Coastal Commuter

Family matters

Sometimes creative talent is bequeathed to our offspring. Dawnyell Reese

If you’ve ever been curious about the power of genetics in shaping offspring, survey the arts and professional sports. There are legacies on display wherever you look. And sometimes, juniors outdo seniors — the sons of Frank Sinatra and Hank Williams notwithstanding.

Consider the achievements of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Their fathers, respectively Dell Curry and Mychal Thompson, were very good NBA players, but Steph and Klay are basketball superstars putting together Hall of Fame credentials with a three-time champion Golden State Warriors squad, despite the team’s current injury-plagued season. When it comes to acting, the bubbly Drew Barrymore’s elders in the Barrymore clan set a standard that her mainstream fame as a movie star carried forward. And there’s no disputing that Josh Brolin has transcended his father James Brolin in the Hollywood leading man category.

Recently, I was sitting in a darkened Hollywood theater, as I often do — and no, not for any prurient reasons. I was watching the credits to the feature film I had just enjoyed: Don’t Let Go, a clever mix of murder mystery and paranormal thriller starring the estimable David Oyelowo as a cop facing a mind-boggling crisis. I make a point of sitting through the entire end credits of every movie I see until the lights go up, out of respect for the people who actually labored to complete the project. It’s no easy feat to get a movie into production, shot, edited, and into distribution, so watching the list of those who did all the work is my little tribute to them.


As the names of the cast and crew started to scroll, I remarked to my companion how effective and moody the score had been. Within seconds, I was surprised and pleased to see “Music by Ethan Gold” on the screen. “Hey! I know that guy!” I blurted out, with some degree of pride. I had just spoken to Ethan a few weeks prior, although at the time he made no mention of the fact that he had scored “Don’t Let Go.” We mostly discussed his brother Ari — a talented, idiosyncratic director and screenwriter — and their father, the renowned author (and my Russian Hill neighbor) Herbert Gold.

I’ve been well acquainted with Herb for a while, having first met him at an art event a number of years ago, reconnecting with him at similar gatherings, and continuing the friendship at my go-to café on Polk Street, where we’ve whiled away many an hour talking about music, the cinema, fine dining, the state of San Francisco past and present, and the endeavors of his sons Ethan and Ari. As a dual-city resident, I’ve always felt a kinship with the brothers — San Franciscans who have chosen to spend at least part of their time in Los Angeles to pursue their passions. And though neither son chose a career in literature in the manner of their prolific papa, they evidently carry the creative gene.


Ari’s most recent movie is The Song of Sway Lake, a sweet, gentle mix of drama, romance, and music about a vinyl collector who plans to steal a rare 78 rpm record from his family’s abandoned summer home, aided by his only friend. In a trusting bit of filial collaboration, Ari enlisted his sibling to do the memorable score for The Song of Sway Lake, including the crucial title number, which Ethan fashioned in believably vintage style. The lyrical, atmospheric quality of the movie and its soundtrack and its lovely evocation of an earlier, more innocent time suggest an ineffable gift handed down from one generation to another. I don’t know how to quantify it, but I surmise that Herb bequeathed his sons at least some of their artistic bent — and they’ve embraced it.

So I believe in legacies. Speaking of which, I think I’ll stop writing this column and listen to the terrific and tuneful new album by the Euphoriants — an alternative rock trio comprised of Scrote and Joe Sumner (who mix and match guitars and keyboards) and drummer Blair Sinta (who also adds his share of guitar and keyboards to the recording). You see, the supple-voiced Sumner who handles most of the lead vocals and co-writes the songs just happens to be the son of one Gordon Sumner, a certain singer-songwriter better known as Sting. And it’s crystal clear to these ears that the Sumner didn’t fall far from the Sting.

Michael Snyder is a print and broadcast journalist who covers pop culture on “Michael Snyder’s Culture Blast,” via, Roku, Spotify, and YouTube. You can follow Michael on Twitter: @cultureblaster

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