I've been struggling with ideas and words since.
Then this came thundering in.
I wish I could tell you I read a lot of good student book reviews on Kitchen Confidential.
I did not.
The exuberance was there. But the scale of grading made it a slog.
It would have embarrassed Anthony Bourdain how many writers he squeezed out of young hands—Jim Harrison, Calvin Trillin, A. J. Liebling. Fuck.
I try to imagine him reading William S. Burroughs for the first time. Or Joan Didion.
I knew the book was important by how many hands it was in. How many young people wanted to talk about it.
I rolled my eyes on occasion. Bromance.
Reading a writer can be tricky.
Sometimes we can only see one thing. Even when there's more. And it's rich.
Anthony Bourdain broke it open for cooks. Not singularly.
I'm mindful of white macho bullshit. Lionizing men who were humans.
He was an intellect, a strange bird, in our midst.
Trading his knife for a typewriter after work. Talking with and about us.
By the yellow light of a desk lamp at night—dust flecks whirling in the aura.
Or by daylight at the kitchen table. A pack and a half of butts in the ashtray.
A lanky, mercurial young New Yorker with grey matter, charm, and ambition.
Bourdain turned a blinding flashlight beam on some of our darkness.
We thought the whole thing was a compliment. Treated it like a permission slip.
When some—maybe all—of his aim was to write black comedy.
Stay sane. Earn a living on words.
Tell damn good stories.
What was good? The follow-up.
Medium Raw. His "bloody valentine."
It's where he corrected course. Put a tie on.
Look at the cover.
"To Ottavia." A thoughtful, bright work in her honour.
He had a spine. Confidence.
Did the job of cleaning up. Shared the lessons.
Fuck, that's attractive in a man.
If you haven't read it, you're missing something.
We were proud. Wanted to be near him.
Or our version of him.
I saw him at Massey Hall. September 22, 2010. He held the stage.
Like some of us, he didn't know when to slow down. Or stop.
One setting. Fast forward.
Some of the world starting to flash by the window of a shiny black town car.
Mixed with periods out on the edges of the earth.
Look for his reading lists' online. There's a stuck-inside winter project.
Pile the books he read and loved on your bedside table.
Work your way through them.
A way to remember. A fine tribute.
This morning on Twitter, a man wrote a painful message marking his dad's death at 56 from alcoholism.
Bottoms start way before the end. They need a long runway to get up to full speed.
There are so many witnesses. And tender humans getting hurt.
He was an addict.
Roadrunner was terrible at addressing that cold hard fact.
Bourdain was responsible for his life.
Morgan Neville did not make that film. Instead he was a vulture at a smoking funeral pyre.
That's my review. I'm not writing for the New Yorker.
We're consuming Bourdain still—like co-dependents.
Remember Elizabeth Shue? Her performance in Leaving Las Vegas?
She was nominated for an Oscar, Best Actress. For playing Sera.
Her character is us. Right now.
All I can hope is that all profits are going to a higher good.
His brilliant sparkling mind. His singular voice.
I'd love to re-grade a bunch of those book reviews.
I've changed. For the better.
I'll wait for someone to write Bourdain's life. Real and good.
I know it will come. There's just the waiting.
This is the first in a triptych. Or maybe a trilogy. I don't know what to call it.
Common threads running through all.
Part two is about Joe Rogan.
Paul Bocuse is last.