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!

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