Category Archives: Entertainment

Behind the Scenes of WeCrashed

We walked through the bowels of a large warehouse shrouded in darkness. I rounded a corner and shoved open a heavy door with no idea what was on the other side.

Suddenly, we were in the world headquarters of WeWork.

The famous startup led by Adam Neumann seemed to take over the world before it crashed just as quickly. And now, it had become a TV miniseries called WeCrashed.

At Goldman Sachs headquarters
Close-up

I had the joy of being a background actor (also known as an extra) on episode 7 of this fascinating show! I played a Goldman Sachs investment banker, hard at work on winning WeWork’s business for its IPO.

Light poured in from above on the set of WeWork’s headquarters, which nailed the company’s funky aesthetic. Concrete columns framed long sofas in bright colors.

I even got to see the famous WeWork gong! Unfortunately, I was not allowed to ring it.

We filmed a scene where a senior Goldman banker tried to impress Neumann by quoting Bob Marley. I had to look like the serious banker, but it was all I could do not to burst out laughing.

Then, Jared Leto made his entrance.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to be him; everyone staring at you, knowing who you are, without you knowing anything about them. I gushed to my fellow extras about what a great actor Leto is, and he nodded to us politely as he passed.

What came next is the best acting I’ve ever seen in person.

Leto was rejecting a proposal from a venerable Wall Street bank, and went through his scene again and again. He delivered the same lines with every possible combination of intonation and inflection, one right after the other, until he determined which was right.

Far away, I quietly remarked to one of the other extras that Leto’s accent sounded a bit heavy. Just minutes later, I noticed he had corrected it.

In between takes, he went into a small room with an assistant to prepare for his next scene. I felt a little sorry for him…we could laugh, joke, and make new friends when we weren’t busy, but he could not.

The crew’s attention to detail amazed me.

At one point, they gave us iPads as props. On the screen was a copy of WeWork’s actual S-1.

In other scenes, we had to use our imagination.

At the Goldman offices watching Neumann announce the IPO, we were actually looking at a green screen. The TV broadcast was added later in post-production.

Filming WeCrashed was a wonderful time! I got to be a small part of a story that fascinates me and see one of my favorite actors at his best!

If you haven’t seen the show, I encourage you to check it out! Leto plays the charismatic, out of control Neumann with uncanny accuracy.

And if I may say so, my big bald head adds a little something too! 🙂

More on entertainment:

What It’s Like to Be on Law & Order: SVU

Filming a TV Show in NYC in a Pandemic

At the Sopranos Convention!

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This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 with great returns.

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Misfits Market

I’ve used Misfits for years, and it never disappoints! Every fruit and vegetable is organic, super fresh, and packed with flavor!

I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $15 on your first order. 

What Can The Dropout Teach Investors?

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I’ve been riveted by The Dropout lately. Amanda Seyfried’s portrayal of the notorious Elizabeth Holmes transfixes me, from the baritone to the awkward dancing.

I particularly loved the scenes on Sand Hill Road when Holmes is pitching venture capitalists. Luckily for them, most passed.

Since I invest in startups, I wondered, how do we avoid the next Theranos? And what lessons can this flame out give us about investing in general?

Here is my current thinking:

1) If you don’t show it, you don’t have it. Beware any startup founder who won’t show you their tech or disclose financial information.

They may claim they’re protecting secrets from competitors, but more likely they’re covering up their problems.

I find the most successful founders are very open with investors. They want to share their awesome progress!

2) Beware unqualified teams in deep tech. Holmes made much of the fact that she was a college dropout, like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg.

But she obscured a critical point: Theranos was not a software company.

You can learn the basics of coding on your own in a few months. The same isn’t true for biology.

To pull off a revolution in blood testing, Holmes would’ve likely needed a PhD from a top school like MIT, Harvard, etc.

3) Don’t let big names on the board influence you. Henry Kissinger and General James Mattis sat on the board of Theranos.

Both are heavyweights in politics and government, but what’s their expertise in biotech? Uhh, they don’t have any.

Don’t just ask if the advisors and investors of a company are prominent. Ask if they’re qualified to do this exact job.

4) Founders who react badly to being challenged are bad founders. Both Holmes and Balwani surrounded themselves with sycophants and came down hard on anyone who questioned them.

They refused to hear about problems, so the problems only got worse.

If a founder can’t handle you or their team challenging them, they have no business in the job.

5) No FOMO. Holmes expertly used the fear of missing out to close investors and customers like Walgreens.

After all, we can’t let CVS have it first, can we?

