James Gandolfini’s Search for Serenity

James Gandolfini, AKA Tony Soprano, died after eating and drinking his way through a Roman dinner the night he died. It is reported he ate two orders of fried prawns, a large portion of foie gras and more while drinking four shots of rum, two pina coladas and two beers. This is a meal that is consumed by someone set on drowning demons in an effort to gain transient serenity. I know this because I have been there.
The 1970’s, as shown in “Mad Men,” was a time of constant and conspicuous consumption of liquor. I was in the sports business at that time, and it was like Madison Avenue in its alcoholic behavior. Conspicuous consumption was everywhere, and the hot spots were drinking establishments like Toots Shor’s. I was lucky.
At a 1976 dinner party in my neighborhood, I encountered a party full of sober people. This group was made up of people who had quit drinking, a new phenomena of the time. In fact, many had been to rehabilitation at St. Mary’s. This was a time when such information was a stigma, now people put that data on their resumes! I was acting normally, that is, drinking, I noticed however, that the sober people were speaking better, were funnier and were having more fun. Wasn’t Scotch supposed to bring that on? No, it was not drinking that brought it on.This revelation worked on me for several weeks and I declared to some friends in a Sixth Avenue bar in NYC, that I wasn’t drinking anymore.  That was it. I haven’t had any alcohol since that Fall of 1976.  As I said, I was lucky to have friends that were sober.
These friends and I spoke about sobriety, that I quickly discovered was vastly superior to drunkeness. They taught me the Serenity Prayer, which is part of my life. The prayer says, “God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference.” With this in hand, or head, I moved forward and was taught the First Step of AA, “I am powerless over Alcohol and my life has become unmanageable.” Powerless? Unmanageable? This gets us back to James Gandolfini.
How do you convince Tony Soprano that he was powerless and life was unmanageable? He was king, all powerful even over decisions of life and death for those around him. James Gandolfini the actor was paid $1,000,000 to make a single Sopranos episode. As an actor in film, he was paid multiple millions to play even cameo roles. “Powerlessness and unmanageabilty” was not something he could relate to.
It seems that Gandofini had attended AA meetings in New York City. People said it did not appear that he was engaged, but he was there. He was so close to the serenity he sought, but will never achieve. As I said, I was lucky to have friends come along at just the right time. James Gandolfini may have been very close to embracing his powerlessness over alcohol, we will never know. This is a sad tale.

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