If you get the chance, be sure to watch Bourdain in Beirut on the Travel Channel. As you may have read, he was filming an episode of No Reservations there when Hezbollah abducted the two Israeli soldiers, and was stuck in the city for another week or so while waiting to be evacuated. The Travel Channel quickly turned the footage into a special that aired last night.
The show is, of course, incredibly sad. Bourdain had just eaten a meal with his Lebanese guide, who had been enthusing about how the city was on the rise and Lebanon was finally back on the seat when suddenly the cameraman captures Hezbollah supporters driving around, honking their horns and celebrating as though Lebanon just won the World Cup. The guide looks ashen and Tony is just confused. The amount of loathing I felt for those people celebrating the opening shots in a pointless war is nearly impossible to describe. From there one of the locals the show had hired to help them out evacuates to Damascus, another’s home in South Beirut is leveled in an air strike. The crew winds up sheltering in a hotel in North Beirut for about a week waiting for the American government to get them out of the country, with a pool side view of the unfolding devastation. Eventually they’re evacuated by way of a Marine landing craft.
One thing that stood out to me is that Bourdain seems like a shattered man. He looks older and sadder, and was clearly holding back tears throughout most of the interview segments. It’s a perspective on the war that probably ought not be missed.