The other day I was watching Live With Kelly! And Whothefuckever. Don’t judge me, she is my inspiration for pretending to be orgasmically happy every fucking morning at 9 am no matter what is going on in her life. I’d just like to be able to fake cordial. Or perhaps slightly less filled with homicidal rage. Baby steps.
So anyway, the topic was buying clothes we will never wear and Kelly talked about a particular piece that she would never wear because it was too nice. It just hangs in her closet. While I can’t relate from a fashion perspective, I most certainly can when it comes to my DVRed TV programs. I record all of Anthony Bourdain’s shows. I save them all. Forever. Which is why I am struggling over my need to update my DVR box. I will watch the domestic episodes any old time. But if I am going to travel internationally with Anthony, I need zero distractions, the perfect drink, and the ability to not babysit the site for an hour. Okay. I will check the site during commercials sometimes. But Parts Unknown requires as much of my undivided attention as I can possibly muster. It is way too good to watch “in the background” unless I’ve watched it at least ten times already. It’s the best show every created in the history of the world.
It is on tonight at 9 p.m. on CNN and we are going to Rome. UNLESS Donald Trump tweets something or speaks to a world leader on the phone, or sends back an order at wherever he eats dinner or does anything at all that CNN feels is more important that the best show ever in the history of civilization; in which case, they will preempt the show so that we can be up to the moment on the current state of the president elect’s spray tan. Because CNN has priorites.
If we manage to avoid a preemption, this may be the best episode of Parts Unknown since the Tripoli episode. Or the Beruit one. Or… well so many of them. Tonight it is Rome. I’m sure I’ve been to Rome with Anthony before back when his show was called No Reservations on the Travel Channel. But on CNN Anthony is gaining more and more creative control over his show and tonight, they are shooting the episode entirely in wide screen, letterbox anamorphic format replete with an actual score – a beautiful collection of related pieces on a theme by longtime music director Michael Ruffino.
Bourdain says, “I was adamant about acquiring rights to an existing piece of music — the song “Spiral Waltz” from the wonderful 60’s sci-fi satire, “The 10th Victim.”
“And though we intended from the beginning to make the most beautiful looking show we had ever done, there was one important thematic constraint: We would shoot NO classical Rome. The entire episode would feature ONLY the architecture of Mussolini and post-Mussolini era Rome: brutalist, futurist and rationalist structures, mid-century housing blocks, suburbs, the decidedly downscale and not particularly romantic seaside community of Ostia.”
“Rome may be the most romantic city in the world, and one of the most filmed, but the films we chose to reference were films by Pier Paolo Pasolini, Dario Argento and Abel Ferrara. Pasolini’s wonderful, heartbreaking “Mamma Roma” is kind of a continuing reference point. And visually, Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Conformist,” of course — a film I’ve been besotted with for years.”
No matter what is going on, Anthony Bourdain has a way of making everything in my tiny little corner of the world right again. It’s all only seven and a half hours away. Or a bit more for me, because duty calls upon me to recap RHOA at 8pm. But Bourdain will be waiting for me when I finish.
“What’s it about? Well … it’s complicated. A lot of stuff. It’s about everyday Rome, the joys and the frustrations. It’s about fascism — and how it might have happened in this most beautiful of cities. It’s about movies. It’s about love — for films, for places, for the little things that make our lives bearable and for people.”
“Near the end, the brilliant and always honest Asia Argento says, “So you’re saying there’s a little fascist inside you?”
Yes. Thinking about it now, I am saying that. And to some extent, that’s what this episode is about: the urge, the impulse, for ordinary people, even ones surrounded by beauty, to want a leader, a man on a horse, to come down from on high and make everything better. Someone/anyone who will say with a firm voice, “Listen to me! I know what I’m doing!” That things have historically seldom if ever worked out in the wake of such promises is almost beside the point.”
If you watch tonight’s show, that ooze between your ears – caused by exposure to countless hours of menopausal women shrieking about whose toilet plays the classier music while they perform their bodily functions- your usual programming that liquidizes your gray matter- that ooze you have accepted as your new normal brain- may briefly coagulate into something more substantial. You may even remember what it used to be like when you were a functioning adult with intellectual capabilities who had conversations with like-minded people about things that mattered. It may even seem possible to return to that level of functioning one day.
I urge you, in the strongest possible way to click here to read Bourdain’s full description of tonight’s masterpiece. Then let me know what you think after the show. Unless of course, you’re an idiot. In which case, please excuse yourself from these comments.