Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ask Smart Ass Cripple

Dear Smart Ass Cripple:

This morning I woke up and realized my age-demographic could be summarized thusly:

"Born too late for the sexual revolution, but just in time for roller-disco."

I'm very depressed. Any smart ass words of encouragement? I don't need to be motivated,
I just need a reason to uncurl myself from the fetal position I have going on the sofa....
(There's a bag of Cheetos somewhere in the mix, too).

Sincerely,

Depressed

Dear Depressed
You think you’re depressed? What about me? I never heard of roller-disco until you sent me this letter. So of course I had to go look it up and watch videos of it and everything. I couldn’t just leave well enough alone. I should have known it would be one of those things that once it enters your brain it instantly metastasizes and you can never blot it out. It’s one of those things that I could have lived a rich and rewarding life without ever learning about, but now I have and I can never unlearn it. Like for instance, I can recite the names of all six main characters on the TV show Friends. Somehow that trivial trivia snuck its way into my brain and burrowed in forever. And now I can’t pretend that I don’t know their names no matter how much I try. All I can hope for is the sweet release of dementia. I also wish I didn’t know that a tiny little sparrow can bring down a mighty jet if it flies into its engine. Knowing this has led to a spike in my gin and tonic consumption when I fly.
So thanks a whole helluva lot, Depressed, for introducing me to the horror of roller-disco. Now my gin and tonic consumption is going to skyrocket even on terra firma.
Move over and pass the Cheetos.


Dear Smart Ass Cripple:
Next week I will be having my first colonoscopy. I’m very nervous and I want everything to go just right.
What should I wear?
Yours truly,

Anxious

Dear Anxious,
Selecting precisely the right fashions to wear to your colonoscopy, especially your first, is a crucial decision.
I learned this the hard way. As I recently prepared for my first colonoscopy, I gave no thought to how I should dress. As a result, I found myself the subject of the ridicule of Dr. Wellington Rice IV, the catty, sharp-tongued fashion critic for the Journal of Gastroenterology. He wrote: “Dr. KB of Chicago emailed me to report that ‘Colonoscopy Patient X’ presented himself to him wearing hippie chic: blue jeans, a faded flannel shirt and no underwear! Hey Patient X! News flash! Abbie Hoffman is dead! Quit going to resale shops. And tell Santa Claus to bring you some underwear!”
Of course all my friends saw this and they all knew Patient X was me and I became a laughingstock.
I was humiliated. But fortunately, my colonoscopy revealed a polyp and I have to have another within a year, which gives me a shot at redemption. In preparation for my all-important follow-up colonoscopy, I’ve purchased a smart-looking Panama hat from Banana Republic. And regardless of what I ultimately decide to wear with it to my colonoscopy, my hat will have a rakish tilt that will silence my critics.
So as your colonoscopy approaches, try not to panic. Trust your fashion instincts and I’m sure everything will turn out fine.
And don’t forget to accessorize!


Dear Smart Ass Cripple:
I don’t know what’s the matter with me. I have an extraordinarily successful career. I’m making fabulous money. But I just can’t seem to enjoy it. I can’t stop worrying that it’s all going to come to an end and I will wind up penniless and homeless.
Can you offer words of encouragement?
Fondly,

That Wise Ass Talking Baby on TV


Dear That Wise Ass Talking Baby on TV,
Careers are fickle and cyclical. They wax and they wane.
When this phase of your career passes, take heart. You can make a comeback. Time passes quickly and before you know it you’ll be an adult and old enough to do porn movies. And after that career phase runs its course, there’s always Branson.

(Got a question? Want a smart ass answer? Send your question to asksmartasscripple@gmail.com)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Desperate Plea for Hate Mail

I’m very disappointed. Smart Ass Cripple has been in business for two months now and we haven’t gotten any hate mail yet. Hate mail is very important. I believe it was Confucius who said, “One can best judge the character of a man by the quantity and quality of his hate mail.”

Hate mail is an essential self-evaluation tool for me. It reassures me that I’m pissing off the right people. So if I don’t get some hate mail soon I might have to take drastic action. I might have to write something about Jerry Lewis.

Nothing whips up a tornado of hate mail more than when I write something suggesting that Jerry is less than a deity. About two years ago I wrote an opinion piece for the Progressive Media Project criticizing the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for presenting Lewis with its Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. I said the telethon insults disabled kids and adults by perpetuating the destructive 1950s charity mentality.

Here’s one reader reply:

“Your comments (in my mind) seem to originate from someone who is bitter, cynical and just plain angry with the world. Yes, you have a serious disability but don't poison the world with your venom and hate.”

A mother of two adopted disabled kids sent this heart-felt reply:

“Get your head out of your butt …! Drop the hate and get a life that matters..!!”

But my most gratifying hate mail came from Lewis himself. It wasn’t exactly mail but it was hateful nonetheless. In a 1993 interview with Vanity Fair magazine, Lewis broke into a rant about cripples who speak out against him:

"This one kid in Chicago would have passed through this life and never had the opportunity to be acknowledged by anybody, but he found out that by being a dissident he gets picked up in a limo by a television station."

Hey, that’s little old me!

And he added:


"It just kills me to think about these people getting publicity. These people are leeches. They all glommed on to being Jerry-bashers. What did they have before that? They're disabled people who are so bitter at the bad hand they've been dealt that they have to take down somebody who's doing good. There's 19 of them, but these people can hurt what I have built for 45 years. There's a million and a half people who depend on what I do! I've raised one billion three hundred million dollars.

