Archive for July, 2010

The Guide Dog and the Little Monkey

July 28, 2010

It’s been a hectic few days, as the schedule has been pretty busy. Friday night Nash and I went out to see a friend who volunteers at Guiding Eyes For the Blind’s buddies jazz band play. They were fantasic, and the big question of whether or not Nash would like the loud music was answered with a resounding yes. The band was so good, that we are talking to them to perform during the silent auction portion of Laugh For Sight in NYC.

Saturday night, Nash and I were invited to the 20th Anniversary screening and VIP party for Goodfellas with an intro by Henry Hill, who Ray Liotta portrays in Goodfellas. I have known Henry for years, as I did research for his book, The Goodfellas Guide to New York. Henry has also donated autogrpahed Goodfella posters for Laugh For Sight in the past, and is doing so again. You would be amazed how popular they are. I had not seen Henry in years, and I actually skipped the screening of the movie. I have seen the movie a million times, and I am blind now, so sitting in a theater for three hours not being able to see would probably be pretty frustrating. Nash and I showed up right after the party started at and yes this is not a typo, and it is real, The Museum of the American Gangster. Unfortunately, the museum which is in an old speak easy was closed for the night, and only the bar area was opened. Henry gave me a big hug when he saw me, and I am happy to report that neither Nash or I was whacked! After the party, we went around the corner to a restaurant, and I guess Henry knew the people who owned the place because he went back into the kitchen and started cooking. He is an exceptional cook, and has his own pasta sauce coming out some time. He made little pizzas for the group of us that were out, and they were amazing. Sorry, no pizza for Nash, as he doesn’t get to eat human food. Somebody got a raw deal.

On Sunday, it was off to New Jersey as my parents had driven up from Florida to babysit my 20 month old niece. My sister and her husband went on vacation to a resort in the Dominican. A year ago, I probably would have just taken the train down to Livingston, NJ, but unfortunately, my vision has deterioated to where it is difficult for me to take NJ Transit, as they are not the most accomodating of public transportation services out there. Besides what is one more state North for my parents as they came all the way from Florida. Also, they had brought with them the framed painting of Nash that my Mom had done. If you haven’t seen the picture of it, it is amazing and was posted in an earlier blog and on my facebook page. We headed back to NJ for me to spend a few nights with my favorite little monkey, Siena. When we first got there, Siena was real shy around Nash and me. Hey, Nash weighes three times as much as her, and I can’t even do the math for how much more I weigh. She did warm up later in the day, and it’s appropriate that I nicknamed her my favorite little monkey a year ago, because she loves to climb now. She also loves running all over her house, and the pitter patter of her little feet remind me of a cartoon character. On a down note, it is pretty depressing that I can’t see her, and you can’t really ask me to watch her, as she gets into a lot of things, and I can’t see what she is doing. I don’t have to see to be able to tell that you have never ever seen a kid with so many toys. They were neatly put away until she got into them, making a constant obstacle course for the blind guy. She also talks a lot now, although I couldn’t seem to pick up a lot of it. I was able to tell that her favorite word while her Mom and Dad are out of twon is Baba which she calls my Mom, her Grandma. She calls me Uncle B, and she even can say Nash, and nice doggy. Her third favorite word is Elmo, and even though she only gets to watch a few minutes of tv a day, it was all Elmo all the time. The funniest thing is when you ask her where her belly button is, and she picks up a shirt, great, I got a niece who likes to flash you. Something tells me the parents are going to regret that in 18 years and on Spring Break. Nash did get a little jealous around Siena, as she gets all the attention, but he was very well behaved, and did not even attempt to pick up one of her toys or dolls. You could even tell that he was looking after her, but he would come over and give everyone a lick and say what about me? By day three out in NJ, Siena and Nash were fast pals. In the morning, they were playing together, as she would get into her toy car, and wave goodbye to Nash and then stroll away. They even had a playdate in her room, just the two of them. Nash kept following her all around the house, and Siena did seem to enjoy it. When Nash and I were in the kitchen, little Siena brought Nash’s bone in to the kitchen for him. She even tried to give him his bone into his mouth. Pretty amazing considering she was standoffish three days earlier, and pretty amazing how well behaved and trained Nash was, so anyone thinking about getting a guide dog who has an infant, they go really well together. It struck me on day three, that Siena really loved Elmo, and amazingly with all of her toys, she didn’t have an Elmo doll. Well, that was it, Uncle B had to rectify the situation, and we headed to Toy’s R’us, and Siena now has an Elmo doll. I was even nice to her parents, as I got her an Elmo doll that doesn’t speak. Hey somebody is getting in early on being the cool favorite Uncle. Oh yeah, did I mention I was visiting with my parents, it was nice to see them to!

