Virginia Always Moves Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

February 12, 2019

By Karen

As of today, Virginia still has its Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, as well as (in order of succession) our lieutenant governor and attorney general. Here’s an update:

Governor Ralph Northam (white) admitted and apologized for, then denied, his presence in a photo on his medical school yearbook page of a man in blackface with another man in KKK robes. But he did cop to wearing blackface once to moonwalk like Michael Jackson. Then in misguidedly striving for pinpoint historical accuracy, Northam referred to slaves as “indentured servants” during an interview with Gayle King on CBS, which she immediately corrected.

Here’s more video of Northam and Gayle King. He comes across to me more as a country boy than a slick, lying politician, while Gayle seems to be fishing for reasons to be offended.

Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax (black) was accused of sexual assault in 2004 during a hotel room tryst gone bad at the Democratic Convention in Boston. Then a former college classmate piled on and accused him of raping her in 2000 at Duke. (NOTE: This same woman also accused of rape a student athlete who went on to play for the NBA).

Fairfax acknowledges both incidents happened, but denies they were nonconsensual. The General Assembly wants to investigate the charges before they try to impeach him.

Attorney General Mark Herring (white) out of the blue announced he’d worn blackface while impersonating a rapper nearly 40 years ago in college and has felt guilty about it for years – although it didn’t stop him from immediately calling for Northam to resign for the same offense. WTF?

As the digging continued, also uncovered was that Republican General Assembly Majority Leader Tom Norment (white) helped edit his Virginia Military Institute yearbook, which contained lots of racist photos and text he disavows any responsibility for.

The current session of the General Assembly passed a joint House and Senate resolution acknowledging “with profound regret the existence and acceptance of” – wait for it – LYNCHING. They would like to see reconciliation among all Virginians. Better late than never.

Are you detecting a pattern here?

Out of idle curiosity, I checked to see if my alma mater, the University of Richmond, was racist back in the day. I was forcibly enrolled my freshman year without applying after my father’s job caused a family transfer here from Massachusetts in 1972. I only have the 1973 yearbook because I dropped out in disgust in 1974.

(NOTE: I returned in 1979 to UR’s night school, earned a bachelor’s degree, and have since taught some business writing classes there, so it had a happy ending.)

First, let me set the scene: The University of Richmond is a private college in the city of Richmond. The oldest census I could find was from 2000, when the racial makeup of the city was 57.2% African American, 38.3% white, and the rest other races. Richmond wasn’t any whiter back in 1972.

UR’s undergraduate schools were segregated by gender, with women’s and men’s colleges. There were also night, law and business schools.

In scouring the 294-page yearbook, I found exactly six black students and one Asian. The only dicey photo was of a fraternity I won’t name posing with a Confederate flag. I’ve also blurred the faces in case anybody’s famous now…

In case you’re wondering, here’s me as a freshman. Don’t I look delighted to find myself at a segregated Southern school?

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that the 1980 UR yearbook contained a photo of a black man standing on a table with his head playfully in a noose, surrounded by Klansmen.

Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War. Until the mass shooting in a South Carolina church by a Confederacy-obsessed punk that caused the whole country to question this ongoing fixation, it seemed a day didn’t go by where there wasn’t some reminder or “late-breaking development” in the Civil War. To be suddenly shocked – SHOCKED! – about all this racist behavior is disingenuous beyond belief. None of it has ever been covert if you paid attention.

But now, some good news.

  • The University of Richmond’s current president is Ronald Crutcher, the first black man to hold that position, ushering in a new era of diversity and inclusion.
  • Virginia was the only southern state that Hillary Clinton won in the last election.
  • Virginia elected Democrats to the top three positions in our government in the last election, and the General Assembly is hanging on to its Republican majority by its toenails.
  • Richmond City Council just voted to rename a major thoroughfare after a native son, the late black tennis player Arthur Ashe. The Boulevard will now be Arthur Ashe Boulevard after years of debate and opposition. (NOTE: In 1996, again after years of debate, the city erected a statue of Arthur Ashe on Monument Avenue, amid several statues of losing Confederate generals.)

