Tony Bourdain is one of the few people who I truly envy - not only is he apparently a world-class chef, but he's a great writer. And his job right now is to travel around the world, finding new places and trying new cuisines. Yeah, I think I could handle that.
Of course, it does happen that sometimes life, and the world, intervenes on this little gig. Like, for instance, the fact that his most recent show was being filmed in Beirut when the most recent nightmare of a war began between Hezbollah and Israel. He's written about it in Salon, quite eloquently as usual, but the following quote stood out for me not just because it's negative towards George Bush (and therefore brilliant) but because it's another reminder to me of how important the little things are:
What is clear -- as far as we're concerned -- from all sources is that there is no official, announced plan. No real advice, or information, or public exit strategy or timetable. The news clip of President Bush, chawing open-mouthed on a buttered roll, then grabbing at another while Tony Blair tries to get him to focus on Lebanon -- plays over and over on the TV, crushing our spirits and dampening all hope with every glassy-eyed mouthful. He seems intent on enjoying his food; Lebanon a tiny, annoying blip on an otherwise blank screen. I can't tell you how depressing that innocuous bit of footage is to watch. That one, innocent, momentary preoccupation with a roll has a devastating effect on us that is out of all proportion. We're looking for signs. And this, sadly, is all we have.
Bourdain got home safe, which is more than a lot of folks can say, but his writing about the destruction of a city that had just started to be proud of itself again is heartbreaking. Well worth a read.