Anthony Bourdain

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JFK

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Anthony Bourdain

PostSat Jun 09, 2018 12:59 am

He was funny sexy charming smart a good writer and from what I’ve read about him, a good guy. It’s too bad
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Bourdain on WTF with Marc Maron (2011)
Bourdain on Fresh Air with Dave Davies (2016)
Last edited by JFK on Sun Jun 10, 2018 1:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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boblipton

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Re: Anthony Bourdain

PostSat Jun 09, 2018 4:19 am

He also ran some good restaurants.

Bob
If no one listens, then it’s just as well. At least I won’t get caught in any lies I tell.
— Joe Darion
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Mike Gebert

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Re: Anthony Bourdain

PostSat Jun 09, 2018 7:47 am

This may well be more than anyone wants, but I send out a newsletter about Chicago food every Sunday night so you might as well have a preview, since I take a cinematic approach.

* * *

The awful news about Anthony Bourdain's death prompted such a rush of remembrances that I can't even begin to link to all of the ones that said something I felt, too. And of course it challenges me to say something that can claim to be something not said yet. Hard when he has been such a dominant figure in our world for so long—the man whose voice, in both print and television, became a part of all our voices on this subject.

For someone who makes food videos, in an age when there is so much commercial food TV, I watch surprisingly little myself. My family went through a Top Chef phase, but the manufactured challenges and controversies got old; I'll flip on other shows from time to time, but I have a problem with the way they're made, which is, the editor doesn't go on the shoot. That may seem a pretty esoteric concern, but because the editor isn't there during shooting, the cameramen have a standard package of what they need to bring back from each shoot. And so the editor kind of winds up with the same footage for every location... and winds up making the same film, pretty much, about each one. They never feel like a specific place; you could turn on a show and until a clue in the recipe gives it away, have no idea if you're in Portsmouth, Portland or Pueblo.

Bourdain's shows were never like that. They might follow a format—any series will to some extent—but the engagement with the location and the local culture was unique in every place. His show about Lyon and the influence of Paul Bocuse is a million miles from his show about the creepy nightlife of Tokyo, and you certainly couldn't mistake either of them for his Chicago shows. Nobody called him a "documentary filmmaker"—he was a TV producer-host—yet to me he's rooted in one of the earliest impulses of cinema, which was, to show us how other people lived, literally show us their lives and homes and traditions, in a more immediate way than painting or writing had ever done. (It goes back as far as Robert Flaherty's Nanook of the North, though if you really want to see Bourdain before Bourdain, watch the French filmmaker Chris Marker on the creepier parts of Japanese pop culture in his 1983 Sans Soleil.) Bourdain kept a TV food and travel show as honest and clear-eyed as any classic documentary filmmaker's work, a pretty unique achievement in that mostly low-aiming, fakey genre.

The reason he could do that is because Bourdain had such a powerful internal sense of the fact that food is culture—the first and easiest gateway into anybody else's world. Show me how you sustain yourself three times a day, and I begin to understand who you are. The first thing I do when I plan a trip somewhere new is see if he did a show about it. I'm not looking for places to eat yet; I just know that I'll get the feel of what it's really like there, open-minded and unvarnished, from him.

Anyone whose influence is so big will not have it be wholly positive. Bourdain was an effective "MeToo" voice in the industry, but he also recognized that he helped give us much of the chef-bro bad boy attitude that made dining a macho subculture. His snark and beat cop cynicism about what really happens in kitchens gave way on his shows to a warmer, more generous appreciation of world food cultures, but many only adopted the first part, the result being that we get a lot of snarky writing about big brands and food excess, which generously credits itself with being edgy and real. To me the challenge in Bourdain's work is ultimately not about being as funny as he was, or as gonzo and edgy as he could be, not about putting your own name in lights, but about being the guy who goes back in the kitchen and talks to the old woman stirring the pot and asks her about her food. The true dare Bourdain offers is not to wanna-be the star, but to self-effacingly be the writer who made connections in kitchens around the world.

I only met him once, briefly during a photo op on a tour gig sponsored by a scotch brand, but he spoke as he often did about how lucky he felt he was stumbling into celebrity after so many years doing hard labor (and hard drugs) in kitchens. In retrospect maybe the person he was trying to convince the most was himself, which is sad; and the dream life (travel! celebrity!) may also have been a source of his alienation. All the same, he set forth an ideal of what food journalism could be that will remain worth following, even if he himself chose to step off of it.
“I'm in favor of plagiarism. If we are to create a new Renaissance, the government should encourage plagiarism. When convinced that someone is a true plagiarist, we should immediately award them the Legion of Honor.” —Jean Renoir
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boblipton

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Re: Anthony Bourdain

PostSat Jun 09, 2018 9:51 am

Mike Gebert wrote:This may well be more than anyone wants, but I send out a newsletter about Chicago food every Sunday night so you might as well have a preview, since I take a cinematic approach.

