Japanese Culture Shock

R-

On a side note:

Vivid expression

Vivid expression

I have never really payed much attention to other cultures. As an American and one who hasn’t done very much world traveling. I have only been witness to brief moments of the Spanish culture along with other nationalities through our day to day interaction with them in the melting pot of America. I have hardly been immersed in them. I have seen wide strokes of Spanish traits like their bond to family and their hard work ethics. For the most part I think these are shared traits in most foreign cultures and ones I think Americans have lost along the way.

Sadly I think many Americans haven’t paid much attention to the world around us. Once you start, you can truly appreciate the beauty and humanity in other races. You can also appreciate the humor.

Bottled Sweat

Bottled Sweat?

 Hmm, bottled sweat is something you don’t see advertised every day

I have never at all paid much attention to the Japanese way of life other than what I have read or watched on T.V. None of it does any justice compared to seeing them live their lives and interact with us in their native land. Until arriving here, I hadn’t realised how strikingly beautiful the women are, how respectful and kind both men and women can be and how much pride they all take in every task or job they are hired to do.

From my perspective, this is the heart and core belief system but I am no expert . They’re a very proud nation. Everyone I have met so far seem to be rooted in honor and everything they do they take pride in doing it to the very best of their ability. I’m talking about even the hard labor jobs too, even as small as flipping a patty.

This is the other thing I noticed, the shittiest of jobs aren’t all out sourced to other races as frequently as we do it in America. Does it happen, sure, but not because they believe those jobs to be beneath them. They tend the rice fields, there are Japanese maid servants,   gas station attendants, toll booth operators, and even thankful employees working in the fast food industry.  Most importantly, the work no matter what it is, truly becomes a passion to them and a labor of love. Everyone I have meet seem happy and joyful too.

Am I seeing the underbelly of their culture or the way they live behind closed doors? No, I am not. I am sure it plays out much the same way as our way of life. Humans are humans no matter where they live. I’m positive if I was a fly on the wall, I’d see the sad and heartbroken wife, resentful teen, the ashamed father, the drunk, the angry  and the depressed. I think the difference from what I gather, they just don’t show this side so easily in Public. In America, all I need to do to capture those human traits is spend an hour at the supermarket.


On my first day at Camp Fuji I received the most surprising gift of my trip here so far. This was something I wasn’t expecting and one that grounded me in the moment of what I really am witnessing in my experience as a comedian. I didn’t realise I was going to see Mt Fuji with my bare eyes let alone be in a camp at the base of the foothills of this great wonder. She was a teasy little tramp, always hiding behind the veil of the same cloud… but then she gave me a moment to behold.?

Mt Fuji, teasing me

Mt Fuji, teasing me


The one brief  moment I had to capture her.

Mt Fuji

Mt Fuji

Come back for more.
LB

A day to remember forever: Japan-First leg

R-

Before even leaving for Japan I had so much to do I had to pull an overnighter. I basically stayed up for 24 hrs and boarded a jet to San Francisco where I would begin the real journey. I fell asleep before we even took off and had about an hour an half of rest.

Here is something not a lot people think about. If you do ever have an opportunity to head to Asia, you’ll need to know this. When you fly west for a 10 hour flight across the Pacific and across the International date line, you basically are flying towards the sunset. What this means is, it is daylight… forever!

What airlines do to combat this insanity is to close all the shades, turn off the lights and help give the illusion we are flying at night. Unless there is a meal, you’ll have no idea what is happening outside the magic tube. For the most part this is an effective trick but human curiosity sets in after sporadic sleep for several hours upon waking,  one must look.

Narita

Narita, International Airport

This was my view descending into Narita just outside of Tokyo, Japan.

Then piercing light ripped through the cabin and everyone despised me immediately. We all were vampires at that moment. Truth be told, I think I annoyed my neighbors the entire 10 hours. At the point my phone slipped out of my hands and under the seat and somehow rolled back into the row behind me. (Not realizing this until after getting the couple next to me to stand up while I spread across all three seats to try and reach it)  I knew I was the dick of the trip. We had another five hours at that point, too. I effected 6 people’s peace and comfort in one full sweep. Sorry strange east Indian lady behind me who doesn’t speak english, I know you weren’t expecting a grown man to pop his head over the seat and ask for his phone. I was humbled too

Yeah, I was that guy.

 After arriving (still daylight and only 2:00 in the afternoon) I was rolled out in a wheelchair rummy-dummy, dazed and confused. The beautiful woman helping me did not understand a lot of what I was trying to explain to her because of our language barrier.  Despite my concerns about staying by the gate to wait for my POC, she whisked me away because he was not there.  I was taken through immigration and customs, I filled out my paperwork incorrectly, made lots of Japanese officials laugh several times on account of my stupidity. Then she pushed me out into the general area of arrivals and exited stage left with the wheelchair.

I was on my own now. I didn’t really know where to go or how to speak Japanese and I was holding a phone which now is basically a paper weight. I had a suitcase, laptop and a walker. I had one fully functional leg, and one that spends a lot of time in envy of the other leg.  I also had one working hand and one doing its best impression of a working hand. The task of pushing the walker and carrying two large and heavy items simply didn’t match up with the labor hired to do the task.

I was instructed by the woman at the information counter to walk down to the DOD (Department of Defense) desk. I was very happy to have figured a solution to what could become a serious problem should I not rendezvous with my driver. It was the best place to go. According to her, it was just around the corner but of course this meant, just around the corner and then it’s at the other end of the airport. Happiness can be like a cloud blowing in the wind slowly out of reach. or in my case, a cloud blowing away in a severe wind advisory.  How do you remain happy and positive when you can’t carry everything through an airport? You don’t. Instead you swear under your breath and sweat profusely until you arrive at your destination. I even put my laptop backpack  on my back thinking it would make things easier. I haven’t done that since high school because it is fucking dangerous for a cripple with balance issues. I felt like an idiot, I walked and wabbled off balance like an idiot and everyone gave me a wide berth because they were all quite sure I was an idiot.

About a half hour later (a 5 min walk for everyone else) I arrived a the DOD counter and finally an hour later,  it got worked out. I met my POC and the other headliner, Johnny then from there we traveled another three hours to Camp Fuji. At this point the two of us were running on no sleep  from our long journey. I personally was running on about 38 hrs without a good night’s rest.  I had no idea what day it was, who I was, and my body was very confused. In fact,  so confused, the left leg thought it was the right and the right leg was doing a very convincing  performance acting like my left. Finally after the longest day ever, I shut my eyes and went to bed. I didn’t know I was a cast member on “The Amazing Race.”

The positive side of this adventure is that I am here, I made it. I am overseas in Japan and for the first time ever, I am performing comedy on another continent. Hell, my adventure has really just begun.

While waiting for my driver at the DOD desk, I snapped the picture below.The Japanese have a weird fascination with cartoons and even in this photo there seems to be a little baby tentacle penis. Japenese may work like robots but I think they live in a constant state of childhood, which is pretty cool. They are always giggling and laughing at anything  silly, ie me, and I think that’s pretty damn wonderful. When you haven’t slept in over a day, though, I can attest, these colors and the cartoon pilot penis figure is intense!

Pilot Penis Figure

Pilot Penis Figure

Until my next entry.

LB

Robin Williams: Now a hero and an inspiration to me

Photo credit: MA1216 Nightmare on SangamonUnlike most standup comedians starting out in my generation, Robin Williams wasn’t my comedic hero growing up. He certainly was an influence on me, that’s for sure. For me though, I was always aware that his brilliant comedic style and performances on stage was merely a stepping stone for his true calling.

Instead, the body of work I came to love and respect was his comedic and dramatic acting roles. For that, I consider Williams one of my all-time top favorite actors on the big screen.

Now, in light of his tragic and shocking death, I can say he has become one of my heroes and has forever changed any previous opinion I had of him.

Yesterday afternoon I attended a court hearing for my 14 year old boy, Braedon. I will attend another hearing next Monday.

There is a good chance you have read earlier posts of mine on Facebook in regards to this last year. While these posts were vague, they were all about my extraordinarily painful year with my son and our family.

The posts were vague because It was simply too difficult to come to terms with my struggles. (Which I am still healing from.) Outwardly processing them in an update was just easier. Especially since I saw so many others going through difficult times as well.

My personal pain stems from the fact my oldest son suffers from mental illness. Like every challenge in my life, it must become dialog, then material, and finally comedy I can embrace on stage. It is my personal comedic process, but it is also my healing and coping process. A process I can say with great confidence, most comedians use, including Robin Williams.

I was planning on writing this some time ago and put it off. I wanted to be in a place of strength to write it. Ironically, timing is everything; so there is no better time to address the last year than after hearing the sad news of Robin William’s death. More importantly, the news that he sadly took his own life.

Since my son first attended school and began interacting socially, he has been battling the demon of depression and mental illness. His mother and I, along with the people closest to me have dealt with his special needs throughout his young adult life.

As I look back, I honestly thought he was just socially awkward. We all did. As time went on, it became clear, this wasn’t the case. Braedon became more and more depressed and for a short period of time, even suicidal.

He has always struggled with school, authority, and anger. I thought it was a lack of discipline and structure. Last year as he became a teenager, it got to a point where it was too much for his mother to handle.

