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Punk Family Values 

Meet the Rosenthals: two generations of art stars in one six-story warehouse.

Wednesday, May 7 2008

Carola Anderson carries a pitcher of limeade through her sprawling SOMA home affectionately known as the Complex, the ice cubes bouncing among sprigs of mint. A black beret is cocked atop her crimson bob. She sets the pitcher next to a plate of hummus for her teenage children, George and Lou Lou, and their friends.

It's a family moment that might warm Pat Robertson's cockles — mom bringing the kids fresh-squeezed refreshments. Except this is not exactly the home of the Cleavers: It's more like the Osbournes, minus the pooping bulldog. To wit: Carola is the business-savvy matriarch managing the household. Her rock 'n' roll offspring practice with their band, Lou Lou & the Guitarfish, on a stage built into the bottom floor of their home. Fuchsia-haired Lou Lou is semifamous: she has been fictionalized by San Francisco author Daniel Handler, who based his Lemony Snicket character Madame Lulu on her, calling the real 16-year-old "slightly mysterious and a terrific dresser." George, 19, is the producing geek who records his friends' bands and scores their film soundtracks. And the family patriarch, Henry S. Rosenthal, is an underground icon in the film and music industries.

But those aren't the only indicators that this is no ordinary household.

Click here for behind-the-scenes footage from Punk Family Values.

"I had an exciting day," Carola announces to the Guitarfish. "I almost fell down the elevator shaft!"

While the Osbournes have their posh Beverly Hills mansion, the Rosenthals dwell in a very San Francisco live-work warehouse that has taken Carola 30 years to convert. The once-grungy building still has a leaky roof, but it now looks like a fantastical art museum, with pop art prints nestled into one corner, Henry's collection of 36 two-headed taxidermy calves in another, while the bottom floor is filled floor to ceiling with pennants for North American people, events, and destinations (no sports teams, thanks).

The building also has a rickety freight elevator, which was on the fritz again this particular morning. Fortunately, Carola double-checked the creaky lift before she stepped, avoiding a tumble that would've taken her down six stories from kitchen cockatiel cage to basement.

That elevator has carried a revolving cast of characters through the Complex since before George and Lou Lou were in diapers. An infamous raw-meat scene from the cult classic Mod Fuck Explosion was filmed on the ground floor while Henry was producing the film. Henry and Carola's close friends, shock punk misfits the Mentors, once played on the Complex stage. New bands like the hotly tipped Raconteurs have dropped by after playing shows in the city. Lou Lou's last two birthday parties included performances by local garage acts such as the Rock 'n' Roll Adventure Kids and Knights of the New Crusade. The latter band includes Michael Lucas, who has been a tenant at the Complex since the early days. He now runs a small publishing company and record label from the second floor.

Snacking on one of Carola's olive puff pastries, Lou Lou measures the Complex foot traffic another way: "We used to have band dinners, but my mom got busy," she says. "And we never know who is staying for dinner anymore."

On Wednesdays, Carola is off the limeade duty. She's upstairs in her design studio, working on costumes for the New Conservatory Theater Center's production of The Odyssey. Henry's old-time jug band, Hiroshi Hasegawa's Poontang Wranglers, drinks Anchor Steam in the Complex rec room. The loose social club plays classic rural American music and party anthems by Michigan metalhead Andrew W.K., using instruments like a washtub bass.

After practice, Henry suggests banjo player Marie Dallenport should be strapped into "the vest." It's for "airway clearance." Last year he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease producing dangerous amounts of lung-clogging mucus. The disease is usually detected in early childhood, but somehow Henry's condition went undiagnosed for most of his life. According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, a carrier's median lifespan is 37; Henry is 53. In other words, he recently found out he was supposed to be dead already. Somehow, he doesn't take that fact too seriously.

He straps Dallenport into the vest. The inflated device vibrates violently, rattling her giggles.

"Tell your joke again," Henry prompts.

Dallenport stutters through. "Whhhhhy dooooesn't Hitleeeer driiiink tequiiiiila?"


"Becauuuuse it maaaaakes him meeeeeean!"

Henry Rosenthal is a lot of things in this city. He's Hank Rank in San Francisco's original punk band, Crime. He's a film producer, sacrificing his good credit standing for arthouse movies. He's a wry comic with a penchant for gallows humor. But of all the things Henry leaves to San Francisco, his family is his proudest accomplishment.

