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I’m no stranger to depression. I’ve lived with a piggyback guy for the majority of my life, on and off medication. I’ve attempted suicide, and I’ve been close to attempting more times than I can remember. It is an insidious, debilitating disease—even though I am “high functioning,” it affects me, it cripples me, daily.
The deaths by suicide of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain this week were troubling, sad, surprising, but ultimately, not entirely shocking. It is always those who are strongest, those who bear the darkness of the world so that the lives of others can be bright, that struggle the most with that darkness.
Bourdain and Spade brought joy and light and brilliance; we didn’t see the darkness that sat behind that luminescence. We need to be better at acknowledging that darkness, that struggle; we need to validate it, care for it, and understand that it affects so many of us, every single day.
Bourdain’s suicide was particularly hard to grapple with last week, and I’ve been trying to figure out why. Maybe it was because he was so universally beloved; maybe it was because he always showed us that life was worth living.
Over the past few decades, people have often asked me how I’m able to connect with people so easily, to develop such close relationships with people around me, even strangers. I respond quickly: I am infinitely curious.
Maybe that’s why Bourdain’s suicide was so hard to process: if anything, Anthony Bourdain also exemplified this infinite curiosity. Maybe I am still finding it hard to grapple with his death because I see so much of him in me.
Maybe that’s why so many of us are taking it so hard: we see so much of him in ourselves. For some, like me, it’s in the unending curiosity for others. For others, it’s in his love of travel, of food; his way of speaking the truth while still being universal, or his desire to have fun through exploration. We see ourselves in him, and him in our own characters. We mourn for his loss, and we wonder what that means about ourselves, too.
I didn’t know Anthony Bourdain personally; my interaction has been with his work, his character. The best remembrances are from those that knew the man. Some of my favorite remembrances are below:
- The Insatiable and Unknowable Anthony Bourdain, Frank Bruni
- Anthony Bourdain and the Power of Telling the Truth, Helen Rosner
- Anthony Bourdain Was the Most Interesting Man in the World, Drew Magary
- Anthony Bourdain, 1956-2018, Justin Charity
- Bourdain, Spencer Hall
- Anthony Bourdain was the eternal compadre of overlooked Latinos, Gustavo Arellano
From President Barack Obama:
“Low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer.” This is how I’ll remember Tony. He taught us about food — but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown. We’ll miss him. pic.twitter.com/orEXIaEMZM— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 8, 2018
From Shivana Sookdeo:
I met Anthony Bourdain only once, while waiting in line at a food festival. Instead of hello he said "hey kid, you hungry?" and it was like I'd bumped into an old friend.— shivana (to scale) (@toastasaurus) June 8, 2018
He spent the ten minutes listening to me talk about the home country of my parents, Trinidad & Tobago, with the utmost engagement. Like an ambassador studying up, ready to go.— shivana (to scale) (@toastasaurus) June 8, 2018
I wanted him so badly to visit there. I felt I could trust him to see what I saw in Trinidad, as if the heart of the country would be safe in his hands as a person and traveler. You trusted him with Your Heritage.— shivana (to scale) (@toastasaurus) June 8, 2018
We left the line with longanisa in hand. He clinked his beer bottle to mine and thanked me for my time like he'd had an appointment with me all along. I watched him slope off to happily try another line hoping so hard he'd visit my people.— shivana (to scale) (@toastasaurus) June 8, 2018
He did, ultimately. My whole family watched it. Practically the whole island did. It was like the president visiting your home country. We all watched as Tony Bourdain spoke of the island as if he'd fallen in love with it. I hope he did.— shivana (to scale) (@toastasaurus) June 8, 2018
I think many of us trusted him to do that, to fall in love with the places we came from and to understand why we lived there or why we left there. We trusted him to see us as people first. Not curiosities.— shivana (to scale) (@toastasaurus) June 8, 2018
Sometimes I like to pretend that my ten minutes convinced him to visit. But that was his charm, really, that he met passion with passion. That he understood the complexity of people just as well as he understood the complexity of food.— shivana (to scale) (@toastasaurus) June 8, 2018
Sometimes the strange thing about the architecture of fame is that you almost feel someone you admire is the totality of their being. The parts of them that change you are the parts you focus on, and whatever pain he battled was not part of that.— shivana (to scale) (@toastasaurus) June 8, 2018
I'm sorry that such levels of pain is a country we shared. We have all lost an ambassador today. Anyways, I guess that's all I wanted to say.— shivana (to scale) (@toastasaurus) June 8, 2018
Goodbye, Anthony Bourdain. Thank you for visiting my beloved island.
