• Member Since 15th Dec, 2011
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Neon Czolgosz


"Violence for violence is the rule of beasts" - Barack Obama

More Blog Posts153

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Jun
8th
2018

Kitchen's Closed · 8:51pm Jun 8th, 2018

I cannot fucking deal with Anthony Bourdain dying before Henry Kissinger.

The only celebrity death to hit me even half this hard was Terry Pratchett. I don't even know where to fucking begin.

I want to talk about how his writing influenced me, but at the same time I just fucking... recoil from the concept of making that link. I don't want to point to anything I took from his work because of how pale, how lazy, and how imitative mine would be in comparison. I don't want to talk about thematic or tonal similarities, things that drew me to his work and I couldn't help but childishly try to replicate in mine, because every time I try to write that sentence it's something about lush descriptions of food, of doing your job while being a failson surrounded by failsons, the fascination with craft as a virtue, that weird interplay between currents of both sheer contempt and empathy chasing each others tails in a way he could never hold back... it's just fucking trite, it's horseshit, it's the writer's equivalent of saying that your gap year abroad helped you "connect with other cultures" on your uni application essay.

I've gone through four copies of Kitchen Confidential because I lent out every single one I had.

He wrote a lot about being a fuck up. Not in the winking, compulsive self-loathing way of a columnist for The Spectator or the paper-thin, lizardlike "gee whiz I'm always forgetting the keys to my lexus like a n o r m a l h u m a n" fake humility of a CEO giving a TED Talk, but screwing things up over and over in ways that hurt yourself and others, through arrogance or sloth or a lack of impulse control or just being plain fucking dense, and the slow, painful grind towards becoming a better person. He wrote about being humiliated and literally laughed out of the kitchen in his first cook's job, about his first big venture as an established chef with a good team slowly falling apart under the weight of hubris and eight different drug habits, of coming to a job interview with a former boss of his and begging him for fifty dollars up-front to pay for his heroin addiction.

More than just failing, he wrote about hurting people through his failings. He became the chef of one restaurant in a slowly-collapsing franchise, and became a kind of hatchet man for his bosses, coming into work every day with a bad hangover and a nose full of coke, starting with the guys who were selling MAC-11s out of the bathroom and the guy who was clocking in as six different people, but as the franchise sunk deeper into misfortune, he fired the people who just weren't fast enough or not skilled enough, or just made a mistake at the wrong time or looked at him funny when he was in a bad mood, right up until he was firing guys who he'd poached from their old jobs, people who couldn't even understand why their old friend was doing this, until one day he quit and spent years afterwards shelling oysters in dive bars and making eggs over easy at brunch, never wanting to be a captain of men again after what he did.

He worked in an industry that takes people at the margins of society and frequently grinds them into dust, an industry that often gives the choice between hurting one person you work with or hurting everyone you work with. Lots of people get into a position like this, where your abilities to help others are fundamentally constrained, and the rationalisation machine kicks in. They either turn conservative and embrace a social Darwinist worldview where anyone who can't function to the level expected of them deserves their fate, or they turn liberal and shove the harms they're complicit in as far out of mind as possible so they can purely focus on the good things they do. Bourdain didn't do this, he never treated bleak necessities like moral goods, divorced from the systems that created them.

Of all the things about Bourdain, I most loved his perspective on being part of a crew of fuck-ups, doing your best to keep them all mostly functional and mostly happy in mutual pursuit of a greater goal, helping them thrive and also knowing that at some point you will just be stretched beyond the limits of what your dumbass self can accomplish, and some of your fellow losers are going to get fucking hurt whether through their sins or your sins or just stupid, senseless fate in an unforgiving environment, and you're going to have to deal with the fallout and confront the harms you've been complicit in.

Another thing I loved him for was his portrayal of spending years honing your craft and then finding yourself among peers who are just lightyears ahead of you in skill, meeting people who could stay frozen in amber for a decade while you dev eloped your technique and still run circles around you. In the first two thirds of Kitchen Confidential he's talking about how true professionals run their kitchens, about the atmosphere of high pressure, bullying, and constant shouting, the fecklessness of white cooks and especially white CIA grads, and then he writes a chapter about one of his contemporaries, Scott Bryan, whose calm, efficient kitchen dunks half of Bourdain's learned notions into the trash while running on a level that Bourdain felt he'd never be able to reach.