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Announcing the Laugh For Sight website

July 22, 2010

To quote Christian Slater in the great move Heathers, “Greetings and Salutations,” not sure why that popped into my head, but it did. With Laugh For Sight picking up a lot of steam moving forward, our website went under a massive over haul, and a bit of a facelift. A special shout out to Kelly Stewart and Rye for all their hard work and new sleek design. Please stop by and check back often as the site is still be updated with the latest and greatest info, the site is http://www.laughforsight.com. If you have any advice on the site, feel free to hit us up at info@laughforsight.com, and remember what your Mom said, if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

It’s been a very busy week at Laugh For Sight, as we are under two month’s until Laugh For Sight 5 at Gotham Comedy Club, NYC on Monday, September 20, and we are in full sponsor approach. We offer several different sponsor packages, everything from financial donations to table sponsorship to auction donations to program advertising, and we offer local and national sponsor packages. Hey, we have been doing this for five years, and have learned a thing or two in that time, but not much more. This week we added Kramer Portraits, Exhale Spa and Eli Manning as donors to the silent auction.  It is still very difficult in this economy to get companies to donate to an auction, so we are very grateful for all of our sponsors, and just so you know, for every one yes we get, we get about ten no’s.

Just so you don’t think it is all Laugh For Sight, which it almost is, and I am spending between ten to twelve hours a day working on everything, Nash and I have a fun weekend planned. Tomorrow night, we are meeting up with one of the trainer’s from Guiding Eyes to go see a friend of his jazz band. On Saturday, I am invited to the 20th Anniversary screening and VIP party of Goodfellas with an introduction by Henry Hill who Ray Liotta portrays in the movie. Henry will also be signing some schwag for the silent auction at Laugh For Sight. You would be amazed at how much stuff like this goes for. Then on Sunday, it is out to New Jersey, as my parents drove up from Florida, and are baby sitting my niece, and favorite little monkey, Siena. Not sure how many days I will be in Jersey, as I want to spend time with the family, but need to be focused on work, but will probably at least stay out there for a night, as they did come all the way up from Florida. Nash seems to like New Jersey, hey I don’t think it is Jersey that he likes so much, but all the open space and smells.

Nash and my triumphant return to Guiding Eyes For the Blind!

July 19, 2010

This past Saturday Nash and I headed back to Guiding Eyes For the Blind for the first time since we graduated over a year ago. We were there to tell our story to the Lions Club whose main fund raising initiative is blindness and guide dogs. So first, a very special thank you to all those who donate to the Lions Club. We were there to talk about my life, visionzone, and my experiences with Nash, my guide dog. I started out addressing the crowd of over a hundred people with a nice little joke that I am not going to tell you here, as I plan to use it again when I speak publicly, so you will have to come out some time. I spoke about being diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, my journey through life living with RP, making the emotional and psychological adjustments to walking with a cane, moving back to the blindman’s paradise of New York City, getting in to stand up comedy, the founding of Laugh For Sight, coming to terms that my vision had worsened and realizing that I needed to step up to a guide dog, my experience at Guiding Eyes For the Blind, of course some cute little Nash stories, reentering society as a guide dog handler, the Visionzone experience, filming the short film and my current involvement blogging and their great help with the expansion of Laugh For Sight nationally, and of course more stories about Nash. I spoke for about 15 minutes, and had the crowd laughing when they should be laughing and sighing at the emotional portions of my speech. Overall, it was a very good experience, and the speech was very well received. They surprised me after when they asked if I minded taking some questions. Sure, why not. There were lots of great questions asked, and I am glad I didn’t use any F bombs in my speech as there were a bunch of kids on hand. What’s wrong with the word Farfanoogan? Remember that 80’s commercial campaign? They ended up having to stop taking questions, as people just kept asking them, which was nice, as it meant my speech was well received, and people still wanted to know more about Nash, me, my experiences, and VisionZone. After the Q and A, a bunch of people came up to me, and Nash and I took a bunch of pictures and I thanked people for their very kind donations. Hey, I wish I could donate more money, but unfortunately, I have more time than money, so I give back in other ways.

