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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Somebody's Gotta Do It: Raising Crane

Aired October 18, 2014 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MIKE ROWE, "SOMEBODY'S GOTTA DO IT" HOST: Hey. It's me Mike Rowe. Last time, I went to Maryland. I tired to save a bell, it was a big bell, a dirty bell, been hanged from the top of an old stipple (ph), now moving that thing around just about (ph) killed me.

Anyway, I'm heading back to Maryland this time to save one of these. That's a whooping crane. They're not dirty at all, but to save them, we have to hide under a white sheet. That's me under the sheet. I didn't say lots of weird.

Somebody's Gotta Do It. New show, new mission, same guy.

So I get e-mail all the time and people would tell me I absolutely must watch this. And that's what this e-mail said. There was a link and I clicked it and then I saw all of that, some birds, flying after a guy, dress up like a ghost who appears to be flying around in a hang glider with a motor on it. So I watched and I thought it looked pretty cool and I said, "I would like to do that."

So I called the insurance company to see if I was clear to fly around in hang glider with a motor on it and they just wrote back their responses here. I'll paraphrase. Dear Mr. Rowe, are you out of your freaking mind?

So apparently no, I am not cleared to fly around in what is an ultra light technically. However, I do have permission to check out these birds which turns out are a Whooping Cranes. They're endangered, and the people who have dedicated their lives to preserving them, work outside to Baltimore which is my hometown. So I thought it might be fun to go meet them. Best of all, the story begins in an SUV which incidentally, I'm cleared ride around it.

So let's recap, I am not allowed to take the skies in an ultralight aircraft with the Whooping Cranes, but I am allowed to check them out on the ground.

I meet Dr. John French, the guy who teaches the birds to follow that contraction and find out why? All this happens is not far from where I grew up in Maryland. So along the way, I'm dazzling the fellows with my knowledge of local landmarks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was that?

ROWE: That's a landmark.

The Patuxent Wildlife Research Center is a landmark that I'm not familiar with. Happily, my crew has conducted extensive research.

You haven't been or you haven't scouted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.

ROWE: You really have not done one thing...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not one thing. We are going in with no plans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I'd say from costume to production we are winging it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How bad is that?

ROWE: The first thing I learned about Dr. French is that he's a good- natured bureaucrat who likes to personally give out the name tags.

JOHN FRENCH, RESEARCH MANAGER AND HEAD OF THE CRANE PROGRAM: OK. Well, actually I'd like just to meet everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

ROWE: And I know you're bureaucrat. How are you?

Now that I'm duly tagged, it's time to get down the business. So right now, we're going to follow you about how far to where?

FRENCH: A couple of miles down the road to the crane breeding area.

ROWE: So let me just get a couple preliminaries out of a way. What's the program officially called?

FRENCH: The Whooping Crane Restoration Program I guess is a good way to describe it.

ROWE: Also, where are my manners just to be official, tour name is?

REBERT DOYLE, BIOLOGICAL TECHNICIAN: Robert Doyle.

ROWE: Robert Doyle.

BRIAN CLAUSS, BIOLOGICAL TECHNICIAN: Brian Clauss.

ROWE: Brian Clauss.

RACHEL ROBERT, INVESTIGATOR, PATUXENT WILDLIFE RESEARCH CENTER: Rachel Robert.

JANE CHANDLER, FLOCK MANAGER, PATUXENT WILDLIFE RESEARCH CENTER: Jane Chandler.

ROWE: Jane Chandler. This is going to be great.

So is this the premiere place in the country for this work?

FRENCH: In all humility, yes. ROWE: Jane?

CHANDLER: Yes.

ROWE: Rachel?

ROBERT: Yes.

ROWE: All right. So where exactly...

FRENCH: Thank you Rachel, thank you Jane. That was good answer.

ROWE: All right. So we're in the right place, we're in the right place with the right people. Would somebody woop for us before we go?

FRENCH: How's that?

