ALL POSTS TAGGED "[Geoff Edgers]"

Edge of Arkansas

Watch Geoff visit the Edge of Arkansas on Sat, Feb. 16 @ 2|1c.

Is there a state with as bad a rap as Arkansas? Childhood obesity. Poverty. Gennifer Flowers.  A cultural backwater like no other, right?

This is why Arkansas is such a perfect place to prove one of Edge of America’s central points. That instead of judging the Earth from the snooty, big city, New York/Chicago/Los Angeles perspective, we should approach every state, every small town, every hamlet with an open mind and an open heart. You never know what you’ll find.

In Arkansas, I found one of the most beautiful states in the country, a place with mountain vistas, rolling meadows, ice cream shops, ranches and old time musicians gathering to play outside, for free.

If salaries are lower than they are in Boston, so is the cost of living. At one point, we drove by a charming country house — all wood, big windows, wrap-around front porch — with a for sale sign outside. I looked it up. $89,500. Now I get it. The reality is that you are not going to see ‘Melo jaw with KG at the Garden, and Bruno Mars ain’t coming to town. But you’re also not going to throw down $650,000 for a 2-room walkup in Chelsea with a brick wall outside your bedroom window and a cranky woman living below you who can’t stand the fact that you have a friend with a baby staying over and “Damn, does the kid have to walk across the floor at 7:30 in the morning?”

Fact is, these Arkansans might have things figured out better than we. They’ve got beautiful homes, family and friends all around, and instead of generic entertainment, they know how to make their own fun.

Tommy Rand taught me to tackle a cow. I have a hunch I’ll never use that skill again. But you get to see it in our episode. A pair of local Arkansans gave me the honor of pushing their outhouse. Don’t ask. You’ll just have to see it. And I found myself in the woods with a kinder, gentler version of Roger Clemens, who let me get behind the wheel of his jeep to rock crawl, which is basically climbing up the side of a mountain in a monster truck. Blue sky. Clean air. Smiles all around.

Out there, in my rock crawler, the last thing I was thinking of was crowding into an arena to catch Neil Young for the umpteenth time.

- Geoff Edgers

Tonight at 11|10c, watch as Geoff Edgers visits The Edge of Maine, where he races lobster boats, tests his lumberjack skills, and sword fights with a pirate.

Edge of Maine

I thought I knew Maine. Roadside lobster shacks. Yuppies in Kennebunk. Brew pubs in Portland. Then I found myself in Eastport. It’s a gritty town around 6 hours up the coast from Boston. It’s actually the easternmost city in the United States, a fact that’s both trumpeted regularly and less interesting to me than the actual feel of the place. There was a time when Eastport was thriving, driven by the sardine factories. That time is gone.

So what do you do when your industry leaves, there’s no major league sports teams to pump in revenue and the closest you’ll get to a big concert is a pair of singer-songwriters wheeling their amplifiers into a coffee house? You make your own fun. And that’s what I loved about Eastport. It’s a town that’s redefining itself by restoring its downtown and creating offbeat events to attract buzz.

The Pirate Festival is a perfect definition of what I strive for in Edge of America. Thousands of people stream into an underappreciated place to celebrate and participate in an event that simply couldn’t take place anywhere else. You can see pirate bed races, during which the streets are lined with spectators cheering on the participants. You can catch the lobster boat races, in which these creaky boats are outfitted with engines straight out of the Munsters and souped-up to go as fast as 70 miles an hour. You’ll find almost everybody decked out in patches and peg legs and other pirate accessories.

Eastport, for me, was a discovery, with a wonderful waterfront, reasonable restaurants — nothing 5-star, but plenty of New England-styled seafood — and shops and art galleries. It is also a super-quick shot to Canada if you want to ramble more.

Eastport wasn’t my only discovery in our Maine episode. We also filmed in Greenville on Moosehead Lake, hours away and on the Northern border. Moosehead is beautiful. I had my eggs at Auntie M’s, scoured the shelves at the Moosehead Lake Indian Store and took a lengthy morning run through the town. We stumbled upon a fantastic crepe truck run by the daughter of a French immigrant. (Try the lobster, in particular.) And as part of our episode, I got a chance to see Greenville from another angle. I flew with Roger Currier, a veteran seaplane pilot.

