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CBS Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley
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August 15, 2021 3:19 pm

CBS Sunday Morning,

CBS Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley

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August 15, 2021 3:19 pm

In our cover story, Conor Knighton visits women who staff fire lookout towers in Klamath National Forest in California. Lee Cowan talks with students about the intense pressures they feel to succeed academically, and David Pogue meets a chorus of seniors who perform rock songs.

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Jane Pauley is off this weekend. I'm Lee Cowan, and this is Sunday morning. California, the Golden State, is in the throes of a fire season that really no longer knows a season. Fighting those fires often requires state-of-the-art technology, but finding them remains pretty much the way it has always been. Left to a unique group of people with eyes like an eagle. This morning, Connor Knighton watches them as they keep watch.

Before a forest fire turns into something like this, it can begin as a barely perceptible bit of smoke. At a number of our national forests, the job of spotting that smoke is left to lookouts like Jody King. I'm watching out over my country here. I love this land. It's home.

Ahead on Sunday morning, we take a look at Lookouts. Marlee Matlin has spent a career fighting for that next big role, like any actor would. Only in her case, it's a fight she takes on not just for herself, but for a whole community.

Ben Mankiewicz sat down with Matlin. She was just 21 years old when she won Hollywood's most coveted prize. And the winner is Marlee Matlin. The Oscar for best actress in Children of a Lesser God. The first and still only deaf person to win in any category. 35 years later, she's out to change that with a new movie, Coda. Marlee Matlin, her story. Producer Clyde Davis is pretty hard to top in the music business, but as California reports, his next production might just land at the top of his storied career.

On Saturday, headliners like Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen and Earth Wind and Fire are playing a concert in New York Central Park. Why? Because music industry legend, Clive Davis asked them to. And who was your first phone call after you agreed to do this? John Landau, the manager of Bruce Springsteen. Coming up on Sunday morning, putting on a blockbuster concert. I'll be telling you about the stresses facing many college bound students, even before COVID. David Pogue chats with the young at heart chorus. Steve Hartman has a love story that will give you goosebumps. And more on this Sunday morning for the 15th of August, 2021.

We'll be back right after this. Theirs is a solitary, even lonely life, but they've perhaps never been more essential. Connor Knighton takes a look at fire lookouts, high in California's back country. Perched high atop the Bolivar lookout in Northern California, Carita Knisely spends her summer scanning the skies. Most days, all she sees are clouds and trees, the firs and pines of Klamath National Forest.

She'll record a family of deer with her phone, a hummingbird or two might stop by. But what she's looking for is smoke. Because where there's smoke, there's fire. We are going to begin tonight with that dramatic and deadly outbreak of wildfires now burning across much of the west.

This year's wildfire season has gotten off to a record-breaking start, and it's only expected to get worse. In towers across the country, lookouts like Knisely are working to spot those fires before they blaze out of control. This job is very fun. I mean, it's so unique, but it's a very serious job, too.

People's lives, property, depend on you. This is only Knisely's second year fire spotting. She moved from Virginia to Northern California to be closer to her grandkids. So you moved out here to be close to the grandkids, and then you take a job on the top of the mountain?

Yeah. This is sort of my retirement plan, five months working in the towers and seven months off. From May to October, Knisely spends four days a week in this one-room tower, which serves as home and office. Gust to 15, southeast and two.

She records the weather, radios and reports, and keeps her eyes peeled for lightning strikes. Does it ever get lonely? Not really. I don't get lonely up here, and you know, you stay pretty busy.

Of course, there's still plenty of downtime. Knisely uses hers to work on her family's genealogy. A lot of people who are lookouts that are riders, and that might even be one of the reasons they come to a lookout. You know, what a nice place, you know, solitude place to continue with your riding.

That's exactly why Jack Kerouac took a job as a lookout on Desolation Peak in Washington during the summer of 1956. Today, those in search of solitude can rent a tower. The Forest Service has made some of the decommissioned sites available for nightly bookings. While there were once thousands of active towers across the country, these days only a few hundred are still staffed. The buildings are expensive to maintain, and modern technologies like drones and webcams have replaced some of the functions of a lookout. But at a remote, rugged forest like Klamath, they're still very much in use.

There are currently eight active towers, two of which were recently evacuated due to nearby fires. Out here, we don't have that luxury of cell phones, and we have a lot of terrain that people don't see, so we rely on them very much. Kyle McLightcheck is the Forest's Fire Prevention Officer. When you're looking for a lookout, what are you looking for? I guess reliability is the biggest thing up there.

