Posts Tagged ‘wheelchair accessibility issues’

So on Monday, I retrained an Attendant who’s returning after being away for a Year.
Everything went fine, and she remembered how to do everything.
I also interviewed a new Attendant, and she seems good.

As for the rest of the night, I did laundry, reserved a table for a Dinner date with my Wife for our Engagement Anniversary later this Month, and vegged.

On Tuesday, I trained another new Attendant. This was her first day, so it went ok. On the first day, they usually just suction me at the end of the day. She did, and it went well.

I spent the Evening with my Wife.

As for Wednesday, three hours was spent learning about my new Ventilator.
It’s ok, but it’s really freakin loud, and has alot of bright lights.
Right now, I’m just gonna use it when I’m sleeping.
I’m not really sure how well I’ll sleep, but I’ll find out tonight.

Eventually, I’ll be getting a second one to put on my Wheelchair.
My new Wheelchair’s gonna look like the Car in Back To The Future.

And now it’s time for the “is this really happening?” moment for the Week:

As some of you know, I was supposed to meet with one of the Organizers of the Casino Sound & Light Festival to discuss ways of improving Wheelchair Acessibility.
So, on Wednesday Morning, my Attendant called Para Transpo (Like I’d get up at 7 am.) to book my ride.
Well they said that Para Transpo doesn’t go there. HUH? Since when?
That makes no sense whatsoever.

Anyways, we’re gonna try to meet up next Week.

As for the rest of this Week, I’ll be checking out Fortissimo on either Thursday or Friday night.
Fortissimo features Military Bands, like Bagpipes, & Drums, and also features live demostrations of things.
It takes place on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, & Sunday at 7:30 pm on Parliament Hill.

No other Weekend plans yet.

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So yesterday, another major Festival contacted me about helping them improve Wheelchair Accessibility.
This time, it’s the Casino Sound & Light Festival.

My Wife and I attended it two years ago, and we didn’t have fun, largely to how unaccessible it was. I had a hard time getting around, and by the time, I found a spot, it was under a Tree.
We also had a hard time trying to get out.

Needless to say, it’s a big catch for me, and hopefully I’ll be able to help them out.

As of right now, I’ll be working for three major Festivals in Ottawa.
They are:

Ottawa Bluesfest
Ottawa Folk Festival
Casino Sound & Light Festival

I’m still waiting to hear from other Festivals/Events, so who knows what’ll happen next.
Hopefully, more will be interested in hiring me.

After finding that out, I made a few Phone Calls, and then headed out to have an Espresso.

For the rest of the day, I stayed home.
I’m still using my Nintendo Controller to drive my Chair, so I can’t really go far.

This Weekend’s a long Weekend, so I’m hoping that my regular Controller will be fixed by Friday.

I had an Appointment today, and on Thursday, I’m heading to a Park Downtown to hear Bagpipes.

That’s about it for now.

A Look At Day 13 At Bluesfest 2010 & A Wrap-Up Of This Year’s Bluesfest

Posted: July 19, 2010 in canada, comedy, Daily Life, Daily Living, disability, ontario, ottawa, personal, writing
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Last night was the final night for Bluesfest 2010, and Weezer was a great choice for the final act.

I saw four acts yesterday, so let’s discuss them first.

My first stop was Bjorn Berge in the Theatre. One of my friends suggested that I check him out, and I’m glad that I did.

Bjorn played solo Guitar, and was awesome. He was really funny, and played a mean Guitar. He even did a Cover of Motorhead’s “Ace Of Spades”, which was pretty rockin’ especially since it was in a small Theatre. This was a definite hidden gem for me.
I hope he returns next year.

After that, my Wife & I headed to the Cafeteria, so she could eat, and I could rest my arm.

We headed to the Claridge Stage to check out Ryan Shaw.
We were able to get a good spot in General Admission, which is extremely rare. We even made it onto the big Video screen a few times.
Being the Camera Whore that I am, I ate it up, and rocked the hell out every time the Camera pointed at me.

