Hipsters in Shock: remembering Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain... or not.

By Subfringe staff
Mon, June 11, 2018

Scrolling through my Facebook feed last Friday morning and oblivious to the news, I was touched by what appeared to be the spontaneous outpouring of compassion and concern in posts from multiple unconnected friends, though I was saddened that so many had been impacted by loss all at once.

By Friday evening I understood it was another episode of celebrity suicides, this time staring fashion designer Katherine Brosnahan, aka Kate Spade, aka Kate Valentine, and chef/travel show host Anthony Bourdain.

Then I wanted to tell everyone whose posts I'd liked a few hours earlier - mainly 20 and 30 something well educated women, and a few guys - to go fuck themselves, preferably with their lip balm, iphones, and passports full of Italian tourist visa stamps. I couldn't, though, because most of them are more or less good friends or acquaintances who I didn't want to alienate.

With all the violence and accidents that happen around us every day, if it takes a couple of celebrities off'ing themselves to rattle your social media bubble and help you decide it's a good idea to check on the people around you, there's something wrong with you. But at the end of the day, if that's what you're like, it's not going to matter. You'll talk about it for a few days, post memes, then go back to business as usual. The few people I know who really do check on their friends haven't said a single word about either Brosnahan or Bourdain. Go figure.

Even as a guy, with a design background, I appreciated Kate Spade's handbags. And even as a vegetarian I sometimes watched Bourdain's old show on the Travel Channel, along with the Bizarre Foods show that followed; I appreciated the travel and destinations, if not the cuisine.

Spade had been away from the business for a decade, of course. As for the celebrity chef/travel shows, it was after one of Bourdain's Africa excursions and the rarities he consumed there, along with a horse meat episode of Bizarre Foods, that I began to suspect something that left me more than a little uneasy.

You could take the people who these shows appeal to and sit a fried human limb in front of them, tell them it's considered a delicatessen in the Amazon, and their response would be, "Well, ok, I'll try it just this once."

As for the antelope testes and other "ceremonial" delicacies that our sub-Saharan friends offer up, I can only believe they're having a good laugh after the white hipsters on "safari" board their flights back home. "Then Ode told the guy... he told the guy, it's for ... very... distinguished ... guests ...and the guy, he ate it! Can you believe it, man? (ha ha ha!)"

Ethics, diet, and concern for the environment go hand in hand, and those of you complaining about Trump's environmental and other policies might want to think about the impact of ordering meat for every meal while you have a good empty laugh about your vegetarian friends.

Bourdain may have been believable as a kind of punk-survivor figure who people of certain age could identify with, but the kinds of cheap and passé vegetarian jokes circulated by his fans following his death inadvertently revealed him as an upholder of an unsustainable status quo in some of its worst aspects.

Even so, I'll count myself as a fan, just as I have friends who vote Republican, and others who vote for incompetent harvard law hack, establishment Democrats like Obama, but being a fan, or a friend, of anyone has its limits.

Making the rounds. My advice: step one, go find yourI've learned through personal experience recently that losing someone close, almost without exception, you get essentially no support compared with the bizarre, empty mourning ritual that people concoct when a favorite celebrity dies. The one or two people who have been there for me are probably the last ones I would have had any reason to expect it from. I may feel sorry for the real life friends and family who now live without Brosnahan and Bourdain, because I know what it's like. But I'm not going to mourn either of them.

Brosnahan and Bourdain had good lives. They had friends and family, and as celebrities they had no shortage of admirers. They had the influence and resources to do the big projects in their chosen fields and could be reasonably certain of success. They lived in good places that most of us could only dream of. They had money to live on, and then some. They had healthcare. They could buy new cars whenever they wanted, and they got paid to make first class, five star trips all over Europe, as opposed to those of us who have spent sleepless nights in cramped steerage class going places where life takes us, and the locals understandably make clear they don't want to see us when we arrive.

If I'm going to mourn, I'll mourn for the real friends I've lost over the years. They weren't fashion designers or celebrity chefs. To name but the three most recent, they were a college professor who studied police and migrant communities, and who left us too soon under tragic circumstances that would have been ruled criminal had it happened anywhere other than Toronto; a house painter and first rate artist who was a Vietnam vet and one of the finest minds I've known; a security guard at the airport who built his own sound systems that, years on, remain the best I've heard. They were great people who died, because at the end of the day they had average, difficult lives with little recognition for what they did, and health problems that they didn't or couldn't get help for. And then there's the relatives who died of cancer who deserve a list of their own, but that's a story in itself. When I mourn, these are the people I mourn for - and I do, every day.

I'm sure the 20- and 30-something hipster ghettos of Chicago, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn, and trendy overpriced neighborhoods all over America, are united in their grief at this dark hour, having lost their favorite handbag designer and celebrity chef / travel writer.

If food, travel, and handbags are the most important things in your life, I guess it's going to hit you hard. But seriously people, get real, and go fuck yourselves, with your lip balm, and iphones, and passports. And if you understood Bourdain and his attitude to life, you'd know he'd probably tell you exactly the same thing.