This meant I had about 4.5 hours of sleep when the alarm actually went off.
I often check Twitter before I shower and start my day. Our bedroom is very dark, and the light from the phone helps to wake me up. Today, with the aforementioned lack of sleep, I was particularly groggy.
I saw people posting that Tony Bourdain had died, but no one in my feed had yet mentioned why, so I looked up his name in a search engine and clicked the first link that had a picture.
I finished the article. Suicide. Found by his close friend, Eric Ripert.
When I reached the end of the piece, as luck would have it, I'd scrolled down enough to glimpse the first two comments.
They are awful. Things like: "That's one way to get out of a CNN contract," and "He didn't have the love of Jesus in his heart so he's not going to heaven," etc.
I am shocked, but I scroll down a smidge further, believing optimistically that perhaps the most recent comments just happened to be a couple of trolls.
No. The comments get worse as I go on.
And then, in my bleary state, I realize that the search engine click took me to Fox News.
Fox News is not credible journalism, but many of its viewers are far, far worse. The ones responding to this story apparently delighted in forming an ugly online mob.
What is the matter with these people, that they would react to the death of another human being this way? Why be so unnecessarily unkind? Whatever happened to, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all?"
Bourdain wasn't a genocidal dictator, a person for whom a "glad they're gone" reaction would still be uncharitable, but at least very understandable. He was a food journalist and an entertainer. He was someone who was open to new experiences, and he shared them via television with many folks who'd never get the opportunity to see the parts of the world he did. He wrote a very entertaining book, Kitchen Confidential, about the back of the house in a restaurant, a place that many of us never see. His was one of the first books I read when I was toying with the idea of being a food writer, and I've never forgotten his honest, wry observations. I also read Medium Raw, which wasn't quite as good, but was still enjoyable. If I happened to land on No Reservations or Parts Unknown while channel surfing, I usually stayed and watched.
He wasn't a politician. He didn't vote against a pork-barrel spending bill that would benefit your state. Why the vitriol? Why be poisonous? What possible good does it do to be horrible on the internet about a dead man who brought so many people a lot of joy, both as a cook and as a food journalist?
I admired Bourdain's refreshing candor and humility. He loved street food. He didn't care if he was eating a corn dog as long as it was a really well-executed corn dog. I loved how generous he was with praise for people that he felt were delivering excellence -- not just famous chefs, but the hard-working people behind the scenes, often immigrant workers.
He reminded us how food brings people together, and the myopia necessary for some people not to see that both baffles and saddens me.
Tony Bourdain, I am among the many who will miss you. Thank you for your matter-of-fact reporting and witty storytelling. Thank you for sharing your flawed, relatable humanity with us while you were here.
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