When I published my last post, I was in a tiny minority saying that Governor Northam should not resign, but public opinion is coming around to my thinking. A recent Washington Post poll showed 58% support for Northam among blacks.

Without a doubt, all this Klan and blackface stuff is thoughtless, shameful and hurtful. But while we have Trump in the White House, an avowed sexual predator whose tweets and inflammatory insults keep racial hatred roiling, we don’t need to be throwing the babies out with the bathwater, especially now that they’ve had their comeuppance.

Advertisements

Virginia’s Governor Northam Getting the Franken Treatment

February 4, 2019

By Karen

Virginia’s knickers are in a knot since Big League Politics, a conservative website, revealed that Governor Ralph Northam has a photo in his 1984 medical school yearbook showing two unnamed guys having a beer, one in blackface and one a hooded KKKer.

It’s like watching a replay of the Senator Al Franken (D-MN) lynching over a photo of his hands hovering above a woman’s breasts as a joke.

Big League says it got a tip from a “concerned” citizen and former Northam classmate who was motivated by Northam’s willingness to revise Virginia’s law on late-term abortions. (Northam was a pediatric neurologist before getting into politics.)

The story broke on Friday evening, February 1. Northam, who didn’t own that yearbook, issued an immediate knee-jerk apology before even seeing the photo.

By Saturday morning, Northam had been shown the photo and couldn’t remember being in it. He did recall wearing blackface playing Michael Jackson for a dance contest that same year.

But many prominent Democrats had spent all night binging at the GOP’s orange Kool-Aid stand and started screaming for Northam to resign, including Virginia’s two senators, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, and Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and most of the Democratic presidential candidates (don’t get me started on the hypocrisy of Kirsten Gillibrand).

Remember, we’re talking about Virginia 1984. I was born and raised up north, but I came to Virginia in 1972 and have always felt some racial undercurrent. It was finally brought to light after the mass shooting in a black South Carolina church raised questions about this whole eternal Confederate allegiance thing.

You can’t separate the South from the Civil War, and Northam was born here.

CBS News also uncovered that Northam had the nickname “Coonman” listed in his Virginia Military Institute yearbook. Strike two.

Mocking and persecuting races is unconscionable. Period. But given that Trump spews racist garbage like a fire hose to keep his base’s bigotry roiling and nobody does anything to stop it, I don’t think Northam should be drawn and quartered over a 35-year-old photo whose origin he questions, especially since he’s long proven himself to be a progressive Democrat with no discriminatory agenda.

What’s infuriating is seeing Democrats take the GOP bait AGAIN. Wasn’t sacrificing Franken enough?

Northam will probably end up resigning because it’s hard to govern through tar and feathers. Democrats are drooling to have Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax step in and take over. He happens to be black. The optics would be wonderful.

I think Democrats’ time would be better spent focused on ejecting the raving racist from the White House and white supremacist Steve King (R-IA) from Congress. How about fighting GOP efforts to rig elections by gerrymandering, discriminating against and disenfranchising black voters?

If Democrats don’t stop caving over stupid stuff, they can be sure the GOP won’t stop at Northam’s scalp.

I’m sure bottom-feeding conservatives can find in old southern yearbooks Confederate flags, blackface and KKK homages galore. If you were white and grew up down here, you were marinated in Civil War atrocities inflicted on your ancestors and you didn’t lose any sleep over slavery. Richmond’s Monument Avenue still has all its magnificent statues of Confederate generals intact.

I don’t mind leaving the statues there, by the way. They’re part of history and have no significance unless you can’t find enough injustice happening today to fester over. They’re like Ralph Northam’s old yearbooks. Irrelevant relics of the past.

Democrats have given the GOP a taste of blood. If Governor Northam can be destroyed so easily with a whiff of something rotten, there’s plenty more where that came from. Then the GOP can just sit back, sip their orange Kool-Aid, and watch Dems devour each other.


