Anthony Michael Bourdain, born June 25, 1956, was a man with a rich and vibrant legacy. He took us on exotic adventures to explore the world and tried to expand the view of the audience on culinary arts and culture. He was much more to so many than a celebrity chef.
Anthony Bourdain was an author, travel documentarian, and television personality. He used programs like A Cooks Tour and No Reservations to travel across the globe, focusing on the international culture, cuisine, and the human condition. He has sat down for humble lunches with President Obama, and his explosive personality has even been featured in cartoons like The Simpsons and popular FX series Archer. Bourdain has taken us to some of the most secluded corners of faraway places to chat with the locals and enjoy a simple dessert. Anthony Bourdain was widely regarded as one of the most influential chefs in the world.
On June 8th, 2018 the world was shocked to hear that Anthony Bourdain had died at 61 years old. Even more heartbreaking was to learn his death was a suicide. Over the last several days, his passing has sparked a continuous stream of dialog about mental health and the need for treatment resources. Over the years the famous traveling chef fought against drugs like heroin, as well as depression. As we remember who Anthony Bourdain was, and as we call for letting go of stigma and pushing forward with helping those in need, it is important to look at the whole story.
Anthony Bourdain first fought his way up the kitchen ladder in New York to become a long-time chef at Brasserie Les Hallas. Around this time, he wrote his breakthrough memoirs titled Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, which took him beyond the cutting boards to carving his way through the literary map.
Part of this first memoir describes the long journey that brought him to become a chef, and a notable element of his story is extreme excursions into drugs, strung out over years. In the book Kitchen Confidential he wrote about his experiences back in 1981 working at a restaurant:
“We were high all the time, sneaking off to the walk-in refrigerator at every opportunity to ‘conceptualize.’ Hardly a decision was made without drugs. Cannabis, methaqualone, cocaine, LSD, psilocybin mushrooms soaked in honey and used to sweeten tea, secobarbital, tuinal, amphetamine, codeine and, increasingly, heroin, which we’d send a Spanish-speaking busboy over to Alphabet City to get.”
Later, Bourdain became more open about discussing his drug use. He’d even said some of these problems should have killed him in his 20s. In 2014, he did an episode of his show Parts Unknown that highlighted the ongoing opioid epidemic in Massachusetts. During the episode he says,
“Somebody who wakes up in the morning and their first order of business is (to) get heroin — I know what that’s like,”
Parts Unknown went on to be honored with five Emmy awards.
Eventually, Anthony Bourdain found himself kicking heroin in the 80s in drug rehab. When talking about finally getting clean he said,
“And we’re the lucky ones. We made it out alive. There are a lot of guys that didn’t get that far. But you know, I also don’t have that many regrets either.”
However, he admits to still worked long hours in New York kitchens interspersed with binges that consisted of cocaine and alcohol. Following rehab that Bourdain had cleaned up his act, although he continued drinking alcohol. He later wrote,
“Most people who kick heroin and cocaine have to give up on everything. Maybe because my experiences were so awful in the end, I’ve never been tempted to relapse,”
On June 8, 2018, Bourdain was found dead of an apparent suicide by hanging in his room at the Le Chambard hotel in Kaysersberg, France. At the time he had been traveling with friend Éric Ripert. Ripert reported that he became worried when Bourdain missed dinner and breakfast. According to the public prosecutor Christian de Rocquigny du Fayel, Bourdain’s body showed no signs of violence. At this point there has been no official word on toxicology tests to determine whether drugs or medications were involved in his tragic death.
It is hard to put into words the life and legacy of a man as dynamic as Anthony Bourdain. He wasn’t just a face on TV, he was a voice trying to tell us to embrace more of the delicious variety in life. It is easier to just look at some of his many accomplishments. Bourdain wrote multiple bestselling nonfiction books over the years, including:
- Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
- Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook
- A Cook’s Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal
- The Nasty Bits
His articles and essays appeared in many publications, including:
- The New Yorker
- The New York Times
- The Times
- Los Angeles Times
- The Observer
He even co-wrote an original graphic novel titled Get Jiro! For DC Comics/Vertigo.
Between 2002-2018 he hosted a number of shows, including:
- A Cook’s Tour
- No Reservations
- The Layover
- Parts Unknown
He worked on various other television shows, doing everything from judging to producing.
With the sudden news of Bourdain’s death, people from all across the world have paid homage to the man who did so much to try and share the beauty of diversity with us all. In the days following Bourdain’s death fans paid tribute to him outside his now-closed former place of employment, Brasserie Les Halles on New York City’s Park Avenue.
Fellow celebrity chefs and other public figures expressed sentiments of condolence, including Gordon Ramsay and Andrew Zimmern.
