June 13, 2007
FIRST THE FOOD
On Sunday we rushed home to New York City and I cooked penne. I grilled 10 hot and sweet sausages, cut them into bite-sized morsels and dropped them into a steaming hot pan filled with tomato sauce. The sauce was a combination of tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes and cherry tomatoes cut in half. Then I tossed a pound of cooked penne into the sauce, turned up the heat, and covered the penne with many, many handfuls of grated parmesan cheese. I covered it all with a ton of shredded mozzarella. Then I placed the whole bubbling pan of pasta in the oven for five minutes until the mozzarella was melted.
I opened a very expensive (for me) bottle of red wine. My wife, the beautiful Judy Licht, took pictures of all of us eating. It was a very special night.
It was the end of a family tradition. Pasta and "The Sopranos." My daughter Jessie was 13 when the show started. My son JT was 10. For the first few years the kids weren't interested in the show. In the last four years they've grown to love it.
Jessie, a student at Penn, drives in from Philadelphia to see it. As I said, it's part of a special, warm, loving family night. We saw the Sopranos as sort of a dysfunctional family whom we visited and had dinner with every Sunday night. I'm really going to miss it.
THEN THE END
As for the last show, "The Sopranos" ending:
You hated it, right?
I was stunned.
For a second I thought, as millions of others thought, that we had lost our picture. Then, an eternity later, in the blackness the credits started to roll in silence. I thought of the Peggy Lee song, "Is That All There Is?"
I was wrong.
With every passing moment I'm starting to believe that that son-of-a-bitch David Chase, the show's creator, is a genius.
He was playing with us. With every scene we thought Tony or a member of his family was going to be blown away. We should have known that Chase could never kill Tony – he loves him.
That's why the last show was brilliant.
Being Italian, David Chase got his revenge on the show's detractors.
In one scene Tony's daughter Meadow tells him she wants to be a civil rights lawyer. Why? Because she saw how the police took him away in handcuffs from his home so many times just because he was Italian. Not because he was a killer a liar and a thief?
Take that, said David Chase to all those Italians who ridiculously said that "The Sopranos" 'stereotyped' Italian-Americans as criminals. Or 'glorified' the Mafia lifestyle. Ask these same Italian-Americans what their favorite movie is and they often answer The Godfather.
That last scene of the series, in a diner, was a classic. It sneaked up on us.
Tony slipped into a booth at a restaurant in Bloomfield, New Jersey – a town that, years ago, refused to give permission to have "The Sopranos" shoot some exterior scenes for fear that someone seeing it would lose their impression of Bloomfield as a typical American town.
In the booth Tony stared at the songs in the jukebox. There was a close-up of the title "I Did It My Way" – another subliminal message to the audience by David Chase.
In the restaurant there were a series of characters that looked like they were there to whack Tony.
But then, in the end, Tony looked up, the screen went black and the show was history.
Then came the speculation.
A number of Catholic bloggers noted that as the food arrived, each member of the family took an onion ring and popped it into their mouths. "They were taking Communion," wrote the bloggers. Soon it was an Internet rumor and it was reported on the radio. It was an "empty communion," said one person, because there was a hole in the center of the onion ring.
Then at 5 p.m. I received e-mail from someone in my office.
Someone had watched the last scene over and over and over.
Here's what they had to report.
"Wasn't sure if you guys picked up on this, but the guy at the bar was Nikki Leotardo. The same actor played him in the first part of season 6 during a brief sit-down concerning the future of Vito. He is the nephew of Phil (who was whacked in this show).
"Also, the trucker was the brother of the guy who was robbed by Christopher in Season 2. The trucker had to identify his brother's body.
"The last crew to walk in was the one who tried to kill Tony and only clipped him in the ear in Season 2."
So there were three people in the restaurant who had reason to kill Tony, and then it just ends. It's the situation Tony has created for himself. At any moment, it could be family or an enemy walking in. The hard cut to black was the end of Tony. In the beginning of the season, when he was talking to Bobby about getting whacked, he said, "They say you never hear it coming, and then it all goes black." And that's exactly what happened. But who did it?
I haven't had time to contemplate who did it. I am consumed with the question, "What kind of pasta am I going to cook next Sunday night? And what am I going to watch on television for the rest of my life now that the best show in history is off the air?"
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