Archive for January, 2011

The Blind Guy Who Drove at Daytona Did Not Steal My Top Gear Thunder!

January 31, 2011

The blind and visually impaired world seems to be abuzz, as a blind man drove at the Daytone 500. http://gizmodo.com/5746750/a-blind-man-drove-a-car-at-daytona-international-speedway

With this man driving at Daytone, of course the first thing I hear is people saying, hey Fish, this guy is trying to steal your Top Gear thunder, and my initial response, is no he isn’t, as he needed all kinds of expensive technology and sensors to get him around the track, and I just needed BALLS, oh yeah, and Tanner. While it is amazing what this guy did, driving around the track and being able to dodge obstacls, lets see him drift the way I did. Now that I got that off my chest, lets get to the practicality of it all. It is fantastic to hear about all the amazing strides that technology is making to help improve people who are visually impaired and blinds lives, but I view this stunt at Daytone to be a great waste of time, resources, money, technology, and probably some brilliant minds. Now that this guy successfully did a lap around the track and maneuvered around obstacles, what are they going to start issuing drivers licenses to blind people? And if software for my computer costs over a thousand bucks to help me use my home computer, what would a car with technology to help a blind guy drive cost? Even if they made a car that was affordable and a blind guy could drive it on the streets, I’m sorry, even with GPS how would one get from point A to point B? Could you imagine us parking in a crowded mall parking lot even with all the built in sensors and I assume the car speaking to you, I think it would go something like this, “Turn left into parking spot, car close on your left, car close on your right, some asshole behind you, honking at you, and zooming pass you, please try again to get into the spot, back up, no car coming, back up, error, error, error, stick middle finger up at car behind you!” Ok, so now that I have pointed out how ridiculous this whole Daytone thing was, here’s an idea, instead of wasting money on stuff that will never be a reality, take the technology, and get it built in to my tv, so I can hear what I am watching, invest more time and money in making more descriptive programming. Heck, why not make more street lights beep so blind people don’t get run over, there are only two streets in NYC that actually berep for the cross walk, 59th Street by the Lighthouse and 23rd street by Selis Manor, how the hell NYC thinks blind people will get between the two streets that beep is beyond me.

January set the record for the amount of snow in a month in the history of NYC, and while I loved it, of course Nash loved it, I did realize that I don’t know what the proper protocol and etiquette is to picking up after your guide dog in a snow storm? I try and mark where Nash is going with my foot like I normally do, but by the time I reach down to clean up after him, his poop is like Keyzer Sosze, gone! How long am I supposed to freeze my hand off digging around in the snow for it? And year, we got another big snow storm coming tomorrow or the next day. Nash still loves the snow, last week we went out when it was coming down real hard and a lot of snow had already accumulated, and after doing his business, I let Nash flop around in the snow for a little while. He was loving the fresh powder, and rolling all around in it. I was even throwing some on him and he didn’t seem to mind. He didn’t shovel it back on to me with his back paws like he had donw once before. My only problem with Nash in the snow is like I have mentioned before, he has to stick his nose in all of it, and try to eat it all. When it is fresh, I don’t see a problem with this, but after it has been there for a few days, and all the dirt of NYC has mixed in with it, I don’t want him licking it. He also seems more interested with trying to eat the snow and ice than with going to the bathroom, so any advice on this one would be appreciated. I keep telling him he has water in the apartment, but he seems more interested with the frozen kind.

“I’m Sorry, but I Do Not See A Book Here”

January 26, 2011

“I’m sorry but I do not see a book here,” was the exact quote I received from a literary agent that I had emailed to pick their brain about turning my blogs and experiences with my guide dog Nash, stand up comedy, and Laugh For Sight. Funny, because I have noticed a lot of shit out there in the book market that stuns me that someone published. It has been an absolutely dreadful start to the year, and I would like to thank this literary agent for lighting a fire in me to prove her wrong. Spiteful, yes, but I wasn’t asking for their opinion about whether or not they felt that I had a book here, but rather for some advice and guidance in the right direction. Maybe a better use of the quote “I’m sorry, but I don’t see a book here,” would have been from the publisher of Adolf Hitler’s Meinkampf, or Karl Marx’s The Communist Manifesto. So thanks for the motivation that I needed to begin organizing my thoughts in to a book.

