One of the many destructive realities of working in a corporate-dominated economy, besides the political graft that’s dismantling democracy, is that corporations have no interest in memory. The one that originally published this interview I did with Anthony Bourdain in February 2011 has already purged it from its archives in pursuit of other failed projects to write off its taxes.
So consider this is a salvage operation. The corporation discarded it, so it’s fair to assume it doesn’t want it anymore. Here is the article in full. Bourdain’s off-the-cuff brilliance and wisdom deserve to be remembered.
Anthony Bourdain: America’s Falling Behind (and I’m Afraid of Sandra Lee)
The effervescently opinionated Anthony Bourdain, an erstwhile drug addict and chef, sprang to literary fame as an observer of the culinary world, but now he’s one of the most well-known travel writers in the country. Since 2005, his Travel Channel anthology No Reservations has consistently been the best-written travelogue series on television, and this week, it begins its new season with a powerful episode shot in post-quake Haiti, where he learns to re-evaluate easy notions of altruism in the face of social chaos. His travels have realigned his perception of American values, too.
JC: Being 6′ 4″, you must have noticed how travel has changed over the recent years. With the airlines squeezing their pitch, you must have much less room than you did years ago.
AB: We do a lot of little puddle-jumpers, internal flights, so yeah, that’s not so great. But politically speaking, Americans are more welcome in more places. Western Europe has become a little easier. Travelers are also much more foodie now. There are real gastrotourists out there, so I notice they’re not as surprised when Americans show up and want to try things that Westernerns used to not ever want to touch. You also see how fast Asia and China are outpacing us as far as high-speed rail, the quality of their chain hotels, infrastructure, telecommunications. It’s kind of dismaying when you come home and you ride an American carrier. You get spoiled in the East.
JC: It’s almost as if travel hasn’t changed enough.
AB: Traveling domestically hasn’t changed at all. If anything, it’s gotten worse. Traveling internationally, you go to a Western chain hotel in Beijing or Shanghai, they are swank. The level of luxury is extraordinary. The same hotel in the States, not so good. Not good at all.