On Our Radar: Dan Mangan's ghostly "Fire Escape" is a powerful lifeline for anyone who's staring into the abyss

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      Man, talk about someone, almost eerily, capturing what goes on inside on a daily basis.

      Assuming you haven’t won LottoMax, married Anya Taylor-Joy or Malcolm McRae, scored a lifetime’s supply of Godfather OG, or—most rewarding of all—found inner peace, the past couple of years have probably been rough ones.

      There’s no need to hang one’s head in shame if you’ve spent more days, nights, and 3 a.m. wakeups wondering what the fuck you’ve done with your life. Entirely related to that, your favourite punching bag has been, well, you.

      Remember Friedrich Nietzsche’s all-too-insightful observation “if you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back at you”? Well, guilty as charged, with the pandemic ratcheting things up in ways that couldn’t have been unhealthier.

      It’s been a time for standing in front of the mirror, sitting in a park, staring at the ocean, or draining the last of the Maker’s Mark with one basic question running insane on a maddening loop with endless answers: “What the fuck is wrong with you?”

      And that’s meant latching onto whatever you could to make the inner voice go away. On that note, a shout-out to Vancouver writer and health activist Sue Robins for that time she posted on Instagram “Do not believe the things you tell yourself when you are sad and alone”.

      But we’ve gotten a little off track here. Which is okay, because, truthfully, we’re much better now.

      The beauty of Dan Mangan’s new video for “Fire Escape” is the way it’s entirely relatable, and not just when things suggest that, if you’re struggling, you’re not alone. Directed by Lester Lyons-Hookham, the clip finds the Vancouver troubadour shadowed by Edmonton character actor Steven Ogg—famous as the psychopathic Simon on The Walking Dead, and the even more psychopathic Trevor from Grand Theft Auto V.

      Mangan is a guy trying his best to enjoy life—playing ball in the park, driving the streets of Vancouver, taking afternoon strolls, and having dinner with friends. Ogg meanwhile plays the living embodiment of the voices within—the ones that show up entirely uninvited to let you know that you’re worthless, unlikable, not good at much of anything, and generally a waste of oxygen that’s in increasingly short supply on planet Earth.

      Sometimes those voices get louder than others, and sometimes they get so abusively loud that the mental looping comes—the pinballing from one dark thought to another, the constant message being that whatever you might have in the world, you most certainly do not fucking deserve it.

      Sound awful? It is. But, as dark as “Fire Escape” gets, there’s also hope. Soundtracked by a ghostly, glitched-out, and quietly symphonic strain of indie-pop, the clip suggests that, maybe, if you can hang on, the landscape sometimes shifts. Shifts to the point where you might, if you’re lucky enough, not only make peace with the voices within, but get to where the dialogue changes. It’s happened before—that’s why you’re still here.

      Do not believe the things you tell yourself when you are sad and alone. But don’t ever think twice about embracing the good thoughts. You’re really all right. Even if it’s sometimes hard to believe it.