Ok, now that I got that off my chest.

I have been having more and more difficulties seeing the computer, and that is with using Zoomtext. Both my computers are at least five years old, so I have been looking into the latest technology out there and where the improvements have been in accessibility. I went into the Apple store and played around on the Mac Pro laptop. Their Voiceover technology on the Iphone is fantastic, and it is also built in to their laptops. The Zoom feature seems pretty solid as well, but the color enhancements for the screen are fairly limited, and the price tag is fairly steep at around $2700. Their customer support is the best out there, as you can get one on one training in store, and 24 hour customer support that is not based in India. Dell which is a lot cheaper and Windows 7 has fairly limited built in accessibility options, and forget about calling Dell, as they are useless in answering any questions about accessibility. They seemed more interested in selling me a computer than making sure that I got the right machine for my situation. Also, their support is based in India, and they do not have any stores in NYC for me to go into and play around on some of their computers. I do already have Zoomtext, so I can install it on a new Windows PC, but I did want to inquire about Dell’s new touch screen features and the compatability with Zoomtext. I plan to call Zoomtext tomorrow to see if they know about the compatability, and if they can offer me some advice into what computers are best for the visually impaired, but right now it is looking like Apple has the edge.

It is snowing again in NYC. Yippee, I love the snow, not the slush, and Nash seems to like it either way. For weeks he has been licking the ice on the ground, and I have to constantly tell him to leave it. So with some fresh snow today, there he goes again trying to eat it all. He mainly does this while in his bathroom zone, not while we are working, but I don’t want to get sick from something on the street, or eat the yellow snow, and then lick me a few hours later. I guess what can you do as all of this snow and ice on the streets of NYC is like one continuous great snow cone for him!

The funniest part about the snow and rainy weather this winter is when we get back inside and I break out the towel. I have mentioned Nash’s fondness for towels in the past. He treats being toweled off like play time and he is a bull and I am the matador with the towel. Well, we went out tonight, and it wasn’t snowing or raining, but I had to towel Nash’s belly and paws off because he jumps into my bed as soon as we get inside, and I don’t want a wet bed,. So the funny thing was after I dried his belly, there he went wanting me to dry his back off even though it wasn’t wet. He just wanted to run through the towel, and then my legs, and then he would lap around again and do it over and over again. Tired me out. Hey, it takes a lot of energy to keep up with the Nashster!

Fighting Ones Fears

January 19, 2011

When you are visually impaired and going blind you live with a lot of fears, as your life and vision is extremely unpredictable from one day to the next. When I wake up tomorrow, how much will I be able to see? Is someone there, or am I imagining things or are my eyes playing tricks on me? What am I going to do with my life as my vision deteriorates? Is E.T. going to pop up out of that big and get me? Whether rational or illrational, your life is a constant state of living in fear, and you are constantly winning and losing the battles. To give you an example, for the longest time, I have been afraid to go to the grocery store, and I have ordered my food online. Unfortunately, this has become a financial burden as the food and the delivery charges are too expansive, especially when I only need a few items. I know if you are sighted, that you are probably saying, how can you be afraid to go the grocery store? Well, their are multiple reasons. For starters, I take my guide dog Nash with me everywhere. I have become so unbelievably reliant on him, that I couldn’t even imagine leaving the house without him, and taking my cane with me. I really should work a little more with the cane, so I don’t lost that skill. Amazing, that you can walk with a cane for over ten years, and how quickly not walking with one fan become foreign to you. Nash is such an improvement over the cane, a whole hell of a lot cuter than a cane, and people treat me so much better when I am with Nash compared to when I was just using a cane. My only complaint about Nash is he is the world’s biggest sniffer, and he tries to eat everything off the streets of NYC, so you can only imagine what it is like taking him in to the grocery store. It’s like he is in a Vegas casino and all the bells and whistles are going off, and he can make up his mind over whether he wants to go to the craps table or blackjack. Additionally, since my vision has greatly deteriorated, I can’t see the products in the grocery store on my own, so my biggest fear is not actually what Nash will do, but getting over that psychological burden of going into the store and asking a clerk to help me pick out what I need. Amazingly, my neighborhood grocery store is not exactly known for their stellar customer service. Again, I know how insane this must sound to those of you with sight out there, but how often do you actually ask a clerk for help, or do you spend more time trying to find something that you know is there? Well, yesterday, Nash and I manned up! We went to the grocery store, and as soon as we walked in, we went up to the counter, and said excuse me, I am blind, can someone help me pick out a few things? And while another part of my self sufficient lifestyle ended, the store could not have been more gracious or helpful. I actually got in and out of the grocery in under twenty minutes. I guess I need to give people credit more often than not, and bite the bullet, and just ask for help when I need it. I need to learn that it is not about being self sufficient and depending on people, but rather a way of life, and my life at that.

