BOOK REVIEW: In the Weeds (with Bourdain)

By Karen

This book’s full title is In the Weeds: Around the World and Behind the Scenes with Anthony Bourdain by Tom Vitale, who spent well over a decade working as an editor, director and producer on all four of Bourdain’s travel series: A Cook’s Tour on Food Network, No Reservations and The Layover on Travel Channel, and Parts Unknown on CNN.

When I first wrote about this book back in May, I dissed this cover…

But now that I’ve read it, I think the cover is just right.

We’ve had a Bourdain avalanche lately. Last week it was his Definitive Oral Biography by his assistant Laurie Woolever. And now we have the inside scoop on his TV life.

Both books add considerably to what we thought we knew about Bourdain. What sets Vitale’s book apart (and above, I would argue) Woolever’s is its sometimes almost painful sense of immediacy and intimacy. Vitale’s writing seems infused with Tony’s darkly funny snark. For example, in describing a furious exchange Tom had with a member of the security squad in Libya, he writes…

“Damien reminded me he hadn’t been just any old soldier, but one of those specially trained killy soldiers.”

Vitale also has a keen eye for description and paints vivid pictures of the countries they visited. Of filming in Naples in 2010, he writes…

“Tony walked across the pebble beach and sat on the gunnel of a bright turquoise-and-red-striped fishing boat. It was one of those overcast days that did something strange to the light, amplifying rather than muting color. Clouds obscuring the sunset glowed an almost cotton candy pink and reflected off the shore.”

If you’ve seen the shows (Vitale directed about 100 of them in total), he makes you want to binge-watch them again.

I particularly enjoyed the chapter, “Jamaica Me Crazy,” where they filmed Parts Unknown in 2014. It was one of the rare times that Vitale and other crew indulged in a zany adventure that Tony was largely unaware of. (I happen to know the Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville in Ocho Rios where much of the action went down.)

In the Oral Bio, we get recollections of those who knew Tony, as told to Woolever, as told to us. But Vitale was THERE, in the weeds. His is a firsthand account of working, often under ungodly pressure, with Bourdain, who had conflicted feelings about even being on TV, and it often wasn’t pretty.

For all of Tony’s empathy with the people he met in his travels, much of the time he seemed oblivious to, or even deliberately fed, the crew’s tension and frustration. While filming in Baja, Vitale recalls Bourdain saying to him…

“Jeez, you never give up, do you?!” he joked. “When I die, you’ll be there at my funeral, poking me with a stick, asking, ‘What are your first impressions of being dead?’”

But I don’t want to give the impression that Vitale is out to trash Bourdain. It’s the opposite. In spite of everything, Tom loved and was devoted to the guy and never dreamed it would end so horribly.

Vitale is unsparing in exposing his own personal phobias and weaknesses, and is probably unaware that his efforts to overcome (most of) them seems almost heroic. He was willing to sacrifice anything to serve what he considered a higher purpose: helping Anthony Bourdain tell his stories.

Another difference with the Oral Bio is the chronology. Weeds opens in the immediate aftermath of Bourdain’s death, then Vitale weaves past and present together in a seamless way that totally makes sense.

Cats Working even gets a shoutout, but no spoilers here.

Vitale’s research involved immersing himself in the vast trove of documentation he’d collected — logs, notes, video. As a result, he could vividly recreate that life in a way that makes you almost forget Tony is no longer wandering the planet.

In the first few pages, Vitale describes an incident with Bourdain in Manila that’s never explained, but it foreshadows what happened to Eric Ripert when he entered Tony’s last hotel room France.

Vitale also recounts a violent incident during their second trip to Borneo that also never gets explained, but it shows a side of Tony darker than anyone has ever seen.

Such was Bourdain’s life. His public persona was all about confidence, love and acceptance, but privately, he was filled with doubts, insecurity and possibly self-loathing. Vitale saw it all, and tried to alleviate the bad stuff when he could.

I’m grateful that Tom Vitale chose to work through his pain and regrets by putting them on paper, giving us a better understanding of the man who entranced the world while thinking so little of himself.

BONUS: Coming up next week is my interview with Tom Vitale.

36 Responses to BOOK REVIEW: In the Weeds (with Bourdain)

  1. Lorraine Elizabeth Villeneuve says:

    What year was Tony in Manila?

