Anthony Bourdain. My heart ached hard, for days. Still does. That night I felt lucky to find joy with friends after moments of tears and remembrance, but the subsequent days I found myself in a very somber place (add to his death the general state of the world). Journaled a bit the day after and mostly lamented how unfair so good and compassionate a person could feel so much pain and despair while there are monsters who mosey along wreaking havoc without consequence.
He seemed eternal. Few celebrity deaths have affected me so. And of course, I'm not alone. I took a bit of a social media break & didn't catch all of the tributes. I really appreciated the below two. Feel better about reading others now that some time has passed (if anyone has recs). And speaking of, feel my heart heavier seeing how fans have arrived in droves to pay their respects at Les Halles.
Eddie Huang Remembers Anthony Bourdain
"If he had a premonition that your reasoning stood on shaky ground or that your anger was misplaced, he intuitively got closer and offered a meal. Food was his equalizer – a seemingly innocuous hard-hat activity that set the table for thoughts and revelations traditionally ignored by mainstream journalism. He'd wind his way into your personal space, taking note of the things you held close, and slowly but surely offered other ways to hold them."
"But the rabbit is gone now. You don't realize how much someone means to you when you're chasing them like a greyhound. They're your inspiration, your role-model, your North Star. I don't think any of us would be the people we are without Tony setting the standard not just as a writer, not just as a host or spirit guide, but as a human that always made it his duty to pick someone up that was down. He single-handedly made us care about each other all over again through food."
Eddie Huang is the fucking man. If you haven't yet read Fresh off the Boat, do.
Tony by David Simon
A mammoth piece worth reading in its entirety.
"A lot of people will tell you that on meeting Tony – despite how extraordinary a being he was – they somehow felt as if they’d known him for years. In part, this was the natural result of having so much of his wit and intellect bleed across our television screens. But just as elemental, I believe, was the man’s almost unlimited capacity for empathy, for feeling the lives and loves and hopes of others. He listened as few listen. And when he spoke, it was often to deliver some precise personal recollection that was an echo or simile on what was still in his ear. He abhorred a non sequitur; for him, human communication — much like his core ideas about food and travel and being – was about finding the sacred middle between people."
I met one of my (now) best friends at the airport on the way to my semester abroad in Florence. One of the first things we expressed to each other & bonded over was our love for Bourdain. My memory fails me often but that moment is still very clear.
I am generally against book signings or any events designed to have fans quickly meet and greet accomplished people they like & admire. It's not the way I prefer to engage with other humans - in fleeting encounters. Based on my experiences, they're forced and awkward (for both parties), and I've almost always been disappointed.
He stopped in Syracuse on a tour the semester after we returned from Italy. Spring 2010. If I could choose to hang a few moments with him, it wouldn't have necessarily been this way but I remember how giddy we all felt after waiting in line and having the opportunity to say hi. Couldn't afford his books at the time, so he graciously signed my ticket. I recommended visiting the Dominican Republic for his show, lol. He was kind. He is missed.