Tuesday, January 08, 2008

No Reservations, No Writing

As a writer and a reader, I deeply respect Anthony Bourdain.

In other words, he can turn a phrase, crack a joke, and tell a story with the best of them. At times, he has a penchant for overblown vocabulary and indulgent poetic passages. But hey, he's a writer, don't we all? The thing about those words and passages is this: It gives him even more credibility with a lot of people. Why we do that as a society, I don't know, but for some reason, we're much more eager to laugh at someone being rough and crude when we know they also possess the ability to fabricate the appearance of also being urbane and educated. (certainly, these things are not mutually exclusive) Like, they're so high-fuckin-falutin, but they chose to go the lowdown route because it's just more real, man. And Bourdain is a master of leveraging and then cashing in on that credibility and cache.

Again, I'm not taking anything away from him. I not only respect his writing, I think he's possibly underrated as a writer. (If you haven't read Kitchen Confidential, you'll probably enjoy it, even if you're not a foodie or in the food biz, thanks to his writing talent and panache.) But he's also undeniably quite clever in his pursuit of money and stardom. He wields the double edged boning knife of celebrity chefdom with the dexterity one would expect from a French master chiffonading his parsley to both brutally slice through other chefs and gently eviscerate himself upon the edge of funny self-effacement, which serves to make him even more triumphant in his ascendant fame. Again, if you know me at all, you know these are traits I respect. Just because I can see the machinery working doesn't mean I have disdain for it; sometimes it makes me respect it even more.

All of these wonderfully entertaining earmarks of his are on full display in his latest blog entry. Go ahead, read it. The offhanded (deserved) insult to Guy Fieri's hair, the jokes about his own declining appearance, and the wholly well-written and entertaining piece that's both a controlled rant and informative-to-the-public volley back at Scripps.

What really cracks me up about the entry is that last night, I watched the season premier of No Reservations and was considering blogging about it before I read that entry. And I most definitely was going to crack a few jokes about how the smokes and booze are rapidly catching up with ole Tony. There were two things that astounded me last night on TV with their unexpected puffiness: Tony's face, and Bruno's package. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Overall, Bourdain's most recent trip to Singapore already played like vintage Bourdain -- except that the fishing trip was successful. (that was probably attributable to him not so much fishing as laying in a hammock and smoking while another guy fished.) But seeing him gobble down the bones-and-marrow diner/street fare with joyful abandon and then seeing him knock back countless gin-and-tonics (respect!) while he suffered through the high-end hospital-chic setting in that fine dining restaurant was what No Reservations is all about. Well, that and eating disgusting things.

And I think his blog entry succinctly encapsulates what's going on with Food Network airing his past A Cook's Tour series as it axes Emeril Live. Funny, though, how Tony doesn't refer to Emeril as ewok-like when he's using him as a pawn on his side in this battle.

As the writers' strike drags on, I figured I'd toss this gem of a show out there for you to check out as scripted television starts to run dry. Because, as a reality show, Tony's voice overs and monologues don't count as "writing" so production shouldn't be interrupted.


laura petrie said...

I love Bourdain -- thanks for the reminder about No Reservations starting up again (I'm still on boat time and I totally forgot about it.) And very astute observations about the Food Network -- thank goodness I just renewed my subscription to Bon Appetit.

Anonymous said...

Susan! AB rocks almost as hard as you do, woman. I miss you! --lilefan

SusanD said...

LP! lile!

RAC said...

Bourdain's show is my favorite guilty pleasure!

The writing will not be affected by the strike because reality show writers are not covered by the WGA. Hopefully, that will be remedied in the future so that the studios will be forced back to the negotiating table a lot quicker next time.