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Barrel of Laughs

By on September 1, 2009
RoadKing Mag

Pranksters in Austin, Texas, made headlines earlier this year when they reprogrammed construction signs to warn of an imminent zombie attack. But a North Carolina State University student did them one better: He created a roadside monster.

Daydreaming in class one morning, student and street artist Joseph Carnevale got the idea to turn ordinary construction barrels into a giant creature. Under cover of night, he snuck three barrels from a site near campus back to his apartment, built the monster and returned him to the original site within hours.

Standing 10 feet tall, the monster appeared to be either hitchhiking or directing traffic away from the construction zone, though Carnevale admits he originally considered having the monster flip the bird.

The artist couldn’t resist returning to the scene of the crime later that night to watch the reactions of passers-by. And he wasn’t disappointed. “People were stopping in traffic, taking pictures with their cell phones and their cameras,” he told NPR. “And people were running up the sidewalk and posing in front of it. It was pretty funny in the few hours that it actually stayed up.”

Not everyone appreciated his creativity. Even as photos and video of the monster went viral, sparking worldwide interest, police arrested Carnevale and charged him with two misdemeanors: larceny and injury to personal property, estimating the damage at $365.

But an unlikely source came to his defense. Hamlett Associates, the construction company that owned the barrels, lobbied to have the charges dropped, and the president asked Carnevale to create another monster to display at headquarters.
Carnevale was sentenced to 50 hours of community service for his prank. But the monster’s popularity suggests we haven’t seen the last of him — or his creator.

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