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Anthony Bourdain #8

By Michael Moriarty
web posted May 13, 2019


Indisputably, the biggest trouble-maker in the Middle East but this episode on Iran begins with Mr. Bourdain’s shock at being so warmly welcomed.

Perhaps his, by now, well-known bias toward Pakistan over Israel might have something to do with it.

In an article about Anthony Bourdain in Israel we read that “Bourdain discusses his own Jewish identity (or lack thereof), asks his hosts direct questions about anti-Arab graffiti and street art glorifying terrorists and expresses hope for coexistence. He ends the episode in conversation with a restaurant owner in an Israeli town bordering the Gaza Strip who lost a daughter in a Hamas rocket attack.

“’By the end of this hour I'll be seen by many as a terrorist sympathizer, a Zionist tool, a self-hating Jew, an apologist for American imperialism, an Orientalist, a socialist, a fascist, a CIA agent and worse,’ Bourdain says as the episode begins.”

After viewing his report on Iran, I could hardly see Anthony Bourdain as a Zionist tool.

Why? His view of Iran would make that assumption utterly impossible. Besides, in his report on Israel, he never eats anything! That alone is a telling mystery.

“Good to be here!” he says in Tehran over pita bread. “Finally!! It’s taken some time.”

For four years, he says, “I’ve been trying.”

He waited that long to get his clearance into Iran.

Clearance from both his own homeland and, of course, his destination.

“Tehran! City of nearly 8 million people! Capital of Iran!!”

“There are neighborhoods of Rome that feel a lot like this.”


Iran’s threats to America and its trouble-making actions against American allies in the Middle East and against America are not at the top of this introductory list?!

Even if Mr. Bourdain had said “alleged threats”, we would at least have some reference to the generally accepted status quo of American/Iran relations.

An editor’s reply to this: “The world already knows all that!”

“Visiting Tehran is like visiting Rome,?!”

I beg your pardon?!

That’s Tony’s first major comparison?!

It is Tony’s first experience with Tehran?

And he adds, “It’s nice.”

Right out of the President Obama rule book of appeasement!

Oh, incidentally, there’s a poster of President Obama offering his hand in friendship with, we assume, some ancient, sword-holding warrior.

Of Iran?!

Of Europe?!

Of The Crusades?!

And where is this poster from?


Or from the editors of this series?!

What’s clearest from these first few minutes is unquestionably the Episode’s Point of View.

“What’s all this fuss and American worry about Iran?!?!”

In that poster I mentioned, there’s no 1.7 billion dollars dripping from Obama’s hand.

The price for buying America her newest and, apparently, most fashionable friend is ignored,

Ooops, Michael!

You’ve forgotten the history of American/Iranian relations! The not so ancient history of apparently homicidal intentions. American legends of cold-blooded murder are being told by the voice of a sweet, little American child! The visuals and voice-over copy of a little Shirley Temple, of course, portraying the Americans as the villains, as if the child didn’t so obviously symbolize the criminally naïve America itself!


What an Opener!!!!

And the Kindergarten Parable goes on!!!

And it’s all about “magical black stuff under the ground.”

Here is Time Magazine’s quick, informative but abruptly aborted look at pre-revolutionary Iran and its Shah.

America’s deep involvement in protecting the Shah from the inevitably revolutionary forces that unseated him are as well-known as the bloodily vengeful reign of the mullahs that followed.

However, if you are Anthony Bourdain, the enemy is not fundamentalist Islam but America and, in particular, Israel.

It’s clearly a vicious but initially literary war between The Koran and The Holy Bible.

I’m a Judeo-Christian, increasingly devoted to the protection of Judeo-Christian culture!

Mr. Bourdain is ostensibly unaffiliated with anything, but undeniably prefers Islam over Israel and over the traditionally English-speaking peoples. And English is apparently, from my attending a majority of Tony’s television series, Parts Unknown, the only language he can speak fluently.

