Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Amazing Crippled Actors on the Stage and Screen


A lot of people think it’s a great big deal when an actor who isn’t crippled plays the role of a crippled character. It’s considered to be the ultimate in acting and it usually wins an Oscar.

But that’s nothing! What about crippled actors who play the roles of characters who aren’t crippled? Now that’s some amazing acting!

But these actors get no attention. For example, there’s British actor Andrew Bollox, who is currently staring to rave reviews on stage in London as Hamlet. Bollox has cerebral palsy so he’s all spastic and he rides around in a motorized wheelchair. He even talks using one of those Stephen Hawking talking boxes. But when he plays Hamlet he leaves his wheelchair backstage and walks around on stage and says, “To be or not to be” as plain as day. He doesn't even drool. And wow, you should see him sword fight!

How does he do it? It’s simple. He’s acting! It’s just like when an actor puts on a foreign accent. Bollox spent many hours studying how people who walk and talk walk and talk. With the help of top-notch dialect and gait coaches, he soon got it down. Using his amazing powers of concentration, when Bollox embodies the character of Hamlet, he rises from his chair and speaks eloquently. It’s as if he’s in a hypnotic trance.

Also be sure to see to see the soon-to-be-released biopic about the superstar Brazilian soccer player Pele. It’s called Kicking Up a Storm and starring in this movie in the role of Pele is Brazilian actor Paulo Besteiro. It’s truly astonishing acting when you consider that Besteiro was born with no legs. But in this movie he plays soccer with reckless abandon. No, that’s not a stunt double. It’s all done through the miracle of special effects. I call it the reverse Forrest Gump effect. In the movie Forrest Gump, Gary Sinese plays the part of Lieutenant Dan, who loses his legs in war. But Sinese has both of his legs so in order for him to authentically portray Lieutenant Dan, his legs were lopped off virtually using special effects. Well in Kicking Up a Storm, special effects are used to give Besteiro legs! It’s an Oscar-worthy performance indeed!

So screw you, Meryl Streep! Compared to these guys, you’re crap!


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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Autism Detox

Apparently autism is a toxin. Who knew?

And all people with autism have to do to get rid of their autism, some people firmly believe, is get rid of their toxins. Then they won’t be toxic anymore.

Amazon removed from its virtual shelves more than a dozen books promoting chlorine dioxide as a miracle treatment for autism. The stuff is also marketed as MMS, which stands for Miracle Medical Solutions. But it’s basically just bleach. This whole idea about bleach curing autism was thought up by some goofball Scientologist. (I know goofball Scientologist is redundant.) Are you surprised to hear that?

But people are still falling for it even though the Food and Drug administration put out a warning five years ago that this stuff is a crock. The same FDA warning also included other bizarre snake oils some people were pushing as a cure for autism, such as raw camel’s milk. Where the hell did that one come from? Who analyzed the chemical elements of raw camel’s milk and decided they’d be good for snapping people out of their autism? Did they then pour raw camel’s milk on some pour autistic kid’s Cocoa Puffs? Must’ve been some goofball Scientologist.

And some people must’ve also been shoving kids with autism into hyperbaric oxygen tanks in an attempt to detoxify and purify them because the FDA felt compelled to warn that that doesn’t work either. That should be as unnecessary as putting a label on a deep fryer warning people not to submerge their head in the hot oil. You’d think it would go without saying

The FDA also warned that, despite what some people say, there are no miracle suppositories that cure autism. Oh a clay baths also don’t work. Clay baths are products that, when added to bath water, supposedly draw out toxins and pollutants that make people autistic. It’s easy to see that’s a fraud because if it really did work that way, what would we do with the tainted water? I mean, it would be full or autism germs, right? That sounds like the kind of toxic material that needs to be hermetically sealed in a haz-mat container and hauled away to a distant waste dump. But I bet those that tried clay baths didn’t do that. I bet they just casually opened the drain and let the bath water swirl down. And all their toxins would have contaminated the public water supplies. And we’d all have caught autism by now!


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Saturday, May 25, 2019

Selective Deafness


One fine summer afternoon, I visited a botanical garden. Within in it was a rose garden with a tranquil pond in the center. It looked like the perfect place for meditation. And in fact, there was a guy sitting by the pond upright and motionless with his eyes closed and a blissful grin. But at the same time there were what looked like field trips of middle schoolers bustling through and you know how noisy they can be. But the meditating guy was completely unfazed. Somehow he tuned it all out. I said to myself, “Damn, that the guy’s good.” And then I said to myself, “Or maybe he’s deaf.” Wow! I guess sometimes deafness comes in handy.

There are a lot of times when I wish I was deaf. Sometimes I travel with the hell-raising cripples of ADAPT. We come from around the country and gather in some city, usually D.C., and we protest hard. In order to save money, we stuff four people into a hotel room. So it’s inevitable that sooner or later, you’ll end up sharing a hotel room with somebody who snores like an asthmatic grizzly bear. And I would give anything to be deaf then.

And because I live in the middle of a big city, often there have been guys working with jackhammers outside of my window. I think that’s when I wish I was deaf most of all. I don’t know why guys who own construction companies don’t make a big push to recruit deaf people to do the jackhammer jobs. It seems like it would make good business sense. They’d probably save a lot of money on earplugs.

I’m not saying I want to be deaf all the time. Only when it works to my advantage. Selective deafness. I wish I had the magical power to do something like blink three times and turn off my hearing when something cacophonous is going on and then blink three more times and turn my hearing back on when the coast is clear. I imagine some people feel the same about me when it comes to parking. They want to be crippled long enough to snag that sweet parking space right outside the front door. And as soon as they leave, they don’t want to be crippled anymore.



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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Playing God



Sometimes you see these leg amputees who run marathons and 50-yard dashes. And the prosthetic legs they run on don’t look anything like human legs. They look like they were put together with an erector set. (Does anyone remember what those are?)