Nash had a great time being back at Guiding Eyes, but I was a little worried that he was going to be like, what, are you returning me? He got his nails clipped, and even got a bath, and even though he wasn’t dirty, now he is all nice and fuzzy, and smells even better than he did before. My Aunt and Uncle even popped by, as they don’t live far from Guiding Eyes, and I really think they just popped by to see the Nashster. Hey, I can take and know that he is the popular one out of the two of us, and no one really wanted a picture with me, it was all about Sir Nash A Lot!

John Oliver of The Daily Shows Joins Laugh For Sight 5!!

July 14, 2010

We got some great news as John Oliver from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart will be performing at Laugh For Sight 5 at Gotham Comedy Club, NYC on September 20, 2010. He joins legendary comedian Robert Klein and Jessica Kirson, and we will be announcing more great comedians for the lineup as soon as we have them confirmed. We also got some good news on the silent auction front as Harley-Davidson will be donating to the silent auction. No, they will not be donating a motorcycle, but rather merchandise, because after all, blind people can’t ride motorcycles. We are in full gear hitting corporations up for sponsorships and donations for the silent auction for Laugh For Sight NYC, and national involvement.

Nash and I will be speaking to the Lions Club at Guiding Eyes For the Blind this Saturday. I guess I will be doing most of the speaking. We will be talking about how a guide dog has improved my life, and if you are visually impaired, and don’t have one, I highly recommend getting one. The lifestyle compared to walking with a cane is greatly improved, and even the biggest ahole is nice to a guy or girl with a guide dog. I will also be talking about Visionzone and the positive affects it has has on my life, and of course promoting Laugh For Sight. The perfect trifecta of topic’s to spread the gospel about.

So, anyone ever go clothes shopping with a guide dog? I have. Poor fella, had to see me with my shirt off. Unfortunately, I am not in the kind of shape where anyone should see me with my shirt off. Don’t I put Nash through enough with all the travel and being on stage, shouldn’t he not have to see me with my shirt off? Unfortunately, I am to blind to tell if he put his paw over his eyes when my shirt came off. And I know what you’re thinking, how did you and a guide dog fit into a dressing room? Hey, I live in NYC, and a tiny little apartment, so the dressing room was about half the size of an NYC apartment. An airplane bathroom is a quarter of the size of an NYC apartment. I do however spare Nash the small space of an airplane bathroom, as I have the flight attendant hold his leash when I go in, and don’t worry I don’t ever use portty potties. Yuck. You don’t even have to be a germaphobic not to want to use one of those. When you are blind the whole public restroom thing is an experience you want to skip. If I have an emergency, I try and find a five star hotel to go into because you can refuse service to a blind guy and his guide dog!

Does a guide dog protect you from an alient abduction?

July 12, 2010

My apologies to the state of Arizona, as I am not talking about those kind of alients, but rather the E.T. kind. I had a really bizarre experience last night, and no, I did not see a UFO. I am blind and live in NYC, not rural Iowa where all the UFO  sightings seem to happen. Before I get into what happened last night, I just recalled a funny scary thing that happened to me in the nineties when I lived in L.A., I was getting ready to get an apartment with a guy that I had met over the summer of 1994. He had gone back to his home state, of all states, Iowa, and he was supposed to be back in L.A. so we could sign our lease, but he never showed up. Now this was before everyone had cell phones, so I couldn’t just call him. He ended up showing up a few days later, I thought nothing of it, as we were both in our twenties and flaky. We signed our least, and less than an hour later, he says to me, “do you know why I didn’t get back to L.A. on time?” I said, “no,” and he tells me he started to head out to L.A., blacked out and woke up on the side of the rode in Nebraska! OK! Then he goes on to say, “I was abducted by aliens!” This is not a joke. I was thinking, and you couldn’t have told me this before we signed the lease. So a few month’s go by of living together with no problems, and then…He comes home from work one day, I was playing Nintendo, as he runs up and shuts the blinds, he begins pacing back and forth and chain smoking, and he keeps saying, “they’re back and they’re after me!” I was pretty freaked out, as I am whose back and who is after you? He says, “the aliens,” and he continues pacing back and forth and peeking out the window. Now, I am really freaked out, and I say the smartest thing that I probably have ever said. I said, “am I in danger?” He says, “No, they just want me!” So I weent back to playing Ninetendo. He did continue this behavior for a few hours at which time, I called his Mom, and she told me to take him to the hospital and have him committed, ends up he was diagnosed as being bi-polar. I was so disappointed, as I was hoping to have a roommate who aliens were after, which brings me to last night. I take an ambien and I fall asleep. I wake up thinking it is morning, and I start to freak out as I hear voices in my apartment. I’m franticalls say hello, hello, thinking there is someone in my apartment, then I was like Nash sic Nash sic. Of course, he doesn’t know that command. Then as I come out of an ambien induced haze, it hits me, the tv is on. I fell asleep with the tv on. Damn, no aliens. Which got me to thinking, does Guiding Eyes For the Blind train their guide dogs to protect their handlers against possible alien abduction?

