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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Another love letter, this time for Tony

House Is Good.  No Doze.

(If you are reading this post on a RSS reader, click through to Chez Pim for the slideshow.)

I'm writing a lot of love letters these days. I'd better bring my irkable, cynical self back soon or I'd lose all my street cred. But I'll excuse myself this time, for a love letter to Anthony Bourdain. I've just finished watching his unstoppingly entertaining show No Reservations. In this episode he went to New Orleans.

It's not the kind of show that tells you where to go eat, or the kind of critique that warns you the Trout Amandine at Galatoire's was too oily. And it's certainly not the kind of article that's full of stereotypes and mean-spirited comments about the degenerating quality of the food and people in the city.

The New Orleans episode of No Reservations exposed Tony, not as the cranky, sinewy bastard he's constantly portraying himself, but as the sentimental old soul that he truly is. Tony, man, I adore you for it.

I don't know how to describe this particular episode properly with mere words. I'm just going to tell you to find a way to see it yourself, so you could feel the spirit of the people, taste the food, share their pride, their joy, and perhaps even empathize with the palpable pain that the folks in New Orleans are still feeling every day. Katrina happened years ago, but her presence is never far from yesterday.

What was so extraordinary about this show - and so much about Tony himself - is that the point here is not at all about appealing for pity. Pity is the last thing they need. The whole show was brimming with admiration of the resilience that the city and her people show, in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Every. Single. Day. I wish I had an ounce of that courage.

The show ended with a poetic, loving, and poignant ode to his city by Chris Rose, a columnist for the brilliantly tenacious Times-Picayune, with Tony making a brief appearance for the last line, "I'm here, why aren't you?"

P.S. The slide show just below is a set of pictures I took when I was there last year, trying to capture that beautiful spirit I witnessed. Check them out. (Click on the photo to move on to the next in the slide show.)

By the way, I'm going to New Orleans again this April for the IACP conference. If you're going, make sure we get to say hi. Together we'll toast the indomitable spirit of New Orleans.

And, happy Mardi Gras! Laissez les bons temps rouler!


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