First of all,welcome aboard, or "privetstyuyem vas na bortu samoleta," as they say in Russia, to all our readers in that country which has just surpassed Germany as the country outside the good old USA with the most pageviews of Ye Olde Blog, and "spasiba," or thank you, for your support!
Oooooookay, now it's time to get serious and say a few words about James Gandolfini, an actor who played many memorable characters, but none more memorable than Tony Soprano, the patriarch of the family that did for TV what the Corleones did for the movies, THE SOPRANOS. Tony wasn't a stereotypical mob boss, James brought a lot of love and humor to the character. My friend, DJ Todd Pettengill turned me on to THE SOPRANOS. Although I didn't have HBO, I got caught up with the videos and the reruns on A&E (This was back when A&E was really a classy operation and wasn't bogged down in
a million reality shows.), and although I didn't want to love it, I did. James had that kind of effect on everyone who basked in the glow of his presence, even from afar. When Mickey Mouse marked his 75th birthday ten years ago, Disney asked seventy-five celebrities to paint a sculpture of The Mick the way each of them saw him. Leave it to James "Tony Soprano" Gandolfini to turn Mickey, the quintessential Mr. Nice Mouse, into a GoodFella, but all his long-time fans, myself included, had a sense of humor about it.
Despite the inevitable claims of stereotyping from Italo-American groups, James was embraced in the Old Country, and, irony of ironies, that's where he gave the farewell performance nobody expected and everybody dreaded.
James Gandolfini left the world too soon and too abruptly, mirroring the series that made his most beloved character part of the national psyche, which ended all too abruptly when Tony ate at one of his favorite places and the jukebox played Journey's "Don't Stop Believing." The song ended in mid-lyric and the screen went black.
James was a guy who never stopped believing in his ability to make a character his own and make us care about that character. If you're trying to find somebody who WASN'T touched by Jim's ouevre, FUHGEDDABOUDIT!
Arrividerci, Tony, e grazie for the memories.