Friday, June 8, 2018

On Mr. Bourdain

This is my space to share occasional thoughts on public policy issues pertaining to housing and housing finance. Bear with today's detour.
In high school, after I shared my unfettered and unsolicited opinion on an issue, a friend told me that because something isn't important to me doesn't mean it isn’t important to someone else. I was admonished to see beyond myself. Taken to heart, but followed rather imperfectly these many years, I remain grateful for her advice.
When the news on Kate Spade broke this week and people wrote about their first Kate Spade bag, who gave it to them, where they bought it, or specific events they associated with a Kate Spade designed accessory, I was reminded of my friend's advice. There was a true connection between Kate Spade the designer and her customers that I never experienced. A palpable loss.
Then came today's news on Anthony Bourdain.
Alas poor Anthony! I never knew him but how he hath borne me on his back a thousand times. I lament your loss and remember kindly the gibes, gambols, songs, and flashes of merriment that were wont to set the table a roar.
Anthony Bourdain changed my family's table, taking us to places we never would have tasted. Moroccan inspired feasts at times of celebration would never have occurred in our household if not for Mr. Bourdain. The side dish I made Wednesday night for dinner would not have been there but for Mr. Bourdain. How many times I could say this!
Beyond the world of food, I would never have encountered Paul Bowles, an American expat writer whose works I discovered through Mr. Bourdain. Describing himself as "evangelical" about books he loved, Bourdain said, "I would hunt you down...shove the book in your face and then sit next to you on the couch until you read all of it. Making sure that you read it." Thank you for the gift of this genius.
Yesterday afternoon, as I prepared to put thought to paper on a housing finance policy matter, I specifically recalled a Bourdain comment on writing. Put simply it was that writers write. If you aren't making time to do it, to put in the work necessary to get better, perhaps you aren't the writer you think you are. This is transferable wisdom.
I never met the man or even laid eyes on him, yet there was a connection, remote but fundamental. A palpable loss.

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