A 37-year-old potato farmer in Idaho faced a very 2020 dilemma: his car was broken down and he was late for work. Already living in difficult conditions—no electricity or running water in his trailer, Donald Trump as his president and COVID-19 on the loose—the father of two hopped on his skateboard, turned on his music and floated above the pressure and stress.
“Life is way too short to worry about anything small, you have to control your own vibe,” says Apodaca from his RV in Idaho Falls, where he laughed and smiled during a recent interview with kind. “I lost my brother in 2007 and that turned my life around—you have to look at the positive in this world because you never know, in an instant everything can be taken away.”
Just as in an instant everything can disappear, in an instant everything can also become golden. In the case of Apodaca, that’s exactly what happened in a year when so many of us in so many places faced hardships. But DoggFace doesn’t look back on his old life in anger. Even though his viral video earned him more than $20,000 in donations, which he used to buy a home and a ring for his wife, the still part-time-firefighter places little importance on material possessions. He was good when he didn’t have much and he says his new celebrity friends are just people. All we really need to be happy, says the breakout star of breakdown 2020, is love.
“I don’t want to act like I’m America’s charity case. I was homeless for two months and I was living in a tent by the river, but I was always firefighting—I wasn’t bumming,” says Apodaca, whose famous head tattoo of a feather is a tribute to his mother’s Indigenous roots. “I always had money coming in and I wasn’t worried. Apartment life isn't for me. I chose to live like I did.”
Part of that life is fueled by a deep appreciation of cannabis. DoggFace first smoked with his brother when he was a young man and he thinks the United States should follow Canada’s progressive lead in federal cannabis legalization. His clock, he says, stays permanently locked at 4:20 and he believes that people of all nationalities and ideologies should come together as one people in 2021.
“I don’t see red states or blue states, I see green states,” he says, adding that Canada, like Jamaica and Hawaii, top his list of destinations that he wants to explore. “What the world needs more than pharmaceuticals is a plant that brings people together—a ‘One Love’ type thing.”
I don't see red states or blue states, I see green states.
The “One Love” love continues to flood in for Apodaca from all quarters. What began with a video from Mick Fleetwood and led to sessions with Snoop Dogg, Cheech & Chong and a sponsorship from Ocean Spray, also included a video shoot with Canadian crooner Jessie Reyez. He says their vibe went beyond simply work. Good people recognize good people and human connection. Even during COVID-19—or perhaps especially now—human relationships are another antidote for the holiday blues.
“Jessie and I kicked it for a good four or five hours and just connected on a genuine level. We went out skating and she said that even though we were working, it felt like a day off,” says Apodaca, whose viral dance videos on TikTok are enough to brighten even the gloomiest days. “I never thought I’d be doing all these cool things I’ve been doing, but it goes back to that same thing from the beginning—you can do anything if you can control your own vibes.”
Of all the things that have happened this year to the cool, humble dad in Idaho Falls, nothing means more to him than his family. He bought his father a truck and gave his mother some money, and has grown even closer to his two daughters. Apodaca says it was only playing around on his daughter’s Instagram account that he found his viral calling and that when he was going to stop making videos, it was his oldest daughter who told him to keep on. He says that living with his daughter during this difficult school year is the best part of his life. What he’s most looking forward to in 2021 is more family time.
“My daughter, you know, she can smile. She’s proud of me. She says to her friends, ‘That’s my dad,’” Apodaca says. “It’s not about the material life for us and it never has been. But sharing these moments with my daughters is just everything, man. We're comfortable now. I feel blessed.”
To follow the exploits of Nathan DoggFace Apodaca, see @Doggface208. Watch the whole interview here.