Tag Archives: Television

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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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!

More on The Sopranos:

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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. 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.

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:

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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.

The Real Barone Sanitation from The Sopranos

A German Shepherd barks viciously and strains at his chain. A red Tahoe pulls up to a a large industrial building. The sky is grey. A hulking man steps out.

This is Barone Sanitation, which featured prominently in The Sopranos as a front for Tony’s illicit interests. In one my favorite episodes from season 2, facing increasing police scrutiny, Tony decamps from Bada Bing to Barone to appear to be a legitimate businessman.

I love this episode because it shows this larger than life character suddenly thrust into the world most of the viewers inhabit: the bland corporate office. Tony struggles in this world as we would struggle in his, bored and spending his time drawing fish and making basketball pools.

I went in search of this iconic spot yesterday. Beginning down a remote dead end street in Jersey City, NJ, I encountered a large German Shepherd barking at me behind a fence. Reality and fiction seemed to meld for a moment.

Near the end of this street is the spot a great Sopranos locations website claims was the real Barone Sanitation, but looking at the building, it doesn’t seem to match. Here is Barone in season 2:

And here is Cinelli Scrap Metal, the location the website points to:

I think a more likely candidate is actually the building across the street. Surrounded by dumpsters, it does appear to be a garbage company, and the building looks similar, down to the large bays on the right side:

However, the windows appear to be gone. It’s possible they were removed in the 21 years since the episode aired. Or perhaps the real Barone Sanitation is yet to be found?

In any event, the bleak industrial landscape seemed a dead ringer for Barone’s depiction in the series. I could almost imagine Tony driving down the street.

On the way back, I came across a much more famous sight, which is visible in the opening credits: the Wilson Carpet man! Like many New Jerseyans, I had seen it before, but only from the road. This time, I got an opportunity to walk up and take a picture with this New Jersey celebrity!

An interesting tidbit: I noticed a stone at the base of the statue says “America #1, love it or leave it.” I don’t know what that has to do with carpets, but it did seem somehow appropriate on Memorial Day.

Dig into these posts for more on The Sopranos:

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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. 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.

Visiting Uncle Junior’s Headquarters from The Sopranos

This is overdue.

Tony Soprano

At the driver’s seat of a long black Lincoln, a well dressed man peruses a magazine. Behind him pulls a red SUV. A large figure emerges, walking purposefully in shiny brown wingtips.

This is how one of my favorite scenes from The Sopranos begins, as Tony makes small talk with Mikey Palmice before delivering him a beating he won’t soon forget. Mikey and his boss, Corrado “Junior” Soprano, recently attacked Tony’s nephew Chris and killed Chris’s friend over their penchant for hijacking Uncle Junior’s trucks. After dispensing with Mikey, Tony walks into Junior’s headquarters, the Sit Tite Loungenette, to try to reason with him.

I always thought the Sit Tite Loungenette looked perfect, a true piece of the 1960’s for a man like Junior, a man of that time. Yesterday, I went in search of this piece of TV history.

How it looked in The Sopranos
How it looked yesterday

This location used for the Uncle Jun’s headquarters is in Jersey City, NJ, and today the building is a Chinese restaurant called Asian Kitchen. Aside from the signage, the exterior looks exactly the same as in the series. It was thrilling to be on the same sidewalk as Tony and Mikey’s fight, gazing at the exact building I had seen so many times in one of my favorite shows.

Where Tony gave Mikey the beating of his life

The interior of the building appears to have been heavily remodeled, with a different layout and flooring. Most of the building is a kitchen and only the very front is accessible to place orders. Still, getting a chance to see it was awesome.

Inside

You see the Sit Tite a second time in the series, when Tony comes to tell Uncle Junior he wants him to be the boss of the family after Jackie Aprile’s death. With a determined look, Tony loads his pistol as he enters, unsure of the reception he’ll get from Uncle Jun.

If you’re in the area, check this great spot out!

Exterior, down the street

Dig into these posts for more on The Sopranos:

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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. 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.

Welcome to Sal “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero’s Chop Shop

A heavyset man sits in a seat pulled from a junked car, reading Waste News. Around him are cars in various states of disassembly. A Mercedes pulls up…

This is Salvatore “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero’s body shop from The Sopranos, Cleveland Auto Body. It features in one of my favorite episodes, where Pussy and Tony commiserate on the difficulties of rearing teenagers. Later, after Pussy is killed for being a government informant, his wife Angie takes over the body shop and nearly becomes a mobster herself.

The location for Cleveland Auto Body is on Cleveland Avenue in Harrison, NJ, just outside Newark and a short walk from the location used for Satriale’s. I had the opportunity to visit this Sunday, excited to see where these scenes really took place.

Today, it is Mavis Discount Tire, and has gotten quite a facelift. The old Cleveland Auto Body sign is gone, along with the junk you saw in The Sopranos. In its place is a clean, modern tire shop.

Here’s how it looked in season 2:

And how it looks now:

Across the street, you can see the exact same houses as in the Sopranos scene. They don’t seem to have changed a bit. It was a lot of fun to see the same backdrop as some of my favorite characters!

Seeing how Tony pulls into a bay directly across from the houses above in this episode, I think this is a new building. I don’t see bays facing in that direction now. But, it’s hard to say for sure.

The neighborhood is halfway between industrial and residential, with a newer, upscale apartment building nearby. Between the classed-up auto shop and the new neighbors, the neighborhood is a little fancier than it was in Big Pussy’s day.

It was a great time seeing the exact same spot where some of my favorite scenes took place!

Dig into these posts for more on The Sopranos:

f 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.

This is Satriale’s From The Sopranos

They sit around tables covered in checkered cloths, sipping espresso. The conversations are hushed. As you approach, they fall silent.

This is Satriale’s, the butcher shop that served as headquarters for Tony and his crew in The Sopranos. These scenes were shot at a storefront in Kearny, New Jersey, a working class, mostly Spanish town near Newark. Yesterday, I went there to see what was left of this iconic spot.

Unfortunately, the storefront was demolished shortly after the end of the series. There were plans to turn it into condos, but as of today it’s a township parking lot. I can’t believe they didn’t preserve the building and sell tickets!

Here’s how it looked in the series:

And how it looked yesterday:

Even with the iconic building no longer there, it was still a thrill to stand on that sidewalk where my favorite characters had so many memorable moments. The building to the left remains the same, and I could also look across the street to the same streetscape Tony and his crew saw so often. It looks almost the same as it did in the series.

Here’s how it looked then:

And now:

Just a couple blocks away is another Sopranos filming location, and this one looks exactly the way it did in the show.

Richie Aprile’s office sits just two blocks south of Satriale’s on the same street. You can see this storefront when Richie chases Matthew Bevilacqua away after he tries to kill Chris.

Here’s how it looked then:

And now:

The building appears to be a private home now. If you zoom in, you’ll see the same yellow sign for China Star restaurant that was in this scene over 20 years ago.

It was a lot of fun to see the Soprano family’s home turf! Even though Satriale’s is no more, I’d still recommend checking out the neighborhood!

Dig into these posts for 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.

Welcome to Sal “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero’s House from The Sopranos

Birds call in a cemetery in the early hours. Two men appear on a balcony. One hands the other a newspaper. Their faces are grave.

This is the backdrop for a classic scene of The Sopranos. Salvatore “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero brings FBI Special Agent Skip Lipari onto his balcony, where Lipari questions him about a high profile murder. Both suddenly clam up when Pussy’s wife comes out with the trash.

The lonely calling of the birds and Pussy looking out over a graveyard make a haunting image. The headstones, so close to Bonpensiero, subtly foreshadow his murder later in the season, when Tony Soprano finds out he’s an informant.

Big Pussy’s house is in Jersey City, NJ and I had the opportunity to visit yesterday. While we don’t see it from the outside in the series, when Tony visits in season 1 you can clearly see the same metal door and brick pillar as above.

The street is a dead end and Pussy’s house borders the vast Holy Name Cemetery. The house is upscale…evidently Pussy’s heroin business paid well! The cemetery itself seems like something out of The Sopranos, with the profusion of Italian names on the markers.

On the way home, I stopped by another Sopranos filming location, this one from season 6. Tony and Paulie are on the run as the FBI investigates a decades-old murder. On Kennedy Boulevard near Pussy’s house, Silvio Dante breaks the bad news to Tony that the FBI has found the body.

The liquor store has had a facelift since then, but the streetscape is still quite recognizable.

It was quite the thrill to see where these great scenes really happened!

Dig into these posts for 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.

This is Where New York Ambushed Tony Soprano’s Right Hand Man

“Gerry warned you Eli!”

Dim streetlights reflect off wet pavement. In the background, a red neon sign flickers out. “Kay’s Spring Garden.” As Hesh Rabkin and his son-in-law Eli prepare to head home, a black Lexus suddenly pulls in front of them. In an instant, they’re surrounded by thugs banging on the car. Finally, a burning rag inserted into the fuel tank gets them out of the car, desperate to save their own lives.

This classic scene in season 6 of The Sopranos ended with Eli in the hospital with severe injuries and after Gerry Torciano’s men attacked him for poaching Torciano’s loansharking customers. Even Hesh, Tony’s long-time confidant and business partner, got roughed up.

This scene was filmed on Congress Street just off Central Avenue in Jersey City’s Heights neighborhood. I actually lived just 4 blocks away for two years. So what is this location like in real life?

Kay’s Spring Garden is a real Chinese restaurant. I actually went past a couple of weeks ago, and it still looked exactly the same as it did in this Sopranos episode from 2006. It sits on Central Avenue, the main commercial street of Jersey City Heights. The stores on either side are different now: the flower shop has become a realtor, and Goehrig’s Bakery, long vacant, has become a high end cupcake shop.

The Heights has historically been a neighborhood of immigrants. First the Germans, then Jews and Italians, and now Hispanic people, often from the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico. When I moved there in 2015, it was just beginning to gentrify. Today, it’s a mix of immigrants and young professionals.

Central Avenue is a charming street that I still love to walk down, even though I no longer live in the neighborhood. The bustle, the cute, family-run stores selling delicious food, the ambience, it can’t be beat!

The way the neighborhood looks at night in The Sopranos is very accurate to reality. It’s dark, quiet, and deserted. You don’t see many people around. Until a black Lexus pulls in front of you…

For more on The Sopranos and entertainment, check out these posts:

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Filming a TV Show in NYC in a Pandemic

EMT’s jump into a vintage ambulance and speed off past NYPD Chevy Caprices. The backdrop: a spooky, mostly disused hospital on the fringes of New York City. Two menacing men in flat-top fades and thick gold chains saunter toward the entrance.

This is the world I spent yesterday in, as a background actor (also known as an extra) playing an EMT for a popular cable show. Background acting is a fun hobby I picked up in late 2019, but I hadn’t done a gig since the beginning of COVID. But now I’m fully vaccinated and back in the game.

So what’s it like to film a television show in New York City in the middle of a pandemic? First, be prepared to get COVID tested a lot, even if you’re vaccinated. I took a COVID test 10 days before the shoot, a rapid test at the fitting one week out, another test 4 days out, and yet another rapid test as soon as I arrived on set.

But that’s not all. You have to fill out an online form about symptoms and travel every day you come in. Even on the shoot day, you wear a mask at all times unless you’re on camera or eating.

Even with these changes, filming is a lot of fun! I wore an elaborate costume that had been tailored to fit me personally. The tailor even sewed “EMT New York City” patches onto the uniform. I was rather honored to have such a fuss made over me, despite being just a background actor.

I had the opportunity to ride in a 1982 Ford ambulance like this one, which was fascinating! My fellow EMT, who was also a trained stunt driver, took the wheel. I also got to see circa 1990 NYPD squad cars on the set, which is a rare opportunity.

The episode was set in 1991 and we filmed in a remote part of New York City. I can’t get into specifics on the show until it airs later this year, but I was incredibly impressed at the very real little world they had created. Two characters had Timberland boots, thick gold necklaces, and tall, fade-style Afros cut specially for the scene. The cars were picture perfect. There’s something about seeing a little world where the past has been recreated, and becoming a part of it, that’s quite thrilling.

In all, with the many tests and fitting and elaborate setup, I was only actually on camera for maybe 90 minutes. That footage will later be cut down to probably just a few seconds. The amount of work that goes into making a perfect scene that may last just an instant is incredible.

I look forward to being a part of lots of other interesting shows soon!

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Photos:

“VFS Film Production: ‘Milligan’s Stew'” by vancouverfilmschool is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“1982 Ford F-100 ambulance” by sv1ambo is licensed under CC BY 2.0