Livingston man remembers Bourdain’s visits to area

Friday, June 8, 2018

For more than an hour on a lake north of Big Timber, Anthony Bourdain was looking around nervously as a yellow-headed blackbird called out, rumbling out its mating call like the sound of a cheap electric chainsaw.

He kept checking his surroundings and looking around. Though he was just 40 feet from the bird, he couldn’t locate the culprit.

“What the hell is that noise?” Bourdain said.

His fishing guide, Dan Lahren of Livingston, pointed out the bird, sitting on a cattail.

Bourdain hadn’t seen it, despite looking for it for more than an hour.

To Lahren, who worked as a fixer during both of Bourdain’s trips to Livingston for his television shows, this episode represented why Bourdain loved Livingston. In the city, Bourdain’s senses were dulled but in Livingston, whether he was fishing, riding horses or drinking at the Mint, Bourdain could let down, in the process hearing and seeing so much more.

“He completely agreed with that assessment,” Lahren said.

Lahren remembers Bourdain’s love of the community, which he found through writer Jim Harrison.

“Both times he came, he said, ‘Why don’t I own a place here?’” Lahren recalls.

Bourdain originally made an episode about Livingston in 2009 for his Travel Channel show “No reservations.” He returned in 2015 for his show “Parts Unknown” on CNN.

Bourdain praised the Murray Hotel and many of Livingston’s restaurants, but he also went on trips with Lahren, a fishing guide and jack-of-all-trades.

Lahren remembers the first fish that Bourdain caught on his trip to Livingston.

“They cut the money shot,” Lahren said. “His first fish was a four-pound brook trout male. They don’t get any prettier than that.”

But instead, they chose a scene for the episode of a two-pound trout flopping out of Lahren’s hand. Lahren said he still remember’s Bourdain’s fish.

“I’ve never caught a four-pound brook trout and I’ve been fishing all my life,” Lahren said.