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Published: 1998/10/15
by David Shulman

Minutes With Mimi (Volume 2)

This installment, as well as November’s is going to focus on some of the charity work Mimi is involved with.

David Shulman (DS) “I’m not sure how widespread this is, but you currently have Glaucoma, which you have managed to have under control with surgery followed by drops. Can you share with me some of your thoughts?”

Mimi “I was 18 and was having headaches. I was in school and figured it was from studying too much. After a visit to the eye doctor, I was told I had it, but it was too late to stop the process. I had 2 surgeries that year as well. I lost the sight in my right eye while I was still in my 20’s?..it had me down for years, especially since it was my “better” eye. I am always worried about it and hoping it doesn’t change and get worse. It was quite an adjustment. I hear many stories from others, including babies that are born with it. However, it is currently under control. The important thing is to get tested, so it can be detected as early as possible.”

DS: “You are lucky enough to be a patient of one of the nation’s leading eye doctors who is based in St. Louis. How did you first get hooked up with him?”

Mimi: “I was sent by my ophthalmologist to Alan Kolker who is based in St. Louis. He is internationally known for his work with Glaucoma and has performed 2 surgeries on me and was able to stop the Glaucoma in my left eye. I come into St. Louis every 3-4 months for follow-up visits as well.”

DS: “One of the highlight shows of the year for some people is your Birthday party benefit. What gave you the idea to put on these shows?”

Mimi: “They were giving me parties for my birthday, and I felt guilty about it. I thought we should make them more than just a party, and decided to turn them into benefits. I have been lucky enough to find many people to volunteer to help. I have realized that fans don’t just have to party, but they can be part of something they can feel proud of. They really love being a valuable resource. I have found bands to be very excited to be participate as well. I am already hearing from several for next years show?..maybe show(s).”

DS: “What are a few of your fondest memories from your past B-Day shows?”

Mimi: “Having Michael Ray play, that was fun. We danced on the stage together…he is a very sweet person. Jon showing up is always a treat. Just getting to meet everyone is wonderful. I think of all the bands that have helped like Aquarium Rescue Unit and moe. Then there was the time during the ARU show, Oteil said he had a new religion called “Mimi-ism” and he got on his knees on the stage and bowed to me. I was so embarrassed so I tried to pull him up, but he’s a big guy, so it was difficult. So here was this master of the bass guitar bowing to me.”

DS: “Can you give us a hint as to what might be coming up next year?”

Mimi: “January is National Glaucoma awareness month, so it would be nice to do something then. There are some things in the plans, but nothing definite enough to talk about yet. I hope to do multiple shows during the next year.”

DS: “You had the opportunity to meet Kirby Puckett (retired professional baseball player) this last summer (who also has Glaucoma). What did meeting him mean to you?”

Mimi: “That he is trying like I am to educate the public about awareness of Glaucoma and that you can continue after you have it. The day I met him was a few hours before the Riverport Phish show, so it made my day that much more special.”

DS: “How can the fans of Jambands.com help with your cause?”

Mimi: “By learning about Glaucoma and making people aware that it can happen to anyone at any age. Of course their support at my benefit shows are always welcome, as it’s all for a wonderful cause.”

To be continued in the November issue.

NOTE: Below is some in-depth information from Brandon Berry, the promoter of Mimi’s birthday shows since 1994, about the history of her parties. Enjoy!!

For those who may be unaware of the history of Mimi Fishman’s birthday party, here is a brief timeline of the past 4 1/2 years. The annual event was started in April 1994 in Syracuse, NY by a local band named the Sons of Papaya. SOP (called one of the best new bands of 1994 by Relix Magazine) recognized Mrs. Fishman’s birthday at a small club that year, and every year after that, the show has grown exponentially in popularity as well as in the talent that has played it.

Show Dates and Guests:
April 1994-Sons of Papaya at East LA, Syracuse, NY
April 1995-Sons of Papaya with Jon Fishman, East LA, Syracuse, NY
April 1996-Jamie Notarthomas, nebraska, moe., Aquarium Rescue Unit, and Jon Fishman, Styeen’s Rhythm Palace, Syracuse, NY
April 1997-Buckminster Fuller, Ominous Seapods, and Michael Ray (formerly of Sun Ra and Kool and the Gang), Syracuse, NY
July 1997-Merle Saunders, David Grisman, Gov’t Mule, and Ominous Seapods, Red Rocks Amphitheater, Morrison, CO

The last 3 shows have all been benefits for the American Glaucoma Society.

1999 will prove to be the best one yet. Stay tuned to Jambands.com for more information as it is available.

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