More Bits on Bourdain’s Last Months from WSJ

By Karen

Some new information about Anthony Bourdain’s last months has been out there in an extensive interview by Howie Kahn in the Wall Street Journal, but I only recently found it.

It was published online March 28 under the title, “Anthony Bourdain’s Globalist Mission.” (I got to view it once, then got blocked for not being a subscriber, so take your chances.)

A print version published in April was entitled, “The Man Who Ate It All.” These are the bits new to me that I gleaned from it.

Tony was living alone on the 64th floor in a Midtown Manhattan apartment with floor-to-ceiling windows providing views of the city and the Hudson River.

At 11:30 a.m., he was already drinking beer (and smoking). It must have been early January when Trump called African countries “shitholes” because Kahn described Tony’s January 17 appearance on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah as if he were there.

Parts Unknown was the highest rated cable news program in its time slot and nominated for 25 Emmys, with five wins.

Tony said, “Am I searching, am I seeking, am I always looking for something more? Yes! I do this for no other reason.”

He had hung photos of Fidel Castro and Iggy Pop on the walls, but his bedroom walls were bare. Perhaps that’s where he was planning to hang his newly acquired paintings from Jacques Pepin and “The Sky is Falling. I’m Learning to Live with It.”

Kahn wrote that Tony and Asia Argento “had fallen in love while shooting the Rome episode.” (April 2016) He goes on…

“In retrospect, it was also an extended first date, and one Bourdain thought was coming to an end too soon amid the fascist architecture. ‘It was a very sad scene,’ he says. ‘I think both of us thought it overwhelmingly likely that we would never see each other again.’”

If only.

The article said Tony’s marriage to Ottavia was ending, and by the time he met Argento, “he’d given up on the concept of romantic love. ‘I was dead,’ he says.”

This confirmed my belief that the affair began when he and Argento were together in Rome and served as an impetus for separating from Ottavia in September. (In December 2016, he drew up his will leaving the bulk of his estate to daughter Ariane.)

Tony also mentioned the book he was working on, described as…

“A collection of essays, many of which will touch on the theme of loneliness — will be more emotional than anything he’s ever attempted.”

Was it finished enough to publish? Will his co-author Laurie Woolever be able to finish it? Time will tell.

Tony said he was also trying to line up financing for a scripted TV project, but only revealed that each season of it would have taken place in different locales, like New York, Berlin and Tokyo.

The interview ended with Kahn asking Tony if he was ever exhausted and would like more balance in his life. Tony said…

“Too late for that. I think about it. I aspire to it. I feel guilty about it. I yearn for it. Balance? I f–cking wish.”

Tony added that he once told Ariane he might quit his job in a few years to spend more time with her, but she burst into tears, saying, “But Dada, your job is so interesting!”

This conversation may have happened around the time Tony told People magazine that he’d probably “die in the saddle.”

My takeaway is that Bourdain had wearied of his globe-trotting and wanted a way out but couldn’t find one. Argento gave him periodic breaks where he could stay still and be happy for a few days. But then she yanked those out from under him in the most public and humiliating way possible.

It leaves a conundrum for his fans. We loved his body of work and wanted it to keep growing, but it had stopped making him happy. The more we learn, the more his suicide seems to become the inevitable end of his life’s arc, rather than the tragedy of an impulsive moment.

Reader Morgan sent these two photos from Facebook of Tony and Ottavia in happier times, as I prefer to think of them…

PS: Last week I saw Drugstore Cowboy, the movie about a junkie couple that Bourdain always likened to his marriage to Nancy. Near the end, Matt Dillon (Tony) makes a speech that seems to explain Tony’s inexplicable, fatal attraction to Argento…

“Nobody, and I mean nobody, can talk a junkie out of using. You can talk to ‘em for years, but sooner or later they’re going to get hold of something. Maybe it’s not dope. Maybe it’s booze. Maybe it’s blue. Maybe it’s gasoline. Maybe it’s a gunshot to their head. But something, something to relieve the pressures of their everyday life, like having to tie their shoes.”

Whenever someone dies, their raison d’etre is instantly frozen in time. They can add nothing to their persona or philosophy of life. Those left behind can only dissect what the person ever did or said to form a conclusion about who they were and why they’re gone. We’ve reached that point with Bourdain, and he would hate it.

75 Responses to More Bits on Bourdain’s Last Months from WSJ

  1. Donna Pavone says:

    Wow,Karen,you’re a fucking awesome writer. That last paragraph gave me goosebumps

  2. catsworking says:

    Aw, thanks, Donna. I do have my moments, and I’ve given this a lot of thought. It’s hard to grasp all the things that have already happened in the past 4 1/2 weeks that Tony will never know or care about. His sudden passing left a big hole in the world, but it’s been steadily filling in with ongoing events. It’s like watching waves wash over your footprints on a beach until there’s no sign you’d ever been there. All you have left is your memories.

  3. gettngclear says:

    Karen and all: I came to similar conclusion about his feeling no social support system within which to retire after reading the quote from his daughter & the alleged break-up w Argento.

    Tho the US media turns more to psychology than sociology, from what I’ve read about suicide, sociology has a far better understanding: lack of social cohesion. Belonging.
    Add to that his age, his ‘alpha’ status minus a stable marriage, I can understand how sad & forsaken he must have felt.

    Btw: One of the founders of sociology Émile Durkheim wrote a book called On Suicide, Le Suicide for any French speakers who may read this.

    Still such a sad story to me.

  4. gettngclear says:

    Ditto what Donna just wrote about your writing! 🙂

  5. Lynn says:

    Is anyone who has a subscription to the WSJ able to paste the story here? I hate their stupid ‘subscribe to read the article’ BS. At least the NYT gives you a set # of reads each month.

  6. catsworking says:

    Lynn, I don’t think it would be kosher to do that. I’d be plagiarizing and would have to delete it. I don’t want to hear from the WSJ attorneys. 😉 That’s why I wrote this post, to share what was new to me from the article and to quote those pertinent bits.

  7. feijicha says:

    Great post, Karen. Casts a slightly different light on the relationship with AA— maybe more of a symptom of his personal turmoil than the cause of it, at least until the end. His need for that kind of close, one-to-one connection with another person who would see and love him for who he was as a person rather than who he was as a public figure. Hard to maintain that with anyone, no matter how much you love them and they love you, when you aren’t around. Clearly he knew his peripatetic lifestyle was a root cause for the instability in his relationships, but he wasn’t sure how to get out of it.

    Somewhere I read an interview where he talked about renewing his contract with CNN–he could have not renewed it, and maybe personally that was appealing, and maybe the thought well if I stop then the show stops and all these other people have to find other work. It sounds like he was seeking ways to work without traveling– writing books, screenwriting etc… A scripted show is long hours but often in one place (film studio) or fixed periods on location abroad that have a clear start/end time so you can be home more. Wasn’t he on the road like 250 days a year? That’s crazy. And it gets harder as you get older.

    So sad to hear he felt ‘dead’ after the marriage fell apart. No one really ever knows what goes on in a marriage so we’ll never know what caused its collapse. External things like distance due to travel are obvious but there were clearly other strains. He talked about coming home from Lebanon after the war broke out and saying to Ottavia that he wanted to make a baby together. Maybe over time that wasn’t enough to sustain their relationship over the long haul, though they clearly were both committed to raising their daughter. I think you are right on with your assessment of AA, that she was a source of some relief and happiness for him which I am grateful he had, until it appears she cruelly yanked even that away. Such a sad, sad, story that was so unnecessary,

  8. L Villeneuve says:

    I looked up the 2006 India episode of No Reservations where he was told he would never have happiness with a woman. That seemed to be the only part of the reading that was accurate. He was so friggin gorgeous in that one. Phew! And I’m old!

  9. mrc551 says:

    Karen, one wonders about the alpha-male designation as every alpha-male I’ve ever known does exactly what he wants to do– and exactly whenever he wants to do it, at least, whenever possible.

    He was King at CNN! Maybe I’m naive but when you’re the King you can get your subjects to do whatever you want them to do. Why not a contract where he could cut down his episodes to say…4 per year instead of 8-9? Or, how about, “I’ll do this every other year instead of every year?” Heck…they could have aired re-runs and surely minimized fan protest by simply saying “our travel-guru Tony Bourdain wishes to take some time off from travel– he needs some rest.

    I agree with your assessment that he was weary of globe-trotting. But I just can’t believe he was so entrenched in travel as a committed lifestyle to the point of no return. I sense that he lacked the basic skills of self-care and did not know how to “ask” or “tell” anyone what he needed. If he even knew, himself. Damn.

  10. mrc551 says:

    Here is the article not linked to a paywall:

  11. Francis Alan Wormald says:


  12. CC says:

    It is just too sad. I wish I could read Ottavia’s, Eric’s, Zack Zamboni’s thoughts and feelings about this A. Argento and all this mess. I’m still in shock. Thanks for your posts.

  13. Lynn says:

    Ha, Karen I spaced re: the plagiarism. Good thing I don’t have a blog! Thank you to MRC for the link. I am rolling with laughter at that AJ Benza tweet. First off, AJ Benza is a total NYC douche bag, of the Guido variety (official genus Guidohabilus). He’s not much more redeemable than AA IMO so I wouldn’t trust anything he says. But if it’s true, AA must be totally insane. Asian hookers and heroin?! Baaaahahahaha! I don’t see AB as the hooker’s type and there was no heroin in his system.

    I have also wondered why AB didn’t cut back on the # of episodes each year but as he said, he could NOT slow down. He said himself he feared having less (or nothing) to do bc he would tend to get into mischief. I remember him saying fairly recently ‘I have to be busy’. Sounds like work was a substitute for drugs – another addiction to distract him from his own mind and his issues. Even if the schedule was killing him physically he knew the alternative would be really bad news. But as it sadly turned out, even being busy wasn’t enough to quiet whatever was drowning him inside.

  14. Suzan says:

    I too, had sadly come to the conclusion that this was always how Tony’s story was going to end. Taking us all on a glorious adventure and than vanishing from us instantly. It was just a matter of time. I DO believe if they hadn’t met he’d still be with us. For now. But something else would have inevitably been the straw. I’m haunted by his being alone in his final moments and almost tortured with what I imagine to be anguish with his decision but maybe it wasn’t agonizing for him at all? Maybe he just decided ” fuck it….time to go ” and left on his own terms? I think he’d be stunned at how many grieve a world without him in it…..

  15. catsworking says:

    Miss Maggie, thanks for finding that link!

    I do think Bourdain was addicted to travel. Before he became exhausted, he used to talk about how he loved airports and would be antsy to get away after a few days at home.

    He had travel itself down to a science of what to pack, etc. He knew his way around every major city in the world except Oslo (where he never went because it was too tidy), and had friends everywhere. No way could he have settled into a life that didn’t involve lots of travel.

    His marriage to Nancy ended partly because she had no interest in travel. I think she accompanied him on 2 Cook’s Tour shoots. Not aware she ever joined him for No Reservations.

    Ottavia was much more accommodating and traveled more while she could, but then when they had a baby and she devoted herself to MMA (because she was home alone 95% of the time and needed to do something with herself), it became problematic. Then Ariane started school and that was that.

    He had talked about spending year in Vietnam to write a book, taking the family with him. When it didn’t happen while Ariane was a toddler, I knew that would never happen.

    He wished he could sincerely wish for balance, but it wasn’t something he really wanted, IMO.

  16. catsworking says:

    OMG, what a load of garbage on Reddit. I have a hard time believing AA, despicable as she is, would claim something like this. NO WAY would he have been in those circumstances with Ripert right there. No way would he have been in those circumstances EVER.

  17. catsworking says:

    Welcome, Suzan!

    For Bourdain, the worst part of travel was nights in strange hotel rooms where he had to be alone with his thoughts. He said his last book was going to be about loneliness.

  18. mrc551 says:

    Karen, that AJ Benza person– the gossip columnist–has weighed in before on AA. He seems to despise her. As far as Reddit goes, yes, loads of garbage on there. I hope that the gossip and speculation surrounding his final days will soon fade and not overwhelm his legacy as a global diplomat.

  19. keriwormald says:

    Catsworking’s sister here. Very proud of how Karen has covered this story and how she has honored, but not deified, Bourdain. Would it be possible for Karen to work for a major network and begin covering the downfall of the U.S. in a similar way?

  20. Lenora says:

    Karen, Your post was beautiful and insightful. I am going to second your sister’s suggestion. You should be writing for a network.

    PS Networks, I am not related to Karen. 🙂

  21. catsworking says:

    Lenora and Keri, thank you. I’m blushing.

  22. MJ says:

    I agree with the comment on Reddit that if AA is peddling a heroin and Asian hooker story, she sure isn’t creative. Boy, is that a cliched trope (that has already been overused in bad movies and TV). And “5 bottles of tequila” in a small town in France (why not get wasted on local booze, or grappa, or Calvados, or good Scotch or Pappy which he clearly could have afforded). Right…. A good to great liar would at least come up with a more convincing plot…

  23. Lenora says:

    This heroin hooker story is nuts. So if we follow this through the French authorities are covering up his death by calling it a suicide? If they are willing to lie about his death in such great degree why not just say he died of a heart attack or slipped in the shower. That AJ guy is a waste of space and for once I with Asia I’d be blocking him too.

    However were Tony and AJ really friends? Did they really even know each other. Just doesn’t seem like someone Tony would hang with.

  24. blue says:

    Nice piece, but the painting be bought was from artist John Lurie.

  25. mrc551 says:

    There is no doubt in my mind that AA is peddling a story. We just don’t know exactly what that story is. If it is an involved story re: hookers and heroin, then she is crazier than any of us could possibly imagine.

    But AJ Benza was one of the first to report that Ronan Farrow had unfollowed AA and Rose McGowan. That right there is most telling and damning piece of evidence against these two women who so clearly have clinical personality disorders.

    I don’t know how AJ Benza is regarded in NY, but he has shown to be sincerely dedicated to revealing how AA & RMG used the #MeToo movement to feed their narcissistic supply. Unfortunately for Tony, he became ensnared in their pretense.

    I regret posting the link to AJ Benzas podcast via Reddit as it only exposed your readers to unnecessary garbage. If anyone is interested, here is a link minus Reddit.

    ( His “Head Over Heels” podcast dated July 9th is worth a listen.)

    p.s Karen, can you delete the other link? Thanks!

  26. catsworking says:

    Welcome, blue. Yes, the blue painting “The sky is falling” was by John Lurie. There’s also an interview here somewhere with Jacques Pepin where he said he sent Tony one of his paintings a few weeks before Tony died. So he owned the two paintings I mentioned.

    There could be a third, if you could the one of Tony himself that he asked the artist about buying. I don’t know if that sale ever went through.

  27. catsworking says:

    Here’s my prediction for the heroin with an Asian hooker story if AA really has anything to do with it. It’s going to figure into the plot of the movie she’s writing about all of this.

    She’s the heroine who gets herself seduced by this world-famous but totally debauched celebrity and lets him think she loves him for a few years because she’s terrified he’ll destroy her if she doesn’t. He forces her to constantly get drunk, do drugs, and perform perverted sex acts (because no Argento film would be complete without scenes of her naked).

