Sunday, May 18, 2008
I avoided travel videos like the plague during my parenting years. What would be the point? As Barbara Walters has pointed out, “a woman can have it all, she just can’t have it all at the same time.” Besides, moving five times to advance my career counts as travel. Now that my parenting years are coming to a close, I’ve become obsessed with borrowing travel videos from the library.
I don’t have cable (cable television will be for my years 80-95 when I have nothing else to do and have presumably used my years of mobility to the utmost) so I had never seen Anthony Bourdain on the Travel channel. Looking at the cover of his books “Kitchen Confidential” or “The Nasty Bits” I couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. I’d always heard that his books were heavy on testosterone. Women gush over this guy and I never could see the attraction. Must be some sort of bad-boy fixation.
I get it now. I’ve borrowed every copy of his show “No Reservations” from the library that they own. These shows are a blast. Each show is literally so much fun to watch I would practically get giddy when I got a new one. I was immediately struck at how beautifully Tony uses language but it’s the self-deprecating charm that is the funniest. Sometimes it does feel like we’re listening in on a locker room conversation (Tony in Iceland) but when he went home and showed his native New Jersey (complete with endearingly-bad hair pictures from high school – anyone gets extra points for sharing those) it’s funny.
My very favorite show was one he did on Malaysia that featured two memorable locals: a tattoo artist who teased Tony unmercifully and this ancient, tough-as-nails old man who Tony showcased in a way that made you see the old guy’s magnificence. The old man was from an ethnic group I’m unfamiliar with that used tattoos to illustrate their life’s journey. I have never, ever understood the point of tattoos but when Tony Bourdain received a tattoo in the spirit of this ethnic group to commemorate his journey, it actually made sense. And given that his viewers were present at the creation of the tattoo, every time we see it on a subsequent show, it’s a reminder of all those shared travels (even if our travels were merely vicarious).
A guy I work with tells me that the Travel Channel has Anthony Bourdain marathons on the weekend. That would be like eating the entire box of chocolates in one sitting! It’s far better to dole each show out in dribs and drabs and just giggle for a couple days afterwards at all the fun in each one.