At the time, I was in a relationship with a wonderful and loving woman. We were in a position where we could help. Both of us made the decision together to have Braedon come live with us. We saw it as an opportunity to change his life. He could finally get the structure and discipline he needed. While it was the most challenging role I’ve ever taken on as a father, Rachel and I were making a difference. He was placed in a great school with an amazing I.E.P. team, he was receiving regular therapy and making great strides. Like I said though, we felt he just was troubled.

The biggest problem with mental illness, it is an invisible disability. It doesn’t present itself every minute of the day and it cannot be clearly detected. It isn’t like me, you see me pushing around my three-wheeled man purse walker and know right away, I have physical limitations.

With mental instability, it comes and goes. Some days it is apparent an episode is occurring. Yet at other times, it isn’t a factor at all. Most often, however, it hides somewhere in the middle. As a parent, I have to ask myself, is this my son’s illness or is he just being a typical teenage boy? I have to somehow miraculously make the right call and sometimes in the middle of a heated confrontation. Making the wrong call, it can easily escalate into a point of no return.

Diagnoses will also change over the years too. He’s been labeled with O.D.D. (Oppositional Defiant Disorder), depression, anxiety, and ADHD. Those are just the expert opinions. The list of unofficial labels has been never ending. All of which were wrong, by the way. It takes sometimes years for a correct diagnoses. You must constantly reevaluate the one suffering and even the teams that closely work with them. Now throw into the mix, the extra complicated layer of puberty, and my son’s raging hormones and I can assure you, even the experts can get it wrong.

The other major problem with mental illness is the ignorance and lack of awareness and education on the subject. Family members often are in denial or worse, so ashamed they keep it a dirty family secret. No one wants to admit a member of their family has mental illness. I didn’t. I was in denial for a very long time. Actually, it wasn’t until it was too late and our family life fell to pieces that I became educated and came to terms with it.

Our community, our own family members, our spouses and partners all fall victim to the confusion and blurry lines of this illness. Relationships of all types are destroyed by a lack of understanding.

It is often disregarded as bad parenting, or an out of controlled kid, or even neglect. “Nothing a good ass kicking can’t solve, right?”

Wrong. I can assure you as a father going through it firsthand. When faced with the choice of harsh disciplinary action over compassion and understanding; handling it negatively leaves you with indescribable guilt. You can’t approach it as if they are purposely acting out. No one consciously chooses to act out in a way that will potentially harm themselves or others.

I became filled with rage and thoughts of pure hatred for my own child. It is truly the most heartbreaking and traumatic thing one can feel for their own flesh and blood. The pain I put on myself, my family and loved ones is something that changes everyone forever. Then to be seen by people on the outside as a bad parent when you already feel more guilt than anyone else can ever put on you. Well, that alone can cause a mental break.

I got high blood pressure. (Which I never have had issues with before) I lost patches of my hair. Not balding or thinning either, but actual patches of hair fell out because of the extreme stress, and the deepest sadness and remorse I ever felt in my life.

Oh, and yes, I gave up. I gave up because I couldn’t handle it any longer. I have no excuse here. I gave up because I was no longer making sound fatherly choices. All of my choices were reactionary and destructive to my two boys, my partner and our home life.

Our home was no longer a home of love and compassion, it was no longer a place where anyone felt safe. It was no longer filled with laughter and great memories. It was just filled with sadness.

I sent him back to his mother’s so I could heal. A decision that was not popular with my partner, and one I made on my own without ever considering the grief it might cause the ones I love most in my life. I decided this without realizing there were others who were going through this with me and who also deserved to have a voice in the decision.

I ultimately feel I was looking out what was best for my son and his wellbeing but to this day I still feel the guilt of the choice and still have no idea whether I made the right one.

All I knew was that I needed to heal so I could love him again, be compassionate and try to get him the help he truly needs. Sometimes a parent makes choices that look horrible to those on the outside looking in and unfortunately only time will tell if what I did was right.

My son has finally been correctly diagnosed and will be getting residential treatment along with the correct therapy and skills needed to have a future. This program is a long intensive two year program with no guarantee of success.  The type of therapy he is going to get does have great results with those who have his condition. However, either way, it is the only real opportunity for success he has.

These types of resources are simply not available to people with mental illness over the age of eighteen. That is a sobering fact. When you become an adult, you either have the money to get professional help, become homeless from the lack of skills to survive on your own or you get locked up. One and four people in the United States have some form of mental illness, too. It is an epidemic without any long term strategic plan to deal with it.

So why is Robin Williams now all of a sudden a hero and an inspiration to me? I’ll be glad to explain. Robin William’s suicide will shine a much needed spotlight onto mental illness and depression.  Unfortunately it takes events like this to bring it to the national stage.