This is a good thing. It used to be that people who made false legs seemed to go way out of their way to make them look like real human legs. They were trying to play God. But they weren’t very good at it. There was a kid with two false legs who attended the segregated elementary school for cripples that I attended. His legs sort of looked like real human legs in the sense that they were shaped like human legs, basically, and there were joints at the ankle and knee. They were pretty much the same skin tone as his real skin, though I think he just got lucky there. I bet in those days false legs came in two standard-issue skin tones — one Caucasian and one African. (I guess Asian amputee kids were just screwed.) This kid’s skin tone happened to be pretty damn close to standard-issue African.

But still, there was no chance of any sober person seeing that kid's prosthetics lying on the floor and saying, “Oh my God, look at those severed human legs!” There was only so much that could be done to make fake legs look real. I suppose technology is better today, but fake legs still aren’t fooling anybody. It’s like a comb-over.

And I’m glad to see that makers of fake limbs stopped trying to play God, or at least it some cases. It’s good that being aesthetically pleasing isn’t always their top design priority. It really gets in the way. The purpose of getting a fake leg isn’t to try to convince everybody that you still have two actual flesh and bone legs. If I had a leg cut off, I wouldn’t bother to get a fake one because that would be stupid. I don’t even use the legs I have. A fake leg would be purely decoration. My current legs are purely decoration but getting rid of them is too much trouble. But anyway, the purpose of having a prosthetic leg is to get around, right? If those badass amputee runners tried to run on bulky-ass legs designed primarily to render the user more cosmetically assimilated, they would never win a race even if all the other runners were in potato sacks.

So it’s good that these cripples say fuck it to doing what they do the normal way and do it the cripple way. When cripples do that things go a lot smoother.


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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Cripple Collateral


But you know I see these commercials for car title loans and I wonder why nobody does the same thing for wheelchairs. Car title loans are designed to soak people who are so broke that their only asset is their raggedy–ass car. Well I’ve known many cripples who are so broke that their only asset is their ragged-ass wheelchair. The same goes for prosthetic limbs, commodes, ventilators and all the other pricey shit cripples need. Our equipment is often our only remotely valuable possession because someone else paid for it, like the government or an insurance company or some smarmy charity.

But those things are some mighty valuable collateral. Anybody who doesn’t realize that hasn’t hung around with cripples very much. If their wheelchair is on the line, a cripple will do whatever it takes to pay back the loan plus the 50,000 percent interest. They’ll rob a bank if they have to. There’s no sadder sight than a cripple in the throes of wheelchair separation anxiety. I know how it is. It hits me hard whenever I fly and they take my wheelchair away and throw it in the cargo hole of the plane. Boarding and deboarding passersby probably think I’m a junkie going through withdrawal. I’m fretting and sweating hard until that glorious moment when I arrive at my destination and I’m safely reunited with my chair.

For many cripples, putting up their wheelchair as collateral will only buy them a few months before it’s time to pay up the loan and they have to cough up the chair. But the loan sharks won’t have any trouble unloading the chairs they seize. There are plenty of cripples out there who’d be more than happy to purchase a discount “pre-owned” wheelchair under the table. The sharks could also chop up the wheelchairs and sell the parts to desperate cripples with broken chairs.

That’s why I ‘m also surprised that I never see wheelchairs or prosthetics or stuff like that in the windows of pawn shops. I bet there are lots of people every day who would see that and say to themselves, “Hmm, I wonder how much they want for that?” But are there any shops where you can remove your false leg, pawn it and hop out? I doubt it.

These sharks are missing out on a big market of pre-owned pricey cripple shit.



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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

On Hold With Social Security: A Smart Ass Cripple Investigation

Recently I read something that blew my mind. According to the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, in 2017, when someone called the Social Security Administration’s toll-free 800 number, they waited 18 minutes on average for a human customer service representative to answer. That was up from the three minutes waiting on average in 2010. They also said that 13 percent of callers received a busy signal in 2017, up from five percent in 2010.

I wondered if the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare was referring to the 800 toll-free number of the Social Security Administration on the planet earth. The last time I called that number was about four years ago and I recollect waiting on hold for about 45 minutes before I hung up. And it’s hard to conceive that there was ever a time when the average wait was three minutes.

Someone needed to check this out. This was the perfect job for the Smart Ass Cripple Undercover Investigative Unit (which is me) and all of its resources (which is my phone).

I decided to call the 800 number three times and see how long it takes to connect with another human. My first call was on a Thursday afternoon. The robo voice that answered asked me to clearly state my reason for calling. Oh shit! I wasn’t expecting that! What should I say? I couldn’t say, “I’m calling to see how long you fuckers will keep me on hold. “ That would blow my cover.

So I said, “Speak to an agent.”

Then the robo voice asked me to state my Social Security number. I wasn’t expecting that either! I sure didn’t want to give my real Social Security number. Should I make up a fake number?

So I said, “Speak to an agent.”

Finally, I was officially on hold. After a few minutes, the robo voice apologized for the delay and reminded me that Social Security pays monthly benefits to 50 million people so sometimes there are “busy periods.”

I heard this apology three times while waiting on hold. After 25 minutes I gave up and hung up.

The second time I called was a Monday morning. I was on hold for 23 minutes when someone answered. I wasn’t expecting that. What should I say? Maybe I should say, “Sorry, wrong number."

I panicked and hung up.

The third time I called was a Tuesday evening. I was determined to wait on hold for however long it took until somebody answered. I began to regret that vow when my hold reached the 45 minute mark. But I persevered and a human answered after 51 minutes.

Ooops I forgot to mention that the Smart Ass Cripple Undercover Investigative Unit has one other resource. We have an adding machine circa 1965. And I used it to calculate that all told, I was on hold for 99 minutes, which made my average wait time 33 minutes.