  2. catsworking says:

    Lorraine, I’m not sure which visit Tom was referring to, and I’ve only got the air dates of the episodes, but there was a No Res Manila episode in February 2009, and a Parts Unknown episode in April 2016. My guess is that it was the 2009 time frame, from Tom’s reaction.

  3. Lorraine Elizabeth Villeneuve says:

    So he tried to kill himself in 2009?

  4. catsworking says:

    There’s nothing about him trying to kill himself, but it was bizarre and out of character for him and scary for Tom. You need to read the book to find out what happened.

  5. Cindy says:

    A lot of the speculating we were doing back in the day turned out to be true. And to think you were the one keeping him real/honest. Good times.

  6. catsworking says:

    Hey, Cindy! Hope you’ve been doing well. Yes, those were good old days. In a million years, we never could have imagined that he would spiral off into Neverland and be lost to us forever.

    I think if someone had had a crystal ball and told him he’d one day fall under the spell of a well-used manipulator and become so obsessed with her that he’d burn down his life and be willing to hurt everyone he loved to stay in her good graces, he’d have laughed his ass off and said you were full of shit. “Will she make me wear a nose ring and put a leash on my dick, too?”

  7. GlamourMilk says:

    In the Weeds, which I’ve now finished: I was surprised to read that Vitale seems to be mesmerised by Argento (the few times he mentions Skank he keeps mentioning how beautiful and attractive he thinks she is) but each to their own, I suppose. He does write well and there are some segments that are very exciting to read. I’ll definitely re-read it at some point and am looking forward to the interview with him.

    Overall, it was an interesting read. The segments in Manila and Borneo are certainly brutal, and it was equally brutal to see a strong indication that Argento’s interest in Bourdain was definitely money-related. Vitale writes that Skank’s life was destroyed by Bourdain’s death. I don’t believe that for a second. But I’m sure she misses his money and the springboard he gave her on which she could swan around and make everyone’s lives difficult.

    Two quotes (put together as one) from a new interview with Skank:

    ‘It happens right now because people have been talking publicly about me and my dramas for a long time, even on Italian TV shows, including things like Harvey Weinstein, my boyfriend’s suicide, etc. I was shocked to see so many people who do not even know me talk about all that, sometimes filtering my truth, so now was the time to shed light on my truth, my life and my story with my own voice…
    …I would not change anything, since I finally found my way, so all the bad people, the good people, the failures, etc., have been necessary to get to where I am now, in full peace and without fear. Finally, I have found a good place to be. The lesson is to never give up and enjoy the little things, because tomorrow will always come a better day and that helps not to throw in the towel.’


    I’d think the ‘lesson’ would be not to shit on other people and incite suicide in a person who gave up friendships at her demand and did everything for her and then all she can do is lie about what happened afterwards to the whole world and shit all over him in her ‘memoir’ and on trashy talkshows. It’s funny how she says in the same interview, as the quotes above, that she’s ‘unusual’ in writing a memoir at such a young age. Is she retarded? Most celebrities have written a ‘memoir’ by their thirties in this day and age. It’s the typical celebrity thing to do. So I guess she just does what every other celebrity is doing. Nothing special.

    In contrast to her book which is so sensationalised you’d think it was written by a teenager, Vitale’s book has got bite and depth, and the two books are good examples of how one memoir can be superficial, narcissistic self-victimising dross, while another memoir can dig deep and really teach the reader something about other people’s lives and perhaps also your own.

    There was some talk about Zach. I definitely understand why he hasn’t wanted to be interviewed. What a terrible experience all this must have been for him. I hope he’s well and that Argento one day will realise what a horrible thing she forced her boyfriend to do. Yes, I know, Tony could have simply said no to her, but obviously she would have left him if he didn’t do what she told him. That’s how an abusive relationship works. But some people think it’s only men who abuse women. Here we have an example of how it works the other way ’round.

  8. catsworking says:

    GlamourMilk, when I read your quote from the skank’s interviews, my reaction was, “She is so full of shit.” Sure, she was feeling “in a good place” when those words came out of her mouth, but that probably changed after her next bottle of wine. She’s a psycho and an abuser. After isolating Tony from his wife and daughter, she went after his crew. After she picked off Zach, it seemed Helen was her next target, from what was in the Oral Bio. She would have resented having Tony rely on any other female than herself. Classic.

