Friday, December 30, 2011

Time Portal

I have a soft spot for old-school late 20th Century garage doors. Maybe it's because I grew up in Texas in the 70s and early 80s. Those garage doors were as ubiquitous to my neighborhood as Craftsman houses are to South Pasadena.

I watched a lot of cute boys jamming with their bands inside garages like this. More than one shaggy-haired guitar player stole my heart while covering old T-Rex and Bowie under fluorescent tube lights. I kissed the cute guy who moved from Hawaii in the 10th grade in a garage like this. I had my first lukewarm beer tapped from a keg in a garage like this.

Most of my late night whispered telephone conversations happened in a garage like this: my parents' garage. I would perch on a paint can, giggling to my best friend Mary with the kitchen wall phone cord stretched through the back door and pulled around the front of my mom's Cordova...

I'm sure the teenagers walking through the book stalls in Paris have the same confusing/mad/wonderful dreams as those of us who grew up hanging out in garages. We're not so different. In fact, I remember arguing with Paul from my drama club about whether Godard or Truffaut was the better French New Wave director, all while leaning against his dad's workbench in a garage like this. It's not a grand setting that makes youth so grand. After all, the setting is just the launch pad for where we eventually end up. (Which, more often than not, turns out to be an awful lot like where we started out.)

I know, I know. Garage doors like this don't call for a Gershwin soundtrack. They don't inspire the same homespun nostalgia as picket fences or porch swings. But for those of us who cut our teeth on the edges of American suburbs, garage doors like this are familiar touchstones. They welcome us right back into our past, with or without the remote control.

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Judy Williams said...

I'm laughing at that first comment!!

Without the invention of the automobile, there wouldn't even be a garage. A carriage house and stable, but no garage.

So many of the newer houses have three and even four stalls. An entire house's architecture can be ruined by this giant facade of doors.

This green one is a delight. Who knows what hides behind its verdant coat of paint. Maybe a workbench with tons of tools to make a beautiful piece of furniture. Rakes and yard paraphernalia. Many garages don't even see a vehicle, and they are just giant storage buildings filled with memories, Christmas decorations and rusty oil cans.

Your expose on youth and garages is excellent. It gives so much more meaning to "behind the green door."

Mister Earl said...

Great piece, Laurie. I grew up on a street where the main feature of the house was redwood and used brick. All the garage doors were stained redwood, one-piece, not louvered. Not electric in the early days.

Today my garage door is big, thick, and two-sided -- like a barn door. I'll never change it.

And, of course, what they call "garage-band music" is one of the best rock genres. There are even radio stations devoted to garage-band music.

Nice piece.

Leif Hagen said...

We could call that a GREEN garage door!
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Patricia said...

Very nice post Laurie. One never knows what we will find when that big garage door is opened. My parents garage was filled with stuff from floor to ceiling, really just a big store room that sat for twenty years untouched. One of the things I really dislike about tract housing is the garage. The garage is often so big and ugly that the house itself looks like an afterthought. I once lived in a house like that and it was a terrible mistake. But I like that green garage. It makes me wonder what goes on behind that door.

alex said...

whoa, when did this house become green? it must have new owners. lovely story Laurie!

Green Guy said...

I was just reading Patton Oswalt's essays. This fits right in with that mood of growing up in the 1970s/1980s suburbs.

Excellent post and photo. Glad to see you're writing again.

Laurie said...

Thanks, guys.

Green Guy, are you reading Zombie Spaceship Wasteland? I loved it, and it definitely spoke to my suburban high school in the 80s/working at the mall shared experience.

Green Guy said...

Laurie, yes that's the book. It's a surprisingly touching read for a stand up comic. I like the title piece the most. (I'm a wasteland, BTW.)

Mister Earl said...

Sorry I didn't think of this earlier:

CLICK TO OPEN THE GREEN DOOR

Laurie said...

I can't get the link to work, Earl!

TheChieftess said...

Love the green door against that bright blue sky!!! And your description of teenaged angst being explored in a garage...timeless!!!

Mister Earl said...

Hmmm... works for me. It's Green Door by Jim Lowe on YouTube.

Laurie said...

Earl, maybe it's my phone. I'll check from the computer later. Good choice!

Chieftess, sounds like you know the inside of a few of these garages, too!

Dixie Jane said...

And to think I used to open those doors by hand. No garage door opener then. The contents of the garage don't look much better. Just different.

Mister Earl said...

Remember when you had to pull on a little rope to close the garage door?

Michelle said...

I love this post.

Shanna said...

Great post, Laurie!

I did a painting of my previous husband in that same garage you did your late night phone talk in.

Garages used to be way back beyond the house, down a driveway. They would have a small room attached - window and all.
I've lived in two like that - the houses, not the room. But one of those rooms was my studio when I was in art school.

Judy Williams said...

Oh, Shanna is talking about garage apartments!! You see a few of those left in homes built early in the 20th century. I need to go drive around some of those houses near the UT campus and see if I can find one.

Laurie said...

My friend Annie lived in a rickety old garage apartment in college at UT. It was off 45th, I think. Maybe 38th. But those early 20th Century places don't speak to my teenage memories like the classic ranch house attached garages. Those are the ones everyone in my world had when I grew up. Not as pretty as the old clapboard detached ones.

My garage now used to be a carriage house! I like to think some Victorian teenagers hung out in there. :-)

Shanna said...

Judy...no, not a garage apartment which is above the garage,,,but attached to the side with a window, door and storage closet in back. We had one in our house on 29th street. That was before Laurie was born. No plumbing, but it had electricity. It made a nifty place for me to paint and play my records. LPs. A friend let me borrow the pelvic bone of a cow to hang on the wall. You know - real art student stuff.

Maybe you never saw it.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

look at you. A slice of Laurie life and I'm a day late to join in - brilliant. I have one of those attached garages without the opener.

the garage band tune of choice was this

I remember being dragged to a party at a "moms" house my girlfriend Andrea referred to as "Ada Potata" Her kids repeatedly played the above riff whiles Ada's drunken husband forced my hand back and forth over the plate he had in his head. A little something he'd received in the Korean war.

Trish said...

I'm pretty sure I know which house this is, don't think it was green in my day. Very sure it didn't contain a garage band either (so gauche, not in The Altos! ahem, they DID exist;-)

First guy I ever dated was in a band...oh wait, he still is! Some of those bands actually grow up and become something now and again.

And if you want old 60/70's heavy doors---I'd have to look for a pic, but the one on the house I grew up in was heavy plywood with large wood mullions running down it (made it tough to hit a tennis ball against). Would assume by now it has been replaced, but don't know---last color was something north of sand tho, no bright green!

Anonymous said...

Here's to garage bands!

Great post, Laurie. Please write more. I miss your words, even though I love all of your pictures.

Christine

Mister Earl said...

Trish - Tell us what band!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, what band?

Trish said...

oh, dear now, a lady never kisses and tells!

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