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By Design

CBS Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley
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August 27, 2017 11:47 am

By Design

CBS Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley

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August 27, 2017 11:47 am

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I'm Jane Pauley, and this is a special edition of Sunday Morning. We're in Amsterdam, the historic heart of the Netherlands, by design. All morning we'll be looking at the best in design, both large and small, old and new, around the world and back at home. And we've chosen Amsterdam, this city of canals, because of its rich history of innovation, artistry and tolerance. It's the fishing village that grew to become one of the largest ports in Europe. Its capital of the Netherlands, birthplace of the modern stock market, home to Rembrandt, Vincent van Gogh and Anne Frank. Bicycles are everywhere, so are marijuana markets, and its red light district is a must-see site. All morning we explore Amsterdam.

People here in Amsterdam rely heavily on boats and bikes to get around. For those looking for a little more zip, there's another option, as Seth Doan in Rome will demonstrate. This is all under lock and key?

Yeah. We go inside the studio, where they're developing the next generation of a classic. When you think of Italy, you think of Vespa. Simple, elegant and oh so Italian.

The iconic design of Vespa, later on Sunday morning. Jessica Simpson, the pop star, has made a name for herself and a whole lot of money in fashion design. She'll be talking this morning with our Tracy Smith. Jessica Simpson built a billion dollar brand on sky-high heels and a reputation for always speaking her mind.

Well, almost always. I'm not gonna say what I was gonna say. I was about to say something that should definitely not be on Sunday morning. Jessica Simpson, designing an empire, later on Sunday morning.

Back home on the Great White Way, Broadway producers are constantly designing new shows and redesigning old ones, and it certainly doesn't hurt if the star is one of the biggest talents of our time. As Gayle King will show us. Hello, Bette. I never look back. You never do? Never look back. No, never look back. Never look back. Because if you're looking back, you can't look forward.

You can't go forward. Recreating a role, redefining her life, this Sunday morning. With water all around us, we got to thinking about some of its more creative applications.

That's Mo Rocca's target this morning. When inventor Lonnie Johnson was growing up in Mobile, Alabama, no toy was safe. I used to take my siblings toys apart, my own toys apart. But years later, this former NASA scientist put together one of the most popular toys of all time.

Yep, it works. Whoa. Engineered for fun ahead on Sunday morning. And we'll have plenty more besides. Martha Teichner tells the story of the Netherlands long struggle to hold back the sea. Lee Cowan shows us Home Sweet Home on a floating island.

Anthony Mason paints a picture of race car art. And more. Welcome to Play It, a new podcast network featuring radio and TV personalities, talking business, sports, tech, entertainment, and more.

Play it at Welcome to Dom Square, the site of a long ago dam that put the dam in Amsterdam. It's the bustling center of the city and with the Royal Palace right behind me, the perfect starting off point. Perhaps the best way to tour this city is by boat, along its 60 miles of canals. Here it was in the Middle Ages, people started coming here.

Our guide is Russell Shortho, author of a best-selling history of Amsterdam. From its founding in the late 12th century, this city's location on a river delta that often flooded posed a challenge for its residents. And this is the crucial point. They started banding together in small groups in their communities and building dams and dikes and canals in order to control this problem of water and make it work for them. Their success in transforming their natural environment led to a reshaping of their entire approach to life. They started to realize, you know, we've got something here.

We've got this. It changed their mentality. And then they built on that. What the people of Amsterdam built in the centuries that followed were the first businesses of the modern age, shipping, insurance, the first stock exchange, and international trading enterprises like the Dutch East India Company. As the economy grew, so did the city, with eye-catching details we saw at every turn. This is the Herrenkrock, the gentleman's canal, one of the great 17th century canals. This is the golden age city that we're in. And you had the medieval city first, and then the city fathers made this plan where they were going to lay out this ring of canals around it because the city was expanding so rapidly.

The canals were lined with the townhouses of Amsterdam's thriving merchant class, each adorned with special architectural details like these stones to show the owner's profession. If you look over there, those gables, see the ones, that's called a spout gable. You see the piece of wood coming out the top with a hook on it. That's a hoist beam.

Yes. That's a hoist beam. You would bring your goods on the canal, up to your door, and then you would hoist them up and you would store them in your attic.

And it wasn't all business. Genius and talent also flourished in the arts during Amsterdam's golden age of the 1600s. Where we are now, the Doolin Hotel, this is Rembrandt area.

