REVIEW: Bourdain, the Definitive Oral Biography

By Karen

Anthony Bourdain’s assistant Laurie Woolever has pulled off another remarkable feat with Bourdain: the Definitive Oral Biography, although I wonder how “definitive” it will ultimately be. I still have 100 pages to go, but I can’t wait to tell you about this book.

Woolever interviewed 91 people Tony knew throughout his life. Some are his famous friends or career-related contacts whose names I recognize, but many aren’t.

Most notably, Woolever spoke at length with Tony’s first wife Nancy (who also contributed touching never-before-seen photos) and his now-14-year-old daughter Ariane. Cats Working readers who have always wondered about these two important females in his life will be gratified by how openly they share their memories.

The book’s format surprised me in the best way. I expected 91 straight interviews, which risked becoming dull and redundant. Instead, Woolever pulled off the Herculean task of breaking each interview down by topic, then reassembling those pieces under 59 page-turning chapter headings into a miraculous chronological narrative.

Instead of picturing each person sitting across from Woolever with a tape recorder between them, it’s more like she gathered a room full of people to casually share notes on Tony topics like, “I Absolutely Always Saw a Talent in Him,” “I’m Not Gonna Censor the Guy,” “He Was a Man of Extremes,” and so on.

This, coming on the heels of her previous project, where she stitched together World Travel: An Irreverent Guide from Bourdain’s vast trove of published materials, makes me think Woolever does 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzles for fun, like those geniuses on YouTube who solve Rubik’s Cubes in 5 seconds.

Tony’s brother Chris and mother Gladys (who died in 2020) are included, and they sketch out the most complete picture yet of Tony’s father, Pierre Bourdain, and Tony’s relationship with him. The closest I’ll come to a spoiler is to say that you’ll see Tony’s parents in a whole new light, particularly Gladys.

Of course, Ottavia pops in throughout, although Nancy naturally dominates the early years when she and Tony were together, and we learn some of her side of that story for the first time. As the person who “outed” Nancy online back in 2008 in an old episode of A Cook’s Tour, I was stunned (and chagrined) by her revelations about traveling to Spain with Tony.

Nancy connected Woolever with friends who knew Tony in high school and at Vassar, but the one period where there seems to be a hole is during his CIA years (the culinary school, not the spy agency), and what kind of student he was there.

With 100 pages still to go, I haven’t quite gotten into his final years and what I know is coming, although late last night I touched the edge of that on page 330 when someone said, “And then fucking what’s-her-name entered his life…”

Woolever, keeping the wagons circled, didn’t interview “fucking what’s-her-name,” nor, I’m curious as to why, Tony’s most notorious “fixer,” Zamir.

My next observation isn’t to fault Woolever in any way, because I’m gaining (and confirming) many insights into Tony’s behavior and events.

Weirdly, many people speak of him in present tense as if he were still alive. But even so, because they and Woolever are two layers between the reader and Tony, I feel like I’m in one of those dreams where you’re searching for someone. You keep meeting people who say, “Oh, he was here a minute ago, and he did this…” but he’s always just around the next corner and out of sight and you wake up without finding him. I guess there’s no escaping this detached quality, given the secondhand material Woolever’s working with. But the people she talks to tell myriad great stories about him.

The other thing that surprised me physically about the book is the rough paper, which seems destined to turn yellow. You’d think anything with Definitive in the title would have some archival quality, but I’m guessing it was a cost decision.

Bottom line: If you’re still curious about Anthony Bourdain, this is a book to read sooner rather than later.

PS: On Tuesday, October 5, we have another Bourdain book coming out, In the Weeds: Around the World and Behind-the-Scenes with Anthony Bourdain, by Tom Vitale, who directed 100 episodes of Tony’s various travel shows. I’ve already read it and will have much, much more to come on it, so stay tuned.

Trust me, there’s virtually no overlap between these books, even though Vitale is interviewed in the Biography. I found Tom’s to be the more satisfying book because you can call it anything but detached. However, both are must-reads if you want answers to many (not all) of the questions Tony left us with. I hope we’ll have conversations here about both books, so get reading!

46 Responses to REVIEW: Bourdain, the Definitive Oral Biography

  1. feijicha says:

    The Vitale book could be interesting (and not necessarily in a good way) because he says he interviewed AA and specifically talks about how pics of her kissing that guy appeared and Tony killed himself shortly thereafter. He quotes her as saying they had an open relationship and he says she didn’t pull the trigger….https://pagesix.com/2021/10/01/anthony-bourdains-producer-tom-vitale-didnt-see-his-suicide-coming/
    An excerpt of the pagesix article:
    “Vitale also spoke to Bourdain’s last girlfriend — Italian actress Asia Argento — for the book. Days before his death, photos were published of Argento kissing and hugging a man, and some leapt to the conclusion that this led to Bourdain’s suicide. She vehemently denied the accusation in an interview, explaining that both she and Bourdain saw others outside of their relationship.

    “In the media, she has been raked over the coals for that,” Vitale said before adding, “I don’t think anyone can really pull the trigger. I mean, she didn’t pull the trigger.” “

  2. GlamourMilk says:

    If they had an open relationship, then why did she insist on Bourdain not living with Ottavia and getting angry every time he talked about her and them having to keep secret that they still saw each other (as friends), which Ottavia herself has confirmed? If it was an open relationship there’s no way he would have been so upset/angry about the ending of it. Sorry. That lie doesn’t hold up. Her idea of them having an open relationship was that SHE could fuck whoever she wanted and that HE just had to put up with that and pay for everything. Just the fact that he was so in love with her and defended her so vigorously in public proves that he considered them to be in a relationship and that she was his girlfriend. Otherwise, I don’t believe for a second he would ever have done that. Why would you risk friendships and your family-relations over someone you’re in an ‘open relationship’ with? There’s no chance that’s true. I’m not saying he can’t have slept with someone else at some point (I have no idea) but for her to dismiss the whole thing as an open relationship is no doubt her way of deflecting blame. I can’t see her as anything other than a cruel sociopath who took one step too far, with someone else’s death as a consequence, and realised, ‘Oops, I better tread carefully now for the sake of my image and social standing.’ That doesn’t make her any less guilty, just more calculating.

    As for Tom Vitale semi-defending her. Some people really don’t want to believe that others can cause someone’s suicide. Fair enough. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re correct in that assessment. I think that we, as a society, pussyfoot too much around suicide. We don’t have a problem blaming someone beating someone to death. Well, you can also ‘beat’ someone verbally/mentally to death. But maybe a lot of people find that hard to accept; either because they haven’t experienced something similar, or because they’re maybe the kind of person who themselves have been guilty of ‘beating someone up’ verbally/mentally, and therefore don’t want to accept the possibility that that could potentially lead to fatal consequences.

    I look forward to reading the book though. But moreso, the one by Woolever, though I didn’t like her previous effort which I thought was a bit of an unnecessary cop-out.

