It’s 6:45pm on a Friday night in Claremont Village. Restaurants, bars, clothing stores, and vinyl record shops line the streets. People are strolling along enjoying the sunny California weather. Some are on dates kissing their new love. Others are eating food outside as music is played by a guy with an accordion nearby. There are St. Patty’s Day decorations up along the building rafters as the annual drinking festivities begin. The place that I am at is called Buddamouse. It is a trinket shop that sells a variety of collectable items. There are religious symbols all around. Paintings of Hindi gods are embedded into the walls. In a back room, a group of writers are meeting up to learn new software. A total of six people, including myself, are here. The reason for this visit is to gather inspiration and learn some new writing techniques.
On my way out, the need to get some food arises. I look around and there are countless restaurants to choose from. An American style joint catches my eye. There are cops arresting a drunk guy on the corner so I navigate around the craziness and walk into the dimly-lit family night spot. The hostess escorts me to the fire pit, but no one notices that I’m there. I get up and transition to the bar, order a La Rossa Birra Moretti , and 2 tiny burgers. Cooked medium-rare the meat melts in the mouth. The beer foams at the brim. The taste is delicious giving me the much needed energy to write.
A few U-turns later and the scene is re-located to the MAG Lab hackerspace. I met one of the founders at 23b a while ago and decided to pop-in on one of their weekly events. I take several photos of the place before anyone sees me. Once recognized as a new member, a guy by the name of Rod Steel greats me. He asks what I am building and gives me a thorough tour. Just under 1200 sq ft, the area holds a lot of tools and hardware. Motion sensors are strategically positioned around to catch movement as it occurs. More people start talking and the topics of conversations flow from the need for more makerspaces to how business related meetups can waste time and even to what issues are involved in the documentation of emerging projects. One lady named Jini scribbles ideas of something she is working on. She asks me what I see happening on planet earth in 5 years which gets me thinking.
More time goes on and I begin talking with a guy named Chuck who was a cryptologist during the Cold War with Russia. He worked with radio transmitters and tracked the movements of the Soviet armies. They would intercept the signals, decode them, and then notify the US of any events. As I inquire about his past, a fellow (who’s name will be anonymous) is making an AR-15. Once completed, he will go to a local shooting ranging to test his gun out. Although the MAG Lab is in just another warehouse, it seems like something special is happening here. It might have a little to do with the college that is a couple blocks away, or perhaps the people there are just more in-tune to the hacker mindset. Either way, this is definitely a spot to check out.
If you are feeling generous, the MAG Lab has a grocery list of items they need. Donate one if you have one:
1) Kitchen scale
2) More beer
3) A computer with 8+GB of ram
4) Horizontal drop saw for metal
MAG Lab website: http://www.maglaboratory.org/