In Episode 6 of “Shadow World”, David S. Kessler took a break from giving interviews to let the location speak for itself – Front and Berks – the Berks El Station.
I can still recall the elderly man following me from the train station, as the sun was setting, when I was just a kid. He propositioned me for a blow job. He said he would pay me money. I walked faster and acted as if I couldn’t hear him. Eventually, he got the hint.
Right around that corner, on a different day, maybe that same year, I was jumped and earned one of the broken noses I’d keep as souvenirs of my days in Fishtown and Kensington.
David S. Kessler’s effort, to me, qualifies as a powerful act of journalism. One that provides insight into a world many of us in Philadelphia are familiar with, but to those on the outside, would have a hard time fathoming.
He spent a year recording short, under five minute, video interviews with those he met under the Frankford El in Kensington. Philadelphia Weekly wrote about the effort last year but you can experience it yourself at undertheheel.blogspot.com.
Another great piece of journalism that documents the true life story of four teens who commit murderer in Fishtown is “Fishtown”. It was was recently published in hardback. You can read more about “Fishtown” at Geekadelphia.
Update 11-30-08: Alfred Lubrano, in the Inquirer, writes about Witness to Hunger, a program of Drexel University that distributed digital cameras to 40 women in North Philly who documented their stories, and in the process exposed realities of living in poverty in North Philadelphia. Make sure to visit the site.
Imagine if the project’s next step was to enable these families to publish to Flickr and YouTube next. It would enable them to reach wider audiences and raise awareness so much further.