    Since Bourdain’s death, she has languished professionally and personally, floating from man to man, ensnaring none for long in her web because now they know what the consequences are. Her book was a last-ditch effort to gain attention because her film and TV career is on the wane and she’s not getting any younger. And don’t get me started on her “singing.”

  9. GlamourMilk says:

    Cats –

    Oh, I happen to think her singing is delightful 😉 Especially in that clip from an Italian trash tv-show where she ‘sings’ a David Bowie song (was it Rebel Rebel?). Never have I heard a more atrocious voice.

    Do you think she’d ‘go after Helen’? That would be ridiculous, if she had tried that. I have yet to read the Oral Bio, but if that’s mentioned in there (as what might have possibly happened next) that’s just horrible. And then we have seen the never-ending stream of men she herself was seeing (Clement, Skiba, that French travel-guy who she was holding hands with in Africa, the singer from that horrible poppy French band which I’ve forgot the name of… and probably others). She flirted with all of them and who knows what more? I bet she slept with most of them.

    Can you imagine if Tony had been flirting with other women on his Instagram (and in general)? She’d probably have beat him up (I mean that literally). We know for a fact she told him not to see the mother of his daughter. Imagine being that cold, calculating and cruel; not wanting your partner to have a healthy relationship with the mother of their child. And she who forever goes on about how her children are number one to her. Wouldn’t she then expect Tony’s daughter to be number one to him? Well, that includes having a good relationship with his daughter’s mother. But Argento clearly didn’t want Tony to have a good relationship with anyone. She probably didn’t even want him to have a good relationship with himself. If he’d had that, she wouldn’t have been able to control him. In her book she wrote that he ‘often went with prostitutes’. But for saying something that private (and incriminating and also insulting to Ottavia), she can’t even come up with any names of those supposed women that he, according, to her, cheated on her with. He was so obsessed with her and willing to cut people out of his life for her that I doubt very much he’d dare sleep with someone else. That sounds unlikely. That’s something you do when you genuinely have an open relationship or if he just didn’t care about her that much. We all know she’s a liar so for her to go on about how honest she is is pathetic.

    I noticed in the book that she said she was mad at him for telling her not to take that X-Factor job, indicating that he was being controlling. Well, I’d bet money that he wouldn’t have minded her taking the job if she hadn’t been toying with him all the time, breaking up with him and fucking other men. If he’d felt secure in their relationship, I bet his reaction would have been different. People get scared when their partner makes them feel unwanted and unneeded. That’s natural.

    On another note, how’s your hair doing?

  10. Bonnie Wells says:

    “When I first wrote about this book back in May, I dissed this cover…But now that I’ve read it, I think the cover is just right.”

    I agree! The cover photo of Tony is from the Borneo trip. That his hand is placed resting atop Tom’s shoulder…it’s a perfect visual metaphor for the complexity of their relationship so well documented in the book.

  11. Bonnie Wells says:

    I think the book itself puts the unrelenting trashing and blame game of AA into question. (She readily admits that her own life has been a train wreck.) She happened to land in his life, at a time when he was spiraling downward already. Maybe their relationship sped the process up…but it’s clear he had many unresolved issues gnawing away at him for years. It’s unfortunate he waited so long to enter therapy.

    I agree with what you wrote in your excellent review of the book; Vitale reveals a much darker side to Tony than ever imagined. However much you dislike the role she played in his life…she did not kill him. His brother says something telling in the Oral Biography. I’m paraphrasing here, but he said it was good that Tony was alone that night, because if not, someone else might have died instead. Tom’s account of Borneo speaks to that possibility as well.

  12. catsworking says:

    GlamourMilk, I think your take on the skank is right on. It seems to me the only time she was ever really kind to Bourdain was when they met in person during the Rome shoot in April 2016. She turned on the charm to hook him. And they probably had fun times together now and then later, certainly in the sack.

    All we’ve really heard about is how she treated him in public, and it was pretty bad. He was an internationally known celebrity, much more famous than she was, and she led him around by the nose. And he let her do it.

    Her insecurity lay in the influence that other people in his life could have on him, so she tried to cut him off from as many as she could, making him more isolated and dependent on her, which she now claims to have hated. She was a classic abuser.

    I never had a good feel for her, even before I knew what I know now. But after hearing about Jimmy Bennett, and then her turn it around and try to claim he raped her, that settled it for me. She’s an opportunist and a liar, and needs professional help.

