Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Irritated with Bourdain

If you know me, even slightly, you know that for the past several years i have been an extreme Anthony Bourdain fan. It all started with his edgy/low budget 30 minute segments on the food network with A Cook's Tour and went on to his many books, then to his show on the Travel Channel with No Reservations. The way he wrote, spoke, interacted with others and the world in general fascinated me. I'll be the first to admit that it sometimes that my love for his work sometimes bordered on fanaticism. If you asked me to do anything on a Monday night, forget it. My " show" was on. Even if it was a repeat and i had seen it 8 times and also had it on DVD. Monday nights at 10 were sacred. But no more.

So I awaited my no reservations last Monday night, only to find it had been substituted with a TALK SHOW. ANTHONY BOURDAIN NOW HAS A TALK SHOW. I was beyond angry. I began grumbling at the television set in the bedroom and caused the dog to bark and pace around the bed. I will mention, as an aside, that I haven't been happy with the last season of his show anyway. The content has been slow and not entertaining to me-- not the show I have been used to. He doesn't dig as deep for whatever reason. But i still tuned in... out of habit, out of hope that the show was just in a kind of slump. I thought " well, i'll try watching it... it can't be that bad. it's tony bourdain." i was very wrong. See for yourself. The format went as follows:

1. Tony is en route to a restaurant in New York. On the way over, he whines about how he isn't sure if the show was going to be a good idea. He then steps out of his limo with his giant, expensive boots and loudly saunters into the NYC sunset. ( I know those boots make a very loud sound. They have to.)

2. Tony has dinner with people I don't know. ( Except for Ted Allen. I love that guy.)

3. Tony begins the show by talking about whether or not it was morally wrong for him to drop 1900 dollars the prior evening on sushi for two.

okay. if you have to even ponder the answer to that question for longer than a second, you're an idiot. and if you have to ponder it long enough to bring it to the table on your first talk show-- the first topic, even-- makes you appear to be a true, unadulterated jack ass. i mean, the guy starts saying " i mean, i know there's so many people starving in the world"-- and i think to myself, stop right there jerko. there's your answer. no more discussion. there was no need to boast it as a topic of discussion to anyone anyway, let alone air it on national television.

Now i have to say that out of digust, i turned the television off during his moral sushi dilemma. so i didn't watch the rest of the show, which might have been witty, but from the looks of the commercials i doubt it. but even without the show, the fact that his blogs of late have been dry, his shows boring... i mean the one blog from Tuscany talks about how he's at some fancy ass resort feeding his daughter olives. please. I read somewhere a month or so ago that as far as chefs go, he's like on the top 10 list of the wealthiest.

it was like i had just been told santa wasn't real. ( but for the record, i never got a true confirmation that he wasn't real. all my mother would tell me was that the "spirit" of santa claus was real... she still stands by that statement today...)

I'm flabbergasted. Of all people.... You, Bourdain? Really? Next I'll be reading that he's having drinks and exchanging shopping spree stories with the Palins .

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I looked out the windows of our rented chevy malibu for well over 7 hours. And not just the one window in front of me- the one to my left, to my right, behind me- basically any transparent surface that allowed me to see my surroundings outside of the tattered gold rental car. This is a grand deviation from the norm- or my norm, anyway. I have been subject in the past to various bouts of motion sickness and a very short attention span, so normally I'm looking forward or not looking around at all. This time, however, the two things that keep me from enjoying the scenery were superbly overshadowed by the magnificent landscape that is Colorado.

As a kid, my parents always traveled primarly north or south of our stomping grounds in Southern Kentucky. My first trip westward was to Las Vegas a couple of years ago- and although it does offer some nice desert-esque mountains as an almost apologetic backdrop to the glitz and blinking greed from the strip- it pales in comparison to what I saw and experienced this past week.

The Telluride Bluegrass Festival housed more than just music for me, although the music was my primary draw... the enviornment of the festival soon became a foundation for my extreme enjoyment and constant feelings of inspiration and bewilderment. Listening to the various voices and instruments reverberate off those snow covered mountains combined with the energy and genuine kindness of those around me was indeed what I had come there for and what I needed. As we rode up the mountain one afternoon on a gondola ( of which i was a little weary of at first) my friend Patrick- after looking out all the windows available to him- concluded that " coming to a place like this just makes you wonder what the hell is wrong with the rest of the world."

It was then that I realized that those mountains I had been returning to, day after day, providing me with the same awesome backdrop to the music that I love, were becoming symbols of sorts .Life is way too short to be staring out of one bug filled greasy window. You end up only seeing things coming into that particular view. One of the awesome folks we camped next to put it best during a late night campfire at our campsite. " Ya only go round once", he said. " Make sure ya get a good look at everything."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Father's Day ( a nod to the honorable Michael R. Moore)

" the first thing the word home brings to mind is a place, then the next and perhaps most crucial thing thing is people and maybe ultimately a single person." - Frederick Buechner, The Longing for Home

I can see him now( assuming that he reads this), getting up from the rickety old antique shaker chair in the kitchen, dog at his heels, meandering up to the spare bedroom that houses all of his books to find the one that I took the above quote from. " Well hell", i can hear him say, " where is it?" After a couple of minutes he will no doubt continue his quest into the other spare bedroom, ( the dog still in tow) -- the one that still houses some of my books-- but mostly his-- that i, no doubt, have neglected to carry back to their proper place. He will find, after a couple of minutes, that it is not there.

It is, in fact, nestled comfortably on my bookshelf here in Cincinnati, keeping company next to a battered old paperback of Hamlet and an Anthony Bourdain book about life on the road as a chef.

This is one of the many list of things i have inherited from my father-- I'm not the best at returning books. whether they are from the library or on loan from someone who has obviously never lent me a book before- i have a hard time returning them. it's like I'm having to give back the time in which i spent reading it- the time in which i was transported into some other place- and for some reason, that bothers me.

But, as usual, I digress.

I can honestly say that I have the greatest dad. I know about a billion other people say this, but i truly mean it.

Sappy? Of course.

Cliched... well, yes. But what isn't these days?

Forced? absolutely not.

I love my father because he encompasses all that I hope to be one day. He is uncommonly kind. He is gracious and humble. He has a brilliant mind and and a superbly keen sense of others and the world around him. He is the herald of truth to many-- a truth that, to be honest, isn't always easy to swallow-- but his gentle words and loving heart make it easy to bear.

I can't deny that when i was an angst ridden/ rebel of a teenager/dorky college student that we never had our differences. we most surely did. There were some rough waters there... waters that had been present for many, many years before my birth. and i didn't understand it at 15, or 18, or even 20. But i look back now with eyes that can understand that my father did the best he could with what he had. and that's enough for me. he pushed me because he loved me. he wanted the best for me.

he has many accolades to his name and has played many a part on this stage of life... but the one i think that stands out the most for me happened just last year. He wrote a play that was performed at a festival in louisville, and i can honestly say that i have never been so proud. He had just written a piece for my wedding which was beyond words-- but that was about me. This time, it was about him. He was doing what he loves to do- what he is passionate about - and he was sharing with people he truly loved. He was finally living the dream he so often talked about. I distinctly remember watching him watch the play that HE had written come to life- the words written by hand, painstakingly over many years, many revisions, many let downs-- and thinking to myself that this moment, this second was one of the best moments i can ever remember having. That one split millisecond when i looked at him and saw nothing but pure joy and happiness-- well, it's hard to describe in words. I remember watching him answer questions after the show-- and, i know it sounds goofy-- but there was sort of an "orb" around him. There he was, sitting in his hawiaian shirt, looking at my grandfather ( who the play was based on)-- carefully eyeing my mother from time to time-- as the rest of the audience, which included many of his closest friends, looked on, watching, smiling, listening to him speak in that heartfelt, eloquent manner that he has about him, and probably thinking along the same lines as I was. He has been, and always will be my hero. But more importantly, he is my home.

I love you, dad.
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