Dave T h o r p (and Bob)

J."Hoss" Claerbout sets up the American Country Magazine,
gets his boss thrown in jail,
and celebrates his 21st birthday

Dave T h o r p (and Bob): While Jos was in Alaska, he packed a lot into his time here, as he did everywhere. He went commercial fishing. He worked on a political campaign. Worked for me here at Glacier House, not only working on the American Country Magazine, but also for a newsletter, also selling some advertising. He took courses at the University. He was taking music lessons, bought himself a guitar. After he worked for me he went out to McCarthy, Alaska, and worked for Bob Jacobs at St.Elias Alpine Guides.

He was just a very busy, busy person. He was good at everything he did. Where he fell down was simply because he was doing something that he had no idea how to do it, but he figured it out in a hurry and he always did a really, really good job. He was just a really good kid and a hard worker and he was lots of fun to have around. We really miss him a lot up here.

Bob sez, "I think I actually paid Jos. I paid him by the tour."

Dave sez, What summer was it that Jos was out working in McCarthy? It would have been July or August of '95. because we started the country magazine. He went to work with me in November of '94. We cleaned the house. I gave him a room, and said let's do the country magazine.

Bob sez, "He wore that stupid ass hat, the one he traded to the Mad Hatter when he bought an ad in the country magazine."

Dave sez, Jos went to work for me after coming off the Joni Whitmore campaign. Basically, the deal was that he didn't make any money on the campaign. He needed a place to stay. He was staying with me anyway and so I came up with this deal. I'm saying, "Jos, I'm going to start a country western music magazine." With his interest in punk and rap and a number of other genres it was a natural fit, but mostly he needed a place to stay.

He agreed to work for me in exchange for room and board because I fed him most of the time. He bought his own cereal because I refused to buy a lot of the country shit that he ate -- in great quantity. I never saw anybody sit down and eat, like three bowls of Cheerios at one time.

Jos starts the American Country Magazine

Jos went to work for me to start a country western music magazine. It was completely foreign to anything he'd ever imagined, I think, but it certainly didn't slow him down. He had a pair of great big, huge, clod-hopper boots that he bought for the winter in Anchorage, like size 13. He proceeded to go out and talk to all the people who were interested in country western music or at least advertise to the country western music crowd. You know, he was this great big Clyde Kediddlehoffer with these boots, "Hi, my name is Jos, and I'm selling country western music." He was amazingly successful.

Our first few issues were actually profitable. He also went out and set up all the locations where we would distribute the magazine because it was a give-away thing. We gave it away for free, but we had to go out and secure locations to put our racks to give away the magazine. He was just phenomenally successful even the goofy guy that he was, he didn't really lend himself to country western music: the boots, the coat, the beard, the haircut. The only thing that was country was the hat.

I don't know if anybody knew it, but he also started a punk-rock band in Anchorage with a guy that he met at the University of Alaska. He bought a bass guitar. Some of the people who were catering to the country western music crowd weren't really interested in the punk rock, but he'd tell them about it anyway. He'd sell them an ad too. He was just that kind of guy. He could sell anything to anybody; he was enthusiastic. He was a guy that got things done.

Bob was talking about the hat. He went in to see this guy that sells leather goods here in town, he calls himself The Mad Hatter. He sells hats and a lot of coats and stuff and Jos couldn't sell this guy an ad, but he did manage to trade the guy an ad for a hat, sort of a cowboy hat, that he put on top his head. You got the hat on the top and the boots on the bottom, and you got Jos inbetween, walking down a mall in Anchorage representing American Country Magazine from Glacier House Publications. It was a sight to be seen. It was funny; and it was successful, you know. He burned out after about seven months. He got free rent and the occasional meal from me, No pay. The use of my vehicle.

[Dad recalls Jos telling about the morning he made an ad sale at a tavern. To express his appreciation for the sale, he orders an "Irish Coffee", not realizing that it will be coffee with whiskey.]

Jos gets his boss arrested

The one story that his father wanted me to relate was how Jos got me arrested. The circumstances that got me arrested were the same ones that got me arrested the first time, which led to a jail term that I never fulfilled. It didn't have anything to do with Jos. It happened like eight years before. The circumstances were for a traffic violation that we won't go into the details of. When I went to do my jail time, they told me there was a six months wait so I basically told them to go to hell. I moved to Bush AK, and figured I'd deal with them later.

I used to make up my tags for my license plate. I couldn't, of course, license my vehicle, so on the computer, I would do my tags. I made my registration stickers for my license plates, and of course, I'd drive very, very carefully.

When Jos went to work for me and I loaned him my truck, I told him that he as well had to drive, very, very carefully. I said to him, if you get pulled over, we might both go to jail. He did a pretty good job.

