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Prudential Insurance Company of America, New York, New Jersey. Good morning. I'm Jane Pauley, and this is Sunday morning. Thursday is Valentine's Day, a day for love and togetherness, as we'll note in some real life love stories throughout the morning. Yet, at the same time, it can be a very trying day for those who are going it alone, as Susan Spencer will report in our cover story. Valentine's Day is coming. Are you feeling lonely?
You're not alone. Loneliness is a problem that affects millions and millions of people in America. You talk about this almost as if it's a public health crisis. Well, I think it's an urgent public health issue.
Is loneliness really an epidemic? Later on Sunday morning. In a couple of weeks, we'll be hearing the Oscar night call for the envelope, please. Director Spike Lee is among those in contention in multiple categories, as Leslie Stahl will show us. Black Klansman, Spike Lee. Black Klansman. Imagine Spike Lee's pleasure last month when he and his latest film, Black Klansman, got six Oscar nominations, including for Best Picture.
Actually, you don't have to imagine it. Later on Sunday morning, Oscar nominated director Spike Lee tells us the true story behind Black Klansman, his new movie. Welcome to the People's Republic of Brooklyn, New York here for Green and more. All coming up when our Sunday morning podcast continues.
As wonderful as Valentine's Day can be, if you're in love, it can be a little tough for those who are going it alone. Our cover story is reported by Susan Spencer. An avid musician, John Francis likes to let his banjo do the talking. And at one point, that was the only talking he did. So your 27th birthday rolls around. Yeah. What happened?
I said, you know, I have to do something really different. I'm not going to speak for a day. A day. A day. Just a day. But that one day turned into two days, then a week, then a month.
And finally, I can't get my head around this. You did not say one word to another human being for 17 years. Yeah, literally.
That's right. At 27, Francis decided to stop talking. Period.
And he stuck with that decision until he was 44 years old. There were about four times when, by accident, I did speak. When I bumped into someone at the grocery store and I said, excuse me. And I went. Or I was watching, I was Charlton Heston was on television. Hold his hand down. The Red Sea parted.
And I just went, oh, my God. He spent those quiet years hiking, camping and making art. He says he didn't really miss conversation.
It wasn't working for him anyway. I would listen just enough to think I knew what someone was going to say, and I'd stop listening, which in effect cuts communication. That feeling of being disconnected went hand in hand with something bigger, loneliness. I think I was lonely before I started this in the sense that I didn't want to be alone with myself. And that makes you lonely. But anyone who feels lonely is far from alone. According to a recent study, nearly half of Americans now say they sometimes or always feel alone. And one in five says they rarely or never feel close to anyone.
To be lonely, do you have to be alone? No, because it's about the quality of your connections with people. It's not just how many friends you have.
It's about do those friends know you authentically? Former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy made headlines when he called loneliness an epidemic. He even says loneliness can be fatal. The increased mortality associated with loneliness is equal to the increased mortality we see with smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Oh, come on.
Yeah, and you know what? It's in fact greater than the mortality associated with obesity. It doesn't matter who you are or even how old you are. The assumption that many people often have is that it's older people who are lonely, but it turns out youth and young adults who may have the highest rates of loneliness. You think younger people may be more likely to be lonely than older people?
That's what some recent studies have in fact indicated. And especially among millennials, the ever-present phone may in part be why. These are the people who use the social media the least, over here the most. And look at this.
I mean, this is amazing. The higher it is, the more your odds of feeling lonely. Dr. Brian Primack at the University of Pittsburgh heads the Center for Research on Media Technology and Health. He says the more social media we use, the lonelier we are likely to be. This is totally counterintuitive. Say I have 3,000 Facebook friends.
Why am I lonely? One is this idea of social comparison. People are able to take three, 400 pictures of themselves and post that one that makes them look like they are that much more thin or that much more attractive or that much more successful. The impression from the outside can easily be on social media, wow, I can't measure up with my very normal life.
We interviewed a professor who believes that social media has contributed enormously to people feeling alone. Yeah, I'm going to have to agree with that. Someone said just recently to me that if you have four really good friends. You're lucky.
You are a lucky person. As opposed to 4,000 likes? 4,000 likes. You know, it's not new that technology is in our homes. Radio was in our homes. Television came in our homes.