So the Smart Ass Cripple Undercover Investigative Unit proved that the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare is full of shit. But at least I never got a busy signal.



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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Living Each Day to the Fullest

I wish all those cripples that always live each day to the fullest would just go away. The give me a headache. They always have.

I hear that said about cripples a lot. “He’s out there always living each day to the fullest!” There are a lot of documentaries and television news stories about cripples like that. I also hear it often said about dead cripples. “In spite of it all, he always lived each day to the fullest.”

These cripples irritate me because they make it hard for me to relax. Like for instance, the other day I was attempting to sit on my dead ass and enjoy watching a baseball game. I finished eating dinner and the ballgame was in the seventh inning so I put my wheelchair in the recline position and my pit crew guy put a pillow under my head.

But I couldn’t enjoy it for long because I thought about those cripples who always live each day to the fullest and I felt guilty, which often happens in moments of slothful bliss like that. Here I am sitting on my dead ass when I’m supposed to be out there always living each day to the fullest. I’m being a bad cripple. Just look at me! What a sorry, slovenly sight I am! No one would shoot a documentary or television news story about this.

And then I get all flustered and intimidated because I know I should be out there always living each day to the fullest but I really don’t know what that means. What should I be doing instead of sitting on my dead ass watching a baseball game? Skiing? Volunteering in a soup kitchen? Singing the national anthem at the Super Bowl? Wrestling an alligator?

But then I take comfort when I remember that when it comes to measuring how well a given cripple is always living each day to the fullest, some people have a pretty low bar. Some people have such low expectations of cripples that even if I just go downstairs to the 7-Eleven and get some ice cream they’ll think I’m living this day to the fullest.

So maybe I’ll do that next time. I’ll go down to the 7-Eleven and buy some ice cream. And I’ll say to everyone I see, “There, I just lived this day to the fullest. Now leave me the hell alone.”



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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

How to Decide Which Disease to Care About


Cancer is rough, even on those of us who don’t have it yet. It’s daunting because there are so many different kinds of cancer out there. Suppose we want to help by taking part in a walk to cure a certain type of cancer. There’s a cure walk and a colored ribbon for just about every type of cancer.

Which one do we choose? They’re all so worthy and we don’t want to the play favorites.

So how we decide? Flip a coin? Put on a blindfold and throw a dart? Spin the cancer wheel?

There’s also an awareness campaign for just about every type of cancer. But I don’t think those campaigns are all that effective in helping one decide which type of cancer to hate the most. I mean, all cancers suck, right? It almost seems unfair to pick a winner. And nobody can possibly do all the walks to cure every type of cancer. You’ll wear out a pair of shoes every week.

Here’s how I think the most effective disease awareness campaigns work. They happen organically. When I see a bunch of people walking to cure, let’s say, pancreas cancer, I think it’s a good bet that the reason they chose that walk over all the other cancer walks is that they or someone they love has pancreas cancer, as opposed to breast, bladder, etc.

That’s the key to effectively spreading the kind of awareness that brings about action. You can squawk all you want about the health danger posed by, let’s say, anvils falling from the sky. People might feel sorry for you that an anvil nearly landed on your head, but they probably won’t do much about it until an anvil falls from the sky and nearly lands on their head (or the head of someone they love). When that happens, anvils falling from the sky will suddenly shoot up to the top of the list of their public health concerns.

That’s how it is with political issues too. If the legislature takes swift and resolute action to protect us all from the threat of anvils falling from the sky and landing on our heads, you’ll know anvils must have started falling from the sky in the suburbs. No one cares enough to act as long as anvils are only falling from the sky in the city slums or Appalachia. Just like gun violence and opioids

That’s just how thing are. We’re all busy people. It’s hard to prioritize.



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Tuesday, April 2, 2019

A Pit Crew of State-Issued Toyota Robots



The headline struck fear into my heart. It said that at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, a fleet of robots made by Toyota that are designed to assist cripples will be deployed to assist cripples attending the games.

It was the same surge of dread I felt when I was in college in the 1970s. I was invited to an event demonstrating a robot designed to assist cripples. It would be only a matter of time, I fretted, before the state would use this as an excuse to cut off the funds that paid the wages of the members of my pit crew, which is what I call the people I hire to lift me in and out of bed, put on my pants, etc. If issuing me a robot to do all that for me instead would save the state a few bucks, they’d do it in a heartbeat.

Even if a robot could do all the routine stuff my pit crew guys could do, a robot can’t improvise. It can only do what it’s programmed to do. What if something unexpected happens, like I unwittingly roll through dog shit and get it all over my tires? It's happened before. A human will grab a bucket and scrub my tires. But a robot will just stand there sputtering.

But when I saw the robot I felt greatly relieved. It looked like that silver, square-headed maid on the Jetsons. It was as nimble as a rhinoceros. I knew it would be a looooong time before this thing would be ready to replace my pit crew.

But Toyota’s been working on these robots since 2012. They call them human support robots. So maybe by the 2020 Olympics these things will be versatile enough to replace my pit crew guys.

I dug around and found a video of a Toyota robot in action assisting a quad and again and I felt greatly relieved. About all these things can do for cripples is bring us stuff like water bottles, pick things up from the floor and open doors and blinds. That’s about all they ever will be able to do. Big fucking deal.

They’re not anywhere near ready to replace humans. At best, maybe they’re ready to replace service dogs. The jobs of emotional support dogs appear to still be safe. But maybe not. I suppose it wouldn’t be too hard for Toyota to program human support robots to say comforting things like, “You shouldn’t be so hard on yourself. You really are a good person.”