Of course you only have to peek behind the camcorders at any school play to know what a proud parent looks like. But Henry and Carola are a rare breed. They display so many of mainstream America's family values — Saturday nights on the town together, family trades passed from one generation to the next, children who aren't into getting loaded and won't end up in rehab. But they infuse those ideas with something we've lost — an old-fashioned appreciation for making your life a living work of art by always living creatively.

It's show-and-tell day in Lou Lou's media studies class at San Francisco's School of the Arts, a public arts magnet school in Laguna Honda. In a program that values "creative and independent thinking," you couldn't ask for a cooler guest speaker than her dad. Henry has produced more than 16 independent films, ranging in subject matter from gay outlaws (The Living End) to mentally ill musician Daniel Johnston (The Devil and Daniel Johnston).

Henry drops by his daughter's classroom a couple times a year to show cinematic oddities. His last batch included a selection of movies by Huck Botko, a mockumentarian who leads viewers to believe he's playing pranks on his family. And not just any pranks: He cooks roadkill pie for his mom and bakes saliva from a homeless man into a pastry for his brother. "The final one was called Boston Cream Pie, and you can only imagine what that one was going to be about," media teacher Scott Eberhardt says. "We didn't get that far." He cut the presentation short. A stalwart Henry supporter, though, he is sure to add, "It ended up leading into a really good class discussion about spoof films." Luckily for the young minds Eberhardt molds, today's selections don't involve bum loogies.

"You've heard of Hollywood. You've heard of Bollywood. Well, this is Nollywood," Henry tells the class of the latest documentary he's produced, Welcome to Nollywood, an inspiring narrative about Nigerian filmmakers producing digital dramas in impoverished conditions. When Nollywood ends, the kids cheer twice — once for the movie, and again when Henry's name appears on the credits. Eberhardt turns on the lights and Henry dryly remarks, "See, filmmaking is the same all over the world: impossible."

While megaplex America might not recognize the screen credits on his résumé, Henry has worked with the cream of the auteur crop when it comes to directors: from Caveh Zahedi and Gregg Araki to multimedia artist Lynn Hershman Leeson, whose Conceiving Ada featured Tilda Swinton and Timothy Leary.

"I tell everybody he's the greatest producer in the world," says Jeff Feuerzeig, director of The Devil and Daniel Johnston. "He's the underground Robert Evans." Henry ended up bankrolling the movie out of his own pocket — to the tune of $1 million — because, Feuerzeig says, "he didn't want anybody touching one frame of that film." Henry says he financed the film by maxing out his credit cards, diminishing his kids' college funds.

Not every director shares such fond memories. Henry has worked most with director Jon Jost, for whom he has producing credits on four glacially dark, beautifully shot dramas. Jost minces no words when it comes to Henry, whom he calls a "class A schmuck." The director, who is now a professor at Yonsei University in Seoul, says he tried to terminate his partnership with Henry in 1994, which turned into a lawsuit. Long story short: The case was settled in arbitration in Henry's favor.

Back in Eberhardt's class, Henry cues up his next flick: a "world premiere" of a Bruce Conner short he produced, "Easter Morning." (A week later, "Easter Morning" is invited to the Cannes Film Festival, Henry's second film to show there.) The legendary experimental filmmaker was Henry's inspiration for getting into the filmmaking business. Conner is now very sick with a rare liver condition, and Henry is one of his caretakers: "This is probably his last film," says Henry, who is wearing a plush purple flower by Japanese pop artist Takashi Murakami pinned to his lapel. After watching the 10-minute montage — double-exposed images of flowers, a cross, and a naked woman, set to the soundtrack of minimalist composer Terry Riley's In C — one student mutters under his breath, "That was quite an acid trip."

During Henry's presentation, Lou Lou is all blushing smiles. "Our interview with her, when she was an eighth grader, was hysterical," Eberhardt says. "She was so quiet and we couldn't get her to smile, but here was a girl in a kilt and ripped denim jacket with tricolored hair." Lou Lou showed her audition piece, a Barbie stop-motion animation film "with amazing set designs." Eberhardt continues, "Then it was like, okay, she's somewhat shy socially, but when she's in her element it's amazing to see that blossom."

George also attended the school (he now goes to San Francisco State University). He has a sharp wit, and shares his father's penchant for warped comedy. The young tech whiz made a name for himself with his quirky film projects, which have occasionally starred his sister (he has directed Lou Lou in movies since he first dressed her up as Godzilla at age 7), and landed him in the Mill Valley Film Festival and the Danville International Children's Film Festival. George's pièce de resistance while at the arts school: "Urban Frankenstein," a slapstick short about microwaving a delinquent hamster.