I know for my loyal readers that I have not been giving you regular Nashdates, as life has been pretty hectic, but we had a great one this morning. We all know how beautiful Nash is, and he is also brilliant, hence his namesake Nash, after John Nash who Russell Crowe portrayed in the movie A Beautiful Mind. Well, this morning, we got down stairs in my building to head out for Nash’s morning walk, and Nash immediately noticed that my lobby was once again closed for construction. Before I even heard the construction, and without giving Nash a single command, he turned right to head through the mail room, which is when I thought maybe the lobby is clased, then he took another right, and led me back to the service hallway, and sure enough there was my doorman, standing in the service area, as the lobby was closed. Amazing how Nash could quickly recognize that the lobby was closed, and immediately recall that he had to head out the service door. Wow, what a guy. He really does have the most beautiful mind!

If You’re Blind Don’t Rent A Car From Avis!

January 15, 2011

Yes, I do realize how funny the title to this blog is, but hey, I am the Top Gaar Blind Drifting Champion, so if I can drift, why not rent a car. All kidding aside though, if you have a guide dog DO NOT rent a car from Avis. In December, Laugh For Sight expanded to South Beach, and my co-founder, Scott Wartham and I were down there for the month, so we needed to rent a car for a few days. We were very happy when Avis quoted us $149 for five days for a car that we could pick up at Miami International Airport, and return in South Beach without having to pay a drop off fee. Afterall, Laugh For Sight is a tiny not-for-profit, and we need to keep expenses to a minimum. We were in a hurry when we got to Miami International Airport, as we had to get up to my parents house quickly, as Nash and I were filming an interview for CBS Miami, so to speed things up, I waited outside with Nash. Hey, it wasn’t NYC, it was Miami in December so it was quite pleasant outside. Well, it ends up inside, the woman at the rental counter saw Nash and me, and kept asking Scott about the dog. He explained it was a guide dog. She kept going on and on about how cute he is, and how she has to pet him. Scott explained that we were in a hurry, and that you can’t pet a working dog. Well, we get the keys to the car, and I had to go inside to get to the elevator, and as we are headed to the car, the Avis employee comes out from behing the counter, stops us, and starts petting Nash. I explained we were in a hurry, and please don’t pet my guide dog. She didn’t listen. Great listening skills and professionalism your employees have Avis. Do they have to go through training to learn to ignore what customers are telling them, or do you just hire the most ignorant people you can find? Yeah, it is 2011, and the gloves are coming off. Time to tell the truth about certain things that have been happening. Believe it or not, but it is not all smiles and laughs for a blind comedian! Well, at least the car worked, and we had it for five days, no incidents, and most importantly Nash was very comfy in it. Scott cleaned out the Nash hair before we headed to South Beach to return the car. We pull into the Avis drop off, and the first words that come out of the employees mouth are, “you didn’t rent this car here, there is a drop off fee!” We explain that before we even rented the car we asked about dropping it off in a different location. Then the guy sees Nash, and starts laughing and without even looking at the car says, “oh, and you will have to pay the detail fee, or you can take it to be detailed!” He says this without even looking to see how clean the car was. The Avis employee then went over to another employee and started laughing with him and speaking in Spanish. Sidebar, the only good thing to come out of this, is I am now trying to finally learn Spanish. My first learned word? Perro dog. My first phrase I learned, estoy ciego, I am blind, and my first sentence Mi es perro un perro servicio, My dog is a service dog. I may be a little off on that last one, but I am just starting out. Anyway, back to our experience with Avis. Scott headed inside to turn in the keys and pay the bill, which was supposed to be $149, and of course with all the screwing of us by Avis came out to be $369! We didn’t have time to sit there and argue with the Avis employee who wasn’t accountable or helpful in the least. We again were in a hurry as we were producing a benefit, and two of our comedians were flying in, and we had to meet them at the hotel. After the benefit, we finally got a chance to contact someone at Avis Corporate about our experience, and how screwed over we were, and the treatment by the Avis employees. Corporate was outraged to hear about our experience, and we were told that they never like to hear about someone having a bad experience with Avis, and they would get to the bottom of this. So due to the holidays, I waited about two weeks before following up, and now writing anything. Well, I guess Avis was real concerned because we still haven’t heard back from Avis corporate. That’s a stellar company and policy you got there Avis, screw a blind guy with a service dog. I know people are going to tell me, you should contact the ADA, well amazingly, I am still waiting on some other things that we had issues with, and I can’t go crying to the ADA every time I have a problem with something. We shall see what happens with the other issue which I am still giving that company some time on to respond. Funny, until December, I didn’t really have a lot of complaints, and then all of the sudden it was one thing after the next. Moral of the story, I guess if you are blind, it is ok to rent a car from Avis, but if you are a guide dog handler, or someone who will be with someone who has a guide dog, in no way should you ever rent a car from Avis, or get into an Avis rental car unless you want to get screwed for a detail fee, and a bunch of other feees that you were told you would not have to pay. We are now dealing with our credit card to see if they can void the charge. If anyone who works for Avis should read this, you should be ashamed of your companies policies whether they are written in tiny print or I guess large print since I can’t see it to screw a blind guy, or if it is just standard corporate policy to screw a blind guy.

