Last night I stumbled across an old episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations. There was our slim, chiseled-jaw hero smoking through a charming film noir opener in Paris. Irreverent, crass, even a little pissed at the world.
Contrast that Travel Channel show with the CNN rerun last night of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, the new show that has whisked him from Montreal to Myanmar on a budget that surely must rival the new Cupps-Gingrich snorefest.
On his old network he talked about how we should see the French in a different way -- "pas de normal" -- and this got me thinking: Am I ready to see Bourdain in a new way?
Tonight he's off to Jerusalem. Note: CNN hasn't found a corner of the globe they're afraid to reach, and that's evident by their laughable, nearly cinematic coverage the day they followed the cops to the younger Tsarnaev, bleeding in a boat in rural Massachusetts. CNN isn't afraid to go to war-torn countries in the same way they're not afraid to cash checks.
But does that make Parts Unknown a memorable, edgy, creative and delicious ride? Yes. And that's the problem. I don't want to describe a Bourdain show with syrupy adjectives!
When he was promoting the show, the poor man was forced to eat all sorts of gross concoctions fed to him by the jealous Piers Morgan. I love Piers, but the green-eyed monster was evident that night when the better-looking fan favorite Bourdain came calling.
While I have enjoyed watching Bourdain dine and get drunk with old writers in Morocco, and giggled as his train nearly derailed in Burma, I'm not quite sure he's won me yet. Maybe it's the commercials for Lipitor or the nice wardrobe. I miss the guy who would down absinthe, smoke a cigarette, and not worry that he'd set the place on fire.
Maybe he's in there somewhere, and I'll keep watching to find out.