I still can't relax. Maybe no single human support robot can do all the things my pit crew does. But maybe soon a whole fleet of them will be able to. Each will be programmed to perform a specific task. I already have one such robot in my home. It’s a big disc and it diligently buzzes around cleaning my floors. So maybe one Toyota robot will put on my pants and another will lift me out of bed, etc. And I’ll have another highly-specialized robot stored deep in my closet. It will only come out and spring into action when I roll through dog shit.


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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The Shittiest Paying Shitty-Paying Job



I know there are a lot of shitty-paying jobs in the world, but the shittiest-paying job of all is being crippled.

Sometimes being crippled is a job that takes up so much time and energy, the government has to pay you to do it. (You think private enterprise in gonna do it? Ha! What’s in it for them?) That’s what Social Security Supplemental Security Income is for. SSI is what the government pays some cripples who are officially deemed too crippled to work a regular job.

The federal minimum hourly wage for a regular job is $7.25. That’s $1,160 a month for a 40-hour work week.

The maximum a cripple getting SSI can receive in a month is $771. Now let’s break this down in the context of a hypothetical cripple we’ll call Cripple X. Let’s say cripple X is crippled only for 40 hours a week, like between 9 and 5 Monday through Friday. (Of course no such actual cripple exists but just play along with me for a minute, okay? I’m trying to make both a point and a joke.) Cripple X collects SSI at the $771 max, which means Cripple X’s hourly compensation is $4.82 for a 40-hour week. Now naturally, Cripple X isn’t probably just crippled during regular office hours. Cripple X is most likely crippled on weekends too and after hours. It’s probably more like 24/7, so since there are 720 hours in a 30-day month, Cripple X really gets paid about $1.08 an hour. And there sure as hell isn’t any time and a half for overtime.

To be fair, the government did give Cripple X a cost of living increase of 2.8 percent this year. Last year, Cripple X got paid only $1.01 an hour for being crippled.

I hear scoffing. “Gimme a break! Being crippled isn’t a job!” Oh no? Well it sure feels like one a lot of the time. Somebody drags your ass out of bed and positions you just right in your chair and fastens all the belts and straps so that you’ll stay upright and balanced. They make sure all your tubes and hoses through which you may breathe or ingest or excrete food and liquids are properly attached. Then you’re ready to embark upon a potentially harrowing adventure, like going to the drug store, unless it’s winter. In that case you’ll first have to take about 30 more minutes to bundle up. And once you’re out, let’s just pray that the city snow plow hasn’t dumped a mountain of snow in front of the curb ramp. And if you make it to the drug store, let’s pray again that there’s not some asshole parked in your parking space.

That sounds like a pretty good day’s work to me. And even today, there a still some libertarian idiots who think the government shouldn’t pay cripples anything for doing all that hard work. All they would give us would be a lousy t-shirt


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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Indignant for the Dogs


I used to live near a city park where people walked so many different breeds of their pet dogs that it looked like an audition call for the Westminster Kennel Club, with some mutts mixed in.

It was a big pick-up scene. People used their dogs as an excuse to break the ice, to engage someone with whom they sought further hormonal engagement, if you know what I mean. A couple humans would steer their leashed dogs in the same direction until the dogs were close enough to sniff each other up.

And then the humans started sniffing each other up. One said something like, “That’s a mighty cute Pekinese you got there.”

And the other human replied, “Thank you. And you have quite a schnauzer.”

I know the dogs didn’t know they were being cheaply exploited, but I felt indignant on their behalf. I was once in their position when I went to Jerry Lewis summer camp for crippled kids. It was also a big pick up scene. The same thing happened there. The male human pushing my wheelchair steered me toward a criplet girl in a wheelchair so we could sniff each other up. But I was never interested in sniffing those girls. Nor were they interested in sniffing me. And sure enough, there would be my male human sniffing up the female human who was pushing the criplet girl’s wheelchair. This has probably happened to every cripple who’s gone to summer camp.

Taking your dog for a walk in the park can be an aphrodisiac. It demonstrates that you are a kind, nurturing and sensitive person who isn’t afraid to show their tender side. That's a big turn on for some people. Pushing a criplet in a wheelchair around summer camp works the same magic.

I’m sure this mating ritual still goes on in parks and at cripple summer camps around the world today. So, speaking for the cripples, please allow me to take this opportunity to say fuck off. I’m not authorized to speak for the dogs.



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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Robin Hood of Commodes


I’m sitting in my cubicle in the emergency room waiting to be seen. Outside in the corridor is a commode. Beautiful commode. It looks shiny and new, probably yet to be Christened. I begin to fantasize.

Because I have a crippled buddy who would kill to have that commode right now. I shall give him an alias, so as not to violate the privacy of his bathroom habits. I’ll call him Bing Crosby.

Bing Crosby entered a phrase of life that every cripple enters sooner or later. One day you slither onto the crapper (or however it is you transfer). And then you try to slither back off but you can’t. You try and try but you just can’t. Your ability to safely and successfully slither is suddenly and permanently gone.

So now what do you do? Should you call one of those few people in your inner sanctum that you can comfortably summon in the event you get stuck on the crapper? Should you call the fire department? Should you keep slithering?

Regardless of the exit strategy you ultimately employ, you find yourself steeped in a harsh reality that you must rethink the way you take a crap. In Bing Crosby’s case, he knew it was time to hire assistants to spot and aid him as he slithered. He also wanted to reduce his amount of slithering. They key to achieving that goal was to acquire a commode on wheels. That way he could slither directly onto the commode from bed, roll from bed to crapper to shower and back again, reducing the need to slither by 50 percent.

Ah but acquiring a commode is not that easy. In a perfect would, there would be commode fairies that would appear in an instant to grant our wishes. But in this brutal world, commodes cost money. Cripples like Bing Crosby, who don’t have disposable income to blow on stuff like commodes, might be able to get Medicare to pay for 80 percent of it. I suppose having 80 percent of a commode could suffice, as long as that 80 percent includes the seat, legs and wheels.

But Medicare’s gonna want a prescription from a doctor plus a whole lot of paperwork. And then there’s the time spent waiting for approval or denial and the appeal.

You can get a commode in a flash from Amazon. You don’t need no stinkin’ prescription. They’ll sell a commode to anybody, no questions asked. But you gotta pay in full. No 80/20 split. The commode Bing Crosby has his eye on costs $250.

Bing Crosby is trying to get a big charity that says it takes care of cripples like him to buy him a commode. They say they’ll pay for the whole thing, but they still require a prescription and a whole lot of paperwork. Bing Crosby is a month into the process, and still no thumbs up on the commode. If any of Bing Crosby’s kitchen chairs had wheels on them, he’d probably say fuck it and cut a hole in the seat and stick a bucket underneath.

So as I’m looking at that gorgeous, alluring commode, I’m fantasizing. I ought just swipe the damn thing and take it right to him. Wrap it up with a ribbon and bow. To get past the ER security guard, I’d have to pose as a commode repairman or maybe say I’m with the FDA and there’s been a recall. Sitting on this commode makes your ass break out in hives.

I’m sure there are tens of thousands of cripples in commode limbo, like Bing Crosby. I should organize a band of bandits for justice who steal commodes from the rich, like big honkin’ corporate hospitals and nursing homes and medical supply companies, and give them to the poor.

I’d be the Robin Hood of commodes. Just call our toll-free number anytime. Free next-day delivery guaranteed. And you don’t need a goddam prescription.

By the way, the ER trip was a false alarm. I'm fine. Thanks for asking.


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Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Warning: Here Comes Yet Another Edition of Ask Smart Ass Cripple


Dear Smart Ass Cripple,

I need your help. I’m looking for a recipe for homemade gruel. I figured if anyone would have one, it would be you.

I am a billionaire hedge fund manager who just purchased a financially-distressed chain of orphanages for pennies on the dollar. But the bad news is, I now must find a way to feed thousands of orphans in the most cost-effective manner.

I really hope you have the solution!

Sincerely,
Bill, as in Billionaire


Dear Bill,

You are correct to assume that I might well know how to whip up a steaming batch o’ gruel. After all, I spent five years of my adolescence as an inmate in a state-operated boarding school for cripples, which I affectionately refer to as the Sam Houston Institute of Technology (SHIT). Thus, gruel was a common staple of the diet served the inmates.
But remember, I was not involved in the making of the gruel. All I did was try my best not to eat it.

However, your inquiry inspired me to try to track down the infamous SHIT gruel master, whose name was Tex. Much to my surprise and delight, I found him alive and well and living a quiet retirement in his home state of New Mexico. (Don’t ask me why they called him Tex. I guess it sounds better than New Mex.)

When I asked if he would be so kind as to share his secret recipe for homemade gruel, he laughed. Tex said making truly authentic gruel requires exotic ingredients that are very hard to find, such as the snot of a syphilitic yak, which is only available on the black market.

Because SHIT was a state institution, Tex said the food budget was way too small for him to able to make genuine gruel. He confessed that what came up on our food trays was powdered, instant gruel. Just add lukewarm tap water, stir and serve.

I’m sorry I couldn’t be more helpful, Bill. Just tell the orphans to eat cake.


Dearest SAC,

My mother posed a question to me as a child that perplexes me to this day. She said , “If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?” I have tried in vain to come up with an answer and can only surmise that this must be a rhetorical question. What do you think?

Sadly yours,
Zoe Z. Zola




Dear Zoe,

Parents have been tormenting their children with this question for generations. It’s their subtle way of demonstrating their advanced intelligence. They take sadistic delight in observing our befuddlement

But you can tell your mom that you finally have the answer to her question:

Nowhere.

Because the truth is, it’s impossible to pick a pickled pepper. Pickling is a manmade process that involves fermentation in brine or immersion in vinegar. No pepper is born pickled. It must be picked BEFORE it can be pickled! The best Peter Piper could have possibly done was pick a peck of regular peppers and then pickled them.

Tell this to your mother and watch the smug smirk of superiority disappear from her face. She’ll realize you are no longer a child and have become, in fact, a force to be reckoned with.

This legendary tongue-twister ought to be abolished in the name of preventing cruelty to children. Or at the very least, it should be updated to, “Peter Piper pooped a peck of pickled peppers.” This would imply that Peter Piper picked a peck of peppers, pickled them, ate them and then pooped them out. I fully acknowledge that this scenario is highly improbable, but at least it’s possible. And it still retains its enduring, alliterative charm.




Dear Mr. Smart Ass,

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, and how many times must the cannonballs fly
Before they're forever banned?

Lyrically yours,

Bobby Z


Dear Bobby Z,

The answer, my friend, is twelve.




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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Muscular Dystrophy Mike


I’m sure glad that that which makes me crippled isn’t contagious. Life would sure suck if it was.

That which makes me crippled would then become the indelibly central feature of my name and identity. I’d be like Typhoid Mary.

That which makes me crippled is called spinal muscular atrophy, I think. I don’t really know or care. It is what it is. When I was a kid everybody called it muscular dystrophy. So if I was contagious, I’d be known as Muscular Dystrophy Mike. That has a catchy, alliterative ring to it. It’s much easier to remember than Spinal Muscular Atrophy Mike. And this would be vitally important to remember, if I was contagious, because permanently attaching that which makes me crippled to my name would serve as a warning to innocent citizens everywhere to stay away from me, lest they suffer my fate.

If I was contagious, I trust that there are many liberal people who would stand up in defense of my human dignity. They would demand that I be referred to in “people first” language. Put the name of the person before the name of the diagnosis and call me Mike Who Happens to Have Muscular Dystrophy, so as to emphasize the person first. I mean, contagious people are more than just contagious. They have hopes, dreams and aspirations, just like the uncontagious. They should be judged by the content of their character, not by their potential to spread lethal pathogens.

