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Sen. John Fetterman, TikTok, Pendleton Blankets

CBS Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley
The Truth Network Radio
April 2, 2023 3:00 pm

Sen. John Fetterman, TikTok, Pendleton Blankets

CBS Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley

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April 2, 2023 3:00 pm

Hosted by Jane Pauley. In our cover story, Pauley sits down with Sen. John Fetterman to discuss his recovery from major depression. Also: Anthony Mason interviews singer-songwriter Neil Diamond about his Parkinson's diagnosis, and the Broadway show based on his life, "A Beautiful Noise"; Tracy Smith goes behind the scenes of the new Broadway musical comedy "Shucked"; Lee Cowan profiles a chef researching Jewish family recipes that survived the Holocaust; David Pogue examines why TikTok faces being banned in the U.S.; Conor Knighton delves into the history of Pendleton blankets.

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You can also listen ad-free on the Amazon Music or Wondery app. Good morning. I'm Jane Pauley and this is Sunday Morning. Pennsylvania Democrat John Fetterman, as you may recall, suffered a stroke last May at the start of a hard-fought campaign for the United States Senate. Then just weeks after he was sworn into office, Fetterman was hospitalized for depression at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. This past week, two days before his discharge, we had a chance to talk with Senator Fetterman about his health, his recovery, and what comes next. I just had noticed that… Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman talks about his struggle with depression for the first time. As it was described to me, you were agnostic about the question of living or not at that time. Yeah.

Well, I never had any self-harm, but I was indifferent though. Coming up, John Fetterman on feeling hopeful again. By now, you've probably heard about the raging controversy over the social media app, TikTok. But do you understand it?

We've asked our David Pogue to help clear things up. TikTok is the most popular app in the United States. Everybody loves TikTok.

Almost. Your platform should be banned. The thing that most concerns me, however, is the ability to control what storylines Americans see or don't see. But is China trying to influence us?

There's absolutely no indication that this is in some way manipulated or controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. Ahead on Sunday morning, the battle for the future of TikTok. After a life filled with plenty of good times, singer-songwriter Neil Diamond is grappling with a difficult diagnosis, Parkinson's disease. Anthony Mason is talking with a legend, if ever there was one, the great Neil Diamond. A new Broadway musical has Neil Diamond's name on it. There was a lot of love in the room for you. There was a lot of love and I felt it. But the singer's also been feeling the effects of Parkinson's disease.

I have to make the best of it and so I am. Neil Diamond, the musical and the man, later on Sunday morning. Connor Knighton goes undercover this morning to tell us all about Pendleton, the company that's been weaving blankets for more than a century. Tracey Smith is on Broadway to catch the debut of Shucked, a show that gives corny a good name. Plus Lee Cowan with some moving recipes from the pages of history.

And more. It's a Sunday morning for the 2nd of April, 2023. And we'll be back in a moment. Senator John Fetterman is home in Braddock, Pennsylvania, six weeks after he was hospitalized for depression at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where we talked with him this past week. I found Senator Fetterman hopeful, optimistic, ready to return to the United States Senate and his role as a dad.

So if we sat down, you would take the rocking chair? Yeah, that's me. At six foot eight, John Fetterman is still a formidable man, despite two serious assaults on his health in less than a year. He suffered a stroke in May. And after a private struggle for years, in mid-February he entered Walter Reed for treatment of depression. We talked there, two days before he went home. I will be going home and be the first time ever to be in remission with my depression.

And I can't wait what it really feels like to take it all in and to start making up any lost time. To colleagues, he seemed lost, even at his swearing-in. Later, Dr. David Williamson recognized major depression. He had markedly reduced motivation and drive.

A neuropsychiatrist, Williamson has been treating Senator Fetterman. The RPM in the brain, how fast you think and how clearly you think, is very substantially degraded when patients get depressed. It's reversible?

It's certainly reversible, yes. One in three stroke patients develops depression. 21 million American adults have experienced major depression. What makes John Fetterman's diagnosis unique, but not unprecedented, is a politician sharing it publicly. My message right now isn't political.