Ryan Shaw was great as per usual. He did some new stuff, his version of Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror”, which still blew my mind. I really wish that he’d release it as a Single, but no luck yet.

Either way, you people should google him. I’m not typically a fan of “happy/semi-religious” music, but he also knows how to rock out. I still consider him to be a hidden gem, simply because not that many people know about him yet.

We tried to meet him afterwards, but he wasn’t signing Autographs this year. I do know that he saw me rockin’ out in the second row though.

After the show, I headed to the Merchandising Tent. I wanted to buy a T-Shirt from this year’s Bluesfest, and I got one.

From there, it was time for Jimmy Cliff. That was a good show, but a little too crazy with the “love Earth” stuff.

Jamaican me crazy, man!

After he did “I Can See Clearly Now”, we bailed, and got ready for Weezer.

Weezer was great, and they did all their hits like “Hash Pipe”, “Buddy Holly”, and others.
It was a great way to end Bluesfest.

I decided to walk home from Bluesfest.
Normally, I do that anyways, but I was gonna take Para Transpo this time because I’m using a Nintendo Controller, which is much harder to use.

With it being the final night, I just had to attempt it.
Somehow, I made it though. It took twice as long to get home, and I was having a really hard time near the end, but I made it.
I’m a tough, stubborn S.O.B.

So ended another Bluesfest.

For me, I will remember Bluesfest 2010 for many, many years, possibly forever.
I admit that it’s largely due to the fact that I was in the Media so much, rubbing elbows with top Comedians, and having such a huge impact with Wheelchair Accessibility.

Oh, and the Music & Comedy Shows weren’t bad either.

With that said, here are my picks for top acts from this year’s Bluesfest:

Top Musical Performances:

10. Iron Maiden
9. Big Jeezus Truck
8. Hole
7. The Flaming Lips
6. Crowded House
5. Grupo Fantasma
4. Ryan Shaw
3. Rush
2. Weezer
1. Santana

Top 5 Comedy Acts:

5. “The Canadian Comedy Show” — Mark Forward, Deb Giovanni, Ryan Belleville
4. “The Relationship Show” — John Heffron, Maryellen Cooper, Finesse Mitchell, Jim Breuer
3. Lewis Black, with Kathleen Madigan opening.
2. Louis CK, I forget who opened for him.
1. “The X-Rated Comedy Show — Bobby Slayton, Tiffany Haddish, Ari Shiffir, Mike Wilmot

I think it was a great lineup this year, and Mother Nature co-operated.

In closing, I’d like to thank the following for helping me out this year:

— The Organizers for Bluesfest for listening to my ideas, and installing a Platform, and for the top notch treatment.

— The Ottawa Sun, 24 Newspaper, CTV Ottawa, and the Bluesfest Website for helping me get the message out about how important Wheelchair Accessibility is.

— Bluesfest fans for coming up to me to personally thank me, and encouraging me to keep up the good work. That meant more to me than you’ll ever know. Rest assure, that I’m just getting started.

I look forward to being a part of Bluesfest 2011.

My Wife & I checked out the Pop Life Art Exhibit at the National Gallery yesterday.
Some parts of it are pretty odd, and the Music is a little loud for an Art Exhibit, but all in all, I suggest you people check it out.

After that, we headed down to Piccolo Grande to have a Gelato.

So last night, I wanted to see MonkeyJunk, but they were just wrapping up as we got there. I only got to hear half a song, but they sounded pretty good. Hopefully, they will perform at a Wheelchair Accessible Venue in Ottawa soon.

So after that, it was time for The Canadian Comedy Show, hosted by Mark Forward. The show also featured Ryan Belleville, Debra Giovanni, and Pete Zedlacher.
The show was pretty good for the most part. The Host seemed kinda annoyed, and perhaps lost due to people leaving, and not laughing at him enough.

