Land Lines: Death of a celebrity chef at 61

I didn’t care for Anthony Bourdain, the TV personality who committed suicide recently.

I thought he was an arrogant jerk, but I watched whenever his show was on. For me it was sort of like looking at a car wreck. Not a happy sight. Curiosity made it hard for me to look away, but, like many of you when I first heard he had killed himself, I thought it had to be a mistake.

The character Mr. Bourdain portrayed on his program was a self-centered egoist. How could someone like that decide he could not take another day on this planet? To be sure, he always displayed a dark side and, although I liked to watch his show, I knew he was not the kind of guy I could sit with to enjoy a beer.

His TV efforts, first on the Travel Channel and more recently on CNN, were based on a film crew following him around the world as he ate whatever was offered in faraway lands. He was always honest about what he was served, to the point of being cruel. On almost every show, Mr. Bourdain would have some snide comment about his hosts and often took potshots at the celebrities who he detested.

Once, when he was in Finland, he noted the men there were tall, averaging six feet, one inch (Anthony was 6 feet, 4 inches). As an aside, Tony said it would not be good for the short Tom Cruise to go there for one of those tall Fins might eat a bowl of soup from atop his head. That was the type of remark that kept me tuned in.

Once at Malibu in California, Mr. Bourdain told his viewers this was the beach to the Hollywood stars and then, he said, if you get lucky, you might see the wind blowing Ben Affleck’s hair along the sand. I cracked up. You just don’t hear things like that on a cooking show.

Once I saw Tony getting off an airliner on a cold tarmac in some faraway place and he told us this was a show he had been trying to avoid for years, but was now finally pressed into doing it. This is Sweden, he says, and you know what’s in Sweden? ABBA. Mr. Bourdain was a big fan of rock music, but despised the Swedish foursome ABBA. To illustrate that point, everyplace he went to eat or drink while there ABBA music was playing in the background. A chef with an attitude.

On an edition of “No Reservations,” filmed in Cuba, he sat with an American ex-patriot who was a big fan of Earnest Hemingway. When that segment was over, he looked into the camera and told his viewers he never cared for the way Hemingway worked so hard to show his masculine side. Then, as he sought yet another cure for a hangover, he mentioned that obviously Hemingway was trying to make up for his male shortcomings.

The guy was out there and nothing was off limits to him. He seemed to be having fun, but now we know he was not. He once said that although he loved his job, he usually found himself alone and far away from the people he cared for.

You know Volusia County has a high rate of suicide and it has been that way for many years. It is a paradox that here in the place where so many people flock for fun, a good number of our resident population cannot bear another day. Each year our area ranks higher than the state average for people taking their own lives. Terrible. Depression sometimes becomes overwhelming.

Look, people, if you know someone who may be depressed, put in a little time and be a friend. No matter what we believe, all of us are connected to each other and the earth around us. If you are feeling despondent, reach out to someone or just take a walk through the woods. It is an old cliché, but suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. R.I.P. Anthony Bourdain …

Dan Smith is on the board of directors for the Ormond Beach Historical Society and The Motor Racing Heritage Association and is the author of two books, “The World’s Greatest Beach” and “I Swear the Snook Drowned.” Email questions and comments to [email protected] or call (386) 441-7793.

This post was originally published here

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