Monday, December 30, 2013

Socially-Responsible Objectification

I’ve been offered a unique opportunity to serve as a beauty pageant judge. I considered the offer thoroughly and decided to accept. I know beauty pageants objectify woman. But this pageant is different. Its underlying purpose is to spread political and social awareness and to raise our collective consciousness about a critical matter of public health and safety.

It’s the first annual Miss Stepped on a Landmine pageant. Contestants are the 50 most beautiful women from all over the world who have stepped on a landmine. Thus, they are all amputees.

The pageant is a bold social experiment. To understand the meaning of it all, ask yourself this: What’s the most effective way to draw attention to something?

Answer: Use hot women. Am I right or am I right? It’s sad but true. It may seem cynical and exploitive to resort to base marketing pandering tactics, but drawing attention to the danger and prevalence of landmines is an urgent issue. Urgent issues require urgent action. Miss Stepped on a Landmine objectifies women for a good cause so that makes it all right. Think of it as a glitzy, two-hour public service announcement.

So the Miss Stepped on a Landmine pageant will attract the attention of millions who never otherwise would have thought twice about landmines. And the personal stories of the contestants put a human face on the issue of landmines and bring it closer to home. Like for instance, Miss Stepped on a Landmine Nebraska stepped on a landmine while shopping at Target. Who knew? The story of Miss Stepped on a Landmine Guam has a particularly tragic irony. She is an arm amputee because she was a cheerleader and she stepped on a landmine while turning cartwheels.

The Miss Stepped on a Landmine pageant also sends a strong message of hope about being crippled. It says that even if you’re crippled you still have a lot to look forward to, if you’re hot. Yes, plenty of opportunity still awaits you if you have gumption and a can-do spirit and you’re hot.

The producers of the Miss Stepped on a Landmine pageant are so confident it will be a big hit that they’re already planning more similar pageants. Next up is a pageant featuring hot women in wheelchairs called Miss Never Jump into the Shallow End of a Pool.  They may also put together pageants to draw attention to less critical but still important matters of public health and safety, such as Miss Went Jogging and Stepped in Doo Doo Because Somebody Didn’t Clean up After Their Dog.

So what the hell. I’m accepting my invitation to be a judge. I want to be a part of this visionary project. It’s not often that a man can spend two hours staring at women in bikinis and still feel good about himself.

(Smart Ass Cripple is completely reader supported. Contributing to the tip jar, purchasing books and subscribing through Amazon Kindle keeps us going. Please help if you can.)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Very Special Holiday Bonus Entry

Dear Readers,

I, Smart Ass Cripple, love and appreciate you so much that I am sharing with you, free of charge, my secret recipe for a new holiday drink I just invented. It was inspired by my desire to find a satisfying holiday drink that is served heated, so as to fortify me in the dark of winter. I wanted it to be something like Irish coffee, except I can’t stand coffee. I love the smell of coffee but I hate the taste. I feel the same way about perfume.

But my quest ended happily when I created my new drink which is sort of like Irish coffee except it isn’t necessarily Irish and doesn’t have to be served heated. Nevertheless, it will make the remainder of your holidays go a lot smoother, especially if you have to put up with bitchy republican relatives.

Anyway, here’s my secret recipe:


1. One bottle of whiskey (does not have to be Irish)

1. Fill a 12-ounce coffee mug with whiskey
2.  Enjoy
3. Repeat


Monday, December 23, 2013

Liza Minnelli Parties on Hallowen

(It is my duty to report that the following story is true, except names were changed to protect the guilty and to make the story funnier.)

Now that Christmas is upon us and spirits are aglow, it’s the perfect time to pass down a true cripple tale about Halloween. This tale was told to me by my longtime cripple friend and comrade, Liza Minnelli (Smart Ass Cripple alias).

Twas Halloween night, many moons ago. Liza Minnelli was but a wee college freshman. She lived in a dorm. Liza Minnelli was truly excited because as everyone knows, dressing up and acting crazy on Halloween is the whole point of going to college.

Liza Minnelli’s Halloween party buddies for the night were her quadriplegic friend, Sylvester Stallone (another Smart Ass Cripple alias) and his girlfriend, Cher (one last Smart Ass Cripple alias). Cher was the lone vert (which is short for vertical, which is slang for a person who can walk). And, being broke-ass college students, they all had to create homemade, no-budget costumes out of whatever they had in their closets and medicine cabinets. So they all dressed as vampires—black clothes, powder in their hair to make it white, black makeup smudged around their eyes, red nail polish streaked near the corners of their mouths to look like dripping blood, plastic fangs.

The big Halloween street party was in the big town, about 15 miles away. So Liza Minnelli and her friends rented one of the campus lift-equipped cripple vans. Sylvester Stallone sat in back in his wheelchair. Liza Minnelli boosted herself up into the front passenger seat and Cher stowed Liza’s wheelchair in back with Sylvester Stallone. Cher drove.

Next our three heroes stopped at a grocery store for munchies. They all got out and shopped. Then they all loaded back into the cripple van and headed for the big party in the big town.

As luck would have it, when they arrived at the big town they found a prime parking spot right near Halloween party central. Liza Minnelli was feeling full of the Halloween spirit. Cher stepped out of the van and opened the side door. And then she said, “Oh shit!” She laughed a nervous that belied the look of embarrassed shock on her face.  “I forgot your wheelchair!” she said to Liza Minnelli. “I must’ve left it in the parking lot of the grocery store!”

