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The Van Jones Show

People on a Mission. Aired 9-10p ET.

Aired May 28, 2015 - 21:00   ET




MIKE ROWE, SOMEBODY'S GOTTA DO IT HOST: I'm Mike Rowe. And I'm on a mission to find people on a mission. OH, on a scale 1 to 10 how much do you like what you do?


ROWE: Here we go. What are they doing?


ROWE: How are they doing it?


ROWE: And why?

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

ROWE: It's very fricking exciting.

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

ROWE: I dare you to turn the channel.

On this episode, last would big in this. I put myself on thin ice with the Chicago Fire Departments Air Sea Rescue Unit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm coming for you.

Don't let go.

Where the only thing colder than the water...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roll back in the water.

ROWE: And the man that makes me get in it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Come on climb back out.

ROWE: I was just out. That is out of the ice and into the steam that I find out there's so much punishment I can take. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got you.

ROWE: As the crew and I suffer for your entertainment in an old fashion Russian bathhouse. Then -- dragon blood -- I submerge myself in the mysterious mirk of real New Orleans voodoo within ordained priestess who wants to prove her religion is slightly less weird than we think.

That you (inaudible) up a train.


According to Robert Frost some say the world will end fire, some say in ice. Well, if you're a firemen on the Chicago waterfront, you get to worry about both, along with rushing headlong and a countless structure fires and the occasional towering inferno, Chicago fireman gets to plunge into Lake Michigan at the dead of winter and pluck hatless (ph) victims from the icy grip of certain death.

Today, I'm dropping in with the guys at Engine house 13 to get a better sense of who they are, what they do and, as always, why they got to do it.

Hey there.


ROWE: I'm good.

DORNEKER: Ron Dorneker.

ROWE: Ron, I'm Mike.

DORNEKER: How are you. Mike?

ROWE: I'm great, thanks.

DORNEKER: Welcome to the fire house.

ROWE: Thank you.

DORNEKER: This is the home of the Fire Department Scuba Team 687.

ROWE: So you have a team dedicated only to pulling people out of the river who fall through the ice, the harbor?

DORNEKER: Harbors, lakes, rivers, ponds, lagoons, anything that has water.

ROWE: How many of these do you do a year?

DORNEKER: Last year we did about 260 water rescues.

ROWE: Get out of here.


You pick a good day for this. You're going to have some tough ice conditions to deal with. You're going to have some frazil ice, you're going to have some thin ice, you're going to end up falling through and going into the water.




DORNEKER: So we're coming from land with the truck. We're coming from water with our boats, and we're coming by air with our helicopter, and those divers and all of them.


DORNEKER: Let's find him a suite.

ROWE: Yeah. Let's get me a suit.

DORNEKER: So let's get a number three dry suite. Let's get him a ____ undergarments, you will need a pair of boots.

ROWE: What kind of undergarments are we talking about, Ron?

DORNEKER: Just some thermal protection, so something light we don't want you too be bulky in this dry suit, in the undergarment...

ROWE: Right. Right. Yeah. No one wants pair of shoes, a result of bad undergarments.


ROWE: Part of my responsibility on the show is to establish a rapport with our subjects through humor and easy banter. Ron is not a big on humor. Can I be a victim too?

DORNEKER: By choice?

ROWE: Or easy bantered.

And then, look, when I reflect back on all my experience I really think the role of victim just, I think, I'm a slum dunk for it, this is no bringer (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then, I'll give you thermal protection, so it'll keep you warm for a little bit.

ROWE: Literally minutes?

Then again, I make a living impersonating a show host and Ron gets paid to save lives.

Serious is probably the way to go. DORNEKER: So I don't want to bear a bad news but that's OK about 6 minutes to get your undergarments on...

ROWE: Yeah there was a complication.

DORNEKER: So times of the essence, so when we get that call this rapid deployment dressing means that you're going to be joining on the spot ready to go when we need you.

ROWE: Yeah.

DORNEKER: So we're going to teach you how to do this and one of the skills that you're going to perform for us, is to get dress as fast as you can.

ROWE: Sure.

DORNEKER: All right.

ROWE: But at times you just (inaudible) right on your face to put this thing on.


DORNEKER: Pull your hands off.

ROWE: And this is the easy part.

DORNEKER: This is the easy part. So that's suiting up, now you learn how to put the equipment on, any questions?

ROWE: Who wear this last?

DORNEKER: I'm not sure.

ROWE: I just feel like I'm closer to who whatever it was.

DORNEKER: Yeah. But well let's take it back and some close again.

ROWE: We're take (inaudible)

DORNEKER: Yep, help him out.

ROWE: From here on out it's a whirlwind of information.

[21:05:00] DORNEKER: So when you get out on the regular (ph) drive to the call that will give you an idea on the way to the call what we're up against what the rescue entails.

ROWE: I do a lot of nodding and lean what I can about the tools and the trade.