ROWE: That's not bad.

All right good. I think we're all set. We're up to see cranes.

FRENCH: You and I can go into some observation tens over here and get up close and personal.

These birds are native only to North America. 22 birds were alive in 1942.

ROWE: On the planet?

FRENCH: On the planet. We figured there was something like three or four breeding females essentially.

ROWE: So we're down to three? I mean...

FRENCH: Well, three for breeding females.

ROWE: Right. How many today?

FRENCH: Something over 500 in total.

ROWE: So why do you -- what do you give a crap?

FRENCH: You know, personally, I kind of got into the whole field because I was innocent (ph) in bird watching as a young kid. And like the challenge of scientific process. But I think you know, once, you know, you develop those tools, it's important to put in their good use and certainly conversation of natural resources is.

Also, I think they have just as much of a right to be on the earth as humans or any other species does. So there's sort of a moral aspect to it.

So those are the two things that drive me. I think just curiosity and great interest in the natural world and the kind of moral...

ROWE: Moral component. FRENCH: ... moral side of it. Yes, right.

So these are Sandhill Cranes you're hearing here.

ROWE: Right.

FRENCH: The Sandhill Cranes are very common in North America.

ROWE: Are they endangered or not as...

FRENCH: Not at all.

ROWE: Not at all.

FRENCH: Why is that we have we have Sandhill Cranes here?

ROWE: Yeah?

FRENCH: We have Sandhill here because they are surrogate species.

ROWE: Surrogate in what way?

FRENCH: They incubate within crane eggs.

ROWE: Right.

FRENCH: Sometimes we can get four, five, six, seven, eight eggs from a bird who is normally laying only two.

What do with those eggs?

ROWE: I've no idea Doctor. What do you do?

FRENCH: We stick them under Sandhill Cranes to incubate.

ROWE: Of course.

FRENCH: Robert, take Mike and show him the fine art of grooming a crane.

ROWE: That's what I want to see.

What kind of damage could be inflicted?

FRENCH: We've had people packed and bitten.

CHANDLER: Hold your hands a bit farther.

ROWE: Like this?

CHANDLER: Yeah.

FRENCH: Here it comes.

ROWE: Easy, hey buddy. I know. Look, it's not a lawn mower. I'm not going to mess with you. There you go. His back a little bit.

CHANDLER: Good job.

ROWE: That's good.

I mean, it's always good to do something with your day that you've never ever done before, you know? Today, I kept a crane at bay with a broom.

I've done so much work with brooms over the years Jane but this rally is a whole new world.

CHANDLER: OK, we're leaving. So, just backup, don't turn your back to him.

ROWE: Stop that.

You got a wild puma (ph)? Maybe I can introduce myself to?

God.

CHANDLER: Well done.

ROWE: Thank you.

That was the first sound faint praise I've gotten from Jane all day. I'm feeling pretty good.

CHANDLER: There you go.

ROWE: Some people wait all their lives to be on T.V. Jane is not one of those people.

Jane, come here and say something interesting. You know what you are? You are a reluctant subject aren't you?

CHANDLER: Yes.

ROWE: It's best to be honest, why do hate television?

CHANDLER: Let's talk about cranes.

ROWE: See what's happens?

All right, you'd only be here, three months? And so far you're loving it?

ROBERT: I do.

ROWE: What's up with Jane?

ROBERT: Jane's is my hero.

ROWE: Tell me why?

ROBERT: She is so smart and driven.

ROWE: OK. So, this show as you may know is about people who are truly driven and very passionate and it's certainly seems like Dr. French fits the do (ph) but I'm thinking Jane is, maybe even more so. She's a true believer.

ROBERT: Yes.

ROWE: She's committed to the crane.

ROBERT: I don't think she owns a t-shirt that doesn't have a Whooping Crane on it.

ROWE: Seriously?

ROBERT: Yeah.

ROWE: Do you ever watch CNN?

It's OK if you don't, very few do.

