TV Club

Week 8: Bury My Heart at Flatbush Bikini Waxing

Silvio and Tony


Loved your anecdote, Jeff, about John J. Gotti’s passionate identification with American Indians. (You will let us know when you start making these stories up, right?) The belief that American Indians share a history of oppression with Italian-Americans—and also, as Terry points out, a preference for loud clothing and imaginative nicknames—is inconsistent with Silvio Dante’s objection to Columbus Day revisionism, but I guess Terry would answer that

a) Silvio doesn’t necessarily agree with John J. Gotti;andb) Intellectual consistency is not a major wiseguy concern. If anything, The Sopranos teaches us that mobsters spend a great deal of mental energy trying not to notice the fairly stark inconsistencies between Mafia-family values and family-family values (a theme also central to the two great Godfather films and the disappointing third one whose very existence Terry chooses, Soprano-style, to deny).

Brian, your powers of observation remain exceptional. Not in a million years could I have told you that Tony’s blazer was camel hair, much less one designed by Ermenegildo Zegna. I failed to notice that the porch of Tony Soprano’s safe house bore a corrugated aluminum roof, and before I read your entry I had never even heard of the Tendersticks. (I’ve since learned they’re called the Tindersticks. Fess up: Did your college-age daughter feed you that one?) I’m going to guess that it was the gravitas befitting a network anchor and not inattention that kept you from mentioning the name of the shop where Phil Leotardo ordered the hit on Tony: “Flatbush Bikini Waxing.” A really excellent dirty joke, one that escaped my notice until Slate’s film critic, Dana Stevens, asked me whether I thought it was found or created art. There is, in fact, no such establishment. I am further going to guess that Terry’s been trying to work that gag into a Sopranos episode for two or three years. Am I warm?

Terry, I stand corrected that the cleverly named Rhiannon lent her elusive presence to a couple of episodes from last year, and I congratulate you on naming Adriana’s little dog Cosette. ( Buon’ anima to them both.) I swear I didn’t know when I wrote that it was my favorite Sopranos name that I was flattering its author.

Jeff, I don’t think you need fear that the death of the actual Mafia will kill off mob drama. If anything, it may cause the form to flourish. You will recall that John Wayne didn’t stride onto the silver screen until long after the West was won (or lost, if you’re John J. Gotti and you identify with Aboriginal Americans). All the best movies about World War II (Twelve O’Clock High, Mister Roberts, Saving Private Ryan) postdate the event itself, in the latter case by a half-century, and The Lives of Othersis a very good movie about the Cold War that would have been impossible to film on location while the Cold War was still raging. The mob narrative is a great American form, and it’s here to stay. Sadly, The Sopranos is not, and it’s breaking my heart. See you next week for the post-mortem.