The Midnight Snack -Visionaries Edition

Today I’m going to talk about two different kind of creative geniuses. One, sadly, left us too soon. The other is still with us and just now making his presence known.

Our first genius for the evening is Andrew McCutchen. Yes, he’s a wizard in the outfield, excellent at the plate, great with children, and possesses one of the greatest smiles in baseball. But he’s also an auteur.

McCutchen has been filming a short series of films with no real titles. They are surreal, and yet true to true, much like the work of Fellini or Bergman. He makes great use of silence and infuses meaning into even the smallest detail, like Fritz Lang. And he does so in an brief medium, not unlike the greatest film by Chris Marker, La Jetée.

Here is Cutch’s first piece, what I call the haunting “Still Life with Refilling Waiter”.

And here is his second, even more powerful film, a sequel of sorts. Our Truffaut of the field has created a masterpiece here. I’m calling this one “The Waiter Wore Black” because much like Truffaut’s similar work, this is all about revenge.

What will this noted director think up next?

But on a serious note…

With respect to my colleague Old Gator, we truly have lost a pop culture icon and creator of staggering genius. Regardless of your views on David Bowie’s musical work, or his acting, or anything else he did, he did honestly affect the lives of millions of people. Bowie was on the forefront of so many things, either paving the way for or being the acceptable face of movements that changed the way we view the world.

If Bowie was known only for blurring the lines between sexual politics, gender identity, musical collaboration, and total creative abandon, he would have been a genius of force. His androgyny was not the first or even the best – the New York Dolls were the leaders in that field – but it was accepted readily, and opened the door for the glam metal rockers of the 80s. His reinvention to the suave, debonair Thin White Duke mixed with the genderfluid look of his Aladdin Sane days gave us the blueprint for groups like Duran Duran – slick suits, beautiful boys, posh life.

I see it in groups like Muse, which a frontman who commands the audience in a prototypical Ziggy Stardust mode; in artists like Lady Gaga, who reinvents herself for art’s sake, who shocks and worries the establishment and yet stays true to her own artistic self;  I hear echoes of Bowie in songs by Arctic Monkeys and neo-new wave bands like Joywave.

Fitting, then, that I would honor a genius with another genius. Here is Nirvana covering the underrated Bowie-penned “The Man Who Sold The World”.


42 thoughts on “The Midnight Snack -Visionaries Edition

    1. I agree completely! The fighting foo’s are much better than Nirvana and I never did care for Kurt. The angsty, whining ear cancer usually could be summed up as daddy issues. I didn’t mind the music, I just didn’t like him, especially when people were comparing him with Lennon. GTFOOH with that silliness!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m no huge NIrvana fan, but seriously people? Pioneers of a decade of much better rock than what came in the 80’s. And I say that as a fan of 80’s rock and pop.


        1. A) Foo Fighters are indeed better than Nirvana.

          B) Nirvana weren’t pioneers of shit. They were just the ones that got noticed while walking down the trail that Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam had already blazed for them.

          Liked by 1 person

      2. Wow, so much bad music history.

        Pearl Jam and Nirvana were contemporaries. Their first albums and first major hits were literally months apart. Alice in Chains had their first release a year later than both of them, and their first hit a year earlier. Seriously, claiming that Nirvana was going down a well trod path seriously understates the amount of trodding required to be ‘well trod’. These bands were all pivotal during a major change in rock.

        As for Foo Fighters, I like them, but its hard not to like them. They don’t challenge anything. At all. In any way shape or form. There is nothing confrontational about their music, there is nothing that changes how you listen to music, see the world, or anything. Quite frankly, they are the Wings to Nirvana’s Beatles. Nobody hates them and they churn out hit after hit that permits Gen Xers to feel like part of their angsty teen years is still popular and relevant.

        There are few music critics or historians who would view any of these bands in the context you guys seem to be putting them, and I’m blown away that I’m the only one saying this.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. I think Lefty meant Soundgarden and thanks for reminding me to listen to the Foo’s cover of Baker Street again.


        1. I certainly meant to include Soundgarden. I would have actually bet that I did. Not sure what happened there…


      4. I’d certainly add Soundgarden to the list of pioneers. But again, it took nothing away from Nirvana. Of the listed bands, Pearl Jam is probably the weakest, Alice in Chains and Nirvana were the strongest. I’d put Soundgarden between those two and PJ. But seriously I don’t get the bagging on Nirvana part. I remember when Nevermind hit, it was a HUGE deal. None of the others got that big of exposure, nor did any of them get the level of imitators.

        This is like bagging on The Beatles because you preferred the Stones.


        1. I thought Ten was a better album than Nevermind at the time, and I think Ten is a better album than Nevermind today. That said…AIC was the best of the bunch and Jar Of Flies is the best album released in the entire decade of the 90’s.

          I suspect some of my dislike for Nirvana comes from the fact that what I saw as the least talented/interesting of those “Big Four” groups was the one that got the biggest slice of the fame. Cobain was emo before emo was emo.

          Another healthy slice of dislike came from the shitass Nirvana fans that moped around the halls of high school after Cobain scattered his brains across a wall, acting like this would be the greatest tragedy they would ever face in the whole of their existence. I reckon the residue of that disgust for those particular kids, and by extension Nirvana, is probably still on me. I mean, who isn’t shaped by the events of high school?

          (PS – I really don’t give a shit about the Beatles or the Stones.)


      5. Let’s not confuse MTV;s discriminatory airplay practices with being cutting edge or superiority over other bands. Soundgarden was the first to score a big time record deal and they preceded the others by a bit. Nirvana was hardly pioneering, though, as the others were developing at the same time — hence the “Seattle grunge scene” label. They were developing together — not copying Cobain. MTV played the hell out of Teen Spirit though, and that’s how it became a hit (which ended up helping the others). Suburban kids around the country just discovered Nirvana first because of MTV’s playing.

        As for musical sound, there isn’t anything brilliant about the musical work of Nirvana. Their sound is actually an outgrowth of Cobain’s limited guitar proficiency (which he himself admitted). Foo Fighters has much more of a guitar sound because Grohl has been freed from the drums. He’s a better guitarist than Cobain, and I think Cornell beats Cobain in musicality and songwriting.

        The music media dubbed Nirvana the voice of Generation X but they only represented the very end of those born in that generation, so I think they were more representational of the generation after mine. When Cobain died, I didn’t know who he was. He certainly did not speak to me and his music did not resonate with me — especially not as representing me and my peers. I saw them as a transition to a new phase of music. I think the media giving them the kudos they did was partly a race thing and partly just love of the moment. Now that we’ve had some distance, more people are willing to say Nirvana wasn’t as novel as they were made out to be.


      6. Longfoot – No offense, but I get the impression your problem with Nirvana is not actually Nirvana.

        Historio – Sometimes you make our age gap pretty obvious. Yes, you are right, they were not the music of people already in their 20’s when they struck it big (seriously, who do you think “Teen Spirit” was aimed at?). And to be honest, they didn’t speak to me either at the time, although for wildly different reasons than you. As I got older, and was able to review them as an adult and with the ability to listen through their complete work and that of their peers (ie: old enough to afford to buy any music I wanted in high quality) my view shifted pretty dramatically. I think you are being condescending when you speak of them as though their race had something to do with their success. Which of the other big three mentioned here was anything other than a group of white guys?

        You are also way off base with your claim of MTV making them into big stars. They were big stars because they were doing something new, and they were distinct from their peers. Who were also well regarded. This isn’t some either/or situation, its possible to like them all, to hate them all, prefer one over the other, or hate certain ones. But in no way does it diminish the fact that Nirvana was both very very good and a serious innovator in a way that few have been before or since. I personally can’t stand the sound of Bob Dylan’s voice, but I would never say he sucked or was a lesser talent than his peers, his songwriting is amazing even if his voice is difficult for me to listen to.


      7. One side note: I find it interesting that you complain about Nirvana representing Generation X because they came at the tail end of that generation. You actually are from the opposite end of that generation, depending on which historian you ask you are either a Baby Boomer or Gen Xer. So it really shouldn’t be shocking that music from the end of Gen X isn’t all that appealing to someone from the very beginning, there is practically a generation between the two, and rarely are lines in culture so strictly defined. I know my father, born at the cusp of the Baby Boom (1945) would not have had much in common culturally with you, born at the cusp of GenX.

        Side note: I know I am treading on thin ice. I am not calling anyone old. I’m just trying to point out (probably badly) that it shouldn’t be a shock that Nirvana didn’t appeal to you. They weren’t aimed at you, and they didn’t speak your language. And that’s okay. I don’t care much for the music that came at the end of the 90’s, in fact I quit listening to popular music for a decade due to my irritation with what was coming out.


      8. Lefty, Steve “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” Morrissey is the Father of Emo. Stop ignoring the 80s. We invented that shit. It was called goth.

        Cobain suffered from severe depression compounded by drug abuse culminating in suicide. Emo isn’t the word I’d use. I was in a college bar when news of his death flashed across the screen. Another musician I like gone at 27. I toasted my beer, and went on with life, a little sad that night.

        Musical taste is subective. In my opinion, what Nirvana attempted was more interesting than what the Foo Fighters have done. Granted, both are mainstream acts made to appeal to a great number of people.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. The only thing that would have made The Waiter: Part 2, would have been for Waiter Cutch to ask how everything tasted before he even picked up his fork. There have been multiple occasions during which this has happened to me….I looked at my plate closely, looked at the waiter/waitress with furrowed brow, looked back at my plate, looked back at the server….and they don’t seem to understand the lack of response.

    It seems like the only 2 options are servers that hover and those that never return.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. How much pressure do you feel as a server when you realize they’ve seated Cutch in your section? How many days afterwards do you obsessively check his twitter to see if he did a video about you?


  2. Appreciate your post, Perfesser. For me Bowie was a difference maker, presenting things in a new light. The divisions in HS had some serious boundaries, but I remember a Friday in the parking lot as several disparate types gathered to make plans to carpool to the Bowie concert. Jocks, stoners, brains, quite an amalgam.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Saw a tweet or post or something today (but didn’t copy it or remember who it was by) that essentially said something to the effect that ” if you are sad today, remember that the earth is over four billion years old and you were lucky enough to be around at the same time as David Bowie, and that is something to be happy about.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. He had said that from the moment he met her, he knew she was the one. Apparently he did everything for her, from taking her to fancy dates to tying her shoelaces. Not an exaggeration. And his obvious love and affection for her was always apparent.

      For her part, Iman had said that she wasn’t married to David Bowie, she was married to David Jones. And from all accounts, they were incredibly happy together.

      I feel so sad for her.


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