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The Happy Outsider

Joel Surnow relishes his role as a conservative in the generally liberal sound stages of Hollywood
Marshall Fine
From the Print Edition:
Jim Nantz, May/June 2011

(continued from page 3)

In addition to the Serie D, he enjoys the Montecristo No. 2—"it's like driving a Rolls-Royce." What he loves most is the sense of camaraderie that smoking among friends entails. "A friend calls it a portable campfire. It's a wonderful way to slow yourself down, to relax and enjoy the company of people in an unhurried fashion." He smokes three or four times a week. "It's been a cold winter. I usually smoke in the backyard. When it gets to be summer I'll be there after dinner. Though I do enjoy it more when I smoke with friends. It makes it a more pleasurable experience. That's what it's about. Cigar people are good people. You find you instantly like people who are fellow smokers."

While he smokes, he sometimes thinks about the future. And he's not certain about it. He feels, he says, that he has "conquered" his worlds. There'll be no more writing, he says, and as for network TV, it's too "grueling," a job more suited for people in their 20s, 30s or 40s who still have something to prove. He is thinking about teaching, giving back, passing his knowledge on to the next generations.

And then there is golf.

"Golf has ruined my life," he says with a laugh. "My family doesn't recognize me anymore. I was a competitive tennis player for about 40 years. Friends told me I was going to love golf. But I hated the idea because as a tennis player I considered myself an athlete. And then a friend took me golfing. I had never played, and I was pretty much creating divots. But I had a couple of good shots. And it was like getting the idea for '24.' It just stayed in my subconscious. And suddenly, a couple of days later, I thought, my body hurts from tennis, I'm going to go out and hit some golf balls. And within two or three months-it's about a year ago-I bought my first set of clubs.  And then by summer it was half golf and half tennis. And by winter I had given up tennis and was playing golf full time."

What is it about the game? "Golf describes human behavior perfectly," he says. "Ninety-five percent of the time you're stymied, frustrated. And five percent of the time you're given the reward."

He chuckles. "I hate to say it," he says, "but the cliché is right. You know how you used to feel about sex when you were a kid? That you wanted to chase it? Well, golf replaces sex."

Mervyn Rothstein is a contributor to Cigar Aficionado.


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