Cult Machine Interview with David Dayen on Chain of Title, Jeopardy and Stand Up Comedy
AMANDA FRYE: You grew up on the outskirts of Philadelphia. What early influences led to a career in writing? What role did family play? Who or what is/was your biggest influence as a writer?
DAVID DAYEN: My mother worked as a schoolteacher and a union rep and my dad worked in textiles, an industry battered by globalization. We were upper-middle class growing up but I feel I had a connection to the everyday struggles of the working class. I was always interested in personal expression and constructing an argument. I actually did stand-up comedy for over a decade, and that is all about being brief and sharp and having a point of view. It’s weird to say but journalism was a natural progression from the world of standup.
AF: Tell me how a University of Michigan graduate from Philadelphia landed in Los Angeles as a writer, producer and editor? By the way, what was your major in college?
DD: I majored in English. I was always interested in the visual medium, took classes on it there, and long before that I was making little movies with my friends as far back as grade school. I worked for television networks in Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco, but eventually I realized that to succeed in the entertainment biz you needed to really be in Los Angeles. So I migrated down here in 2002 and never left. Then I heard about this thing called political blogging and it took me in a different direction. I knew those English skills would come in handy someday.
AF: You recently published your first book CHAIN OF TITLE: HOW THREE ORDINARY AMERICANS UNCOVERED WALL STREET’S GREAT FORECLOSURE FRAUD. Why did you decide to write this book? How did you stumble upon three ordinary Americans fighting foreclosure fraud?
DD: I wanted to tell the story of the financial crisis from the ground level, from the perspective of people most powerfully affected by its force, namely foreclosure victims.
I met Lisa, Michael, and Lynn back in 2010. They were sources of mine because they ran these amazing websites with enormous amounts of research into this issue of foreclosure fraud. I didn’t actually know they were involved in it because they were foreclosure victims until later. When I learned more about their story I felt it had to be told. I wanted to point out this alternative history, that we could have gotten some accountability for the financiers who executed this horribly disruptive financial crisis, mostly through fraud. It was a choice to not prosecute and let these crimes off the hook. And Lisa, Michael, and Lynn’s stories offered the perfect window into that.
You can check out the rest of the interview here…