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tv   United Shades of America  CNN  January 6, 2018 11:00pm-12:00am PST

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who here has been to appalachia or from appalachia? let's see. i feel like people didn't clap. they just put their hands up. i don't want everybody to know. appalachia has a stigma on it. it's a very poor area of the country. it's also -- it's like the poorest white area in the country. in appalachia, not only is it poor, it's also in a very remote part of the country that it's hard to get to and isolated because it's in the mountains, which basically makes it the only poor neighborhood in america to never get gentrified. not enough subway trains go there. they will be poor forever because it's like they can't get there. does that make you sad? [ laughter ]
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everyone's like, this is getting into a weird place. i know. i like to take it to a weird place. my name is w. kamau bell. as a comedian i've made a living finding humor in parts of the america i don't understand. now i'm challenging myself to dig deeper. i'm on a mission to reach out and experience all the cultures and beliefs that add color to this crazy country. this is "the united shades of america." after the first season of "united shades of america," i got a few suggestions from viewers about where we should go this season. by suggestions i mean people tweeting things like, you go to places like camden, new jersey, portland and san quentin and talk to black people, but i bet you wouldn't go to appalachia and talk to white people. usually i respond, how did you get a tweet so long and why is your voice sound like that? today i'm responding, oh, yeah, i'm going to appalachia. is it appalachia? huh? maybe we should start right there. what do i call this area of the
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country? >> appalachia. >> appalachia? >> we say appalachia, are we wrong? >> you say tomato i say tomato. >> if i say appalachia, i'll look like i'm from here? >> yeah. >> do i really look like i'm from here? >> yeah. you'll pass. >> for those like me who got a strong d-plus in american geography, it belongs to a 13-state region along the appalachia mountain range. it includes pennsylvania, tennessee and where i am now, the eastern part of kentucky. this is coal country. coal is one of the three things most people think about when they think of appalachia. along with abject poverty and the movie "deliverance," the movie i was tricked into seeing once in high school. thanks a lot, rob. tell me what stereotypes people have about this area of the country? >> oh, my god. >> that we're not educated. we don't have teeth. we have teeth. >> people think you're not educated and you don't have teeth? >> yeah. >> the "deliverance" stereotype. ♪ ding ding ding
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now, you will find that. >> let's be clear. it does exist. >> i ain't going to lie. but on a whole, it's just good-hearted people. you know? >> as far as the two other things people think about, coal is a dirty business with a dirty reputation that's become a dirty four-letter word. this show just got tv-ma. kids, cover your eyes. years of talk about alternative energy sources has slowly begun to turn into real action from solar panels on houses to electric cars on the street and to rumors that google is working on ways to power the city with the energy of kanye stage rants. these coal jobs aren't coming back. no matter what this guy says. >> coal is coming back, clean coal is coming back. 100%. >> as a nation, we have been conditioned to believe poverty is exclusively a black or brown thing, which would be one of the only things we're allowed to have for ourselves.
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the thing when people say they see no color, that's probably a neurological problem. the only thing that can claim that is poverty. the people of appalachia combine poverty with remote, difficult to access location, surrounded by mountains with no major industries in town or even near town. during the western expansion, the original settlers here used this very isolation to their advantage, taking pride in being self-sufficient and living off the land. what happens to the folks who live here now? are they bitter? do they see a brighter future? what do they think of "rogue one"? i'll just ask that off camera. i decide the best way to begin my journey is to go right into the belly of the beast. portal 31 is now a museum but is was once a coal mine. portal 31 was former miner and tour guide cody hall is taking me underground. not like my favorite band living color in the '80s but underground in a coal mine. tell me where we are at right now. >> we're 400 feet back in the
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mine. >> when did you work in a mine? >> i lost my job in 2013. i went in when i was 22. go into the coal mines at 22, you make 50 grand a year. that's what i started out at. and around here -- >> that's a lot. >> i was living it. >> that's like puff daddy. >> yeah. >> right now we've got our cameras have lights. would it have looked like this? >> no. >> what would it have looked like? >> just their headlamp. >> really? >> yes. >> it would be cool if we could get the lights out just to see how dark it was at some point. >> we can do is that. >> we don't have lights on our helmets yet but this is how dark it gets without the lights we had on in here. >> definitely. >> now if we turn our lamps on. so this is like what people were seeing? >> yeah. this is how you'd work. >> doesn't it -- like i don't know, make you feel like you're in a horror movie, first act of a horror movie. >> yes. >> lights are back on because i
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couldn't take it. let's be honest. it's really dark and quiet and that weird temperature where it feels like a ghost is around. >> you hear things in here. you know, people lived and died in these mines. >> okay. thanks for that. they were willing to risk death because for a while coal is where the money was. when coal skyrocketed, central appalachia went from the land of the farmers to the main destination if you were an immigrant looking for a job. other than creating energy for electricity and heating, coal was also essential for steel production and cement manufacturing. now with stronger regulations and a growing number of renewable energy alternatives, coal went from providing 50% of the u.s. electricity needs in the '90s to about half of that now. kind of the same way cornrows disappeared in the nba and they ain't coming back either. who's got that kind of time? this is more complicated than most people realize. people don't think about it from the cultural side. what makes you proud to be from this part of the country? >> what we have given for our
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country, to our country, we've helped the country move forward. i loved being a part of that. >> coal is just like this dirty word. it's a literally a four-letter word. it means destroying the environment. >> that's why i lost my job. >> that's why you lost your job. >> basically. >> talk more about that. >> because of carbon emissions and whatnot. the coal industry has been regulated to a point of death basically. but i care about our environment. i don't want to live in a place full of toxic sludge. i don't want that. i just want a good job. that's it. >> there you go. just want a good job. which is everybody. we all just want good jobs. >> yeah. >> see, we want the same things. a good job, a family, a car, a house with a chocolate fountain. is that still possible around these parts without coal? kamau. >> james. you can just call me skid. >> all right. >> they said you were a big dude. you aren't, aren't you? >> a little bit.
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>> come on, i'll show you around. >> fact is, there are still coal jobs. about 56,000 nationally and 7,000 here in kentucky. whoa. >> feel the simulator base? >> yes. >> you're mining. >> training for these jobs is mandatory, even if the industry is way safer today than the 1920s when an average of 1,500 people died yearly due to mining collapses and explosions, accidents still happen. so training and safety is what this place is all about. got to back it up. that and my producer is getting more footage for their collection of look at all the things kamau can't do. this is the kentucky coal academy, the yale of appalachia, or it is the harvard? i can't remember. where are we headed? >> this is our smoke mobile training simulation unit to simulate the escapeways of an underground coal mine. we'll let you train in it like the miners do on their annual refresher and see if you can make it out of the mine safe. what do you think about that? >> i feel like i can get it from here.
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i feel like i can do it. i don't need to go in there. >> yeah, you got to go in there or you won't get your retraining. >> is this something every coal miner has to do or is this optional? >> no, it's not optional. it's state and federally required. that's one of the most important things a coal miner can learn, is the way to get out of that mine in case of an emergency. >> has anybody ever died in here when they were training? >> no. >> all right. >> not yet. >> yay! i can set a new record. okay. miner's belt so i can carry stuff in and out. check. airline type breathing mask that actually inflates. check. finally, the perfectly fitting hard hat. this hat is culturally biased against afros, sir. >> all right. step on in there. don't be scared. >> like snoop dogg's trailer. >> you see the yellow life line
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you got right here? so you want to follow this life line and escape the mine. little mine fire. you doing okay? >> uh-huh. >> all right. okay. congratulations. you just exited the mine. >> yay. okay. so maybe that only prepared me to escape from a winnebago. but that said, the mines are obviously still an incredibly dangerous place to be. >> training side of it is the key. these miners are well trained, highly skilled. most of them are going to know what to do. >> as far as i know a lot more people were employed as coal miners. >> no question, we are in a economic downturn in the coal industry right now in appalachia. >> and this is the main industry of appalachia? >> it is. with the loss of jobs, it's devastating families and communities. it really affects everybody. we used to be the biggest industrial nation in the world. now everybody else is doing the work and we're outsourcing our jobs, so i'm concerned about the future.
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>> do you think there's -- this is a viable region if there's no coal industry? >> well, that's a good question. we're hanging on to the slim hopes that things will rebound, will turn around. there's not a lot else here, kamau. i'm telling you, there's not a lot else here. you know what they say about the early bird...
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one thing i noticed as i make my way around kentucky, is all the black people must have gone on vacation at the same
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time. in harlan county, which has only a 2% african-american population, there's a town called lynch. yeah, you heard me. lynch. and incredibly lynch has a 25% african-american population. so i'm headed to talk to some retired black coal miners in lynch at the lynch colored school. okay. i got to start with the obvious question. talk about being black and living in a place called lynch, if you travel around, that's got to be a conversation starter. retired coal miners gene austin and ginny massey, surprisingly there was one place everywhere was equal. people didn't realize a lot of black people lived here. talk about working in the coal mine. when you were working next to white people, was there any problems? >> get in the coal mine, everybody is black. there's no white and black. everybody dirty and everything.
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we just got to taking care of each other. >> a lot of racial differences we think about, the racial strife -- >> you forget all that -- >> i want to live, you want to live. i don't care if you're black or you're white. >> outside you can do what you wanted to. when you go under that ground, hey, you got to be together and watch out for each other because that's the only way you can get in there and get out. big u.s. steel, they had the biggest mine in the nation. >> what years was that? >> '20s and '30s and '40s. it was a place to make a living but it wasn't no money. >> it was script. >> script is a corporate currency only used at a coal camp. it was deemed illegal. like if the boss paid you in arcade tokens and you lived in the arcade. >> you had to spend it at the store. you couldn't take your money out of this area. >> really? >> it wasn't slavery but -- >> it wasn't much better.
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they pay you but you can only use that money on the plantation. >> you only use the money right here. >> this used to be a school. what is it now? >> social club. a community building. >> a community center. >> okay. >> the blacks didn't have nothing. they was talking about tearing the building down. it had been closed a few years, and so we asked for the school. >> is it still a place to hang out? >> this is the only place. >> still the only place black people come together. >> yeah, within 50-mile radius if we're having something, they come. >> so for 50 miles this is the black headquarters? >> yeah. >> wow. i want to ask you about this. it says lynch klan threatened but they never showed up and a picture of you smiling. >> they didn't really know it was that many blacks living in this area. once they figured out, they called that off. people was up on their houses. they had shotguns. that's one thing about in this area, we watch out for each other, black, white, everybody. community worked together. it's just a good place to live, i think. >> all right. before i go, can i check out the
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gym, the old gym? >> yeah. >> let's check that out. >> played a lot of basketball. that was the big thing here, basketball game. >> there's a stage over here. >> a stage there. >> bands, singles come in from all over the country here. >> oh, really? >> yeah. >> any famous people? >> james brown. >> james brown? >> cab calloway. >> cab calloway? >> michael jackson. >> yeah. >> one of them old coal miners. >> when you're the only black hangout for 50 miles and there's a black people meeting going on, well, black folks just show up out of nowhere. it's like we sent up the black signal. >> a lot of people never realized there was so many black people that had so much to do with coal mining. like everything else, there's no history. >> that's important for people to know because i certainly didn't know it. >> in the state of kentucky,
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there's only two black schools still standing and this is one of them. >> this is history. >> in the state of kentucky. >> only school that got "colored" on the front of it. >> oh, yeah, yeah. >> i don't know if they had white schools up there or not. >> they just say school. >> they make sure we know whether to go. >> this is yours. you go here where it says "colored" on the front so you don't get confused and wander into the white school. after only a day here, one thing is absolutely clear. lack of opportunities and concern for the future weigh heavily on everyone's mind. i stop by for a chat with former coal union organizer. what do you love about living here? >> the people, we're clannish type people. >> wait. did he just say clannish? i'm having flashbacks. >> this is my house. right next door is my mother-in-law. >> oh, clan with a "c" like
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"braveheart." phew! what are your thoughts about the coal mining industry in this part of the world? >> as far as i'm concerned, coal is on its way out. i mean, i don't believe coal's coming back. >> why do you think that is? >> because it's time for a change. sustainable energy, renewable energy. it's coming. i've seen my fathers literally smother to death. all these guys have given their lives for the coal industry. >> so you think coal mining is hard on the community? >> yeah, with the mountain top removal and all this stuff. >> what carl is talking about is surface mining where you literally blow off the top of a mountain so you can drill into it for coal. in addition to the pollution in the air from, i don't know, blowing off the top of a mountain, the rubble is usually dumped into rivers and streams which sucks because rivers and streams are made of water, which we need to survive. the epa estimates mountain top
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removal valley fills are responsible for burying more than 2,000 miles of vital appalachia headwater streams and poisoning many more. >> they are destroying our water and everything. >> i come from berkeley, california. you're starting to sound like a hippie. >> that's kind of what i'm known as around here. even my kin folk call me a tree hugger. it's not that i'm against coal. i'm not. but i just try to tell them if we don't do something with our planet, man, we're going to destroy ourselves. and i got nine grandchildren, man, i'd like to see them have a little bit of fun like i did on this planet. >> yeah, you want them to have nine grandchildren and so on and so on. >> that's right. they call us ignorant hillbillies but we got some smart people around here. >> you just used a word i wasn't going to say. the "h" word. >> hillbilly. >> there you go. i don't want to say it.
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>> that's just like the "n" word. >> you can't say that one. we all got our words. >> that's right. i'm comfortable me talking to my -- somebody about a hillbilly, whatever. but i don't want you coming down here calling me a hillbilly. >> not a problem, sir. i always thought of that word as being kind of a slur, but you're saying that same thing that black people do with the "n" word, where we can use it, but it's none of your business. >> you're right on it. >> i'm going to stay away from it. you know what's awesome? gig-speed internet.
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♪ i was so happy to stumble into that black people meeting in the middle of appalachia. i'm pretty sure they had to overpay black entertainers to perform in lynch. can you imagine getting that phone call if you're james brown? do you want to play in a black club? yeah, where is it? lynch. i don't think so. i'm good, i'm good. i'm good. there's no one word that conjures up an a distinctly appalachia image other than the word "moonshine." as notorious as bonnie and clyde, legendary as jesse james and american as apple pie? hooch is part of the appalachian experience. obviously there's no way i could come to kentucky without trying a little. and as a black man voluntarily entering a town called whitesburg, i could use a drink. i went to see kentucky distiller
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colin fultz. >> just making a little liquor today. >> for those who are not initiated, what's the difference between moonshine and whisky? >> moonshine is a lot better. >> you might be biased about that, but, yeah, yeah. why is it better? >> the difference is most whiskeys and stuff's aged in a barrel. none of us stuff is aged in a barrel. >> is it illegal to make moonshine in your house? >> when you convert that mash to a liquor, when you separate that, that's the illegal part. >> when he is talking about mash, he doesn't mean my mom's favorite tv show. he's saying corn plus water equals mash. so this soup add a little sugar, a little yeast, throw it in a hot pot and after a while you get moonshine. after you drink moonshine, you thinking, hey, is that horse talking smack about me? he don't know me. why is that part illegal to do in your house? >> they can't tax that.
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it all boils back to the government getting their part. >> the government is like, wait a minute, that's not fair. we want our part of it. good old uncle sam. and i don't mean jackson. in 1791 alexander hamilton -- no, not that one -- decided to impose a luxury tax on whiskey which the people did not take too kindly to as they just left another country because of taxes. also, they like drinking whisky. avoiding those taxes led to the term "moonshine." folks began making their whiskey by the light of the moon to avoid detection. the same way i eat ice cream in the middle of the night so my wife doesn't know. oops, now she knows. how important is moonshine to the culture of being from this part of the country? people think about this area as being coal mines. does that have this level of importance? >> i think so. a lot of people still do this. >> what do you like better, working in a coal mine or making moonshine? >> making moonshine by far. everybody that comes in wants to do this but you're going to get to try this today.
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>> okay. here we go. >> all right. we're going to take just a little bit straight off the still. we don't want to take too much. >> this is probably about the amount i can take. i appreciate that. >> all right. >> whoa! hey! good morning, america. how are you? wow. even before it went in my mouth i was like, ah! why are you yelling at me? >> this is before it's cut down and filtered, and cleans you out. just cleans you all the way down. >> feel clean. feel like if i drink that whole thing i'll start fighting crime. >> glad you liked it. >> now i have a smooth 11:00 a.m. buzz going, i need to curb my hangover. how about ginseng? while it may make you think of china, there's over 1,000 tons produced in america annually. ginseng is as american as apple pie.
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am i repeating myself? >> you go past the strip job, it will grow on the edges of that. >> this ex-coal miner has brought me out to the cumberland mountains to find another way locals are using the earth to make money. ginseng. i'm not going to ask why his nickname is toe. i bet that's a gross story. that's what do you, you grow ginseng? >> i hunt ginseng. i don't grow it. >> who plant it back there originally? >> it just grows. god. >> it's from here? >> yeah. >> i guess i associate ginseng with asia and china? >> the southeastern part of kentucky and these mountains we're supposed to have the best ginseng. sells for the highest prices. >> the best ginseng in the world comes out of eastern kentucky. >> supposed to. supposed to be the most potent. i brought some. >> this always looks illegal. >> yeah, it does look that. we can take it out of the bag. you want to take it out of the bag? >> yeah. if you grew this on your property --
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>> you'd have to guard it because people will steal it. >> why are they doing that? >> i guess tough times. a lot of guys is on drugs. >> it seems like such a gift to this part of the world that there's things growing in the woods that is valuable. >> it's something for you to get out and make some money. >> get out and make money. all you have to do is be responsible about it. because the economy got hit so hard, people are now irresponsible. >> yeah. the laid off coal mine put a lot of people in the mountains, it sure did. we went from probably 18 mines in this town to 3. we went from 1,500 employees to 150 people working in this town. you come back to cumberland in five years and you'll be lucky if there's a gas station here, man. i'm a fourth generation coal miner, that means for four generations we've dug coal in these mountains. then they want to tell us we can't dig coal no more. i'm all about the environment
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and the clean air. i think you could figure out a way to burn coal clean. >> yeah, yeah. >> you know what i'm saying? if you can put people on the moon and turn algae into energy and a wind mill, why can't you take coal and figure out? i think we should take care of stuff and the environment. i have kids, and i want to take care of the earth. >> you're the second person i've met here who's talking a lot of hippy talk. hippy with a sidearm. >> yeah. mayhem? what are you doing up there? i'm a lightning rod. waiting to protect your home from a lightning strike. it's my new years resolution. whatever. can you get my plane? yeah, i don't do planes. i just do lightning. ♪ but when we brought our daughter home, that was it. now i have nicoderm cq. the nicoderm cq patch with unique extended release technology helps prevent your urge to smoke all day. it's the best thing that ever happened to me. every great why needs a great how.
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beattyville, kentucky, is a small town nestled among the foothills of the appalachian mountains at the scenic daniel boone national forest. with a population of 1,300, 98% white and per capita income of $16,000, beattyville is bestowed the dubious honor of being the poorest white town in america, which for some reason they haven't added to their welcome sign. tough times, yes, but people are responding here with a strong sense of community, hospitality. >> i hope you like barbecue. >> wow. and barbecue. nothing like a home cooked meal when you're on the road. and the spread robert put out made me feel at home. also made me feel like i should probably start working out again. that is good. >> that is country-style ribs. homemade barbecue sauce. >> i'm used to getting food like this at my black relatives' houses. >> absolutely. >> one thing i felt is people suspicious of me and this camera crew rolling through here because i know there's been a
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lot of news people rolled through here and just take out the image of beattyville, the poorest town in the country. people are suspicious. what are your thoughts on that? >> it's home. no matter what we have or don't have, it's always going to be home. but in all honesty, in a small community like us that's been going downhill for 40 years, a lot of people draw money from the government. no jobs leads to no money which leads to depression which leads to drugs or alcohol. you know, we just have 35% of our high school kids graduate. >> wow. >> young people leave to find something to do. i want young people to stay. i want them to find jobs and i want them to be with their families. just like i want my children to be with me. i ran for mayor back in 2010. i got beat by just a handful of votes. >> that's all you guys have here is a handful of votes. >> absolutely. i'm proud of who i am. i'm proud of my mother. she has a sixth grade education. she's cooked these home cooked meals.
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she has taken care of me for 33 years and she's still taking care of me. i'm proud to be from beattyville. and i want to help the community. that's what a small town is about. helping everybody. >> do you feel like you're running for mayor maybe there's a target on you now that people are trying to run your name down? >> i don't care how big a target on my back, i'm guns loaded. >> when you say guns loaded you actually mean there's probably some guns you could load. >> you know how it is. >> when we say that, we mean metaphorical. but if i need guns, they're loaded. >> absolutely. >> you say your mom has a sixth grade education but she's got a ph.d. in food. this is real, real good. robert touched on it a little bit, but like many communities dealing with poverty, drug abuse has become a serious issue. in 2015, 30% of residents in eastern kentucky reported having a family member or friend that abused prescription drugs. in the late 1990s abuse of pain pills surged with many blaming work-related injuries and it quickly became an epidemic when oxycontin became more widely
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available. but today with tighter restrictions on prescriptions, cheaper street drugs, crystal meth and heroin have become an alternative, helping catapult kentucky into the top five states in overdose deaths. drugs are an open secret in this area. it's not difficult to find someone affected by them, but it is difficult to find someone to talk on tv. but we did. jackie is a single mother of a 5-year-old who has decided to leave beattyville and now she's agreed to share with me why. what's your daughter's name? >> gabrielle, gabby. >> that's cool. people have substance abuse problems and you encountered that? >> i'm a recovering addict. >> good for you. recovering is a good part of that. how easy it to find drugs? >> all you have to do is walk down the sidewalk. that's it. >> really? you live in these apartments. other people in the apartments dealing with drug abuse problems? >> yes. >> you see people do it in public? >> sometimes. you can't leave your doors unlocked. you can't leave nothing outside.
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>> really? >> you can't even let your own friends into your house. in the past two months i let two of my friends move in with me who i thought were my friends and they've taken everything that i have. >> people who you thought were your friends? why are you talking to us today? people have those issues, not only do they not want to talk to us, they don't want to -- >> i'm ready for a change. i'm ready for this place to be changed. nobody's going to step out of their comfort zone or, you know, like right now, i'll get called a rat or something. >> really? >> i'm up here talking. >> we are talking in front of where you live. i see a couple people lean out and look and go back in. is it normally this quiet or is it because we're here? >> it's normally this quiet. >> so people are doing stuff -- >> nighttime is when it really turns on. >> what happens? >> the walking dead come out. >> really? >> yeah. >> how do you deal with that? >> what can you do? i mean, stick to yourself. >> if there was no drug problem, you think you'd make a life here? >> if there was more jobs, yeah. >> you seem like a smart person.
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i feel like a town like this could use you to lead to the new changes but because of the lack of jobs and the drug issues, you have to go. >> yeah. >> what would you like to say to the people of this town who maybe aren't working hard enough to make this place better? >> i don't even know where to begin. you know? i wish them the best on cleaning the town up, you know. i do. i really hope they can. because this would make a great home for a lot of young people like me. >> how old are you? >> 25. >> yeah, you got your whole life ahead of you. and your daughter. i certainly wish you luck getting out of here. really appreciate it. can i give you a hug? >> thank you. th a great rate. but if that's not enough, our app helps monitor your spending too. and if that's not enough to help you save, we could start a carpool. look at this traffic. don't worry. ok, if that's not enough we'll start a trainpool. oh i have a meeting in five minutes. and if that's still not enough... i got it. we'll just create a shortcut. we'll do anything, seriously anything to help you save.
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ally. do it right. talking 4th quarter? yes.
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the latest reviews. the lowest prices. ok, so we drowned the fire... yep. stirred it... mm-hmm. drowned it again... mm-hmm. and now just feel if it's cold. yeah. cool. [camera shutter clicks] [whistling a tune] smokey just gave me a bear hug. i know. i already posted it.
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after days being out in the mountains embracing the appalachian experience, i knew i was missing some of the comforts of home. cappuccinos. luckily, i found the art factory, a co-op that houses an audio recording business, an arts studio, a newspaper, a tattoo parlor and, praise black jesus, a coffee shop. i want to meet one of the brave people to open something within 70 miles that offers mocha and sweet, sweet wi-fi. hey, how's it going? >> hey, i'm dustin. >> kamau. nice to meet you. >> nice to meet you, too. >> this is your coffee shop?
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>> yeah, this is the art factory. >> it's a great spot. having been traveling around appalachia the last few days, i saw this place, i was like, ah, ah, is that a mirage? this feels like a coffee shop you'd see in san francisco or portland or new york. >> they do country very well here. but they do too much, so i'm from here, but i wanted something more urban. >> so why do you think it's important to open up a coffee shop like this here? >> the industry is changing. we're close to tourist area. red river gorge. i don't know if you know about that. my target was to accommodate their traffic. and if we can pull in the tourists, then we can try to help this town survive. >> how long has this been here? >> a year. >> have you always lived here? >> i lived in japan. i met my wife over there. we moved back here. i looked around and thought, there's a lot of potential here. so let's try something here. >> wife from japan? i got to talk to her. hi. >> she does all the baking and
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pastrymaking. >> nice to meet you. oh, you make the food? >> yes. >> from scratch. >> before we began, she told me she was nervous because her english wasn't very good. i told her we could do it in japanese, she said no. which is great, because i forgot i don't speak japanese. >> i'm from osaka, japan. >> osaka, japan. do you like it here? >> yeah, because my home town is very busy, beattyville has very few people. nice nature. >> it's official. there's somebody for everybody. i thought her english was great. i want to make sure she felt good about it? was that easy enough? >> yes. >> good. >> thank you. >> is tourism the hope for this area? as soon as i walked outside, i met lana. what are you doing out here? >> i'm rock climbing. >> now, what is it about this part of the country that has good rock climbing? >> this place is a well-known destination. what's so great about this place is it is sandstone and it's really steep. so you can climb on rock that's
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parallel to the ground but has really large holes. >> the rock is like this and you're on the underside? >> yes. >> how are you not falling to your death? >> you're on a rope. i fall all the time. that's also what's nice. when you fall, you fall in the air. if you're face climbing, you fall down into the rock. you can really push yourself. >> i don't like any of that. guess what i'm going to do? yep. rock climb. why? because i'm a host of a tv show and that's what a tv host does. you have a scene someone mentions something you don't like, then the producer tells you you can do it so you can overcome your life-long fear on live tv for the world to ridicule and watch. helping me out with that is craig bentley at beautiful red river gorge. how long has rock climbing been part of the tourism here? >> anecdotal evidence of late '60s. and maybe earlier than that. >> you mean the skull of people who climbed and didn't make it? >> random bodies in caves. over the past 15 years it's
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blown out. there's a lot of traffic here. with the proliferation of climbing gyms. it's fun, it's challenging. >> yeah. >> as you'll see. >> down there you said there will be a beginner wall. >> yes, this is our beginner wall. this is the one we use. >> this one right here? >> mm-hmm. >> where is the remedial wall? >> i think those are in day cares, things of that nature. >> i see what you're saying. rock climbing is not something i ever thought about. >> no, many people didn't. i grew up in my family in the coal business. i have family that still works in the coal business. as tourism expanded here, we're really busy here. this is a sport climbing mecca. folks from all over the world come here. >> seems is like a lot of living out here in this part of the country is using what the earth gave you. a some of that is coal that's under here and some of that is just climbing the mountain as it is. the mountain said, hey, climb me. and you guys are like, all right. >> there's not that many things to do. you can't do the same thing over and over.
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>> there's not a lot of restaurants or nightclubs or movie theaters. it's like, well, time to climb this wall again. this is the big movie in town. what makes you want to do this? >> you get all the way up there? >> yeah. that is the goal. sometimes you have to work it. sometimes it takes a while. >> thanks for showing it to me. you have a nice day. take care. thanks, craig. i'll see you next time. >> i wish. >> this is like the early days of batman it feels like. it feels tight. is that the way it's supposed to feel? should i feel like it's taking my blood pressure? it's working. >> i know it's my job to keep you entertained. and i take that seriously. at least as seriously as my health insurance says i can. plus now that we've elected
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trump president, learning to climb up a wall may be a useful skill for a lot of people. without further ado, let's witness the confidence. to be clear, yep, i'm rock climbing in appalachia with an afro pick in my back pocket. i keeps it real. >> your left plate just goes in the vertical crack there. >> right in here? >> yep. >> dude! >> this is about your arms. you'll get both of your hands up on that ledge there. >> good job. >> uh-oh. nope. all right. that's it. i'm not tom cruise. >> hey, donny, did you get enough of this? >> how about you? >> i think i've had enough, sir. >> coming down. >> well, it wasn't pretty, but i'm glad it didn't end up like that film "127 hours." i don't even have a pocket knife. >> nice job. >> i told myself i wouldn't cry.
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every show they send me the list of things that are happening. and it's always like rock climbing. oh, okay. i thought we were in a rock climbing gym and we were outside and there was a wall. we'd just been to the coffee shop so i had a lot of coffee. took me two weeks to get those jeans out of my butt after
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climbing. i went up in jeans and came down in capri pants. it was pretty -- like ah! for your enjoyment. for your enjoyment. yeah. if there's one thing i've learned since i've been in beattyville is they may be down but they're not out. like they're not even outside. where is everybody? >> it's a small town. everybody knows everybody, but it's like family. maybe dysfunctional at times but at the end of the day everybody cares about each other and we'll do what we have to do to take care of each other. >> hope lives in this town, and city council member missy begly walked me through downtown to talk about the future plans for their community. are we in downtown beattyville? >> where all the action happens. >> the city's buzzing. >> there was a time when there were like two new car dealership and a bustling downtown. >> right here? >> yeah.
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probably the '70s. >> that was a bustle era, thanks to disco. >> not so much bustle anymore. >> yeah. economic downturn hits a place this small pretty hard. >> oh, absolutely. but we're trying to capitalize on the fact that this place is gorgeous, red river gorge, natural bridge. there's a lot of people coming in from not just all over the country but all over the world. we just have to figure out ways to offer them what they want, which is places to eat, where to go at night. >> yes. >> places for live music. >> because downtown is where people expect something to be happening. >> right. >> but we just walked through downtown and this is -- >> not happening. >> this is like 5:00 at night. and most downtowns there's traffic and lots of noise and activity. >> right. >> how close do you think you are to bringing the bustle back to downtown beattyville? >> i wish i could say the next five years, but i have to be realistic. i don't really know. it may take longer than that. it may be 20 years. we may be here in our
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wheelchas someday having this conversation. come back for the visit. but i'll invite you to come back every year and check it out. >> we'll check it out. >> because you're urts right? >> that's right, that's right. >> bring those dollars to our downtown. >> i've left like $3.50 in the coffee shop. i mean three dollars and fifty cents. >> well, you may need to come back. every dollar counts. >> every dollar counts. exactly. >> economic impact studies. >> yes. >> please remove gun and mask before entering. that doesn't look like a novelty sign. that's probably real. >> yes. pawn shop. >> who is wearing masks? >> well, it could be winter. >> okay. >> it gets very cold. we have a lot of snow sometimes. >> it gets mask cold? that's a special level of cold. unload your gun and remove your mask. let's keep moving. i have to admit i've been in a lot of poor neighborhoods and a lot of poor cities that were economically challenged. this doesn't feel bad. >> right. it's not perfect.
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i don't want to -- you know, but it's not terrible. >> no. >> maybe we as a country need to count our blessings because there's a lot of stuff going on in this world that's terrible. and we have it really good. >> i'm happy that you're here, happy that you're working hard to keep your community going. and it's an important thing that people in communities like you to take the lead and work hard to make things good. >> thank you. it's certainly a team effort. i cannot take the credit. there's so many people that work really hard doing this on a daily basis and that care, you know? >> thank you. >> promise me you'll come back. >> look, i'm not going to lie. i had a lot of preconceived notions coming into my visit here, but as always seems to happen, whether it's in the country, at a barbecue or a coffee shop, when you sit down with someone and listen to their stories, all those preconceived notions fall away. and in appalachia, i mean, appalachia, with all its issues front and center, once you
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actually sit and look around, you see what the people who live here see, a region that's one of the most beautiful places in the country. full of people just looking to be a part of the evolution of this nation and not forgotten because of it. one of america's favorite pastimes is lumping groups of people together. you know what i'm talking about, like the whole idea of minorities. let's take all the people who are darker than vin diesel and call them minorities. [ laughter ] it doesn't make any sense. because we all have so many cultures and languages and religions and things. the only thing that really bonds minorities together is that we believe that if you're going to eat pork you got to use all the pig. you know what i mean? [ laughter ] you can't just be like white people and scrape off the bacon and the ribs and throw the rest away. you've got to get in that pig.


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