tv Charlie Rose PBS May 11, 2013 12:00am-1:01am PDT
>> rose: welcome to the program. we begin this evening with former president george w. bush at the it time of the recent dedicated of his library. >> you know, i can't remember whether i did or not, charlie, but i know this-- and i remember clearly when it came time to make tough decisions, like on the removal of saddam hussein, his-- his-- his words were very comforting. he said, "son, i know how hard a decision it is for you. i have made a similar type of decision and god be with you." the relationship was not one of adviser to adviseee. the relationship was one of loving dad to his son who was giving it his all. >> rose: we continue with can saf who has a new book called "the savage" which includes his time at enron. >> i think we have lost our way in terms of recognizing we have
to, number one, take care of the clients and they'll take care of us. without doing that we lose the trust we built up with them and that's one of the problems we have. as i travel around the world today, it's not like it used to be in the 70s when i would travel. if you were an american investment banker, everybody wants to follow you. now we're held in a little less high regard. >> rose: we conclude with pe, the tightrope artist. >> if you want for some reason it to be more solid, you take a little more of the end and you pass it not once but twice. and now i have the aptly named double, which is still quite beautiful to look at but much, much stronger. and it goes on and on and all that it is in my book. so i think people discover we cannot live without knots. >> rose: joocial, frank savage, and philippe petit, when we continue.
>> rose: george w. bush served as the 43rd president of the united states from 2001 to 2009. he came to the white house hoping to implement a broad domestic agenda but the events of september 11 2001 would define his presidency. in april, the george w. bush presidential library and museum opened in dallas, texas. he says it is a place for historians and visitors to study the decisions he made and what it was like to make them. i visited george w. bush and former first lady laura bush in dallas last week, and here is our conversation. mr. president, thank you very much for allowing us to come here to see this new building that is the bush library. >> yes, sir. >> rose: let me start with boston because everybody is talking about boston. you take great pride is the fact that you made the country safe after 9/11. but does boston say you can never be safe from terrorism? >> i used to say that we had to be 100% right in order to
protect the home land and the enemy only had to be right once. and it's very difficult to stop a terrorist attack. the good news is the country is more aware of the threat and local communities are more aware of threat. but it's awfully hard to protect -- >> and the response has been exemplary. >> i think so. i really do. i've been very impressed by the response at all levels of government. >> rose: it's different now because it's beyond al qaeda. it's coming from chechnya, it's coming from yemen, it's coming from a whole range of places. do we need a different kind of strategy? >> well, that's going to be up to the president and the people who have the intelligence. i don't have the latest intelligence so it's hard for me to give you an opinion. i do believe, however, that the condition overseas matters to our security, and, therefore, when you find people who are
frustrated as a result of bad governance or frustrated as a result of nobody seeming to care about their health or education, there's a-- there's a hopelessness that sets in, and the extremists can exploit that hopelessness. so here at the bush center, one thing we're doing is spreading freedom-- or helping to spread freedom as a way to marginalize the radicals. >> rose: freedom is the sort of key word here at this center. >> yes, it is. freedom of markets. freedom from ignorance. freedom from, you know, disease. and freedom from tyranny. and we've got programs specifically designed to promote freedom. >> rose: the dedication is on thursday. >> yes, sir. >> rose. >> rose: all the expresidents are coming. >> i'm very excited -- and the current president. >> rose: and the current president and the first lady. >> absolutely, and we're very grateful for that. >> president bush, 41.
w is health? >> well, he's coming and people will be-- those who talk to him, have a chance to speak with him will be pleased with his spirit. and he's-- he's, obviously, got a strong desire to live. but he can't walk very well. he's immobile. he is-- but he will be smiling. >> rose: define your relationship with him because your brother jeb said to me, "he's my hero." >> well, he's certainly been a role model for all of us. he is an inspiration for me, jeb, and marvin. he first and foremost was a great father. in spite of his busyness, he took time to let us know how much he loved us, so my relationship with my dad is one based upon love and admiration. >> rose: unconditional love. >> unconditional love. i tell people that his
unconditional love made it easier to take risk for life. i mean, you could run for president and expliewz say what a pathetic candidate or you could run and win and they'd say what a pathetic president. either way it doesn't matter if you have unconditional love. >> rose: you were devastated by the results in '92. >> i really was. it was a miserable year prospect and i learned how hard it is to be a loved one of a president. which caused me to hesitate when i was thinking about running for president because i knew my girls would go through the same agony i went through for my dad. what was interesting during the presidency is my dad and my roles got reversed. in '92 i was miserable on his behalf and for eight years he was miserable on mine. >> rose: did he give you advice-- there are e-mails notice, and-- >> none of my e-mails. >> rose: to him. >> or from him to me because i didn't e-mail, sadly enough,
during the presidency. i was fearful of the foia request. >> rose: can you tell me what he said during the toughest decisions. >> i said, what, coy do?" and he said send your briefers down. he knows each presidential decision requires advice from people who have studied an issue. i can't remember an incident when he gave me advice on a particular issue. >> rose: did you ever ask? >> you know, i can't remember whether i did or not, charlie, but i know this-- and i remember clearly-- when it came time to make tough decision like on the removal of saddam hussein, his-- his words were very comforting. he said, "son, i know how hard a decision it is for you. i've made similar type decision and god be with you." in other words, the relationship was not one of adviser to adviseree. the relationship was one offing loving dad to a son who he was giving it his all. >> rose: he also was a man who had been there before.
