains a top killer on the planet. My hope is, if a survivor of a Stage Four diagnosis can be seen continuing with their life, no matter how bizarre, others will gain inspiration and together we can find a cure for cancer.

Now you’re losing it.  First of all, public awareness of cancer?  That’s probably the single disease the public is most aware of.  People maybe aren’t aware of certain types of cancer, like male breast cancer, cervical cancer, etc, but no one says “yeah, my dad just got diagnosed with cancer” only to be met with a blank stare and “Sorry, cancer?  Is that . . . I’m not familiar with it, is that like a big deal?”  We’ve fucking heard of it.

And secondly, could you possibly squeeze in more references to how cool you are?  He says “despite my survival” like they thought his survival would magically cure everyone else, and for some reason it didn’t happen.  “Oh, by the way, I had cancer, and I totally got over it by living my awesome life, and did I mention it was like super serious cancer that I got over?  Also, I’m awesome.”

Dan goes on to say that his book holds the “underlying reasons” for his climbs are in his book, so it’s feasible that he doesn’t come off as quite an ass in the book.  Except I’ve read the goddamn book.

This piece of shit.

I’m not going to go through the entire book, just give you a summary, but suffice it to say that he doesn’t exactly improve his image.

The problem, as mentioned, is that our current system of fighting fires is woefully inadequate.  We can’t get above about floor seven in the US.  Dan thinks he has the answers because he’s seen one rescue in Yosemite, where they lowered a cable to the wall from a helicopter because you can’t get directly above when there’s a cliff there.  To be clear, he’s seen this happen one time.

Here’s his idea to improve our system (this one specifically for the new WTC):

Prefabricated sections . . . air lifted then assembled in place . . . a refuge center equipped with its own air, water and power supply . . .  Exterior rescue elevators . . . robotic firefighting pods.

Which will almost certainly look like this

The ultimate firefighting machine, each pod comes equipped with halogen lights, infrared cameras, and powerful cannons capable of shooting fire-retardent foam or water deep into the building.  Heat resistant ceramic tiles, Kevlar shells, and titanium protect the pods.

So far, not as batshit crazy as I’ve maybe led you to believe.  It’s a little weird that he thinks no one else in the entire world cares about this issue but him, and he also mentions “expandable hydraulic I-beams,” which I’m pretty sure are a weapon in Starcraft, but the idea of having firefighting supplies at the top of a building is a good one.  A few pages later, shit gets crazy.

I’ve heard the American military, the same people who gave us the internet, have conducted experiments with “non-violent sonic waves.”  Imagine skyscrapers with invisible shields that could detect then deflect an incoming missile, or even a plane laden with explosives.  Crazy you say?  Tell that to someone who lived through a plane plowing into his or her office on 9/11.

Tell that to the families left behind by those who did not survive.

That’s just bullshit.  Using an emotional ploy as cheap and blatant as that does not change the fact that your idea is straight up impossible.  The military is developing those for riot control, and do you really think that something described as “non-violent” can stop a plane?

Pictured: some serious goddamn violence.

Oh, but we’re just getting the crazy car warmed up.  Watch what happens when we hit the gas.

I’ve designed what will be the world’s tallest building.  I call it Earth-to-Space, the ETS Station, because the structure will tower 50 miles from the Earth’s surface to the edge of space.  With this design, humans will for the first time travel to space without the aid of a rocket ship.  They will simply step into a glass enclosed pressurized elevator, stap themselves into a luxurious seat, and enjoy the ride of a lifetime.  At the top will be a gigantic dome, featuring restaurants, ten star hotels, and gateway stations from where space ships regularly depart on intergalactic voyages, some perhaps in search of the Fountain of Youth.

Imagine the possibilities . . . Refuge centers with “day jobs” in the form of convention halls, classrooms, sports arenas, and tropical gardens; millions of people living in a self-contained environment where waste is turned into clean renewable energy; giant wind farms harnessing endless energy from the jet streams; massive outer walls coated with photovoltaic cells designed to absorb protons transmitted by the sun.

