Huge Cement Shoes to Fill
Although celebrity deaths don't usually occupy my consciousness, James Gandolfini's demise is slightly different . . . because not only is he the celebrity representative of my home state (along with Frank and Bruce) but he is also one of the few celebrities that I have met in my life: seven years ago, after a Rutgers football game, Gandolfini went to McCormick's Irish Pub (with the possible intent to score some controlled substances, as he said my friend and colleague Kevin: "I hear this is the most drug infested bar in New Brunswick," but Kevin disappointed him by replying: "I guess not tonight") and then Gandolfini signed up to play pool (after he left, the bartender took the sheet down in order to preserve his autograph) and I was on the table and taking all challengers, so I got to play some pool with Tony Soprano; he was very friendly, but also very wasted . . . so wasted that his handlers had to take him home, and the main point of this rambling tribute is that I was very impressed by Gandolfini's size . . . he wasn't Hollywood fat (like Jack Black or Seth Rogen) he was actually fat . . . big and looming and corpulent, and I appreciate that kind of honesty in art.