>> that's right. >> rose: he was a man who had been at war with saddam hussein before. >> that's right. no, again, i can't remember a specific incident where i called up and said, "what do i do?" i mean, i had plenty of good advisers around me, people whose judgment i trusted, and people who had studied the issues. >> rose: when you look back at the eight years you were president, and the four years that president obama, some say he has endorsed some of your principal achievements-- antiterrorism. using of drones now. middle class tax cuts. do you have a sense that, as your brother said, you deserve a tip of the hat from the president? >> not really, i'm confident that-- you know, historians will eventually sort out the good and the bad of each presidential administration, and this center not only will welcome visitors and help them understand what it's like to make presidential decisions, but it houses 25,000
boxes of papers and millions of e-mails and historians will be here sorting out facts and truths. and so i-- you know, have got this great faith in history. and i'm just not all that concerned about it. >> rose: i know, and you said you will let history decide and you're still writing books about george washington. >> that's right. it's very, very true, though. it's not just a throe away line. it happens to be the truth. >> rose: and there's some benefit of being true. and history changed. harry truman when he left office. >> exactly. >> rose: there's also this. your family and your friends want you to speak out more and defend yourself when either the president lays a problem at your feet or someone else. >> yeah, tell them not to hold their breath. >> rose: you have no incentive to say, "let me tell you what." >> no, i have no desire to spend my post-presidency trying to enhance my standing.
>> rose: but, i mean, you don't seem lieb the kind of guy who wants to turn the other cheek. >> well, i turned it. it's-- i'm-- i want to be productive. i want to make a difference in the world. and i want to do so without undermining our current president and/or engaging in political debate. if i was out trying to defend myself i would be right back in the swamp and i don't want to be in the swamp. >> rose: you have an institute here. >> true. >> rose: the bush institute. >> true. >> rose: and you want to look at problems and understand problems. >> that's a very interesting point you made. the bush institute's role is not to defend me. the bush institute's voal defend principles and develop programs based upon that principle. for example, one is the universality of freedom. in other words, people want to live in free societies. and to this end, we're helping egyptian women. we're helping egyptian women, women's networks, as time-- as democracy evolves -- and i believe it will-- that women
will find their rightful place as leaders in the community and as people capable of billion a civil society necessary for the democracy to take root. >> rose: and, by the way, your wife has been in the forfront of rights for afghan women. >> laura is full of common sense. she has got perspective. when the-- when times were turbulent during my presidency, she projected calm. she is a-- you know, i tell people the white house is like living in a museum. which is interesting but plumes cold places and she brought a lot of warmth. she is a fabulous mother, which is very important to me to know that my girls would be nurtured during the presidency. i did my best, but laura was a constant companion. >> rose: she said the white
house brought you closer together? >> absolutely. you're in the midst of of a firestorm and it either dwiedz you or unites you and it united us. >> rose: but your eight years, the second term, two things. there seemed february more condi, less dick cheney. >> again, this is the perfect example of allowing time to pass so that historians can adjudge the truth. i mean, i know washington. it's the kind of stuff i really don't like which is the washington -- >> what don't you like? >> the washington gossip, the so-and-so was prevalent, so-and-so wasn't prevalent. it's almost like zero sum. and the facts will ultimately speak for themselveses. >> rose: the vice president told me he had less thrns in the second. >> well, i mean, that may be his perception. i tonight know. he never said that to me. i mean you're much better
getting people to talk than i am, evidently. but i think what's important is for historians to look at each decision i made, first and second term, and they will be able to study the advice i got, and then they will be able to conclude, you know, why i did what i did. >> rose: on the decision to go to war with iraq. >> uh-huh. >> rose: if the intelligence failure had not been there, would you have made the same decision? >> that's an impossible question to answer because as far as we were concerned, my administration, as well as every other intelligence agency, we all thought he had weapons of mass destruction, which was confirmed in a way by the fact that he would not allow weapons nrpdz into his country, and so the question we all were saying is what is he hiding? perhaps my biggest surprise is he didn't take me seriously. in other words, we were conducting cohearsive diplomacy. and -- >> coercive diplomacy?