Eberhardt has taught both Rosenthal kids. "Lou Lou is more of an exhibitionist," he says. "You'll notice George doesn't have any piercings and his hair isn't dyed. He's more of his father's son."

After Henry screens "Easter Morning" for Lou Lou's class, he announces the finale — "Android 207," a stop-motion short about a robot trapped in a torture maze. Only this time Eberhardt is safe. No fluids — motor or otherwise — will be spilled here. Lou Lou, who's been quietly watching the presentation, breaks her silence when Henry says the last title, offering a brief "Yay" and a muffled clap.

Daddy's twisted little girl.

For his part, Henry Rosenthal was daddy's twisted little boy. He was raised in Cincinnati, the son of George Rosenthal, a photographer who made a comfortable middle-class living playing the stock market. George Rosenthal died of severe asthma and extreme allergies at age 44 when Henry was 12, but not before making a deep impression on his son about the art of subversive behavior. His father was an early pop art collector, filling the Rosenthal home "with incredible modern art where the paint was still wet." At age 7 Henry was giving museum tours through the family home — and beating experimental composer (and his father's poker buddy) John Cage at chess.

Carola grew up in Cloverdale, the daughter of a choir director mother. "We were the kind of family who would sit and play chamber music in the living room on Sunday afternoon with all the aunts, uncles, and cousins," she says. "My family's always been very classically WASPish. My dream was that I was adopted. The more I found out who I was, the less I fit in in Cloverdale."

The couple met on the campus of New College, back when the alternative New Age school was still in a Sausalito warehouse. Ever the early adopter, Henry found the college through an ad in the back of Rolling Stone. He enrolled in 1973; Carola arrived a year later. They each earned a bachelor's in humanities, New College's sole degree at the time.

Henry spent the next ten years proposing to Carola. Each time she would accept and start compiling a list of what she calls "a few hundred close friends and family" for the wedding. And each time, they got distracted by "so many other interesting things we were busy doing," she says. They agreed to get married later, when they had more free time. Eventually the two eloped at City Hall in 1986.

The couple initially fell in love when they performed together in two plays and a medieval music group. Their union helped produce Other Music, an experimental music ensemble whose members made their own instruments based on a special tuning system, Just Intonation, that requires a 76-page primer to explain. Three-chord punk this ain't.

Not that they were punk-averse. Carola played sax in a fashion-conscious trio called Vs. in the late '70s. Henry became Hank Rank, the drummer for Crime, San Francisco's self-proclaimed "first and only rock 'n' roll band." Crime formed in 1976 and played loud, scuzzy rock, building the band's rep by dressing in cop uniforms, performing at San Quentin, and refusing to open for anyone but the Ramones (which they did) or the Sex Pistols (whom they famously turned down). The group also released the first U.S. punk single, "Hot Wire My Heart," which was later covered by New York art punks Sonic Youth.

In 1979, at the tail end of Henry's two and a half years in Crime, Henry and Carola went shopping for a house. Carola wasn't a white-picket-fence type. They looked at a number of places before stumbling upon a vacant warehouse across from the old Weinstein's department store. Carola thought it was perfect; Henry was skeptical. She won. "This building is really Carola's vision," he says. "When we looked at it, I didn't get it. I've been following Carola's mad vision all these years."

Henry and Carola spent the following years making the space their own. These days the Complex is downright homey. Lou Lou and George even have their own floor, with individual "houses": his is ocean liner moderne, while she has a miniature collapsed Palladian villa. A guest home for friends is Caribbean vernacular architecture flocked with Astroturf and fake flowers. "Spend five minutes at [the Complex] and you've met Carola," says New Conservatory Theatre Company director Stephanie Temple, a longtime friend. (Carola has costumed several plays for the company, as well as a dance performance at SFMOMA, for which she also composed the score.)

By the late '80s, the couple was talking about having kids. Henry jokes that they decided on babies because their first cat, Django, couldn't talk, and their parrots refused to (one of their current felines, Langford Po, allegedly says "hello" on command, though).

George S. Rosenthal was born in April 1989. The next generation of the Complex household had arrived. Lou Lou was born in November three years later.

From the house in the crack-addled alley where the Rosenthals raised their brood to the cultural attractions the children were exposed to, Lou Lou and George were treated as adults from the beginning.

