Contraptor, metalworker, global activist, steampunk... specializing in pedal-power.

Using steel, wheels, and sewing, I rend Victorian æsthetics into a Mad-Max setting with a rigorous use of found and recycled materials.

Punk Planet

Punk Planet interviewed me for an article about the Rat Patrol in their May/June 2006 issue.


Time Out Chicago: "Chain Gangs"

Time Out Chicago featured an article in May 2005 about local bicycle clubs. I was featured both as a member of Rat Patrol as well as The Human Television Network.

See the full article in their archives.


Accra Ghana Morning Show

While I was in Ghana, I appeared on an episode of the televised morning talk show "Morning Show", as well as various other radio and public promotions for the project.


Burning Man 2006

In 2006, the Reno chapter of the Black Label Bike Club was given control of the Burning Man Festival's bicycle management. The festival faced a formidable problem: 1500 bicycles left in the desert each year by festival-goers at a no-trace event. The BLBC wanted to use some of them to seed a yellow bike program, but needed someone to deal with the overflow. They knew of my experience shipping bikes to Africa and brought me to the desert.

Before the event I worked shade crew, constructing shade for the event infrastructure. Afterwards we distributed the bikes between the local Kiwanis and the Paiute Indian tribe. Thus began my cherished position on the Black Rock City Department of Public Works, where I pick up and distribute bicycles each summer in August and September. Living and working in that harsh environment is the hardest, and most rewarding, thing I've ever done.

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Johnny Joins the Freak-bike Gang

In 2002 I was a database administrator living a relatively normal and successful life. By 2003 I had quit my job, was hanging out in a bike gang, and went to Ghana to start a bicycle project. Dan Weissman wrote a Chicago Reader cover story about this transformation, titled "Johnny Joins The Freak-Bike Gang". While the article is a bit sensationalist, it does tell an interesting tale.

Read the full text of the article here.


From Nothing

"From Nothing" was Redmoon Theater's Winter 2005 spectacle. We created a "dreamscape, a place of awe and wonder, of play" out of the converted printing warehouse and built an interactive environment for participants to discover.

Redmoon's designers might be asked to do almost anything. Some of the things I was asked to do for this show were to build a life-size luon jet flying through the space, weld a giant gazebo-like bed, rig a battery mount onto a rolling four-poster bed, and dress a floating jazz-band platform like a cloud.

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B.I.K.E. the film

I appeared in and wrote a little for the independent film, B.I.K.E., released in 2005. The movie follows a man with addiction problems trying to join an outlaw bike club.

You can see one of my clips at the movie's website.


Human Television Network

In 2004, Mark Messing obtained a grant to build a fleet of television-carrying bikes to take to the protests surrounding the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City. The bikes were built by Cynthia Main and Erik Newman.

The Human Television Network provides in-the-park movie showings, mobile anti-war DVD showings, and downtown-news-studio-camera hijacking. In addition to performing with the group, I've maintained the fleet of bikes since the group's inception.

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NPR's Worldview Global Activism Series

NPR's Worldview program focuses each Thursday on global activists. One week their theme was "oil dependency" and so they brought me in to talk about my efforts in getting bicycles and cargo bikes to Ghana.

Listen Here- NPR Worldview Global Activism Series August 2005

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In 2003 I met Dr. Osei Darkwa of Patriensa, Ghana; he and I discussed cargo bike designs. He invited me to spend 6 months there starting up a school for welding, bike mechanics, and cargo bike design. The center imports donated bikes from the first world (both taking them out of the wastestream and conserving the energy of their manufacture) and modifies them for bush cargo use. As a hobby I fundraise to send bicycles and volunteers to the center.

For more information:

NPR's Worldview Global Activism piece on the project

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Fire Bike With Me

Inspired by other mobile grills I'd seen, I decided to make a grillbike. However, it was important to me that this bike be modular, so it could be used to haul cargo as well as any attachment one could come up with.

A grillbike can make a summer. Each "trip to the park" turns into "grilling in the park". It's also good for moving open-ended loads:

Then Mayor Daley came up with his "music everywhere" program, which hired mobile musicians to perform all around downtown and the lakefront. I was hired by Mark Messing (Mucca Pazza) to build a drumkit attachment for the bike. This allowed a drummer to join more easily mobilized instruments in a mobile band.

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Count Chopula

I always modified my bikes when I was a kid. However, it was in Chicago in 2003 that I was introduced to the "rat" style of building, and I loved its deliberately raw and unpretentious look. I built "Count Chopula", a vampire bicycle chopper, with bat wings that flapped when I pedaled.

Eventually this chopper evolved into a more Mad-Max, bobbed chopper. But it's still a monster. The handlebars came from my grandpa's junkyard- I walked past them for 26 years until one day I said, "hey, those are sweet!"...

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