Life is. R.I.P. Anthony Bourdain

It seems weird to be so broken up by the death of a celebrity.  I once described him in a video as one of my “spirit animals,” but I don’t know what Anthony Bourdain was really like, in the flesh, other than the wit, the deep voice, the toothy smile, and the public persona that clearly masked more than a few demons.

We’re obsessed with celebrities.  That’s no surprise.  We’re possessive of our favorites and talk about them like they’re family.  It’s why we care more about who the President is than who our assemblyman is, even though the assemblyman has more direct impact on our lives – the President is just more famous.

And God help us when we get down to Us Weekly, watching with tongues hanging out of our heads as prettier people play musical genetalia in Hollywood, wearing outfits that cost more than a lower-middle-class income but that they didn’t have to pay for because the designers want it known that Jack and Jill Celebrity wear their stuff.  And meanwhile both the celebrities and the designers, despite all the money and no more mountains to climb, are lonely and dying inside.

It seems weird to be this broken up by the death of someone you didn’t know, but if you’re choosing celebrity suicides to be broken up over (and you certainly have options this day in age), you could do worse than someone who had a tangible impact on your life and your behavior.

The first time I went to Brazil, I was there for a month and didn’t bother to try feijaoada, a peasant stew of beans and pork served with farofa, orange slices, and deep-fried pig ears.  The second time I went to Brazil, I refused to leave before I tried feijaoada, and I was so glad I did.  I will never pass it up when I’m back, and the reason I tried it in the first place was because Tony got it and raved about it when he was shooting in Sao Paolo.

The week before I was at dinner in Buenos Aires with tango friends, and there was blood sausage on the menu.  I immediately resolved to order it, because Tony would.  It was a mixed blessing, but I was proud of myself.

Less wise was my decision to order tripe Marinara in Siena (gross).  More in the right direction was the steaming bowl of cuttlefish cooked in its own black ink in Venice (better).  Looking at those menus, I thought, what would Tony do?

When I go to Thailand next month, I am skipping the islands in favor of Chiang Mai, the heartland of Thai cuisine, because that’s where Tony went.

German Matt, who loves the islands, mocked me “Well, they have food on the islands too, you know!  Har har, das ist gut, ja!”  (I added that last part.)

I’m sure they do have food on the islands, but they serve cheesesteaks in cities not named Philadelphia, but that doesn’t mean you order one if you have any self respect.

You can’t even order a taco inside four walls in Texas without somebody tripping over their own feet and pouring barbecue sauce on it.  You can also find a carne asada burrito in Texas, if you have codeword clearance from the CIA, but it might as well have been made in the Peoples’ Republic of Not The Same.

Granted – it’s just food.  It’s just places.  It’s just life.

I never met Tony.  Now I never will.

I’m going to go do some shit I’ve been procrastinating now.  Call me if you’re lonely.

Will you miss Anthony Bourdain?

2 Replies to “Life is. R.I.P. Anthony Bourdain”

  1. Well said, Paul! You have brilliant way with words. I love your writing and not just because I’m your Dad. You are lyrical, passionate and just damn fun to read!


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