Like many of you, I was a big – maybe that’s not the right word in this context – an enthusiastic fan of “The Sopranos” and of their battleship of a star, James Gandolfini. And like so many, I was very sad to hear about the actor’s death, but sadder still to see again, the utter lack of dignity society now accords itself.
First the New York Post’s grotesque rundown on Gandolfini’s “Last Supper”: “Gandolfini, 51, first ordered a pina colada with two additional shots of rum on the side. He followed that up with an identical round — a pina colada and two shots — and then downed two beers, the source said. Gandolfini also enjoyed back-to-back orders of fried prawns slathered with mayonnaise chili sauce — as well as a heaping portion of foie gras.”
Enter the ubiquitous Dr. Oz, to make the cable rounds and pronounce on all things cardiac:
“What you last ate — ’cause often your last meal is truly the last meal. It turns out that fatty foods spasm, they literally close down the arteries of the heart, ahh, and that’s a problem because if you already have a problem there … you have a heart attack! He goes to the bathroom; his blood pressure drops. There’s his heart. Let’s go to that major vessel inside of the heart that brings life-sustaining blood to the heart. That little plaque. You see that yellowish thing? That starts when you’re 18 years of age! And it ruptured!”
I won’t argue this pathology with a cardiac surgeon, because of course, he is correct. But “if you already have a problem there”? That’s small shrift to pay to the obvious. Gandolfini was overweight, and a boozer, which is what killed him, not some sensationalized final menu. Do we really need to know about Elvis on the toilet, or “Tony’s” last whoop-it-up? What is incorrect is our societal reflex to pour over every sad, private flaw in a celebrity, with celebrity doctors to dress up their ongoing carnival acts, repackaging common sense as public education. If only Dr. Drew could have gotten to him in time.