Friday, September 30, 2016

Sugar Daddy Quarterback

There was this war veteran who became crippled and so he needed this fancy new motorized wheelchair. But the wheelchair was super expensive so one of the war vet’s buddies decided to help. He made a life-size cardboard cutout of the crippled war vet. He took the cutout to a pro football training camp and he caught the attention of the star quarterback and the star quarterback bought the fancy new motorized wheelchair for the crippled war vet.

I saw this story on a daytime television show. Everybody agreed that this story was truly inspiring. It sure inspired me. It inspired me to look for a sugar daddy quarterback of my own. Because things are getting tight. States are cutting back on the shit they’ll pay for to help support cripples. You have to get creative to get your needs met. I sure would rest easier knowing I had a sugar daddy quarterback ready and willing and proud to help me out with everything I need. I don't even have to give him sex in return. I just have to be a grateful cripple.

But I’m afraid. Having a sugar daddy quarterback might seem like a comforting notion, but it could easily backfire and I could end up living in my worst nightmare. Because the competition will be fierce. I imagine millions of other cripples just like me were inspired by that story and they too are trying to think up the right gimmick to get the attention of a sugar daddy quarterback. And there are only so many quarterbacks to go around. So a mope like me could probably only win over a college quarterback at best. And even then probably only one from Division XII-B.

But it doesn’t matter because people are nuts about their football. And what’ll happen is someday I’ll drop my fork and nobody will be around to pick it up for me. But I’ll remember my sugar daddy quarterback telling me if I ever need help just call, anytime and anywhere. So I’ll send him a text that says HELP. And just my luck it’ll be right in the middle of the big game. And because I don’t give a shit about college football I won’t know it’s right in the middle of the big game. And when my sugar daddy quarterback sees my text he’ll remember his solemn promise to me and he’ll abruptly exit the stadium and flag down a cab. And the second string quarterback will come in and fuck everything up. And when the furious fans find out that the starting quarterback left so he could go pick up a cripple’s fork, those fans will send a posse to round me up so they can draw and quarter me in the town square.

So I’ll have to enter witness protection because pissing off football fans is like pissing off the mob. And being in witness protection is my worst nightmare because how can anyone successfully disguise a conspicuous old cripple like me? You can’t just stick a girl’s wig on me and call me Michelle.

Sometimes people in witness protection get surgery to alter their appearance. But there’s no surgery that can alter my appearance enough, unless they figure out a way to cure me. The only surgery that might work is gender reassignment surgery. I suppose if a surgeon could actually turn me into a crippled woman (with very hairy legs), I might be able to fool enough people to get by.

Having your own private sugar daddy quarterback may seem like the answer to every cripple’s prayer. But it doesn’t come without considerable risk.


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Friday, September 23, 2016

It’s so Stupid it’s Inevitable



Before I go to an unfamiliar place, I usually call ahead and make sure it’s accessible. I ask a bunch of specific questions because some people’s idea of an accessible venue is any place that it has 25 stairs or less.

On those occasions when I receive assurance that the place really and truly is accessible, I tell that person thanks. And I wonder if there’s ever a time when someone calls and asks if the place is accessible and when they’re assured that indeed it is they say, “Well in that case, screw you! I’m not coming!”

It would be stupid for anybody to feel that way, which means there must be some people out there who do. There always are.

There’s an organization called Little People of America, which, among other things, is dedicated to “raising positive awareness about dwarfism and addressing misconceptions about dwarfism.” It would be stupid for anybody to be threatened by that, so there must be some people who are. “Raising positive awareness about dwarfism and addressing misconceptions about dwarfism? Them there’s fightin’ words!”

Some people are very easily threatened by everything. It’s usually the white supremacy types. Those guys are always so miserable, which doesn’t make sense because being supreme is supposed to make you giddy, isn’t it? Isn’t that the whole point of being supreme?

But I guess they’re worried that anything can happen at any moment that can render them not so special anymore. This stuff about building ramps all over the place and addressing misconceptions about dwarfism, those are more examples of what’s it going to looks like when we're all living in the socialist dystopia that’s coming any day now. Everybody gets to go everywhere and do everything together! Everybody’s the same! Nobody’s special anymore!

Has anybody ever picketed outside a Little People event with a sign that says Tall Lives Matter? Is there a backlash organization called Normal Sized People of America?

Maybe not, but you can bet there are people thinking about it for sure. Maybe they don’t have the guts to say it out loud just yet but someday somebody will. Maybe it’ll be one of those rabid radio show guys. And as is always the case, when the first idiot dares to speak their mind, the closet idiots feel liberated. “Somebody’s finally speaking the truth!” And the idiots mobilize.

