Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Bourdain Identity

I’m new at this, so please forgive me if I’m spending a little too much time splashing around in the shallow end of the blog pool. I promise I’ll move out into the deep side soon, and I won’t foul the water before I decide to get out.

I’m enjoying the creative freedom of the medium. I can write what I want when I want, and I can write about it over and over and over. I can also comment on other newsy stories at length, filling in the blanks with conjecture and gossip, endlessly debating seemingly salient points and coming to a passionate conclusion that is colored with my own shade of reality — kind of like what Fox News does every day.

Normally, I have to call people up, get them to go on the record and then recount what they had to say. It’s not my story. It’s the story.

I was reminded of this difference when I got a call from Michael earlier this afternoon. Michael works for the PR agency, which helped arrange Anthony Bourdain’s recent trip to Hawaii. He had recommended me to the show’s producers when they were looking for a Spam sidekick, so he thanked me for helping out, and I thanked him for the opportunity.

He also said that the production team was very happy with the segment. They thought that the New Uptown Fountain photographed very well, so they might be featuring it prominently in the episode. He also wanted to comment on a few points mentioned in this and other blogs: First off, he and others on the PR team do watch No Reservations, so they understand and appreciate the kind of experiences that Bourdain seeks out. The Paradise Cove Luau was the production team’s idea, not theirs. They had pitched several off-the-beaten-path experiences, including spear fishing for tako, but those were turned down. The production team knew what they wanted to do, and they did it.

Michael didn’t feel it was necessary for me to set the record straight in my blog, but I do. Thanks for filing in the blanks, Michael.

After watching a tape of an old episode, I also realized that I was selling Bourdain and the No Reservations people a little short when I assumed that their itinerary and creative vision had been spoiled by the efforts of tourist industry officials. He doesn’t strike me as someone easily swayed. Just look at some of his shows, especially the recent ones.

Do you think that last season’s Cleveland episode was made with the assistance of or as a reaction to the efforts of the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater Cleveland? What about the fight sequence in the Hong Kong episode, or the Bollywood bit he did in India?

Bourdain may be the bad boy of the restaurant world, but he and his production team might also be the Tarantinos of cable television. Only someone or something with complete creative control and a slightly messed up childhood could put together the season-ending Tuscany episode. If that singing butcher suddenly went on a rampage and chopped off one of his customers’ arms, I don’t think I’d be surprised at all.

Those people seem to be having a lot of fun and no one can get in their way, least of all PR flacks or Spam sidekicks. Besides Bourdain seems like a really smart guy. He's been around the block and around the world, so he knows what’s real and what’s fake and he’ll take the fake once in a while, just for laughs. Finally, the guy can write like Satan.

So, in the end, I repeat what I e-mailed to my buddy, Ilan, when I first heard that Anthony Bourdain was visiting Hawaii: “I hope he comes here and finds what he finds and skewers whomever needs to be skewered.”

I just hope that someone isn’t a short, Asian guy, who won’t stop talking about the virtues of Spam.



goodthts said...

Anthony is cool. He hung with us on the beach in Cleveland last January and brought down a case of Great Lake beer. It's funny too, cuz your recent post about Spam musabi made me hungry. My buddy went to Hawaii years ago and still makes musabi for us when we are done surfing. Salty and tasty, esp with an adult beverage.



Anonymous said...

Just found your blog, love it!
Keep up the great work.

SteamyKitchen said...

Hey! Congrats on the Bourdain episode! I can't wait to see it. Pomai brought me here...

xo, jaden

Jacy said...

i think you're ready to quit your day job dave ;)