It’s been a while since we initiated a new Howler Ambassador into the ranks. We’re pleased to welcome John Dunaway to our merry gang of creatives, weirdos and amigos. Some of you all may have seen this coming when John starred as the Howler Frogman for our recent Wes Anderson inspired Mutation. We got to see John’s expertise in stealth, karate, explosives and diving all in a short time period. Beyond these skills and a keen interest in the outdoors, John has one of the most romantic professions around - a life at sea piloting cargo ships.
We caught up with John recently when he was back on dry land and dug into his brain a bit. Here’s what we found out…
You easily kicked Andy and Chase’s ass in the Howler Frogman video. Are they pathetic fighters or are you skilled in martial arts?
It was supposed to be a secret, but I did train martial arts heavily as a kid for 2 weeks. It clearly carried through the decades.
My alter ego. It’s the way I approach life, living fairly conformed to societies standards with my own view of things within that box; just a little abstract from the norm. I’m not unique, I just like to do whatever sparks my fancy and it usually contrasts with the standard approach. While going to sea it became my creative outlet from a physically labor intensive job to show folks more about the maritime industry.
How did you come to be a cargo ship pilot?
Years ago, my mom said I could get paid to drive ships and the rest is history. It never seemed like a “job” Because it was and remains so fulfilling working on ships. I went to maritime school for 4 years, sailed deep sea for another decade then had the good fortune to start piloting ships 3.5 years ago in Houston.
You mentioned having traveled to loads of countries during your early days as a seaman. What’s your favorite?
Two port calls have always wrestled for the top spot on very different spectrums.
Freetown, Sierra Leone in West Africa for its perspectives growth on life. Here is a country in West Africa with rolling blackouts if you’re lucky enough to even have electricity, little running water and unpaved streets yet I had the time of my life because of the people. Even with all their struggles they showed me such warmth and the ability to find happiness within those confines because that is their daily norm. Sure they want better, but they still work with what they had.
My other favorite was Buenos Aires, Argentina for the culture. We’d move cargo all day, grab lunch across the street at a churrascareia, wash all the meat down with a cold beer or two on the outdoor barstools then work until dinner. Everyone would hit that gangway with a vengeance and we’d partake in 3 hour meals before wandering the streets. It was a great 4 days in port.
Is life at sea as romantic as it seems?
It certainly can be with the right mindset and run. At the same time it has the ability to be a complete drag. I was fortunate enough to sail on ships that tramped the globe, staying in port for days at a time in rather unknown locations and the office had little oversight on us. Captains still captained the ship instead of the office running things. I loved my decade at sea.
In the Howler Frogman video, you appear to blow up an enemy boat. What’s the biggest thing you’ve actually blown up in life?
Probably an ant hill with M80s, but it was a Texas sized ant hill for a 10 year old. Sure seemed large at the time.
Twenty One Pilots or Stone Temple Pilots?
STP for sure. In a product of the “alternative rock” generation.
Frank Ocean or Billy Ocean?
Truthfully, I had to open Spotify and listen to both of them because I was clueless. Billy Ocean it is!
Why do you believe that Howler Brothers is the coolest designer of apparel in all the land ? (shameless promotional inquiry)
Do you see anyone else making an Aguacero Jacket video? That creativity flows right into the designs. The patterns are fresh and nobody can have enough Gaucho designs in their arsenal. From top to bottom, the products look slick and were designed with purpose by folks that use it for such. I’m stoked to be in the merry gang of amigos.
The Frogman Mutation starring John.