Bourdain Revealed Last Wishes in Indonesia

October 9, 2018

By Karen

Anthony Bourdain probably filmed Parts Unknown season 12 Indonesia in April 2018, about the time his $200,000 payment went to Jimmy Bennett in hopes of killing Bennett’s claim that Tony’s then-girlfriend, Asia Argento, had sexually assaulted Bennett as a teenager.

Bourdain filmed one scene at a Bali resort surrounded by sunbathing and swimming tourists while he braved the heat in jeans, sipping an umbrella drink, mocking Wagyu beef sliders, and seeming to hate every minute.

Then a one-eyed man named Lawrence ferried Bourdain to a former penal island, where they shared an enormous lobster and talked about death. Tony says, “I’ve thought about, as one does, how do I want to go?”

Lawrence suggests, “You want them all to cry, don’t you?”

Tony answers…

“No. Leave me in the jungle. I don’t want a party. ‘Reported dead.’ You know, what actually happens to my physical remains is of zero interest to me unless it can provide entertainment value. Throw me into a wood chipper and spray me into Harrods [London department store] at the middle of the rush hour. That would be pretty epic. I wouldn’t mind being remembered in that way.”

Two months later, Bourdain didn’t get his “epic” ending; he was cremated in France on June 13 and his ashes flown home to his brother Chris on June 15, ten days before what would have been Tony’s 62nd birthday.

But the rest of what he said is pretty spot-on. We know he killed himself by hanging with some alcohol in his system, but no suspicious drugs. Period.

Esquire just presented as fact that Tony’s family held a small private ceremony, but that statement is only based on a June 22 New York Times article that says…

“The family will likely have a small, private ceremony of some kind, said Gladys Bourdain, his mother. ‘He would want as little fuss as possible,’” she said.”

So, we still don’t know for sure. Many restaurants have been hosting special dinners in Bourdain’s memory, as on October 5 at Sardine in Madison, Wisconsin. It was ostensibly to honor Jacques Pepin, but when Pepin and his daughter Claudine arrived, they learned it was also a suicide prevention fundraiser.

Barring some new revelations in a CNN documentary and a biography scheduled for 2019 release, this could well be the end of the story. Except…

Tony’s ex-girlfriend, Asia Argento, used Trump’s well-known tactic of spreading lies by claiming “people are saying” to tearfully tell the Daily Mail details of a far-fetched tale about Tony’s death that she claims Rain Dove told her.

But, of course, Asia doesn’t believe it. Anything to paint herself as the victim.

As we’re watching Parts Unknown’s final episodes, it becomes clear Bourdain was increasingly preoccupied with death. Although Indonesia footage was edited posthumously with the benefit of hindsight, it includes THE most grisly scene I’ve ever seen on ANY Bourdain series, bar none. And I’m not talking about the whole pig roasting on a spit.

It’s a human funeral, beginning with a close-up of the deceased’s face as the body is being prepared for final rites. The public cremation includes the sight of the now-skinless, hairless blackening skull, fingers, joints and bones. Finally, the fragments and ashes are gathered into a cloth, several people wade into the nearby surf, and the remains are dumped into the water.

The cremation was supposed to be the mourners’ happy phase of the ceremony, and an off-screen voice explains…

“Time is circular. Death is but the beginning of another journey.”

One has to wonder if Tony believed that, and if those words came to mind in that hotel room in France, making what he was about to do seem not such a bad thing.

The episode ends with a bit of recycled voiceover (from Greece?), where Bourdain says…

“All stories should end on a beach. All the good ones do, anyway. Why should this one be any different?”

I wonder if it’s a clue for us that his family scattered his ashes in the Atlantic. I hope so. It seems fitting, considering how much time he spent living near it and flying over it.

PS: I started Bourdain’s last graphic novel, Hungry Ghosts, today. Stay tuned for a review. (So far, I’m impressed by its high-quality hardcover production for the amazing low price of $11.99.)

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Don’t Let the Babble Bury Kavanaugh’s Many Flaws

October 1, 2018

By Karen

I watched all of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s and Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony before the Senate Judicial Committee last week. Republicans seem thrilled to limit their vetting to a possibly unprovable he-said-she-said scenario of attempted rape.

Matt Damon dropped by SNL for a parody of the Kavanaugh hearing. It’s hilarious but terrifying because it’s only a mild exaggeration of what happened that day.

