Sunday, May 26, 2013

How Our Garden Has Grown: A Chronicle in Pictures

Clearing out the space for one of two raised-bed gardens.

Putting down cardboard, a barrier for weeds.

Smoothing out the soil and mulch.

We made it a square foot garden, using twine.

Our original plantings:  beans, lettuce, eggplant, tomatoes and marigolds.

Lots of Central Texas rain = a bumper crop!

Judd Apatow: Chronicler of . . . ME

I know it's a bit trite for a 40-something, upper middle class white man to say it, but I'm going to say it anyway:  I see myself in Judd Apatow's work.  Consistently.

And I just realized, watching a DVR'd episode of Freaks and Geeks, which the Sundance Channel thankfully shows every morning at 5 am, that I've been seeing myself in Judd Apatow's work for as long as he's been doing that work.

With Freaks and Geeks, Apatow arguably gives the most honest portrayal of high school that has ever aired on network television.  Actually, I need to be more specific.  He provides a perfect picture of high school in the late 1970's and early 80's, when I was a suburban lad, growing up on the outskirts of New York City.

The show takes place in Michigan, I believe -- a place where I also spent a portion of my adolescence.  As the title suggests, Freaks and Geeks is about cliques and the stringent social structure in high school.  Perhaps because I moved around a bit (I attended three different high schools), I was able to move from clique to clique, as well.  For a time I was a geek, and a freak, and a jock.

I remember hanging out with people who looked like the characters in Freaks and Geeks, having the kinds of conversations they so awkwardly have, about love and fitting in, wishing to be considered an adult, while simultaneously lamenting my childhood, as it faded into the distance behind me.

The series only lasted for 18 episodes, suggesting a short-sightedness that some network executive fell prey to.  I can picture him now, shaking his large head, jowls frothing, as he wonders why he didn't foresee the stardom that was in store for so many of the people involved in that little show.  He must kick himself every time a new Apatow hit comes out.

A more recent Apatow-produced hit was a kind of spin-off from his very successful 2007 film, Knocked Up, called This is 40.  My wife and I saw it on a date night, and we laughed.  A lot.  We whispered, "Oh my God, that's us!" and punched each other in the shoulders.  It was a great time, and Mr. Apatow once again proved himself the chronicler of my bourgeois, suburban life.

It leaves me wondering:  Will there be a This is 80?  I just hope I'm around to see it.  If I am, I have no doubt it will make me laugh and think, and see myself, the way both Freaks and Geeks and This is 40 have done.