"Right from the start we took them to concerts, films, museum shows, etc. that weren't intended for kids, but which I thought they would enjoy and be inspired by," Carola says. Before her little ones could pick up a book, she read them the subtitles of Wagner's Ring Cycle from a video from the library. "I thought it was too good for the kids to miss, so I wound up reading all the subtitles out loud to them for the whole 15-odd hours of it — spread over a few days."

Neither George nor Lou Lou had major periods of rebellion against Henry and Carola. In a household where your parents encourage artistically adventurous behavior, that would be too difficult. "They're into the same things I'm into," says Lou Lou of the parents she still addresses as "mommy" and "daddy." "I can't think of anything I'd want to rebel against."

So how do artsy kids buck artsy parents? They go mainstream. George had a phase where he was into Hollywood action films. Carola says that Lou Lou's "dark secret" came in second grade: "All the girls were listening to *NSYNC," she says. "So Lou Lou asked, 'Can I have *NSYNC?' And we were like ..." She pauses, giving a mock-horrified look. "But as open-minded parents, we bought it for her."

That phase didn't last a week. The kids not only developed their parents' alternative taste in music, they also inherited their musical talents. George particularly lives up to his parents' assertion that he's a rock prodigy: Carola says her son was playing free jazz at age two. In kindergarten, he was performing Beethoven's Ode to Joy on every instrument in the Complex. There are a lot of instruments on those six floors.

"I like to think I got something from my dad," George says with a shrug. "The spot at drumming that I started at seemed to be a lot further along than most people start at. I had the mechanics down."

When George was in high school he recruited his sister to start a band. "He just sort of grabbed her and said, 'Sing this,'" Carola says. "Lou Lou turned out to be a great singer." They secretly wrote songs together on the third floor of the Complex. Then in 2004, they went upstairs to ask their parents: "Want to listen to this song we wrote?"

It was a fully produced song, Henry gushes. "It had arrangements and instruments, and I was like, 'Where did this come from?'" he recalls. They'd used an early version of the GarageBand music software. Lou Lou wrote the lyrics, while George wrote the music and played all the instruments. They performed shows for their parents in the Complex. "George would be standing to one side and saying, 'Lou Lou do this, Lou Lou do that,'" Carola says. "The dynamic is sort of similar now."

George still writes all the music for the Guitarfish. Lou Lou still writes most of the lyrics, slipping her new song ideas under her brother's door in the middle of the night. It makes their already tight relationship even closer, which is both good and difficult.

"We get fed up with each other, having so much physical contact," Lou Lou admits. "It's hard to find the boundaries between brother and sister, and the things brothers and sisters do, like fighting, and being able to get work done. But for the most part the whole family gets along really well."

Her lanky, unassuming brother says good-naturedly, "She annoys me a lot, but she's a good sibling."

After those early home performances, Henry was so excited about their burgeoning music talent that he brought their raw demos on a Pirate Cat Radio show hosted by Arne Johnson, one of the directors of the Girls Rock! documentary on a music camp for young girls. Johnson was putting together a Girls Rock! showcase at Bottom of the Hill, so Henry volunteered Lou Lou and George's band. "We kickstarted the band," Henry admits. "I came home and said, 'Okay, you guys have to put a band together to play these songs.'" That deadline, and the availability of a couple of friends in another band called Tinkture, launched what became Lou Lou & the Guitarfish.

Carola also worked her industry contacts. She became friends with David Katznelson, owner of local indie label Birdman, when they both served on the Other Minds board. Carola mentioned her children had a band. Katznelson came by the Complex soon after, and left with a demo in hand.

"Their minds are developed way beyond their years in the way they look at the world in such an artful way," Katznelson says of the younger Rosenthals. "As a label person who has been around for a while, it's not something you take lightly. [Their household] is a breeding ground for people who have a language it takes most people years to work out."

Of course, just because the language is there doesn't mean the soundman will mike it correctly. Case in point: a music festival in Austin, where a young band's dreams of becoming the next big thing can get squelched by a club with malfunctioning equipment.

When the Rosenthals arrive in Austin, it's a typically sticky mid-March weekend. It's also South by Southwest (SXSW), the nation's biggest annual music marathon, which means the only hotel room Carola could find was way out by the airport. But there's a pool at the Hawthorn Suites and Henry has rented a van, which means the crew can spend a 90-degree afternoon negotiating the city's thrift stores, a favorite family pastime.

It's the second label showcase in Austin (the first was two years earlier) for Lou Lou & the Guitarfish. But this is the first time they'll have an actual record to plug, an important differentiation at an event oversaturated with fresh talent aching to be discovered.