On a more pleasant relaxing note, Nash and I had a nice wal kto the pet store today, as we had to pick him up pet some food and snacks. It was toasty out, but Nash did seem to enjoy the walk. Funny how they offered Nash water at the pet store, but not me. Don’t we humans get hot to? I declined the offer, as I didn’t want Nash to drink out of a bowl that a ton of dogs could have been drinking out of, and we would be home shortly where he has his own water. While I have been constantly complaining about the NYC heat wave, Nash has been his typical well behaved self, making little noise, and never groaning or complaining, now if I could just get him to be on the look out for aliens, all would be fine!

Nash and my new trend

July 5, 2010

Nash and I have gotten into a strange habit, waking up at 6am! Well, actually Nash can wake up any time, and fall asleep anywhere. What I wouldn’t give for that, as I have a bit of the insomnia, but not lately. For the past week, we have been getting up pretty early, you know like regular working adults. Hey, I have always been a late night, and get a lot of work done while most of you are sleeping. I would be up to two or some nights four, but since we started moving forward working on the Laugh For Sight expansion, I seem to be getting to bed early, and getting up early. I guess when you have a focus, and enjoy what you are doing, you are excited to get up in the morning, and see where the day takes you. We’ll see how long this trend keeps up, as I do need to get out to some of the comedy clubs to talk to comic’s about the upcoming LFS benefits. We have a very exciting end of the year, and I ask you the question, which is your Laugh For Sight? Is it Laugh For Sight 5 on Sept. 20, 2010 at Gotham Comedy Club, NYC, or our inaugural LFS L.A. on Nov. 9, 2010 in Hollywood at the Melrose Improv, or is it our inaugural LFS South Beach on Dec. 17, 2010 at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach? Like I said in previous posts, we have some exciting news coming up, and trust me, this isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. We are waiting on some confirmations, and some other things that I can’t talk about on the internet until later this year. The one constant at all three Laugh For Sight benefits will be Nash, oh yeah, and me, but most people are more excited to see Nash. Legendary Comedian Robert Klein will again be teturning for Laugh For Sight 5, and funny woman Jessicea Kirson who you may have seen on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno has joined the lineup. Alonzo Bodden from Last Comic Standing is on board for LFS L.A., and veteran LFS performers, Rich Vos and Bonnie McFarlane are on board for LFS South Beach. We hope to have some more exciting confirmations this week, as the only thing that has slowed us down is this annoying July 4th holiday.

Its been a pretty uneventful July 4th weekend, as it is like Africa hot here in NYC, so Nash and I have spent a lot of the weekend inside. It was a zoo in my neighborhood last night, as this year the fireworks were on the Hudson, so I decided it would be best to just stay in. Fireworks really hurt my eyes, and they don’t do much for a blind guy. Amazingly, we were able to hear them going off from inside the apartment, and Nash slept through all of it. He didn’t even budge during the loud explosions outside. He is one laid back dude, except when he is licking strangers. Which is something I really need to break him of, as the other morning we were in the bagel shop across the street, standing in line, and Nash decided to lick the woman’s leg in front of us. Luckily like other women Nash has done this to, she was cool about it, and didn’t turn around and slap me. Well, that’s all folks, can’t wait for the work week to start up. I guess that is the difference when you love what you are doing and you are busy, the weekends and holidays, slow you down, and you can’t wait to get back to work. Hopefully we will get more good news about Laugh For Sight this week. Stay tuned, and if you haven’t, please join the new Laugh For Sight fan club on facebook.