Twist and Shout

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

Monday, May 14, 2012

Trentonian TV Production Notes: Freedom Episode 12 (Daddy-Daughter Moment)

Alice Young photo

TRENTON -- His beautiful daughter, ShaQuana Davis, graced the chair next to him for Episode 12, but Freedom's best interview today involved Trenton City Councilman Alex Bethea, the 6th of 7 council people to appear on the show. The only holdout, the only one who keeps running away at every invitation, every phone call, is President Kathy McBride. Yo, Kathy, get your butt in the chair and talk about your year as president.

Poor Alex Bethea. He's been known to snooze at council meetings. Hard to know if he falls into REM or if he's just thinking really deeply, but some folks who attend city council meetings on a regular basis swear they've heard him snoring. That said, the vice principal at Hedgepeth-Williams School, where he has taught for 37 years, was awake and vibrant on Freedom's show. He spoke with clarity and strength about his A-student son, Raamiah, who became Trenton High's first state wrestling champion (152 pounds) and is headed to the University of Pennsylvania; spoke about his role on council and the importance of "not castrating" the mayor in public whether it's Mack, Palmer or Holland; spoke about how the 7 members of council "have to be a team, less humble like in football where you call a play then take it to the mayor as a team. It's more powerful than individuals taking potshots because he perceives it as personal, and I can't be sure it's not personal"; and spoke about re-opening libraries, err, learning centers -- "I'm a library man. My kids went to the library faithfully, and I think that has a lot to do with their academic success. The library treated them very, very well, and I was very, very disappointed when those libraries were closed. As for the legality of it, I'm not astute on if you open the library and you have the library word if you have to have a librarian ... but I'm excited to see some form of the library being re-established in the City of Trenton because I think it makes a difference."

Most importantly, Bethea spoke about Trenton's search for a new school superintendent, one who must take over a system that includes the worst high school in New Jersey: Trenton High, ranked 317 out of 317. Bethea has worked for "six or seven" superintendents during his 37-year career, but the next one must be the best. The two finalists will "meet and greet" the public today from 2 to 4 at the Board of Education building on North Clinton. The next super, he said, must be someone "who can lead a tough urban city because that's a bigtime job. I'd like to see a person who is able to handle the urban issues ... and guide us in the right direction so we can get our academic achievement up. I was disappointed last week when Trenton Central High School came up on the bottom of the bottom, again. We can't sit around and let our children fail and allow our children of color to drop out."

Alice Young was the second guest and talked about her photography business. That photo you see atop this entry? Alice took it. Watch the episode to catch her website address. Give her a call. Support Trentonians and their endeavors. Break the chains of "Trenton Disease".

The last guest was closest to Freedom's heart because ShaQuana Davis, his daughter, graduated from Bennett College last week, and they talked at length about growing up in Trenton and finding the strength earn a degree despite the stigma of growing up in Trenton. Daddy taught daughter well because almost everything that rolls of her tongue is something Freedom might say on his show. She has a variety of options for a career. "The sky's the limit ... the sky's not even a limit!" She said she's a "global thinker" who speaks Japanese, but this interview is 100 percent American father and daughter, straight outta Trenton.

From a production point of view, almost everything ran smoothly but there's a bizarre audio explosion late in the Bethea interview. My photos are not very good. The hard focus seems soft since Saturday's adventures. I wiped off the lens before the episode, but that didn't help much apparently.


Alex Bethea and Freedom. Alex has a deep-Georgia accent, maybe South Carolina


Alice and Hunter S.


Alex's and Freedom's shoes


Hands of a father of a wrestler

Alice's shoes

Alice Young, photographer

Alice's tat and hands

Daddy-daughter moment

Daddy-daughter moment Photoshopped

ShaQuana's shoes

Daddy's hat, daughter's moment

Daddy's and daughter's hands

ShaQuana and Alice watching Freedom

Another moment



And here is the 55-minute episode: