The Cats Check In & New Bourdain Book

May 21, 2021

By Karen

It’s TGIF here today. I snapped pics of the crew this morning so you can see how they’re doing. After finally shoveling a mammoth editing project out of here, this week I was finally able start reading World Travel: An Irreverent Guide by Laurie Woolever, channeling Anthony Bourdain. I’m enjoying it and awed by the research. But the dips into each country are so brief, I want to rewatch the shows she sourced to see the meals and restaurants again.

AND this week I happened upon a second worthwhile Bourdain book coming out on October 12, same day as Woolever’s Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography, which now has a cover…

Tom Vitale, Tony’s longtime director and producer, has written In the Weeds: Around the World and Behind the Scenes with Anthony Bourdain. It’s being published by Hachette in hardcover (not Bourdain’s Ecco imprint). At only 6” x 9”, I assume it’s more narrative than the oversized photo books previously published about the shows, which is great. I hope Hachette does better with the cover art and this is just their Amazon placeholder…

Amazon’s also peddling at least three unauthorized Bourdain “biographies.” One is 53 pages, has no named author, and you can get it free with Kindle Unlimited. Another is only 17 pages by a writer — probably fittingly — named Dumm. And the third bio is supposedly 30 pages of “interesting facts.”

A fourth 152-page book is an English translation of “Reflections” on his death “by Suicide????” (question marks are in the actual title, so, believable????). The original is in Spanish and seems to be a dredging of the conspiracy delusions we were fed by certain parties in Italy, if you get my drift.

I’ve decided not to read these because it means buying them, and I don’t want to support them. Also, it wouldn’t surprise me — but would totally piss me off — if I found material lifted from Cats Working. Better for them that I never know.

But back to the cats…

Tony says, “Party this weekend like it’s 2019!” He’s got a birthday coming up. Does he look more grown up these days?
Roc says, “Take it easy by curling up in your favorite perch by a window and soak in some rays on your tush.”
Max says, “Relax in your Man Cave or anywhere else you can get away from the crazy frat boys.”

Bourdain News Updates

April 29, 2021

By Karen

Dates for the CNN/HBO Documentary…

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain will be shown June 11 at the Tribeca Film Festival (which runs June 9–20 in New York City), then July 16 it will open in theaters. After its theatrical run peters out, it will be available on HBO Max and eventually shown on CNN. As of today, the trailer isn’t available yet. reports that the film will include unaired footage from Parts Unknown.

I wonder it that could be bits of the never-finished Florence episode Tony made with his soon-to-be-cheating girlfriend the week before he took his final, fatal trip to France with Eric Ripert.

World Travel: An Irreverant Guide Hits Bestseller Lists…

Work has kept me from diving into this book, but it came out of the gate strong.

Its first week, it was No. 1 on the Washington Post Nonfiction Hardcover Bestsellers list.

Surprisingly, it did not make The New York Times’ corresponding list that week at all.

It’s No. 1 on the Los Angeles Times Nonfiction Hardcover Bestsellers list this week.

At Amazon, it ranked No. 3 for all nonfiction its first week and seems to be holding steady.

And in Canada it debuted at No. 1 in International Bestsellers among Canadian independent booksellers, according to the Vancouver Sun.

Author Laurie Woolever continues her media blitz with a dedication that would make Tony proud. She did a Texas Public Radio podcast that went online April 23.

On April 26 she talked to Anthony Mason on CBS This Morning. Chef Daniel Boulud also appears in the interview and remembers his jitters filming Parts Unknown in his French hometown with Tony.

Finally, My Post-Mortem on the Reelz Autopsy Episode…

I’ll just hit what got my attention. If you’re unfamiliar with the details of Tony’s passing, dip into the Cats Working archives for June 2018 and find my series of posts as the story unfolded.

Dr. Michael Hunter didn’t seem to have any more information than we all had. The show did include one lovely photo of Nancy as a teenager I’d never seen. (I didn’t capture it because I’m respecting Nancy’s privacy as atonement for outing her identity on A Cook’s Tour years ago.)

