a PAW web exclusive column by Hugh O'Bleary (email@example.com)
7 , 2001:
Soprano's off to Columbia University
At least one alumnus
laments Princeton's loss
By Hugh O'Bleary
Old Whitbridge was in
one of his funks again.
A true son of Old Nassau,
Whitbridge soars or sinks on the fortunes of all things Princeton.
The basketball team loses, Whitbridge trudges onto the train the
next morning and sighs dejectedly all the way to New York while
staring at the sports section. No sooner had we talked him through
the trauma of last fall's U.S. News and World Report college
rankings - in which Princeton had been third - than he went
off the deep end over the presidential election, which, as he pointed
out bitterly again and again, came down to a Yalie against a Harvard
man, with no Princetonians in sight. The recount debacle had cheered
him some ("This never happened with Woodrow Wilson," he
pointed out) and lately he had seemed fairly content.
But it was obvious yesterday
that something had happened to chill his orange and black blood.
He sat slumped in his seat on the Dinky, the Arts and Leisure section
of The Times open before him. "How could this happen?"
he said, as I sat down beside him. "How could this happen?"
"What?" I asked.
to Columbia," he croaked. "Columbia."
I had no idea who or
what he was talking about. Maybe the Lions had snatched some prize
recruit the Tigers had an eye on. "What position does he play?"
Whitbridge goggled at
said. "I'm not talking sports, O'Bleary, I'm talking about
Meadow. Meadow Soprano. It's the new season and she's going
to be a freshman at - " He appeared to gag. " - Columbia."
He sat in silence for a moment. "Why didn't we get her?
She's from New Jersey!"
Now it was my turn to
gape. "Let me get this straight," I said. "You're
upset because the fictional daughter of a fictional Mafia boss on
a TV show is matriculating at another Ivy League college?"
Now, don't get me wrong
- I'm a huge fan of The Sopranos (HBO's critically acclaimed
hit series, which is just starting its third season) but this was
carrying things a bit far, even for Whitbridge.
He didn't even blink,
though. "Princeton would have been the perfect place for her,"
he said. "We should have tried harder to get her."
Did we try at all, I
wondered. And, if it comes to that, just how does a university go
about recruiting a television character? I put the question to Whitbridge,
perhaps a bit more sarcastically than I should have.
he said. He looked like he wanted to have me whacked. I changed
the subject then, but Whitbridge remained sullen for the rest of
the ride. I found myself musing on the image of mobster-father Tony
Soprano strolling around campus on Parents' Weekend, a big cigar
clenched in his teeth. It occurred to me that Meadow, were she to
come to Princeton, would likely do quite well. I mean, a professor
gives her a bad grade, next thing you know he's missing office hours
and they're out dragging Carnegie Lake for him. And you have to
figure she's a lock for any eating club she bickers. Plus, think
of the possibilities for Annual Giving: a suitcase full of unmarked
bills for the development office, a couple of electron microscopes
that, y'know, fell off a truck in Paramus for the physics department.
I wonder if the mob gives matching grants.
I began to like this
idea of the Mafia heiress at Princeton. Maybe Whitbridge was right.
Maybe Princeton should have tried harder to recruit her.
According to a (non-fictional) Columbia spokesperson, the university
made no special efforts to land the high profile frosh. And HBO,
it seems, would have listened to other options for Meadow.
"They just wanted
to keep Meadow close to home," says HBO spokesperson Toby Becker,
who insists that no one associated with the show has a Columbia
connection. "She sure wasn't going to UCLA, for instance."
Fair enough. But Princeton's
just as close as Columbia. Hey, maybe it's not too late to consider
a transfer for Meadow. That would make Whitbridge happy.
I say Princeton make
her an offer she can't refuse.
You can reach Hugh O'Bleary
at "Hugh O'Bleary"
Hugh O'Bleary commutes
to New York City from Princeton. He revels in his daily sojourn
across campus to catch the Dinky. You can reach Hugh O'Bleary by
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