Got Yourself a Gun?
A couple weeks ago, I made my way across the upper level of the George Washington Bridge. The Manhattan skyline was off to my left as I headed southwest toward the New Jersey turnpike.
I was thinking about how cool it would be to catch a couple of Yankee games sitting behind home plate, courtesy of my younger brother and Yankees All-Star first basemen Jason Giambi. (Giambi and my little brother go back a few years to the days when JG was hitting bombs for the Oakland A's).
The only semi-affordable hotel room my brother could find was at a Comfort Inn in Jersey, not too far from that huge Vince Lombardi rest area at the beginning of the turnpike.
So as I was coming across the GW and heading into Soprano country, I found myself singing the hit HBO series theme song: "Woke up this morning. Got myself a gun."
My little brother had flown into the Big Apple the day before. I had driven up from Cape Cod to meet him so we could see the Red Sox mix it up with the Bronx bombers.
From where we were sitting, about 20 rows behind home plate in the house that Ruth built, I started to think about the Sopranos again. I love that show. Not as much as baseball, but...
Does America's infatuation with the Sopranos say something about us as a people?
Think about it. Similar values. Everyone on the Sopranos talks about the importance of La Famiglia. And when we're angry as a nation, we like to "shock and awe" our enemies with our terrible fury.
Doesn't it seem like Donald Rumsfeld is on the verge of going "Paulie" at one of those ridiculous stonewalling sessions known as "Pentagon press briefings"?
Reporter: Isn't it true you misled the nation into war and made a number of significant miscalculations in your strategy?
Rummy: Ho! Do you know how disrespectful that is to question your Uncle Sam like that? Why I oughtta. Fuggeddaboutit. Next question. And this one better be a good one.
They have a book out on the philosophical issues raised by the Sopranos. You can get it any of the big box bookstores with the "hip" cafes inside -- 10 to 30 percent off the cover price.
Go buy it. We don't care if local bookstore owners go belly up. Only the strong survive, right Tony?
And then there's Tony's time on the psychiatrist couch. No disrespect to the mental health profession, but how many self-help books and seminars does a culture need?
What about Tony's cousin, Christopher? He represents our cockiness and arrogance. You know, that kind of in-your-face, gorilla dunk patriotism. Of course, we're all suspicious of "big government" and foreigners; not to mention our fetish with literally "sticking to our guns," no matter the cost. We don't back down. Ever. So what if we've got a Machiavellian thirst for power, which may explain why we're not bothered by the world's opinion of American imperialism? Some will say we are not power-hungry, but have you read the vision statement of our U.S. Space Command and its aim for "full spectrum dominance"?
Like any self-respecting wiseguy, we don't mind loan sharks. We allow credit card corporations to commit usury on unsuspecting financial nitwits, and it doesn't bother us much when these folks' financial legs are broken for not being able to shoulder the crush of outlandish interest rates.
How about the family priest in the show? He gets treated just like we treat other religious leaders -- we listen and then throw away any moral exhortation offered that doesn't suit our desires. Abortion is unholy, but so what if the Pope says the war in Iraq is unjust? The old man is just a figurehead. Everyone knows that.
Tony's wife, Carmella, represents the caring, beautiful side of America. Loving and supportive. We get incensed at marital infidelity (i.e. Clinton-Lewinsky) but we look the other way when it comes time for the evil that men do. And who knows what that is (wink, wink).
Witness the reaction to the horrifying pictures of Iraqi prisoner abuse. Like Carmella, we like to drive the fancy cars and have socials with our friends -- but don't show us the dirty stuff that makes it all possible.
What about the Soprano kids? The daughter is a liberal under the spell of "multucultural" professors, no doubt. The son is a rebellious slacker. Both are acutely aware of their parents' hypocrisy.
Leaving Yankee stadium on a Sunday afternoon, I walked by a food stand (and we love lots of food). It was called La Famiglia. I was back on Cape Cod in time to catch the newest episode of the Sopranos. Got yourself a gun?
Sean Gonsalves writes for Cape Cod Times.