Plot / Description
"America Is In Your Hands"
Hi, I'm Tony Fulgham. I'm a writer, I'm a musician, I'm a filmmaker. Budweiser has invited me to take a road trip around the Pacific Northwest and meet some of the people and go to some of the places that make this such a unique corner of America.
All right, so we're about to head down to Portland to meet Nong, who at 23, immigrated to the United States from Thailand with like 70 bucks in her pocket, and now she is a successful restauranteur and making Khao Man Gai and I am very excited to meet her. I heard she's got a good story.
I have one dish and I open a tent and I close when I sell out. Back then I thought it was my statement. My name is Nong. I am originally from Bangkok, Thailand. I came to Portland in 2003 with $70 and two suitcases. And then I just worked at the restaurant. I was a server. Every day, every day, seven days a week just saving money. I was like, OK, I'm going to have a dream to own my own business. I don't know what it look like yet, but I'm gonna do it my way. I was cooking for friends and stuff, and everyone said, oh it's good, you should open a restaurant. And I come to realize the opportunity to stand out as an immigrant in the United States.
So, what's Khao Man Gai and why do you make that, why was that what you chose?
So, Khao Man Gai is Thai chicken and rice. When I worked at the Thai restaurant before, every place has like 300 items on the menu. When you think of so many choices, you don't know what to pick. I'm gonna pick chicken and rice. After waitress for 7 years, I did save some money. I did learn that it's not enough to open a restaurant, but it's enough to open a food cart. So I drove all the way to ? and got that little cart. I was in the cart for about, almost three years until I decided to expand. When it first started it was just me. Was a one woman show.
Yeah. Every day I do what I like.
See, I think that's important.
Do what you like!
Now we're hustling to make it in time for sound check for Ayron Jones. Amazing guitar player, great songwriter, fantastic singer. He was born and raised in Central district right here in Seattle, Washington. We're gonna catch sound check, have a beer with him and then we get to stay for the show. And we got backstage passes, so that's extra cool.
I picked up a guitar at 13 years old. You know, growing up in the '90s, I got the hip-hop, I got the grunge and I got the blues and soul, the Motown . I'm Ayron Jones, I play guitar in a band called Ayron Jones and The Way. Born and raised in Seattle, man, that's me.
I have learned, and I ? my whole life off of this man, it's like, I grew up really poor in Seattle. I grew up, my mom abandoned me when I was about, I was 4 years old, you know what I'm saying? Left me at a daycare, didn't come back for me. Luckily I was taken in by the most wonderful woman who is my Aunt. You know, in order for me to pull myself out of where I was, was at in that situation, I had to completely change my mentality, and that's where that emotional playing comes from. It comes from that place of like, I'm not going to necessarily learn this because it's a power chord, I'm not going to learn this because it's technique, I'm gonna play it because this is the only way that I can express myself is through this language here.
Why do you stay in Seattle?
It's the attitude here. I mean, this community is really about nurturing the gifts of all of us around us. And while this sense of competition, it's more like, hey, I can do it better than you can, and they do it better than you, and you go...back to the drawing board. Gotta do it again, right?It really embodies the true spirit, which I think is bringing cultures together, you know. I know there are a lot of people looking around in America right now, asking the question, what's going on? We just think we're so different from each other, and we're acting off of this differences that we think we have versus the actual truth, so we're not that different. I think it may take a guitar player to come forward and play some American Rock-n-Roll to remind you and everyone else that I'm American just like you. My skin color doesn't mean anything. The precedent in America was set in 1776 and since then immigrants have come to this country and they've assimilated to that precedent and I'm a product of that. I'm an American Rock-n-Roller, that's what I do, I play American Rock.
We're heading toward the Mount Baker National Forest where we're gonna hook up with my friend, Chris Morgan. He's an ecologist, a conservationist and a filmmaker, which is how we know each other. And I'm quite certain he's going to take us someplace beautiful for our interview.
This word 'wild' fascinates me. And what does it mean to different people? For me the word 'wild' is a feeling as much as it is a place. My name's Chris, Chris Morgan, and I'm an ecologist and I have a deep fascination with big, wild animals. When I was a kid i used to find ants in the cracks of sidewalks and that's where my fascination with nature started. Now it's just, I'm just as curious about the wild world, but now the animals are 700 pounds.
I'm not crazy, and I don't think I'm some kind of bear whisperer, but I have spent a lot of time around a lot of bears and they never cease to impress me with how different each of them are, in terms of their personalities. It's just like, you know, looking in a room of people. And you can wander your eyes around to figure what bear is more tolerant than another and how they're all going to interact with each other.
But when you walk into a house party, let's say, and there's 10-15 people in there, unique individuals, statistically speaking, one of them's an asshole, right? I mean, you walk up on a group of 10 or 15 bears...
One of them's an asshole.
Right. Is that...how do you...
So usually those kind of bears don't want to have anything to do with you. They're not even there, they're long gone. They can smell you from 2 or 3 miles away. Sometimes more. They're incredible smart animals, and if you remember that, then there's a respect that goes both ways, then it can be the most incredible experience.
So what's the draw to the Pacific Northwest?
It's like the Wild West to me, and there's isn't much of that left. England used to be wild enough for Grizzly Bears until 1,000 years ago. It isn't any longer. So then I found myself living in the North Cascades and I was completely blown away by this iconic place. It's as American as it gets to me. You know, the mountains, the rivers, the glaciers, the forests here, you know? It's on a scale that is only American, and Grizzly Bears are on top of that iconic American thing to me, you know? There aren't many places in the world that are wild enough for these giant bears, and we're sitting in one of them right now.
I think that nature and wild places, it's a leveling ground. It's a place where we can all meet. that taps into something ancient in the human psyche, right? If we can work with that, and see eye to eye at least on one thing in the world that keeps on getting more and more split and separated, then nature is a really powerful thing.
My name's Chris Morgan, and this Bud's for you.
My name is Ayron Jones and this Bud is for you.
I'm Nong, and this Bud is for you.
So that's it. Portland to almost Canada, three days, three really amazing people. I just know that there's a lot more places, a lot of good stories and a lot of really great people who make this corner of America unique. I'll let you know what I find.
America Is In Your Hands.
Mt. Baker National Forest, USA