The Friday night before the concert, Henry leaves the kids and the band with Carola to see an opera based on the music of Daniel Johnston. When Carola and the Guitarfish head out, they immediately hit a snag, as most of the band is under legal drinking age. SXSW isn't your typical family vacation destination: The weeklong parade of shows and parties is fueled by a mix of adrenaline and alcohol. Most of the clubs are 21 and over. Given that only guitarist Mark Nelsen's girlfriend, Danika, is of legal age, and bassist (and George's girlfriend) 17-year-old Lena Brown is the only one with a fake ID, this is a problem.

The group moves toward a club called Spiro's. The gang hasn't heard of Harvey Milk, the band playing inside, but it'll be something to do. Carola pulls the doorman aside and works out a deal for the younger Guitarfish to enter the 18-and-over club. "Okay," the bouncer says to her, marking giant underage "X"s on the band's hands, "but you're their guardian."

Every member of the Guitarfish calls Carola the band's manager. She's the one fielding phone calls from the label, Photoshopping the cover of their debut CD, and slicing apples for band practice. Lou Lou goes so far as to call Carola "momager" (a label she vehemently rejects).

Once Carola has helped the flock into Spiro's, though, she fades off toward a Japanese punk showcase. Left to their own devices, Lou Lou & the Guitarfish eventually bail from the club and spend their Friday in Austin like many suburban teens: congregating from one street corner after the next, shut out of adult activities.

Later, Carola texts Lou Lou that X is playing an all-ages show at the Austin Convention Center.

"Who?" George asks.

"X, that old L.A. punk band," Lou Lou explains.

By the end of the night, Lou Lou looks at the wobbly foot traffic pooling around them and drolly observes, "SXSW is all drunk people and crowds."

When you grow up with rock 'n' roll parents, perhaps you don't get especially nervous about performing at a festival with 1,500 bands from 33 countries on more than 80 stages. Lou Lou's comments are more reflective of what she's seeing than revealing a queasy stomach. Anxiety slips from the mouths of these teens in small traces — George joking during one practice that "I think we should link all our songs together so no one can boo us offstage," or Lou Lou mentioning offhandedly before the show that she doesn't like the sound of her own voice.

The last night of SXSW, standing at Room 710 an hour before her band takes the stage here, Lou Lou seems more opinionated about the venue they're in than what people will think of her music. "This seems like a gross place to get drunk," she observes of the dingy rock 'n' roll hovel. It's a funny comment, given that she doesn't drink, and the hard time the bouncers gave her when she arrived for soundcheck. "They told me they'd let me in, but said if we drink they'll cancel our set and kick us out," she recalls. To which the second doorman added, "And then we'll kill you." It's an ominous introduction, and things only go downhill from here.

As soon as Oakland psych folkster Greg Ashley leaves the 710 stage, Henry and Carola get into position. They're not front-and-center-style parents, preferring to stand more casually in the shadows. It's a little less obvious back there. But they have their devices ready to document every second of this big night. Henry stands stage left, camcorder aimed forward. "I don't want to stand too far away," he whispers excitedly. Carola is stage right, camera in hand. Between them is Room 710's soundman, handing Lou Lou a second microphone after the first produces piercing feedback during a hasty soundcheck.

Lou Lou, decked out in a sparkly black dress and pink pigtails, is beaming as she introduces the band with a demure little "Hi, we're Lou Lou and the Guitarfish. You should come listen to us."

Showtime, and the band breaks into action. Lena is the coolly stoic bassist, her face revealing nothing as she keeps steady rhythm. Mark and George, however, play as though the 20 people in the room really number 2,000, confidently eyeballing their audience as they work the stage. The energetic setlist mixes aggressively melodic rock anthems with Lou Lou's sugar 'n' arsenic lines ("Well, rip out my tongue/and put your words into my mouth/You've got some thing you wanna say/You and I both know that we have gone astray"). She's the band's punk princess with bubblegum pop affectations. With a mike in hand, her affable behavior gains a flirtatious edge: Dimples dent her cheeks, and she gives her hair studied shakes as she sings.

But there are technical problems. Big ones. The mike is producing horrible feedback. George and Lou Lou try to take the equipment hassles in stride, tag-teaming reminders about their new record as uneasy stage banter.

Try as they may, there's no getting around it: Instead of getting noticed at SXSW, Lou Lou & the Guitarfish are getting buried — under a mountain of technology failures.

