Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Trentonian TV Production Notes: "Greatest Bar in Greater Trenton"

TRENTON -- First N' Ten is the "Greatest Bar in Greater Trenton" according to 1,347 fans who voted for the Hamilton joint on our Facebook page. Runner-up Sportsmen's Pub got 1,261 votes in the title match-up, which capped 3 weeks of excitement in our 32-bar field.

Trentonian funnyman columnist Jeff Edelstein hosted the 50-minute live broadcast during which First N' Ten was named the overall winner. Edelstein is such a natural in front of the camera -- especially when he properly motivates himself by watching Chuck Barris and Gene-Gene the Dancing Machine on The Gong Show in what he calls "the greatest minute of viewing in the history of the Internet."

Nearly 20 people representing First N' Ten to Sportsmen's to TerraCycle to Capital City K-9 Association filled an our (usually morbid) newsroom with beautiful energy. They joined Jeff in the Trentonian TV studio to talk about the contest and pump up their bars or organizations. Meanwhile, Joe D'Aquila and I were co-producing the show, me behind the wheel doing screen-in-screen and taking pictures, and D'Aquila keeping tabs of the final tally while handling the drawing to award prizes to those who voted in the 31 matchups.

D'Aquila was a superstar as he ran the contest. He and Edelstein brainstormed the idea to name the Greatest Bar in Greater Trenton after seeing a similar contest on to find out the best character in The Wire, the TV show both of them loved so much. There were times the Greatest Bar in Greater Trenton contest turned nasty, and D'Aquila said he'll contribute to this blog in the next day or two to chronicle the headaches he had to deal with.

I'll add to this entry later with photos from the 38th live broadcast on I think the broadcast -- like the contest -- was a home run. Everyone had a ton of fun. With so many people crisscrossing onto the set, and D'Aquila and I doing our thing in the studio, and Edelstein doing his shtick, things could have spiraled out of control. But we all held it together. I'm very happy with the results.

The broadcast added to a great week on Trentonian TV. It included "National Cleavage Day."


Saturday, 11:17 in the a.m. Just watched the episode for the 5th time. I really like it. D'Aquila and I were talking yesterday about the viability of Trentonian TV, as in, is it really accomplishing anything? At some point we have to decide if it works or doesn't work. I'm a stubborn bastard, the stubbornest bastard on the face of the earth. I know the underlying message of D'Aquila's words. He might be right.

But right now I am not willing to abandon Trentonian TV. There could be a time when I have no alternative, but I can't pull the plug now that we've gone a layer deeper: members of the community hosting talk shows that deal with community issues. Community Engagement! If that doesn't make Buttry all tingly, nothing will.

Anyway ...

John McGinley of the Capital K-9 Association was the first guest. He told the world about his organization's great mission: outfitting cop dogs with bullet-proof vests. How awesome is that? They're expensive, though: 2,000 bucks for a vest to protect Hooch. The beauty of the "Greatest Bar in Greater Trenton" tournament is that toward the end, Sportsmen's and First N' Ten agreed to donate money to McGinley's organization.

Frank DeMarcello represented Sportsmen's, which got into the field of 32 at the last minute then reached the title game by coming from behind in every round. The Hamilton joint embodies a true fighter's spirit, never down and out, not to mention the pub has a ton of fans who played their part in the contest. 

Now, being National Cleavage Day and all, two of Sportsmen's sexy bartenders joined Edelstein and Frank. Lynn and Lindsey put the Cleavage into National Cleavage Day, leading to this exchange:

Frank: "We've got the double-L's going."

Lynn: "... and the double-D's."

Jim Green represented First N' Ten and did a nice job talking about the popularity of his place, while Edelstein mentioned First N' Ten's wings. Small, sure, but the taste is massive. We might have to have the "Greatest Wings in Greater Trenton" contest soon.

My favorite guests yesterday were Albe and Megan from TerraCycle, perhaps the single best company in the City of Trenton -- and the single best company in the City of Trenton that the City of Trenton has refused to celeberate in the 5 years since I've been here.

What does TerraCycle do? D'Aquila had the best line for that: "They literally take shit and garbage and turn it into money." Indeed, it's too bad TerraCycle can't take all of the shit that goes on at City Hall and turn it into money. (There's a toilet paper joke in there.)

TerraCycle is a recycling and upcycling outfit that began in 2001 when Tom Szaky dropped out of Princeton University as a freshman to start making his impact on the planet. Szaky moved TerraCycle's headquarters to Trenton in 2004, and the rest of the story is a testament to the human spirit. In 2011, Szaky was named to the Forbes Impact 30 List recognizing entrepreneurs wrestling with the world's most pressing issues.

TerraCycle can turn worm poop into soda bottles. It can turn used granola packages into jugs to water plants. It can turn old Kool-Aid Jammers boxes into pencil cases. Dirty diapers into park benches! It can upcycle used gym bags into reusable bags And so on and son on. TerraCycle has collected 250,000,000 pieces of post-consumer waste and more than 2,500,000,000 pieces of waste overall.

"We buy what everyone else thinks is worthless," Megan said, "and make something great out of it."

TerraCycle donates 2 cents for every pen, glue bottle, tape dispenser, juice box, etc., to the 50,000 schools and churches and nonprofits that send in their waste. Two pennies seems like nothing -- until you hear Albe proclaim that in the last 4 years TerraCycle has donated $4,500,000 to those schools and organizations across the country, "which is way more than we've ever made as a company."

And now TerraCycle has gone worldwide, with offices in Toronto and Sao Paolo and London, among the several global kiosks.

"But," Albe said, "Trenton will always, always be our global headquarters."

So, Tony Mack, what are you prepared to do to help upcycle one of the city's greatest assets?

Or are you going to keep recycling the same ol' Trenton poop into fool's gold?

And now some of the pictures (it wasn't my best trigger day):

Frank DeMarcello of Sportsmen's

Joe D'Aquila handling production duties during the show
Lynn (blue) and Lindsey are bartenders at Sportsmen's

Jim Green talks while a picture of his establishment is shown

Green talks more with Edelstein
Some of the crowd that filled The Trentonian newsroom during the show
DeMarcello congratulating Green after First N' Ten won the bar crown
DeMarcello and Green donated to McGinley's K-9 association
Edelstein with Kool-Aid Jammers packages that turned into a pencil pouch

Edelstein choosing names of voters who won prizes
D'Aquila helping to determine the winners

Albe with his tie made of upcycled Cheetos packaging

The Greatest Bar in Greater Trenton contenst would not have  been so successful without Joe D'Aquila

Oh, by the way, here are the voters who won prizes. E-mail jdaquila@trentonian to claim your prizes: Jay Sellner and Mark Kinney ($25 gift certificates to Anthony's 4 Pizza in Morrisville); Patrick Scharnitz (a cool toy that I forgot the name of), Brian McGowan (gift basket donated by Elizabeth Whelan of Tastefully Simple), Johnathyn Flynn (TerraCycle products), Eric Maywar, Cindy Oliver Larson, Betty Kish and Scott Urban (T-shirts).

Here is the replay of the announcement, and much more. Happy National Cleavage Day!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Trentonian TV Production Notes: Weekend Dish (Episode 4)

UPDATE AT 9:25 p.m.: For whatever reason, the first minute looks and sounds discombobulated even though the replay seemed fine the first time I watched it. Weird.

TRENTON -- "Weekend Dish" (Episode 4) was the 37th Trentonian TV live broadcast. It wasn't the best. It wasn't the worst. I'd say it was in the 60th percentile of shows in terms of strength. But that's OK. Hilary Morris and Kirsten Yard and Joe D'Aquila and I are moving in the right direction with the show that celebrates Greater Trenton.

