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
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:
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 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 read, enjoy,repeat.
Welcome. Here we go.
P.S. Oh shit, I just thought of something. Do bloggers need malpractice insurance?
Coming next:
A Smart Ass Tribute to Ronald Reagan