Warning

 

Close

Confirm Action

Are you sure you wish to do this?

Confirm Cancel
Member Login
Posted: 9/23/2004 3:53:41 AM EST
Monday Night at Morton's Restaurant

For many years Ben Stein has written a biweekly column for the online
website called "Monday Night At Morton's," from that famous restaurant which was often frequented by Hollywood Stars.

Now, Ben is terminating the column to move on to other things. Reading his final column about our military is worth a few minutes of your time, because it praises the most unselfish among us: our military personnel, others who protect us daily and portrays a valuable lesson learned in his life.
......................................................................................................................................
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
"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. 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 a hole 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 World Trade Center as the towers began to collapse.

Now you have my idea of a real hero. We are not responsible for the
operation of the universe, and what happens to us is not terribly
important. God is real, not a fiction, and when we turn over our lives to Him, he takes far better care of us than we could ever do for ourselves. In a word, we make ourselves sane when we fire ourselves as the directors of the movie of our lives and turn the power over to Him. 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.

By Ben Stein


Maybe real life is starting to dawn on some of the Hollyweird snobs......
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 4:03:54 AM EST
Mr. Stein is also active in the pro-life movement. The more you get to know him, the more likable he becomes.
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 4:06:44 AM EST

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 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.


Be a nice world if everyone felt this way.

Link Posted: 9/23/2004 4:09:29 AM EST

That's a hell of a column.

Link Posted: 9/23/2004 4:13:08 AM EST
Wow.
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 5:29:02 AM EST

Originally Posted By Mahatma8Rice:
Mr. Stein is also active in the pro-life movement. The more you get to know him, the more likable he becomes.



The more I read or hear him the more I'm finding that out.

What a great column.
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 5:37:43 AM EST
I think we all need to send him a thank you . I'll start.
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 5:47:15 AM EST
bueller.......................bueller..........................bueller...............................

he had a gameshow on comedy central too, Win Ben Steins Money..............fucker is damned smart
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 5:52:12 AM EST
He's a good guy. I've liked him for a while now. I sent him his thank you letter. Anybody else?
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 6:27:26 AM EST
+1
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 6:33:11 AM EST
Ben's a great guy. Been a hardcore conservative for a long time.
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 6:38:34 AM EST
BenStein@aol.com

Ben Stein's home page
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 6:42:04 AM EST
Wow - I am a new fan of this guy.
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 8:43:15 AM EST
lol. Compare a harcore conservative like Ben Stein to a hardcore liberal like Michael Moore.
Laura Bush to Senator Dianne Fenstein. 'Big' Al Gore to Newt Gingrich.

Do we see a pattern here? Which would you rather invite to your home for supper?
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 9:06:00 AM EST
That raises the hairs on my neck.
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 9:14:26 AM EST
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 soldier Mr. Stein mentions in this excerpt is my cousins husband, SGT Troy Jenkins. Just thought you might like to know his name. RIP
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 9:17:08 AM EST
Sorry forgot to add. My Uncle has a different story to tell about this little girl. He has been told that this girl was about to throw this bomb into a group of Troys men and he intervened. The girl got away if I remember the story correctly. He lost his leg and died on the plane to Germany.
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 6:53:43 PM EST

Originally Posted By compuvette:
Ben's a great guy. Been a hardcore conservative for a long time.



+1 and I might add... a true thinker in this time of ours.
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 7:06:16 PM EST
Yeah, that column's a few months old, but it is great. Thanks for reminding me about it.
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 7:50:49 PM EST
A big +1000
S.O.
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 8:10:15 PM EST
damn.
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 8:13:12 PM EST
Very nice.
Top Top