Bourdain in Beruit on tonight (21 August)
The Travel Channel is showing footage tonight. Here's a link:
Wow. This was pretty heavy. It was a very head jerking ride from when Tony was talking about Beirut's nightlife with those Lebanese Paris Hiltons to the next morning when the airport got bombed. It is still a very disguised view of the reality since they were all safely ensconsced in their hotels while south Beirut was being bombed. And, as Bourdain mentioned, they all had an out, they knew they were leaving and they had the choice of never coming back. The Lebanese people did not.
I thought Bourdain was somber enough and he did show the gravitas that had peaked through previously but was never fully expressed. The most surreal segments were when they showed everyone around the pool cavorting while Beirut burned. Mind you, I am not castigating them, but it was surreal none the less.
I thought this was as fine a piece of writing as any one can do about the situation, even though they did not go there to do this piece. The tone was just right, the conveyance of the emotions were honest and unencumbered by hysteria or sensationalism. It was also very poignant, seeing the family's and the children talk about their relatives and their own feelings. Finally, Bourdain's comments about tuna and noodles and mac and cheese was pretty interesting, especially from someone who is acerbic about bad cooking as he is.
Bourdain did a wonderful piece. (I too admit that I was switching back and forth - HBO during commercials, cuz I knew they'll show it again)
I think his final lines said it all when he discussed how absurd and obscene it was that they were at the pool while the city burned below. You could tell it got to him how unfair and depressing the whole thing was. I was touched by his defense against feeling useless sent him to the kitchen to “fix” things the only way he knew how, to bring some normalcy to things...
It also really came through how much he disrespected our government, per-say, and how much he respected the marines and their behavior.
On a side note, the Katrina documentary made me sad/furious – but this isn’t the board for that.
I think Bourdain, his crew, and the show did the best they could considering that they were coming from a position of comfort and even luxury at the hotel they were staying, and there was nothing more they could do except to stay put. Actually, I wasn't interested in Bourdain and his crew's experiences per se, but rather, the people who were introduced to us at the beginning. For example, what happened to the man who was Bourdain's guide? He seemed to just drop out w/nary a mention. How affecting was it to see Ali staying with them for as long as he could, even when he knew that bombs were dropping in his family's home in South Beirut. Is Time Out Lebanon still in existence? What I got most out of this show--and what makes me want to go to Lebanon even more--is the resilence of its people (even the "party girl" at the Skybar) and the natural beauty of the country. So I'm grateful for the show for showing me this.
I don't remember where the article was, but Bourdain wrote one right after his escape from Beirut. The fixer, the blond girl did manage to get to Syria with her family. He mentioned a little bit about everyone, that they were all safe. I thought it would have been appropriate to follow up onall the people that he had dealt with during the ordeal.
I thought it was an excellent show. You could palpably feel the slow disllusionment of Bourdain about so much. Stuff he probably hasn't even realize yet. I was also struck by the fact that even me with my almost socialist politics would still probably assume that America would be there for me if something like that happened to me. And I can't imagine how awful it would be to sit and see the president eating a buttered roll over and over on tv while every other country showed up to get its citizens.
I loved the glimpses of what Beirut was and could be. I also found myself wanting to give Bourdain a hug at the end and reassure him the dinner table is a great leveler, the problem is getting people to it.
I, too, wonder what happened to his first two guides.
It is intersesting how, when faced with the world going crazy around you, you always go back to Mama...comfort food-wise...to make you feel sane and safe. I thought Anthony's thoughts on the ship with the Marines was just great.