Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Next Bourdain

 "He speaks as if not releasing an album is just laziness on her part, as if people just walk in off the street, lay down a dozen or so tracks, and hand them over to eager radio stations."

I called my Dad today to wish him a Happy Birthday. I wanted to get him a copy of Anthony Bourdain's new book as a present -- but he refuses to read. Because he can't see the print...and refuses to wear reading glasses. New music is also out, because he can't hear either, but refuses to get a hearing aid.

He is, of course, surprised to be celebrating a birthday at all this year, as he spent most of the Spring planning his funeral.

It took a lot of probing to get to the root of that particular obsession with death, but after a long inquisition, he finally admitted that he thought he'd had another series of heart attacks. (None of which merited a visit to the e.r., or even the doctor, because, "what are they gonna do anyway?" I had to admit I didn't know, exactly, but that might be because I didn't go to medical school.) After a few dozen more questions and a couple hours of online research, the best diagnosis I could come up with was an inflamed phrenic nerve. The best treatment I could come up with for that was Advil -- which promptly cured the symptoms. He said he only kept his annual cardio appointment at all so he could tell the doctor he'd been "googled" (which apparently set off gales of hilarity and laughter among the nurses, if you can believe his account). 

I told him all about the new book, which seemed to set off a fit of initially inexplicable indignation on his part. "Do you think your baby brother's read this new book?" he demanded. I said I didn't know. Probably not. He hasn't said anything about it to me.

"Well," he said patiently, as if explaining something so obvious he couldn't believe it hadn't occurred to me, "don't you think that would be the perfect job for him?"

What would be the perfect job for who?

"The. Travel. Channel." (oh? well, duh?) "You know your brother's going to Budapest here in a few weeks, and he just got back from Turkey, and they need somebody besides just Bourdain. They don't have anybody else who knows anything about food. Just that dumbass who's always eating grubworms or some shit like that." (I've never seen Andrew Zimmern, or the show Bizarre Foods, but I know all about it from my dad -- he apparently watches it just to stay in rage-practice.)

His tone of righteous outrage makes it sound like he just can't believe my brother hasn't stopped at the airport to pick up a small camera crew on these trips -- as if maybe that was just negligence on his part... that he can't be bothered to broadcast his adventures on the appropriate network.

As if I'm opposing his case as to just how right my brother would be for the gig, he argues, "don't you think he has just as much cheffin' experience as Bourdain? And you know he can talk to anybody. You should see him whenever we go out to eat. The whole kitchen comes out to talk to him. Next thing you know he's behind the bar making everybody drinks." He adds admiringly, "That kid never met a stranger." (It's true. He's both an accomplished chef, and delightfully gregarious. I have no rebuttal argument for whatever is coming next.)

"So," he asks, finally warming up to his point, "couldn't you get him that job?" hesitating only slightly, clearly not wanting to doubt my powers of influence, "or maybe one like it?"

I started to formulate a lengthy response in my head, but thought better of it. Not wanting to disappoint him, or the land where he lives -- a land where my brother just hasn't gotten around to applying for a job hosting his own food travel show, and I just haven't gotten around to forwarding that application to the appropriate media overlords --  I say what any good daughter would on her father's birthday.

I tell him "I'll look into it."

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