Last week the world lost one of its most unique voices. A voice that not only filled our airwaves, but printed pages, and podiums as well. With a strong and caring personality behind that voice, Anthony Bourdain enriched nearly every life he touched; especially those he encountered face to face, whether they knew it or not. Those of us who could only encounter him through his television shows and writings felt as if we knew him; we all felt like we could get away with calling him Tony. His bearing and voice were monumental, yet he came off as approachable.
One of the highest compliments I’ve ever received was from a frequent reader of this blog describing it as the No Reservations of craft beer. Since Bourdain’s voice often echoed in my head as I wrote many of my previous posts, I highly appreciated the compliment.
Tony’s shows weren’t just about the food, they were about the people, regions, and cultures of the places he visited. He tried to see and then show us how a destination evolved into what it was; the food was just one of the many manifestations of that evolution that he explored. And so I tried to do the same with craft beer. At first it was just a subconscious thing, and later an intentional impulse that drove me. But in the end, Anthony Bourdain was to thank just as much, if not more so than all of the other writers who have inspired me.
His suicide has struck a deep chord with me and my wife. His loss seems pointless, yet maybe he had a good reason, one that none of us know. But it also brings to mind the circumstances in my life. Issues that I live through daily.
If you haven’t read the post about my cancer, then I encourage you to do so, it’ll explain much about what has happened in my recent existence. But it was written before my cancer came back and I fell out of remission.
Officially, I’ve been out of remission since May of last year, starting a new regimen of chemo in September of that year. I have infusions twice a week, every week, for three weeks on and one week off. As it looks now, this will be the routine for the rest of my life unless something changes, or a new treatment is discovered.
The side effects are numerous, ranging from sensitive skin and muscles to poor eyesight to the dreaded nausea. It’s because of this nausea that I rarely have a beer anymore. I’ve gone months without so much as a sip. Needless to say, I don’t have any inclination to visit a craft brewery, much less drink there. Hence the complete lack of posts on this blog.
Adding to this misery was a pulmonary embolism in the late Summer of 2016, followed by the death of my Father and serious injuries sustained by my Mother in a car accident later that October.
Things had slowly been looking up when we got news of Tony’s passing. The Wife had been allowed to work at home, easing her burden by eliminating a commute. I had been given a month off from chemo to let my body get a breather, especially my veins which weren’t cooperating the last couple of infusions. And it had looked like things were looking up for Anthony also with his new relationship combined with the joy of watching his daughter grow up. But we rarely see what a person is truly feeling and thinking.
I’ve never really understood what could drive a person to carry through with suicide. Sure, I’ve thought about it, particularly with my current health situation, but have always come to the conclusion that it’s better to live and see what happens than to die and be over with it all. Although if I was closer to being terminal than I already am, I may change my mind, it would all depend upon how severe my symptoms were.
But for a person who is generally physically healthy to go through with it mystifies me. In my experience, there are very few things worth taking your life for. As they say, time heals all wounds, and believe me, it does for the most part. I’ve experienced some traumatic events in my life and while I seriously contemplated ending it all, life generally turned out better than it had been, even with cancer and all of the pain I continue to endure. Not to mention the distress my friends and loved ones would have suffered had I gone through with it.
Of all the hyperbole that has been bandied about since both Bourdain and Spade took the suicide route, the worst, in my opinion is the statement that taking your own life isn’t selfish. I consider it the most selfish action you could take. While the decisions to end it may involve some other person or persons, It’s still what is happening to you in some manner or form that sways your conviction. But that’s just my take.
After all that’s been said, I will always remember Tony for his seemingly never ending wonderment with people and places, no matter how jaded he professed to be. His almost goofy, nearly hidden embarrassment when he was showing reverence to someone or some ceremony. It was that deep seeded respect for others and their cultures that shone, regardless of how snarky he sometimes was.
While it would be easy to get Anthony overload, we’ll still tune in every now and then to catch a glimpse of A Cook’s Tour, No Reservations, or Parts Unknown just to remember how good Tony was and how “bad” he could be.
featured image derived from a photo from popculture.com