>> yes, either you adhere to yet another u.n. resolution or in this case there will be consequences. and i never understood why he department believe my words. in other words, let the weapons inspectors in or you'll face serious consequences like the u.n. resolution stated. >> rose: some argue-- and i think karl rove said this, if there had been no wppedz of mass destruction probably the decision would not have been made. >> it's hard to tell. >> rose: but it might not have been. >> it's hard to tell. it certainly would have been a different set of facts. but i-- it's-- these hypotheticals are hard for me to answer because that's not-- that's not what was entoday in the decision-making process. >> rose: today, the president faces decisions on syria, iran, north korea. >> yeah. that's what happens when you're president. there's a-- when you're the president of the united states and these problems arise around
the world air, lot of people look to the united states to-- for guidance and/or for support. and the nature of the presidency is such that you can't isolate yourself from -- >> but freedom is at stake. >> no question. i do believe that the arab spring is positive in the long run. in other words, i believe the arab spring is an expression of people's desire to live in free societies. we had very interesting moment. we had some of the younger egyptians who were in trahir square here in dallas. i was struck by the fact they didn't know what to do next. it's sign that these democratics are going to need u.s. involvement for a long period of time to help those who want a more secular and more open society to prevail. >> rose: how do we help? >> well, you can have mentorships. we can push democracy programs. we can encourage better health and education programs. we can push for free markets.
so that the entrepreneurial spirit is elevated in these countries. >> rose: you were very, very passionate about immigration reform. >> yes. >> and social security reform. >> and also not very successful. >> rose: do you believe now immigration reform will happen because republicans looked at election results and other things and said-- >> i hope that's not why it happens. i hope it happens because it's the right thing to do. the problem wan issue like immigration is there are a lot of moving parts and a singling moving part can end up disturbing a lot of people. sometimes people focus on the moving part as opposed to the whole. but i hope they get something done, and i'm impressed by the efforts thus far to get something done. >> rose: the other big issue on the immigration reform is same-sex marriage. you were in favor of a constitutional amendment. >> i'm not weighing in on these issues, as you know, because i made the decision to get off the stage. and so i'm off the stage. >> rose: and what doesnd a wholw
way of looking at the world. for example-- well, i'm sitting here analyzing that tie you have and trying to figure out if i can mix paint to be able to -- >> are you serious? >> yes, figure out what paint to mix. i'm not saying it's an ugly tie but i am saying-. >> rose: you're saying what? >> well, a little permanent rose and maybe a touch of white. and on that other side, maybe a little raw umber to darken it up so i can reflect the light properly. i really do look at colors differently, and i paint two or three hours a day. i-- i've got a disclosure to make, though, and that is the signature is worth more than the painting. ( laughter ) >> rose: but are you getting better is the question? >> i think so so. but it's all if the eyes of the beholder. i could lay out 20 of the
paintings and you might like one and somebody else would like another. i take great enjoyment about it. sadly, my sister's e-mail got hacked and, therefore, a lot of the paintings i've done made it into the public arena. i'm not interested in generating publicity as a result of my paintings. i take great satisfaction, how far, in participating. so this afternoon, i'll paint. >> rose: every afternoon. >> i try to paint for a while every day. and it's a joy. it really is a joy. it's a good lesson. i want to learn from my dad. as you know, my dad never stopped living. he jumped out of the airplanes at a ripe old age of 85. you can teach an old dog new tricks, and i'm learning. so i have a instructor here in dallas. she comes by once a week. i'm open to suggestions and i want to learn and i want to get better. >> rose: a lesson from winston churchill? >> absolute. as a matter of fact he was an inspirational figure.
