Anthony Bourdain was found dead today while filming his ‘Parts Unknown’ series in Paris. He was 61. It’s shocking in the sense that all suicides are shocking, and mental health doesn’t usually announce itself to the world before it takes a life. Bourdain had his demons and was a mental health activist, but this is still a very sad day. About an hour before Bourdain’s death was announced, I was watching the trailer for the new Robin Williams documentary. Williams was two years older than Bourdain when he took his own life, but both men brought a lot of joy and understanding to people while struggling with their own happiness.
I started watching No Reservations around 2011. I had graduated college the year before and was in that bittersweet stage where I thought i had the world by the balls but then life slapped the shit out of me and taught me I didn’t know a thing. It was hard not to gravitate towards Bourdain. He was well spoken, confident and fearless. Above all, he was empathetic. He was empathetic towards people’s cultures, whether it was how they lived or what they ate. He taught his viewers, including me, to experience the world as fully as possible. You never felt like you were watching Anthony Bourdain the actor, or Anthony Bourdain the TV host. He was being himself, and it just so happened a TV camera was there. He was real, genuine, flawed and fucked up. But he cared about people, and he cared about helping those who either couldn’t help themselves or were given little chance to do so.
I watch No Reservations or Parts Unknown before any trip I take, because I feel that Bourdain gives the most authentic representation of whichever culture I’m about to explore. I’m going to South Africa in August, and I can’t wait to sit down with an ice cold beer and watch the master at work. RIP.