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Mon Jun 11, 2018, 02:11 AM

How Lebanon Transformed Anthony Bourdain

In 2006, he found himself in a country falling into war—an experience that forever altered how he would understand people, culture, history, and conflict.

Growing up in Beirut during Lebanon’s 15–year civil war, I wished for someone like Anthony Bourdain to tell the story of my country: a place ripped apart by violence, yes, but also a country where people still drove through militia checkpoints just to gather for big Sunday family lunches, or dodged sniper fire to get to their favorite butcher across town to sample some fresh, raw liver for breakfast. Bourdain, the legendary roving chef and master storyteller who committed suicide on Friday in France at the age of 61, would have approved of such excursions in search of the perfect morsel—he probably would have come along.

Coming of age during conflict made me want to become a journalist. I hoped to tell the story of my country and the Middle East—a place rife with conflicts, sure, but also layered with complexities, a place of diverse peoples full of humanity. In the summer of 2006, I was the BBC’s Beirut correspondent when war erupted between Israel and Hezbollah, the pro-Iran Shia militant group. Hezbollah had kidnapped three Israeli soldiers, triggering the month-long conflict. Within a day, the Israelis had bombed Beirut’s airport out of action. I worked 34 days in a row, 20 hours a day, reporting live on television and radio, alongside dozens of colleagues who’d flown in to help cover the conflict.

I didn’t know it then, but Bourdain was there too, filming an episode of his show No Reservations. And perhaps he didn’t know it then, but Lebanon would change him forever. In the episode, he talked about how he had come to Beirut to make a happy show about food and culture in a city that was regaining its reputation as the party capital of the Middle East. Instead, he found himself filming a country that had tipped into war overnight. Filming on the day the violence broke out, he managed to capture that split second where people’s faces fell as they realized their lives had been upended.

After a few days in Beirut itself, Bourdain and his team moved to a hotel just north of the capital, closer to their eventual evacuation spot. By then, Israeli jets were bombing not only areas with a Hezbollah presence, but bridges and power plants across the country. Yet the show never became about the experience of a terrorized American stranded in a scary place. Bourdain never made it about Bourdain—Lebanon was the story. And even during the dramatic scene of his departure, on a ship surrounded by Marines and hundreds of other evacuees—Americans and dual citizens—his focus remained on Lebanon and the distraught faces of its people, leaving behind country and family, uncertain of whether they’d ever return.


More: https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/06/how-lebanon-transformed-anthony-bourdain/562484/



Anthony Bourdain at the 2015 Creative Arts Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California. DANNY MOLOSHOK / REUTERS

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Reply How Lebanon Transformed Anthony Bourdain (Original post)
Rhiannon12866 Jun 2018 OP
BigmanPigman Jun 2018 #1
Rhiannon12866 Jun 2018 #2
BigmanPigman Jun 2018 #3
Rhiannon12866 Jun 2018 #4
Nitram Jun 2018 #5
Rhiannon12866 Jun 2018 #6
Nitram Jun 2018 #8
Uncle Joe Jun 2018 #7

Response to Rhiannon12866 (Original post)

Mon Jun 11, 2018, 03:38 AM

1. He got an award for that show.

He went back to revisit it after the fighting was over. He wrote that he was so glad to finally come home from such a terrible experience that he and his future wife created their daughter that night. Too, too sad!

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Response to BigmanPigman (Reply #1)

Mon Jun 11, 2018, 03:46 AM

2. I remember very well when that happened

Between the breaking TV News coverage and reading DU, I followed what happened pretty closely - and I remembered that Anthony Bourdain and his crew were caught in Lebanon. Glad to hear that the show got an award - I didn't know that!

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Response to Rhiannon12866 (Reply #2)

Mon Jun 11, 2018, 03:51 AM

3. I am a big fan and have watched and read his brilliant and funny

shows and books since 2001. After the news got out several people called me since I quote Tony ALL THE TIME! The last time that happened was when John Lennon was killed (big Beatles fan too).

If Asia was involved in this I hope she gets her karma in spades.

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Response to BigmanPigman (Reply #3)

Mon Jun 11, 2018, 03:59 AM

4. I became aware of him because I used to watch his show on The Food Network

He was always entertaining and he went to so many unusual places - and seemed to be "at home" wherever he went. I remembered the show where he revisited France with his brother, but I didn't know much about his personal life except that he had had substance abuse issues and that he had a wife and daughter. But from what I'm reading now it appears that his personal life wasn't going well and I agree with you that if that was his reason - it's unforgivable.

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Response to Rhiannon12866 (Reply #4)

Mon Jun 11, 2018, 09:03 AM

5. Rhiannon, I don't know how you can say that Bourdain's suicide was "unforgivable" when you

really have no idea what he was going through. Neither do I. That's why I feel I have no right to judge him. Anyone who commits suicide must have been going through a mental hell from which there appeared to be no escape except death.

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Response to Nitram (Reply #5)

Mon Jun 11, 2018, 03:26 PM

6. Oh no, you misunderstood.

I was replying to the previous poster who suggested that he had a girlfriend who was messing with him, that's all I meant. I had no knowledge of his personal life except what he mentioned - I had seen his brother when he made an appearance, and the last I knew, he had a wife and daughter. My heart goes out especially to the daughter, what a terrible thing for her.

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Response to Rhiannon12866 (Reply #6)

Tue Jun 12, 2018, 08:04 AM

8. My apologies! I misunderstood.

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Response to Rhiannon12866 (Original post)

Mon Jun 11, 2018, 04:33 PM

7. Kicked and recommended.

Thanks for the thread Rhiannon

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