Trump-Russia Mystery, Not So Mystifying

January 31, 2019

By Karen

Trump’s involvement with Russia has been obvious all along. We’ve only lost perspective in the confusion roiled by the media and pundits trying to fill 24/7 news cycles with speculation, rather than restating simple facts. Here’s how I see it…

Trump has been flirting with (Miss Universe Pageant – 2013) and accepting boatloads of loans (as Junior & Eric said) and real estate deals (public record) from Russia for years.

But during the campaign, Trump realized Americans – especially the “Ruskie”-hating rubes he courted – take a dim view of hobnobbing with Moscow, so his negotiations for Trump Tower Moscow went on the down-low.

Simultaneously, he told Junior, Jared and his campaign staff it was OK to continue soliciting and accepting whatever help Russia offered, but not to link Trump to it in public.

Behind the scenes, staff briefed Trump in person (no paper trail) and he directed their efforts because he’s a known micromanager. Trump was only forced to get involved when Junior muffed everything about the Trump Tower meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya and Trump himself had to concoct a lie to conceal its purpose.

This strategy is hardly new. Remember Chris Christie and Bridgegate in New Jersey? I have no doubt Christie instructed his team to “Get back at that guy, this way, and leave me out of it.” Now he’s doing talk shows flogging his new book, Let Me Finish, calling the convicted aides who followed his orders low-level underlings who went rogue unbeknownst to him. Yeah, right.

Similarly, Trump claims he had NO CLUE his minions had at least 100 verifiable contacts with Russians.

In the end, Russia’s interference helped get Trump into the White House. A downside was that Trump has to shelve his Moscow tower temporarily. But he got a YUGE compensation prize…

As president, there’s no more need to hide. Trump believes he can conspire openly with Russia because talking to foreign leaders is what presidents do. Trump thinks he can hang with Putin as much as he wants – and he does.

Trump just has to hide what they discuss because the Ruskie-haters might freak out if they hear he’s selling out the country for his own profit. But he has a simple fix…

Don’t let another American listen in when he and Putin are chillin’.

Trump has done it five or six times so far (I’m losing count, since the Financial Times just revealed a previously unknown convo at the G20 in Buenos Aires in November 2018).

Trump’s bro time with Putin is more than previous presidents have felt compelled to have with any Russian leader – EVER.

The only rational explanation for Trump’s secrecy is that Trump is betraying the U.S. for his own enrichment, not that he and Putie are swapping pictures of the grandkids instead of talking business.

If Trump were really being tough on Russia (as he claims) and gaining the upper hand, he’d have The New York Times, Washington Post and every major network’s cameras covering it.

Meanwhile, just like Chris Christie, Trump lets his underlings get indicted for shielding him and he feigns total ignorance. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has yet to reveal how much they’ve confessed about Trump’s actual involvement, which will be eyeball-deep. Mark my words.

That’s the Russia situation in a nutshell. As it stands today, Donald Trump openly conspires with Putin for personal profit while concealing from the American people what degradation of our government he promises to Putin in return.

In doing so, the awe-inspiring vista of Trump’s stupidity is revealed. While creating no CYA documentation for himself, Trump allows Putin to record and film everything. Putin can use it against Trump whenever he chooses. And if the truth of Trump’s treason isn’t damning enough, Putin can Photoshop it until it is. We’ll never know the difference, thanks to Trump.

Trump has literally dropped the U.S. government into Putin lap. Putin now has the power to disgrace us and make us the pariah of the planet so he can pick up the pieces and try to make Russia the world’s dominant power.

What’s a thoroughly screwed country to do?

Optimally, we’d arrest Trump TODAY on suspicion of treason and he’d sit in prison while we assess the damage. But that won’t happen as long as Russian tools like Mitch McConnell are in the Senate protecting Trump.

The NSA could bug all of Trump’s phones – if they haven’t already.

