Thursday, August 13, 2009

the poet and the cook

lest you begin to think i'm on an august kleinzahler kick i'll go on record as saying that he is indeed a favorite poet of mine. what i find interesting about the world of poets and poetry is how even famous poets, exceptions accepted of course, are not as well known as one might think. we are all not reading the same writers. no biggie, the world is large, and poetry is a vast universe with room for all. my obsessions ain't your own, and vice versa.

which makes seeing a favorite poet of mine on my favorite tv show a real tail-wagger. no reservations, hosted by anthony bourdain, airs on the travel channel and just started a new season. bourdain is a very likable, charming, slightly ascerbic, certainly ironic, and funny host. the former head chef of nyc eatery les halles and now a writer and tv host bourdain travels the globe in search of thrills, sometimes cheap, food, culture and people. all done with a sly wit and a real gusto for living.

when bourdain visited san francisco i figured he'd do the usual route and be guided by a few locals to out of the way bars and restaurants. which he did. i left the room after the show started to go play with nicholas figuring i'd catch the sf episode on a rerun. that's when anna shouts, do you know a poet named august. not personally, i answered. well, she replied, he's on the show right now. i run into the room and see that yes indeed kleinzahler is one of bourdain's guides. got me kinda stoked. hell, a tv show that would even feature a poet got me by the boo-boo at word one. i made a note to watch the repeat at 11:00 pm and returned to my play with nicholas.

no shit. no reservations began with kleinzahler reading a poem. then the poet reads from his essay 'the zam zam room' when both the host and he visit the self-same bar. a tv show that begins with a poem? you know, i nearly fucking died of happiness. not that i'm that hugely ga ga over kleinzahler but because a tv show began with poetry. that episode probably had more viewers, i'm guessing maybe 1-3 million, way more than readers for kleinzahler's books, in my lifetime.

but what the fuck. all things are relative. when i told some friends at work some time back about no reservations being one of my favorite shows i get this blank stare. when i attempt to describe anthony bourdain or his books my friends are rather non-plussed, shrug their shoulders, and move on to a different topic. some things ain't everything for everybody. judge for yourself.

below is the opening segment with kleinzahler reading.

and this second segment is the bulk with the poet and the cook as they tour the zam zam room and a prime rib joint. you might disagree with kleinzahler's summation of poetry's lack of social utility, or its uses for delight in love, but maybe, perhaps, poetry's been so rarely talked about on tv before in such a way as the two dine on huge honking pieces of bloody meat and with such lipsmacking, soul-nurturing relish.


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