DORNEKER: This is our ice rescue pole.

ROWE: Yeah. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you put your hand all the way through it, and get up on your arm and I simply twist this. Now, I just bought you time (ph). Plan B is now to figure out how to get you out of the water and back to shore.

ROWE: All though while I have the sticking feeling that I'll definitely be tested on this later.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's called the Fortuna, 2000 pounds of (inaudible) in this thing. So they're going to unclad (ph) it and we should be able to do this in the right about 50 seconds.

ROWE: What a nightmare, you have to blow this up manually.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is going to bring this thing and walk it right over to the victim. We'll be able to pull right up to the front of that boat and then pull them back to shore.

ROWE: Very familiar, all right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then you're also going to use this as a deployment craft and then you're going to rescue somebody with this.

ROWE: I got it.


ROWE: Let's go.

And so without further ado, for the requisite for the hours of basic training, we're up to the rescue.

JEREMY KOCK, FIREFIGHTER: Brian (ph) like (inaudible) bump it on the road too.

ROWE: Very good. Hey, Brian (ph), you missed a bump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sorry, we're back in timing (ph).

ROWE: Yeah.

Where do you brought us, Ron (ph)? Where are where are you? There you are.

DORNEKER: Right in here.

ROWE: All right. Tell me where I am.

DORNEKER: So now we're going to do all the training. The dock is an ice shelf.

ROWE: Aha.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So that's the ice. And you'll just going to move do a couple of maneuvers in the water just to see what it feels like we're going to take you from this once you are comfortable and here moving around.

ROWE: Right.

DORNEKER: We'll bring you over to an area where there is more ice. There'll be some solid ice, there will be some frazil ice, some slashed ice...

ROWE: How many kinds of ice are there?

DORNEKER: I have no idea.

ROWE: It's not that I'm trying to delay getting in the water, Ron, it's just that me...


ROWE: ... so I just want to point out...

Am I stalling intentionally or am I just enjoying messing with Ron. Yes. Maggie (ph) has been with Fire Department for 10 years but this is her first stay with the --which we call the...



ROWE: Air Sea rescue?


ROWE: It's actually Air Sea?


ROWE: Ah, I don't know that, because I'm pretty sure it's a (inaudible) inside of the truck. See it right there it's crystal clear.

This is the Chicago Fire Department Scuba team.

You know you're on the scuba team, right? I just want to point out a certain visual ambiguity with respect to the proper name of the overseeing organization which in fact has jurisdiction over the scuba team which I believe is Air Sea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it will tramp you one more with Q.B. (ph) special operations.

ROWE: Special officers run by a man named Mike Fox who is basically Ron's boss.

Mike smiles a lot more than Ron but has no patience for stalling either.

You got your (scuba) team and you're air...


ROWE: Helicopters, right.

FOX: ... rubber boats and I think you have stalling long enough.

ROWE: I would say I'm stalling Ron, I'm just say I just got it. I like to get lay in the land, what's the name of this harbor?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Montrose harbor.

ROWE: Montrose and why is it called Montrose Harbor?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're don't have time, let's do this...

ROWE: Who was this Mr. Montrose's...

FOX: He was probably an ex-mayor.

ROWE: Was he? What do you think this guy in office right now? What is his name?

FOX: I'm pretty sure, we better get in the water.

ROWE: This is are the manual character.

FOX: I think we should get in the water...

ROWE: Let's not stalling, look, our viewers...



ROWE: So I'm about to learn the ins and outs of an ice rescue from the frigid waters of Chicago's Montrose Harbor.


ROWE: May I ask what bog in this?

The mission chief for my misadventure, Ron Dorneker, you know, nonsense leader of the Chicago Fire Department's Air and Sea Rescue crew.

DORNEKER: Gentlemen, you do a controlled entry into the water. I want you to swim out about 50 feet. Let's watch what he does, Mike, and then you can go next. And he's going to do a controlled slow entry feet first into that ice hole.

ROWE: Yeah. He said ice hole. I'm just going to let it go.

DORNEKER: He slides in nice and easy. He's in. Turn around face that way, 50 feet out. Go.

Using his fins, not allow a big splash, right, nice and easy. Stop, Jeremy (ph). ROWE: How long is the training take before a person certified to do


DORNEKER: It honestly takes about three years for one of our divers to get the experience, the training and everything for surface ice rescue, the diving, to really learn it and master it.

All right, Jeremy (ph). Back to you.

ROWE: That's right, right there.

DORNEKER: Out of way here. No worries.

All right. So, Jeremy (ph), if this is an ice shelf right now, right? So, Mike, he's going to approach this. If he fell through, he needed to climb back up. Come on up. He's going to keep moving forward and he's going to kind of army crawl up unto the ice. And once he get tap his body up, he's going to roll away from the hole. And that's going to distribute his body weight.

