Sunday, October 02, 2011

"60 Minutes" on October 2, 2011. Tsunami, free soloing, and Rooney's last regular appearance.

First preview. Aftermath of the Japanese tsunami. Second preview. Free soloing in Yosemite. Third. At the beginning of the 44th "60 Minutes" season, a tribute to Andy Rooney. Interview with Morley Safer. Andy: I don't say anything that's offensive to people. Andy's reflections on his wonderful life.

Otsuchi: a town that's on the brink of extinction. Buddist monks marching through the streets of the 800 year old town. 10% of the population was wiped out. The tsunami hit 3:25pm March 11, 2011. A link of Otsuchi to Ft. Bragg, CA (the world's largest salmon barbeque). See cbs news post There was discussion of Otscuhi's sea wall. A picture of a boat has become an iconic image. CBS was in Otsuchi three months after the tsunami (that would be June 2011). Every Saturday, pictures are displayed so that the owner can recover them. Signs at a gas station say "never give up;" there was an image of someone pedaling a bicycle to drive a pump at a gasoline station. At the end of the piece, there was a picture of a hydrangea plant which survived the tsunami.

The story of Alex Honnold, rock climber and practitioner of free soloing ("Alone on a wall" about climbing Half Dome). Alex is the only person who has free solo'ed the northwest face of Half Dome. The real challenge of climbing without a rope is being able to dial back the fear. Alex is 5 ft 11 inches and weighs 160 pounds. Alex made the cover of National Geographic in 2011. Alex survives on less than $1000 per month. Alex-No-Big-Deal. Alex climbed the Phoenix prior to climbing Sentinel north face for "60 Minutes" photographers. The route is only 115 feet long. It took Alex only 8 minutes; the first person to free solo the Phoenix. There's discussion of the point of no return, wherein the only way out is to keep going up. Alex: I'll stop because I will lose the love for it. The crust of the biscuit (the hardest part).

Morley Safer spoke of "as we begin the 44th season of 60 Minutes." The Grandpa Moses of broadcasting. Safer spoke of Rooney's first appearance on 60 Minutes. Did you have any idea that you would become iconic. A clip about cotton in medicine bottles. America's favorite grouch in chief. A loud whiney voice. Watchdog. Junkyard poodle. They not only puff the wheat, they puff the blueberries. Personna of a surly curmudgeon. Is Rooney really like that? He's really like that. Rooney doesn't sign autographs. Born in 1919 and grew up in Albany, NY. My father made $18,000 per year, and that was a lot of money. Went to Albany Academy, and then to Colgate University. I did not believe in the war (World War II). But, I saw the Germans and I believed we were right to be in the war. Andy worked for the army newspaper (Stars and Stripes). I had a great time in World War II. Walter Cronkite was one of my best friends. Andy wrote for Arthur Godfrey. Venus schnitzel. Godfrey was not a great guy to work for (1949-51); he was nasty. I was happy to write for another guy. Then, worked for Harry Reasoner, for 8-10 years. We were very good friends. Reasoner was a better writer than I was. He was lazy, but a great guy to be with it. He drank a lot. 60 Minutes: a digression. Andy was the shadow on the right. Then Point, CounterPoint. Shana Alexander and Jack Kilpatrick. Then, in 1978, Andy emerged from the shadows to be the last word on 60 Minutes. There is so much going on in the world. I would be embarrassed to say I couldn't write a column. Space shuttle Challenger in 1986. 1995, Oklahoma City bombing. It's hard to conceal the fact that I am more of a Democrat than a Republican. Issue with gays in 1990. Three month suspension. Nasty about their outrage. He's not exactly Mr. Congeniality, even to his most ardent fans. Who would answer an idiot who had the bad sense to write me. Andy did not mellow with age; he became even grumpier. I think about death, quite a bit. Asked by Safer what he would do if he had his life to live over again: I'd be on television; I'd be on 60 Minutes.

Andy Rooney's last regular piece on 60 Minutes. Now once again Andy Rooney. In high school, teacher told him he was a good writer. Someone had to write what they said, and that someone was me. I'm a writer who reads what he has written. I probably haven't said anything new here. There aren't too many original thoughts in the world. I have been right more often than I've been wrong. I hope people will like what I have written. I spent the last 30 trying to avoid being famous. I have two great grandchildren. I have been paid to say what is on my mind. This is the moment I have dreaded. Writers don't retire. I wasn't always gracious about it. If you see me in a restaurant, just let me eat my dinner.


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