I’ve had two heroes in my life. Indiana Jones and Anthony Bourdain. Even though I always wanted to tip the fedora and carry a whip, that wasn’t reality. Bourdain on the other hand was real to me.
Much of my Sunday evenings for the last decade or so were spent daydreaming and wishing I was somewhere else. Bourdain’s voice on the tv in the background, me running to the stove just as diner was burning (grabbing a sip of my drink while rewinding the parts I missed). The frequent flyer miles I put on the DVR would be worth a trip to Lisbon at the very least. I watched and listen as if he was speaking the travel gospel, never wanting to miss any of his insights.
I read/audio all his books, seen all his shows, even saw him speak twice at the Ohio Theater in Columbus. I trusted Uncle Tone (Mob voice, an Eddie Huang reference). He told stories that shaped my perspective on life. Where to go, yeah, but why to go there, or why to eat there, why it’s great or why it’s terrible. Oh, the people I would meet and the stories I would create because of him…
He earned the type of credibility that you can only learn through life’s character scares.
"Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind."
Listen, I fall for an IG ass pic too, but in an age of “the gram” and over produced lifestyle shots, he was refreshingly real. He told a story that we can relate to. He made it cool. We all believed it. He influenced culture. He made me want to take action, grab a book and a bag to SEA. Plop down on a 12” chair… I’ll take the spicy noodle soup and a beer Lao . That’s a big deal and that’s why he’ll be revered. So much so that president Obama did the same thing in 2016. Maybe for political capital or maybe just because Tone said so.
If he taught me anything it would be to go see for myself. Become your legend, “maktub”. You can’t have perspective without putting in the work. Hands like Tyrone...
It’s been over 6 months now and it’s still hard to watch him on stream or read about the latest gossip. He made a mark, and even to this day he’s still relevant. I don’t see a world where that changes.
RIP uncle Tony