...Okay, another thing I loved about him was this: so, he wrote a lot of stuff decrying shitty, manufactured food. Ketchupy salsas, gluey refried beans on damp chips, microwaved carbonaras from TGI Fridays, generic 'pan asian' franchises staffed by white weeabos with a can of coconut milk, the bland homogenisation of food from corporate cannibalisation of culture. That's standard though, most celebrity chefs and non-celebrity chefs and cooks and restaurant critics think and say the exact same stuff. Whatever, the important part is this: Some old lady columnist wrote a very earnest restaurant review for the new Olive Garden that had just opened in her small town, which she thought was very nice. The column got shared around on the internet and every other food writer in the western hemisphere tripped over their own dicks to jeer at this woman, this rube, this tasteless mouth-breathing hick who would have the absolute gall to write about a trip to a restaurant chain as if it were real food and as if she were a real food critic.

Anthony Bourdain quietly reached out to her, invited her to Le Bernardin in New York, and got a meal with her. Then, he wrote the foreword to her book.

Ms. Hagerty is not naïve about her work, her newfound fame, or the world. She has travelled widely in her life.

In person, she has a flinty, dry, very sharp sense of humor. She misses nothing. I would not want to play poker with her for money.

This is a straightforward account of what people have been eating—still ARE eating—in much of America. As related by a kind, good-hearted reporter looking to pass along as much useful information as she can—while hurting no one.

Anyone who comes away from this work anything less than charmed by Ms. Hagerty—and the places and characters she describes—has a heart of stone.

This book kills snark dead.

It's that combination that does it. The puppy-dog enthusiasm for good things, the fire that makes you give a shit about injustice enough to want to change it, the experience with your own failings to know that you might be fucking wrong, and most importantly the empathy and kindness necessary to set your moral compass due north no matter how lost you feel.

I haven't even brought up the stuff he did to try and humanize Palestinians and draw attention to the brutal, dehumanizing way they're being treated, or how he covered the people and culture of Lebanon during the 2006 conflict with Israel at a time where the US media and entertainment industry was still blaring a stream of propaganda about the evils of The Eternal Moslem, or the fact that he probably got 100k in aid money to go to removing landmines in Laos by accident...

Anthony Bourdain is dead. Jamie Oliver is alive and well, using his oversized tongue to try raise the price of frozen pizzas for 'public health reasons' because he's an upper-middle-class dweeb whose inbred brainpan makes him incapable of understanding the systemic causes of food inequality and poverty in the UK. I'm re-reading A Cook's Tour, and in Bourdain's chapter about the UK he wrote:

A sampler of England's hottest 'chefs' would include a mostly hairless young blond lad named Jamie Oliver, who is referred to as the Naked Chef. As best as I can comprehend, he's a really rich guy who pretends he scoots around on a Vespa, hangs out in some East End cold-water flat, and cooks green curry for his 'mates.' He's a TV chef, so few actually eat his food. I've never seen him naked. I believe the 'Naked' refers to his 'simple, straightforward, unadorned' food; though I gather that a great number of matronly housewives would like to believe otherwise.

Every time I watch his show, I want to go back in time and bully him at school.

I already miss him so fucking much.

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Comments ( 19 )

Speaking as a ketchup-loving anti-foodie, yeah I'll miss him too. Seems to be a lot of good people being called home lately. Krauthammer is next.

Some sources say it was a suicide. 😭 RIP. People live and then they die, yet every time it seems to be too soon, too much to take in, too many leaving in too short a time.

4879036

Seems to be a lot of good people being called home lately. Krauthammer is next.

Um

We have serious enemies with bottomless hatred and, soon, the weapons to match. Whether they were involved in Sept. 11 is irrelevant. We are in a race against time. We have to get to them before they get to us.

