Counter Culture Season 5 Ep. 5
Grover welcomes Lu Ann Cahn, former Investigative Reporter and Author at NBC10; Joe Raiola, Former Editor, Mad Magazine and Artistic Director at Theatre Within; and Ernie DiMassa, Television Producer.
Welcome to Counter Culture, a talk show normally in a diner.
Tonight, I welcome three very special guests -
artist Teresa Haag.
- As I'm building up the layers of paint,
I'm deciding in the moment what I'm covering opaquely
and what I'm leaving transparent.
- Forensic pathologist and author Dr. Cyril Wecht.
- I knew that this was obviously
a totally, totally controlled conspiracy
from beginning to end.
- And master plumber and philanthropist Vinnie Marzulli.
- When you give your time and your life to someone else,
you're making a significant contribution to society.
And I think that's what everybody needs to do.
- All right here on Counter Culture.
Hi, folks, I'm your host, Grover Silcox, coming
to you from Lehigh Valley Public Media Studio B
while we wait for the go ahead to return to our original home
at Daddy Pop's Diner
in little old Hatboro, PA.
- Most people focus to see what's in a newspaper,
but my next guest focuses more on what's on the newspaper.
Her eye catching cityscapes conceal and reveal
a backdrop on newsprint.
She calls her calling as an artist a journey
in which she keeps evolving and making new discoveries
about herself and her art.
Please welcome artist Teresa Haag to the counter.
- How are you? - Hi there!
I'm so good. Thanks for having me.
- I know! Your art is, it's such an unusual approach.
Describe what you do and describe your art.
I call myself an urban landscape painter.
Really I love to create work
that is gritty and real
and stuff that you wouldn't necessarily pay attention to
while you're out in the world.
One of the unique elements that I include in my work
is actually a layer of newspaper that I cover
the entire surface of the canvas with
before I start creating in oil.
And this is so much embedded in the process for me.
this feeling of grittiness.
It creates this depth that you can sort of
feel like you're walking into the city.
And most importantly, it creates this, like, chatter
and noise of the people of the city
sort of walking through the space.
- It's interesting how you came to this approach.
Tell us about that
to San Francisco and I came back from San Francisco
with an image that I shot of Powell Street.
And I didn't have any blank canvases
lying around in my studio.
So I had taken an old canvas that had a still life
of sunflowers, that I had done for a class,
and I decided just to sort of wallpaper over it with some,
like, glued some newspaper down over the top of it
to start creating over it.
And it really took me like two brush strokes,
and it was... In the art world, we call it our voice.
It was like sort of when I discovered my voice.
It's like our calling card.
It's the thing that sets us apart from everyone else.
And we're able to really look inside of ourselves to decide
how we want to share the message that we want
to share with everyone.
- I love your cityscapes. And people have said,
well, why don't you put people in them?
But yet people are implied
because the shadows of people
are kind of... Come out of your cityscapes.
- Yes. I love how you say the shadows.
Yes. There's this essence of people.
I do sometimes paint people,
but I don't really like to do it.
I think it takes away from being able, you yourself,
to be the hero or the main character in the story
when there's other people.
So when I remove people, you can insert yourself
a little bit easier.
And the newspaper itself sort of echoes the noise
that people, like, the talking of people,
the chatter of people. So I feel like they're represented
- and just in a different way. - Mm-hmm.
So when you paint a scene from the city,
say, Philadelphia, because you've done a lot
of Philadelphia, you will reveal a little bit
of the paper here and there,
maybe a photo, maybe some print.
That's right. I randomly...
I always marry up the newspaper location
with the location of the piece.
So that stays together.
But I don't place the pieces of paper
in any specific order.
I just randomly glue the paper down.
And then as I'm building up the layers of paint,
I'm sort of deciding in the moment
what I'm covering opaquely and what I'm leaving transparent.
And it's like really fun to see how I can use
the image behind the paint
to tell a more compelling story in the end.
- Hmm. Now, what are some of the locations in Philadelphia
that have inspired you the most?
- Yeah, that's also a really good question.
I tend to stay away from the more popular areas,
the more, you know, well trafficked areas.
And I like to paint the back sides of the row homes.
And so there's this one piece I did of one of the back sides
of a place in Rittenhouse Square, one of the...
And it showed sort of this whole other world.
Whereas the front just looked so pristine and beautiful
and everything was tailored, and then you go to the back end
and it's like the cement in the parking lot
and the you know, like the towel hanging
over the railing and all the things that people
don't necessarily want to present to you
- in their best self. - Right.
But is totally the way they're living, you know,
in the real world, like inside the space.