ROWE: Roll from the hole.

DORNEKER: Roll from the hole.

I'll give you some tips while you're in there.

ROWE: As long as they have rhyme., I'm down with it.

DORNEKER: You can do the same thing that Jeremy did.

ROWE: Right.

DORNEKER: Go on. Peek first into the water. Nice and easy.

ROWE: You kind of wiggle or just go with?

DORNEKER: Keep going. Nice and easy. Go on. Good. Turn around. You got your ice rescue pole with you.

ROWE: Yeah.

DORNEKER: Extend it to Jeremy. And then, you're going to want to give him some verbal direction.

ROWE: All right. So, reach out. Grab that rope. Put your arm through it. All right. I'm going to twist is up. You're going to feel some pressure.

DORNEKER: So, have yourself fire out that we can't communicate verbally, we're going to do it via hand signals. When you have them locked onto that, you're going to give us an OK. This means you're OK and this means we can pull you in.

ROWE: OK. So, the assumption is always, the ice is going to break and we're all going in.

DORNEKER: If they went through, you're probably going to go through with them.

ROWE: Great.

DORNEKER: Kick your feet a little bit. Kick and climb. Keep going. All right. At some point, now, if the ice is breaking, you could roll away from it. Right?

ROWE: Right.

DORNEKER: Come on back in the water.

ROWE: I think it was Vince Lombardi who said, "It's not whether you get knock down, it's whether you get back up." And I think it was Ron Dorneker who said, "Back in the water."

DORNEKER: All right. Come on. Climb back out, same way.

ROWE: I was just out.

DORNEKER: Right. You're going to climb back out again. So, climb up.


DORNEKER: OK, back in the water. Good now. Come on back. OK. Climb up, Mike. Come on. Hurry up. Get up. Come on, Mike. You get to get up now. Get up. This is ice and you're trying to rescue somebody. Get up. Come one. Roll away. Good. Climb back in. Do it again, one more time. Climb back in, right back in. Go out to Jeremy. Touch Jeremy and come back. One more time, come on.

And this is the reality of it, Mike. You're going to be moving back and forth like this, right. You're going to struggle a little bit. Use your hands a little bit.

ROWE: OK. Great.

DORNEKER: Come on back, one more time, last time.

ROWE: I can't save you now. Good luck.

DORNEKER: Come on. You'll be fine.

ROWE: We're going to miss you.

DORNEKER: All right. Get up. Get up right away. Get up right away. Spread your body weight. Roll away from the hole. Roll away from the hole. Come on. Roll. Roll.

Good. OK.

[21:15:00] So, again, nice stable platform, right?

ROWE: Yes.

DORNEKER: It's going to support your body weight. ROWE: It's like you're drift (ph).

DORNEKER: Yeah. It's going to be. You're going to stay there. When you get out on that ice and somebody's out there yelling for help and you have to get to him, you're really going to want to manage your energy systems the right way.

ROWE: Because on top of all the obvious physical stress, maybe a little panic maybe a little - I mean, all that stuff (inaudible) your heart rate and everything else.

DORNEKER: And they decided be aggressive with you in that ice hole and that water. What energy do you have left?

ROWE: I got two ice holes to do it.


ROWE: Right?

DORNEKER: I got it. I got it.

ROWE: You can use that, Meggy (ph).

I resist and as long as I could and hey look I got a smile.

DORNEKER: Jeremy (ph), come on up.

ROWE: This is me impersonating Ron. Roll away from hole back. Roll, I said roll. I couldn have got you.

ROWE: Because he doesn't want to learn.

DORNEKER: Chain of command, Mike. You're the new guy.

ROWE: Oh, great.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's really never made anybody do it that many times, except people that stuck in this water.

ROWE: Well, I don't - let's I don't (inaudible) he going to keep me up very definitely.

DORNEKER: So when you approach the victim, we want you to come from the side. Once you get to the side, keep moving to the back as you approach them from the back and you slide into that water, into that ice hole that they're in...

ROWE: Right.

DORNEKER: ... and you get -- we don't want that to be turn around and grab you.

ROWE: Right. Right. Right.

DORNEKER: We don't want that to happen. You're holding on to an ice shelf...

ROWE: Yeah.

DORNEKER: ... so I come and approach, I'm going to step out into that ice shelf...

ROWE: Right.

DORNEKER: As we step (inaudible) to the ice shelf, your hands are going to come around and you're going to grab and lock on both.

ROWE: OK. Let me just spit some of the this out, you tell me if I got it all right. Essentially right now, we're going to sort of create a simulation, I will have chance to rescue a victim.

The victim would be played by Jimmy (ph) who was anything but a victim. And I'm going to navigate myself over the ice flows get to Jimmy (ph) approach him, take a slightly off axis position come up behind him and push him into the ice get him a bear hug, hang on tight, at which point the Fortuna will be deployed and somebody will start to pull us back.