They're there by themselves. We need somebody that's self-motivated and reliable. Back in 1913, the Forest received an unexpected application from a Miss Hallie Moore Staggett. She became the first female lookout in Forest Service history, and held the position for 15 years. It's pretty spectacular to walk in Hallie Daggett's boots. She had to ride a mule up here.

I get to bring a Ford. Jody King is the lookout at Eddie Gulch, the same location where Daggett served a century ago. A California native, King grew up wanting to be a lookout.

10 or 12, I knew this is what I wanted to do. It's awesome to watch the forest change from sunrise to sunset. It's spectacular. King has worked as a lookout for 30 years, using a tool that was first developed back in Hallie Daggett's era.

At the first sign of smoke, they are accurately located by instruments. I'm surprised that this is still the way that you're doing this job. It's accurate. It's perfect. It can't be made any better. The Osborne Fire Finder, invented in 1911, helps lookouts plot the location of smoke so that they can relay those coordinates to firefighters on the ground.

50% of all fires on the Klamath are first identified by the lookouts, and given this summer's dry conditions, they've got their work cut out for them. That sense of responsibility is what keeps King coming back. I'm watching out over my country here. I love this land.

It's home. We all know kids who seem to have it all. They come from affluent families, they go to good schools, have good friends, and great grades.

But a closer look may surprise you. Things aren't as good as they seem. As these students often struggle with the very real pressures of privilege. By most accounts, Mercer Island, Washington is an ideal place to raise a family. Yeah, it's expensive, but just about anywhere near Seattle is.

But there are perks. The public schools, for example, are among the highest achieving in the state. These kids seem to have everything, including near perfect grades. A quarter of our class has GPAs over 3.9. Over 3.9? 3.9.

It all sounds pretty good, right? These students are from the class of 2020. Thomas Lee, Zetong Wang, Megan Akakabal, and Joe Gorman. We talked with them in their last semester before heading off to college. And it was that last bit, college, that was first and foremost on their minds. We all tell ourselves that our GPA doesn't define us, but it really does here.

The end goal isn't to learn, it's to get a number. How much of what you guys have been working towards is about getting into a top school? A lot of it.

All of it. With record low acceptance rates at top colleges, it's pretty well known that students feel pressure to out-compete each other. But what isn't widely known is the toll that that pressure can take.

How do you see that manifest itself? Physical tears and mental breakdowns from failure and what we consider failure, which is really nowhere near what other people would consider failure and also the fear of failure. It's not unexpected to see someone crying in the bathroom or coming to the lunch table and sobbing and then five minutes later cleaning themselves up and going to class, pretending like it didn't happen. Close friend of mine was struggling very, very badly and almost took his life in front of me. That kind of mental anguish has stayed largely below the research radar. In fact, psychologist Suni Luther, professor emerita at Columbia University, actually stumbled on those troubles. Back in the 90s, she was studying children struggling in low-income families, and she used as a control group students from more affluent schools, ones we generally think have it all. But they were suffering too. What did you think was the cause?

At that point, I wasn't even sure it was a real thing. So what do they all have in common? Unfortunately, what they all have in common is this unrelenting, insidious pressure to achieve and do ever more, not even succeed, but it's relentless.

It keeps succeeding. And the ripple effects of that unrelenting stress can be debilitating. Luther spent more than two decades studying the problem. She consistently found that students from affluent schools are suffering from higher rates of substance abuse, depression, and anxiety as much as three times the national norm. Nobody, including myself, could fathom that truly kids who are living lives of privilege in terms of the educational opportunities and homes they live in, neighborhoods and so on, that they really could be doing more poorly than the average American kid. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation now notes that excessive pressure to excel ranks right up there with poverty, trauma, and discrimination as factors hurting adolescent wellness. To hear that our children, children that are in high-achieving schools and affluent communities have the same risks is really startling.

Liz Evans and John Martin are both parents on Mercer Island. Evans is also a pediatrician. In our office, at least at Mercer Island Pediatrics, we feel like psychiatrists most of the time. What kinds of things do you hear from students? We have kids that cut out of stress.