Liza Minnelli was panic-stricken! I mean, she couldn’t walk a lick. Never could. What was she supposed to do, walk on her knuckles like an orangutan? So Cher hustled off to find the nearest payphone to call the store. She returned with good news and bad news. The wheelchair was safe and sound. But the store was closing so there was no time to go get it. And even if there was, driving all the way there and back would leave a lot less time to party and that was unacceptable.

So now what? Where could one possibly find a wheelchair on such short notice? They all pondered in silence. And then Sylvester Stallone said, “Hey! How about a hospital?”

What a brilliant idea!

So they set out in search of a hospital, asking pedestrians along the way. And soon, there it was—a big beautiful hospital! They circled the hospital slowly in the cripple van, casing the joint out. And then, as if from the heavens, there appeared through the hospital windows a secluded corridor full of empty wheelchairs! Now was their chance! Cher scooped up Liza Minnelli and carried her into the hospital. She plopped Liza Minnelli down into a wheelchair with an I.V. pole attached and the hospital name stenciled on the back. 
But then they encountered a man wearing scrubs. The man saw the two women dressed like pseudo vampires and said, “Hey, where are you going with that wheelchair? That’s hospital property!”
Cher thought fast! She said, “Oh um, my friend here was just discharged! I’m just taking her to my car.”
Fortunately for Liza Minnelli and Cher, the man in the hospital scrubs was either a) a trusting soul who believed in the innate goodness of all humans or b) busy. Because the man turned and left. So Cher sped out of the hospital with Liza Minnelli in the hot wheelchair, tossed them both into the cripple van, hopped behind the wheel and peeled out.

And so Halloween was saved! Liza Minnelli got to party after all in a hospital wheelchair with an I.V. pole. And the next day she was reunited with her own wheelchair. The hospital wheelchair was never returned. Instead it lived a long and happy life at the dorm. The students found many good uses for it, such as drag racing and toting kegs.

(Smart Ass Cripple is completely reader supported. Contributing to the tip jar, purchasing books and subscribing through Amazon Kindle keeps us going. Please help if you can.)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

It Was All Fun and Games Until the Hamster Died

These criplets today, I tell you, they’ve really got it made. They have no idea how lucky they are! They zip around so fast in their fancy power wheelchairs, it’s like they’ve been shot out of a cannon.

They’re so damn pampered. When I was their age, the first power wheelchairs had just come out. And they were powered by hamsters! Yep, welded to each rear axle was a hamster wheel and when I pushed the joystick it administered a small electric shock to the hamsters and they sprinted in place in their hamster wheels, thus spinning the axles and propelling the chair. Compared to these kids today, our chairs were as fast and nimble as a hippopotamus. But I didn’t care! I loved it! I was free as a bird. No more being at the mercy of others to come push me. I could go anywhere any time, just like an adult!

It was all fun and games until the hamster died. When that happened, I experienced my first head butt from a bureaucracy, just like an adult. I was unaware of the infamous Medicaid “three hamster rule” imposed by Congress. This meant Medicaid could pay for no more than three replacement hamsters per person per year. Are you kidding me? A hyper teenager like me could go through three hamsters a week!

Some kids had parents with enough money to buy them a whole shit load of hamsters so when one hamster croaked they could just pop in a spare. But my parents sure as hell weren’t rich like that. Hamsters didn’t grow on trees you know! I fantasized of the day when I’d be rich enough to have my own hamster ranch and I could tell Medicaid to go fuck itself! Or maybe I’d have packs of Iditarod dogs to pull me and my chair around.

But kids like me were stranded when our hamster died.  We were pretty damn desperate so we’d try anything to get rolling again. Some kids tried makeshift measures, like using gerbils instead of hamsters. Gerbils were a lot cheaper, but they didn’t have a hamster’s horsepower. It was so sad to see a kid in a gerbil-powered chair creeping along in slow motion. Everybody could tell that was a poor kid on Medicaid.

There were times when, in order to acquire a new hamster, I had to do some pretty humiliating things. Some adults were willing to hook me up with a new hamster if I participated in degrading acts with them. I had no choice but to submit. Like for instance, a local car dealership organized a “hamster drive” for me. Come to the showroom Saturday and contribute to a poor stranded crippled boy’s hamster fund. And they made a big spectacle out of it, with balloons and clowns and cheerleaders and a marching band. And I sat next to the donation barrel, dressed like an elf. And whenever someone dropped a little something into the barrel, the band struck up a fanfare.

 I’m not proud of it, but back in those days, that’s the kind of thing a criplet like me had to do to keep moving. These criplets today, I swear, they have it so soft.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Calculating Your Crippled Beggar Index Score

You may not be a crippled beggar, but everyone has a Crippled Beggar Index (CBI) score. It doesn’t matter if you are neither crippled nor a beggar. You still have a CBI score and it greatly behooves you to understand and keep track of your CBI score as diligently as you would your credit score. You may think you are way better off than a crippled beggar, but how do you know for sure?You CBI score is the best indicator of how close you are to being in the same boat with all the crippled beggars you pass on the street.  You may be closer than you think.

Here is the first equation to understand when calculating your CBI score:

CBI = B<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<C.

In other words, this is the old cliché “beggars can’t be choosers,” expressed in mathematical terms.   Because the most accurate way to measure beggars is to measure their lack of options. Beggars, be they crippled or not, are people who have to settle for whatever old shit comes their way because they don’t have much choice. They have no negotiating leverage. If we give them a cup of instant coffee, they don’t have much hope of haggling cream and sugar out of us. This is why no one wants to be a “charity case,” which is another word for beggar.

So, in our equation, B = beggar and C = chooser. Calculating your CBI tells you where you lie on the slippery spectrum between B and C. But before you can determine this, first you have to solve for B, which is done using this equation:

B = PPL+G.

PPL = political powerlessness, which is another word for lack of options. So to determine your PPL factor, ask yourself how much you have to settle for any old shit that comes your way because you don’t have much choice. So as you can see, you don’t have to be crippled to be quite politically powerless, though it certainly helps. Suppose you work at Burger Barn making minimum fucking wage. Suppose that instead of giving you a damn pay raise, they make you Employee of the Month. This gives you a PPL factor close to that of a crippled beggar. Children automatically have higher a PPL factor. As a matter of fact, the further you are from being a wealthy, white, Christian, hetero, uncrippled male, the higher your PPL factor.

Based on this assessment, assign yourself a numeric PPL factor using a scale of one to 10, with 10 being that of a crippled beggar. Next, you must determine your personal G factor. G = gratitude. You calculate the value of G by asking yourself how much you have to not just settle for any old shit that comes your way but also act grateful that you got whatever old shit you got. If Trump flips you a quarter from the back window of his limo, how compelled do you feel to praise him for fear that if you don’t he won’t do it again and then you’re really fucked? How effusive is your Employee of the Month acceptance speech? The more grateful you have to act, the higher your G factor. The higher your G factor, the closer you are to being just like the most pathetic crippled beggars.

Based on this assessment, assign yourself a numeric G factor using the same scale. Then add it to your PPL factor to determine your CBI score. The higher you CBI score, the closer you are to the crippled beggars.

And there you have it! I bet you have a lot more in common with crippled beggars than you thought, eh? I know I do. But if not, check back again soon. Things can change fast.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

He's Deaf and Blind and He Solves Crimes!

You can learn a lot about cripples just by watching television. For instance, even I, who thought he knew everything there is to know about cripples, never knew there are so many cripples who go around solving crimes. I’ve never met any such cripples, but apparently there are a bunch of them out there because there has been a bunch of television shows about cripples who go around solving crimes. And the people who write and produce television shows would never make stuff like that up.

There’s a new show this season about a guy in a wheelchair who goes around solving crimes. And before that there was a show about a deaf woman who goes around solving crimes. And before that there was a show about a guy with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder who goes around solving crimes. And long before any of those shows there was another show about a guy in a wheelchair who goes around solving crimes, from which the current show about the guy in a wheelchair who goes around solving crimes is derived.

And premiering soon on TBS (Total Bull Shit) is the newest riff on the cripple-crime-solver genre. The protagonist has Usher Syndrome, which means he is not only in a wheelchair but he is also deaf and blind! But none of this stops him from pursuing his passion of going around solving crimes. And like all those other cripple shows, I’m sure it must be a totally true story based on a real live person.

The title of the show is Maloney, which is the name of the lead character, a caustic and brooding but brilliant detective. And his crippledness is what makes him such a great detective. Because, like all people who are deaf and blind, he may not be able to see and hear but he is acutely sensitive to auras.  Put Maloney in a room with a suspect and he will soon know if the suspect is guilty just by absorbing their aura. Maloney’s signature catch phrase is, “Auras never lie.”

And also, like all people who are deaf and blind, Maloney’s three functioning senses are greatly heightened. For instance, Maloney’s taste buds are so sharp that he can literally taste DNA. In the pilot episode, Maloney licks a gun found at the scene of a homicide. Then he licks a suspect and declares that the DNA matches perfectly.

Maloney’s constant companion is Maria, his sassy Puerto Rican nurse/assistant. Like all real live Puerto Rican women, she’s a judo expert, which comes in handy since she also serves as Maloney’s de facto bodyguard. Her judo skills are on full display in episode 4, when the vicious killer from the pilot episode escapes from prison and vows revenge on Maloney for sending him up the river. The psychopath hunts Maloney down and gleefully says, “Now it’s your turn to take a lickin’, Maloney!”  Just then Maria returns from her dojo in a nick of time and subdues the maniac with a scoop throw.

Anyway, I’m happy that all my cripple comrades who go around solving crimes are finally getting the recognition they deserve. And I’m happy for all the sassy Puerto Rican women who are judo experts, too.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Body Shame

I’m finally ready to answer the FAQ I receive most often. Up until now, it was a topic that was just too painful to discuss. But I believe enough time has passed and enough healing has occurred.

The FAQ I receive most often is: “Smart Ass Cripple, can you please tell me why you have a giant tattoo on your back that looks sort of like a cubist rendition of the bust of John Quincy Adams?”

Okay, here goes. (Deep breath): It all began on a bright, glorious summer morning. I went to a cripple pride parade and there were floats and marching bands and cripples of all shapes and sizes and races and creeds. I heard rousing speeches about the many great things cripples have achieved and I felt so proud and righteous!

So I decided to keep celebrating after the parade. I remember taking a public transit bus to a bar and I remember ordering a bunch of boilermakers.

And all I remember after that was waking up and feeling like my back had been sandpapered. So I took a selfie picture over my shoulder of my back in the mirror and holy shit! A tattoo! But my tattoo was just a bunch of words. Paragraphs.  The first line of the tattoo began at the top of my left shoulder blade. It read: Part B - Actions Applicable to Public Transportation Provided by Public Entities Considered Discriminatory. And the second line read: Subpart I - Public Transportation Other than by Aircraft or Certain Rail Operations. And so on and so on my tattoo continued across the hairy expanse of my back until it abruptly ended with: As used in subsection (a) of this section, the term "discrimination" includes…

In the harsh light of sobriety, I slowly began to realize what I had done. Tattooed on my back was Title II, Part B of the Americans with Disabilities Act! A vague memory appeared in the fog of recollection. I was at the bar clinking glasses with the guy next to me who was also drinking boilermakers. And I told him I came to the bar on a bus and that wouldn’t have been possible 20 years ago because none of the fucking buses were accessible back then but then cripples got together and made noise so the ADA was passed and Title II, Part B requires public transit to be accessible, dammit! So we toasted Title II, Part B and clinked glasses. And then I asked him what he did for a living and he said he was a tattoo artist.

