Christopher Wilcha And John Freyer Ply America’s Byways In A Second-Hand Odyssey Of Yard Sales, Thrift Stores, And Pawn Shops – Buying And Selling Unusual Objects And Discovering Fascinating Tales Of Contemporary America

Pilot Episode Premieres Nationally Tuesday, October 14 at 9:30 P.M. On PBS

Kinky Kuffs. The Wobble Light. The Lake Executive Toilet Paper Dispenser Radio. Christopher Wilcha and John Freyer are on a mission to discover rare and unique items that they didn’t even know existed but now can’t live without. Driving a decommissioned ambulance, the two young men have set off to buy and sell their way across the country in an offbeat, on-the-road adventure to discover American stories through the forgotten objects that have accumulated in the nation’s basements, attics and garages.

Their long strange trip is the pilot episode of SECOND HAND STORIES, premiering nationally Tuesday, October 14 at 9:30 p.m. on PBS.

Starting out from New Jersey in a 1978 ambulance they bought for $2,500 on eBay, the two relic hunters visit every second-hand outlet they can find, from thrift stores and garage sales to military auctions and university surplus centers, guided only by their sense of an obscure treasure lurking around the next corner. Determined to maintain a thoroughly second-hand experience, the duo record their journey with a variety of vintage cameras they have spied along the road and fill out the soundtrack with music from old records they have bought for a song.

Second-hand scavenging brings the duo face-to-face with strangers full of intriguing tales and minor epics about the objects they are selling. Meet George Skinner, patent-holder of the highway wobble light. He trades his sole prototype, the only evidence of his $250,000 investment, to Christopher and John for $50. Meet avid garage sale shopper Leon Kagarise when Christopher and John discover his priceless collection of homemade, live country music recordings.

As they make their way across the land of cast-off objects, fighting cash flow problems and the disintegration of their cranky vehicle, the duo also uncover some forgotten history and bizarre incidences of discarded Americana: Who invented some of the most popular board games of the ’60s and ’70s? (Sid Sackson) What company manufactured the first professional skateboard in 1963? (Mikaha) What record seems to turn up in every thrift store across America? (Herb Albert’s Whipped Cream and Other Delights).

Equal parts video travelogue and pop-culture archeological expedition, SECOND HAND STORIES reveals the passions and obsessions of Americans by taking a closer look at the second-hand stuff they buy, sell and collect and how it accumulates meaning along the way.

Christopher Wilcha’s film The Target Shoots First, about Columbia House, the mail order CD and tape club, was shown on Cinemax in 2001. His documentary The Social History of the Mosh Pit premiered on MTV in 2002. John Freyer’s book All My Life for Sale (Bloomsbury, 2002) details the auction of all his possessions on eBay and subsequent visits to the new owners.

Mark Mannucci and Jeff Folmsbee, creators of the Peabody Award-winning PBS arts series EGG the arts show, are executive producers.

Thirteen/WNET New York is one of the key program providers for public television, bringing such acclaimed series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, Charlie Rose, Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, Wide Angle, Stage on Screen, EGG the arts show, and Cyberchase – as well as the work of Bill Moyers – to audiences nationwide. As the flagship public broadcaster in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut metro area, Thirteen reaches millions of viewers each week, airing the best of American public television along with its own local productions such as The Ethnic Heritage Specials, The New York Walking Tours, New York Voices, Reel New York, and its MetroArts/Thirteen cable arts programming. With educational and community outreach projects that extend the impact of its television productions, Thirteen takes television “out of the box.” And as broadcast and digital media converge, Thirteen is blazing trails in the creation of Web sites, enhanced television, CD-ROMs, DVD-ROMs, educational software, and other cutting-edge media products. More information about Thirteen can be found at:

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