We’re all members of the Gentleman Loser club now

Charles Christian
Urban Fantasist
Published in
3 min readSep 7, 2022

Or… did Steely Dan predict the future 50 years ago?

This summer I’ve been taking advantage of the fine weather to do a lot of outdoor jobs — many of them the kind of mindless activities (like repainting a barn) you can do while listening to iTunes and still having enough spare brain capacity to think about life, the universe, everything.

One of the bands I’ve been returning to is Steely Dan — and one of my favourite tracks by them is Midnite Cruiser from their debut album Can’t Buy a Thrill, which was released almost 50 years ago (yes, I’m really Reelin’ in the Years) in November 1972.

The original Steely Dan line-up with core members Walter Becker (centre/front, long hair & shades) and Donald Fagen (clean shaven, immediately behind him)

I guess as a member of the Baby Boomer generation, the lines about: the world we used to know… don’t turn no more… faces aren’t smilin’ like before… the time of our time has come and gone… I fear we’ve been waiting too long… strike home because I remember the optimism we shared in the 1960s. We really believed we were seeing the dawning of a new age of peace, love, and harmony but now half-a-century later, we face a dystopian future of broken social, economic, industrial, and political systems.

As the lyrics of Midnite Cruiser put it “I am another Gentleman loser”. The world is burning — and I’m reconciled to the fact we’re heading to Hell in a handcart — well except the very rich who are going to the same destination albeit in self-driving, electric Teslas.

Yes, Steely Dan predicted the future 50 years ago. And then I got to thinking about other aspects of the legend that was Steely Dan. They took their name from a steam-powered, strap-on dildo (technically a Steely Dan III from Yokohama) worn by character Mary in a scene from William S. Burroughs’ novel Naked Lunch.

Another of their tracks — Deacon Blues (from their later 1977 album Aja) was the inspiration for the name of the mid-80s Scottish (and under-rated) rock band Deacon Blue. And the phrase ‘Gentleman Loser’ was borrowed by William Gibson as the name for a hackers’ hangout bar in The Sprawl (aka BAMA or the Boston-Atlanta Metropolitan Axis supercity on the east coast of the United States) as featured in Gibson’s original cyberpunk short stories and novels Neuromancer, Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive, Burning Chrome, Johnny Mnemonic and New Rose Hotel from the 1980s.

That’s enough introspection — time to go out to do more mindless chores around the farm. Though I think I’ll be listening to some Prog Rock this evening. 21st Century Schizoid Man by King Crimson never fails to cheer me up.

Charles Christian
Urban Fantasist

Journalist, editor, author & sometime werewolf hunter. Writes, drinks tea, knows things. (he/him) www.urbanfantasist.com + www.twitter.com/urbanfantasist