You see the guys up there with their floppy Rembrandt era hats on. Rembrandt's paintings of the city's leading citizens, including the famous Night Watch, fill Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum. He captured all his subjects' outward signs of success, but also, author Russell Shortho says, something more. He seemed able to paint who you were inside. And if you look at those paintings, you see that, you feel that, you feel these people thought about themselves for the first time the way we think about ourselves today. Along with Rembrandt, there was Van Gogh.

There's an entire museum devoted to his works. And one of the city's most visited sites is the Anne Frank House, where young Anne wrote her famous diary during the two years she and her family hid from the Nazis during World War II. These days, it seems there's a refreshing openness about life here. And what's with the no curtains in the windows? You know, some people say that that is, look, we have nothing to hide or there's no, you know, we're, we're ordinary, we're decent ordinary people here, you know.

Nothing to see here? Yeah, exactly, you know, because... Another thing an American visitor notices, Amsterdam's tolerant attitude toward everything from marijuana use to sex. The nearly 200 coffee shops here don't just sell coffee. You can also legally buy marijuana and smoke it on the spot. And there's the famous red light district where prostitutes legally display their wares.

Shortho says the city's tolerance is of long standing. That is a tricky thing to try to understand. And I don't know if any foreigner, any outsider can really get it.

But there's a Dutch word, which means, this is my definition of it, it means technically illegal, but officially tolerated. Put everything we've been seeing on our cruise together, and you begin to understand Amsterdam's unique draw. It's the city itself. It's the city of canals and of canal houses which are built for individuals. It's a monument to the ordinary individual person and ordinary individual families. This is in many ways the birthplace of our modern sense of ourselves as individuals. This was where that started. Water, water everywhere. Really.

Just ahead. Don't let this quiet scene in the town of Bruckenvaterland fool you. This picturesque village is on the front line of a water war the Dutch have been waging for a thousand years.

Our cover story is reported by Martha Teichner. These windmills were built nearly 300 years ago to pump water out of the surrounding farmland. But the Dutch have been at it for far far longer, outsmarting the water that's everywhere around them.

It is a matter of survival. 26% of the country is below sea level. This massive storm surge barrier was completed in 1997. It protects Rotterdam, Europe's largest port.

They're as big as an Eiffel Tower in Paris, but then on its side. The man describing this colossus is Henk Ovenk. I'm water envoy for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which means water ambassador.

The Dutch are the world's go-to water management experts. Ovenk spent two years in the United States working in areas hit by Superstorm Sandy. I said, could you think about preventing the disaster? And he was like, preventing the disaster? No, we couldn't.

No, we have to make sure that we respond faster. And I said, but suppose that there is no disaster, because you prepared better. Who doesn't know the fable about the little Dutch boy who plugged the hole in a dike with his finger and saved his country? What really happened taught the Netherlands about preparedness.

A ferocious North Sea storm in January 1953 flooded 500 square miles and killed more than 1,800 people. The Dutch built themselves a fortress of flood protection. Today, the Netherlands considers itself protected against a 10,000-year storm, in part thanks to research done by Deltaris, a gee-whiz kind of place with the largest wave machine in the world. This is an experiment facility where we can test coastal structures, so structures that protect the coast from waves. Ap van Danglen is a coastal flooding expert with Deltaris, which has worked with clients in 140 different countries, including the United States. In all of the designs that you're doing, are you assuming that you're going to be able to see sea level rise?

Yes, we are. And that will come with higher waves, so you have to figure that all into your design. Sea levels here are expected to rise more than three feet by the end of the century. This projection prompted the Dutch government, so used to walling water out at all costs, to rethink and let the water in instead. And for the Dutch, this is a revolution.

The idea that you're safer by lowering the dikes, this is extraordinary. In her latest book, journalist Tracy Metz, a long-time Netherlands resident, tells the story of how the farmers of Overdeepsupholder voluntarily agreed to give up their land so that it could become a spillway for a nearby river when it floods, in order to protect cities and towns downstream. The old farm is down there, and the river is there. For Noll Huyemeijers, it was a sacrifice with a silver lining. Huge mounds were constructed so that he and a few of his neighbours were able to build brand new farms, high above the flood plain. So you're happy, not angry?

Everybody here is happy, yeah. Learning to accommodate water has led to innovation. For example, a 24 million tonne pile of sand dumped off Holland's south coast called the sand engine. Nature was the engine that spread it into a flood barrier and a beach. Is the Dutch model applicable?

Oh, I think parts of the Dutch model are. Jim Murley is the man in charge of confronting Miami-Dade County's water issues and has consulted Dutch engineers. Just the way they go about thinking about managing water, how they use their land, creates a mindset. In South Florida, flooding has become a regular occurrence. According to current estimates, sea levels here will rise as much as six feet by the end of the century.

