Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The First Annual Get Smart Ass Cripple's Crippled Ass Out of Bed 5k Run: 2014ish

If you don’ like the crap I write, you can blame it on socialism

If it wasn’t for socialism, I wouldn’t be sitting at this computer right now. In order for me to get out of bed and hosed down and fed and all the other stuff that’s a prerequisite for rolling up to the computer, I employ a group of humans who rotate in and out every day to assist me. And their wages are paid by our tax dollars via a state program. It’s that evil bloody goddam job-killing socialism at its finest.

It’s a damn good thing too because I sure as hell can’t afford to pay their wages. You know what sucks most about being crippled? IT’S FUCKING EXPENSIVE!!!! This wheelchair I’m sitting in costs $26,000. The van I drive around in, purchased new, cost about $50,000. That’s why every cripple I’ve ever met is also suffering from a bad case of post-traumatic sticker shock disorder. So without lots of socialism to help us pay for all the shit we need to stay alive and keep moving, 99.99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999 percent of cripples would be screwed.

If you think employing a pit crew just to get in and out of bed sounds like a pain in the ass, just wait. Pretty soon it’s going to take every last one of you out there to get me in and out of bed.

Because governors all over the country, especially those darling republican ones, are going nuts cutting programs like this. Cripples in states like Texas and Wisconsin and Kansas are fighting like hell to stop the funds that pay their assistants from being cut off. Governors are instead giving tax breaks to the mega-rich so that they will create more jobs. We all know this is true. When the mega-rich get to keep more of their money they throw bigger and better parties, which creates more jobs for cocaine dealers and prostitutes.

So I need to think ahead because at the rate things are going, stinkin’ socialist programs like these will all be starved to death come 2014 or so. America will have returned to the blissful and pristine 1950s, when the only option cripples had was to beg for charity. Ah yes, charity--- the gift nobody wants.

So get ready, because it will take all of your help for me to pull off my annual Get Smart Ass Cripple’s Crippled Ass Out of Bed 5k Run. All proceeds will go directly to me, so I can pay people to get my crippled ass out of bed.

I’ll need a whole bunch of you to help with publicity. There will be tons of logistical tasks too. For instance, somebody will have to hustle up a shitload of donated Gatorade. In-kind donations, such as a used starter pistol, will also be needed. And of course all of you will have to run and pledge.

If all goes well, I might raise just enough to where I won't have to worry about how I’m going to get out of bed in the coming year. And from there I’ll just pray that no unplanned budget-busting emergencies intrude upon my life, so I won’t have to slap together another quick fundraiser like the Get Smart Ass Cripple’s Ruptured Appendix Removed Before it Bursts 50-yard Dash.

For my 5k run, I'll also need all of you to sign up corporate sponsors. Hey there’s another idea. Maybe I’ll beg corporations to give me money so I can get out of bed and then every day for the rest of my life I’ll wear a jumpsuit like those NASCAR guys with their corporate logos plastered all over it. Or how about a Get Smart Ass Cripple’s Crippled Ass Out of Bed Celebrity Golf Tournament?

I feel much better about the future now, knowing I can count on all of your kind charity.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Brain Injury Songbook

Sue’s grandpa was a sheet metal worker, “A heating and air conditioning guy,” she says. He owned Cedar Crest Heating. Grandpa and grandma lived in the big white house next door.

Sue was one of 27 grandchildren. Sometimes grandpa let some grandkids come into the shop and collect the slugs, as he called them, “pieces of sheet metal about the size and shape of nickels,” says Sue. "For some reason we thought this was great fun."

Grandpa retired in the early 1970s. And then he had a stroke. Sue was about age 12. She remembers grandpa walked around with a right leg brace after that. And about all he ever said anymore was "Yeah! Yeah! Oohh, yeah!!!" or “NO!"

Over time his mobility declined and he ended up in a nursing home. But up until then grandma took charge and grandpa followed. She drove him around and made him martinis. She talked at length to grandpa but who knows how much he understood. Sue says it was hard to know what was sinking in with grandpa.

And then one day there was a family birthday. There were a lot of those with 27 grandchildren buzzing around. Everybody sang "Happy Birthday." And grandpa sang along!