Sometimes, when I’m rambling through, I’ll get a sense that the locals wonder if we’re being sincere or whether we’re there to make fun of them. So many TV shows mock people in small towns or in places outside the big city nexus. Not I. The proof, I hope, is in my summer vacation plans.

When it came to finding a place to stay for a couple weeks, I decided to avoid the cliché. We’ve rented a place for 2 weeks this summer in Eastport. I know the kids will get to collect shells and rocks along the shoreline. My wife and I can try to discover great art by artists who haven’t been discovered. And when we’re not doing anything, we’ll just get to sit on our porch, breathe in the salty air, and take pride in our latest discovery.

- Geoff Edgers

Tonight at 9|8c watch as Geoff Edgers gets “zombified,” does some damage at a demolition derby and competes in a haggis-eating contest while visiting Pennsylvania. Check out behind-the-scenes photos and get Geoff’s playlist from the shoot.

Demolition Derby

My fixation with demolition derbies began in 1976. That’s when Happy Days ran its “Pinky Loves Fonzie” multi-part storyline. Talk about cliffhangers. We got everything in those 3 episodes: romance, danger, redemption.

As the story goes … The Millachi brothers sabotage Pinky Tuscadero’s car. During the demolition derby, she’s stalled and decides to get out of her car. That’s when the villains strike. They deliver their infamous “Millachi Crunch” and poor Pinky gets knocked unconscious and rushed to the hospital. Cue the “to be continued.” Fonzie, Richie, Potsie, Ralph, Mr. and Mrs. C all rush to her side. Will Pinky live? Will she perish? Does Fonzie ever plan on washing his t-shirt? I was hooked. What 6-year-old wouldn’t be choking on his grilled cheese?

As a kid, the “Pinky Loves Fonzie” story inspired one of my frequent, grammar school daydream fantasies … badly hurt, I’d be in my own hospital bed and, while in that damaged state, concerned classmates would stream in to visit. It doesn’t take Sigmund Einstein to figure out the psychology behind this. In real life, I was getting teased for my bowl cut, the gap between my front teeth and the fact I wore my jeans twice in one week. In my daydream universe, a cast and an IV could serve as my bro and babe magnet.

Fact is, I got over Cami Cavadi et al by the 9th grade, but I never lost my desire to jump into a car, turn the key and smash into others for sport. That’s why when Edge of America launched, I found myself endlessly pitching demo derbies to the show’s producers. They pushed me off a few times until we found the right spot, what was pegged as the world’s biggest derby in Bloomsburg, PA.

When I showed up for the main event, I found the lot full of smash-up veterans, including fathers and sons, gear-heads who had been fine tuning their cars for months, and, naturally, a few dudes who talked like they’d gotten a couple too many whiffs off their spray paint cans.

The derby manager paired me with Dave. He had a sweet car, an ’88 Oldsmobile station wagon painted blue and labeled 007. Inside, I could quickly see how these wheels were special. Steel reinforcement bars keep the metal from crushing you after a hit. Beer kegs serve as gas tanks, ratcheted down where a back seat would normally be. No windshield, no lights, no radio.

I admit at first I was a little bummed about Dave. I wanted my partner to exhibit all of the worst qualities of Hulk Hogan, Bill Romanowski and Ozzy Osbourne. Dave spoke like a Tibetan monk. I could barely hear him at times. Then the gun sounded.

You’ll have to watch to see what happened next. Trust me. Dave and the ’88 don’t disappoint. It’s why the Pennsylvania “Edge” is one of my favorites. It’s also why if I ever drive in a derby again, I’ll remember it’s not about who yells the loudest, it’s about the driver willing with the courage to lean on the gas, even when you’re under fire.

- Geoff Edgers

Edge of America premieres tonight, Jan. 22 at 9|8c, followed by another all-new episode at 9:30|8:30c. Watch as Geoff rounds up rattlesnakes and gets his first taste of calf fries in Oklahoma, and tries his hand at tall bike jousting in Oregon

Meet Geoff Edgers

In this first blog entry, let me introduce myself. I’m a writer who usually reports on other people. I’ve written for magazines, I’ve written children’s books and, for the last 11 years, I’ve been an arts and entertainment reporter on the staff of the Boston Globe newspaper.