* * *

The awful news about Anthony Bourdain's death prompted such a rush of remembrances that I can't even begin to link to all of the ones that said something I felt, too. And of course it challenges me to say something that can claim to be something not said yet. Hard when he has been such a dominant figure in our world for so long—the man whose voice, in both print and television, became a part of all our voices on this subject.

For someone who makes food videos, in an age when there is so much commercial food TV, I watch surprisingly little myself. My family went through a Top Chef phase, but the manufactured challenges and controversies got old; I'll flip on other shows from time to time, but I have a problem with the way they're made, which is, the editor doesn't go on the shoot. That may seem a pretty esoteric concern, but because the editor isn't there during shooting, the cameramen have a standard package of what they need to bring back from each shoot. And so the editor kind of winds up with the same footage for every location... and winds up making the same film, pretty much, about each one. They never feel like a specific place; you could turn on a show and until a clue in the recipe gives it away, have no idea if you're in Portsmouth, Portland or Pueblo.

Bourdain's shows were never like that. They might follow a format—any series will to some extent—but the engagement with the location and the local culture was unique in every place. His show about Lyon and the influence of Paul Bocuse is a million miles from his show about the creepy nightlife of Tokyo, and you certainly couldn't mistake either of them for his Chicago shows. Nobody called him a "documentary filmmaker"—he was a TV producer-host—yet to me he's rooted in one of the earliest impulses of cinema, which was, to show us how other people lived, literally show us their lives and homes and traditions, in a more immediate way than painting or writing had ever done. (It goes back as far as Robert Flaherty's Nanook of the North, though if you really want to see Bourdain before Bourdain, watch the French filmmaker Chris Marker on the creepier parts of Japanese pop culture in his 1983 Sans Soleil.) Bourdain kept a TV food and travel show as honest and clear-eyed as any classic documentary filmmaker's work, a pretty unique achievement in that mostly low-aiming, fakey genre.

The reason he could do that is because Bourdain had such a powerful internal sense of the fact that food is culture—the first and easiest gateway into anybody else's world. Show me how you sustain yourself three times a day, and I begin to understand who you are. The first thing I do when I plan a trip somewhere new is see if he did a show about it. I'm not looking for places to eat yet; I just know that I'll get the feel of what it's really like there, open-minded and unvarnished, from him.

Anyone whose influence is so big will not have it be wholly positive. Bourdain was an effective "MeToo" voice in the industry, but he also recognized that he helped give us much of the chef-bro bad boy attitude that made dining a macho subculture. His snark and beat cop cynicism about what really happens in kitchens gave way on his shows to a warmer, more generous appreciation of world food cultures, but many only adopted the first part, the result being that we get a lot of snarky writing about big brands and food excess, which generously credits itself with being edgy and real. To me the challenge in Bourdain's work is ultimately not about being as funny as he was, or as gonzo and edgy as he could be, not about putting your own name in lights, but about being the guy who goes back in the kitchen and talks to the old woman stirring the pot and asks her about her food. The true dare Bourdain offers is not to wanna-be the star, but to self-effacingly be the writer who made connections in kitchens around the world.

I only met him once, briefly during a photo op on a tour gig sponsored by a scotch brand, but he spoke as he often did about how lucky he felt he was stumbling into celebrity after so many years doing hard labor (and hard drugs) in kitchens. In retrospect maybe the person he was trying to convince the most was himself, which is sad; and the dream life (travel! celebrity!) may also have been a source of his alienation. All the same, he set forth an ideal of what food journalism could be that will remain worth following, even if he himself chose to step off of it.



Having only a passing relationship with Mr. Bourdain, Mike has hit on the issue that our generation — Baby Boomers, Woodstock, Peace Love, Man Generation got wrong. We dismantled a lot of the academic program and society because it wasn’t relevant. At the time I was just entering my teens and thought maybe it wasn’t relevant, but lots of it was interesting, even if I couldn’t tell you why. Maybe, I thought, someday I could.

Well, it’s half a century later, and I’ve figured it out along the way. It’s because it’s relevant. It’s all relevant, all linked, part of the human condition, part of the way people live. If Bourdain stepped outside the narrow confines of the studio kitchen and showed you a little of the society where the food was eaten, then he showed you a couple of the connecting pieces in the multi-billion piece jigsaw of human history I’ve been trying to solve all my life. I’ll never finish the puzzle, but it’s fun to work on.

Bob
If no one listens, then it’s just as well. At least I won’t get caught in any lies I tell.
— Joe Darion
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Daniel Eagan

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Re: Anthony Bourdain

PostSat Jun 09, 2018 3:39 pm

The last time I interviewed him, he compared TV food shows to porn.

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