Friday, June 8, 2018

Parts Unknown

My unoriginal feeling is that if it arrives at your consciousness bearing instruction of some sort, you ought to pay attention to it.

Even if the channel by which it reaches you is a TV channel.

That, of course, is how Anthony Bourdain entered my consciousness.

Now, I won’t presume to know the first thing about the “real” Anthony Bourdain. And my only slightly less pedestrian belief is that probably no one else should either.

I sure don’t mind admitting, though, that whenever, in the last ten years or so, I’ve been channel-surfing and lighted on Bourdain’s performed self—his TV self—I’ve always stopped for a minute or fifteen or sixty to take some instruction.

Instruction in how to comport oneself among strangers. In the value of being smart without being pretentious. In how to age without getting old. In the importance of asking good questions of others, then shutting the fuck up to actually listen to their answers.

Also: in how to be male without being grotesque.

He was, in a way, the Mr. Rogers of my adulthood, reminding me not only to get out and see the neighborhood but to be kind and decent to the neighbors.  Barack Obama's done this for me, too. And Tom Waits. And Jon Stewart. And—though she’s not often on the tube—Patti Smith.

We see now the clue that was always right there in his TV show’s title.

Anyway…it’s sad: Anthony Bourdain, gone too soon.

The good news is he was famous. So his face and voice get to stick around. And keep providing instruction.