he wrote a wonderful essay, "painting is a pastime, "and i read it and i was inspired. i guess typical of me-- if winston can do it, so could i. >> rose: his bust was in your oval office? >> it was, i admire him. >> rose: mr. president, thank you. this is an extraordinary place because it does so many things. it's the center of the foundation and an office for you, the bush institute and you can see history here and you can look at the oval office and you can see parts of 9/11 and you can see how you approached decision making. history teaches us things so we look forward to seeing it. >> i'm honored you're here. thank you so much for being here, charlie. it's great to welcome you. >> rose: thank you. >> rose: frank savage was here. he was raised in washington, d.c. by a single mother. she had a strong will and savvy business sense. he has forged a successful
career as a bank eventure. he is c.e.o. of savage holdings and his new book is called "the savage way." i am pleased to have him here at this table. welcome. >> thank you, charlie, it's a pleasure to be here gli look back here and many names i'm familiar with. michael block berg says the pioneering journey he takes you on guided not only by his boundless ammunitions but his ideal." you knew michael from johns hopkins. >> we were both graduatees of johns hopkins and trust ease. >> and he asked you to sit on the board of bloomberg. >> yes. >> rose: this has been a good life for you. >> but it hasn't been without incidents -- >> but you talk about them. >> if you want something to be inspirational, if you want to set an example for people you have to be transparent. i have been totally transparent in the book. it's sort a cathartic experience for me to talk to people openly
about people. when i go to howard or jawnsz hopkins and talk to the young student i want them to learn from the experience. i want to put everything on the table so they can learn from the experience and i can talk to them about it. the same thing when i travel around the world. i was chairman of the board of howard university for means yeersz and on the board of johns hopkins. i'm still emeritus on both schools glu had early business success. you came after that very fine education and had business success. >> rose: yes. >> what are the core values you talked about here in your book that worked for you in your own personal journey? >> they're very, very clear. they were, number one, confidence. have confidence in yourself. self-esteem. without self-esteem you can't lead other people. you have to have self esteem and that's something my morgue used to drill into every day. the second thing is honesty and integrity. that's how you build your reputation. and believe you me, when i had
the one badv to me in my life, that reputation is what got me through it because people knew me. this is important. so reputation is very, very important. honesty and integrity is important. the other thing is you have to be committed to claebts. one of the problems we have in my industry which i love, which has been very good to me -- >> finance. >> finance. i think we lost our way in recognizing we have to number one take care of the clients and then they'll take care of us. without doing that, we lose that trut we built up with them and that's one of the problems we have. as i travel around the world today it's not like it used to be in the 70s when i travel pd. if you were an american investment banker, everybody wanted to follow you. now we're held in a little less high regard. >> rose: we hint that in having to come clean or explain, you were on the board of enron. >> yes. >> rose: one of the great sort of corporate stories of failure and people going to jail. >> yes. right and dying. >> rose: and you were on the board. >> yes.
>> rose: ken lay chid. >> ken lay died. >> rose: skilling went to jail. so where were you? upper on the board? were you approving of all these actions? >> well, i was the newest member of the board. i joined the board two years before this whole thing fell apart. i don't say that to make any excuses. i was on the board and i really thought to the best of my ability, based upon the experience i'd had working on the board of lockheed martin, qualcom, a lot of companies, i actedly the same way i acted on those boards. i never thought or even dreamt that there was a criminal conspiracy which had been hatched before i joined the board. >> rose: did anything take place in which either of those two gentlemen we just mentioned ken lay, or jeff skilling, asked for at enron that you had real questions about, and you look back now, and you say what was i thinking? >> no. absolutely not. as a matter of fact, through one
of my depositions, a lawyer asked me, "mr. savage, you're a man of great experience. you have been on many boards. didn't you recognize jeff skilling was a crook?" what i said is what i'll say here, "notice, i didn't. i never had any experience with a criminal. certainly not on a corporate board. i don't expect to find a criminal who is the c.e.o. of a company." i didn't recognize it. maybe something was there but i didn't recognize it because i had never seen anything like that before. >> rose: when you look back at it, characterize what it was. >> well, i think greed was a major fact porp greed and power. i think those are the two -- >> no surprise there. >> are the two forces that really drove this. for example, the people like jeff skilling, jeff was a very successful person, had a good education, was very wealthy. why did he want to hatch this conspiracy? why did he want to do it? greed. jeff-- you take ken lay, ken lay
smart guy. he had everything going for him. why did he do it? i was always surprise as to why a man who-- this was his baby. this was his baby. he built this from a small transportation pipe line company into one of the biggest companies in the world. why would he do it? is that still escapes me. i think with jeff skilling it was all about power. jeff wanted enron to be the best and the brightest and the most successful company in the world. he wanted to-- he always talked about goldman sachs. he wanted it to be another goldman success, and he was the engineer of transforming the company from basically a commodities company air, transportation company, into basically a trading company. that is where i think they started to go wrong. those are the things that i think drove-- i don't know because i just don't know what drove them. it's puzzling to me. but i think that those are the types of things that probably had an impact. >> rose: did you have conversations with him after the fact, after this blew up?