Look at poor Typhoid Mary. What does anyone remember about her other than she gave a bunch of people typhoid as was quarantined for it? For all we know, she might have been a great cello player. She might have been able to communicate telepathically with whales. We don’t know and that’s my point. As soon as someone is hung with the label of contagious, we all rush to demonize them.

Imagine if everything that makes cripples crippled was contagious. Beside Muscular Dystrophy Mike, there would also be Down Syndrome Debbie, Bipolar Bob, Alzheimer’s Annie and Lou Gehrig's Disease Lou. The sanitariums would be teeming.

But through the grace of God, none of us are contagious. But that’s no guarantee we won’t be quarantined anyway. People who are schizophrenic aren’t contagious but they’re locked up in asylums all the time. A lot of people who are crippled for the same reason I am get locked up in nursing homes. It’s usually because they can’t wipe their own asses and they can’t afford to hire someone to do it for them. I guess that freaks people out as much as if we were contagious.


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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Bathroom Standoff



Sometimes the double wide cripple stalls in public bathrooms are occupied by a homeless person. The same is true of those double wide outdoor cripple port-a-potties.

And I get super frustrated because I know that the homeless person is probably camped out in there for the long term. And my first instinct is to bang on the door and pull rank. “Come outta there! I gotta pee and you’re occupying my space! Cripple trumps homeless, dammit!” But then my second instinct is to feel ashamed of having such a shitty first instinct. If it was some douchebag businessman hogging up the cripple stall, I’d gladly bang the door down. But that homeless person in there, like everyone else, is just looking for a place that’s warm and safe and comfortable. And the cripple accessible stall or port-a-pot may be their best option, especially for free.

And that’s when I get super frustrated because the fact remains that I still gotta pee. And I can’t hold it in until we address all the political inequities that created this situation in the first place.

So what do I do? I don’t want to involve the authorities because I know how they’ll react. If I press the issue, they’ll resort to evicting the homeless person and all their possessions. But that plays right into the hands of the oppressor. He wants us to blame each other for impeding our progress. But he’s the one who caused this conflict. That homeless person isn’t camped out in there just because they feel like fucking with cripples’ heads today. But where else are they gonna go? If the oppressor gave a shit, he shouldn’t have a hard time creating spaces that are more safe and comfortable than a putrid port-a-potty.

The long term solution of the authorities is often to lock the accessible stalls and port-a-potties so that neither cripples nor homeless people can use them. That way, the oppressor gets to fuck over two for the price of one. I was strolling through the National Mall in Washington, D.C. one day a few years back and I felt a sudden urge to pee. There was a line of about 50 port-a-potties that were placed there precisely for occasions like this, but the four or five cripple accessible ones were all padlocked shut! I had to go find a fucking Starbucks!

A crippled buddy of mine told me he recently landed at JFK airport and he really had to pee. But all the cripple stalls were locked! Fortunately for him, he can sort of stand and walk enough to use a standard stall.

So what do I do when I find myself in this kind of bathroom standoff with a homeless person? Well, if it’s a public bathroom, I go use a wall urinal. I realize that when I do this, I’m copping out by asserting my male privilege. I know I’m not doing anything to confront the oppressor and address the root cause of the problem. But when you gotta pee you gotta pee.



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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Drooling Barbies

In 2017, the Mattel Toy Company committed a heinous act of cripple genocide.

Twenty years earlier, the company started making a Barbie doll friend that used a wheelchair. They gave her the cornball name of Share a Smile Becky, but at least it was something.

But then some kids started complaining that Becky’s wheelchair was too wide to fit through the doorways of Barbie’s fucking Dreamhouse. And Becky’s long hair often got tangled in her wheels.

So how did Mattel ultimately respond? They stopped manufacturing Becky. Just like that—poof—she was gone! So long! Adios!

Whatever executive made that decision must’ve derived a certain sadistic pleasure from it because it didn’t have to be that way. Mattel could’ve started making Becky as upright and bipedal as all the other Barbies and pronounced her cured. But no, they had to go and kill her off. They had to make an example out of her. It delivered a harsh message to all the ungrateful spoiled brats about what happens when you complain too much.

Okay I guess it wasn’t technically genocide because Mattel allowed all the Becky dolls already in circulation to continue to exist. They didn’t send their stormtroopers door-to-door ransacking little girls’ bedrooms, confiscating their Becky dolls and hurling them into a bonfire. They were content to let Becky dolls become extinct by attrition.

But now Mattel says that in the fall they will roll out not just one but two new crippled dolls. One is in a wheelchair and one has a removable prosthetic leg. Mattel says it’s their way of reflecting the full spectrum of human diversity.

So I suppose they think that makes up for everything, huh? We’re all just supposed to forgive and forget what they did to our crippled sister Becky.

But I say hell no! Don’t let them off the hook. Now is the time to bitch louder than ever!

If Mattel wants to represent the full spectrum of human diversity, they can’t just plop a doll in a wheelchair or give one half a leg and say they’ve got cripples covered. There’s a full spectrum of human diversity among cripples too.

Mattel ought to be making an extensive line of crippled dolls. What about a blind Barbie? A deaf Barbie? A Barbie with hemophilia?

A dwarf Barbie? A Barbie with a trach in her throat? A Barbie with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder who’s constantly washing her hands? An autistic Barbie? How about a Barbie that drools? I know the technology exists to make that doll. When I was a kid there was a doll that cried real tears. All you had to do to make tears was remove the hatch on the back of the baby’s skull and fill the chamber with water. The same principal can be applied here, except you fill the chamber with spit.



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Wednesday, February 6, 2019

A Self-Care Coma


Some people are big advocates for making video games more accessible for cripples. I’m afraid they will succeed.

I know it’s a sour grapes thing. It’s true that it’s hard or impossible to push all those video game buttons and flip all those switches if you don’t have much hand strength or dexterity or if you don’t have hands at all. But so what. That’s good. Video games are a colossal waste of time. You fritter away half your adult life striving to reach the 57th level of Intergalactic Dragon Quest and when you do what have you gotten out of it, besides carpal tunnel?

Or at least that’s what I tell myself. But I think the real reason I’m glad video games are inaccessible is because if they were accessible I’d be tempted to play. And once I get started I might not ever stop. I’ll get addicted fast. I know how damn competitive I am. After emerging from a stupor after a weeklong binge, I’ll hate myself and vow to seek help. Then I’ll go do it again.

I feel the same way about hammocks. Maybe one of my brawnier pit crew members could lift me into a hammock. But those things sink down so low that it would take the Army Corps of Engineers to lift me back out. So I’m glad hammocks are inaccessible because those things look so goddam comfy that if I ever laid in one I might never get up.

I avoid video games for the same reason I passed up many opportunities to take acid in college. I was deathly afraid I’d enjoy it too much. And once I start really enjoying myself, look out! There could be no turning back.

That’s why I never take long vacations. A few days of r&r is all I dare. I‘m also afraid of massages because self-care terrifies me. I have to partake of it in small, precisely measured doses or I could easily slip into a self-care coma and never snap out of it. I could become catatonic. The older I become, the more the risk of that happening increases.

I’m also fortunate that I can’t get myself out of bed in the morning without assistance. One of my pit crew members must physically evict from my bed. If things were otherwise, I don’t think I would ever get myself up. Bed is too damn warm and cozy.

It’s probably also good that I don’t have a lot of money. If nothing else, that would get me out of bed sooner or later. Only rich people can afford to stay in bed every day.



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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Millie the Millipede and Her Stages of Grief



Once upon a time there was a millipede named Millie. Millie was probably the happiest little millipede that ever was. She really enjoyed having a thousand legs. And she really made the most of it! Millie entertained all her fellow millipedes with her amazing feats of agility. Millie could play doubles tennis while simultaneously playing a dozen pianos and ukuleles, juggling fifty balls and dancing an entire chorus line. She was well known in millipede circles as the supreme queen of multitasking.

But then one dark day something terrible happened. Millie was injured when a giant foot came down from heaven and nearly squished her. The foot delivered a glancing blow but nevertheless it tore off 26 of Millie’s legs. Millie was devastated. Not only did this terrible freak accident extremely hamper her mobility and agility, it plunged her into a deep identity crisis. Could she still proudly call herself a millipede if she only had 974 legs? Millie felt like a freak.

Some of other millipedes teased her and called her names, like Stumpy. Others took pity on her. They saw her as an innocent victim of a random accident that could easily befall any of them. There but for the grace of God go them. But some of the more maniacally religious millipedes shunned Millie. They didn’t believe in random accidents. God often sent giant feet crashing down from heaven to express his displeasure with millipedes, sometimes in thundering stampedes. Since God doesn’t make mistakes, those squished or maimed by giant feet obviously did something evil to incur his divine wrath.

After losing 26 legs, Millie went through many stages of grief. First, there was depression. Millie drank excessively, sometimes as much as 125 bottles of whisky at once. Then she entered a buoyant stage of denial. She was highly motivated to prove to all the other millipedes and to herself that she was still just like them. She wasn’t going to let having 974 legs define her! So Millie got fitted with 26 tiny prosthetic legs. When Millie re-emerged in millipede society standing tall on her new prosthetics, other millipedes praised her for her bravery.

But deep down inside, Millie still felt discontent. Whenever she came home at night, she immediately shed her prosthetics, like she was shedding a clunky suit of armor. Millie preferred going au naturel like this, as she called it. Millie had learned to zip around effectively and efficiently by lying on a tiny skateboard, which she propelled with her 974 legs. Sure, when she went out in public on her skateboard, other millipedes with their full complement of legs strained their necks staring at her or trying not to stare. But Millie didn’t care. She was much more comfortable and mobile on her skateboard.

So Millie entered the final stage of grief. Sociologists refer to this euphorically liberating state of mind as the fuck you stage. From then on Millie bopped around town on her skateboard and without her prosthetics because that’s how she felt most comfortable and free. And if any other millipedes didn’t like it, Millie flipped them the finger, 974 times.

And Millie lived happily ever after.


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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Making America Less Annoying


We’ve come to such a point of national crisis that, as citizens of this great country, we all must ask ourselves a serious question. And that question is, “Am I going to run for president of the United States?”

Personally, I’m still undecided. But I do have a bold platform that isn’t afraid to take on issues none of the other politicians are talking about. And I have a great slogan: Make America Less Annoying.

Who could possibly be opposed to that? Only a dirty, stinkin’ communist!

Here’s some of what my platform calls for:

A moratorium on one-name celebrities.
One of the first actions I’ll take to make America less annoying is issue an executive order placing an immediate moratorium on one-name celebrities. Meanwhile, I’ll challenge Congress to pass legislation making the ban permanent. I’ll call it the Anti-Pretentiousness Act. And there won’t even be a grandfather clause exempting existing one- name celebrities, like Cher and Rihanna. They will have 90 days to choose and use a last name or their real last name or else the government will assign them a last name. And it probably will be a last name they don’t like, like Cher Smith or Rihanna Trump. However, I realize that even as the leader of the free world I won’t be able to do anything about annoying one-name celebrities who aren’t Americans, like Sting. The alarming proliferation of one-name celebrities is a global scourge and combating it will require global mobilization. We’ll need some kind of international treaty or something. I’ll put my Secretary of State and my UN Ambassador to work on that right away.

