Photograph by Misha Gravenor
They’re tinkerers and technoids, people who build stuff for the sake of building stuff, and they’re part of what’s called the maker movement. Providing geeky recipes for how to piece together everything from robots to reclining chairs, Make magazine, which is edited by Tarzana resident and BoingBoing.com founder Mark Frauenfelder, became a catalyst when it launched four years ago, giving rise to Maker Faires across the country. The man most closely associated with the post-Popular Mechanics crowd is the Make contributor known as Mister Jalopy, a former record company executive. “I was a garage saler,” he says, “and through garage saling you come across things that are broken or need refurbishing. That’s how I taught myself to be handy.” His Silver Lake store, Coco’s Variety, sits on Riverside Drive and offers secondhand bikes, Kit-Cat clocks, and flyswatters. But he’s best known for artfully repurposing castoff materials—as with the projector-mounted tricycle he calls the “urban guerrilla drive-in movie house” and the ancient trinket-filled Skippy jar he found, renaming it “The Portable Childhood Museum.” His colleague John Edgar Park travels a more Rube Goldbergian route. A technical director with Disneytoons, he emerged as something of an alt-rock star after his Make tutorials for PBS hit the Web. He can fashion a guitar from a cigar box (“they sound nice”), yield a burrito cannon from PVC pipe (“a ton of fun”), and render a shopping cart into a chair that mixes Eamesian grace with homeless chic (“lots of sparks”). Still, nothing tops his hydraulic espresso tamper. Because serious espresso requires serious equipment.