That’ll be the day when the restaurant hostess proudly declares to a caller that everything is fully and marvelously accessible and that caller curses her out and hangs up.

It’s all so stupid that it’s bound to happen soon.




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Friday, September 16, 2016

In the Mainstream

A lot of cripples aspire hard to be in the “mainstream.” We’re not even sure what and where the hell the mainstream is, but we figure trying to get there is worth a shot. Whatever and wherever it is, it sounds like it’s got to be a whole lot different from where we are now, so what have we got to lose?

Now me, I’ve always had mixed emotions about jumping into the mainstream. Mainstream sounds dangerously synonymous with normal and I’ve always been allergic to too much normal. Normal is a very good thing to aspire to when you’re talking about stuff like blood pressure and cholesterol levels. But becoming normal in every way isn’t always a step up to a higher wrung.

But then I received a letter from the Federal Bureau of Cripple Management. The letter announced a great new national initiative to mainstream every cripple in America. All I have to do, the letter said, is enroll in the program by calling the toll-free number below. And if I do enroll, within a matter of days I will be mainstreamed.

So I figured what the hell. Why not? I’m up for an adventure. I’m curious to see just where this mainstream is. And I’m glad the government finally recognized my right to be in the mainstream. So I called the toll-free number. And the next day there was a knock on my door. It was a man dressed like a limo driver. He said he was here to take me to the mainstream. But his vehicle wasn’t exactly a limo. It was an unmarked moving van with a wheelchair lift on the back.

The driver loaded me into the back of the truck, pulled down the door and latched it. There were several dozen other cripples inside the truck. None of us knew where we were going but we didn’t care. We were excited that at long last we were going to be mainstreamed. As we rattled down the highway in our stuffy, windowless cube, we sang songs like happy campers—100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall!

We picked up more cripples along the way and finally we arrived at our destination. It was a secluded, pristine, wooded area with a narrow river gently flowing through it. The air was cool and crisp. Several smiling employees of the Federal Bureau of Cripple Management were on hand to welcome us. The cripples were unloaded from the truck one by one.

“Where am I?” I asked the limo driver.

“You’re in Maine,” he replied.

“And what river is that?”

The limo driver chuckled. “That’s not a river. That’s a stream.”

And one by one the cripples were taken down to the water’s edge and dumped out of their wheelchairs into the stream.

But fortunately for me, I escaped because I know karate.



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Saturday, September 3, 2016

Alaskan Bear Stories as they Pertain to Coattail Access

Everybody from Alaska has a crazy story about a time when a bear suddenly appeared out of the blue. Here are my two favorite Alaska bear stories I’ve heard:

Scene: A grocery store. The manager sees a bear bounding through the parking lot, headed for the store entrance. The manager panics because the entrance door will automatically open when the bear steps on the magic rubber mat. So the manager pushes back with all his might against the inside of the entrance door, hoping he can stop the door from springing open for the bear. The bear steps on the magic rubber mat of the exit door instead. Nothing happens. The bear bounds away. Happy ending.

Scene: An emergency room. The automatic doors spring open and a bear enters. The emergency room staff lures the bear into a side room and locks the door. Somebody then calls the people you call when you need someone to sedate and remove a bear, while in the background the sound is heard of a furious bear trashing a locked room. The people from the bear sedation and removal service respond quickly and successfully do their job. Happy ending.

Both of these bear stories involve automatic doors. And because automatic doors are readily associated with cripples, this could be used to whip up a lot of anti-cripple backlash. “If it wasn’t for all these demanding cripples and their access laws, we wouldn’t have all these automatic doors all over the place, which present an open invitation for bears to waltz right on in!”

But that would be bullshit. Because back when I was a criplet, long before there were access laws, there were automatic doors on grocery stores and emergency rooms. Those were about the only places where there were automatic doors. Most cripple access was coattail access. It was accidental. If a place was accessible, it was done for something more important than cripples. And cripples got in on the coattails.

An example of something that was more important than cripples would be shopping carts. Automatic doors made it easier for people with shopping carts to get in and out of grocery stores so cripples got lucky and they could sneak in also. Another example of something more important than cripples back in those days was garbage. If a public building had a ramp, it was probably around back in the alley and it was there not for the purpose of letting cripples in but for taking garbage out. So the astute cripple could sometimes gain access via the garbage ramp. Although some security guard might stop you and say, “Hey, that ramp’s not for you. It’s for garbage.”

There used to be an elevator in the Cook County building in downtown Chicago and on the door it said HANDICAPPED AND FREIGHT. But it should have said FREIGHT AND HANDICAPPED because it was there first and foremost to haul freight, not to haul cripples. Although I guess one could argue that cripples do, technically, qualify as freight and therefore deserve to be treated with the same respect.

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Smart Ass Cripple is taking some time off. Will post again the week of September 12





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Friday, August 26, 2016

The Voice of a Crippled Generation



Paul Zielinski always dreamed of being a rapper. But everybody always discouraged him. It wasn’t just because he was white and Polish. It was because he was born with cerebral palsy. He talks all slurry and people think he’s drunk. He walks funny, too, like a drunk trudging through high snow. He's even been known to drool on occasion. So who would take him seriously as a rapper?

But all that negativity didn’t dissuade Paul. As a matter of fact, it inspired him. And today, not only is he a successful rapper, he is a groundbreaking artist who is revolutionizing the genre. He’s invented a style of rap where the words don’t rhyme. His raps have no repetitive rhythm so you can't dance to them either. His raps are structured more like prose than poetry. And there isn’t any music.

Paul’s style of rap is very cerebral. That’s why he calls himself Cerebral Paul Zee.

Like every artistic pioneer and innovator, people either love him or hate him. Rap purists accuse him of heresy. New York Times rap critic Ice Pik describes Cerebral Paul Zee’s raps as “nothing more than sophomoric monologues.” But the famous rap blogger Cussin’ Cousin lauds Cerebral Paul Zee as “the Charlie Parker of rap,” referring to the revered alto saxophonist who freed jazz from the stifling constraints of Glenn Milleresque swing by ushering in the bebop era.

Cerebral Paul Zee himself seems to delight in ruffling the feathers of old schoolers. In a recent interview, he said, “Who says all rap has to have the same old rhythm and rhyme? It’s not a fucking Hallmark birthday card!”

Cerebral Paul Zee has legions of adoring fans. They packed the house for his most recent concert. Sitting on a simple folding chair on a bare stage, he delivered his most popular rap, entitled “Talk to Me, Bitch!”

I went to a restaurant with my friend Chloe. The waitress asked Chloe for her order. Chloe said, “I’ll have the poached salmon and a glass of petite sirah.” And then the waitress said to Chloe, “And what will he have?” And I said to that waitress, “Talk to me, bitch! I ain’t deaf! I ain't contagious! Talk to me, bitch!"


Cerebral Paul Zee may be an iconoclast, but his work still retains many of the elements of tradition rap. First of all, he uses the word bitch. And he writes about the alienation and anger he feels living as a crippled American. Here’s the title rap from his latest release, “Asshole Cabbie Just Blew Right Past Me!”

I was standing on the corner waving my arms like a maniac. “Taxi! Taxi!” Asshole cabbie just blew right past me! I bet he thought I was drunk and gonna puke all over his cab! If I ever see that asshole cabbie again, I WILL puke all over his cab! I’ll puke all over him too!


Also in keeping with the great traditions of rap, Cerebral Paul Zee is embroiled in bitter feud with another rapper. His arch enemy is the east coast crippled rapper Autistic Freedom. Both crippled rappers accuse the other of being responsible for the tragic shooting death of the one-legged rapper Ampu T.

Cerebral Paul Zee is a man who raps to his own unique beat. He’s the voice of a crippled generation.

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Back in the Days When Going to Purchase Tokens to Pay for Your Dial-a-Ride Could Make You Late for Your Dial-a-Ride

This was back in the days of payphones, bus tokens and dial-a-ride. Man, did those days suck for cripples in Chicago who wanted to get around on public transit. The buses and trains weren’t accessible so the only option was dial-a-ride. Call and make your reservation at 5 a.m. the previous morning, 30 hours in advance. And when the cripple bus arrives, don’t be late! The cripple bus only waits five minutes then it leaves. And then you’re SOL. Better learn how to hitchhike. And worse yet, they marked you down as a No Show! There was great shame associated with being a No Show. When you were a No Show, brace yourself because the next time you called dial-a-ride to dial up a ride you first got the dreaded No Show lecture: “Mr/Miss (Fill in the Blank), last time you were a No Show! It’s very inconsiderate to be a No Show. You keep the driver waiting, you keep the passengers waiting…” Being a No Show earned you several thousand years in Purgatory!

So on this particular day I had my dial-a-ride pickup all scheduled and ready. But just before the cripple bus was due to arrive, I realized I was all out of bus tokens to pay for the ride I dialed up. So I hustled over to the currency exchange around the corner. I purchased a roll of tokens from the women in the room behind the service window. I was the only customer and I couldn’t open the heavy front door to leave. (This was back in the days before there were a lot of automatic doors, too.) The woman came out from the room behind the service window to open the front door for me. When she heard the door to the room behind the service window lock behind her with an ominous click, the woman stopped in her tracks, ran back to the door and shook the knob furiously! Locked! The woman ran to the front door of the currency exchange. It was locked, too! “Oh no!” the woman cried.

