I’m not a fan-girl of many things, but I am a fan-girl of Anthony Bourdain. (I’m keeping it “am” because even though he’s gone, he will not be forgotten.) I don’t follow sports, I don’t respect most politicians, and I loathe celebrity culture (other than chefs and comedians; because both involve bellies). I have high standards about what I find appealing–truth, critical thinking, compassion, good food, friends and family, travel, the “good life”–and for those reasons, Anthony Bourdain always appealed to me. So, like everyone else, I was shocked by his suicide last week.
I cried when I heard the news. Cried for the loss of a man I admired, cried that he had chosen to take his own life, and cried because his death meant I would never get to meet him in this life, something I was convinced would happen.
I believe we manifest our own best futures through human action, and so, just as I did when I proved the naysayers wrong and successfully tracked down Edward Snowden to speak at Liberty Forum, I wrote an invitation to Anthony back in 2014 to attend the Free State Project’s annual Porcupine Freedom Festival, AKA PorcFest, which is happening next week in the White Mountains. (Get your tix today!)
I had visions of us cavorting around the campground, arguing about politics and how to best solve the world’s problems. I knew Anthony had spent time in gun country, hunted to kill his own dinner, shot with Ted Nugent, and knew he wouldn’t freak out at the sight of PorcFest attendees open carrying.
I would impress him with the knowledge that I knew the secret ingredient in pho is cinnamon. I would cook him the first recipe I mastered, my mother’s rustic rosemary lamb and green bean stew. I would give him a hard time about the show he did about South Africa, where he failed to delve into South Africa’s troubled past in any meaningful way, simply choosing to paint a black and white picture, when so much of South Africa’s history is gray.
Like him, I have visited many exotic locations, and we would debate which ones were our favorites. (Mine are Nepal and Laos). For the countries I haven’t been to yet, I’m grateful I can still continue to explore them through his eyes.
Anthony even made it into the first chapter of my book-in-progress. In a pseudo-Facebook post of “25 Things You Didn’t Know About Me,” there is a part based on the Bernard Pivot questions that guests are asked by James Lipton on the Bravo TV show “Inside the Actors Studio”.
“What is your favorite word? Pussyfooting.
What is your least favorite word? Government.
What turns you on? Freedom.
What turns you off? Control of others.
What sound or noise do you love? Fridge’s cheese drawer opening in the kitchen.
What sound or noise do you hate? Police sirens.
What is your favorite curse word? Fuckitalltohell.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Celebrity chef with a travel TV show. Me, and Anthony, baby!”
“Me and Anthony, baby!” will now never be a reality. I cannot fathom the despair that drove him to suicide. I wish it wasn’t so. But it is.
What I admired most about him was his brutal honesty, his un-PC-ness, his fearlessness, his balls. Methinks Anthony would have something like this to say about this blog: “Fuck you for sitting in your ivory tower complaining and whining and indulging in your opinions about my death. Why do you care? Get off your ass. Go do something that matters. Go do it well. Make your life matter, for you. Me? My goose is cooked.”
My time isn’t up, and I want to make every second count, which is why I am running for NH Senate. The political system in this country is broken. We read the news, and watch shows like House of Cards dripping in corruption, greed, and law breaking, with despicable characters doing despicable things in the name of “the greater good,” and we know this is a reflection of how things really are, and yet, we shrug.
Well, I am not shrugging anymore. Anthony once said: “Skills can be taught. Character you either have or you don’t have.” I am standing up and saying enough is enough, no more. You need to start electing good people with character who understand state-sanctioned bullying and more and more government is not the answer. We can’t write all the laws to control all the things! We need to step back, let go of trying to control other people’s lives, and return to limited, Constitutional government. Let freedom reign!
We need to embrace free markets, which is the best and “fairest” way to improve the world’s lot. Free markets–not government!–have lifted billions of people out of poverty in the very locations Anthony visited. In fact, governments often makes things worse, much worse: Cambodia, South Africa, Vietnam, Russia, Cuba, to name a few. Anthony never made it to Venezuela, another socialist hellhole. In response to the question, “Why don’t you go to Venezuela?”, he tweeted, “Because Venezuela is so utterly screwed up, the insurance companies won’t cover us.”
In a free market society, you get to choose what you like, and I get to choose what I like. You literally vote with your dollars. (But sometimes, you have to listen to your insurance company!) One size does not fit all, so why do we keep trying to stuff all of us into the same damn box?
“Life is complicated. It’s filled with nuance. It’s unsatisfying…,” Anthony said. “If I believe in anything, it is doubt. The root cause of all life’s problems is looking for a simple fucking answer.”
I agree! I believe the simple fucking answer is: I don’t have all the answers for you FOR YOUR LIFE. You need to figure that out for yourself, and as long as you respect my property and don’t harm me or others, we’re cool.
What limited Constitutional government offers is a way to erase the most base level of life’s doubts. It gives us a few ground rules that we can all agree upon (life, liberty and property–and the pursuit of happiness, as Anthony’s death taught us, you may never get there). These basic ground rules in turn create a level playing field–of equal opportunity, not equality–in a complicated world. But beyond that, you get to explore and experiment and enjoy your life as you see fit, for you and yours.
Let’s strive to create a world where we are free to embrace life’s nuances without writing the future in stone. Let’s let people be free, even when, like with Anthony’s choice to die, you don’t agree.
Anthony Bourdain, may you R.I.P. Hope to catch you on the flipside!
Learn more about my race at Carla Gericke for NH Senate.
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For readers interested in the Free State Project.
Anthony Bourdain once said:
“If I am an advocate for anything, it is to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food. It’s a plus for everybody.”
With this in mind, here’s the 2014 pitch I sent him for PorcFest:
“Anarchists and apple pie. What is the most interesting foodie story that has not yet been told? How about a rebel group of liberty lovers who are all moving to New Hampshire to build a ‘Yankee Hong Kong’? Think of us as hippies and hipsters with guns, farmers with the internet, techies and sustainable food freedom fighters.
The Free State Project is the most successful mass-migration movement for liberty since the closing of the American frontier. Thousands of activists are moving to New Hampshire to claim “Liberty in OUR Lifetime.” And the official move hasn’t even been triggered yet! As the Free State Project nears its goal of attracting 20,000 signers and triggering the move, we can look to our early accomplishments as proof that concentrating our efforts in one small state works. The “Live Free or Die” state has already gained a reputation as the top destination for liberty activists worldwide.
But is New Hampshire a foodie destination? Yes! There’s more to New Hampshire’s culinary scene than clam chowder. Hidden gems exist, like Barnstead’s Crystal Quail. Small sustainable pig farmers make for good TV. Localism is blossoming, like the Portsmouth restaurant’s Moxy and Black Trumpet. And microbreweries are experiencing a macro-boom–Free Staters were instrumental in changing the law to make this possible. There are butchers, bakers, and apple cider makers. There’s even a Burrito Liberation Front!
The Free State Project hosts a summer festival, the Porcupine Freedom Festival (aka “PorcFest,” www.PorcFest.com) which attracts up to 2,000 people to the White Mountains of NH (June 22-29, 2014). [EDIT: PorcFest will take place on June 19-24, 2018 and YOU should come! Buy your tickets today!] Here, budding entrepreneurs run a ‘free trade zone’ called ‘Agora Valley’ where you can buy homemade ice-cream, bacon weaves, grass fed beef, BBQ, and more. Vendors accept gold, silver, barter, Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies, with good old fashioned greenbacks being the least favorite mode of exchange. Think of it as Burning Man for libertarians. This year, one of the keynote speakers is author and food freedom activist Joel Salatin.
I’m the president of the Free State Project, a self-described voluntarist, a decent cook, a passionate foodie, and a big fan. I am familiar with your work, your shows and books, and I am confident there is a unique and interesting show to be captured right here in the heart of New England.
Our organization has been been approached by Morgan Spurlock, the Discovery Channel, NatGeo, and other media outlets, so it would be a pity to miss out on what is developing into a fascinating, in-demand narrative. We are pioneers and mad dreamers, but ultimately, pragmatists who are voting with our feet to build a better future–our very own Wild, Wild East.”