Friday, June 8, 2007
This Sunday marks the end of the Sopranos run as the best show on television. Like a lot of folks, I do not have HBO, and started getting into the show thanks to A&E, which is airing earlier seasons for us losers who don't feel compelled to be on the cutting edge of what's hot. The more I think about it, being "current" isn't a great place to be anymore. As I flipped stations last night, I wondered why the heck people gave a crap if Paris was in jail or not, do you really care? I don't. And the phrase, house arrest, I mean mansion arrest - became trite before i finished the news pundit sector of the tv dial. That corny joke was on every station. Oh so clever... you all came up with same phrase. Honestly it was more pathetic than it was funny. But i digress, back to Tony Soprano, or T as Christopher calls him and his poor tortured family. I wondered if Meadow would end up just like Carmin, and how the show often reminds me of watching a car wreck in slow motion. Yes - it is really hard not to watch, something inside begs to not look away. But something inside also wishes that you had the strength to look away. The show has given me bizarre dreams and made me feel queasy in the same way the Deerhunter made me feel sick to my stomach, but I still watch the show and yeah - I enjoy it too. My question is this. Am I paying some kind of hidden price for somehow enjoying this poor family blow up in every aspect of what is good and decent and honest and sweet. Whenever there is a tender moment, you can almost guarantee that someone is gonna get whacked. The more tender the moment - the more violent the death will be.
Anyway - when i was a kid, I had the same fascination with bizarre criminal activity. Growing up in Wisconsin, we had a lot of Hall of Famers in the crime world. Ed Gein - who was the real life inspiration for Hitchcock's Psycho with Tony Perkins, to Jeffrey Dalmer who lived a few blocks away from where my Aunt Carol did social work. And I remember eating in a restaurant in Little Bohemia Wisconsin that was the site of a big gun battle between the police and John Dillinger. The bullet holes in the glass were preserved by other panes of glass that protected the historical event. I am not sure what it is about criminal activity - but for some reason, we are fascinated by it. I just wonder... is there a price attached to this fascination. Part of me says - yes. You lose innocence.
But, enough of that - I thought it was somehow relevant to this old story of Johnny Stompanato and Lana Turner and Cheryl Crane. It is kind of like an inverted Tony Soprano story - where it is real life people, one a major Hollywood star - who experience a terrible tragedy where the mob guy gets knifed by little girl trying to protect her mom. The mom, Lana Turner then goes on to make a movie that is lot like the tragedy in her life... and in another twist of irony - The film is called Imitation of Life. Now if you've never seen - check it out, its a great movie. But back then, the consequences of all this tragic behavior was part of the story. You know - I do not see that same sentiment today.