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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Tribute to James Gandolfini / Tony Soprano

James Gandolfini, may you always know how much we all loved you, R.I.P.

I wanted to add this to my blog, but have not been in the right emotional place to do so. James passing was a shock for me, and one of the saddest things ever. I think about his kids and Robert and Jamie, who basically grew up on the set with James. I think about my own upbringing in an Italian home (No, we have no ties to the mafia) and all the similarities. My dad (stepdad actually) married my mom when I was three years old. We lived right across the street from where I do now, no it wasnt planned, it just happened. My dad's mom, Nuni, came over to the U.S. in the early 1900's. She was married with 4 kids. She lived in Montana, where her husband mined. Sadly, she passed away and there was Nuni with 4 kids. Think about it; what was she supposed to do? A town full of miners, no one to watch her kids, so she sold alcohol; she was a bootlegger. She was able to take care of her kids and earn money; it's not sexy, but you tell me what you would do in her situation!

Shortly after her husband passed she met my dad's dad. They married and when they had enough money, they moved to where I live now and opened up a business. Then another business, 3 in total, I think. But, this husband passed away, as well. So, my dad's brothers and sister took care of him while Nuni worked; she had a diner and small market. One of her best friends was the founder of the Bank of America ... no lie. I notice in the Sopranos the sense of family, taking care of each other, no going to outsiders ... this sums up my dad's family. If you're Italian, its about family and food and thats it! My dad's family is from Gallio, which is north of where Tony and Carmella's family hail from. The dialect is different, the food is different, even the looks are different. My Nuni actually had the same color hair as Tony's mom, Livia Soprano; like a dishwasher blonde Except my Nuni was awesome. Every Sunday, she would cook and have lots of family over at long table in the dining room. Nuni made her own wine and breadsticks and grated her own cheese from a large block. There was always the smell of dry cod in the house (bacala).

Another difference, is that in Northern Italy, fish is a main commodity along with Asiago cheese, white sauces, and a lot of olive oil and butter. I watched my Nuni and Aunt Marie make homemade soup and Ravioli; I dont remember too many meals with red sauce though, and we called in sauce not gravy. We also did not cut off the words. Like the Sopranos say "san" for sandwich, and "parm" for parmesan. We never shortened the words.

I think what reminds me of my family the most with the Sopranos, is all the cousins and how they always knew someone who owned this type of store or that type of store, or who could hook you up with what you needed. It just cracks me up, because this is how it was and still is with my Dad's family. I swear, every person in the family either owns a business or they are highly successful by doing something else ... all legal of course. I dont have enough room to name everyone, but more than likely if I penned their names you would know them; they are that successful. I remember getting some pastries and my dad telling me that his cousin owned the shoppe. Then when I was small (my dad took me everywhere with him) we went to a place to get new windows and blinds, yep, this was his cousin, too!

Anyway, I could go on and on with all the memories that pop up for when watching the Sopranos ... it's one of the only shows that draws me in -- hook, line and sinker. We could have an earthquake and I probably wouldn't notice. I know that I miss those days with my stepdad's family and the Sopranos fulfills some of those needs.

David Chase talks about what a genius James was .. well, Hello David, what about you? You created the show, the characters, the writing, everything! I think you are amazing. Like, every character for me was monumental and the acting was top notch, how else could anyone be drawn in and think that all this mafia activity was actually going on?! I can't think of another show that blows my mind like this. James and Tony Soprano are larger than life; you look to them for the standard ... of acting ... and reactions. How many times did I wonder if I would ever have the guts to be Tony's cumare or his Psychiatrist. It is pretty hard just to watch the show and take it at face value.

I looked at some of photos from Jame's funeral so sad; you could see it in everyone's face just how traumatic Jame's passing was. And at the same time, the funeral couldve been Tony's funeral ... where was the difference? I found myself double morning, because it also meant that there would be no reunion movie like Sex and the City. I have seen most of Jame's movies. One of the last ones I watched was "Not fade away" And in the last scene, the look on Jame's face summed up the entire movie, who could do that? James Gandolfini could and did. He was great, thats it! His role as Tony is one that could trick you into believing that if you saw him on the street, you would actually think it was Tony and cross to the other side ... quickly. So, yea, I am just rambling. My heart hurts for the acting community and Jame's family and his friends. I cant believe he is gone.

I will end with this, because for me its the only way to end this blog entry. R.I.P. and thanks for all of your contributions to the entertainment world. And remember, you're only as good as your last envelope!

Core 'Ngrato with Dominic Chianese (Uncle Junior Soprano)

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