I love taping anything at the WNET Studios in Lincoln Center because it’s one of those “real people walking by” sets that really does liven up the awful “two guys talking to each other” shots. This appearance was really nice—10+ minutes of actual dialogue.
Basically, it boiled down to Steve Adubato saying Trump sucks and me saying the media won’t give him a fair shake. And him saying we won’t give Trump a fair shake because he sucks. We solve nothing, but it made for excellent tv.
This is a strange friendship for me. Most people know Steve through his television and book work, but I was friends with Steve Adubato Sr. a long time before I knew Steve Jr. It’s hard to explain the kind of influence Big Steve exerted in New Jersey at his peak. Big Steve Adubato exerted Mayor Daley like dominance over Democratic politics in the north end of the state and like Daley, there was a combination of ferociousness and benevolence that is hard to explain. I had many funny and unusual interactions with him, including watching him preside over the Robert Treat Academy, which was a life-changer for me.
One Big Steve story had a funny Italian detail. Steve took me to lunch at an Italian restaurant next to Ferrara’s on Bloomfield Ave. (Sopranos obsessives will recall that although Ferrara’s is never pictured, Tony refers to it when he brings Livia macaroons at Green Grove and she says “leave them for the lunatics”). I used to go to Ferrara’s for pignoles like once a week, before The Sopranos ever came on the air.
So Big Steve took me and Ted Sherman, the Star-Ledger’s ace investigative reporter, out for lunch. To repay Steve’s many kindnesses to me, I went to the counter to treat our table. Like I said, this was before The Sopranos, so I hadn’t yet seen the episode in which Meadow’s date tried to pay for dinner and Tony went crazy. I didn’t understand the Italian cultural nuance that the bigger guy pays, every single time. Steve got genuinely pissed off and even though he was old by then, you could really feel the power and energy of the guy. I loved it.