Talk about teary farewells — the final Sopranos season (an abridged one composed of ten episodes) kicks off April 8 and ends on June 10, and after that’s over it’ll be all over. Nothing lasts forever and the pages need to keep turning, and there will always be those DVD box sets (which I’d love to see some day in Blu Ray) but it feels sad — there’s no escaping that. I know that producer David Chase will never make, say, a three-hour Sopranos feature, but if he were to announce one I’d be delighted.

I’m hoping at the very least that Tony doesn’t get whacked. I’ll have a very hard time with that if this happens. Many of us would, I suspect,

Tens of thousands have felt a profound kinship and familial closeness with the Sopranos gang over the last eight years. It’s widely agreed that the show was always incidentally about mob matters; it was more of an ongoing reflection of the American post-millennial family experience, whether by blood or friendship or the workplace — always shifting, haphazard, dysfunctional…dread lurking around every corner. But with that communal feeling running through it like a river.

It resonated a bit more for me personally because I come from a leafy, mid-sized whitebread town in New Jersey, and I remember with mixed feelings the guinea- goombah types who lived on the town’s south side (i.e., literally on the other side of the tracks). They always kept a certain distance from non-Italians like myself, and they were into serious bonding. I remember walking through a small park when I was in seventh or eighth grade, and five or six of them were hanging next to a bench. One of them called out, “Hey, man…are you a guinea?” No, I said. “Then what good are ya?” he answered. The paisans all snickered.

Here’s a N.Y. Times piece by Bill Carter about what HBO’s creative team — led by honcho Chris Albrecht — are cooking up for an encore. A series called John From Cincinnati — “a drama that combines the zen of the surfing culture with doses of philosophy, quantum physics and dysfunctional family life…[and] a visit from what may be an extraterrestrial” — is mentioned. Surfing culture?