Twitter could close Trump’s account, like they would any other Russian bot disseminating propaganda.

If any souls left in Trump’s White House aren’t co-traitors, they could see that Trump is never again alone with Putin, hiding behind the drapes with a recording device, if necessary.

The media can air all Trump comments and speeches on delay and edit out any praise or pleas for help Trump may make to Putin, like: “Russia, if you’re listening…”

The bottom line is that we need to quarantine the president of the United States from all contact with Russia. If Trump refuses and continues to seek out Putin, he reveals his criminal intent and makes indictment, conviction and impeachment the only recourse.


Tide is Finally Turning on Trump

January 27, 2019

By Karen

Before a tsunami hits, the low tide before it recedes an unnatural distance, exposing acres of beach never seen before. People come out to marvel at it, to play on land that just hours earlier was deep under water.

The tide’s been going out since Trump’s inauguration, pushed back with his and his enablers’ incessant barrage of boasts, lies and denials. His emboldened family, cabinet members and other enablers have been playing on the newly exposed beach — running roughshod over the rule of law, naively believing Trump and his almighty tweets will keep the tide back forever and they’ll always own the beach.

They don’t hear the growing roar just beyond the horizon. The tide is turning and gathering strength.

For the first two years of Trump, the roar was little more than the muttering of the disenfranchised majority of voters who got Trump against their wishes.

Discontent grew until the November 2018 mid-terms, when Democrats achieved the unthinkable: their votes swamped Republican gerrymandering, voter suppression and intimidation and outright cheating to reclaim the House.

They even called it the Blue Wave.

Mike Segar | Reuters

That was the moment the tide turned. I’ve considered Nancy Pelosi a ditz, but as Speaker of the House again, she’s Trump’s worst nightmare.

Not only did Nancy refuse to give Trump a penny for his wall, she and Chuck Schumer baited Trump into bragging he’d own the ensuing government shutdown. On TV, so even the dimmest MAGA moron can’t refute it.

The shutdown allowed Nancy to yank what Trump lives for — an opportunity to spout his State of the Union litany of lies in the Capitol before Congress, the Supreme Court and a TV audience of millions.

On another front, Michael Cohen’s been subpoenaed to testify before Congress about Trump’s criminal conduct over the years.

On a third front, Trump’s long-time friend Roger Stone finally got arrested. His indictment quotes Stone’s texts and emails about conspiring with Wikileaks. And don’t overlook that Trump’s hand-picked toady, acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, didn’t stop the FBI from hauling Stone in.

Fourth, Paul Manafort, already rotting in prison watching his hair dye fade, got summoned to court to face another possible 10 years in jail, on top of the 7-10 already in play. Mueller’s lawyers advised the judge NOT to let Manafort’s cooperation influence her sentencing decision.

Fifth, Rudy Giuliani has been on TV digging Trump’s hole even deeper by saying Trump was negotiating with Moscow for his tower right up to Election Day.

Meanwhile, Trump let the government shutdown grind on until it endangered air travel and airport security. After bringing the country to the brink of economic standstill, he agreed to reopen the government for three weeks — and got no concessions or wall financing in return.

Some tough negotiator.

Trump compelled six Republican senators to join Democrats on reopening the government. It’s a cooling stream of defections, now that Trump’s looking isolated and impotent. His approval rating is around 36-37 percent. So, roughly six in 10 people think Trump’s a chump.

Sixth, House committees, now headed by Democrats, are poised to let subpoenas flow, armed with power to get serious about Trump’s crimes.

You can tell Trump’s increasingly unhinged by his repeated babbling about South American women being kidnapped and restrained with duct, electrical or blue tape (he varies) and smuggled en masse across the border by drivers who turn left, no right, no left, to cross into the country illegally.

Nobody knows what he’s talking about. He told the story again during his January 25 speech to reopen the government. Here’s another instance (I cut to it at 8:45)…

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling change in the air. The government has reopened, but Trump’s State of the Union is still unscheduled.

I hope Trump doesn’t think he’ll take the government hostage again just as the employees are shoveling through their work backlogs and piles of overdue personal bills he created. If he tries, I believe Congress will kick Mitch McConnell in the nuts and come together to stop Trump. Enough’s enough.

Pelosi will let Trump use shutdowns as his “I’ll hold my breath until you give me what I want!” when Hell’s covered with icebergs.

And Mueller hasn’t even shown his hand yet.

For the first time since the plague of Trump descended, I feel fresh ocean breezes. When all the waves converge and the tsunami of justice hits Trump, Nancy Pelosi and Robert Mueller will be riding its crest. And finally, the fetid stench of Donald Trump will be washed away, and his bloated orange carcass will be tossed onto the ash heap with history’s other failed dictators.


Belated Bombshell: Trump is Working for Russia!

January 15, 2019

By Karen

Well, Da! Since The New York Times report last week that the FBI launched an investigation into Trump’s relationship with Russia after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, my déjà vu has been off the charts. Every time I see TV pundits picking over Trump’s multitude of pro-Russian statements and actions as if they’re seeing them for the first time, I go into a meltdown.

Why? Because any person over 12 who’s been paying the slightest bit of attention knows Trump’s allegiance to Russia has always been sincere and all-consuming.

“I will tell you this, Russia: If you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 [Hillary Clinton] emails that are missing.”

On Russian meddling in the election: “I don’t see any reason why it would be” Russia.

I could go on and on. These and many other outrageous statements the media reported with insufficient push-back left many of us thinking, “Holy shit! Why isn’t somebody stopping him?”

Right after Trump fired Comey, he invited Russians into the Oval Office to gloat with them about it. We found out from Russian photographs because Trump allowed no American witnesses.

And then we heard about the two-hour private tête-à-tête with Putin in Helsinki, to which Trump allowed no American witnesses save an interpreter, whose notes he later confiscated and probably destroyed. Afterward, Putin bounded before reporters, smiling like he’d just gotten the world’s best blow job, with lumbering Trump looking like he’d been forced at gunpoint to swallow.

And let’s not overlook Trump’s ever-growing mountain of tweets professing love for all things Russian. Out the other side of his face he claims he’s been harder on Russia than any president, ever — even as he tries to relieve Putin’s oligarch henchman and Paul Manafort BFF, Oleg Deripaska, of American sanctions.

For three years, the media has asked, “What could POSSIBLY be going on?” when it’s been obvious all along.

Trump’s Russia fixation is all about money. Back in 2008, (I’m quoting Vox) Donald Trump Jr. said, “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.” In 2014, Eric Trump said, “We don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.”

Over many years, Trump has done a high volume of all-cash real estate deals at his properties in New York and Florida with Russians worth hundreds of millions.

U.S. banks refuse to lend to Trump because he’s a notorious bad risk, and Trump’s burning bridges with other countries now. I believe he naively thinks that if he presents Putin with the smoldering ruins of the United States on a platter (with the Statue of Liberty’s head on the side), Trump will be ensured wealth beyond his wildest dreams forever — including a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Where Trump miscalculates bigly is that his life post-White House will be anything but business as usual, happily ever after. Trump and, apparently, the 25-30 percent of racist morons who still support him are the only ones who fail to see he’s heading to prison. The feds and New York state have so many felonies to nail on Trump, he’ll look like a used piñata by the time they’re finished with him.

Tax evasion, money laundering, fraud, misuse of funds, conspiring with a hostile power, emoluments violations, campaign finance violations, obstruction of justice. Those are just his greatest hits. Even with plea deals, Trump at 72 faces what’s left of his life behind bars. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is assembling and fleshing out the pieces with hard evidence that will be gift-wrapped and shoved down the throats of every Trump voter and enabler in Congress.

On January 14, in response to the NYT article, Trump uttered the words destined to be carved on his tombstone…

Trump will be pressed on that point, and we know his first response will be, “I never said that.”

When confronted with the video, he’ll say…

“I have never received a paycheck from Russia. When you work for somebody, they have to give you a paycheck, right? Do you think Putin would ever give me a paycheck? What have I ever done for Putin? I hardly know the guy. I don’t get paychecks from Putin. I’ve never even been to Russia.”

What we’re seeing is quid pro quo in action. On the promise of future riches, Putin provides Trump’s marching orders (“Pull your troops out of Syria,” “Pull your troops out of Iraq,” “Destroy NATO,” “Give Deripaska a break,” etc.), and Trump will do as ordered until Congress stops him, one way or another.

Donald Trump is a liar, a thief and a traitor. He’s lurching blindly toward the worst possible end. It can’t come soon enough.


Three Christmas Wishes for Trump

December 16, 2018

By Karen

Evidence of the Trump gang’s corruption is gushing in such a torrent, I feel like I’m being waterboarded with it. And Special Counsel Robert Mueller hasn’t even shared his festering treasure trove of crimes uncovered.

The stench of Trump’s desperation is pervasive as he tries to keep such chaos churned up that we give him a pass because we can’t comprehend the sheer volume of his vileness.

But I think the best approach is to let the subpoenas fly. First, arrest and indict everyone who enabled Trump and lied about it — Stone, Kushner and Don Jr. for starters.

With them should be Trump himself. His orange slime is oozing through every tentacle of this whole mess. He incessantly confesses to it on Twitter by projecting his own guilt onto everyone around him.

Trump has fans who would still like to paint those who have flipped — Cohen, Manafort, Flynn and others — as liars. But they probably wouldn’t have flipped if Mueller hadn’t shown them solid paper trails documenting the felonies they’d committed on Trump’s behalf.

As Mueller assembles this 100,000-piece jigsaw puzzle of greed, corruption and treason, you can see Trump flailing as if he feels Mueller is the one building a wall, methodically entombing Trump behind it, brick by brick, layer by layer.

Mexico will be laughing its ass off at the irony.

This country was founded on rebellion against an unstable, unjust king. Yet we’re sliding into dictatorship while debating whether a common crook can be indicted because —through our quirky voting process, not because he earned the most votes — he lucked into a job title he’s proven himself incompetent to fulfill.

Besides, Trump’s a tax evader — he bragged it proves he’s “smart.” A fraud — Trump University. A thief — stiffing suppliers and contractors. A money launderer — Russian and Saudi grossly overpriced real estate deals.

Then we have brazen obstruction of justice and witness tampering, well-documented in interviews and on social media. Not to mention treason — violating his oath of office by approving of Russia’s and Saudi Arabia’s aggressive attacks to destabilize the U.S.

Every day, Trump’s businesses profit from foreign governments openly patronizing his properties to bribe him.

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Trump is a walking crime against humanity.

Trump rightfully should have been behind bars years ago. If he hadn’t wandered into the White House and hit greater scrutiny because of his misuse of power, he and his idiot kids probably could have gone on cheating and swindling people indefinitely.

If anything, the law should apply to Donald Trump harder and swifter BECAUSE he’s the president. And because he’s disgraced the office by gleefully spitting on his responsibility to model honesty, integrity and morality.

It’s time to throw Trump on the pyre of evidence against him and light the match.

Once Trump is behind bars for life, removing him from office through impeachment becomes moot, a no-brainer. Congress can rubber-stamp it.

My three wishes for Donald Trump for Christmas are: indictment, conviction and impeachment.


Unintended Consequence of Silence RE: Bourdain’s Suicide

November 27, 2018

By Karen

CNN has eked out its last moments of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. His apartment has new tenants. His condo is on the market because his wife and daughter have moved elsewhere.

In spite of his books, reams of interviews, TV shows and movie appearances still available to read and watch, because his voice is gone on current events, he’s inexorably blurring and slipping into irrelevance, like a dream remembered.

