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The Van Jones Show

The Highway Boulder Crew; Water Ballet In Baltimore. Aired 9- 10p ET

Aired May 09, 2015 - 20:00   ET


[21:00:21] MIKE ROWE, SOMEBODY'S GOTTA DO IT HOST: I'm Mike Rowe. And I'm on a mission to find people on a mission.

Boom, from a scale of one to 10, how much do you like what you do?


ROWE: Here we go.

What are they doing?

Freaking out.

How are they doing it? And why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love to make things that make people smile.

ROWE: It's very freaking exciting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on Mike, we got to do it.

ROWE: I dare you to turn the channel.

On this episode.

Tune in tonight for dusty jobs.

I have been in a lot of rocky roads.

Men, there's so much stuff here.

But I never tried to make the roads less rocky.

This comes together, it's like Wile E. Coyote stuff, you know.

And later.


ROWE: On the ramp parts I walk, learning loads and loads of history.

VAISE: Friends of (inaudible), he's like, "Yeah."

ROWE: And never to argue with Ranger Vince. VAISE: The war of 1812 was tough, going to the moon was tough. Where have we American (inaudible) shot away from (inaudible) because (inaudible).

ROWE: And for the first time ever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Places everybody.


ROWE: I'm emerged in history and to wash in second thoughts, as I agree to participate in one of Baltimore's greatest stories every told in water ballet.

You have to be a hell of (inaudible).

Couple of years ago, I was driving along in mountain road, minding my own business, admiring the view and marveling at the beauty. When suddenly, with no warning at all, a large boulder failed to tumble down the hill and knock my car off the road and into oblivion. Why? These guys, a happy group of state workers who risk their lives to keep us safe from falling rocks. I know why they do it. I'm just not sure how.

So I'm spending the day with Tom Whitman, to get some answers and maybe throw some really big rocks, down the really big hill.

We're about to learn all we need to know about scaling rock walls, for the purposes of removing boulders, so the boulders in question down go down the wall in question and smash the car in question.

TOM WHITMAN, SENIOR GEOLOGIST, CALTRANS: Correct. We're going to remove boulders from the slope in a controlled fashion.

ROWE: Great.

Of course I won't be climbing alone, I'll have the crew with me. And Tom wants all of us to be prepared.

WHITMAN: It sounds like everyone has been -- that's climbing today has been in harnesses before.

ROWE: These guys have probably have harnesses last night.


ROWE: It's complicated. But the point is, we know harnesses.

WHITMAN: Good, good.

ROWE: Do this mean you'll have anything to do with the work we're doing today?

WHITMAN: Not today, no, not at all.

ROWE: This is how the show goes. We start right into the top by showing you something that's completely irrelevant and then really kick things in a high gear with the six hour mandatory safety briefing. Thank you, Tom, for whipping our viewers into a avertable frenzy. Let's go get safe.

WHITMAN: Let's go get safe. Any climber that is on one of our jobs needs to go through a basic training program.


WHITMAN: If you don't have this basic training, you wouldn't be able to go on in the slope.

ROWE: The safety meeting is mandatory.

So who's every climbing, cameras down and they're in (inaudible) too.

WHITMAN: Absolutely.

ROWE: So nice try Dough (ph).

The safety meeting is comprehensive.

WHITMAN: This route that we're utilizing today has a 7,000 pound capacity.

ROWE: The safety meeting is enlightening.

WHITMAN: On page 66, it shows a reduction of strength, for each not that we're utilizing.

ROWE: The safety meeting is long.

We're going to be hare a while.

It's important for us to learn this stuff because our lives depend on it. For you, not so much. So why not I just skip ahead to the fun part.

That's not a hill, man.

WHITMAN: That's not a hill.

ROWE: Rehearsal.

WHITMAN: Welcome to today's playground.

ROWE: What do you call it? You must have a official name for this thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a great question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, that's a great question.

ROWE: Why is it that every time somebody tells me, my questions are great, we be assure that the answers aren't going to (inaudible). WHITMAN: This is what we're going to be working on, we're going to be working right in this area first and then do some ascent and descent and that's the plan for the day.

ROWE: First order of business, brushing up on knots.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, first up, we're going to learn is a water knot.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, we're going to do the double fisherman's knot. Cross the (inaudible) to make an X, slide in the end of the rope under the X.

ROWE: We spend a long time on knots.

WHITMAN: The figure eight, first take (inaudible) the rope. Go around the back side, back to where you started and take this free and come on up.

ROWE: But there's a good reason, this is job that can kill you. And most of the acidents are due to operator error, like a poorly tied knot.

WHITMAN: One of the main causes of climbing accidents, is people actually repelling off their ropes. So if we out a figure eight at the end and as you...

[21:05:01] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you serious? That's the major climbing, is that people just get into the end of the rope and (inaudible).

WHITMAN: It can happen. And when it comes through your hand, there's no going to back. Definitely tonight, when you got nothing else to do and you're staying in your hotel room, you can practice all this knots all night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you have one hand free.

