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”.