    Meanwhile, AA is promoting her shitshow of an autobiography in France where she has so far said that Tony was an alcoholic (maybe true but clearly her attempt at skirting any guilt) and that when ‘you’re in a negative state you attract negative people’ (a dig at Bourdain clearly), you cannot save someone who doesn’t want to be saved (she never tried to save shit, it was the other way round, he spent all his energy trying to ‘save her’), talking about being a buddhist and letting bad things go. Yuck! Well, good for her and her ex-partner-in-crime Rose McGowan for finding themselves. But they both have to live the rest of their lives being guilty of bullying another person to death (Bourdain and Messick), despite how much they both pretend otherwise, and regardless of people like Tom Vitale thinking that Argento didn’t ‘pull the trigger’.

    As for Argento now having become a buddhist. Well, at least that religion/philosophy will allow her to practice non-attachment which will support the idea that she hasn’t done anything wrong to anyone ever – lol.

  3. catsworking says:

    Feijicha, Vitale didn’t “interview” Asia for the book. He went to Italy looking for answers (and possibly someone to blame) and met with her. (I’m describing this to you as he wrote about it in the book.) She asked Tom about Tony’s will and what happened to all the money she thought he had. Apparently, she’d read about it in the papers. To me, that’s a clear indication of her priority in the relationship.

    We learned eventually that Bourdain’s estate was much more modest than anyone assumed, but that was because he’d already put his assets into trust or signed them over to Ottavia, so they weren’t counted in the estate. And he was kind of like his parents when it came to money (which is described in the Woolever book) and wasn’t much of a saver.

    By “not pulling the trigger,” I think Tom is just saying that she wasn’t the one who killed him directly, but the same could be said about anybody who’d ever aggravated him in his life.

    I believe that her assertions now about their “open” relationship are all BS to exonerate her for cheating on him, and to this day she feels no responsibility or remorse for his death, outside of losing access to his wallet.

    I’m going to do a deep dive into Vitale’s book soon, so if you have any questions, please put them in comments and I may be able to get you some answers.

  4. catsworking says:

    GlamourMilk, I read your comment after I responded to feijicha, and I agree with you. Did you ever see that little pathetic clip the skank posted (on Insta, I think) of Tony in some cold place, clutching his coat around his throat and saying how much he missed her and wished he was with her? It was incredibly intimate, and the most naked emotion I’ve ever seen him display, and VERY sad. That she would put that out in public speaks volumes. He was her piggy bank and fuck buddy, in that order, and she reveled in her power over him.

    In her book, she said she told him they would never live together, but he was telling people all he wanted to do was move to Italy and live out his golden years with the skank.

    Surprised to hear that she thinks she’s a Buddhist these days. Ripert must be laughing his ass off at that absurdity. I wonder where all her skulls and spiders and evil eyes fit in?

    For the record, I have no problem laying full blame on her for Tony’s death. Had they never met, he probably would have had an orderly wind-down on the travel (the pandemic might have provided the out he needed) and devoted himself to writing, producing and publishing books. And he would have remained in Ottavia and Ariane’s orbit and continued to have some stability there, which he clearly needed.

    Yes, he was a drug addict and probably alcoholic and prone to depression, but the skank knew that and encouraged all of it and used it to control him. The only person who knows what her last words to him were are the skank, and I’d bet money she dared him or taunted him into what he did. He died of of the heartbreak and humiliation she heaped on him until it was too much to bear.

    I hope you read both books because I would love to hear your take. Tom’s book is totally different and focuses on Tony while they were shooting his series. Tom worked with him through all four travel series. His perspective is much more raw than the bio, and you get a fuller picture of what it was like to be around Tony for extended periods in extreme situations, and it wasn’t pretty.

  5. GlamourMilk says:

    Cats –

    Yes, I remember that video and again, that’s not the words and tone of voice of aomeone sending a video message to someone they’re in a casual/open relationship with.

    As for what you wrote in the paragraph below, I agree:
    ‘Yes, he was a drug addict and probably alcoholic and prone to depression, but the skank knew that and encouraged all of it and used it to control him. The only person who knows what her last words to him were are the skank, and I’d bet money she dared him or taunted him into what he did. He died of of the heartbreak and humiliation she heaped on him until it was too much to bear.’

    I can’t read the two books yet ‘cos neither have been published in Europe yet, where I am, as far as I know. I pre-ordered the Woolever book as an online book, due in November I believe. The Vitale book is apparently out in the next few weeks in hardback but I haven’t seen it advertised as an ebook yet, which is the format I’d prefer.

    So Vitale talked to her in Italy and she actually asked him about Tony’s money? I mean, are you kidding?

    I know it would be a spoiler but can you say more about why/how we see Tony’s parents in a new light in the Woolever book?

  6. Bob says:

    Please remember those early days were We not I. Can’t wait to read both books however.

  7. catsworking says:

    GlamourMilk, I didn’t realize you are in Europe! Sorry to hear about the delay in your access to the books. I’ve got about 30 more pages to go in Woolever book, and the thing that people keep repeating about Tony’s relationship with the skank is that he acted like “a 16-year-old.” He really convinced himself she hung the moon, although at times he would allude to knowing she was a disaster.

    In his book, Vitale writes of his encounter with the skank as if the first thing she asks him is about the will and money, but that would need verifying. I will disclose that I’ve had several long conversations with Tom and he has agreed to be interviewed by Cats Working, which is how I got to read an advance copy of his book. I wanted to also read the Woolever book first to have the complete picture of what info is out there now, and I’ve got a ton of notes to sort out from Tom’s book before I talk to him on the record.

    As for Tony’s parents, the scoop comes from his brother Chris. I’ll share this spoiler about Gladys. She was Jewish, but changed her maiden name when she married and passed herself off as not Jewish until the boys somehow came across her real name (Sacksman, but she was spelling it Saxon) when they were teenagers and thought it sounded Jewish. When they asked her, she admitted it. Jewishness is passed down through the mother, as I understand it, so that was a pretty big thing for her to hide from them.

    I was stunned when Tony went to Israel and declared himself suddenly Jewish, because all I’d ever seen was that he’d been raised Catholic. I think he even mentioned somewhere being an altar boy. Now I know how that evolved.

    The boys always loved their father, but Gladys got increasingly more difficult as years went on. Chris fills in a lot of details about their growing up. She and Pierre split (she kicked him out) when Tony was in his 20s, but never divorced. As time went on, she became more of a problem, not demented, but demanding. The details are startling, so I’ll leave you in suspense there. Tony took his father’s sudden death at 57 harder than I ever saw him let on.

    Nancy provided some of their wedding photos, and Pierre (father) is in one of them.

