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The Reaper
01-28-2004, 17:10
Gents:

Worth the read, IMHO. A celebrity with a real perspective on things.

TR

Stick with this thru the first couple of Paragraphs..........

"For many years Ben Stein has written a bi-weekly column for the E! Online website called "Monday Night At Morton's". Now, Ben is terminating the column to move on to other things in his life. I think that reading his final column paean to our military is worth a few minutes of your time because it praises the most unselfish among us; our military personnel.

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

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 "E! 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.

Lew Harris, who founded this great site, asked me to do it maybe seven or eight years ago, and I loved writing this column so much for so long I came to believe it would never end.

But again, all things must pass, and my column for E! Online must pass. In a way, it is actually the perfect time for it to pass. Lew, whom I have known forever, was impressed that I knew so many stars at Morton's on Monday nights. He could not get over it, in fact. So, he said I should write a column about the stars I saw at Morton's and what they had to say.

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.

A real star is the soldier of the 4th Infantry Division who poked his head into a hole on a farm near Tikrit, Iraq.

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.

I no longer want to perpetuate poor values by pretending that who is eating at Morton's is a big subject.

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.

Last column, I told you a few of the rules I had learned to keep my sanity. Well, here is a final one to help you keep your sanity and keep you in the running for stardom: We are puny, insignificant creatures. 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.

Surgicalcric
01-28-2004, 17:21
Well said and definately Spot-on.

JD

Roguish Lawyer
01-28-2004, 17:26
Nice article. I agree. Ben Stein is a good guy. But he is wrong about the following:

Hollywood stars . . . are uniformly pleasant, friendly people, and they treat me better than I deserve to be treated.

He either hasn't met many Hollywood stars or, more likely, they treat him well because he is a fellow celebrity. While the statement is true of some (Dennis Franz, for example, is a terrific guy and couldn't be nicer to the "little people"), my experience (much of it, though not all, indirect) is that the opposite is the general rule.

brewmonkey
01-28-2004, 17:33
I have always liked Ben Stein, he certainly has always seemed a humble guy.

longrange1947
01-28-2004, 21:52
Great artical!

The Reaper
01-28-2004, 22:20
Originally posted by Roguish Lawyer
Nice article. I agree. Ben Stein is a good guy. But he is wrong about the following:

He either hasn't met many Hollywood stars or, more likely, they treat him well because he is a fellow celebrity. While the statement is true of some (Dennis Franz, for example, is a terrific guy and couldn't be nicer to the "little people"), my experience (much of it, though not all, indirect) is that the opposite is the general rule.

I think he was being gracious to gain credibility with them. Celebs in most areas are usually arrogant asses.

Tell us more about Dennis Franz....

TR

Roguish Lawyer
01-28-2004, 22:26
Originally posted by The Reaper
Tell us more about Dennis Franz....


My wife and I had a walk-on part on NYPD Blue this season. Bought it at a silent auction for my kid's school. We were in a scene with him and Charlotte Ross (Connie on the show, the blonde).

We're sitting there in our places before the shooting starts, and he comes up to us to introduce himself and to thank us for supporting such a worthy charity. (I am pretty sure he had no idea what the charity was, let alone that it was our kid's school!). Spent a bunch of time chatting with us, posed for pictures, invited us back to the set later. Just couldn't have been nicer or more down to earth. Everyone from the show we talked to said that he's just always that way. A genuinely nice, down-to-earth guy.

Roguish Lawyer
01-28-2004, 22:37
I am adding a photo with appropriate national security bars, although the original photo is a polaroid, and this is a terrible photo of the polaroid taken with my camera phone.

Doc
01-29-2004, 04:00
Great article!

Correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't Dennis Franz assigned to a LRRP unit in the RVN for a tour?

Roguish Lawyer
01-29-2004, 04:23
Originally posted by Doc
Great article!

Correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't Dennis Franz assigned to a LRRP unit in the RVN for a tour?

Did some googling. Some articles say airborne, some say recon. No details. But here's one of interest:

http://www.nypdblue.org/news/news_mar03.html#3

Later, Franz graduated from Southern Illinois University with a bachelor's degree in speech and theater. His dreams of acting temporarily were put on hold by the Vietnam War, in which he did an 11-month tour of duty. His military background is probably why of all the awards he has won Franz puts at the top of the list being named Veteran of the Year for 2002 by the Academy of American Veterans Awards. (He boasts four Emmys, two Screen Actors' Guild awards, and a Golden Globe among his acting awards.)

``It's always wonderful to be recognized for your work,'' Franz said, ``But this was not about work. It about being a part of my country. I'm very proud to be associated with all the great men and women in the service.''


. . .


One thing is certain. ``NYPD Blue'' hasn't reached that point yet. One reason audiences keep coming back is the series manages to remain topical.

That was never more evident than the first episode of the 2001-02 season. Airing less than two months after the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks on the World Trade Center, the episode featured a poignant scene in which Sipowicz somberly gazes on the spot where the twin towers once stood.

It's a moment Franz vividly remembers, and he said it makes it difficult for him to understand the protests against war with Iraq.

``Have these people (protesters) forgotten what happen on Sept. 11?'' Franz wondered. ``Don't they remember all those people -- the women, the children -- on those planes who were nondeserving of having their lives taken from them?

``Freedom -- the same freedom that allows them to protest -- doesn't come easy. There are times when you have to stand up and prove yourself to the rest of the world, that we will defend our way of life.

``I back our president all the way. Let's face it -- there are just some evil people in the world and they have to be dealt with.''

Roguish Lawyer
01-29-2004, 04:30
I didn't know he was on everyone's favorite A-team . . .

http://www.blackstar.co.uk/video/item/7000000062033

Roguish Lawyer
01-29-2004, 04:42
According to this interview, he was in the 82nd and the 101st.

http://www.cigaraficionado.com/Cigar/CA_Profiles/People_Profile/0,2540,50,00.html

But acting in junior college and Southern Illinois University would soon give way to a tormenting, 11-month tour of duty in Vietnam. After his college graduation in 1968, a notice from the local draft board arrived. The day before Franz was to report, he enlisted in officer's school. In the Army he served with the 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions. "I was with two recon units--it was the loneliest, most depressing, frustrating time that I can ever imagine in my life," Franz says, his face sinking.

"Nine months I was in the field, two months in the rear. It was one of those experiences that you never want to experience again, but it was life-altering. It was a very maturing time for me. I came back a much different person than when I left, maybe much more serious. I was frivolous before I left. I left my youth over there. I left it behind," says Franz. Moments ago he was recalling some of the fun times of his youth. Now his face is forlorn; his voice, quiet.

"Fortunately, I was not physically hurt. Emotionally I was touched upon; I had seen many friends get wounded or lose their lives. They were temporary friends but all meaningful at the time. They were my only friends; that was my world. We developed those tight bonds. You don't have anyone--family, relatives, loved ones, girlfriends--you don't have any of that. So the buddies you make while you were there, that's your world. They become all-important to you, so when something happens to them it really hurts."

Polar Bear
07-06-2004, 17:17
Ben Stein’s Commentary on Sunday Morning the 4th Of July, he changed "Stars" a little, but still a good

Stein/CBS Stars Hmmm. Let's see what's in the news. A huge cover story about a child actress with a billion dollars who doesn't eat enough so she's going into a clinic and her sister is in despair as she goes on vacation. Then there is a lot of ink about the marriage of another millionaire actress and whether she's pregnant. Then there are stories about two good looking young people who met on a reality dating show and now are breaking up. The reason these people are supposedly worthy of front page covers of giant magazines is that they are "stars." And we pay a lot of attention to "stars" whether they are in front of a camera or suffering from anorexia or having babies or dropping baskets into a hoop from above the rim. We pay attention to them if they start a new line of clothes or if they decide to drive a Chrysler instead of a Cadillac. That's because they're "stars," and I'm sick of it. A man or woman is not a "star" if he gets paid tens of millions of dollars to say lines in front of a camera. She's not a "star" if she gets paid millions to simper and look sad because an imaginary boyfriend did not call. He's not a "star" if he gets paid thousands of dollars a minute to run up and down a wooden basketball court. They may be good actors and super great athletes, but in my mind, they're not stars. The real stars, the ones who keep this country free on Independence Day and every day, are the ones who lead a patrol down an alley in Falluja with some maniac terrorist aiming an AK-47 at their heads. The real stars are the ones who leave their families behind at a dusty Army base and go off and risk--and lose--their lives to do their duty by their country and free men and women everywhere. They're the ones who go off into Godforsaken valleys in Afghanistan hunting for Al Qaeda, never knowing if they'll ever come back, and often not coming back. Think Pat Tillman and you've pretty much got it. There are other real stars in this country like the men and women in Walter Reed Army Hospital getting fitted with prosthetic limbs because a bomb took off their leg below the knee in Mosul, Iraq. Their wives and girlfriends and parents and kids cheering them on are real stars, too. So are the doctors and techs who make the limbs. This country could last forever without the billionaire movie and TV stars in the magazines. We could not last a month without the men and women who fight for us. It's high time we got our priorities straight. Those guys and gals in Bagram and Ramadi and Fallujah and everywhere else, alive or dead or wounded, are the real stars, the ones who light up the night of tyranny with the light of freedom. We would not have a July 4th worth having without them. God bless them today and every day.

Roguish Lawyer
07-06-2004, 17:45
BTW, we bought another walk-on part for next season. Just for one person this time -- probably Catwoman since she's much more photogenic. LOL