Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Soprano Country

September 3, 2008
About this time a year ago I let it be known I was leaving Lower Alabama for New Jersey. I wanted to be close to Manhattan and closer to my daughter and her two sons who live in Kingston, NY.

Hoboken, I told them. It was the place I had chosen.

My stepdaughter, an artist who lives in the wilds near Grants, New Mexico, responded, "Really? Hoboken? Soprano country!"

Not subscribing to HBO I had missed the award-winning series, but to be au courant I rented the first episode at one point and watched it from my treadmill. I was impressed, but it wasn't my thing. That was the only episode I had seen.

That was then. Now I watch re-runs on A & E every day at 3 P.M. Sometimes I catch an episode on the weekend. For a while it was hit-and-miss (not hit or miss, but and), because I was catching episodes out of sequence. I stayed confused. "They're gonna whack this one," and "Hey hadn't they killed him by this time?"

I look for telltale locales, but I can't say that much if any of it was shot in Hoboken. I recognize all that stuff in Weehawken at the sign-on, when Tony is chewing that cigar as he comes out of the tunnel and over the bridges. He drives through neighborhoods that could be Newark or Jersey City, but definitely are not Hoboken. Pizza-Land and Satriale's Meat--not Hoboken. Then he wheels down into some upscale neighborhood that could be anywhere, U.S.A., into an Italian mansion that it wouldn't take a mob boss to love. Beautiful landscaping. This could be in one of the many communities within commuting distance of New York. My readers probably know where it was filmed. Surely not Summit or Montclair. Tony and Carmella and family would not be welcome there.

But in a way Hoboken is Soprano country. There is a realtor with that last name, who probably gets teased a lot, but it's her name. Nobody denies that there was a presence of the Cosa Nostra when there was a waterfront here and crime was a big factor in this part of New Jersey. My friend Slezak says they were all nice guys. (Nice to him.) Sinatra once sent "some guys from Hoboken" to break Buddy Rich's kneecaps when he was having difficulty with the drummer. And Jimmy Roselli was in-and-out with the boys most of his life.

I just watched today's episode of The Sopranos. It's a superbly crafted drama, and whenever it's family and Dr. Melfi, I am totally hooked. Today A.J. (Tony Jr.) was expelled from school and Tony wanted to enroll him in a military academy. The former mob boss' son had to be extinguished, so there was a funeral scene and lots of grief and a couple of arrests at the graveside. I seem to recognize that cemetery, just off the turnpike. Dr. Melfi tries to get Tony to talk about what he wants for his children. His daughter gets drunk at the post-funeral and starts throwing bread bits at Uncle Junior, who is singing sentimental Italian songs (rather well, I thought). It's the absolute highest level of soap opera, beautifully photographed and expensively produced, with some of the most convincing ensemble acting I have ever seen.

And last week one of those actors was filming a movie right in front of my house on Hudson Street! Exciting country, Soprano country.


Steve said...

Speaking of The Sopranos, Sarah Palin kind of reminds me of Dr. Melfi. Watching tonight, I kept expecting to see a double blink, followed by "Anthony,...."

Anonymous said...

The Sopranos is a film, a movie, like The Godfather or Good Fellows, made to entertain, to keep you on the edge of your seat, lots of action...a box office smash. $$$$$$.

WHY? Cause people like to see that. In real life sure some of thoes things happened, but for a reason. You showed them respect and they gave it back with job security, good pay, and we all retired well off. As for them they all paid a high price, in jail some were assassinated. They are all gone now ...that was many years ago... but they were all nice guys...REALLY.

Mary Lois said...

I'm not crazy about movies about the mob, but now that I think about it I've probably seen them all. It's a different world, certainly exotic if you were raised in south Alabama.

I like what Debbie Reynolds said about working in Las Vegas, "Sure the mob was there. But it wasn't dangerous for entertainers. Nobody got killed who wasn't supposed to."

Anonymous said...

Locations: The beginning of the series is out of whack. He's supposed to be driving from Manhattan to Verona, NJ. They chose landmarks, not necessarily in the order one would travel to actually get to Verona, but fun anyway. When our friends came in from Australia we had to visit the huge statue of Paul Bunyan? I think it's in Jersey City. My husband knows for sure.
PizzaLand, Bada Bing on Rt. 17 Hasbrouck Hgts or Lodi, NJ. Real name is Satin Doll.
The four of us were standing outside, they were taking photos. A man came out & asked what we were doing. That Aussie accent gets 'em every time! Ended up inside. She got more free junk to take back to family & friends. He was quite a pleasant guy.
PizzaLand: Belleville Pike, the street that separates North Arlington, Bergen County from Kearny, Hudson County.
Satriale's: Kearny Avenue. Aussie's walked right in. It really was a Pork store. This is quite a few years ago. Of course, she walked outta there with more junk to take home.
Most of it was filmed in Kearny, because they actually wanted Newark but the rumor is........Newark wanted a payoff....just a rumor.....nothing to substansiate. However, Kearny looks enough like Newark and Kearny welcomed them with open arms.

Mary Lois said...

Downtown Chick, I was sure somebody would know!

Interesting. Never been to Kearny. Not much reason to go there now that I've seen Newark.

For you readers who don't know New Jersey, Hoboken looks nothin' like this.

Thanks for the info. Anybody else know anything?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Hoboken isn't really the Sopranos country. The goons on that show all live in Essex County, the burbs of Newark.

As for Slezak saying they were "nice guys," well, no. Just because someone is polite to you, doesn't mean they are nice people.