South Street is always fun for me
because of the colors you can find.
I love getting higher up too.
So if I can find a rooftop bar
or on the Ben Franklin Bridge,
when you walk over and you can get that beautiful panorama
on the bridge itself, and finding those little areas,
that's always inspiring too.
- You have said that it's more important
to paint something that inspires you
rather than something you think will sell.
- Oh, so true.
Early in my career when I was doing a lot of shows
and trying to get my name out and trying
to just like establish myself as an artist, I would always
go into that space like, oh, I'm going to be showing here,
what can I find from this location to paint?
And it never seemed to work.
My heart was never necessarily in it.
And then I started leaning into more internal drives
for myself and finding like, oh, something about this house
in Strawberry Mansion is screaming at me,
even though it's just this rundown house on a corner
in a really dreary neighborhood
on a really dreary day,
but that's telling me to paint it.
So I'm just going to go into my gut and listen.
And it's always in those pieces that the magic
really comes to light for me.
- Your father was a carpenter, and I thought
this was a very interesting quote.
You said that "I learned to respect tools"
and that "I always felt confident
"that if I had the right tools and knew how to use them,
- "I could do anything." - Yeah.
The idea that I could do anything I wanted to do,
that was available to me, is definitely something
that I learned through my parents.
I mean, my dad was able to create using his tools.
And I saw, even though I never learned,
but she would take, like, old pantyhose
and put padding in it
and like create these really, really cool figures
with just a little sewing machine
and leftover, like, paper clips in the house.
And watching her be able to create from just what's
around her was, I think, a lesson I took with me
throughout my life.
- Did you go to school for art?
I could art-wise, just never through a traditional program.
It took me a long time to even be able to say that out loud
without, like, feeling badly about it.
I just so wanted to be like, "Yes, I have my MFA
"from this fancy school somewhere,"
but it wasn't my path and
I for sure wouldn't be making the art I'm making now
had I done it any other way, so...
- What would you say to someone who is considering
a career as an artist?
- If it's in you to be an artist,
you gotta hold on to that belief as hard as you can
and just know that what you're doing
is so important, and to keep going no matter what.
And even if you end up having to sacrifice
some of your time creating to take care of yourself
and do other things, just know it never goes away
and you'll always be able to come back to it.
- Beautiful. Well, thank you so much for sharing your time
and your talents with us here on Counter Culture.
We really appreciate it.
- Thanks, Grover. - You too. Take care.
Teresa Haag, whose life as an artist is a continuing journey
and ever evolving process of self discovery.
- The government, the Warren Commission people,
they did this, this was their experiment.
- My next guest is one of the most recognized
forensic pathologists in America,
most known as an outspoken critic
of the Warren Commission report.
He has also weighed in on many other high profile cases,
including the deaths of Robert Kennedy,
Elvis Presley, JonBenet Ramsey and even Jeffrey Epstein.
He's a passionate truth seeker who tells it like it is.
His latest memoir, The Life and Deaths
of Cyril Wecht, was riveting.
I highly recommend it.
But right now, the good doctor is with us and it's an honor
to have him aboard.
Dr. Wecht, thank you for joining us on Counter Culture.
- Thank you, Grover, for inviting me.
A pleasure to be with you and your viewers.
- Yes, you are one of the people
who really helped popularize
or get the public very interested
in forensic pathology and investigations.
You know, all these programs like CSI and so forth.
- I guess age and the time that I was becoming active
just happened fortuitously to coincide
with what was happening in real life
with the assassinations of JFK,
and then five years later in '68 RFK and MLK,
and then the deaths of Elvis Presley
and Tammy Wynette and others.
And then fiction picked it up with Quincy and other programs.
So, yes, indeed, the entire field of the overall subject
of forensic scientific investigation
really has boomed like no other scientific field
that I can think of ever before.
As a matter of fact, look
I think those are your mantras, if I'm not mistaken.
- Yes. Yes, I would say so.
You know, since I started doing autopsies to the present time,
I've done about 21,000 autopsies.
I've reviewed, signed off, supervised about 41,000 others.
And most importantly, apropos of your question or comment,
since 1962, I've been in private practice
as a pathologist, and as a medical legal consultant,
reviewing, analyzing cases for prosecutors and defendants
in criminal cases, plaintiff and defense attorneys
in civil cases from all over the country
and indeed occasionally from around the world.
People have come to know that I don't BS, I don't
simply fall in line because somebody has said something
or paid me for a consultation fee. I will call it as it is.
And that way, by maintaining my objectivity,
I have retained my credibility.
The more I studied it, I came to realize fully
that the Warren Commission report is absurd.
- One of the things I know that you really were able
to describe and demonstrate with great clarity
is the magic bullet theory.
The single bullet theory
was adopted by the Warren Commission
because they had a real problem,
a seemingly impossible physical incongruity.
In order to overcome that hurdle,
they came up with a single bullet theory, that one bullet
produced seven wounds in two men.
- You were a consultant for Oliver Stone in his film JFK.
And he kind of did a version of what you do
when you speak in public.
- I recommend that very much. That they use
what I have been doing then and continue to do
every time I speak to an audience. I get four people
from the audience, I bring them up
to portray President and Mrs. Kennedy,
Governor and Mrs. Connally.
And then I show the single bullet theory.
- It turns right, then left, right, then left,
and continues into Connally's body
at the rear of his right armpit - wound number three.
The bullet then heads downward at an angle of 27 degrees,
shattering Connally's fifth rib
and exiting from the right side of his chest.
Wound number four.
- And there's Connally holding the Stetson hat
moving downward. It has to hook back up and around,
go into the back of the wrist.
It produced a comminuted fracture of the radius,
one of the two large bones from the elbow to the wrist,
exited from the front of his wrist,
re-entered its upper thigh.
And then at the hospital, it was never seen by the nurses
and doctors who took care of Connally, who operated
on him, who removed his clothing.
Never, never seen by anybody.
But in the afternoon, a maintenance man trying to get
to the men's room, finding the corridor blocked by the ER
after the presidential entourage had left,
moved the stretcher, and lo and behold,
there was the hero of the magic bullet theory,
the single bullet theory, commission exhibit 399.
Copper jacketed, lead core piece of ammunition,
one and a quarter inch in length, a quarter
of an inch in diameter.
And there it was in all of its pristine grandeur
beneath the stretcher.
And that is the single bullet theory.
Totally, totally absurd.
But if you don't have the single bullet theory,
you've got to have two shooters,
and that was the problem
that confronted the Warren Commission report
and that is what has confronted them
in the news media ever since.
The moment you have two people in the planning, execution,
cover up of any kind of a crime, it is a conspiracy
and it has to be investigated and followed through upon.
And that is the problem that confronted them then
and remains with them now
in the year 2021.
- I want to tell you, I really enjoyed your memoirs,
talking about your own challenges that you've had,
- because again... - My trials and tribulations.
- I described two cases in which I had to defend myself.
It cost me a great deal of money, time
and effort but I fought them
and I was successful and I prevailed.
And I'm very proud of that, and I discuss that
and I show people who are reading the book
not only capsulized versions of a couple of dozen
of my cases, but also about the criminal justice system.
You'll learn something from that,
how it can be perverted and malevolently used by people
for political personal reasons.
- Well, I think the good news is the fact that you prevailed
means that the truth prevailed.
Because that's what you've always had your eye on
- right from the beginning, - I would like to believe that.
- So, continued success. You're, what, 89?
I don't think I'm giving anything away.
- Next month I'll be 90. - 90! And you're still at it.
- You're still at it.
- I just did two private autopsies today.
I'm very active and plan to continue to be active
for I don't know how long.
Thank you, Dr. Wecht, for joining us.
- OK. Grover, thank you very much.
I appreciate the opportunity to be with you.
And hopefully we'll be able to do it again, OK?
- You got it.
- The world renowned Dr. Cyril Wecht, a man who believes
that the truth will indeed set you free.
You know, I was a little hesitant to call my next guest
because, you know, you call a plumber and they never
show up or they show up much later.
Not so with Vince Marzulli,
founder of MARZ, award winning service company
in Philadelphia, and a member
of the Master Plumbers Association
of the City of Philadelphia.
He also helped establish a school in Port au Prince,
Haiti, for orphaned and under-served children.
And it all began with a donation made from $5,000
It's a pleasure to welcome an old friend
and a great plumber, Vince Marzulli.
You are Vince Marzulli, aren't you?
Because I know people take you for Al Pacino.
- Yeah, right.
- So now where are you right now?
- You're down in Hilton Head. - South Carolina.
- Right. And your company was quite successful.
It still is.
I understand your son has taken the helm.
- Yeah, that's correct.
Actually, I had served as the CEO
- for like 30... 38 years. - Mm-hmm.
What should people know about plumbers?
I mean, how do you go about selecting a plumber
- Today you can look online. You can, you know, Google
plumbers, plumbing contractors, and you'll find
a tremendous amount of people out there,
but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're the ones
- that you want to pick. - Right.
You may want to look at the Better Business Bureau
to see what kind of, you know, kind of background
they have, are they reputable.