Apparently she forgot to push a button or something before she came out from the room behind the service window. And if you didn’t push that button, when the room behind the service window was left unattended, all doors automatically locked. It was some sort of security thing. And the only person with the magic key to unlock the door was the boss. But she couldn’t call him because the phone was in the locked room behind the service window.

What now? We were trapped! The cripple bus was due at my house in two minutes! I was going to be a No Show! But wait! A customer! He tried to open the front door! Locked! The woman ran up to the door and waved her arms. “The doors are locked! We’re trapped!”

The man looked perplexed? “What?” he mouthed. The woman held up one finger! Wait! Don’t go away! Pleeeeeeeeeeeeease don’t go away! The woman patted herself down in a futile search for pen and paper. I happened to have both those items on me so she dashed off a note: Call the boss at 555-5555 and tell him to come unlock the door. She slid the note under the door. The man read the note and then held out his upturned, empty palms as if to say he had no money for a payphone. Of course he was broke. He was probably coming to the currency exchange to cash a check so he wouldn’t be broke.

The woman patted herself down again in a futile search for change. I happened to have change. The woman slid my change under the door. The man scooped up the change and left. He returned a few minutes later and gave us a big thumbs up. After a little while the boss came and unlocked the door. I shot out of the currency exchange and scurried home. It was way past the ETA for the cripple bus. And when I arrived home, there was nary a cripple bus in sight! Dammit! I was SOL! And worse yet, I was a No Show! I would have to go sit in the No Show corner with all the other No Shows and wear my No Show dunce cap.

But I was feeling ornery. I told myself when they try to give me my No Show lecture, I’ll lecture them right back! I’ll say, “Cripples have lives, too, you know! And in life, shit happens that makes you late for dial-a-ride. Sometimes you go to the currency exchange to get tokens to pay for your dial-a-ride and you get trapped inside. So deal with it!”

But then the cripple bus chugged up to my door, arriving half an hour late.




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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Personal Responsibility

The problem with this country is that nobody takes personal responsibility for anything anymore. Everybody wants to blame their problems on “society.” People who take personal responsibility for solving their own problems aren’t rewarded for taking initiative. As a matter of fact, they’re punished.

I know because it happened to me. I tried to take personal responsibility for improving my own life and I was shit on for doing it. One of the things that has always bugged the hell out of me is that I can’t get into my local butcher shop. There’s a big old step on the front door. So I am reduced to window shopping, staring longingly at the sausage chains and carcasses on display within. The owner is an Italian guy named Luigi. He’s round and wears a blood-spattered white apron. I called his shop and tried to convince him to build a ramp. I said, “You are required by law to provide reasonable accommodation so customers like me can access your store. But more importantly, providing access is the right thing to do. And it’s good for business! You’ll mine a rich, untapped vein of new customers!” But Luigi just said, “It’s a notta my problem.” And he hung up.

For months I sat home and seethed over Luigi’s callous indifference. When I sit home and seethe, I watch a lot of TV. And when I watch a lot of TV I see a lot of those scolding, personal responsibility pundits who tell us to stop acting like whiny little victims. This is America! You’ve got to seize the bull by the bootstraps!

I was finally convinced! Luigi was right! If I can’t get into his store, it’s not his problem. It’s up to ME to deal with my situation without bothering him about it.

So I took personal responsibility. I happen to have a couple buddies who are really into amateur carpentry. So we gathered up some wood and hammers and nails and went to the butcher shop to build a ramp on the entrance. Well we barely got the first plank in place before Luigi appeared.

“What the hell are you doing?” he snarled.

“Don’t worry, Luigi,” I said. “I’m taking personal responsibility for getting into your store. You don’t have to do anything. I realize this is my problem, not yours.”

“Get away from my store or I kill you!” Luigi raised a cleaver and my amateur carpenter buddies scattered like cockroaches. Some friends they are!

So much for the butcher shop. But I didn’t give up. Another thing that always bugged the hell out of me is this big curb on the corner down the block. The curbs all around it are ramped but not that one. I’ve complained to city hall a million and one times. So I decided to take personal responsibility.

I happen to have another buddy who owns a jackhammer. I didn’t think it was legal for a private citizen to own a jackhammer but apparently it’s protected by the 2nd Amendment, according to my buddy who owns a jackhammer. So one fine summer afternoon we went to that corner and commenced to making our own curb ramp. My buddy was happily jackhammering away at the curb for only about two minutes when a police wagon to showed up. The cops cuffed my buddy, threw him in the wagon and confiscated his jackhammer. “Hey,” I said, “you’re violating his 2nd Amendment rights!” But did the cops care about that? No!

So I’m sitting home seething again. Whatever happened to the good old days when taking personal responsibility solved every problem?




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