    But in the end, she finds her courage and leaves him, whereupon he goes on a tear in a hotel room with heroin and an Asian hooker and ends up dead.

    The heroine strolls off into the sunset with her “reward” for making virtue prevail — a younger, hotter man who bears a striking resemblance to Hugo Clement.

  28. catsworking says:

    Pulitzer notwithstanding, Ronan Farrow is probably kicking himself that he didn’t ferret out more credible women for his article exposing Weinstein than that pair, who seem to have a talent for shitting on their benefactors. May all men beware that no kindness to them will ever go unpunished by them.

    In a just world, AA and RMG would end up together as McGento because neither of them could find another human being on the planet willing to be associated with them.

  29. marguerite says:

    I have a WSJ subscription and can send a pdf file of the article. Where can I email it?

  30. mrc551 says:

    Amen to that!! Thank you, Karen. As far as I have found, your blog is the only place where a civilized conversation is taking place regarding how a good and decent man–Anthony Bourdain- became ensnared in the complete edifice of AA and RMG’s fraud against

  31. Lynn says:

    Karen you’re forgetting to include golden showers by said hookers in AA’s script. In fact, I wouldn’t put it past AA to claim she has access to a ‘Bourdain dossier’.

    AJ Benza is a douche who has not done anything noteworthy since 2000. His E late night show failed miserably due to low ratings. To give you an idea of his utter douche-ness, he was banned by the Howard Stern show for LIFE. Think about what you must do to get that designation (among other things he slapped a staffer in the face).

    His kids are named Roxy and Rocco, in case you need more evidence of the Long Island guido makeup.

    According to Wikipedia he was once a lackey for Weinstein. When he found out about then married HW’s affair with G. Chapman, he offered to give HW gossip to ‘draw attention away’ from his infidelity. There was a ‘partnership’ between AJ and HW to ‘preserve Weinstein’s name’.

    When the #metoo allegations began against HW, he reached out to AJ for help and offered him $ to investigate claims against him, but this never came to fruition.

    AJ would actually make a great match for AA. They should go on a date. Both Italian, both assholes, with anger management issues. Not sure if AJ has any tats. His only redeeming quality is that he hates RM and AA.

  32. L Villeneuve says:

    Big mouth=small dick.

  33. catsworking says:

    marguerite, welcome, and thanks, but I don’t have permission to be reprinting entire articles from WSJ that they make people pay for. I see you did send it, and I had to delete it. BUT…

    mrc551 supplied this link earlier that somehow gets around the WSJ subscription thing and the entire article is there.

  34. catsworking says:

    Miss Maggie, that is high praise indeed, considering the amazing research skills of the people who have been supplying us with links to all sorts of Bourdainia in far corners of the net.

    Seems like I have come full circle. I was the only one writing regularly about Tony way back when he was relatively small potatoes on Travel Channel, and this is where the literate fans who really cared about him as a person came when he checked out. I’ve been amazed and gratified at how decent everyone has been here after reading some of crazy stuff on IG and Reddit.

  35. catsworking says:

    Lynn, how could I have left out the golden showers??!! But not by the hookers. By AA the heroine. She would be unwilling, of course, and feel degraded and humiliated to win audience sympathy and hatred for the monster who dies in the end. They would be perfect in her nude scenes.

    I thought the name “AJ Benza” was made up for Reddit. I have NEVER, EVER heard of this guy. Just did a quick read on Wikipedia and see that there was no reason for me to. Nothing he’s ever done pinged my radar. To get himself banned by Howard Stern for life will probably be his greatest achievement.

    His connection to Weinstein makes me wonder if he didn’t have his own little dabblings with AA (could totally see her blowing an American gossip columnist if she thought it would get her some ink here), which has made him so vindictive toward her.

    AA has a “dossier” on Bourdain all right. Mark my words. She’s writing something about him. Maybe not a book because that might bring lawsuits. But her fantasy version, a novel or a movie.

  36. Lenora says:

    I am just recalling this …

    Recently AA posted a picture of herself on Instagram inside a boxing ring. What the hell is that about? Is that a shot a Ottavia?

  37. catsworking says:

    Lenora, we discussed this recently. Yes, she was hanging over the ropes of a boxing ring (I think I called it a rink! My bad.). I took it as a definite “Screw you, I’m a badass, too” to Ottavia. Foolish girl. AA should pray she never finds herself in the same room with Ottavia.

  38. Lenora says:

    AA uses instagram as if she is 13 year old passive aggressive mean girl. I suppose emotional that’s exactly her age.

  39. catsworking says:

    HOLY CRAP!!! I just happened to find this video montage on YouTube about Bourdain and I’m in it TWICE. Whoever put this thing together is a total dipshit, and they must have lifted the photos from Cats Working (without permission, obviously).

    At 0:50 a photo we took when he came to Richmond (2013? I’m in orange jacket) has me captioned as Nancy, this first wife. Someone had told me that was floating around out there.

    But then at 1:39, a photo we took when I first met him in (2008?) in Durham, NC (I’m in red sweater) has me captioned as Gladys, Tony’s MOTHER.