Technology For the Blind They Still Got A Long Way To Go

January 9, 2011

2011 is here last time I checked, and we still have a long way to go in improvements of technology for the blind. First off, I do have to give Optelec and VisionZone credit for all their manufacturing and distribution on products for the visually impaired. If you have low vision, I would highly recommend using their Compact Flash. Without, I wouldn’t be able to see bills or any paperwork, and my vision has deteriorated but it is still a very useful tool to me. The Compact Flash is also very compact, and easy to carry with you, even if you are a guy and don’t carry a purse. Although I do not make use of them, Optelec also makes a lot of great CCTV’s. I would probably find it useful, but I live in a tiny apartment in NYC, and even though the CCTV’s have become more compact, space is a priority in NYC.

I am still able to use computers, thank God, but do need to use specialized software to write these blogs. I am still using Zoomtext as I like to make use of the little vision I have left, and spend most of my time on the computer with the tv on in the background, so using JAWS which speaks everything to you would be quite annoying. For those of you not familiar with Zoomtext, it is meant for those that are visually impaired, and not completely blind, as the program combines a screen magnifyer with vocie reading, and you can switch between the two along with change the screen contrast to best suit your eyes and help with the glare from the computer screen. JAWS to my understanding is just a speech program that reads everything to you and does not magnify the screen. To give you an understanding, I currently use a magnification level on Zoomtext between 2.5 and 4X depending on the site I am looking at, and use the reverse brightness setting.

Do to all of my travels with Laugh For Sight, I have a laptop and desktop. Unfortunately, they are both at least five years old, so they are not the best computers. We are currently talking with some companies about helping Laugh For Sight modernize our systems, and it has been an interesting process which I will fill you in on once I can. You will be blown away by some of the things we have gone through. I am starting to have severe difficulty using my ancient computers, and really need to upgrade to a system with improved graphics and an anti-glare screen, as I think the glare is what is bothering me the most.