At stake, trillions of dollars of real estate and more than seven million lives. We want to be sure that this facility will withstand a storm surge. At a vulnerable Miami area wastewater treatment plant, critical infrastructure is being rebuilt higher. In Miami Beach, streets are being raised two and a half feet.

A new art museum in downtown Miami is designed so floodwater can flush through its foundation. We're starting to think about how we might develop in the future if we are having to live with water like the Dutch are. Like Rotterdam, where there's a floating conference center surrounded by floating trees. And Amsterdam with its whole neighborhood of floating houses.

Jasper Dijkjorn and his wife Sitzke Jacobs bought theirs five months ago. It's weird having the water right out the window. Yeah, it is. It is.

But on the other end, it isn't. You're in a house. She doesn't mind that the baby's crib is under water. The house is moored to a dock. So what happens if water level rises?

Does the house just come up? Yeah. To him, as a Dutchman, the water is a fact of life. And you like living with water all around you? Yeah. Yeah, and it's calm.

It's very peaceful. It's in our range. Next, a sticky situation. It's the pride of Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum, the night watch by the great 17th century Dutch artist Rembrandt. In our own time, art takes many forms, and it's not all found in museums. As dusk falls on the city, and the street lights start to glow, Max Søren makes his move. Armed with a razor blade and a roll of tape, he scales a lamppost to unveil his latest work. A work that, like his others, is sure to send the street art scene into a frenzy. By walking around in Amsterdam, I saw all these beautiful city lights. They define Amsterdam in such a charming way, and I thought, that's a completely underexplored canvas that cities have to offer. And I started experimenting with different materials and hung them up on street limbs.

Søren created the piece just hours earlier in a gallery nestled along a medieval canal. He's become a star in the art world with his moody, elaborate portraits and cityscapes, all made with nothing but packing tape and an exacto knife. Well, I like the brown packing tape because it gives that sepia tone that we know from old photographers or old posters or photo albums.

And I feel it brings in this like weird nostalgic mood that supports certain artworks in a great way. With the skill of a surgeon, Søren layers the tape to fashion the dark sections. When it gets really dark, it's about 15 to 17 layers. Always careful to not cut too deep. The tricky part is basically when I cut on top of another layer. So I have to cut carefully enough to not hurt the layer underneath when I peel it off.

Otherwise, it would peel off the entire artwork. The 32-year-old Dutch artist first gained attention when videos of his landscape art went viral. Soon, his works were being stolen as soon as they went up.

So this is a little homage to Muammet Ali, the famous boxer. This one, put up in 2016, is one of the few that has survived. But many of his other pieces can be seen over bars, hanging in homes, and displayed in galleries around the world, some selling for as much as $20,000. That's a cool moment when I meet them and I see the texture of the tape and they see how it really looks in sort of in reality. That's usually like a moment when I connect very much with them because I still feel that excitement about the medium. And it's great to see the same sort of awe in their eyes that I still feel in my, you know, in my own eyes that I still feel in my, you know, inside.

In the city of Rembrandt and Van Gogh, Max Zorn is leaving his mark one lamppost at a time. Still to come. I would never let my name be on anything that I wouldn't approve of somebody wearing. Taking the wraps off Jessica Simpson. And hello, Bette Midler. Welcome to Play It, a new podcast network featuring radio and TV personalities talking business, sports, tech, entertainment and more.

Play it at Toward the end of Amsterdam's golden age in 1687, a rare double-fronted home was built along one of the city's most exclusive canals. Today, the Willetholthausenhaus is a museum, offering visitors a window into the lives of the wealthy and cultured merchant class of days gone by. This ballroom is one of the grandest rooms in Amsterdam, sort of room you might welcome statesmen, celebrities, pop stars, fashion designers, which brings us to the woman Tracy Smith has been talking to. If all you know about Jessica Simpson is that she's a singer, you might be surprised we're talking with her about design.

That's okay. She's used to it. Just my friends that I've talked to and said, hey, I'm doing a story on Jessica Simpson say, oh, I have a pair of her shoes or I have her dress and it's really great. And the way that they say it, it's almost like they're shocked. Do you get that a lot? Maybe because it's not that expensive or maybe because I was a cheesy pop star back in the day.

I have no idea. You're going to like my shoes, damn it. And people may be even more shocked to hear this, the Jessica Simpson collection, which includes products ranging from clothes to accessories to home is a billion dollar a year business.