Where do we look for them? Bush's three bad guys -- North Korea, Iran and Iraq -- are ideologically well chosen. All are heirs to the totalitarianisms of the 20th century. (Hence "axis of evil." Axis: fascism/Nazism. Evil empire: Soviet Communism.) North Korea is more Stalinist than Stalin. Iran is the Soviet Union in pre-Gorbachevian foment. And Iraq is Hitlerian Germany, a truly mad police state with external ambitions and a menacing arsenal.

Redefining the War - Charles Krauthammer

good people

Krauthammer

at the risk of sounding a little crass, lmao

Wait no, no, you gotta be shitting me. Wait, was it in a hotel room or something? I recall hearing a news report about a man found in a hotel room

4879044
Yeah, in a hotel room. His friend and fellow chef Eric Ripert found him.

This fucking sucks.

You know, I was just talking about how quality his roast game was in my server about a month ago. Let's see if I can't find some choice commentary:

On Guy Fieri:

"I don't dislike Guy Fieri, I realized, after many viewings of his cooking shows, much soul-searching at my personal ashram and many doses of prescription hypnotics. I just dislike—really dislike, the idea that somebody would put Texas-style barbecue inside a f--king nori roll."

on Man Vs Food:

"Why did we watch it? Admit it. You wanted him to die. The show confirms [other countries'] worst suspicions—that Americans are fat, lazy, slothful, and wasteful. I know what they're thinking, 'America is a terrible place. I want to join ISIS.'"

And as is being shared a lot right now, his quote on Henry Kissinger.

4879045
Damn, I loved watching him. Whose next, Andrew Zimmern? I mean, inb2016 we lost Carrie Fisher, Alan Rickman, shit

4879047
I love these quotes because they're supporting evidence in my mental case that Guy Fieri is a pleasant fellow (by restaurant industry standards) with an odd set of tastebuds, whereas Adam Richman is just a cunt.

I'd never heard of this man before today. And before this blog, I thought he was only some random celebrity chef. Thank you, Chuck, for burning away my ignorance.

Thanks for writing this.

You made me feel a lot of feelings for someone I'd never even heard of until his passing. I'll have to go and read his work for myself. RIP

I admit that I almost cried when I found out. For me he was like Carl Sagan or Richard Feynman, in that he was a character who brought a benign perspective to the world that changed your own perspective on things for the better, and did it in a way that was naturally, unthinkingly, and unapologetically brave.

I loved Kitchen Confidential. I even loved the shitty short-lived sitcom allegedly based on it, though I felt a little guilty about that.

I feel like other people probably felt when Hunter S. Thompson took his own life.

Today I read for the first time the New Yorker article that put him on the map. It was really something. He really does--did--combine a remarkable set of traits, notably a deep and thoughtful humanity, incisiveness, straightforwardness, and a wicked pen whenever directed at someone he disliked. That the same column included a vivid description of the working atmosphere of the kitchens that evoked a lot of sympathy and almost even camaraderie and the policy of "save it for well done" is amazing.

Also, I find it depressing that I'm now seeing (at least the start of) a pattern that Fimfiction generates really good obituaries.

I want to talk about how his writing influenced me, but at the same time I just fucking... recoil from the concept of making that link.

Never be ashamed of admitting how you've been influenced and inspired by better people or better artists than yourself. None of us can be Anthony Bourdain; there was only one of him. But we can all try to be the best version of us, each of us unique as well. And speaking as someone who only knows you through your writings, I think you're not doing bad at that, not at all.

On Krauthammer: yeah, he was a fervent supporter of Bush's worst shit. But in these latter days, even when he was pushing bad ideas for bad reasons, he at least was still connected to reality, to the existence of such things as facts and morality, continuity and consistence. Most of what passes for "conservatism" in America these days has abandoned everything even faintly resembling principles or belief in objective reality for naked bigotry and hunger for power.

4879238

Never be ashamed of admitting how you've been influenced and inspired by better people or better artists than yourself. None of us can be Anthony Bourdain; there was only one of him. But we can all try to be the best version of us, each of us unique as well. And speaking as someone who only knows you through your writings, I think you're not doing bad at that, not at all.

Means a lot to hear that from you, thanks man.