  8. catsworking says:

    Bob, huh? If I’ve said “I” when it should have been “we,” it’s only because I don’t want to presume on anyone. I look back on “those early days” as the golden years for all us original Bourdainiacs, which would include you. 🙂

  9. Lorraine Elizabeth Villeneuve says:

    What did you think about Tony having lunch with Lydia Lunch and she told him she knew he was gay?

  10. Jim says:

    Bourdainiacs,

    I had mentioned in the comments a few months ago that I was considering a story about Anthony. Below is a short story about Anthony’s paternal grandfather. I don’t believe anyone connected the dots. A picture will follow. I hope Bourdain fans enjoy this piece of his ancestry.

    A STORY ABOUT ANTHONY BOURDAIN AND HIS
    “DOUGHBOY” GRANDFATHER.

    “NATIONAL WW1 MEMORIAL DEBUTS IN WASHINGTON, D.C. President Biden added, “This memorial finally will offer a chance for people to visit and reflect and to remember. More than 100 years have passed since WWI ended, but the legacy of those Doughboy’s sailing off to war, and the values they fought to defend, still live in our nation today.”
    Smithsonian Magazine. The date was April 16, 2021, and the speech was done virtually.

    “One of the most heartening and cheering things about this whole business is the infinite capacity for mutual friends that exists between the children of France and the soldiers of America.”
    The Stars and Stripes: American Expeditionary Forces Newspaper, November 29,1918.

    On July 19,1919, the U.S.S. Kroonland departed from the port of Saint-Nazaire, France with over 3,600 Army personnel. The Treaty of Versailles officially ended the Great War a few weeks earlier. Over nine million soldiers from both the victor and defeated would never return to their homeland. Another twenty-one million soldiers would go home damaged some beyond repair. Some of the “lucky” ones told stories of the war to their family and friends while others buried the mental anguish deep into within their souls. But all wanted to get on the ship before another war started.

    The gangway from an aerial view resembled ants pushing their way up a hill with a leaf on their back. Congestion was easier to handle going home than back to another military conflict. As the checklist of passengers was being signed off, one of the Army embarkation officers waited to the last minute to ready his passenger to head up the gangway. With a passport in hand, a young boy was escorted by the officer. Although the boy was dressed in military garb, the smile on his face radiated his youthfulness. However, he was treated as if he were invisible on his way onto the ramp. The officer working the list turned his back and began a conversation with the people working at the dock. Another officer at the top of the gangway bent down to tie his shoes. Thirteen-year-old Pierre Michel Bourdain waved at the soldiers leaning over the railing when he spotted Quartermaster Sergeant Arthur H. Murphy giving him the thumbs-up sign. The next stop is Hoboken, New Jersey.

    The final manifest of the U.S.S. Kroonland that represented all the passengers on board when they docked was summarized as follows:
    “Officers 294
    Army Field Clerks 3
    Nurse, A.N.C. 1
    Civ., Q. M. C. 1
    Enlisted Men 3213
    Total 3512
    And 1 French boy.”

    As reported on an official government document “Information obtained from Embarkation officials, Ellis Island (after Pierre was sent transferred from Hoboken on July 30,1919), New York. Know this passenger as a French stowaway. He was sent to Miss Kloe, representing Quartermaster Arthur H. Murphy, 773,593, whose address is 149 east 39th street (138 East 38th street ‘Allerton House’), New York City, New York, for adoption.”
    Also reported was that the boy “was placed on board the ship several minutes before the ship sailed.” 

    The New York Tribune was one of the first newspapers to tell the story of “doughboy” Pierre Michel Bourdain,
    “The Kroonland had the distinction of bringing the youngest number of the A.E.F. (American Expeditionary Force). He is Michel Bourdain, fourteen years old (thirteen years old for another two weeks after the article), dark-haired and blue-eyed. He stands five feet two and wears the Sphinx head on the collar of his blouse, denoting a civilian interpreter. He says he speaks “Amurican,” not “Engleesh.” He was accompanied by Sergeant A. A. (should be H for Howard). Murphy, who said he had the permission of the lad’s parents to adopt him.
    Bourdain helped his aged parents on a little farm at Maine-Loire, in Brittany (the actual commune of Pierre’s birth was Trelaze. The farm was located on the outskirts of the larger city Angers in western France. The Loire River was a few miles south of the farm. Trelaze is four hundred- and forty miles due East of Port Saint-Nazaire.) When the 52nd Ammunition train camped at their (the farm) Pierre thought they were the finest soldiers he had ever seen and immediately started to help them in their marketing using the little English he learned in school. The 52nd Ammunition Train moved on and was followed by the 54th Coast Artillery, “Mike” (as called by the soldiers) had accumulated quite a vocabulary and made himself invaluable to the new arrivals, none of whom spoke French. Soon they found that they could not do without him, so he was given a uniform and put on the payroll as a civilian employee interpreter at  
    225 francs a month. His parents moved to Bordeaux (the status of Pierre’s father is portrayed differently throughout the newspapers. Some say they were told he died at Verdun. However, it is documented quite frequently that his father was from Sao Pedro, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil). The parents opened a grocery store on Mike’s savings, which they realized was much more profitable than farming. Sergeant Murphy said that he is going to give Mike a good education.”

    QUARTERMASTER SERGEANT ARTHUR H. MURPHY
    He was born in Stamfordville, Duchess County, New York on September 12, 1888. His father Frank was born in Virginia and made his way to the farmlands of New York. When Frank was born in 1854 in Lynchburg, Campbell, Virginia his mother C.J. Murphy was listed as a Pauper born in New York.
    By 1910 Arthur was living in Poughkeepsie (as spelled in the manifest from the Kroonland “Pokeepsie” New York). His occupation was listed on the census as Salesman within the Candy Retail industry. At the age of twenty-nine, he enlisted in the Army at Fort Slocum in New York. He was single at the time and remained single throughout his life. Per his military record, he was promoted to sergeant on September 18, 1918, while he was overseas. When he was discharged on August 4, 1919, he had the title of Quartermaster (QMC) Sergeant. In total his time spent overseas was fourteen months. One of his stops was in the commune of Trelaze.
    The building in New York he returned to after discharge was called “Allerton House” (later renamed to Tatham). The owner of the Allerton Houses Mr. Cushman had stated in an interview “The object of the Allerton Company (and their houses) was to establish apartments with a home influence for men. To accomplish this mission the company was providing young men with a safe, stable and economical arrangement”.

