Chapter 72: COVID Chronicles

By Karen

Day 89

Zamir Marks Two Years Without Bourdain

#BourdainDay, as commemorated by Tony’s friends Eric Ripert and José Andres, isn’t officially until June 25 on what would have been Bourdain’s 64th birthday.

But Zamir Gotta, Tony’s Russian sidekick from many memorable adventures going all the way back to his first series, A Cook’s Tour, says today is Bourdain Day because it marks two years that we all learned Tony had killed himself in his hotel room in France. It’s still hard to accept.

And fans still have many of the same questions we were left with in 2018.

[You can visit the Cats Working June 2018 archive for several more posts on details as they emerged. July 2018 was about him as well, and a search on his name will uncover developments here and there ever since.]

No public memorial service was held in New York beyond the avalanche of notes and flowers left in front of Les Halles (since closed), the last restaurant where Bourdain worked before his TV career began.

I’ve never seen any word about the final resting place of his ashes, if there is one.

Restaurants worldwide ever since have held special dinners and other events, with many of the proceeds going to suicide prevention. Artists have drawn murals. Here’s a great example on the side of a building in Fishtown, Philadelphia, by @jespaints in August 2019…

Here’s a video about a massive mural done by artist Krystal Cooke in Flint, Michigan, last year.

Some of Tony’s furniture, books, manuscripts, art and personal belongings were auctioned off to fund the Anthony Bourdain Legacy Scholarship at his alma mater, the Culinary Institute of America. The auction raised nearly $2 million — FAR more than anyone expected. His custom-made chef’s knife alone fetched $231,500.

This past January, Tony’s mother Gladys passed away at age 85, leaving only his younger brother Chris and daughter Ariane as surviving blood relatives.

I wonder how Bourdain would have coped with self-quarantine and travel being internationally shut down during COVID-19. I think he would have kept busy writing, editing others’ books for his Ecco imprint, and planning his own future projects. He would have recognized that his TV career as he knew it was probably over, or could evolve in a restricted way he’d find unworkable.

He might have well have seen this pandemic as a blessing and an opportunity to change course, since he seemed to be so bone-tired near the end.

And how would he have supported today’s #BlackLivesMatter movement? You know he’d be all in for fighting Trump’s never-ending attacks on immigrants and every American who isn’t rich, white, racist and male.

We can only imagine what a force for good he would have been.

13 Responses to Chapter 72: COVID Chronicles

  1. Lorraine E Villeneuve says:

    Zamir just did a live feed on IG for all of us to toast Tony on this sad day. He keeps the candle lit.

  2. catsworking says:

    Lorraine, oh, right! I missed it. I knew he was doing something at 3 p.m. today and totally forgot! Thanks for sharing that. I know Zamir has been hurting.

  3. Anita says:

    Karen, I would love to think Tony would be working to raise money for the food workers who have been devastated financially by the pandemic. Could also see him working with Jose Andres on World Central Kitchen.

    Why why why? A question we will never be able to answer.

  4. Bonnie C. says:

    What a wonderful painting of AB!! That’s something that should be put out as a print/poster or some such.

    And I agree that poor Zamir is probably hurting the worst out of all of AB’s friends. Eric may have been closer, but with his long & deeply held ties to Buddhism has probably come to terms with it better.

    I was watching a bunch of old No Res. episodes yesterday & was also thinking about how the pandemic would have affected AB’s career. While I’m also sure that he would have somewhat easily adapted due to his other talents, I’m sure he would have felt extremely sad for the world – “his” world – at large.

  5. catsworking says:

    Bonnie, I was just watching an 11-minute video of Eric and Jose on Instagram where they’re talking about how to celebrate Bourdain Day on June 25. I don’t know how Instagram works or if this link will work, but here it is, from Eric’s account:

    I agree with you that Zamir seems to be grieving and missing Bourdain deeply still. Eric and Jose have reached the point where they’re just happy they knew him.

    It’s unfortunate that Eric’s tranquility didn’t rub off on Tony, or that Tony didn’t reach out to Eric for help when he was being emotionally battered by AA during that last week.

  6. Bonnie C. says:

    Thanks!

    And I too have often wondered why Eric’s calm stability couldn’t have helped AB more. I doubt it was due to any lapse on Eric’s part, & I’m sure he wasn’t/isn’t a proselytizer; most likely an inability of AB to absorb, although he did mention more than once his respect for Eric’s beliefs.

  7. catsworking says:

    Bonnie, Tony’s mother Gladys said at the time that when Eric called her about Tony’s death, he told her that Tony had been in “a dark mood” for several days. That would coincide with when all the shit with AA hit the fan.

    I’m sure Eric was just trying to be a supportive friend and would have listened and given advice had Tony wanted it. I’m sure he NEVER suspected that Tony would take the drastic way out. In fact, I think it was the crew that said Bourdain seemed to have calmed down and been in better spirits the last time they saw him on Thursday before he went to his room that last time.

    I personally believe everything they said, and that Tony had no thought of killing himself until something happened later when he was alone that tipped him over the edge. And it was probably a conversation or text fight with AA. And there may be some record of it on his phone. And that’s the piece we may never know, unless at some point AA decides to spill her guts. But even then, she’ll probably be lying.

    She was uncharacteristically quiet on social media yesterday, or so I’ve seen tweeted about her. Rather than using Bourdain to bring attention to herself as the “real” victim, as she usually does, I have to wonder if her silence is leading up to something bigger she’s plotting. Or she’s saving it until June 25, which is the sanctioned day of worldwide remembrance.

  8. Lorraine E Villeneuve says:

    How long do we have to put up with her? I’m so done and I suspect Ottavia is as well.

  9. Bonnie C. says:

    I frankly haven’t seen, heard, or read anything at all about her since AB’s death, but I don’t go looking for it either & don’t have accounts with or visit social media platforms.

  10. catsworking says:

    Lorraine, totally agree. She’ll be 45 in September. She seems to be unraveling under quarantine, drinking and filming herself romping around to bad music like she’s 16. Menopause could finish her off.

  11. catsworking says:

    Bonnie, she is to be found on social media. She’s no longer on Twitter, but quite active on Instagram, I think. She’s hardly worked. Was hired for one reality competition like The Amazing Race, but hurt herself almost at the beginning and had to quit. She does some DJ gigs here and there. Tries to sing (has the voice of a truck driver who gargles gravel).

    Hasn’t found another man to pay all her bills.

  12. Bonnie C. says:

    Well then I’m certainly glad I’ve managed to miss it. Guess her young photographer friend wasn’t up to the part.

  13. catsworking says:

    Bonnie, interesting point. I haven’t seen her cavorting with any of the men she was using to make Bourdain jealous. Or if she is, she’s keeping it to herself. On the other hand, with Europe in virtual lock-down, especially Italy, she probably couldn’t have gotten to them even if she wanted to.

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