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  (#1)
A girl must have her toys
 
POYITA's Avatar
 
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July 28, 2005, 02:48 PM

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.

This is the kind of stuff that makes me proud to be a Marine.

============================================

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 "eonlineFINAL," 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.

Beyon! d 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 a hole on a farm near Tikrit, Iraq. He could have been m! et 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 wit! h 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 World Trade Center 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 immor! tality 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


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July 28, 2005, 04:06 PM

Well said.

It's interesting to see people in the public eye openly consider what life is about. 95% of the time the media only serves to amuse us or distract us from life. Might as well have them challenge us every once in a while.
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  (#3)
I'm so tired
 
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July 28, 2005, 04:12 PM

Thank you Ben. And thank you for posting Dee.


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You meet the nicest
 
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July 28, 2005, 05:19 PM

No fugging shyt! The whole celebrity thing is totally wack. . .


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  (#5)
girls just wanna have fun
 
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July 28, 2005, 05:26 PM

Great post, Dee. I have felt this way for a long time. Which is why my co-workers well know me for going off into rants when I read about pro-football players, baseball players, basketball players bitching about their multi-million dollar contracts. And how movie/tv celebs bitch that they are not getting paid fairly (i.e. Seinfeld crew), and how we have allowed our children to idolize these people and think of them as role models. When in fact, a lot of these people are the worst role models. Many of them spend waaaaaaay too much money on useless stuff -- $2,000 purses, $800 jeans, $5,000 shoes -- and all they do is party, do drugs, get arrested for being an ass, etc.

Yet the most important people in everyone's lives -- the teachers who shape our ways of thinking at a young age, the police officers who protect us, the firemen and women who safeguard our lives, the soldiers, marines who put their lives in danger for the greater good of us all -- THESE people are the ones who have to scrimp and save so they can buy their kids new clothes and toys (ususally from places like Wal-Mart and Target). THESE are the people who often can't even afford a nice home in a nice neighborhood with good schools. In Maryland, cops and teachers who work or patrol nice neighborhoods with good schools and little crime can't even live there themselves? WTF is up with that??

OK, I end my rant. I could go on with what's wrong with society and how corporations are funding the wrong things and blah de blah de blah....


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You meet the nicest
 
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July 28, 2005, 05:50 PM

Thanks Dee,

I forwarded this to my sister who is busting her heart and ass caring for our declining mother in CA.

Jim


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July 28, 2005, 10:35 PM

The dumbest thing about his article is the premise that he used to think movie stars were heros and important people.
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  (#8)
hola
 
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July 29, 2005, 09:36 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Witold
The dumbest thing about his article is the premise that he used to think movie stars were heros and important people.
I was thinking the same thing. Good read, thanks Dee.


Forbidden fruit makes a tasty jam.
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  (#9)
I'm a Rookie, How do I Wheelie?
 
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July 29, 2005, 09:45 AM

HOOAH!!!


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  (#10)
Asleep at the wheel!
 
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July 29, 2005, 10:02 AM

Nice post Dee. I totally agree that the people that are the foundation of this country are totally taken for granted.


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  (#11)
B
It goes to 11.
 
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July 29, 2005, 10:22 AM

Deffinately worth the time.


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