DORNEKER: Perfect.

ROWE: Well that's our plan. OK. What do we need to make this happen?

DORNEKER: We're going to get back into the dive truck. You don't get to start here. This isn't Hollywood.

ROWE: Kind of, it is Ron and it is.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Helicopter 681 and 687, I'm flying around. We're on scene, 2700 north in the lake front. We (inaudible) incident, we have one person who is on through the ice.

ROWE: So I'm with Ron Dorneker and the Chicago Fire Department Air Sea Rescue Unit.

Ron has condensed the three-year training program into 30 minutes and agreed to let me participate in a rescue drill.

DORNEKER: All right. Let's get out. Come on.

ROWE: First responders are a lot like professional athletes beside from being highly skilled and physically fit. They spend endless hours training. Simulations like this are invaluable because even though the scenarios stage, the ice is real, the water is cold, the adrenaline is authentic.

DORNEKER: Mike, we need you to get in and start those rescue.

ROWE: Crap, I'm out of breath already.

DORNEKER: Go on. Go it Mike. You're in.

Nice and easy now, Mike, manage your energy. Lay a little bit on your side, Mike. Keep your fins under water. There you go. Go on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On swim? On swim, yes, a real one.

DORNEKER: OK, Mike, turn around start talking to him.

ROWE: Hey, boss.

You're going to be fine.

DORNEKER: Get up on the ice, Mike.

ROWE: Yeah, I'm coming. I'm coming. Don't let go. Don't let go. Keep your hands on the ice. I'm going to hang here, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Making his way around the ice to the victim. Stay contact.

He's good up here.

ROWE: How are you feeling?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, not so good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a miracle you can feel anything.

DORNEKER: Mike, you got him. You bought for some time.

That's great (ph), Mike.

ROWE: They're going to give you a ride. Like a free ticket.

They'll come to you. Don't panic.

There you go.

Anyway, that's what it looks like to rescue a guy from a frozen lake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, chief, it looks like they got the victim in the Fortuna.

DORNEKER: Nice and easy, pull slow.

ROWE: And this is what it looks like to rescue the guy, who rescues the guy from a frozen lake.

Keep pulling.

ROWE: God, I'd hate to crush this guy to death.

DORNEKER: Nice and easy. Good. Slow, Brian (ph), slow.

ROWE: That'd be ironic.

DORNEKER: So how was it, Mike?

ROWE: It was great.

DORNEKER: Your goal was to get out there, communicate with him, keep him at the surface so we don't have to dive, and buy time for this other team to get out there with the Fortuna to pull you all back. So you were able to go a little bit harder than normal because (inaudible) knew (inaudible) right back.

ROWE: I did.


ROWE: But I have to admit, and I have not known that, I'm very (inaudible) low.

Just think the obvious, firemen and women are incredibly selfless. When they are not running into burning buildings on our behalf or diving into frozen lakes, they are practicing the arts of doing both.

Next time, you see one, tell him thanks and give them my regards.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think, we give Mike a hand for that one?

ROWE: Oh, please, you're very kind.

DORNEKER: Nice work everybody.


ROWE: Ah oh, clearly, I pissed off the wrong people.

Am I being water-boarded by the enemies of freedom? It's Ron from the last segment still trying to shock the smart-aleck out of me?

No. No. It's much worst than that. It's my birthday and to understand why I'm celebrating in a torture chamber, we have to move back a few hours.

After my experience with Chicago Fire Department, my aging muscles were in need of rejuvenation and I was still chilled to my ancient bones has left with habit. There's a place in the Windy City dedicated to preserving an old and allegedly very effective form of physical therapy and that's how I wind up at the traditional Russian bathhouse called the Chicago Sweatlodge.

BILL TRUTTER, MANAGER, CHICAGO SWEATLODGE: Hi. Welcome to the Sweatlodge, Chicago Sweatlodge.

ROWE: Thank you.

TRUTTER: Can I get you to sign in there? The keeper of this sweaty flame is a man called Bill Trutter. And it's his mission to provide the very best bathhouse experience to this side of a (inaudible).

TRUTTER: I get you a locker here.

ROWE: The first thing I notice is the sign that leaves no room for ambiguity. No BYO. No sex. No smoking. No guns.

[21:25:00] Buy hey, they got soup.

TRUTTER: All right, come on in.

ROWE: All right.

So after disrobing and observing yet another helpful sign, my first stop is the Russian dry sauna.

TROTTER: So, this is your first time in a, you know, Russian sauna like this?

ROWE: Let me think. Yes.

TROTTER: OK. Good luck

ROWE: I didn't get a hat.

TROTTER: My goodness. I'm about to get you a hat.

ROWE: I like that.

Are they actually hats or its (inaudible) there must be.

TROTTER: What it is, it's a roll hat (ph), OK, it's called the shapka, all right. So what happens when you put this on is like when you put a hat on when you go outside to keep your head warm. This, you can keep your head cool and then, when your head stays cool, you can stand here a lot longer.

ROWE: Where are my manners? I'm Mike. What your name.

ANDREI: Andrei.

ROWE: Andrei.

VADIM: Vadim.

ROWE: Vadim. And you.

DMITRIY: Dmitriy.

ROWE: Dmitriy? You are? Who was this?

OLEKS: Oleks.

(Off-Mike) ROWE: (Inaudible) and Oleks.

SERGEI: Sergei.

ROWE: My new friends are from places like Minsk, (inaudible) and Leningrad which I thought was Saint Petersburg but whatever. They waste no time giving me a history lesson about the tradition of the Russian bathhouse. Here's a short version.

The bathhouse or banya, as the Russians call it, has been around for centuries. Authors like Koshka, Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky all mentioned it in their work. The banya also serves as a community center and a venue to exchange ideas.

To this day, nearly every city in small town in Russia goes to banya and many private residences have one of their very own. In short, the Russians take sweat very seriously.

So, there's a big Russian population obviously in Chicago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. Yeah. We knew there were some, you know, Russians that sort of the banyas every Tuesday right here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a social...

ROWE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sweat a little here then you eat, drink and then, relax.

ROWE: Sweat (inaudible), eat, drink, relax, sweat, (inaudible), drink, eat, relax.

TROTTER: And maybe sleep a little.

ROWE: If you're wondering just how hot it is in here, the answer is not enough. For my new comrades, it can always be hotter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He needs to warm up.

ROWE: No, you're not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, he is not used.

ROWE: How many people had passed out on the course of it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had a heatstroke once.

ROWE: Did you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not totally but, you know, I knew what the heatstroke was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mike, you're going to see the sign at the exit...

ROWE: Yeah. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, we're glad you're alive but we're

surprised you're alive.

ROWE: I am alive..

My concern, of course, is that no one told my loyal crew to bring bathing attire for this shoot and those cameras got to be pretty hot by now.

Is it, Nick (ph)? Is it burning that...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible) 185 right now.

TROTTER: What they'll do is they pour water on there. This little steam comes out and it bumps the temperature up to 200, 210.

ROWE: Let's get it up to 200, 210 and see which of my cameramen collapses first. We have a new exciting game.

Nick was (inaudible) as they were food poisoning. So, normally, my mic beyond Nick (ph) all the way, if he's a monster but now, I don't know, I think, he's diminished.



ROWE: It's cold outside.


ROWE: But here at the Chicago Sweatlodge, my crews were sweating their pirogi's off and we're keeping the tradition of the Russian banya alive and well.

Here we go, a little warm

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's hot right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This thing is a bad idea.

ROWE: So it's like stop down because we're (inaudible) something a little more appropriate.

Hey, (inaudible) that's like early American gladiator.

Nuck, how you felling seriously? Yes, that was bad for you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yesterday was bad but I feel a lot better today.

ROWE: At any point you feel like your going to pass out make sure there's a camera pointed at you, rating is gold.

Now, that everyone's over exposed let's crank this Russian sauna up to 11.

Mechanically, what are we looking at here? How is this all work?

TROTTER: OK. This is what - this over has 5,000 pounds of rocks in it, OK, and then what happens over night it's like this, this gas burner real simple and the fire heats the rocks just off about 7:00 a.m. and then just heat lasted us a day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Usually put some water so to get more steam in here.

ROWE: You put water in there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah for a water, it's a very small amount.

ROWE: What my eastern European pal is anxious to show me is how a little water creates a lot of sweat and if this sign wasn't clear enough about the importance of being cautious, this one is crystal (inaudible) clear.

I actually love that sign I'm a big fan of honesty in signs. All right let's pump it up.

Throw back there, hell.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So in back there you make more effect.

ROWE: Personally I thought 185 was so stiff but my Soviet associates are never satisfied.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mike we're started to feel it.

ROWE: Feel good?


ROWE: All right, I'm coming up. Oh yeah. Of course, my compadres do everything they can to maximize the experience.

Oh I don't think that's helping.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think that's helping at all.


ROWE: All right that's cool.


ROWE: And just as I found myself quietly cursing the heat.

(Off-Mike) .

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not bad, not bad, back there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what it is, it's really good for your circulation.

ROWE: Unless it kills you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well sitting here in all the heat everything expands in your body.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what happens when you jump in there that's the difference everything goes back.

ROWE: If I everything.


ROWE: Everything. Clearly more contraction than expansion, I'm now sent back into the sauna and told to lie face down for the signature skin treatment of the Russian Banya something called a Venik.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just explain it to you, the best I can.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. What it does is it helps open your pores a little bit more.


[21:35:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There oak leaves, (inaudible) together and it's an old traditionally, you know, Russian process, you know, we've been doing for years.