"These 19 people don't want me to do that. They want me to stop now? Fuck them.”

Now that’s classic hate mail. I’ll probably never reach that pinnacle again, but I keep trying.

But I’m trying to lay off Jerry because I’m afraid of terrorism. The French love him and they have nuclear weapons. If Jerry goes down, they may decide to take the rest of the world down with him.

So please don’t make me do it. For the sake of my sense of self-worth I must get some hate mail soon. You can help. Please send the link for Smart Ass Cripple to anyone I might piss off. This especially includes (but is not limited to) racists, gimpophobes, homophobes, republicans, religious freaks, fascists, patriots, the French and Yankee fans.

If you love me, you’ll help me get some hate mail.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Barkley's Balls

Several years back I sued the Chicago Bulls and the old Chicago Stadium. The old stadium was built in the 1920s, before the first cripples arrived in America. So there was no accessible seating so if you were a cripple and you wanted to see Michael Jordan play, the only place they could seat you was courtside on the hockey ice. (I have no idea where they put you if you wanted to see a hockey game.)

This was a sweet vantage point but the problem was they insisted we pay a sweet price for the tickets, like the courtside price, the Jack Nicholson price. But I figured out that if you showed up with the cheapest nose bleed seat ticket they had no choice but to put you on the ice anyway, though first I usually had to endure a lecture from an usher about how I better pay full price next time.

So one time I’m sitting on the ice and this stern security guy with a clipboard and pen demands to see my ID. I ask why. He says he’s going to give my name to the ticket office so next time I call they’ll make me pay full price. I wouldn’t show him my ID so he berated me before he slunked away in defeat.

I filed a complaint with the Chicago Department of Human Relations. (They use the word Relations because I guess the word Rights is to controversial, too threatening.)In addition to winning an agreement that the ushers would stop hassling me and other ice sitters, I also won free tickets to a Bulls game versus the Phoenix Suns.

This was hot currency. Whom would I invite to join me? It had to be someone who would immensely appreciate the chance to see the Jordan Bulls live.

I decided to invite Marty, my ex-marine friend, mainly because Marty spent most of his days watching every imaginable sport on TV. That’s about all he could do because when he cashed his monthly Social Security disability check, once he paid his bitter mother rent and bought himself several cartons of Pall Mall cigarettes to last him all month, he was broke.

Taped to the walls of Marty’s dark, wood-paneled bedroom were pictures of women he cut out of magazines. Some of them had the pupils of their eyes burned out by Pall Malls. But Marty always seemed harmless. “I go to the doctor once a month and he gives me a shot in the ass,” he told me once. As long as he kept up religiously with his monthly shot in the ass ritual, his restlessness and paranoia subsided enough to where he could function in the world, at least enough to watch sports and chain smoke Pall Malls. (How did I meet a guy like him? He was my attendant years earlier at Jerry Lewis summer camp for cripples.)

So when I called Marty to invite him to the game, he was excited like he won the lottery. And I told him we had courtside seats, right on the ice, and we’re playing the Phoenix Suns too.

“Coooool!” he said. “I’m gonna kick Barkley right in the balls!”

Marty was appreciative all right. He was way too appreciative. In the days leading up to the game he left me several phone messages thanking me profusely for inviting him and reaffirming his solemn vow to kick Barkley in the balls. I was starting to worry that Marty might actually run out on the court and kick Barkley in the balls during the game. Or maybe he might pull a sneak attack during the national anthem. Maybe I should tell Marty the game was canceled. But he’d know better. As jacked up as he was about all this, there was no way I could pull it out from under him now.

We met at the stadium. An usher escorted us to our place on the ice. It was way early. The stands were practically empty. Marty wore his Bulls shirt. He was jacked. “Where’s Barkley?” Get his mind on something else, I thought. So I asked him to come with me and help me in the men’s room. We headed for the men’s room just as the Suns came out of the locker room for warm ups. They ran right across our path. Barkley was the last one out. He literally had to stop in his tracks to keep from running into Marty. There they were, face to face.

This was the moment Marty had dreamed of. Barkley’s balls were two feet away. I wanted to scream out a warning! COVER YOUR BALLS! But it all happened so fast.

Barkley looked at Marty. Marty looked at Barkley. “Hey, how ya doin'?” Marty said. Barkley ran out on the court.

Marty and I proceeded to the men’s room. He never said another word about Barkley. When presented with his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to kick Barkley square in the balls, he choked. I could tell he was profoundly disappointed. I have to admit, I was too.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Don't Ask Don't Tell

If you’re not gay and in the military, don’t ask don’t tell doesn’t seem like too bad of a deal at first. What if they applied it to cripples? In order to be allowed to fully mingle in society, all we would be legally required to do would be to make some attempt, no matter how inept, to pretend we’re not crippled. In exchange, everyone else would be legally required to act like they believe it. So in my case, I could get a huge box like a refrigerator box and fashion it to fit around my wheelchair and decorate it with streamers and flowers and claim I’m riding in a parade float. I’d waive my Miss America waive. And no one would be allowed to dispute my claim because at least I’m making an effort to appear to be normal. Discriminators would have to be more discriminating in their discriminating.

