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).



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,


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?

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.