ROWE: Oh, great, you must be get tired.

So after my skin is been opened up, via the vigorous plugging, guess what the next step is.

Now, that I am good and contracted yet again, let's go on to the next circle of hell. And as it turns out, all those circles are not Russian.

Let's go sleep in the Turkish bath before get scrubbed.

We should be there in a minute.

It's a (inaudible) bath but --

In the Turkish bath, I find myself in the hands of Sergei, who is going to administer something called a salt scrub.

SERGEI: Just for a minute, stretch your legs.

ROWE: All right.

Ten minutes later to my surprise I am relaxing. And the result and never again jump into that icy plunge pool.

ROWE: I'll talk, I'll talk. My buddies are hiding there down the road, behind the bushes.

SERGEI: All right. I'm going to head to the cold pool for another hit.

You want to go?

ROWE: That sounds fantastic.

Forgot my shoes, forgot my hat, forgot my dignity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you right there in the bath?

ROWE: It depends, what this massage mean here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, (inaudible) massage.

ROWE: Oh that sounds fun. I hope I got Tiffany (ph) or Charmaine (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His name is Vassil or "Bill", what we call him, and he is a ex-weightlifter.

ROWE: Is he?


ROWE: That's great.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was actually in the 1976 Olympics.

ROWE: Was he?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. And during the Olympics, he was lifting and something happened and he slipped and broke his arm, broke his leg all at one time, (inaudible) laps on him and that's how he became a therapist. So he is really good when he does.

ROWE: If he gets first my shoulder then I'm...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm telling you...

ROWE: I'll be a little fine then.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If anybody can do it, he can.

Mike, this is Bill.

VASSIL "BILL" KAFALOV, THERAPIST: OK. Bill, Mike, nice to meet you.

ROWE: Hello, Bill. It's good to meet you.

KAFALOV: Leg, please, face down.

ROWE: Yes, of course.

OK, so left shoulder. KAFALOV: You have problems with your left shoulder?

ROWE: Yeah. Yeah.

KAFALOV: OK, we're going to start with the pinched nerve. Go down like that. This is the connection.

ROWE: How did you know, Bill? How can you be so sure?

KAFALOV: I have a lot experience.


KAFALOV: Just relaxing, please.

ROWE: Oh man, this is -- I see how this is going to go.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to be (inaudible) because he'll find a way to unlock it.

KAFALOV: You'll be a brand new man.

ROWE: I'll be what?

KAFALOV: You will be a brand new man.


ROWE: A brand new man.


ROWE: Will my arms still be attached?



ROWE: I spent most of my birthday in my birthday suit enjoying the wonders of the Chicago Sweatlodge.

My current treatment is a brutal pounding at the hands of an ex-Soviet weightlifter.

I'll give you whatever you want. His stuff is moving around all over the place.

Going to reach inside of my body aren't you.

I've been in lots of spas and I like a good massage as much as the next guy of it. There's different. Forget the aroma therapy candles, forget the new age music playing softly in the background, rorget Charmaine (ph) or Tiffany (ph) with her soft hands and gentle touch, this is the kind of massage that makes you want to confess. But, you know what, it kind of works.

Son of a bitch.

It's better.

KAFALOV: Are you sure?

ROWE: No, no. There is some, you know, trauma but...

KAFALOV: You'll remember me, all your life.

ROWE: I'm never going to forget you right now, never. All right, let's drink.

Vodka cranberry, (inaudible), vodka tonic, vodka jack (ph), vodka corona (ph), vodka with fresh grape fruit juice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys want to do a shot of vodka?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you all want a vodka?

ROWE: I'm drinking vodka. Sure.

I think I get it, it's not so much of health thing as it is something the broskis (ph) from the eastern block have been doing for a long, longtime.

Thank you, Bill.

It's about sweat and it's about vodka. But really it's about community that I for one, I'm glad it's here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys have jobs?

ROWE: Well, thank you for what you did to me and all of you guys that was very, very personal and I'll never forget it. To the homeland.


ROWE: And what part of that are we in?

TROTTER: We're in a Portage Park area. Portage Park.

ROWE: Oh, Portage Parl.


ROWE: I thought you said the poorest park.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. No. Portage Park...

ROWE: (Inaudible) I'm in the poorest park of Chicago. Someone (Inaudible). It's basically impossible to visit New Orleans and not encounter some really good food, some really great music, some very creepy images. With few acceptance, these images are almost always associated with Voodoo, a surprisingly robust religion that most people associate with a long series of stereotypes reinforced by Hollywood literature and pop culture.

So, in the spirit of understanding, I've tour myself away from the jazz clubs (inaudible) to meet up with the real life voodoo priestess and see what voodoo is all about in the Big Easy.

[21:45:00] Hi.


ROWE: Mike.

GLASSMAN: How are you?

ROWE: All they told me was your name is Sallie and you're a voodoo priestess?


