Rest in peace!
CNN’s Anthony Bourdain Travels Armenia and Artsakh Filming for ‘Parts
Posted 08 June 2018 - 01:17 PM
FIELD NOTES: Bourdain’s field notes: Armenia
For years there’s been a steady drumbeat of inquiries from Armenian-American fans of the show: “When will you visit Armenia?” “Why haven’t you been to my country?”
They were very legitimate and increasingly troublesome questions. I wanted to go. I had every intention of going. But I had yet to figure out how or—more accurately—through whose eyes, through what perspective I’d look at this very old and very complicated country.
Then, out of the blue, Serj Tankian, the lead singer of the band System of a Down reached out, and I had my answer. Serj, like so many Armenian-Americans, has been trying to reconnect with his roots. His personal history, like the histories of many people who identify as Armenian, is with the diaspora—those who escaped or were pushed out by what can and should only be called a genocide. It should be noted that Turkey continues to deny a genocide ever took place.
But I have no problem using that word. I am both proud to use it and baffled by the world’s continued reluctance to call the Turks’ carefully planned and executed murder in 1915 of an estimated 1.5 million ethnic Armenians—and the displacement of millions more—anything but what it was.
Those horrendous events and Turkey’s refusal to acknowledge them remain central to any discussion of Armenia—a fundamental, unifying factor in defining what it means to be Armenian.
Armenia finds itself situated in a tricky piece of real estate. It borders adversaries Turkey and Azerbaijan and has a complicated, if close, relationship with nearby Russia. Approximately 80 percent of its borders are closed.
It is unlikely I will be welcome in Turkey after this show. Because I filmed in the disputed territory of Artsakh, I was informed that I have been PNG’d (declared officially “persona non grata”) in Azerbaijan.
The connection, the collective yearning, and the flow of money, resources, and people from the Armenian diaspora back into the homeland are powerful and important—as you will see. They are also vital to the nation’s survival. An astonishing amount of money is returning home from abroad—for schools, hospitals, and institutions—to help the country grow. And an ever larger number of overseas Armenians are returning, to see where they came from, to enjoy the food, and to reconnect—if they still can—with family, tradition, a way of life.
Serj Tankian is one such story. I’m grateful to him for sharing it with me.
Highlights from Armenia on Explore Parts Unknown:
Posted 10 June 2018 - 09:11 AM
So, yes, Bourdain’s shows are ostensibly windows into, well, “parts unknown” for people who may never physically step foot there, whether “there” means Cuba, the Congo, Mexico, or Iran. But they are also empathetic portraits that mean a whole lot for the people who do know those places intimately. What made them special was how he not only acknowledged that he was a tourist, but happily let locals who knew better lead the way to the next meal or landmark, knowing that their choices would better reflect their cultures.
In his quest to understand a country using food as his baseline, Bourdain made a point of eschewing tasting menus for local markets, late night street meat, and home-cooked meals. Sure, he appreciated fine dining (his “No Reservations” episode about Spain’s legendary restaurant El Bulli is a series highlight). But more often than not, he was more than happy with a heaping bowl of whatever meat his host put in front of him. Even the most vaunted chefs, Bourdain constantly reminded his viewers, owe everything to the everyday kitchens that first taught them what loving food could truly mean.
In a time when so many people are willfully sharpening their distrust of anyone who doesn’t look or act exactly like them, Bourdain’s ethos of reaching out and finding shared truths with anyone willing to do it feels particularly, painfully vital. Bourdain consistently gave the floor to people who lived, breathed, and cooked the culture in order to understand it better. He didn’t always succeed at the (admittedly mammoth) task of painting a complete picture of a country in 45 minutes or less, but he always strived to do right by his hosts, granting them the same generosity they bestowed upon him. He realized that he could travel virtually anywhere and find someone who would be happy to share a meal and a laugh, and that showing as much could be more than enough. As he showed time and time again, it could even be extraordinary.
Posted 10 June 2018 - 09:12 AM
PanARMENIAN.Net - System Of A Down frontman Serj Tankian has said that he is utterly shocked by the news of Anthony Bourdain’s passing.
Bourdain, a gifted storyteller and writer who took TV viewers around the world, has at age 61. CNN confirmed Bourdain's death on Friday, June 8 and said the cause of death was suicide.
"We have lost an honest broker of life, cuisine, culture and truth," Tankian said in a Facebook post.
"I was honored to have spent time with him in Armenia for CNN’s Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. Our love and condolences go out to his family and all those he touched with his beautiful spirit."
Bourdain visited Armenia to shoot an entertaining episode for his "Parts Unknown" series. He took a wide-angle look at the culture and history of this country, with musician of Armenian descent Serj Tankian (System of a Down), and historian/Armenian resident Richard Giragosian as his guides.
Posted 12 June 2018 - 09:40 AM
Unfortunate Coincidence: Turkish-American
Attacks Bourdain on the Eve of his Death
By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
A friend forwarded to me the copy of a lengthy email that was sent by
Ibrahim Kurtulus, a Turkish-American from New York City, to hundreds
of CNN employees harshly criticizing Anthony Bourdain, Chris Cuomo and
others for acknowledging the Armenian Genocide. The subject of
Kurtulus’ email is titled: “When CNN’s Chris Cuomo and ‘Especially’
Anthony Bourdain Legitimize RACISM.”
By an unfortunate coincidence, the Turkish email was sent on June 5,
2018, barely three days before Bourdain committed suicide. Given the
large number of Armenians and non-Armenians who have written in recent
days expressing their unfounded suspicion that Azerbaijan or Turkey
caused Bourdain’s death, I want to make it clear that I do not believe
in such conspiracies. Sadly, Bourdain, who had used drugs for many
years, was a heavy drinker and suffered from serious depression, is
reported to have committed suicide in his hotel room during a visit to
France last week.
In addition, those who propagate such conspiracies are damaging
Armenian interests. Anthony Bourdain, who had the popular TV travel
and food show “Parts Unknown” on CNN, was blacklisted by Azerbaijan
for having gone to Artsakh after visiting Armenia late last year. The
show aired on CNN last month to the great delight of Armenians
worldwide and dismay of Azeris and Turks. By alleging that Azerbaijan
killed Bourdain, Armenians are simply discouraging non-Armenians from
Kurtulus also attacked Chris Cuomo of CNN for interviewing on his show
Cong. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). Kurtulus described Schiff as “a racist”
for championing the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and compared
him with David Duke of the Ku Klux Klan. Kurtulus then picked on
Congresswoman Nanci Pelosi (D-Calif.) for acknowledging the Armenian
Genocide in her 2016 statement. Kurtulus ridiculously claimed that
Armenians may have died of “old age” rather than being murdered during
Kurtulus also blasted Amy Goodman, host of the award-winning
‘Democracy Now!’—a TV/Radio news program that airs on 900 public
broadcast stations in North America—for acknowledging the Armenian
Genocide in her show.
Kurtulus not only denied the occurrence of the Armenian Genocide by
calling it a ‘hoax,” but turned around and blamed Armenians for
committing an “extermination campaign against Turks.” He also falsely
claimed that “a systematic extermination campaign against Armenians
would have been not only unlikely, but out of the question.”
Kurtulus then criticized Anthony Bourdain for accompanying Serj
Tankian on his trip to Armenia and Artsakh. Kurtulus described Tankian
as “a member of an Armenian-American heavy metal band (System of a
Down), a major insidious purpose of which has been to brainwash
worldwide youthful fans into acceptance of an ‘Armenian genocide.’”
Kurtulus went on to accuse Bourdain of repeating “all of the hateful
propaganda in his episode (https://www.youtube.com/watch
After comparing Bourdain to white ‘supremacists’ in Charlottville,
Virginia, Kurtulus asked: “what is the difference?” Regrettably,
Kurtulus defamed anyone who has supported the veracity of the Armenian
Genocide. It is no one else’s fault that the Ottoman Turkish
government organized the extermination of the Armenian people. If, as
a result, the Turkish nation has had a horrible reputation, it is
wrong to blame it on the Armenian victims. Kurtulus’ argument is the
equivalent of condemning anyone who speaks about the Jewish Holocaust
because that may tarnish the reputation of Germans.
Kurtulus then disparaged all of the scholars who have written on the
Armenian Genocide, in addition to Amb. Henry Morgenthau who had
written an eyewitness account in his book, The Murder of a Nation.
Instead, Kurtulus praised so-called ‘scholars’ who are genocide
denialists funded by the Turkish government.
Kurtulus ended his email with more insults directed at Bourdain: “If I
lived in a less racist society, Anthony Bourdain would be losing his
job in a moment. Yet the problem does not only rest with hateful
bigots such as Anthony Bourdain; why did [CNN] President Jeff Zucker,
who has also been receiving our communications, allow for Bourdain’s
Kurtulus also blamed other CNN employees for not protesting “Anthony
Bourdain’s irresponsibility, hatefulness and corruption of the facts.
…How could CNN journalists exercise any tolerance over Anthony
Bourdain’s prejudices, as well as his twisting of the facts?”
Rather than countering the many lies and distortions of Kurtulus, I
will simply quote from Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish
Republic, who during an interview published by the Los Angeles
Examiner on August 1, 1926, confessed: “These leftovers from the
former Young Turk Party, who should have been made to account for the
lives of millions of our Christian subjects who were ruthlessly driven
en masse from their homes and massacred, have been restive under the
Republican rule. They have hitherto lived on plunder, robbery and
bribery, and become inimical to any idea or suggestion to enlist in
useful labor and earn their living by the honest sweat of their brow.”
Since I have received a copy of the Kurtulus email along with the
complete list of hundreds of email addresses at CNN where he
dispatched his email, I will send my article to the same email
addresses so CNN journalists will not be deceived by Kurtulus.
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