Sadly, after Bluesfest is over, it will be awhile before I get to see Live Comedy again. For those who aren’t aware, I’m a big fan of Stand-Up Comedy, and even perform it sometimes.

Up until about a year and a bit, I performed regularly at Yuk Yuk’s. They moved to a location that isn’t Wheelchair Accessible. Since then, there’s no longer any Wheelchair Accessible Comedy Venues in Ottawa.

Needless to say, I’ve been seeing as many Comedy shows at Bluesfest as humanly possible. I find it funny/sad that a temporary Tent can be made Wheelchair Accessible, but an actual Venue doesn’t want to bother to even try to be Wheelchair Accessible.

I’ve approached both of the main Clubs here in Ottawa, and either they don’t care & flat out refuse to even try to put a Ramp, or they shut me up when I tried talking to the Media about it.

Either way, it’s a horrible situation, mostly due to Owners not really giving a crap about Comedians or Club goers.

I’m done my little rant.
Sorry

So, after the Comedy Show, I went to see Great Big Sea, or tried to.

My Wheelchair stopped working on the way in.
My Wife spent at least ten minutes trying to fix it, and it worked for the rest of the night.

Great Big Sea was great as per usual.

I want to point something out.
While my Wife was trying to fix my Chair. Security & Volunteers kept wanting to help me get in to the show.
We both refused several times.
For some messed up reason, they refused to listen to her.
Now, noticed that I said her?

None of the “rent-a-cops” asked me directly. They chose to ask my Wife instead.
My Wife told them many times that I was the one refusing help, not her.
If I can drive, I will FREAKIN drive in there myself somehow.

Furthermore, people have to learn to talk to Disabled people. While it’s true that SOME of them can’t speak, don’t automatically assume that we can’t.
It absolutely drives me nuts & boggles my mind, especially since i was publicly interviewed three times in the past week.
Plus, I’m pretty sure it was obvious that my Wife & I were chatting as they approached us each time.

Anyways, my Chair stopped working shortly after we got home.
I’m now using my old Nintendo Controller, which is really hard to use.

So, today/tonight, the only show that I’ll be able to get to is Lewis Black.

As for tomorrow, I have a ride to & from Bluesfest.
I’m definitely going to see Ryan Shaw, & then Weezer later on that night.
As for the few hours in between, that’ll be tough since I can’t drive as much as usual.

Either way, I’m sure it’ll be interesting.

Day 9 at Bluesfest was headlined by Santana.

I made sure to get there early to get a spot.
Like a true Canadian/Concert goer, my first stop was the Beer Tent. I noticed that they had a Trivia booth set-up near by. I sat quietly for a few moments watching others, while silently guessing each answer. Once I realized that I knew Canadian Music well, I decided to play.

I somehow managed to get them all right. After that, they gave me a Fridge Magnet & a little flashlight.

After that, I headed over to the Platform to get a spot. It was a good idea because it was filling up pretty quickly.

It was an hour before show time, so I just sat in the back of the Platform drinking Beer after Beer, after Beer, well, you get the idea.

I saw the Superintendant of my Building, and he hung out with me for awhile. This seemingly set off a chain reaction, cause soon after, tons of people came over to thank me for getting the Platform. It’s quite gratifying when Disabled people went out of their way just to come meet me, say hi, and to personally thank me.

Speaking of which, I emailed four major local Festivals/events yesterday to see if they’d like my help with improving Wheelchair Accessibility. I contacted The SuperEx, Ottawa Jazz Festival, Westfest, and the Rideau Canal Festival. So far, none have responded yet.

Santana started, and after awhile, someone else stopped by to say hi. Bobby Slayton saw me on the Platform, and came over. I think he actually wanted to sit with me, but they didn’t let him. I was pissed about that because I really wanted to hang out with him, and talk to him. Like I said yesterday, I’m a big fan of his, so that would be awesome for me.

