Employment History

Summer before High School: Goldmine in Arctic Circle Hot Springs (RW119)

During the summer before 9th grade in 1982, John worked as an errant boy at the Arctic Circle Hot Springs goldmine. It was the time he got his first glasses and he lost them when he took them off to take ice cream out of a freezer.

High School: Red Robin (RL80)

As one of his earliest jobs when he was 17 years old John was a Busboy at the Red Robin in Anchorage.

High School: Radio DJ (RL238, RL240)

In the early 80:s at the age of 16 John aspired to be a Radio DJ, because those people were well-known local personalities. He applied for a job at every single radio station in Anchorage, but this was apparently not the right way to become a DJ, so he did not succeed at first. There was a new UHF 24-hour music television station called Catch 22 where he eventually managed to get a job by using his moxy. He was persistent enough to show up at their office, even creating a demo tape, until the manager Richard Hadley could no longer avoid seeing him. He would never put him on the air, but gave him a job anyway if he promised to never skip school, which John gladly accepted. His shows were overnight (RL238) and he even had to work at the night of his senior prom. He usually ran the whole station on his own through the night. John kept this job during his junior and senior years in High school. (RL240)

High School: Landscaper (RL392)

In High School during the transition period when partying was not funny anymore, but he hadn’t quite figured out another path for him yet, John worked as a landscaper a fair amount. For a couple of years he was driving around in a truck with a bunch of lawn mowers in the back, mowing and mulching people’s things. It is hard work and you drink a lot of Slurpees!

The properties he was supposed to work on were spread all over town and he learned pretty quickly which tempo met the bare minimum expectation of the foreman. They had 200 properties and if John was Johnny-on-the-spot hustle-guy, doing 5 lawns a day, he was not getting paid any more than if he was the guy who takes a bowl of alcohol for lunch, doing 3 yards a day. The foreman would ask: ”Huh, you couldn’t have made it out to the 4th one?” - ”Oh, there was a thing about a helicopter and I had a flat Slurpee" At some point along the way John decided he had to stop drinking and that was the big turning point for him not ending up as a 52 year old landscaper.

John's brother's orchard (RW101)

When John left Alaska in the summer of 1986, his brother Bart offered him a job harvesting apples and pears at his orchard in Yakima. Down at the bottom of the orchard there was an old little one-room shack with a kitchen and a bathroom and John's brother offered him to live there.

Gay Bar (RL229)

John’s first job when he came to Seattle was in a gay bar.

Security Guard (RW64)

John once worked as a security person where his job was to watch the back door. People were loading in and out where he was stationed. The owner of the store once screamed at John for not having clocked out while eating his shift meal although he was doing the job, watching the back door. John was making $6 an hour.

The Red Robin (RL238)

At age 20, after returning from Europe in winter of 1989, John got a job at The Red Robin.

Washington D.C.: Ralph Nader (RL48)

In the summer of 1990, John worked in Washington DC working for political activist Ralph Nader.

The Off Ramp (OM42, OM138, RL287, AL22618, FF46, AR60, RL119, BY12)

In his early 20s John was working in Rock Clubs and started at The Off Ramp in January of 1991 as the bus boy until he became the short-order cook. The Off Ramp later became Graceland, which is now El Corazón. Pearl Jam started playing shows there (AR60) and it was one of two venues or Soundgarden's release of Badmotorfinger (RW67). It was also where John first met Phil Ek (RL287)

Later in the year John became the assistant manager before the bar was sold to a new owner who wanted her son to occupy John’s job. John didn’t care that he didn’t have a job because he was very Grunge, but at a certain point he ran out of money and a friend got him a job at a warehouse in Bellevue (see next section) (OM42)

The movie Singles was filmed in The Off Ramp while John was working there (AR60, FF46, AL22618). They completely rebuilt it into a much cooler Rock club full of 50-gallon (190 l) drums with fire in them while John and his colleagues got an involuntary week’s vacation. Afterwards they ripped it all out and returned it to the shitty Rock Club it was before. (FF46)

When John worked at The Off Ramp there was a guy who played guitar in a Punk band called The Mock Turtle, it was pre Post-Rock and he went on a PCP trip a couple of times and at one point fell down a flight of stairs and at one point threw his guitar out the window and was running around naked, screaming something about his dad. (RL119)

While John was the assistant manager, Hammerbox played at The Off Ramp and the manager said that they were about 200 people over capacity, but asked John to not say anything. Those were the Wild West days in Seattle! (BY12)

Generra clothing warehouse in Bellevue (RW53, OM42)

In the summer of 1991, John was working in a clothing warehouse with shipping orders from companies like Generra and Unionbay who had a garment that changed color based on body heat called Hypercolor. It was a thing coming out of Seattle (RW53) and lasted from January-July 1991 before it disappeared again (OM42). At the time he was a young drunk, not a Hobo, but looked presentable. It was a shite job and he didn't even want to do anything that required more effort. He packed these boxes and had to initial the packing slip. (RW53)

Pagliacci Pizza Parlor (OM42, RL60, RL167, RL264)

Around 1992 John worked in a Pagliacci Pizza parlor where they would make the sauce in a 50 gallon garbage can with a kanoo paddle. This was where he introduced a guy to the Filson brand who would later become the institutional knowledge about Filson. (RL60)

