One Year: Anthony Bourdain Remembered

By Karen

Eric Ripert and José Andrés declared on Twitter that June 25 — Anthony Bourdain’s 63rd birthday — is #BourdainDay. They encourage us to pay tribute to Tony in any way we see fit.

But today, June 8, marks one year since Tony ended his life while filming in France, shocking a world unaware of the internal and external demons he was battling.

On May 28, CNN and Ecco published Anthony Bourdain Remembered, a gorgeous book of photos and tributes to Tony originally compiled as a keepsake for his daughter, Ariane. I’m so thankful she agreed to share it with us.

Brace yourself upon first read because many pages turn and you suddenly have Tony’s brown eyes close up and staring through you. It’s a joy to see him, but also heart-breaking.

Cats Working wasn’t a contributor in spite of the reams you and I have written about Tony here. Neither was Nigella Lawson.

Rewatching Parts Unknown, and poring over this book, I find myself searching for his silver wedding ring. To me it signifies when he was relatively content and grounded. In hindsight I’ve bisected his life into two very lopsided halves: pre- and post-fatal attraction.

Speaking of Parts Unknown, I’ll confess my interest waned near the end, and unwatched episodes piled up on the DVR. Tony seemed to be retracing his steps, but lacking joie de vivre. I don’t think he filmed his last season without a friend or acquaintance with him. It was as if he’d grown sick of his own company.

I rationalized that Bourdain once described himself as a bus that made many stops, and he didn’t expect everyone to stay on for the entire ride.

In his “spare” time, he was everywhere: producing documentaries; trying to launch the never-to-be Bourdain Market; Roads & Kingdoms; editing books for his Ecco imprint; writing and recording voiceovers for other ZPZ shows; doing personal appearances and interviews; supporting charities; filming Raw Craft videos for The Balvenie Scotch Distillery; writing a novel he’d been working on for years.

I’m sure I’ve left a lot out.

Now I wish I’d stayed on that bus and hung on, like I did for the years after I first stumbled upon him in 2007 on Travel Channel and began sharing my fascination with him on Cats Working.

The archive still has the most complete account of Bourdain’s career and life in those days that you’ll find anywhere on the internet. He was on the cusp of transcending cable TV obscurity to become what the world came to adore — the antithesis of the Ugly American.

We all thought we had many years ahead to hop on and off the Bourdain bus. Until we woke up one Friday morning to learn he’d hopped off it himself.

I don’t know yet what I’ll do on June 25. It’s a Tuesday. But food and drink will definitely be involved. Maybe you can give me some ideas.

UPDATES…

I haven’t seen anything about CNN’s documentary on Bourdain’s life. Ditto on the two books Tony’s co-author Laurie Woolever said she was working on.

Tony’s Russian sidekick Zamir Gotta was enlisting companions for a five-day tribute cruise to Cuba on Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas October 14. But Trump just fucked that up by suddenly, for no reason, banning port calls in Cuba by cruise ships sailing from the U.S.

I’ve lost track of Ottavia and Ariane. They moved from the home where they and Tony staged some of the photos in his last cookbook, Appetites. The place sold in May.

One day I arranged all of Tony’s books in order of publication (from right to left) so I could see his evolution. I once hoped to fill the entire shelf with his books, but the only new additions now will be written about him. I’m sure there will be many.

Parts Unknown has continued to win awards, including…

The six-part Explore Parts Unknown web series on Little Los Angeles won a James Beard Media Award in May, as well as an award for Visual and Technical Excellence.

In February, Parts Unknown: Bhutan won a 2019 Cinema Audio Society Award for Re-Recording Mixer.

Also in February, Parts Unknown: West Virginia won an American Cinema Editors (ACE) Award for Best Edited Nonscripted Series.

In January, Parts Unknown Seasons 11 and 12 won a 2019 Producers Guild Award for Non-Fiction TV.

