My job may not be the most glamorous in the world, but every now and then it allows me to get my butt off the couch and meet interesting people in unexpected places. I once sat on the field at Dodgers Stadium talking to Rupert from "Survivor" about skirts and strategy. I once sat on the back steps of a small West Orange nightclub talking jazz and comedy with Bill Cosby, then had a front-row seat to see the legend do his thing. And one time I sat on a curb outside a funeral parlor and hit Steve Van Zandt up for some music recommendations. (Two words: Boss Martians.)
On Friday night, I wasn't at the most exotic location the job has ever taken me to, but it hands-down had the coolest name of any place I have ever set foot in: Drumthwacket. For those of you who don't know (and you could count me among them a week ago), that's the name of the New Jersey governor's mansion, and for the second time in a week, I found my path crossing that of our beloved interim governor. Before he departs office (one he would have kept in a landslide vote if he had Jon Corzine's war chest), he's getting in as many photo ops as he can, and his latest brainstom was to create an award for New Jersey filmmakers, and the first recipient was "Sopranos" don David Chase.
It was a very cold, very strange night. As I got out of my car and tried to straighten my tie and switch from parka to suit jacket in the least clumsy fashion possible, I was greeted by two silver trumpets. I felt like Frank Drebin in that scene in "The Naked Gun" where he mounts the Queen of England, and I wasn't alone. A little while later, I was taking a self-guided tour around the mansion when I passed the guest of honor and Mrs. Chase, both looking dazed and confused. Chase saw me and did a doubletake; he said he was so thrown by the trumpets that he forgot where he was and why he was there.
There was a very nice turnout by the cast. Guys like Steve Schirripa will show up for the opening of a envelope, they enjoy being in the spotlight so much, but I was pleasantly surprised to see James Gandolfini mingling among the great unwashed for the evening. He has to be more uncomfortable in public settings than any major star I've ever been around -- not because he's an arrogant asshole, but because he's painfully shy and doesn't understand why people are so interested in him -- and he spent almost the entire night smiling politely as guest after guest hit him up for an autograph or a chance to pose for a photo. That's how much he likes his boss.
I eventually drifted over towards Terence Winter, the "Sopranos" writer I tend to bump into more than any of the others, and we spent a lot of time talking about how much we liked the name Drumthwacket, and how we feel that every home deserves a name. (Winter: "I think we could call my apartment 'Dirty Socks.'") I mean, think about it: your great, memorable literary homes all have names like Tara. I'm thinking if I want to add some style to my life, I need to give my little split-level a name. Bob? Dude? The House That Sipowicz Built?
I'm wide open to suggestions on this one, people. Fire away.