Tag Archives: anthony bourdain

THE ANTHONY BOURDAIN MURAL

The much-beloved American writer, television show presenter, foodie and former chef Anthony Bourdain passed away in June last year in a an apparent suicide. Bourdain was in France at the time. The news shocking. We were fans of his books, as well of his food and travel TV series “No Reservations” and “Parts Unknown.” The latter was still in production for CNN when Bourdain died. Within days a mural of Bourdain was painted in tribute to him by artist Jonas Never.

The artwork is on an exterior wall of the Gramercy, a restaurant in Santa Monica, in Los Angeles, and it has become a local landmark. You can find it on 25th Street near the southwest corner at Wilshire Boulevard.

Murals of homage and tribute are not new. Portraits of movie stars and rock stars as well as grass-roots political leaders have often been painted in remembrance of their talents and greatness after their deaths. But a celebrity chef? Rare.

Granted Bourdain’s celebrity was attained near the tail end of his hands-on culinary career. He wrote his bestselling memoir “Kitchen Confidential” while still in the employ at the New York City restaurant Les Halles. The book made him a small “c” celebrity in the world of food and foodies.

He wrote several more successful books and became a fixture on cable-TV cooking shows a la the Food Network. Later, his own TV shows transcended the cooking genre and became more about travel albeit with food at its center. These were travelogues. Each episode was in essence a mini-documentary about a country, its culture and cuisine, its history and society.

We lived vicariously as Bourdain shuttled by plane, boat, train, car, horseback, etc., from one destination to another, from one cultural landmark to the other, sampling both the sublime and the touristy, while also sampling an incredible array of local restaurant fare. As a result of CNN’s “Parts Unknown” popularity, Bourdain had practically become a household name.

Cute Monster Stencil Street Art … Atwater Village, Los Angeles

Atwater Village in Los Angeles is where we found this stencil street art of a cute Sesame Street muppets-like monster on the sidewalk. (If you’re looking for it, it’s in front of Kaldi Coffee on Glendale Blvd.) There’s not a lot of this type of street art in Atwater, but it’s not much of a surprise to find it here either.

Atwater is a relaxed neighborhood tucked on a plain across the L.A. river north of and directly adjacent to the small mountainous areas of Silver Lake and Echo Park, L.A.’s long-established two-name combo of gentrified hipsterland. These two hoods feel very much a part of the city and have layers of grit and patination suggesting the edgy character of their pre-gentrification past. Atwater, on the other hand, only a couple of minutes drive away, feels like a quiet residential suburb a world away and is largely devoid of central L.A.’s gritty tinctures.  

Yet it has captured the hipster overspill of cool restaurants and foodie haunts, third-wave espresso bars, indie book and record stores, vintage clothing shops and yoga studios that have signified the gentrification process in the Silver Lake and Echo Park for the past 10-15 years. With has come art and street art.

That said, there’s some hipster cultural heritage in Atwater. In the 1990s, the Beastie Boys ran their mini music and Grand Royal magazine empire from offices and studios on Glendale Blvd., Atwater’s main drag. They recorded their seminal sample-heavy album “Paul’s Boutique” there, too. Atwater is also home to what some consider to be among the finest tacos in Los Angeles. For a segment a few years ago on his TV series “The Layover,” Anthony Bourdain stopped by Tacos Villa Corona, a microscopic hole-in-the-wall Mexican food joint that the Beasties used to frequent.