no reservations

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Oh, Anthony Bourdain. Foul-mouthed, snarky, cigarette-loving, possibly alcoholic Tony Bourdain. I find him so compelling. Why? A huge number of people really seem to hate him.

Might be his writing. Often narration only serves the purpose of telling back story, making you feel pandered to, like you can’t really understand everything that’s going on without someone spelling it out for you. Sometimes it is truly distracting from the visual. Tony’s narration is interesting, accessible yet still quite literary, and well-crafted, adding to without overwhelming the visual story line. Good writing is sexy, and No Reservations is a sexy show.

Might be his unapologetic commitment to vice. Smoking, imagedrinking, cursing, wildly inappropriate sexual comments – he doesn’t make excuses nor does he pretend. Just when you start to think that this show is a great show that your kids will enjoy, he makes an Estelle Getty comment that you just can’t erase from your mind. I’d like to, but still. can’t. erase. it.

Might be his style. The silver fox hair, the earring, the clothes which are mostly stylish, yet not too trendy. I would sum it up as ‘masculine.’ (a feat, in my opinion, as most ‘fashion’ for the opposite gender is entirely too feminine.  See: capri pants for men.) Helping his style is his wife. Love her. She’s pretty.

Might be the food. The delicious, delicious food. The commitment to meat. The mocking of vegetarians. I feel like I’ve eaten a whole meal after every show. Except for the food of Namibia. No one should eat a warthog’s anus. Even if that’s how people have lived for hundreds of years. I’m going to go out on a politically incorrect limb and just call that out as wrong. So wrong.

But really it is the show itself. The show just comes across as alive. There is almost never a traditional tourist spot, ancient ruins, or #1 thing to do while in Rome stuff - it’s just a search for some truly authentic experiences. (Read: any experience involving large quantities of alcohol.) His Emmy-winning Beirut episode is a must see. It’s brilliant in a political, social, world-view kind of way. Most of the shows end up like that. You start out thinking you’re watching a food/travel show and end up with a perspective on the world that you didn’t expect. Tony is respectful without being ingratiating or patronizing. He doesn’t mince words when something is just plain weird or gross, but he usually waits so as not to offend his hosts. I know a lot of people can’t stand him. I just disagree. While he should be the very picture of an obnoxious American (see the vice paragraph), I think he brings the best of America to the world. The humility to learn, the graciousness of accepting hospitality, the communal aspect of sharing this wide world together.

In sum, I am poor. I am dependent on the Travel Channel for my world experiences. I like Anthony Bourdain.

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