Holy crap! Grandpa could sing!

So for subsequent family gatherings, everybody sang old songs like “Way Down Upon the Swanee River.” And grandpa sang along!

A light bulb went off in the idealistic mind of young Sue. If grandpa could still sing, she thought, why not teach him how to sing out his needs and desires to the tunes of popular songs?

What a brilliant idea! A songbook for people with brain injuries! Songs for all occasions!

Maybe grandpa could sing something like:

(To the tune of “Help” by the Beatles)
I need a urinal!
It is very urgent!
I’ve really gotta pee!

Or maybe they could even adapt “Swanee River” for him:

“I want another gin martini
Dry with a twist.
And after that I’ll have another
I wanna get real pissed.”

Hell, my friend Rafferty did something like that. Rafferty was a crusty old Irish guy in a wheelchair. He couldn’t talk either. Well, he could talk but nobody could understand him because he had cerebral palsy so his speech was all mush. So Rafferty had a board with the alphabet on one side and he pointed to letters to spell stuff out. On the flip side were his frequently used sentences. One of them was “Bring me a Southern Comfort Manhattan.”

But I digress. Back to the songbook. After grandpa went to the nursing home, maybe he could have used the songbook to sing out his grievances:

(To the tune of “Stormy Weather”)
"Don’t know why
You pulled my underwear up so high
Got a wedgie."

Or :

(To the tune of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”)
"Nurse, this food taste like rat shit
Boiled in puke.
I wish I had a bomb I’d
Blow this place to Dubuque!"

And grandpa could also have busted people with condescending attitudes down to size, in song:

(To the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”)
“The way you talk down to me
You must think my age is three.

Just because I had a stroke
Doesn’t mean my brain is broke.

I’m not some hick from Oklahoma*
And I’m not in a fucking coma!”

The possibilities were endless! Sue’s idea was a medical breakthrough potentially worthy of a Nobel Prize!

So she let her dad in on her idea but dad gave her a typically adult, buzzkill response, something like, “Oh honey, the memory of old songs and the speech centers are not the same place in the brain,” etc.

Thus, Sue learned a harsh lessons of childhood. “I felt a little bit gypped because remembering how to sing stupid old songs didn't seem like much consolation, you know? Like, who really cares? It wasn’t communication, but the adults kind of hung on it. It was a bit sad to me.”

And the moral of the story is:

The human brain is really fucking weird.

(*Apologies in advance to readers from Oklahoma. I love you, but you have the misfortune of living in the only state that rhymes with coma. If it’s any consolation to you, I also considered using Arizona, Barcelona and even Babylonia. Apologies also to readers from Dubuque for rhyming your fine city with puke.)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Just Another Rat

Whenever I go shopping and I see cheap shit made in foreign countries for slave wages, it really pisses me off. Those people are taking our goddam jobs from us! In America, cripples are the ones who are supposed to be making cheap shit for slave wages! It’s a grand tradition!

Ton of cripples still work in sheltered workshops. Whenever I see a wood doorstop I think about all the cripples who work in sheltered workshops because making wood doorstops seems like the kind of job a sheltered workshop would have its cripples do. A cripple cuts a block of wood down the middle kitty-corner and presto, two wood wedges. And then the cripple gets paid something like two cents per wedge.

A couple years ago a company called Henry’s Turkey Service got busted by an investigative reporter. He found that they were paying men with intellectual disabilities who worked full time gutting turkeys in a meat processing plant only 45 cents an hour.

Section 14c of the Fair Labor Standards Act allows companies to petition the U.S. Department of Labor for permission to pay certain disabled workers less than minimum wages. The companies have to make the case that the worker is less productive so should therefore be paid less. More than 400,000 American cripples are believed to be working for less than minimum wage.

But just because you suck at making doorstops doesn’t me you suck at everything. Put me on a doorstop assembly line and I’d be a fuck up too. I'm sure Stephen Hawking couldn't make a damn doorstop if his life depended on it. Why not take a little time to find out what a person does well and get them a job doing that?

