James Gandolfini

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Then suddenly, babies and mother fly away. Tony Soprano, gritty mobster boss in working-class New Jersey, suddenly faints. It is master class writing and acting. It should be remembered as a milestone of Americana and reflective of the rising American condition: The casting off of an old self but overwhelmed at the turning, the future only faintly visible through a glass darkly.

In hindsight, it may be worth noting that "The Sopranos" premiered in January 1999, the last year of the second Christian millennium and the last year before the decade that brought 9/11, Gore v. Bush, the invasion of Iraq, Osama bin Laden, Barack Obama, Ron Paul, the Gadsden flag, the Tea Party and dozens of state sovereignty movements spontaneously erupting across America. And Sarah Palin.