“Doing It for La Familia”

If things didn’t end badly, they probably wouldn’t end.

You could say this about a number of different subjects: young love, this country’s tumultuous love affair with carbohydrates, the band Guns-n-Roses, and every Chicago Cubs baseball season since 1908.

Sometimes, the best way to let something go is if it ends in a fiery train-wreck that is more gruesome than the Cubs’ relief pitching (and/or clutch hitting), or even Axl Rose himself (post-‘Appetite for Destruction’).

Other times, the end is disappointing, or makes you feel things about yourself that you didn’t think were there.  Most of the time it’s rage, and the unsettling fact that you are raging about something stupid, like how bad the last episode of Seinfeld was, or how fireworks finales are never really that impressive.

In today’s world, nothing can lift your spirits or let you down in a matter of moments like a good old-fashioned television show.

The Sopranos, HBO’s mega-hit is coming to a close this weekend, and if you can hear a pin drop in Ocean City this Sunday, it’s because every person that ever owned a gold necklace, watched ‘Goodfellas’, or consumed Italian cuisine at any point in their lives will be watching this finale, making it the most anticipated close to a series since “Seinfeld.”

I watched this show in the first season, because as an Italian, I was interested to see if someone could actually make a show about La Cosa Nostra and Italians in general without making the whole thing a one-dimensional and rather overdone stereotype.

After the initial year, I liked it a great deal.  Unfortunately, so did the rest of the country, especially young males my age that lived on the East Coast.  “The Sopranos” suddenly made being from New Jersey mildly hardcore (so I guess that’s medium core) and somewhat meaningful, in a way that Bon Jovi never could.

Ironically enough, it was a member of another New Jersey native’s band, (The Boss) that had given these new fans of “Italian culture” they’re new language. When I had to start listening to every male in their 20s start talking like Little Stevie from the E Street Band (Syl), I gave up on the show. It was too dangerous to like it, and all over the country, men were trying to pick up women by asking them questions, and then answering for them all in the same breath.  (For example the infamous, “How you doin’….. Good?”)

This is what I will miss about the Sopranos.  It is a perfect metaphor for how families and business are run in a very similar fashion, and when one thing is not going well, the other is not far behind.

Like I said, if things didn’t end badly, they wouldn’t end.

With your own families, problems are always the 800-lb gorilla in the room, and some families deal with the issue straight away, or others just hope that the thing eats something and stays out of the way.  Regardless of how different families are, one main theme kind of holds true and that is: “family is all you got in this life, so always support the family.”

That’s one thing that is a huge factor in Mafia culture. The untouchable sacred entity in that world is family, and regardless of what is done at night, the family comes first during the day.  It’s like that scene in “Casino” where Joe Pesci is digging ditches to bury bodies just hours before he comes home to make breakfast for his young son, Nicky. 

The interesting thing is that the family is supposed to always be there, never questioning, and always following.  Yet, in a way, struggling with the job that funds what the family does but keeps the family from being together for long spurts of time.

The job makes the money, but it is unspoken that the family comes first, so as Hamlet, would say it, “Aye, there’s the rub.”  It’s a stalemate of importance.  When one is put above the other, the lesser suffers inevitably one way or another.  It’s often an impossible thing to balance.

Many families that live full time in this region know how tough it is to make family and a relationship work in this area. Because of the ridiculous price of land, and with the seasonal nature of business, two people have to work to make it by. Most of the time, they work on opposite schedules, in order to be with the kids, run the family businesses, or find time to do things in the community.

I give a lot of credit to anyone that can make it work living in this environment for any amount of time.  This is an area where you go to get away from your everyday life, but when this is your everyday life, what does that do to the simple things that most people take for granted like sitting down together for dinner?

I think our obsession with the mob is a generational love affair.  Think of it, it holds all the main aspects that the old-fashioned way of thinking holds so true- family first, tradition second, follow the rules, earn respect, and don’t let the family down.

This new generation is currently obsessed with pirates.  We want to be rebellious and free, with power to boot but no anchor to tie us down.  (For tangible example, look at divorce rate, and single people in world)

We want to look out for number one regardless of who we have to stab in the back to get there. We want to spend now and save later (if ever), we are wild and free, and hoping that we can figure out a way to live forever, or at least long enough to make a fortune.

The Sopranos will end Sunday, and with it, the idea that mobsters can out run karma forever.  Then again, maybe they will, and the Soprano family that you have grown to love will sit down for a dinner, shower each other with gifts of gold jewelry and spend quality time answering their own questions.

Yet, I feel like that is about as likely as Axl Rose putting out “Chinese Democracy” at any point in the next five years, or the Cubs ever winning a World Series.

Then again, maybe the real happy ending in this world is just having a little time to spend with “da family.”

Even if it is just relaxing in front of the television.