How's that for a cheesy pop star? How much of you, Jessica Simpson goes into these pieces? I mean, my name's on it. I would never let my name be on anything that I wouldn't approve of somebody wearing.

You need to elongate the leg instead of like making it shorter. Yeah, I think it doesn't hit quite right. 37-year-old Simpson and her mom, Tina, are involved in every step of the design process. I would never trust anybody but my mother to help with this collection. We could be at a meeting and we'll say the exact same thing. We'll look at a piece and we'll feel the same way about it.

Then there'll be times sometimes when she feels one way, obviously, and I feel another, but I always defer to her because she's the boss. Oh yeah, right. Is that true?

I don't know. I wore this to the VMAs. Some designs come straight from Jessica's own closet. This romper is based on an outfit she wore to the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards.

It's timeless to me. It's like everybody needs a romper. And you can look like Jessica Simpson at the VMAs. I mean, I wish I could look like Jessica Simpson in 2005.

Are you ready, boots? This was Jessica Simpson in 2005, strutting around in Daisy Duke shorts and cowboy boots and not much else, more famous than she'd ever dreamed and a long way from where she started. A preacher's daughter from Texas who began singing in church, Jessica's progress up the pop charts was slow but steady until 2003 when her dad had an idea for a reality show. Newlyweds Nick and Jessica chronicled the daily lives of Jessica and her then husband, fellow singer Nick Lachey, warts and all.

I think letting me be myself is probably the wisest decision even though I cringe at it sometimes. Is this chicken what I have or is this fish? I know it's tuna, but it says chicken by the sea. There are these classic moments on Newlyweds. Chicken of the sea.

That was true. I just was really confused because I didn't like fish, but I liked this. You know, I liked the chicken. I liked the chicken of the sea by the sea.

I should know it by now. Jessica realized early on that fans tuned in to see what she would say and what she was wearing. So she started a fashion line, just shoes first. And while the TV show and her marriage to Nick didn't last, the Jessica Simpson collection has endured for more than a decade. The reason, Jessica says, is relatability. I'm just like everybody else. I have gone through so, like, almost just as much, if not more, very publicly. The tabloids have been merciless, like when her parents split up or when she was pregnant with her first child and put on a few pounds. It's like, I'm pregnant. How can I be fat shamed?

Okay, that makes sense. It's not fair. I deserve a f***ing donut. Is it important for you to fit all sizes? It's very important for me to let every woman feel included. If I make a shirt, I'm going to make sure that every size is available. Because I have been every size.

Trust me. You think these boobs are big now? You should have seen them a long time ago.

Simpson's been busy with her brand and raising her two kids with husband Eric Johnson, so it's been a decade since she had a new song. This is like the place where I create. I feel like it's my home.

It's my cove. She says the success of her collection has allowed her to start making music again, like this unreleased demo she played just for us. I'm not a prisoner, I'm here of my own free will. I have no record deal. I am my own record deal, which is so empowering to say. Nobody has to tell me what to look like.

Nobody has to tell me what music sounds good. Later this year, she'll release both the album and a new, slightly pricier clothing line. If they earn her more money or more respect, that's fine. But Simpson's goal is much simpler. So when people hear the name Jessica Simpson today, what do you want them to think?

Just that I'm your friend. So not Jessica Simpson pop star, not Jessica Simpson business mogul. I don't even like Jessica Simpson pop star. I don't even know why I said that. That was like so weird.

No, but it's interesting. You want Jessica Simpson friend. Jessica Simpson friend works for me. I like that. Driving the Vespa is definitely a lot about style. Next, Viva the Vespa. When in Amsterdam, do as the Dutch do.

Ride a bike. When in Rome, on the other hand. Well, here's Seth Dung. The best way to see this icon of Italy. Maybe from the back of a far more modern one. There it is. She's a beauty.

Annie Ogile is a Minnesota native. Beautiful. Who after a dozen years here, navigates the roads like a Roman. So now we're going back inside the walls. Thanks of course to her Vespa. We're taking the time to enjoy the ride to see what's around us. And to be seen first thing we need to do is get you suited up.

Oh yeah. She started a tour company Scooter Roma to let visitors see Rome as she does. Don't take the bus. Get on the Vespa. It lives what's been called the Vespa Vita or Vespa life. Driving the Vespa is definitely a lot about style. So why did you want a red Vespa?

Because it's sexy. It's beautiful. Stands out.

I'm not a shy girl. And the Vespa helps show that? Absolutely. I make an entrance no matter where I go. When you drive a Vespa, you are wearing a Vespa. You see all of you. It's part of it.

