Since his death on June 8, 2018, I’ve thought a lot about Anthony Bourdain and what he meant to me.
I was 15 or 16 when I watched No Reservations for the first time. The show lit a fire in me — I used to sit in front of the TV with a legal pad, writing down notes of all the places he visited. I wanted to do everywhere he did; slurp down steaming bowls of noodles in the streets of Vietnam, explore the jungles of Borneo, eat in tiny restaurants in Paris.
Though Parts Unknown ended last year, I only finished it a few weeks ago. Reeling with shock and denial, I couldn’t accept that the show was over, or that Anthony Bourdain was really gone.
It may sound silly that I was so affected by his death— after all, I didn’t know him personally. Despite that, I felt real grief when he died.
Losing Anthony Bourdain was tragic not only because we lost his tremendous talent, but because he was a force for good. He was a light in an increasingly dark and cynical world, demonstrating what it means to have values like honesty, empathy, and curiosity.
Anthony Bourdain was open-minded in the truest sense. He would sit down to a meal with anyone — whether they were ranchers in West Texas or street vendors in Thailand. He listened, really listened, to people’s stories, never reducing them to stereotypes. He used his considerable wealth and celebrity to fight for causes he believed in, championing Latin American immigrants and the #MeToo movement.
Though he could be pessimistic, I think he truly believed in the goodness of humanity. He felt people were worth listening to and advocating for.
He was one of the good guys.
So thanks, Tony, for being our wise-cracking travel guide. Thank you for the art that you made. We’ll miss you.
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“I wanted adventures. I wanted to go up the Nung river to the heart of darkness in Cambodia. I wanted to ride out into a desert on camelback, sand and dunes in every direction, eat whole roasted lamb with my fingers. I wanted to kick snow off my boots in a Mafia nightclub in Russia. I wanted to play with automatic weapons in Phnom Penh, recapture the past in a small oyster village in France, step into a seedy neon-lit pulqueria in rural Mexico. I wanted to run roadblocks in the middle of the night, blowing past angry militia with a handful of hurled Marlboro packs, experience fear, excitement, wonder. I wanted kicks – the kind of melodramatic thrills and chills I’d yearned for since childhood, the kind of adventure I’d found as a little boy in the pages of my Tintin comic books. I wanted to see the world – and I wanted the world to be just like the movies.”
(Photo from Anthony Bourdain’s Facebook page.)