From Helen Holmes:
bourdain was an overtly political person with staunch beliefs who somehow found a way to empathize with everyone he met, a rare combination which increasingly feels impossible— Helen Holmes (@helenbholmes) June 8, 2018
From Yashar Ali:
1. My heart is broken. Anthony Bourdain was so good to me and a big reason I'm still doing what I'm doing. In January I fell into a deep depression for the first time in my life. Having never dealt with it in the past, I was unprepared. Tony helped me save myself 1 text at a time— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) June 8, 2018
2. Tony was such a righteous man. He loved @AsiaArgento so much..he was so happy that Weinstein had been taken down. But he wasn't satisfied with that. He wanted more justice for women who had been targeted by bad men and he wanted the survivors to feel supported.— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) June 8, 2018
3. For example, earlier this year when @rosemcgowan was being criticized publicly during her book tour he texted me at 3 AM and told me we needed to make sure she felt publicly supported "this is turning into a win for HW," he said.— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) June 8, 2018
4. While many people, including reporters, had moved on from the Weinstein saga he wanted to make sure there was justice. He texted me repeatedly with ideas and every time a Weinstein survivor was attacked he would let me know because he was determined to stop Harvey's machine.— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) June 8, 2018
5. When Tony got a tip that Harvey had been seen in Gstaad he told me I had to chase it down. It was an order and I was happy to accept the challenge. It turned out to be a bad tip but he wasn't going to let Harvey win. "That motherfucker is gonna skate.." he said to me.— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) June 8, 2018
6. One night in early February he was signaling me with restaurant suggestions and I told him I was dealing with depression for the first time and wanted to give up on work. "Maybe I'm not meant to do this," I said. What he said next I'm going to keep private but for the past— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) June 8, 2018
7. few months he has made me feel like a million bucks. He made me feel like I had an obligation to keep going..and when I shared some career news with him while I was still grappling with depression he was happier for me than I was for myself.— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) June 8, 2018
8. Tony hated bullshit and he hated the glitz and glamour of the media business (as many of you could tell by watching his show). When Vogue published a puff piece that I was deeply critical of he texted me and said...— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) June 8, 2018
9. "Good. They were loathsome to begin with. Just continuing a tradition of rape apologia & enabling." In my experience, there was no middle of the road with Tony - either he hated something or he absolutely loved it. He felt a serious sense of responsibility to expose the truth— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) June 8, 2018
10. Forgive me for rambling...I'm trying to write this while I'm sitting outside crying and trying to catch my breath. Tony was so so proud of @AsiaArgento. Since Asia lives in Rome, I missed some of her press appearances and speeches..Anthony would always send them to me— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) June 8, 2018
11. And even though he knew I was friends with Asia and would do anything for her, he would still ask me every time to share what he had sent...he just wanted to be sure. He was so proud of her and as he mentioned in a piece just last week..he felt she was a peer.— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) June 8, 2018
12. Tony was also so proud of @RonanFarrow - almost every time Ronan was honored, Tony would signal me to share the news..so Tony was a great friend..but if he didn't like you, you would know it. He was also determined, like Ronan, to expose the system that enabled Weinstein.— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) June 8, 2018
13. I'm so sad this morning..but I really get it now when people say things like "he would have wanted me to keep working." I have to keep working. A few weeks ago a friend told me they delete all their texts and emails. Not to keep things private - they just hate digital clutter— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) June 8, 2018
