The Layover in San Francisco

He’s been all over the world, and now in his new show The Layover, Anthony Bourdain returns to my turf, San Francisco. If you haven’t seen the show, which I highly recommend, Bourdain spends about 30 hours drinking his way through a city. I didn’t particularly like the first few episodes because it felt like a cheap off label version of Bourdain’s original series No Reservations. Yeah, I’ll watch it if nothing else is on, but if I want the good stuff, I’ll save up for it. Well I was low on TV options so I decided to catch up on a couple of  The Layover episodes, and I have to say, they’ve gotten better.

Maybe I’m biased because I love San Francisco, or maybe it’s because he was inebriated for 29 out of the 30 hours he spent in SF, but it was funny. Damn funny. Any show that starts off in the Tonga Room at San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel is bound to spark a fair amount of hilarity, and this episode of  The Layover did not disappoint. It was like watching a progressive pub crawl in fast forward and skipping the right to the slurred words and stumbling in the street scenes. I lost count of the amount of drinks Bourdain consumed. He had at least three potent drinks served with fancy umbrellas in huge lava or skull themed glasses. I’ve been to the Tonga Room a couple of times, even used it as a backdrop for a news special I produced, but never, ever did I try even a fraction of the drinks Bourdain enjoyed.

From Nob Hill, he continued his San Francisco tour through a one of a kind Chinatown bar, and then headed into another bar where the dude behind the counter wore a tie. Bourdain eventually ended up at a pizza and burger joint that’s known for staying open late. The chef and foodie is in one of the top food cities in the world and he’s scarfing down a double cheeseburger. Yep, that pretty much sums up The Layover. The show highlights people, places, and drinking establishments that you’ll never read about in Fodor’s or Rick Steve’s guide books, but still make you want to visit.  Hell, I was just happy Bourdain didn’t dog San Francisco again, like he’s been known to do on No Reservations. It’s probably because he was drunk almost throughout the entire episode, but Bourdain was effusive in his love for SF. I think at one point he even said it’s the best drinking city in the world.

After watching probably a half-dozen episodes of The Layover, I’ve noticed something. The drunker Bourdain, the better the episode. In fact, I’m watching the one on Miami as I write this, and Bourdain is way more sober, and it’s nowhere near as good as the San Francisco episode. So if Bourdain were to ever ask my producing advice for his show, I’d tell him to do what he did in San Francisco. Drink early and often. It may not serve him well on the flight home, but it makes for entertaining television.

Lessons Learned from Tragedies

Working as a TV News producer, I talk to lots of people who have gone through horrible tragedies. These people graciously allow me and a photojournalist to come into their homes and talk about what usually is by far the worst day of their lives.  In the last few weeks, I have talked to family members who have lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks, as well as survivors and first responders of the San Bruno explosion. When anniversaries come up, part of my job is to tell their stories so we not only honor the victims and survivors, but also learn from these truly awful tragedies.

Talking to these people, I learn from them more than they’ll ever know. They teach me about the power of inner strength, love, and kindness, which helped them heal at least a little bit. They are on my mind when I interview government leaders and regulators about the mistakes and missed opportunities that led to their lives being forever changed.

These people have important stories, stories I hope you’ll take the time to watch and learn from as well. Below are links to a couple of stories I produced on San Bruno.

http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Why_This_Family_Did_Not_Return_to_San_Bruno_Bay_Area-129343648.html

http://www.nbcbayarea.com/on-air/as-seen-on/San_Bruno_First_Responders_Had_No_Water_to_Fight_This_Bay_Area-129468128.html

As I’ve been working this week, the girls would hear me talk about San Bruno and 9/11, but for them, these two anniversaries meant Mom was working a lot more than she usually does. So when I came home from work last night, I had them watch a few of the San Bruno stories with me and Van. If they learned just a fraction of what I’ve learned from these amazing people, I’ve done my job as a parent and a journalist.

Kate Plus Eight Minus TLC

Love it or hate it, part of TV history will soon come to an end.


TLC issued this statement today. “TLC has decided not to renew another season of Kate Plus 8. By the end of this season Kate Plus 8 will have hit the 150 episode mark (including Jon & Kate Plus 8); an exceptional milestone. TLC hopes to check in with Kate and the family periodically with specials in the future.”

Oh goody, this means the cable channel left open the possibility of giving this media whore potentially more air time.

Kate Gosselin

OK, I admit I used to watch Jon & Kate Plus 8 religiously. I’d force Van to watch it with me too, all the while complaining about how mean Kate was, how awful the show was, and how annoyed I was seeing all the product placements and freebies the Gosselin family would get for parading their freakish family in front of the cameras for the world to watch.

Yes, I hated the show, but I couldn’t stop watching because I loved how much I felt like a better wife and mom, compared to Kate. There’s nothing like seeing someone behave so badly to make yourself feel better, and Kate behaved like a bitch.  I can be a bitch too, but at least I only act that way in front of my friends and family, not in front of the millions of people who would watch the reality show every week.

That all changed once their lives went way beyond reality, and became a circus sideshow. It didn’t matter that I no longer watched the show though, because you saw Jon and Kate everywhere, hurling verbal insults at each other as they aired out their dirty divorce proceedings for the masses. I suspect I’m not the only one who felt this way because if people really still enjoyed watching Kate and her kids, TLC never would have cancelled the show.

Now if only Kate would go into obscurity, never to return to TV, giving her eight kids a chance at reclaiming what’s left of their childhood. Yeah, like that’s really going to happen.  Well, adios for now Kate, until you get your next reality show, ’cause we all know it’s only a matter of time.