Each of Bourdain's carefully selected guests in this episode was a figure of import during his youth. These are the musicians, the actors, the artists, and the filmmakers who made downtown Manhattan into the furious nucleus of desperate art and culture that it once was. Like Bourdain, these are New York legends.
He eats with Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie, and Harley Flanagan of the Cro-Mags. He sits with hip-hop icon, Fab Five Freddy and urban photographer, Clayton Patterson. The list goes on, rife with celebrities who meant something to Bourdain as he was coming of age. At the height of their careers, he was thrashing about at CBGB's, inhaling dollar pizza at sunrise, and subsisting on a steady heroin regimen. In this episode, alone, he lets us in. It's not rare to see Bourdain flash some element of vulnerability -- some willingness to communicate -- towards a rolling camera. But this is different. This cuts deeper.
“On a personal level, [I hope viewers] see where Tony sort of came of age, where that Tony that everyone came to know and love and see on television, that person really emerged and survived the Lower East Side, and it shaped him in a lot of ways,” Steed said. “The people that he was having conversations with influenced him and inspired him, and he adored them and respected what they do.”
New York is reliable only in its commitment to change. But what Bourdain gave us, in this last installment, is a fixed picture of what the Lower East Side once was -- or rather, what it was to him. We can't have him back, nor can we re-enter the burned-out Manhattan of the '80s and '90s. Instead, we get this one last, remarkable snapshot of both: the Lower East Side -- home -- according to Bourdain.