I woke up Friday to terrible news. I have been a big fan of Anthony Bourdain since 2004 or so. He worked with French oyster fisherman for a summer as a teenager. He worked summers in Provincetown as a sous-chef in his twenties. He moved to New York in the 80s, working as sous-chef at The Supper Club, One Fifth Avenue, and finally Les Halles, where he worked his way up to executive chef in 1998. He used his gift of writing to compose both fiction and a journal, the latter of which became his memoir of long days, whiskey and beer lunches, and cocaine nights, Kitchen Confidential (2000). Instant fame followed, with two Emmy-award winning food travel shows (roughly the same show but on two different networks).
Tony was a young man in New York at the right time - right at the end of the classic CBGB / punk era. He saw Blondie and Talking Heads gigs there. He idolized Iggy Pop and David Bowie. He became friends with Iggy. I don't think he ever met Bowie (who quietly moved to New York in 1993). Just a few months ago, Bourdain did retrace Pop and Bowie's footsteps in 1976 Berlin when they made their incredible trio of albums with Brian Eno (and couldn't avoid the heroin and cocaine).
I just watched the Hong Kong episode of Parts Unknown on CNN. He spent half the shoot with Wong Kar-Wai's former cameraman, the always drunken and talented Christopher Doyle. It's a classic Bourdain episode, with him eating and boozing his way through one of his favorite places in the world. Tony's world was Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand, New York, Provincetown and France.
And he took his life where his life began, in France. His best friend, hotel staff and Éric Ripert found his body in his hotel room Friday morning, June 8.
Our world is depressing. And if Tony Bourdain, a man who lived for travel, food, music and sex, lost his will to live, then that doesn't bode well for anyone.
He leaves behind an 11 year-old daughter, Airiane. I think he never wanted kids. He said so before he had one. And now he has hurt someone who didn't deserve this. Just like Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, who shot himself with what was probably a vintage .45 pistol in February 2005 with his teenage son in the next room. What is it with my favorite alpha male writers?