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Tom Brokaw, Rock Hudson, Owls

CBS Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley
The Truth Network Radio
June 25, 2023 3:00 pm

Tom Brokaw, Rock Hudson, Owls

CBS Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley

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June 25, 2023 3:00 pm

Hosted by Jane Pauley. In our cover story, David Pogue explores the tragedy of the OceanGate submersible Titan, whose five passengers were lost while diving to the site of the Titanic. Also: Jane Pauley interviews Tom Brokaw about his new book, "Never Give Up"; Anthony Mason talks with Paul Simon about his new album, "Seven Psalms," and about his hearing loss; Tracy Smith examines the public and private lives of actor Rock Hudson, subject of a new HBO documentary; Lee Cowan sits down with acclaimed singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams; and Conor Knighton explores the secret world of owls.

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That's W-O-N-D-E-R-Y-P-O-D. slash wonderypod or text wonderypod to 500-500 to try Audible for free for 30 days. Good morning. I'm Jane Pauley, and this is Sunday Morning. This past week, as the world watched anxiously on, we followed a desperate multinational search for the submersible Titan, lost with five people on board. On a voyage to view the remains of the Titanic at the bottom of the Atlantic, we now know about its unhappy fate. Last summer, our David Pogue boarded the very same submersible in hopes of seeing the legendary wreck for himself. His report now seems to be eerily prescient, in some ways foreshadowing this past week's tragedy. This morning, he looks back and helps us assess.

These are the weights that we would drop, the emergency weights. Stockton Rush was piloting his custom-built submersible to the Titanic last Sunday when it imploded, killing him and four others aboard. The tragedy shouldn't have happened in the first place. Rush isn't here to answer questions, but during our visit last summer, he seemed to anticipate many of the critiques. If you're innovating, you're breaking things, by definition.

You're taking it to, finding out what the limit is. Coming up on Sunday morning, Stockton Rush, you're still going to be safe, in his own words. Paul Simon first started making music with his buddy, Art Garfunkel, in the 1950s, and he's still writing after all these years. Anthony Mason catches up with Paul Simon at home on the range. Paul Simon thought he was done writing songs. Then he had a dream. The dream said, you're working on a piece called Seven Songs. Did you ask yourself, where is this coming from?

I don't even know if I want to know. Paul Simon's new music from his new ranch in Texas, later on Sunday morning. In the Hollywood of his days, he was without question a giant. Tracy Smith looks back on the legacy of Rock Hudson, his triumphs, and his trials. Screen legend, Rock Hudson, did a lot of wooing over his decades long career. But as we learn in a new documentary, off camera, things were more complicated.

We were ordered never to have our picture taken together because somebody would know that we were gay. Rock Hudson's greatest role, in a sense, was playing Rock Hudson. The many lives of Rock Hudson ahead on Sunday morning. On this first weekend of summer, Connor Knighton looks at efforts to protect the owl struggling to survive in an ever more crowded world. I'll talk with my friend and colleague, legendary broadcaster, Tom Brokaw. Lee Cowan catches up with the woman who some consider to be America's best songwriter, Lucinda Williams. Opinion from author Wesley Lowery.

And more this Sunday morning, June 25th, 2023. And we'll be back after this. Achieving optimal mental health is a journey. Cerebral is here to help you find a trusted care team. We make your commitment to better mental health easy, completely online, personalized matching with licensed and credentialed therapists and prescribers, and schedule appointments that are flexible on your time. Cerebral's strong start package allows you to save up to $160 when you buy two or four months of care in advance, depending on plan selection. Let's do this together.

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Taxes and other fees still apply. Music Catastrophic implosion. The unthinkable became all too real this past week as we learned of the fate of undersea explorer Stockton Rush's Titan submersible on its way to the Atlantic grave of the Titanic.

The questions the second guessing, David Pogue tells us, are likely to continue for a long time to come. Last summer, a company called Ocean Gate invited Sunday morning to join an expedition to the Titanic. At the time, I was thrilled.

Next time I come out of this doorway, I'll either be a changed man forever or cursing the bad weather. As the whole world knows now, Ocean Gate's business was taking adventure seekers on these Titanic dives. We're sitting on the Titanic.

We are on the Titanic. For $250,000 a ticket on a one-of-a-kind carbon fiber submersible called the Titan. Carbon fiber is a great material. It's better than titanium.

It's better than a lot of other materials. This is Stockton Rush, the CEO of Ocean Gate and the designer of the sub. Last Sunday, as he was piloting the sub to the Titanic, it imploded, killing him and his four passengers.

We spent nine days at sea with Rush last summer, and in wake of the tragic news, we thought you might like to see more of what we saw and hear more of what Stockton Rush said. The Titan wasn't like any previous deep-sea submersible. There was no dashboard, just a touchscreen computer and a single power button. We only have one button. That's it.

Wait a minute. I've seen submersibles, and they are banks of controls, like cockpit after cockpit. Exactly.

And this is to other submersibles what the iPhone was to the Blackbird. But many of its components seemed surprisingly cheap. For views outside the sub, he had installed store-bought security cameras. As for the ceiling lights...

I got these from Camper World. Then there was the steering unit. We run the whole thing with this game controller.

Come on! So it seems like a lot of the way you made this is by taking off-the-shelf parts and sort of MacGyvering them together. Yeah. Pretty much. Does that not raise anybody's eyebrows in the industry? Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

No, I'm definitely an outlier. There were a lot of rules out there that didn't make engineering sense to me. Everyone I know keeps asking me the same question.

Why would you get on that dangerous sub? Well, first of all, Stockton Rush had the credentials. He majored in aerospace engineering at Princeton. He designed and flew his own airplanes. He'd designed previous submersibles.

Second, he was emphatic that the important parts of the Titan were rock solid. Like the carbon fiber body, for which NASA served as a consultant. There are certain things that you want to be buttoned down. And that's the pressure vessel. Once the pressure vessel is you're certain it's not going to collapse on everybody, everything else can fail. Your thrusters can go. Your lights can go.

You're still going to be safe. Third, I was convinced by an expert, P.H. Nargelay, the veteran deep-sea explorer who also perished in the Titan. Over the years, he'd been to the Titanic more than just about anyone. How many times have you been? With the last dive, 37 times.

You've been to the Titanic 37 times? Yes. I was in charge of one, two, three, four, five, five subs. How different is the Titan from those other subs? Completely different.

Most of them, you have a sphere. Was there never a point when you wondered about the safety of the sub at that depth? No. Two or three years ago, I had a phone call with Stockton and he explained to me that he was doing a lot of tests. He showed me some of the ways they were building the stuff. I said, okay, that's fine.

That's fine. No problem to dive in the sub. I was also impressed by the sub's seven redundant systems for returning to the surface. These are roll weights. We can actually roll the sub and those come off. That gains us some buoyancy to come back to the surface. These triple weights, we call them, are hydraulically driven.

Expedition manager Kyle Bingham. Underneath this tray hang these bags. We're at around 35 pounds. And those hang down there. A typical dive will have eight of them. We can also use our thrusters. We have enough power to thrust back up. And then under this last fairing here, we have our variable ballast tank or soft ballast. It's an air bladder that we use a big 10,000 PSI air tank that's under the tail to fill that up, fill it with air, and then it helps bring us to the surface. There were even sandbags that detach automatically after about 16 hours, even if everyone inside had passed out.

Their connectors would dissolve in seawater. So you have a backup of a backup of a backup of a backup of a backup. Correct. All stations are reporting the dive is a go.

Please stand by. Finally, the crew seemed to foster a culture of safety. There were checklists, inspections before and after every dive, and a three strikes rule. If three things seemed out of the ordinary, no matter how minor, they'd cancel the dive. I learned that the hard way on our own dive. We're in the water. We're floating. At this point, divers are supposed to detach the sub from its launch platform. So apparently those floats there came off the platform and that wasn't supposed to happen. So we're scrubbing? Yeah, I think that's the consensus up here.

Copy that. I never did see the Titanic, and I wasn't unusual. In Ocean Gate's first two summers of Titanic operations, it spent a total of 50 days floating above the shipwreck site. But because of waves, bad weather, and malfunctions, the Titan actually made it to the Titanic only 12 times.

But through it all, Stockton Rush defended his unconventional approach. Anything when you're trying something outside the box, people inside the box think you're nuts. Same thing when Elon Musk was doing SpaceX.

Inside the box, everything's scary. But as early as 2018, there was concern about the Titan's design. A former employee says that when he raised safety concerns, Rush fired him. That same year, a group of submersible engineers urged Rush to seek certification of the Titan by a safety agency.

Rush declined, saying that regulation would stifle innovation. At some point, safety just is pure waste. I mean, if you just want to be safe, don't get out of bed, don't get in your car, don't do anything. At some point, you're going to take some risk, and it really is a risk-reward question. I said, I think I can do this just as safely by breaking the rules. So, Captain McLaren, have you spent much time in submarines?

David, my total time under the water, divorced from the outside atmosphere, is a little over five and three-quarters years. No kidding. Fact. Retired U.S. Navy submarine captain Alfred McLaren is not impressed by Ocean Gate's innovations. I mean, would you fly in an airplane that somebody excitedly tells you, well, it's going to be a lot cheaper because we found a new way of attaching the wings.

Yeah, right. He theorizes that the Titan failed not because it was made of carbon fiber, but because it was made of three dissimilar materials. Carbon fiber, titanium, and plexiglass for the porthole. When you have different materials, different molecular structure, they have different coefficients of expansion and compression, and then you make repeated cycles in depth, of course you're going to work that seal loose. And that's why submarines don't run around with any portholes at all, come to think of it.

