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.