I was a fan. I enjoyed his often sardonic take on travel and TV, and I appreciated the glimpses he gave of cultures I will never see for myself. I preferred his older show, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, with its greater focus on food, but I think that if you buy into Bourdain's style at all, any of his work is entertaining.
His death has been treated as a tragedy by the media, which is all well and good except that a certain amount of hagiography is occurring. Yes, he had a significant impact on Americans' perception of other cultures, especially in his CNN series Parts Unknown. Yes, his brashness was occasionally bracing and, as his support for his girlfriend Asia Argento when she publicly accused Harvey Weinstein of rape shows, often admirable.
Yet Bourdain, it should be remembered, was not above cruelty. If he disdained a fellow chef or celebrity, he often didn't just say he didn't respect that person: he committed character assassination. I find Paula Deen despicable (and have said so four times) but to call her "the worst, most dangerous person in America" took gall only Bourdain had. Bourdain was arguably even crueler about TV food celebrity Sandra Lee, about whom he said, "I hate her works on this planet".
The media seems to be treading very lightly around the issue of his suicide: it has been reported but nobody has dwelt on the subject, except to emphasize seeking help for suicidal thoughts.
Should we condemn his suicide? I don't believe there's a right answer. Having been in the grip of severe depression I recognize suicide's seductive logic at that point. You're so bereft of happiness that you can't think straight. Or perhaps you are thinking straight, and you're simply marking time or making excuses in living your "normal" life. You probably don't agree but you can't say I'm wrong: you're not in my head — and neither of us was in Bourdain's. I won't condemn him. I don't understand his decision any more than I understood Robin Williams', but being famous and successful by others' standards doesn't mean one lives up to one's own.
I only hope his daughter isn't too badly hurt by his loss. She's the only one whom I could reproach Bourdain for not considering before he made his decision. Not knowing their relationship, though, I'm not inclined to reproach him even for that.
I'll miss his insights, especially in an age which doesn't value thoughtfulness. He was a rare public figure who seemed to be able to espouse the value of knowledge and understanding (not the same things) without being dismissed by the portion of the population that typically discounts intellectualism. And he exposed a lot of us to some really good food, too.