ROWE: OK. What's your last name?

GLASSMAN: Glassman, the nice Jewish voodoo priestess last name right. I'm actually from Maine.

ROWE: I'm sorry Sallie you're a nice Jewish girl from Maine?

GLASSMAN: I'm a nice Jewish girl from Maine.

ROWE: School in the arts of voodoo and practicing in New Orleans.


ROWE: There's two voodoo myths dispel right off the bat (ph), Sallie was not form on the value, and it's not even pronounce voodoo.

GLASSMAN: Voodoo is the Haitian real pronunciation and if you notice some pronouncing is differently than you are.

ROWE: Say it again?


ROWE: Vodou.


ROWE: Vodou.

GLASSMAN: Yes. And it's actually religion and it's a way of life it is practice in Haiti and comes from Africa. So this is my religion and I held ceremonies every week in my temple which I will take you to later on. And...

ROWE: You have a temple?

GLASSMAN: I have temple and we serve the spirits.

Each person has a spirit that rules over them its called the Met Tet, the master of you head. That is La Siren, the mermaid and she is one of mine.

ROWE: The important thing in Sallie's crush course in Vodou is that it started in Africa made its way to Haiti during the slave trade and eventually, wind up here. In order to practice Vodou under their masters noses (ph), slaves and corporate elements, Christianity and Catholicism into their rituals, centuries later, this hybrid version is alive and wealth. That might not explain a topless mermaid but it does lead direct to the rise of Marie Laveau. She is the best known and most famous practitioner of vodou and the big part of what Sallie is all about.

GLASSMAN: A friend of mine, Ricardo Costanio, made me this magnificent statue of Marie Laveau and people are bringing offerings to her so we decided to make it into a recognize international shrine. This is Marie and you can see stuff that people have been bringing little coins and shells and lots of candles as you can see and we're making a mosque based for it.

Here's a tarot card.

ROWE: I think so. Got to made Tennessee.

So here I am making a vodou offering to a woman who's died over 130 years ago but as long as I'm here in the present day I'm wondering if there's any good juju that could help me with some more physical concerns. There is square inch of my body hurts, mostly my back.

GLASSMAN: We have a miracle healing candle.

ROWE: Do you?


ROWE: Like I see that one.

GLASSMAN: It's right here we can even dress it for you so you'll have a little bit more oomph (ph).

ROWE: It's killing me.

GLASSMAN: These are all different oils.

ROWE: Dragon blood?

GLASSMAN: Dragon blood it's not actually dragon fluid...

ROWE: It's not actually dragon don't wreck it. Is the lucky black cat bone actually a cat bone? GLASSMAN: I hope not I have a black cat at home.

ROWE: See if any bones?

GLASSMAN: He does. He's using them right now.

ROWE: Well that's pointing the dragon blood is not from a real dragon. I'll go ahead anyway like my miracle healing candle I hope for the best.

Why are the candles all together here, grouped up?

GLASSMAN: Because everybody wants to be at the based of the centerfold, it's thought of the central highway between the visible world and the invisible world and that world is more powerful, and more beautiful, and more vast, and more -- full of potential in life than what we see on the surface.

So for the slaves that was an incredibly empowering pot (ph) and the whole vodou practice with the technology for reaching in so that invisible world and pulling through great power.

ROWE: How many are practicing vodou?

GLASSMAN: Vodou? 50 million to 80 million worldwide and....

ROWE: Seriously?

GLASSMAN: Seriously, and I don't how they get those figures because vodou is so (inaudible) that I don't know that people are that willing to acknowledge that they practice it.

ROWE: I do want to understand why this particular religion could attract that many people and still at the same time do so.


ROWE: It's bad, exactly. You guys -- need a PR department.

GLASSMAN: I'm working on it.

ROWE: Well, if this fixes my back ...


ROWE: ... I'm maybe going it.



ROWE: So far, Sallie Ann Glassman has taught me how her adapted religion of vodou came from a very specific time and place.

Now, we're strolling through here adapted home of New Orleans to make an offering to the spirits at her temple. What's your favorite part of city and you can't say the music or the food.

GLASSMAN: I love the people's tolerance. This is a place where people who absolutely would fit in the rest of the country can find real welcome in it remains unique and increasingly generic world and I think it's because of the presence of vodou.

ROWE: Will you take vodou out of the tapestry of the past in the whole...


ROWE: ... "unravels."

GLASSMAN: That would be another strip mall.

ROWE: If I can ask you, on the beads, why are they (inaudible) vodou symbolized?

GLASSMAN: They are just declarative (ph) and you know, they throw them from the muddy (inaudible) load...

ROWE: Oh, yeah. I know. I know people take their shirts off when they go find you here..

GLASSMAN: Yeah. Yeah. They'll do ah -- I'm a total bead whore (ph) myself.

ROWE: Are you?

GLASSMAN: It's embarrassing and after you chilled yourself to get them...

ROWE: Will you do those?

GLASSMAN: ... then you don't know what to do with them and so you...


ROWE: ...where you can have them.

On the right day and the right time, and otherwise respectable girl would happily take her close off in order to have some thrown but the next day.

GLASSMAN: Into that far. But I...

ROWE: I believe your exact words were bead whore.

GLASSMAN: I would crush my children to get my bead.

ROWE: But you wouldn't take your shirt?

GLASSMAN: Right. Right.

ROWE: It's important to have in people standards.

Now that we've saw the ritual of the beads, let's get back to my back by consulting the Loa or the vodou spirits.

Turquoise and lavender, this is very specific temple.

GLASSMAN: It's a questionable choice at that time.

ROWE: No, it's festive.

The temple is not as bright as Sallie's shop but it's cheerful enough and as for the offerings, well let's just say, for mysterious and powerful spirits, the Loa have some fairly pedestrian proclivities.

This is a very busy altar.

GLASSMAN: And altar stands at the crossroads between the two worlds, the visible and the invisible and it's where we can go with our prayers to meet the spirits in the physical world.

ROWE: Are these brought by just the parishioners essentially?

GLASSMAN: Yes. All the stuff is for the spirit of love and beauty, and you see her pink fairly gloves and she's inclined to my champagnes or sweet liquors.

Legba, who is the spirit of the crossroads and the guardian of the door, likes rum. We've got little pot for Ogou who's the warrior in the back there.

ROWE: Little pot?

GLASSMAN: You can't see it but there's a pot underneath all that.

ROWE: I'm sorry. I was looking for like bag of weed.

GLASSMAN: No. Not yet.

ROWE: So now that we're among the spirits both alcoholic and ephemeral. Sallie and I will make an offering to the altar of spirits called Legba.

Corn nuts and peanuts?

GLASSMAN: Legba loves them. The idea of this offering is we're asking spirits to kind of talk to us, answer our prayers.

ROWE: Between the booze and the snacks, I'm thinking Legba and I will probably get along just fine.

GLASSMAN: And you're just going to pinch a little bit of corn meal in your fingers and you bend over and you let it come up on the ground. You want to try?

ROWE: What's this significance of corn meal? GLASSMAN: The slaves didn't have opportunity to use a whole lot of materials and corn meal was available in the kitchens and the domestic slaves were able to get a hold of it. We're going to do a Veve for Legba.

ROWE: Why does Legba like the rum and peanuts?

GLASSMAN: Just as taste. He's a mason.

ROWE: He's a mason?

GLASSMAN: He's a mason. There's a home (inaudible) tradition in vodou, the basis of this drawing as a crossroads.

ROWE: How many times would you say you've created this image?

GLASSMAN: I lost count. And you're going to hold the candle.

ROWE: Yes.

GLASSMAN: Now, we go to the south and to the north. OK. Come forward and we take a step to the right, to the left and bend. OK.

ROWE: If you (inaudible) a train.

GLASSMAN: Well, there's Ogou. He's in-charge of transportation and vehicle...

ROWE: Come on.

GLASSMAN: ... metal things.

ROWE: Really?

GLASSMAN: I'm sorry but yes. That's why we have all those chains likes in those (inaudible).

ROWE: Come on. You're missing with me.

GLASSMAN: He's missing with you. I'm not.

ROWE: Since Ogou decided to make it, first of all appearance, we're going to show him a little respect for the special offering.

GLASSMAN: Because it's Ogou is really fan of fire and really fan of rum. Draw a line to its offering and you will set it now on fire.

ROWE: The rum?

GLASSMAN: The rum. There you go. And I'm going to do a little fire bath for you to help you with your back and to help your protect yourself.

ROWE: Our back?

GLASSMAN: For you, give you some power points. OK. Here you go. ROWE: Thank you.

GLASSMAN: And you stand and we do a double handshake, all right.

ROWE: That's it?

GLASSMAN: That's it. You're done.

ROWE: It's my first vodou offering.

Whatever your thoughts might be on the supernatural, all religious rituals serve a practical purpose beyond the demonstration of faith. With Voodoo, these rituals were away for a completely powerless people to take back a little control over their own lives and you don't need to be slave to understand the importance of that.

GLASSMAN: And we all know a little bit about what that feels like to be an slave and to be cut in your own habits and cutting people the expectations of us or cutting a bad relationship if we can't click it out and voodoo helps us relocate ourselves from all that.

ROWE: You put some thought on those?

GLASSMAN: Yes, I have.

ROWE: Thank you.

GLASSMAN: Thank you. Thanks for the opportunity.

ROWE: After just a few hours with Sallie, I walked away a little smarter about the whys and where force (ph) of vodou.

Did it fix my back? Time will tell. But for now, I'll tell you this, of all the things in heaven and earth, vodoo is not the scariest.