We have eating disorders. The younger children tend to have more somatic complaints, so tummy aches and headaches. And as they get older, it becomes more of the substance abuse and suicidality that becomes more of a concern. As for Martin, well, he's voiced his concerns enough about the privileged at risk to know what you're probably thinking right about now. So it sounds a little whiny. We start talking about affluence and, ah, these poor rich kids, you know, and they're depressed and they're anxious and wah, wah, wah, right? Ah, too bad for you, right?

You make some good coin. You got resources. What's your problem, buddy? When it's your kid struggling, it becomes real. But many parents, even teachers, aren't aware of just how much stress is hurting because many teens don't talk about it to anyone. You don't want to show that you're struggling. You don't want to show that waking up in the morning is an accomplishment for you. It's that it kind of strips you down. When you have so much on your plate but you have to prove you're capable, you can't show any signs of weakness or talk to the counselor and get help.

When you're hiding it, it just becomes worse. That lack of openness and communication is what Luther zeroed in on when she was asked to come to Mercer Island to help students cope with that pressure to succeed. Have a conversation, and if your child does tell you, I'm overwhelmed, I'm so anxious, I can't sleep, I'm terrified, that's the time when you pull back. Ask your child.

She visited twice, once in 2006 and again in 2019. The data, she gathered, sparked a community conversation that's helped develop prevention and awareness programs, including reducing the stigma around mental health counseling. When you realize your worries are also shared by the 360 something students in your class, you all of a sudden feel like it's not so bad. Where's the pressure coming from, you think? Is it from parents? Is it from teachers? Is it pressure that you put on yourselves? It's all three, I think. It's like you were made to go on the path.

What's the answer, you think? They've tried to de-emphasize the importance of AP and honor courses. Does that help? I think it's very difficult, it's really trying to change the culture and it's been like put into our minds when we were in, you know, kindergarten and first grade. COVID, however, changed everyone's calculations about everything and sent students stress levels on a whole new kind of roller coaster. Luther and her nonprofit research firm, Authentic Connections, surveyed 14,000 students just after the pandemic started last year, and what they found was a drop in the rates of serious depression and anxiety. They're lower instead of higher.

Consistently lower. It's like a bunch of snow days as you got unexpectedly. Our group of now socially distant students told us exactly that.

These past few months have honestly not been too bad. We can deal with not having grades. We can deal with not putting our academics first, not going around the clock. We can live without school, but there are some things that we can't live without.

But the respite was short. Just a few months later, as school work increased again, Luther found the levels of depression and anxiety shot right back up to pre-pandemic levels or worse. You're already in a transition moment in life, trying to go to college, and all of a sudden there are so many more factors to consider.

It's not just deciding which college, it's deciding how you're going to do college. We do expect a lot of our young people, but Sunya Luther's research has shown that his students head back to school this fall. Many of them will be expecting even more of themselves.

Now that's admirable indeed. As long as achievement isn't the only measure of a young person's worth. I want to emphasize my message is not that kids should be told, don't work hard.

Absolutely not do work hard. There is a point where we value your sanity and your well-being, and we are not willing to let that be compromised. 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. Follow Intelligence Matters wherever you get your podcasts. Until you let me be an I the way you are, you can never come inside my silence and know me. Decades after Marlee Matlin won an Oscar for her role in the movie Children of a Lesser God, she's still leading the charge for deaf and disabled actors. Our man in Hollywood, Ben Mankiewicz, sat down with Matlin to discuss her upcoming movie and her ongoing crusade. She was just 21 years old when she won Hollywood's most coveted prize. And the winner is Marlee Matlin. You have to understand that I was a girl from Chicago who appeared on the scene out of nowhere. 34 years later, she remains the only deaf person to win an Academy Award in any category.

We sat down with Matlin and Jack Jason, her longtime interpreter and friend, at her home in LA. When I won the Oscar, the community was very obviously very thrilled, certainly. And then they said, okay, now what? What are you gonna do for us?

It was a heavy load. Her new film CODA, now streaming on Apple TV, is the story of deaf parents with two children, a deaf son and a hearing daughter. I can't always be that person. Amelia Jones plays the daughter. Matlin is the mother. It's about a hearing girl who wants to sing, but she has deaf parents who rely on her to interpret, and they always have. You want hearing actors as the father and the older brother, and you say... I said, if you do that, if you choose somebody who's gonna play a deaf person, I'm out. That suggests to me that maybe 35 years after Children of a Lesser God and 34 years after the Oscar, that you're a little more comfortable making some noise. In all honesty, I didn't even think.

I just said it, I put it out there. Playing deaf is not a costume. We, deaf people, live it. For Matlin, CODA gave her a rare opportunity to work in an ensemble cast of deaf actors. She won the Yankee Miss Pageant. It was always sort of as background or token deaf characters. And this time, we carried the film.

I was envious, and I think my wife was too, of the marriage. Like, that's what I want, right? That was it. That's as good as it gets. You can still do it. Yes, no, we're good, we're good.

But it's not the same thing. I'm going to tell you what to do tonight. This is the musciest thing I've ever heard.

As the most famous deaf person in show business, and probably the country, Matlin has worked steadily since her debut. Ah, never do that to a grouch. You idiot. I'm Joey Lucas. Feisty on the West Wing. I want to know why I'm so nervous. On the West Wing, I want to know why the White House is screwing around with me. Well, maybe you can stick around after everybody leaves and we can sweep together.

Why don't you stick around and we can sleep together? Funny on Seinfeld. And Always Game, quickly becoming an audience favorite on Dancing with the Stars. She's come a long way from the Chicago suburb where she grew up as the deaf child in a hearing family.

Her hearing loss was caused by illness and high fevers when she was just one and a half. My childhood was so normal. I was just so happy to have great neighbors, great schools, great friends, great family. You're a big sports fan. Yes, I am. Big time. My father and I always watched sports together.

You really didn't need captions to watch sports. Her parents enrolled her in a weekend arts program for deaf children where the camp director cast eight-year-old Marley as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. What do you think Dr. Pat saw in you that made her think this little girl could be Dorothy? I guess she saw in me as a little girl who was very outspoken, who was very much of a people person, a social butterfly maybe. And I don't know, or maybe she was just looking for a Dorothy.

Who knows? I don't know and she found a Dorothy. For this Dorothy, there was no place like the stage and she owned it. When Henry Winkler saw her perform at an arts festival for deaf kids when she was 12, Matlin found a lifelong mentor. He looked at me and he said, Marley, you can be whatever you want to be as long as you believe in yourself and your heart. Winkler and Matlin stayed close.

How close? Soon after she won the Academy Award, Henry and his wife Stacy invited her over for the weekend to show off her Oscar. She moved out two years later.

Henry and Stacy Winkler are a godsend to me. It wasn't an easy time in Matlin's life. The night she won the Oscar, she'd been out of rehab for a serious drug addiction for just 30 days. After the parties, she got into a limo with her Oscar and her co-star and boyfriend, William Hurt. He didn't sit next to me. He sat across from me. He looked at me, looked at the Oscar, looked at me, looked at the Oscar. And he said, do you realize how many actors have worked for so many years to get what you got, that little man in one film? And I didn't know what to say.

I couldn't say anything. You're newly sober, you're 21, you're in Hollywood and you have this enormous high of the Oscar win. And then this devastating low of the man you love belittling you on the same night. I just know it's hard. I know sobriety is hard for anybody.

It is the hardest thing. I still say to myself, one day at a time, I still do. But if Henry was not in my life, he and his wife both were the ones who held my hand, guided me, and didn't let go. And when I said I had to move out, Stacey said, the first thing she said, what did we do wrong? And I said, no, no, Stacey, I need to fly the coop. I need to grow up. I need space.

Today, Marlee Matlin's life is full, whether she's working or not. She and her husband, Kevin Grandalski, have four children, all hearing. You ever feel isolated in a house with five hearing people?

I wouldn't say isolated because I'm accustomed to it. Growing up, it was the same thing. But yet I always say, what did you say or what are you talking about?

And they tell me, probably the only difference from when I grew up. Her son Tyler heads to college this week. His mom made sure to show him Coda before he left. He was like, hey, do you want to watch a movie with me?

And I was like, sure, what movie? She's like, let's watch Coda. Did you note her watching you during it?

Yes. Every time she'd kind of come on, she'd kind of just look. And I'm like, you're doing great. Don't worry, you know. Marlee Matlin may be doing great, but there is still work to do. I look forward to more opportunities.

And not just me, but for deaf actors, writers, directors, people who work behind the camera. We have a history. We have a culture.

We are part of the diverse continuum. So what do I do? I talk about it. I make noise about it. Thank you for listening. Please join us when our trumpet sounds again. Next Sunday morning. The best way to protect the good people is to convict the bad. So here's to us. The Good Fight, the final season, now streaming exclusively on Paramount+.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-29 07:21:52 / 2023-01-29 07:32:01 / 10

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