When his son, Haven, was born, Mark Jarel made a choice: he was not going to outsource his son’s upbringing to a television or a computer screen or a game console. The world, thought Mark, is far too fascinating – and life too short – to just sit around and let others cook up the entertainment. Instead, he and Haven would engage with the physical world and create their own lives.
Taking this idea to its logical extreme in 2011, Mark even went so far as to give up his traditional ranch house on a quiet street and move into a warehouse space he’d found in the Los Angeles suburb of Torrance, California. From there, he set about building not just a living space for himself and Haven but also an entire lifestyle.
A sidebar to answer this question once and for all: Yes, Mark and Haven live in a warehouse. They’re not a couple rich dudes with an actual house somewhere else and this warehouse is not some man cave escape pod.
This is home.
That home – or “dream factory” as Mark calls it – is a working showroom of the Jarel’s unbounded curiosity. Soap box derby cars adorn one wall, while vintage paraphernalia covers all the others. A huge slot car track – patterned on the great European road racing circuits – occupies an entire corner of the shop. The tour usually pauses here as most visitors can’t help but spend 20 minutes racing scale models of vintage Lolas, Mercedes, and Ferraris against Mark and Haven (not that anyone ever beats Haven in a slot car race).
Upstairs are the living quarters: a full kitchen and several bedrooms. The living space looks like any other living space, except that most houses don’t have four bike lifts and enough space to park four cars in the living room downstairs.
Speaking of that living room…
Visitors enter the space via a rollup garage door that opens on the street. This central gathering area functions not only as a social center but also as a garage/workspace filled with the Jarels' latest projects, which tend to change from day to day. Mark is usually tinkering with his 1929 Ford Model A hot rod (no parts newer than 1942), a car that’s seen action in the Race of Gentlemen. Across the room on a bench might sit a 1936 Indian Sport Scout in mid-restoration. Given Mark’s penchant for taking on projects that others would deem lost causes, this one’s probably a “fire bike,” burned to the ground and junked by someone else. Mark, ever the bargain hunter, will salvage the frame and rebuild the rest from found parts.
On the next bench over sits Haven’s own prize-winning build, a 1969 Honda CL70 with a 110cc engine, which he built at age 13 and which took third place at the 2015 Deus Bike Build Off. Haven comes by his enthusiasm and talent honestly: he started begging Mark for a minibike at age three and learned to weld a few years after that.
Mark and Haven and their home and their lives are throwbacks to a time before passive consumption replaced creation as a way of filling one’s time. In our imaginations, at least, there was a time when folks passed their evenings putting new things into the world: playing a song on the piano; building a table in the garage wood shop; knitting a sweater; forging relationships with family and friends while doing each of these activities. The curmudgeon in us wonders if the ability to sit and stare at a screen and let someone else create the entertainment didn’t destroy all of that – and at what cost?
Mark and Haven, however, don’t spend too much time worrying about such questions. They’re too busy dreaming up their next project.