I'm just somebody that's suffering from depression. A former steel town outside Pittsburgh, Braddock put him on the map, and vice versa. Population less than 2,000, with high unemployment, low income, and a towering mayor, with a Harvard degree, and a penchant for hoodies and shorts, he was becoming a rising political star, and an unlikely darling of the fashion world. What did you cue call you? They said you were a fashion god or something?

His wife of 15 years, Giselle. American taste god. And then the New York Times, I found out that I was one of the most fashionable or something.

That's right. Along with Beyonce and Brad Pitt, Fetterman was one of the paper's most stylish people of 2022. It was an edgy, modern look. It was appalling. John Fetterman began his campaign for United States Senate last spring with the wind to his back.

But after the stroke at age 52, he would fight headwinds until election day, when his health became the issue. Doctors at Walter Reed have discovered a serious hearing deficit, further complicating the way his brain now processes spoken language. When I talk, what do you hear? I hear you talking, and I can understand much of what you're saying. But my hearing has a deficiency that makes it difficult for me to fully understand 100% of it. At some point, you described what you hear as like Charlie Brown's teacher. Yeah, early on, that was more, you know, months and months ago, whatever, but right now, captioning is helpful for me.

I should get my husband one of those, because when I talk, he hears that same wah, wah, wah, wah, wah. His reliance on closed captioning had its biggest test during the campaign's one debate, which was widely considered a setback. I'm the only person on this stage right now that is successful about... The debate performance was not you at your best. Was that fair? If I'm in the race and I made the decision to stay in the race, it's important that I show up for a debate, knowing that it would be challenging, and that's what we did.

And in November, John Fetterman won, flipping a Republican-held Senate seat. I'm so humbled. Thank you so much, really.

Thank you. But there was something behind that smile. It's like you just won the biggest race in the country, and the whole thing about depression is that, objectively, you may have won, but depression can actually convince you that you actually lost, and that's exactly what happened. And that was the start of a downward spiral. In the interim between the campaign and being sworn in, at home, in November, December, depression started gathering strength. Is that correct? Very much.

Very much. I had stopped leaving my bed. I've stopped eating, dropping weight. I stopped engaging some of the most things that I love in my life.

Including time with Giselle and their three children, aged 8 to 14. I had a conversation with my 14-year-old, and he said, Dad, what's wrong? We're great.

We're here. And you won an incredibly sad moment where my 14-year-old can't possibly understand why you can't get out of your bed. Someone you love as much as you love your son couldn't make you get out of bed. Couldn't make you not be depressed. You stayed in bed.

Yeah, that's true. But he went to Washington, and on January 3rd, was sworn in. People who know you say that that day you looked miserable and lost. Yeah, I was definitely depressed. I think with depression, you're always waiting for, oh, that's the thing that's going to change it, right?

Giselle read as much as she could find about depression. He just became the senator. He's married to me. He has amazing kids, and he's still depressed. And I think the outside would look and say, how does this happen? But depression doesn't necessarily make sense, right? It's not rational.

He stops eating and drinking. I was at a Democratic retreat, and many of my colleagues were coming up to me and asking, why aren't you eating? Did you care if you were there or anywhere or nowhere? I just showed up where my staff said... Robotic. Yeah, exactly.

Yeah. As it was described to me, you were agnostic about the question of living or not at that time. Yeah, well, I never had any self-harm, but I was indifferent, though. If the doctor said, gee, you have 18 months to live, I'd be like, meh. Okay, well, that's how things go. A concerned doctor began making arrangements at Walter Reed, and on his son's 14th birthday, he agreed to go.

What a waste if you hadn't. Recovery was weeks away for the uninitiated. Depression doesn't exist in the same sphere as love. So the question of how can a man not care about living in a world where those children you clearly adore are living? It makes me sad. You know, the day that I go in was my son's birthday, and I hope that for the rest of his life, his birthday, it'd be joyous, and you don't have to remember that your father was admitted. Oh, but wait. This is where your renewal began.

His birthday is a day for both of you to celebrate. That's a good way to look at it. I'm looking forward to doing that. You seem hopeful. For the first time, yeah.

It's a strange feeling for me to have. Your trajectory from mayor to lieutenant governor, United States senator, was still pointing up. At 53 in politics, that's a young man. Can you have aspirations? Can you serve beyond the United States Senate? You know, my aspiration is to take my son to the restaurant that we were supposed to go during his birthday but couldn't because I had checked myself in for depression.

And being the kind of dad, the kind of husband, and the kind of senator that Pennsylvania deserves, you know, that's truly, that's what my aspiration is. It's the social media destination for all kinds of entertaining video clips. But is the clock ticking on TikTok?

David Pogue is on the case. TikTok is the most popular app in the United States. 150 million Americans use it every month, almost half the population. TikTok offers an endless scrolling wonderland of humor, music and dancing, tips, information and opinions. It's all short videos posted by fellow TikTok fans and all delivered to you according to your interests. And for about 5 million businesses, TikTok is also a marketing tool. This is the perfect cake party package. It's taught me how to do e-commerce, how to get into shipping, and more than anything, I also use it to find my next customers.

Badri Nicole is the founder of a bakery in Columbus, Ohio. Prior to getting on TikTok, we were struggling even to turn a profit. We've seen at least a 300% increase in profit, and it was a beautiful thing to see. So if Americans love TikTok so much, why has Congress proposed so many bills that could ban TikTok? And in a hearing last month, why did Congress treat TikTok's CEO like this? You damn well know that you cannot protect the data and security of this committee or the 150 million users of your app. Congress has four primary concerns about TikTok.

First, that it's collecting data about you. Second, they worry that kids are addicted, that they're spending too much time on TikTok. Third, they worry about what you can find on TikTok, like misinformation and violence. Of course, all of this so far is also true of Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

So what's the key difference? TikTok has a parent company named ByteDance, and ByteDance is a Chinese company that has to cooperate with the Chinese Communist Party. As parents, I think we would say all social media is not necessarily great for kids, but that is a fundamental distinction in terms of dealing with the TikTok issue. Representatives Raja Krishnamurthy, a Democrat, and Mike Gallagher, a Republican, are co-sponsors of one of the banned TikTok bills.

And their biggest worry is number four. The thing that most concerns me, however, is the ability to control what storylines Americans see or don't see and ultimately influence our elections, which could be catastrophic in the future. There's absolutely no indication that this is in some way manipulated or controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.

We just found that that to be a complete fabrication. Milton Mueller is a professor of cybersecurity and public policy at Georgia Tech. He studied the theory that TikTok's algorithms attempt to influence ideology. You can find information about Uyghur repression. You can find information that ridicules Xi Jinping.

It's all there. In the heat of the battle, both TikTok execs and Congress members sometimes stretch the truth. Take, for example, this business of data collection. TikTok collects nearly every data point imaginable. Do we know what data is being collected? There have been three technical studies done of this, and they basically all say it is exactly what they tell you it is in their privacy statement. Like every social media app, TikTok collects data like your phone model, its internet address, and your time zone. Unlike other apps, TikTok does not know your name or your GPS location.

It knows only your general area, like the town you're in. So where does this all leave us? Gallagher and Krishnamurthy's bill, called the Anti-Social CCP Act, intends to force the issue. It would basically allow for two outcomes in this case. One would be a ban of the app altogether, or it would allow for a sale to an American company. Hasn't somebody in your immediate circle said, guys, banning TikTok will be a political disaster?

I would say allowing this to continue would be a geopolitical disaster, and that to me is far more important than angering some teenagers. So, sell TikTok or ban it? Truth is, selling it might be impossible.

It's worth a lot, but the Chinese Communist Party may object. It asks for banning TikTok. There's probably a 90% chance that that would be ruled unconstitutional.

Because of? The First Amendment. You're banning an information source. You're banning a publication.

I have to emphasize this. If you ban TikTok, it's not the Chinese government that would be silenced. It's the 150 million American users of the app.

Those are the ones whose free speech rights would be violated by a ban. But TikTok is proposing a third option. CEO Chu might have mentioned it a couple times during his testimony.

Project Texas. It's a proposal to move TikTok's entire operation to the U.S. to put all of its data and even those top secret algorithms under the supervision of Oracle, an American company. The bottom line is this. American data stored on American soil by an American company overseen by American personnel. This eliminates the concern that some of you have shared with me, that TikTok user data can be subject to Chinese law.

Congress isn't sold. I still believe that the Beijing communist government will still control and have the ability to influence what you do. Mueller believes that attacking TikTok is an easy way for politicians to look tough on China. TikTok is a symbolic way for these people to attack even the most innocent forms of interaction between the Chinese digital economy and the U.S. digital economy. As for Beidre Nicole, she's become a saved TikTok activist. TikTok even flew her and 25 other fans to Washington to join a rally against the ban. And she has some advice for Congress. After the congressional hearing, it was very clear that you may not have done all of your due diligence that you owe us as your constituents.

You really need to get on the app and have a better understanding of the decisions being made and how it's going to affect the greater good of the people. You've probably heard the name. Pendleton began making its famous wool blankets well over a century ago.

From Connor Knighton, we truly have a cover story. Row by row. Thread by thread. This mill in eastern Oregon has been weaving wool for more than a century. It is quite literally part of the fabric of the community. The town's name, Pendleton, is stitched into every product. Back in the 1880s, 1870s, there were three million sheep in the neighborhood. That's a lot of sheep. Bob Chrisnacht is the executive vice president of sales and marketing for Pendleton Wool and Mills. In the early 1900s, the company was started by the Bishop brothers, who came to town to try their hand at the blanket business. Everything you see in this mill has a story behind it.

And probably two or three stories. It's what makes us so unique is the legacy behind the patterns that we make. Those patterns were designed to appeal to Pendleton's first customers, Native Americans. The relationship may seem like it's just a retail relationship, but it's many more layers.

Bobby Connor is the director of the Tomosculate Cultural Institute, located on the Umatilla Indian Reservation just outside Pendleton. The first recorded interaction in our homeland with Euro-Americans is Lewis and Clark in 1805. We came to know a few other explorers who came in their wake, and then the Hudson's Bay Company set up a trading post in our homeland in 1816. That's where our love of wool was born. Those early companies exchanged what became known as trade blankets.

If you've ever worn a wet leather jacket, you know the difference between the weight of that and the weight of a wool coat. And so wool was durable, worked in more than one season. But it was more than a functional fabric. Native Americans began using prized Pendleton blankets to mark special occasions, a tradition that continues to this day. Many are born to Pendleton, laid to rest in Pendleton, presented a Pendleton as a ceremonial blanket around the bride and groom at an Indian wedding. Whenever a blanket began to show its age, it was given new life. We have been repurposing Pendleton wool forever.

My aunt made, when I was in college, cut up and made Pendleton wool pillows as, you know, sort of keepsakes from home. Of course, part of the reason the blankets originally appealed to Native Americans was that they featured the types of geometric designs that were already common in indigenous art. Something that might have once been presented as borrowing today is talked about in terms of appropriation. Do you see it as appropriation? The idea that I might come and take a picture of something prized and handmade that you wear and turn that into a design without acknowledging the maker, without having a relationship with the person who created it, and then taking that and turn that into a retail product, we would consider disrespectful.

The respectful thing to do is to talk to me and talk about that relationship and what that might be. And that's, I think, what Pendleton in its most recent decades has become, is a purveyor of goods that are created out of relationships with tribal people. Today, Pendleton has added designs made by contemporary Native American artists and has a series of items that's raised over a million dollars for the American Indian College Fund. The business has also expanded far beyond blankets.

We're more of a home business, and that was really important to us. Pendleton CEO John Bishop has been around for over 100 years, is the fifth generation of his family to be involved in the textile industry. Pendleton started making apparel in the 1920s, but it wasn't until the 1960s when one of its plaid shirts really took off, thanks to its unexpected popularity with some Southern California surfers. This is the Beach Boy plaid. It was featured on the album cover of Surfing Safari. Before they became the Beach Boys, the band was briefly named the Pendletons. Surfers used wool to keep warm at the beach. The dude! Who is more relaxed than the dude?

Right? Jeff Bridges wore a Pendleton sweater in the Big Lebowski. Today, the dude sweater is one of the company's top sellers. Like most of Pendleton's apparel, it's manufactured overseas. But the bulk of the blanket business remains in the Pacific Northwest, where some patterns are still created with punch card looms that are decades old. Pendleton's woolen mills are some of the only ones left in a country that once had thousands. Why do you think Pendleton survived when so many other mills went out of business?

Because we have a brand we're selling to consumers directly in the early 80s. There were roughly 25 mills in the U.S. and now there's three of us. All of those mills, you know, they sold to apparel manufacturers.

And the apparel manufacturers, they're still in business because they moved offshore. Still, that American-made product is pricey. A king blanket can go for $500. If you're looking for a blanket, you can find something at a big box store for $20. Why is somebody spending hundreds of dollars on a Pendleton blanket? Well, that cheap blanket at a big box store might be around for a few years and then it's going to be gone.

We're creating legacy products that are going to last generations. For Bobbie Connor, they're a way to connect with family. I have a Pendleton blanket for each of my uncles who's passed away that was given to me either by the uncle during my lifetime or given to me by his family when he passed away. A blanket given to mark a graduation, a marriage, or a death is a way to tell a story. Each one provides a thread to the past.

It's the treasures of your life that represent the people who are important to you. Among tonight's nominees at the Country Music Television Awards, singer-songwriter Brandy Clark, whose work is about to make its debut on Broadway. She's a co-writer, along with Shane McAnally, of a new musical, Years in the Making. Here's Tracy Smith. Oklahoma! Oklahoma! Oklahoma! Oklahoma! Oklahoma! Oklahoma! Who says you can't do a show with country music on Broadway?

You probably know every word of Oklahoma. The Mark Twain musical Big River won seven Tonys, and Annie Get Your Gun was a big ol' hit, especially the country-fied revival with Reba McEntire. And now, a new country-themed musical about corn is ready to pop. Shucked, which opens Tuesday, is that rarest of birds on Broadway, a completely original production.

It's like we have our own little corn hub. Not based on a movie, or really anything else. The show started out as a nod to the old TV show Hee Haw, but after more than ten years and a few complete overhauls, it's ready to stand on its own. It's the story of a small town closed off from society by corn fields, but when the corn starts suddenly dying, one brave soul goes to the big city for help, and a musical happens. I used to be in overalls and curls, but that little girl is a woman of the world.

Caroline Innerbickler is the heroine Maisie, and Alex Newell is her cousin Lulu. When you first heard a musical with country music, what did you think? I think it makes perfect sense, because country music, I've always felt, is the closest thing other than Broadway to Broadway, because it's all about storytelling.

How about you, Alex? Well, baby, you know I don't do country. I've done dance music, I've done Broadway, I've done jazz standards, I've done everything under the umbrella but country music.

And so when I heard this, I was just like, okay. Maybe love is like a sea It helps that the duo behind the music has some pretty impressive credentials. Brandy Clark, who herself grew up in a small town in Washington state, has written hits for the biggest stars in country, and she has an album that she made with Brandy Carlisle coming out soon. We absolutely have to say thank you to the sort of silent co-writers on this song who made this record with us, Brandy Clark and Luke Laird. Shane McAnally is also one of the biggest songwriters in Music City. He's got three Grammys and a slew of other awards, but one of the things he says he cherishes the most is working with Brandy Clark.