You want to make sure that you have somebody that's
- What would you say is the number one problem
that plumbers are called for? Right about now when it's...
Temperatures are freezing into the single digits,
then what you have is, you know, pipes freezing, busting,
and that's definitely an emergency.
And everybody's looking for a plumber
at that point in time
so, you know, your phone's ringing off the hook.
Not that you can make it to every call,
but that's just the way that it is.
Either that or maybe it's Thanksgiving or Christmas
or New Year's and you have a lot of company and the toilet
gets blocked up, nobody can use the bathrooms.
That's a problem.
- An organization like the Master Plumbers Association
of Philadelphia really serves
an invaluable purpose for consumers. Right?
- They keep the contractors, the plumbing contractors
on the cutting edge with technology and legislation
having to do with, you know, on the federal level
and state level, something like that.
So, you know, your contractor will be abreast of
what's going on with the...
Even in the municipality that he lives in,
they're constantly changing laws.
And that's how the association helps the contractors
as they gather together to be able to, you know,
learn about the changes, the updates, the code changes
and things like that that are really important.
- One of the main reasons I wanted to talk to you, Vinnie,
is because after years as a successful plumber,
you took that success
and all those years of experience
to help some folks in Port au Prince, Haiti.
And tell us a little bit about how you got involved with it.
I think it was establishing a school down there
for orphaned children. Right?
- I had met someone who... At a church,
and he had a vision to start a school and a church
and a university in Haiti.
His vision was very powerful
and the next thing you know, I ended up getting involved.
Flew into Haiti, saw firsthand how devastating it really was.
And we purchased like a 16 unit apartment building.
We turned it into a school on the lower level
and then a church sanctuary in the very back part of the...
..building and then up above, we had all these rooms
which we allowed other people to come and live there,
that had no housing.
Back in 1998 we used a curriculum called Face,
which is an acronym for
Foundation for American Heritage.
So there was like a 12 year program.
And in 1998, literacy scale, for example, in Haiti,
they were like 65 to 70% illiterate.
OK? But now, I mean, let's say 2012/15,
the whole literacy had flipped.
So instead of it being 65, 70% illiterate,
there are now 65% literate, which is like a huge plus.
That's exactly what we were shooting for.
- You know, we talked about this before,
how we take things for granted.
You know, we have running water, we have plumbing.
And we take it for granted, of course,
in a first world country like ours.
But what did you experience down there?
Certainly from your background as a plumber,
must have been an eye opener.
- It really was. Down in Haiti
they have water, but they turn it on
and then what happens is you basically...
You have use of the water and then all of a sudden
the water is turned off.
So you might need spackle buckets
to be able to get as much water as you can,
and then you have it on hand to cook and wash yourself
and everything else.
So it's kind of... it was not good.
The quality of the water was like...terrible.
All the things that we take for granted in America, OK,
like washing your hands and things like that,
they don't really do there.
They don't have any running water
so washing their hands is not a priority to them.
And then second, nobody's teaching them
that they need to wash your hands because that's part
of the health habits process.
OK? So you have all these children
that are just like really, you know, not doing anything.
And so somebody, missionaries go down there and they start
to teach children and to teach the people.
And I think that that's, you know, that's the progress
for the country.
And I think that that's what's necessary.
And looking back, to wrap it all up,
what did you learn from this experience
that you can share with most people
who will never, never have that same experience?
- It's not about making money.
You know, everybody has to make money.
You want to build your business. That's important.
They're your priorities.
You know, it's nice to have a nice car and a nice house.
However, making a significant contribution to society
is probably the ultimate thing that you can do.
When you give your time and your life to someone else,
you're making a significant contribution to society,
and I think that's...
I don't think, I know that that's what I had done, OK?
And I don't... When it's all said and done,
I won't owe anybody any explanations
- for the way that I lived. - Right.
- You know, I have to congratulate you, Grover.
You've come a long way and your team working together
have developed some great programs.
And this is just another one of those programs.
and I just wanted to say thank you.
- Well, Vince, it's an honor to have you on as well.
Thanks so much. A man who's made a big difference
in the lives of other people.
It's a pleasure to have had you on, my friend.
Vince Marzulli, the pied piper of pipes,
who uses his connections to help others.
Well, that's it for this episode of Counter Culture.
I want to thank my guests, artist Theresa Haag,
noted author and forensic pathologist,
the amazing Dr. Cyril Wecht,
and master plumber Vince Marzulli.
And thank you for stopping by.
Don't forget to check us out next week
when we'll have more amazing guests
and great conversation right here at the counter.
Now stay tuned for More Than Money
with Gene Dickison.