    FOUR YEARS BEFORE “DOUGHBOY” PIERRE ARRIVED IN NEW YORK
    Ms. Gabrielle Riousse followed the passengers of the Lafayette through Ellis Island on December 6, 1915. She was twenty-two years of age with chestnut hair. Her eyes were also described as chestnut. Her destination and the person she listed as visiting in the United States was her sister Berthe who was married to James Corr. They were living at west 91st street in New York. Gabrielle was born in Paris where her father Alfred lived in 1915. According to her birth certificate, she was delivered on February 25, 1893, to Alfred and Ernestine Loret. Her occupation was a milliner (dressmaker).
    Gabrielle was the youngest of the two sisters. Berthe was born in 1886 and Marthe in 1890.
    When Gabrielle arrived in New York her parents were living at 13 Rue Cortambert, Paris. Her father Alfred was born in Alencon, Orne, home of Alencon lace or known as “the Queen of laces and lace for Queens”. As her parents over the years moved to different locations in Paris, they always found their way of living by the Seine River. Gabrielle and her sisters would peer across the Seine to catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. Her mother Ernestine would tell them the story of the 1889 World’s Fair and the rising of the Tower. Although their mother spoke about the excitement, she felt standing underneath the Tower and looking up, the girls knew that Ernestine carried this deep sorrow about their brother Ernest who died at the age of three in 1885.
    But there was a blessing years later when their brother Gustav was born. As Gabrielle left the home of her parents and headed to the port in Bordeaux the cold breeze of a November day in Paris had her eyes tearing. But she knew that it was more than saying goodbye to the Eiffel Tower that brought on the sadness of the day. The ship Lafayette was waiting to embrace her and deliver her to America.

    Five years later, Gabrielle traveled back to see her parents and returned to New York on February 7, 1920. Where she was measured as four feet eleven inches in 1915, she was listed as five feet four inches in 1920. Her profession had changed from milliner to teacher. On the same ship accompanying Gabrielle was her sister Berthe. Both sisters sailed to France in October 1919, the same year that “Doughboy” Pierre Michel arrived in New York. The reason why both Berthe and Gabrielle felt compelled to head for Paris was based on a letter that Berthe received (contained within the passport papers),
    “Translation of a portion of a letter received from my sister-in-law (wife of their brother Gustav), regarding my sister who is ill. “I have just come back from visiting Marthe, and she doesn’t want to see me. She calls for you continually and since it was you that brought her up, I feel certain that a visit from you is the only thing that will do her any good. It is the only hope I have left, and believe if she could see you, it would do a great deal to bring her back to health.”

    NEXT STEP FOR ARTHUR MURPHY AND PIERRE MICHEL BOURDAIN (SOON TO BE NAMED MICHEL MURPHY)
    The New York Herald of September 9, 1919, provided the update:
    “YANK ADOPTS LAD HE MET IN FRANCE. Ex-Interpreter to Rear son of Verdun Defender”
    There was something in the wistful face of little Pierre Michel Bourdain which haunted Sergeant Arthur H. Murphy of 143 East Thirty-ninth Street, on the occasion of their first meeting in France. From the time the eyes of the big sergeant, who was an interpreter in the American Expeditionary Forces, and little Pierre met in Bordeaux there developed a mutual attachment.
    Every opportunity found the doughboy and the French lad together, and little Pierre told his story. He was a half-orphan; his father having been one of the thousands of French poilus who defended Verdun against the German onslaughts at the cost of their lives. His mother, Mithilde Belliard Bourdain, was in poor circumstances, scarcely able to support her children and herself. When the time came for his departure from France Sergeant Murphy obtained permission from the boy’s mother to have Pierre follow. There was a lot of trouble in getting this permission, but it was only the beginning of Sergeant Murphy’s difficulties. There was the official red tape to be untangled, and that also took time. Finally, however, young Bourdain arrived in
    New York and was welcomed by his doughboy friend, an accountant, who had returned to civilian life.
    It was fitting that the day on which Gen. Pershing returned to America should be made one of the happiest in little Pierre’s life. Surrogate Cohalan signed yesterday the papers of adoption for which Murphy had applied, and Pierre Michel Bourdain became Pierre Michel Murphy. He will reside with his foster-father and the latter’s widowed sister.”

    However, as noted in the 1920 census, Arthur H. Murphy and Michael Murphy were boarders at 323 Saint Nicholas Avenue in Manhattan. Arthur’s sister, Jessie, would remarry a Joseph Mc Cormack on June 22, 1920. The occupation listed for Arthur was an accountant. As of 1924, Arthur Murphy had registered to vote and was living at 518 West 140 Street a few blocks from Saint Nicholas Avenue. 1924 was the last year that Pierre noted he had been living in New York before he sailed back to France.
    The “Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists” in New York on June 10, 1926, with the ship name Rousillon, included a Pierre Michel Bourdain, not a Michel or Michael Murphy. His hair color was brown and his eyes gray. He was visiting his mother who lived at 52 Rue des Bahuttiers in Bordeaux. The person in the United States that he knew was a Mr. Wilgus who lived at 61 Hamilton Place in Manhattan. This was street was adjacent to west 140 street which was the address on the 1924 voter list of Mr. Murphy. 

    GABRIELLE RIOUSSE RETURNS TO NEW YORK WHILE PIERRE SAILS TO FRANCE
    Gabrielle traveled to Paris twice between 1924 and 1926. Each time she listed her father Alfred as the “Person in Old Country”. On each of the trips, he was living at 16 Rue Jeanne D’arc La Garenne-Colombes which was outside of Paris. On her manifest of 1926, her passport information stated that it was issued on June 10, 1926, which happened to be the exact date Pierre returned to New York. As her home address in New York, it was no longer her sister’s home. She gave the address 57 East 58th street (known as the Hotel Claredon). Her occupation was Professor.
    On October 3, 1928, Gabrielle, and Pierre (the name on the marriage index is Pierre M. Bourdain). They were married in Manhattan, New York. She was thirty-five years old and Pierre twenty-three. Their son, Pierre, was born on December 12, 1929 (the father of Anthony Bourdain).
    Gabrielle and her 20-month-year-old son Pierre (one of many trips to Paris) and returns to New York On August 25, 1931. The person they were visiting was Pierre’s mom who had moved to La Teste de Buch in Gironde, France. The ocean breeze and warm-summer days were where she wanted to retire.
    The 1930 census revealed that Pierre M. and Gabrielle were married and living at 675 West End Avenue in New York. Baby Pierre was also listed. Pierre senior had the occupation of Merchant in a department store. Gabrielle was a dressmaker.
    FROM THE RECORDS OF “NEW YORK CITY MUNICIPAL DEATHS”
    NAME: PIERE BOURDAIN
    SEX: MALE
    ADDRESS: 317 WEST 95 STREET
    BURIAL DATE: 1 JAN 1933
    DEATH DATE: 31, DEC 1932
    DEATH PLACE: MANHATTAN
    BIRTH YEAR: 1904
    BIRTHPLACE: FRANCE
    MARITAL STATUS: MARRIED
    OCCUPATION: MANUFACTURER
    RACE: WHITE
    SPOUSE NAME: GABRIELLE BOURDAIN
    CEMETERY: FRESH POND CREMATORY
    NOTE: 20 YEARS IN UNITED STATES

  11. Jim says:

    To all,
    Can I paste a picture on these comments?. It is from a newspaper article in 1919.
    Jim

  12. catsworking says:

    Lorraine, I don’t know anything about this. I’m not seeing a Lydia Lunch listed in the book’s contributors, and I don’t think I’ve ever in my life seen Bourdain and gay used in the same sentence.

  13. catsworking says:

    Jim, I don’t know that you can paste anything into comments. It’s never been done, but if you can figure out how, go for it.

    You call this information about Tony’s grandfather is a “short story,” which would indicate it’s fiction. So, are these facts you uncovered, or is it something you’ve made up? (The detail looks factual, but I want to make sure we’re being clear here.)

    And didn’t Tony and Chris go to Paraguay to learn about their grandfather? I’m not seeing that connection in any of this, and he died when he was only 28.

  14. Jim says:

    Karen,
    The story is true and supported by actual documentation. This is his grandfather. His great grand father was from Brazil. The Paraguay relationship that you recall was from one of his episodes “ Anthony is thrust into Paraguay by investigating his great, great, great, grandfather, Paraguayan émigré Jean Bourdain, while sampling savoury local dishes that include Bife Koygua, Bori Bori.” ( I added by cut and paste). Going back 3 greats is way back. There are references on various sites that his grandfather was a stowaway however the connection to the ‘Doughboy’ was missing. Sad to say but he was only 28 when he died.
    Jim

  15. catsworking says:

    Jim, then this is fantastic info.
    Perhaps Chris, Tony’s brother, would be interested in these details. Just don’t call it a short story because it indicates fiction. This is journalistic research. If you can provide links to at least some of this information, I would be willing to turn it into a post on the front page. It doesn’t really explain Tony, but it fills in his ancestry. Who knows what his dad told him, since he may have known very little about his father.

  16. catsworking says:

    Jim, I will allow most things in comments, but what you’ve contributed is significant and I’d like to make it part of the Cats Working “official record” of Bourdain, which means it has to be a blog post so it’s searchable. Before I do that, I need some way to verify what you’re saying about Tony’s grandfather because I’ve tried really hard all these years to keep it 100. If you want to contact me privately with links or other ways you came by this info, go to the “Karen and the Cats” page and follow the link there to send me a private email. I’m sorry it’s a bit convoluted, but it works, and keeps me from drowning in spam.

    If you’ve provided the bona fides on Tony’s paternal grandfather, I’m more than happy to clean it up and publish it. But I need proof.

  17. feijicha says:

    “when ‘you’re in a negative state you attract negative people’ ”
    GlamourMilk, boy, if ever there was a statement that applied to Tony meeting HER (rather than her meeting him) that would be it. You have to wonder if he was on firmer ground in his emotional life whether the wiser side of him, the one that saw she was a walking disaster, would have been more in control.

  18. feijicha says:

    oops, well, hit send too soon. Meant to put a comma between “GlamourMilk” and “boy”. And meant to add that it’s a nice attempt at spin on her part but SHE is the ‘negative person’ in this equation. But narcs won’t see…

  19. catsworking says:

    feijicha, I fixed your comma dilemma. You are so right about the spin. When I read that, I thought Tony sucked her negativity into his aura like a Dyson vacuum, although I know the skank meant the opposite because she’s convinced herself she is blameless.

    Like after his breakup with Nancy, my sense is that he was reeling over the breakup with Ottavia, although she continued to welcome him into the home so their weird family unit would stay intact. I think that was smart of her. He was just a man who needed to know he had a woman’s unconditional love to keep himself grounded. The skank was a poor man’s version of Ottavia in the most superficial way, so he settled for what he could get, then embellished it beyond recognition in his mind to justify it, full well knowing the skank was poison.

  20. GlamourMilk says:

    Feijicha –
    Yep, I agree. Sometimes I’d like to stop comment on this matter because there’s nothing we can do about it. But I also feel it helps to share our thoughts about Tony and I guess I still semi-hope that one day AA will finally be outed once and for all for being the abusive, lying sociopathic suicide-facilitator that she really is.

    Cats –
    I forgot to comment on you saying that you’re going to interview Tom Vitale for the blog. That’s cool. I’ll look forward to that. I just hope he won’t use the interview to defend Argento just ‘to be nice’. There’s no need to ‘be nice’ about her. She has caused so much irreversible damage. Those people who defend Argento would be the first to talk shit about someone like Weinstein. Well, as much as Weinstein deserves to be trash-talked, so does Argento. I actually don’t see a difference in personality between Harvey Weinstein and Asia Argento. Why are (some) people so afraid to criticise her? Is it because she’s woman? Because they would like to fuck her? It’s bizarre. But when it comes down to it; if you think the Harvey Weinsteins of the world are awful people, then you have to accept the fact that the Asia Argentos of the world are equally awful people. Same same. And no need to point out she had an apparently difficult childhood. So what? A lot of people do. Maybe Harvey Weinstein had a difficult childhood? No one takes that into account. They just think he’s terrible. Well. Same with AA. Whether she had a bad childhood or not is irrelevant. You’re no less responsible for your actions just because you’ve had a ‘bad childhood’. Well, the good thing about Argento having become a buddhist is that she must now believe in karma. Good luck with that, Asia.

  21. catsworking says:

    GlamourMilk, I’ve scheduled the interview with Tom Vitale for this Sunday, so that’s coming. I’m also working on a review of his book, which I’ll post this week.

    Rest assured, Tom will not try to be nice about the skank. She’s despised by all who had to put up with her for Tony’s sake. Apparently, Tom’s in the camp who believes suicide is one person’s decision and no one else can be held responsible. It’s like saying guns don’t kill people.

    I don’t know much about Weinstein. The person I compare the skank to is Trump. It’s like they share the same rotting brain and textbook full of mental illnesses. People steer clear of speaking ill of her because, just like Trump, she’s litigious and will sue anybody over anything, in the hopes of a payday, or at least for the attention and the chance to porrtray herself a victim. Just like Trump.

  22. bassgirl23 says:

    Have to agree with so many of the comments here! I read Laurie Woolever’s book, and I really enjoyed the way she organized the quotes – as I was reading it, I felt like I was sitting at a table with those people in a room, who were all chiming in on that topic. There was so much agreement on what went sideways at the end. I thought the family information and background from his brother was pretty insightful and was surprised at how candid Nancy was for someone who’s previously never said anything. They all must have had a lot of trust in Woolever, and I think she deserved it, it was well done.

    Loved that she was able to use some quotes from Ariane, it will be interesting to see whether she stays away from publicity in her future – it’ll be hard not to be affected simply because of her last name, whether she likes it or not. Hopefully she has a strong enough support system to be able to deal with it all (and it sounds like she does).

    I think of all that I’ve read so far, it’s something that was the closest to bringing closure. I’ve only just started In the Weeds this morning, so won’t get through it for a bit, but am not expecting as many insights, more stories and behind the scenes perspective, which should be fun. And it’s interesting how everyone’s perceptions of what he was like could vary, but they were all united about the last relationship – “like a 16 year old” pretty much said it all. And she’s still trading off that with all she posts. I did see the video clip and felt it was skin-crawlingly awful to share something so obviously private, especially when his daughter might come across it. She has no shame, never did and never will.

  23. catsworking says:

    bassgirl! At last, someone has read the Bio. I was also surprised by how forthcoming Nancy was. She’s the keeper of the story of the Early Bourdain Years. How about those wedding pictures? I felt sorry for Nancy when she said that when Tony started spilling everything about his personal life (when I started blogging about him, he considered that stuff off limits), she was embarrassed because her parents were alive and he was going on about the drug use. Apparently, that was something she didn’t want her family to know the deets on.

    You’ll find Tom’s book VERY different than the Bio, and parts of it are shocking. It’s one thing for people to be talking about Tony in hindsight, but Tom is describing what he witnessed raw, and it’s a meaner person than anyone else has admitted to.

    As for Ariane, it won’t surprise me if she becomes a writer. Ottavia told me a few years ago that Ariane had talent, and you can see her clear thinking and maturity in the Bio. Perhaps she’ll want to continue in some way the stories Tony will never get to tell. I wouldn’t expect her to go into a career in front of cameras. It’s hard to believe she’s almost 15.

  24. feijicha says:

    Obviously I haven’t read either of these books yet. But I’m intrigued Karen when you say “meaner”. I feel like i get what they mean by that because i could sense that from watching him that he was a prickly person… But I’m curious whether Vitale attributes that to Tony’s internal insecurities, arrogance, etc etc that he would have always had, or does he think fame played a role as well? So many people change, even when they don’t want to, as a result of being famous. I guess I’m asking on one hand did he develop a diva side in addition to his lifelong personality stuff??

  25. catsworking says:

    feijicha, “prickly person” is putting it mildly. Vitale focuses mainly on his own relationship with Tony, and Tony does some things you never would have seen coming. Vitale has not been able to sort it all out.

    What I saw was Tony behaving at times like a diva, but believing he didn’t have the right to be a diva. He was sarcastic, could be autocratic, played crew members off each other. Often refused to take direction (speak to the camera, walk here or there for a shot). It could be called self-sabotage. It was like he was constantly testing the crew to see if they could make a good show in spite of the wrenches he always threw into the gears. They never really knew what he would or wouldn’t do. They tried to keep him away from the shoot until everything was set up, so that he could just show up and do it with no waiting, because if he got bored, he could disappear and screw up the whole day. But that made Tony increasingly isolated and probably fed the loneliness he felt. It was a no-win.

    But on the other hand, they all knew he was loyal to them and cared about them in his own way, because at times he’d turn around and do something wonderful. Then when he followed the skank’s order to fire Zach Zamboni in Hong Kong, that feeling of security went to shit. Helen Cho said it in Roadrunner. In fact, in the Oral Bio, someone told how the skank tried to undermine Helen at one point by lying to Tony about who did some work that Helen did. It was as if the skank was trying to pick off the crew one by one to isolate him, like a classic abuser.

    You really have to read Vitale’s book to get the full picture. I found it very disturbing. The Bourdain we saw on TV was just the tip of the iceberg. The snark was a lot deeper and meaner, whether it was deserved or not.

  26. feijicha says:

    that sounds like a fascinating read. But I have to ask the obvious question, does Vitale have an axe to grind? Is this his payback to Tony for Tony being an asshole??

  27. feijicha says:

    again, hit send too soon. grrr. Sounds like you feel Tony’s behavior was self-sabotage, but did he think he was a “star”??? It also makes me wonder what his and Eric’s relationship was really like. I went to see Tony solo when he came to my city, and saw him once (possibly twice now that I think of it) with Eric. You’ve got me now wondering if some of what was passed off as “pranks” to Eric had more bite to them than we thought (the feeding him super spicy foods etc on the tv show and some of the jokes he told in their stage show)

  28. GlamourMilk says:

    Cats –

    So did Vitale not like working with Tony, and in that case, does he say why he didn’t leave and find another job?
    I always though Tony had a mean streak. It’s clear from his books and the shows. But I also though he had some sense of decency to make up for it. But maybe I’m wrong about the last part? He’s of that generation of people working in kitchens where they were treated like shit, and then when they work themselves up to a higher level then they get to treat people like shit. I also think a lot of those writers and filmmakers he admired are like that. Being out there, making television inspired by their favourite movies, I’m not surprised he would engage in some of the same antics as hos favourite filmmakers might have done. Has reading In the Weeds changed your opinion about Tony? Either way, I just wish he’d never met Skank. By all accounts she broke up with him (though she pretends otherwise) and if he’d just made it through that night and gone back home her he would have realised that her breaking up with him, however cruelly she did it, was the best thing that ever happened to him. Shame he didn’t live to realise that moment.

  29. GlamourMilk says:

    Feijicha –
    As much as I enjoy Ripert and Bourdain’s double-act and I’m sure Ripert was onboard with his role, I never liked the scenes in the Sichuan episode where Tony makes Eric drink too much. I know it’s part of the deal but I have been in situations like that where there’s peer pressure to make you drink, and I’ve never understood/appreciated that. I’ll drink what and how much I want, thank you very much.

  30. catsworking says:

    feijicha, absolutely not. It is just the opposite. All through the book, Vitale says he loved Tony despite all the abuse and lack of cooperation. He stuck with the job because he cared so much about Tony. The book doesn’t come across as nasty at all. If anything, it’s reverential. Vitale is actually very hard on himself, and still wonders if there are things he could have done differently that would have made a difference. Tony’s death completely devastated him, and he hasn’t been able to go back to work ever since. Writing the book was therapy for him. (This is all in the book.) This book was his way of trying to come to terms with Tony’s death, not in any way a payback. In fact, he told me he was concerned that people would accuse him of “cashing in” on Bourdain’s name by writing it.

    I’ll be talking to him on the record this weekend.

  31. catsworking says:

    feijicha, from all I’ve read, I do feel Tony’s behavior was self-sabotage, including his suicide. I also don’t think he fully understood how influential he was. Vitale said the crew certainly didn’t realize how famous he was until they saw the reaction to his death.

    I think it’s in the Oral Bio that Eric talks about the touring he did with Tony, and in the end Eric pulled out because he didn’t like the way Tony insulted other people (Guy Fieri, for ex.), putting Eric in the position of defending them. It was all part of the “Good vs. Evil” act, but Eric didn’t like being part of it.

    I’ve never seen Eric say that Tony had malicious intent with the pranks he pulled, but to me it appeared they strayed into downright nastiness and Tony thought it was funny. I’m thinking of the Schezwan episode where he made Eric eat the spicy food.

  32. catsworking says:

    GlamourMilk, this interpreting of Vitale’s book is turning into a game of Telephone, where each comment strays further off the mark. No, Vitale DID like working with Tony. It was his first job out of college and the only job he’s had so far. The good outweighed the bad, and he believed in what Tony was trying to do.

    Vitale’s book didn’t change my opinion of Bourdain, but it pulled back the curtain and vividly showed a side of him that’s only been alluded to. Vitale has assured me that Tony’s nastiness never bubbled over into his relationships with women, and that he turned into mush for them.

    Personally, I think while Tony was killing himself, right before the lights went out, he had a moment of clarity and went, “WTF? What am I doing?” but it was too late. I think it was the impulse of one moment, and if anything had interrupted him, he wouldn’t have done it.

    If he had finished doing the show in France with Eric, his next trip was supposed to be to India with the skank and Vitale. Vitale probably was spared from getting fired when it didn’t happen, because the skank probably would have been all over his directing and finding fault, since she was now an “expert” after Hong Kong.

  33. GlamourMilk says:

    Cats –

    The Tom Vitale book actually became available for download as an ebook so I ordered it and have started reading it today.

  34. bassgirl23 says:

    I just finished In the Weeds last night – it was much more insightful than I’d expected. I really enjoyed it (and it was nice to see you get a complimentary shout out!)

    Some of the incidents (Borneo) surprised me as I definitely thought Tony could be impulsive, but never thought his mean streak would go that far given his sense of decency and fairness (and how he despised bullies). I guess in the moment anything can happen but it was still a bit of a shock.

    It always looked like the teasing with Eric was very one-sided, veering into juvenile pranks, but I never thought Tony pushed it too far, even with the Sichuan scenes. Those seemed to be more played up for the camera, as I think Eric has a pretty good backbone and could have (would have) stopped if he felt uncomfortable (like he did with the tour). Anyone who’s worked in a kitchen has a pretty thick skin out of necessity. Every story has at least 3 sides – yours, mine and the truth – and I think Tom did a good job of acknowledging that many details change over time and memory, but he was trying to tell the stories to the best of his recollection and with as little bias as possible.

    I think you’re right that at the last second he would have changed his mind if interrupted. I always figured their world was pretty much living on the edge given the dangerous places they filmed and crazy schedules. It would have been difficult to maintain a “normal” existence (including relationships) so I can see how his crew became both his extended family, with all the good and bad that goes along with that kind of lifestyle. Maintaining that line where work stops and the friendship starts isn’t easy (and it’s always going to blur, especially under pressure). It must have been a really lonely existence – that couldn’t have helped things at the end either.

    I loved hearing about the way they scouted locations and the actual filming process, and found it interesting to get that behind the scenes detail (especially the Jamaica storyline). He did a great job of outlining all the details of what they did. Looking forward to your sit-down with him. I think he really loved both Tony and his work, and I never got the impression he was doing this to cash in (unlike AA – asking about the $ and the will straight out of the gate was so on point for what I had always thought was her true character).

    I’m so glad to hear Ariane has her dad’s talent for writing (and art) – will wait and see what she has to offer the world, am sure she’ll be a force! She did have a really mature outlook in the quotes she gave and although it’s sad she’s growing up without him, at least there’s no shortage of stories, pictures and film for her to have as she gets older (not to mention all the people who knew him).

  35. catsworking says:

    bassgirl, you’ve practically written my review for me! I’m still working on it. You must be a speed-reader. The book only came out YESTERDAY!

    Tom has told me his favorite chapter was Jamaica. And I’ve been to the Margaritaville he was talking about several times, so I could picture every crazy thing they were doing there. On my mantle, I have a wooden cat I bought in Jamaice with a piece of grass wrapped around its neck that an old man just sat down beside me and weaved while I was having a drink in Margaritaville. That grass is over 20 years old and I’m afraid to touch it. Surprisingly, the cats have never tried to eat it.

    I always thought Eric was a trouper when he appeared on the shows. He probably figured, for all the other fun they had, a little discomfort and teasing was worth taking.

    Yes, Borneo shocked me as well, and showed a part of Tony that he would never want the world to see, so I give Tom credit for including it, even though it was embarrassing for both of them. I thought Tom was very unsparing in his own estimation of himself and his place in the grand scheme of things. Maybe even too hard on himself.

    And you found the little Easter egg he left me in the book! I was lumped into the chapter with all the crazy fans, but at least in a flattering way. 🙂

  36. feijicha says:

    thanks Karen. I tend to add my comments here in a stream-of-consciousness fashion as I’m surfing through favorite online sites. So usually I’m just posting my first impressions of previous comments. I also (as someone earlier noted, maybe it was you) wonder how COVID would have impacted him in terms of — would it have given him a built-in excuse not to be traveling? I mean it certainly would have during the 2020 lockdowns everywhere, and maybe into 2021 as well….and then he could have leveraged that to say “I’ve come to like not being on the road so much” etc and it wouldn’t be his “fault” in terms of affecting the crew’s working situation etc. (or would he have felt some responsibility to get everyone back to work and making money after 2020??) He could have spent more time writing during the pandemic– though one wonders if he could truly have lived a less peripatetic life… the need for excitement in his character would have had to have found an outlet somewhere… Would he have wanted to convince AA to let him hunker down with her?? What if she’d said no? Disentangling himself from her seems potentially fraught with difficulties across any number of possible scenarios beyond France unfortunately.

  37. catsworking says:

    feijicha, if Bourdain had pulled out of TV due to COVID, ZPZ would have tried to help the crew find new jobs, either with them or elsewhere. There would have been none of the trauma, but a logical wind-down of operations, and Tony would have still been a presence, even remotely.

    Since I’ve read the 2 books so close together, I’m not sure in which book Tony told someone the skank was relocating to NYC in fall 2018, presumably to shack up with him. He probably wanted to make her his new home base. He needed someone holding the fort, or home was no different than a hotel. But think of the mess it would have created with Ariane. I can’t imagine Ottavia being good with her child spending time with the skank.

    The skank clearly stated in her own memoir that she told Tony they would never live together. This was probably to cover the fact that she threw a grenade into the whole plan when she cheated on him in June 2018.

    As Tony knew from the outset, she was trouble, it was not going to end well, and since they were constantly on and off because she lives for drama, I sincerely doubt she’d have emigrated here, unless he could promise her a sweet long-term gig in show biz (which he’d be torn about doing if it meant they’d ever be separated). She may have expected to become a permanent fixture on his show.

    If there’s any silver lining to losing him, it’s that we in the States were spared having the skank popping up on American screens anywhere Bourdain could convince someone to hire her.

  38. Rachel says:

    I haven’t read either book yet (and won’t for awhile, as I’m pretty strict with myself about reading books in the order I get them and I’ve got quite a backlog right now), but I’m definitely looking forward to both. Though I’m now a little worried it might ruin Borneo for me. It’s my favorite episode!
    I’m also looking forward to your interview with Tom. Will there be any opportunity for any of us to suggest questions beforehand?