CHANDLER: Not so much.

ROWE: But, I mean if you guys would be willing if give the show and try, I'll come back and maw your lawn.

After the Sandhills, I've taken the Whooping Crane eggs under their wing. The eggs have then moved to an incubator where they're monitored until they hatch. That is where things get really weird.

FRENCH: We're very careful about what these young birds see and hear. So, around the birds, no talking, and you're in costume which is going to mean, you look like you're wearing burqa and you got a little puppet head...

ROWE: Right.

FRENCH: ... and we're training the birds to do what they need to do when we release them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right Mike, you are about (inaudible) to go where no man has gone before. You're going to wear a burqa on the CNN.

ROWE: A white man on a burqa on CNN.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not a burqa.

ROWE: That's a promo. Lenny (ph), get in here. That dirty guy put on a burqa.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROWE: Where here in Maryland at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center to work with Dr. French as he strives to bring the Whooping Crane back from the brink of extinction. Now we're going to checking on some new Whooping Crane chicks.

OK, what's the plan?

CARLIN CALDWELL, VETERINARY TECHNICIAN: Let gear up and I'll show you some basics about the chicks and we'll go check out some babies.

ROWE: I've been handling chicks all my life.

CALDWELL: Not like this. If you're uncomfortable and can't see, you're doing it right.

ROWE: If I had a nickel for every time I heard that. It's very...

CALDWELL: White.

ROWE: Yes. Who's am I wearing?

CALDWELL: You're wearing yours, they're specially for you.

GLENN OLSEN, VETERINARY: Carlin hand makes these.

ROWE: No.

OLSEN: Yes.

ROWE: You custom made this?

OLSEN: Yes, she's custom made these for you.

CALDWELL: So, did you wish...

ROWE: Well let's just take a moment to drink all this in.

Why are we doing this?

CALDWELL: Dr. Olson?

ROWE: Dr. Olson?

OLSEN: We're in these costumes to disguise our human shapes. Secondarily, this sort of look like a white crane but we don't really look a crane. But we don't look like humans, that's the main purpose to keep the chicks from associating with humans remain after they're release.

ROWE: Right.

OLSEN: So you can just put this down now and you can get a good -- there.

CALDWELL: I want to give you a few pointers before we go in there on how to hold the chicks.

ROWE: OK.

CALDWELL: Rule number one, do not drop the chick.

ROWE: Don't drop the chick.

CALDWELL: Rule two, don't squeeze them too hard.

ROWE: Don't squeeze the chick too hard. Let's do this.

CALDWELL: OK, visors down, laces off and let's go.

ROWE: Doctor, what's the official name for this?

OLSEN: Crane costume. That is pretty simple.

ROWE: So you went ahead and focus group that.

OLSEN: Yes.

ROWE: These chicks are getting a basic check up to make sure they're healthy.

Total silence.

I said silence.

Being this quiet for this long in real life is awkward. It's even more awkward to be this quiet for this long on television.

You see what I mean?

This is kind of interesting. The big one's fake, I have no idea.

It's so soft.

CALDWELL: They're little (inaudible).

ROWE: Yes, thank you. I'll remember this for a long time.

OLSEN: OK.

ROWE: And this is mine.

CALDWELL: That is yours. You may keep if you wish.

ROWE: Hi mom, we might actually get done today and if we do, I'll come by the house.

PEGGY ROWE, MIKE ROWE'S MOTHER: Good, we just made up your bed.

ROWE: Did you?

P. ROWE: Yes, (inaudible).

ROWE: (Inaudible) there's a sofa bed with my name on it. Hey, I got a special custom for you too. Maybe I'll come in late and see what you think.

P. ROWE: OK Mike (inaudible) if you confuse me.

ROWE: Yes, take you hard medicine. This is a good one. Now that Dr. French and his team have gotten the chicks to eat like real birds, the next stage is to build up their strength and get them use to the outside. It's a necessary step in socializing the chicks so as adults they'll be able to join together in a flock.

