A tragic morning

On the day Anthony Bourdain killed himself, I received a recruitment notice for a job with the U.S. Customs and Border Control agency. 

Someone out there has a morbid sense of humor.

Anthony Bourdain was a lot of wonderful things — funny, a great writer, a most engaging TV personality — but above all else, he was a passionate advocate for cross-cultural understanding. He was happiest, most alive, when he was farthest from home, reveling in people and food from cultures as unlike his own as they could possibly be.

I’ve always felt that way myself. At home abroad.

During two years in Spain and eight years in Vietnam, I woke up each day full of anticipation. What new Spanish phrase would I learn? What entertaining Vietnamese expression would I add to my vocabulary? 

Most of all, who would I meet — and what would we eat?

Anthony Bourdain always knew what to eat. He found out by sharing his curiosity with people from every corner of the globe. His well-worn passport took him to places that clearly brought him joy, which makes his untimely end in Strasbourg, France, all the more difficult to comprehend.

Depression is like that. Unfathomable. 

Bourdain was the anti-Trump: adventurous, inquisitive, and full of empathy. He believed in a world without borders.

On a day we’re mourning one of our foremost cultural ambassadors, a job offer from Trump’s Border Patrol — collaborating with ICE to tear children from their families — seems particularly repugnant.

I think I’m going to spend the day with a box of tissues, watching reruns of Parts Unknown. 

The Border Patrol can take its job and shove it.


  1. Mark Barnett says:

    Well said, Ben. Thanks to TBo Pedersen for the link.

  2. Engelien Zegers says:

    right on the money well said

  3. Jack Bernard says:

    Ben: Thanks. I feel the same about being most alive when I’m away from home doing something different with new and interesting people in new places. Thanks for putting it in words.


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