The Grill of My Dreams
By Adam Lupsha, Visual Effects Editor
When I adapt Tony\’s life into a screenplay it will be titled: \”If You Are What You Eat, I\’m Mostly Testicles, The Tony Bourdain Chronicles.\” I can\’t decide if the lead should be Johnny Depp or God (as played by Liam Neeson). I love my job, AND there\’s Tony Bourdain!
It\’s Thursday morning and as usual I\’m eating my bacon, egg and cheese sandwich from the grub cart just above the subway (rubbery bacon: curiously decadent). As I sit at my desk, working on another whiz-bang special effect (like Tony eating a hotdog Matrix style), Tony comes in to talk about Washington D.C. and Labor Day. I think. It was either the show he was talking about or egg sandwiches. I was really enjoying that sandwich.
He moved through the office to another impromptu meeting with other producers and editors. They were discussing the Labor Day show, a barbecue-tastic, beef-topia in Connecticut the next day. Oh, how I wished to be there among the smells, the pool, the friendly sun. I secretly imagined a petting zoo, rounds of doing the Hokey-Pokey, a performance by the Cramps, and trust falls. And rainbows, made of cake.
As I approached Tom to tell him how much I\’d enjoyed my sandwich, I overheard Tony. \”We need a Ukulele, and Hawaiian Shirts. Say Adam, you\’re about the coolest guy ever, do you possess these items?\”
Well, it was something like that. It came up that I play the uke (I play depression era folk music) and that I have a small collection of genuine, 70\’s polyester Hawaiian shirts (I went to high school on Maui). And just like my ex-best friend\’s honeymoon, I\’d snuck my ass onto another trip.
You know that last scene in Boogie Nights, when the characters have gone through hell or worse and they\’re all back together, a big family, forgetting the challenges and digging the unity at the pool with the grill flaming? Well, replace the smut with a lot of equally talented people organizing over a dozen miniature businesses a year (every episode really is a little company). This shoot was a celebration of all those fully mind-destroying, relatively Olympian feats that shows can turn often out to be (bear in mind that Big-Tony B is on ALL of them). It all works because everybody is good at what they do and everybody loves it. Well, one guy didn\’t like it. Tony made us eat him in a lemon-wine sauce …
We all helped with food, setting up, holding reflectors, building up mics and jumping in the bouncy castle. I think Nari was in charge of drinking. I went to the workshop to saw and hammer some tracking targets together for a retrospective shot for the \”Tony\’s many eccentric acquaintances\” segment. Then we grilled. After Tony cooked about infinity-pounds of meat for an hour, he deserved a damn break. Naturally, he turned to the nearest person and handed me the spatula (I was closer than the table). Of course, though, he was a gent. I learned that when the burger puffs a little, it\’s done. Also, I learned that I come from a family that slightly overcooks food. And at the very, very end, I learned you can give a man a burger or you can teach him to grill. That, my friends, is a trust fall worth two in the bush.