Double holy shit! I guess the drunken tattoo artist only got as far as: As used in subsection (a) of this section, the term "discrimination" includes… before he also passed out.

My tattoo cast me into a raging undertow of body shame. I’ve heard plenty of cripples lament how body shame weighs them down. They wear baggy clothes and expensive prosthetics in an attempt to hide their funny-looking bodies.

Somehow I’d managed to avoid succumbing to that particular shame trap, in spite of my funny-looking body. But now I understood what these shame-ladened cripples were talking about. After waking up with Title II, Part B tattooed on my back, I avoided being shirtless at all costs.

But then, I glimpsed a ray of hope. I saw a TV show where a tattoo artist transforms your pitiful, drunken-stupor mistake tattoo into an angel or a butterfly or something nice. So I tracked down one of those guys and showed him my back. No problem, he said. He could transform my Title II, Part B tattoo into hula girls and palm trees. So I gave him a bucketful of cash and told him to have at it. But when he finished, my new tattoo didn’t look like hula girls and palm trees at all. It looked more like sort of a cubist rendition of the bust of John Quincy Adams. The guy insisted it looked just like hula girls and palm trees if you viewed it in the right light.

But I’m rising above the body shame. I go around shirtless if I feel like it, even if it means enduring constant stares and questions.

What is the moral of this story? I have no fucking idea. But whatever it is, take heed.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Oh the Poor Idiots

Okay so I think I finally have it straight as to the whole moron vs. imbecile vs. idiot thing. That’s how we used to officially refer to people with the lowest IQs. Or at least that’s how some people with really high IQs decided we all should officially refer to people with the lowest IQs.

After some refresher research I confirmed that the morons were on top because they had the highest IQs of those with the lowest IQs. The imbeciles were in the middle and the idiots were the lowest of the low. I always figured the morons were on top. Of  all those names, moron sounds most scholarly. It’s the only one that sounds vaguely redeemable. 

So from now on I will keep the former hierarchy of the low IQed straight in my mind by drawing upon a Three Stooges analogy: Moe = Moron, Larry = Imbecile, Curly = Idiot.

But I feel sorry for the poor idiots because I wonder where they turned when they were desperately in need of a boost of self-esteem. To whom could they feel smugly superior? This is probably the most popular survival mechanism of the oppressed and shat upon. When you’re sick of being oppressed and shat upon, you retaliate by seeking a population you can in turn look down on. And then you feel better knowing that there’s someone even more lowly than you. Now your task becomes making sure those people stay in that receded position because they are all that stands between you and the bottom. 

To illustrate this power dynamic, let us turn again to the Three Stooges. There’s a recurring Stooges scene where an authority figure slaps Moe. Moe is humiliated and retaliates by turning around and slapping Larry. Larry is humiliated and retaliates by turning around and slapping Curly. Curly is humiliated and retaliates by turning around and---.But there’s no one left to slap. Curly must own his humiliation.

That’s how the idiots must have felt. Because cripples play that slapping game as well as anybody. The cripples who can walk say, “Well at least I’m not in a wheelchair.” And the cripples in wheelchairs say, “Well at least I have all my limbs.” And the cripples who don’t have all their limbs say, “Well at least I’m not blind.” And all these cripples say, “Well at least there’s nothing wrong with our brains.”

So I’m sure the morons said, “Well at least we’re not imbeciles.” And I’m sure the imbeciles responded by saying, “Well at least we’re not idiots.” How did the idiots respond? There was no one left to slap. Maybe that’s how they became extinct.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Simulated Cripples

It’s hard to believe that nearly a year has passed since the president of these great United States of America issued an executive order designating every December as Smartass Cripple Appreciation Month (SCAM).The executive order issues a clarion call for “government agencies, community organizations, schools, museums, cultural entities, institutes of higher learning, houses of worship and ordinary citizens to organize displays, parades, exhibits, school assemblies and other events that honor Smartass Cripple.”

SCAM means a lot to me because I have a severe case of attention deficit disorder. I can never get enough attention. I’m ragingly insecure. I need constant reaffirmation.

It’s not too late to put together a SCAM event in your town.  You can organize a fun group activity that appropriately celebrates Smart Ass Cripple, such as a parade or an orgy.  (Please invite me to the latter.) Or, taking up a collection for Smartass Cripple is always a good idea. Since it’s the holiday season, I suggest you dress like Santa Claus and stand outside of stores ringing a bell with one hand and shaking a red donation kettle with the other hand. And send all proceeds to Smartass Cripple.

But there is one SCAM activity that is absolutely forbidden. You MAY NOT under any circumstances do one of those “awareness building”  cripple simulation exercises where people who aren’t crippled learn what it’s like to be crippled by spending an afternoon riding around in a wheelchair or wearing a blindfold or something. God those things are annoying. The lesson they teach is, “Geez, being crippled sucks! I’m sure glad I’m not.”

But I see news stories about these simulations going on all the time. The mayor accepts a challenge to go about his daily business while wearing ear plugs or with one arm tied behind his back. But I don’t get it. Why doesn’t anyone ever challenge the mayor to run around city hall dressed in drag so he’ll know how it feels to be a woman?

I guess I know how it feels to be homeless because I was homeless myself one afternoon. It was awful! Rahnee and I had to check out of our hotel at noon and our flight didn’t leave until 7! So there we were, alone on the mean streets of downtown Philadelphia with nothing but our cash and credit cards. I followed Rahnee as she sought refuge in a nearby nail salon. Being homeless sucks!

Those cripple simulations capture the full intensity of being crippled like playing the board game Clue captures the full intensity of being a homicide detective. It ain't Colonel Mustard politely committing murders in the parlor using a candlestick. It’s more like the junkie behind the liquor store with a shank.

So, to recap: Parades? Check! Orgies? Check check!  Taking up collections? Check check check!

Cripple simulations? Hell no!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Persistent Vegetative State

I, Smart Ass Cripple, wish to publicly declare that if I am ever in a persistent vegetative state, I do not want to continue on. Please pull the plug.

I’ve seen people in persistent vegetative states who try to keep on going. It’s a sad and depressing sight. I would never want to live that way. And I know it would be heartbreaking for my loved ones to see me in such condition.

And now, I, Smart Ass Cripple, wish to publicly declare how I define a persistent vegetative state. I know that it is characterized by a total lack of brain function. But beyond that, I can only define it the same way former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart defined pornography: “I know it when I see it.” And I, Smart Ass Cripple, see people I consider to be in a persistent vegetative state when I watch the Republican National Convention.  Especially disturbing to behold are those who actually try to draw attention to the fact that they are attending the Republican National Convention.  They dress up like Uncle Sam, accessorized with a bullet sash and assault rifle. They get revved up with joy and hoot and howl like a tasered moose. It takes a lot to stand out in an endless sea of white people.

As I watch this spectacle in horror, I have to remind myself that in spite of our differences, we are all humans and every living human contributes something of value to life on earth. If nothing else, we all exhale carbon dioxide, which is good for plants. But then I wonder if the steady decline in brain function that plunges one into this state of being eventually reaches the point where that person drifts across the line into planthood and begins exhaling oxygen and ingesting carbon dioxide. As I watch these frenzied conventioneers dancing with glee in a blizzard of red, white and blue confetti, I figure this must be the case. There’s no other explanation.

This is what I mean by a persistent vegetative state. It’s tragic.

I pray with all my might that I will never find myself in this persistent vegetative state. But you never know for sure.  Here in Chicago, there are these evil machines all over town called red light cameras. If you turn right on red without coming to a complete stop it snaps your car’s picture and in the mail you receive a ticket for $100. Fascist bastards!  They’ve stuck me for $300 so far! It’s enough to make me want to join a survivalist militia. But then I come to my senses.

But maybe someday I’ll crack. First, I’ll make a star-spangled, stovepipe hat out of cardboard. And before I know it, I’ll find myself on the convention floor.

If that happens, please have mercy and smother me.  I would never want to live that way.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Home of the Midgets, Part II

 (Smart Ass Cripple Disclaimer: Once again it is my sad duty to report that the following story is true.)

Some people will track the beginning of the collapse of American society to a cataclysmic event that occurred in  December 2012 in Cranston, Rhode Island. It was the day Michelle “Chelley” Martinka went grocery shopping.

Chelley came across a jar of Cains brand pickles called kosher dill midgets. This disturbed her. Her eight-month-old daughter,  Adelaide, had recently been diagnosed with Achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism.

So Chelley made a video and put it on YouTube. It’s more or less an open letter to the distributor of the pickles. Over a montage of pictures of Adelaide, she gently but firmly explains that a lot of little people think the word midget is deeply offensive. About a month later, she was contacted by a representative from Gedney Foods, the distributor of the pickles, who informed her that the word midget would be dropped from future labels.

The news spread fast through a lot of media outlets.  Chelley wrote about her pickle adventure on her blog.  Here’s a small sample of the hate mail comments her action inspired:

Idiot A: Dwarfism is genetic. She should be mad at herself and the child's father....not a pickle company.

Idiot B:  It scares me that this type of hyper-political correctness is threatening our First Amendment right to free speech… Let me enjoy my pickles with the original name printed on them. ..You are an unbelievably pompous ass. .. The truth is, you’ve been dealt a card you’re not comfortable dealing with and the shame lies within you about your daughter. You’re the one who is small.  Shame on you.

Idiot C: Maybe you shouldn’t have been shooting herion (sic) during your pregnancy… Where’s the dad? Do you even know him? By the looks of it ET is the dad.

Chelley says someone even tracked down her street address and sent a scornful (and anonymous, of course) letter to her home. “It was amazing,” she says about all vitriol. “At first I cried a little bit and then I said ‘This is dumb.’ People are reacting from behind a screen. It feels like bullying. Adult bullying.”

But Gary Arnold, president of Little People of America,  has Chelley’s back. His letter of inquiry to the U.S. Department of Agriculture prompted a review of what the agency calls its Commercial Item Descriptions for food products. USDA discovered  that the term midget is one of its official description categories not just for certain pickles but also for shelled pecans, canned lima beans, processed raisins, canned mushrooms and trail mix. Arnold has received assurance from the FDA that this language will be updated soon.

So the idiots better hurry before all is lost.  They need to organize and launch a campaign to pressure the USDA to stand up for traditional family values and retain the word midget. Like Idiot B says, if they can’t call their favorite pickles midgets anymore, they just won’t taste the same.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Home of the Midgets

(Smart Ass Cripple Disclaimer: It is my sad duty to report that the following story is true.)

I used to say that one good thing cripples have on other oppressed minorities is that nobody names sports teams after caricatures of us. You never see the Seattle Spastics, the Pittsburgh Palsies or the Detroit Droolers.

But I was sooooooooooooooooooooooooo wrong!