He decided he had to take a history course at the University of Alaska. One night, a Saturday night, he was late for class, so in a hurry he parked in a handicapped parking zone on the University. But not just any handicapped parking zone, he parked directly in front of the university police station.

A couple hours later he comes out of class and there is not just one but two cops leaning against my truck. They didn't care about him. They wanted to know where I was. Jos says, "He's out of town." He quickly ran into some bathroom and disposed of all his business cards, threw away stuff with my address and went back out to talk to them again. And they said, we're going to have to tow this vehicle. He got a ride home. He was just panicked.

I said, "Don't worry about it, this was going to come to a head at some point or another." But he was really bummed out. The truck was impounded.

Just a few days before this, I had actually engaged the services of an attorney to straighten all this stuff out because it had been hanging over my head and I wanted to deal with it.

[...Long story. Dave mistakenly goes to the police station to turn himself in on a Saturday before a long holiday... put in the drunk tank for four days .. handcuffed to some murderers...]

I got out for seven days to put my affairs in order. Jos worked with me. You have never seen anybody feel so guilty in your life. I told him that was the one time in his life that he did something really stupid; he parked in a handicap zone in front of a police station. He had no idea of what the consequences would be. Eventually, I got to do my time (45 days) in a half-way house. Jos is making regular deliveries to me in the half-way house, this to do, that to do, ads and articles. We kept the magazine going. Made our deadlines. He really was contrite. He worked his ass off to make up for it. Caused Sue a few headaches as well.

He was an amazing person. He's what some of our circle would call a can-do person, not the kind of person who'd say, "No, I can't do that." He was the kind of person who would say, "Yeah, we can do that," and he'd figure out a way to do it. He was just a very positive person. You'd throw up an idea for him and if he wanted to tackle it, he would make it happen. That's what happened when he worked for me. He was a lot of fun. We disagreed on a lot of things; we had a lot of great arguments but we always had a lot of fun. Always. We miss him.

Celebrating his 21st birthday

He had spent his 21st birthday up here and was hanging around my house with another one of Bob Jacobs' employees. They decided to go out on his 21st birthday and have a beer legally.

They ended up at Great Alaska Bush Company. It's the most famous strip club here in Alaska. Of course the clubs up here, if they choose to do so, are totally nude, and the Bush Company is the best of those kinds of places. They ended up going out and this kid Eric who was helping Jos celebrate his birthday did quite a bit more celebrating than Jos did.

I wasn't around for this. I heard about it all after the fact. But apparantly after they came home, Eric decided to go back out. He hadn't had enough for the night and he got locked out. He was a big kid. Makes me look like a dwarf, maybe about 280 pounds. He didn't have any keys to get back in, so he just decided to come in the back door the hard way. He took the whole thing right off, not just took the door off the hinges, but the frame around the door, he took completely out of the wall.

They ended up coming back to my place. That of course woke Jos up. Jos confronted him and Eric wasn't too concerned about the whole thing; he just proceeded to go to sleep on the couch. Jos was very upset about the whole thing and proceeded to call the police. After a couple hours when the police hadn't come, he called them back again. They said, "Listen kid, we got better things to do than worry about drunks coming home late at night and tearing the door off the wall." So I guess Jos just kind of propped the door up against the wall and went upstairs and went to bed himself. I guess the next day when Eric had sobered up, he and Jos fixed the whole thing, put it back in there. I guess they kissed and made up or they weren't mad at each other any more and they went back to work at McCarthy.

The unfortunate part about that whole story, I just heard, is that this kid Eric, who was maybe a couple years older than Jos, but certainly a much better candidate for a heart attack, actually died of a heart attack not that long ago.

Something in the air up here, or in the water at my house, but two fine young men succombed early on to heart disease. We are really sorry to see them both pass, particularly Jos. He had a lot to offer to all of us and to the rest of the world. We miss him very, very dearly.

Sorry I didn't get as many people together as I wanted to. Sorry I didn't get all the others to do stories... --Dave

Below are some story fragments from mother and father.

  1. "Anchorage," he said, "is a great place because it is only 25 minutes away from Alaska."
  2. "In Alaska," he said, "you didn't really lose your girl, you just lose your turn."
  3. Jos had a date with a "real" Alaskan girl. She had just shot a moose. After that she said she was so excited that she just wanted go out and "shoot everything".
  4. Another time he was skiing in town and a moose crossed his path. There was some tension for a while but the moose decided to leave him alone.
  5. He got an offer of a "real job" selling copy machines but he turned it down to stick with American Country Magazine.
It is never to late to tell us stories or fragments of stories. Send to claerbout @ stanford . edu

Other Jos Alaska links: Fishing diary. Big fish. Audio tape diary. Election campaign. American Country Magazine. Mine guiding. Home video.

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