It's a weak point. I think there's a great, almost surreal irony here, which is Titanic sank because the captain took it full steam into an ice field at night, on a moonless night with very poor visibility, after he had been repeatedly warned by telegram, by Marconigram. In an interview with Anderson Cooper, filmmaker and veteran Titanic diver James Cameron pointed out a sad parallel between Stockton Rush and the captain of the Titanic. The arrogance and the hubris that sent that ship to its doom is exactly the same thing that sent those people in that sub to their fate. The world mourns the loss of Stockton Rush, P.H.

Narsale, and their three passengers, British billionaire Hamish Harding, Pakistani businessman Jazada Dawood, and his son Suleiman. Already there's talk of restrictions and regulations and lawsuits. Will the Ocean Gate disaster mean fewer people going adventuring? Well, every year people do die skydiving and scuba diving and climbing Mount Everest, tragic every time, and yet people still keep coming. Some people just have that itch. For them, danger is the point. The risk of dying gives meaning to living.

I think Stockton Rush was among them. I wanted to be sort of the Captain Kirk. I didn't want to be the passenger in the back. And I realized that the ocean is the universe. That's where life is. Pull out your phone and in just a few taps, you can search, chat, and book highly rated pros right in your neighborhood. Plus, you'll know what to tackle next because Thumbtack is the app that shows you what to do, who to hire, and when. So say goodbye to all those unfinished home projects and say hello to caring for your home the easier way.

Download Thumbtack and start a project today. Is this thing on? Check one, two, one, two. Hey, y'all. I'm Keke Palmer. I'm an actress, a singer, an entrepreneur, and a Virgo, just to name a few. Now, I've held so many occupations over the years that my fans lovingly nicknamed me Keke Keep a Bag Palmer.

And trust me, I keep a bag, love. But if you ask me, I'm just getting started and there's so much I still want to do. So I decided I want to be a podcast host. I'm proud to introduce you to the Baby This is Keke Palmer podcast.

I'm putting my friends, family, and some of the dopest experts in the hot seat to ask them the questions that have been burning in my mind. What would former child stars be if they weren't actors? What happened to sitcoms? Is OnlyFans only bad? I want to know, so I ask my mom about it.

These are the questions that keep me up at night, but I'm taking these questions out of my head and I'm bringing them to you. Because on Baby This is Keke Palmer, no topic is off limits. Follow Baby This is Keke Palmer wherever you get your podcasts. Hey Prime members, you can listen early and ad-free on Amazon Music.

Download the Amazon Music app today. For owls these days, wisdom isn't enough. Because outsmarting climate change and habitat loss is no small challenge.

Connor Knighton introduces us to a man who spent a lifetime trying to help. This sprawling site near Hermiston, Oregon was once an active army depot. Built in 1941, it eventually became known as the Umatilla Chemical Depot. Deadly agents like sarin gas were housed in rows of concrete bunkers you can still see from the air. But you have to be at ground level to notice all of the burrows. This land is home to around 50 pairs of burrowing owls. They have to have burrows for protection and for nesting. Their life revolves around burrows. David H. Johnson's life revolves around owls.

He claims he didn't have much say in the matter. I didn't pick owls, they picked me. When Johnson was just 11 years old, an eastern screech owl landed on the edge of his tent and he was captivated. We're going to set two traps out here. Today, he's the director of the Global Owl Project. There are two important days in your life.

The day you're born and the day you find out why. I'm here to help owls in conservation of the planet and the people that I care about. Unlike most owl species, which nest in trees, burrowing owls live underground. Often in holes left behind by other creatures like badgers or prairie dogs.

Or humans. To restore this land's dwindling owl population, Johnson has been creating and installing artificial burrows here since 2008. You can tell it's a male because a female would have this really huge brood patch. It's given him an opportunity to study the owls. Banding them, recording their vocalizations, tracking migrations with small locator devices. The science of owls is just vast and fascinating. We've been studying these birds for a very long time, but it's really only recently that we've had the kind of advances in technology, the breakthroughs that have allowed us to solve some of the mysteries that have been around for centuries. Author Jennifer Ackermann included Johnson's research in her new book, What an Owl Knows. Wood ducks are falling in over here.

They just splash down. I met up with Ackermann at an owl prowl in Indiana, where owl enthusiasts spend an evening wandering around in the darkness, looking and listening for the elusive creatures. Did y'all hear the barred owl? It's this combination of the strange and the familiar that I think makes people just obsess about owls. And we have been obsessing as a species about owls for tens of thousands of years. More than 30,000 years ago, this owl portrait was scratched into the wall of France's Chauvet Pont d'Arc cave. More recently, owls have popped up in everything from Tootsie Pop commercials... How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Paw?

Let's find out. Harry Potter. Have I? Right, smart bird you got there, Mr. Potter. Humans have a great imagination, and we've projected on owls in all kinds of different ways.