This don’t ask don’t tell deal could work well with all kinds of cripples. Blind people could always say they’re just out walking their dogs. People who have seizures, when it’s all over, they can say it was an improvisational dance. Little people could walk around on stilts.

But I know that before long, somebody would blow my cover, probably some wise ass delinquent kid. I was rolling through Chinatown in Washington, D.C. once just minding my own damn business when all of a sudden this kid about age 12 starts walking beside me. He looked Chinese. I could tell by his contemptuous smirk that he was a snotty little shit.

“You’re short!” he snorted.

“I’m as tall as you,” I said.

“But I’m standing and you’re sitting down!” said the little weaselly runt. “And you got a big head!”

I saw this as a teachable moment, a rare opportunity to help a young person learn a valuable lesson about tolerance. So I said, "Hey kid, cram it."

But it would be some punk ass kid like that who would violate the protocol and spout something like, “That ain’t a parade float! That’s a wheelchair!” Or eventually I know I’d get worn out under the weight of trying to pass and not want to do it anymore. But the minute passing cripples stop keeping up their end of the bargain, all bets are off. And then all of those who have had to grit their teeth and play along with our charade will finally be free to dump their pent up resentment on us, and they will.

So maybe the only fair thing to do when it comes to sexual preference is to apply don’t ask don’t tell to everyone. Nobody, be they hetero or homo or what have you, is allowed to express a sexual preference in public, for fear that someone might find it to be creepy. Because the problem is that we as a nation have not reached a consensus on the definition of creepy. Some people say we should let Jesus decide what is creepy, but I don’t know about that. Jesus is a nice guy and all, but he’s kind of a tight ass about a lot of things. Pretty much everything creeps him out.

Creepiness is very subjective. I remember in the 1980s when Senator Jesse Helms, the late bigot, waxed venomous on the Senate floor about how those disgusting, hell-bound gay people were spreading AIDS. I thought to myself, you better be careful what you wish for, Jesse. Because if we start sending consenting adults to jail because we find their taste in sex partners disgusting, if I’m ever in charge, the first person I’ll be forced to lock up will be Mrs. Jesse Helms.

There needs to be a presidential commission formed for the purpose of coming up with recommendations on how to define creepy. Their report can be used as a blueprint for legislation and if it is approved by two-thirds of the House and Senate and three-fourths of the state legislatures, we can add an amendment to the Constitution proclaiming once and for all exactly who and what is creepy. And then we’ll know exactly who can be shunned.

Or we can apply don’t ask don’t tell to everyone. That will make our hetero heads explode. I know mine will.

We’ll all be out on the streets demanding repeal.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Australopithecine Mushroom Eaters

I wonder which of our human ancestors first consumed mushrooms. Australopithecines maybe?

I wonder this because I used to think that the first humanish creature to consciously consume a new species of mushroom, knowing full well it may be poisonous, was the definition of a brave person. He was willing to throw himself on a grenade for the good of the tribe.

But now I realize that’s not at all how hominids emerged through the treacherous era of trial and error. The first mushroom eaters were probably not the brave warriors at all. They were probably the tribe psychos and retards.

(Okay I know I’m asking for trouble here by using the “r” and “p” words instead of more dignified acronyms. But we are talking about Australopithecines here, creatures with brains too tiny to grasp the concept of dignified acronyms. I’m sure the fossil record will bear me out on this. Australopithecines probably identified their “r” and “p” tribe members with a snide, dismissive grunt or hand gesture, or maybe even a fart. But so as not to distract from the point I’m trying to make, we’ll pretend Australopithecines were sensitive and astute enough to promulgate appropriate acronyms. Henceforth, these acronyms shall be AWID (Australopithecines with Intellectual Disabilities) and AWED (Australopithecines with Emotional Disabilities).

The scenario:

Australopithecines are in their prime. They’re happy and well fed. They’ve just discovered delicious and nutritious fungi known as mushrooms. But then one overzealous Australopithecine eats a different variety of mushroom and drops dead. The other Australopithecines are grief-stricken and confused. Which mushrooms are safe for consumption and which are not? Civilization is at a crossroads.

In the fairy tale version, a noble Australopithecine steps forward, plucks a mushroom and swallows. Live or die, he’s celebrated as a hero.

But in the real version, an Australopithecine says, “Hey, I got a great idea! Why don’t we get one of those AWIDs or AWEDs to eat it? We can get them to eat anything!”

That’s the more plausible plot line because modern Homo sapiens have applied similar logic. Just a few months ago, Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama apologized to the people of Guatemala for the syphilis experiments of the 1940s. U.S. government medical researchers secretly infected Guatemalan inmates in prisons and mental institutions with syphilis and gonorrhea so as to test the effectiveness of penicillin as a treatment.

And in the 1960s there was the Willowbrook experiment. Residents of Willowbrook, the hellhole New York state institution for all manner of gimps, were deliberately infected with hepatitis and treatments were tested on them. This experiment was so uncontroversial that it wasn’t even secret.

So it’s clear that some poor sucker AWIDs and AWEDs were coaxed out into the woods by their Australopithecine brethren and offered a nice juicy mushroom. This is assuming that Australopithecines allowed their AWIDs and AWEDS to run around free, which is a big if. If the AWIDs and AWEDS were institutionalized, as their homo sapiens descendents would be, then there were probably special days where AWIDs and AWEDS were treated to mushroom casseroles and souffl├ęs prepared and delivered by the “normal” Australopithecines. As the AWIDs and AWEDS happily devoured their mushrooms, the other Australopithecines watched on intently and recorded the aftermath for posterity.