It's exactly part of your look. At Vespa's headquarters and factory in Pontedere, Italy. Davide Zanolini sounds like he works in fashion, not scooters. This is really the place where we create the new collections. These are all possibilities. These are possibilities. Vespa's come in 12 shades today. The plan is to let future buyers customize them. Choosing from about 20 colours.

This light blue was one of the colours of the late 60s, beginning of the 70s. Parent company Piaggio had been manufacturing planes here through World War II. Then in 1946, as Italy struggled to recover from the war, Piaggio designed a scooter for the masses. It was cheaper than a car, more accessible, and of course had that coveted Italian style.

Vespa contributed very much to the independence and the freedom of women in Italy. Simply because of the design. Yes.

Because you could get on this wearing a dress. Exactly. And in Roman holiday, Vespa got the sort of product placement companies can only dream of. Do you owe a debt of gratitude to Hollywood?

Yes, for sure. Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn driving the Vespa in Rome is probably the most iconic image. We saw how designers today are trying to retain some of that vintage glamour. Vespa has strong roots in the past, but has to look forward. Marco Lambri is Vespa's chief designer.

He explained how they work to find the right balance to move this heritage brand into the future. This is the first Vespa and this could be the Vespa of the next century. But you see with this red line here that the shapes are similar. Yes, very similar.

Digital ideas take shape in the model shop. You have to recognize a Vespa when you have your eyes closed. On the road, at least when on a Vespa. Does the lipstick match the Vespa?

Yeah, I tend to wear red. Annie Ojal thinks heads should turn. And pow, we have the Valentine Hill. The Romans designed a pretty spectacular backdrop a couple thousand years ago. And Vespa, just over 70 years old, seems to fit right in.

One could say perfecto. Coming up, local colour. We're just outside Amsterdam at Hortus Bulborum, home to the signature flower of the Netherlands. The church bells in the village of Limmen have been ringing on Sundays since the 13th century. And hidden in the shadow of this Protestant Reformed church is another piece of this country's rich history, dating back 400 years, more than 2,500 varieties of tulips of all shapes and colours, dancing quietly in neat lines. Hortus Bulborum was established in the 1920s by Peter Boschmann, a tulip enthusiast and teacher at the church's school. He bought old and rare types of tulips and planted them, determined to not let them become extinct. The tulip can survive 400 years without use of any chemicals, and that's very important that we can bring back the old strength.

Henk Stufbergen is one of the garden's volunteer caretakers. The oldest tulip we have here at the Hortus is from 1595, and that's the Friday by the name of Duke van Toel, red-yellow. During the Dutch Golden Age, tulips were so rare they became a symbol of wealth. Their value reached an all-time high during the period known as tulip mania in the 1630s, when a single tulip cost as much as 10 times the annual salary of a skilled craftsman. People were crazy about them. It was a status you had in tulip. You were a rich man because you could afford a tulip. And they inspired Dutch artists like Rembrandt. The master painter had a tulip first named after him in 1620. Today, 90% of the tulips on these four acres are no longer commercially grown, and their beauty is fleeting.

Visitors can only marvel for six weeks each April and May during peak season. Soon after, every flower is dug up with new baby bulbs preserved and stored away until they're planted again in October. I made the trip specially to see this. I've heard about this. Henry Charbonneau came all the way from Canada just to wander through it all. It touches the heart and mind and soul of people. It is like a creation of man, but also of nature. All this multitude of colors, shapes, sizes, it's like a masterwork. At this hidden garden in this little village beside this ancient church, the flower that's been the pride of the Dutch for centuries is alive and growing.

This is a part of the Dutch history, to have the tulips around. This is what we have to maintain. Coming up, Mo Rocca is all wet. Welcome to Play It, a new podcast network featuring radio and TV personalities talking business, sports, tech, entertainment, and more.

Play it at The English word stoop comes from the Dutch. So, it's no surprise that here in Amsterdam, the front stoop is a hub of street life and play.

And when it comes to play, Mo Rocca has met a designer who aims to please. This is PVC pipe. This is a coke bottle. This is a coke bottle.

Right. Now, once it's pressurized, when you pull the trigger, you literally open a valve to let the water come out of the bottle and out through the nozzle. When inventor Lonnie Johnson was designing this toy, he had no idea what a splash it would make.

Since the super soaker hit store shelves in the early 1990s, it's racked up more than $1 billion in sales. When Johnson was growing up in Mobile, Alabama, he played with everything, including fire. One of my fondest memories, actually, was when I was mixing rocket fuel in my mother's kitchen. Fire and smoke was spewing out of the pot. When my parents realized what had happened, they told me that I would have to mix my rocket fuel outside from now on.

