author moments, awareness

Parts Unknown

My radio in my car was on the fritz. I was missing my Sirius XM something fierce. Finally, at long last, it was all fixed up a couple of weeks ago.

What did I miss most? The 80s channel? Yacht Rock Radio? I love those. But both can sort of be replicated on Spotify. Honestly, what I missed the most, what I couldn’t replace, was the CNN Originals channel.

More specifically, I missed listening to episodes of Anthony Bourdain’s show Parts Unknown. On a long car trip this week, I listened to his travels through San Sebastian and London.

It’s a travel show, about food. Originally presented in a visual medium. So sometimes there are long stretches of listening to people just eat. Plates clanking. Sipping from glasses. Mouth noises.

Then there are the paragraphs in other languages. I’d bet there are subtitles on TV. On the radio, just the original language.

Why would I listen to this?

Honestly, it’s for the writing. The passion in Bourdain’s voice. They say when you lose one of your senses, the others can become heightened. Listening to his description of foods, of people, of places…you hear his thoughtful, meaningful, often funny and insightful words even more clearly. He is just so damn smart.

When I taught writing to future teachers, I would often use examples from Anthony Bourdain’s TV shows that stunned me with their clarity, their originality, their sheer impact. He would make jaw-droppingly smart comparisons. I often felt like I was sitting at the table with him, enjoying a meal, even though we were separated by a screen.

Now we are separated by much more than a screen. His loss still stirs emotions in me. Listening to his voice, his perspective on life, culture, and food, is still something I savor.

Whose writing or perspective on life do you admire?

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