Dealing with the blues, but can’t say as I’m suffering

Confession. I am not a blues guy. Which isn’t to say there isn’t a whole
lot of great blues out there. Songs I like by BB King and a host of other
artists. That said, given my choice? If the next year passed and no blues played on my Echo? Pretty sure I wouldn’t notice.

Which brings me to this. Playing the blues. Regular readers know I’ve been playing the guitar for a couple of years and while I wouldn’t say I’m good, I’m competent enough to have played on stage with pros and held my own (see the links below), and I play with a few different guys a couple of times a week in a late-start effort to get, well, decent.

Matt and Joe playing the blues in a home studio.

Matt and I playing the blues.

Matt is one heck of a player. He’s been in bands, he’s got more talent than I could fit on one of those upload stems they used in The Matrix, and plays several instruments. That kind of good. Not to mention, he’s blind, too, and Pam’s told me you’d never know it by looking at him. You damn sure wouldn’t guess listening to him jam. Anyway, Matt, as you may have already guessed, does like the blues. Quite a bit, in fact. And, he’s been showing me stuff. Mostly rock and roll related thefts from traditional blues, certain licks, run ups and run downs, you name it. And, while I am a product of the ’80s – a music fan grounded in goth and new wave, synthpop and industrial – this? This ain’t all bad. Are there any blues tunes that I actually want to play? I’d say two. I wouldn’t mind learning “Who Do You Love,” even if it leans far more toward the George Thorogood version. And one other, but no need to go on and on about that now.

The blues. Never would have believed , even when I first started actually getting somewhere on the guitar, that I’d wind up here, and certainly not playing any. Might be a little frustrating getting the hang of some of the techniques, but frustration I can deal with. As long as I’m not suffering the blues? Just going to keep at it.

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Currently listening to: “The Devil’s Dance Floor” by Flogging Molly

This bathroom thing’s getting’ out of hand.

Illustration of standard male and female restroom figures, both crossing their legs and holding because they have to pee. Male is wearing blind man shades.In case I haven’t shared this before, I usually use the women’s room. No, not because I identify as such, or am considering the transgender thing, but, because being blind, I have a choice. Either Pam guides me into the men’s room (not exactly the most comfortable of situations for anyone concerned), or, since I can’t see anything, she leads me into the women’s room. In 14 years of sightlessness, this has never been a big deal.

Thursday, we’re out having lunch, and nature calls. The place (a popular chain I won’t name) is pretty slow, but as always, Pam checks, waits for the bathroom to be empty, and we go in. Moments later, a manager enters, telling her I can’t be in there. Pam explains that I’m totally blind and need assistance. The woman says, “I’m just explaining our policy. He can’t be in here.” So, Pam asks, “Should I take him into the men’s room? Is that what you want?” To which the manager says, “No, you can’t be in there.”

Now, I’m in the stall already, about 45 seconds into what’s usually about a 90 second pit stop. Still, I did think about calling out, “No problem. I’ll just go into the dining room and piss on the floor.” Better judgment prevailed, though, and so I finished up, Pam led me out, and the manager finally left, after staring Pam down the entire time. I did wonder, had I simply told her, “This is how I identify. Ignore the goatee and moustache, call me Laverne. I’m covered whichever toilet I pick now, right?” But then, making the news wasn’t on the agenda. Because, I had no agenda. I just wanted to empty my bladder.

Before leaving, we got the place’s phone number to call someone more senior and to get a clarification on rest room policy for the handicapped. Pam posted on Facebook, and got a slew of responses. Everything from folks wanting us to give out the chain’s name so they could torch ’em to considering a campaign to try and take it viral, to folks suggesting we sue. (What for, I don’t exactly know, wasn’t like there were any damages, per se, but I guess that’s kinda the way folks think nowadays. Have an issue, even a minor one? Find an attorney.

So, we called up the next day, spoke to the manager-manager, who was tremendously apologetic, and promised that someone from even higher up the chain would be in touch. Sure enough, few hours later, my phone rings. Someone from corporate. Also, terribly apologetic. Aware of the whole situation, had already addressed this with the staff-particularly the mgmt team in question. And, as I’d suspected, barring assistance for the disabled is not their policy, and that point had been made clear to those who work there.