Hello again.

FRENCH: Hey.

ROWE: Hey, should we be whispering?

FRENCH: This is good.

ROWE: OK, this is good. What happens next?

FRENCH: We're going to take a chick for a walk. Part of their development is exercising them out in the grassy areas and getting, running around.

ROWE: Does he have a name?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

FRENCH: Why not?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can name him.

ROWE: Look at all these names, 14001.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We him call him number one.

ROWE: My guy can come with us?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

ROWE: So it's OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I can't guarantee what will happen with the camera.

ROWE: And what you can try, make yourself presentable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hear you're a big fan of puppets. This isn't a mechanical puppet so you can actually...

ROWE: This works?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We him the grabby puppet.

ROWE: I would say so, it's very mouthy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's very useful, when you're feeding chicks treats so that they don't have to see your hands.

ROWE: My hands.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, you can have that one all to yourself.

ROWE: Thank you. Hi. I enjoyed puppets. I enjoyed puppets, I'm sorry. It was better right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's much better.

ROWE: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I still can't guarantee it won't run away, but if he does, we'll get him back.

ROWE: Take a look at Troy and tell me if you Crane. Would you run for your life?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cover up.

The custom dance.

ROWE: What are we going to when we get there?

What's the goal?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The goal is to not talk, not show your hands and you have to cover you hands and to keep quiet.

ROWE: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Try not to do anything human.

ROWE: I generally don't.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So one thing to remember, they don't like people behind them that scares them. So, either beside them...

ROWE: Let them see you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And let them see you and do not step on the chick.

ROWE: So, we're going to take these chicks out in the rain and get them some exercise. I'm going to try very hard not to step on them which wearing a costume I can't see out of. It should be fun.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROWE: Hello, my name is Mike Rowe.

Welcome back to the show. Although technically, that's still a commercial, an informercial to be precise with me in it, about 25 years ago selling some beauty products I think.

That's me again selling some cars and trucks. That's my buddy Chuck (ph) by the way dressed him up as an elf last year. There he again dressed up a dog for some flea and tick products. I've got everybody I know, involved in commercials over the years. They're fun and they pay the rent. That's my mom and dad, right there by the way, selling some paper towels.

Point is, without commercials, they'd be no commercial T.V.

Introducing the Wunder Boner.

ROWE: Yeah. That happened. Anyway, long before I was the voice of the Wunder Boner, there was another form of advertising that some might argue as an American art form which is why we've come down to meet a guy in Austin who's covered the whole town in advertisements. And in the process, manage to make it look better.

So we're to sign warehouse now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no. Not a sign warehouse. This is a shop. He's an artist, nothing corporate. Everything is to guy does is costume made and this is where it does the actual design work. I think it has to close to 100-110 sites that are currently active in Austin...

ROWE: All neon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All neon, he does really good work.

ROWE: Lots of neon in Austin, lots of neon places. When you know you're in the right one if for me, is you walk in and you see all these people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey.

ROWE: He man. You're Evans?

EVANS VOYLES: I am.

ROWE: Like.

VOYLES: And probably a bit of a task finding me.

ROWE: Man, I love it.

VOYLES: Believe it or not, everything I do comes off at this table and finds its way back out of here but it is an obstacle course that I've made.

ROWE: No. It's basically -- it's like a one way -- it's a one way street through a fairly...

VOYLES: Dangerous thing, right. Yeah. Exactly. It is -- it's not that I'm a hoarder but exactly. When I was a kid, my first experience of welding was at the ranch. My father had. And we had just a welding shed and it steel all around it.

ROWE: Yeah. VOYLES: And there's just big circle and I've watch the foreman build a cattle trailer from the ground up literally. From junkie found in the ground which I thought was magic.

ROWE: Yeah.

VOYLES: And I'm sure, I didn't make a decision to replicate that experience but that is in fact what I've done because I didn't know how else to do it.

