We’re still holding out hope that the dearly departed James Gandolfini will eventually return to us as Gandolfini The White, but as we mourn in the meantime, New Jersey governor Chris Christie has ordered his state’s flags lowered to half mast in Gandolfini’s honor. Sources say it’s the first time New Jersey has taken such a step since the Great Cannoli Famine of ’74. Okay, I might’ve made that up.
Gandolfini died Wednesday in Rome at age 51. Family spokesman Michael Kobold has said an autopsy revealed the cause was a heart attack, though authorities have not released the report.
Gandolfini was born and raised in Bergen County, played basketball at Park Ridge High School, and graduated from Rutgers University.
Christie’s executive order states in part: “WHEREAS, it is with profound sadness that we mourn the loss of James Gandolfini and extend our sincere sympathy to his family, friends, and countless fans, and WHEREAS, it is appropriate to recognize the achievements and contributions, to honor the memory, and to mark the passing of James Gandolfini.”
The order applies to all state government buildings, offices, and other properties.
Christie has ordered flags to fly at half-staff in honor of local military service members, former and current local elected officials, celebrities with ties to the state, and victims of national tragedies.
In recent weeks, U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, Marine Staff Sgt. Eric Christian, who died in Afghanistan, and the victims of the Boston marathon bombings and the massive tornado in Oklahoma have been honored this way. [CBSNY/Fark]
Which fact is more surprising, that James Gandolfini played basketball in high school, or that he was only 37 when the pilot for The Sopranos filmed?
In any case, kudos to fellow fat white guy Chris Christie for honoring a guy who proved that New Jersey is more than just a smelly backwater of orange-skinned club promoters and drunken, bowling-ball-shaped whores. If they produce a few more Gandolfinis and a cure for cancer, people may stop making New Jersey jokes in 40 or 50 years.
Gandolfini on Sesame Street, via Uproxx.
Picture credit: Ilya S. Savenok, Getty Images