It's different from most Trentonian TV shows because we use the Google+ Hangout format, and if the settings are not correct from the start, it causes headaches and makes the broadcast look and sound awful. In a nutshell, we start the G+ Hangout and record it with Procaster's "Go Live" button. We use Procaster's parameters to frame the Hangout's large window so that all you see and hear is the person whose voice is loudest. It's why you see the screen constantly switch from Hilary to Kirsten to Hilary to Danny to Kirsten to Danny to Hilary to Danny and so on and so on and ... .

Anyway, today we started the episode but cut it off after a few minutes. Because I was hosting the Hangout, my audio had to be all but silent. But I told Danny to sit next to me, and he began talking into the plug-in microphone, which, D'Aquila said, was causing bad feedback or something when he watched it live on Trentonian TV at 
Me trying to explain why Danny couldn't use my mic is like you trying to figure out 34,285 divided by 29.852 without pen and paper. Or calculator. After a minute or two with Danny on the mic, I heeded D'Aquila's advice and stopped recording. D'Aquila set Danny up on a different computer with his own webcam, and all was well again in Hangout World. I hit record for Weekend Dish (Episode 4) Part 2, action!

But let's get back to the 60 percent thing. Not everything in life is going to be easy at first. Weekend Dish is the toughest show I produce and direct. Hilary and Kirsten probably agree that we're still not all on the same page as far as vision. We're getting closer, though. Other Trentonian TV hosts (L.A., Freedom, Tyrone, Phil) are more polished in front of the camera, and it always shows. Hilary and Kirsten are getting there. I love their enthusiasm to improve. The biggest thing Hilary and Kirsten continue to work on is their chemistry. It's not easy having a co-host. You've got to know the yin to the other person's yang. Hilary talks about places to go and things to see while Kirsten talks about where to go eat. They're still figuring out when to let the other person talk. Now we're throwing in Danny to dish out the best places to hear live, local music, and it kind of gums up the works.

Right now I don't know if Danny works in this combination.

That's not a knock on Danny. No one knows music like he does. I just think he needs his own Trentonian TV music show to highlight the local scene -- like he does in his column that runs every Thursday in print and at 

There was a great breakthrough: Kirsten has learned how to show photographs of the food she talks about through Hangout's "screenshare" function. I was impressed, Kirsten.

I like the Hilary-Kirsten-Google+Hangout dynamic. There is so much room to grow, and that's a good thing. There's a guy in our company named Jim Brady -- powerful dude -- who always says you should give new things a chance to breathe. Six weeks is a strong barometer as to whether a project will or won't work. I see Weekend Dish lasting for months, years, decades! Well, not that long. There are many things we have to iron out on Weekend Dish, from Hilary and Kirsten finding their rhythm to D'Aquila and I tinkering with the studio settings just right to make the live broadcast at Trentonian TV worth coming to. We can't promise you any rolls, though. Sorry.

Here are some of the photos I took pre-Dish, post-Dish (take 1 when D'Aquila was setting up Danny) and then real-Dish (take 2). You might be asking why Hilary is sitting in front of a giant dollhouse. Well, Kirsten was having computer issues as go-time approached. Hilary thought she'd have to share the screen again, like they did for the first 3 episodes, but then Kirsten got things cooking and jumped into the Hangout on her own window. But that's when Hilary experienced some weird audio echoing or feedback or whatever on her iPad. So she went from the living room down to the basement. She entertained the idea of doing her part of the Hangout from inside the dollhouse, but it didn't look so hot.

Next time, Hil. Just get better doll lighting.

And here is Episode 4 of "Weekend Dish" with Hilary and Kirsten and Danny.

Watch live streaming video from trentonian at

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Trentonian TV Production Notes: Makin' Moves with Phil Jackson (Episode 2)

TRENTON -- That's one of the greatest waffles ever eaten. By me. On Thanksgiving Night. At Pat's Diner. Yep, that was my Thanksgiving dessert. Don't judge.

