Edie Falco’s Greatest Act

I don’t watch a ton of TV, but I loved the mob drama The Sopranos, now celebrating the 20th anniversary of its completion on HBO. Part of it has to do with the fact that many of the mob scenes were filmed in my home town of Kearny, New Jersey. Tony’s family scenes were in the more upscale suburb of North Caldwell. Satriale’s Pork Store, the site of many mob meetings and the early-in-the-series murder of Emil Kolar — whose name Christopher pronounces as “Email” — is right next to my grandmother’s house on Kearny Avenue. When the camera angle was right, I could see her house, three identical flats one on top of the other, and St. Cecelia’s Church up the street and the firehouse right next door. The Sopranos feels to this day like my home-town drama, and it’s the biggest thing Kearny ever had going for it.


This complex moral drama had a host of powerhouse actors, including James Gandolfini as Tony, Lorraine Bracco as Dr. Melfi, and Edie Falco as Tony’s wife Carmela. According to Lizzie Feidelson, writing for the New Yorker, Edie Falco takes the prize.

Falco’s performance as Carmela Soprano, the sharp, bejewelled wife of the mobster Tony Soprano, had a wholeness and an independence to it; it was never defined by Gandolfini and her other scene partners, however excellent they were. Especially when crying, Falco was virtuosic. I recently rewatched “The Sopranos”—as many fans were inspired to do as the show marked its twentieth anniversary, this January—and I was struck again by Falco’s ability to make herself, through fleeting expressions of sentimental piety or grief, the linchpin of the show’s explorations of moral frailty.”

I first saw Edie Falco in the 1999 Indie film Judy Berlin. The Sopranos began on HBO that same year, January 1999, and ended in June of 2007. Falco’s subsequent major role as Nurse Jackie on Showtime ran from June of 2009 until June of 2015.  Since then she’s been on Broadway, and won another Emmy nomination for her role in Law and Order: True Crime. This is a hard working actress.

I thought all of the acting in The Sopranos was incredible, and so did the people who give out things like Emmy, Golden Globe, and SAG awards. But I have to agree: Edie Falco is brilliant. Her best work was in The Sopranos, and if you don’t yet know Carmela Soprano, you should.

My Mapache is Back

Enough snow has melted so that my mapache is back hunting for grubs. I got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, and my motion sensitive lights were going on and off and illuminating the yard.

Here are the footprints. There’s still enough snow cover so that the raccoon didn’t get at my sod, but the battle is clearly once again joined.

Where is my Panamanian machete-wielding gardener when I need him? Trapper Jon is being too deferential by half.

Raccoons: One Week + 2

I was committed to giving you a break from my obsession with the raccoon. Then, when I came down yesterday morning, the bloody thing had not only ripped up the lawn again but triggered the trap you see in the right side of the pic without getting caught inside.

This is, for sure, what my daughter-in-law Amy would call a first-world problem. I will survive the battle with the raccoon, although hopefully it will not survive the battle with me. But I’ve told Trapper Jon my deadline is the return from Panama. I expect the creature to be dealt with by then. Plan B, anyone?

Raccoons: One Week + 1

Sara and Ben will be checking the trap while I’m away, and I’ll update you if and when we get something. I can’t wait for Sara, especially, to meet Trapper Jon. Sara is a data-driven logistics person, and Trapper Jon thinks like a raccoon. Use your imagination.

There is one bit of good news: no sod has been rolled up by the raccoon since the traps were placed. Trapper Jon said that sometimes a raccoon smells other animals caught in the trap and is repelled by the danger. The raccoon still has to go because I can’t have traps in the yard indefinitely, but at least no damage is being done right now.

Raccoons: A Full Week In

Nothing yet. I’m appealing to Trapper Jon’s ego, that he’s smarter than the raccoon. Awaiting the night vision cameras. Who knows what lurks in my yard at night. Regardless of what might be lurking, nobody is going anywhere near those traps.

Raccoons Day 5

I emailed Trapper Jon to say we’re not making any progress, and I got a decent response. He’s going to install a camera to see if we can catch the raccoon on video and see what’s going on.

The drama escalates.

Raccoons Day 4

Nope. But something is definitely eating the marshmallows that Trapper Jon put out to lure the raccoons into the trap. Could be anything that traverses my yard at night, but in any case, something is enjoying the treat but going nowhere near the trap.

The Stuff in Grandma’s Attic, Writ Large

Those of us who’ve reached a certain age and gone through de-cluttering know how hard it is. Some of the stuff we’ve accumulated over the years is objectively valuable — which isn’t the same as saying that family and friends want it handed down. Some is sentimentally valuable — ditto on whether anyone wants it. Some is intrinsically meaningful, and just not something that should be put in the donations bin, although it’s hard to know what to do with it — like the flag that was on Jerry’s coffin, still folded as it was the day I took it home from the cemetery.

Now take that drama of what to do with a lifetime of acquisitions and write it large, as in the historical record of a city. I retain an interest in my former hometown of Rochester NY, and get an online publication called The Beacon. The Beacon has an article about the Rochester Historical Society, which can no longer afford to maintain its extensive collection and is struggling over what to do. However many things you might be juggling, the Rochester Historical Society has 200,000 — some of which require climate controlled storage.

Back in the heyday of Eastman Kodak, Xerox, French’s Mustard, The May Company, Bausch & Lomb, Rochester was a wealthy city and someone might have stepped up to finance the collection. But that’s not going to happen now, nor are the city or state likely to weigh in.

Getting rid of my own stuff was hard enough, and I’m glad this isn’t my problem.


Raccoons Day 3

Nope, nothing yet. Trapper Jon scattered small marshmallows around the two traps, and it actually looks as if the raccoon might have eaten the marshmallows and foregone the trap. Now that’s frustrating. Smart little devils notwithstanding, I’m looking for a clean takeout here. That’s the only acceptable outcome.

Raccoon News Day 2

Nope. Nothing yet. I’m not too discouraged, as the raccoon wasn’t coming around every night, only every three or four nights. But I’m really, really wanting to go out in the early morning and see that trap door sprung.