Rebel Rebel: RIP, Anthony Bourdain

The Rebel’s Rebel

I’m gutted, like seemingly everyone else in the world (for all the right and obvious reasons) by the sudden loss of Anthony Bourdain. In addition to being sad, shocking, and all the normal reasons death is usually unwelcome, there’s something extra somber about his suicide. I keep thinking: if this guy, so obviously full of life, curiosity, passion, intelligence, wit, soul, so famished to drink deeply from life, so useful a tour guide for the unexplored and unknown (something we need now more than ever in our world), decided life was no longer worth living, I can’t help but wonder: what hope is there for us mere mortals?

Time will only be kind to Anthony, and as the years deepen our appreciation of what we’ve lost, we’ll grow to cherish what we were fortunate to have: a unique and original voice, a man allergic to easy answers and insular thinking, a brilliant writer and thinker, a rebel with too many causes to count, an artist who augmented our understanding and enjoyment of cuisine (high and especially lower-brow), an iconoclast of the old school who knew the only way to experience life is to dive into the muck and make a mess. Chips on the shoulder seldom are as sexy and stylish as Bourdain made them.

His life was, indeed, the most beautiful kind of mess. Seemingly insatiable, he could only be content in motion, moving ahead to the next adventure, the newest experience. I admire and envy that, and hope to imitate it in my own paltry way. I was always inspired by his energy and elan, and he’ll remain a hero to me, someone who lived and, sadly, decided to die, entirely on his own terms.

America has always been able to produce, in spite of the millions who march backwards to the same song, the rare outcasts who, by refusing to conform, remake the world in their flawed, indelible image. Bourdain left his mark, in so many ways, we were lucky to have him among us. Existence is fleeting but a life well-lived is immortal, unkillable. The man is gone, but his legend is merely beginning.

RIP to a chef, an author, a raconteur, and an utter original.

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