Why is that picture leading this set of Trentonian TV Production Notes? Well, it's the picture on my computer screen. I never want to forget the moment I was face-deep in that beautiful waffle, every canyon filled with fake butter and faker chocolate and syrup.

So again, why is that picture atop these notes? Because I was taking a picture of Dennis Micai during "Makin' Moves" with Phil Jackson and realized how lucky I am.

Who is Dennis Micai? Dennis Micai helps run the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen -- T.A.S.K. -- and the place feeds thousands of starving men and women every year. I was taking his picture on the screen as he talked to Phil, and I noticed an arc of the waffle and thought about the thousands of starving men and women who don't get to drown a Pat's Diner waffle in enough chocolate and sugar to put 3 people into a diabetic shock.

It was a strange little thought that danced in my mind as Phil and Dennis spoke about the importance of the soup kitchen.

Here are photos I shot. In keeping with today's theme, I captured more hands!

Tom Freeman has written 3 books, including this one:

Phil did a nice job engaging Dennis and Tom. Dennis is a pillar of the community for the work he does with the hungry and those trying to better their lives through TASK's G.E.D. program. Thank goodness Trenton has its soup kitchen.

What struck me most about Tom Freeman is that picture of him in a hoodie as an act of solidarity in the Trayvon Martin tragedy. People would look at that photo of an angry-looking black dude ensconced in a hoodie and draw the kind of conclusions that lead to 17-year-olds getting shot and killed. But then you listen to the Fairleigh Dickenson University graduate speak about his art (music, screenwriting, and oh, yeah, he's penned 3 books) and immediately you're reminded of the old adage: Don't judge a book by its cover.

Speaking of which, look at the photo just above ... what a cover! That is the third book Tom wrote called "Her Little Secret" about women who get caught up in the crack/prostitution game. Are you willing to look beyond the cover with a naked woman and part of her boob showing to actually, you know, read the content? How about this: I'll buy lunch for the first person to buy that book (support the local artists!) and write a 500-word review for submission to and this blog. Who's game?

Anyway, Tom Freeman is a sharp kid with immense talent. His laid-back delivery of speech also reminds me of Erick from EPMD. Kulk is all about the old-school days when rap was real. "Relax your mind, let your conscience be free and get down to the sounds of EPMD."

And then get down to the sights and sounds of Episode 2 of Makin' Moves.

Excellent show, the second quality Trentonian TV show of the day following Live with L.A. to start this Wednesday in Trenton.

Oh, by the way, I ate that waffle last Thanksgiving, about 12 hours after volunteering at TASK. I don't know if that's funny or just messed up. You decide.

Trentonian TV Production Notes: Live with L.A. (Episode 8)

"When you have a love for education, 
the world becomes this great learning center."

TRENTON -- L.A. Parker said that today. Great line.

So yeah, L.A. and I have had more knock-em-down drag-em-outs than I care to remember, but I'll always be the first one to tell him when he knocks one out of the park. Today, Larry was on top of his game for Episode 8 of "Live with L.A." -- and he smashed the winning homer in bottom-9 with 2 outs and the bases loaded.

It was his tightest show yet, and whether he planned it or it was just a coincidence, today's show was an homage to women, young and old and somewhere in between. His guests ranged from a shy but sweet honors student at Rider U. (Stephanie Hendricks) with a great head of hair and who's headed to the 2012 Olympics in London, to a leader in the Trenton arts community (Lynn LeMyre), to the wildly energetic Marlene Devlin from UIH Family Partners of Trenton, to an important voice out of Trenton High (Maria Jones) regarding renovation of the school, to the 6 females from Burlington Township High -- cheerleader coach Kim Gaskin and her "dream team" of 5 seniors who led the squad to a national title.

