What “The Sopranos” can teach us about ridiculous environmental regulations

June 30, 2021 | By TONY FRANCOIS

In this reimagined scene from “The Sopranos” Tony learns about the absurdity behind the the Army’s definition of “Navigable Waters”.

Picture, if you will Tony, Paulie, and Christopher in the back room of the Bing, sipping “expressos” and going over Family business. Tony asks about the status of a certain Ukrainian hood rumored to be operating in their turf.

Tony: What’s going on with our friend?

Paulie: You see Ton’, I had plans to talk with him last night, but –

Tony: But what?

Christopher: It’s nothing T, that guy isn’t a problem anymore.

Paulie: Chrissy whacked him before I got there!

Christopher: Oooh! The mouth on this guy.

Tony: Christopher, you gotta calm down. This is a business, not one of your movie scripts!

Christopher: Ton’, its fine, nobody will find him. It’s all good. He’s just gone, you know. The guy ain’t turning up anywhere.

Paulie: That’s the truth, we took care of that.

Tony: Yeah? Why don’t you illuminate me.

Paulie: He’s in the water, Ton’.

Christopher: Yeah, Tony, deep in the water.

Tony [annoyed]: What, like the ducks in my pool? WHAT water? Where?

Paulie: The best water, boss. It’s “navigable water”.

Christopher: Yeah, navigable water.

Tony: Navigable. So, you dumped him out in the ocean, with Pussy?

Paulie: Well, not out to sea like that.

Christopher [in shock]: …Pussy ?

Paulie: Shaddap Chrissy! Not now.

Tony [to Chris]: Don’t change the subject – “not out to sea”? Is it “navigable waters” where he’s gonna wash up on the Atlantic City boardwalk?

Christopher: No, no, no, that would be stupid.

Tony: It would be, wouldn’t it? I’ll try this again. So you dropped him in Newark Harbor.

Paulie: C’mon, Ton’, the harbor is crawling with people. We’re smarter than that. And I mean, how much do you really wanna know?

Tony: I wanna know you two jamokes haven’t made a mess I gotta clean up!

Christopher: No, no, I’m telling you. The guy is deep down in “navigable waters”.

Tony: The Hackensack?

Christopher [vaguely]: No, not there.

Tony: Well, some river?!

Paulie: C’mon Ton’, navigable water. Trust us.

Tony: So not the Atlantic Ocean, not the beach, not the harbor, not a river…Pompton Lake? If it’s “navigable” like you say, then I can get there with the Stugots.

Christopher: Look, T, that’s not the only types of water that are navigable. We did our homework, there’s an official map saying –

Tony: What “official map”?

Paulie: My goomar works at the Javits Building in Manhattan, for the Army. They got these maps, see, of all the navigable water in New Jersey. She swiped a set a few months back.

Christopher: See T, it’s foolproof. You need to make something go away, you use the map to find “navigable water”, and drop it right in.

Tony [stuffing some gabagool in his mouth]: Foolproof? You two are living evidence there’s no such thing.

Paulie: Look T, it’s all official military industrial duplex stuff, they show where all the navigable waters are, nothing to it. Look [unfolds map of Newark area]. See, it all connects – navigable water everywhere.

Tony: Ah now I got agita. I’m about to beat one of you senseless. Just show me on the map where you just might have dropped the hood, or I’ll –

Christopher: Look, start here at the harbor –

Tony: There?

Paulie: No, then you follow up the river from the harbor to the lake –

Tony: But you said it’s not at the lake, so it’s a different lake?

Christopher: No, follow up from the lake, see this little blue line there?

Tony: That skinny line is some of this navigable water you’re talking about?

Paulie: T, c’mon. Government says so.

Tony [lighting a cigar]: Government says some things about you too there, Paulie.

[Paulie’s eyes widen]

Christopher: And you follow the line along here, and then you make this turn along this other line.

Christopher: Then you cross that next road, and follow it up through this pond.

Tony: That’s “navigable”?

Paulie: Sure T, look, it’s marked that way on the map.

Tony: What’s that look like on the ground though?

Christopher: Probably sailboats all over it, you know, just like the harbor.

Tony: OK so that’s where…you know…

Paulie: Naa Ton’, we’re almost there. Follow up from the pond, on the map, this little blue line –

Tony: This little blue line of navigable water?

Christopher: Exactly.

Paulie: Through the woods here, and out into this great big patch of navigable water all over the place.

Tony: Hold up, I recognize that place…

Christopher: Look at the map T, it’s covered with “navigable water”. You got the U.S. Army’s word for it.

Tony: [expletive] That’s Hesh’s horse pasture, you cavones dropped a body in a [expletive] pasture!?

Paulie: Skip, your lack of confidence is humiliating. Look at the map, the whole damn thing is under water.

Christopher: Yeah look at all the blue, its practically overflowing.

Tony: I oughta dump both of you there [very creative expletive].

Christopher: Marone!

Paulie: T calm down, the body went in this navigable water.

Tony: That’s [expletive] Hesh’s horse pasture. There isn’t any [expletive] [expletive] water out there at all! I’m calling Furio.

Christopher: T, look, it’s navigable water, you got the U.S. Government’s word on it. They fined some schmuck $1 million for polluting it a few years ago under that Clean the Water Act.


Christopher: I mean, Tony … If you can’t trust the Army, who can you trust?

[Tony looks from Chris to Paulie, and back to Christopher]

[Journey plays in the background]