As for Santana, it was a GREAT show. He did most of his hits, plus old stuff, and new stuff, and some covers. I’m horrible with Song Titles, but he performed alot of familiar stuff.

Oh yeah, I just wanted to point something out.
Just because someone is Physically Disabled, it doesn’t mean they can’t be a Jackass.
Here’s an example of a Disabled Person being a Jackass:

So, because I had a few Beers (I lost count after the fourth one.) I had to pee a few times during the show. Each time I left, I got one of the Volunteers to save my spot, and my Beer.

One time I left, this jackass (I’ll call him roller jackass now.) decides to move into my spot. When I returned, roller jackass refused to move. He didn’t just refuse to move for me, but he refused to move for anyone, including others in Wheelchairs trying to get out. He also had a really pissed off look. At the end of the night, as I stayed to finish my last Beer, roller jackass was still sitting there pissed off, and not moving.

From there, I headed to the Bathroom. Driving into oncoming Crowd is quite hilarious at times. My favorite people are the ones talking or something, and not paying attention. Next thing they know, they’re face to face with a 500 pound Wheelchair in front of them. Their reaction is to either jump, scream, or move away. It’s even funnier when I’ve had a few drinks.

I headed home after that.

As for tonight, I plan on seeing Matt (don’t call me Matthew) Good, and Crowded House.
Crowded House was actually one of my favorite bands in the Eighties. Hopefully, both will be good.

I might check out some other shows as well.

Hello Music Fans!
I’m going to discuss the first two days of Ottawa Bluesfest.

Day 1

The first day kicked off with Dream Theater. I had never heard of these guys before, but they were pretty good. Apparently, they’re Progressive Rock. I’m not really sure what that really means. To me, it was Heavy Metal/Rock. Either way, they were great.

I watched Dream Theater from the newly installed Platform by the Main (MBNA) Stage. The view’s from there is a vast improvement than without it.

From there, I headed to the Subway Stage to check out Ana Popovic. This girl was great, and knew how to play the Guitar. By the time I got there though, her set was almost over.

After that, I saw Loudlove, a local Rock Band. They were straight up Rock, and were very good. At one point, they brought up a Kid from the Audience to experience what it was like on a big Stage performing in front of a large crowd. The kid seemed nervous, and didn’t really do much.
If I was up there, I’d be dancing, yelling stuff, and soaking in the Crowd as they cheered and chanted my name.

But that’s just me.

After that, I met up with my Wife in the War Museum. I wanted to look at Bluesfest T-Shirts, but they didn’t have any good ones this year. We ended up buying more Love Beads. The money goes to “Blues In The Schools”, which is an Organization that educates Kids about Music.

By this time, Iron Maiden was on Stage, so we made our way through the Crowd, out the Gates, and back into the site through the VIP Entrance.
Driving a 500+ lbs Powered Wheelchair isn’t easy in general, but toss in about 10,000 (mostly drunk and/or high) Iron Maiden fans, and it becomes quite a challenge.

We made it to the Platform, and caught some of it. It was pretty good, but I don’t really know their stuff that well. We left early to avoid the Crowd.

On our way out, we wanted to give someone our Tickets for the last part of the show. We searched the Crowd, and came across three young guys. My Wife gave two of them our Tickets. The third guy quickly got ditched by his friends. He made a face like the Kid from Home Alone after he put After-Shave on. It was hilarious!
I felt bad for him though.

Day 2

The second day started off by me arriving early. This was the day that I’d be interviewed regarding my role in Bluesfest becoming more Wheelchair Accessible.
I’ll get to that in a moment though.

Earlier in the day, my Wife informed me that they give away free passes to the Comedy Shows most nights. So, my first stop was getting the free passes for “The Relationship Show”.