It reminds me of the true story I read about a guy with Tourette Syndrome who filed an Americans with Disabilities Act employment discrimination lawsuit against the store that fired him. Of all the jobs they could’ve had this guy do, somebody decided to make him the store greeter. So naturally, when someone overweight entered, for example, he’d say something like, “Welcome to the store, fat ass.” He couldn’t help it. And after he peppered a few racial and ethnic slurs into his salutations, he was canned. And he lost his lawsuit because the court concluded that an essential function of the job of store greeter is not calling customers fat asses.

But what I want to know is, who the hell is the Rhodes Scholar genius who decided to make him a greeter? Why didn’t someone sue that person for being an idiot?

All this proves once again something that I’ve always said: cripples are just like minks. There are plenty of do-gooders who would love to liberate all the minks, let them roam free in the wild. They think it’s deplorable that the only reason we nurture minks is because we want their pelts. But I ask you, in a capitalist society, if we can’t skin a mint for its pelt, then what’s the value of a mink at all? It becomes just another rat.

The same goes for all the cripples who make cheap shit for slave wages. They give up their pelts because, well, what other choice do they have? If the rest of us don’t care enough to buy American when we go shopping for cheap shit made for slave wages, what will become of them?

They’ll become just another rat.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Appeasing Prince Charles

Years ago I flew to another city. Because I need help getting in and out of bed etc., when I travel anywhere overnight I either have to take an assistant with me or hire someone at my destination. Hiring a temp assistant saves money, but it’s a helluva harrowing crapshoot. You never know what kind of character you’ll get.

I called some cripples I know in the other city who hooked me up with an assistant named Prince Charles (Smart Ass Cripple alias). Prince Charles was a guy in his 40s, father of three. Long ponytail and beer belly. Prince Charles turned out to be a pain in the ass. He kept trying to dictate when I would go to bed and when I would get up, even though I was paying him. (If there's anything I hate it's curfews. If I wanted the people who put me in bed to impose curfews on me, I'd check into a nursing home.) Prince Charles was often in an impatient hurry when he worked with me, ready to cut corners and blow out of there as fast as possible.

On my last night in town I was hanging with my cripple friend Joan of Arc (another Smart Ass Cripple alias). Joan of Arc knew Prince Charles pretty well and she knew that when we returned to my hotel room he would be waiting there irritated since it was well past his curfew for me. So she brought along an appeasement gift for him— some marijuana in a small film canister. She knew Prince Charles would really like that.

Back in my hotel room, sure enough, Prince Charles sat there watching TV and looking perturbed. There was a slumpy teenager with him. Prince Charles introduced the kid as his 14-year-old son, St. Thomas Aquinas. (Yet another Smart Ass Cripple alias. This is the last one, I promise).

I summoned Prince Charles to the bathroom to help me pee. Behind closed doors I said to him, “Joan of Arc has a present for you. You can take it home. I didn’t want to tell you about it in front of your son because it’s pot.”

Prince Charles’ face lit up with enthusiasm. His eyes opened wide. “Joan of Arc has pot?”

Prince Charles promptly dumped the urinal full of pee into the toilet like a tsunami and hustled out of the bathroom. “You got pot?” he said to Joan of Arc, right in front of St. Thomas Aquinas. Joan of Arc hesitated. She looked at St. Thomas Aquinas. “Don’t worry about him,” Prince Charles said. “We smoke together at home all the time.” The slumpy St. Thomas perked up. His eyes widened, just like dad's. “We made a deal,” Prince Charles said. "I let him smoke with me at home as long as he doesn’t smoke with those punks out on the street. Ain’t that right?"

The baby-faced St. Thomas Aquinas nodded vigorously. So Joan of Arc handed over the canister to Prince Charles. “You got a pipe or papers?” Prince Charles said. Joan of Arc said no.

“Oh well,” I said. “Looks like you can’t smoke it here. I guess you’ll have to take it home.”

But the driven Prince Charles would not be deterred. He called the front desk. “Please bring us some toilet paper.”

The toilet paper arrived. Prince Charles removed the paper wrapping from the roll of toilet paper. He meticulously fashioned a corner of the wrapping into a rolling paper. He rolled a tight joint. “This is how we did it in prison,” Prince Charles said. He lit it up.

And St. Thomas Aquinas smoked the joint like a pro too. He was no novice.