I confess, the concept for Edge of America emerged out of my midlife crisis. It wasn’t the kind of crisis that makes some men buy red Mustangs or proclaim their loyalty to Maker’s Mark. I had a creative crisis. How do I truly embrace the sense of adventure that I’d been so focused on when I was getting out of college so many years ago? How do I square my desire to be a family man, to mow the lawn and sit by the fire, with my need to do the unexpected? That crisis led me to make my first foray onto the screen, the 2010 documentary, Do It Again, about my irrational attempt to reunite the ‘60s rock band, the Kinks. The film led to Edge of America.

So what are the rules on this show? I must do what I report on. And I must share that experience with you, my viewing friend, as it happens. Do I always want to do what I’m doing? Intellectually, yes. But when you’re standing in a steamy room with a decapitated snake and its bloody, still-beating heart sits on the table in front of you, it’s easy to forget the mission. Would it be easier to sit at my desk and file my story? Sure. But trust me. You wouldn’t want to watch. 


The Edge of Oklahoma

Here’s an idea for the first day you’ve ever hosted a TV show: Do something uncomfortable. I’m not talking Jackass uncomfortable. I mean, to those guys, letting an alligator snap at the family jewels is as big whoop as my daughter asking for another American Girl doll. I’m talking something so outside your realm of behavior that the act is impossible to explain to anyone who actually knows you. They just have to see it.

That’s how I ended up in a field in Oklahoma holding a bloody clamp over a bull. I came to Stillwater to chow down on some calf fries at a wildly popular festival. Sounds innocent enough, until, that is, you realize what calf fries are: sliced bull testicles that have been battered and cooked in oil. And then you consider an important element of Edge of America: the doing. This show doesn’t just find the unexpected things people do for fun. It requires me to dig into the scene more deeply.

Some TV shows might mention calf fries and cut to the host grimacing and reluctantly taking a chew. Edge of America is about taking that great leap into the unknown. That’s why I spent the day 1 of my TV career performing a castration and entering a calf fry contest. Will you cringe? Perhaps. Cover your eyes? Probably. But I have a feeling you’ll be back.

The Edge of Oregon

I know somebody, somewhere is faking it on TV. But don’t tell that to my right shoulder. Because it’s been wrecked for months, ever since I decided to partake in a bike toss in Portland. That’s right. You take a bike and try to throw it as far as it’ll go. I went into the competition like I do every contest: to win. You’ll have to watch our Oregon episode to know how I did. But as Frank, my physical therapist at Massachusetts General Hospital can attest, the toss didn’t do wonders for my right shoulder. I’ve been trying to rehabilitate it ever since.

What can you say about Oregon? It’s the perfect state for Edge of America. Portland, the most famous city, has all those food trucks, micro-breweries and bicycles. But it’s also got a will to be weird.

As my friend Peter, a longtime Oregonian, wrote when I told him I was coming to town: “When you find yourself driving down the street behind a guy on a triple-high unicycle who rides while juggling — during a morning commute on a rainy spring morning, no parades/circuses/events/anything out of the ordinary in sight … and you’re not even surprised, then you’ve really arrived.”

Finding bike jousters took a little hustle, but I’d seen clips of these guys on YouTube and had to experience it first hand. You couldn’t cast a scene better. This was no Hollywood set. The street had been shut down for punk rock bands. A group of homeless people — a few with that meth-head quality — were lying around on mattresses. Brian, my guide, gave me his bike to ride. It wasn’t until I was up and holding the heavy pipe joust under my right arm that I realized that the left brake was busted.

My mentor on this escapade? Reverend Phil. He kept telling me to search out his work in the world of bike porn. I did. I regret it every day.

The beauty is that was just one side of Oregon. As if one some rambling, surrealist, adventure orchestrated by Fellini and Joyce Kilmer’s love child, I also found myself at a tree climbing competition, in an artist’s shop holding a chainsaw and at a track in Tillamook County. In the latter, I held a squealing pig under my arm as I tried to crank to life a Model T. Need to understand why people tell me I’ve got the best job in the world? Just watch this segment.

- Geoff Edgers

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