Fun: Hi! This is Vanessa Harris with fun4thedisabled! I’m here with my friend Stella who is whispering this week’s interview questions in my ear.This week’s video is an interview with Mike Ervin who has been a wheelchair user for almost 60 years! Mike has spinal atrophy which is a form of muscular dystrophy. Mike writes a blog called Smart Ass Cripple.
Ervin: Well, I’ve been writing for a long time and I started to figure out a good style for myself, I thought that writing about disability stuff and writing about it with humor seems to be the type that fits my style best. So I like that I have like a bunch of ideas floating around in my head that I just wrote down which reminded me that what it was that I was thinking of. And after a while the whole phenomenon of blogging came up, and I thought “Well, that seems like a good format…” So I came up with the name Smart Ass Cripple and in the very first piece the idea of causing conflict in people’s minds. The two words don’t really go together like I say in the first piece everybody everybody loves a cripple but everybody hates a Smart Ass. So I tried to make people who can’t decide whether they’re supposed to love me or hate me and hopefully the writing will make them decide which one they want to do.
Fun: Mike is also an ambassador to the Abilities Expo when it comes to Chicago every year. I asked Mike, “What do you enjoy about being an ambassador?”
Ervin: Well, you get to go there, spend the whole weekend at this event. It’s all ab out people connecting and finding new resources in the community. I float around and talk to people. To me, that’s a fun way to spend a weekend. So I enjoy that and then helping them put it together locally, in Chicago, helping them to make connections. It feels good to be a part of it.
Fun: Mike works with the Political Action Group called Adapt that addresses disabilities.
Ervin: It gets a lot of street action. Its stressful because you’re protesting, but its enjoyable especially when you win. When you make things better for people through your actions, that’s always quite enjoyable.
Fun: Mike has some really cool stories about his friendship with the late Roger Ebert.
Ervin: One day I looked, and there was a big explosion of stats. And I thought, “Hmm, I wonder if Roger Ebert did something?” I guess he had given a TED Talk. And at the end of the TED Talk, he said that he read the blog, and that he recommended that other people read it, too. Just from him saying that, it caused thousands of people to come. It’s kind of funny, because he kind of mentioned it now and then. We met a few times in passing, and even though we were only formally introduced once about a year before he died, we would call ourselves internet friends. But when he died, I got contacted by IMDb, or some celebrity internet site, and they wanted to do an interview similar to what we’re doing now about Roger Ebert. And I said, “Sure!” While I was waiting, I could hear the program going on, “And next we’re going to talk to Roger Ebert’s best friend.” And I wondered what all the people in the audience were thinking like, wow, is it going to be Martin Scorsese or Robert De Niro or the who’s it gonna be? And it turned out to be me. I don’t know that I was his best friend but if they wanted to call me that, that’s cool.
Fun: Do you have anything else to tell us before I sign off?
Ervin: Subscribe to fun4thedisabled.
Fun: You also need to check out Smartass Cripple!
Ervin: smartasscripple.blogspot.com but if you just google Smartass Cripple, it will take you there!