So, they just simply admonished you and said, Lonnie, please stop using the stove top as a launch pad. The fuse was lit, and in 1968, he entered a statewide high school science competition with his very own robot. It took me over a year to build him, and he was all remote controlled.

He took first place. After earning his master's in nuclear engineering, Johnson landed at NASA's legendary Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The most powerful water gun ever. But it was while he was at home in his bathroom trying to design a new kind of water pump that he had a happy accident. Turned the water on and was watching what was happening, and just kind of turned and shot the stream of water across the bathroom into the bathtub. And I thought to myself, this would make a really neat water gun. The super soaker was born. Whoa! I'm having a little trouble seeing, but it doesn't matter because I'm trying to film it. Johnson then turned his engineering eye on the Nerf gun.

Right in the lip. The success of Johnson's work with toys has allowed him to pursue more serious projects at his lab in Atlanta. So conceivably one day this technology could be used as a wearable garment that will charge your cell phone. This one, called the J-Tech, is an ambitious project that Johnson hopes one day allows the conversion of heat into electricity. Lonnie Johnson was inducted into the Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame in 2011. Was your mother there when you were inducted into that hall of fame?

Yes. Did you ever buy her a new saucepan? Well, I remodeled her house.

This part is for a woman of a certain age who can make it her own. Curtain going up on Bette Midler, just ahead. It's a Sunday morning from Amsterdam, by design. And here again is Jane Pauley. We're here at the Dutch National Opera and Ballet. All the world's a stage. And when it came time for Broadway producers to restage one of our most beloved musicals, there was little doubt whom they wanted to top the bill. Here's Gayle King with Bette Midler. Simply put, Bette Midler is the ultimate designing woman. In a career spanning, well, generations, she is constantly creating and recreating, leaving a trail of memorable personas and unforgettable performances.

And at age 71, she's reinventing herself yet again. This is the biggest challenge of my career. And I needed a challenge.

Do tell. Well, I needed a challenge. I had been on the road. I came off the road two years ago, and that was a huge show, and it was a very successful show. I took it to Europe, had a great time.

But I had done it, and I didn't want to do it again. What she's done instead is return to Broadway, starring in Hello Dolly, winning rave reviews, the Tony Award for best lead actress in a musical, and playing to sold out houses. It is extraordinary, and I'm very grateful for it. It doesn't matter in what frame of mind I come into the theater. I know that when I get out there, it's going to be there, and I'm just going to sail.

We're going to go on a little journey that's a lovely little joyous journey for two and a half hours, and we're going to have a ball. Midler is matchmaker Dolly Levi, the role famously originated by Carol Channing back in 1964. Were you worried about coming after her model because it was so iconic? Yes, I was. And I went to see Carol.

You did? I visited Carol. Was it intimidating meeting her to talk about playing this role? Well, she is very close to six feet tall, and I'm very, very little. But she was so gracious and so loving and sweet.

That's all I can say. It was an unforgettable afternoon with her. To Midler, Dolly has a message aimed at one particular group. This part, it's for a woman of a certain age who can make it her own. And it can be hilarious.

And I really wanted it to be funny. You said something interesting. You said, women of a certain age. And every time I hear that, because now that phrase, I'm starting to hear that a lot. Oh, really? Yes. Women of a certain age.

Women of a certain age. That's a very old fashioned and polite way of saying, she owed. I'm actually thrilled. And I think the crowd is thrilled, too.

I'm thrilled. Because I think the crowd is thrilled, too, because a lot of people my age are coming, and they see me skipping, and they flip out. I skip a step that they haven't done since they were seven. They feel like, wow, she's doing it.

Maybe I can do it, too. And I think that's, I love that. Bette Midler's career pretty much began on the Great White Way shortly after arriving in New York. She appeared in Fiddler on the Roof.

She was only 20. Well, I came to do Broadway musicals. From Hawaii.

From Hawaii. I had been in community theater as a kid, 14 years old. I was fired for my first show. Why? Because I upstaged the lead.

Okay. Note to self. You might be surprised to learn that Hello, Dolly! is her first time back in a Broadway musical in nearly half a century. But then, you know, years ago, it's been 50 years since you were- Fifty years. That's a long time. No lie. No lie. Fifty years, it's 50 years it's taken you to come back to the musical theater. Yes. Yes.

Isn't that interesting? Since you love it so much, why? Why did it take you so long? Well, I loved it. I loved it in the days that I was working in it, but it changed, you know. It changed considerably. It wasn't musical comedy anymore. It was more musical theater became much more serious. I wanted musical comedy.

