I don’t want to know.

Tony, I don’t want to know why.

I don’t want to know why a man like you, living a life so enviable and so obviously full of joy and wonder stood in that place all of us spend some time wishing we could be and said to yourself you didn’t want it anymore.

I don’t want to know what kind of pain causes a man who had to know, absolutely had to know, that he was admired by huge swaths of his fellow human beings for not just being a great writer and a great story-teller, but a truly good person, to put an end to that life.

We’re living in an era of loss. I got tired of writing here because the number of posts I was writing about the end of the life of one of heroes was getting to me. Attempting to talk about politics has engendered the same type of feeling of loss, because I feel like however the current political situation in Washington resolves itself, the society we had is permanently gone.

Some things, I think you might agree with me, Tony, just cannot be unfucked.

That’s something you learn in a kitchen, if you learn it nowhere else. If your burn it, it’s fucked and it cannot be unfucked. Put too much salt in… well, that’s permafucked too.

One of my favorite things you ever said (and there are soooo many) was:

“But I do think the idea that basic cooking skills are a virtue, that the ability to feed yourself and a few other with proficiency should be taught to every young man and woman as a fundamental skill, should become as vital to growing up as learning to wipe one’s own ass, cross the street by oneself, of be trusted with money.”

I sincerely believe that anyone who cannot feed themselves (and by that I do not mean having the ability to make something already cooked become warm in a microwave – the key phrase in the quote above is “with proficiency”), is not a fully realized adult. This is not just because feeding yourself properly enables you to stay alive, and maintain your health, but because of the important lesson that care must be taken in order to prevent unrecoverable fuckedupitude from happening.

In the kitchen you have to pay attention to what you’re doing. You have to think before you act and you cannot be careless or clumsy. If you hurry you might ruin the food, or cut or burn yourself (or burn down the building). But you also cannot be too careful. To cook well you need to take chances, to be creative and have fun – in essence, be willing to let it all go to hell.

You also need to have a point of view. Tony, you always hated people who got too precious about their ingredients. I always thought your approach to food was similar to my approach to pop music. Yes, grass fed, free range, farm-to-table is wonderful, but so is mystery meat on a taco served by a street vendor. I always figured that was the same perspective that would let me celebrate Rocket to Russia in the same breath as the first Boston LP.

I don’t to know why, Tony. I don’t want to know because you were an idol for me and your attitude toward the world was something I actively aspired to cultivate within myself. I don’t want to know what could happen to make you decide that your life had reached a point where it could not be unfucked.

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