On June 8th, just a few days ago, Anthony Bourdain, a writer, sort of a chef, and certainly a traveler and a public figure with all the success he could ever want took an exit door from this life.
It was a shock – I won’t speak for the public, but I will speak about me – it was a shock to me.
I discovered Bourdain years back I think when No reservations had started. I do not watch shows – or rather DID not watch them in general at the time, but this one caught my attention. Travel, food, puppy eyed Bourdain who swore, smoked, and drank like a sailor in nearly every episode, and music by John Spencer Blues Explosion in opening credits – so yes, it caught my eye. The show at least at that time was really entertaining, but also informative. Shortly after I read the now famous Kitchen Confidential which to my surprise was a really great book.
Both the book and the show carried strongly the voice their narrator. Both were full of humor, both were kinda trying to be cool or something in a teenager sort of way, but above all they were really human and spoke to the humanity of their protagonist. It was really clear from the beginning that in spite of his self-confessed drug use, and rather tough-guy sort of talk, Bourdain was a fairly sensitive individual and someone who knew how to connect with people – both his audience and the people he met in his travel – all thanks to this natural sensitivity.
I would not have admitted this out loud before his death, but I will say it – Bourdain’s story gave me a lot of motivation and inspiration. I liked his style, I liked the fact that he got to fame late in life and was honest about who he was, I liked that he traveled a lot! While I was often annoyed at his digs at vegetarians and those who followed a more health conscious lifestyle, I also got it – he just came from a different time and place and it was who he was. His story and his work gave me a lot of inspiration in terms of what is possible – he took an opportunity, and made something really positive with it.
I think this is what any creative person hopes that they will do given a chance, but not everyone does it right.
I know a bit about Bourdain’s personal life – internet makes it easy for us to spy on others, and that too was far from dismal. He had a family, a love interest, friends, and work he loved – why does a man choose to leave just at the moment when all is going right we ask? There is no answer to this question, but I can see Bourdain getting drunk in his room at night, and in a momentary lapse of reason say ‘fuck it’ to no one in particular, and take the exit door without giving it a second thought.
It’s sad that his dark side for this moment overshadowed all of the good that he had created and was. It’s especially sad for people who were close to him that he left behind, but also people who watched him, and found inspiration in his voice and his honest and adventurous life.
In any case – thank you Tony for giving it your all..