One of the most useful technological tools for the visually impaired has got to be the Iphone. I have used it for over a year, as it has a great built in VoiceOver Technology. Now, I can’t see the screen, but VoiceOver does read all the pre-built in applications to me, including the phone, emails, texts, and weather. Unfortunately, most of the apps that you can install from third party providers do not work, or only partially work with the Voiceover technology. You would think that Apple who is doing a lot of great work in the acessibility field with all of their products would encourage more of the third party developers to have their Voiceover be compatible. One thing that has impressed me about Apple is that I have the Iphone 3GS and the 4 has improved acessibility functions. Well, I finally got around to updating my 3GS software and in doing so, it upgrade the accessibility features. Allowing me to now use up to a 56 font in applications that I am typing in. Impressive, as most companies would make you buy the new version of the product to get the improved features. Some of the best apps that work with VoiceOver are Facebook, Twitter, and FoxSports. Amazingly all of ESPN’s apps do not work with VoiceOver. I guess I am now becoming more of a Fox Sports fan. Shame on you ESPN, get with the program. My gift now to my visually impaired readers who use the Iphone, is my discovery of the best application for visually impaired or blind users of the Iphone. Dragon Dictation and Search. WOW, and its about time. With Dragon Dictation, you can speak your thoughts, and with the click of a button, send an SMS, email, post to Facebook, or post to Twitter. I have had a blast using this app since I discovered it a few weeks ago. With Dragon Search you can speak your search terms. These apps are great, but like anything, the program doesnt always get your speech correct, but it is the best thing out there I have discovered. What does amaze me about Apple and the Iphone is that I have yet to discover a site that is frequently updated with a list of the user friendly accessibility apps. If someone knows of one, please let me know.

There are more and more technological tools being introduce for the blind and visually impaired. My favorite one I have come across is the talking fly swatter! Seriously, they make one. Not sure of the point of that. Does it speak to you that you have killed the fly? Is that something that is really necessary? I would say once you stop hearing the buzzing, you got the sucker.

Another thing I have learned, going blind ain’t cheap! I have discovered some great tools for the blind, then I look at the price and of course the product is in the several thousand dollar range. They now make GPS systems for the blind, and products that will scan a document or bill, and then read it out loud to you.

Well, I can go on and on about technology, my props, and of course my complaints, but I just wanted to give you a taste of what I have been thinking about. One thing I would like to see a bigger push on is every day household items being manufactured with VoiceOver technology. If an Iphone can do it, what should all technology be able to do it, as most modern products all have some kind of computer chip in it. Think about these your Tivo menu reads the titles of your shows out loud to you, your DVD player offers an option to describe the movie to you, your microwave would speak the options out loud to you, your fridge would give you temperature settings, water, or ice, and I can go on forever, but now the next Playoff game is starting. Go PACKERS, Nash and I HATE the vick!

2010 A Recap What A Year

January 2, 2011

2011 has gotten off to a slow start, ok so it has only been a day and a half, but 2011 will have a lot to live up to, as 2010 was a great year, and I was sorry to see it go. 2010 was such an interesting and good year, that I felt a little reflection was due. Isn’t it ironic, no, I’m not quoting that Alannis Morissette song, but I do find it ironic that 2010 was such a good year, and it was my first full year with a certain furry four legged side kick named Nash. And for my regular readers, you will be happy to know that I have renamed my bed Nashville, as that is where Nash spends most of his time. And now, a look back

In January Nash and I headed out so San Diego. It had been years since I had been to San Diego, and Nash had never been there. We headed there to film a short film, VisionZone – You’re Not Alone Anymore. I had not acted in about a decade, and unfortunately for Nash, I was playing a character that had more vision that I really do, so no screen time for the Nash. I quickly learned that I was a second take or even thrid take actor, as it would normally take me a few takes to get the scene right and where I was happy with it. We had a blast making the film, and the Director Drew Antzis was a blast to work with along with the entire crew. I really enjoyed getting to act again, and quickly recalled how difficult a craft acting really is. I still wouldn’t call myself an actor, but I hope to get to do some more in the future. Come on Hollyweird, write more blind character’s and request that a real blind person play those character’s. After filming Visionzone, Andre Hardy, Kelly Stewart, and I headed up to L.A. to meet with the Melrose Improv to begin discussing Laugh For Sight expanding to L.A. in potentially November. Yes, it took 11 months to make it all happen. These things don’t happen over night. Nash and I ended up staying a few more days in L.A. at my friend Steve’s pad in Hollywood, and Nash got to meet his Uncle Steve and his Uncle Scott. Who knew that Nash would get to spend so much time with his Uncle’s in 2010!