Oh God, no. They clicked from the moment they met many, many hit songs ago. And it was like lightning struck, and We weren't even set up to write that day, we just met, and it was boom. It was. What did you see in each other, what did you feel?

I saw myself. Oh, I love that music. Sometimes I call you crazy, sometimes I call you out. Their music is key, but the sound you hear most often at a shut performance is laughter. Kevin Cahoon is Peanut. I think if you could pick up your dog with one hand, you own a cat. I don't know what's gonna happen.

Heck, if I had a crystal ball, I'd probably walk real different. A lot of the jokes are pretty edgy, and it's easy to see why. This scene, it's musical. The book writer, Robert Horn, used to write for a hit show on this very network. If Hugh Hefner truly thinks that being publicly spread-eagled is so fantastic, how come we haven't seen his little wahoo with a staple in the middle? You can kind of sense that there's a little Designing Women in this, yes? There's a little Designing Women in all of us, yes. Back then, his hair was long, and his comedy formula was simple.

I used to say, I'm gonna write it Jewish and you're gonna say it's Southern. That was the joke. And that worked.

It did work, yes. Turns out, some of the cast are fans of that show, too. It was incredible. I mean, Designing Women was formative.

It was appointment television for me every single week. Do you have a favorite line from Designing Women? I mean, it's everybody's favorite line.

Which one? The night the light went out in Georgia. So, Marjorie. And that, Marjorie, just so you will know. And someday your grandchildren will know.

Is the night the lights went out in Georgia. That's funny. Wow. We're fans. I'm independently owned and modulated. And every man that I meet is just as talented.

I will change the way I always will. Two days from now, the lights will be on in New York City. For composers Clark and McInally, it's a beginning and the end of a long and emotional road. What is it like to be there together and see this come to life? We sit together every night through these previews. Alex Newell sings a song called Independently Owned in the middle of the first act.

They received a standing ovation in the middle of the act. I'm a former addict. I have, you know, tried everything that I like many times over. And I just looked at her and said, this is like no high I have ever experienced. A couple of nights ago, I just had this overwhelming feeling. Like I was looking at the barn and Shayna was sitting there and I was like, this is so weird for me to say this to you right now, but I just love you so much. I remember that moment.

I'll never forget it. Because that is how I feel when we're sitting there. It is like even though we're not a couple, it is like we have this child.

And the hope is that their child will be something Broadway and the rest of us could probably use right about now. A freewheeling, knee-slapping bundle of joy. There are a lot of heavy shows and we need heavy shows. We love, we thrive off of heavy shows, but sometimes you just need to do a little laugh and sometimes you just need to let that go and have a guffaw.

We've been inside for so long and we forgot that joy can exist. He's one of our best-selling musicians of all time. A legend in anyone's book. But five years ago, Neil Diamond's life took a challenging turn. Anthony Mason has a story about coming to terms. You wanted to make a musical. Yeah, I think all songwriters and performers have that. Not everybody gets a Broadway show.

Not everybody does. But Neil Diamond has one now. A beautiful noise. The story of a singer who sold more than 130 million records. What was it like for you to go to New York and see the opening? Well, it was kind of like a dream come true because, I mean, literally, it's like, what is happening? And it was absolutely wonderful.

With his wife, Katie, by his side, the 82-year-old Diamond, who's rarely performed since he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, led the crowd in a chorus of Sweet Caroline. At the theater that night, there was a lot of love in the room for you. There was a lot of love, and I felt it. Were you ever getting flashbacks in the middle of the show? I think constantly, from the minute it started.

Like, everything was a flashback. As the show was being developed, Diamond says he told the producers and writers. I wanted Warts and All.

I didn't necessarily love it, Warts and All, but I wanted it. Will Swenson plays the young Neil Diamond, whose Olympian ambition undoes two marriages. Mark Jacoby plays the older Diamond, still haunted by self-doubt. This show is part of my psychotherapy, and it hurt. I didn't like looking at myself in many of the scenes. What part was hardest for you? It all was pretty hard. I was a little embarrassed, I was flattered, and I was scared. What were you scared of?

