BACK

One of my ambitions has been to become contributing editor to a serious politically-minded journal.  Not a narrowly partisan one, because that is skewed.  But a politically-minded one nonetheless.

When I’m engaged in journalism, I’m prolific.  I always have much to say.  When I was editor of a student newspaper quite a while back, I often wrote the majority of each issues articles.

My stumbling block to this impulse is frequent involvement in full-length creative works.  A few days ago, I finished work on an opera.  I looked at my blogs, and saw, with one short exception, that my most recent blog had been posted in May.  This was the month in which I had started orchestral score.

What did I miss expressing my opinion on over the past seven months?  Political events flew by in a whirlwind.  We try to take stands, to turn our arguments into actual discourse, and sometimes we miss the mark.  Our views change as we learn more.

So I am back at the blogging wheel, trying again to engage, but trying also to be more accurate.  You will hear from me a bit until I become involved in another intensive creative project.

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CURBSIDE PICKUP

A recent trend with restaurants has been the push for online orders.  To facilitate this, a number of restaurants have provided convenient parking spaces for customers to pick up the orders.

The problems with this trend is that it is removing handicapped parking spaces.  The disabled now have more difficulty in going to these restaurants.

The reduction of handicapped spaces is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  It may become necessary for the local governments to address these issues through ordinances.

 

 

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NEW BOOK SNEAK PEEK

To My Friends at WordPress:

A Lawyer's CasebookI’ve been blogging at WordPress now for eight years.  My location is Jalesy55.wordpress.com.  My first blog was on John Milton’s writing of the Areopagitica back in the 1640’s.  Milton’s tract, on freedom of the press, was as big a milestone in the development of journalism as the telegraph would be in the mid-1800’s.

Our most recent revolutionizing of journalism has been in the development of blogging.  Our blogging, in turn, is also changing the business of book publishing.

I have turned my hand to legal fiction.  In June, my work A Lawyer’s Casebook will go up sale on Amazon Kindle.  It comprises a novella, White Hats, and a number of short stories, all occurring in the fictional upstate New York city of Crotona.  A chapter from White Hats was posted on my blog about a month ago.

But before the book goes up for sale, I will provide free samples to fellow bloggers, writers, readers, followers and members of the WordPress community.  Simply e-mail me at Jalesy@twcny.rr.com, and I will e-mail you a copy of the book.  Reviews are welcome.

Thanks, and keep writing.

Charles Lupia

Note: The above blog appeared a few days ago under a different name.

 

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NEED YOUR HELP

 

To my friends at WordPress:

I’ve been blogging at WordPress now for eight years.  My location is Jalesy55.wordpress.com.  My first blog was on John Milton’s writing of the Areopagitica back in the 1640’s.  Milton’s tract, on freedom of the press, was as big a milestone in the development of journalism as the telegraph would be in the mid-1800’s.

Our most recent revolutionizing of journalism has been in the development of blogging.  Our blogging, in turn, is also changing the business of book publishing.

I have turned my hand to legal fiction.  In June, my work A Lawyer’s Casebook will go up sale on Amazon Kindle.  It comprises a novella, White Hats, and a number of short stories, all occurring in the fictional upstate New York city of Crotona.  A chapter from White Hats was posted on my blog about a month ago.

But before the book goes up for sale, I will provide free samples to fellow bloggers, writers, readers, followers and members of the WordPress community.  Simply e-mail me at Jalesy@twcny.rr.com, and I will e-mail you a copy of the book.  Reviews are welcome.

Thanks, and keep writing.

 

Charles Lupia

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POPES AND FISHERMEN

I don’t have the resources to make film or even a trailer out of this script, so I’m just posting the screenplay.

 

POPES AND FISHERMEN

A Trailer Screenplay by Charles Lupia

EXT.  THE FAÇADE OF ST. PETER’S BASILICA.  ROME.  DAY.

Many of the faithful and unfaithful are gathered outside in the square.  They look upward as if expecting to see the Pope.

VOICEOVER

The Vatican.  An ancient faith.  Source of many secrets.

EXT.  BY THE SEA OF GALILEE.  ROMAN-OCCUPIED PALESTINE.

Fishing boats spot the coastline.  Fishermen, including Simon and Andrew, cast their nets out onto the water.

VOICEOVER

Some going back two thousand years.

Jesus stands on the shore watching Simon and Andrew.  We see Jesus only from the back.

To a time when Israel was under the yoke of Roman rule.

Roman soldiers march swiftly, knocking Jesus in their march.  Sinister music.

Andrew is exasperated with Simon.

ANDREW

Simon!

But Simon has his own problems.  He looks in frustration at his net.

SIMON

The net is broke!

Jesus calls to Simon from the shore.

JESUS

Simon.

SIMON

That’s why I can’t catch any fish.

ANDREW

We can’t stay out here all day.

JESUS

(again)

Simon.

ANDREW

Would you go see what Jesus wants?

Yet Simon looks only at his net.

SIMON

The net is broke.

INT.  A room located at an inn.  Jesus, whose face is still unseen by us, sits directly across the table from Simon.

VOICEOVER

And so He gathered his apostles.

Simon holds his hands out to signify the size of a fish.

VOICEOVER (cont.)

But there were trials.

SIMON

It was this big.

JESUS

(to Simon, chastising him)

Peter…

Quickly Simon gestures to signify a smaller fish.

SIMON

All right… maybe like this.

EXT.  A STREET IN ROME.  SOME YEARS LATER.

Simon now is a bit older.  His beard is gray.  He has a small group of Romans gathered around him.  He holds his hands out to signify a large fish.

VOICEOVER

A myth was started….

A Roman soldier sees Simon.  Simon, too late, becomes aware of the soldier.  The Soldier approaches Simon.

SOLDIER

Hey!

Simon and the Romans take off running in various directions.

INT.  A ROMANESQUE CHURCH.  AROUND THE YEAR 700 A.D.

We hear the chanting of monks.  A Bishop walks in procession down the aisle.  A few monks walk behind him.  Parishioners stand watching him on both sides of the church.

VOICEOVER

…And continued…

Although holding his mitre, the Bishop, looking toward his congregation, gestures with his hands to signify a large fish.

INT.  THE SISTINE CHAPEL.  RENAISSANCE.

Michaelangelo is up painting the Sistine ceiling.  Pope Julius II looks up toward his newest painting.

VOICEOVER

…Down through the ages…

Julius sees that Michaelangelo has painted the picture of Simon holding a small fish.  Julius frowns.  Michaelangelo quickly paints over the picture, blotting it out.

 

INT.  A CASTLE IN SPAIN.  TORTURE CHAMBER.

The Grand Inquisitor Torquemada interviews a Prisoner who is stretched out on a torture rack.

VOICEOVER

Protected ruthlessly.

TORQUEMADA

(to the Prisoner)

How big?

VOICEOVER

Viciously.

The Prisoner’s limbs are further stretched out.  He screams in agony.

EXT.  ROME.  THE PRESENT DAY.  THE PAPAL BALCONY.

The Pope, whom we also see from behind, stands waiving at the large crowd in the square.

VOICEOVER

…Down to the present day.

Behind the Pope, Cardinal Ferrari looks with concern at Monsignor Falcone.

The Vatican’s dark secret.

The Pope holds his arms out to signify a large fish.  Cardinal Ferrari nods approvingly at Monsignor Falcone.

INT.  A DARK STUDY.

CAPTION: BOB LANGFORD.

Bob stands surrounded by old books and other writings.  On the walls are pictures of ancient fishermen.

Near Bob is a young Italian Woman.

VOICEOVER

But there are skeptics.

BOB

I don’t believe it.

Bob goes to one ancient script, its pages yellowed and tattered, and looks again at it.

I have proof here…

The Italian Woman becomes nervous.  She looks quickly about to determine whether anyone is hearing them.

…that the fish Simon caught-

ITALIAN WOMAN

Don’t say it!

EXT.  THE SEA OF GALILEE.  THE PRESENT DAY.

Bob and the Italian Woman are aboard a modern fishing ship.  Bob has been questioning a Palestinian Fisherman.

VOICEOVER

Some people seek the truth.

The Palestinian Fisherman gestures with his hands to signify a small fish.  This is seen by an Israeli Fisherman, who is also working on the ship.

No matter the consequences.

The Israeli Fisherman gestures to depict an even smaller fish.  The Palestinian Fisherman quickly responds, and the two fishermen argue with each other in Arabic and Hebrew, respectively.

EXT.  THE SQUARE OUTSIDE ST. PETER’S.

Bob now stands with the Italian Woman outside St. Peter’s.

VOICEOVER

Facing danger.

INT.  A DARK CHAMBER.  INSIDE THE PAPAL PALACE.

Bob and the Italian Woman stand in front of Monsignor Falcone, who shakes his head.

BOB

Cardinal Ferrari!

Monsignor Falcone continues to shake his head.

VOICEOVER

To the secret’s center.

EXT.  A STREET IN ROME.

Bob and the Italian Woman stand questioning two nuns.  One nun shakes her head as the other one watches her.

VOICEOVER

Not taking no for an answer…

INT.  THE SAME DARK CHAMBER AS BEFORE.

Bob and the Italian Woman stand in front of Cardinal Ferrari.  On each side of Ferrari is a Swiss Guard.

VOICEOVER

…until finally…

BOB

(to Ferrari)

We have proof here…

Ferrari looks at one Swiss Guard so as to give him a directive.  Both guards now approach Bob.

….that the fish your first pope caught…

The guards grab Bob, and pull him toward the exit.

…were not that big!  They were small fish!

Ferrari grins at Bob as he is taken out of the Rome.

EXT.  THE SQUARE OUTSIDE ST. PETER’S.

The Swiss Guards are still pulling Bob away from the Papal Palace.  The Italian Woman follows behind them.

BOB

This will get out!

EXT.  A ROAD IN ROME.

Bob drives an Italian sportscar.  Beside him is the Italian Woman.  They are stopped at a traffic light.

The Italian Woman turns nervously to look behind them.

BOB

What’s-?

ITALIAN WOMAN

We’re being followed.

The light turns.  Another car rams Bob’s car from behind.

INT.  INSIDE THE CAR THAT IS BEHIND BOB’S CAR.

A Small Old Nun, her face barely up to the steering wheel, sits behind the wheel.  Another nun sits beside her, and a third in the back seat.

The Small Old Nun yells at Bob.

SMALL OLD NUN

Face bruta!

She rams Bob’s car again.

The nun in the back seat crosses herself.

INT.  INSIDE BOB’S SPORTS CAR.

Bob quickly puts his car into high gear.

INT.  INSIDE THE SMALL OLD NUN’S CAR.

SMALL OLD NUN.

Scostumato!

EXT.  IN FRONT OF ROME’S COLOSSEUM.

CAPTION: POPES AND FISHERMEN

The Small Old Nun’s car chases after Bob.

VOICEOVER

The secret may not get out.

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LEGAL JUNKYARDS

As a writer I’ve had success in a number of genres.  The one gaping exception is on the subject of mental illness, or our society’s neglect of it.  It’s one topic that people don’t want to deal with.

A number years ago I had an article published in a prominent journal.  When I submitted another article about two years later, one dealing with mental illness and the law, a new editor wrote to vehemently reject it.  He went on to say that he would have turned down the published article had he been editor at the time.

Interesting enough, the journal went into a substantial decline of quality with the new editor.  Nevertheless, he had taken issue with my statement to the effect that courts of law are the junkyards of our society.

Yet last year, I heard Judge Steve Leifman speak at Fordham University’s Law and Neuroscience Center.  Judge Leifman presides in Miami-Dade County, Florida.  He spoke of the huge problem he encountered in Miami-Dade County, where large numbers of mentally ill persons charged with crimes, often trivial ones, were housed in an antiquated jail for long periods of time.

Judge Leifman responded to this problem by developing a system whereby criminal suspects with mental illnesses are connected with services as early in a case as the time arrest usually occurs.  As police officers are necessarily involved at this stage, they had to be trained in recognizing and properly responding to persons with mental illnesses.  Judge Leifman therefore worked with the police chiefs in his jurisdiction to develop this program.

Interestingly enough, over twelve years ago, I was involved with a similar project in Onondaga, the New York county where I practice law.  A Family Court judge started a committee for the purpose of connecting parties having mental health issues with services.

We envisioned a screening process for these issues in both criminal and Family Court cases.  And as with the Miami-Dade County program, we recognized that police officers would need to be trained to recognize these issues at the initiation of criminal cases.

We were doomed for lack of funding from both the state and federal governments.  Andrew Cuomo, when he became governor, continued a long-standing tradition of making mental health the first place for budget cuts.

We also suffered from governmental opposition.  The district attorney and local police chiefs supported the program, but the county departments of Social Services and Mental Health opposed it on issues of who would be controlling the process.

In his presentation, Judge Leifman spoke further of the large section of our population that is incarcerated, and the huge costs of this massive incarceration.  In this he repeated the concerns of other close observers who note these costs are breaking our state and federal budgets.  Judge Leifman commented that money could be used for much-needed infrastructure instead being spent on incarceration.

This system has been built on the laziness of our prejudices.  Indiscriminately we hold that those accused of crimes should be locked up for long periods of time.  We don’t wish to realize that the realities of criminal justice are much more complex than TV shows and politicians would have us believe.  Often there are much more productive and cheaper alternatives to incarceration.

A large number of persons criminally accused have mental illnesses.  They often are not able to even make the intent needed for the commission of crimes under our Anglo-American law.

Mental health has been for decades a low governmental and societal priority.  As the mentally ill seem voiceless, often afraid to come forward due to the prejudices against them, they can be easily cast aside and exploited.

We heard decades ago of the horrors of mental institutions.  People would often be housed in such places for large chunks of their lives under inhumane conditions.

In New York during the 1970’s, Governor Hugh Carey closed most of the mental hospitals.  In other such as Alabama, following much litigation over the rights of patients, large numbers of mental institutions were also closed.

The problem lay that in the aftermath, state budgets remained drastically reduced.  No alternatives to institutionalization were set up or explored.  No aftercare or outpatient provisions were established.

Unlike their European counterparts, Americans with mental illnesses were given no reasonable access to medication or treatment.  The prejudices remained, the topic remained taboo and the mental health issues remained far removed from mainstream medicine.

As Judge Leifman observed, the issues left unaddressed by governors and legislatures ended up in the courts.  Our society has regressed in this area to standards that seemed barbaric and inhumane even to the Victorians.

Over the past four decades, the mentally ill have been criminally accused and incarcerated in massive numbers.  Jails providing minimal and often no treatment have become the mental institutions of the early twenty-first century.

Yet we can be educated.  Many of us who work in the criminal justice system have realized the need for mental health treatment for a large number of individuals facing criminal charges.  In February of this year, I heard the district attorney of New York City, Cyrus Vance, Jr., speak at the Fordham Center.  Vance has been successful in providing treatment to many people who would otherwise be imprisoned.

The time has come for our law courts to stop being used as society’s junkyards.  It’s time that we address mental health, and see legal and human realities with new eyes.  It’s time that the New York City’s new policies on mental health treatment be instituted on a statewide and national level.  The system must be revolutionized.

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GUN RIGHTS ON THE PENDULUM

About year and a half ago, I made a speech in response to the Orlando nightclub shooting.  In this speech, I made the very narrow legal point that guns should not be sold to terrorists.  Two people then got up and spoke against me.

The total lack of substance behind the speeches of these two individuals shows the extremism and downright silliness that the gun rights position has been reduced to.  Months after the Las Vegas shooting, our Congress lacks the backbone even to outlaw the device that converts semi-automatics into automatics.

Another example of this extremism happened a while back when a woman gun rights activist in Florida was accidentally shot in the back by her four year old child.  According to her position, even a very small child should have access to a gun.

But these gun rights activists should beware history’s pendulum.  There may come a time when the public majority will be angry enough that they will want all guns taken away, just the very thing that the extremists, in their mindless blathering, fear.

There is a third, middle, position that is currently being expounded.  Those holding this position would keep assault weapons kept out of the hands of everyone except the active military or specially trained police officers.  They would pass laws requiring background checks and licensing for those seeking to own guns.  After all, prospective gun owners should be held to safety standards and testing demanded of motor vehicle operators.

In rights are responsibilities.  We should be addressing the issue as rational and responsible adults.

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