STEPHEN HAWKING REGAINS VOICE
Sounds just like his speech synthesizer!
Doctors and scientists worldwide were astounded at the news that, thanks to a fresh application of alien technology, British physicist Stephen Hawking has regained his voice. Although regrettably, since the gravity on Earth is exponentially denser than that of his home planet, he still has not regained use of his legs or arms.
“This. Is a. Fantastic turn. Of events,” Hawking said. “Al. Though my. Old speech communicator. Was. Programmed. To my exact speech. Patterns it was. Still bulky and. Cumbersome. To use.”
When asked if he was tiring of his sojourn on earth and yearning to return to his home planet in the Alpha Centauri solar system, Hawking said he still has books to write, nurses to seduce and pious Christians to annoy. “Besides, my. Three ex-wives are. Still alive back. Home. And I owe them. Millions. In alimony,” he said.
The vocal breakthrough happened when Hawking asked himself this simple question: “Since L. Ron. Hubbard and I. Are both. From. The same sol. arsystem, why does. Gravity affect me. But not. Him?” Of course, Hubbard’s home world is a planet the size of our system’s Jupiter, while Hawking is from a planet roughly the size of the Houston Astrodome. Still, he credits Hubbard for the inspiration to overcome Earth’s pull on his vocal cords — and thus staying out of the tentacles of his ex-wives.
Supermodel’s Clunk-Chair Shocks SoCal
Photos too upsetting to print!
Sexy supermodel Chad Stillwell, 26, a T11 para from Venice Beach, Calif., drew shocked gasps when he appeared at the trendy Spago using a hospital-issue folding chair. Stillwell typically poses stretched out on a divan or behind the wheel of sports cars. This was the first glimpse the public has gotten of him since his skateboarding injury two years ago.
“It’s what they gave me at the end of my hospitalization,” says Stillwell, who underwent a weeklong extensive rehab at the Santa Monica UrgiCare and Rehab Center. “I was thinking of painting it red.”
Southern California wheelchair users, especially paras, are asking themselves how this could have happened. “Our organization is partly to blame,” says New Mobility contributing editor Jayden Lee, the spokesperson for LA-WHEELZ (We Have Everything Everyone Loves Zociety), a membership group for young, beautiful paraplegics residing in Southern California. Members typically are actors, models or participate in extreme sports. “Back when we had rehab centers, discharge planners alerted us to fresh prospects,” Lee says. As a result of drastic budget cuts to help California stave off bankruptcy, most rehab is now done either in UrgiCares, as in Stillwell’s situation, or outsourced to Tijuana. “But that’s no excuse — we have to try harder to keep the beautiful people beautiful.”
Representatives from the I AM PWD campaign have offered to approach Stillwell on behalf of LA WHEELZ and get him into a more appropriate chair. “Also, he’s got to lose the full-sized van his mom drives for him,” says Lee. “A hand-controlled Mustang is much more suitable.”
When asked for comment, Stillwell replied, “What’s a hand control?”
Attendant Shows Up on Time, Smells Nice
In a shocking turn of events, Marlie Mavins, a woman with multiple sclerosis from Morley, Mo., reports that her attendant showed up to work on time four days in a row. “And he looked and smelled so nice!” exclaims Mavins, 53. Plus, when Mavins checked her bank account, she discovered nothing was missing. “In fact, my debit card was right where I left it, in the top drawer of my night stand, tucked below my special undies. I didn’t have to go rooting around for it like I usually do.”
Mavins says she has heard from many others who use personal assistance that it’s common for their attendants to not only show up when scheduled, but to stay the entire amount of hours they charge on their time sheets. “But in the 11 years I’ve used the service I’ve never experienced it,” she says. “I’m just happy if they come before Wheel of Fortune so I can watch it in my chair.”
When asked why the sudden change in habits, Travis, who has no last name, said, “Well, my parole officer said he was going to drop in on me at my place of employment when I least expect him, and I figure he’s dead serious this time.”
Mavin’s local Center for Independent Living, Morley Mobility and Lube Shop, named Travis its attendant of the year for his exemplary attendance — four consecutive days on time is an agency record. The award comes with a $20 gift certificate to IHop and a bag of sugar to ease withdrawal symptoms from any type of intoxicant. Plus a free pack of condoms.
Wheelchair Speaker Not Motivational
Motivational speaker John Simpson, 34, was booed off the stage at the MegaUltra Corp. annual conference when he admitted that, despite having broken his neck at age 23, he’s never actually done anything remotely interesting.
“Well, I bowl on my Wii and I hang out at the mall, so it’s not like I don’t have a life,” says Simpson, who lives in Wasilla, Alaska. “Besides, aren’t I inspirational just for being me?” Simpson, who sustained his injury when his meth lab blew up, thought he could ride the wave of big corporations hiring wheelchair users to motivate their staff.
He seems honestly surprised to discover that he was expected to have achieved or done something relatively significant. “It’s not like I can actually do anything. I’m paralyzed, you know.”
True, says MegaUltra President and Founder Wilbur “Skippy” Campbell-Forsthye III. “But we at least expected him to play one of those handicapped sports, like wheelchair basketball. Or work as a greeter at Walmart. But he has not overcome anything.”
For more information on Simpson, including his 10-page self-published memoir that retails for $17.99, Inspirationally Me, go to www.InspirationallyMe.com.
Helper Monkey Paralyzed, Gets Own Monkey!
Jocko, a 15-year-old helper monkey, became the first lower primate recipient of his own helper monkey after a tragic accident involving too much beer and his owner’s Hoyer lift. “I feel so bad,” says Larry Lohan, Jocko’s C5 quad owner. “My attendant, Travis, and I had a kegger the night before and the little fellow was sleeping it off curled up on my bed. We were kind of hungover ourselves and neither of us saw him there.”
Lohan weighs 350 pounds without his power chair, and veterinarians say it is a miracle Jocko only sustained a crushed pelvis, crushed legs, his tail flattened like a beaver’s and L1 paralysis. His tail had to be amputated. “That’s the worse part,” says Lohan. “I’ll miss his snake-like tail flicking coffee in my face when I least expect it.”
Schlepping Thumbs, the agency that provided Jocko, says it fully understands that accidents do happen and hopes Lohan and Travis will be more careful with Priscilla, nick-named Silly-Girl. Although Silly-Girl enjoys a glass of wine, she does not drink beer. The agency hopes she’ll sit out future keggers safe in her cage.
Drive-by Plaintiffs Protest Accessible Restaurant
Over five San Francisco wheelchair users who make their living by suing inaccessible restaurants gathered outside the headquarters of Chuckles Fine Dining to protest the chain’s exceptional commitment to the Americans with Disabilities Act. “This is a travesty,” lamented activist Yorick Ponzi. “How are we supposed to make a living when big corporations like this suddenly start taking the law seriously?”
Some protest signs proclaimed, “Take Back Your Ramps!” and “Down With Handicapped Parking!”
Asked for comment, Chuckles spokesperson Ralph McDonald seemed confused. “I don’t know what to say,” he said. “We thought if we treated all our customers with respect and served deep-fried entrees that everybody would be happy.”
“Our clients will be happy if Chuckles just adds a few steps to one or two of their stores’ front entrances,” says Frank J. Oppenheimer, lead attorney for the Berkeley-based law firm, Disabilities-R-Us. “Or cut the size of their accessible toilet stalls in half, and then make them even smaller by adding grab bars on either side.”
Oppenheimer says he realizes he can’t sue businesses to force them to become inaccessible, but hopes the chain will succumb to pressure to do the wrong thing.
Feds: Employment of PWD Up by 12!
On April 1, the Department of Labor announced that as a result of its push to increase the number of people with disabilities in the federal workforce, 12 people with disabilities have been hired for entry-level jobs. This is in addition to the five who currently hold positions as janitors and mail room clerks.
“I mean, I have two doctorates and three masters, but no one else was hiring, so I guess I’m grateful for the data entry job,” says Mary Critchlow, 45. “Still, I was hoping for something that paid more than minimum wage.” Critchlow, a T9 para single mother, lives in Sterling, Va., where her two children attend college.
When asked why her department could only find 12 jobs in the entire federal work force for people with disabilities, Department of Labor spokesperson Esperanza Nintendo said, “Across America, there are 54 million people with disabilities, and their talents enrich our communities every single day. Yet opening the door to opportunity for many of these workers remains a challenge.”
The Department of Labor hopes to double its efforts over the next year, raising the number of new hires with disabilities from 12 to 24. “That commitment will endure not just through this campaign, but every single day,” says Nintendo. “Each. And every. Day.”
Jon Colbert, spokesperson for the American Society for People with Disabilities, applauds DOL’s strong commitment to improving employment options. “Anyway you cut it, thousands of dollars is a lot of money to appropriate for jobs,” he says. “Especially when we have wars to wage and Wall Street to prop up.”
For more information, go to the United States Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy, A World in Which People With Disabilities Have Unlimited Employment Opportunities and Unicorns are Real, at www.dol.gov/doh! and download the full report, “Why Nondisabled People Have Well-Paying Jobs that Support Mortgage Payments and Equally Qualified People With Disabilities Do Not” (www.tinyurl.com/urscrwd).
Quad Refuses to Climb Mountain, Rents Netflix Instead
Inspired by the many articles in New Mobility about mountain climbing, quadriplegic Chris Birdsong’s friends supported him to train hard for over two years to climb Colorado’s Longs Peak. “I have the best friends in the world,” says Birdsong, 42, a C5 quad. “They’ve raised money for me to buy all the equipment I need, and they have taken time off from their jobs to help me achieve this goal. I’m just blown away by the love they have for me.”
His friends say they created the Birdsong’s Climb Foundation, as a testament to Birdsong’s unsinkable spirit. “Man, he’s just so brave, you know?” said Paulie Jones, Birdsong’s best friend from junior high. “I mean, man, what he does every day, like, just to roll down the street … of course we’ll help him up that mountain.”
When Jones’ quote was read to him, Birdsong sighed deeply. “This is so hard to admit,” he said. “But I don’t want to climb any mountain. I mean, really. It just started as a joke. I don’t know how to break it to them, but I’ve decided to stay home that weekend and watch Date Night on Netflix instead.”
Birdsong says he also has no interest in swimming the English Channel, wheeling across America or sky diving. “I’m just a regular guy,” he says. “All I want to do is draw my disability and kick back on the couch.”