The loss of Anthony Bourdain is real, and it’s tough. This piece in Rolling Stone is a great sendoff to a great guy:
The world was shocked by the terrible news of Anthony Bourdain’s death today, because he seemed invincible. As his man Iggy Pop would say, he had a lust for life. Bourdain wasn’t just another celebrity chef – he was an adventurer, a punk rocker who used to scam his way into CBGB shows by cooking meals for the bands. On his revolutionary travel shows No Reservations and Parts Unknown, he brought that same streetwise flair to his quest to cross the globe in search of weird food and drink and shady companions. He was the Johnny Thunders of food, a hard-ass New York hedonist chatterbox who did not mind his table manners. As he proudly told Mens Journal’s Sean Woods in 2014, “I have a tattoo on my arm that says, in ancient Greek, ‘I am certain of nothing.’ I think that’s a good operating principle.”***
His 2000 memoir Kitchen Confidential made him a star, yet he was even more of a hit on TV, crackling with energy and charisma. Even those of us who couldn’t handle a whisk could savor how Bourdain roamed the world, going to places the rest of us could barely pronounce, seeking out new culinary kicks with unsentimental gusto. Like the New York Dolls did for music in the sluggish Seventies, he revved up the tempo of food TV, adding street swagger and caustic humor. He was tough on his friends and merciless to his enemies (with plenty of both). He was easily the meanest Top Chef guest judge ever, yet also the funniest – even Padma could look a little shocked at how surly he was.
There’s reams of research about parasocial relationships, but for me, at least, the thing about Bourdain that really drew me to him was that he could be a total asshole and say things that cut deep, but he wasn’t a dick about it. He wasn’t trying to hurt you, he was just telling you the truth as he saw it right that fucking instant. Two weeks later, he might have a completely different take, but that didn’t make what he said both times any less honest. He wasn’t larger than life, like people always say, he just felt like a real dude in a world of fake bullshit. He felt, he experienced, and he sensed. It’s no surprise that his passions were food, music, drugs and booze, and people, although I bet there was a lot of introversion we never saw on screen.
And it’s sad. I don’t understand suicide or the urge to kill one’s self. Everyone is posting the national suicide hotline information, and that’s good, but I often wonder about guys like Bourdain, or Robin Williams, or others who had it all (from an outsider’s perspective), and surely knew how to get help, but it just didn’t work and in the end they got tired of running away from the demons.
I’ve run across a few heroin addicts who have told me that using smack is the greatest feeling on earth and after you’ve experienced the high, the rest of your life will be spent trying to get to that feeling again and falling short. I don’t know if that’s true, because I was fortunate enough that I just stuck to acid, shrooms, coke, and weed “back in the day.” Maybe as good as his life was, he just got tired, and it just became too much. I don’t know what to say.
I just wish he hadn’t, and maybe even though he was tired, and worn down, and dealing with shit I can’t understand or imagine, that he had maybe called a hotline and just put it off for another day. Because I’d like to have him around still.
And I feel the same way about you. So please, give us and life another chance if you ever get to that dark place. You know where to find me and the others here, and these guys will always be there for you, too.