ROWE: That's still going to happen. I always have one hand free.

WHITMAN: All right, well let's split this guys, do a simulate some repels. Go on and reach up, grab that, pull.

ROWE: OK, so now we're in the business...

WHITMAN: There you go, you're repelling.

ROWE: Repelling.

The idea is to simulate repels on flat ground to build team confidence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's it, so it's a two handed operation, break hand on the right. ROWE: So far, it's not working.

You inspire me man. You really fill me with something like confidence.

But with enough practice.

OK. I got it. By I got it, I mean, I'm prepared to attempt it while somebody is supervises and keeps us from plunging to (inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, absolutely.

ROWE: So now that we are all working like a well oiled machine, it's time to fall backwards off a cliff. Steve Balaban is in charge of making sure I don't die.


STEVE BALABAN: Good. So now, you can approach the edge and take a peak over the side.

ROWE: Crap.

BALABAN: OK, so you are actually ready to repel.

ROWE: Yeah, it's super exciting.

BALABAN: So it looks worst than it is.

WHITMAN: It's not natural for the human to lay himself over a 90 foot cliff at all.

ROWE: It's really not. It's almost as though, you're giving the finger to, you know, instinct, gravity.

BALABAN: This is when you're gear and your knowledge is strength reassures you that it's OK to do that.

ROWE: Where your lack of gear and your experience reminds you that you're making a profound, full hardy and eradicable mistake.

BALABAN: Not that anything is going to happen.

ROWE: What could possibly happen?

BALABAN: What could happen?

ROWE: I can't -- nothing comes to mind?

BALABAN: Nothing at all.

ROWE: OK, it's that first step up man.

BALABAN: If something wasn't right, you're already dead at that bottom.

ROWE: You really are a glass half full kind of guy man. All right let's go.

BALABAN: Nice and easy.

ROWE: Steady.

BALABAN: Heels to the rock.

ROWE: To the rock. Yeah, we're going to over the edge, when we come back we'll be on the bottom. We're going to go ahead and go to a commercial right now and you're going to miss all the exciting stuff over there. If I want (inaudible).


ROWE: So I'm in Ojai, California, hanging off the side of the a mountain, learning the ins and outs of scaling, which is how this CALTRANS crew keeps the citizen safe from roadside avalanches.

BALABAN: So at this point, you got to lean back, Mike.

ROWE: Yeah. See there's the -- that's the hell of a (inaudible). This isn't my first day at the rodeo, I've washed windows on high rises and painted bridges and dangled from ropes a lot longer than this one. But personally, I've never gotten use to taking that first step, and probably never will.

I don't know what it looks like, but it's not normal, if ever have a change to do it. It's not like the rock wall in the gym. (inaudible).

BALABAN: You're looking great.

ROWE: Don't make it weird man. You should look down sometime Dough (ph). Good for you. Yeah.

They make it look like fun. And to be honest, it is, sort of. But remember, this isn't the job. This is the thing you have to do in order to do the job.

BALABAN: So on overhangs, it's even more important to be perpendicular to the rock.

ROWE: You're going to put your face right in it.

BALABAN: Exactly. Watch those knees.

ROWE: I think you're in more share than I am.

BALABAN: I am, but I can do this.

ROWE: Look at you. Spiderman.


ROWE: Wow, yeah. I don't see that happening for me. While Steve gently glides through the air like that feather on the way to the ground and forest damp, I imitate the senior citizen, looking for the bathroom in the strange hotel room at three in the morning.

BALABAN: That's it. Beautiful.

ROWE: All right then.

BALABAN: That wasn't bad, right? That's your first one. So that -- that's always the hardest.

ROWE: It's hot.

BALABAN: Yeah, it is hot.

ROWE: It is really just an excuse for you guys to come out and do what you like, isn't it?

BALABAN: Don't tell anyone.

ROWE: Do they actually pay for you this?

BALABAN: Yes, they do.

ROWE: But you guys are volunteering, you guys aren't employees if you're basically volunteering for this.

BALABAN: Correct, we volunteer to climb, yes. It's not mandatory. But somebody gets to do it.

ROWE: Somebody gets to do it, there you go.

BALABAN: All right, let's go back and do it again.

ROWE: What's the point in that?

Well good morning. It's the next day and we are here. And here is there basically. We're going to be going to all the way up there, I suppose and (inaudible) these rock step. Do this specific ridge have a name?

WHITMAN: That's a good point. I don't know. Hey Bob (ph), does this have a site name?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the pave detour.

WHITMAN: Pave detour is the name of the site.

ROWE: We got to do better than that man.

WHITMAN: I know, so it's going to be like heartbreak ridge or...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dead man's curve.

ROWE: Dead man's curve is nice. That's good. So we're hear at Heart break ridge, formally known as Dead man's curve where the stakes couldn't be higher, the men are dressed in vibrant yellow with me. It's going to be very exciting.