I wanted to be funny on the stage, and I wanted to be able to sing and dance on the stage. Can I just say something? I love your hair, Bette. The pink, what do you call them?

Salmon color highlights. Yes, yes. Tell me that. Tell me the story, Bette. I would love to know that.

There's no story. It's semi-permanent. Wash it in, wash it out. Have some fun. I know, but you don't see, there I go again, women of a certain age with pink highlights.

Yes, you do. Fair to say Bette Midler does it all, singer, comedian, actress, activist, truly comfortable center stage. You know, I've heard you say that on stage you are absolutely fearless, that you are really in your comfort zone when you're on the stage.

Yeah, yeah. I'm very happy here. I've been happy ever since I discovered that I could make people laugh, and it's a great place to be. It's warm. It's very warm. The lights are warm, and you know it's fabulous.

You look great because the lights are so gorgeous, and often they put you in a very beautiful costume, so you look your best. Yeah. So yes, I am very comfortable here. At ease in public, private in real life. I'm shy. I'm basically quite shy, so I wanted to- Stop, Bette Midler. Stop.

What? You are basically shy. I'm a librarian, and everyone knows it.

I've been saying it for years. I'm like a reader. I'm a bookworm. I peek out, and I observe.

I'm very observant, and I do take things from a lot of sources, but I'm shy. Midler has made dozens of movies, from Hocus Pocus and Beaches to the First Wives Club, but one role stands out. The Rose. The Rose. Oh, that was my favorite. That was my favorite movie that I ever made. I had a great group of people around me, and it was a beautiful, beautiful production.

Wonderful. I loved it, and I loved her. I loved her because I totally understood her. I knew where she was coming from. I knew the pain that she had lived through. Then there's her alter ego. The Divine Miss M, what's she up to these days? Well, she's working in a Broadway show.

Will we see her again? Well, I did retire my mermaid. I know. I heard that.

Last year. She went to her... We deep-sixed her. But you always have the right to change your mind, Bette Midler. You always have the right to change your mind. I don't want to put on a fishtail again. I'm sorry, Gail. The time has passed.

So no more mermaid, but that's okay. Bette Midler is standing tall, firmly rooted in the present. Never look back. You never do? Never look back.

No. Never look back. Never look back. Because if you're looking back, you can't look forward.

You can't go forward. The Divine Bette Midler, moving forward and giving back with one magical emotion. Wow, wow, wow. It is love. It is love. And it's joy, too. Towards the end of the show, when you've heard them laughing all night long in a way that you haven't heard a crowd laugh in many, many years, you know that you've given them something that nourished their souls, in a way. Next... What do you say to people who think this is a little odd?

Thank you very much. Home sweet home. The houseboat is the floating home of choice for many an Amsterdam resident.

Lee Cowan has found a designing couple who've taken the idea of waterborne living even further. So do you come out every day just to catch where you're going to eat that day? Yeah. It's fresh.

Wayne Adams is about the closest thing you'll ever find to a marine mammal on two legs. Attaboy. Good one. It's a little cup they call a copper. Yeah? That's a nice one, too.

Yeah? In fact, I'm pretty sure he had more in common with the fish I caught than he did with me. Wayne rarely sets foot on dry land, not even when he makes his way home to his wife, Catherine King. Because they're home, ebbs and flows with the tide, too. I remember phoning my parents from town and I said, we're living out on the ocean. And my dad said, what do you mean you're living on the ocean?

Welcome to Freedom Cove, a multicoloured floating refuge way past the end of any road, tucked away in rugged Cluckwit Sound off the west coast of British Columbia's Vancouver Island. What do you say to people who think this is a little odd or a little strange? Thank you very much. Yeah? Yeah, surely.

Nice to be recognized for who I am. They've lived this water world lifestyle for the last 25 years, building and rebuilding. It all sits atop about a dozen interlocking steel docks that Wayne salvaged from an old fish farm. In fact, everything here is fashioned from reclaimed material, a habitat designed from what's available when it's available. Wayne takes particular pleasure out of rearranging it all, towing parts of his home around like a buoyant jigsaw puzzle. It's flexible.

It moves in storms, goes up and down and around around about 20 feet. So it's a pure physics, a pure experience thing, and learn by doing. It's as much a design project as it is an art project. In fact, both Wayne and Catherine are artists by trade, carvers mostly. That's what brought them out to the wilderness in the first place.