    Thanks for asking about my hair. It was cleared up for about a week, then I ran out of the prescription and it seems to be coming back. I’m seeing Mr. Hyde for follow-up on Wednesday, and I hope he has some more lasting help up his sleeve. On the other hand, the rest of my skin is fine, although I’m covered with leathery patches that probably won’t go away until I grow new skin.

  13. catsworking says:

    Bonnie, I have to disagree. The defense you’re giving the skank is like the child molester who says he molested children because it was done to him as a child. That doesn’t make it OK.

    When Tony met AA, he was coasting along, still a family unit with Ottavia and Ariane, although as friends, but he was grounded. He always took breakups hard, and I think he latched onto the skank because she’s a slightly older poor man’s version of Ottavia — with added crazy for spice.

    And I agree that she didn’t kill him. Her behavior killed him. It had the effect on him she probably considered ideal — rage, pain, and humiliation. It made her feel powerful, like she’d at last gotten the upper hand over him. He’d said in an interview that he couldn’t understand why she had this attitude that he had all the power in the relationship and she had none. He acted like a doormat with her, but apparently it wasn’t enough.

    For a few days she got to revel in the reaction she wanted him to have — pain, humiliation, rage, jealousy, probably. If she’d gone to France for a confrontation, it very well might have turned violent. But again, she’d have loved that. Over the top drama. So Italian. She’d have probably had a camera filming it from her purse.

    The woman is sick, and to excuse her for this is like letting Trump get away with treason. So far, they’re both pulling it off.

  14. Bonnie Wells says:

    The point was not that because her life is/was a mess (self-stated) that she was justified in hurting Bourdain. In the big picture, it doesn’t really matter what she is like, how she lives, her supposed motives etc. The point is, whatever happened with her – he signed up for it, willingly, over a fairly long period of time. He was not a victim and he was not a hero either. He made unfortunate choices as an adult and is/was responsible for those choices. Placing blame and shame on her serves the purpose of avoiding the more careful and perhaps difficult look at Bourdain the all too human being, versus Bourdain the witty, charismatic, TV persona; which I think at least in part, is what Tom is doing in his book. He’s questioning…and processing tremendous contradictory impressions of someone he obviously loved and deeply misses. I think that questioning is a healthier solution for anyone who was actually close to Bourdain. It serves a much greater purpose than the very human and understandable impulse to blame, demonize, and villainize Tony’s lover. I mean, we could all love to hate her…but it doesn’t change the fact that Tony destroyed his own life. It’s a tough pill to swallow.

  15. catsworking says:

    Bonnie, I agree with everything you say here. It was Bourdain’s decision to stay with her whenever she would have him. By all accounts, it was an on-again, off-again relationship with frequent breakups. A lot of people have described it as yet another addiction on his part. Whatever Bourdain embraced, he went all in. Except as his behavior may have affected his livelihood or his relationships, his addictions hurt no one but himself.

    She was a master at manipulation and verbal and emotional abuse, and they were “skills” she probably learned as a child. Skills honed for the sole purpose of hurting others. She wielded her power over Tony to make him dance to her tune because it suited her purposes. That’s what I don’t forgive her for. She could see the effect she was having on him, yet she kept torturing him. Instead of being the support he needed, she resented his need.

    They were woefully mismatched from the beginning. He chose not to see it. She probably saw it as an opportunity to milk him for all he was worth (literally).

    Even if she had never met Bourdain, all you have to do is look at how she’s treated and talked about other men in her past (one example, Jimmy Bennett), and there’s still plenty there to abhor about her. As a human being, she’s a train wreck. And Tony was standing on the tracks and refused to get off.

  16. Bonnie Wells says:

    I’m married to an Italian man, with a large extended family, many of whom still live in Italy. The cultural mores are different than here, and the emotions tend to reign. In Bourdain’s relationship with AA, there is a generational gap as well. Add to that mix his self proclaimed inability to communicate to those he felt close to, and boom…you have a very stormy relationship – his inner child acting out with hers. This was apparently their pattern ~ a dance filled with high drama. He not only wouldn’t leave the tracks, he stopped the train in order to board!

    Honestly, I doubt her actions were any more conscious than his. I wouldn’t give her that much credit. She likely behaves in ways she learned to survive as a child. We all do this until it no longer works, or something or someone forces us to grow up, get therapy, face our issues, particularly when addiction is involved.