ROWE: If you had a business card and I'm guessing you don't.

VOYLES: No (inaudible).

ROWE: But -- what does it say? I mean, are you an artist? Are you a fabricator? Are you a welder? Are you a businessman?

VOYLES: I'm in design business but most of the signs I make are neons.

ROWE: Yeah.

VOYLES: I'm doing old school signs like they made them in the 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s.

And I came to this as an artist. I didn't come up to the trade and most people who are making signs did. I was an artist making hard work that look like signs and then I was an antique dealer who deals in vintage designs.

ROWE: Right.

VOYLES: And only after those two things did I start making designs, it was actually the fact that places were getting rid to designs and let me get into this at all. The first signs I collected were either out in, you know, antique bone yards in the middle of nowhere or hanging on polls for motels that were no long in business.

ROWE: Yeah.

VOYLES: It was like big game hunting, only the game is long dead. So...

ROWE: It sounds like the perfect background thought, you grew up around fabricators. You have an artistic sensibility. You can also put stuff together and for whatever reason, you've got this proclivity for signage.

VOYLES: Yes. And also, they could help that I didn't come up through the training and I came on it from left field. I mean I was at, you know, college education. I traveled and I could speak the language that architects and the clients I had wanted to speak and they weren't getting that from the guys in the sign trader telling him, "Yeah, we don't make those anymore."

If you think about it, this is just the earliest form of communication. Not unlike the icons on your cellphone. You look at that at a glance and know where to go. We're trying to, you know, very brief moment, send a message. You're in the right place and this place is different than any place else you've seen.

So, we're building this sign. It's going to send this message.

ROWE: By the way, where did you'd you to school?

VOYLES: Yale, Yale University. I was an English major which -- go figure how did I end up.

ROWE: Now, I get it.

VOYLES: Why cutting out letters instead of typing.

ROWE: What do you working on?

VOYLES: I'm working on thing for a place called Delta Millworks.

ROWE: So this sawmill sign has been sketched out. All of these metal letters have been cutout by hand. Now, I'm helping prep the pieces for paint. Once Evans (ph) paints these pieces, the neon layer will go right on top of them.

VOYLES: And that's perfect. We've chosen to put it right above the front door because one of the many (inaudible) thing to tell people is, this is where we want you to go.

ROWE: Yeah.

VOYLES: By putting a log and going wood. We got wood. By then putting a blade on top of it, we're going to have -- we cut wood.

ROWE: Yeah.

VOYLES: At this point it could still be a 14th century sign.

ROWE: The sign will come together like a layer cake, with the layers carefully laid out with three inches of separation between the lumber and the blades to allow for neon back lighting.

VOYLES: So the neon behind here in this beautiful golden globe coming around here.

I can show you some other stuff that I have done and you'll get the idea what they look like up.

ROWE: All right. So the plan is in the cruise, into town. And take a look at some of your...

VOYLES: Yeah. Let's go look at some signs.

ROWE: What was this for?

VOYLES: That's one of my art works. I made that four years ago, I guess. And I kept that one. I usually sell them but that one I kept because it's kind of about my daughter. And she's blind and so what those sockets, the ones that are actually in there, spell in Braille is her name, Z-E-L-D-A. This actually a paining my daughter could feel her way into.

ROWE: Wow.

VOYLES: And, there's -- not unlike neon. And this is what I like about neon is the layers we're dealing with.

ROW: Yeah.

VOYLES: Of information. We got the back can. We've got the letters floated off. We've got them partially deconstructed theoretically all of those where they have sockets. But we've only chosen ones we want. And we've only chosen the light of ones that make the actual letters.

This is -- for somebody who sit there and literally one day go, "Oh my god, I never saw (inaudible) before."

ROWE: Right.

This is your working truck?

VOYLES: Yeah.

Holly smokes man. I thought so this was a prop. You actually grind this?

VOYLES: Yeah.

