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Anthony Bourdain dead at 61

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I was saddened to hear that Anthony Bourdain had apparently taken his own life, while shooting a CNN TV episode in France. He certainly had his 'demons', as he was a former heroin addict, and his marriage had ended last year, I believe. I certainly feel bad for his young daughter.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/08/us/anthony-bourdain-obit/index.html

"Anthony Bourdain, the gifted chef, storyteller and writer who took TV viewers around the world to explore culture, cuisine and the human condition for nearly two decades, has died. He was 61.
CNN confirmed Bourdain's death on Friday and said the cause of death was suicide."

 

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I can't help but wonder if Kate Spade's suicide influenced him. Such tragedies!

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Posted (edited)

A particularly interesting interview. At the time of his death, Bourdain was dating Asia Argento, who has accused Harvey Weinstein of rape. Bourdain talks about the harsh conditions of traditional restaurant 'bro' culture.

Anthony Bourdain Wonders What He Could Have Done
The celebrity chef on Harvey Weinstein, John Besh, and the male-dominated industry that made him a star.

[WARNING: Foul language ahead]
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/interrogation/2017/10/anthony_bourdain_on_weinstein_john_besh_and_meathead_restaurant_culture.html

"And from the get-go, this system that I was, let’s be honest, celebrating and bragging about surviving, we’re talking about a militaristic, male system that goes back in Europe back to the guild system, generally populated in the classic example by abused male children who were abused in kitchens, worked their way up through this sadistic system of hazing, became chefs and then abused those below them in the same way. The traditional system was the male chef would abuse his male chef de cuisine. The male chef de cuisine would then abuse his sous-chef. The sous-chefs would take it out on all the cooks who would then physically hit, kick, torment, haze, and pressure each other as punishment for bringing this shit down on them yet again. And God help you if you were a woman in those days."

Edited by pherank

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I haven't read his books and saw him on TV only occasionally, but I still always stopped to read any quote or interview of his. Talented man. RIP.

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CNN ran an appreciate of Bourdain last night, including interviews with many of his colleagues at the network and lots of excerpts from his "Parts Unknown" series.  Those kind of eulogies lean towards hyperbole, but in this case, many of the superlatives were just truth.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, sandik said:

CNN ran an appreciate of Bourdain last night, including interviews with many of his colleagues at the network and lots of excerpts from his "Parts Unknown" series.  Those kind of eulogies lean towards hyperbole, but in this case, many of the superlatives were just truth.

And the best thing about it was the excerpts from Parts Unknown and No Reservations😉
It's interesting how much more slick, and "showbiz" the commentators come off, than the man they were eulogizing. And that was the attraction for many people: Bourdain was charismatic, but in a rough, been-through-the-mill kind of way. He was street-wise, and yet always had an interest in the educated, literary world. Few people would guess that he attended Vassar College (though he dropped out after 2 years to begin his cooking career). He was never afraid to show his 'real' self in the episodes - exhausted from a 12 hour flight, or fighting a virus. Sad or depressed by what he was witnessing - it was all there. Most travel shows avoid depictions of bad weather, bad food/service, and bad transportation like the plague. The Bourdain shows willingly depicted the bad with the good.

It probably says a lot about his personality to know that his personal heroes were the musician Iggy Pop, and the writer William Burroughs. That's a dangerous mix, but both of those artists were/are survivors. Bourdain chose to jump off the carousel.

There are various episodes of interest. One of the shows that I found most affecting was Parts Unknown Season 1, Episode 8: Congo. The complete episode doesn't seem to be available on line, but CNN has Bourdain's synopsis available:
http://www.cnn.com/video/shows/anthony-bourdain-parts-unknown/episode8/index.html

'Across the river from Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" (present day Kisangani), we visited the train station, a transportation hub for a system that once extended all the way to the Southern tip of the continent. At one point, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall and Katharine Hepburn would have seen it from their windows at the Pourquoi Pas Hotel, where they stayed during the shooting of "The African Queen." The hotel is now a shambolic squat, devoid, as most of Kisangani, of plumbing or electricity.

The station is now a ruin, the tracks overgrown with grass and weeds. The magnificent engines and passenger cars sit rusting under bullet-pocked roofs.

But a skeleton staff of railroad employees, unpaid for who knows how long, put on their jackets and ties, their coveralls, and show up to work every day. They fill out their paperwork, grease wheels, hammer at metal, do their best to maintain locomotives that haven't run in decades and almost certainly will never run again. They are proud of what they do.

At the remote Yangambi Research Station, a hundred kilometers downriver, the chief librarian and his clerks also show up to work every day at the powerless library, the showpiece of a once-massive complex of modernist buildings -- now without electricity or running water, of course -- and do their best to fight the ravages of moisture, mold and age on the thousands of volumes of botanical and agricultural knowledge.

They too are proud and living in some kind of hope. Waiting for something.

The conventional wisdom seems to be that the Congo is "too black and too sad" and certainly too complicated to ever attract the attention of the world, much less television audiences.

Yet it is also magnificently beautiful.'

 

This was a whole other level of "food show". It was actually possible to learn things about people and culture from these travel documentaries.

Edited by pherank

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When I told my daughter about his death, it was that episode about Congo that she remembered.  Almost no one talks about the colonial history of that area -- how miserably they were treated, and how it reverberates to this day.

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One of the most remarkable things about Bourdain is how nearly everything I've read since his death cites a favorite interview or favorite episode of his show.  He had such a strong voice and affected so many people.  It's so difficult to choose just one, though.

Rest in peace, Mr. Bourdain.

 

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Forgot to post this but thought it was a nice low-keyed remembrance by August Kleinzahler about meeting up with Anthony Bourdain at the Zam Zam room here in the Haight.

https://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2018/06/11/august-kleinzahler/remembering-anthony-bourdain/

There was another grassroots food reviewer, Jonathan Gold, who also sadly just died. He covered all of the vernacular food scene in Los Angeles for years, doing a kind of Bourdain thing even before Bourdain. And proverbally so: Pete Wells in the NY Times obituary quotes actor Mindy Kaling asking for a pizza recommendation on Twitter and adding, "Don't Jonathan Gold me and tell me to go to the San Gabriel Valley." I liked the LA Weekly article that Wells cited about Gold wanting to eat in all the restaurants along Pico Boulevard – that perpetually ungentrifiable eight mile stretch of the real deal Los Angeles:

http://www.laweekly.com/news/the-year-i-ate-pico-boulevard-2129883 

The New York Times obituary:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/21/obituaries/jonathan-gold-dead-los-angeles-food-critic.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.laweekly.com/news/the-year-i-ate-pico-boulevard-2129883

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I just heard about Gold -- many thanks for the LA Weekly link.  As thrilling as it is to visit a truly high-end restaurant, most of us eat much lower down on the economic scale, but that doesn't mean that we can't think about the food we eat -- where it comes from, who makes it, what practices or heritage it represents, how it nourishes us.  Gold, like many other commentators, reminded us to keep our eyes open, and to pay attention.

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On 7/22/2018 at 5:08 PM, Quiggin said:

Forgot to post this but thought it was a nice low-keyed remembrance by August Kleinzahler about meeting up with Anthony Bourdain at the Zam Zam room here in the Haight.

https://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2018/06/11/august-kleinzahler/remembering-anthony-bourdain/

There was another grassroots food reviewer, Jonathan Gold, who also sadly just died. He covered all of the vernacular food scene in Los Angeles for years, doing a kind of Bourdain thing even before Bourdain. And proverbally so: Pete Wells in the NY Times obituary quotes actor Mindy Kaling asking for a pizza recommendation on Twitter and adding, "Don't Jonathan Gold me and tell me to go to the San Gabriel Valley." I liked the LA Weekly article that Wells cited about Gold wanting to eat in all the restaurants along Pico Boulevard – that perpetually ungentrifiable eight mile stretch of the real deal Los Angeles:

http://www.laweekly.com/news/the-year-i-ate-pico-boulevard-2129883 

The New York Times obituary:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/21/obituaries/jonathan-gold-dead-los-angeles-food-critic.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

http://www.laweekly.com/news/the-year-i-ate-pico-boulevard-2129883

Thanks for the links, Quiggin. All good articles. The L.A. food scene is as enormous and difficult to contain with words as the city itself.

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