A few years later, I saw Prince Charles again. I asked how St. Thomas Aquinas was doing. Prince Charles rolled his eyes and shook his head in dismay. “He’s in prison,” he said. “I tried to keep him straight but he wouldn’t listen.”

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Doomsday Dung

I’m fascinated by the news of the amazing recent fossil discovery that paleontologists are calling the doomsday dung. The potential ramifications of this discovery are monumental, but it’s the kind of thing you won’t read about in the corporate media.

Professor Oren Kloog IV of the Department of Paleontology at Johns Hopkins University discovered the doomsday dung. I’m thrilled that he granted this exclusive interview to Smart Ass Cripple.

SMART ASS: Professor Kloog, I’m very excited to talk to you.

KLOOG: I’m very excited to talk to you. I’m a big fan of Smart Ass Cripple. Those of us who study old fossils love your jokes.

SMART ASS: Thank you. Tell us about your discovery.

KLOOG: Well ever since I was a young boy I wanted to study coprolites, or fossilized dung. Fossilized dung was my passion all through adolescence and into adulthood. That’s why I went into paleontology.

SMART ASS: You’ve never had a girlfriend, have you?


SMART ASS: I didn’t think so. Please go on.

KLOOG: Not long ago, about all a paleontologist could learn from a coprolite was the diet of the creature that excreted it. But that all changed with the recent invention of Henry. Henry is a supercomputer invented by a team of computer scientists who also have a passion for dung. Henry can analyze just a small fragment of dung and reconstruct the entire life and times of the creature that excreted it. Now, everything we need to learn about evolution we can learn from dung. That’s what so beautiful about dung. Dung doesn’t lie.

SMART ASS: And why do you call the fossil you discovered the doomsday dung?

KLOOG: When Henry analyzed it, he made the astounding discovery that it was excreted by a new subspecies of Homo sapiens. Furthermore, the emergence of this subspecies represents the end of human evolution. We have now entered a state of unvolution. Imagine if every second of human evolution was videotaped and when this subspecies emerged the video suddenly stopped and then went into fast motion reverse. And in the end, humans turn back into reptiles, marching backward into the primordial soup. This is where unvolution will lead us.

SMART ASS: Does this subspecies have a name?

KLOOG: Yes, we call it Homo sapiens republicanus.

SMART ASS: That’s a very scary name.

KLOOG: It’s a very scary subspecies, bent on self-destruction. They constantly sabotage their own interests by voting republican.

SMART ASS: Where did you discover the doomsday dung?

KLOOG: In a city park. According to Henry, the particular republicanus who excreted the doomsday dung was named Pete and he once had a nice steady job with full benefits and a happy family. But then he got laid off and he couldn’t find another job and for some reason he started voting republican. But his downhill crash continued until he ended up homeless, sleeping in the very park where we found this fossil.

SMART ASS: What else does the doomsday dung tell us about these republicani?

KLOOG: Henry says they’re very much pack animals who latch on to an alpha and follow him anywhere, even if it’s over a cliff. And they have a primitive form of communication. They call it Fox News. It works like cave drawings—large, simple images that symbolize good and evil painted on the wall with blood and bodily waste. Their symbol for themselves is an elephant, a plodding mammal with a small brain.
According to Henry, Pete was beginning to have doubts about being a republicanus and he came up with a new symbol. He drew an elephant and then an equals sign and then a hippopotamus packed in a shipping crate.

SMART ASS: Hippo crate?

KLOOG: Precisely. Well that angered the other repulicani because they hate when anyone disagrees with them. So one day they jumped him and beat him with their clubs.

SMART ASS: And that’s how he died?

KLOOG: Oh no. He was fine. But shortly after that he stubbed his toe. He didn’t get treatment for it because he lost his health insurance when he lost his job so he developed gangrene and died.

SMART ASS: His dung tells a very sad story.

KLOOG: Indeed. And as this type of self-cannibalization spreads, humans will inevitably sink deeper in the inescapable quicksand of unvolution.

SMART ASS: Is all hope lost? Is there anything we can do to save ourselves?

KLOOG: There is one thing we can do. We can stop voting republican.