ROWE: You got some triple A?

VOYLES: In case we breakdown, you're worried?

ROWE: I'm not worried. I'm just looking ahead.

VOYLES: I got the triple A.

I've driven around this town with some very odd things in the back of the trucks, so people in South Austin are used to seeing strange things come out of this building.

It's kind of, how many people get to say they changed the way their hometown looks?

ROWE: Right. And we're about to see just how much Evan (ph) has changed the way Austin looks.

He's got a truck with a genie in the back. Speed genie, 600-700 pound. I'm not sure where it came from. I'm not really sure where we're headed. Trucks (inaudible) 1966. It's his dad's truck. It's nearly 40 years old. Still appears to run.

(COMMERICAL BREAK)

ROWE: Evans made a lot of signs over the years, helped businesses, sell a lot of products.

VOYLES: So I did all of these signs here because these are my neighbors.

ROWE: Is that you?

VOYLES: Yes, that's me. See, you're already giving the idea. You recognized the start off.

ROWE: Here's one of his favorites. Lucy's Fried Chicken.

VOYLES: Now I wonder this will look like a really good 1940 sign. So this was a fun thing to do.

ROWE: I bet.

VOYLES: (Inaudible) so, I mean you've seen how I work. That's a big sign but it was still built on that table.

ROWE: Where'd get the girl?

VOYLES: I've had a vintage sign in my collection that was like a show girl and she's naked. And she kicks here foot and she shakes her butt. So, when James came to me and said, I want that girl for my new place. And I said, "OK, is that really the message you want to send?" And said, let's do a girl, well have her kick but let's put some clothes on here and let's you know, just dial it down a little bit.

I mean originally, they were going to have the drumstick go back and forth too.

ROWE: That sends the message.

VOYLES: Yes, it does and it's the wrong message so we decided not to do that. We just had her kick leg.

If we provided power for this 'til the end of time, it will continue to emit light. If we don't break it, it will do it forever.

ROWE: Seriously? You know, I mean that's such a long time.

VOYLES: I know.

ROWE: Eternity.

VOYLES: It's a hell of a guarantee to give people.

ROWE: It really is.

What about -- I mean a sign like this intersection like that, I mean do you ever worry that the signs are so good and distracting that somehow...

VOYLES: Wreck the car.

ROWE: Becomes distracted. VOYLES: Yes.

ROWE: Yes.

VOYLES: Yes.

ROWE: You know that's happened. It's statistically, it has to.

VOYLES: There was a sign at 12 from Lamar on the north side of the river. It had a giant bug, a three-dimensional bug on top of the sign of the plugs rotate. It was all lit up with neon and I love that when I was a kid. And we would get pizza at a place right across the street.

My dad had (inaudible). He had a sunroof. Nobody else I mean that is sunroof and I'd make him drive under that so I can look up at the sunroof at this bug looking like I was going to pound. I loved it. So, of course inevitably one time we're going to get pizza, he's in a hurry don't want to take me go (inaudible) the bug. He wants to straight and get the pizza. He leaves me in the car, he says, "Don't touch anything." I'm three-years-old and he goes and he get the pizza. You don't do that.

I touched everything.

ROWE: Sure.

VOYLES: And I got it in gear and I backed out into Lamar and he had in powerful of this Hispanic family, they were just stunned to see a three-year-old at the wheel. And my excuse was, I wanted see the bug. Take me to the bug. I was drawn into the bug like the bug is drawn to the light. And, you could argue I've been wrecking cars that way ever since, or making bugs are the same.

ROWE: (Inaudible) of full of Hispanic Americans.

VOYLES: Yes. They interrupted my trajectory and I interrupted theirs. I was on my way to the sign...

ROWE: Right, and they were on their way wherever.

VOYLES: They were on their way home probably.

ROWE: So no one got to their intended destination.

VOYLES: No.

ROWE: Because of the sign.

VOYLES: One could argue philosophically that I didn't get to my intended destination. Here I am making these things, now we need to find the Hispanic family and ask them what happened to them subsequently.

ROWE: And here's where the show gets crazy. Gonzales' come on out. This is your lucky... VOYLES: It is. It's amazing.

ROWE: Come on out, and tell us what they won.

VOYLES: That's right.

ROWE: Where we're going to go now with your Genie track.

VOYLES: We're going to go to Uhland which is where all the other genie signs lived and then we're going to -- from there, (inaudible) where they make new last for all these signs. I'm coming on (inaudible).

ROWE: Here I come.

VOYLES: Here I come, those were to my first, Mayo is mine, the (inaudible) is one including the one of the building the first time I did stay. Home slides. Homes slides, the girl throwing the pizza.

ROWE: So tell me where we're it headed now?

VOYLES: We are going to go to Uhland, Texas, a really little cotton town that time forgot.

ROWE: Your art, you gravitate, not towards the blank campus but toward some kind of a utilitarian purpose and then you find a way to make it either artistic or special or unique...

VOYLES: Yes. What I'm interested in is unintentional art. I believe and that is now hard to make a case. That neon science is the kinds I'm interest in, our folk art. In other words, they were design to build to serve a purpose to do a job. However, somewhere in there, people got passionate enough about it to make them beautiful objects while they're at it.

I like the irony of something that was intended to do b job but it's also beautiful at the same time. You know, a rug is designed just to keep your feet warm but to make it beautiful to put yourself into an artistry of the design and the weave and everything, that's where you're taking it to art and yet it is still a rug. Somebody may hang on the wall but it's a rug.

ROWE: Right

VOYLES: My idea was you hang this neon sign on the wall because it's art. This is American folk art.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VOYLES: 20 years ago, place ahead burned down. Suddenly everything owned go up in smoke and, you know, family photos everything.

ROWE: Everything you owned.

Wow. VOYLES: Once I walked out, you know, the pans I had on and the boots that I had on, that was it. And at that time, the main thing I owned and I was already known for was the world's biggest collection of vintage cowboy boots.

ROWE: And they and everything else you owned gets burned up.

VOYLES: It was then I had the world's biggest collection of burnt cowboy boots.

Yeah.

When the fire hit, there was a little bit of a collection of signs I have outside and they weren't hurt at all. So overnight I was in the sign business, like it or not.

ROWE: This is the warehouse behind us?

VOYLES: It is.

ROWE: So here it is. What is it again?

VOYLES: This is the place where dreams go slumber, if not die.

Every sign in here was somebody's dream for this business, this was certainly not what they thought was going to happen.

ROWE: What is this?

VOYLES: He keeps an eye on the place or more as point he keeps an eye on the doors.

ROWE: Somebody walks in to rip you off and get a look at this thing, I'd imagine they'd run screaming.

VOYLES: Remember the story I told about wrecking the car to kind of get to the bug?

ROWE: Yes?

VOYLES: That's the sign the bug sat on.

That is the sign the bug sat on.

ROWE: If there's some horrible mistake in editing we don't use the story before when we were at Lucy's cheken where he confessed to being three-years-old and wrecking the family car because he was looking at the bug on a sign, that's was the bug he was talking about.

VOYLES: Yes. And you made a note to your self for later for editing.

ROWE: And to an editor. I know, they don't let me in the editing.

VOYLES: This was (inaudible) from Lamar.

ROWE: And there it is, the sign that started it all. The bug was up here.

VOYLES: The bug was up here.

ROWE: And that thing is fun.

VOYLES: Yes.

This is my permanently collection and I'm keeping in case I ever get to do a museum of vintage road side attractions.

ROWE: Evan's dream for all these stuff is to create a permanent installation that will let people experience something like what the old (inaudible) like.

OK so, hopefully with a little luck, all of these gets transformed. In a not to distant future...

VOYLES: I don't know about that part but keep going.

ROWE: ... into a museum of sorts.