    So I can’t cast that stone. As unlikeable and narcissistic as she comes across in public, the bottom line is he handed her the keys to his castle. He left his family. He left his daughter. And he took his own life, leaving his best friend (and dear colleagues) to deal with the fall out. That speaks volumes about him and him alone.

    Those who loved him…or admired him even from a distance, might take a black and white approach and cast blame elsewhere, in part because acknowledging the shades of gray is more painful. And it feels good to give an outlet to the rage and anger doesn’t it? I mean, it’s not socially acceptable to express those feelings towards the dead.

    For me, the film Roadrunner speaks to that perspective, the Oral Bio speaks to it, and most recently and perhaps most penetratingly, Tom’s book. All of those efforts on the part of caring, creative and very loving people in Tony’s life is a way of opening to the perspective that Tony was just being Tony, even in the way he chose to die.

  17. GlamourMilk says:

    ‘She was a master at manipulation and verbal and emotional abuse, and they were “skills” she probably learned as a child. Skills honed for the sole purpose of hurting others. She wielded her power over Tony to make him dance to her tune because it suited her purposes. That’s what I don’t forgive her for. She could see the effect she was having on him, yet she kept torturing him. Instead of being the support he needed, she resented his need.’

    There’s no doubt she treated him like shit and took advantage of him. Sure, he let her, but she certainly also took it and ran with it. I can’t see her as anything other than an abuser with the mindset of a Harvey Weinstein. Maybe those types of people don’t know any better, but that doesn’t excuse their behavior. To exaggerate my point, I’m sure Hitler didn’t know any better either. If you abuse someone with the end result being that person’s death, then you definitely need to take some responsibility for that and accept being called out and disliked (by some people) for it. She has enough supporters and defenders and fans – she will be fine. She got away with her behavior and can continue her celebrity life and career. All good.

    So many people find themselves in abusive relationships. Maybe if you’re abused by a partner it’s your own fault. Maybe if you’re raped it’s your own fault. Maybe if you’re beaten to death it’s your own fault. But I don’t personally believe so. Tony was no angel. I don’t think anyone has ever thought that. But he didn’t deserve (and no one deserves) to end up in the claws of an abusive partner who messed with his head until it spun off entirely.

    Anyway, Cats: Good to hear that your hair/skin is better 🙂

    Any travel plans, or is that too soon?

  18. catsworking says:

    Bonnie, as GlamourMilk said, there will always be two camps on this issue.

    My mother is 100% Italian and I grew up around her family, so I know about drama. If someone died, we used to joke about who was going to throw themselves into the grave at the funeral.

    What haunts me most about the whole Tony-skank relationship is the photos of them together. I’ve never seen one where she looked happy and loving. Sure, she’s smiling because she’s pleased as punch to be on the Emmys red carpet (he probably bought her dresses), but there’s always a sneaky, conniving, calculating, cat-who-just-ate-the-canary look in her eyes that, to me, says it all.

    To set one record straight, Tony left his wife and daughter on the skank’s orders. I have verified this as fact. Skank didn’t want to be the “other woman,” but the “only woman” in his life. His arrangement with Ottavia could probably have lasted until Ariane moved out. They were a comfortable unit, each doing their own thing.

    Bourdain, for all this snark and bravado, was generous to his core. He participated in charity events all the time, and helped many individuals in many ways we’ll never hear about. When it comes to leaving good karma behind, Bourdain’s is a mountain, and the skank’s will be a pit. She’s a taker, he was a giver.

    Since his death, instead of doing anyone any good, she writes a self-serving “memoir” and sits around the house in her underwear, posting weird photos of herself drunk, stoned, whatever, set to stupid music that fits her mood. She probably thinks she’s creating “art,” but comes off as a pathetic 45-year-old woman trying to cling to adolescence.

    I agree that the pair brought out the worst inner child in each other. But to say it was 100% his choice to stay with her and she’s blameless for abusing him and his generosity because that’s just her, and suicide was solely his decision, will never cut it with me. I see it as cause and effect.

  19. GlamourMilk says:

    This has nothing to do with Bourdain as such, but it’s an interview with Christopher Doyle (who obviously filmed the Parts Unknown Hong Kong ep, and who filmed some of the films that Bourdain mentioned as some of his favorites, incl. Chungking Express) about his film career, and it’s especially interesting to read how much he has travelled around:

    A fun ‘connection’ for me is, when I was backpacking in South-East Asia in the nineties, my friend and I actually stayed at Chungking Mansions in Hong Kong (as seen in Wong Kar-Wai’s film Chungking Express, shot by Doyle):

  20. catsworking says:

    GlamourMilk, Christopher Doyle seems to be Bourdain’s prototype, running just a few years ahead of him.

    I think I am too chicken ever visit dense Asian cities. The closest I’ve ever come to that experience in my life was the day I wandered alone through La Boqueria in Barcelona several years ago. Low ceiling, crowded with stalls, narrow aisles, it overloaded my senses and freaked me out. I ended up eating lunch in a restaurant across Las Ramblas from my hotel that I learned later was renowned for ripping off tourists.

  21. Bonnie Wells says:

    Lol, it doesn’t sound like you self-identify as an Italian!

    I get there are differences of opinion here. I’m not supporting or defending AA, but comparing her to a rapist or a physically violent abuser is over the top. Those are criminal offenses. Manipulation is not a criminal offense. Neither is gaslighting, or narcissism. We all deal with people like this at some point in our lives, and Tony could not have been a stranger to it.

    He basically fell deeply in love with the wrong person. If she took advantage of him, or used him in ways that you find abhorrent, it still does not make her a criminal or culpable in his death. I can’t see blaming her for an action he’d been both personally and publically entertaining for decades. But perhaps you have an insiders perspective which has led to the vitriolic comments I am reading here. I have no idea.

    In general, I lean towards a balanced perspective, which acknowledges there are always two sides to a story whenever there are two people involved.

  22. GlamourMilk says:

    Bonnie –

    Thanks for your input but we’ll just have to disagree on the subject matter of Asia Argento.

    The whole subject has risen to the surface again with the release of the documentary and various books, and I’m sure the discussion will die down again soon enough.

  23. GlamourMilk says:

    Cats –

    ‘I think I am too chicken ever visit dense Asian cities.’

    Fair enough. Then you should probably also stay clear of Saigon/HCMC too – lol. I found it exhilirating every time I had to cross the street. But if you ever wanted to visit Vietnam, for instance, you could fly to Danang (a relatively big city) and take a cab straight to Hoi An, which is lovely (though also busy with tourism).

    ‘The closest I’ve ever come to that experience in my life was the day I wandered alone through La Boqueria in Barcelona several years ago. Low ceiling, crowded with stalls, narrow aisles, it overloaded my senses and freaked me out. I ended up eating lunch in a restaurant across Las Ramblas from my hotel that I learned later was renowned for ripping off tourists.’

    Did you visit other places in Spain?

  24. catsworking says:

    GlamourMilk, I was in Barcelona for only two days before a transatlantic crossing and stuck to the radius I could walk from my hotel for that time, although I was never able to find a Gaudi apartment building that was supposed to be “nearby.” I think we turned back too soon.

    When I’m in a place a short time, I’d rather learn a lot about a little than run myself ragged dashing from one tourist trap to the next. Many people visited La Sagrada Familia, because “you must” in Barcelona, and said it was so mobbed, they got nothing out of it.

    I spent a port call in Malaga, and took a bus trip way up into the mountains somewhere and stopped in some villages, but I don’t remember their names (I used to remember ALL these details!). If I reread my travel journal, I’m sure it would all come back. And I’m sure I took some pictures.

    The port call I remember best about that trip was Gibraltar, which I walked quite extensively.

    A couple of years ago, there was a killing and riots in Barcelona, and from the TV reports, it happened right where my hotel was on Las Ramblas. (Had I known how bad Las Ramblas was, I’d have gotten a cheaper hotel on a side street.)

    Although I’m chicken about Asia, when I’m in Europe, I do enjoy staying in locally owned hotels that aren’t chains. In Barcelona, the hotel was under renovation, and I ended up in a total rat hole of a room in a remote corner of the sprawly place, with thick black mold on the shower curtain. Other people I met had lovely renovated rooms.

    But it had a lovely little courtyard and a free wine bar. 🙂

    One of the maids showed me her shortcut to get around because my wing was locked off. I had to get buzzed in by the front desk if I ever left my room. Often, nobody was at the desk, so I was locked out of my room. The shortcut let me avoid that.

    They did that because the elevator wasn’t in the sight line of the front desk, and it opened onto the street, so anybody could wander in and have the run of the hotel, and the area was crawling with pickpockets.

