Beautiful World

We are not a foodie.

We have the culinary taste of a five-year-old. You put something unusual on our plate, we will resist. We may have an adventurous mind, but our mouth is strictly domestic. The only food group we consume is Comfort.

We love Anthony Bourdain.

We weren’t much aware of Bourdain until his CNN program turned up on Netflix a few years back. As a rule, travel shows don’t interest us, at least not since Wild Kingdom. We don’t even know why we dipped into Parts Unknown. But lord, were we hooked fast.

There is humanity to Bourdain’s work, and joy. He doesn’t just travel; he opens his soul to the destination, and the people he meets. He doesn’t point his camera at the exotic; he domesticates it, making the people he encounters familiar neighbors, whatever their station.

Especially cooks. Bourdain loves cooks wherever he goes, on the streets, in homes, in five-star restaurants. In less-capable hands, his food segments could easily devolve into Weird Shit People Eat. But everything he does is filled with enormous empathy, and that’s what hooks us, even if we personally would run away screaming from a Blue Apron box on the porch. We would travel with him. We would brave the unknown, and try that balut egg. The one with the feathers inside.

So yeah, we’ve binged Parts Unknown, we’ve read Kitchen Confidential, we’re utterly fascinated with what happened when Bourdain visited Lebanon just as the bombs started dropping — but do you really know the man, mediated through media? Is there some unsavory detail that conveniently gets lost on the editing-room floor?

Bourdain anecdotes have been flowing on Twitter Friday, following the news of his suicide in a French hotel room. They all confirm that yes, the man we saw was the man he was. But among them was this story from Evan Benn, revealing that Bourdain was even more.

Bourdain was in St. Louis for a 2010 book tour. A fan — a young boy — asks Bourdain where he should travel in the world to eat.

Once he’s in remission. From leukemia.

Spain, Bourdain tells him.

Benn’s a reporter, runs a story on the appearance. Soon afterward, he gets a call from Bourdain’s assistant. Bourdain’s serious about the recommendation. He wants to send the kid to Spain. Wants the kid to have the time of his life.

Benn connects Bourdain with Make-a-Wish, and it’s on. “He set the kid up at the best restaurants & helped make the trip incredible,” Benn wrote Friday. “He was special.”

How special? Until Friday morning, Bourdain’s involvement was missing from the story. He didn’t want any publicity for it. It was all about the kid.

“He may not realize it, but he inspires a lot of people to live life a little more, to get off the couch and do something,” Evan Piña-White said on the eve of his 2012 adventure. “He’s someone I can look up to.”

Anthony Bourdain found joy in the world, and shared it generously. It’s a tragedy that he didn’t reserve enough for himself.


The suicidal brain veers off. ZOOM! It goes where it wants and keeps stopping at “This is how the pain ends.” It might zoom around some more, but the destination doesn’t change unless there’s an intervening factor.

What seems to help is trusting other people with your brain. My boss knows I’m prone to suicidal ideation. So does HR. If I miss a few days of work in a row, someone will touch base. I call out from work, but when things start to look a little off, someone reaches out.

We had a suicide cluster a few years ago, which I suppose makes sense at the VA. I feel sorry for my boss – it must be a huge burden in some ways. He says that if he finds it’s too hard for him, he’ll quit management.

I can’t help but worry about people worrying about me, and that can be another spiral. I have to trust that people who say they care for me do care for me and aren’t saying it because they want to be nice to me.

If I stop believing that I’m worth caring about, there’s always the suicide hotline. They’re paid to listen to you, even if part of you thinks you’re just whining and that you’re an idiot to feel like you need to call them because what do you have to whine about anyway? Children are starving and all this horrific shit is happening, and you’re feeling sorry for yourself? Call the fucking hotline. You can’t help anyone else if you’re dead.

I don’t know. I mean, Bourdain couldn’t feel joy, and he probably couldn’t remember what it felt like when he ended his life. Maybe he did remember joy, but how he felt was so far from it that he thought he’d never make it back. Or maybe he feared he’d make it back and just lose it again.

The suicidal brain is a motherfucker.

ETA: If, like I’ve been, you’re worried that calling the suicide hotline will cause someone else to be a successful suicide because you took up someone else’s time by calling the suicide hotline with your insignificant problems, believe this: You aren’t keeping someone else from talking. You aren’t harming someone else by calling. Ask the hotline people. I have. I’ve apologized for bothering them and for using their time when surely there is someone else about to shoot themselves who they should be talking to instead of to me. They won’t shoo you off the phone.

I can state with absolute certainty that I have never wanted to die. All I’ve wanted is for the pain to end. I have never wanted to die, and I still don’t. Still, one day my brain might fuck me over.

@JNOV: Those four sentences really capture how I feel today. I don’t want to die. I want the pain to end. I don’t want to fight anymore. I have to trudge along because there is no other option. I worry that my brain may fuck me over tomorrow.

I’ve had to fight my HR department because of my physical health issues. That fight has lead to anxiety issues and something like depression as time goes on and nothing is resolved. After a morning of crying about the death of my hero, I had to meet with HR yet again. I fought with the HR manager because that’s what I do. I’ve fought my whole life. It’s all I’ve ever known how to do. It’s what brought me from nothing and nowhere to the middle class world traveler I am today. It’s what makes me so fucking good at my job. But it’s killing me now. And the fight seems to make things worse becuase nothing gets resolved. But I’m too sick and panicked and scared to be diplomatic.

God, I’m so tired and spent.

Also, it doesn’t matter how smart you are how idyllic your childhood was how successful you are how rich you are how wonderful your kids are how perfect your life is how fabulously attractive you are…none of that makes you immune to being suicidal. Just because the gods have kissed your face doesn’t mean that you are wrong to feel like shit. Don’t feel guilty. It’s not a guilt thing. It’s just something that is.

Do not think that other people’s lives are so much harder than yours that you should not be feeling as you do. Do not think you do not have the right to feel as you do because by life’s arbitrary bullshit metrics, you should be skipping down the lane whistling a happy tune picking yourself off, dusting yourself off, and starting all over again. No no no no no. That is complete bullshit.

How you feel is How. You. Feel. And how you feel is important. Your life is important. Your life is important. You are important.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you shouldn’t need to ask for help because your life is so awesome. That’s total crap. Being suicidal is not a weakness. It’s this shit thing that happens and can be treated. And if the treatment goes sideways, the treatment can be tweaked, and tweaked again. And again. Sometimes just knowing that I have an appointment to be seen gets me over the hump of feeling despondent.

Check in on your friends today and see how they’re doing. Anthony’s picture is all over the place, and his death has hit me hard. I don’t even know why. And that’s the thing – this shit can happen for no apparent reason. It just is. Your life is important.

@TJ/ Jamie Sommers /TJ: I love you so much. Please call the hotline right now.

I love you, and I know you’re tired, and I know this is some fucked up shit, and I know it feels like, whatthefuckcanigetafuckingbreakyoufuckersandfuckmybraintoo!

Call the hotline, Girl. Seriously. I’ll be chilling here waiting for you to come back after you’ve called.

Can you contract with me for safety right now? Will you promise me that you will not harm yourself and that you will call the hotline right now? Please promise me right now.

Call 1-800-273-8255

@TJ/ Jamie Sommers /TJ: I just sent you an email with my phone number, too.

@TJ/ Jamie Sommers /TJ: Darling. All of your super-alert and tuned in and crazy fellow Stinquers love you. The pain can be suffocating but we are strong and will trudge through it. Hug your fur baby and come meet me for dinner next week when I’m in PHX. I sent you a private message – I’ll be downtown. xoxo.

@JNOV: Don’t worry about people worrying about you. “Worry” is a pejorative word – we are thinking about you, wondering about you, sending you love. And believe me that you and everyone else who finds themselves worried that you are being a burden – you’re not.

@SanFranLefty: Much love to you :-)

@TJ/ Jamie Sommers /TJ: You’re my girl. :-) Good talk.

@TJ/ Jamie Sommers /TJ: Life is so damn hard, please know that you’re not alone. Whether it’s life events or a chemical imbalance or a nasty combo of the two, depression is a disease that we have to fight like hell. The world is a much, much better place with you–yes, you!–in it.

I had resisted going on medication for years, however I was so mind-fucked after the November 8, 2016 terrorist attack-election that I went to my doctor and said “just hand ’em all over.” He prescribed 50 mg of Zoloft (Sertraline) daily, and after about two weeks I did feel much better. My sleep, energy levels, and appetite gravitated back to normal.

Is it a crutch? Sure. Would I go off of it anytime soon–hell no. We’ve gotta go with the tools we’ve got. Also, it doesn’t seem to have any negative interactions with Maui Wowie, my drug of choice.

I’m sending good vibes and virtual hugs your way, amiga.

For a palate cleanser, I present to you G-7 hotties Macron and Trudeau hugging in Quebec. One can only hope they did what many egged them on to do – speak only in French to one another around Mango Mussolini, while dropping the word “Mueller” every 45 seconds followed by hearty laughs.

I think the G-7 should kick out the U.S., and invite California to the G-7, since our state economy is now bigger than that of Britain and France… except I don’t want airhead Lite Gov Newsom reprsenting us.

@SanFranLefty: I just threw more munnie to the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. They’re an excellent organization that provides legal aid and resources to people new to our country.

We’ve got to give til it hurts to fight back against the evil, illegitimate Twitler regime.

Friday morning I got on the 1 train and flipped over to TPM. There is was – Bourdain dead at 61. And I thought – oh shit, some inherited tendency to heart attack or stroke got him. But no.

My mom died April 15th, after deciding to stop dialysis. She was 85. It hit me hard.

Bourdain hits me hard in a different way. He lived in my town. He is one of the few celebrities of any stripe that I would have cared to meet. You could tell he was approachable. There’s a salumeria in our block that he shot at, and they had only the nicest things to say about him. This is going to take some time.

Robin Williams was not surprising. Tragic, but not surprising. This is.

@¡Andrew!: Glad to hear, seeing as how a whole bunch of the asylum-seeking adults are imprisoned in your neck of the woods. Your awesome Congresswoman visited them at the Seattle prison. I hope that the people with humanity are protesting like crazy outside that prison.

@blogenfreude: Sorry about your mom, Bloggy.


Oh, man. I dunno about ya’ll, but the news the last few weeks has me stressed as hay-ell.


I got completely baked and took a walk in the park with my dawgs while dancing and screaming outdoor karaoke of the following songs:

Milli Vanilli – Blame It On the Rain

Madonna – Who’s That Girl


Jody Watley – Looking For A New Love

OMFG this is AMAZEBALLS++++++&&&&&&!!!!!!

Don’t even ask about Madonna’s David Byrne get-up.

No one can explain it.

@¡Andrew!: For reasons I can’t fathom, I went down a David Letterman hole this weekend. Clips spanning thirty years, plus the Twain Award — complete on YouTube, and a nice show.

Dunno, maybe it was Bourdain that got me started. Rewatched the Obama episode, and the sheer civility waa crushing. Honest civility, not that handwringing bullshit about potty mouths. We’ve lost someone who represented — exuded —the best we can be, especially among strangers. Meanwhile, President Team America is busy hastening our demise.

“So it goes,” said Vonnegut. People forget where his dark cynicism came from. He was writing about Dresden. He had lived through it.

@¡Andrew!: Oh, man. Milli Vanilli? You were stoned. :P

Lemme see. What gets the party started? You think you can handle this badonkadonk-donk?

Why am I watching this N. Korea bullshit?

I think Trump and Kim were doing Mad Libs.

@JNOV: Behold the power of my headphones combined with Double Dutch Rush.

@¡Andrew!: Er, double dutch bus maybe? Das arright.

And can you jump double dutch? I don’t know if my ankles or mammaries could take it, but if you know how, I’m down for a game.

@JNOV: Double Dutch is actually the cutsey name of the local co. that makes my sweet, sweet MJ dabs ; )

Meanwhile, back on topic (what?!), Netflix is keeping Parts Unknown available “months” beyond the scheduled June 16 removal.

@nojo: Man, I can’t watch it. I do not understand why his death has hit me so hard.

This gent lays out our current national hostage crisis far more eloquently than I.

James Fitz: “The NRA attacking children who were just recently victims of a mass shooting is not normal.
A President who attacks POWS, Gold Star families, our top cops, our intelligence agencies, our courts, our judges, our laws, private citizens, private companies, our allies, football players, women, minorities and our morals is not normal.
A congress who remains silent in the above abuses of power is not normal.
Russia and other countries funneling money for these three abusers to continue on this course is not normal.

