It’s June 25. How are You Celebrating #BourdainDay?

June 25, 2019

By Karen

I’m inviting everyone to let us know how you may be remembering Anthony Bourdain on #BourdainDay, what should have been his 63rd birthday.

[People.com]

Eric Ripert and José Andres, who initially announced this celebration, were in Singapore (12 hours ahead of the U.S. East Coast) and posted their toast and feast on Twitter yesterday.

Restaurants across the country too numerous to list here are planning various events and special menus to honor Tony.

Later today I hope to trek to Popeye’s Chicken, a few miles off my usual rounds, to try some spicy chicken, biscuits and gravy, and mac and cheese, which were Tony’s guilty favorites.

[Weirdly, when Bourdain died last year, I was in such a state of shock that I patronized a nearby Bojangles Louisiana Chicken by mistake and couldn’t figure out why they didn’t serve his mac and cheese.]

A few notes on some new developments…

The book, Anthony Bourdain Remembered, seems to have dropped off the Publishers Weekly bestseller list already, after standing at No. 10 a week or so ago.

His last graphic novel, Hungry Ghosts, is being made by Sony into a four-part animated series. They say each episode will have a different look and include the accompanying Bourdain recipe. Not sure how that will work. Also, no word yet on where or how the series will be available.

New Jersey officially opened the Bourdain Food Trail on June 13 with a ceremony that Tony’s brother Chris attended. It includes 10 stops they made for an episode during season 5 of Parts Unknown.

Tony’s alma mater, the Culinary Institute of America, in partnership with Eric Ripert and José Andres who are helping with fundraising, has established a scholarship to enable students to study abroad. Donations are also being accepted online.

On June 10, Bourdain was named one of 10 winners of EatingWell’s 3rd Annual American Food Hero Award.

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One Year: Anthony Bourdain Remembered

June 8, 2019

By Karen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m sure I’ve left a lot out.

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

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

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

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

UPDATES…

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

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

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

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

Parts Unknown has continued to win awards, including…

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

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

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

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

BONUS…

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

#1 Introduction (3/11/19)

#2 Detroit (3/18/19)

#3 Mexico (4/8/19)

#4 Russia (4/15/19)

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

#6 Shanghai (4/29/19)

#7 Tanzania (5/6/19)

#8 Iran (5/13/19)


Democrats Must Not Help Trump Run Out the Clock

May 23, 2019

By Karen

By delaying an impeachment inquiry (which is just fact-finding, not actual impeachment), Nancy Pelosi is in danger of becoming the House’s Mitch McConnell.

She says Trump isn’t worth it. Impeachment could make Trump a martyr and more popular, like it did with Bill Clinton.

To that I say, bullshit. Clinton just diddled an intern. Trump’s incompetent and running a crime syndicate out of the Oval Office to enrich himself and his circle. There’s a difference.

A comfortable majority of voters understand that Trump has been a criminal for decades. The only reason it’s coming out now is because he’s president and his shady behavior gets greater scrutiny. He’s not heading to jail yet because he’s president. It’s a real Catch-22.

I suspect what Democrats are thinking, although no one has dared say it, is: “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

Most of them must have shady campaign contributions and business deals in their pasts or they wouldn’t be millionaires today on government pay. They may fear that if they get too aggressive with Republicans willing to commit crimes to protect Trump, when the shoe’s on the other foot and a Democratic president makes any misstep, payback will be hell. Like the Golden Rule has ever mattered to Congress.

It’s nonsense. There will never be a Democratic dictator. It’s an oxymoron. If Democrats’ hearts and intentions are pure and they’re serious about learning the truth about Trump, they have nothing to fear.

If they do nothing, they will be remembered as the Congress that stood by while a felon ran this country into a ditch and walked away even richer.

The time to act is NOW. Every day Trump walks free to commit crimes, lie and further damage our global reputation and our government by stuffing it with corrupt idiots, the blame lies with Democrats.

Even the federal courts see the necessity of fast-tracking Trump’s ridiculous lawsuits to squash everything that proves his guilt. In the most scathing terms, two judges denounced Trump’s lawyers’ baseless claims of congressional overreach and executive privilege. They  denied requests for stays pending appeal to get documents into Congress’s hands faster. They’ve thrown Trump against the ropes on his finances and taxes.

The only thing standing in the way of Democrats removing this festering tumor eating at the presidency is Democrats themselves. Most Americans WANT TRUMP GONE.

The voters who don’t agree by now must themselves be too ignorant or criminal to matter. They won’t outnumber decent voters in 2020. They won’t get to keep Trump or put another backward ass-clown in power. We’re on to them. I say, let the Russians have them.

No one wants another congressional Democrat making a whiny speech to an empty chair at a hearing because another Trump toady flouted a subpoena. No more nasty letters. No more threats of fines these traitors will never pay. No more deadline extensions.

If someone defies Congress to shield Trump, they should be immediately declared in contempt, a warrant issued, and the person jailed. Any other ordinary American would be thrown in the slammer for less. These people are not above the law.

And neither is Trump. Every moment he goes unpunished, he looks in the mirror and sees a dictator on par with Putin, Kim or Duterte. Since Mueller wimped out and didn’t indict, Trump believes nothing can touch him. He wastes his days watching TV, chatting on the phone with his BFF Putie, making nonsensical speeches and tweeting garbage to keep morons motivated.

Enough.

Yesterday Trump said he will not work with Democrats until all the investigations stop. In essence, he refuses to do the job he was elected for, so he needs to be removed. The country needs leadership, not paranoia.

Congressional Democrats must launch the full force of their power at this tyrant until he’s gone, one way or the other. Impeachment, 25th Amendment, resignation, stroke. I don’t care how he goes, as long as he goes.

And once he’s out, if he’s still alive, let the courts nail him on the crimes he’s used his immunity in the White House to hide from. Trump’s prison sentence can’t begin soon enough so the country can sweep up the mess this 800-lb. gorilla made.

Here’s the deranged speech Trump made in the Rose Garden yesterday after throwing a hissy fit in front of Pelosi and Schumer in what should have been a meeting on infrastructure. At about 5:00 he unwittingly confesses that Don Jr. called him before his infamous meeting with Russians. At 9:55, Trump shows his notes, which consist of big graphics that look like a child’s flashcards, rather than text like any adult would use.

The wait to see Trump brought to justice is infuriating, but on another level, there’s a morbid pleasure in watching the orange buffoon who can’t even cope with his own baldness have a meltdown over being faced with multiple felonies and the certainty of global exposure and humiliation. When that day comes, the world will rejoice.


A Cat’s 2019 Preakness Picks

May 17, 2019

By Adele

Stewards who threw the Kentucky Derby to 2nd-place finisher Country House flushed this year’s Triple Crown season down the toilet, but I’m pressing on to the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 18.

Since the Derby, many in the racing community have worked up a righteous lather to justify humiliating Maximum Security by disqualifying his legitimate win. You’d think Max ran the race with switchblades on his shoes and cut every horse who dared get too close.

Adding further insult, Max’s jockey, Luis Saez, got belatedly suspended for 15 racing days for “failure to control his mount and make the proper effort to maintain a straight course.” Yeah, whatever.

A typical suspension is about three days, so Saez is appealing it. But as it stands, the Belmont Stakes on June 8 is conveniently one of the dates he’s forbidden to ride.

Max’s owners have filed a federal lawsuit against the Derby stewards and members of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, claiming his disqualification was unconstitutional because the Commission denies due process by claiming stewards’ decisions are final. Apparently, other states, like Louisiana, don’t share this “stewards are gods” stance.

But since neither Max nor Country House are in the Preakness tomorrow, all this human acid reflux is moot.

The Preakness field is only 13 horses. Let’s hope the track dries out (it’s been raining all week), they all keep to themselves and run straight as arrows so those stewards don’t get their panties in a bunch.

War of Will — whom Max allegedly tangled legs with to cause a massive chain reaction, the stewards alleged, that affected nearly every horse EXCEPT Country House — will be in post position 1 under the same jockey, Tyler Gaffalione. He ran 7th in the Derby, but is the second favorite with 4-1 odds. With Max out of the picture, this is War’s chance to show us he can do it.

Also running again is Improbable (new jockey, Mike Smith, 5-2, pp 4). He was one of my picks for the Derby and came in 4th, so I hope he places.

My pick to win is Alwaysmining (Daniel Centeno, 8-1, pp 7). He wasn’t in the Derby, but has won his previous six races, so he’s accustomed to being out front. And, he’s trained by Kelly Rubley, who would be the first female trainer to win a Triple Crown race.

Alwaysmining (Photo: Jerry Jackson, Baltimore Sun)

The only other horses back for more are Bodexpress (new jockey, John Velazquez, 20-1, pp 9, ran 13th in the Derby) and Win Win Win (Julian Pimentel, 15-1, pp 13, ran 9th in the Derby). The rest of the field is fresh horsefaces.

BONUS: Here’s WaPo’s long-time horse racing columnist Andrew Beyer’s take on the Kentucky Derby and why disqualifying Max based on what might have happened rather than what actually went down was dumb.


Maximum Security: the Kentucky Derby’s Hillary

May 5, 2019

By Adele

The rainy, muddy Kentucky Derby yesterday was certainly a sloppy mess on every level.

But let me begin by saying I don’t hold Country House responsible for the disgrace his human handlers gleefully heaped on Maximum Security. I’m sure had Country realized his jockey, Flavien Prat, is a conniving weasel, he’d have thrown Prat off before they reached the starting gate and walked away in disgust. Instead, Country has to live with being the only horse ever to have the Kentucky Derby handed to him without winning.

Watching the “disaster” unfold in replays (because no commentator made a peep while it was happening) was like déjà vu to the 2016 election. It didn’t matter how competent, able, and ahead the best “horse” was, forces conspired to put someone else in the Winner’s Circle with the “roses.”

I always thought the purpose of horse racing is for horses to get in front of each other. Maximum Security did that to the field right out of the gate. That he and his jockey, Luis Saez, finished looking like they’d romped on grass instead of through a quagmire was testament to how well they stayed in front.

Here’s a photo of the finish line…

The horse in the red sash to the right is Maximum Security. The horse with the yellow sash in relatively distant second place is Country House. (For the record, his odds were 65-1; he’d only won one race in six previous starts.)

Perhaps figuring he had nothing to lose, Country’s jockey Prat cried foul and claimed Maximum Security “interfered” with other horses, even though he and Country were on the outside, uninvolved. Here’s what happened…

Coming into the stretch, Maximum Security veered right, which he was able to do BECAUSE NO OTHER HORSE WAS THERE.

The horse closest behind him was War of Will, who had veered out from post position 2, and then Long Range Toddy, who had veered well in from post position 18.

War of Will ultimately came in 7th, and Long Range Toddy came in 16th.

Did you see how Max mauled those two horses so badly in that split second that they both essentially threw in the towel? Neither did I.

Meanwhile, Country House was prancing along free and clear, but didn’t have enough race left to overtake Max.

The best horse won, and deserved to win. Max was undefeated with four previous wins, but the stewards kicked him to 17th place in the Derby. They claim his side-stepping threw off virtually ALL the other horses and ANY of them could have magically outrun Max if only he’d stayed out of their way.

If that isn’t some of the vilest, most disgusting horseshit I’ve ever heard, I don’t know what is.

OK, maybe Donald Trump tweeting that Maximum Security lost because of “political correctness.” That moron’s too stupid to realize that “winner” Country House is the Derby’s Donald Trump.

The sports talking heads are doing their utmost to make Max’s behavior heinous to justify the bullshit decision, pretty much saying he could have caused a pile-up and gotten everybody killed.

Well, no, he couldn’t have, because he pulled considerably ahead in the next instant and left the others behind to wallow in the muck.

Now any jockey who doesn’t like the way a race turns out can raise a stink and cross his fingers. Stewards can comb through any replay until they find some justification to throw the race — because they always can. The participants are HORSES. They just RUN. They don’t give a shit about human rules. When it’s muddy, anything can happen.

For the record, I picked Maximum Security to win before any humans were taking him seriously, and before Bob Baffert said he was the horse to watch. Just sayin’.


A Cat’s 2019 Kentucky Derby Picks

May 3, 2019

By Adele

People, between us, I’ve had a good run with the horses and thought last year was my last year. But since I just sailed through my 19th birthday on April 11, I’m happy to be here to kick off another Triple Crown season with the 2019 Kentucky Derby.

(Maybe Karen can forget how much she hates Trump while we watch the “greatest two minutes in sports” together.)

The odds-makers’ favorite was Omaha Beach, who got scratched the other day when his cough turned out to be an entrapped epiglottis. He had minor surgery this morning to remove a loose flap of skin in his throat and should be fine in a few weeks, but he’ll never wear the Triple Crown.

This leaves Omaha’s jockey, Mike Smith, also out of the Run for the Roses. Smith won the Derby last year on Justify and was hoping do make it a double.

Today, Haikal (Jockey Rajiv Maragh, odds 30-1, post position 11) got scratched because he has an abscess on his left front hoof. Since no more horses qualified for the Derby, only 19 will be running, and the 10 horses that were to Haikal’s left will shift over one post position so nobody runs against the rail.

Omaha Beach was trained by Bob Baffert, that guy always in white who looks like my Mini-Me, but Baffert has three other horses to spare, including the humans’ new favorite Game Winner (Joel Rosario, 9-2, pp 16), as well as Improbable (Irad Ortiz Jr., 5-1, pp 6) and Roadster (Florent Geroux, 5-1, pp 17). If one of Baffert’s horses wins, it will be his sixth Kentucky Derby and tie him for trainer with the most wins in the race’s 145 years.

