When I first heard that Anthony Bourdain had died, it brought back painful memories of my own experience with suicide, and the devastation it leaves behind. When I googled his wiki-page as I'm writing this blog, I discovered he was 17 days away from turning 62. I'm sure he was cognizant of that fact, but it says something about his condition, when he made his decision. We'll never know, of course, what went through his mind, but it does make us think. I loved him for many reasons, including that he was able to tell a story in eloquent fashion in as few words as possible, something I personally strive for as well. His on-camera persona probably wasn't far-off from what he was like off. It's also ironic, that as I was strolling through the French Quarter, here in New Orleans, I saw one of his quotes on a outside sign, "Your body is not a Temple, it's an amusement park, enjoy the ride."
I came here partly as a tribute to my hero, someone I looked-up to on a regular basis. His connection to other people of all cultures via food, was uncanny. He was sympathetic, with a desire to learn, love, and see the world from someone else's perspective. Hearing about his death hurt. A lot. It still hurts, and will continue to hurt for quite some time. If I sound like him in part, it's because I can hear his voice in my head. My original intention was to come down here for Voodoo Fest, Holloween weekend. I'd been waiting for the line-up to be posted. I'm not sure what would have made me pull the trigger- but it wasn't good enough.. It didn't help that hotel rooms were going for 4x the rate. Outside of Las Vegas, and Amsterdam's Red Light District, I can't think of any other place on Earth that has the same kind of revelry. The craziest thing I saw, was a guy wearing a Drew Bree's jersey standing in an awkward position for hours on-end to earn tip money. This was a position I couldn't duplicate for 5 seconds. I was able to eat my way through town, and stand-outs included: Parkway Tavern for Po-boys, Willie Mae's Scotch House for fried chicken, and Mother's overall home-cooking.
I'd been down here twice before. The first, in 1987, with my friend Mark. LSU was playing Nebraska in the Sugar Bowl that year. I know that, because we were having dinner one night, and one of the players, Brad Ferguson from Nebraska- sat down at our table, and started eating my dinner. The second time, in 1994, my friends Karl, Russ, Sean, Larry, Ken, and I, drove a van down through a snowstorm for Mardi Gras. I filmed a short-video for MTV, and submitted it for their Generation X contest. I didn't win, but I enjoyed the process.
The highlights from summer, are always concerts. Some of the bands I got to see were: Fleet Foxes at Pitchfork Festival, ELO at the Allstate Arena, with Dawes, opening. At Lollapalooza I saw: LL Cool J, Franz Ferdinand, St. Vincent, Artic Monkey's, Greta Van Fleet, Manchester Orchestra, Jack White, The National, and Portugal the Man. I was mesmerized by PTM's originality, creativity, and versatility, and can't wait to see them again.
I would be remiss not mentioning the late Senator John McCain, here in this blog. He too lived a life that others' can use as an example. You could tell he really loved his country, and his actions as Senator showed he tried to do what was best, regardless of party. Godspeed to both of them.