WHITMAN: What we did yesterday was we hit the mountaineering component, the climbing component.

ROWE: Right.

WHITMAN: Today, we're going to put those skills to use and doing hand scaling.

ROWE: Right.

WHITMAN: OK. Now, we just basically sweep and clean the slope coming down.

ROWE: All right. So we go.

WHITMAN: Just take your time going to up.

ROWE: Right.

WHITMAN: One step at a time.

ROWE: See if I remember any of what I learned yesterday. Rock.

WHITMAN: Big rock.

ROWE: Big ass rock.

WHITMAN: Thank you.

ROWE: The actual job is harder than this. I think I may have problems.


ROWE: Thanks. Nice office.


ROWE: Excuse me. I'm allergic to heights.

The job is clearly dangerous. And I'm both flattered and surprised the state gave us permission to participate with Tom and his crew.

WHITMAN: This is when the fun starts.

ROWE: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gentlemen, climb on.


ROWE: And with that, finally the actual work begins.

WHITMAN: We can start rolling rocks.

ROWE: Man, there is so much stuff here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the kind of thing that oil pans and radiators hate.

ROWE: Yes, that thing pops off the street straight through your oil pan.

Yeah, look how loose all this is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yup, that's why we do it.

WHITMAN: So basically this is erosion, right? It rains, it's weathering of the rock. Sort of rots out and you have to clean it off and maybe hopefully get down to some better rock.

ROWE: It seems endless in term of like a job, you know.

[21:15:04] WHITMAN: Right, and then, you know, in five or ten years when most of the soil is gone and what not, we'll come back and we'll do it again. It's a maintenance activity.

ROWE: You know what it is? It's job security.

WHITMAN: Job security, too. I mean, look at the road already, just from a little bit we've done so far.

ROWE: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, climbers. Let's get a hold for traffic.

WHITMAN: So what we do now is we just stop, we lean into our gear and we wait.

ROWE: Tell me again about how your employee of the state but you're not really getting paid for this?

WHITMAN: No, I'm an engineering geologist for the state, so I work on landslide, rock boulder. Geology that impacts our highways system, that's my day to day job.

ROWE: So how many here are volunteer?

WHITMAN: Every single person on the mountain.

ROWE: Who's a volunteer? Show of hands.

WHITMAN: We have no shortage of volunteers.

ROWE: So you get the idea, you knock the rocks down, the truck comes, the truck pushes the rocks out of the road. Truck clears, clear the traffic. And then you knock some more rocks down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, we're going to clear traffic whenever you (inaudible) to go ahead there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go ahead, clear traffic.

WHITMAN: OK, go ahead and scale.

ROWE: If scaling looks like real work, it's because it is.

I had a half a mountain in my mouth. Tune in tonight for a dusty jobs.

But these guys all volunteer for the job, part of the reason strikes me as obvious.

Hey Tom, tell me something.


ROWE: This is fun isn't it?

WHITMAN: It is fun.

ROWE: Yeah. See it's so satisfying. It's like a scab. Is that wrong to say that, it's like picking a scab. It's so satisfying. Bryan (ph), you know what I'm talking about, right?

It's not the first time I've seen a job that offers equal parts, danger and fun. Make no mistake, there is something undeniably gratifying about pushing rock off a cliff. It's addictive. As soon as you roll one down, you got to have another.

This guy's got to go. Heads up.


ROWE: Holy crap, look at that guy.

And the next time it's got to be bigger.

I'm kind of excited about this one. We did some damage there.

WHITMAN: Yeah, that was good.

ROWE: That one will take me satisfying.

And then Tom takes aim at a grown up target. A bonafide widow maker.

WHITMAN: We're going to repel down, pass this bush. There's a large spire of boulder there that we want to take out.

ROWE: Is that the guy we're talking about?


ROWE: Sweet.

WHITMAN: Look at that.

ROWE: I need to be optimistic, when this comes together, it's Wile E. Coyote stuff, you know.


ROWE: Yup.

WHITMAN: One, two, three.

ROWE: Hold on, let me put myself a little better.

WHITMAN: Ready. One, two, three.

ROWE: In every job, there's comes a moments when things get personal.

I'm not done with you.

Like for instance, when a rock becomes something more than a rock.

WHITMAN: We're going to get this. We're get this shot.

ROWE: No, we have to get it out.

And a team becomes something greater than the some of it's parts.

WHITMAN: Ready, Nathan (ph)?

NATHAN (PH): Yup. Bryan (ph)?

BRYAN (PH): Yup.

ROWE: In Greek mythology, (inaudible) was doomed to push a giant boulder up a hill for all eternity. I think maybe he'd appreciate this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two, three.


ROWE: Somewhere high above route 33 in Ojai, California had a site either called pave turnaround or Dead Man's Curve depending on who you ask.

I'm working the crew of fearless CALTRANS volunteers to make the road safe for democracy, humanity and soft top convertibles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two, three.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, step to the wall.

ROWE: Holy crap. I'm not going to lie men, I tickled my "wee-wee" a little bit right there. I'm so glad that not held. Oh crap.

WHITMAN: Good job guys.

ROWE: That was awesome. And so we survive the widow maker of Dead Man's Curve. But of course the real hazards are never the obvious hazards.

ROWE: Heads up. Rock. Are you all right?


ROWE: Did it hit you?


ROWE: This is always where it (inaudible) goes off the rails. Always. You get the big one other way, now a little fort pounder comes down and knocked your teeth out.

Watch again just how fast things can go wrong.

Dough (ph), our cameraman, slightly brushes a loose rock to his bag. In a second, the rock goes from motionless to 30 miles an hour.

It smashes into the knee of David Rodriguez (ph). He is OK but it could have just as easily, than its face. Either way, it's all part of the job.

I think we got some rocks down.


ROWE: So the next time you successfully negotiate the twist and turns of a treacherous mountain road, and look up at the last seconds to see nothing large and heavy hurtling toward you, remember the guys who have your back, hundreds of feet above your head.

Well this was really cool, you guys, to let us out here and let us do this. I appreciate it.

WHITMAN: You did a great a job.

ROWE: Got up, we came down.

WHITMAN: We call you a digger.

ROWE: I've been called much, much worse.

WHITMAN: Well done. Thank you very much.

ROWE: Thanks, be careful. Thanks guys. You guys were great man. It's really great.

WHITMAN: Good job. Good job.

ROWE: OK. We're done.

The following segment contains actual facts about American history and may be too interesting for some viewers. It also has sequins, speedos, two musical numbers, cannon fire, a giant flag, a touch of cross-dressing, and a very enthusiastic park ranger. Parental discretion discouraged.

The yellow-haired God and his nine lusty maids, from helion's...

I love the original words of our national anthem. I love the fact that this particular tune was originally in English drinking song. I love the fact that Francis Scott Key changed the words as he watch the British get their butts kicked during the battle of Baltimore.

[21:25:04] And I love the fact that one man is on a mission to make damn sure people understand the events of 1814 were no less important to the future of America than the shot heard around the world.

That man is Ranger Vince Vaise. Ranger Vince is a man on a mission. And if he can't get you excited about American history, well, you're either sleeping or not from my hometown.

But here we are in Fort McHenry. The last time I was here was 1971. I think I ride on a bus just like that except that it didn't say Allegany. County public schools it said, Baltimore public schools. And so I'm going back a little forward. Taking a fieldtrip at 52, you come too.

The facts of what happened here 200 years ago haven't changed since my last visit, but the challenge of making history interesting for today's viewer is what you might call quixotic. But it's worth try and my producer Ted is all about making the effort.

It's like the old report cards. I don't know, when you were in a high school, did you get two grades? Did you get like...


ROWE: Yeah.

KAMP: Yeah, I did. We're the same age, so yeah.

ROWE: OK. So, you got -- you would get like a B for effort, C for work or A for effort A, for whatever.

KAMP: Right.

ROWE: The segment I feel like it's going to be an A for effort.

KAMP: A lot of effort and you know results, you know, that's the very Buddhist thing. It's not about attachments to results.

ROWE: I thought of it in terms of Buddhism before.

KAMP: I think of everything because of Buddhism (inaudible).

ROWE: Are you a Buddhist?


ROWE: Fundamentally, all of history is a story and if we have any hope at all of keeping you awake, we need a good story teller. Thankfully, Ranger Vince is a pro in the history of Fort McHenry is one he is told before.

VAISE: I'm what they call interpretation and that's the story teller rangers and so they called me the chief interpretation and in normal words that's the head story teller.

ROWE: You're the head. I love it. Who is that behind us?

VAISE: That's Laurie Donaldson (ph). He is one of the defenders of Baltimore and he was killed on 12th of September defending the city from the British attack.

ROWE: He died in 1840.

VAISE: That's right. Yeah.

ROWE: That was a war of 1812, also involving the battle of New Orleans, which is (inaudible)...

VAISE: Absolutely. That's true, that's right.

ROWE: ...right?

VAISE: That's right.

R ROWE: 1814 took a little trip? Along with Colonel Jackson down to (inaudible).

VAISE: Down to (inaudible). Yeah. But before the battle of New Orleans was the battle of Baltimore and that's where the flag come from. So...

ROWE: All right.

VAISE: ... down in Orleans is cool...

ROWE: Yes.

VAISE: Southern Baltimore, cooler.

ROWE: We got it. What's going on out here?

So I'm off to learn about the battle of Baltimore from the head story teller. If only I can coax ranger Vince out of the show.

VAISE: You know one of the fun parts about our job is interesting questions from visitors.

ROWE: Sure.

VAISE: And so what are the jokes is which is really the truth so, you know, what's the most asked question in your park? Do you know what the most asked question in a National Park is?

ROWE: Oh, where is the bathroom?

VAISE: You got it. Right. You got it. Where is the bathroom?

ROWE: Where is the bathroom?


ROWE: So I'm in Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland. Because the United States of America wouldn't be here without it. But don't take it from me.

VAISE: That's the original structure where it happened. I mean what you're looking at is over 200 years old. So if you were here 200 years ago, you would see the rockets right there coming over. You would see the bombs first (inaudible).

ROWE: This is where you have it.

VAISE: Yeah.

ROWE: When enthusiastic guy, it is Ranger Vince Vaise, a man who was born to make history come alive.

How long you've been here?

VAISE: I'm here 20 years. I started in high school. My high school history teacher was a summer ranger and he said, "Hey would you like to volunteer?" I said, "yeah." And he said -- I said, "What do you do?" He goes, "Well you can portray a young recruit." And just love it ever since.

ROWE: I am going to asked you the dumbest question I've ever asked anybody on camera? On scale of 1 to 10, how much do like what you do?

VAISE: 25.

ROWE: There we go.

VAISE: Let's go at the Ram (ph) Park.

ROWE: Let's do that.

VAISE: So we are now coming up on top of the Ram (ph) Park. What we do looking at over the Patapsco River, September 11, 1814, 55 British ships were spotted down there. This is all part of this where the 1812, a war that hadn't been going well at all.

ROWE: Yeah.

Just how badly it the war of 1812 going? Well the British should just overrun Washington D.C. where they burn and looted the White House, the Capitol, the Treasury and the War Department Buildings, that badly.

Did we just kick their ass though like 25 years early? VAISE: Yeah, we had the revolution. We already became independent. Now is what we are mad about is like, hey, you know, we'd move out of the House. We can turn our stereo up. You don't tell us what to do anymore.

ROWE: Right.

VAISE: So I said, you know what? We're preparing war and then we put up with it for 10 years they (inaudible) over 6,000 Americans in the British navy we're declaring war to make a stand.

A lot of Americans oppose it. Francis Scott Key opposed the war of 1812.

ROWE: What was Key's role in the government?

VAISE: Professionally, he was a lawyer from George Town, all right. And one American named Dr. William Beanes, he was a civilian guy who was taken to prisoner by the British. And then President Madison say, "Hey, this is not cool. Taking civilians prisoners." So he...

ROWE: No, no, hold on, I would imagine James Madison, say, hey this is not cool taking our people prisoners, I just want to see that?

VAISE: He was more eloquent when he wrote the constitution.

ROWE: Hard to imagine.

VAISE: Yeah.

ROWE: So Key volunteers to negotiate the release of Beanes and sails out to the British fleet where Beanes is being held. He succeeds but there is catch.

VAISE: So they get (inaudible) off, but the British say, "If we let you go ahead of us, you're just going to say everything. You're going to tell them how many ships we got, how many troops we got.

ROWE: Yeah, why wouldn't he.

VAISE: And so you're going to have to wait until this battle is over with. So you just got yourself at front row sit to the turning point of the war of 1812. The main British flag is on the horizon.

ROWE: Yeah.

VAISE: 15 ships come just beyond that green (inaudible) out there.

ROWE: Did you say (inaudible)?

VAISE: (inaudible).

ROWE: So like a (inaudible)?

VAISE: (inaudible) yeah, exact.

ROWE: You said (inaudible).

VAISE: (inaudible) horn. It's bomber. It's a (inaudible), all right?

Those ships could fire a throw about a 200 pounds exploding shell. A little bigger than the average basketball two miles. And I say shell because it was pack with 13 pounds of high explosive black powder with a fuse tapped into the top. Boom, when you shot it all, the recall so much the whole ship went down two feet. And then you could see the black top go in the air and go a mile high in the sky then arc down, come down, come down, come down. And when -- if the time get right, when it's rooftop high, the fuse is burn to the inside where the powder is and boom.

[21:35:04] ROWE: But what if mistakes, Vince, I mean if the Forth doesn't hold, what logically happens next.

VAISE: It's like kicking over the first time on all the series. If the Forth doesn't hold in the British can land. If the British land and then they can march right into the city.

This was the lynch pin of the defense system. They pull the lynch pin out, everything falls apart.

So the bomb bombers continuing and then all through the night. Francis Scott Key probably couldn't see the flag, but by dawn's early light the bombardment, the shelling gradually takes off. And that's when Francis Scott Key sees and it's like yeah and having that yes- moment. It's really what drove that power of emotion for him to start writing the words that became our country song.

ROWE: So what do you think about the constant conversation about adapting another national anthem?

VAISE: You mean changing the national anthem in adapting another piece?

ROWE: Yes. It's just so tough to sing. I mean for the average person.

VAISE: Right, the war of 1812 was tough and we didn't give up on it. Building the trans continental rail road was tough. We didn't give up on that.

ROWE: Yeah. We didn't.

