Anthony Bourdain is dead.
But you knew that already. Unless you were living under a rock today, you’ve already read the news. He killed himself in his hotel room in France.
With it has come the litany of “if you need help” outpourings and social commentaries about the epidemic of suicide. Those are all fine messages. Likely worth digesting at some point. Years ago, I had a roommate who attempted suicide. When I picked him up from the hospital, alive, he told me not to spend any time rationalizing it. He was depressed, clinically so. And he simply felt so tired that death seemed logical. There was no other calculus.
That’s all the time I’ve spent thinking about suicide. Of all the problems I’ve had in my life, wanting to end it hasn’t been one of them. As for Bourdain, he described himself as a “once unhappy soul” who struggled with addiction. The thing about us once unhappy souls is the closest most of us ever get to being happy, is acknowledging that our unhappiness is simply along for the ride.
Our version of happiness is making peace with the notion that the ride must go on anyway. I can imagine that at some point, that gets too hard. And so it’s time to get off the ride.
Anthony Bourdain got off the ride today. What’s effected me most about it isn’t the societal commentary of suicide. It’s the notion that he won’t be doing what he did before. And for that, we’re all worse off.
There was something about watching Tony Bourdain eat food. He didn’t so much eat it as he absorbed it; culturally. The most basic product of any people is their food. Besides making our own replacements, the only thing we’ve ever needed produce is what we eat. Over thousands of years of sweat and toil and strife and experimentation, the product ended up on a plate in front of Tony on a broken table sitting on a plastic stool in some far off corner of the universe.
Watching his satisfaction, talking with a mouth full of food, motioning emphatically with a fork, was like validating the human purpose.
It was an honest thing in a dishonest world.
Bourdain once said of my home town of Atlantic City, that a place with beautiful bones, can always be beautiful again. What once was great, can always be great again.
What Anthony Bourdain produced was great. Selfishly I’m saddened that I won’t get to see it anymore. And it just didn’t feel right to let that pass without acknowledging it.
RIP Anthony Bourdain.