  39. catsworking says:

    Rachel, I’m supposed to talk to Tom on Sunday, so if you have any questions, please post them here in comments and I’ll try to include them. My list of questions is already so long, I may need to have a few chats with him.

    Don’t worry about the Borneo episode. What happened behind the scenes had really nothing to do with it.

  40. Bonnie Wells says:

    Hello Karen,

    This is an interesting thread.

    You know, after watching the film Roadrunner, I found myself intensely interested in the trajectory of Bourdain’s life. Of all I’ve read and watched, Tom’s book (which I’ve only half finished) provides a window into the actual conditions of Tony’s daily existence. It seems there was a very thin line between his personal and professional life. And there was something very high maintenance about him…even bordering on abusive. The people working for and with him had to manage a great deal in order to get their jobs done, and their willingness was certainly a testament to their deeply felt attachment to him.

    I read Woolever’s book which I found a fascinating account from the voices of those who knew or worked closely with Tony. There are some very surprising comments in that book. (i.e. Nancy asked to sit on the floor and give her seat in favor of a camera man!) Or the description of Gladys and her relationship with both her sons. The resentment that comes through Chris’s account of her antics…it seems the seeds of discontent were sowed very early on in Tony’s life. But I missed the ongoing narrative that Tom provides.

    I found “In The Weeds” almost remorsefully honest. It is intensely vulnerable and peppered throughout with a subtle and charming wit. It’s simply a compelling read and I’m so grateful to Tom for writing it. He’s a superb story teller and I found his sincerity both moving and audaciously courageous.

    But speaking of questions for Tom ~ one over arching subject looms in my mind. Zach Zamboni. Surprisingly he is not interviewed in Woolever’s book. He does not appear to have a place in Tom’s book either (although I may not have read that part yet). But even when doing a search online for his comments regarding Tony, his suicide, or the separation from Parts Unknown..zippo. Nada.

    So if you find time to ask, I’d love to hear Tom’s response. Because, if I take his description seriously, that the relationship of the crew was one of a family (albeit dysfunctional) rather than merely co-workers, then why did they not take a united stand in regards to Zach’s termination, and hold Tony accountable in the ways Tony himself held them accountable when they showed “piss poor performance”? Did they at least attempt to speak to him as a family might, in any meaningful way about that egregious decision?

    And please, please convey to him…his book does not at all come across as cashing in on Bourdain. Far from it. However, I did think he presented a rather naive portrayal of AA. It’s obvious there is a great deal at stake in how she spins her story, for her own psyche as well as her career. Nothing I’ve read or watched her say indicates that she is capable of an ounce of sincerity around this subject. She has too many conflicts of interest.

    Thanks in advance for considering my question, Bonnie

  41. Bonnie Wells says:

    Holy shit I just read the Borneo account from Tom’s book. Brutal.

  42. Bonnie Wells says:

    Hi Karen, I’ve read Woolever’s book and most of Tom’s. Both remarkable in their own right. And I’ll include my thoughts about them later (I tried to post them already and they disappeared into a tech glitch!)

    But in relation to your Sunday deadline, I have a question you might raise with Tom. It’s regarding the firing of Zach Zamboni. Tom describes their crew as a dysfunctional family. But even a dysfunctional family unites in the face of an egregious action against one. Was there any attempt by the crew to discuss or change the outcome with regard to Zach?

    When I do an online search nothing comes up in terms of interviews or comments from Zach about Tony’s suicide or being fired from Parts Unknown. Maybe you know of one? It seems odd that he was not included in Woolever’s book either.

    When you watch the Parts Unknown episode devoted to the crew in the last season, Zach appears only briefly in the beginning. The silence surrounding his long relationship with Tony and subsequent dismissal is odd. But from an outsider point of view, so many things are odd about the last few years of Tony’s life…it does fit into an overall pattern.

    Thanks in advance for considering my question, Bonnie

  43. catsworking says:

    Bonnie,

    I will ask Tom about Zach. I didn’t have that question on my long list, but I’ll add it. This is what I know.

    In the Oral Bio, there’s a footnote that says Zach declined to be interviewed for the book. I think it’s also in the Oral Bio that one of the crew talked to Zach for 3 hours the night he was fired, before he got on the plane to go home.

    And whoever Tony was telling on the phone to send Zach home, they could hear the skank screaming in the background, “It’s either him or me!” And Tony told someone on the crew he “had” to do it because, “She loves me.” In other words, he’d do anything for her.

    Back in September 2018, Zach emailed me and asked me to untag him from a post because it was causing him unwanted attention. I did so immediately and apologized. He was trying to maintain a low profile then, and it seems ever since. I don’t blame him. That was probably the worst betrayal of his life.

    Had Tony lived (and finally broken from the skank), I have no doubt at some point he would have apologized to Zach and tried to make amends because it probably ate at him, but he couldn’t as long as the skank had his balls in a vise.

  44. catsworking says:

    Bonnie, I think I resolved your “tech glitch.” I found this comment in SPAM and restored it. 🙂

    On the Zach question, I wondered myself about the crew letting Zach get canned. But I think they realized that Tony was so deeply in the skank’s thrall, and that she could turn into a screaming banshee on a dime, they could ALL be fired on the spot. Rather than risk the whole shoot, better to keep Tony and the skank happy and perhaps deal with it later.

    As for Zach not appearing in anybody’s books, that seems to be Zach’s choice and they’re honoring his privacy. What could Zach say? The skank is still out there and she’s litigious. She’d probably like nothing better than an opportunity to smear him as not being up to her exacting standards for cinematography (despite his numerous Emmys). I think he’s doing the right thing to stay under her radar.

  45. Bonnie Wells says:

    I’m not surprised he would not wish to speak about her. But it’s not hard to imagine a world where he might speak about his long relationship with Tony and to his important work with him.
    After all, death has a way of leveling the playing field.

    BTW, I just read Tom’s harrowing back story of the Libya episode! His book is a speeding roller coaster of impressions! After years living under that kind of pressure, lack of sleep and alcohol…there’s always alcohol…it’s a wonder there weren’t more casualties along the way.

    I think…my uninformed meagre opinion…is Tony would be extremely proud of Tom’s book, and of Tom for having the grit to write it. It’s just so honest.

    Oh, and thanks for fixing that tech glitch, although it’s content is somewhat redundant at this point! Good luck with the interview!

  46. catsworking says:

    Bonnie, I’ve told Tom the same thing. I think Tony would have been proud of this book, and of Tom. I found their writing styles very similar, although Tony’s was even more flamboyant.

    It is kind of amazing that everyone always seemed to get through their shoots in one piece, except for a couple of occasions. Especially the cameramen, who were often going backward while holding huge cameras.

    Who knows? Once he see Tom’s, maybe one day Zach will write his own book. There is no way the skank should ever have the last word on what she did to Zach.

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