BONUS…

Actor Michael Moriarty has been writing a series about Bourdain on his blog, Enter Stage Right. They’re strange, to put it mildly. See for yourself. The blog is needle-in-a-haystack on searches, so here are the links I found…

#1 Introduction (3/11/19)

#2 Detroit (3/18/19)

#3 Mexico (4/8/19)

#4 Russia (4/15/19)

#5 Chiang Mai, Thailand (4/22/19)

#6 Shanghai (4/29/19)

#7 Tanzania (5/6/19)

#8 Iran (5/13/19)

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30 Responses to One Year: Anthony Bourdain Remembered

  1. Anita says:

    Karen, I thought about this last night and hoping you would post. Last year, I was in L.A. for a fun weekend of the Hollywood Bowl Jazz Festival when waking up to this news. To say it was not a fun weekend anymore was an understatement.

    I finally made it through all the Parts Unknown from this year but couldn’t watch any of the tribute shows. Too soon. Thank you for posting the Michael Moriarty series. I will read those.

    At least for tonight I am going to celebrate his life by re-watching the Venice show from No Reservations. We planned a trip to Italy in September just to go to some of the places where he filmed. Cantina Do Mori is going to be one of my first stops. Also heading to Rome too.

    Thinking for #BourdainDay I need to eat something I never have, like kimchi. With a Heinken on the side.

    It is true that time heals all wounds, but it definitely leaves a scar. There will be a scar in my soul forever with his name on it.

  2. catsworking says:

    Anita, I couldn’t NOT post something. I’ve been thinking about him a lot. It took me a week to get through the book because the photos were killing me. I figured people would want a place to share their one-year thoughts, since so many of us went through it together here last year.

    The Michael Moriarty posts are definitely weird. I need to reread them, but they seemed to seesaw between love and hate.

    My DVR crashed recently and I lost the Parts Unknowns I’d saved, but I think I recaptured (or soon will) the one in Marseille with Ripert that I was saving. I’ll watch it on #BourdainDay. I’m considering my options for a meal and it’s coming down to sushi or Thai, which are off my beaten path, but easily had.

    I bought a jar of kimchi not too long ago because I was so surprised to see it that way. Couldn’t get through it. It’s an acquired taste, for sure.

    I’m green with envy at your trip to Italy. Just watch your step and cross to the other side of the street if you encounter a skinny hag adorned in skulls and spiders, wearing a lot of ink, looking for handouts.

  3. Anita says:

    Karen, I just read Michael Moriarity’s first entry. Going to have to re-read that. But I realized what hit me so hard about Bourdain’s death.

    Up until three years ago, I lived in the Bay Area (both San Francisco and Marin county) for 30 years and Robin Williams death hit us all like a ton of bricks. We had friends that lived near his house in Sea Cliff so drove by there all the time. We would wave and always say “hi Robin!” pretend we knew him. After the divorce and he moved to Marin we would see him biking the area and eating in restaurants. There was always a Robin siting somewhere. So it was like our next door best friend neighbor committed suicide.

    Five years ago my husband’s happily married nephew with three beautiful children committed suicide truly out of nowhere. I learned then there are no real answers and still isn’t. But my husband’s family will never be the same.

    I just now understood who the skinny hag is! Thank you, it made me laugh. I have banished her face from my life, so almost forgot what she looked like but that is a perfect description.

    Yes, the Marseille episode is one of the best ways to celebrate #BourdainDay. I think I will watch with you with a Rose’ in hand.

  4. Ida says:

    Hi Karen, thanks a lot for that. Beautifully written. This really got to me:

    ‘We all thought we had many years ahead to hop on and off the Bourdain bus. Until we woke up one Friday morning to learn he’d hopped off it himself.’

    I haven’t bought the book. It seems like it’s worth buying but it sounds like to me it’s mainly comprised of images and quotes that have already been published previously – is that correct?

    I must admit I kept thinking that more of his friends/family would have spoken out a bit more by now, but maybe it’s just never going to happen. Which in its own way is OK, but a little frustrating. AA has continued being a POS and totally shown how little respect and love and thoughtfulness she had for AB.

    It’s a bit disappointing to see that no one from the MeToo brigade has posted a tribute to AB today on their beloved social media accounts. One would have thought they appreciated how much he stood up for them and promoted their cause. Funny that.