However, the show failed to mention Tony’s 20-year marriage to Nancy and gave the impression he was single until Ottavia. It also implied that Parts Unknown was his only TV show.

The biggest “get” was Tony’s friend Michael Ruhlman on camera, but he didn’t say anything remotely revealing. He did confirm that Tony seemed tired and unhappy his last few years (i.e., girlfriend years), and seemed to become more insecure as his fame grew.

Dr. Hunter called this “Imposter Syndrome.”

Hunter discussed and dismissed Bourdain’s well-known habits as suspects, drugs and drinking, except as substances that would make someone more prone to depression.

He homed in on jet lag, and speculated that Tony was using Ambien, another depression trigger, but also discounted that as a contributor. (An appropriate dose of prescription medication was found in Tony’s bloodwork, but never named.)

Where Hunter really screwed up was saying several times that autopsy results were “never revealed.” No autopsy was ever done.

The show skirted right up to “rumors of an affair” involving the girlfriend days before Tony’s death, but only as another reason he’d be depressed, not a contributing factor.

The one bit of homework that impressed me was that Hunter claimed to find 19 instances between 2005-2017 where Tony had joked about hanging generally, or hanging himself in the shower.

I suspect the recreation of Eric Ripert charging into Tony’s room to find him in the bathroom was inaccurate. I believe a hotel worker entered first, and I’ve never seen any mention of exactly where Tony did it.

Hunter finally attributed Tony’s death to emotional pressure from the girlfriend situation, traveling and being away from his family, and long-standing suicidal ideation linked to depression. Hunter concluded that Tony “thought his depression was unworthy of treatment or insurmountable.”

Bottom line: Autopsy, The Last Hours of… filled in no blanks for me.

BONUS: I just came across this good article at Mashed about Bourdain that’s a pretty accurate, comprehensive glimpse of him.

Special Report: Bourdain News

April 22, 2021

By Karen

I’ve got four new items if you’re a Cats Working reader who’s still interested in Anthony Bourdain’s evolving legacy.

Autopsy Episode on Reelz…

The episode of Autopsy: The Last Hours of… filmed in November 2020 premiers Sunday, April 25, at 8 p.m. ET on the Reelz channel. Here’s their blurb (redacted for length because CW readers know the backstory)…

On June 8th 2018, the world was stunned by the news that award-winning writer and TV presenter, Anthony Bourdain had taken his own life. He was the punk rock chef who found fame as the hip new face of food and travel television… But suddenly, at the age of 61, he hung himself in his hotel room, while filming in France. So what happened? World renowned forensic pathologist, Dr. Michael Hunter needs to analyse every detail in the limited available information to piece together what exactly caused the well-loved TV host to take his own life. 

I’ve been watching some of Autopsy for months, waiting for this one to emerge, so I’ll dare to make a few predictions based on what I’ve learned about this show.

Dr. Michael Hunter is going to delve into Bourdain’s drug use, smoking, drinking, diet, and possibly chronic jet lag/sleep deprivation as potentially the REAL reasons behind the suicide, but in the end he’ll go along with what the French coroner concluded on the death certificate without performing an autopsy.

Hunter will never come close to citing the most likely actual cause.

The mention of “limited available information” indicates that neither Tony’s family nor friends cooperated. They know what went down, and they’re not saying. To this day, we don’t even know the final resting place of his ashes.

The show cast an actress to play Bourdain’s last girlfriend, but I would be surprised if they reveal anything we don’t already know about “the last hours of” that situation.

I’ll be watching just to see what they do with what little they have to go on, with fingers crossed that it’s not anything upsetting to Tony’s daughter.

World Travel: In Irreverent Guide

On Tuesday, April 20, World Travel: An Irreverent Guide by Anthony Bourdain was published by his imprint, Ecco, but his longtime co-author, Laurie Woolever, really made it happen.

I’ve got my hefty copy. As an owner of every book Bourdain wrote, I can say with “no reservations” that World Travel is — even with line drawings, not the full-page, full-color photos of previous books — THE MOST sumptuous, elegantly produced volume ever to bear his name.

