Like millions of people I was shocked to hear of the death of Anthony Bourdain, a man who was iconic in so many ways.
His death rocked me, though not in the way that the death of the rock star Prince blew me away 2 years earlier, but in a way that begged the question why? I knew he had substance abuse issues early in his life but I had no idea that he struggled with depression.
It couldn’t be. Not my guy Tony!
Bourdain lived the life that most of us wanted to live. He was a both a Renaissance man and a down to earth everyday Joe like most of us. Those who know me personally and through social media know that I was a huge fan. Secretly, I wanted to be like Bourdain and was slowly trying to pattern my life after him, or as I now look back perhaps more like his on air persona. In fact, he inspired the term I often use “Citizen of the world”.
As I understood it, he had a working class upbringing, and like a lot of us got plenty high during his youth. Although he showed a flair in the kitchen and later as a writer, he never seemed to view himself as a superstar who moved amongst the upper echelon of his profession.
His globe trotting was done in a way that delved into the flavors of local eateries, common people, and their daily way of life, not the 4-5 star restaurants frequented by most high end celebrity chefs. He visited local taverns, village huts, back alley haunts, bars on the corner, and other hole in the wall places where the food was both strange and phenomenal, and where the libations would easily flow. He even stopped by my home town of Detroit a few years back, a place that he often spoke highly of. He sampled food from places that people like myself would eat everyday…from soul food to coney dogs to the foods of various ethnicities who make up the greater Motown area. That was especially important to us Detroiters as we can be very sensitive to the world’s perception of us.
I tried to emulate that as I traveled over the last half dozen years. I would look for the local low key places when possible to experience “real” food as people of the land experience it.
His suicide shows that not all was golden in Bourdain’s world. I won’t delve into the rumors, stories, or even facts of what had happened in his life. I’ll leave that to the media.
I’ll just remember him as most did, through the rose colored lens of his TV shows, interviews, books, and stories of what seemed a fantastic life. I can best honor him by continuing to try to experience the world as he did…a world he opened up to us all.
Rest in peace Tony.
Don is an IT project manager for a Detroit area auto manufacturer who enjoys spirited discussions on current events. You can follow Don on Twitter @donlang21 and LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/donlangjr