Ben Stein

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by moreluck, Aug 4, 2009.

  1. moreluck

    moreluck golden ticket member

    Ben Stein's final column --

    For many years Ben Stein has written a biweekly column called 'Monday Night At Morton's.' (Morton's is a famous chain of Steakhouses known to be frequented by movie stars and famous people from around the globe.) Now, Ben is terminating the column to move on to other things in his life. Reading his final column is worth a few minutes of your time.

    Ben Stein's Last Column...

    How Can Someone Who Lives in Insane Luxury Be a Star in Today's World?

    As I begin to write this, I 'slug' it, as we writers say, which means I put a heading on top of the document to identify it. This heading is 'online FINAL,' and it gives me a shiver to write it. I have been doing this column for so long that I cannot even recall when I started... I loved writing this column so much for so long I came to believe it would never end.

    It worked well for a long time, but gradually, my changing as a person and the world's change have overtaken it.. On a small scale, Morton's, while better than ever, no longer attracts as many stars as it used to. It still brings in the rich people in droves and definitely some stars. I saw Samuel L. Jackson there a few days ago, and we had a nice visit, and right before that, I saw and had a splendid talk with Warren Beatty in an elevator, in which we agreed that Splendor in the Grass was a super movie. But Morton's is not the star galaxy it once was, though it probably will be again.

    Beyond that, a bigger change has happened..? I no longer think
    Hollywood stars are terribly important. They are uniformly pleasant, friendly people, and they treat me better than I deserve to be treated. But a man or woman who makes a huge wage for memorizing lines and reciting them in front of a camera is no longer my idea of a shining star we should all look up to..

    How can a man or woman who makes an eight-figure wage and lives in insane luxury really be a star in today's world, if by a 'star' we mean someone bright and powerful and attractive as a role model? Real stars are not riding around in the backs of limousines or in Porsches or getting trained in yoga or Pilates and eating only raw fruit while they have Vietnamese girls do their nails..

    They can be interesting, nice people, but they are not heroes to me any longer. A real star is the soldier of the 4th Infantry Division who poked his head into :censored2: on a farm near
    Tikrit , Iraq . He could have been met by a bomb or a hail of AK-47 bullets. Instead, he faced an abject Saddam Hussein and the gratitude of all of the decent people of the world.

    A real star is the
    U.S. soldier who was sent to disarm a bomb next to a road north of Baghdad . He approached it, and the bomb went off and killed him..

    A real star, the kind who haunts my memory night and day, is the U.S. soldier in Baghdad who saw a little girl playing with a piece of unexploded ordnance on a street near where he was guarding a station. He pushed her aside and threw himself on it just as it exploded. He left a family desolate in
    California and a little girl alive in Baghdad .

    The stars who deserve media attention are not the ones who have lavish weddings on TV but the ones who patrol the streets of
    Mosul even after two of their buddies were murdered and their bodies battered and stripped for the sin of trying to protect Iraqis from terrorists.

    We put couples with incomes of $100 million a year on the covers of our magazines... The noncoms and officers who barely scrape by on military pay but stand on guard in
    Afghanistan and Iraq and on ships and in submarines and near the Arctic Circle are anonymous as they live and die.

    I am no longer comfortable being a part of the system that has such poor values, and I do not want to perpetuate those values by pretending that who is eating at Morton's is a big subject.

    There are plenty of other stars in the American firmament...the policemen and women who go off on patrol in South Central and have no idea if they will return alive; the orderlies and paramedics who bring in people who have been in terrible accidents and prepare them for surgery; the teachers and nurses who throw their whole spirits into caring for autistic children; the kind men and women who work in hospices and in cancer wards.

    Think of each and every fireman who was running up the stairs at the
    WorldTradeCenter as the towers began to collapse. Now you have my idea of a real hero.

    I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters This is my highest and best use as a human.. I can put it another way. Years ago, I realized I could never be as great an actor as Olivier or as good a comic as Steve Martin or Martin Mull or Fred Willard--or as good an economist as Samuelson or Friedman or as good a writer as Fitzgerald. Or even remotely close to any of them.

    But, I could be a devoted father to my son, husband to my wife and, above all, a good son to the parents who had done so much for me. This came to be my main task in life. I did it moderately well with my son, pretty well with my wife and well indeed with my parents (with my sister's help). I cared for and paid attention to them in their declining years. I stayed with my father as he got sick, went into extremis and then into a coma and then entered immortality with my sister and me reading him the Psalms.

    This was the only point at which my life touched the lives of the soldiers in
    Iraq or the firefighters in New York . I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters and that it is my duty, in return for the lavish life God has devolved upon me, to help others He has placed in my path. This is my highest and best use as a human

    Faith is not believing that God can. It is knowing that God will.

    By Ben Stein
  2. Monkey Butt

    Monkey Butt Dark Prince of Double Standards Staff Member

    Good article and the same goes for baseball, basketball, football, etc. players.
  3. storm4

    storm4 New Member

    Let's not forget to stop and look at all the heroes around us!
    The individuals that we work with, our families, friends, and even the person reading this post right now (yes, you), may be one of the unrecognized heroes. What a wonderful group we have here at UPS. I especially commend those that do the work anonymously and those that "Pay It Forward" anonymously.
  4. pickup

    pickup Well-Known Member

    Agreed Hoax, but we, the people have spoken and while we say one thing with our tongues., we do quite another with our actions . shows like TMZ exist because people watch them. If a daily show about real heros were on television, it would be cancelled in three weeks due to lack of viewership. Sports players get the big bucks because people watch them in person or on cable ( which they literally underwrite or subscribe to , sub- under, scribe- write.... underwrite) .

    Someonce said and I paraphrase " pay no attention to what people say, observe their actions and remember "It is what it is"
  5. Monkey Butt

    Monkey Butt Dark Prince of Double Standards Staff Member

    Did not take this personally but another saying I have is "Don't worry about those things over which you have no control."
    I can't make nor am I remotely interested in controlling other people's behavior unless they are trying to affect me ... Lord knows there are plenty of people around who already take up my slack.

    Now to get up on your soapbox with you:
    I have not been to a movie theater or a recording artist concert or any professional sports event (etc) in over fifteen years. I don't agree with the excess salaries/contracts paid these people and I refuse to support. Others can do what they like.
    I believe in life, as in at work, by leading by personal actions.

    I must admit I do watch sports events on TV along with the History channel, Science channel and Travel channel.
    Anthony Bourdain deserves to be paid more than Manny in my opinion.

    and one aside - what is TMZ?
  6. moreluck

    moreluck golden ticket member

    TMZ is a celebrity news program. TMZ stands for Thirty Mile Zone.......around Hollywood that includes location shots etc.
  7. pickup

    pickup Well-Known Member

    Hoax, I just want to make it clear: I wasn't getting on my soapbox with you. Just commenting on a society of which I am a part. Year ago, people complained about newspapers covering too many non stories and burying the real news on page 20. So newspapers tried to strike a balance. However, when the internet finally became a part of everyone's lives, the newspapers paid(and continue to pay) the search engine companies to find out what people are looking at. And lo and behold, they found people were looking at all the fluff for the most part. Now they just give people what they know they want, not what they claim they want.

    I have a yahoo email account. To access it, I have to go to and be exposed to teaser stories. And to my discredit, I click the links more often than I care to admit. The latest click I hit was "Saved by the bell reunion leaves two actors out" I clicked to see who they left out: Poor Screech and Mr. Belding.
    By the way, Saved by the Bell was a television show in the 90s for teenagers that i watched as a young 20 something in a not so apparent effort to relive my high school days.
    To further elucidate about TMZ, the show is about celebrities but it also about the staff and paparazzi on the show. They don't just record a celebrity leaving a restaurant, they interfere and become part of the story badgering the celebrity with inane questions. Its mindless garbage but I see it in passing at times and get hooked for five minutes before I say "enough".

    As i get older, I think I am becoming more discriminating but when I read the paper, I do tend to read the gossip before I read the harder stuff.
    Shame on me!:knockedout:
  8. Monkey Butt

    Monkey Butt Dark Prince of Double Standards Staff Member

    I did not take it personally - it appeared it was directed at society as a whole.
    You are probably reaching that magical age of 35 when Marketing approaches no longer appeal to you. If you notice on Marketing surveys and the age question, age 36 and above means you will get more cognitive Marketing messages rather than the appeal to glamor and immediate self-fulfillment. Then you start getting all the Lexus 460 pitches, the investing pitches, etc.
    One thing is - they never stop pitching.
  9. bubsdad

    bubsdad "Hang in there!"

    Back to the OP...very well said. I think we all need to look around us and see who the true "stars" are.
  10. ajblakejr

    ajblakejr Age quod agis

    Ben Stein.

    Very smart man.

  11. pickup

    pickup Well-Known Member

    More like past the magical age of 42. I no longer watch tv by virtue of never getting the converter box.Yes, I don't have cable. It's interesting to encounter a television, like in the employee cafeteria and being exposed to what is going on for a brief period of time. It's sort of a hypnosis machine. And there are times, that I walk to where the television use to be to turn it on and find it is no longer there.(and I probably would have gotten a "judge" show.) As a side result, I often don't find out the results of "important " sports events like the mlb all star game (I still don't know who won and I don't care) and often find out later where in the standings certain teams are. I am not completely off the grid as I still watch some garbage on u-tube (as you might have guessed with my postings)and still get exposed to the celebrity b.s.when I go to yahoo. F:wink2: Finally gave up comic books about 4 months ago. No longer buy or read them.

    As for the lexus pitches... I have always been immune to that sort of thing, prefer to have a normal car that runs. I've driven a lexus and it felt great, but not great enough for me to feel like I needed to get one.