After I got the passes, it was time for my Interview. There was no Camera, just Alan Isfan & I talking as he recorded it by Audio to type up later. He asked about how Bluesfest has improved, what else needs to happen to make it more Accessible etc. I also mentioned that I’d like to do this for other Festivals eventually.
During the Interview, Mike dropped by to say a few things as well. Mike is the guy that I deal with every year about Accessibility. He explained how he likes my ideas, and supports it. Also pointed out some of the obstacles that Bluesfest faces each year.

After we wrapped up, Alan mentioned he’d plug this Website.
So to all of you coming here for the first time, I thank you & welcome you.

For those wondering what I look like, well, I drive a HUGE black powered Wheelchair. From the front, I wear a Mic near my mouth to amplify my voice. From the back, I have a Backpack on the back of my Chair.
If you see me at Bluesfest, come say hi or something. I love meeting people, especially if they read my Blog. Don’t be shy, say hi to Ry. 🙂

The Interview SHOULD be up on the Bluesfest Website sometime on Thursday.

So let’s talk about who I saw on day 2.

I started off by seeing Silver Creek. They’re another local Rock Band. They weren’t bad, but not great.

From there, I headed to see The Gipsy Kings. I only had time to catch a few songs before the next show started. They were good though.

I headed over to the NEW Blacksheep Comedy & Music Tent to catch “The Relationship Show”. It was hosted by John Heffron, with performances by Finesse Mitchell, Maryellen Cooper, and Jim Breuer. This was my first time seeing LIVE Comedy in ages, due to Ottawa not having any more Wheelchair Accessible Comedy Venues. Anyways, Jim stole the show with his thoughts on Petting Zoos, Iron Maiden, how he came up with the “Goat boy” Character on Saturday Night Live, & being a Dad.

The Tent is fully Accessible with TONS of space. The Wheelchair Section is to the left of the Stage, and provides a nice clear view of the Stage.

Quick FYI for new people:
I used to perform Comedy regularly at Yuk Yuk’s until they moved to Elgin Street. The new location is not Wheelchair Accessible. Because of this, I’m only able to perform 1 or 2 shows a year now, either at Algonquin College and/or Carleton University.

Anyways, after the show, we hung out in The War Museum before the next show.

Our last show on day 2 was Grupo Fantasma. I saw them last year, and they’re awesome!
They’re a Latin Band from Austin, Texas. They definitely know how to make people dance.

We got to meet them afterwards. We chatted with them, took pictures with them, and they gave me Drumsticks from the show, & their setlist.

That was the end of day 2 for us.

We won’t be at day 3 of Bluesfest because we’ll be at my friend’s play that I wrote about the other day.

I hope you people enjoy the interview once it’s posted on the Bluesfest Site.
Like I said, if you see me, PLEASE come talk to me, or at least say hi.

I may seem unapproachable, but really I am. I love meeting people, so come on over.

I’ll be back at Bluesfest on Friday for Louis CK, and a few other acts that night.

Rock on!

On Saturday, my Wife and I headed to Westboro to walk around.

Our first stop was Thyme & Again, which is a place where they make you food for a Week or something, and you can pick it up. I don’t know, something like that.
Anyways, I had an Espresso on the Patio there, which was pretty good actually.

From there, we headed to The Cube Gallery.
My Wife is from Montreal, so she wanted to see the Exhibit on Montreal.
It was small, but pretty good.

I love Montreal. I think it’s a beautiful City, but not overely Wheelchair Accessible.
The Subway isn’t even Accessible.

After the Gallery, we went to The Ottawa Bagel Shop.

This was my first time there, and I was impressed.
Besides the Bagels, & other food, they have a Restaurant, a Bar, Patio, TV’s, and a Coffee Bar.
I’ve never even heard of a Coffee Bar before, but I plan on checking it out before Summer ends.
The only bad part about the place is that the Bathrooms are downstairs.
If it weren’t for that, this would be a perfect place for me to hang out.

From there, we headed to a Store to check our Lottery Tickets, but we didn’t win.