VAISE: Go into the room is tough and we didn't shy away from that. And the civil rights movement was tough and we didn't shy away from that. So just because it's tough, where have we Americans ever shy away from song because it's tough. What kind of argument is that?

ROWE: I retract the question. I think it's going to make it harder.

The original star-spangled banner is somewhere in this Smithsonian but there is a replica pure to Fort and Vince's unbridled passion is inspired in me a burning desire to raise the same size flag that inspired our national anthem. KAMP: So you want to raise the big flag?

ROWE: I want to raise the big flag.

KAMP: He wants to raise the big flag.

VAISE: You get the big flag out can we?

KAMP: He got to raise the big flag.

ROWE: Sure.

And from what I hear, it's a big ass flag.

VAISE: We're flying a 17 by 25 foot flag right here. Now, the huge one is 30 by 42 feet.

ROWE: It's pretty big flag.

VAISE: Do you think it's too windy for it? OK. So here is the deal.

ROWE: My crew will help.

VAISE: Raising the flag but we need everybody in here to help catch it when it comes down.


VAISE: So that's the deal.

ROWE: You guys (inaudible) we can raise the big one but it's a team effort.

VAISE: Well see if we can get some -- we'll need some visitors too.

ROWE: So that's not the big flag.


VAISE: No it's not.

ROMMEL: The big flag is a big flag and it's like a sail.

ROWE: Yes.

ROMMEL: So when he says let go, let go. Because you'll be dragged into the sailing port.

ROWE: Really?

ROMMEL: Yeah. Yeah.

ROWE: Let me get this straight, Vince, got from the sailing port and his ranger had got crashed?

ROMMEL: Yes. ROWE: Because the wind caused the flag the wrong way?

ROMMEL: Yeah. And he did not let go. It will drag you.

ROWE: This is the kind of...

ROMMEL: No, it's going to be fine.

ROWE: It's the kind of thinking.

ROMMEL: It's good windy day.

ROWE: We'd like to see that. If that's possible.


ROWE: So, we're here in Baltimore at Fort McHenry, the Birthplace of the Stars Spangled Banner. On this hollowed ground, Ranger Vince and his team of historical interpreters are dedicated to bringing history to life.

Be careful of that thing.

VAISE: You could poke your eye out.

ROWE: But the story of Fort McHenry is really the story of a flag, a very big flag.

VAISE: This is the hands on history part of our program.

ROWE: But I have been given the honor or raising that big flag over to fort.

VAISE: It will come to you. Trust me.

ROWE: But first, we've got to put the little one away.

Off the ground. OK.

VAISE: That's 17 feet by 25 feet. Now, the hugest one is 30 feet by 42 feet.

ROWE: That's a big flag.

So with the small flag packed away, it's time to go big.

This is a big flag.

VAISE: Changing flag, you know, somebody's got to do it.

ROWE: Got to be done Vince.

VAISE: The both side want to back away and unroll.

ROWE: Backing away. Steady. OK. VAISE: The commander of the Fort Major George Armistead said it's my intention to have a flag so large, the British will have difficulties seeing from a distance. OK. Now, if you have the flag open.

Let's go ahead and if we want to turn the flag around clockwise. There you go. Now, we're set.

ROWE: All right. Here we go guys. I'm going to start the yank. Ready?

VAISE: Pull away.

ROWE: All right. Here we go. How much this thing weight?

VAISE: About 55 pounds.

ROWE: She's heavier.

VAISE: As soon as they let go over, you'll feel lighter for you. Let the -- All the way. Keep up. You're doing great. Not this way.

ROWE: This is hoisting flag.

VAISE: There you go.

ROWE: Now, what?


ROWE: Look at that thing go.

VAISE: Look at that. Isn't that awesome/

ROWE: That is awesome. That's a workout.

VAISE: Yeah.

ROWE: Freedom is heavy.

VAISE: Yeah, it's is.

ROWE: You could use that if you want.

VAISE: Freedom is heavy, yeah.

ROWE: Please address the land in your own words. Say something unforgettable about Baltimore to make people want to come visit, bring history alive. That's only you can do, Vince.

VAISE: Well, I would say, you know, the taglines for the Baltimore is the Birthplace of the Star Spangled Banner Baltimore, the Star Spangled City connect to your country outpost and personal. Visit the Fort McHenry and visit the Baltimore.

ROWE: I have nothing to add except thank you.

VAISE: All right. You're welcome. Thank you.

ROWE: It's great. Fun.

VAISE: Isn't it awesome?

ROWE: Good luck at that thing down.

But wait, there's more. The Star Spangled Banner itself, that massive flag, 30 feet by 42 feet was pieced together on the floor of a brewery by a seamstress name Mary Pickersgill. Her story is not as well known as Francis Scott Key's but it's no less important. And this is great things get a little weird. Only in Baltimore with such an important story be kept alive today in a water ballet and only at my hometown, would I ever agree to participate in such a thing.