How is this different? I think with regard to things like radio and television, you still can think of them as a little bit more of a social experience. You're not going to be gathering around my Facebook page.
That's right. Whether or not social media is to blame, loneliness is not unique to this country. The UK government has now developed a minister for loneliness. You're kidding.
No. What does the minister of loneliness do? Well, the minister of loneliness tries to figure out why people are lonely and then figure out what kinds of interventions might help smooth that out. Sounds like a lonely job. If the US had a minister of loneliness, psychotherapist Tracey Ruble might be it.
I believe that everybody gets lonely. Period. With that in mind, a few times a month, Ruble and her team set up impromptu offices on the streets in San Francisco. You want to be listened to? We're a community listening project. Have a seat. Thank you.
Hi. They sit and listen to total strangers for free. When you first proposed this idea, how did your colleagues react? They thought I was crazy.
But four years later, her project, called Sidewalk Talk, is 3,200 volunteers strong in 48 cities around the world. But most people would think that, well, I don't want to tell a stranger. That actually people open up to strangers more easily than they do to people they know. A few months ago, I had a young guy sit down, and he said to me, I didn't realize, he was just fresh out of college, that work was going to be like this.
That I would sit in a cubicle all day, looking at a screen, talking to no one. And he didn't say anything else. He just sat and cried. For about 10 minutes. And then he said, huh, great. I feel so much better.
Thank you. And then he left. Which do you think is lonelier, to be with people and not feel that you're fully communicating or to actually physically be by yourself? The loneliest that I felt was when I was with someone. But I was still lonely.
John Francis started talking again in 1990. That part of his personal journey, he says, was over. I climbed a mountain and at the bottom of this mountain, I was lonely. And on the way up, I found that, no, you're not lonely.
You're just alone. It just turned into solitude. And solitude was something that you craved. You wanted, you looked for. Inspired by nature from early on, today at 72, he's an environmentalist, an author, and remarkably, a compelling public speaker. I said, thank you for being here.
My mother out in the audience, he jumped up, hallelujah, Johnny's talking. Do you get lonely today? I got a wife and two kids, and I don't think so. It's the sort of happy ending that all the folks we met would like to see more often. Our social connection is the foundation on which we build healthy and fulfilling lives. I would like people to start to notice how much they need actual connection.
We need vitamins, we need vegetables, we need clean air, and we need connection. What's Valentine's Day without love stories? We'll be sharing a few as we roll along this morning. Is there a secret to making a marriage go the distance? For Mel and Barbara Kornbluh of Pittsgrove, New Jersey, there is. We've been riding a tandem bike together for 45 years. Mel says they tried riding on separate bikes at first, but then decided on a switch. Over the time, we realized that we needed an equalizer, and that's how we ended up with a tandem.
And it's nice to get out in February and ride the bike. According to Barbara, it was a great way to spend time together to be fit and to just have a great time. Much as it works for them, Mel and Barbara realize sharing a tandem is no universal prescription for wedded bliss.
It doesn't work for everybody. You have to be willing to share and want to help your partner. Patience, lots of patience it takes to learn how to ride together on a tandem. Together, they've biked through most of the 50 states and many a foreign land as well. And to hear them tell it, they're not about to stop. We're at 197,000 miles now. We never thought we'd get this far.
It was just, it just happened really. I love biking. I love Mel.
So loving Mel and biking is like one. It's Sunday morning on CBS and here again is Jane Pauley. The 1992 movie Malcolm X starring Denzel Washington. Just one of many memorable Spike Lee films. Lots of movies, but no directing Oscar.
Could this be the year? Leslie Stahl of 60 Minutes has Spike Lee's story. And a warning, there's language some may find offensive. Here are the nominees for achievement in directing. BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee. BlacKkKlansman. BlacKkKlansman. Adam Driver in BlacKkKlansman. Imagine Spike Lee's pleasure last month when he and his latest film BlacKkKlansman got six Oscar nominations, including for Best Picture.
Actually, you don't have to imagine it. So we all got up early to watch it. My son Jackson, we even know he's doing it, video taped on his iPhone. Now what you see was everybody jumping down for Best Picture.