February brought us birthday month, as mine is the 2nd, my Mom’s is the sixth, my good friend Greg is the 14th, and my Dad’s is the 24th. Thank God we are not big gift givers, or I would have been broke for the year. My cousins and sister wanted to take me out for dinner out where my sister lives in Livingston, NJ. So Nash and I began the fun trek, meeting my cousin Erica at Penn Station, then getting on a bus to meet my cousin Jessica at her boyfriend Matt’s apartment in Jersey City, as he was lending us his car to head down to my sister’s. As soon as I heard Matt giving Erica all the instructions on what she needed to do to get his car to run, I said, “are you shitting me, this thing is a death trap.” Not to self, in the future, keep your mouth shut. We made it about ten miles on the Jersey Turnpike, and then of course the car died. So I ended up getting to spend my birthday in ten degree weather broken down on the Jersey Turnpike. Hey girls, if you want to take me out for dinner for my birthday in 2011, I have plans.

In March, we headed down to Florida to see the parents in Lake Worth, as it had been a few years since I had been down there, and Nash had never been to Florida. Nash really loved being at his Grandparents house, as he normally does not have that much space to roam around. He was really good, not going into rooms that he wasn’t supposed to. I also think he really enjoyed having the option to do his business on the pavement or in grass. A pooch has to have options. Nash met a bunch of my parents friends and friends that I grew up with, and of course he was a big hit, and while we were doing a show at the New York Comedy Club in Boca Raton, we ran into the PR Manager for The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach, and we began discussuing a Laugh For Sight South Beach. From Florida, we headed back to San Diego for the Premiere of VisionZone. Optelec put on a great big party for the release of the film, and of course Nash and I were the center of attention. Hey, one of us was the star of the film. My buddy Scott came down to San Diego for the premiere, and after a night of fun, we headed back up to L.A. Nash was excited to be back at his Uncle Steve’s. As Steve has a ten foot sofa that he lets Nash sleep on. We were in L.A. for a few days and some shows, and we had to head back to San Diego to meet with the Optelec team to discuss their involvement with the future of Laugh For Sight and the expansion to L.A. We had a real nice dinner, and I got some shrimp tacos which I due love, and we were now on our way to Laugh For Sight L.A. actually happening. Afer San Diego we headed back to L.A. for a few more shows. Wow this was a busy month, I couldn’t imagine the year getting any busier than this!

April was a month spent in NYC and beginning to plan for Laugh For Sight 5 to again be held at Gotham Comedy Club, but this year, it would be in September to allow for the expansion to L.A. in November. We set Laugh For Sight 5 for Sept. 20th and tentatively set LFS L.A. for Nov. 9th, We really had a lot on our plate, having to produce two Laugh For Sight benefits. It should be an interesting summer.

In mid-May we got a most interesting phone call. I was being asked had I ever heard of a TV Show, Top Gear? No, I hadn’t. They then explained the show and told me they were working on a project where they wanted to see if they could teach a blind guy to drive and drift! Sounds interesting, and I was quickly in. So Nash and I were headed back out to L.A. We headed about an hour north of L.A. to a race track, and it was explained to me what they wanted me to do. Uh oh, what did I get myself into. More importantly, what did I get Nash into. My friend and brilliant comedian Adam Ferrara was the host of the new Top Gear USA, and I was introduced to Rutledge Wood, and then finally to Tanner Foust who would have the interesting task of teaching me how to drive a stick and drift. Nash got lucky as he was only in the car while I was learning how to drive stick and was going very slowly around the track. For all the stunts, the burnout, the doughnuts, and emergency brake parking, Nash was a spectator on the side lines. I was fine with almost everything, as it was a blast driving again, and getting to learn how to do things with the Nissan 370z that most people could only dream of. The doughnuts did make me almost throw up, and put a good scare into me, as I had no clue if we were heading straight at something. After my day of driving, it was back to L.A. for Nash and me and to Uncle Steve’s. We spent a few more days in L.A., had some shows, and began laying the ground work for Laugh For Sight L.A. at the Melrose Improv. Uncle Scott also got to enjoy more time with Nash. Wow, L.A. is turning into a second home for Nash and me. We are quite fortunate for Steve to be so gracious letting us stay with him so many times and for weeks at a time. We ended this trip to L.A. with a Memorial Day weekend pool party, where Nash got to swim in a pool for the first time since he was with me. He was in heaven in the pool, and of course the most popular guy at the party. Every woman in a bikini had to pet the Nash and he would return the affection with a lick. Guide Dogs get to have all the fun.