We have arrived. I'm going on. Boys are upstairs.

Welcome to the (inaudible) Hill athletic center here in beautiful -- (inaudible) what's the name we call it?


KAMP: This is one of the many spaces where Fluid Movements creates their signature, Baltimore history and literature team...

ROWE: Yes.

KAMP: ... water ballet. Water ballet has never been done on this level, I don't think. And I think it's time.

ROWE: I have three words for you, only...

KAMP: ...only...

ROWE: ... in Baltimore.

KAMP: Exactly.

ROWE: Yes. Fluid Movements is a very special group of citizens who have created a water ballet that tells the story of Mary Pickersgill and the famous flag that flew over Fort McHenry. And against my better judgment, I have agreed to be in it.

The Baltimore in behind all this is woman named Valerie Perez-Schere and it is she who will be teaching me to fluidly move tonight.


ROWE: It's nice to meet you. All right. So the official title of this organization...

SCHERE: Its Fluid Movement.

ROWE: Yes.

SCHERE: We're called Fluid Movement for a reason, not just because we do movement, (inaudible) in the water and on roller skate but because it's very organic, the way that our shows happen and the way that our (inaudible). We don't have like a membership. We don't audition. If you show up...

ROWE: You're in.

SCHERE: ... you're in the show. That's why we have 80 people swimming at the end.

ROWE: Well, that's fine.

SCHERE: We like borrow (inaudible) and still make it happen and then make really strange thing happen and these are public places.

ROWE: What's that strangest thing you guys have ever brought to life and (inaudible) our public places?

SCHERE: Goodness. We did 1140 nights which was the life of Freud in ballet dance in an old rag shaft on Howard Street.

ROWE: I just fell in love with you a little bit.

SCHERE: Yeah. I know.

ROWE: Obviously, one doesn't just leap head first into the deep end of the pool. In a water ballet, one must look the parts.

SCHERE: What would you like to wear? I have some options for you. Shall I show you these options?

ROWE: I'd be pleased.

SCHERE: And then, you can tell me of that.

ROWE: Yeah, yeah.

SCHERE: OK. So, this with the star on the bottom, so you can look like the rest of us, right? Everyone has start? You know, I have a microphone also on my bottom.

ROWE: Please, tell me that's a microphone.

SCHERE: It slits a little bit.

ROWE: Jones (ph)...

SCHERE: That's actually not, you know...

ROWE: Honestly, will you have a moment? Can you pull the mic out of this woman's ass? OK. So that's an option.

SCHERE: (inaudible) to wear that or if you want, I have a star under and prepared the stitch on your speedo if you have a blue speedo and if your comfortable wearing that, I can stitch a star on that while we're talking.

ROWE: I don't have a blue speedo, right?



KAMP: Your choice.

ROWE: Right.

SCHERE: I won't make you do it.

ROWE: Listen, I didn't get to where I am today by saying no.

SCHERE: I'm not going to.

ROWE: Thank you.

SCHERE: There. See. So I have a star and I'll sew it on.

ROWE: You sew it on before I put it on?

SCHERE: You know, it works fast that way. There's less blood.

ROWE: All right. Well Jones (ph), remove the microphone from Valerie's bottom. I'm going to go upstairs and sew a star on my ass. I dare you to turn channel.

So in addition to a star on my butts...

SCHERE: So you did laugh on everything, right?

ROWE: I'm told that proper water ballerina needs a little extra bling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm painting your fingernails and I'm painting your big toe. On men, I only paint these three fingers, the pretty fingers.

ROWE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Otherwise, you end up with big drag (ph) hands.

ROWE: Weirdness usually happens to me in stages. First, you get talked into attending a water ballet, then, you agreed to participate. Then a producer dares you to put on a speedo and someone else sews a star on your butt. Next thing you know, you're having your toenails painted. At least my parents aren't here to see this.

OH my parents have just walked in.


ROWE: I have to say hi to my mom and dad. Excuse me. I'll be right back, OK.


ROWE: I know. How you're doing?

P. ROWE: I'm good. You have to get to the water?

ROWE: Yeah. I don't know. How are you?

JOHN ROWE, MIKE ROWE'S DAD: I'm good, son.

ROWE: Happy anniversary.

J. ROWE: Well thank you.

ROWE: Fifty-four years of...

P. ROWE: Wedded list.

ROWE: Wedded list.

J. ROWE: You know, most people sign a marriage certificate.

ROWE: Yeah.

J. ROWE: I think we signed toleration certificate. We've been tolerating each other for 54 years.

ROWE: You should write greeting cards, dad. You really should. You should have the whole new tolerance line. That would be good.

J. ROWE: Your mother is a tolerant one.

ROWE: This is how we're going to commemorate the big occasion.


ROWE: So...

J. ROWE: What the hell will you do? Your finger nail is polished.

ROWE: I don't know. I have toe polish, I have nail polish, I got a speedo.

J. ROWE: I don't know if you can be (inaudible).

ROWE: I know. I'm not sure I should be doing any of these. Super exciting.


ROWE: So I'm here at the (inaudible) aquatic center in Baltimore, where we've got an Olympic sized pool, Stars Spangled Water Ballerina and enough patriotism to make (inaudible) shed a tear, in short we've got the whole package.

SCHERE: Yes turn around. Come on out. Come on out. (inaudible). Lovely.

ROWE: I had hurt my self-esteem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to Fluid Movement.

ROWE: It's nice here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now we need about 50 pounds a glitter to put on him..

SCHERE: We do, but, you know...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He need a glitter bath, a glitter shower.

SCHERE: Maybe (inaudible), I think.

ROWE: I suppose it's true that all the glitters is not necessarily gold but if my stars going to shine bright tonight, I am going to need a water ballet crash course. How come that guys not on a speedo? How come you're not on a speedo?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you in speedo?

SCHERE: So everybody that is a run from skill top on in the water.

ROWE: All right we're all in right?

First I need to learn the basics.

SCHERE: One of the things we're going to do is a pop and shimmy. You're going to push up and you're going to kick with your feet and you're going to pop and shimmy.

ROWE: Yeah.

SCHERE: One of the keys is to try not to look like your drowning.

ROWE: Still working on it.

I'll also have to master a few highly synchronize moves.

SCHERE: And now spread your legs.

ROWE: Oh that's unnatural.

Lots and lots of moves.

SCHERE: And then we play the trombone by...

ROWE: Oh gees.

SCHERE: ... setting you (inaudible). We call this the daisy swirl. Another thing that we do is a marching move. Touch your foot to your knee.

ROWE: Oh gees. SCHERE: That's totally is. The ballet leg kick.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your feet up.

ROWE: I was.

SCHERE: So we're doing the front pike and it's all about showing off the start that we just stitched on your butt. Yes. It's perfection, it's star shown like a (inaudible).

[21:55:00] ROWE: My star shown like a beacon.


ROWE: It was so fabulous.

SCHERE: So those are the basic skills I think everybody should hydrate.

ROWE: I need a nap.

SCHERE: Sneak snack if you have to.


SCHERE: Pee if you got it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not in the pool. Out of the pool.

ROWE: Sorry, you have to see this.

The water cold that evening very, very cold. Look at him up there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looking him up there.

ROWE: Wondering my dad is taking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible) what the hell happen. He shows (inaudible), promised,

ROWE: Yeah, really here he is (inaudible). And so it begins.

At this stage, resistance is pointless, bunch of toes are painted, it's a short trip to (inaudible) gauntlets and a taste for turban. Then it show time.

You have to be a hell of a (inaudible).


ROWE: It's on it. So watch closely as history unfolds before your wondering eyes and I cross one more item my imaginary bucket list, the supporting role in a single scene from the one and only Stars Spangeled swimmer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (inaudible) marry? I mean, Ms. (inaudible). UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Funny you should ask. Colonel (inaudible) wanted a flag, an enormous flag, so big we had to sew it together in a beer warehouse of the street.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, have a seat girls. Hit it Carlos (ph).

ROWE: I'm still friendly with a lot of people who make their living the hard way, the coal miners in Pennsylvania, rough necks in the gulf, crab fisherman on the vast _____ daring sea. I wonder if they're watching this.

Gosh I sure hope so. One things for sure, my dad's in the audience tonight and as a retired history teacher, he must be very, very proud.

The real question is what the hell would (inaudible) and Francis Scott Key think if they were here with us tonight, 201 years after the famous battle? What would they make of the glitter, the turbans, the watery choreography, the synchronies movement and the sequence star sewed on my speedo? It's hard to say for sure but beyond the inevitable confusion, I'd like to think they join in the applause.

SCHERE: High a little bit.


SCHERE: That's drifty beautiful. It was so beautiful. It was great.

ROWE: Before I say goodbye, are we done?

SCHERE: OK, we can be done except we have thing we like to do with the end of our shows.

ROWE: What?

SCHERE: We are all fluid, we are all connected to this.

ROWE: I just had a fluid movement.

SCHERE: Hands in the middle for the big cheer, just touch somebody.

ROWE: Oh my.

SCHERE: And one, two, three we are Fluid Movement.


ROWE: Here's the thing about my hometown, Baltimore has a chip on it's shoulder. Boston and Philly and New York and all the attention in the American history classes but without the brave stand made in this harbor our country would have made out of the 19th century. That's why I care so much about this drinking song that eventually became our national anthem. That's why a park ranger becomes at almost terrifyingly intense evangelist. That's why a bunch of pale- tatted hipsters synchronize swim their hearts out while dragging old glory across the surface of the municipal pool.

And that is the reason why today of the 140 million objects stored in the Smithsonian, the Star-Spangled Banner is considered the most valued, because of Baltimore. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) yeah, Baltimore.