Sunday, June 10, 2018

Nurse the Hate: Anthony Bourdain

I was genuinely saddened by the death of Anthony Bourdain.  It appears I wasn’t the only one as the amount of outpouring over his suicide was on a much larger scale than I, or I would think Bourdain himself, would have guessed.  That was probably part of his appeal though, thinking that his television shows and books were a sort of hip secret.  He just seemed like the coolest guy at the party.  He had a way of presenting what some would call “radical free thinking” ideas, warts and all, that made it easy to forget that these were allegedly travel/food shows on mainstream media platforms.  I suppose I found out that if I thought Bourdain’s work was some kind of indie rock band that was under the radar, it turned out that almost everyone I knew was as passionate about the band as I was.

His travel shows were so well done, not only for the voyeuristic ability to see places you knew in your heart you would never set foot in, but to be able to get a sense of what he personally felt about them.  He always felt genuine and honest.  The shows weren’t really about food or travel at all.  They were just an excuse for a curious man to see what a place was like, what made it tick.  Amidst a landscape of media reports about how unspeakable danger lurks around every corner, Bourdain managed to convey a human connection even in places that have been painted as evil.  If nice people in Iran are sharing meat on a stick with him, maybe we can work out our differences.  He painted in grays while almost all those around him are armed with only black and white.

I think it came as such a shock that he had killed himself in that he appeared to be happy.  He had found love with his new girlfriend, seemed more comfortable and less grouchy on camera than he had in years, and was definitely engaged in fighting for social causes.  Things are not always what they appear.  Severe depression is not visible like other diseases.  The overwhelming weight of hopelessness leads to a tunnel vision where the only escape is death.  All the pain can just stop with one simple action.  I had read where he had grappled with the feeling of “wanting to get off this crazy roller coaster” in the past.  Why now?  We will never know. 

There will be a cultural gap in the space he occupied.  I know that he impacted how I look at the world.  He provided an example of how a man can be more compassionate and curious about strangers, but at the same time be a cranky wiseass.  He took artistic chances and wasn’t afraid to fail.  I loved how he was openly accepting of different cultures, yet fiercely judgmental of other things within his own.  He was some sort of weird blend of late 70s CBGBs, Hunter Thompson, James Salter, and art house movies. 

I will miss him.


At June 10, 2018 at 10:15:00 AM EDT , Blogger vfh159 said...


At June 13, 2018 at 4:16:00 PM EDT , Blogger Nikki Sexton said...

Thanks for summing up what we are all feeling. Much more eloquent than screaming "FUCK!" into oblivion and drinking ourselves into a blackout.

At June 14, 2018 at 5:46:00 PM EDT , Blogger Greg Miller said...

Thank you. The celebrity death is something I normally look at with great indifference. Ultimately they are strangers so it becomes conceptual. This one was different. There but but for the grace of God go I...

At June 19, 2018 at 12:42:00 PM EDT , Blogger Greg Hido said...

If there was ever a person I would have liked to have a beer with in a dive bar it was him. What a drag.

At June 6, 2019 at 12:02:00 AM EDT , Blogger AZ said...



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