Beyond his amazing adventures of cooking in different countries, Bourdain also believed in making a difference for those less fortunate. He championed industrious immigrants from places like Mexico, Ecuador, and other countries in Central and South America.
He became a big advocate in the fight against sexual harassment in the restaurant industry in 2017, calling out other celebrity chefs and people in Hollywood.
Depression and Suicide
Anthony Bourdain had also been open about his struggles with depression. In 2016 he did an episode of Parts Unknown where he traveled to Argentina for psychotherapy. At one point he tells the camera,
“I will find myself in an airport, for instance, and I’ll order an airport hamburger. It’s an insignificant thing, it’s a small thing, it’s a hamburger, but it’s not a good one. Suddenly I look at the hamburger and I find myself in a spiral of depression that can last for days.”
While the passion he had for his work is quite obvious, traveling around 250 days of the year can take a toll. More than once he described his life as lonely. During an interview with People magazine, he said he was living the dream, but admitted that it did come at a cost. That cost may have had something to do with the ups and downs of marriage and divorce he experienced over the years.
Only a few months ago, when discussing his 11-year-old daughter Ariane, Bourdain had said he felt he had to “at least try to live” for her. Although he explained he also felt he did have things to live for. Sadly, it seems that over time, the iconic chef started losing his battle with the feelings he wrestled with on the road.
Anthony Bourdain’s death is another tragic loss in a trend we have seen a spike over the years, including among celebrities. Only three days before Bourdain’s own death, fashion designer Kate Spade took her own life. Suicide is a growing problem in the United States. According to a survey published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Suicide rates increased by 25% across the country over nearly two decades ending in 2016.
- 25 states have experienced a rise in suicides by more than 30%
While Anthony Bourdain may have been clean for decades, there was still pain there. While overcoming drugs may have been a huge victory in his inspiring legacy, other fights can still wear us down.
There is Help
As we remember the incredible impact that Anthony Bourdain had as an adventurer and advocate, we emphasize the importance of supporting those who need it the most. Sadly, we don’t always know when people need help. But we should always work to make sure people know that there is help, no matter what they are struggling with.
“As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”
June 25, 1956 – June 8, 2018
Mental health is an important part of recovery for people who struggle with drugs or alcohol. Fighting depression and suicide prevention means supporting well-being and fighting for mental health support. For those struggling, treatment for mental health disorders and addiction is not always the easiest thing to seek out, but as we as a nation continue to evolve the conversation and raise awareness more people are finding out about the amazing pathways to a life in recovery that are out there. We urge you to seek yours. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, please call toll-free now. You are not alone.
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For many years Professional skateboarder Neen Williams lived a life of sleepless nights partying while creating a name for himself in the skater world. Born in Chicago, Illinois and currently shredding street tricks in his hometown of Los Angeles, California Williams has managed to attract sponsorship from several brands including:
- Circa Footwear
- Thunder Trucks
He also has a line of board designs that are all pretty slick. Neen Williams says he’s been skateboarding since he was about 13 years old, and with the territory he found himself smoking and drinking alcohol on a regular basis. Now, at age 31 he has turned his passion into his point of reference for a more sober approach to life.
Sobriety and Skating
Williams admits that he used to have a very different perspective of the life of a skateboarder himself. In a recent video with VICE he states,
“Skateboarding forever was like ‘drink boozes, smoke, we don’t stretch we don’t work out,’ and later in the interview he explains, “Back in the day I used to wake up late, eat like a burrito and slam a beer; go out and skate, manage to get a trick, and it would just be party time again.”
“It would never stop. It was just like a vicious cycle. There were a couple nights I would wake up at 6 or 7 (PM) and it would be dark outside.”
In that vicious cycle, Williams talks about needing days at a time to recover from drinking and partying, and on the last day when he finally felt good enough to get back to skating he would immediately go back to the partying as well.
He goes on to say that he wishes he had known all of this when he was a teenager, but even at 31 years old he is still learning so much. During part of the video interview Neen Williams says that he knows if you take care of yourself, you can skate forever. That, he says, is why he now makes the effort to eat so well and train his body,
“This is why I do all this healthy stuff for myself… because that is what I want, is to skate forever.”
That seems like a really legit reason to take care of yourself; to do what you love forever!
Originally Williams said he decided not to drink for the 6 to 8 month healing period he was told he would need for a torn ACL. Since then, it appears his lifestyle has changed dramatically to make his dream work.
Health Food and Fitness
Even though some may not immediately associate a balanced and healthy diet, along with regular exercise, it appears to have become a crucial element to Williams’ evolution as a skater.
On VICE Williams prepares a breakfast of acai bowls that honestly look stacked with natural goodness. Williams tops off one of the meals he makes- serious serving of what looks like well-blended fruits and vegetables- with diced pineapples and what I would guess to be barriers, almond butter, and granola, it looks like heaven.
You also get to see Williams break out a yoga mat and start stretching himself out. From there he said since Saturday isn’t a week day, he warms up with a quick 200 in to start the day.
When talking about his workout, he compares it to any other athlete. He says football players train to do what they do and they are covered in pads and protective gear. While he admits football players have 300lbs of muscle falling on them, he says the pro skater is usually out in the bare minimum, if anything, fighting sometimes face-first with concrete.
The Deathwish Team Manager, Jay Thorpe, makes a cameo during a street-side video shoot and says it is “really rad to see” when talking about Williams cleaning up his act and committing to the thing he wants to do for the rest of his life.
Williams says that while he doesn’t judge anyone, and doesn’t regret his party days, he has seen a lot of people fall because of it and he likes what he’s doing now. Probably a big inspiring part of Williams’ story is that he says he is glad he went through it and worked his way out of it to be the person he wants to be.
Athletes are put under a lot of pressure to succeed, even professional skateboarders and other extreme sports athletes. Sometimes the lifestyle of pro-sports stars can influence issues with substance use or addiction. Too many talented individuals are held back by these obstacles, but it never too late to get a fresh start toward a better, healthier expression of yourself. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
Any James Franco Fans Out There?
James Franco recently opened up about what he calls his “addictive personality.” It turns out the actor/director has struggled with workaholism and mental health his entire life.
Franco is known for his eclectic resume, starring in films such as Milk, Spiderman, Spring Breakers and City by the Sea. He has appeared in television shows like Freaks and Geeks and General Hospital.
The interview, with Out magazine, was to promote his upcoming HBO series, The Deuce. Franco chatted with novelist Edmund White about some of the challenges he faced, and how he managed to overcome them.
Franco’s troubles start way back in his teen years. During this period, he was arrested for underage drinking, graffiti, and shoplifting, among other things. Reflecting on that time, Franco told the Guardian, “It was teen angst. I was uncomfortable in my own skin. I was shy.”
Franco found acting as a way to cope and passionately immersed himself in it. He found acting to be an excellent outlet for his personality type. However, soon acting “became everything” to the point where he did not even socialize.
After doing nothing but working, Franco says he realized he was depressed, isolated and lonely.
“I really threw myself into it, and that became everything, to the point where I didn’t even socialize. And then after, like, 10 years of that, at age 27, I realized, ‘Man, I’m so depressed. On the surface my life seems pretty good—I have a career and everything—but I feel isolated and lonely,’” he admits
To combat these feelings, he decided to switch gears and go to school at Brooklyn College. However, just like with acting, academics became the focus of all his attention, and he was obsessive with that as well.
“I threw myself into school, but again it was just this sort of running, running, running,” he says.
Franco told Out that it has been difficult to overcome his workaholism. One of the ways Franco has found helps is through participating in activities like surfing and taking classes at the International Dance Academy on Hollywood Boulevard.
He says these activities are part of his “therapy,” to help him overcome his work addiction.
“It’s a kind of therapy for me,” he said. “I’ve started a new chapter of my life. I was very work-addicted and addicted to other things—not substances, I got over that a long time ago—but I’ve recently changed my life, and this is part of my therapy.”
What is a Workaholic?
The concept of workaholism or workaholic behavior is very misunderstood. Often, people see these behaviors as positive qualities. You might even hear people joke about how they are a workaholic as a way of describing their passion for their job and solid work ethic.
The truth is workaholism is a real condition that can severely impact a person’s life. People addicted to work sacrifice their social life, families, and personal connections due to their obsessive desire to work.
But what’s the difference between a hard worker and a workaholic?
This is a very common question. A hard worker is someone who works very hard while at work and completes all of their tasks, yet still manages to find a healthy balance between work and personal responsibility. Of course, the occasional burst of overworking may occur to meet important deadlines however, this is not the norm.
Workaholics, on the other hand, are unable to make this differentiation. They view work as a source of adrenaline. They feel they must work harder than everyone else and put in more hours in order to succeed.
Workaholics achieve one goal and immediately set more ambitious ones. Staying at the same level of accomplishment is a failure and results in incredible distress. Workaholics sacrifice their health, family, and personal life in order to work.
Overall, workaholism is something rarely addressed, but like Franco, people who struggle with workaholism often need professional help. If you are struggling with workaholism, mental illness, or substance abuse, please reach out. You are not alone. Call now.
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It is news to no one that connections are often made between many of the most famously creative figures in history and drug or alcohol abuse. Creative types have a reputation for being complex and conflicted individuals, and those characteristics also tend to be associated with alcohol and drug abuse. Not to say that creative types must be alcoholics or addicts, but to at least acknowledge how many addicts or alcoholics are incredibly talented people who still find ways of self-expression even through their struggles.
While we hear so many stories of modern celebrities who have either overcome their battles with substance use, or lost their lives to drugs and alcohol, some of the most influential artists in history also faced down similar issues. Whether it is music, art or literature, some of the most amazing works of cultural depth and significance came from people in the grips of addiction or alcoholism.
Here we take a look at 6 famous artists with addictions throughout history. NOTE: Not all the artists are of the visual variety.
Charles Dickens is probably most well-known for his part in changing the world of storytelling with the famous holiday fiction “A Christmas Carol” and the epic “A Tale of Two Cities”.
What is probably not nearly as well-know was the fact that Charles Dickens was also an opium user. After each day of writing it is said Dickens would settle down to smoke poppy latex from a hookah. He eventually died at the age of 58 from a stroke on June 9, 1870, which many have partially attributed to his opium use.
The idea of Jackson Pollock having a little chaos in his life is probably not that strange to anyone who has seen his paintings. Pollock is revered for his messy “drip painting” technique, with the canvas of his work often splattered and streaked with a frenzy of color. In the 1940s Pollock gained instant fame. So when looking into the chaos of his life as an alcoholic, it is easy to see the metaphor.
Pollock’s alcoholism is said to have been exacerbated by the pressure of his success, and in 1956 he died in a drunk-driving accident that also killed one of his passengers.
Ernest Hemingway is probably one of the most notorious alcoholic artists in literature. As a Nobel Prize winner in 1954, Hemingway has been described as a “economical and understated” voice of that “changed the nature of American writing”; one of the greatest writers of the early to mid-twentieth century. He authored such historical works as:
- “A Farewell to Arms” (1929)
- “For Whom the Bell Tolls” (1940)
- “The Old Man and the Sea” (1852)
However, he is also well known for the intimate relationship he had with alcohol. In one tragic peek into how Hemingway reached to the bottle to cope with the world is a quote stating:
“Modern life, too, is often a mechanical oppression and liquor is the only mechanical relief.”
It is believed that his heavy drinking intensified a medical condition, which led to mental confusion and depression. Hemingway eventually took his life in 1961.
Philip K. Dick
You may have heard of the cult classic science fiction film Blade Runner, and if so you should get to know the source material, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”
This deeply philosophical novel was written by American author Philip K. Dick. Other well-known sci-fi films were also inspired by his work, including:
- Total Recall
- Minority Report
This writer commonly utilized his art as a window into struggles with mental health or substance abuse. In fact, the author wrote dozens of novels about his own experiences of paranoia, schizophrenia, and drug abuse. He was known for taking drugs, particularly amphetamines. Eventually Philip K. Dick suffered a stroke at the age of 53, which cost him his life. Some have attributed this tragedy to the devastating impact of drugs on his body.
Jean-Michel Basquiat is a famous street artist from Brooklyn who went from homeless and unemployed to selling paintings for 5 figures in just 2 years. Suddenly a single work of art by Basquiat was imposing a price-tage of $50,000. This was a height completely unheard of for any artist.
Needless to say, the sudden surge of fame was a shock to the young man’s system. Especially considering he was a self-admitted heroin addict. At one point the young man claimed he was using up to 100 bags of heroin a day.
Tragically, this astonishingly successful artist was found dead in his East Village apartment from a heroin overdose in 1988.
Basquiat was only 27 years old.
Vincent van Gogh
This may be the most ‘house-hold name’ on this list; Vincent van Gogh. Just the mention of his names stirs the feeling of fine art, while his impressionist style was a bold and dramatic footing from which the concept of modern art flourished.
In what can be seen as brilliant and breathtaking, his landscapes and soft self-portraits may not seem like the yearnings of a tortured soul. Staring into his most pivotal pieces, such as the instantly recognizable “The Starry Night” one may see bright optimism in the swirling clouds or burning stars. However, Van Gogh grappled with a deep depression and enervating alcoholism.
Van Gogh spoke of his drinking at one point stating alcohol had, “undoubtedly been one of the great causes of my madness.” His drinking grew worse as he indulged deeply in absinthe, and at the young age of 37 years old, Vincent van Gogh took his own life.
Whether you would say an artist is more likely to be an addict or alcoholic is debatable. However, even in the grips of a disease that diminishes the mind, body and spirit there have been those who have used their art to reach out and express their hopes, or their fears in a way that touches so many others. But some of the most talents and inspiring people have been taken from us far too soon by their addictions. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
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