Long Walk Home


Just gutted to read about Anthony Bourdain, enough that I’ll admit that I needed a few moments to get it together upon reading the news. I never met him, but devoured the books and the No Reservations and Parts Unknown programs. It’s a little selfish to get that level of upset on one hand. I mean I never met the guy in person, just an exchange on Twitter a couple years ago. But, a voice that resonates sticks with you like you have a genuine friend, drinking buddy, an actual bona fide wing man who takes really great travel photos. We got to go for a great ride without calling shot gun.

President Obama offered this: ““Low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer.” This is how I’ll remember Tony. He taught us about food — but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown. We’ll miss him.”

He showed the nobility of Michelin starred restaurants alongside the virtues of the Waffle House. In an era where intolerance for anything that doesn’t fit, it saddens me greatly that somebody who showed that everybody deserves an audience for their beliefs, their culture, their food that their light is out. The types of adventures showed the world in a nontouristy way that afforded respect, reverence and intelligence by somebody who was a human being first.

I know he was for gun control, but that didn’t stop him from taking to the shooting range with Ted Nugent, was one of the few guys who dared to ask if more American companies were a good thing for Cuba (before those relations took a hit), put a human face to places most of us will never see (Iran, Jerusalem, Vietnam and countless others. He was obviously progressive and liberal minded but went to places that might not play like West Virginia and spoke with Trump voters and miners with no agenda and showed we can learn if we are willing. We are often needlessly scared of what we don’t know or readily understand. One of the many things I admire about how he did his work was that he admitted that and did something about it with an open mind and a willingness to learn and set aside preconceived notions to learn, to find out. We don’t have to be afraid of something or someone new. Everybody’s traditions and culture matter equally. More people need to think like that and now that we are down one, it does hurt. Makes the world less of curious place and in these anti-intellectual, anti-thinking, blind faith times, that is a very troublesome consequence.

“If I am an advocate for anything, it is to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food. It’s a plus for everybody.”

Yeah, I guess I admire the thinking or the free form “let’s see what happens” into the program and the writing that was all his. We’d collectively be in a better spot if that was a more universal perspective. It saddens me greatly that we have that void and he had demons that didn’t allow him to find what he was searching for. The foods provided the intellectual springboard for discussions of everything else and the platform he provided that allowed for everybody to have a place at the table is something many aspired to, but few actually did.

I already see some on the internet bitching about the level of homage for him or Kate Spade when suicides among veterans, police, and humans in general don’t seem to cause much discussion. If there is an upside, there has been considerable discussion in the aftermath.

“You know, I went right at those things — guns, God, and Trump — and I was very moved by what I found there (West Virgina). I hope that people who watch the show will feel the same kind of empathy and respect, and will be able to walk in somebody else’s shoes, or imagine walking in somebody else’s shoes, for a few minutes in the same way that hopefully they do with one of my other shows.”

I mean the lack of asskissing in his presentation made the shows even more real. Check the purveyor of unpopular opinon, before that was a twitter thing,

I found it very telling that he didn’t Instagram much or take too many photos. He just lived for the sake of living.

“I have the best job in the world. If I’m unhappy, it’s a failure of imagination.” I wonder about my own self a lot, but am just overwhelmed.

Hate the failure. Hope he’s finding what he needed.

Advertisements

“I ain’t here on business…


only here for fun!” It’s hard to think of a two year old football stadium as hallowed ground, but the new Giants Stadium was pretty much that last weekend. My younger sister and I took in night number #2 of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band‘s stand at the veritable concrete bowl and had the expected fantabulous time with a great, great show. It’s fun to see your favorites in their natural surroundings

We were invited/privileged/astonished to watch a tailgate party come together with military like precision in the parking lot beforehand. The grill came out and with what seems a rapid fire succession of carnivore laden delights hit the flames. It made me think of Anthony Bourdain‘s line about how “sides are for suckers, you need that real estate.”

Sausages whose names probably ended in wurst led the hit parade. When the inferno below hit the grill, I was informed that the 6 inch by 19 inch foil collective was bacon. Okay, if you say so, sir.

image

Good sense says to look away, but you just can’t. The sight of corn on the cob following that made me laugh, like checking your vegetable karma before things got serious. A few of us stopped as we had to get a decent space for the show.

image

My sister has become a junkie for being on the floor during a Springsteen show. That’s funny because  she sort of resented hearing the River through the second floor of our childhood home, but osmosis won her over. Given the picture above, it’s not hard to see why you’d want to be in the midst of mostly kindred spirits. I’m slowly losing my tastes for huge stadium shows because things get cartoony, like bands overreaching to fill the big space.

image

I didn’t get that sense, perhaps being maybe 30 yards from the stage helps. I have to imagine the folks on the upper decks were basically watching the video screens, but it was an amiable mess of a good time.

image

Enjoyed myself immensely as always, thanks Bruce (and Kate), but as a palate cleanser here you go. With Bruce holding down Jersey, we balanced the weekend by heading to the northern most portion of the isle.

image

image

image

You can almost forget you are in NY at that point.

You want to move? No, you just want here to be better.


I don’t go for much reality tv, but of late there are a couple of programs on the Travel Channel that I regularly catch. The main one is “No Reservations” by Anthony Bourdain. It’s become one of my favorite programs. It’s not just a food show, more of a food and culture show. There really isn’t anything like it, largely because of the host. Equal parts learned traveler, professional appreciator and snarkmeister, Bourdain does not play tourist, so much as seeks out the actual reality of a given location.

Lots of people around here to the 14 minutes he afforded Buffalo last night. It was nice video. I don’t really care that Schwabl’s made the cut instead of some other Beef on Weck joint. It was nice to see Ulrich’s get some face time, along with Nietzche’s in an unnamed cameo. Bourdain writes a lot of sentiments that I wish I’d written. One of those hit home last night when he was summing up Buffalo along with Detroit and Baltimore.

At the end of the program, he showed a collage of folks from each spot, making themselves at home because it is home. It dawned on me that there is something to that. There is always that possibility that things COULD improve if you head out somewhere else, but that is a really big COULD. Might have made quicker hay elsewhere, but home is that for other reasons. I was reminded about that when some former classmates got together. My kids and my folks know each other and play a role in their respective lives. You can’t put a price about on that.

It’s the little things like that that cause the greatest amount of consternation when the Mayor pontificates or when the State Senate breaks down like an old Nash Rambler. The outline of a good thing is there and too many folks aren’t out to genuinely make it better. But you pick your places to make you stand in spite of those things. You look at what works around here and the vast majority of the success stories come in spite of the elected leadership.

You take your cues from what effects your surroundings. My folks never stopped looking for ways to improve our immediate surroundings and my former spouse and I have taken up that mantle with our lot.
Looking at Bourdain’s video postcard and a few scenes from “the T.O. show,” you could pick worse backdrops.

Cold beer at a reasonable price, indeed, Tony