Scenes from a soul-wrangling at the J & M Hotel

By Brian Hagenbuch
By Brian Hagenbuch

All photos courtesy of Alex Garland.

It is Thursday afternoon in Pioneer Square and an odd entourage is gathered in a gutted, thrashed room on the third floor of the deeply-storied J & M Hotel, above the cafe and cardroom of the same name.

Paul Cheoketen Wagner, a musician and a member of the Salish tribe, kneels on the floor and sprinkles wild celery root into a pan heating on a portable gas burner.

Sitting on the dusty hardwood floor are Kurt Fisher and his business partner Brittany Shulman, a real estate and developing duo that bought the J & M from Jack Buttnick in November 2014 through their company Seneca Ventures.

Teresa, a woman whom Fisher met while wandering Seattle and the one who extended Fisher’s invitation to Cheoketen Wagner, slowly beats a drum as smoke begins to rise off the celery root.

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About the Authors & Contributors

Brian Hagenbuch

Brian Hagenbuch

Brian Hagenbuch recently relocated to Seattle after spending a decade in Argentina, where he worked for Reuters, Time Out and wrote for theater and film. He grew up in the Methow Valley.