Like everything, it will only last for a short time before people forget and go back to their lives, but I’m striking while the iron is hot. There needs to be a real honest discussion, education and reform.

It is a sad day to have lost such a brilliant and genius mind. Thank you Mr. Williams for bringing so much laughter into our lives.

As a comedian of 23 years, and one who has devoted my life to the same craft, I must thank you most of all as a father. Your last act, while tragic, will help more families find the courage they need to seek help. There are people in real pain who need a helping hand out of the darkness. I am one of those people, and so is my son.

If someone as profound and brilliant as Robin Williams who from our perspective, had everything he could possibly want out of life couldn’t climb out of the darkness; than it should be a wakeup call to us all. It takes more than just money, strength and humor to cure this illness, and Robin Williams just proved that. For that, he deserves a final standing ovation.

LB

Fore more information and resources I recommend looking up your local chapter of  N.A.M.I. (National Alliance on Mental Illness) at: http://www.nami.org/

 

 

No Risk Comedy Tour April 26th

NoRisk_poster_4_26This Sat is an important performance for me. Last summer I sat down in my back yard with my good friend and amazingly talented comedian Chris Smith and had a conversation about the industry. Through this conversation we developed a tour concept based purely on the idea comedy isn’t sold as an art form, comedians are products.

Unknown comedians like ourselves who aren’t household names never get to perform our full shows in the top comedy clubs in America or in big theaters because people buy tickets to see comedians they have heard of. They don’t want to pay for something that may or may not be funny.

There are lots of talented comedians and Chris and me are no different. For the first time we are launching a tour that is guaranteeing audiences will be entertained by this show or we will refund 100% of an audience member’s admission price. No strings attached.

It is for real, we are that confident .  We are also filming this first show to develop a commercial demo to use to get dates secured for the summer. I  need the support of my fans to make the journey up to Ridgefield, WA and be a part of something I know will finally get me the recognition so many have said I deserve. Welcome to the NO RISK COMEDY TOUR debut performance.

SAT APRIL 26th
$15 adv. $20 day of show
Tickets by phone at 360 887-7260
Doors open at 6:15 PM Showtime 7:00 PM showtime.

Old Liberty Theater: 115 N Main Ridgefield, WA

 

The No Risk Comedy Tour

Please watch this. It’s only 4 min of your life but what has been a life long journey for me. Then share this with everyone you know that spent their life chasing something because they loved it.

Follow us at: https://www.facebook.com/NoRiskComedy and @NoRiskComedy

The Debute first show:
Sat April 26th at The Old Liberty Theater in Ridgefield, WA.
Doors open at 6:15 PM Show starts at 7:00 PM
$15 advance and $20 at the door
PURCHASE ADVANCE TICKETS AT 360-887-7260
115 N. MAIN • RIDGEFIELD, WA

Ep 70: Introspective moods.

If you are listening to episode 70 because you want to laugh historically all the through it, you might want to skip this one. Is it funny in parts, yes. It is my nature to see the funny side of life. It is also in my nature to be very serious at times, analyzing everything happening to me. Anyone who knows me, understands this to be true. I am a passionate and sometimes deeply emotional man. I where them on my sleeve, but it is what keeps me connected to these experience which eventually end up on stage. If you truly want to witness my process in the raw, this is the episode for you. If not, load up a different podcast until I’m not in this introspective mood.

 

 

In this episode: Ep 70: Introspective moods.

  • The Walkabout update
  • STOP! This is a slow zone.
  • Getting filthy dirty in the moment
  • Comedy is what I do

As always share my podcast with friends, lovers and enemies

Lonald

Ep 69: Lonnie’s Walkabout

After a very long hiatus, From The Nook has returned. I’ll be completely honest when I say, things finally became so bad, I just wasn’t in a space to be creative. I know a lot of regular listeners were disappointing I dropped the project. I’m sure it hurt my listening base,at least it looks like that by the stats. I promise I will rebuild it with your help. Share this episode with everyone because as bad as it has been over the last six to eight months, this episode will go down as my favorite to date.

In this episode: Ep 69: Lonnie's Walkabouy

  • Its episode 69 NOT episode 69
  • Wake up, you need to wake up
  • What is your problem?
  • Going on a Walk about

As always share my podcast with friends, lovers and enemies

Lonald

Ep68: Get it together, I am a grown ass man

I am freaking out even horses, I make babies cry and for whatever reason I cannot stop bawling over everything. I am unraveling at the seams. What the hell is wrong with me?

In this episode: Ep68: Get it together

  • Here’s a tissue baby
  • Hey, What the hell is wrong with you
  • What I want for Christmas is a therapy horse.

As always share my podcast with friends, lovers and enemies

Lonald