Okay – We love politics. We love food. We love Antony Bourdain.
So when our favorite chef/travel guide does an interview on politics – we just have to share it with you.
So, did you vote?
Yes. No fan of the Clintons am I, by a long shot. But I’m a New Yorker, Donald Trump is a New Yorker. And the New Yorkers I know, we’ve lived with this guy for 30 years. I’ve seen Donald Trump say things one day, and then I saw what he did the next. I’ve seen up close how he does business. Just like if you lived in a small town, you’d get to know the sheriff, the guy who runs the hardware store, the guy who runs the filling station — Trump comes from that era of guys you followed, guys you knew about every day: Trump, Giuliani, Al Sharpton, Curtis Sliwa. I’d see him at Studio 54, for fuck’s sake. I’m not saying I know the guy personally, not like I’d hug him, but I’m saying that as a New Yorker, we pretty much are neighbors. And my many years of living in his orbit have not left me with a favorable impression, let’s put it that way. There’s so many reasons to find the guy troubling. When Scott Baio’s the only guy you can find to show up at your convention, you’re in trouble.
The big platform that kicked all this off for him, his comments about Mexican immigrants, intersects so directly with your vocal championship of Mexican restaurant labor —
He has a vineyard in, is it Virginia? I think a very interesting project would be to see who’s picking his grapes.
That’s a good question.
Well, I believe I know the answer, which is why I’m asking the question.
Do you think he’s actually going to make moves toward deporting people?
I think it’s going to be hard times. Is he gonna do anything near what he promised? Of course not. But he will be forced to do something, by the people around him. He will have to do something, and it will be extraordinarily ugly.
Does that change the urgency of the work that you do?
I’ve spent a lot of time in Red State America. I’ve spent a lot of time in Trump country. I have a lot of sympathy, and I believe understanding, for cultures and for places where gun culture goes so deep — that first cold morning when Daddy takes a young boy out hunting with him, lets him use a rifle, shows him how to use it — I know how emotional and how deep that goes.
We are a violent nation, from the beginning. I’m not arguing for current gun policy, but I think it’s worth acknowledging that this is a country founded in violence, a country that has always worshipped outlaws, loners, cowboys, and people who got the things they got by the gun. We glorify it, we created an entertainment industry that does little but glorify solving complex problems with simple violence.
But I think to mock constantly, as so much of the left has done — to demonize, to ridicule, to treat with abject contempt people who live in a very different America than they live in — is both ugly and counterproductive. There are a lot of people who are pissed off, they’re tired of being talked to like that. There are a lot of people in this world who, when an Applebee’s moves to their town, it’s a big deal — and I don’t mean that in a dismissive way. Where somebody coming to take your guns away is a big concern. Look, I don’t think racism can ever be forgiven. It’s a conversation-ender for me, for sure. But if you grew up isolated, no interaction or little interaction, the only interaction you’ve had has been negative, and you’re fearful of the Other, and somehow everything you read in the paper makes it seem like they’re getting all the breaks, especially when, in the news environment we live in now, it’s perfectly permissible to lie.
With my shows, I seem to fall into power vacuums. I did at Food Network, I did at Travel Channel, I always feel like I somehow slip through the cracks. I have really no — zero, I don’t feel that I have any — responsibility. I’m following my heart. If I find myself talking about immigration, or multiculturalism — though I hate that word — at this point, it’s because that’s how I feel. It’s personal to me. Maybe at this point it’s because I travel so much.
So if your generous, inclusive perspective on humanity is in part engendered by the depth and breadth of your travels, and if your show winds up being the closest thing that many of us have to that kind of global experience, then doesn’t it follow that your show can serve as a point of entry for us to develop a similar perspective?
Maybe. When I do live tours, I hear that, I see that. But all I know is how my shows make me feel. Making them, experiencing them, going through the process of making them, and then watching them after they’re done. It’s either a successful story or a not-so-successful story. How they make other people feel? I think I’ve said before to you, it’s dangerous ground to start wondering about such things, and particularly now that my outlook is pretty damn bleak.
I mean, you would think, Gee, with all these great travel shows on, there are plenty of opportunities to see how other people live. But you know something else travel has taught me: People rise up and kill their neighbors all the time. People they’ve lived with their whole lives, yesterday they were fine, today they’re the enemy. You’ve seen it in Yugoslavia, you’ve seen it in Borneo. Now you’re seeing it here. So, I don’t know.
I’m a guy who’d like to blow up every safe space, every trigger warning. I would like to unleash every comedian to say “cunt” as many times as they like, or any other word they care to use. But the threshold of acceptable rhetoric right now, the threshold of hate and animus that’s being shown at this point — this really naked hatred of every flavor, racists, sexists, pure misogyny, class hatred, hatred of the educated — this is something I’ve never seen before. And it’s now acceptable! It’s more acceptable in public at political rallies than it is at universities, which is where people should be saying offensive shit.
Read the rest of the interview here.