  5. Mary Hunter says:

    It’s hard to believe it’s been only a year without Tony. In some ways it seems longer, I’m not sure why. I also loved your line about hopping on and off the Bourdain bus. I think there’s a Newfoundland episode that we somehow missed and are planning on watching it tonight. As Always, thanks for keeping track of all things Bourdain for the rest of us.

  6. Shannon says:

    Great post, as always, Karen. A very significant one, too, of course.

    I was a couple of months pregnant this time last year and the loss of AB threw me for a loop. Finding the community you created here helped me to process the shock and sadness that I was feeling, when having my first child at 40 was scary enough. My father committed suicide when I was very young and this made me through some other feelings about that too.

    A year later, I have a beautiful daughter.
    Antonia was actually on my short list of names, but I ended up choosing a name that had more personal meaning in my family.

    I’m rambling a bit here but just wanted to thank you for your years chronicling his life and this loss with your beautiful writing.

    Looking forward to #BourdainDay! I’ve chosen that day to start my baby girl on solid food! Seems fitting.

  7. Bob says:

    Thanks Karen for saying a few words for us few remaining Bourdainiacs. I can’t believe a year has flown by already.

    Like you I have been in contact with Zamir and was planning on taking the vacation trip to Cuba, alas it is not to be.

    I have been going pretty hard core on the episodes with Tony and his real friends today. Nari, Zamir, Eric..Poor poor Eric. After his family I feel the most for Eric they seemed to be two peas in a pod on their adventures.

    Like you I have been leafing through Remembered and honestly most days I can only get through a few pages at a time. It is a beautiful work and I am sure many like us are going through it’s pages tonight.

    Thanks for holding the torch high for someone I wish I would have been lucky enough to meet.

  8. Margeaux says:

    Hi Karen,

    I’ve also been thinking alot about Tony for the last two weeks.
    One day in particular it really hit me hard, I found myself in tears
    & being upset at a lot of things we all combed over a year ago.
    I even re-read some websites, looked on orange janitors twitter feed. What can I say, it just dredged up lots of stuff about Tony.

    Tonight I’m watching some Parts Unknown episodes. Just watched the Iranian one, now on the Vietnam w/Obama episode.
    Tony still looked good in these two. He was beautiful! My husband & I toasted him with a glass of red wine.

    Anyway, thank you so much for providing a space for all of us to hook up here. I’m sending everyone a huge, huge hug! I know we’re all feeling it.

    May Tony’s spirit be soaring real high out there!

    Thank you Karen,
    Much Love & Light! Margeaux

  9. catsworking says:

    Anita, I fixed the missing word in your comment. So sorry to hear about your nephew-in-law. And OMG on Robin Williams. I was pretty shook up over his death, but it became more understandable as facts of his medical condition came out. Ditto on Bourdain, but his was probably more emotional than medical. But that still doesn’t make it easy to grok.

    I think I’ll never feel a sense of closure about Bourdain because he just went Poof! after being ubiquitous for so long, and we may never know anything more.

    There’s a group on Twitter that still keeps an eye on the hag, although apparently she’s abandoned Twitter and Instagram for the moment. Apparently, she’s been trolling hard for a new sugar daddy. Maybe she should start charging tolls to enter her snatch. She’d make a fortune, but the looks of it.

  10. catsworking says:

    Ida, the book has a lot of images I’ve never seen before, or they were captures from episodes he filmed all over the world and you wouldn’t have noticed them as stills. The book is beautifully produced and well worth having. The vast majority of the entries are from people identified just by first name, last initial, who never met him. And pretty much his entire circle of close chef friends weighed in: Eric, Jose, Ludo, Marcus, Jacques Pepin. Nothing from people he ever ragged on, like Ramsay, Ray, Flay or Fieri.

    When I got to the end I realized Nigella was missing. I went back and checked every page to make sure. Nope, not there. I may be wrong, but it indicates to me that their relationship was closer than they ever let on, and he was married when they were out on the West Coast together for months on end filming The Taste. Maybe she’s a bit too close to being an “other woman” for the family’s comfort. I always thought she would have been the most able successor to Ottavia, rather than the sewer rat he ended up with.

