Anthony Bourdain was a hero. Everything about him was cool and authentic. Personally, I am weary of food shows, but of course, Bourdain's was something more. It was a food show, sure, but also a travelogue, an adventure show, and perhaps above all, a much-needed, eye-opening excursion into what’s going on in the rest of the world.
I've been a traveler for most of my life, and I know that the best experiences have always been the ones you didn't prepare for, the ones that took you off the beaten track, down an alleyway or a side street, or an impulsive tuk tuk ride through Bangkok. Bourdain was about all of these things. This wonderful video looks at the Bourdain experience through the eyes of his Director of photography, Morgan Fallon, the exact kind of person who would know what kind of person Bourdain was. To say I'm jealous of Fallon would be an understatement. I covet his job...or what used to be his job. Sadly, Bourdain is gone, but we still have all those magnificent episodes of Parts Unknown to go back and watch when we forget what a true mensch is really like.
Speaking of travel, I lived in Chile for a while many years ago and fell in love with the place. It is one of the most lovely, (and strange, geographically) countries in the world. By far one my favorite places is Patagonia, which I wrote about several times over the year, including for ABC News.
This story from Outside Magazine about the new system of national parks that was created earlier this year is a must-read not just because it's breath-taking and wonderful to know that so much new territory (9 million acres) has been preserved, but because it's an uplifting story about an American couple who partnered with the Chilean government to make the parks a reality.
I recently tweeted about this really cool project by photographer and drone pilot Robert Wu. In Aeroglyph, he takes incredibly precise and lovely shots of geometric forms by using long-exposures and a light affixed to his drone. If that’s not cool enough, Great Big Story has got a story about a new project where he’s using the same drone lights to illuminate the ice blue walls of the Pastoruri Glacier in Peru, 16,000 feet high in the sky. The imagery is insanely gorgeous and the technique is wonderfully creative. I’m going to try this myself.
As a born and bred (until college, anyway) Los Angeleno, I’ve been aware of much of the city’s history for most of my life. Larger-than-life characters like William Mulholland and DW Griffith made the city what it is. One of the great books of all time that tells the Mulholland story is Cadillac Desert by the late Marc Reiser. Here comes another wonderful history of the city, The Mirage Factory: Illusion, Imagination, and the Invention of Los Angeles by Gary Krist. This book tells the creation story of Los Angeles through the lives of Mulholland, Griffith and Aimee Semple McPherson, the tireless, and widely popular (at the time) Canadian-American Pentecostal evangelist who, Krist argues, gave birth to the spiritual side of the city, helping create the notion of LA as a place of spiritual awakening and fulfillment. LA seems the ideal place for people like McPherson, and I think one could argue that she was a precursor to L. Ron Hubbard and the Dianetics movement. The book is an easy read, strewn with fascinating details about how Los Angeles went from being the 35th largest city in the early part of the 20th century to the country’s second largest by the 1950s. Highly recommended.