Being found out is the scariest thing you can hope, because we all have a façade, and the truth be known to all of them. I'm not some big star, I'm just me. I'll be what I am, a solitary man. Just a Jewish kid from Brooklyn who wanted to be a songwriter. The last time you were here was when?

Sometime BC. In 2005, Diamond took us back to the bitter end, the Greenwich Village Club, where the singer got his start. Can I step up on the stage and just see what it feels like to be 25 again?

Yeah. And she loves me, God knows she loves me. Kentucky woman, she get to know you. It was my beginning that was right here. In the 60s, Neil Diamond climbed the charts. In the 70s, he conquered the world. Neil Diamond, go! By the 80s, he was one of its biggest concert draws. In the 90s, no one sold more tickets than the Jewish Elvis.

When we met once more in 2014, he was about to go on the road again. Obviously you don't have to do this, it's just interesting that you want to. I have to. You do? Yeah, I don't want to.

So where does the have to come from then? I have to because if I want to maintain any self... I don't know why I have to. But in January 2018, Diamond revealed he'd been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, a neurological disorder that abruptly ended his touring career. How hard has it been for you to give it up? I still haven't given it up yet.

It's very hard. For the first time since that diagnosis, he talked about facing Parkinson's. In a sense, I was in denial for the first year or two when the doctor told me what it was. I was just not ready to accept it.

I thought, okay, I'll see you whenever you want to see me, but I have work to do, so I'll see you later. His acceptance, he admits, is a work in progress. You're still doing it? I'm still doing it, and I don't like it.

Okay, so this is the hand that God's given me, and I have to make the best of it, and so I am. Was there a moment in that process where you finally did say to yourself, I accept this? I think this has just been in the last few weeks.

Really? But somehow, a calm has moved in in the hurricane of my life, and things have gotten very quiet. As quiet as this recording studio, and I like it. I find that I like myself better, I'm easier on people, I'm easier on myself, and the beat goes on. And it will go on long after I'm gone.

Diamond still regularly comes here to his archangel studio in LA, where the halls are decked with decades worth of awards. I still can sing. Do you need to still sing? Well, I like singing.

I've been doing it for 50 years, and I enjoy it. What happens inside you when you sing? I feel good.

It's like all the systems of my mind and my body are working as one when I'm singing, and it's a great feeling. It's given you a pretty amazing life. I've had a pretty amazing life, it's true. The thing was that I wasn't always able to look back on it and be comfortable with it, smile, feel I was worth it. I think all of that good stuff is starting to come into my life.

Why do you think that is? Well, I can't really fight this thing, so I had to accept it, this Parkinson's disease. There's no cure, there's no getting away from it, you can't just say, okay, enough already, let's get back to life. It doesn't work like that, but I've come to accept what limitations I have and still have great days. Great days like an opening night.

Thank you so much. I just have to take life as it comes to me, enjoy it, be thankful that I've had it, especially having the life that I've had. For Neil Diamond, a life worthy of a Broadway musical. What does it mean to you?

Well, to paraphrase Sally Field, they like me, they really like me. Jews the world over will celebrate Passover later this week, complete with recipes passed down for generations. Lee Cowan has a tale of survival that's a blessing indeed. Amidst the rich culinary landscape of New Orleans, you find a restaurant named Saba, which means grandfather in Hebrew. Its owner, Israeli chef, Alan Shai, has been winning awards for his modern Middle Eastern cuisine.

How's everything tasting so far, guys? Which is a bit odd, perhaps, given that when he first emigrated from Israel at the age of four, his roots were something he'd hoped to erase. I spent so much of my life trying to hide my Israeli identity.

You know, at the age of four and five years old, the last thing you want to do is talk to them about this chickpea fritter that you're bringing to school when they're eating tater tots. In culinary school, instead of hummus and pita, Shai went full Italian. Pastas, charcuterie, and pizzas were his passions, until that is in his mid-thirties, when on a trip back to Israel, the dishes of his youth whispered anew.

