Friday, February 28, 2014

"A Story About A "Long, Long Time", Ago!"

Here's tonight's beddy-bye:

All things aside, no ticket to ride.
Doc gives good advice, no bandaids at my side.
And time washes clean the bloody wounds unseen,
My horoscope told me, but I don't know what it means.

Cause I've done everything I know to try and stop the bleed,
And I think I'm gonna be awake for a long long time!

Cut drinking here,
I held back the tears.
I can't say it hurts me, 'cuz my finger's in the beer.
And I never knew, what a paper cut can do.
All the while my thumb's stuck in the beer and turning blue.
Cause I've done everything I know 'cept trying to suck my thumb,
I know it's gonna hurt me, can't believe I'd be that dumb!

I'll wait for the day,
The pain to go away.
Knowing that you warned me of how awake I'd have to stay,
And l'm, full of flaws...
I am the cause!
Thinking of the memory of what it's like to saw some logs!
And, I've done everything I know to try to ease my mind,
And I think I'll be in misery, all through the night time.

Cause I've done everything I know to try to feel real fine,
But, this cut will keep me awake, for a long, long time.

This is one of my "Beddy-Byes" I wrote to say goodnight to my internet friends. I'm spoofing the Linda Ronstadt song, "Long, Long Time!" Some of the folks who stay up later than I do, like to try and guess the title of the songs I spoof. This one was pretty easy. Some of my spoofs are harder to solve. I get a bit disappointed if no one can guess the title and then, I get a chuckle, if it is too easy. 

But, this song reminded me of something in my past that I almost had forgotten. I am writing this story to make sure I never forget that I actually met the guy who wrote the song,"Long, Long Time" at a special birthday party for a friend at the comedy club called, "The Ice House" in Pasadena, CA. His name is Gary White. He played a couple of his tunes on stage as his birthday gift to our friend, but he wouldn't play that song.

I don't remember how we got on the subject of the song. In our conversation at the bar, he might have introduced himself as the writer, but I really don't remember. We shared a beer or two, and in between sips, I told him that I really loved that song. At the time, it was definitely on my top twenty five list. I told him that I really liked the use of the harpsichord in the arrangement, a statement the big guy kinda scoff at. We talked about the music industry and his disillusionment with the business end of it. He asked me if I was a musician to which I replied in the affirmative. He asked me if I was waiting to go on stage and I answered, "Kind of!"

Before he left the bar to go on stage, I had to drive home my belief that he wrote the song with the same heartfelt emotion I shared with Ronstadt.

I said, "If you didn't like her arrangement, surely you must admit the lyrics are beautiful."

His response was, as he walked away to go on stage, "My version of the song would not be recognizable, if I sang it the way I had written it!"

I was flabbergasted, and felt rather silly, like I was being spoofed by this trucker dude.

I later asked my friend, Tholo Chan, who threw this party for his wife, if indeed, that big guy playing on stage, was the writer of that song. Tholo was, at one time, the bass guitarist for the folk rock group the,"We Five." He assured me that the big, burly, bearded man with thick, wide, truck driving hands playing on stage, was indeed, the writer of the song, "Long, Long, Time!

Later, at home that night, I had to find out for myself if Tholo was right by checking the credits written on the album itself and under the title was written, Gary B. White.

You know, you just never know…

Copyright 2014/ Ben Bensen III

Monday, February 24, 2014

"Another Nixon Galloway Watercolor… Number Fifteen And Possibly The Best!"

Well, it has been a long time since I last posted any more of Nixon Galloway's watercolor art for United Airlines. It was my intention to post this painting as the last in the series, but I felt it was time to post another one especially since I've now have the time to do it. Unfortunately,  I'm not in the studio to pick one from the collection Nick gave me on that C-141 flight to DC with the Society of Illustrators, way back a long time ago.

So, this one will have to suffice.

Actually, I think this one is his best. I got to see the original when it hung as a Gold Medal winner at a Illustration West show, way back when. I've never been moved by art of any kind. I mean, my physical responses to the visual arts has never been to me like, maybe, music is. I've never gotten "goosebumps" from any piece of art ever. Not Picasso, Andy Warhol, Sargent, Rockwell, Fuchs, Van Gogh, Van Went, or Van Gone!


This Nixon Galloway piece made me feel like I wasn't standing up straight and if I don't stand straight soon, I'm gonna fall into some abyss. I guess that's what some people call "vertigo." When I look to see how close this pilot came before pulling up and clearing the barn, it almost makes me feel like cringing and then, breathing a sigh of relief!

Anyway, thanks Nick for sharing your aviation knowledge, your talent and yourself with me and sharing all of your wonderful watercolors with the av art world.

Copyright 2014/Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"Winks, Blinks And Goo-Goo Eyes Abound!"

"Pee-Pie, 'da Ba-a-a-bee!"
So, I take my mom to a new restaurant she hasn't been to in Covington for breakfast to "celebrate" Presidents' Day.

"What President?", she asks and I say, "All of them!"

She negotiated all six steps quite well, refusing to give in to the handicapped ramp. When we arrived at the counter at "Coffee Rany" to order breakfast all she could see was the pastry case. A couple of women chuckled when I told mom she had to finish her breakfast first… and then, dessert.

We don't really have a whole lot to share at any meal. Mom will talk about the food that I've prepared or that which we are enjoying at a restaurant. She gets real defensive if you asked her questions she can't or won't answer to. Many an argument was started by innocent questions asked to break the awkward silence as we eat… for years!

After our short conversations, a woman walks in with her baby and I'm thinking, oh no, not this again, while simultaneously giving thanks for the new "floor show." The place is packed and I am the lone adult male out of about forty women, so naturally, everyone sighs and coos and goes gah gah at the baby. The mother, at the request of the crowd, lifts the little girl up out of the carrier and a standing ovation ensues.

When the encore dies down, and the mother sits back down to have her breakfast, my mom's enthusiasm only begins to kick into high gear. She begins by staring at the toddler until the baby turns her head to acknowledge mom. Then, it's all on. As I hide behind a Gambit or USA Today, mom smirks, blinks, winks, gurgles baby talk, smiles, makes "pretty eyes, and " plays "Pee Pie, from across the table.

This isn't just today. This is every time my mom sees a baby. The funny thing about it, the babies seem to love it!

Now, stop and think about this for a moment. A strange eighty-nine year old, toothless woman, with a bulbous nose, a hairy face that sags in all directions, and a colored beret, sticks her face in front of a baby and makes "goo-goo" eyes… and the babies love it.

It sure would frighten the hell out of me!

And, just when the novelty wears off, another mother strolls in with her newborn and the show begins again. This went on for almost two hours. My mom's a slow eater, especially when she is entertaining so many clients. Feeling sympathy for the mothers, I always try to find a way to distract my mom from overstaying her "welcome." Many times, it doesn't work, but this time…

"Hey mom, how about that carrot cake or petit four you were eying in the pastry window?"

Got her!

Copyright 2014/ Ben Bensen III

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"The Signs Says, Long, Haired Freaky People Need Not Apply!"

At the corner of Johnson and University Avenue circa 1971.
"Signs, sign, everywhere a sign,
Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind,
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?"

Signs like these, who needs art directors, ha!

A few weeks ago, someone posted on Google+ a bevy of humorous signs that had slogans to advertise a company's services. They are just chocked full of word play and double entendres, like: At a Towing company: "We don't charge an arm and a leg. We want tows." or, On an Electrician's truck: "Let us remove your shorts." And, one can imagine the companies with employee names like: Uramus B. Dragon, or Al E. Gater, or, Haywood U. Buzzov!

It's kinda fun

The posted article got me thinking about that song by the Five Man Electric Band entitled,"Signs!" In the song, the singer is rebuffed and ridiculed, right and left, for being different which, in the sixties, meant having long hair. They slyly ended with a religious last verse, which I always thought was interesting. The first "hippie" fallout song that touted religion as a way to solve or cope with all the horrible and divisive things happening in the sixties, drug culture included, was, to me, "Get Together" by the Youngbloods. I believe that was in 1968. It seemed strangely different from what was then known as "the devil's music."

Norman Greenbaum's, "Spirit In The Sky"came in a bit later mentioning Jesus and being saved… Nice riff, but Norman Greenbaum!

Okay, enough rock'n roll history! What does this have to do with a billboard for a bank?

The song by the "Five Man Electrical Band" will forever be embedded in my head because my first professional job, was, as ad design student at USL in Lafayette, LA, an overnight job illustrating a gold pocket watch for a billboard. The billboard was newly constructed atop a fashion boutique and adjacent to a "head shop"and was directly across the street from the campus.

I was so proud that an agency thought enough of my talent to hire me for the job and to get paid to do it. That first job paid me $180.00, which was pretty good bread back then. But, more importantly, it proved to me that I could make a living as an artist and that I did have something of value… my talent. This billboard was done before I graduated from USL, before I split to Dallas and turned down a junior A.D. job at Tracey/ Locke and it was before I got accepted to attend the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. It probably was one of the portfolio pieces that helped me get accepted.

Thanks Richard Heubner!

Besides being confident in my athletic prowess, back then, this board helped me feel like I was a valid member of the design community. To me, back then, it was everything more than just a check. So, I told everyone I knew…

Of course, this was in 1971, and all my "long haired hippy people" friends showed their disgust with me for polluting the air, blocking the view of oak trees, the blue skies, and the flowers in everyone's Scott McKenzie head. It was almost like I was someone who had just returned from the Vietnam War!

Ah yes, it is so true, the sign says…

Copyright 2014/ Ben Bensen III