Monday, May 9, 2011

Culture - EZ Playlist

I hope you don't think I'm phoning it in with this blog post but I felt that I had to share some writing from my past. 


This week is what my father calls his "birthday week." He can't have one day a year. No no. He must have a whole week. So, I'm gonna give him this week on my blog to honor that yearly ritual. And today's post, much like him, is an oldie but a goodie. 


When I was a music writer for the UCLA Daily Bruin, I had a regular column where I'd spout my opinions on music. Usually, like this blog, they were funny little bits of me without any real substance. But I think maybe 10 people enjoyed reading them. Or five people, if you don't count me, my parents, my roommate and my editor. 


One week I decided to write about my dad. His love of music has always motivated me in odd ways. When I played the piano, he would listen fondly from his recliner in the den...and howl like dog every time I played the wrong note. 


And he made it a point of always keeping his music listening tastes both classic and current. So, when we would get into debates about Beck or Marilyn Manson, I would be both amused and annoyed that he some times knew more than me about the subject. I would never admit that, however.


Once, my music editor and I found some of his mixed tapes in the glove compartment of my Honda Accord. They were labeled "EZ Best I" and "EZ Best II" and so on for EZ Best III-IX. 


Recently, Larry and I were driving his car and found similar playlists on his iPod - "Super" and "Super Plus." I can't even tell you the kind of music that he had on those playlists because I do not recognize 80% of the artists names in his library. But I couldn't stop laughing at the variety of those I could identify which even included Idina Menzel and Crystal Bowersox. 


That's my father. Random and funny yet surprisingly complex and cultured. 


So here's the column I wrote about him more than 12 years ago. And it will serve to show that some things never change.


(God I'm old. I'm going to go cry in a corner now.)





On subject of music criticism, father believes he knows best




Tuesday, December 1, 1998


On subject of music criticism, father believes he knows best
COLUMN: Dad promotes interest in talents of Ice Cube, Marilyn Manson
This Thanksgiving break my father gave me a lot to be grateful for. Actually, besides turkey and yams I was forced to digest a whole lot of old-timer goodies from Frank Sinatra to the Beatles. All of a sudden everyone, including my dear old dad, has joined the mission to make a true musical connoisseur out of Michelle.
Let's see if I learned anything.
My father, Edward Zubiate, thinks he is truly hip. A middle school assistant principal, he walks around very tough-like behind dark sunglasses intimidating all the 12-year-olds that cross his path. He prides himself on being a fan of Tupac Shakur, but this weekend, he went too far. Unfortunately for him, I'm beginning to see music through my own eyes, and he doesn't like it one bit.
All my life I have been taught to love the basic B's: The Beatles, The Beach Boys and Bob. (As in Dylan, not Marley. No matter how hard I try, I will never appreciate reggae.) I used to choreograph cute little skits in my little bathing suit holding a beach towel while The Beach Boys sang "California Girls." So I am proud to say that I do love some classic music (meaning pre-1990s.)
But my father has never been a consistent fella. His musical tastes vary as much as the other fads he gets into, such as cheese popcorn and sunflower seeds. As well as hanging onto the stuff from his youth, he frequently ventures into the land of the present to turn on the radio and impress us all with his knowledge of 92.3 The Beat. Ever since I joined the Daily Bruin, every weekend has become a battle where he reads my clips from the week and gives his own criticism and interpretation. My own is not good enough. I'm just a punk kid.
Once in a while I'll bring my father something I think he, as an old man, will appreciate. Seeing as he likes the blues, I brought home some Johnny Lang. Score one for me, he ate it up in an instant. Recently I played Beck's "Mutations" for him because many of the songs sound very, very Beatle-ish. This was not a pretty car ride home. Bored and uninspired he announced to everyone, "I know a star when I hear one and this one, my daughter, will never amount to anyone."
"Uhhh...too late, Dad. Beck's last album was a huge hit, and his sound has been described as the future of music. This album alone has already been given great reviews, and the melodies are truly moving."
"Sorry," he says. "I know good music when I hear it." So speaks the voice of God.
And of all the things for my father to instantly love: Marilyn Manson. It's kinda embarrassing when you live in a neighborhood of old folks and your father is blasting "Dope Show" louder than you've ever been allowed to blast any sort of music your entire life.
My father is filled with these little quirks. On a trip to Vegas, my old editor, Mike Prevatt, opened up the glove compartment to find a stash of tapes belonging to my father from when he used to own the car. To the amusement of everyone present, a majority of these tapes are labeled "EZ Best: Volumes I-VIII." I will never hear the end of it. Every once in a while, Mike will now suggest something my dad will like and add, "Hey, maybe it can be another EZ Best!"
But my father has good intentions. If it weren't for him I probably wouldn't be a music writer now. I would be laughed out of the office if I never had heard of Jimi Hendrix, and no one would bother to read my work if I didn't have a little bit of knowledge of the blues, swing and classic rock.
It is kinda cute when he quotes Ice Cube. Who wouldn't laugh when a chubby little Mexican man whispers in your ear War's line: "The world is a ghetto"? It is also pretty sweet when he invites me to look up at the stars with him while Sinatra croons ballads of love and good times.
Because of my dad, I've been forced to hear all kinds of music and love it. He took me to see "Phantom of the Opera" the first and second time. He sat me in front of "West Side Story," and a love for musicals bloomed.
He loves music more than almost anyone I've ever met. When I ask him the moment at which he was most proud of me, in a second he will say when I sang "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" for him my senior year of high school.
Despite the fact that he calls all my records "bubble gum" music and refuses to ever let me have control of the radio in the car, he supports me when I write something he can relate to and brags about me to all he knows.
Dads are funny that way. Even though you argue about everything from clothes to politics, you can always find a common ground. Unfortunately in this case, the common ground is Marilyn Manson. What is the world coming to?
Michelle Zubiate 

© 1998 ASUCLA Communications Board

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