>> no, no conversations. >> rose: was it a legal thing or simply not interest? >> i had aeate deal of interest but it was legal, it was legal. and once it became a criminal thing, then you had to be very careful who you talked to, and they were more concerned about protecting themselves than anything else. >> rose: and the lessons that come from this are what? >> the lessons that come from this, first, there are going to be a lot of young people who are one day going to go on board of directors and they have to ask themselves deep questions when they go on a board. you have on to make sure, number one, you have the normal protection by accountants and lawyers but you have to understand the people running the company. that's number one. that's a very, very important lesson. the are lesson is character is so important i think. and how do you-- how do you evaluate character in people who have had a successful career? i don't know how you do that. >> rose: how did it hurt you because you were associated with enron? >> well, first off, i didn't
need to go on the board of enron. actually, i turned down the offer to go on the board three times because i was busy on other boards so i really didn't need the enron thing. >> rose: lockheed was a big example. >> i was on the board of lockheed. i was on the board of qualcom. these are companies i had known four years, and they had known me for fours year, many, many years. but i must say i new enron. i knew what they had done. i respected the company. i really did. and everyone i talked to respected the company as well. so i'm an ambitious person, like most businesspeople, so i really wanted to be a part of that success story. but i didn't really need to go on to the board. and i think that that tells you something is that i think before you do things like that how do you pick out the criminality? i think it's very difficult to do it. as a matter of fact many people on s.e.c. and other boards have said when you go on the board of a company you are exposed.
you are exposed. there's no way you can know everything that's going on in the company every day. >> rose: especially the audit committee. >> i was not on the audit committee. i think i know what you're alluding to the situation right now with j.p.morgan chase. >> rose: there is also this-- i wasn't alluding to to that. i read stories of people on the audit committee and "how could you let this happen?" that kind of thing. enron happens. people go to jail. >> right. >> rose: huge scandal. and they say savage-enron-board of directors. did anybody say, frank i have great respect for you, but upper on the board of enron. >> i had that experience. at the time i was in the process of launching a private equity fund to invest in infrastructure in africa. i put my own money into it. i had a team committed to me. i had talked to investors both in the united states and in the middle east. i was very confident that this was going to be launched.
when this enron thing happened, it died up. all the investors went away. so what happened to me? to tell you the truth, while not being able to launch my africa fund was very, very painful to me -- >> this was what year? >> 2001-2002. i couldn't do that and i've had a long involve independent africa. but i think the problem was that people didn't know whether i had done anything wrong or not. there was a legal suit outstanding. so no lawyer would tell his fund to invest in another fund when there is a cloud hang everything on it. there was a cloud hanging over me, and that hurt me pup know what hurt me the most? i was at the time the chairman of the board of howard university which is the number one african american university. i'm a graduate of howard. my sister is a graduate. my cousin is a graduate. my mother's shop was down the street from howard. i was the single largest contributor to howard
university. what bothered me is i said to myself what, do these students feel at howard? it really gave me a lot of pain. recently, i went back to howard two weeks ago, and i talked to the entire business school. >> rose: two weeks ago? >> two weeks ago i went to howard university and met with all of the student in the business school. it was such a cathartic experience for me. they think they got a lot out of that speech but i actually got more than they did. >> rose: what did you get out of it? >> i felt it was something i wanted to share with those young students. they need ton what's out there in the world. i'm not trying to discourage people from joining board and taking risk but i want them to see from someone who looks like them and who was a mold. i want them to know what can happen, and i want to share my experience with them. >> rose: still have a passion for africa? >> i will always have a passion for africa. i will always have a passion for africa. i started my international career by focusing on africa. as you know, i've worked all over the world, in asia, in
europe, in the united states. i've worked all over the world working with companies and working with various pension funds and the like -- >> but africa has never gotten as much attention as it gets now. >> well, i think there's a fundamental change, a positive change that has happened in africa recently which gives me i think a base for being very optimistic about its future. a nivet young africans who came to the united states and studied and went to europe and studied they now are going back home because they see the opportunity there. what they're doing is building up a critical massave middle class and of a business class that follows the same type of business principles that we follow here. i think they are the ones who are going to take africa forward. so i'm optimistic. but at the same time, it's not going to be a straight line. it's not going to be a straight line. there will be problems because there are legacy issues that will be very difficult to overcome. >> rose: here's a picture of you on a sailboat. you became a sailor. >> yes. >> rose: at 40.
>> yes. >> rose: why did you do that? >> i don't know. i'll tell you. i was in the caribbean on a vacation with my wife, and i saw a picture of sailboats. i saw all these sailboats sail. somebody about the peace of seeing the sailboats keeled over and there was a sunset, struck me. so the next week, i went to a sailing class. it was just crazy. i just did it. and when i got on that sailed boat and that boat he'lled over i fell in love i met some of my dearest friends. it caused me to hone my leadership, organizational skills. i've had to become a competent sailor. when you'ring sailing in the mediterranean or at lant and i can you have 17 people counting on you, you better be pretty confident about what you're doing. >> rose: the book with a forward by bill cosby is called "the savage way: successfully
negotiating the waves of business and life." thank you. >> thank you very much. this has been a real pleasure to be here with you, charlie. >> rose: we'll be right back. stay with us. philippe petit is here, the fren high wire artist who once illegally rigged a wire between the twin towers and performed in the sky for nearly an hour. that episode was the subject of an oscar-winning documentary called "man on wire." here is a look. >> i sit down on the wire, and i did something that amazed people. i actually looked all the way down to look at something i will never in my life see again. so i can tell you, and just probably to lie, but to me it's not. >> heard the crowd. i saw the crowd. i hear them murmuring. >> beyond anything you can ever
imagine. just mind-boggling. the awe of the event and the overwhelming largeness of the scale, of the situation, took my mind to a place where i really wasn't that concerned about him. it was magical. it was just-- it was just profound. >> rose: phillipe was expelled from five schools and arrested more than 500 times. his latest book is called "why knot?" how to tie more than 60 ingreens, beautiful, and life saving secure knots. i am pleased to have him here back at this table welcome. thank you again for this very smart book. everybody needs, this don't they? >> yes, and what's unusual is the little red rope is a real rope. you open the cover. you peel a piece of paper and you have a knot in your hand. >> rose: you carry one like that in your pocket.
>> at all times in my pocket. and i kind of designed this book so when you pull out the knot, it will be a little window in the cover to show nothing. once you take the rope out, you have my favorite knot showing through the window, the figure of eight. >> rose: that's your favorite knot. >> yes. >> rose: why? >> it's very elegant. i had in the book all my methods so when i teach the figure of 8 i let gravity great it, like a magic trick, and look how important. it's an important knot, because like a on a boat, i rope should not be free. that's a warning that might save your life. >> rose: thank you, thank you, thank you. let me take you back to the twin tower, 1974. before that, when did you get this idea that perhaps, perhaps? >> to be very honest, it started at a very early age, 5, 6, 7. i didn't like authority from the school, from the parents.
eat, this go to bed. i decided to react with climbing and to make a very long story short, i climbed ropes. i climbed trees. i climbed rocks, and one day, at 17 years old, i found myself walking on one of those ropes. if you have a rope to walk on, you need knots to tie that rope and the whole thing started there. >> rosestart. >> when you saw the first towers. >> the jump from 17 to the dream of put a wire between the tallest towers in the world. >> rose: how old were you when you had the dream? >> i was 18 and the beaut of that dream is very unusual. the object of my dream did not exist yet. the two towers were just planned. they were not yet raised. and i saw them being born. i checked them out as they were growing up, and i married them with a smile of my rope one day. so that was a beautiful story. >> rose: but you had to be-- i mean, petrified. >> no, no. if you are petrified, you
captain dance on a high wire and fight the wind. it's the opposite. you have to be very much alive. yourence senses have to be 10fold. your smell, your touch, your vision, if a noise happened, if the smell of burn happens, if anything transcends on the wire you should be aware of it. but at the same time, my focus created a big barrier. i cannot think about what am i going to have for dinner tonight? >> rose: you have to think about what? >> i have to think about nothing. that is the first thing. i am an empty respeerk stfl taught person. one day my friends told me, you went on the high wire and you were humming. and i said no. i was humming a little tune i heard when i wassa of a kid and it made me happy so to be happy on the wire is important. i filter the outside and don't let the thoughts pass and welcome others. >> rose: did you define the skill you have? >> yes, i can define it in a
very simple way, and ting applies to all the arts and the art of living, it is be passionate. except in our schools and universities you don't have an exercise in passion. vongz you're passionate, this is the model for creativity. and i think this is what motivated me all my life. >> rose: you have to have a team if you're going to do something like the twin towers. >> yes, in the bank robbery, you need the wrains brains, the means and tools, and human helpers and that's the most difficult thing. it's always the human being that betrays you, that are not there on time, are faulty. the tools don't disobey you. >> rose: who did you have to help you? >> at the time i was not organized so i turned to one of my friends and friends of frenz. i was in need of a few more hands until the last moment before to go into the tower with a ton of equipment p equipment,
i had friend and people i didn't know help me, which was a strange thing. >> rose: soy you have to figure out how you're going to get up there. >> yes. >> rose: they didn't invite you up. >> rose: i didn't ask for an invitation. i knew it would be futile i still want to come to the skill that you have. it's a remarkable thing you can do because you know one misstep and it's over. you're talking about the walk. the walk itself is natural for me and in the case of the world trade center i dreamed about the walk for six and a half years before i could do it. again, i was prepare and human impatient. i was not frightened. i was impatient, and the minute i put my foot on the wire i was joyful. i was happy. i was elated. but you were thinking of nothing once you put your foot on the wire. >> all the anchor point, all the
nuts that secure the wire, i knew they would serve me faithfully, which i checked on them 10 times and for me i could walk on the wire without thinking of all the lines and knot and if, if, if. i cannot walk on the wire with an if in my head. i have to walk on a wire the way i am going to present my life and do successfully the last step as i did the first one. >> rose: here are you 14 years ago you talked about this, 1999, what it feels like to walk high wire. here it is. when you're walking across on the wire. >> yes. >> rose: what will you be thinking. >> basically, i will finally be liberatedded of all the tie on earth, what you were talking about, the money, the organization. i will be nay world oficism plift, calm, and beauty. i will be on a wire where there is no left or right and i will not rick my life but i will
ca life across. it gives people an uplifting of the world. >> rose: but somehow people said this was a step to change your life. >> what, the first step on the wire? >> rose: yeah, that somehow this experience was to change life. >> yes and no. i was invited to stay and perform. which as an artist is what you want. it didn't change in my head. the commercials using my wire. i never went for fame and money as a goal. i always thought of it as a tool to create more. i have no change. >> rose: do you dislike the question why? >> i do. if you spend most of your life trying to analyze why you're painting you're not a painter
but if you wake up in the morning you forget your breakfast because all you have to do is finish a painting you fell asleep on before. asking why is sometimes ben official, i leave it -- >> to other people. why is it an strcial question, and i might disagree. we have very different roles. it's an important question because you want to know why something is the way it is so you can understand it. why does the wind blow? >> then i give you an answer. >> rose: i saw a painter and he said why is it that color, and how can i reproduce that color? >> i have an answer. to me there is no why. i had no choice. gave me two towers and i will manage.
"why knot," because i think the world today now, the 21st century, we need to go back to those twisted fibers, and you smile because you're a sailor. you use rope on the boat. and we need to remember you cannot leave without rope, lines, capables and nuts, and that's my first line. tow flying your kite today. so i thought it is time to make a very unusual book of knots, and not to try to be universal. but to take them in different families, once that can save your life, the onces that are simple and elegant. i created them of course. i have a few examples. >> rose: please. >> the first thing is the book is dedicated to the
producer-director who does the parody commercials on "saturday night live. of he is a sailor. he she'd mow a way to use a knot, which is interesting. one day jen said that's nice. all this movement, all this time, why don't you do this. of course he's a producer so you have to save time and money. i thought oh, that's quite interesting. s>> rose: when you say him do that you said it was interesting. >> rose: i live in the catskills and i have a neighbor, t.j.ica logs. and he does does giant construction with bulldozer. he said, phillipe, you see, this is very old and called a timber hitch. what you do is you just twist the rope a few times around your big log but look at that, the
log will move, get stuck. so there is a move with a little wirl a rope, and now it becomes the-- lou how the tractor of t.j. is moving perfectly, annoying the trees on both sides. and look how simple it is. by the way, you do this and it's gone. i continue and then look at this. a is my friend who did the seenage in the louver did that the other day. i made this for you. this is perfection. this is a monk's fist. and usually you take the little rope and throw that from your boat, although in a smaller. look at the beauty and perfection of this.
