It’s not often we take the time to remark on the passing of actors, musicians and other artists, but the unexpected death this week of James Gandolfini gives pause. It’s not just that he was a terrific actor, though he was certainly that. His depiction of the tortured mobster Tony Soprano offered a six-season master class in acting. He could convey an emotion – often enough, a threatening one – with the twitch of a finger. Fans of “The Sopranos” had many reasons to like this show, but Gandolfini’s performance was surely one of the main ones.
Gandolfini was also only 51 years old. Sadly, it’s not uncommon for people of Gandolfini’s age, especially men, to suffer his fate. We don’t know if the cause was his weight, his diet, his family history or some other cause or combination of causes. But it pays to pay attention to them all.
Ed Koch must be rolling over in his grave at the irony that he went to such great lengths to make preparations for his death, and he ended up with a typo on his tombstone. Koch, born Dec. 12, 1924, rests (probably fitfully) under a tombstone listing the year as 1942.
The error was carved in stone despite his efforts four years before his death in February. Koch commissioned the tombstone, offering precise instructions for the design and the inscriptions. He even personally inspected the tombstone when it was completed in 2009. The only thing Hizzoner left to be engraved after his burial: the dates of his birth and death. Turns out he needed to be there for the final inspection.
Speaking of those who cannot rest in peace, federal agents revived – yes, once again – the hunt for the remains of Jimmy Hoffa. This time, to a field in Bloomfield County near Detroit, where a reputed Mafia captain says the Teamsters boss’s body was buried. The feds spent a few days digging up the field in Oakland Township, and once again, Hoffa’s remains were not found.
So add Oakland Township to the list of purported resting places where the labor boss has not been found. Various mobsters and alleged witnesses have said he was buried under the old Giants football stadium in New Jersey, in the General Motors headquarters building, beneath an underground pool in northern Michigan, under the floorboards of a house in Detroit, at a horse farm in Bloomfield County and under a shed in the Detroit suburb of Roseville.
Others have claimed that he is resting in pieces, dumped in either Lake Superior, a Florida swamp or a car that was crushed and sold for scrap.
The Pentagon says it will scrap thousands of the massive trucks known as MRAPs in Afghanistan because it can’t find a use for them.
We have a suggestion … send a few of them to Western New York. The high-riding, all-wheel-drive vehicles have big, lugged tires and are heavy enough to stay on the road in high winds. Once they get here, when winter comes we can slap snowplow blades on them and they’ll be perfect for keeping the Thruway and Route 5 open for commuters.