Holding, rather unwaveringly, to that undeniably self-loathing and anti-American, political commitment, so deeply ingrained within an American ex-patriot still living in New York?!

Yes, a man such as Mr. Bourdain?!

And his having apparently anticipated the, by now, revolutionary Democrat Party’s rage over the Presidency of an American, patriotic  nationalist such as Donald Trump?!

Tony Bourdain, feeling more alone than ever and without a fellow enthusiast such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to renew his pro-Islamic, revolutionary optimism?!

He apparently fell into a depression that eventually drove him to suicide. A suicide that has haunted every one of my, so far, eight editorials on Anthony Bourdain.

Meanwhile, back to this episode on Iran, or as President George W. Bush described them, “The Axis of Evil”!

Tony’s respect for the Bushes, particularly has hearty agreement with President Bush’s assessment of a villainous Iran, is one of the most telling revelations within the entire set of television shows that have brought Anthony Bourdain so dramatically into my life.

That fact is also why I can further diagnose the Bourdain Political Principles as, yes, “Benighted!”

And, yes, suicidal, not only for himself but all of Liberal America.

At this moment in the episode, we drift off to Tony’s most reliable escape route: FOOD!

By now, of course, I’m really only interested in the SUICIDAL POLITICS OF ANTHONY BOURDAIN!

The four-year delay to Tony’s ability to gain entrance from America into Iran was more than enough time to inform most of the Iran population itself that “Tony Bourdain of Places Unknown is coming!”

Perhaps that is why so many Iranians have given our American Anti-Hero such a warm welcome!

There was a four-year preparation for his triumphal entrance into Tehran!

Here, however, is the most and truly interesting portion of this examination of Tehran: a clear description of the inner, spiritual and intellectual war going on within Iran!

As Mr. Bourdain describes it, the warring sides are those Iranians in love with its Persian past and those, rigid Muslims and Mullahs, committed to inflicting a fiercely Islamic Orthodoxy upon the entire population of Iran.

The rise of the Ayatollah Khamenei!

Immediately following this explanation, and with all the American memories of how nasty and, yes, downright Evil the Khamenei’s Iran has been to the Middle East, we have images of how happy and, yes, go-lucky Iranians can be!!

They are so healthy, alive and energetic and so happy!!!

So animatedly joyous!!!

What could really be so wrong about the Ayatollah’s Iran?!?!

And, yet AGAIN!

More wildly welcoming cheers to Tony for his arrival and presence in Tehran!!!

That means, perhaps, The Persians are actually winning and the Ayatollah’s grip on Iran may not be what he thinks it is.

That’s at least an affirmative inference from Tony.

It’s not anything, however, he says openly in this Iranian travelogue, of which I am sure the Ayatollah finds bearable.

Almost acceptable as America’s Madison Avenue-style advertising for tourism to Iran.


Iranians happily bowling!!!

And scoring successful STRIKES!

After seeing all this fun that Iranians are having, we have the odd question from our host: “So how DOES Iran have fun these days?”


“This is a line that is being constantly tested!” says Tony. “Alcohol, of course, is forbidden!!”

And alcohol, as we can see from the previous episodes, is a major part of Tony’s unacknowledged religion.

“You can sort of get away with listening to Rock or Rap! Sort of.”

But, according to Tony, “You cannot yourself ROCK! Or be seen to VISIBLY ROCK!”

“Even insinuating discontent can have consequences!”

Hmmm… now we are hearing a Truth which we have already assumed from the stories coming out of Iran.

What’s my beef with the order of the “telling of the Iran story”?

Despite all the well-known restrictions and the trouble-making history of the Orthodox Iran’s leadership, the people themselves are undeniably, obviously and irrefutably happy and heathy!

“Dissidents” and protestors of any kind… “have been simply disappeared into the maw of the National Security system.”

Persian rugs, therefore, are always a symbolically hopeful symbol!

Therefore, cut to the northern most portion of Iran!!

There, the Iranians escape the heat!

And “unwind”!

Upon that word, we see a young Iranian man behaving in a manner that would not merely embarrass a Mullah but possibly infuriate him!

Yet, apparently, some fairly typical behavior in the Broadway section of New York City is allowed in Northern Iran!!!

Cut to an actual Iranian journalist who, quite charmingly and happily complains that the joyous corner of Iran is not being translated and transmitted to the rest of the human race.


Cut to a smiling, female companion of the journalist who wears the traditionally Muslim garb.

“On the street,” continues the journalist, “you see a different side of things. The people are proud! Vibrant!! Have a lot to say!!!”

This journalist writes for America’s Washington Post.

He is, I’m sure, a Muslim.

He is Iranian-American. She, his wife, however, is a full Iranian citizen.

They are clearly selling the idea that Iran is not really the country which the American government has painted for Americans.

I’m sure that is true!

With the behavior of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez on display every day?!

That doesn’t mean that she, or, despite his perfect American accent, this journalist, or his wife are not the complete antithesis of traditional America!!!

In fact, a potentially mortal danger to the very meaning of America and individual freedom.

Does Tony say this?

Let’s see.


He does ask, however, if fun in Iran is even a good idea?!

What does the journalist, the Iranian apologist say?

He describes how things were when he first arrived in Iran.

Now, according to him, things have changed!

His wife, however, tries to add to the praise of Iran, but she says, quite without understanding how she sounds: “We have police! They arrest women or girls for not wearing a hijab… but we don’t live with the police in our head!”

Hmmm, indeed!


At this point, Tony begins to become a fellow lover of Iran by comparing it to America’s ally, Saudi Arabia, where women can’t drive or vote!

Can women drive and vote in Iran?!


The women of Iran are better off than those in Islamic nations allied with the United States!

What nightmares and flames of hell that Iran is creating in other parts of the Middle East?!

Other parts of the Middle East are obviously BACKWARD… when compared to Iran.


With an undeniably profound bias against America in all three of these people?!

The two men, both American!

No wonder the series was broadcast by CNN!

No wonder the likes of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez holds the Leftist-dominated-media spellbound.

And no wonder Anthony Bourdain committed suicide!

He was a walking bomb of self-loathing!


He was American!!

What an awful predicament to be in!!!

The world he most loved showing us was, is and appears to forever be anti-American.

Meanwhile, the ignorant and childish Americans like myself?!

The Conservative Americans?!

They’re villains!!!

Death to America never sounded evil to Anthony Bourdain.

What he might have thought about 9/11?

I’ll try and look it up!

Bourdain on 9/11?!

Here’s the only remark I could find from Bourdain about 9/11.

It’s shocking actually!

In light of our hero-anti-hero’s disillusion, his nearly ex-patriotic distrust of almost everything Judeo-Christian, and his love and admiring fascination with cultures Islamic and Communist?! His sudden and unexpectedly patriotic anger over anyone blaming America?!

For someone to infer that America might deserve the profound tragedy of 9/11, his sudden rage that anyone would blame the United States for this tragedy?!

It seems to make no sense.

Then again, the fact in Tony’s life that truly seemed to make no sense was his suicide!

The indisputable reason for his self-destruction, however, was the very devil of depression that he admits to fighting all of his life.

His lack of faith in any higher power than his own?

His atheism?

The drugs and alcohol that would inevitably increase that depression with hangovers and withdrawal?!

Meanwhile, back in Iran!

Tony feels obliged, with his Iranian-American friend and that friend’s all-Iranian wife, to again, and collectively, look down on Saudi-Arabia, one of Islam’s most reliable allies of America.

Then comes: Surprise, surprise!!

Tony’s friends, the American-Iranian journalist and his Iranian wife?

They were arrested by the Iranian police not long after this interview.

Following this interview, there is a rather, first-time exposé of the “roving malicious militias” of Tehran.

Harassment by them is, as Tony describes, a “daily part of life for Iranians.”

After another look at Iranian food, we are led to the virtually religious adulation in Iran for the Ayatollah Khamenei!

The Ayatollah died in 1989.

His funeral was attended by over 10 million Iranians.

Suddenly crowds are seen proclaiming: “Death to Israel!”

Tony is half-Jewish.


The cries continue: “No West! No East! Only the Islamic Republic!”

How does Tony respond?

He doesn’t.

He is merely seen boarding a bus.

He’s headed to another Iranian city entirely.


Iran’s third largest metropolis.

The architecture and art work within it are most impressive.

In Isfahan, we watch children play.

Tony promenade through a city park.

A group of men kneeling in prayer to Allah.

We’re then at a bridge where men gather spontaneously to sing.

Somehow and for some reason it became unacceptable to film these men singing.

Fairly soon, Tony mentions “trade sanctions” but not the obvious country from which they come, America. He does, however, add a mention about the trouble these sanctions create for Iranians.

Nowhere, that I can remember in this series, has simultaneously truth and propaganda about and for a nation been so repeatedly intermixed.

It leads smoothly into a discussion of Iran’s 8-year war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Iraq, “supported by the American government” adds Tony, used tons of poison gas in this war on thousands of Iranians!

To which Tony responds, “Yet people are really nice here!”

If Iranians are ordered by the government to be nice to anything or anyone?

They will, indeed, be nice!

To not be nice?!

The stakes for that independence can, quite suddenly, become very high.

“So far,” says Tony, “Iran does not look, does not feel the way I’d expected!”

“Neither East nor West, but somewhere in the middle.”

At a dinner party back in Tehran, Tony asks, “How do you think Americans will react when they see this film?”

Immediately someone responds, “They will start coming!”

 Much laughter!

One remark stands out for me, however.

“We are not ‘The Axis of Evil’! Just NORMAL Evil!!”

Again, much laughter.

The hostess, however, does make a painful admission that America’s sanctions on Iran do, indeed, effect their lives.

Rather drastically.

The final scene of the episode is like something out of the James Dean film, Rebel Without A Cause. All kinds of souped-up and remodeled American cars assemble at night for sheer entertainment. But, however, without the “Chickey Run” or death-defying race to the edge of a Hollywood cliff.

As a teenager and a devotedly besotted fan of James Dean, the memories this mise en scene evokes are dizzyingly myriad.

Not the least of which is the suicidal nature of the “Chickey Run” and Anthony Bourdain’s own suicide.

The art director, producer and cinematographer don’t know Tony’s tragic fate but at least one of them, even possibly Tony himself, would see the surprising similarity between Iranian youth and the dramatic similarities to American young rebels without a cause.

The “Cause” Iran has been fed by its leaders?

Picking a fight with the United States of America?!

In either case, it’s inevitably suicide for someone or something.

In an article about Anthony Bourdain in Israel we read that “Bourdain discusses his own Jewish identity (or lack thereof), asks his hosts direct questions about anti-Arab graffiti and street art glorifying terrorists and expresses hope for coexistence. He ends the episode in conversation with a restaurant owner in an Israeli town bordering the Gaza Strip who lost a daughter in a Hamas rocket attack.
“’By the end of this hour I'll be seen by many as a terrorist sympathizer, a Zionist tool, a self-hating Jew, an apologist for American imperialism, an Orientalist, a socialist, a fascist, a CIA agent and worse,’ Bourdain says as the episode begins. “ ESR

Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor who starred in the landmark television series Law and Order from 1990 to 1994. His recent film and TV credits include The Yellow Wallpaper, 12 Hours to Live, Santa Baby and Deadly Skies. Contact Michael at rainbowfamily2008@yahoo.com. He can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/@MGMoriarty.




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