Ben Stein's Diary

Presidents’ Day in L.A.

Beverly Hills remains taxable country.

By 2.19.13

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Malibu
Monday–Presidents’ Day
I awakened here at 4.30 AM with feelings of dread and painful tingling in my forearms. I have this several times each year. The solution is simple: get out of bed. Take a Tylenol 3, broken in half. Eat an English Muffin, Thomas’s, of course, with lots of butter. Then go check my e-mails. Then go back to bed with my enormous Body-Med heating pad over my body and my Julie lying next to me and Mozart piano concertos on my headphones. Soon, I am back asleep, happy as a clam.

I did it and next woke at about 10. A neighbor’s dog was barking. I hate that. But that’s the nature of life in the far out region of Malibu where our wonderful 50's modern house is. A little bit of Tobacco Road. I got up, read a fine article in National Review by Ross Douthat about a movie about a mentally ill person. Read a great review by Jay Nordlinger of a book by Elliott Abrams, a smart guy. Mr. Nordlinger made a superb point. The Middle East is not complicated. The Israelis want to live and the Arabs want them to die. It is that simple. Grim, but simple.

What amazingly great people the Israelis are to not only survive but thrive in that atmosphere.

Then I made more English muffins. Then I did some laundry, brought in some firewood, made a fire, wrote some notes to my pal in prison, and then shaved and got dressed. I am endlessly tortured by not having my imprisoned friend to talk to.

I had a deluge of texts from women wanting money. This has to stop and it will.

Then, I took a picture of the monochromatic sky, then packed my car and left for Beverly Hills.

On the way in, I had a long talk with John Coyne about fighting against racism. We are both very committed to that fight. We always have been. John is a straight up genius. 

My part of Malibu, far, far out in Trancas, is always deserted but Beverly Hills was mobbed. I drove up a famous shopping street called Rodeo Drive. When I moved to L.A. in 1976, there were three immense bookstores here -- Brentano’s, Hunter’s and Doubleday. Now there are none except Taschen. It is a fine store but small. Now, all we have is expensive clothing stores. Obviously a high markup biz.

Hermes was just crawling with customers buying two hundred dollar neckties and ten thousand dollar purses. How can it be that we are about to cut off the pay of civilian military employees and are doing it to keep taxes on the rich low -- and yet my neighbors do not bat an eye at a $10,000 purse? I know this shows I am insane, but my idea would be higher taxes on rich people before we cut one dime of military pay, civilian or in uniform. I would actually like higher taxes on everyone. Ha!

Yes, I know government will waste a lot of it. Yes, I know government is a bottomless pit. But so are the greed and vanity of the rich.

By the way, I am NOT one of the rich and never will be. I live here largely by accident.

I will explain that story some other day.

I went shopping at the Pavilions on Santa Monica Boulevard. It was also mobbed. A man came up to me pushing a baby carriage for two babies with one baby in it. He explained that he had been the man who caught the illegal hacking in London. O-kay. “If a man comes up to you and tells you he is a fish, you don’t need to ask him to show you his gills.” So said someone very smart like Milan Kundera or some other European guy. I just let the man talk then got into my car and drove off to a sound studio to record a soundtrack for a commercial.

Afterwards, I got some rice at a Korean restaurant on Melrose. As I walked back to my car (five years old), an immense man stopped me to tell me how much he liked “Expelled” and my pal R.C. Sproul. I thanked him and asked his name.

“He-Man Thompson,” he said.

I told you I was in L.A.

I went home and took a long nap with wifey and Julie. I got up and watched on TV Obama talking about how urgent it was that “we protect the most innocent and vulnerable among us… the children.” He wants to do that by gun control, as if the Newtown massacre were not in the state with the strictest gun control laws in the country. You lying creep, I thought to myself. If you really believed that about protecting the most innocent among us, you would not be the most pro-abortion President in history. Well, he’s hopeless on the subject of human life. And that is a BIG subject.

Why can’t people see that issue for what it is? It is as clear as day. Do we kill those who are inconvenient or do we revere life? It isn’t more complex than that.

Out to dinner at Nonna with Big Wifey, talking about old age. It is a scary subject. “Old age is not for sissies,” says the cliché.

What is for sissies? I guess nothing. Maybe other sissies.

Now, comes bliss: going to sleep with Julie Good Girl. It is supposed to rain tomorrow. No problem. I will be with Julie in bed. The summit of man’s desires.

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About the Author

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.