    WTF, WTF, WTF?

  40. Kay Bee says:

    Just as an aside, I recently stopped following Ronan because of his connection to RM and AA. I just checked on IG bc I was going to refollow him had he separated from them, but NOPE, he still follows both of them. I tried. Thanks again for this blog.

  41. Kay Bee says:


    That is creepy AF. The electronic dance music really put an extra “weird” touch to it. You know what’s crazy? I’ve googled Nancy several times because obviously you want a visual, and I’ve always thought “that’s looks like a sweet, normal person not a drug abuser” Anyway, I stopped watching it after your clips. Nice to see the person also named a random chick Ottavia during her bit.

  42. Lynn says:

    HAHAHA Karen, from ex wife to mother in 49 seconds. But then you DID have 2 different hair styles so I can see how the video creator got “confused”. What a moron. They also have him dating Nigella Lawson.

    Re: Benza, I only know of him because I’m a huge Stern fan and remember him from the show. And I vaguely recall his old ‘Mysteries and Scandals’ show. He’s F list if that.

  43. mrc551 says:

    Someone is trying to make it appear that AB was a womanizer.

  44. Morganlf says:

    Credit for the pics goes to Jess Marchione an admin of the #JFT group who posts the greatest pics.

    Karen your idea for a food truck memorial for Tony is being done in LA. They are actually having a “street food” festival in Chinatown with a bunch of local chefs on July 16. All proceeds to charity.

    What I noticed in the Daily show clip is how fidgety his hands were.

    Did you get the dig, when Tony wondered if trump could use chopsticks? Subtle reference to his famous dinner with Obama, a REAL president and worldly man not the crude,boorish, craven bully we now endure.

    I don’t know if the heroin, hooker thing has been verified as being said by her. I wouldn’t put it past her. She’s planning something and Karen I agree it will be a shitty Art house movie.

    Tony’s written about patronizing hookers but really to paraphrase Someone on reddit …that old trope? Please!

  45. Morganlf says:

    Karen that shitty, corny, poorly researched video, being named as his mother…I smell a lawsuit!!!

    One point it got right: There was a quote that said Bourdain was heir in spirit to Hunter S. Thompson who also died by suicide.

    He was a fan of Thompson quoted him regularly and used his illustrator for the cover of his last book.

    I’m a rabid fan of the Gonzo journalist and it had not occurred to me how similar they were. Now I’m going to reread Fear and Loathing in last Vegas. If you have not, please do. It’s riotously funny and Tony loved it.

  46. catsworking says:

    Kay Bee, there are at least 2 pics of Nancy in the archives here. If you do a search on her you can find them.

    In that video, right after the pic naming me Nancy, I think the next one or two may be Nancy, although I didn’t recognize her. She’s wearing blue. On the other hand, that woman could be anybody.

    The video also made it look like Tony and Nigella Lawson had a long relationship. I’m not aware that they ever formally dated, although they’ve been friends for years and spent weeks on the West Coast together for three seasons of shooting The Taste. But Tony and Ottavia were still together then.

  47. catsworking says:

    Lynn, what’s crazy is that I was actually about 5 or 6 years younger in my “mother” picture. I HATED that short haircut and those glasses. Don’t get me started…

  48. catsworking says:

    Morgan, funny you should mention the fidgety hands. This afternoon I was watching him in 2000 on Letterman when Kitchen Confidential made it big. He had the earring, the thumb ring, and Nancy’s wedding ring. He looked like a kid. He kept rubbing the index finger against the thumb of his right hand, which I’ve seen in articles about him having Parkinson’s cited as a symptom. But this was 18 YEARS ago.

    So glad to hear about the food truck memorial. I’ve been reading about all kinds of special dinners and menus being arranged by restaurants all over the place in his honor. Even if the family never does anything, people are remembering him in their own way.

  49. catsworking says:

    Miss Maggie, he really was anything but a womanizer. Morgan may disagree with me on this, but I think he was serially monogomous. He tended to date one woman at a time for an extended period. I don’t recall ever seeing him show up at an event with arm candy du jour. If he wasn’t in a relationship, he was alone.

  50. catsworking says:

    Morgan, I have not read Fear and Loathing, but always meant to when Bourdain put it on my radar. Just like I finally got around to seeing Drugstore Cowboy. I’d never sit through that flick again, but I’m glad I finally saw where he was coming from. It was frightening.

    Another writer he loved was Joseph Conrad.

  51. Daisy says:

    Cats, As always another great post. Thanks for being the voice of reason and truth about AB.

    Lynn, Thanks for the insight about AJ. Your description of him is hilarious. This guy really is the king of guidos. I thought I was listening to Joe Pesci from Goodfellas and that story about AB is just a load of BS.

  52. Morganlf says:

    Conrad: Heart of Darkness..which I read on account of Bourdain, served as basis for Apocalypse Now. (Masterpiece)

    He loved Graham Greene, The Silent American set in French Colonial Vietnam a place he romanticized.

    The Friends of Eddie Coyle was another of his favorites, on my list.

    Think of how much he influenced us. Like no other celebrity I followed his every word…I became OBSESSED with Pho because of him. He was an old soul. Highly intelligent and endlessly interesting.
    I’m having a moment….