Woolever, after just one hour-long brainstorming session with Tony in March 2017 on what places and points he wanted to include, worked from those notes to craft chapters from literally hundreds of hours of episode transcripts from No Reservations, The Layover, and Parts Unknown, his interviews, articles, notes, blog posts and books. The sheer breadth of her research makes my head explode.

It’s organized alphabetically by country (43 of them), and the quoted Bourdain sprinkled liberally throughout is in bold blue, which makes his voice literally jump off the page.

I’ve just begun it, but I already feel that it’s going to be like having Tony back for a while.

To promote the book, Woolever has done phone interviews with everybody. I’ll share some links, but warn you that they’re similar. She probably knows how Bourdain felt when he got asked for the 100th time how he liked eating a cobra’s heart.

CNN/HBO Documentary Finished at Last…

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain will debut at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City from June 9–20. It was directed by Morgan Neville, who did that Mr. Rogers documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, and produced also by Focus Features. At some point it will be available on HBO Max and shown on CNN, I presume. Here’s the blurb…

The nonfiction chronicle of Bourdain’s life will brim “with the same energy, curiosity, and deep humanity that made Anthony Bourdain the superstar whose life touched so many” in the years leading up to his 2018 death.

This film DID have the cooperation of Bourdain’s family and friends, but I expect the focus will be on his amazing life and leave the many still-lingering questions about his end unanswered.

I found this video interview with Morgan Neville from May 27, 2020, episode #35. He must have been working on Roadrunner then, but they don’t discuss it until 29:30. Neville says basically nothing, and the interviewer does no follow-up, but you’re welcome to check it out.

Last, But Most Exciting, One More Woolever Book…

Laurie Woolever is also compiling a Bourdain biography from interviews called Bourdain: The Oral Biography to be published on October 12, 2021, by Ecco. She mentioned it during her current media blitz, but provided the most detail to Barron’s

I did about 100 interviews with people from all different aspects of his life, from family members to colleagues back in the old kitchen days of the ’80s and ’90s, high school friends, his first wife, plenty of television colleagues, publishing colleagues, friends he made along the way, just a real array of people who knew him really from birth until the end of his life. He was someone who shared a lot about himself, and his whole story is out there of course in Kitchen Confidential, but what I found in working on the book is that there was a lot that I didn’t know. Every single person I spoke with I learned something surprising. And I was pretty steeped in all things Tony for a long time, so my hope with that one is that people will learn more about what motivated him.

PS: In researching this post, I came across other Bourdain “biographies” on Amazon that I wasn’t aware of by people I’ve never heard of. I’ll do some digging on those and report back.

BONUS: Bourdain has this new tribute mural at The Grub Shop on Long Island.

Photo: Yelp/AndaluzTheArtist

Cats at Ease

March 4, 2021

By Karen

My previous installment, which I was rather pleased with, turned out to be one of those, “If a tree falls in the woods” endeavors, in that:

If you post a blog entry and no one likes or comments on it, was it really worth your time to write it?

So I’ll keep it brief today. (I’m also slammed with paying work and just taking a quick break to maintain my blogging schedule.)

Last night, in an unexpected display of camaraderie, Roc snuggled down beside Max on the couch, and Max let him…

Max was only there because Tony was hogging Max’s usual bed. But with Roc at his back, Max couldn’t let himself snooze with both eyes closed and dashed back up to the Man Cave shortly after I snapped the photo.

And Tony always manages to pose in totally disproportionate ways, like here…

His tail and leg look far longer than his head size would dictate, not to mention those “Obama ears,” wouldn’t you agree?

Wait, never mind. Silly me, asking questions.

BONUS: The rights to Anthony Bourdain’s second novel, Gone Bamboo, have been sold to be developed into a scripted TV series set in the Caribbean (St. Martin, if they keep it accurate). The pilot has not yet been written and no network has offered to buy it, but fingers crossed the deal goes through. I loved Bourdain’s fiction.

In this paragraph from page one describing the protagonist, “Henry,” are you getting any familiar vibes? (Shit, there I go again. Forget I asked.)…

The other man at the table was tall, around six foot four, thin, and deeply tanned. He looked in his mid- to late forties, with long, dark brown hair, sun-bleached in spots and going to gray, tied back in a ponytail. He was dressed in faded blue jeans with holes in the knees and a loose-fitting long-sleeve T-shirt. He was wearing no socks or shoes, and even his feet were tan. In the dimly lit motel room, the darkness of his skin made his eyes and teeth and the gold hoop earring in his left ear flash unnaturally bright.

John Lurie Remembers Bourdain

January 28, 2021

By Karen

About a week before he died in 2018, Anthony Bourdain met artist John Lurie and bought his painting titled, “The sky is falling, I am learning to live with it,” for a reported $19,000…

The painting was auctioned with many other of Bourdain’s belongings in 2019 by Lark Mason Associates to launch a scholarship fund in Tony’s memory at his alma mater, the Culinary Institute of America. I lost track of what happened to the painting there. But that’s not the point.

John Lurie currently has a six-part series on HBO (Fridays, 11 p.m. ET) called Painting with John. Only one episode has aired so far, and it hooked me.

Bourdain and Lurie met in Lurie’s New York apartment while Tony was filming in the Lower East Side for what became the final episode of Parts Unknown. Lurie boiled eggs for Tony. This clip is a mashup of the episode (and may be indicative in hindsight of his state of mind), but you can catch Tony’s daughter Ariane singing at the end…

Today, John Lurie is living on an undisclosed island somewhere in the Caribbean. His series consists of watching him paint close up (which is rather relaxing, believe it or not) and deliver a stream-of-consciousness monologue to the camera about whatever pops into his head, like an artistic spinoff of Bourdain’s PBS series, Mind of a Chef.

If my calculations are correct, the fourth episode airs on February 12, and that’s the one where Lurie talks about his brief — and he believed blooming — relationship with Anthony Bourdain. So, if you can catch it, it’s probably worth watching.

If you can’t get to HBO’s content, I think Lurie told basically the same story during an interview, so you can read his thoughts in Rolling Stone.

SIDE NOTE: On January 26, Asia Argento’s “autobiography,” Anatomy of a Wild Heart, was published in Italy. With any luck, it will stay there.

Undoubtedly to drum up sales, she now claims that back in 2002 when she was filming the movie xXx, director Rob Cohen forced her to drink a date rape drug and raped her.

Twice. She also speaks a bit about Bourdain in this link to a poorly translated interview, where she’s quoted as saying, “He entered my life on tiptoe.” Quite a comical image for a man who was 6’4”.

Cohen says he and Argento were friends who had an excellent working relationship, and he finds her accusation “bewildering.”

My cynical translation of this is that he thought they were enjoying the film shoot with mutual benefits.

But if we learned anything about our Tony’s final fling from her claims against Harvey Weinstein, she never stops after one alleged “rape.” She’s always available for more.

I’m wondering why she didn’t shoot higher and go after her co-star, Vin Diesel…

What I see is a pattern. Any man who ever hopped between the sheets with her shouldn’t be surprised when she calls him a rapist, just for the attention. It’s pathetic.

Chapter 132: COVID Chronicles

October 29, 2020

By Karen

Day 229

Tony Celebrates a Milestone & Some Bourdain News

Fittingly, on National Cat Day, it was one year ago that I brought home “the new kid,” Tony Bourdain. He was only five months old, unsure if this was just another temporary foster stop. In the year he’s grown up, he’s grown comfortable in his forever home and come a long way…

In the process, he makes me laugh every day and is Roc’s always-ready, feisty little grappling partner.

Meanwhile on the election front, after putting my mail-in ballot in an official box on October 20, my hair’s been smoldering as I’ve tracked it every day to make sure it was counted. FINALLY, when I checked yesterday afternoon, SUCCESS…

The only other time I voted absentee was when I’d be in mid-ocean on a transatlantic crossing from Barcelona. The good old days!

I think Obama nailed it when he said the only reason Trump’s kvetching about all the media coverage COVID gets is because he’s jealous. Absolutely. When the reporting is “COVID, COVID, COVID,” they’re not saying “Trump, Trump, Trump.”

Trump had better get used to it. This groundswell of early voting, particularly by first-time voters, doesn’t feel like it’s mobs clamoring for four more years of corruption, chaos and lies.

Now, Bourdain news. An Australian musician named Simon Robert Gibson composed a tribute called “Bourdain”…

It’s a sad and touching, even if the style of music isn’t my thing.

Much more disturbing to me was a casting call for a docudrama series called Autopsy: The Last Hours Of…, which airs in the States on Reelz. It describes itself as:

…an investigative medical documentary series that looks at the lives and deaths of the biggest names in entertainment history. Through a combination of interviews with family and friends, archive footage and dramatic reconstructions, we tell these stories and unpick the — sometimes mysterious — circumstances around their deaths.

I get Reelz, so I just watched episodes on Marlon Brando and Carrie Fisher (neither of whom had full autopsies, like Bourdain), just to get a feel for the show’s approach.


They’re shooting the Bourdain episode November 2-6 in the U.K., and they were looking for two actors to play Bourdain at ages 18-30 and 50-60. They also needed an Asia age 38-49 (which should annoy her, since she’s only 45 and also apparently an actress out of work). And an Eric Ripert.

The show provides biographical context for things that might have contributed to the death, so “Bourdain” has to simulate smoking and drug use. All roles are “nonspeaking,” so the actors will be recreating mostly in pantomime what the producers think happened.

Since the show’s focus is “final hours,” we’re talking about Bourdain’s last days in France with Eric when the photos were published of Asia cavorting around Rome with another man and Bourdain’s relationship with her blew up in his face.

Since what we know about Bourdain’s passing came mainly from the French coroner, I’m dreading what else they may have dug up to have enough material for a program. Each episode features this doctor/actor(?) who reviews the person’s medical records and tries to poke holes in them to reach more definitive conclusions.

There’s no air date yet announced.

Chapter 122: COVID Chronicles

August 31, 2020

By Karen

Day 173

Roc’s New Thing for Dryer Balls & Lisbeth Salander is REAL

After I finished laundry Saturday, Roc suddenly fell in love with my Woolite® dryer balls. Maybe they smell like lamb? He played with them most of the morning and refused to share them with Tony…

KITCHEN NEWS: My built-in Kenmore electric range is 37 years old, but I love that its knobs are on the front so I don’t have to reach across hot pans. I once looked into replacing it, but stoves so designed were insanely expensive, and pulling this one out would surely lead to a new counter, sink, cabinets, floor… You know, the domino effect of updating anything in a kitchen.

But sadly, one of the burner coils died. I sweated finding a replacement on such an old stove, and a defunct-Sears Kenmore at that, but had OEM parts (actually made by Electrolux), and they fit like a charm. I replaced all four while I could, and so the three old grungy ones wouldn’t be body-shamed by the shiny new guy. Now it feels like a new stove…

I probably could have gotten generic coils on Amazon for less, but when it comes to electrical things that could burn down the house, I don’t cut corners.

TV NEWS: We have our very own Lisbeth Salander in Kansas! She’s the real-life bounty hunter in Love Fraud, which started airing on Showtime last night…

“This four-part docu-series follows the search for one man, Richard Scott Smith, who over the past 20 years used the internet and his dubious charms to prey upon unsuspecting women looking for love — conning them out of their money and dignity. The story unravels in real time as Smith’s victims band together to seek sweet revenge by turning to a bounty hunter when they feel the justice system has failed them.”

Carla Campbell the real-life bounty hunter is a wizened, gray-haired smoker whose backstory is that after her first boyfriend beat her constantly, when she finally broke free, she vowed no man would ever touch her like that again. About Smith, she says…

“If he ever came in and robbed me like these other women, I’d be in prison. I’d have slit his throat and watched him bleed to death and then admitted to doing it because I’m not going to let him do that to somebody else.”

Some of the women he’s destroyed find each other on a blog one of them started to warn others. They coalesce into a posse after the legal system gives Smith a slap on the wrist. Part of Smith’s con is that he married many of the women and became legally entitled to their assets because they didn’t realize the marriages were bigamous.

I’ll confess I’ve gotten mixed up with at least two men whom I know did illegal things to women (because it was reported in the newspaper), including the man I briefly married. But they never got any money from me and I managed to escape in one piece. Watching these woman strike a blow for all of us trusting schmucks is highly satisfying.

The first episode is available free on Showtime’s site. I hope it ends with a scene where Scott gets locked in a room alone with Carla.

BONUS: Anthony Bourdain’s co-author, Laurie Woolever, recently tweeted the cover of their last book together, World Travel: An Irreverent Guide

Laurie tweeted she’s sneakily drawn in the background. I think she’s the one on the left.

It’s being released April 20, 2021. In a happily-ever-after world, Tony and Ottavia would have celebrated their anniversary on that date.

BONUS: The day after Trump’s nomination, where he mumbled his acceptance like a reanimated zombie reciting recycled clichés sprinkled with WTF bits of historical gibberish, Trump had a rally in Londonderry, New Hampshire, which attracted only about 500 people. Going to the podium, when he reached the top of three steps and had no railing, he almost fell off the platform…

Watching Trump deteriorate is like seeing a plane crash in slow-mo. But if you tally all the shuffles, stumbles, jerks, twitches, garbled statements, nonsensical tweets and mangled words he does in public in a mere fraction of his day, his doctors will have a LOT of ‘splainin’ to do when Trump and the ground finally meet and a camera catches it.


August 23, 2020

By Tony

After a month that felt like a year, the 2021 RAL Calendar Contest finally ended last night at 8 p.m. when the top 12 fundraisers were announced.

Last Monday, we were in the dumps about my chances. Other pets were bringing in so much money, especially those damn dogs. What was a kitty to do?…

But then on Wednesday a BIG donation from “Rusty Crow” suddenly appeared — and it got MATCHED. This totally turned the tide, raising me to 9th place. Rusty Crow wishes to remain anonymous, but Karen knows who they are and wants to express her amazement and eternal gratitude for their repeated and unexpected support.

Dogs had already seized the top seven spots, but other cats weren’t sitting around on their tails, and their donations kept coming.

On Friday, Karen’s sister Keri brought in another surge from friends and family.

Yesterday, the final stretch, began quietly, as we expected. At 6:30 p.m., Karen, her mother, and several Cats Working readers and friends made their moves and got me to 8th place. I became the TOP CAT!

Roc and I tried to play it cool during that last hour, watching Karen rip her hair out at the laptop watching more donations come in…

I don’t exaggerate when I say all hell broke loose at 7:55. Especially between the two top dogs. The one who’d held a massive lead the whole time was suddenly kicked to second place. Her owner immediately donated $5,150 to get her untouchably back on top.

Meanwhile, a catfight broke out around me. At least one cat’s human threw another $1,000 into the pot. When all the fur finally settled, here’s what the leaderboard looked like…


Because of COVID, no big celebration was possible, but the RAL people wrapped it up on Facebook. You can watch how the cats scrambled the leaderboard and see how those big last-minute donations freaked everyone out. Go to 9:30 for the winner announcements. Mine was the first name they called!

We couldn’t relax until the video made it official, but I pretended I knew I was a shoo-in all along…

Later, I unwound on my favorite blankie in bed while Karen read about John Adams…

This morning, everything feels back to normal. I hit the dry bowls for some brunch…

Even though I’ll be a pinup cat next year (month TBA), I want to assure everyone that, like my namesake Anthony Bourdain, I’ll stay humble and never be above tearing paper and hanging out in my Chewy box…

I CAN’T SAY THANKS ENOUGH to everyone who supported me, including Ottavia Bourdain, who topped me off with a last-minute contribution. The $2,566 I raised will do SO MUCH to help other cats (and dogs, probably). RAL takes in animals from rural shelters in Virginia so they’ll have the best chance to become healthy and strong and find loving homes like I did.

I feel so blessed. Just a year ago, I was a sick kitten bouncing around foster homes with an uncertain future. Today, I’m a four-legged tribute to an internationally beloved writer and traveler, and a blogger with a family of my own. AND I have my month as an RAL Calendar Kitty to look forward to in 2021! It doesn’t get any better than this. And it’s due to the kindness all of you have shown me. I love you.

BONUS: Here’s another snippet of unwinding time where I get a little feisty…

Chapter 89: COVID Chronicles

June 25, 2020

By Karen

Day 106

#BourdainDay News from the Home Front

Were Anthony Bourdain still with us, today would have been his 64th birthday. In 2019, his chef friends Eric Ripert and José Andrés began celebrating by designating June 25 #BourdainDay. All that’s required in recognition is to raise a glass or have a great meal that Tony might have loved — which is to say, do whatever makes you happy.

Restaurants all over are featuring specials in his memory. For example, Tojo’s in Vancouver is recreating the seven-course menu served when Bourdain visited in 2008, with a portion of proceeds going to Mind the Bar, a fund for local restaurant workers dealing with depression. Even in death, Bourdain still champions worthy causes.

GoTraveler posted a tribute consisting of early Bourdain TV clips that left me smiling. He was so exuberant when he and his earring embarked his globe-trotting adventure…

I met Anthony Bourdain’s wife Ottavia in November 2009 when several Cats Working readers and I gathered in Washington D.C. to attend the annual Capital Food Fight, which Tony was hosting with José Andrés…

Since then, Ottavia and I have occasionally touched base, and she graciously provided an update on how she and daughter Ariane are doing.

Ottavia’s parents live in Italy’s Lombardy region, which was the epicenter for COVID-19 there. Bourdain once filmed an episode of No Reservations featuring them and other members of Ottavia’s family. Fortunately, they have been able to stay healthy.

But Ottavia wasn’t so lucky. She’s gone back to school to study neurobiology (she had once studied dentistry in Italy before emigrating to the U.S.). In February, she got her EMT (emergency medical technician) license.

She told me she caught COVID-19 in mid-March, probably in school or on the bus, so her plans to begin volunteering as an EMT had to get scratched. Here’s what she told me about coronavirus:

“It was AWFUL. I wasn’t one of the worst cases and I managed to stay out of the hospital, mostly because I have a stethoscope and a pulse oximeter at home and I could check my lungs’ sounds and my oxygen concentration. It took me over three weeks to recover. I still have lingering issues.”

Ottavia is in her early 40s (her 1965 birthdate repeated all over the internet is wildly inaccurate). She describes this lingering aftereffect of COVID that I haven’t seen reported anywhere:

“I had completely lost my sense of smell and could barely taste anything. But things were getting much better until last week, when I started smelling a sinister scent. Like rotten carcass. I was sure there was a dead mouse in the apartment, although Eddie and Ariane couldn’t smell anything. I went on a hunt for hours. But then I realized that I could smell that scent in meat, tuna, coffee, body wash.

“I emailed my doctor, and turns out that many people who recovered from COVID-19, and had lost their sense of smell, are now, weeks later, suffering from parosmia, a distorted sense of smell. For some it’s so bad they can’t even eat because everything tastes like rotten meat.

“I’m sure this too will pass, but it’s a scary virus because there are still so many unknowns. It’s maddening to see how many people are nonchalant about it.”

Ariane and Eddie haven’t gotten sick, and Ariane even tested negative for antibodies, so somehow Ottavia managed to successfully quarantine while they were all living in the same apartment.

Ottavia has had a relationship with Eddie Cummings for several years. They met at Renzo Gracie’s Academy while practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

I don’t know how much of a role, if any, BJJ still plays in their lives. Eddie is completing his master’s degree in applied mathematics and plans to go on to Ph.D. studies.

Ottavia is keeping busy with a lot of summer school classes. Last year she told me she wanted to study neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and would love to earn a Ph.D. in biomedical science.

Daughter Ariane is 13 now and studying for high school admission tests she’ll be taking in the fall. Can you believe how time flies?

It sounds like Ariane has some strong Bourdain genes. She’s already taller than Ottavia. She’s a straight A student. For hobbies, she’s into playing music and painting. Ottavia also reports that Ariane is a great writer.