14. I told them I thought that was silly because I often go back to texts from friends and read them again. I'm so glad I have a treasure trove of texts from Tony. I can look at them when I'm having a hard day...I just sent him a text message even though he's gone on ahead of us.— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) June 8, 2018
15/15 "Thank you for everything you did for me and so many others. I will think of you always." iMessage says the text was delivered.— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) June 8, 2018
From Allison F.:
Anthony Bourdain had one of the only shows on tv that tried with all its might to teach Americans not to be scared of other people.— Allison F.🦉 (@ablington) June 8, 2018
From Imraan Siddiqi:
In this age of Islamophobia and otherization of Muslims through media, Anthony Bourdain used his platform to humanize Muslims through culture and food - something I, and many others always appreciated.— Imraan Siddiqi (@imraansiddiqi) June 8, 2018
From Khushbu Shah:
what I always loved about Bourdain's approach was that unlike many of his peers, he never was surprised as the humanity and depth that exists in other cultures. instead, he always emphasized how much we can all learn from others.— Khushbu Shah (@KhushAndOJ) June 8, 2018
From Eve Ewing:
As someone who loves food and travel and people, I used to binge watch Bourdain. He seemed to understand what really makes food amazing: it’s an expressive act of folks sharing the best of themselves. Their history, their woes, their fellowship, their innovation, their tradition.— wikipedia brown will not yield not one second (@eveewing) June 8, 2018
I said to someone last week that I loved how Bourdain appreciates, in equal measure, the two polar ends of amazing food: high-end fancy stuff, and the food you get from that one dive or your grandma’s house. And, more importantly, he understood that they weren’t two ends at all.— wikipedia brown will not yield not one second (@eveewing) June 8, 2018
Bourdain seemed to eschew so much of the disconcerting colonialism that creeps into food writing. In a world where people are always “discovering” that thing your auntie has been making to cure hangovers for generations, he’d rather just go chill with your auntie.— wikipedia brown will not yield not one second (@eveewing) June 8, 2018
From Tyler Johnson:
Lots of people saying they're gonna go to their favorite restaurant or book a trip tonight.— Tyler Johnson (@YodelinZeke) June 8, 2018
Not sure if there's any better indicator of a life well-lived than people paying tribute by indulging in pleasures they usually deny themselves.
From Rachael Berkey:
Anthony Bourdain gave us a story of hope through darkness and addiction, unashamed joy in love and fatherhood, and a constant reminder of the sacredness to sharing a meal and raising a glass to friendship and family, no matter who sat at the the table. Let us never forget him.— Rachael Berkey (@bookoisseur) June 8, 2018
From Andray Domise:
I'm not gonna make this a long one. But I will say that Anthony Bourdain embodied what decolonial allyship looks like in popular culture.— Andray 🏳️🌈 (@andraydomise) June 8, 2018
During his visit to South Africa, he stood in slack-jawed amazement in Pretoria, marveling that Paul Kruger's statue hadn't been torn down.
In his visit to Gauteng province, he kept his attention and the cameras focused on Black culture, including the shifting demographics due to immigration and the "born-free" youth culture.— Andray 🏳️🌈 (@andraydomise) June 8, 2018
Anthony Bourdain walked the talk.
I'd also encourage you to watch his visit to Sri Lanka. Just pay attention to how easily he avoids reductionist tropes and poverty porn; he recognized the humanity in other people in a way that his peers in journalism rarely managed.— Andray 🏳️🌈 (@andraydomise) June 8, 2018
Anthony Bourdain was a good man, and an example to others in his profession.— Andray 🏳️🌈 (@andraydomise) June 8, 2018
I'm going to miss him very much.
From Maura Johnston:
Bourdain was such a public force for good – always wrestling with himself and the world in a frank, honest way, motivated by a deep-seated curiosity that energized his discussions of and enjoyment of, well, everything.— maura 🎙 johnston (@maura) June 8, 2018