  53. Adele Prass says:

    Karen, I’m with Morgan — read Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas. But another Hunter S Thompson piece (which I think was printed in Rolling Stone) that I think will really tickle your fancy, is his take on the Kentucky Derby. I believe it was the first time he and Ralph Steadman met, and it’s a Thompson-esque mix of wretched excess and turgid commentary. Thanks to Tony, I’ve also read a lot of Graham Greene, and if you haven’t read the Quiet American, you’re in for a treat — talk about atmosphere. My homage may be to reread some of the books Tony loved, and my friends and i still plan to go to the Old Town Ale House to lift a glass, then out for Vietnamese food.I saw that the Southern Italy episode of Parts Unknown got an Emmy nod. Lots of Asia in that one;

  54. catsworking says:

    Bourdain got me interested in pho and I’ve tried making noodles of all kinds, but never seem to get them right. My udons were slimy.

    We could all probably read for the rest of our lives and never catch up to what he’d read. What a waste of so much knowledge.

    Greene, Thompson, quite a reading list. And I still haven’t watched the Cajun and Bhutan episodes yet.

    At the eye doctor today, I picked up the May 28 People magazine in the waiting room. It had the last interview with Tony where he was filming the Cajun episode and said he’d probably “die in the saddle.” No indication whatsoever that 10 days later he would.

    I hope AA doesn’t get any ideas about attending the Emmys. Seems likely that the crew of ZPZ wouldn’t be thrilled.

  55. Morganlf says:

    Keri I’m with you! Karen would be a brilliant “talking head” contributor for politics; she has her finger on the pulse of sensible, rational Americans, exactly how Tony identified.

    Lynn, HUGE Stern fan here. Since his days on WNBC 35 Years? He was my pre Bourdain obsession…never understood why Tony was never a guest.

    Then, last week when he admitted to “not knowing” who Bourdain was I got annoyed with Howard. He consumes Telly with his wife , speaks of it incessantly. He’s never seen No Reservations or Parts Unknown? Cmon his huge staff is tasked with knowing what’s up.
    JD never brought up Tony? Impossible.

    Are we to believe this cat who knows everyone, vacations with George Clooney and Jennifer Anniston..but never heard of Bourdain? Fuck that. I don’t believe it.

    Howard gets the AAA list on his show…Scarlet Johansson, Metallica, Billy Joel, Lagy Gaga, Alec Baldwin, …the Jesus Twins (lol)and even cretinous trump…who he won’t criticize, ( causing me great pain)

    I remember when Stern was interviewing Bo the lesbian for content, AND Benza who punched out Stuttering John…I imagine Tony was a a fan..everyone in NYC with our sensibilities was.

    Tony went on the Opie and Jim Norton show to plug a book. Guess Howard had a Bill Maher moment..afraid of the handsomer, smarter dude.
    It was humiliating. Opie, and that unfunny, sick fuck ,Jim Norton
    an unrepentant golden shower & tranny afficianado… had no idea who BOURDAIN was, nor did the third host

    At one point after he discusses his druggie past someone on the crew says something to the effect of, you should write a book..

    Look at his face..I burn in shame for then he’d written several. Two of which were memoirs.


    Tony stayed a long time and relaxed into it …with aholes
    who clearly only thought of him as a” bad boy “chef, this was 3 years ago…long after he’d established himself as a writer, traveler, documentarian…award winner.
    He subjugated himself to these tools ….

    Adele, I keep a copy of Fear and Loathing on my bedside table..underlined and highlighted..some times it makes me Laugh so hard..I have to fling it at the wall…What does thst say about me?

  56. Morganlf says:

    At 35:00 in maybe a little earlier.. were you married? Are you gonna write a book about your life?

  57. Lenora says:

    Karen, Being labeled a wife and mother in one you tube video that could be the premise of a modern day version of Oedipus Rex.

  58. catsworking says:

    OK you guys, I’m getting a copy of Fear and Loathing THIS WEEKEND.

    Just watched a few minutes of your link to Opie and Jim Norton, Morgan. I have no idea who they are. Tony was 59 and he looked so young! His forehead was virtually unlined, compared to what it was at 61. He aged 20 years in about two. He was only about 6 months away from hooking up with that hag in Italy and the beginning of the end.

    I don’t believe for a moment Howard Stern didn’t know who he was. That was a whiny little bitch Bill Maher pose. Something about Bourdain’s effortless charm and manliness really threatened that type of guy. They try so hard to be cool now, but they probably got their heads slammed in their locker doors regularly at school.

    Tony was killing it at CNN internationally three years ago, so anybody who wasn’t at least aware of him by then was a moron, exclusively a Fox viewer, or probably both.

  59. catsworking says:

    Lenora, if Bourdain only knew how were were cosmically linked… he’d have thrown up.

    It does tell me that my appearance apparently changed so much from 2008 to 2013 (I lost 50 lbs. and grew my hair out — I’ve since regained half the weight DAMN IT!! but my hair is still long) that the tool who put that montage together didn’t know it was the same person.

  60. Lynn says:

    I started listening to Howard in 95; before that all I could see/hear of him was when he did Letterman. Those shows are LEGEND, especially when Howard came on in drag. I am shocked he didn’t know who AB was but maybe he spends all his time at home watching Netflix. Plus he is busy helping his wife foster upwards of 30 cats at a time in their home. Does he know who any other CNN personalities are?

    I don’t know that I buy he was ‘threatened’ by AB though. I mean, he hasn’t been threatened by the likes of Clooney or any number of men far handsomer and in some cases smarter than he, so why would he fear AB? Plus if Stern was a big enough man to change and apologize to Letterman, probably thanks to his years of therapy and mellowing with age, I don’t see him being so small as to ‘pretend’ to not know who someone was. I highly recommend watching Stern + Letterman on Letterman’s new Netflix show.

    I’ve never listened to Opie or Jim, but clearly they don’t prepare at ALL before they have a guest. Dopes. At least Stern preps. That would have been a killer interview – Stern and AB.

  61. Lynn says:

    Re: Tony’s reading list. I tried reading one book based on Tony’s recos – Naked Lunch. It was a painful, frustrating experience. I HATED it. Then I remembered oh right, AB liked weird, gross shit. I’m planning to read Heart of Darkness but I think where books and music are concerned, I have little in common with his tastes. All that music from the CBGBs punk scene – Ramones, NY Dolls, Sex Pistols, Iggy Pop that he loved – not into it. Just looking at those guys with their bad skin and hair grosses me out. I’m more a Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, U2, Zeppelin person. And I can also intermittently enjoy a sprinkling of bands like ABBA and 80s new wave that he loathed lol. But I grew up in the 70s/80s, sue me.

    The one area I think we’d have agreed on is film bc I love dark, scary stuff. I just saw a film “Annihilation” that I think AB would have liked. It’s based on a novel – weird, creepy, challenging, cerebral and frustrating all at once. There’s a lot of themes and symbolism that I didn’t catch on first viewing. I read an analysis/review of the movie after I watched it and this part describing 1 particular scene made me want to cry bc I thought of Tony:

    “I found it to be perhaps the most searing expression of depression and self-destructive tendencies I’ve ever seen visualized.”

    Without spoiling, this quote refers to a scene where Natalie Portman struggles with someone/something. There’s a lot of symbolic choreography. Not a word is spoken. What if our inner depression/self destructive tendency to get in our own way was literally manifest as a separate physical entity that we had to fight? I pictured AB physically fighting his depression like he fought opponents in MMA. It was really moving.

  62. catsworking says:

    Lynn, Stern has never done anything for me, but if he’s into fostering cats, that’s cool.

    I know nothing about the relationship between Stern and Letterman. Since Letterman left his late show and grew that ridiculous beard, I can’t stand to look at him.

  63. Lynn says:

    Yea, the beard is insane. Hate it. And Stern mercilessly mocks it on the Netflix show by appearing in a Santa beard. But, for years Stern mocked Letterman on his radio show. Did rundowns of Letterman’s ratings vs. Leno, just really battered him. Which he now admits was due to jealousy of Dave. And Letterman says he was genuinely hurt by it. So Stern (not sure exactly when this happened) apologized and created a painting (didn’t know he painted) for Letterman’s wife.

    Stern’s wife Beth is a huge animal lover and got him into fostering. I’m sure Morgan knows more on this since I have not listened to Howard regularly since he went to Sirius bc I’m too cheap to pay for it. These days I’ll listen online to specific celeb interviews only.

    Maybe you could just listen to Letterman’s Netflix show without looking lol. His interviews with Obama and Tina Fey are also really good.

  64. catsworking says:

    Lynn, I’m only about 1 1/2 years older than Bourdain and (Nancy’s age, actually) but our tastes in music, and movies couldn’t be more different. But I will concede that I was undoubtedly born out of my proper time. There was a bit more overlap in books. In fact, I have a quote from him on my bulletin board from the 2014 Cayman Cookout where he said he’d love to reprint W. Somerset Maugham’s Ashenden and called it one of the “great spy novels of all time.” It felt like he was sending me a nod.

    The one book on my shelf of his that I failed to get through was the 2008 “Best American Traveling Writing” that Bourdain edited. I don’t remember why, but I read a few of the essays and gave up. I should give it another try.

  65. Morganlf says:

    Howard is obsessed with cable news. He constantly rates the hot chicks. He loves Rachel Maddow has been relentless in recounting the turmoil on Fox. In fact he was into CNN, MSNBC, FOX long before I was.
    In season every other commercial is for Parts Unknown..

    He knew who Bourdain was.

  66. Ann86 says:

    I’m sure this has been said. Benza wants clicks. And he found a willing audience with this. If anyone did a Twitter search on him not only you would see he has a history of lying but just being aggressive and inflammatory in general. It’s pretty disheartening that people aren’t seeing through what he’s doing.

  67. catsworking says:

    Ann86, we call those people Trump voters. They’ll bite on any lying click-bait you throw out.

  68. Juan says:

    Hello, everybody,

    I hope you are all in better spirits. Karen, I have been keeping up with your blog, just haven’t had much time to comment. It is 1:16 am in New Mexico and my 3 year old son has finally fallen asleep, I suppose now is just as good a time to comment as any. I agree with everybody’s take on AA. She is a nefarious witch, a demon, a Kiyohime. If any of you read the “Hungry Ghosts” comics Tony put out, in Japanese folklore, a Kiyohime is a woman that turns into a serpent, or dragon like demon and kills the man she loves out of rage. Tony had gotten a Kiyohime tattooed on his right forearm back in late June of 2015, at 7th Son Tattoo, while filming the San Francisco episode for Parts Unknown. I remember meeting him in Seattle on the 27th of July that same year for his “Close to the Bone Tour.” I had asked him where he had been rolling “bjj term” he stated he had been rolling at Renzo Gracie Jiu Jitsu in Seattle, but had taken a few weeks off, because he had just gotten new tattoos. He proudly showed me both his forearms. I find it ironic and tragic that AA of all people would lead to his demise.

    If any of you are interested, please visit David Choe’s Instagram page, on June 14 he posted a tribute to Tony, a very honest one. It gives a little more insight on Tony and the demons he was battling. Choe posts some artwork Tony gave to him depicting his heroine days and a very dark drawing of a chef with some words like “dual life” “fuck you coward”. There is also a short candid video of Tony talking about a meltdown he had.

    Any way, I have rambled on long enough.



  69. catsworking says:

    Hi, Juan, I think many of us did check out the David Choe post back when he posted it. Thanks for the insight on Tony’s tats. I lost track of what he was doing with that. You have to wonder what he was thinking to have a Kiyohime permanently branded onto himself. (Of course, I thought he’d lost his mind when he had a skull tattooed on his right shoulder on Miami Ink. Little did I know he was just getting started.) Did that Kiyohime tat attract the real thing into his life? It would seem so.

    I haven’t read any of the Hungry Ghosts comics. I’m confused about them. I think there were three issues, and they’re selling on Amazon for about $12-13.95 apiece. But then there’s this hardcover book coming out in October by the same name, and I think it’s an “anthology,” but it’s only about $10. So, is it the three comics rolled into one? New material? I have no idea.

  70. mrc551 says:

    Howard wasn’t threatened by the usual pretty-boys because he KNEW absolutely that he was their intellectual superior. Bourdain was altogether a triple threat to him. Intellectually superior. Check. Greek-god-handsome, Check. Charismatic personality above and beyond a natural talent. Check.

    Howard absolutely knew who AB was.

  71. Morganlf says:

    Thanks mrc551, exactly correct.

  72. Lily says:

    Hi everyone, I read the online magazine Slate daily and there was this in today’s edition:

    “High-profile” names? Really? Maybe I’m out of touch (could be I guess, I’m AB’s age) but aside from the infamous AA and RMG I only recognize one other name (Mira Sorvino) who for all I know may have a completely genuine reason to be involved with #Metoo. This whole open letter thing is bizarre and now it’s popped up again in a new venue and I’m very disappointed in the comments posted there. Who is buying this nonsense about AA’s “horrific pain”? I call BS on that. It’s all an act; she used Anthony until she got all she wanted from him, then she destroyed him. Now she’s abusing his memory to wring more out of him now that he’s gone. She’s a monster. If those who speak out against AA and for AB are “trolls” then I’m proud to be one!

  73. Juan says:


    My apologies for the redundant information. I forget I am addressing AB’s hardcore legion. I should have known it had already been discussed. Mea culpa.

    This may or may not be new to you. Tony is in an upcoming movie called “Always at the Carlyle”. Bemelmens Bar is located inside; Tony featured the bar on the Layover. He was a big Ludwig Bemelmans. Tony said he used “Hotel Bemelmans”, along with Orwell’s “Down and Out in Paris and London” as the blue prints for Kitchen Con.

    Is this the last time we will see Tony on the big screen. I doubt it. Hopefully the good people at ZPZ have a lot of behind the scenes footage they can put together into a sort of documentary to pay homage to Tony. Maybe something a little more intimate, hopefully they show the dark side of constantly being on the road. How taxing and heart breaking it can be to experience the poverty and injustice in some of the 3rd world countries he visited. The loneliness he experienced while constantly being on the road and in hotels, and still trying to be a “good” husband and father.

    Anyway, I have rambled long enough, here is the trailer for the movie due out in August.



  74. catsworking says:

    Juan, thank you for that link! I read about this movie months ago and thought it had already been released and passed by Richmond unbooked because it was too “artsy-fartsy” for this town. Regal Cinema reigns here, and this summer we are flooded with comic book and super-hero flicks. I’m so happy to learn I haven’t missed this movie. I love, love, LOVE NYC, although I’ve never spent nearly enough time there (I think the last time was 2008 before a cruise to Canada on the QM2. I stayed at the Marriott Marquis and saw a play starring Nathan Lane). The opening shots of Sex & the City give me goosebumps no matter how many times I see them. I will definitely be on the lookout.

    I also hope the ZPZ crew has tons of cutting-room floor stuff of Tony they can turn into something so as not to waste it.

    No problems with not reading through every voluminous comment posted here before you bring something up. We’re pretty thorough, but we do miss stuff. 😉

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