Sunday, September 5, 2010

Tony's Wild Ride

Magnet # 335: New York City Yellow Checkered Cab

Material: Plastic

Purchased By: Mom & Dad

The yellow checkered taxi cab may be one of New York City's most enduring symbols, but it's arguably well on its way to getting another one and today he is marking a very special occasion. Yep, born in NYC and raised nearby, Anthony Bourdain is a native New Yorker who has spent much of his life cooking in its kitchens. And today, the Travel Channel is pulling out all of the stops in honor of his show No Reservation's hundredth episode, which airs tomorrow night. Also, a marathon of his past episodes airs all day this Labor Day, so we can watch both his revelries and his sufferings as he trots around the world, camera crew in tow.

I admit, when I first heard about No Reservations, I thought it was some sort of travel gimmick. I wrongly assumed it was some guy traveling around the world, making no itinerary reservations whatsoever, and kinda flying by the seat of his pants, seeing where he lands. Well, I pretty quickly found out that the title really meant that this was a guy going all out, tossing aside his reservations in his journeys around the world. And then I started getting more familiar with host Anthony Bourdain. At first, I didn't exactly care for him. He was snarky, rude at times, and somewhat brusque. But I kept encountering the show in flipping the channels, and came to find that there is much more to Bourdain that just that side. He's also darkly funny, very intelligent, and incredibly polite to those he encounters during his travels. I guess, most of all, he is just brutally honest about who he is and what he likes, and that can be a break from travel hosts who just read from the script and try to never offend their viewers. Sure, Bourdain has alienated a certain part of the population, but he's also gathered a very devoted fan following that has gotten his show this far. And I have certainly come to appreciate his charms along with them. Perhaps my favorite episode was one that came from a contest calling for viewers of the show to compete to guide Bourdain though their hometowns (and no, I didn't enter). The winner Bourdain selected was a young, female filmmaker from Saudi Arabia, Danya Alhamrani. She is a remarkable woman and, along with her business partner, is the first one in her country who has been allowed to own and run her business without a male partner. And she did a great job showing Bourdain around her hometown of Jeddah and serving him both camel and lizard to try out - the camel looked much better. I hope we'll see her on the show again sometime. And I really hope the show's most notorious handler, Zamir the Russian, makes some more appearances. A man who loves his liquor as much as his schemes, he's subjected Bourdain to some ghastly situations and met with appropriate payback. The pair have formed a friendly rivalry that's fun to watch and it would be great to some more interactions between them. It would also be great to see rocker Ted Nuget back sometime, or perhaps actor Bill Murray. Yep, this show has had its share of interesting figures, but one thing's for certain - Bourdain is the most memorable of them all. I can't imagine anyone pulling off this show as well as he has.

For tomorrow's episode, Bourdain returns to Paris, where it all started. Yep, he filmed the first episode of No Reservations there and titled it "France: Why the French Don't Suck." Gook luck finding that title on any other travel show - I guess it's further proof why the entertainment world needs Anthony Bourdain. He's come along and breathed new life into a somewhat old genre, no doubt exciting people who never really thought about seeing the world before No Reservations. It's been a great ride with him thus far, and I'm looking forward to seeing what Bourdain has in store for his loyal viewers, myself included.

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