Live or die, whoever had this great idea of using AWIDs and AWEDS as human shields was celebrated as a hero.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Laura Hershey

The gimp community has been blessed with a metric boatload of incredible writers. Laura Hershey was/is the best. No question in my mind about that.

Laura died the day after Thanksgiving. But fortunately for all of us, she has a glorious paper trail. Go google her up right now. You’ll find a ton of amazing stuff. It’s like a big basket of fresh, ripe fruit. No matter what you select, it will be great.

You’ll find essays, poetry, blog posts, etc. But it’s all poetry. Even when writing about something like the minutiae of public policy, Laura spelled it all out with a sharp clarity that hits you in the gut like good poetry. Often while clawing through my brain rubble for words to express my opinion or feelings about some major gimp affair, I’d look up and find Laura had already nailed it, striking precisely the right note. A good example was that whole Terri Schiavo mess a few years back. I wanted to write something ripping those on the right and left for their raging hypocrisy. Both sides claimed to be the friends and guardians of disabled folks, when really they only differed on the timeframe for slitting our throats. The most mature response I could formulate in my mind was,”You guys are all a bunch of ass holes!” Meanwhile, Laura’s essay “Killed by Prejudice,” appeared in The Nation. She particularly stuck it to the homophobes and gimpophobes on the right. She wrote: “I'm a lesbian feminist. I'm a secular thinker who believes government should serve the public good. I abhor the fundamentalist religious movement's selective advocacy of some rights for some people.

“My partner and I squirmed as we watched Senator Rick Santorum, Representative Marilyn Musgrave and others who championed Schiavo's rights. Robin and I are both disabled women. If either of us were incapacitated, these right-wingers might argue to keep us alive; but they would oppose our right to stay by each other's bedsides.

“While they defended one woman's right to live, they jeopardized many other disabled lives by attempting to gut Medicaid, which provides essential healthcare and support services.”

Amen.

The last time Laura and I met up was in Los Angeles in ’09. It was Oscar weekend but we weren’t there to breathe the same air as Angelina Jolie. We were there to protest Jerry Lewis being chosen to receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award . Laura had the same disability as me. She too was once a poster kid. She too grew up to righteously resent how Jerry and the Muscular Dystrophy Association turn kids with MD into tragic clowns for their own marketing purposes. A bunch of us parked ourselves (uninvited, of course) in the lobby of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. We chanted. We sang to the tune of “I Feel Pretty:”
He feels pity,
so much pity.
He feels pity, and to this we object!
Because pity
heightens fear and undermines respect.
He feels giddy,
oh, so giddy,
for on Sunday he’s getting a prize,
for his pity
and his patronizing tears and lies.

The cops couldn’t scare us away. It was enormous fun.

For these types of antics Laura was often accused of the mortalest of gimp mortal sins: ingratitude. She had something brilliant to say about that too. Just last week in her blog Life Support on the website of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, she wrote “The Good and Bad of Gratitude.” She expressed how disabled folks are reluctant to express gratitude, even when we really feel it, because gratitude has historically been shoved down our throats:

“All too often, people with disabilities are pressured to feel gratitude for things that are their basic human rights – subsidized housing, support services, inclusion in the community, basic acceptance and respect. Some people think that disability is a drain on the economy, and an imposition on others. They don't want to be reminded of the prevalence and inevitability of disability in any society, in any person's experience or family. In response to this deep discomfort, they try to impose conditions on anything "given" to people with disabilities – conditions like passiveness, submissiveness, limited demands, and constant thank yous.

“We have to demand the things that are essential to our lives, equality, and quality of life. We must refuse to feel gratitude for these, except the normal level of gratitude that anyone might feel for living in a time and place that still supports human life. We can't succumb to feelings like embarrassment or shame regarding our needs, even if those needs are more extensive than the average person's needs. That will only reinforce and perpetuate our inequality, and the pulling away of vital state- and federally-funded support services.”

You can find the whole piece at http://www.spinalcordinjury-paralysis.org/LifeSupport/2010/11/24/the-good-and-bad-of-gratitude.

Read it and rejoice.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The First Thanksgiving

I recently attended a reenactment of the first Thanksgiving. It was a very enlightening experience. It gave me a much greater understanding of how some of the most enduring Thanksgiving traditions and rituals experienced every year in millions of Americans households began.

I learned a lot of surprising facts. It seems there were only five pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving dinner and it didn’t last very long. It was a potluck affair and each participate brought something to the table, all of which are still standard elements of Thanksgiving dinners today. There was James, the patriarch. James brought a turkey that he shot himself. There was Sarah, James wife, the matriarch. Sarah cooked the turkey and all the trimming and also brought to the table a pumpkin pie. There was James’ Uncle Seymour, who lived in the attic. He brought to the table a fifth of cheap whiskey. There was Sarah’s younger sister, Emily, who brought to the table her latest deadbeat boyfriend, Rico. And Rico brought to the table an attitude of smug superiority.

All started off well. Even though Emily brought Rico along unannounced, James, ever the peacemaker, welcomed him warmly.

“My home is your home,” said James. Sarah bit her tongue and said. “Well I only cooked enough for four because I had no idea... But that’s okay. I’ll just give up some of my portion.” Uncle Seymour slugged down shots of whiskey.

As James carved the turkey, he said, “So, Rico, what kind of work do you do?”

Rico said, “I used to sell horseshoes, but I’m on sabbatical.”

James replied, “That’s so interesting.” And then James said, “Emily, would you like this juicy drumstick? I know it’s your favorite part of the bird.”

Emily replied, “No thank you. Rico and I are vegans.

Sarah spewed her apple cider. “What!”

Uncle Seymour took a slug and said, “What the hell’s wrong with meat?”

“Carnivores are base creatures,” Rico said. “They thirst for blood.”

“That’s right,” chimed Emily. “We want our spirits to be unencumbered.”

Sarah retorted, “Fine! Who cares about my feelings! I slaved all day cooking this turkey and none of you lifted a finger to help!”

“Oh boy,” Emily said. “Here we go with the martyr routine again. She says she doesn’t need help and then she complains because no one helps.”

“That’s sooooo bourgeois,” Rico scoffed.

Uncle Seymour slugged a shot and said, “If you ask me, I think you’ve all got a screw loose!”

Sarah said, “Oh my God! I’m getting one of my migraines!

To which Emily shot back. “You’ve never been supportive of me! You always want to sabotage my happiness!”

James stood and declared, “How about a nice game of Scrabble?

“Oh give it up, James,” said Emily. “You’re such a milquetoast.

“Hey,” spat Uncle Seymour. “You can’t call my idiot nephew names!”

“Oh my God,” Sarah moaned. “I‘m blind! My migraine is so intense I can’t see!”

“So now you’re blind and it’s all my fault!” Emily cried. “Everything is my fault, isn’t it?”

Emily tipped over the dinner table and stormed off.

The end.

And centuries later, here we are.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Gorilla Suit

Emmanuel was washing my armpits. We were talking about death. (Emmanuel is one of my P.A.s, which is the acronym I use when referring to the dozens of dozens of people I’ve employed over the last four decades to put on my pants, lift me out of bed, wipe my butt, etc. P.A. is short for personal assistant. It’s not the best job title. It sounds like I’m some sort of Puff Daddy and these are my dutiful sycophants who walk beside me on sunny days holding my parasol and who arrange my lunch dates with my broker. Some people call those who do this work attendants. But that sounds too zoological. Monkeys have attendants. I don’t need someone to watch over me or to flip me a treat when I complete a task.)

Anyway, we were talking about death and I said, “So I told Rahnee when I’m gone, just dump my dead ass in Lake Michigan!”

And Emmanuel said, “That’s what I did with my grandmother.” He said he took grandma out onto the pier at Morse Avenue beach at night. And I listened with my eyes wide open in shock because I pictured him in black commando clothes, his dreadlocks flying in the wind, hustling across the deserted beach with a weighty burlap sack flung back over his shoulder. He took grandma up to the railing, he said. Then, he said, he opened the urn and sprinkled her into the lake.

I exhaled. I explained to him that when I said dump my dead ass in Lake Michigan, I meant it literally. I told Rahnee to stuff me in the trunk of the van, drive out to a boat ramp, open the hatch and boot me out.

Now Emmanuel looked at me with wide open shock eyes. But being dumped is the cheapest, most sensible and considerate way for me to go. I hate wakes anyway. They spackle you with makeup and put you on display. And then your loved ones, in their time of smothering grief, are bound by etiquette to suck it up and receive guests like a tea party.

Then everyone watches as they put you in the ground. And they top it off by presenting your battered loved ones with a bill for a zillion dollars. Screw all that. I told Rahnee not to piss away her money on coffins or funerals or burial plots or headstones. Just fill my pockets with lead, dump me in the lake, take the money saved and treat herself to a week in Aruba or something. That’s the way to grieve.

There is one tempting scenario, however, under which I would consider being on public display. I might agree to be waked if, and only if, I am laid out in a gorilla suit. Wouldn’t the wake be lots more fun then? It would sure make things easier on the kids. My posthumous fashion statement could easily go viral and soon everyone would be doing it. There will be a catchy new euphemism for terminal illness. You go to the doctor for your test results and you say, “Give it to me straight, doc.” And the doctor says, “Well, let me put it this way. I think you should get fitted for a gorilla suit.”

Or maybe I’ll have them put a gorilla suit on me before they send me to the crematorium. Those poor people who work in a crematorium. They could use a good laugh.

I might even consider being buried in a plot with a headstone, under one condition. Rahnee has to have her grave right next to mine. And on her headstone must be inscribed I’M WITH STUPID with an arrow pointed at me.

But I don’t know. Those are expensive gags. I should stick with being dumped.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

When Service Monkeys Attack

T.K. Small of Brooklyn, New York thinks he’s the king of the smart ass cripples. He says he’s even got to the cup to prove it. His girlfriend gave it to him. It’s a brown ceramic coffee mug that says number one smart ass.

But I disagree. In my smart ass point system, a blog trumps a mug easy. So we decided we’re going to settle once and for all who reigns as smart ass cripple supreme by arm wrestling for it. That’s a pretty funny joke since neither one of us can raise our arms.