Ariane is certainly old enough to surf the ‘net, and she does. And what she sometimes finds about her father is disturbing.

In case Ariane’s surfing ever brings her to Cats Working, I want to say that none of us know the full story after 2016. Only after Tony was gone did we learn he’d become deeply entangled in an explosive mess created by that woman he was dating. Had it come out while he was alive, it would have damaged his reputation and possibly ended his relationship with CNN. So, anything he did to keep that woman happy and quiet may have been to protect his own family, not because he preferred her.

Since this woman has never shown the slightest regard or respect for Tony’s family before or after his death, anything she puts online about him can only be construed as self-serving and possibly cruel by intent. She’s firmly established that’s how she rolls. Our only reasonable response is to ignore it and her.

I think I’ll be celebrating #BourdainDay later with a dirty martini. Cheers!

BONUS: has a series of links to amazing tattoos of Bourdain people have posted. Check them out.

Chapter 81: COVID Chronicles

June 17, 2020

By Karen

Day 98

Max vs. Roc Continues & Traces of Bourdain Still Cross My Path

Last night Roc claimed the couch, but Max got it back by threatening to sit on Roc’s rear end. Turns out, in addition to learning Adele’s “shred the bookcase for treats” signal, Max saved another page from her playbook, her signature “sit on it and make it disappear” move. Roc scooched right over, probably stunned. When I went to bed, this was their arrangement…

Last night I skimmed a marathon of Season 11 Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles and happened on an episode where real estate agent Tracy presided over an estate sale for Rose McGowan.

Remember Rose? Asia Argento’s BFF and spokesperson when Anthony Bourdain died? It was Rose who announced (I paraphrase) that Asia and Tony were always free as birds in an open relationship. No one could possibly construe Asia’s paparazzi spread with another man the weekend before Bourdain killed himself as cheating.

For good measure, Rose added that Bourdain had refused to seek treatment for depression, whereas Asia had dispelled her demons so she could be a normal, well-adjusted mother to her children.

Like most things in Argento’s life, it seems, her alliance with McGowan soon crumbled, with Argento threatening a lawsuit. Argento also got cast out of the #MeToo movement she and McGowan shared as fellow Harvey Weinstein survivors after Argento’s alleged rape of an underage boy and subsequent payoff got anonymously leaked to The New York Times.

But back to the show: McGowan put on sale everything in her Hollywood Hills home (including personal possessions) to finance “her fight against Harvey Weinstein.” (McGowan also was facing a felony cocaine possession charge in Virginia). Tracy said McGowan left the States with only two suitcases. But somehow the little waif made it to Paris for Fashion Week while her effects were being sold March 3 and 4, 2018.

[I must still be seeking closure because I always timeline any Bourdain connection as BD (before death) or AD.]

So, approximately two months before Bourdain’s death, Rose McGowan had liquidated all her assets and gotten real tight with Argento, who just happened to have a  famous, wealthy and generous boyfriend. Hmm…

Bourdain died by hanging, but one might suspect he may have been trying to escape being consumed by leeches.

Which brings me to my other recent freaky Bravo TV-Bourdain connection: The Real Housewives of New York.

If you’ve never watched it, the only true words in the title are “New York.” They do all live in New York State. But none are housewives, nor are their lives, as portrayed on the show, particularly real.

With one possible exception: Write Leah McSweeney. McSweeney replaced Bethenny Frankel for Season 12, which is on right now. She whapped Argento and McGowan head-on with an article in Penthouse,Can We Talk About Toxic Femininity?” If you’ve never read it, please do. Or read it again. It’s still powerful.

Naturally, Argento threatened McSweeney with legal action if the article weren’t taken down, and McSweeney responded on Instagram.

Likewise, Leah rubs most of the housewives the wrong way because she’s 1) capable of complex and abstract thought beyond scheming to promote her brands, 2) genuine in her reactions, even obnoxious sometimes, and 3) two to three decades younger.

It’s been two years since Bourdain’s passing, yet as I watch TV — not even his shows — these little connections leading to unanswered questions keep popping up.

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