Gary Arnold is president of Little People of America. One of his duties is to vigilantly monitor the use of the word midget in our culture. A lot of little people consider midget to be a slur. It doesn’t matter why. They just do, okay? That ought to be good enough.

Keeping track of how cavalierly we throw that word around is a big job. “Every day I get a Google alert for the word midget,” Arnold says. And every day between two and 10 references pop up. Some of the references are about Penn State assistant football coach Anthony Midget. But most of the rest are about the midget classification in Pop Warner football.

And a few years back, Arnold got an email from a Midwest mom who said her local high school football team was named the Midgets. “She said she hopes by the time her kid goes to high school that name will be gone.”

So Arnold and an LPA colleague did some research and found seven U.S. high school teams called the Midgets. And yes, they were all in small towns. It seems like there’s some sort of David and Goliath overcompensation syndrome going on. We’re small but we’re mighty, dammit!

 Arnold wrote a letter of complaint to the school boards in all those places. Most ignored him. Arnold and his colleague were invited to Freeburg, Illinois to visit Freeburg High School, home of the Midgets. They were received cordially. But as far as Arnold knows, none of the schools have dropped the Midget name.

Some people get pretty irate when you try to take their “m” word away. The sports teams at Dickinson High School in Dickinson, North Dakota are called the Midgets. In 1996, the Dickinson school board voted to drop that name. This riled the locals so much that three board members were recalled and the name was restored.

I don’t get it. There are a lot of different ways these schools could keep the small but mighty thing while losing the midget thing. If they want to promote that whole David concept how about this for a team name: the Davids. It’s simple and direct. Or why not the Mosquitoes? Mosquitoes are small and mighty, especially the ones that spread malaria. The team logo could be a pissed off mosquito that’s morbidly obese because it’s full of malaria. But even the regular old American mosquito is a pain in the ass. I tried to meditate once. I was sitting by a lake and all was quiet and peaceful. So I tried to close my eyes for five minutes and just be in the moment. But I couldn’t do it for more than five seconds because I kept getting buzzed by fucking mosquitoes!

 It looks like it will take a lot more than letters to bust this thing. Arnold will probably have to marshal up a couple hundred little people to chain themselves to the turnstiles at high school football and basketball games. And in response, governors will probably send in the National Guard.

And it’s not just in small towns or at Pop Warner games. The word midget is batted around like a beach ball even in the highest levels of the U.S. government!

More on that is coming up next time in part two of Home of the Midgets.

(Contributing to the tip jar, purchasing books and subscribing through Amazon Kindle keeps Smart Ass Cripple going. Please help if you can.)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Everything Must Go!

I fear that for me all will end with neither a bang nor a whimper but with a somber yard sale.

Everything must go!

If the day comes when they haul me off to the Happy Haven nursing home, I’ll have to leave 99.9 percent of my shit behind.


It will be a painful triage. Forget about my music collection of roughly 300 cds. No room for that at Happy Haven. Pick four or five “deserted island” cds, or in this case “nursing home” cds.

And all my rows and piles of books, too. Liquidate! Pick four or five.

The same goes for clothes. How many shirts will fit in my one lone personal closet and/or nightstand at Happy Haven? Six? How many pants?

Furniture? No need or room for that anymore. Dump it all! Dump all those kitchen gadgets, too.

I suppose it’ll be a whole lot less traumatic if I can convince myself to embrace austerity. Austerity, they say, is good for the soul. Buddha says suffering is caused by attachment. I could welcome my banishment to Happy Haven as an opportunity to experience the joy of unencumbered purity, like the Buddha.

I could learn to see my abrupt, involuntary downsizing as my big chance to live like Jesus. Jesus didn’t own a damn thing except his sandals and gown. But the problem is, millions of people have tried to live just like Jesus and the only one who has succeeded is Jesus. That’s because there’s a key difference between Jesus and everybody else: Jesus knew magic. Jesus could make sculptures out of lightning if he took a notion. He could catch a lightning bolt in his bare hand and twist it into the shape of a poodle or a giraffe or anything he damn well pleased.

It’s a helluva lot easier to renounce all worldly possessions when you know magic. If Jesus had a big craving for something like a beef sandwich, all he had to do was conjure one up. Either that or any of his thousands of acolytes would have been more than honored to go fetch one for him. We’re all taught that Jesus used magic only for the public good and never for personal gratification, just like on Bewitched. But I don’t really believe that, do you?

In the mortal world, austerity is like apple picking. It’s okay and maybe even beneficial if it’s voluntary. A favorite autumn day trip for urbanites is to drive to a distant orchard and pay to pick apples. It’s a relaxing escape. But if you’re the guy who has to pick those apples all damn day every damn day for a buck a bushel, it ain’t much fun.

I’m still full of denial. I’m not ready to accept the inevitability of a final, irrevocable yard sale. So if the day comes when the grim Happy Haven reaper kicks down my door, I’ll rent a storage locker.

Monday, October 21, 2013

I was a College Marxist

Shortly after I went off to college, I became a Marxist. Since I grew up in a homogenous, middle class, straight-down-the-middle neighborhood, I was never exposed to anything like Mark. But in college, I was introduced to the works of Marx and I was captivated by his political brilliance. I wanted to be part of his revolution.

Soon I found myself quoting Marx, much to the annoyance of others except my fellow Marxists. My favorite Marx quote was, “If I said you had a beautiful body would you hold it against me?” And: “She gets her looks from her father. He’s a plastic surgeon.”

I studied all the works of Marx but I was particularly mesmerized by Duck Soup. Nothing molded my emerging political consciousness more than that work. 

My comrades and I belonged to the Grochonian school of Marxism. The other sects within our school were the Chiconians and the Harpoites. (Nobody was a Zeppoist.) But they were all posers! The Grouchonians were the only true revolutionaries!

I tried hanging around with the devotees of that other Marx—the guy with the long beard. I went to a few of the weekly meetings of their Marx reading group, which was pretty much like Bible study for commies. But I wasn’t jazzed up. That Marx wasn’t very funny.  I kept waiting for a punch line that never came.

Groucho busted the chops of the rich in a much more entertaining fashion. And I also felt vaguely threatened by the philosophy of the long-bearded Marx. I now can see that I was worried that if he had his way, I might have to give up my cripple privilege. It seemed like in his paradise, everybody toiled happily in a factory.  But what I liked most about being a young crippled adult was that it got me out of having to do stuff like working in a factory or at McDonald’s or going to church or joining the army. I was not without ambition. I aspired to make as much money as possible working as little as possible. I aspired to be like the guy that thought up the idea of the star registry. People send you money so you’ll name a star after them or their dead poodle, Fluffy.  Brilliant!  You sell the naming rights to something you don’t even own. Your biggest physical exertion of the day comes from endorsing all the checks.

Call me lazy. I don’t care. Laziness is a major motivating force for me. I don’t mind busting my ass in service of laziness. I’ll work three jobs overtime if that’s what it takes to make another installment payment on a new hammock.  I keep my eyes on the prize.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The March of the Dumb

I want to take a moment to commemorate the 85th anniversary of the historic “March of the Dumb.”

It was 1928. People who couldn’t speak were getting fed up with always being referred to as dumb by those who could speak. So they got organized.

They held a convention.  The first order of business for the delegates was to adopt an official, universal method of non-verbally expressing their outrage over being called dumb. And this, my friends, is how giving the finger was born.

Then they decided to have a big march. So thousands of them gathered in Washington and descended upon the Capitol, carrying signs that said stuff like I’M NOT DUMB and IT TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE. This was probably the best political march and rally of all time because no one had to sit through a bunch of boring speeches. Instead, when they reached their destination, all the marchers turned toward the Capitol and, in unison, they gave the finger. I really wish I would have been there. Can you imagine how politically empowering that must have felt?

But the organizers of the march soon became discouraged. Everybody still kept calling them dumb. The media dubbed their march The March of the Dumb. Of course, in hindsight, it’s easy to see that it was unrealistic to expect any single action to bring about such a major cultural change. In every civilized, orderly human society, there has to be some group of people that the majority considers to be dumb. So an uprising of the dumb was seen as the beginning of the slippery slope into anarchy.

So the organizers devised yet another innovative political tactic. They formed the first “Mothers Against” group. They figured that if you call your organization Mothers Against whatever, you can morally intimidate your opponent into submission because nobody wants to be seen as against mothers against. It doesn’t matter what the mothers are against. So they formed Mothers Against Calling People Who Can’t Speak Dumb aka MACPWCSD.

But everybody still kept calling them dumb. Nobody took MACPWCSD seriously. Again, when viewed through the lens of history, we can clearly see that the flaw was not in the idea but in the execution. We now know that for a political acronym to have traction it has to spell an actual word or at least be rhythmic like NAACP. Otherwise all you have is a bunch of Roman numerals. It can’t just be Mothers Against any old thing. It has to be Mothers Against something that spells something, like against pornography or nitroglycerin or yodeling or serial killers. And it has to be a word with a positive or at least neutral connotation. You’ll never get much sympathy with, say, Mothers Against Ovens.

At any rate, this story has a happy ending. We don’t call people who can’t verbalize dumb anymore. And society at large owes the leaders of this liberation movement a huge debt of gratitude. Because remember, they invented giving the finger.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Ask Smart Ass Cripple Ad Nauseam

Dear Smart Ass Cripple,

Does your blog have a mission statement?

Yours truly,

Bored in Schenectady

Dear Bored in Schenectady (which is redundant),

I can’t believe you asked me a question like that! Any blog that’s worth the time it takes to click it up has a mission statement. A mission statement expresses the morals, principles, goals and values of the blog’s proprietor. A blog without a mission statement is nothing but pointless, narcissistic ranting.

So if you ever bothered to take a few minutes to read Smart Ass Cripple you’d know that the answer to your question is no, of course I don’t have a mission statement.

Dear Smart Ass Cripple,

Is Popeye crippled? I mean, he talks funny. I can barely understand him sometimes. Does that count as crippled?



Dear Curious,

The best way to respond to you is to cite the work of Dr. Martin Faux PhD, J.D., LLC,  ZZZ, the world’s most renowned Popeye scholar. He poses this very question in his seminal work, “Popeye’s Struggle: An Examination of the Epistemological Nexus Between the Incapacity Paradigm and Expressionistic Convolution.” The number of people who have read and been influenced by this research paper will never be known for sure, but it’s believed to be somewhere around a half a dozen.

Professor Faux writes, “Within the Machiavellian persona of Popeye exists a quid pro quo. The innate convexivity of Popeye’s prolaxis is draconian vis-a-vis Olive Oyl. However, it can be stated unequivocally that Popeye’s modus majorum transfixes the representational modicum when posited beyond the parameters of his linguistic concubine.”

I hope that answers your question.

Dear Smart Ass Cripple,

Have you thought about being a Smart Ass for Hire? I mean, in the tradition of the Old Wild West.  Hired gun.  Rough frontier justice.  Have spiteful tongue, will travel.

The other day I really needed to slap down a snippy little twit, but just didn't have the energy or time.  I would have paid good, hard cash on the barrel for someone else to do it.

Just a thought, albeit a mean one.

With all due reverence,

Mad Woman in Madison

Dear Mad Woman,

There are times in life when smart asses are called upon to be the first responders. This is especially true when the nation is reeling in the aftermath of a brutal disaster, such as the election of republicans.

This is why I’m currently lining up investors to help me realize my dream of creating a worldwide network of smart ass rapid response squads. Subscribers to this service will receive a call button on a necklace. One simple push of the button and a nearby van of roving smart asses will speed to the scene of a situation such as the one you so vividly described. It is my hope that once the purpose of these buttons becomes well-known, it will serve as a powerful deterrent and people will think twice about messing with you. But if not, our highly-trained smart asses will make every attempt to arrive on the scene to dispense justice before the perpetrator escapes.

Our motto will be: If we’re not there in 30 minutes, it’s free.

(Contributing to the tip jar, purchasing books and subscribing through Amazon Kindle keeps Smart Ass Cripple going. Please help if you can.)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Sitting Behind a Cow

I thought I was so damn smart, being from the big city and all. But then one day I found myself sitting behind a cow. It’s a long story. Suffice it to say I was on a writing assignment which took me to a dairy farm. I was sitting behind a cow in its stall. To my left and right there was an endless line of cow asses sticking out of stalls, as far as the naked eye could see.

Suddenly, I heard a whoosh. And gushing out of the ass of the cow in the stall directly to my left was a mudslide of shit, enough to fill a bucket. I instantly realized that at any moment the ass of the cow in front of me could similarly erupt, in which case gallons of shit would land in my lap.

So what did I do? I backed up until I was out of range. And I felt as if I had just learned a profound lesson about human existence. But I never figured out exactly what that lesson was until I recently met a man who spends much of his day worshiping a praising a Supreme Entity.

The man said the secret to his happiness, and to all human happiness, is to recognize the infallibility of this Entity and to surrender to its power. The Supreme Entity will ultimately judge us all in the end and its judgment is never wrong. Those that accept and obey its edicts and pronouncement and follow its path will be rewarded. Those that scoff will be punished. Thus, there is no such thing as injustice. The Supreme Entity always gives us what we deserve

This man, of course, is a libertarian. And the Supreme entity he so passionately worships is the Free Market, whatever in the hell that is. And listening to him going on made me realize that the valuable lesson I learned from nearly being shat upon by a cow was the difference between ignorance and naiveté.

To me, naiveté implies innocence. You do or say or believe something stupid because you don’t know any better. I was naïve about cows. I’d never been that close to a cow in its pre-slaughtered stage. Once I gained a deeper understanding of what cows are and how they function by witnessing how robustly they take a shit, I adjusted my behavior and worldview accordingly. Had I refused to acccept this new perspective, I would have been shat upon.

But ignorance to me is naiveté plus willful self-deception. The root of the word is ignore. You continue to do or say or believe something stupid despite all the evidence to the contrary. Some people are so ignorant they must take a daily personal vow: “I do solemnly swear to ignore the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” They must fervently pray first thing each morning: “Please give me the strength to dismiss everything that threatens to alter my perception of reality.”

It’s so bloody obvious that in this libertarian man’s utopia, the only change cripples could ever hope for is spare change. If this man spent much time at all hanging around cripples he’d see that pretty fast.  But I’m sure he knows that avoiding cripples is one of the keys to maintaining his ignorance.

Maybe he’ll see the light if he becomes a cripple and he gets shat upon.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Comfort in Fantasy

Whenever I fly on the airlines, I have to choose the pants I will wear carefully.

First, my pants must be sturdy, because at some point the lowly private contractors airlines hire to haul cripples on and off planes will be dispatched. I call them the cripple wranglers. They look like theater ushers in their maroon blazers. One of them will grab me by the back of my pants and slide me from my wheelchair into the boarding chair. So the pants must be able to withstand a good manhandling and not rip. Otherwise I’ll end up on the floor while the horrified cripple wrangler is left holding two fistfuls of fabric.

Second, the pants must be snug. Because there are always spellbound onlookers, be they pilots or flight attendants or passengers. And when you’re a cripple being pawed by strangers attempting to separate you from your wheelchair, your potential for mooning a spectator is high. So I avoid wearing pants that are loose or droopy.

The rigid boarding chair is shaped like a lower case letter h on wheels. Sitting in it is about as comfortable as lying on an x-ray table. The cripple wranglers strap me in tight across my chest and waist and knees. Then they roll me through the plane aisle, through first class, to my seat in coach. It must appear as if I’m some mass murderer fugitive who has been captured and bound and is being brought to justice by a crack team of specially-trained security forces who look like ushers.

And so the question arises: How do cripples cope with being made into a spectacle? Because it happens to all cripples sooner or later. We suddenly find ourselves involuntarily starring in street theater. It feels like that dream everybody has when you’re in a bustling public place and you realize you’re the only one who’s naked. Everybody else is pretending not to notice, but you know damn well they all do.

Whereas as I cannot speak for all cripples, I can say that when starring in the plane-boarding spectacle, I ward off humiliation by retreating into fantasy. I imagine as I’m being dragged through first class that the passengers are secretly seething because I, the rabblest of all the rabble, have been allowed to penetrate their gated community. I fantasize that the sight and scent of my passing carcass has totally ruined the precious daily quality time they spend alone with only their Grand Marnier. I delight in picturing them all storming the counter at our destination city and demanding refunds. I tell myself that any day where I use my crippledness to disturb the peace in a gated community—whether it’s first class or a country club or a spa or Congress-- is a day well spent.

Of course I know it's bullshit wishful thinking. The first class passengers probably didn’t think twice about me passing by. I didn’t really ruin any elitist snob’s day at all. But I can dream, can’t I?