T.K. was born in 1965 in New York. He was educated for a few years in your standard segregated gimp school of the time and lived for nine years in a rehab facility for children and adolescents. These day he rolls around in a motorized wheelchair and has a 24/7 crew of attendants. He works as a lawyer for the New York state Independent Living Council and takes some ADA cases on the side.

So T.K. has been among cripples galore his whole life but one of the most memorable ones was his friend… ( Let us pause for a minute to state that it is our editorial policy here at Smart Ass Cripple to use an alias whenever there is a danger of outing someone who may not want to be outed for whatever reason. So let’s refer to T.K.’s friend as Clarence Thomas.)… his friend Clarence Thomas.

Clarence Thomas was a big, broad rugged looking guy with a long ponytail. He was a high level quadriplegic. T.K. says, “He got blown off a building by a big gust of wind. He told me he was high when it happened. He woke up three days later in the hospital.”
But even in state of heavy duty quadhood, Clarence Thomas remained a party fool. “He went to a nudist colony in Brazil once. All he was wearing was a smile and his leg bag.” He must’ve gone to 100 Grateful Dead concerts. He followed the dead to Jamaica once. That’s how T.K. met him, at a Dead concert at Madison Square Garden.

Here’s another thing about him: “He would ask anyone to help him with anything under any circumstances. He would ask a complete stranger to empty his leg bag.”

And one more thing: “(Clarence Thomas) was a terrible wheelchair driver. He’d put a hole in your wall and say, ’Who put that wall there?’” And Clarence Thomas often drove his motorized wheelchair on city streets. So of course one day he got hit by a car and sued. “He ended up with a lump sum. He had this crack head that was living with him. They decided that a good thing to do was to buy a gigantic rock of cocaine. It was about the size of a golf ball.”

Meanwhile: “Along the way somewhere, somebody gave (Clarence Thomas) the idea that he should have a service monkey. The way he would control the monkey was that the monkey wore a discipline collar and (Clarence Thomas) would give it a shock.”

You can see where this is leading, can’t you? “Well one night there was a party and the monkey discovered the cocaine. He ran around the apartment going crazy. And his little monkey dick got hard. And he tried to hump (Clarence Thomas) in this ear.
So he’s shocking the monkey to try to get it to stop. The same way a dog humps your leg, the monkey was trying to hump people in their ears.”

Perhaps that was rock bottom. “Later on his brother staged an intervention.
(Clarence Thomas) went into rehab and the monkey went back to wherever he came from.”

Clarence Thomas cleaned up pretty good after that. “Four or five years ago, we all went out to dinner for a friend’s birthday. He was in a great mood. And then we got a phone call the next morning that he was dead. His attendant couldn’t wake him up in the morning.”

“He died like Jerry Garcia. I don’t think he wanted to die but I don’t think he had any regrets.”

See how a service monkey can change your life?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Crawling Back

I’ve never been trapped in an abusive relationship, but I’m told that when you finally get up the strength to break away, sometimes the abuser overflows with phony remorse. He buys you flowers: “I’m sorry honey pie! I’ll never do it again. I love you! Please come back. Things will be different this time.”


But more often than not, the abuser just folds his arms and scoffs: “You can’t make it without me. You’re weak. You’ll come crawling back.”

Two years ago, American voters took a big step toward breaking away from our abusers. Granted, the guy we elected president has turned out to be pretty much a wimp. But a wimp is a damn sight better than a bully.

But yesterday we went crawling back.

Here is the republican/tea bagger/ libertarian philosophy of life:

You need something? Buy it. The rules of the game are simple. Everything has a price tag—food, shelter, clothing, health care, you name it. Everything has a price tag. You need it? Buy it. You say you can’t afford it? Get a job. You say you have a job and you still can’t afford it? Get another job. You say you already have 10 jobs? Oh well. You lose. Oh and by the way, we love Jesus.

The republicans didn’t even buy us flowers. They didn’t promise to do a damn thing different. They just scoffed. But we went crawling back.

What’s next? President Palin? What freaks me out most about her is that I could never have made up someone like her. Just when I begin to believe I’m a witty satirist, along comes an actual character like Palin. And I realize that in a thousand years I could never have created such a dark, absurd scenario: A once-proud nation, starving for leadership, desperate to regain its sense of superiority, turns in its hour of need to a dizzy cheerleader.


This is what scares me most today. When human relations become so twisted and tangled that they are beyond parody, it feels like end times lurk near.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Washington Rancid Spuds

