Tuesday, August 08, 2006

the personal and the political

So Anthony Bourdain is home safe. Perhaps this is only news of note to certain kinds of food-lovers and tv-watchers out there. Because who cares about people you don't know? What is larger news than Bourdain's actual return (as wonderful as that is) is his reach as a public figure.

Here is this man dubbed celebrity chef who has turned into public world traveller, a human medium bringing not only the world of food but the world itself to us at home, so that we may get a taste of the possibilities. When he tells a personal story of being stuck in Beirut while shooting a No Reservations episode and finally getting safely back States-side, people sit up and pay attention in a way that they wouldn't to their evening news and newspapers. He brings it home, especially in this great article for Salon, Watching Beirut Die, giving us a taste of the tragedy of shut down possibilities. It's an example of some of Bourdain's best writing, which comes with the depth of perspective. He is waiting to be evacuated but knows that there are people with far scarier concerns, far less comfortable conditions. He knows that, as Americans, "In the end we are among the lucky ones. The privileged, the fortunate, the relatively untouched." They get to leave. To go home.

Out of sight, out of mind: I mean, it's nothing new (hello, chaos in all the world, genocide, wars, poverty, natural disasters, disease, death and doom, but really, how should I cut my hair? and where is my life going? and can you believe what happened on Project Runway today?). There's the news, and there's your life. How do the twain meet?

By the by, Mazen Kerbaj's blog, Kerblog, has his amazing drawings about daily life and Beirut. Check it out.

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