Anthony Bourdain was a BO$$
Updated: Jul 3, 2018
When I heard about Anthony Bourdain’s death on the morning of June 8, 2018, I knew that my next blog post would be dedicated to him. Anthony was a boss. Not just any kind of boss but the kind of boss you'd replace the two s’s at the end with dollar signs when talking about him. He was a BO$$. With his east coast grit, tattoos, and gravely voice, he invited us to travel the world with him and I, along with millions of his fans, eagerly accepted.
For nearly fifteen years, Anthony Bourdain broke down cultural biases through something we all can relate to: food. He used food as a way of connecting people from all parts of the world. He took me to places that I didn’t know existed and ate things that I didn’t know could be eaten. Tony was an inspiration. Unassuming and non-judgmental, his interviews presented as casual conversations with people who were just like me. And that was Tony’s goal. To show us that we are more alike than we think and he was wonderful at it.
Another thing that stood out about Tony was his openness about his life. He spoke freely about his years abusing drugs and his recovery. He bared his soul and, in doing so, he was able to create very honest and memorable moments on television. I trusted him.
In honor of Tony’s 62nd birthday today, I compiled a few of my favorite moments from Parts Unknown to remember the BO$$.
Season 2, Episode 5 (2013) - Sicily: I rewatched this episode and was, again, consumed with laughter. While in Sicily, Tony is anxious about putting together a quality episode after failing to do so on a previous attempt. He goes out fishing to catch some octopus and sea urchin with his host. While in the water, armed with a hook, Tony realizes that he's been had and he is not happy about it. I won't give anything else away but this episode reminds me of the times when I've told people that we'll all probably be laughing about it later to calm them down.
Season 4, Episode 7 (2014) – Massachusetts: Tony takes us back to his stomping grounds of Provincetown, Massachusetts. In this episode he meets up with old friends and talks about his start in the restaurant business. Long-haired and aimless, Tony halfheartedly accepted a position as a dishwasher and the rest, as they say, is history. Later in the episode, we travel to Franklin County, an old industrial town that has been taken over by heroin addiction. Tony joins a group of recovering addicts at the Recover Project where he talks about his personal battle with heroin. If there weren't cameras in the room, you wouldn't know a celebrity was present. It is one of Parts Unknown most talked about and beloved moments.
Season 8, Episode 5 (2016) – Houston: My favorite moment about this episode isn't the food. It's the respect and understanding of subcultures and in this episode slab is featured. Tony enlists Houston rapper, Slim Thug, to explain what slab is (cars that are candy painted with protruding rims and the most insane speaker systems you've ever heard). After watching, I wondered if Tony could be any cooler?
Season 9, Episode 4 (2017) – Queens: Tony tours the beautifully cultured neighborhoods of Queens, New York. In this episode, we find Tony talking to the owner of Neirs Tavern, a bar that has been around since the 1820's. Neirs is notable for its place in cinema history as the watering hole for the mob in Goodfellas. Tony enjoys how historic Neirs is but he gets excited when he frames up a scene from Goodfellas (his favorite movie), while sitting in the same spot Robert DeNiro sat in. He then goes on a mini-rant about the pitfalls of mobsters who've sat in the front passenger seat.
Five months after rapper Logic won Song of the Year at the 2018 Grammy Awards for his song 1(800)273-8255 (the telephone number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline) and three days after fashion designer Kate Spade took her life, Anthony Bourdain took his. It saddens me to think of him, so cool and macho, at this low point. It is a reminder that we never know what tremendous suffering a person is dealing with, so always be kind.
You can find Parts Unknown (seasons 1-8) on Netflix. In parting, I wish to remind readers of the National Suicide Prevention Hotline number: 1(800)273-8255.
Thank you, Anthony Michael Bourdain.