Friday, June 8, 2018

Anthony Bourdain 1956-2018

I've weakly attempted to model my entire professional career in media (without really any success) on the wonderful, wonderful television show that is Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown. Nothing was better than the weekly ritual of watching a bitter man's cynicism overcome time and again by the sheer wonder and beauty of the world, and the depths of the human heart. Bourdain was a man perpetually at war with himself. It made for compelling television to see the genuine joys of curiosity and beauty break through his own hard walls, to see his preconceived notions proven wrong, and to watch him sometimes serve as a model for immersing himself in the opposite side of an argument to try and genuinely connect with differing points of view; a lesson we can all continue to learn from.

Bourdain was a 1978 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and a veteran of numerous professional kitchens, including many years spent as executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles. He first became known for his 2000 book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. In 2005 he began hosting the Travel Channel's hit culinary and cultural adventure programs Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations (2005–2012). In 2013, he switched to CNN to host Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.

With each successive television show, he gained more and more creative control, and arguably an exponential increase in quality along with it. From the dazzling visuals of expert cinematography, to bold and sometimes experimental editing, to risky stylistic choices and riskier journeys, Parts Uknown wasn't just the best food or travel related show on television, it was easily in the top echelon of the best television shows ever aired. Period.

The gadget of his shows was simple. If Bourdain, who's seen and done it all, could still find wonder in the world, there was hope for the rest of us as well, no matter what we've experienced in life. With each new face and new exploration, the show always seemed to always drive home the the point (whether intentional or accidental) that human beings are more alike than they are unalike.

While the pilot light of that hope may now be snuffed out...the flame of hope still burns on. Today we are sad, but the best way to honor his legacy is to redouble our own efforts to chase the beauty, infinite variety in infinite combinations, and genuine love that exists in the world. 

Otherwise, we risk missing the entire point of life. 

Human Family - Maya Angelou

I note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.

Some declare their lives are lived

as true profundity,
and others claim they really live
the real reality.

The variety of our skin tones

can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple,
tan and blue and white.

I've sailed upon the seven seas

and stopped in every land,
I've seen the wonders of the world
not yet one common man.

I know ten thousand women

called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I've not seen any two
who really were the same.

Mirror twins are different

although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts
while lying side by side.

We love and lose in China,

we weep on England's moors,
and laugh and moan in Guinea,
and thrive on Spanish shores.

We seek success in Finland,

are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we differ,
in major we're the same.

I note the obvious differences

between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,

than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,

than we are unalike.