Friday, April 24, 2009

a man who knows his parts

The man is Jack Barker.  At his shop in Essex, Illinois, some six miles from Route 66, he churns out a whole lotta fun, using scrap metal that he welds, hammers and bends into animal, human and fanciful forms as they occur to him.  And watching Jack for awhile in his shop, it's easy to see how much occurs, since he pretty much gets one idea after another.  The man has tools, and he knows how to use them!
In the beginning, he told us, his friends were afraid to be seen helping him haul the big things around.  Fifteen years later, people around town have gotten used to seeing the yard continue to grow.  We particularly liked Jack's way with metal shavings from nearby factories, which he's incorporated cleverly into beards, hair and the fur on buffalo and camels.  It's unlike anything we've seen before.
He, on the other hand, had never seen anything quite like the Big Ball o' Tape, which toured the yard in its Radio Flyer, before stopping at an Indian princess' feet for a great photo op.
Speaking of ops, the day started back near Kankakee, so we could gawk at a big Lincoln.  Not a Muffler Man, but a huge fiberglass Abe holding a sign that gets changed when the owner has something to share.  Today it was bashing the bailout.  Tough shooting conditions for Don, what with I-57 non side, a fence on another,  and mud all around, but as usual, we got more than we bargained for.  The owner pointed us out back, where an ice cream cone toting Lincoln was down for the count.  Hot dogs in his pocket too.  Or was he just glad to see us?

Music In the Van--Elvis Costello's Starbucks Artist's Choice Compilation, Bettye Lavette "I've Got My Own Hell to Raise"
Don's Found Money Count--$3.96!!!

Oh, and we started the day on a really amazing note, circling a baby-poop brown Gremlin (still functional) in the coffee shop parking lot... always a good omen. 

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