It’s almost 2011 and there’s still a professional sports franchise called the Washington Redskins. My mind is officially in a state of full-blown bogglement.
Native Americans have complained for decades about how insulting this name is. I put myself in their place and I can empathize. How would I feel if there was a Detroit Droolers, a Seattle Spastics or an Indianapolis Invalids? I’d be riled too. But that’ll never happen. When naming a sports team, you have to name it after something that’s either a) fierce and ferocious (Panthers) or b) proudly indigenous (Buckeyes). Nobody thinks cripples are ferocious. True, cripples scare people, but not for the right reasons. And yes, cripples are indigenous. You find them everywhere you go. But nobody wants to advertise that.
So this is one realm at least where cripples are safe from degradation. But not so for Native Americans. A group of them pursued a lawsuit that began in 1992 and didn’t end until last fall. They said the Redskins trademark violated the Lanham Act, which says no trademark may “disparage” living or dead people or “institutions, beliefs, or national symbols.” At first they won but then they lost on appeal and when the Supreme Court refused to hear the case the Redskins prevailed and got to keep their precious nickname.
Team ownership clings tenaciously to the name, no matter who gets hurt. They are like hoarders. They refuse to throw things out no matter how much they stink. They could take the graceful, civilized way out by switching to a team name is both indigenous to Washington and ferocious. There are plenty such animals in D.C. How about the Washington IRS Auditors? Everybody’s terrified of them. Or how about the Washington Corporate Lobbyists? Those guys will squash you like a bug.
Redskins’ ownership is determined to keep their name for three reasons: money, revenue and cash. So I have a proposal that might settle this thing for good. How about if they keep their damn Redskins name but change their logo to a potato? It can be a fierce potato with a menacing snarl and razor teeth. Or it can be a rotten, rancid potato that will give you botulism. That’s pretty scary.
Or it can be a fightin’ potato. If you want to name your sports team after something indigenous but innocuous and you need to make it fierce, you just add the word fightin’, as in Fightin’ Irish. A leprechaun looks like a bad ass when his dupes are up. So maybe the Washington bad ass potato could have six-pack abs, bulging biceps and boxing gloves.
Robert Raskopf is the hot shot New York lawyer who won the case for the Redskins. I called him at his firm but his wasn’t in so I left a voicemail. I presented my journalistic credentials: “I write a blog called Smart Ass Cripple. I wonder if your clients would be open to changing their team logo to a potato? That way they can keep their name and no one gets disparaged. It can even be a menacing potato if need be. Please return my call and let me know if there’s any room for compromise.”
For some reason, Raskopf hasn’t called me back.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Smart Ass Tribute to Ronald Reagan

Okay, let’s get this one out of the way right now. Let’s see who’s got the stomach to stick around and keep reading smartasscripple.blogspot.com.
Before we get too deep into this relationship, there’s something you all need to know about me. I once took a leak on the front lawn of the boyhood home of Ronald Reagan. I was a much younger man at the time. Now that I am older and wiser and more sensitive to the feelings and viewpoints of others, do I regret it?
Hell no!
I peed on the iconic president’s lawn indirectly or, through proxy, if you will. We were riding through Dixon, Illinois. Who knows why? I believe we were returning from a summer camping weekend. It was Bill and Becky, Anna and me. Bill, my wild man college roommate. (Bill once conspired with our other roommate, Mike Bachstein, to dump Bachstein out of his wheelchair in a busy sub sandwich shop on the main drag of Carbondale, Illinois, just for a laugh. Bachstein sat at a table in his ragged wheelchair, eating his sub and minding his own business. Bill walked by, looked in the window, stopped in his tracks, went up to Bachstein, cussed him out and tipped his wheelchair forward. Bachstein took a pratfall to the floor, just as they had rehearsed. Bill ran away and fortunately he ran faster than the eyewitnesses who ran after him, hoping to apprehend him and kick his ass.) Becky, Bill’s wife and balancing opposite. She’s calm, steady, practical, speaks only when she has something to say. Anna, my late first wife. The whole thing was her idea. We saw the signs trumpeting Reagan’s boyhood home. A sudden, invisible lightning bolt of conniving delight struck Anna. She stiffened in her wheelchair, snorted with laughter and said we should go there so I could pee on the lawn. (Note how she nominated me to perform such a thoroughly despicable act. I was flattered.)
But what about logistics? I couldn’t just roll out on the lawn, unzip and let ‘er rip. I’m always packing a urinal, but I couldn’t just fill it up and christen the lawn. Too blatant.
Then Becky got a brilliant idea.
“Mountain Dew!”
Mountain Dew looks like pee. So we got a can of Mountain Dew at a gas station and we all took slugs from it til the Mountain Dew was gone. I peed in the urinal. Becky, sitting in the passenger seat, poured the pee into the empty Mountain Dew can with a steady hand like a chemist. Bill pulled the van up to the curb in front of the modest boyhood home of Ronald Reagan. The place was locked up tight. Becky handed Bill the can. Bill stepped out of the van. He kept the engine running.
Bill stepped cautiously out to the middle of the lawn. He held the can high, as if offering a toast. Then he upended the can until it was empty. He ran back to the van and we sped away like bank robbers.
If we tried to pull a stunt like that today, I’d be writing this from Guantanamo. The FBI would use DNA to trace the pee back to me. I realize that by posting this on the internet I am ruining my life. I will never be able to hold public office or win Senate confirmation if I am ever nominated for the Supreme Court. All my detractors will have to do is point out that I once peed on the front lawn of the boyhood home of Ronald Reagan and I’m sunk. Only the most enlightened of humans will sympathize. I’ll probably be barred from holding down any job ever again, except writing this smart ass blog. But I can’t resist making this confession for the same reason I couldn’t resist peeing on the lawn in the first place-- in the name of justice. I’m grateful I had the opportunity to deface the lawn in the same disrespectful way that the gleeful selfishness of Reaganism has defaced America.
Hello out there in Readershipland? Is anyone still there? Do I hear crickets?

P.S. I’ve posted a new photo, which was sent in by astute reader and fellow smart ass Kevin Irvine. He was at the cheesehead karaoke bar mentioned in the intro and captured this moment. Beer and women and song. What else is there?