VOYLES: That'll be great, because this is not the only place full of junk I have.

ROWE: Years ago I walked into bar called Elbow Room (ph).

And the bar tender was -- she was wiping off blood off the bar and then the other guy was sweeping the floor. And I saw a couple of things roll a floor and look a lot like teeth because they were teeth. As you said, yes five minutes ago, you missed, there was hammer fight.

I said, "What?" They said, "Yeah a couple of guys they got upset over something." But the question I never had answered properly was why are men walking around with hammers?

VOYLES: Secondarily the way she said it like that, it makes it sound like, it happens all the time.

ROWE: You missed it maybe tomorrow...

VOYLES: Tomorrow we'll have pliers fight.

ROWE: Yeah there's pliers...

VOYLES: Beer fights are usually on Friday.

ROWE: Our last stop probably should have been our first stop. Maybe we saved the best for last because this is where Evan gets his glass bent and his neon blown.

How are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, good.

ROWE: Is this is really place of work? It just happens to have a bar and pool table and couch and shuffle board?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I decided a long time ago that my favorite part of the day was drinking beer after work and so I decided I'd make my workshop sort of like bar.

ROWE: It's not sort of like bar, it's a bar.

But I would to see you bend glass and maybe learn something.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, all right.

I've already got this one started. This is double stroke A, it's made in reverse.

VOYLES: So I made that pattern for him, he lays it down the table and then he starts bending.

ROWE: So you're going to blow into it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am, when I bend, I blow into it to keep it from collapsing. Otherwise it would kind of key (ph) like a straw when you bend the straw.

ROWE: And shaping the glass the fit that pattern, not as easy as it looks, you have to heat the glass then you have to bend it very quickly but very accurately. It takes years of practice.

I have about five minutes.

Pretty close? Say it when.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could try that.

ROWE: Like that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good.

ROWE: I don't want to force it.

OK, take two.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay, I think you're ready.

I think -- well.

It wasn't hot enough.

ROWE: Wasn't hot enough.

And the third time is the third time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to go to the other way.

ROWE: This is really hard.

That's very, very difficult. VOYLES: If you had a five foot piece of spaghetti and you dipped it in hot water and somebody write your name in the next four seconds with it.

ROWE: Yeah.

VOYLES: That's what you're trying to do.

ROWE: That's right.

VOYLES: It takes years of practice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next bend would...

ROWE: But I still tried it one last time and I did manage to get one of the process right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not bad.

VOYLES: They're going to be happy.

ROWE: Yeah?

If you just tuned in, I just made part of a letter.

Once the glass the cools and hardens, Kirk (ph) fills it with neon or argon gas. This is the most dangerous part of the process. Before you add the gasses to a tube, you have to suck all the air out and then run electricity through it to burn off the impurities that could alter the color of the gas.

And when I say electricity, I mean a lot of electricity.

VOYLES: That transformer sitting over there is not unlike the once you see on power polls. There's enough G's there to run an electric chair, it would kill dead (ph).

ROWE: So this is the dangerous part of the shop?

VOYLES: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

ROWE: Once that's done, you could pump the argon in. Then, little bit of mercury to brighten the color and seal the whole thing up. It sounds simple but this craft that has taken Kirk (ph) 30 years to master.

You know what I feel right now? I feel the need to sum up.

VOYLES: I'm surprised you waited so long.

ROWE: Heaven made a sign and through the wall he spurted (ph), Kirk (ph) you got some gas and tubes to blow it. Well, then I wondered in, I thought I could bend, now the kings of neon, they're the guys who got to do it. You know why, right?

Somebody's got to do it, somebody's got to do it. Everywhere I wonder, people put their hearts into it. It ain't a lot of money or the way they might (inaudible) old or young we're having fun. Somebody's got to do it.

And that's the way that song goes.

I thought it was a pretty good effort all things consider really.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He turned off the camera 30 minutes ago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry.

ROWE: What?