    “Anthony Bourdain” and #AnthonyBourdain were trending at various times on Twitter yesterday, so there was some commemoration of the date. But I think people may be holding their tributes for #BourdainDay on June 25, which is fine. I just knew our crowd at Cats Working would still think June 8 is significant, so I felt I needed to weigh in.

  11. catsworking says:

    Mary, you’re welcome. Even though he’s gone, I still get a Google Alert on him every day. I think that’s how I stumbled on Michael Moriarty’s blog. When something significant pops up, I still delve into it like I always did. Force of habit, I guess. I started a Word document after he died of links to various aspects of his life and death that’s now 41 pages long.

  12. catsworking says:

    Shannon, thank you, and congratulations on your daughter! Glad you made it through the pregnancy OK, and it sounds like she’s thriving. Yes, I think it’s a great idea to start her on solid food on #BourdainDay. If she’s anything like Tony’s daughter Ariane, you’ll be feeding her oysters and rabbit and God-knows-what else. 😉

  13. catsworking says:

    Hi, Bob. It does seem impossible that a year has already passed without Bourdain. With all the insanity happening down here in the U.S.A., the silence his absence has created is sometimes deafening. But he’s probably in a better place than the rest of us in not having to deal with the daily, ceaseless assaults on our sanity and intelligence coming from the White House.

    I follow Eric on Twitter and he seems to be doing fine. I thought it was a great idea for him and Jose to get together and call for #BourdainDay on Tony’s birthday. They’re holding the torch high as well.

    I also looked into Zamir’s cruise and would have booked it in a heartbeat if not for Adele the cat here, who’s 19, on meds, and living every good day as a blessing. I had sailed on Majesty of the Seas to the Western Caribbean back in 1994 as my 40th birthday present to myself. I know the ship has been totally redone since then and I wouldn’t recognize it, but it’s now one of the smallest in Royal Caribbean’s fleet, so it feels more like a ship than a floating condo block. I hope Zamir tries another cruise at some point. If things have resolved here, I’ll be there.

  14. catsworking says:

    Thank you, Margeaux. I saw that my DVR was loading up on Parts Unknown, so I’ll have lots to choose from as #BourdainDay approaches. I do favor the older ones that were filmed pre-fatal attraction. With anything about him now, I always check the date to figure out whether he was happy, between relationships, or morbidly obsessed and spiraling out of control. You can almost tell by his face which period it was. He aged so fast in those last two years.

  15. Lorraine Villeneuve says:

    Interesting point about Nigella, I was thinking the same thing. If only.

    Thanks for all your diligence with this thread and keeping us informed for the last number of years.

  16. Anita says:

    Karen, I read all of Michael Moriarty’s blog posts. Wow. I tried to find the Thailand episode but Netflix only has the final 5 or 6 seasons not all of them. For all of Michael’s AA anti-drinking comments he does seem to enjoy watching people drink. Kind of like people on a strict diet watching the Food Network.

    That book sounds beautiful and I am going to buy it. Your comments about Nigella missing from the pages are spot on. I would have loved to seen them together too. Goes without saying he might still be alive today.

    As others have said thank you so much for everything in keeping Anthony’s memory alive in all of us. I do follow you on Twitter but I am under my Twitter name to prevent right wing family members from finding me. I will have to post something so you recognize it’s me. 🙂

  17. catsworking says:

    Anita, Twitter is really where I lose it about Trump most days. I’m not aware of who you are there.

    There’s no doubt in my mind that if Tony had hooked up with Nigella, he’d still be with us. Perhaps the last time he and she spent “quality” time together was when he was in London filming an episode and she made him breakfast. I believe she was divorced by then. It all seemed a bit too cozy to be a scene they just dreamed up, although I thought they made a great couple. Like Ottavia, she’s down to earth and just what he needed.

