All the Most Important Anthony Bourdain Quotes from 'Roadrunner'

20 July, 2021
Roadrunner

Courtesy CNN / Focus Features

After a difficult start in television…

“Making TV was becoming creatively satisfying, I wrote the book and yet continued filming. The tail now wagged the dog. I was hooked on travel, on seeing the world and on the terms on which I was seeing it. I was on the road for the better part of two years during which time everything in my life changed. I stopped working as a chef, a job of whose daily routines had always been the only thing between me and chaos. My first marriage began to fall apart.”

On wanting normalcy…

“I wrote a crime novel around that time where the central character’s yearning for a white picket fence existence reflected my own more truthfully than any non-fiction book I’d ever written. Shortly after that I cruelly burned down my previous life in its entirety.”

On fatherhood and fear…

“For most of my life, I wouldn’t have been a good father. Too self-involved, too messed up on drugs and also being afraid. The thought of being frightened for a child, I was not up to that kind of fear.”

On family…

“My whole life I was like a kid with my nose pressed against the glass thinking about what it must be like to have a kid and a family and normal life, standing in the backyard barbecuing burgers, when I find myself doing that I am ridiculously, stupidly happy. I do a lot of pretty cool shit now, I travel all over the world, I see all these amazing things, but I’m never happier than when I’m standing in the backyard being ‘TV dad’... because… I feel normal.”

On aspiring to mediocrity…

“There is a grim, inevitable and all too predictable trajectory to the passage of a good episode of television. People aren’t as stupid as your minions clearly believe, they don’t need the truth pounded home with meaningless platitudes, or bland generic sum-ups. They’ll get it. … Don’t empower these squirrel-balled nerds by letting them get their way. They will then nibble this show to death like hungry ducks.”

On seeing the suffering in Port Au Prince, Haiti…

“You’ll notice that I’m not myself, where’s the snark? The attitude? I don’t know. People are not statistics, surely there’s value in showing the little things...”

On traveling inwards…

“I think I said earlier I was going to tell you the truth. This is part of it. I was unqualified for the job, I was in deep waters and fast-flowing ones at that. Currents could change at any time without warning. Like a lot of travellers I started to turn inward from the view out the window, started to see what was going out there through an ever-narrowing lens. It is written that I should be loyal to the nightmare of my choice. I now understand what that means.”

On reporting…

“I’m not a newsman, I’m not a journalist. I’m not an advocate. I’m not looking to inspire. I don’t have a political agenda. If anything, I like to go to a place thinking one thing and be completely wrong about all of it.”

On Africa in the news…

“We tend to see paces in the Middle East and Africa in particular, we only see them when bad things happen. If you just follow the news you’ll be reminded about kidnapping in Algeria, unrest in Tunisia, terrorist cells to the south, deadly riots in Egypt and of course Islamist extremist attacks in Benghazi that killed the US ambassador. All those things are very real concerns, but if you only look at what’s on the news you can miss what maybe is a bigger picture.”

On travel

“Travel isn’t always pretty, you go away, you learn, you get scarred, marked and changed in the process it even breaks your heart.”

On going back to where he grew up…

“You know I was an angry young man. I forget what I was angry about. I mean look at this. What was I so angry about? This is paradise.”

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