Last week the world lost a New Jersey treasure
While watching morning TV Friday I saw Anthony Bourdain's face on the screen and it immediately caught my eye. Maybe he sent out a nasty tweet or was the latest high profile celebrity man to be caught up in the #Metoo scandal. When they said he committed suicide, I just couldn't image how that could be true, even in this shock-a-minute world we live in.
He seemed to be experiencing the kind of life that most of us could only dream of living. We talked about it on the air in the first hour of our show Friday, even though we try to stay on the lighter side of what's goin' on, especially on a Friday. Many people like myself were angry at him. Some of us have had to deal with suicide in our families. The scars are deep and long lasting. Very long lasting. I'm still not allowed to discuss how the topic affects me, nor should you care.
We took calls about the tragedy and how it felt to people here in the state where Anthony Bourdain grew up. We were amazed at how many people suicide has touched and how deep and heart-felt the comments were. I loved Bourdain's work, but somehow got the idea that he was a condescending miserable prick from some of his social commentary and political views. A woman called to say she had met him on the streets of New York not long ago and that he was gracious, kind and humble when she approached him for an autograph and photo. That made me feel better about a man I never knew, but whose work I'd always admired.
Friday night I wondered if CNN was still running his shows on demand, in light of his tragic death. Our good fortune, they were. I hadn't watched an episode in a few months after binge-watching all that there were to catch up on. It reminded me how brilliant he was as a storyteller, writer, producer and just flat out amazing communicator. His stuff was always fresh, raw and unexpectedly different. No one put those kind of shows together like he did. It was so different from what everyone else was doing, and he appealed to such a diverse group of audiences like no other TV performer could.
He had amazing talents and depth. He had an amazing job. He also had an 11 year-old daughter. The same daughter he quit smoking for a few years ago. He once said,“I mean, I’ve had more time on this Earth than I probably deserve, and I enjoy cigarettes very much, but now I feel that I owe this child who loves me to at least try to live a little longer, you know?” He also once famously told an interviewer, “Life is complicated. It’s filled with nuance. It’s unsatisfying... If I believe in anything, it is doubt. The root cause of all life’s problems is looking for a simple f***ing answer.”
Not the kind of words you'd expect from a guy who would eventually take his own life. If you've never watched an episode of "Parts Unknown," his latest series on CNN, or his other series, you owe it to yourself to check them out. You'll learn something and you'll be enlightened and entertained. The world lost a real treasure that was truly a Jersey original, the attitude, the bluntness, the raw undeniable talent. He was born in late June 1956, grew up in Leonia, NJ and died in early June 2018 just shy of his 62nd birthday. We'll never know why a man with seemingly so much to live for, left before it was his time. But we have his work to admire and our own lives to appreciate for the precious gifts that they are...each and every one of us.
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