Brett Kavanaugh has displayed so much more about his unfitness for the Supreme Court that his underage drinking and rape aspirations in high school are the least of it. While writing this, I discovered another Yale classmate, Chad Ludington, has just joined the growing list speaking out about Kavanaugh because they know firsthand that he’s lying about his behavior. Here are some other red flags we must not forget…

Sense of Entitlement – Kavanaugh talks about the Supreme Court job as if it’s owed to him. (Tough shit, Merrick Garland.) Trump’s so desperate for a justice who believes the president is above the law, you have to wonder how much smoke he’s been blowing up Kavanaugh’s ass.

Belligerence – Demanding Senator Amy Klobuchar tell him her drinking habits was so obnoxious, someone must have persuaded him during a break to apologize, even though he was only using Trump’s deflection technique. Kavanaugh also behaved like a peevish brat in refusing to answer Senator Dick Durbin’s question about whether he’d want an FBI investigation to clear his name. I could write all day about Kavanaugh’s displays of arrogance and disrespect to the Democratic side of the committee.

Partisanship – He actually managed to drag the Clintons into his opening statement, as if they have anything to do with anything. Kavanaugh’s impatient, almost sneering contempt for Democratic questioning conveyed that he will be anything but impartial if he manages to get through this. He all but said to them, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”

Alcoholism? – From his flushed face and constant water-gulping, it appeared Kavanaugh may have been drinking earlier that day. And what other SCOTUS nominee has spent so much time talking about beer? Heavy drinking seemed to be his part-time job for many years, so how do we know he’s doing doing it now?

Lying – Following another Trump example, he lied about easily verified things, such as the meaning of boofing and a Devil’s Triangle, and that he could drink legally in high school (he was only 17). Other examples are too numerous to list here.

Gambling? – Since the latest hearing was about attempted rape, there was no mention of the $200,000 credit card debt Kavanaugh racked up mainly on baseball tickets but managed to quickly pay off before his federal judgeship although he didn’t have that much money in the bank. Was he betting on games?

Financially Compromised?Kavanaugh’s funding sources are almost as murky as Trump’s. His ($220,600) and his wife’s ($66,000) salaries seem a tight fit for their lifestyle. They bought a $1.2 million house Kavanaugh described as a “fixer-upper” that’s expensive to maintain. They joined a country club with a $92,000 entry fee and $9,000 annual dues. They have two daughters attending a $10,580-a-year-per-child private school. He seems to be getting extra cash somewhere, but it’s not revealed in his financial disclosures.

Contempt for Women – Four women have shared stories of Kavanaugh being an aggressor or of doing nothing while his friends gang-raped girls. He’s anti-abortion and considered most likely to overturn Roe v. Wade. He seems to see himself as a privileged white master of the universe, which doesn’t bode well for the rest of us.

In addition to whatever the FBI finds, I think we’ve seen and heard enough about Brett Kavanaugh to know he’s the last person this country needs on the Supreme Court. May the FBI interview enough people this week and corroborate descriptions of this despicable man to not only keep him off SCOTUS, but to kick him off the bench altogether.


Outraged at Balvenie’s Emmy Tribute to Bourdain? Get Over It.

September 19, 2018

By Karen

In February 2015, Anthony Bourdain partnered with The Balvenie, makers of handcrafted single malt Scotch whisky, to host a series of short videos called Raw Craft. It was notable because Bourdain always said how much he loathed celebrity endorsements. But in this situation, PRNNewswire quoted Bourdain changing his tune…

“For me, there is deep satisfaction in seeing people, with a particular skill set and a real passion, produce a beautiful thing which is why I’m excited to be a part of these programs in partnership with The Balvenie. There is no doubt for me, that if you can have it, you want the stuff where people have taken their time, paid attention to and personally care about how it was created. It is very important to me that these kinds of crafts continue into the future and we value artisans who make the decision to choose quality over quantity.”

This statement is not inconsistent with the philosophy Bourdain always espoused. He went on to film a series of 14 videos for Balvenie, giving exposure to a variety of obscure but dedicated small business owners.

After the partnership began, Bourdain made waves in the whisky world by sacrilegiously saying he preferred his whisky on the rocks, proving he was no brainless shill for Big Booze.

During the Emmys (and I swear on a bible I saw this spot BEFORE the “In Memoriam” segment, not after — it must have replayed but I fast-forwarded through it), Balvenie ran a 30-second tribute to Bourdain. Twitter had a hissy. Here’s the spot so you can judge its tastefulness for yourselves…

Maybe Trump and the GOP have destroyed my sense of outrage, but I found nothing wrong with this. It was a tribute to Bourdain’s commitment to quality, and a thanks. Basically, they showed him explaining how he chose to live and work.

(Well, until 2016, when he met a certain Italian actress. That’s another story.)

I believe fans who think this was Balvenie’s cynical attempt to cash in on their Bourdain connection one last time got the motivation wrong. I saw a sincere attempt to honor a man who, in his own way, was every bit the craftsman they consider themselves to be.

Maybe I’m being played by Balvenie, but next time I visit a liquor store, I’ll probably buy a bottle (if I can afford it) just for the experience of trying something Tony believed in.

And call me a sucker but, shortly after Tony died, my car swerved into the drive-through of Popeye’s Chicken because I suddenly craved his secret guilty pleasure.

We can reread his books and rewatch his shows, but I think sharing the foods and drinks he enjoyed would probably please him most.


Anthony Bourdain’s Final Graphic Novel Available Oct. 2

September 13, 2018

By Karen

Anthony Bourdain left behind a stash of polished writing for fans to discover and savor after his death on June 8. Anthony Bourdain’s Hungry Ghosts represents his final foray into the graphic novel genre with food-centric horror stories. The 128-page full-color hardcover is being released under the Berger Books imprint of Dark Horse Comics in Portland, Oregon, on October 2, retailing for $13.49.

The book is a compilation of the four-story miniseries by the same name that Bourdain had published previously (which I haven’t read), as well as five new stories.

The posthumous publication, illustrated by various artists, will include a tribute written by his collaborator Joel Rose, a full-page portrait of Tony, and five new recipes.

Comic books were Bourdain’s first love, so it will be bittersweet to add this volume to the shelf beside his two Get Jiro! graphic novels.

Anthony Bourdain’s Hungry Ghosts is available for pre-order from Amazon.com. And don’t forget, CNN begins airing the 12th and final season of Parts Unknown on Sunday, September 23.


Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown Wins Six Emmys

September 10, 2018

By Karen

FINALLY, after eight previous nominations (as tallied by Variety), Anthony Bourdain posthumously won the Emmy for Outstanding Writing. Ironically, it was for the Southern Italy episode of Parts Unknown, which CNN has pulled from streaming and reruns because it features Tony hanging out with his former girlfriend, Asia Argento.

Tony’s longtime Zero Point Zero producer Lydia Tenaglia accepted the award on his behalf.

If Tony hadn’t killed himself on June 8, several days after seeing photos of Argento spending the weekend in Rome with French journalist Hugo Clement, Tony and Argento might have appeared on the red carpet again together. Tony might have even pulled her up on stage with him to accept the award for the episode they shared.

In Argento’s fondest fantasies, Tony would have turned over the mic to her so she could launch into what we now know would be a totally hypocritical diatribe against Harvey Weinstein the sexual predator, as she did at Cannes, with the man bankrolling her own statutory rape coverup standing behind her.

In reality, Argento’s unemployed and trying to dodge accusations that she has sex with underage boys.

Back to the awards, here’s the run-down of all the Emmys the Parts Unknown crew took home last night, and who they beat…

Outstanding Writing for a Nonfiction Program

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown • Southern Italy • CNN
  • The Defiant Ones • Episode 1 • HBO
  • Icarus • Netflix
  • Jane • National Geographic
  • Mister Rogers: It’s You I Like • PBS
  • The Vietnam War • Episode 8: The History Of The World (April 1969-May 1970) • PBS

Outstanding Informational Series or Special

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown • CNN
  • Leah Remini: Scientology And The Aftermath • A&E
  • My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman • Netflix
  • StarTalk With Neil deGrasse Tyson • National Geographic
  • Vice • HBO

Outstanding Picture Editing for a Nonfiction Program

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown • Lagos • CNN
  • The Defiant Ones • Episode 3 • HBO
  • Jane • National Geographic
  • Wild Wild Country • Part 3 • Netflix
  • The Zen Diaries Of Garry Shandling • HBO

Outstanding Sound Editing for a Nonfiction Program (Single or Multi-Camera)

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown • Seattle
  • Blue Planet II • Coral Reefs • BBC America
  • The Defiant Ones • Episode 1 • HBO
  • Jane • National Geographic
  • The Vietnam War • Episode 6: Things Fall Apart (January 1968-July 1968) • PBS
  • Wild Wild Country • Part 1 • Netflix

Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Nonfiction Program (Single or Multi-Camera)

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown • Lagos
  • The Defiant Ones • Episode 1 • HBO
  • Jane • National Geographic
  • The Vietnam War • Episode 6: Things Fall Apart (January 1968-July 1968) • PBS
  • Wild Wild Country • Part 1 • Netflix

Outstanding Short Form Nonfiction or Reality Series

  • Anthony Bourdain: Explore Parts Unknown • CNN (cnn.com)
  • The Americans: The Final Season • FX Networks
  • The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story: America’s Obsessions • FX Networks
  • Jay Leno’s Garage • NBC (nbc.com)
  • Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen • Bravo (bravotv.com)

The only category they didn’t win was Outstanding Cinematography for a Nonfiction Program for the Lagos episode.

Variety spoke backstage to Explore Parts Unknown executive producer Nathan Thornburgh and reported him saying that public support has meant a lot to those who worked with Bourdain…

“‘The one thing about this loss is it’s not ours alone, like everybody knew that guy,’ Thornburgh said. ‘Everybody had a selfie with him, but more importantly I think everyone felt like he had spoken to them over the years and that’s helped a lot, to feel like we’re not alone.’”

The 12th and final season of Parts Unknown begins September 23. Here’s the trailer…


Argento Tries Patching Her Crumbling World with Lies

September 5, 2018

By Karen

From a page out of Donald Tump’s playbook, Asia Argento’s latest strategy is, “If at first you don’t succeed, lie, lie again — and hire a new lawyer.”

Page Six has reported that Argento is reneging on her deal with Jimmy Bennett to send him $180,000 in monthly $10,000 installments until she pays off the $380,000 settlement to which Anthony Bourdain contributed $200,000 back in April.

The story states that Bennett has so far received, $250,000, so the math implies he got checks for May, June, July, August and September.

Page Six isn’t a paragon of journalistic integrity, but I would guess that, without access to Bourdain’s wallet, Argento is strapped for cash.

(BTW, media reports are now jumbling all these numbers. I’m sticking to figures provided by The New York Times in August; they received and authenticated the legal documents.)

Argento has been dropped from X Factor Italy, her only steady employment I’m aware of. She will appear only in initial episodes already filmed.

Also, CNN has pulled from streaming all episodes of Parts Unknown Argento was involved in: Rome, Southern Italy and Hong Kong. She was shooting in Florence with Bourdain two weeks before his death, but that one’s apparently toast because it’s not in the seven-episode “Final Season” CNN will air this fall.

Returning to Page Six, one bit they nailed is that Argento has replaced her lawyer Carrie Golding with Mark Jay Heller, a celebrity ambulance-chaser who has represented Lindsey Lohan (whatever happened to her?) and many others.

Heller wrote a statement about his newest client that’s featured on his homepage. (Don’t miss the video at the top showcasing what a sleaze he is.) The title: “Asia Argento Launches Phase Two of the #MeToo Movement.”

It’s hilarious because Argento has been persona non grata with #MeToo since her romp with 17-year-old Jimmy Bennett came out in the NYT.

But what exactly is “Phase Two”? Heller explains…

“Phase Two of the #metoo movement dictates that the voice of a victim, even one with a history that may be in question, should be heard and she is hopeful that in the Court of Public Opinion it will ultimately be determined that Asia never initiated an inappropriate sexual contact with a minor, but rather she was attached by Bennett and might even be suffering the fallback of a smear campaign by those already accused who may have a vested interest in their accusers being denied credibility.”

Heller includes a little “smear campaign” of his own on Jimmy Bennett by mentioning that in 2014 (after Argento assaulted Bennett) he was allegedly charged by the LAPD with “unlawful sex with a minor,” “stalking,” “child pornography” and “child exploitation.” Heller also gratuitously mentions Bennett’s lawsuit against his parents for allegedly stealing his earnings.

Argento’s schtick now is that she was unequivocally raped by Bennett. Forget that spider-poised-to-strike selfie of breathless anticipation she posted on Instagram before he arrived for their rendezvous.

To make matters even more confusing, Rain Dove, the significant other of Rose McGowan (Happy 45th Birthday, Rose! Your suddenly gray stubble-do looks fab on you!), has been feuding with Argento on Twitter today.

The Daily Mail has published texts of Rain and Argento discussing Bourdain’s death not being suicide, and Argento drops the bomb, “there was a witness.” But it’s unclear if she’s talking about Bourdain’s death or about Rain not sharing with Argento related documents s/he supposedly has (how?).

If you’re drinking anything right now, please swallow before reading this last paragraph of Heller’s statement about Argento…

“When the true facts are clarified, we know Asia will return to her International prominence as an award winning and acclaimed Actress, musician and Director.”

The “true fact” we know about Asia Argento is that she will say or do anything to get what she wants, and then betray whoever it takes to cover her misdeeds.

Again, straight from Trump’s playbook.


Asia Argento’s Claim of Talent: Deceitful Above All Things

August 27, 2018

By Karen

Still trying to wrap my head around Asia Argento’s alleged statutory rape of Jimmy Bennett in 2013, and Anthony Bourdain’s alleged participation in the cover-up earlier this year, I just watched the movie that spawned the whole mess. In 2004, Argento cast Bennett in The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things when he was 7 years old. It’s available for free on Amazon Prime.

Bennett plays young Jeremiah, and Argento plays Sarah, his drug-addicted prostitute mother. Argento also received script credit and directed the film, set in West Virginia.

How Argento got the rights to this “JT Leroy” story by sleeping with the woman who masqueraded as Leroy, and then cheated on Leroy to “his” face by sleeping with a man is a story in itself. Basically, it’s another example of Argento’s now well-recognized schtick of using people for her own ends before shitting all over them.

Back to the movie. Here’s the trailer (Bennett is the youngest boy)…

In badly fitting blonde wigs, Argento’s hit-or-miss Southern accent is the extent of her acting. The rest is pretty much her typical behavior as she’s posted it on Instagram for years.

In a nutshell, the story celebrates child abuse in myriad forms. Sarah makes Jeremiah her captive audience to watch her smoke, drink, do drugs, and have sex with strangers whenever he isn’t being tortured.

The photography includes lots of shots of Argento on all fours poking her barely-clad ass at the camera as if she considers it her best feature.

Jimmy Bennett looks scared, sad and finally numb throughout his portion of the film. Fortunately, his gig is done and he’s replaced by two older twins before a man rapes the Jeremiah character.

The rape scene may be the film’s most tasteful bit, with Argento stepping in to play Jeremiah’s fantasy that he’s Sarah. What, you didn’t think for a moment Argento would have a sex scene in her movie without her, did you?

Afterward, the only indication of “how it went” is Jeremiah trying to wash blood from stained frilly panties.

In one climactic scene, Sarah makes this speech to Jeremiah. It’s easy to imagine Asia spitting these words at Tony during one of their arguments…

“You think I need you? You’ve done nothing but ruin everything. Always. I sacrificed so much for you, you shitty bastard. I could have been something. I had to give it all up for you. By myself I’ve always landed on my feet. Never forget that.”

Making the film gave Argento an opportunity, in the name of art, to experiment with destroying a child. Four years later, in 2008, she gave birth to her son, Nicola. In 2013, before Nicola was 5, Argento allegedly had sex with Jimmy, the boy she knew best when he was only 7.

We’re left with 97 minutes of film showing how coarse, cruel and slutty Argento can be. It boggles the mind to think Anthony Bourdain ever watched it and found it impressive work.

Jimmy Bennett’s upbringing must have been nightmarish for his parents to allow his participation in this travesty, and then to allow him to keep in touch with the woman responsible.

BONUSES: Here’s a 2006 review still available online by Jeremy C. Fox at Pajiba that discusses the Leroy book and gives the movie and Argento much more credit than I do, but he’s ultimately disappointed.

Snippets of dozens of professional reviews are at Rotten Tomatoes, but I found most full versions no longer accessible.

Oops! Just found another one from 2006 by Ty Burr at The Boston Globe. Enjoy — or puke!


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