Trentonian TV is closing in on its 50th live broadcast. This was the 35th, and easily the best one because of L.A.'s guest list, and the conversations he and his guests engaged in, and Pup Bolding chiming in at the right time to pick a little Earth, Wind and Fire on his guitar, and the cheerleaders performing cheers between guests, and finally, me in the booth. I was on the ball with the graphics and my camera. (Well, I misspelled Gaskin's name. It's singular not plural. She forgave me.)

Hendricks is a good and Godly girl chosen to be a stand-in chaplain at the Olympics if an athlete or family needs emotional and/or spiritual guidance because of bereavement or an accident. Her trip to London is sponsored by Lay Witnesses for Christ International. She still needs to raise some money for the trip, so if you want to help her get there, e-mail and he'll make sure Stephanie gets the money.

Stephanie said she's not big into today's rap music because "it's all the same" with "no originality." She said she listens to the old-school greats such as Cool and the Gang and Earth, Wind and Fire, which is when Pup's ears perked up and he did his thing.

LeMyre touted Trenton's "Capital City Student Art Show" that runs until April 23 at the Artworks Gallery at 19 Everett Alley. There's an opening reception on March 31.

Devlin is a fun person. She came to promote the big "4-4-4" event, which is the 4th annual Dress to Impress at 4 North Broad Street on April 4. Oh, and it starts at 4 o'clock. She said something funny, but kind of sad: UIH Family Partners is located at 4 Broad Street, which is "next to the pawn shops." So many pawn shops in Trenton. But anyway, UIH Family Partners outfitted 178 men in new suits last year and have given away 398 suits since the first Dress to Impress. The best part of Devlin's appearance came later, when she joined Burlington's cheer team during a cheer.

Maria Jones has strong opinions about what needs to happen with Trenton High: "Gut renovation" is the way to go, she said, not building an entirely new school, as Gov. Chris Christie wants to do with the $150 million the state found under its secret mattress.

Jones wants a "brand new school in the existing structure" because it will "cost less to gut-renovate to give students a state-of-the-art institution." She said plans were in place -- plans by respected architects were in place, as was an agreement by the Trenton Board of Education -- before Christie and his mattress-fund buddies threw Trenton High onto the list of schools to be rebuilt from the ground up.

Jones also talked about Senior Sports Night on May 4-5. On May 4 at 9 a.m. there is a kickoff walk at TCHS, and the games begin at 11 a.m. May 5.

The last 15 minutes belonged to Gaskin and her peppy cheerleaders Cayla Riggs, birthday girl Asia Mincey, Brianna Burgess, Ashlee D'Amato and Danelle Rambus.

They're leaders of the Burlington Township cheer team that raised $36,000 to get to Orlando for nationals -- where their acrobatic, high-flying routine won gold for the second year in a row. Gaskin said the first time was "an out-of-body experience."

The 5 seniors made the All-State Team, and all 5 are headed to college. "We're talking about great athletes," Gaskin said while paying tribute to their academics. "They're the best in the state." As far as nationals, Asia Mincey said the title felt so good because "we conquered what we fought for."

L.A. knows how that feels, too. Today he conquered the world of Internet television.

Here are my photos. Wasn't my best day for locking in the focus -- phone cams aren't designed to capture indoor action too well. Plus, I think the lens was coated with filth-gunk. My theme today was hands. Most guests who appear on Trentonian TV are nervous, and I've begun to notice their hands while they speak.

Lynn LeMyre:

Several shots of L.A. and Stephanie:

Stephanie's hands:

I struggled to shoot Devlin because she moved so much:

Maria Jones:

Burlington Township's Kim Gaskin & the national champion cheer squad (the second shot shows Devlin when she joined the team for a cheer):

Those are Gaskin's hands. Hers were by far the calmest of any guest.

And here is Stephanie and her mom, Alicia, who is joining the Trentonian TV lineup with a show about cosmetology. Spread the word. The first show is tentatively set for Sunday:

And here is Episode 8 of Live with L.A.: