One of the reasons I love my work is that I occasionally get to meet some fairly famous folks. Normally, this is just a brief exchange of pleasantries… not like we’re best buds, hangin’ out with a beer or anything. But still, it’s kinda fun.
This week I was fortunate enough to be called for a 2-day job with Dave Porfiri of Mindflow Media to record the Benwood Foundation lecture series. The speakers are some really big names in politics, academia, etc. Last month, I got to meet author Malcolm Gladwell. In the ’08-’09 series, I met environmental justice advocate Majora Carter (that lecture can be seen here) This month, it was Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, NJ.
Mayor Booker’s story is very well told in the documentary Street Fight, which was nominated for an Academy Award, but lost to March Of The Penguins. Mayor Booker is a vegetarian, but he allows himself one exception… PENGUIN MEAT! (“Tastes like chicken,” he claims.)
Mayor Booker is an inspirational speaker. He’s certainly a politician, but seems a long way from your typical politician, since the major issues he faces in his city… guns, gang violence, drugs, poverty… can rarely be framed as “Democrat” or “Republican” problems. And he’s gotten results… something like a 40% reduction in shootings since taking office.
But probably what’s gotten the most attention was his defense of Newark on YouTube, where he “officially” put Conan O’Brien on the Newark Airport’s “no-fly list” (the Newark airport doesn’t have a no-fly list, but that’s really beside the point.) for a joke Conan made about Newark on his show. “Try JFK, buddy!” If nothing else, it shows his sense of humor and his skill at using new media to get out his message. (the “feud” continued for quite awhile.)
It was an enjoyable shoot with good results, and I’ll certainly be watching Mayor Booker’s political career more closely in the future.