The show’s over, but Tony So­prano-themed tours of New Jer­sey live on, writes Tanya Gold

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel -

CAN any­one name Tony So­prano’s horse? says Marc Baron, our tour guide, stand­ing in the aisle of a leak­ing coach at the start of the So­pra­nos Bus Tour of New Jer­sey. The an­swer, of course, is Pie-O-My and be­cause we are all ad­dicts of the television se­ries TheSo­pra­nos we know the name and shout it out.

The So­pra­nos are New Jer­sey gang­sters with sub­ur­ban is­sues. The show fin­ished its US run re­cently and the ad­ven­tures of Tony So­prano, an obese but strangely sexy Mafia boss, are sleep­ing with the fishes. But the fans take longer to die.

I am on the Bada Bing Bus (the Bada Bing is Tony’s lap-danc­ing club) with a damp as­sort­ment of English, Dutch and Aus­tralian coach-pota­toes. None of us has seen the last episode yet, but al­ready we are in mourn­ing for Tony and co. It is rain­ing great pasta pots.

Be­fore we head off to the In­ter­na­tional House of Pan­cakes, Joseph Gan­nascoli, who played a gay mob­ster called Vito, ap­pears on the coach. Gan­nascoli has writ­ten A Meal to Die For , a novel about a chef who cooks for the mob. He wrote it to cel­e­brate los­ing 73kg of fat af­ter stom­ach surgery. ‘‘ Hello, my friends,’’ he says, and pro­duces copies of his book. So we pay him $US25 ($31) for this cook­book novel; he smiles un­easily and leaves. ‘‘ OK,’’ says Marc (OK is his favourite word), ‘‘ we are now go­ing to play the cred­its for the first episode.’’

The cred­its roll on the bus’s TV and we clap like id­iots as we head for New Jer­sey, all fly­overs, dystopian bridges and waste. ‘‘ Jer­sey is the No. 1 pro­ducer of chem­i­cals in Amer­ica,’’ says Marc, ‘‘ and it is also the diner cap­i­tal of the world. Why are New York­ers de­pressed all the time?’’ We shake our heads. ‘‘ Be­cause the light at the end of the tun­nel is New Jer­sey.’’

We draw up out­side a build­ing. We can­not see any­thing through the rain, but Marc tells us it fea­tured in the show’s cred­its scene. ‘‘ Nor­mally there is the most amaz­ing view of Man­hat­tan from here,’’ says Marc. But not to­day. The next stop is the White Manna diner. Again we can see noth­ing. ‘‘ Elvis Pres­ley ate here once,’’ says Marc. ‘‘ He had a cheese­burger and his gui­tar was stolen from his car.’’ It is also the place where Tony’s wife Carmela told her son A. J. to act like a good Catholic for 25 f---ing min­utes. Is that too much to ask?

‘‘ OK,’’ says Marc. ‘‘ No one here knows what hap­pens at the end of The So­pra­nos , right? So let’s dis­cuss some pos­si­ble end­ings. How about Tony dies?’’ A wo­man at the back screams. Women love Tony So­prano. He is a spaghetti-suck­ing Mr Rochester, all huge knuck­les and en­nui. ‘‘ Tony is su­per hot,’’ says Kim from Iowa, who is sit­ting next to me. ‘‘ You just want to make him love you.’’ We go on a Tonythemed reverie, stopped only by Marc say­ing, ‘‘ OK. How about Tony goes to jail?’’ This has a few tak­ers. ‘‘ Maybe . . .’’ they mut­ter.

Or, con­tin­ues Marc, how about he en­ters wit­ness pro­tec­tion like Henry Hill in Good­Fel­las ?

We ar­gue while Marc en­ter­tains us with So­pra­nos trivia. If you an­swer cor­rectly, he throws a packet of pasta at you. Why is the gang­ster Big Pussy called Big Pussy? (Be­cause Tony’s No. 3 was the best cat bur­glar in Jer­sey.) What an­i­mal did Tony’s nephew Christo­pher kill? (He sat on his girl­friend Adri­ana’s dog.) ‘‘ OK,’’ says Marc. ‘‘ We are com­ing up to the Muf­fler Man. Get ready.’’ We turn and see a gi­ant fi­bre­glass red­neck. Then we see the Pu­laski sky­way ramp. Next we ad­mire a misty san­i­ta­tion build­ing called Bar­rone In­ter­na­tional Waste Man­age­ment. Then . . . oh joy. Big Pussy’s back yard: a grave­yard called the Holy Name Mau­soleum. Next are the bat­ting cages A. J. and Big Pussy have a talk in, the driv­ing range where Tony takes his first Prozac pill.

As we head to the Pork Store — a meat mar­ket and cof­fee bar where the So­pra­nos crew dis­cuss mob busi­ness — our bus gets trapped on a wa­ter­logged road. To dis­tract us, Marc puts on episode one and prom­ises us all a re­fund. ‘‘ Look how skinny Tony was at the be­gin­ning of the show,’’ he says. ‘‘ Is ev­ery­one OK?’’

And so we sit, watch­ing the pilot episode of The So­pra­nos in in­dus­trial New Jer­sey, as the rain rises to the door. The Spec­ta­tor


Last out­ing: Tony Sirico, left, and James Gan­dolfini in a scene from


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.