In a funny moment, we passed by a Sex Shop, and right beside it was a Bar called “The Wood”.
So, basically, you can go have fun at the Wood, and then walk next door and buy stuff to fix your wood.

I should’ve taken a picture of the two places, maybe next time.
I personally found it highly amusing.

We headed to The Irving Greenberg Thetre to check it out.
We’re going to see “Time To Put My Socks On”, which is a Play written by, and stars, Alan Shain.
Alan’s a good friend of mine, and one of the reasons why I got into Comedy.

Here’s what the show’s about:

Time To Put My Socks On follows Marc – a 30-something year old guy with cerebral palsy who is about to celebrate his first anniversary with Linda, his nondisabled partner. Marc is bursting with excitement. He loves Linda! Linda loves him! She is poised to move in … Marc is plagued with doubts. Linda has a sock fetish. The more elaborate and colourful the sock the better! But Marc swears by white tube socks. They are quick and easy to put on. Can the love between Marc and Linda survive their war over socks?

An Original One Act
Created by Alan Shain & Michele Decottignies (Stage Left Productions)
Directed by Michele Decottignes & Nicole Dunbar (Stage Left Productions)

July 8, 9, 10 @ 8PM; SATURDAY MATINEE@ 3PM
Preview July 7, P.W.Y.C.

THE IRVING GREENBERG THEATRE CENTRE STUDIO, 1233 WELLINGTON (at Holland)

TICKETS $15 /$13 students & seniors/$12 MATINEE

CALL 613-236-5196 TO RESERVE
NO REFUNDS OR TICKET EXCHANGES
WARNING: Nudity & Adult Content

If you’re in the Ottawa Area, I urge you to please check it out.
I’m really looking forward to it.

Anyways, we headed home afterwards to get out of the heat.

A few hours later, we headed to see the Movie, The Last Airbender.
It was ok, but for $13, I expected a little more.

On Sunday, I headed downtown to have Beer, & walk around.

On Sunday Night, my Wife wanted to see Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings.
We saw them last year at Bluesfest, and they were great.
We didn’t want to pay $50 for Tickets, so we watched it from the outside.
Eventually, we got in and caught the end, which was pretty good.

Today (Monday) was interesting.
I got up at 10, and headed to the site of Bluesfest to check out Wheelchair Accessibility.
I was mostly concerned about the new Comedy Tent that they’ll be using.

One of the Organizers discussed the specifications of it, and how to get in.

When I first arrived, I noticed that the floor was two inches above the ground.
For people in Wheelchairs, that would be a problem, so I suggested that they put a Ramp.
I just received word (as I wrote this) that a Ramp will indeed be installed.

Voila!
It feels good to actually be listened to.

The Wheelchair Area will be along the side of the Tent, and you should have a clear view of the Stage.

The other problem that I brought up previously was not being able to see the Main Stage if people are standing. The fix for that was to add an elevated Platform, so we can see.
I checked it out, and it seems good.
It could be a little higher, but it’s a good start.
It seats between 10-15 Wheelchairs, and it’s really close to the Stage.
Unfournately, they weren’t able to put a Platform on any of the other Stages.

Personally, I’m very proud of the work I’ve done for the past three years at Bluesfest.
They’ve come a long way, but there’s still alot more to do as far as making it more Wheelchair Accessible.
It’s a great feeling watching it grow, and get better every year.
I plan to continue doing this for many years to come.

As far as being interviewed about being a Wheelchair Accessibility Advisor, that’s still a go. We’re just trying to figure out when, but it’ll either be this Week or next.

Speaking of Bluesfest, the fun starts in less than 24 hours.
If I get a chance on Tuesday, I’ll run down who I plan on checking out at Bluesfest this year.

I headed home after checking out the site.

As I turned the Corner, I saw Fire Trucks outside my Building.
Luckily, it was a false alarm, but the Elevators stopped working while people were returning home.
I decided to go have a few Beers at The Royal Oak.
An hour later, everything was back to normal.