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Steinian Snippets

It's a long way from Stanford's Storke Publications Building to the 23rd floor of the Time & Life Building. But the trip hasn't changed Joel Stein much. A sampling of his wisdom, then and now:

Daily Days Big Time
On writing
Each week, less of what I think goes into the batter, and more of what I’m expected to write. A penis joke here. A young-budding-actress-at-Stanford joke there. And always work in threes. Worked for Dante, it’ll work for me. I have always been an opportunistic journalist. By “opportunistic,” I mean willing to embarrass myself in whatever way it takes to make sure I have the biggest byline in the magazine. I’m not sure what I mean by “journalist.”
On growing up Jewish
We called our Christmas tree a (C)han(n)uk(k)a(h) bush and came up with a complex rationalization for the existence of this Santa guy. I think it had something to do with stock options and mall sales, but I’m not sure. As a Jewish child, I was encouraged to consider a lot of professions: oncologist, anesthesiologist, radiologist, cardiologist, even proctologist—though that wasn’t highly recommended. But Antichrist, from what I recall, wasn’t mentioned at all.
On gender
[Living in the gender-issues theme house] would give me much-needed focus behind my otherwise undirected existence. Plus, if I used it right, it just might help me pull the babes. Like most men, I think I can boost my self-esteem by trying to prove that I am always right. Women’s self-esteem seems to come from healthier places, like starving themselves.
On his home state
Even though the mating rituals [in a Palo Alto bar] were bizarre by any non-Jersey standard, there was something truly admirable about [the patrons’] willingness to put themselves on the line. . . . Almost every woman there had invested a lot
of her hard-earned cash in Aqua Net and elastic clothing imported all the way from New Jersey.
We are not known only for our medical-supply companies. New Jersey is a state that brought us the light bulb, Walt Whitman and the Shopasaurus T-shirt. Jersey is the only state that so overpowers its namesake that you can drop the New when referring to it. Try that with Hampshire, York or Mexico.
On himself
It’s not easy being Joel Stein. Sure, it sounds great. Preschool children dressing up as you for Halloween. Kickbacks from plastic surgeons whose clients request your nose and jawbone. Women falling off bicycles trying to say hello to you, wearing nothing but six-inch stiletto heels and gold lamé push-up bras, just because you mentioned that particular ensemble in some column you don’t even remember. If I were a brave man, a man of integrity, I would have exited the car, walked home and never talked to her again. That is the only appropriate way to deal with crashing your girlfriend’s parents’ car. But I am not a brave man. I am a man who realizes how hard it is to find someone willing to sleep with me on a regular basis. So I accepted a lifetime of spending holidays being referred to as “Mario” [Andretti].
Courtesy The Stanford Daily © Tribune Media Services Inc. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted With Permission.

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