The summer was spent in NYC, and what a brutally hot summer it was. The month’s of June, July, and August were not pleasant for Nash or me. I think 2011 is the year I will have to buy a portable AC, as the AC in my building is a joke, and I can’t go through last summer again. We did get a lot of work done these months, as we finalized Dec. 17th for LFS South Beach at the Ritz-Carlton, and we began booking LFS NYC and L.A. It was during these month’s that we booked Robert Klein to return for his fourth performance at LFS 5 at Gotham on Sept. 20th. We also confirmed Dave Attell, who I went to go talk to in person at the Comedy Cellar, Jim Gaffigan who we got to confirm in late August, John Oliver from The Daily Show, Jessica Kirson, Todd Barry who is now a two time performer at LFS, and after doing a show at Gotham, and seeing the amazing work of Ophira Eisenberg as host, we had to have her. Wow, what a lineup we had put together for Laugh For Sight 5. In August, we also booked our first comedian for the inaugural LFS L.A. at the Melrose Improv, Alonzo Bodden was the first comedian to come on board. In late August, Nash and I headed out to Guiding Eyes For the Blind and spoke to members of the Lions Club to give them some insight to what life with a guide dog is like. Nash enjoyed his time back at Guiding Eyes, got a bath, and I am sure chatted it up with some of the dogs in the kennel to fill them in on all of his adventures and travels.

September came, and Nash and I appeared on NBC’s Saturday Today in New York, Laugh For Sight 5,was then here,  and thanks to the hard work of Lis Perry, Scott Wartham, VisionZone, Mark Farrell, Guiding Eyes For the Blind, and several others, it was a smashing success. Along with the amazing lineup, this year’s silent auction was huge with donations from Comedy Central, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach, La Costa Resort, Jummy Fallon Show, Kramer Portraits, The NY Yankees, NY Jets, NY Rangers, NY Islanders, NY Knicks, Philadelphia Flyers, NJ Devils, NJ Nets, Susan Michel Limited, and many more. There was no rest for us after the September 20th benefit past, as we still only had Alonzo on board for the L.A. benefit, and it was only five weeks away! September did end with some good news, as veteran actor and comedian Kevin Pollak and Christopher Titus came on board for LFS L.A. Ok, now we can relax a little in October. Not so fast!