The Offbeat Café, a Jazz Hip Hop Rave Art Gallery Café in an old bus station (RL119, RL253)

see full story in RL119

There was this guy who came around the Comet Tavern for about a week, talking about how they would open a jazz café that was going to transform the world, because: Hip-hop and Jazz and Freedom and Art! They opened their jazz café in the old Trailway’s bus station. (RL253)

Emerald City Guitars (RW84)

John used to work at a guitar store called Emerald City Guitars in Seattle (Picture from July 2015), a place opened by his good friend Jay Boon during the heyday of guitar times in the mid-1990s. Jay was a member of the ”no-longer-does-drugs” community and liked to hire the same kind of people for his store. That isn’t the most dependable workforce in terms of waking up in the morning and sticking around, because a lot of ”recently-don’t-do-drugs-people” are often also the ”recently-started-doing-drugs-again-people”. John didn’t have a real job at the time and he would help out Jay last minute to work at the store for a week whenever Jay had to find a new permanent employee.

Used Car Salesman (RL238)

At age 24, during his time as an investment banker John was trying to work downtown and wanted to use it as a jumping-off-point in becoming a professional alcoholic. He was also looking forward to wearing a Cookie blazer. He was already applying at used car lots when he was at age 16, but at age 24 it struck him again and he went down to the Honda dealership to give it another shot. His expectations did not quite match reality when it comes to work hours and he quickly discovered that this was not the job for him. He realized that this is one of the jobs that requires you to actually want to do this job or feel a calling for it. He is actually not a sales person and "never sold a damn thing" and staying late with your customers would have interfered with his band practice.

Investment Banker at Piper Jaffray (RL238, RW113)

After having worked in bars and restaurants for a while, at age 23 John went Downtown, put on a tie and got a job as a clerk at the stock brokerage Piper Jaffrey. It was a job, he worked in the cage, he handled money in money out, he wore a tie, and he was drinking and doing drugs at the time. It was the most corporate straight-up job he could get, it was the exact opposite of what he was actually doing and he had no interest in stock brokerage. (RW113)

They had all their files in the top floor. John was sitting with a manual typewriter and typed out million-and-half dollar cheques to the Gateses, wearing combat boots. Many employers were professional alcoholics because that was a byproduct of selling stocks. (RL238)

Seafirst Bank (RL163)

The last job John interviewed for where he put on a tie was for Seafirst Bank, which has since been purchased and absorbed by Bank of America. Until John's mid-20s, Seafirst had always been the big Seattle bank, while Washington Mutual was still a scrappy upstart bank. Seafirst was where the old-school kept their money, the equivalent of the National Bank of Alaska. John got a job in their loan department where people would take loans and present pictures of their boat, their property, their windmill, their owl farm, or whatever they were using as collateral to get a bigger loan. (RL163)

John spent a year working in and out of banks and brokerages and ended up being pretty good at clerking and keeping the books. One day he woke up and just decided he was going to smoke pot that day instead of going to work and he never went back. (KPJR1)

Getting straight (OJR)

At age 26, John was a pretty washed up guy and had never really put the ability to work a job to any good use. He saw a lot of his friends already being MDs, PhDs, working in government, having families with kids, while John had not achieved any of this and had no marketable skills.

Assistant Manager Trainee at Check Mart (RW132, RL409)

Right after John got sober (RL409) in December of 1994 he worked as the assistant manager trainee at Check Mart (RW132) on 1st Avenue in Downtown Seatle, a cheque cashing place, one of the most exploitative pseudo banks. (RL409)

Steve's Broadway News (RW60, OJR, RW93, RL318, RL323)

Before John went on The Big Walk, he made $900 per month at his job at Steve’s Broadway News. Although he only worked 20 hours a week, working from as long as 10:00 to 16:00 every day felt like being a slave! (OJR) He didn't drink anymore at the time, which left him with quite a bit of money. He was paying $350 in rent and was able to eat in restaurants, but he did certainly not have the resources that a real job would have provided. He lived comfortably in the coolest neighborhood in Seattle and still had money for a separate band practice space (RW60). He had no alcohol bills and half of the restaurant meals were free because he knew the owner or the server through the shows with his band. The largest expenses were cigarettes and coffee, and even the coffee was mostly free. He went to 5 shows a week and also they were free. That was the year 2000 an that was above the poverty line. (OJR) Dan was at the same time living like a king on $700 a month. (RW60)

One time Michael Stipe came to the news stand and only John recognized him in the masses (RL318)

John met his long-term girlfriend, the Levi's jeans seeker, while working at the news stand (RL323)

Info from Google: Steve's Broadway News. 204 Broadway Ave. E. Seattle, WA 98102. Phone: 206-324-7323. Hours: 8 a.m. to midnight daily. Parking: Street parking, Paid parking. Disabled access: No information

Harvey Danger (OJR, RW160)

John was in Harvey Danger for the last full year of touring of that band and they were paying him an extraordinary amount of money. Singer Sean Nelson offered him $500 per week plus per-diems. He and Mike (Squires) didn't have any ownership in the band, Sean was very open about that and made it really clear, which was different and wonderful! $500 dollars per week was more than John had ever been paid before and he made a pretty comfortable living, because $20 a day plus the weekly salary was more than $2000 a month and if they ever went out to a restaurant, it was always paid by the label or someone. (OJR)

John earned $15.000 that year which was free money because they were feeding and housing him the whole time and he was really good at saving. He used that money to make the first Long Winters record in 2001, he bought a van, and he started his own band. (RW160)

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