I was watching Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations this afternoon, lounging in the sloth of a Monday afternoon, gorging my face with buttery microwave popcorn when I had a realization: the show used to be quite different.
Growth, especially personal growth can be a good thing. But when it is a transformation from the gritty blue-collar scribe of the kitchen into a poncy oenophiliac middle aged Midwest diversion the difference is jarring.
I noticed it when Tony stopped smoking. As a nurse I thought, “Good for him.” As a devoted viewer I thought, “What the fuck?” Slowly but surely the rough New York features, born and bred over the hot stove began to morph into a gentler, more Botoxed version of himself.
Veneers? Why yes.
Dying the hair? Sure.
Tanning? I detect a hint of it.
Exercise? Almost undoubtedly.
Quips about excess intake of Lipitor? Let’s just say Dr. Jarvik is happy with that.
Watching the older episode today brought it all back to focus. One would be hard pressed to find a shot without a smoke or a beer in hand. There was no gloating over the glories of a particular wine while adopting the pose of a wine lover, almost down to the pinkie finger splayed out from the glass.
And butt crack.
If the name of the show had changed to Anthony Bourdain, Plumber, it would not have been surprising with the amount of butt crack shown. And have we seen it since? Not really.
I won’t go so far as to call him a sell-out, although the wife does. But the Tony of today is a more Disney-fied version. It’s like they took CBGC’s and transplanted it to Main Street, Disneyland. It’s jarring. And it’s wrong.
I understand the lure of filthy lucre. Money, especially after having none is a powerful thing. I get it. You slaved all those years behind a grill, behind a typewriter in order to make yourself a success. Damn if you haven’t done one helluva’ job. But the image you presented, the cocky chef turned food critic, the scribe of the kitchen, more apt to look down on fancy pants preparations and places then indulge in their pleasures, drinking and smoking your way across the globe all the while regaling us with the tales of your adventures.
But now? It’s the same, but with a more highly buffed and polished veneer. It’s as if respectability has won out over street cred.
But I’ll still watch. And I’ll bitch about it every week. I’ll bitch that you look like a poncy freak sipping your wine as your wax rhapsodic over some sort of fancy food. Granted you still seek out the street food vendor, but it’s more a desperate cry for help, as if to say, “I’m still cool. I still matter.”
But really, it’s because I’m just a little but jealous. I’m trying not to be a hater, but it sure comes out like I am one.
So Tony, less wine, more beer and liquor. More meat, less fancy-pants foodie stuff. In other words, go back to your roots!