We got a call in early October that I was needed back in L.A. for a day of filming the studio audience portion of our Top Gear segment. This was the now infamous segment of when I am introduced as the first Blind Top Gear Drifting Champion and then Nash had to steal the show by peeing on the top Gear logo. No, it wasn’t planned, and I was mortified at first, but with everyone in hysterics, and the cameras rolling what was I to do? Give Nash a leash correction in front of everyone or join in on the laughter. I choice the second choice, which I thought was the way to go. We were actually filming in Orange Couty, and I got to meet Buzz Aldrin while on set. It was pretty cool when I was introduced to him, and he said, “wait you’re blind and you drove!” Yup, Buzz who has been to the moon then said, “wow, that’s pretty brave!” That has to be hands down one of the greatest coolest compliments I have ever gotten. And as it ended up, meeting Buzz wouldn’t even be the highlight of the day, as when I checked my email, I found out that we had landed Sarah Silverman for the inaugural LFS L.A. Wow, what a day. After a day of filming, we had to fly right back to NYC, as we were giving a speech at Guiding Eyes For the Blind. This time we were speaking to all the amazing puppy raisers, and as an added bonus, Lorraine Chadwick, Nash’s trainer was on hand, so Nash got to spend some time with her which he always enjoys. Nash also got to spend some time with Susan Kroha, his trainer at Guiding Eyes. All in all, a great day for Nash and me. Oh yeah, and Susan gave Nash a bath. The following week, it was off to South Beach for Ability Explosion. I had never really liked South Beach, but had a blast, and the show went very well. Nash and I then headed North to Lake Worth, and some time with my parents. After enjoying a few days there, we headed back out to L.A. and had two weeks to prepare for the inaugural Laugh For Sight L.A. We were back at Nash’s home away from home, Uncle Steve’s. Scott and I were banging the phones very hard, as L.A. is such a different animal than NYC. It was during the end of October and the beginning of November we got the great news that Adam Ferrara, Daryl Wright, and Kevin Nealon were all on board for LFS L.A. We almost had to many amazing comedians for the show. Budd Friedman also agreed to handle a live auction for us. Wow, we accomplished what a lot of people told us we wouldn’t be able to, get comedians to perform at LFS L.A. and pack the house. After the Nov. 9th benefit, I was told by many that this was the biggest and best comedy show L.A. had seen in years. We spent a few more days taking meetings in L.A. after the benefit and began our prep work for LFS South Beach. We had just gotten the amazing news that Jim Breuer would be joining Bonnie McFarlane and Rich Vos at the inaugural Laugh For Sight South Beach. Wow, what an unbelievable two month’s. We headed back to NYC in mid November and then headed out to NJ to my sister’s for a big family Thanksgiving and my niece Siena’s Birthday Party. Since she loves Elmo, I got her the Elmo chair. It was a fun hectic few days with family, but I couldn’t wait for the Sunday night of Thanksgiving Weekend, as our Top Gear episode was airing. Nash and I watched the show at home, and after receiving several phone calls and emails after friends had seen the show, I quickly learned that I would not be known as the blind comedian who drove on Top Gear, but rather the blind guy whose dog peed on the Top Gear logo! Nash was letting me know who the real star is!

Finally December was here, and Nash and I were back on the road again, this time down to South Florida and to my parents. Uncle Scott flew in from California, as we were getting ready to head out on a Caribbean Cruise for a little r and r. But first, we headed over to Ft. Lauderdale, as Rich Vos who would be performing at Laugh For Sight South Beach was in town doing some shows. We went over to see him to discuss some things, and ended up opening for him at the new National Lampoon’s in Lauderdale. It was a great show, and we had a lot of fun relazing at the parents, and then set out to sea. This would be Nash’s first time out of the country as we went to Costa Maya, Belize, Cozumel, and Grand Cayman. Unfortunately, we had received some incorrect info, and Nash was only allowed off the ship in Costa Maya. Nash really enjoyed his time at sea, and was of course the most popular guy on the ship. I think 70 percent of the ship had to pet him. It did get a little old at times. It was while we were on the ship that we got some disappointing news that Jim Breuer had to bow out of LFS South Beach due to family reasons. Oh boy, now we had to bang the phones and internet from the cruise ship, and we did run up quite a bill. Not a lot of fun. We still did have a blast at sea, but next time we go on a cruise, we will not have anything coming up the following week or two. We got back in to port and had to run to my parents house as we were doing an interview with CBS 12 Miami to promote Laugh For Sight South Beach. We got lucky as we replaced Jim Breuer with Bret Ernst who was in South Florida from L.A. for the holidays. We then did interviews on NBC’s Today in South Florida, and our other comedians appeared on ABC and radio, and before we knew it, LFS South Beach at The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach was here and gone. Whew three Laugh For Sights in a little under three month’s. Now it was finally time to head back to NYC in late December with no plans to go anywhere and a lot to do to see if we can get Laugh For Sight to the next level in 2011. Now you can see why my blogs have been down this year, as it has been go go go. Overall, 2010 was an amazing year. Nash and I had a lot of adventures and travels. We couldn’t have imagined how busy of a year it would have been, so I guess not knowing what 2011 will bring could be a good thing, but it will be very tough for 2011 to top 2010, but who knows!