A Japanese horse came over this year. Master Fencer (Julien Leparoux, 50-1, pp 15) is considered the fourth best horse in Japan, and the only horse willing to make the long trip.

As for my picks, Improbable does look pretty good. Of five previous races, he won the first three and came in second in the two most recent. It’s time he chalked up a third-place finish.

Spinoff (Manny Franco, 30-1, pp19) is a long shot, but he’s never run slower than third, and he placed behind By My Standards (Gabriel Saez, 15-1, pp 4) in his previous race, so maybe Spin’s got an axe to grind. I’d be happy if he placed.

Maximum Security (Luis Saez, 8-1, pp 8) also looks promising, undefeated with four previous wins under his saddle. He’s my favorite to win.

But I can’t ignore Game Winner. He won the first four of his six previous races, and most recently placed behind Omaha Beach and Roadster. If he’s in the mood to race, he could be a problem.

The way Baffert likes to run his own horses against each other so much seems a bit twisted. I’ll bet he stirs up a lot of shit-talk in the stalls back at the stables.

As always, keeping paws crossed that all the horses cross the finish line safely. And may the best horse win.


What Congress Needs to Learn from Trump

April 30, 2019

By Karen

Robert Mueller finally finished. His investigation ended with a whimper, shocking everyone who believed Mueller was the one man capable of driving a stake through Donald Trump’s black, shriveled heart.

When Mueller failed to deliver recommendations to charge Trump, it seems he, and other misguided souls on Capitol Hill, worship like the 11th Commandment some worthless memo written in the Justice Department during Nixon, which says you can’t indict a sitting president. Rather, the president should face no impediments in continuing to commit crimes in office.

However, Mueller did uncover enough damning evidence to show anybody unlobotomized that if Trump were anybody else, he’d be in prison for obstruction of justice to conceal his obligations to Russia. We don’t know what those are because Trump’s latest flying monkey attorney general, William Barr, redacted the worst parts.

I don’t know what motivates Barr, except perhaps in his dotage he’s become obsessed with turning the U.S. into a Third World dictatorship.

Barr’s been dissing Congress since they let him to slither back in as AG, the same job he held under H.W. Bush I.

Even though Barr has wantonly obstructed and lied to keep Mueller’s facts hidden, Congress wants Barr to testify again, knowing full well Barr’s not going to turn on Trump now that he’s in this deep.

Barr’s balking and trying to set the terms under which he’ll testify.

I say, enough’s enough. Let the punishments begin.

Congress needs to rip the page from Trump’s playbook that Sarah Huckabee Sanders loves to quote, which says…

“When you get hit, you hit back 10 times harder.”

For starters Congress must stop extending deadlines. Tick-tock. Don’t let Trump run out the clock — and run.

If any witness tells the media or tweets that they don’t intend to cooperate, subpoena them THE SAME DAY.

If they say they intend to defy the subpoena, cite them in contempt of Congress THE SAME DAY.

Give them a week to rethink and come around, then get an arrest warrant.

Meanwhile, Trump’s tweets are off the crazy scale. He’s issuing decrees to defy subpoenas and filing lawsuits against Deutsche Bank and Capital One Financial to keep his finances hidden.

His behavior on all fronts is an admission of guilt.

Carl Kline is a former White House stooge who, apparently on Trump’s orders, ignored huge red flags on Jared Kushner and many others to grant top security clearances. He tried to flout his subpoena, but now will testify May 1 accompanied by a White House lawyer. House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings says Kline may still face contempt charges if he doesn’t answer all questions.

It’s a good ground rule for every witness, including AG Barr. Come clean or be held in contempt and face jail time.

When Trump sees his closest henchmen dwindling because they’re in jail, maybe his pea brain will absorb that Congress isn’t bluffing.

If Trump doubles down on obstruction — which he’s now committing daily and openly — it’s time for impeachment. The Mueller report contains more than ample evidence for grounds.

Congress must hold open hearings where every Trump associate in Mueller’s report testifies before the American people what they know about their own crimes and Trump’s.

Why is this important? So we don’t repeat the Nixon mistake. He got into a second term before we knew he was a crook.

Tick tock.

If Congress makes it too hot for Trump, he could resign, like Nixon did. Or he could announce he’s not running in 2020.

In an ideal world, the GOP would attempt redemption by abandoning the Trump/Pence ticket at the convention. Nominating Trump challenger William Weld would instantly restore some sanity to campaign season.

But I realize all that’s unlikely to happen and Trump will run again. So, before we vote in 2020, Americans and the world need to know, without reservations, that Trump is an unindicted multiple felon and he must face the consequences — not be granted sanctuary from prosecution in the Oval Office.


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