    That’s about as much danger as I’m comfortable with abroad.

  25. Bonnie Wells says:

    Yes, agreed to disagree. Thanks. 🙂

    BTW, I really enjoyed the Christopher Doyle interview and reading about Chungking Express.Thank you for posting the links. It surprised me they mention the cheongsams worn by Maggie Cheung for In the Mood for Love. When I first saw that film I remember being fascinated by the beautifully close cut of their design! It’s interesting what leaves an impression. And what a great Christopher Doyle comment, “Most of us really only have one story.”

    I’m looking forward to reading Karen’s interview of In The Weeds.

  26. catsworking says:

    Bonnie, I spoke to Tom for an hour and I’ve got to transcribe it. It will probably appear in installments for length. Work this week is crazy, but hope to get some of it done for this week.

  27. catsworking says:

    Thanks, Glamourmilk. It reads like excerpts taken from the book.

    I started transcribing my interview this morning (it’s long), and I tried to touch on other areas not in either book (the Oral Bio or Vitale’s), some of which you guys may not even remember! The Cats Working audience knows all the fluff stuff already.

  28. GlamourMilk says:

    Cats –

    Sounds like you’ve had some good ‘port calls’ in Spain.
    I like Malaga. When you went to the mountains, was it near Granada?
    Granada is very beautiful. And you can eat so well in Spain. Definitely a country I want to see more of. Really want to see Madrid and San Sebastian.

  29. catsworking says:

    GlamourMilk, yes, I think we were near Granada somewhere. We stopped in this quaint little town and wandering around for a while. It had beautiful mountain views. I’d have to go back to my travel journal of that trip. I’m sure I described everything I did. That day was unusual for me, because I typically didn’t do excursions where I sat on a bus all day. I do remember it was cold and windy and all I had was a light windbreaker that didn’t quite cut it.

  30. Cindy says:

    I am with GlamorMilk. Malaga was one of my favorites in Spain. But Spain is my favorite country so I was happy everywhere. Still need to go to Barcelona. Back in the 80’s I was in Europe/Asia at least once a year.
    PanAm and TWA had trips that provided transportation and lodging and a brief orienting bus tour of each city. Otherwise you were on your own. (You could also sign up for short day trips.) This is my preferred way of traveling.

  31. catsworking says:

    Cindy, unless I’ve got my ports crossed, I think I walked around Malaga and went into a huge ornate church right in the center of town. I was with another woman and I believe that’s where we wandered down a side street and had lunch in an alley — literally, sitting outside at a little table in this alley with no view whatsoever. Hot dogs. They were the day’s special. So much for sampling the local cuisine. The touristy places on the beautiful tree-lined main drag overlooking the harbor were all mobbed, so we found a local joint and were the only customers.

    I’ve always felt safest traveling by ship because I’m usually alone. If I disappear, the ship will quickly know when I don’t check in. And crew always seem to feel sorry for me and give me good tables and generally look out for me. Also, there’s the unpacking once and having someone cook and clean up after me that’s a delightful treat. And not having to screw around with ground transportation everywhere or figure out where to eat every meal.

    I’d love to take a cruise right now, but flying is what’s holding me back. Too many unvaccinated crazies on planes these days.

  32. GlamourMilk says:

    Cindy –

    Malaga is lovely. I also went to Cordoba (for one day) and Marbella (on a fitness retreat) on the same trip. My favorite part of that particular trip was visiting Granada though. It’s so beautiful. Did you go there?

    Cats –

    I’ve never been on a cruise (though I have sailed between locations). Could be fun to try at some point.

  33. cindy says:

    I usually traveled in early Spring but for some reason I went to Granada and Cordoba in July and it was so crowded. I moved on early to Toledo without seeing much.

    I am too impatient to go on a cruise. I just want to hurry up and get to wherever. The only time I hit the water was a hydrofoil to Morocco for a day trip. Unfortunately, it was back in the days when Spain and England were at loggerheads and you couldn’t go to Gibralter from Spain or vice versa, so I didn’t get to stopover.

  34. GlamourMilk says:

    Cindy –

    Just looked up Toledo after you mentioned it. It looks lovely and definitely somewhere I would like to visit, so thanks for the tip 🙂

  35. Cindy says:

    Glamour Milk-
    Did you realize that Toledo is the setting of El Greco’s painting “View of Toledo”? If you go, find the bridge he painted it from.

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