It was about being inspired by nature and our work being inspired by nature and wanting to come out and live it and experience it and then have that inspiration come through what we do. The nearest town is 10 miles away, by boat. They make the trip every few weeks, but mostly this is a subsistence lifestyle. Nothing like fresh potatoes from the garden.

Yeah, we had a lot last year. They grow almost everything they eat on their floating farm. It's Catherine's charge, mostly. She tends the garden come rain or shine. Gardening is my passion. But it's more than just a passion though. You have to do this. This is how you live. A passion and a necessity. And is this one all ready? That one's ready for planting, yes. They are willing castaways, wanting for little more than the seals do, the ones that play in their front yard.

They have a waterfall for fresh water, timber for heat, and the sun to charge their onboard batteries when it's not raining, that is. Does it ever get lonely? Do you feel lonely?

I mean, I know you have each other, but... I can't say I feel lonely. We're always busy. But I like people. I'm a people person too. I like folks. I'm in doses, I don't mind my own company. There he is, his eagle. It's not an easy life. You ready?

But when your version of feeding the birds is feeding bald eagles, the freedom of floating has a way of anchoring you to what really matters. At this point, we would like to be here till the end of our days if we can make that possible. Call the tow tag, brother.

Yeah, that's the plan. We came and made it home. A home not so much off the grid as it is in tune with everything else. Still to come, art that moves.

Winston Churchill toured Amsterdam's canals in this very boat in 1946 after World War II. Traveling in style today can look very different. Ask Anthony Mason.

Three, two, one. Unveiled at Art Basel in Miami in November, it was tearing up the track in Daytona in January. The BMW M6 GTLM, painted by renowned artist John Baldessari, is a high performance racing machine, as BMW's director of motorsport put it. On the outside, it's really a piece of art, but on the inside, it's a race car that wants to go out today and wants to battle and wants to win. It's the 19th in BMW's Art Car series. Inaugurated in 1975, it was the idea of Hervé Poulin, a racing enthusiast and art lover, who persuaded Alexander Calder to paint the German automaker's entry at Le Mans that year. Then says BMW's Thomas Gerst, it just took off. It was supposed to be a one-off at the very beginning with Alexander Calder, but the moment this car left the pit stop, it was like kids were screaming.

It became the immediate darling of the crowd that was watching. The next year, Frank Stella created his graph paper BMW. In 1977, Roy Lichtenstein's car looked like a comic strip. The fourth art car is the most famous. Painted by Andy Warhol in 1979, it's now considered the most valuable car in BMW history. African artist Esther Malangu was the first woman to paint a BMW in 1991. British artist David Hockney painted a Dachshund on the back panel of his car because his own dogs always rode with him. Jeff Koons was the last to paint a car in 2010, until John Baldessari got the commission. Had you ever done a car before?

No, that was the challenge. Wow, beautiful. At 86, Baldessari is a towering figure in the art world, and not just because he's six foot seven. He's been called a surrealist for the digital age, and once instructed a class to write, I will not make any more boring art over and over. I always said art is what you can get away with. Do you usually work barefoot? Yeah.

Baldessari revisited him in his studio in Venice, California. Got a note up here from Scarlett Johansson. A fan.

You a fan of hers? You bet. Baldessari started using old movie stills in the 70s. I can get them for 10 cents a piece. Right. These are like old film stills.

Yeah, you can't go wrong with 10 cents a piece. Then one day he put pricing stickers over the faces. And you painted the dots. Primary colors. Why?

Ordinary. Yeah. It's become the artist's calling card.

Beautiful. Now for the dot. Baldessari built it into his design for the BMW. He put a huge red dot on the roof. That's so you could be seen from the earth. That's my eagle. He put an image of the M6 on one side and the word fast on the other.

And it will go fast, we promise you that. But John Baldessari hasn't driven in his signature BMW. I can't even fit in it, you know, I'm just too big. How do you feel the car turned out? I'm very proud of it. He should be.

A car that travels 130 miles an hour is anything but boring. I'm Jane Pauley. We hope you've enjoyed our visit to Amsterdam.

Please join us when our trumpet sounds again next Sunday morning. This is Intelligence Matters with former acting director of the CIA, Michael Morell. Bridge Colby is co-founder and principal of the Marathon Initiative, a project focused on developing strategies to prepare the United States for an era of sustained great power competition. The United States put our mind to something we can usually figure it out. What people are saying and what we kind of know analytically and empirically is our strategic situation, our military situation is not being matched up with what we're doing. So intelligence matters wherever you get your podcasts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-26 10:35:10 / 2023-01-26 10:55:27 / 20

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