You know, I get it. This whole LGBTU thing has made a lot of folks jumpy. If you don’t have a unisex or family rest room, you may run into a situation from time to time. I wasn’t terribly bothered by anything about the incident, save for the fact that Pam was made to feel uncomfortable while I took a leak, and the situation was handled poorly. Mishandled, truth be told, but then, so be it. I know what I would think if I were working somewhere and saw a couple heading into the can without one obviously needing assistance/being handicapped. “Damn. Floor’s gonna be really sticky now.” I used to go to a club in Miami where you couldn’t even get into the john without seeing a tryst of some sort going on in one of the stalls. So I understand where the manager was coming from. But.c’mon. You can’t just expect a blind guy to go into an unfamiliar bathroom and start guessing. Plus, I’ve been in places where there’s been a sign on the stall door saying: Out Of Order. But – how would I know? If I’m in there, guess what? Out of order or not, I’m gonna use it, and then, well, the consequences? Your fault, not mine.

The woman from corporate? Sure seemed to be relieved that I wasn’t calling to bitch, or threaten, or talk lawsuit. I was just calling to be sure that, should I need to use the facilities at this particular restaurant in the future, everyone was on board with Pam leading me in there. And, the woman I spoke with went above and beyond in promising me that would be the case. So, tomorrow, Pam and I plan on going back, and having sex like greased weasels in the handicapped stall.

No, just kidding. But, sure is a relief to know I won’t have to whip it out on the side of the building and pee on a bush.

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Currently listening to: “Miss Construction theme” (Dance) by Miss Construction

Here you go, Facebook, my reaction

Being a blind computer user, there are hassles. Unless they’re significant, though, I don’t usually call attention to them. I just live with it, find workarounds, etc. So, when Facebook rolled out their new Reaction buttons, I didn’t much care. Meant nothing to me. Why? Well, because I’m not so lazy that my attention span needs to be limited to 6 goofy icons.

Facebook's Reaction Buttons: Like, Love, HaHa, Wow, Sad, Angry

Last night, I commented on my feed about this, and in short order, my sister-in-law replied with an emoji. Sure enough, the programmers at Facebook hadn’t coded in any sort of descriptive tags. Meaning, it shows I have a new message. But when I click the Comments button, all that’s there under my sister-in-law’s name is a field of utter silence. Nice, huh? Way to go, Facebook! Why not just create a bird-flipper emoji for all your blind & visually impaired users?

The other thing that gets me about this whole ‘Reaction button’ thing is: has social media really made us this lazy? Is the effort required to type out “Wow” so onerous? If it is, boy, society really is going straight down the toilet.

I’ve made people angry with my posts before. In fact, I’ve outright pissed off some folks. Know what, though? No one, ever, has posted “Angry” over something I’ve written. Now, though, regardless of a position I put forward, which might include several different points, I can expect to occasionally get “Angry” as a response, sans context?

I want the ability to turn this function off on my timeline. If people want to use it, great, good for them. But I want the ability to make sure I don’t throw away my time when it shows I have comments only to find out that unless I call in my wife, I can’t tell what anyone’s ‘reaction’ to my post is. I don’t spend much time on Facebook as it is, but I’ll be spending even less if I start seeing nothing on my TL but spots where someone posted something–but I’m prevented from knowing what it is. I mean, it’s called “Comments” for a reason, right?

 

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Currently listening to: “Who Was In My Room Last Night” by the Butthole
Surfers

Kicking off the new year…

Image of Joe on screen interview… with some cool news. Hinted at it a while back, but no need to be secretive any longer. A few months ago, an indie filmmaker from Europe contacted me about being in a documentary he was working on. He had a mishap which nearly cost him his sight and hearing, which got him thinking about what he would have done had things gone differently for him. Here’s the first clip, (Pam says it came out looking sharp). Not sure how much I’ll figure into the finished project, but felt great to be featured like this for my work. Take a look and let me know what you think. Plus, I’m not about to stop you from sharing the link on Facebook or posting it on Twitter if you so desire. Enjoy, and hope you had a great New Year with a fantastic 2016 stretching out before you!: