Anthony Bourdain

Miami -- where Iggy Pop and other dreamers flock

Anthony Bourdain, CNNUpdated 3rd May 2015
(CNN) — Musically speaking, the years 1969 and 1970 were not good years for me. Raised on the Yardbirds, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Big Brother and Blue Cheer, I watched in mute horror as my friends and fellow enthusiasts melted away into the more melodic, thoughtful, easy listening arms of Poco, Gram Parsons and Steely Dan, as well as various monsters of prog rock.
Friends who, at age 16, could play "Purple Haze," note for note -- and well -- were suddenly putting down their Telecasters and picking up pedal steel and dobro. It was a plague of tasteful arrangements and excessive musicianship. You could barely attend a musical event without enduring an extended bluegrass solo, or 35 minutes of some jerk in a cape noodling away on a Mellotron.
So, The Stooges' first album, an antisocial masterpiece of do-it-yourself aggression and raw, nasty, dirty rock and roll, came as a welcome emetic. A friend played it for me at his house with the volume down, careful, as we both sensed this stuff was dangerous.
And in fact, in those dying days of the '60s, when you showed up at school actually carrying a vinyl album under your arm -- to advertise the fact that you thought the Allman Brothers were awesome (they weren't), or that you knew every note of Flying Burrito Brothers, or that you had the good taste and discerning nature to appreciate the works of Fairport Convention -- carrying a Stooges album set you apart. And not in good way.
Only speed freaks (not a high-prestige set in 1969) and guys who worked on their cars too much liked the Stooges. "Problem" kids. Tormented loners. Guys about whom there were terrible rumors. ("He went mental and beat up his mom." "He shot somebody with a zip gun.") That's the kind of guy who appreciated songs like the sado-masochistic "I Wanna Be Your Dog," the bleak "No Fun" (which pretty much summed up high school for me) and the psychotic "TV Eye."
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Those were the days when you held a new album in your hands and gaped at it for hours. You read the liner notes again and again, peered hard and then harder at the cover art, the photos on the back, trying to discern more -- to glean some kind of information about the strange and terrible people who made these sounds that spoke, somehow, to the darkest regions of your teenage heart.
And what to make of the Stooges' lead singer, "Iggy," whose apparent willingness to self-destruct in front of your eyes was both exciting and genuinely frightening? To side with the Stooges at that time, to announce to your high school friends that you liked -- no, LOVED -- The Stooges pretty much put one publicly on the road to The Velvet Underground, The New York Dolls, early New York punk rock ... and heroin.

Anthony Bourdain -- starstruck

Of all the people I've met, I've never been more intimidated, more anxious, more starstruck than when I met Iggy Pop.
It was not in the sort of place you'd expect to meet a rock 'n' roll icon: a beach in the Caribbean, oddly enough. I was attending a food and wine festival with my family and looked out my window to see Iggy lying out on a blanket, surrounded by nothing more toxic than mineral waters and fresh fruit.
For the next three days, I'd see him in the same place, soaking up the rays and apparently rehabbing from a stage-diving injury.
Though my family's blanket was but a few yards away, and my then-5-year-old daughter would splash around in the water right next to him, it took me three days to summon the nerve to say hello.
So, it was a dream come true to actually hang out with my hero and (for better or worse) early role model for the filming of this Sunday's Miami episode of "Parts Unknown."
Now, some grumpy **** is going to point out, "Wait a minute, Iggy's not from Miami! He wasn't born here! What the ****?"

A refuge and a reward

True enough, but who in Miami WAS born in Miami? Believe me, we explore that exact issue in this episode, with people who proudly WERE born here.
But Iggy, like so many Miamians, came here to live after having lived a previous life -- or in Iggy's case, many previous lives. Miami has always been both refuge and reward for people from somewhere else, lured by a long standing dream, the promise of some kind of peace of mind on a beach.
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So on this episode of "Parts Unknown," we look at both the origins of Miami, the old school and the dream of Miami; the Miami that millions of Cubans, Nicaraguans, Venezuelans and Americans see as the place -- if things go right, or things go wrong -- to go. The place that will always, hopefully, be waiting for them.
Stylistically, we were thinking of the great Italian film, "La Grande Belezza" ("The Great Beauty"). Our intention was to portray the unique architecture of Miami and Coral Gables in the same symmetrical, classical way as that film's director portrayed Rome. Also, we lifted the film's glorious early party sequence, which took some doing.
To Uncle Luke (aka "Luke Skywalker"), "Mac" of Mac's Club Deuce, the amazing Questlove, Miami's own chef Michelle Bernstein and all the people who helped us make pretty pictures in this incredible town -- and, of course, to James Osterberg of Ann Arbor, Michigan, aka Iggy Pop -- thank you.
As a final note, I encourage anyone reading this to buy, first, the Stooges' classic "Fun House," which functions as a reminder of what rock 'n' roll should be about -- has always been about: sex, aggression, rage, self-hatred, frustration, heartbreak, love and the occasional burst of pleasure.
Then listen to the song "Penetration," on their album "Raw Power," and feel your face melt right off your skull.
Anthony Bourdain explores Miami, a city often seen as the ultimate reward for life lived right.