It’s been nearly six months, and not only do I still feel no closure, but I’m troubled by how his suicide is morphing in a way he never would have intended.

On November 13, The Wall Street Journal ran an article, “The Dark Side of the Restaurant World.” It led with a Chicago restaurant manager, Charles Ford, deciding “he would no longer be silent about his three suicide attempts,” and discussed the physical and emotional toll of restaurant work — long hours, abysmal pay, never-ending physical demands.

But the sentence that got my attention was, “Through Mr. Bourdain’s literary manager, Kimberly Witherspoon, the late chef’s family declined to comment for this article.”

On one hand, that made sense because Bourdain hadn’t worked as a chef since 2000, when he began filming A Cook’s Tour for Food Network.

On the other hand, his family’s silence let his suicide be used as a consequence of what ails the restaurant industry. This is what they should have said…

ANTHONY BOURDAIN DIDN’T KILL HIMSELF OVER A JOB HE HADN’T DONE IN NEARLY TWO DECADES.

I think by his count, Bourdain spent 28 years slaving in restaurant kitchens. He was proud to pull himself up the chain until he achieved head chef status at Brasserie Les Halles in New York City. He told this story across several books. If there’s someone out there with a better memory, please tell me where he ever mentioned feeling suicidal over working in a kitchen.

What I recall is his pride in having the toughness and stamina for the work. He loved hanging out with co-workers after a brutal shift. Later, when he had a platform, he became their most outspoken advocate, particularly for the immigrants and women.

I truly sympathize with Charles Ford’s struggles, but I wonder what Bourdain would have said in his snarky days about a general manager who worked in a suit everywhere but over a hot stove and couldn’t hack it.

Kitchen workers have grueling jobs, but I think they’re mistaken to make Bourdain their poster boy for suicide. It’s just like how people still insist on calling him a “celebrity chef” when he NEVER was.

Pre-Kitchen Confidential, nobody ate at Les Halles because Tony Bourdain was the chef. He’d be the first to say it. By the time he became a bona fide celebrity, he hadn’t been a chef for years.

So far, Chef Daniel Boulud has been the ONLY acquaintance to come anywhere near speaking what’s probably closer to the truth about Bourdain’s death. This month he told Us Magazine Bourdain died because “his heart was broken,” and that his death was “a shock to everyone, absolutely.”

Tony’s mother Gladys said essentially the same about his lack of suicidal tendencies when the news first broke.

In the months since, those of us seeking the truth have taken a closer look at the dark forces that began to consume Bourdain in 2016 when he fell in with Asia Argento and her friends.

This past September, Argento was still giving teary interviews about how she felt Bourdain had abandoned her and her two children (for the record, her daughter is 17 and her son now lives with his father in the U.S.), with no mention of Bourdain’s own 11-year-old daughter.

This month (November), Argento was reported to have hooked up with a paparazzi sprung earlier this year from his second jail stint, they had sex on her table, and he claimed to be besotted with her. Italian media soon reversed course, reporting it was a stunt Argento pulled for money and publicity. Whichever version is true, that’s just a peek at the woman Bourdain considered his “soulmate” until he learned three days before he died that she had cheated on him.

Tony’s family didn’t hold a public memorial service because they didn’t think he’d want one. But memorials are for the living, not the dead. Into the void have grown many pop-up homages, mostly by restaurant chefs, which is great. Bourdain was their champion. His life had become one of showing us restaurants and their menus all over the world that we’d otherwise never know.

He was restaurant workers’ biggest cheerleader, but I think he’d be the last to consider his death emblematic of how hard and hopeless kitchen work can be.

Rather, he was a SURVIVOR of it and proud to be. It was his life AFTER being a chef that killed him. We still don’t — and may never — know exactly what aspects of his life did it.

Unfortunately, this silence has left the door open to whatever spin anyone wants to put on it. I don’t think Bourdain would have approved.


%d bloggers like this: