Anthony Bourdain’s suicide has shocked a lot of people. His family and girlfriend are left to grieve him and wonder what they could have done to save him. His fans have come out in droves to share how much he touched their lives and share their devastation. Mike Rowe is one of those fans and his Facebook post about Bourdain’s death is true poetry.
Mike Rowe and Anthony Bourdain had a similar style. They both went places and did things other TV hosts would have never done. They pushed the limits to bring us engaging television and to make us think differently about things we only saw a certain way.
Rowe’s post is titled, “Hello Darkness, My Old Friend” and it conveys what a lot of us are feeling about this sudden and tragic loss. It’s also appropriately the title of the first episode of Bourdain’s show that Rowe ever saw.
“On this particular evening, stretched out on a suspicious comforter held together with the DNA of previous guests, I stumbled across a smart-aleck on The Travel Channel eating fermented shark meat in Iceland, and telling his producer he’d be dead by morning,” Rowe wrote about the first time he watched Bourdain in 2005. “I had to laugh. Just a few hours earlier, I had been eating a fermented hoagie in an open sewer, and lodging a similar prediction with my own producer.”
“I think my favorite thing he ever did was an episode for Parts Unknown,” Rowe continued. “Tony goes scuba diving for octopi in Sicily, with the help of a local producer. But when there are no octopi to be found on the sea floor, the producer starts dropping them off the side of the boat.”
“Imagine the scene,” Rowe shared with his Facebook fans. “Bourdain is twenty feet down with his cameraman, when store-bought, frozen octopi begin to float slowly by. It’s absurd, but precisely what a typical producer in my industry would do to do “salvage” a scene. Bourdain however, is appalled, and does the only sensible thing he can – he drinks through the rest of the episode, heavily. Later, in voiceover, he reveals the botched attempt to fool the viewer by airing the raw footage. It’s the most honest thing I’ve ever seen, in a genre that stages 95% of what it presents as real.”
Rowe and Bourdain didn’t know each other well, but they laughed together about being targeted by PETA.
“We talked about the importance of showing people where their food comes from. He told me about the petition against CNN that arose when he removed the beating heart from a snake,” Rowe wrote. “I told him about the boycott against Discovery when I shot a cow and butchered it on camera. We talked about the difficulty of producing a truly authentic show with sponsors and advertisers and millions of viewers with competing agendas, and how grateful he was for the chance to deliver the show he wanted to deliver. I told him about the night I saw him choking down the fermented shark in Iceland, back in 2005, and asked him if he ever imagined a scene like that would lead to a Peabody Award. He told me that awards were nice, but never part of the plan.”
Rowe is able to articulate the bewildering way many of Bourdain’s fans are feeling. Loss can be indescribable, but it helps to hear from others who are hurting as well.
Share this to keep the beautiful memory of Anthony Bourdain alive. Please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 if you or someone you know is in need.