As the set goes on, Lou Lou loses some of her spunk; she seems increasingly uncomfortable. She's still grinning, but her eyes dart over to her mom for comfort. "Every time she flats, she looks at me, and I nod that it's okay," Carola explains.

Tonight, though, flats and sharps merge in a muddled middle on the club's miserable PA system. As her kids step off the stage, Carola winces, whispering, "Well, that sound system was less than ideal." The finale offers a small consolation: The soundman actually walks over and apologizes to Lou Lou.

But the festival's aftermath offers more serious challenges in the days to come. On the flight home, Carola catches a severe case of the flu, which Lou Lou also contracts a couple days later. "I'm trying to take care of her and myself without infecting the rest of the family," Carola e-mails upon her return to San Francisco, "especially Henry, since this flu in conjunction with his cystic fibrosis would surely put him in the hospital."

A few weeks after Austin, Henry takes the kids to play pinball across the bay in Alameda. Lucky Ju Ju offers three decades' worth of free amusement for a flat door fee. The place mysteriously smells like french fries the night they arrive, and handwritten signs warn patrons that there is "No farting" here — unless you're in the bathroom, in which case "Farting is permitted here."

Henry discovered Lucky Ju Ju while looking for a repairman for his bicentennial pinball machine. Tonight he's excited about Gogar, a talking demon game. "When it shakes, it's like Satan's breathing," he tells Lou Lou's friend Ava.

What's remarkable is that on a Saturday night — prime time for teenage socializing — Henry's two kids are hanging out with him without protest. But then again, he has better stories to tell than most fathers.

After an hour of switching among Ju Ju's amusements, the oldies blaring from the jukeboxes start provoking Henry's memories. A Ventures tune reminds him of a riff from the Marilyn Manson "Antichrist Superstar" video he produced (how many parents can say that?). When "My Sharona" by the Knack comes through the speakers later, Henry turns to George and shakes his head, saying, "This song was the end of punk rock."

While the kids are having a good time, though, the defeat at SXSW isn't far from Henry's mind. When the subject of the festival comes up, he jokes, "It's better than a sharp stick in the eye."

"The hardest moment for me has been to watch them play a difficult gig," he says later, "and to see them suffer under that."

Since returning from SXSW, though, things have returned to their regularly scheduled insanity in the Rosenthal household. Henry seems especially busy: He's working on a movie about conceptual artist Jeff Koons, and last month he played a gig with the reformed Crime lineup at Annie's; a box set is in the works. When asked what would signal the end of his time in the punk band, Henry doesn't miss a beat. "I'll keep playing until the Guitarfish get bigger than Crime," he says, "which shouldn't be long now."

In fact, the family just learned the Guitarfish's self-titled debut CD comes out June 24. SXSW hasn't diminished the staying power of the band — or Henry's health for that matter. He never caught Carola and Lou Lou's flu.

Still, Henry is vigilant. Widespread scarring of his bronchial passages has reduced his lung capacity by half. If his cystic fibrosis is left unchecked, he says his degenerative infection "would choke me to death in relatively short order." For now, though, his maintenance routine seems to be working: He is known around his pulmonary rehab clinic at St. Francis Hospital as "High-Functioning Henry."

One recent evening, Henry and Carola are going through Henry's father's art collection. Much of the art needs to be moved from Henry's mother's place in Beverly Hills, as she's moving back to Cincinnati. The top floor is overflowing with everything from stone Inuit sculptures to a vintage paper Warhol soupcan dress hanging from a bookshelf.

Taking a break, Henry and Carola sit at the kitchen table to discuss what they've passed down to their children. "The exciting thing for me is to see [our interests] coming around again, and to see it coming around again in their music," Carola says.

Henry adds, "The big moment for me was when the kids started telling me about stuff. I did that for years and years, and now they're telling me about bands I'd never heard of."

When he reflects on the legacy he'll leave, Henry says his greatest achievement is his children. He wants to make clear "how incredibly proud I am of them, and how they embody those qualities I admire most in myself. Talk about a legacy."

In American culture, lineage is too often weighed on scales of money and celebrity. San Francisco has its royal families, such as the Gettys. The Rosenthals are a different kind of regal brood, one that embodies the city's famous counterculture spirit. Henry Rosenthal and Carola Anderson are true Renaissance parents, instilling their vision directly in the next generation, a generation that starts just two stories below their bedroom, in houses shaped like an ocean liner and a little Palladian villa.

Click here for a slideshow of the Rosenthal kids at band practice.

About The Author

Jennifer Maerz


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