Feels Different

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!

TV Time

Since it has been rather warm lately, I’ve been holed up on the couch watching TV.   It’s not the best use of my time, but I do enjoy it so.  Besides, I’m just preventing heat stroke by staying inside with the AC running.  Am I right?

Anyway, I have reignited my love of BBC America.  Before it was Dr. Who, then all things Chef Ramsey (F Word and Kitchen Nightmares), even before that it was How Clean is Your House and How Clean in your Colon (You Are What You Eat).  But now, I am unabashedly a fan of Torchwood: Children of Men.

In a time where American TV is chock full of the same reality shows (another season of Big Brother?) and lacking in any sort of shows other than stupid sitcoms or crime dramas, a great science-fiction story is a breath of fresh air.  Tautly written and paced, and easy enough to get a grip of (hello Lost, are you listening?) it is a good story, good characters and fine acting.  While I have 2 more shows to go, I’m hooked.

I know there are good shows out there.  There has to be.  We invented the bloody machine afterall.  Isn’t TV the great American invention of the last century?  But it is so much easier to gather a bunch of half-wits, chunk them into some sort of competitive situation and film the hijinks.  Rinse, repeat, profit.  Unfortunately, this spills over into movies, where it has become far easier to either write numerous formulaic sequels or re-make movies from the past (Karate Kid I’m looking at you…).  C’mon Hollywood, earn that money for hookers and blow, give us something to think about, something to delve into, something that can stand up to the giants that went before.

American entertainment has become stale.  To often the cycle of mediocrity is repeated and we’re all the suckers for buying into it.  All hail medicority, the American Way!

Maybe I’m kidding.  Maybe not…