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Sunday, September 30, 2012

"Coffee and Beignets... Metry-Style!"

A late night "schnack."
A long day included taking my son to the airport, not to fly, but to return his rental car before 9 pm on a Sunday night. I hadn't had any dinner that crazy evening and neither did my mom, who went along for the long seventy-five mile ride from Folsom.

It seemed like one SNAFU after another on that "day of rest" and returning our son's car was no exception. After losing the car keys to his own car after it broke down, when we dropped off the rental car, my son, Brian, also left his cellphone at the front desk and we had to return to the airport again to retrieve it.

Determined to put a positive spin on a horrible Sunday adventure, we stopped at the Morning Call restaurant in Metairie, LA ( pronounced "Metry" by the locals ) to have a couple of orders of beignets with a few cups of cafe au'lait before tackling the drive home.

It must have been about eleven pm when we drove into the parking lot. I remember long ago, when this coffeehouse was located in the French Quarter and where parking is always at a premium, when servers came out to your car and took your order right there at your car door and then, deliver it to you in the parking lot.

I don't think the waiters were on roller skates.

This night, we were lucky to find a table without having to wait, though the place was still quite crowded. Had this been a Friday or late night Saturday, we would have had to wait our turn outside and maybe thumb through a couple of magazines at the Lakeside newsstand till our names were called.

The Morning Call has always been open twenty-four seven!

I don't know if it was because I hadn't eaten in a while, or because I was exhausted by the day, or because it had just been quite a while since I ate there, but those three beignets were the best I've had in a long time.

I decided to immortalize the moment with this sketch, which was completed between my second and third cup of the "nectar of illustration!"

Copyright 2012-2013/ Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"Grown Up Toys...Number Eight!"

A cranky closeup of bulldozer.

The name of the "town" where I found this dozer is called "Cranky Corner!" I don't know why it is so cranky. Guess I just have to investigate that moniker to find out what makes it so irritable.

Anyway, I climbed out of the car to get a closer look at the workings of this machine. The entire wheel assembly and treads were encased in mud which made it hard to see all the gears and such, but conversely, made it still fun to draw. I sort of lost direction trying to define certain areas that were in shadow, but as one is drawing away, the sun is doing it's sunset thing which changes rapidly what one can draw... this time of year.

Copyright 2012-2013/ Ben Bensen III

Saturday, September 22, 2012

"Grown Up Tonka Toys...Number Seven!"

I'm pretty happy with this effort...
I found this bulldozer all alone on an empty and grassy lot next to a neighborhood bank. I found it driving home about a week ago and returned to do a few sketches the other day. It was very convenient to sketch it from my car because the machine was so close to the driveway of the bank. I'm pretty happy with this one even though some things were drawn a bit out of perspective... like the track. I returned twice to sketch the beast up close, even climbing on it and sketching from the driver's seat.

 Guess it is every boy's wish to crank this bad boy up to see what it can do... Oh, to be a little boy again!

Copyright 2012-2013/ Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"Grown Up Tonka Toys... Number Six"...

Bikes and backhoe loaders...
I found more equipment just north of a "subdivision" parked on a two or three acre plot of land. These machines probably had completed clearing the area of trees and brush and awaited a pickup. A month ago or so, cruising on my bike on this rural and seldom used street/ country road, it was covered with pine, oak and gum trees and now was pretty much "denuded!"At least, that's what I'd call it. Some would call it clearing the land for a home or shop.

Apparently, it is considered cost effective to tear down trees and replant new ones than to try and design a home around an existing tree or three. Anyway, here's a sketch of the tools of destruction... urrrr, construction!

They do, sometimes, take on a prehistoric look... or maybe, it is just my prejudice showing through!

Copyright 2012-2013/ Ben Bensen III

Friday, September 14, 2012

"More Grown Up Tonka Toys...Number Five!"

Another angle...
This is another sketch from highway LA 25 near the outskirts of Folsom and was drawn before Hurricane Isaac blew in. We were out of electricity for about thirty-six hours, which considering how bad it was for others down south of Interstate 12 and everywhere south of Lake Ponchartrain, was not bad at all. Folsom's rainfall total from the storm, at last count, was over twelve inches.

A couple of days after the storm, we drove by just to have some relief from the heat and humidity and noticed these "toys" were gone.

They probably were sent south to help in the cleanup effort!

Copyright 2012-2013/ Ben Bensen III

Friday, September 7, 2012

"Some People Can't Take A Hint"...

I went to Gus's this morning loaded down with today's Times-Picayune, my checkbook, address labels, stamps and bills. I also had my sketchbook, just in case, the mood swayed me in that direction. I needed to get out away from the responsibilities of home. Somehow, taking some work into a new or different environment helps. But before I could order breakfast, Norma, our beautiful waitress, greeted me by saying that the 18 foot cherry blossom mural, complete with cardinals flying, perched, and feeding, that I painted for her about two or three months ago, was destroyed by hurricane Isaac. The details about tenants of the apartment and their subsequent "faux paus" were sketchy, at least to me, who was and still am recuperating from dental surgery!

I felt bad for her, but I also just felt bad, so.....

I plopped myself down on the furthest table to one side of the diner and proceeded to take care of some business. Breakfast came and was eaten while I read the newspaper. I started to reflect and relax. A friend or two would come by to say hello and then realize, by noticing all the bills and correspondence across from my breakfast debris, that I wanted and needed to be alone.

Forty-five minutes later, with the bills and correspondence completed, and in a nice pile and the debris from breakfast long gone, a good friend came by and sat directly across from my table. I hadn't seen him in months and he had been so helpful to me after hurricane Katrina, I attempted to entertain him. We talked about those times, complained about the power company's late response to the hurricane and then, listened to him expound on the flood prone south, and then...

He continued to talk and talk and actually recruited the lovely Norma, who is not overly vociferous, talking about the state of the nation and the, you know, "me generation." It was about that part of the diatribe that I opened up the sketchbook and skimmed the newspaper for something to draw.

It didn't seem to bother him or slow him down. ( Actually, my feelings were kinda hurt that he didn't ask to see all the wonderful drawings in that sketchbook, but... that's just me being a sensitive artist, ha!)

Between my sporadic nods in the affirmative, this sketch of local drummer, John Vidacovich, from a picture in the "Living" section, is what I came up with.

Copyright 2012/ Ben Bensen III