there is a chapter in this book. and there is a chapter on simply desay the and elegance and that's my last little demonstration. here say claw hammer. i love when you have a problem, don't look at the book of solutions, look at the problem. clove, clove, clove is calling. what is a clove, it's-- i give that to the-- and then i give the nut to the hammer to let's say lift it up to the top of the a scaffold but that would be very dangerous. it's hardly a nut because i do again a half-hitch and you nothe hammer can go up and it's a self-stablizing tool. and when you get the worker on top of the scaffold what you need to do is free the loop and
let gravity-- i have my hammer. >> rose: this is fascinating. >> i love those ,&znéz because you see this book i think is going to revitalize the passion for knots in all ages. when we were kids, boy schools but there isn't one taprofession who doesn't use nut. you buy a piece of meat and without look at it, the butcher will do this series of hitchs. >> rose: if you're a traffic accident scene? >> well, you'll have to do those as buttons. if you escape from jail, you're going to put your sheet from the bed together with a sheet bend. >> rose: there is a particular knot for tying sheets together? >> yes, absolutely. actually, it's very, very simple cell and i like that sometimes. let's say these are two ends of two different rolls and you go if underneath, you go around,
and you simply tuck end and right there you have a very solid nut. oh, yes, it's very solid. you see -- >> all nuts have variation. if you want for some reason, you want it to be more solid, you taib a little more and pass it not once, not twice and now the have the appley name double. it goes goes on and on and all that is in my book. i think people now discover we cannot live without knots. >> rose: what's your life like today? you live in the cat skills. >> talk about ropes my life is entanglement. i have to wake up in the mornine cat skills, beautiful landscape, and right there i despair because i don't have enough
hours in my day. >> rose: how did you spend your days. >> right now i am working on book number 10, a book on creativity. it's not out yet. it's creativity, the perfect crime. talking about the book not called why not, i must confess that my day is two-fold. i just did a stiewr in los angeles, san francisco to help the books. i am so glad you made me come back to this beautiful round table to salute this useful week. >> rose: it is my pleasure. >> rose: someone said i come out of the grand performance of street performer. >> that is true. i learned magic by myself, almost impossible at six years old. in some books of magic they said to get more dexterity you should
try juggling. >> and learned by myself when i was 12 years old to juggle. i went to the circus, and i became a pick pocket. >> rose: is that what they do? >> yes, there are different ways-- let me see if i have a card somewhere. this is your wallet, right, and i will go, and this is the fork, you see, four,s and the plier. and you go like this. it's not so much the technique. it is the misdirection. >> rose: what does that mean? >> the misdirection is a distraction. >> rose: if you bump into them? >> yes, but bumping is kind of-- one beautiful way is you-- in a crowd, year all looking at something, and you turn your back and you press your back against the belly of the man behind you, and eat completely blind. hold on. i talk about a crime as it it were a ballet and art but for me it is, because i practicedly pick pocket on stage, and now
when they talk about the beauty of pick pocket on stage i'm not talkintalking about crimes in te streets. i discovered the high wire and that's my past. >> rose: it was said, "this is not your normal book for boy scouts. this is for those with a sense of poetry. the poetry and mystery of boline in the biden. the hoy man's hitch and the morningy's fist, revealed by a man whose life depends on ropes and exots. that's a nice thing to say about you. >> it's the truth. i think what makes the strength of this book is i'm not just talking about-- i use my own methods which are much simpler than all other books of knots. and i make it look like magic, and also those knots have saved my life. >> rose: you always have to have confidence, yes? >> you cannot juggle and thinki hope i will catch it -- >> you have to believe you can.
oise there is not a naturalness of motion. >> one day i would put my foot on the wire and say i hope i get myself on the other side. i was of i would run away. some people don't. some people advertise that they risk their life. me, i find life much more beautiful. i will never dare to risk my life for that of others. when i see somebody in the big city crossing an avenue without looking left and right for the bus, i think it is obscene. >> rose: you have to have perfect weather to do this? >> not necessarily. i study the wind, practice for months against a bad wind just in case. and i go to a midtown and it's almost a scientific way of making sure you don't risk your life. that's the way i do it. >> rose: so what's the closest call you've had?
>> not on the wire. one day i was showing off in niagara falls-- it was connected with a possible high wire walk there 30 years ago-- and it was in winter and i was the only man in the history of niagara falls that was allowed to climb on the ice with an ice pick. and i didn't practice. and i didn't take a mast wer me. and the press was there. and at some point i jumped in a crevasse, and i was sliding on pure ice to my death. dismen i had a pick in nigh hand and instead of doing what most people would have done, i looked at the pick. i was holding it wrongly. i gave it a quarter of a. showing off is really a bad thing. if you have the presence of mind to think of details . >> rose: let me make sure i got that. what did do do make sure? >> a very sharp instrument that you can bang into the ice, but i
was holding that as a prop. when we were gliding i knew it would hit the ice it would have stopped the gliding. what diis i turned towards the ice and i dig into it and stop my fall. that was a close call. >> rose: "why knot" is the book. thank you so much. >> and keep tying. >> rose: there's a lot to learn. thank you for joining us. see you next time. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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