You know, someone's going to get sick or die, or they have wisdom. You know, they're just owls, and they're doing what they do best. For the past decade, Johnson has been studying how cultures all across the world view owls. Are they wise spirits, or are they eerie messengers of death?

Through the Global Owl Project, his team has conducted around 6,000 interviews in 28 countries, talking to residents about their beliefs and documenting examples of owl imagery. Owls are mysterious. When you see an owl, you realize the owl's been watching you for quite a while already. And it kind of gives you the heebie-jeebies, because like, you know, I'm just seeing this now, and it's been watching me the whole time. So that scares some people.

We're going to put this on. For Andrew Wildbill, wildlife manager with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the burrowing owl holds a special significance. These burrowing owls are highly important to our tribal culture, and we recognize them as being a very important animal in this ecosystem.

The army recently transferred thousands of acres of the former depot back to the tribes. The owls are thriving once again on this site, and Johnson is handing off his research project to the tribes as well. He's fighting stage 4 colon cancer and needs to focus on his treatment. All right. Around the leg.

Close to the chest. Oh, wow. Hey, buddy. But he's going to keep fighting for owls. There are more than 260 species found all across the globe. I wish I could do as much as I could for everything on earth.

Yeah, I can't. What I can do is I can help owls. I'm going to work with owls until my last breath.

I'm going to work with owls until my last breath. Tom Brokaw is among our most illustrious broadcast journalists. He's a colleague, a friend, and truly a witness to our times. Life in the streets of Beijing. He would never have imagined biking through Tiananmen Square.

Only one passing bicyclist seemed to know what we were up to. For 20 years, Tom Brokaw was at the helm of NBC Nightly News, delivering the news of the day. And we have a remarkable development here tonight at the Brandenburg Gate. And sometimes the news of a lifetime.

The wall is effectively down. That was one of the biggest stories of the 20th century, and I was the only one there. The only one of the big three. Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw.

And we were competing all day, every day. This is NBC Nightly News. And then facing off. With Tom Brokaw in New York.

Every night. President Reagan today. Colleagues still call him Duncan. Duncan the wonder horse for his vaunted capacity for work. Never give up could explain where that comes from.

Brokaw's latest book is a hybrid, memoir and history. A kind of love letter to his parents, and the hardworking people of the Plains who shared a never-give-up outlook. Is this the story of your success compared to your parents? Or because of your parents?

Oh, it's because of my parents. This is Tom Brokaw's dad. He was the toughest kid in town. If a character had been invented by Mark Twain and Charles Dickens, it would have been Red Brokaw. An elementary school dropout.

A town tough. I don't think anybody tucked him in at night. The youngest of ten, Red Brokaw had a learning disability, quit school in second grade, and went to work at the age of eight. He was doing horrifyingly dangerous jobs. One of them was digging a deep well, and they would put a rope around my dad's legs and drop him down head first into the well. In those times, nobody batted an eye when your father is on some kind of agricultural contraption, and if he had fallen off his perch, he would have been shredded. There were no rules in those days, and if there were federal regulation, they didn't get all the way to Bristol, South Dakota, I gotta tell you.

After the Civil War, like other ambitious young men, Tom's great-grandfather went west and got off the train in Bristol. What opportunity did he think he would find in the middle of... Nowhere.

Nowhere. It was completely barren at that point, and he decided what it really needed. It was a place where people could find food and find a place to stay. Over the years, the Brokaw House became a local landmark. A family business, everyone worked.

Oyster stew and coleslaw, boiled lamb, duck, roast beef, roast turkey, mashed potatoes, peas, squash, steamed suet pudding, that sounds delicious, mince pie, apple pie, custard pie, blueberry pie, orange pudding, a sorted cake. Mrs. Brokaw was in the kitchen and made it all. My grandmother unfortunately died at an early age.

She was only 42 because she just worked full-time. Throughout his life, it seems Red Brokaw worked all the time. He wanted to be respected. He wanted the people to think well of him. Your parents on their wedding day.

How more handsome can they be? Tom's interest in news gathering may have come from his mother, Jean. A working mother, she was the local postmistress. It was like being the head of a newspaper in town.

Everything went through the post office. Red Brokaw was as self-made as a working man could be, a genius with heavy machinery, and he could build anything. Harnessing the Missouri River, the first power comes from the fourth largest earth dam in the world, Fort Randall. A muscular monument to a confident post-war America, the Fort Randall Dam stands astride the Missouri River, built in nine years by the Army Corps of Engineers and an army of working men like Red Brokaw. I think of that dam, and if you build it, they will come.

It was a hugely important dam for flood control and other things and for creating power. And jobs. The Brokaw family packed up and headed for Pickstown. Pickstown sounds like a mirage. Pickstown was a magical place, and it had everything you can imagine. It had great schools, it had great hospitals, and everybody came from all over America, mostly working class. Pickstown was a manufactured town for the people who would build the dam, who found neat houses with state-of-the-art amenities like heat and running water.

And at the end of the nine years, they folded it up and shipped it away. The story of Tom Brokaw's success begins in Pickstown. When there was a school play, I had a lead. When there was an event that was going on in town in which they needed an emcee, guess who they called? Yankton, South Dakota, is what Tom calls home. His high school resume includes governor of South Dakota Boys State, class president.

Meredith Auld was vice president, a cheerleader, the doctor's daughter, and his future wife. You've been married for how long? Sixty years, 6-0, a 6 and an 0. When she was about to marry you, she explains to a friend, well, I don't know if we'll make any money, but life will be interesting. Right.

Beyond their dreams. In 1976, Tom's career was taking off. That is Dawn coming up over New York this morning. The new host of today.

There is a welcome new addition to this set, a kind of Dawn in itself. It is Jane Hawley, of course. With a really new newcomer by his side. I knew Gary before he met you. Meredith was a matchmaker.

I knew he was showing up at my office a lot. Meredith says, not about you. He wants to meet Jane.

I said, oh. Well, on behalf of my children, thank you. You're going to go see the grandson play soccer. Sarah and I and Archer will be looking around Madrid, and then he goes to camp.

The Brokaw's dote on their three daughters and five grandchildren. It's a commentary on where we've come in life. We now have a grandson who's going away to a soccer camp in Europe. It seems unimaginable from our early life. Oh, I know. Ten years ago, life took a hard turn. Diagnosed with multiple myeloma and incurable blood cancer. Tom Brokaw wasn't supposed to live to be 83.

But Duncan is still the wonder horse. I've had a bad experience. I kept thinking bad things would happen to me. But as I grew older, I began to develop this condition.

And what you try to do is control it as much as you can. And I've had to change my life in some way. I really had to give up my daily activity within BC. I had to walk away from them as they were walking away from me. I just wasn't the same person. So for the first time in my life, I was kind of out there, you know, in a place I had never been in my life. But what a life it's been. You were deeply formed by your South Dakota roots. You left, but what did you take with you? That you get things done by getting them done.

It is my family and my friends who will all tell you I never run out of gas. Well, I am just a poor girl in my space and time. I've squandered my resistance for a pocket full of mumbles such all promises. Paul Simon singing one of his many classics, The Boxer. Simon has won 16 Grammys over his 65-year-long career. With Anthony Mason, he reflects on a life in music. Five years ago, Paul Simon said he was finished writing songs. But he couldn't stop. To write a line that you like and just one second before it didn't exist, you get like a big dopamine splash in your brain and you love it.

And that's why you keep doing it because it's addictive. Good morning, Mr. Indonesia. What do you write with? Mostly I write in my head, but when I'm starting to write it down, it's a yellow legal pad. I have all of it. From Graceland on, I have all of that stuff. All the yellow legal pads?

Yeah. Lately, Simon's been working on his ranch here in the Lone Star State. A lot of people would not have imagined that a boy from Queens would end up in Texas Hill Country.

Well, you have to marry a girl from Texas. He and his wife, the singer Edie Brickell, moved here recently. His latest solo album, Seven Songs, was recorded in his cabin studio. The title came to him in a dream. The dream said you're working on a piece called Seven Songs. He got up and wrote it down on a legal pad. When something as vivid as that happens, what do you make of it? Since it came to me in a dream with someone or something telling me to do this, I said, well, look, it's not my idea anyway, so I'll just wait till there's clarification of what I'm supposed to do.

Clarification? Yeah, it did come as guitar pieces. The words would come later, again, in dreams. I would start to wake up two or three times a week between 3.30 and 5 in the morning and words would come.

I'd write them down and then start to put it together. The Lord is my engineer. The Lord is the earth I ran on.

The Lord is the face in the atmosphere. Its creation was captured in the forthcoming documentary, In Restless Dreams. Did you ask yourself as this was happening, where is this coming from?

I don't even know if I want to know. It's just, it's there. I'm grateful for it. It's been there most of my life. People writing songs that voices never share. When I wrote The Sound of Silence and I was 23 years old, that was probably the same kind of phenomenon. But at the time I just thought, oh, this is kind of my best song at the moment, you know. And the same thing with Bridge Over Troubled Water, where I thought, hmm, better than my usual.

This is good. And pain is all around, oh, just like a bridge over trouble. He experienced that again with Graceland. Oh, in Graceland, in Graceland. Which he performed in a surprise appearance last summer at the Newport Folk Festival.

I cannot explain but some part of me wants to see Graceland. But Simon says he may not be able to play live much longer. He's losing his hearing. When did it start? About two years ago, two and a half years ago. And what did you notice? I started to lose a hearing in my left ear and at this moment it's, I think, 8% hearing in that ear. Really? Yeah, it's upsetting, yeah. It must be.

I can still hear well enough to play guitar and write, but I can't hear well enough to play with five or six musicians. Maybe that's fine. Maybe there's something to be learned from that. What do you think that would be?

I have to see what it is. Acceptance of, you know, less. That's life, you know.

People have a lot worse than this. I imagine that must be a complicated conversation that you've had to go through in your own head. It is. And you probably feel different about it different days. No, I feel pretty much the same about it, which is like, you know, I'm just not happy about it. Do you think that might be kind of your last big performance? Well, I hope not. I hope not. I really wanted to perform the Seven Psalms.

I haven't given up hope, but I'm prepared to accept that I might not be able to. Seven Psalms is a haunting 33-minute meditation on belief that some have interpreted as the singer wrestling with his own mortality. But Simon insists he isn't. Of course, I'm 81 years old, of course I think about it, but I mean, is it pressing on me?

No, it's not. He has taken note of how his songs are aging. Some of the songs, they're still good.

Mmm, poor boy, story seldom told, squander's existence, for a pocket full of mumbles, such are promises. Does the meaning of songs over time ever change for you? It does change. You touch the sound of silence. The Sound of Silence, the way I performed it at Newport, is a very different song than The Sound of Silence, the way that was a number one record in 1966. It's aged into another feeling and another meaning. Do you think about your legacy at all?

No. Not important. What would you like for your music, I guess? I feel about the music is like, if it lives, it deserves it. If not, it's discarded and the culture goes to another source of nourishment.

You could be disappointed personally, but the culture doesn't care. But the artist in Paul Simon can't stop creating. I just started to write recently. You've started again? Yeah, I've written two songs. As long as I can write and sing, I'll make records, even if it's just for myself.

I make the flirty eye at you. For all appearances, Rock Hudson seemed to be central casting for the Hollywood heartthrob. But as we now know, there was so much more to his story. Tracy Smith looks back at the life and legacy of Rock Hudson. A Hollywood producer once called him Prince Charming. Can't you see it's impossible? No. This is the only thing that matters.

Fitting nickname for a man whose life seemed, for most of it, like a storybook. Well, hello. I'm an inspector.

What would you like to inspect? You. Rock Hudson started steaming up the screen in the 1950s and continued for nearly four decades in more than 60 films. I'd like to kiss you.

That's even easier than dancing. But today, he's perhaps overlooked, says documentary director Steven Kayak. Why do you think his name is not up there with the James Deans and the Marilyn Monroe's?

I don't know, you know? I think it's partly because the legacy ends up just being, oh, Rock Hudson was that actor who died of AIDS. The Rock was an icon. He was by far the biggest star in Hollywood.

Not only did women say, that's the man I want to marry, many men said, that's the man I'd like to be. But now, in his new HBO documentary, All That Heaven Allowed, Kayak explores Rock Hudson's whole life as a global star and closeted gay man, talking to friends like Ken Jilson. Our social life with him was very private. I mean, we didn't go out to restaurants.

We would go to the Rock's house. It was called The Castle. Yes, Prince Charming really did call his home The Castle, a Beverly Hills mansion that must have seemed a million miles away from Winnetka, Illinois, where Hudson grew up as Roy Fitzgerald.

I could never freely say I'm going to be an actor when I grow up because that's sissy stuff. He comes from a very modest background. Biographer Mark Griffin says when Roy from Illinois met notorious Hollywood agent Henry Wilson, the first thing he did was change his name to a manly Rock Hudson.

And then you have to groom the person to match the name, as it were. And Rock really was Henry Wilson's most successful creation by far. He molded him into exactly what America was looking for. Yeah, perfect archetype for American masculinity at that time.

It's been so much too long. He was paired with the biggest stars, Jane Wyman in Magnificent Obsession. Hello? Morning, Miss Mara.

And three movies with Doris Day, starting with Pillow Talk. Look, I don't know what's bothering you, but don't take your bedroom problems out on me. I have no bedroom problems.

There's nothing in my bedroom that bothers me. Oh, that's too bad. In real life, Hudson was dating men, like Lee Garlington. We were ordered never to have our picture taken together because somebody would know that we were gay. Hudson even married his agent's secretary, Phyllis Gates.

It lasted just three years, but Hudson's commitment to playing straight never faltered. And friends like Doris Day kept his secret. Many, many people would ask me, you know, is Rock Hudson really gay?

And I said, it's something that I will not discuss. I mean, first of all, I know nothing about his private life. Hudson's career evolved.

Allow me to finish my champagne. From movies to TV, including the hit 70s series Macmillan and Wife. But in the 80s, his life collided with the emerging AIDS epidemic. I was asked to see a celebrity patient, Rock Hudson, and determined in fact that he did have AIDS. I guided him as best I could. It was still the dark ages, and so everyone was afraid. There was a lot of fear. There was a lot of denial. And I think his way of coping was just to keep working and to deny that anything was wrong. Because no one knew in those days.

Nobody knew what was going to happen. As his health worsened, Hudson took on one last role with one last leading lady, Linda Evans on Dynasty. As the documentary tells it, his diagnosis was still a secret to everyone, including her. He was so much thinner and didn't look like he felt good. At a time when some feared that kissing could transmit the virus that causes AIDS, the script called for just that.

They wanted it to be passionate, and it didn't end up being that. How was he kissing you? Very timidly.

Very unromantically. And I knew he knew how to kiss passionately. And that's why I was surprised. He's a fine actor. He knows what he's doing.

So it was confusing. Tonight, David Dow reports another case of AIDS has been confirmed, affecting the most well-known victim yet. But on July 25, 1985, it became clear, with a publicist's announcement from Paris, where Hudson had gone for treatment. Mr. Rock Hudson has acquired immune deficiency syndrome, which was diagnosed over a year ago in the United States. How famous was he? One press conference announcing that Rock Hudson has AIDS, and in about five minutes, it's a worldwide news story. It's on every newspaper, every news program.

It's the lead. I was just devastated for him. And then, in thinking back, I felt very strongly that he kissed me like that to protect me.

Nobody knew, but they said kissing could be one of the ways that you could catch it, possibly. And the thing that was so hard, so hard, was the press was so brutal with him after that. And they didn't realize what he was going through.

Returning from Paris was its own ordeal. He's actually forced, if you can believe it, to charter, at the expense of $250,000, a chartered 747, which would fly him back to America, essentially home to die, as it were, because no commercial flights at that time would willingly accept even an A-list celebrity who was dying of AIDS. Back in the castle, on his deathbed, he was comforted by his dear friend, Elizabeth Taylor. And everyone was maintaining a very polite distance. And Taylor, quite admirably, said, well, this is ridiculous.

And she crawled into bed with him and cuddled with him and hugged him as though, kind of a little bit of a maternal gesture. Elizabeth Taylor became a leader in the fight against AIDS. And, Griffin says, Rock Hudson played a vital role. Because everyone knew Rock Hudson, now everyone in the world knew somebody who had AIDS.

And suddenly, there was public interest. So is it fair to say that there was AIDS before Rock Hudson, AIDS after Rock Hudson? It was Rock's own physician who said Rock Hudson was the single most influential AIDS patient in history because he changed the way that the disease was perceived.

Rock Hudson died at age 59 on October 2, 1985. Just a few weeks earlier, he'd sent a note to be read aloud at an AIDS fundraiser. I am not happy that I am sick. I am not happy that I have AIDS.

But if that is helping others, I can at least know my own misfortune has had some positive worth. Journalist Wesley Lowery's new book is called American White Lash. His thoughts this morning about the recent surge in white supremacist violence. Of all the newspapers that I've come across in bookstores and vintage shows, I have to say that it's been a great honor for me to be here.

It's been a great honor for me to be here. Of all the newspapers that I've come across in bookstores and vintage shops, one of my most cherished is a copy of the April 9, 1968 edition of the now-defunct Chicago Daily News. It's a 12-page special section that they published after the death of Martin Luther King Jr. The second to last page contains a searing column by Mike Royko, one of the city's and country's most famed writers.

King was executed by a firing squad that numbered in the millions, Royko wrote. The man with the gun did what he was told. Millions of bigots, subtle and obvious, put it in his hand and assured him he was doing the right thing. We live in a time of disruption and racial violence. We've lived through generational events.

I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear. The historic election of a black president. The rise of a new civil rights movement.

Black lives matter! Census forecasts that tell us Hispanic immigration is fundamentally changing our nation's demographics. But now, we're living through the backlash that all of those changes have prompted. The last decade and a half has been an era of white racial grievance.

An era, as I've come to think of it, of American white lash. Just as Royko argued, we've seen white supremacists carry out acts of violence that have been egged on by hateful, hyperbolic mainstream political rhetoric. With a new presidential election cycle upon us, we're already seeing a fresh wave of invective that demonizes immigrants and refugees, stokes fear about crime and efforts towards racial equity, and villainizes anyone who is different. Make no mistake, such fear-mongering is dangerous. It puts real people's lives at risk. For political parties and their leaders, this moment presents a test of whether they remain willing to weaponize fear, knowing that it could result in tragedy. For those of us in the press, it requires decisions about what rhetoric we platform in our pages, and what we allow to go unchecked on our airwaves. But most importantly, for all of us as citizens, this moment that we're living through provides a choice.

Will we be, as we proclaimed at our founding, a nation for all? It's the handiwork of one of our most respected singer-songwriters. With Lee Cowan, we take note of Lucinda Williams.

Not too long ago, at the legendary Troubadour nightclub in Hollywood, some of the music industry's best and brightest gathered to honor the woman Time magazine once called the best songwriter in America. For the past year, I've been in full-blown Lucinda Williams obsession mode. The queen, Lucinda Williams. The great Lucinda Williams.

I'm telling you. Lucinda Williams, an artist so gifted with words, her colleagues struggled to find the right ones to describe her. A lodestar artist and writer, poet laureate of the ages.

The only thing missing was Lucinda Williams herself, who sadly was a bit under the weather. Your colleagues were saying some of the most amazing things about you. They were calling you the queen, they were calling you a poet laureate, they were calling you every name in the book.

How does that... Really? Oh, it was amazing. Is it hard to accept that love, sort of, sometimes? Well, I can accept it, it's just, I'm not sure how to respond to that, you know, all the awards and everything. Passionate kisses Lucinda has always been pretty modest. She won her first of three Grammys back in 1994 for passionate kisses. Passionate kisses Mary Chapin Carpenter made it famous, but back then Lucinda was too self-conscious to accept the Grammy in person. You just kind of freaked out? I got nervous about what am I going to wear, what if I can't afford what I need to get to wear.

I started nitpicking at myself to the point where I talked myself out of going. Which in part is why for all her success, there's a certain anonymity to her, too. She rarely followed the rules of stardom, which may have denied her the fame of some of her peers.

No matter, she thrived on the fact no one could pin her down to a single drop. I was inspired by so many different styles of music, but I didn't want to just pick one style to do. I love interpreting songs, I love songs. Do you remember the first song you wrote? It was called The Wind Blows. Yeah?

Very simple and basic. The wind blows and it blows through the town and the people in the town hear it blow. She wasn't even a teenager then. She kept writing and performing for decades. Her breakout was Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.

Music critics lauded it as one of the most important albums of the 90s. Lucinda Williams had arrived at the age of 45. Are you glad in some ways that you were a late bloomer? I don't even really think about that. I don't think about age so much. Age still doesn't... No.

I mean, I'm 70 years old and I'm just now doing your show. She wasn't country, she wasn't blue, she wasn't folk. She's really all of those and more. I want to know the touch of my own skin. Her voice is raw. What it lacks in range, it makes up for in power.

I sit down door to door. So much so, her friend Emmylou Harris once commented that Lucinda can sing the chrome off a trailer hitch. Let's try switching. But it's her writing. Her phrasing. Her storytelling.

Where her genius really shines. But all of these are just notes for one song? There must be a hundred pages. There are verses to something I started but didn't finish. When you're singing a song that's so personal like this one, does all those memories come back?

Yeah, a lot of them do. Sometimes they get kind of sad. She's a Louisiana girl at heart, born in Lake Charles. She grew up bathing in that southern gothic gumbo that informed so much of her style. Be my lover, don't play no game. Just play me John Coltrane. I'm like a female Tom Petty or Bob Dylan or Neil Young. There's like that literary aspect of it.

Yeah, because of my dad. Her dad was the critically acclaimed poet and literary scholar Miller Williams. Among his many credits, crafting the poem for Bill Clinton's second inaugural. We mean to be the people we meant to be.

To keep on going where we meant to go. Her dad's approval mattered to Lucinda ever since his scholarly friends would gather for literary jam sessions in their living room back in the mid-60s. My first audience, these brilliant writers with these amazing minds, the attitude was sort of screw the music industry. These are the people who count, you know. Do you still feel that way?

Yes. Sorry. Despite her wariness of the music industry, she moved to Nashville in 2020, where she would soon find herself facing one of the biggest challenges of her life. The stroke happened on the right side of my brain, so the whole left side of my body was affected.

I had to learn to walk again. She's progressed a lot since her stroke, but she still can't play guitar. I can make enough of a couple of chords, you know, to get the idea for, get a note in my head and get a melody. This week, she's releasing her latest album, Stories from a Rock and Roll Heart. Where those singing backup include none other than Bruce Springsteen.

He starts going, my New York combat, and that, as only Bruce can sing that, you know. That alone is testament to her influence in the music world. People want to hear what she has to say.

Her memoir, released this past April, became a New York Times bestseller. But it's in those folders. Ever the perfectionist, I guess. Yeah, you just keep... That's what people call me. On legal pads and on napkins, where Lucinda Williams is the most comfortable.

I didn't have a sense of rhyme yet. Chasing down lyrical rabbit holes to find herself. Who knows what the future holds.

In almost every song, she's laid bare her soul, and in the process, has touched ours as well. I know you won't stay permanently. But come out west and see. Thank you for listening. Please join us when our trumpet sounds again next Sunday morning. Hey, Prime members. You can listen to CBS Sunday Morning with Jane Pauley ad-free on Amazon Music. Download the Amazon Music app today, or you can listen ad-free with Wondery Plus in Apple Podcasts. Before you go, tell us about yourself by completing a short survey at slash survey.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-25 16:29:48 / 2023-06-25 16:51:25 / 22

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