Frauds from Adam Neumann of WeWork to Bernie Madoff were experts at leveraging this fear to override people’s better judgment.

Don’t give into it. You don’t have to hit every great investment opportunity to be a success.

In fact, you only have to hit one.

More on tech and finance:

The True Story Behind WeCrashed

The Lean Startup

FOMO: Investors’ Worst Enemy

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Photo: “Fortune Global Forum 2015” by fortuneglobalforum is marked with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been great so far.

More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me.

Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor.

I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy!

I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. 

The True Story Behind WeCrashed

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This weekend, I burrowed into the couch and turned on WeCrashed, the fascinating new series on WeWork’s rise and fall. I’m actually in an upcoming episode as an extra; more on that in another post. 🙂

Jared Leto’s energy and Anne Hathaway’s icy poise make for great television. But what about the real Adam Neumann?

I recently finished the book The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion. This entertaining and incisive volume gives a great inside view of the startup’s rise and fall.

Neumann conjured WeWork out of almost nothing. He convinced the landlord of his baby clothes business to sublease him a floor in a building the landlord owned, a clever strategy to start a company with little capital.

It took off immediately, filling with young creatives. Not satisfied with his early success, Neumann’s dissembling started early.

Tours of the offices with investors were faked. If a WeWork floor was empty, employees were told to move there and make it look busy.

Neumann’s erratic behavior also quickly surfaced. He offered shots of tequila to prospective investors and landlords, even in the morning.

Still, by 2011, WeWork was growing fast and close to profitability. That year, it raised a series A from Benchmark, one of the world’s best venture capital firms.

As the company’s success grew, so did Neumann’s avarice. He used some of Benchmark’s money to pay rent in buildings he owned personally, a highly suspect move.

Neumann also put himself ahead of his employees. He sold shares at better prices than they could. And after he banned meat in the company cafeteria, he was frequently seen eating it.

By 2017, many of the rents WeWork was paying had doubled as the real estate market strengthened. Losses ballooned, but Neumann kept expanding.

Two years later, WeWork reached the end of its rope. A huge financing with Softbank fell apart, leaving the company forced to go public just to raise enough capital to avoid bankruptcy.

But the public markets weren’t buying it, turned off by big losses and an erratic CEO. The IPO fell apart.

As WeWork faced bankruptcy, Softbank agreed to save the company. Its price: a valuation of just $8 billion, down from $47 billion in the last financing round.

The board forced Neumann out soon after and he and his family left for Israel.

In a final humiliation, they flew coach.

So what did I learn from this, as an angel investor? Here are a few of my takeaways:

1) Avoid self-dealing founders
2) Beware FOMO. Both Neumann and Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos were experts at leveraging it.
3) Focus on unit economics. You can’t “lose money on every one, but make it up in volume.”
4) Don’t value an old economy business like a software business.

Neumann may be plotting his return. He has acquired more than $1 billion worth of apartments in recent years.

I don’t know what his angle is, but I’m pretty sure he has one.

More on tech:

FOMO: Investors’ Worst Enemy

How Startups Can Dominate the Elevator Pitch

The Top 3 Startup Pitch Mistakes

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Photo: “TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2017 – Day 1” by TechCrunch is marked with CC BY 2.0.

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Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been great so far.

More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me.

Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor.

I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy!

I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. 

Filming a Netflix Show in NYC

“We’re having brunch in Moscow! F—! St. Petersburg!”

Anonymous

5:25am: Phone erupts. I spring out of bed instantly, knowing that if I rest another minute, I’ll sleep for hours.

5:45am: I step out into the cold. I’m on my way to film a Netflix show in New York City.

This is a day in the life of a working actor.

6:15am: I report to “holding,” where background actors, also known as “extras,” wait before filming.

6:22am: Rapid COVID test. This is in addition to a PCR test I took 3 days prior. No one gets tested more than actors and film crews.

7:30am: Wardrobe, hair and makeup. Wardrobe lets my fashion sense pass without comment.

8:00am: Breakfast. The crew forgot about us and most of the background actors never got so much as a cup of coffee!

A few renegades and I raided the crew-only breakfast truck. Eggs, hashbrowns, and hot coffee soothe us in the cold morning.

8:30am: Go to set. This is the big moment!

We are pretending to eat brunch outside an upscale Manhattan bakery.

Although it’s mid-November and 45 degrees, the scene is supposed to be occurring in late summer. So we can’t wear jackets or hats, only shirtsleeves.

We quickly begin to freeze in the grey cold.

“This is like a Communist country! It’s freezing cold and they’re telling us what to do!”

So begins a salty older lady with a long acting resume:

“We’re having brunch in Moscow! F—! St. Petersburg!”

Everyone is cracking up, grateful for some distraction from the frigid climate. A young man joins in:

“I’ve frozen my nipples off. Nips gone.”

11:15am: At last, we get a hot coffee and a brief rest in the warmth of the holding area.

11:30am: Back to set, but inside this time! One of the other extras is searching for a word. I chime in:

“Frostbite!”

“That’s it.”

1:30pm: Lunch time! We wolf down delicious shrimp, salad and chocolate cake.

2:50pm: Outfit change.

3:00pm: More filming inside the bakery. One of the principal actresses bumps into another, dropping her books and meeting someone new.

How does this fit into the story? This show was supposed to be about a massive robbery.

I guess we’ll have to wait until it airs!

4:30pm: Final outfit change. I go through numerous shirts, belts, and undershirts until wardrobe finally signs off.

4:50pm: Back to holding.

6:57pm: Finally wrapped for the day! I wasn’t on set for a second in that last outfit.

The production just paid dozens of people overtime to do nothing for 2.5 hours. The disorganization of film sets always amazes me.

7:34pm: Finally home! I strip down and head into a hot shower.

I hope we made a show people will like!


I hope you enjoyed this little window into what actors really do.

Most of the time, it’s not glamorous. It’s early mornings, cold sets, and long days.

If you have questions or comments on acting, please leave them at the bottom!

More on entertainment:

What It’s Like to Be on Law & Order: SVU

Filming a TV Show in NYC in a Pandemic

My Family in Japan Saw Me on TV!

Photo: Photo by Roger Jones via Flickr Creative Commons

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Amazon Business American Express Card

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If you’re approved for this card, you get a $100 Amazon gift card. You also get up to 5% back on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases, 2% on restaurants/gas stations/cell phone bills, and 1% everywhere else.

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Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. 

At the Sopranos Convention! (Part 2)

We all know The Sopranos is the greatest television show of all time. And yes, I’m a little obsessed. So when I had the opportunity to the attend Sopranoscon on Saturday in Atlantic City, NJ, I had to do it!

The best part about the convention was seeing the show come to life right in front of me. There were the characters I loved, just a few feet away! I even got to sit in Tony’s seat in his Cadillac Escalade. The car that’s pumped full of bullet holes in the final season as Patsy and Sil desperately try to escape New York’s hitmen was there too!

In Tony’s Escalade!
Patsy and Sil’s car!

One of the biggest highlights of the day was the costume contest: the winner did a perfect impression of Sil’s “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!” I haven’t smiled as wide in a long time.

A very convincing Tony Soprano look-a-like who was actually a stand-in for Gandolfini in the series, bookable here!

Since this was Mobmoviecon in addition to Sopranoscon, there were actors from other gangster classics. One of my favorites was Armand Assante, who played a pitch perfect John Gotti in the 1996 HBO movie. Since I’ve done some extremely minor acting myself, I had to ask him: what makes a great actor?

Armand Assante, interviewed by real-life former gangster Michael Franzese

“Will,” he told me. Like when a baseball player says “I’m going to hit this out of the park,” an actor has to will himself to deliver a great performance, whatever it takes. When we connect our will to our talent and imagination, we can become great actors, Assante added.

The convention also had a major announcement: there will be a Gotti 2, starring Assante, and production is beginning now!

You’re at the precipice of an enormous crossroads.

To top it off, I took second place in The Sopranos trivia competition! The prize: a signed copy of a fascinating book about the series written by another big fan!

I’m a winner, baby!

About the only negative of the convention is that you have to pay $20-40 extra to meet any of the actors or get a picture/autograph. But this may be the only way to make the economics work: paying dozens of high profile actors and renting out a major resort isn’t cheap! Perhaps in the future, they can host a mixer for everyone to allow more interaction.

The organizer of the convention, Michael Mota, has huge plans for the future: not only is he producing Gotti 2, he hopes to buy Tony Soprano’s house and turn it into an Airbnb for fans of the series. If he does, I’d love to visit!

More on The Sopranos:

AT THE SOPRANOS CONVENTION!

WELCOME TO SAL “BIG PUSSY” BONPENSIERO’S HOUSE FROM THE SOPRANOS

VISITING UNCLE JUNIOR’S HEADQUARTERS FROM THE SOPRANOS

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! And please leave your comments at the bottom.

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

At The Sopranos Convention!

I’ve been an huge Sopranos fan for many years. I’ve seen every episode at least 5 times. So when I got the opportunity to attend Sopranoscon this Saturday in Atlantic City, NJ, I was so excited!

Me and Richie Aprile!

As I came to the head of a long line of Sopranos fans, many dressed as their favorite character, I entered a grand ballroom decorated for the “Feast of St. James.” Set up like the Italian church feasts that are all over New York and New Jersey this time of year, the feast was dedicated to James Gandolfini, who died too young but left us with so many memories.

Past the food vendors selling sausages, espresso and cannolis was a board of all the shows best quotes. My favorite:

“I’m sorry I stole your prosthesis. But it did bring me to the Lord.”

Janice Soprano

Giggling like a school girl, I rounded a corner and suddenly saw all my favorite Sopranos stars! It was incredible to see them suddenly appear, alive and moving and freed from screen. It was quite a lineup: Dominic Chianese (Uncle Junior), Lorraine Bracco (Jennifer Melfi), David Proval (Richie Aprile), Jerry Adler (Hesh), John Fiore (Gigi Cestone), and many more.

Uncle Jun!

And since this Sopranoscon doubled as Mobmoviecon, there were amazing actors from other gangster tales as well, like Paul Sorvino (Paulie in Goodfellas) and Giancarlo Esposito (the terrifying Gus Fring in Breaking Bad)!

Gigi!

I took a picture with David Proval, whose portrayal of Richie Aprile I found chilling and memorable. In reality, he is a nice, quiet man, nothing like the loud and dominating gangster he played. As we took a picture together, I told him how I loved his performance. It was wonderful to be able to thank him for all the happiness he brought me. He thanked me and I went on my way to…

Tony’s Escalade

Tony Soprano’s Escalade! Yes, the very same car Tony rode in for the last few seasons of the show. Not only did I see it, I even got to sit in Tony’s seat and take a picture!

This convention was a wonderful experience, and I have way more amazing things to tell you. See you soon!

More on The Sopranos and the mafia:

WELCOME TO SAL “BIG PUSSY” BONPENSIERO’S HOUSE FROM THE SOPRANOS

VISITING UNCLE JUNIOR’S HEADQUARTERS FROM THE SOPRANOS

THE MAFIA’S HOBOKEN FORTRESS

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Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

CUTE ANIMALS ONLINE: MY TOP 5

As a fun thing heading into the weekend, I thought I’d share five of my favorite cute animal accounts online. I’m a big animal person, rodents especially, and really enjoy spending time with them. The next best thing is checking out adorable animal content online, and these are my favorites!

Number 5: Goodable

More than just cute animals, but some wonderful cute animal content. Check out this adorable abandoned kitten that was found and saved by some very kind people:

Number 4: My Little 4 Rodents

Wonderful Instagram account with some very cute gerbils, along with other fine rodents!

Number 3: Hummingbird Returns to Man Every Year

A man who rescued an injured hummingbird and nursed it back to health. He later let it go, but it returns every year and sits in his hand during its migration! Wonderful story.

Number 2: Chi Channel

Adorable chinchilla and degu videos! It’s all in Japanese, but even if you don’t speak the language, the cuteness translates!

Number 1: Cat saves little boy from falling from balcony!

Just do what kitty says! 🙂 What an amazing cat!

Have a great weekend everyone!

More on entertainment:

THE AWESOME VIDEO SERIES THAT’S SWEEPING JAPAN NOW

THIS IS SATRIALE’S FROM THE SOPRANOS

MY FAMILY IN JAPAN SAW ME ON TV!

Photo: “Cute Rodent” by SeeMidTN.com (aka Brent) is licensed under CC BY 2.0. This is an elephant shrew.

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! And please leave your comments at the bottom.

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

Bada Bing’s Real-Life Mob Connections

The Satin Dolls strip club in Lodi, NJ was made famous in The Sopranos as the Bada Bing, the home base of the Soprano crew. But what’s less well known is that the bar’s connections to the mafia go far beyond appearing in an HBO series.

Satin Dolls was started in 1989 by Brian Kelley, a retired New York Giants linebacker. But the real power seemed to lie with Vincent Ravo, a shadowy figure that appears nowhere on the liquor license or in the club’s financial records. Ravo was paid $500 a week as a consultant handling renovations to the club. Strangely, those payments didn’t stop when the construction did.

How many bars do you know of that employ a consultant? I can’t name another. And if they did, they’d probably write the checks to that person directly, right? But Ravo’s name appears nowhere in disbursements from Satin Dolls. Instead, the checks are always written to someone else: his brother, his wife, or others.

Ravo’s criminal record meant that he was banned from working in or owning a bar under New Jersey state law. But not only did he have a hidden interest in Satin Dolls, he also had off-the-books interests in several other bars in north Jersey.

Ravo was not just any criminal. A state investigation named him as a likely associate of the Genovese crime family, which had substantial interests in northern New Jersey and was perhaps the most powerful mafia family in the country. And his misdeeds go far beyond violating liquor or tax laws. Prominent author Dan Moldea named Ravo as one of the people who may have disposed of the body of former Teamster President Jimmy Hoffa.

Today, Satin Dolls seems to be a legitimate enterprise whose only known mob connections are in the world of television. But I found this convergence of fiction and history a fascinating one.

Have a great weekend everyone!

More on the mafia:

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! And please leave your comments at the bottom.

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

The Church Tony Soprano’s Grandfather Built

“See that church? Your great grandfather helped build that almost 80 years ago. He was a stonemason, the old man. Came over from Avellino with four dollars in his pocket.”

Tony Soprano

The camera pans down to show a beautiful church made of grey stone. Alongside it: a red Tahoe. A father wants to show his teenage son the family’s history.

I always loved this scene in season 4: the beautiful backdrop, the connection to the Italian immigrants that form my family and Tony’s, and AJ’s apathetic response to it all. So yesterday, I went in search of this venerable parish.

The church in season 4
How it looked yesterday

The church is in Newark in the series, but the real shooting location was St. Patrick’s Church in Jersey City, NJ. Completed in 1877, it was built largely by Irish, not Italian immigrants. But how it was built closely parallels Tony’s story:

Most families could contribute only pennies. But the men of the parish, most of them day laborers and unskilled workmen, contributed something perhaps more important, their raw labor, acquiring in the process a sweat equity in the great project and a commitment to its success beyond what religious fervor alone might have produced.

We see St. Patrick’s numerous times in the series: in the pilot, when Tony visits the church with Meadow, in seasons 3 and 4, and finally in season 6 when it is home to the Feast of St. Elzear. The zeppole stand, sausage vendors, and rides were lined up on Bramhall Avenue, alongside the church.

The beautiful garden in season 1
The church garden yesterday

Tony describes the neighborhood as “falling down to the ground,” and indeed I saw a number of condemned buildings. But nonetheless, I found myself wishing I could walk the Feast of St. Elzear with a bag of zeppoles in the shadow of this majestic church.

The Feast of St. Elzear, season 6
On the stairs, seen in season 3

Just don’t ride the teacup ride!

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Where Christopher Moltisanti Almost Died

How could this happen? How could this happen?

Tony Soprano

As Christopher Moltisanti walks out of a diner beneath the Pulaski Skyway, he happens across two of his partners in crime: Matthew Bevilacqua and Sean Gismonte. What’s brought them to this same desolate spot?

Suddenly, Sean leans out the window. In his hand: a pistol. Before Chris can react, Sean has already shot him repeatedly. Despite his wounds, Chris fires back, killing Sean instantly and nearly hitting Matthew. As Matthew flees, Chris lays in a pool of his own blood, left for dead.

This scene in season 2 of The Sopranos shocked me probably almost as much as Christopher when I first saw it. Unhappy with their progress in the underworld, Matthew and Sean decide to make a power play, with disastrous results.

I went in search of this iconic spot yesterday. The scene was filmed at the New Skyway Diner in Kearny, NJ, which is now closed. However, the building looks the same except for the removed signage, and the heavily industrial surroundings haven’t changed a bit.

Chris coming out of the diner in season 2
What the diner looks like now
On the stairs

It was quite a thrill to stand on the same stairs Chris walked down just before he was nearly killed. The warehouse that Matthew runs past in terror, firing blindly after the hit has gone awry, also hasn’t changed a bit.

Matthew fleeing after the botched hit
Christopher laid out in the parking lot
In the same spot

After the attempt on Christopher’s life, Matthew flees to Richie Aprile’s office. Knowing Richie disliked Chris, Matthew and Sean tried to kill him to curry favor with Richie. But if Matthew is expecting a warm reception, he is sorely disappointed. Richie chases him out, leaving him with nowhere to go.

I also visited Richie’s office recently, which looks exactly the same as in the series. You can see it here.

The New Skyway Diner appears one more time in The Sopranos: when Tony and his cousin, Tony Blundetto, plan Tony B’s future after he gets out of prison. I always found the window framing the skyway at dawn an arresting image. I only wish the diner was still open so I could have a coffee there myself!

The two Tonys

More on The Sopranos:

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! 

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.