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Birth of a Smart Ass Empire

This is where my empire begins: Smartasscripple.blogspot.com.
This is where I begin to live my dream, to become a legendary smart ass.
Smart ass cripple is an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, dipped in a contradiction, steeped in conflict, vacuum sealed in an oxymoron. Everybody loves a cripple but everybody hates a smart ass. You’ll want to love smart ass cripple because I’m a cripple and it’s un-American not to love a cripple. But you won’t be able to love smart ass cripple because I’m a smart ass, and nobody likes a smart ass.
It’s like when I was with the raunchy Tim Sullivan, another great smart ass, at a bar in Wisconsin. Sullivan is a cripple too, uses a motorized wheelchair like me. He’s even got a trach sticking out of his throat, so he’s authentic, scary authentic.
A Packers exhibition game on the TV, muted. Karaoke time. I gave Sullivan a dare. Let’s do Sonny & Cher, “I Got you Babe.” I’ll even be Cher. Let’s shake these Packer fans up—give ‘em something they’ve never seen before: two graying crippled guys up on stage (one with a trach), cheek to cheek, all mushy and lovey dovey.
Sullivan took up the dare right away. But when our song came up, he wussied out. He froze. He wouldn’t go up. “These Packer fans’ll kick our asses!” he said. “They’ll think we’re queer!”
“No they won’t,” I said. “We’re crippled.”
And that’s exactly what I was trying to do, to mock the lynch mob mentality: “Let’s stomp ‘em! They’re queer!
“But we can’t! They’re crippled!
“But it’s our duty to stomp ‘em! They’re queer!
“But we can’t! They’re crippled!”
But Sullivan pussied out so our turn passed. I’ll never have that opportunity again.
But that’s how Smart Ass Cripple will make polite society feel—deeply conflicted.
“Let’s hug him. He’s a cripple.”
“But we can’t. He’s a smart ass.”
“But it’s our duty to hug him. He’s a cripple.”
“But we can’t. He’s a smart ass.”
Smart Ass Cripple will dare you to love him.
Today, Smart Ass Cripple is just a blog. But soon, it will be an empire. I’m gonna have my name plastered all over everything, like that asswipe egomaniac Trump: Smart Ass Cripple Towers. Smart Ass Cripple Casino and Hotel. The Smart Ass Cripple Bowl live from Smart Ass Cripple Stadium. The Smart Ass Cripple NASCAR Cup. Hell why not? They’ve got a Hooters Cup.
Now I can hear you all saying, “That sounds fabulous! Please tell me what I can do to help Smart Ass Cripple build his empire.” Fortunately for you, all you have to do is subscribe to this blog, and recruit 400 or 500 close personal friends to do the same. Then don’t worry you’re pretty little head about another thing.
To all readers, I make the Smart Ass Cripple Pledge:
I PROMISE to not be objective. Fuck that. If you want objective, go watch PBS. Why the hell would I write a blog if I wanted to be objective? It defeats the whole damn purpose. It’s like putting on a condom in a sex fantasy. The opinions expressed by Smart Ass Cripple are necessarily those of the management. Those with opposing views a cordially invited to write their own damn blog.
I PROMISE I will not be totally gimpcentric. Most of the stuff that provokes Smart Ass Cripple into rearing his sarcastic head grows out of the bizarre shit that happens when you’re trying to live life as a gimp. But not always. For instance, I read in the news a while back that there are still people that hunt whales. Anybody who’s whaling these days is doing it just to be a prick. We’re all well past the point where we can’t survive unless we have whale oil for our lanterns and blubber for lunch. So anybody who’s still whaling is doing it just to be a prick and needs to be treated as such.
I PROMISE I won’t be an inspirational cripple. I am, in fact, the antidote for too much exposure to the inspirational cripple. I won’t hold myself up as an example of how you can do anything you want if you put your mind and heart to it because it ain’t hardly true. And besides, you might believe me and, while under the influence of false inspiration, you might do something stupid and sue me. There are a lot of things I can’t do. There are a lot of things you can't do either. We’re human. We can jump out a window and flap our arms like mad but no matter how inspired and single-minded we are, we won’t fly.
I PROMISE not to write only about me. God, is there anything more oppressvely dull? It’s like being bound and gagged and forced to watch someone else’s vacation videos. I don’t know who’s reading these blogs where people yammer on and on about what their cat had for lunch but it sure as hell ain’t me. Smart Ass Cripple will write about other people, places and things too. Here’s an example: My friend TK Small of Brooklyn had a gimp friend who had a service monkey. It was all working out fine, until one fateful day when the service monkey got into his master’s cocaine. Stay tuned for that one.
I PROMISE not to be a nihilist. What a bunch of tiresome whiners nihilists are. “Oh poor me! The universe is sooooo meaningless! Boo hoo hoo!” Just because I’m cynical doesn’t mean I’m a nihilist. A lot of the best sarcasm is born of chronic idealism. We know and believe humans can do better and we won’t give up on them.
If nothing else, dear readers, I hope you will derive at least a few laughs from your time spent on smartasscripple.blogspot.com. I hope when you apply the cost benefit/analysis of ratio of life minutes burned to laughs provoked, you’ll want to come back for more.
So here are the easy usage instructions for smartasscripple.blogspot.com: read, enjoy,repeat.
Welcome. Here we go.
P.S. Oh shit, I just thought of something. Do bloggers need malpractice insurance?
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Coming next:
A Smart Ass Tribute to Ronald Reagan