Some struggle to understand how the loss of a celebrity – someone who many knew but few knew well – can cause such a cascade of grief and lament. And, perhaps, there’s some argument to be had there about the role of celebrity worship or falling in love with a character or leaping to the wildly unsupportable conclusion that you and Mr./Mrs. A-lister would make a great couple one day. Nonsense, sure.
But to me, falling in love with someone’s work having never even garnered a glance from them and lamenting their loss is justifiable even if, as with many human things, it isn’t rational. Anthony Bourdain, the witty, clever, darkly humorous, erudite, and transcendentally sardonic line-chef turned public intellectual will be missed, by myself and many others who he never knew existed.
That it appears Bourdain departed this life via his own hand makes this more of a struggle to understand for some. Already I’ve seen plenty of platitudinous advice about depression from people who are the most unqualified to speak about it. AB was a member of a club no one wants to join and everyone wants to leave, in whichever way they can. It’s the club of the exhausted, the ever-dreading, the despairing, the anxious, and the unsure. Those who decide to have one last cup of coffee for sixty one years. And why this loss is so profound to some of us is that, when we look at Bourdain and all that he’s achieved and accomplished, and all of the obstacles he’s overcome – his vices and his own nature, you can’t help but wonder “what hope have I?”
That he is free from whatever pain assailed him, I’m glad. And that we all will reach that place eventually, I’m glad, too. Today isn’t a good day for any of us who cared for him only remotely and anonymously, as silly as that may seem. I’m coming for your record, Anthony. Sixty-one years.