Oh, for god’s sake.  Dan here is clearly so delusional about his own ideas that he’s forgotten about our old friends the laws of physics and also the law of making some sense at least some of the time.  This is just fucking ridiculous.  Here’s a brief list of problems, just based on that last excerpt.

  1. You haven’t designed shit.  You dreamed this up in a spell of anaerobic delirium (he actually admits and is proud of this) while riding your bike.  This is the brainchild of a toddler.
  2. You can’t make a building 50 miles high.  You know how big the tallest building in the world is?  Half a mile, and it took $2 billion and heretofore unseen advances in engineering to get there.  Just saying that it’ll be that big doesn’t mean anything.
  3. At 264,000 feet, the atmospheric pressure will be virtually zero.  That means that the pressurized cabin, pushing outwards, will be subjected to fourteen pounds per square inch.  That means that a three-foot square window in your precious elevator will need to be able to take over 18,000 pounds of internal pressure, or it’ll explode outward and suck everyone else out with it.  Good luck with that.
  4. You can’t make a huge dome on top of a 264,000-foot building.  See 2 and 3.
  5. There is no such thing as a ten-star restaurant, you arrogant twat.
  6. If the spaceships aren’t feeling gravity, then neither is the dome, and everyone floats around uselessly.  If the ships are feeling gravity, then you have to hold them up, along with the rest of your implausibly enormous penis-compensatory building.
  7. The highest a helicopter has ever gone is 40,000 feet.  That’s fifteen percent of the way up your building.  Super helpful.
  8. Sonic shields still don’t exist.
  9. You can’t have a tropical garden at that altitude because there’s no oxygen, and you can’t pressurize with oxygen because it’ll explode (see 3).
  10. You can’t just say “waste converted to clean renewable energy” and it’ll magically exist.  If we knew how to do that, we’d fucking do it already.
  11. If you build a wind farm on the side of a building, you can only fit maybe 6 turbines on it, a couple dozen on a huge imaginary building like yours.  That won’t power a whole building, and it’s more weight.
  12. Photovoltaic cells don’t absorb protons, they absorb photons.  Hence the name.  And they’re emitted, not transmitted, and the sun doesn’t even emit protons.

So that’s a few reasons.  But I know what you’re thinking.  First, you’re thinking, “holy shit this is long,” and you’re right.  But he’s my least favorite person, that takes some explaining.  And second, you’re thinking, “just because he has the mind of a chimpanzee on meth and couldn’t develop a functional building to save his life, and just because he’s arrogant enough to think that he is the only person looking in to this and that he has the only plausible solution, that doesn’t make him a douche, right?”

This is what happens when you deny a chimp meth.

You’re right.  That’s why I saved the best for last.  You see, Dan’s book is an enigma. As books go, it’s poorly written, shoddily edited, syntactically retarded, and tries so hard to be a serious and thrilling first-person account that it comes off as closer to Dean Koontz than non-fiction, only less entertaining.  I was honestly shocked that it even got published, though having looked into it I’m 99% sure that he published it himself under the wildly optimistic name “Best Seller LLC.”

I’m also fairly confident that he just made most of the non-fact-checkable stuff up.  He paints every figure of authority as an expletive-spouting, pencil-breaking hard man a la old-school Hawaii 5-0, and honestly tries to tell us that the Green Berets called him to ask how to climb buildings in the event of a terrorist attack.  Apparently, he asked them how he knew they weren’t going to plant bombs, they said they were with the military, he said “even more reason,” and rather than just hanging up or shooting him in the goddamn face for being an impertinent dickhole, they told him everything they knew about a supposed plot to attack the WTC.  I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how the USASF operate.

He paints himself as a fearless renegade sticking it to the man at every opportunity, only to express shock and wounded indignation when they try to arrest him.  He honestly seems surprised when SWAT peels him off the World Trade Center right after the 1993 bombing.  The phrases

“One thing’s clear, whatever rights I had as an American in America have been tossed by the wayside.  I’m theirs and they know it.”


“It’s a classic case of ‘shoot first, ask questions later.’  Considering what’s happened, who can argue?”

come literally two pages apart.

The thing that drove me crazy, though, is the mind-blowing arrogance of this guy.  He’s so full of himself that I’m surprised there’s even room for internal organs, let alone the “balls of steel” that he repeatedly assures me he has (eight times).  The entire book is a barrage of neo-spiritualist mantras like “If we can conceive it, we can achieve it.  It’s the law of the universe,” which in addition to being patently absurd (no it is not the law of the universe), seems to be linked to an even more ridiculous outlook on the world.  The sheer level of pretension required to think that, simply because you’ve been climbing for three years and seen one goddamn rescue in Yosemite, you know better than everyone else in the world how to fix skyscrapers blows my mind.

He seems to think that all of law enforcement have a bounty on his head rather than the annoyance they more likely see him as, and the book is absolutely riddled with glorified descriptions of how awesome he is, how he upset the traditionalists in climbing, how he’s like MLK Jr. and Eleanor Roosevelt combined, how he “performed a one arm fly-off while free soloing Mickey’s Beach Crack . . . which translates to extreme difficulty,” how he rides Lance Armstrong’s bike, how he bathes in ice-cold spring water in Red Rocks (I’ve spent weeks in Red Rocks, and there’s no goddamn spring water) before FA-ing a route named after his personal guru, and how he used to live in a teepee in northern Maine raking blueberries with the Micmac Indians.  He is a sickeningly self-centered man.

Throw in a few choice attempts at sounding deep and prophetic, like

I have long since left my conscious self, filling my thoughts instead with visual images of my transformation into a human climbing machine.  I feel as if I am connected to an invisible chord (sic) of pure energy pulling me to the roof.  I’m lighter than gravity.

and you’ve got a pretty good picture of the worst book I’ve ever read, written by the saddest human being in the history of humans and beings and sadfullness.

Courtesy of The Oatmeal.

But do you know what the worst part is?  Worse than the lying and the delusion and the arrogance and the more lying and the lack of research and the misspellings and the more arrogance and the terrible writing and the holy-god-there’s-so-much-arrogance?

The building he climbed on Monday (see how we come full circle?) is 645 feet tall.  He climbed it with suction cups, and it took him three and a half hours.  I typed that number into Wolfram Alpha to give you an idea of how slow that is and thus how useless as an actual rescue technique.  I was hoping to get you a number in feet per second or something, which might be hard to visualize but hey, it’s something.  What Wolfram spat back at me was far better than I could have imagined.

A derisive snort is the appropriate response.

So Dan, I have something to tell you.  I really mean it, and I hope you’ll take it to heart.  On behalf of the  world of climbing and sane people everywhere, few though they may be,

Go.  The fuck.  Away.

4 Thoughts

  1. Sounds awesome, just ordered the book now! Great review, what a cool cat, can't wait to have him sign my book. jk.
    Actually met and climbed with him once, had trouble breathing as his ego claimed all available air space. I asked to see his spiderman outfit (living dangerously – or I may have been drunk) he said it was back in Vegas, where he worked as a (tiny) dancer. Sigh.

  2. I met Dan up in Cherryfield Maine the summer of 1979. We did rake blueberries with the Micmac Indians who were from Canada. He got me involved in going to Boston University to train kids in Non-violent protesting for Anti-Nuclear rallies. We ended up at Seabrook N.H. that fall at a rather large protest. He didn't seem so egotistical back then but I do remember him to be above most others. He also did up to 100 fingertip pullups almost every day. We bathed in the lakes way down east in Maine and it was beautiful. From your book review, it sounds like Dan has evolved into the limelight and off the rocks.

  3. The book cover looks farcical and the excerpts are so excruciating to read that it causes the vein in my left temple to throb. I am incredulous that this is an actual book, much less that anyone has had the fortitude to read through more than a page of such nonsense.

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