  18. Ida says:

    Hey Karen, I might check out the book after all. Interesting what you say about Nigella. Hmm. They certainly had good chemistry in one of the UK-eps, where she cooks him breakfast, but I did put it down to them just being comfortable in each other’s company and both good at ‘showing off’ in front of a camera 🙂

  19. Donna Pavone says:

    Hi Karen
    It took me a while to read this post. I can’t believe it’s been a year that he just disappeared. To me,it seems,poof,just like that. I’m startled by what a presence he was if not in my life,but my existence. He was just a TV guy but to me he became “Bourdain”,noun,verb and adjective. “That’s so Bourdain”. But as always you crack me up in the comments-where is that “sewer rat” these days? PS I like kimchi

  20. catsworking says:

    Donna, there’s an account on Twitter that seems to follow the sewer rat’s every move. How, I don’t know. Saw some disgusting pics of said rat at a Pride festival wearing very little, sloppy French-kissing a being (unsure if male or female). Apparently, she’s got her son back and he was with her. Must have been so proud of Mom. I hope his bedroom door locks. He looks eerily like Jimmy.

    If you read the Remembered book, you’ll find Bourdain had the same effect on so many people. Nobody seemed to realize how much he became part of their lives.

    I had no idea it would happen to me. But when that FedEx envelope landed on my doorstep in HIS handwriting (how did I recognize it? but I did) and it led to meeting him and Ottavia and having that nebulous connection all these years, he became very real.

    PS: I was just reading Instagram and someone mentioned The Raleigh Hotel in Miami has been torn down, and Ottavia responded that she wished she’d had one more visit there.

    That was Bourdain’s favorite there and I believe they stayed there when he filmed the “Miami Ink” episode where I caught my first glimpse of then-girlfriend Ottavia and outed her here. 😉

    But I’ve been searching the ‘net and can find no word on total destruction, just that the place has been gutted (to the point of tearing out all the windows and leaving it open to the elements) and is being renovated. But they plan to build another structure with it, so maybe it has been demolished.

  21. Donna Pavone says:

    Karen I’m now following you on IG

  22. catsworking says:

    Donna, Rotsa ruck with me on IG. I established an account for some reason, but I don’t think I’ve ever posted anything to it. If there’s anything out there, I don’t recall it being my doing. This blog and Twitter keep me busy enough. CatsWorking also has a YouTube channel that we haven’t posted to since Roc was a kitten (nearly 4 years ago?).

    Social media = full-time unpaying job. 😉

  23. Adele Prass says:

    So it’s taken me a week to check in. In the meantime, I’ve been looking at a lot of Parts Unknown and No Res episodes, and making my way through Remembered. My first response to Remembered, was, ” Wow, what a money maker for CNN.” They had the photos, they’d received the comments, and there was really nothing new to be found. And I was disappointed that more of Tony’s friends and colleagues weren’t contacted. Then I started reading the comments from “civilians,” and I was touched, in fact, a little teary.

    My father died when I was four, and even though I had a stepfather, we didn’t have a close relationship, so I feel that I grew up without a father. This makes me identify pretty strongly with Ariane, and I’ve thought an extra amount about her. I’ve alternated between missing Tony’s voice and being taken to more places in the world, and being angry that he left Ariane behind. It is interesting that AA has disappeared from social media, but her last IG posts do seem to indicate that her son is back with her. Do I ever feel for those kids

    I’m still trying to decide what to do for #BourdainDay. I’m thinking about getting a bunch of friends together and having vodka shots, pickles, black bread and other Russian delicacie. I figure people raising a glass will make for good posts. But I’m so distressed by the Orange Menace and the Dems” lack of action, that I’m afraid the day could get by me.

    Thanks for the Moriarity links. I know alcohol pretty much destroyed his acting career, and clearly, he’s an AA devotee. His attraction/repulsion to Bourdain is very interesting — a psychological puzzle.

    You and the cats stay well. Don’t you wish we could go to a DC Central Kitchen Cook Off and everyone would be there?

  24. catsworking says:

    Adele, I totally wish we could turn back the clock and all be together again. Good times.

    Today’s paper had the Publishers Weekly bestseller list and Remembered was No. 10 for hardcover nonfiction. When I was reading the book, I wondered if any of the text came from messages that people left all over the front of Les Halles. The current owners had said they would carefully take them down and present them to the family at some point.

    The only thing I fault Bourdain for is leaving his daughter to grow up without him. Forget the rest of us. SHE’S the one force that should have been strong enough to pull him back from the edge, if anything could have.