A moratorium on songs that rhyme love and abov
e.
I’ll call this one the No More Lazy Lyrics Act. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to know that no new song will rhyme love with stars/heaven/skies/Lord/etc above? It’s so annoying. I say it’s high time we stopped coddling these lazy, overpaid lyricists. We don’t allow other professions to so blatantly shirk their responsibilities!

Reclassification of the word extraordinary as an insult
.
Because that's what it is. And it’s so annoying that everybody thinks it’s a compliment. Wake up, people! What is extra-large? Larger than large, right? So then extraordinary means more ordinary than ordinary. So when someone says I’m extraordinary, they’re saying I’m more mediocre than mediocre. I would find that very insulting, so it’s a good thing nobody ever calls me that.

Establish a minimum original member standard for old bands
.
Like for instance, the Kingston Trio is still traveling around and performing even though all three original members are dead. That’s not the Kingston Trio, dammit! That’s a cover band! This kind of thing happens far too often with these bands from the 60s and 70s doing nostalgia tours. It’s annoying. So I’d require them all to have at least 60 percent original members or they’d have to use another name. Otherwise what’s to stop me and my two dogs from getting together with Ringo and calling ourselves the Beatles? If you got duped into buying tickets for that, wouldn’t you be annoyed?

If I decide to run, I hope you’ll support me. Together we can work to ensure that the America we leave for our grandchildren is a lot less annoying. This will be our legacy.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Blame it on Mama



Someone once told me my middle initial should be L for litigious. They meant it as a compliment and I took it as such.

I appreciate the accolades, but I really don’t deserve them. I’m not nearly as litigious as I could/should be. Hell, if I filed an access complaint every time I took a notion to, I’d spend more time in courtrooms than the judges. In my neighborhood, a lot of the buildings were built in the late 19th and early 20th Century, before the great cripple migration. So every day I pass buildings with a step or three on the front that I can’t get into.

I’ve been involved in a few lawsuits. I helped sue Chicago public transportation agencies in the 1980s for not having accessible buses and trains. In the 1990s I sued an apartment building management company for refusing to rent to me. But I prefer airing my grievances through street protest. The courts are too fucking fickle for me. You can file a lawsuit and hire the most brilliant lawyer and make the most eloquent case but still lose if you get some asshole republican judge. But with street protests, I just feel like if you stay up in the assholes’ faces long enough, eventually they do something.

But whatever. If I'm quick to get agitated and go around suing or protesting, it’s because of the way my mother treated me as a child. Here’s a graphic example: (Trigger warning. If you are upset by instances of extraordinary maternal nurturing and character building, stop reading now.) My mother bought a small sled and one day after it snowed a bunch she broke it out. But since my sister and I were crippled and had shitty sitting balance, she knew we’d fall off of a moving sled and crack our skulls. So she built a seat on the sled out of a wooden fruit crate and put straps on it so she could strap us in securely and pull us down the sidewalk on the sled yelling, “Wheeee!”

Here’s another example: When we were criplets, a big yellow school bus picked us up and the driver carried us up the stairs on and off the bus. But when we got too big to be lugged like that, a small yellow van, like the size of a florist delivery van, was dispatched to take us to school. The driver deployed a ramp from the side door and pushed us in our wheelchairs up the ramp and into the van. Mom was so impressed that she soon purchased a van like that and had the same ramp installed. I knew some crippled kids whose families didn’t even build ramps on their houses.

So when my mother treated me like that, it put crazy ideas in my head. It made me think that I deserved to go places and do things. So to this day, when something gets in the way of me going places and doing things, I get grouchy. I have a hard time letting it go.

My mother did that to me. It’s all on her.




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Sunday, January 6, 2019

Hope Chair?



Back when I was a wee criplet wisp, about kindergarten-sized, I had a wee wisp of a wheelchair that was called either a Hoak chair or a Hope chair. I called it a Hoak chair because that’s what I thought the adults around me called it. But when I think back, I wonder if maybe they were calling it a Hope chair. I guess I’ll never know.

The Hoak/Hope chair was a two-wheeled thing that was pretty much a hand truck, like the kind beer truck drivers use to tote beer into a store. They load cases of beer onto the hand truck, tilt it back and push the cargo forward. Except the Hoak/Hope chair was a hand truck with a seat and seatbelt attached. Yep, someone sat me on the seat and buckled me up and toted me forward like cases of beer. Or sometimes they’d reach back and pull me forward from behind like a suitcase and I viewed the passing landscape rolling by backwards, like I was watching through a car rear window.

It must’ve been called a Hope chair because why would it be called a Hoak chair? Unless maybe it was invented by somebody named Hoak. And maybe this Hoak character had a crippled kid way back in the day when the only wheelchairs were those Frannklin Roosevelt models made of wood and wicker and they didn’t make them criplet-sized. And maybe Hoak was a beer truck driver and one day while hauling in the beer a cerebral light bulb went off. And Hoak named this humanitarian invention eponymously.

But then again, it could just as easily have been invented by somebody named Smith or Chang or Kowalski and they called it a Hope chair because it brought new Hope to criplets around the world. Because back in those days, that chair was probably the state of the art in criplet hauling devices.

I haven’t seen a Hoak/Hope chair in about 55 years. Thank God things have changed a lot and cripples don’t have to be hauled around in public in such an undignified manner anymore. Well, not unless we want to fly somewhere on one of the airlines. Then they take away our wheelchairs and stuff them in the luggage hole after they transfer us into an adult-sized Hoak/Hope chair. It’s not exactly designed for optimum crippled passenger comfort. It’s shaped like the stern lowercase letter h of some rigid, no-nonsense font. One size fits none.

The airlines call this chair a boarding or aisle chair. It must have been invented by somebody named Boarding or Aisle who delights in torturing cripples. Maybe they used to drive a beer truck.


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