I realized that I was really missing out on a part of who I was, and I started cooking Israeli food again and felt like I really began understanding what my identity was as a chef. So this is cholent. It's a stew that's typically made on Shabbat.

Ever since. Sometimes they'll put wheat in a cholent, but this one doesn't have any, so it is kosher for Passover. He's been marinating in Israeli ingredients and their history, which one day brought him here to perhaps an unlikely place for a chef, the archives of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. I was just blown away by how during one of the most horrible moments in someone's life that they could turn to food and that food would have that power. He was both hardened and disturbed to learn that during the Holocaust, those forced into Jewish ghettos and concentration camps would write down family recipes, not to cook, but to remember. Because it reminded you of home.

It reminded me of pleasure in this lousy place where you were not a human. Stephen Fenves was 13 when his train arrived at Auschwitz in 1944. All the tangible evidence of his life before had been ripped away, or so he thought. How fragile is it?

The text block is actually pretty sturdy. To his surprise, after he and his sister were liberated from Auschwitz, this appeared in his mother's recipe book. Fenves Estera, my sister signed it. When Shaya discovered it in the basement of the Holocaust Museum's collections, he had one big question. So you mean that I could actually, like, talk to the person who remembers eating this food?

And I said, yeah, well maybe we can put you guys in touch. How that book survived is just one of those stories. The Fenves family lived an upper-middle class life in the former Yugoslavia. They employed a maid, a chauffeur, a governess, and a cook named Marish.

Big woman. Very thick Hungarian accent. On the day looters stormed into the Fenves home as they were being let off, presumably to the gas chambers, Marish, who wasn't Jewish, raced in to save the family cookbook. For reasons Stephen still doesn't totally understand.

I think it's just a sense of loyalty and sense of love of the family. Pretty brave thing to do. Very brave thing to do. What was the risk to her?

Everything was punishable by death. That's my mother. Such a beautiful picture. When Alon Shaya heard that story, he was so moved that he set about recreating the taste of Stephen's childhood. The recipes in this book aren't written like recipes like you would see in a cookbook today. So it's not like a half a teaspoon of this.

No, no. Like imagine your grandmother teaching you how to make a dish, you know, a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Essentially no heat setting instructions because this was all done on a cast iron stove.

I don't have that setting on my stove. There were potato circles, a walnut cream cake, and a dish that looks an awful lot like a fish stick, but isn't. He began translating the recipes from Hungarian to English, and I began cooking the food and shipping the food to him to taste for the first time in over 70 years. Would you like some mustard?

Yeah, just a tiny bit. Stephen's family got involved. In the process, Fenves rediscovered a painful personal connection to his story that he says had gotten lost over the years. I had become such a chore, I no longer broke into tears in my presentation.

It just became so routine, so cold. But somehow, Shaya's revival of his mother's cooking reminded him of all that was lost. He, frankly speaking, he got me out of a major slump in my duty to speak as a volunteer survivor. How did he get you out of your slump? Made it new, made it interesting, and made it moving.

One of the first recipes that I wanted to make... Together, these newfound friends now host donor dinners, where his mother's dishes are served, and Stephen speaks. We were separated at Auschwitz.

So far, they've raised more than $300,000 for Holocaust conservation efforts. The effect of it on me was very, very pronounced. Childhood food, you know, right? It seemed to have been something tangential that went by the way with lots of other things that went by the way. So that's it. It survived pretty well, given all that it's been through. Yeah. And you.

Yeah, barely. Oh wow, look at that. Passover is about the imperative to remember, both the good and the bad. Alon Shaya offered that gift through food, and because of it... 9 out of 10 in that picture died in Auschwitz. Stephen Fenves has a renewed mission to tell the terrible tale that must be told. That's a very sad picture to see. Thank you for listening. Please join us when our trumpet sounds again next Sunday morning. Thank you for listening.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-02 16:25:05 / 2023-04-02 16:42:22 / 17

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