These are unprecedented times. Tempers are hot for good reason. If you think it is as simple as being more cordial with one another, you are missing the larger picture. Our country is being attacked by two of the four pillars of our democracy on a daily basis. Anxiety and tension are rising for very good reason. Politeness will not solve the problem. Voting and impeaching the current cancer is what is necessary.
Let’s hope Americans have been paying attention and show up to the polls and that Mueller and team get to the bottom of what has just occurred and hold those that are responsible for it, accountable. We need checks on this president and the current congress is not doing it’s job. The first step is to vote them out this November. We need a blue congress, regardless of your politics, because this is not about politics. It is about the survival of our republic. It is about upholding the constitution. It is about the rule of law. It’s about keeping our democracy. No excuses; all must vote this time around if America is to succeed.”

@nojo: @JNOV: After weeping silently at my desk all day Friday and getting jack-all done, I broke down in sobs on Saturday morning like I haven’t for ages. I was a mess all weekend and had to take Monday off work because I couldn’t face my fucking pointless job. Spent the day bingeing on Parts Unknown. It was Bourdain’s humanity, his empathy, his openness and enthusiasm, and seeming appetite for life, or at least experience. He did so much to make the “other” seem relatable and not frightening. In some ways, he was our top diplomat. That depression in the end won, and took another brilliant life, is devastating. I cannot even with the rest of the news. I wish I could say I had any hope for the future, but that would be a big fat lie.

@¡Andrew!: My depressing thought for today – Trump has a better than 50% chance of winning in 2020. Already there are polls, not run by Fox, that show the negotiation with Kim was a big win for him. The only thing that will help is for Kim to claim a great victory in public and it pisses off Trump. I’m hopeful for that.

The Dems will never have enough of a majority to impeach him. It does not matter what he does.

@DElurker: If past performance is any guide, anything positive that came out of the NK summit will explode into a shit hurricane by the end of the week.

@DElurker: Agree with Andrew that NK will be forgotten in a week, if that long. Donald just can’t sit still.

As far as 2020 goes, Trump didn’t win the first time. Neither did Dubya, but he was rescued by 9/11 and gays kissing for the next round. (Also, yet another wooden opponent. Dems are good at nominating those.)

The problem is the Electoral College and voter suppression, both of which will remain with us. Trump has proven he has enough votes to tip a rigged process, and Americans have proven they haven’t learned shit in sixty years. I don’t see reelection as inevitable, but I also don’t see a defeat caused by everyone suddenly coming to their senses. If the slight majority of sane Americans want their country back, they’re gonna have to show up.

@nojo: And Dems are going to have to stop the infighting between progressive and moderate wings of the party. Since we generally find a way to blow it even in the best of times, I have little hope.

David Simon on Anthony Bourdain. I had forgotten he was involved with Treme.

Prezinazi AntiChrist is not gonna last much longer, despite the (s)Electoral College. We’ve all seen how the stress of the presidency slams the fast-forward button on the aging process. With a stroke of luck, Ronald McDonald will finish him off.

@¡Andrew!: That’s why I thought he’d be gone by last Thanksgiving. He wasn’t. He watches TV all morning and golfs half the time. There is no stress. He takes nothing seriously.

Sure, he’s pissed all the time, but nothing new in his life there.

@DElurker: I hope these polls offer some comfort:

Donald Trump continues to fare poorly, with 39% of voters approving of him to 54% who disapprove. We asked some questions putting Trump in recent historical perspective. 40% of voters say he’s the worst President of the last 40 years to 32% for Barack Obama, with no one else measuring in double digits. When it comes to the best President during that time period, Trump finishes third at 16% behind Obama’s 29% and Ronald Reagan’s 25%. Even among Trump voters 49% pick Reagan as the best President of the last four decades to 38% for Trump so it’s still Reagan’s party to some extent. 53% of voters wish Obama was still President to 41% who are glad Trump is in office.

It continues to look like Trump will probably have an uphill path to reelection in 2020. He polls at either 39% or 40% in half a dozen match ups against possible Democratic candidates that we tested him in. The strongest polling Democrat is Joe Biden, who leads Trump 53-39. Bernie Sanders leads him 49-40, Elizabeth Warren leads him 48-40, Cory Booker leads him 47-39, Kirsten Gillibrand leads him 45-39, and Kamala Harris leads him 45-40.

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