    On the other hand, he began to deliberately self-destruct from the moment he threw his lot in with the skank. Smoking, drinking, God knows what else. He aged more in his last two years than the previous 10. Was it self-loathing, or simply an older man trying in vain to match her depravity? Who knows.

    Even though we’ve had a year to process it, I still find myself hashing through the “what ifs.” What if he had just turned off his phone on that cunt and walked downstairs to dinner with Eric? What if they’d have checked on him that night instead of waiting until he missed breakfast? What if Ariane had texted him some little silly thing and pulled him down to earth?

    I still harbor a smoldering fury at the catalyst of his meltdown who walked away relatively unscathed to betray and kill again. It’s as if everywhere you turn these days, the bad guys are winning and nobody’s lifting a finger to stop them.

  25. Adele Prass says:

    Karen, I saw on Twitter that Marco Castoldi is speaking out against “the catalyst.” I know he’s Anna Lou’s father, and there’s something about blackmail. I could see part of the article in English on Twitter, but when I looked it up, I could only find it in Italian. Luddite that I am, I can’t figure out how to translate it. Do you have a link to the article in English?

  26. catsworking says:

    Adele, I saw the same thing. Anna Lou turned 18 earlier this month, so her usefulness as a weapon is probably gone.

    I did run the article through a translator and he said things like AA got him hooked on drugs and caused him to lose his house, and her general harassment of him has been going on for years. Apparently, it was over child support.

    But it’s just one more example of her getting her hooks into a man and not letting go until she’s bled him dry or killed him. It doesn’t seem to matter to her which it is. As time goes on and we see her proceeding on her merry way seeking lives to destroy for money, it just makes Tony’s death seem all the more pointless and avoidable.

  27. Dingobeast says:

    There is a good Twitter account @Vellinoverso that exists as a warning beacon about that fetid user. It is worth a follow, I think it is important that if someone is looking up the rancid twat, they see what an awful abuser she is. She abused not just Tony, but any person she has been in a relationship with, and some are speaking out.

  28. catsworking says:

    Dingobeast, I follow that Twitter account. Don’t know where it finds some of the scoop, but it’s definitely staying on the twat’s tail.

    Trivia question: Did the twat at one time have a huge angel tattoo on her midsection? When I saw pics of her dancing around and French-kissing somebody at a festival wearing a skimpy top, the tat was gone, but it looked like a sloppy removal job, with bits left around the edges. Can anyone confirm?

  29. MorganLF says:

    I’ve deliberately stayed away from commenting on the anniversary of Tony’s death, since I’ve said all I want to say on the subject.
    I miss him.

    Ottavia, Eddie and Arianne seem to be fine. Arianne is still performing with her rock band. I recall seeing a post with a homemade card for mother’s day signed by Eddie and Arianne.

    I have a small private IG account few followers mostly family. Pics of the babies. Ottavia follows and she liked a couple of posts. I continue to care about her and wish her well. Class act.

    Speaking of babies, I now have two grandy nephews toddlers. My niece is having twins, found out the gender this week she will have 3 boys under 3…November.

    My nephew is also having another August( gender kept secret)That means 5 under 3 this Christmas…my credit card is already smoking.

    I’d love a little girl…and the suggestion of the previous poster of the name of Antonia was one I was pushing, HARD.

    But, it seems it’s gonna be a passel of little boys. I’ve been suggesting Anthony, but have been soundly rebuffed. These kids today like those bullshit fake names like “Logan or Chase” yeccch.
    I’m still lobbying for a Tony.

    Meanwhile I fret, ok obsess about Mar-A-Lago fats. Please make him go away.

  30. catsworking says:

    Morgan, congrats on all the new additions to your family! Agree with you on the strange names that are in vogue. I think parents must be going for gender-neutrality because you never know how the kid is going to turn out. Gender at birth seems to be meaningless anymore.

    After being told by one of my sister’s high school students that Karen is an “old lady” name, I’ve noticed it popping up everywhere. There isn’t a TV show I watch where some character isn’t named Karen, although I haven’t seen it necessarily making a comeback as a baby name.

    Anthony is a classic. I had an uncle Anthony who went by Tony. Italian, of course.

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