And you're all... We're all jumping down. After 40 years of directing nearly a film a year, this is Spike's first nomination for Best Director and Best Film. It's a sore point going back 30 years when his widely praised film Do the Right Thing that he directed and acted in as Mookie the pizza delivery man was overlooked for Best Picture. Always do the right thing. That's it? That's it. I got it.
I'm gone. A lot of people said you were robbed. Did it hurt? No, it hurt. And the reason why it hurt, if they chose a great, great film for Best Picture, I'd be cool with it.
But their choice? Driving the Stacey. Yeah, that one. That hurt. Up against yours.
Hurt like a... Hurt like a beep-beep. It did. After Do the Right Thing and it was solidified with Malcolm X, I was never going to be put in a position myself where I needed someone's whatever it is to validate my work, like to give it value. I mean, I know what I do and the people let me know.
People tell me I've changed their life, how they never thought about going to college before they saw School Days. I never even thought how that black people can make more money and people can make movies. Isn't it ironic, I think it is, that now that Black Klansman has been nominated, you're up against the Green Book, which is kind of a reverse Driving the Stacey, a white man driving a black man. There you go.
Isn't that funny or strange? I had a talk with my wife and we're not speaking about no other films, particularly that one. If it wins, you're not going to say a word.
Well, I didn't say that. Let's not take it too far. If you haven't seen Black Klansman, here's the short version. Six words, black man infiltrates Ku Klux Klan. That was it. That was it. That was it. That was it. That was it. That was the greatest ever six words. But it happened.
You didn't make that up. A black cop, Ron Stallworth, really did infiltrate the Klan. Sorry, who am I talking to? This is Ron Stallworth calling from Colorado Springs, Colorado. How are you today, sir? In the film, Ron, played by John David Washington, Denzel's son, gets on the phone with David Duke, the Klan's grand wizard played by Topher Grace. I'm just happy to be talking to a true white American. Amen.
It seems like there's less and less of us out there these days. In 1978, Stallworth, a Colorado Springs detective, began an undercover investigation into the Klan and later wrote the book that inspired the movie. How on earth did you get away with this? With a little bit of luck, with a lot of skill, and with the participants that we were investigating being as dumb as they come. The members of the Ku Klux Klan.
That's correct. Gullible. Dumb and dumber.
Dumb and dumber and dumbest, yes. To persuade the Klan of your authenticity, you said some vile things over the phone. I used their language. The language of hate.
Yeah, like what? When they asked me why I wanted to join, I said I hate niggas, bigs, chinks, Jews, Japs, and anybody else that is inferior and white like I am. In the movie, as in real life, Ron answered a Klan recruiting ad. When he was invited to join, there had to be two Ron's. Black Ron on the phone. They want to meet you.
Mm-hmm. Yeah, well, you probably shouldn't go to that meeting. Good call, Sarge. And White Ron, played by Oscar nominee Adam Driver, who would go to Klan gatherings. Mr. Duke, I would like you to meet our newest recruits, Ron Stallworth. Ron Stallworth, it is a pleasure to finally meet you in person. Same, same.
You as well. The real Ron showed us his Klan membership card that he keeps in his wallet. It's signed by Duke.
That's how he signed it. Yeah, just Duke. Just Duke. Last summer, when the movie came out, Ron got a surprising phone call from someone he hadn't talked to in 40 years.
Duke himself. And he had issues with how he was being portrayed, and he wanted to discuss that with me. I guess he thought I was going to go to Spike and appeal to Spike to tone it down a little bit.
That's the only thing I can think of. Unbelievable. That's why he called.
Ron's wife, Patsy, recorded the call on her phone. Ready? Yeah. I don't have the same recollection that you did on some of the terms, because I'm always proud of myself. In fact, all my Klan people always talked about how I don't use the N-word.
But I'm not saying I've never used it in context, obviously. Spike was called the N-word many times, when his family became the first blacks to move into Cobble Hill, then an Italian-American neighborhood in Brooklyn. Did you have any other acts of racism against you? Yeah, I wanted to join the Boy Scouts. And they said I couldn't do it because I wasn't Catholic. Well, we all knew what it was. My father told me what it was. So after that, I said, F the Boy Scouts.
I don't want to be in them. His father, a jazz musician who wrote the scores for most of Spike's early films, taught him another lesson. You have a policy against drugs.
Have you ever even had a joint yourself? It's well publicized my father had an addiction. Oh, I actually did not know that. So just seeing that, he's a jazz musician, not an error.
That era, jazz musicians, you know, they were doing stuff. And so that... His mother, who died when he was away at Morehouse College, was an English teacher. My freshman year, I was very lonely.
I missed, I was homesick. And I'll write my mother every week. And every week, my mother would turn those letters that I wrote, and it looked like she had cut her wrist on the paper. It was all marked up in red.
And she was telling me, I can't believe I have a son who goes to Morehouse, the semi-literate. The semi-literate, now 61 years old, and just nominated for writing the Black Klansman screenplay, bought this building in Brooklyn 25 years ago from all the money he'd already made on his movies. It's the headquarters of his production company called 40 Acres and the It's where he cuts most of his movies with a That's where he cuts most of his movies with his editor Barry Brown. It's a shot that Spike has used a lot, very effectively. Spike when's the first movie that you use this? Mobetta Blues. It's where Spike keeps all the stuff he's collected over the years, including shots of him spouting off at Knicks games in a way that's earned him his reputation as an angry black man. They don't know what I was yelling, so.
Do you know how I get up for my game? Do you know? Do you know?
Do you know? And there were reminders of his career as a maker of and actor in his famous ads for Nike Air Jordans. Oh, money, money, why you want to do that to me, why you leave me hanging? There's just one thing missing and all the clutter in his office, an Oscar for best film. Is it fair to call the bond between this five-year-old Oregon boy nicknamed little buddy and this dress-alike Australian labradoodle named Reagan a love story? It is a love story. Reagan showed Buddy so much love and Buddy showed Reagan that love in return.
Give me a high five. That's Sandy Swaradoff, Reagan's owner. Her daughter Carrie Lewis is little Buddy's adoptive mother.
It's a story of love and the power of what love can do. Little Buddy originally came into Carrie's family as a foster child. Reagan, she says, helped ease the boy's way. Bringing him into our home through foster care is a like scary situation for a child and so to have a dog to like cling to and feel unconditional love from is really a gift.
And sitting down side by side with Reagan for a kind of joint interview, little Buddy agreed. And they're not the only ones to share the fun. The twosome have some 450,000 followers on Instagram and their story is also told in a book with the proceeds devoted to helping children in foster care.
I think having these memories and little Buddy getting to see just how loved he was and how much fun he had as a child is a gift that keeps on giving. I'm Mo Rocca and I've got a brand new podcast. It's all about the people who have long fascinated me. The one thing they've got in common, they're all dead.
The name of my brand new podcast, Mobituaries. From the 20th century's greatest entertainer. It was everything, I mean, he could play any instrument.
He could dance like a maniac. To the founding father who just doesn't seem to get much respect. This guy did everything wrong, so there's no statue, there's no signature on the Declaration of Independence. You'll learn new things about people you thought you knew. Were you aware that the day of your inauguration, Audrey Hepburn died?
No. You'll learn about people who aren't real. They did not have room in the writing for the older brother because the Fonz became the older brother. So join me this premiere season of Mobituaries. True Love has found a way for two penguins at the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium in Australia. Meet Sven, a seven year old male and his three year old male partner, Magic. Penguin supervisor Tish Hannon tells their story. So about three months before breeding season, that's when we started to see those first signs of bonding.
So that includes sort of bowing to each other and singing to each other. Before long, Sven and Magic were exchanging pebbles and using them to set up housekeeping. We noticed that they started building the most beautiful nest that they could possibly make. Sven and Magic went on to hatch a baby chick from a penguin egg they'd been given to sit on. A noteworthy event, says Tish Hannon. The real special thing about Sven and Magic is they're one of a handful of same sex couples that have actually successfully incubate and raised a chick. The chick is female and she's doing just fine, which makes Tish Hannon hopeful for the future.
So with Sven and Magic, we very much expect to see them together again with the best nest in the exhibit for the next breeding season. I'm Jane Pauley. Thank you for listening. Thank you.
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