What Anthony Bourdain meant to me.

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”.

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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.

Anthony Bourdain loved Detroit, called it beautiful and magnificent

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.

The troubling signs leading up to Anthony Bourdain’s suicide

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.

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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

7 thoughts on “What Anthony Bourdain meant to me.

  1. Love the article Don. We never know what someone is dealing with. I joke with people thst my excessive shopping is therapy. However, i know its just the transaction. Im an empty nester, so it gets me out of the house (that and wirking out). We all need something, its sad we sometimes give up on finding it.

  2. Don, I appreciate your views on Tony and his impact on so many people. It also makes me sad when I reflect on the third celebrity suicide in a week. I am reminded of the difficulty of life but also the “old” folks who spoke of Faith and Trust in God.

  3. Wonderful tribute, Don. I especially like the perspective as one from Detroit. I remember that episode and watched it thinking how fascinating a city it is.

  4. What a wonderful tribute to Anthony Bourdain. I would watch periodically with my cousin who absolutely loved his show. I found the episodes I saw to be very interesting and quite daring.

    His death and Kate Spade’s most recent death, has once again shown that we can create an image to survive and hide our inner troubles. Over the years, I became a firm believer in advising people to seek help to deal with their life’s issues. My form of therapy is writing poetry and it has helped me throughout the years. Mental health is serious.

  5. Wow! Very good read!! He was an inspiration encouraging us all to go out an fearlessly explore the world. I was watching him on last night when he was in Japan learning from the locals. One just never know what one is going through. Those demons are so very real.. The enemies that lives inside our heads!

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