“Anthony Bourdain didn’t make Waffle House a place “where everything is beautiful, and nothing hurts.” He told you what you already felt, in better, more gorgeous, and simpler words than any you could summon.
My heart hurts today for the loss of someone who could recognize the ragged, gorgeous divinity of a Waffle House at three a.m., and make it more luminous while telling not one single lie.
That’s the real and miraculous here. There are people who can see the world in all its poverty and sorrow. But there are so few who recognize themselves in it and of it, and fewer still who invite it in to sit down, to eat, and to have a few minutes of peace and appreciation at the eternal, drunken forgiving present of a dinner table. Anthony Bourdain did — and most generously, tried to show everyone else how to do it, too.”
My brother tells me that even though Spencer Hall writes about college football, he is one of the best non-fiction writers in the United States across all genres. Following the deeply tragic suicide of Anthony Bourdain, Spencer paid tribute to him with these beautiful words (see link and quote above).
Spencer concludes in much better words than I could ever put to paper that the trait that made Bourdain so beloved was empathy. And more so, it was his ability to teach empathy by letting you experience the world’s beauty and suffering first hand through his eyes. Not everyone could have this impact. Others have tried and failed. But Bourdain was a student of humans and culture, diving into each city he visited, delicately and relentlessly working to understand the nuances of the culture and its people. We fell in love with the result.
Fair winds and calm seas Mr. Bourdain.