On Krauthammer: yeah, he was a fervent supporter of Bush's worst shit. But in these latter days, even when he was pushing bad ideas for bad reasons, he at least was still connected to reality, to the existence of such things as facts and morality, continuity and consistence. Most of what passes for "conservatism" in America these days has abandoned everything even faintly resembling principles or belief in objective reality for naked bigotry and hunger for power.

The one thing that really fucked me up in the 2016 election wasn't any of the dumb stuff that Trump did per se, it was when Trump talked about the aftermath of 9/11, and how he'd watched "thousands of muslims" in New Jersey "dancing on the rooftops" on TV. Besides the fact that it was obviously fabricated, it was pure dolchstosslegende, a myth about an internal enemy stabbing you in the back as a pretext for ethnic cleansing. It was the shining, positive sign that Trump was politically a real, actual fascist, and whether the American government would go full fascist was now down to the makeup of his cabinet and how the rest of the Republican party acted in response to him.

Thing is, Trump is kinda dumb, and that was before Alzheimers started blatantly cheeseholing his brain. He didn't come up with the idea of muslims being a national enemy and international menace, he just picked up the ball that others had gotten rolling.

Let's go back to that Chuckie Krauthammer column I mentioned earlier:

Thank God for North Korea. Mentioning it is the equivalent of strip-searching an 80-year-old Irish nun at airport security: It is our defense against ethnic profiling. Right now North Korea is too destitute and too isolated to be capable of anything but spasmodic violence. But it has the virtue of being non-Islamic.

Charles Krauthammer openly writes that he's just as happy fabricating a national threat, even admitting that he knows it's bullshit, but instead of using the myth to whip up the right flank into a frenzy, he wants to use the myth to cajole moderates and liberals into supporting the Iraq war.

The Iraq war on its own probably caused a million-ish deaths, between the fighting and also the deaths caused by the destruction of infrastructure and civil services inside the country. It's also the reason ISIS exists, and is definitely the reason that ISIS became anything other than one of the hundreds of tiny Salafist paramilitaries across the Middle East. The two big reasons they could conquer and hold territory even against conventional militaries was 1) military structure and training and 2) military materiel. 1) happened because huge swathes of ISIS military is made up from former Iraqi army personnel, including a whole bunch of their commanders, and that in turn happened because fellow neocon winner Paul Bremer made a snap decision to fire the entire Iraqi army because none of the Harvard-educated megaminds in the Coalition Provisional Authority had given the question of "hey what do we do with the Iraqi army that made a tacit agreement with us to stay home during the invasion so we'd only have to fight Saddam's Republican Guard after we take power?" any thought whatsoever. 2) happened because the Bush administration poured in tens of billions of materiel into Iraq to equip what was going to be the army of their new pro-democracy shining city on a hill in the Middle East, but that army had no internal coherency because it was straddling three sides of a simmering civil war, and as soon as ISIS picked up any real speed the Iraqi Army just fucking ran, and let ISIS forces pick up the shiny new artillery, ammunition, and tanks that the US had so nicely provided them with.

ISIS isn't the sole reason that 'scarey moslem menace' is still something that dipshit fascists like Donald Trump can use to whip their oinking chuds into a frenzy with, but it's a pretty big reason. And the thing about Trump is that none of his positions are original. The hatred and loathing of muslims, immigrants and black people, the chubby boner for torture and brutal war tactics, the desire for a strong leader to enforce law and order, these were all things lovingly nurtured by the Bush administration and then ignored by the Obama administration afterwards. ICE, the American Einsatzgruppen, got its start under Bush, and most of the awful things that it's accelerating today are just faster, meaner versions of the exact same shit it was happily doing under Obama. Trump, Breitbart, the modern Republican party - it's not sui generis, it's the culmination of evil, craven things that right-wingers and neoconservatives did for ideological or Straussian noble myth reasons before them (and liberals did absolutely jack shit to stop or even slow these things), and Charles Krauthammer, with his Harvard education and his sinecure at the Washington 'Democracy Dies in Darkness' Post, helped grease the skids for everything that led to this.

This shit ain't fucking fair

I never knew who Anthony Bourdain was until I began reading about his death, so I'm a bit confused about the beginning bit. You said that his writing is an influence on you, but he doesn't write fiction? Just his memoirs? I'm curious as to how you translate that over.

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