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Interview with James Ferraro, author of BLINDSIDED.
by Milano52
Nov 14, 2017 | 91 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Written By: Tiziano Thomas Dossena

 
Exclusive interview with James Ferraro, author of BLINDSIDED

JimFerrarroJames (Jim) L. Ferraro is a practicing litigation attorney, and the founding shareholder of The Ferraro Law Firm in Miami, Florida, and one of two founding partners of Kelley & Ferraro LLP in Cleveland, Ohio. His firms currently represent nearly 50,000 asbestos claimants. The Ferraro Law Firm also has an office in Washington, D.C. that specializes in corporate tax fraud and tax whistleblower cases.

A native of Greenwich, Connecticut, Mr. Ferraro graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelor of Business Administration in 1978 and a Master of Science in Accounting in 1979. He became a Certified Public Accountant in 1980, and taught accounting at the University of Miami in 1982 while in law school. He received his law degree from the University of Miami School of Law in 1983. He is a member of the Ohio, New York, Florida, District of Columbia, and Massachusetts Bars; the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation; the American Bar Association; the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants; the American Association for Justice; the Florida Justice Association; The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyers; and the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. He is a Florida State Coordinator for The Public Justice Foundation.

Mr. Ferraro has fashioned his law practice in the areas of mass torts, product liability, wrongful death, medical malpractice, environmental and family law. He has specialized in asbestos and mass tort litigation for almost thirty years, and has successfully tried many cases that resulted in multi-million dollar jury verdicts. In 1995, he received the largest compensatory award in the state of Florida for a mesothelioma case; and in 1997, Mr. Ferraro also had the highest compensatory jury verdict ever in the nation for a non-malignant asbestos case. Most recently, in August 2015, Jim tried an asbestos case against Georgia-Pacific with his oldest son, James, resulting in a $17,175,000 verdict. Based on that verdict, CVN Florida voted Jim 2015 Plaintiff’s Attorney of the Year.

He was one of ten national finalists for Trial Lawyer of the Year in 1997 for trying the first case successfully prosecuted against a chemical company for causing a birth defect. Mr. Ferraro proved that a pregnant woman’s exposure to the fungicide, Benlate, caused her child to be born without eyes and held the chemical company, DuPont, accountable in Castillo vs. E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company and Pine Island Farms. The trial was covered in its entirety on Court TV and received worldwide attention. Seven years after trial, the Supreme Court of Florida affirmed the trial court verdict. The trial has also been documented in a book, Blindsided, just recently published. 

Christian Slater said of the book: “Blindsided is a compelling and important story that holds as much social relevance today as it did when the trial against DuPont took place.”

Here is the exclusive interview he gave to Tiziano Thomas Dossena:

Screen shot 2017-03-17 at 12.02.38 PMTiziano T. Dossena: How did you meet the Castillo family, plaintiffs for the now-famous Castillo vs. DuPont case? What made you decide to take the case, unique and challenging as it was, both legally and financially?

James Ferraro: I received a call from an old college friend of mine, telling me about the Castillos’ story and asking me to meet with them. I was reluctant because I knew how tough these cases were to win, but I agreed to have Donna Castillo come to my office and meet with me.

Donna was very emotional and suffered a grave injustice.  However, I was not going to take the case due to the extreme level of difficulty.  After some limited research we found a study where the chemical was tested on pregnant rats and 43% of the rat offspring were born with no eyes or other ocular abnormalities.  Even though the deck was stacked against us, we decided we would take a shot.

Tiziano T. Dossena: Are you still in contact with the Castillo family? How has little Johnny fared since then? 

James Ferraro: I have had limited contact with the plaintiffs over the years as a form of respect to their privacy and to allow them to move on with their lives.  I know the family is doing well and I am very happy that we were able to make a difference in their lives. Because of the outcome of the case, Johnny was able to afford to attend the Perkins School for the Blind.

Tiziano T. Dossena: This celebrated litigation being the milestone and reference for many other cases, do you feel large corporation have changed somewhat their behavior since then because of it? Do you believe the average person has now a better chance to fight these Goliaths because of the outcome of that historical lawsuit?

James Ferraro: The case set a precedent as the first of its kind, because it was the first time a chemical giant was successfully prosecuted for causing a birth defect. It also allowed the chemical Benlate to be removed from the market. However, it’s still a very difficult case, and we have a long way to go. I believe a true change will be when a law is passed at the Federal level that holds corporations accountable to the information (science/data) that is submitted to a governmental agency for licensing purposes, making that information admissible in court.

Tiziano T. Dossena: Do you feel that, notwithstanding the enormous success of your firm with scores of legal actions and your highly respected reputation with Mass Tort and Federal Tax Whistleblower practices, the Castillo vs. DuPont case is the one you are going to be remembered for? Is that what you would like or do you feel there are other actions and instances for which you should be celebrated or remembered for? 

James Ferraro: I think I am best known for this case due to it being the first successful prosecution of its kind and also the heart wrenching story behind it. But I’ve also successfully tried many cases that resulted in multi-million dollar jury verdicts, specializing in asbestos and mass tort litigation. In 1995, I received the largest compensatory award in the state of Florida for a mesothelioma case; and in 1997, I also had the highest compensatory jury verdict ever in the nation for a non-malignant asbestos case.

Most recently, in August 2015, I tried an asbestos case against Georgia-Pacific with my son, James, resulting in a $17,175,000 verdict. Based on that verdict, I was voted the 2015 Plaintiff’s Attorney of the Year.

Tiziano T. Dossena: Large corporations have used experiments funded by them to get approval by the government to use a particular chemical and then called the same experiment ‘junk science’ when a lawyer from the plaintiff side wants to use the same experiment in court against them, often getting away with their action (junk-science defense.) You were the promoter of a law to allow an experiment, which was previously used to obtain a license to sell a chemical, to be used as evidence in court. Has that initial movement gained any strength and support since then and what can people do to help with this issue?

James Ferraro: Currently, defendants like DuPont seek to exclude science under the guise of junk science.  In this particular case, DuPont was seeking to exclude some of the science that they submitted to the EPA to get their product licensed.  I believe a law should be written whereby a corporation or individual who submits scientific data to a governmental agency for licensing purposes is admissible in a court of law.

Unfortunately, It’s not going to happen right now with the current administration. They’re anti-climate change, so this is not the right time. After the mid-term elections, if the balance of power shifts, that might be the right time to do it. The book will be out for about a year and a half, and the movie should be pretty close to being finished at that point in time.

Tiziano T. Dossena: Reading the book, one can perceive the persistence and determination that drove you to achieve this enormously important win over this powerful industrial giant and will feel in awe of it. Have you at any point almost lost that determination? Was there anything that almost drove you to let go of it? 

James Ferraro: It was a monster undertaking. I originally wasn’t going to take the case. Once I saw the rat studios, I said, you know what, we can make a “state of the art” case, meaning you don’t have to have actual knowledge of the dangers of the product to be liable. When we went through Dupont’s document depository in Delaware, where they buried documents, we found studies that they did on their own that showed they had bad results from the rat studies too. I knew it was going to be pretty big when I got into it, but I didn’t know how big. I personally took every deposition: 63 depositions in four countries. I was sleeping four hours a night. I became like a marine.

It definitely took a toll on my personal life, and I wouldn’t recommend it to any young lawyer starting out. But I never lost determination. The more I knew Dupont was guilty, the more I was motivated to keep going and bring justice to the Castillos.webFerraro

Tiziano T. Dossena: What exactly is Project Blindsided and how can people get involved with it?

James Ferraro: ProjectBlindsided.com  is my website, which not only has information on myself and the book, but allows the public to stand with me and fight for a stronger EPA. The EPA is the police force for the environment, and the environmental policies that keep our food, water, and air safe from poisons. Many in Washington are trying to strip the EPA of regulatory muscle. A weakened EPA puts each one of us in danger and will lead to widespread disaster in the lives of Americans, resulting in devastating maladies from birth defects to cancer.

There’s a page where readers can add their name to show their support for a strong EPA or any government agency (state or local) that will commit resources and tools needed to protect us and the environment from corporate polluters.


This great book may also be purchased at Amazon.com!

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Trying To Walk Like A Man; The Chris Wiehl Playbook.
by Milano52
Oct 29, 2017 | 3398 views | 0 0 comments | 399 399 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Interviews with the two authors.
 
 
Trying To Walk Like A Man; The Chris Wiehl Playbook

Interview by Tiziano Thomas Dossena

chrisbook

Christopher Wiehl is an American-born actor and filmmaker.  A native of Yakima, Washington, Chris graduated from the University of Washington in 1993 with a major in Dramatic Arts; he migrated to Los Angeles in the summer of ’94, and quickly booked several major ad campaigns, for Old Spice, Coors, Ford, and Coca-Cola, among others. He soon appeared as a Guest Star on numerous popular television series, and by 1997 he became a series regular on shows like Bull, First Monday, Playmakers, and CSI: Las Vegas.

In 1998, Chris added writer, producer, director to his bio when he formed Yakima Productions. The company has released three films and currently houses over a dozen scripts.

In 2009, Chris’ life took a real turn when he received a brain tumor diagnosis. With his baby boy only a month old and a marriage already on the rocks, Christopher’s life was in peril. He had a successful surgery to remove the tumor, but had major complications during recovery. It’s been a long climb back to relevance in the entertainment world and redemption in his personal world. 

Today Chris is healthy and happy again, working in Hollywood and living at the beach, and living a life he thought was out of reach just a few years before.

Trying To Walk Like A Man, The Chris Wiehl Playbook is a wonderful autobiography by the actor/ filmmaker Chris Wiehl, written with ex-actor/writer John Turner; it has sensitivity, honesty and a true account of overcoming apparently insurmountable difficulties that will grab the heart of the reader and will keep it prisoner until the end. In it, the author gets a brain tumor removed, leaving him partially deaf. It’s not only a story of a man prevailing over the aftereffects of a brain tumor, though, but it’s in reality two stories, one of them unwritten in this book: John Turner was also an actor when he was brutally assaulted and left with traumatic brain injury. After that incident, John no longer had the capabilities to perform, so he established a career as a writer.

Their book is therefore more meaningful because of the experience that Mr. Turner had, which allows him to capture Christopher Wiehl’s true feelings and passed them to the reader fully unaltered.

INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS WIEHL

Tiziano Dossena: Do you feel you are a better person because of this unfortunate event of your life? That is, in what ways has ‘being a survivor’ changed you psychologically?

CHRIS WIEHLI definitely have more empathy. Physically, I’m really not “better”—I’m deaf in my right ear, I have balance issues—but psychologically, you bet. I think I’m more patient, more empathetic, and being near death can really change your perspective. I definitely value the little things more. I don’t take nearly as much for granted as I used to. Being able to stay healthy and fit—a lot of those “little things” are more important to me now.

Tiziano Dossena: From every page of your book transpires your view that nothing really positive can be achieved without hard work and perseverance. Do you feel mental stamina is hereditary? Is it part of one’s personality? Can it be built upon? 

CHRIS WIEHLI don’t know if that kind of stamina is hereditary, as much as it’s passed down through generations. You kind of learn it by example. I was really fortunate to have parents that worked very hard, and they showed me the benefits of long-term perseverance. Unfortunately, in the acting business nobody showed me how to keep going when times got tough—not directly, anyway. I did have lots of support from my friends and family, but I kind of had to rely on myself. One thing that I’m glad I did early on—and still do, to an extent—is to make sure and do something positive every single day. So when I’d put my head on my pillow each night, I could say I did something to help myself. And when my breaks finally came, I had a positive attitude about things, and that helped me keep moving forward. So perseverance is a learned skill. It’s like a muscle—the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.

Tiziano Dossena: Your book tells about your having to survive an unexpected ailment and its consequences and how you came out of it, but if you had only a paragraph to express your feelings, what would you tell someone who has to confront a similar situation as the one you lived through?

CHRIS WIEHLSeveral things: first, that it’s okay to be sad. There’s a great line in Hamlet where his mother says that they need to get up and get going, and Hamlet says, “First, I must bleed.” In other words, take the time you need to work through it, and you’ll be better off in the long run. And depending on the problem you’re facing, try to live day by day—or even minute by minute. Don’t concern yourself with tomorrow, or next week, or even next month. Try to live in the moment. Before you know it, those moments add up to days, weeks, and months. And finally: don’t be ashamed to ask for help! Having your loved ones on your side will go a long way.

Chris Wiiehl

Chris Wiehl

 

Tiziano Dossena: When you returned to your acting occupation, after the operation, was deafness or lack of equilibrium the hardest to deal with, in that context? 

CHRIS WIEHLI think the toughest thing was that I suddenly had to strain to listen a lot more. Doing that would tense my body up, and by the end of a 12-hour day of shooting I would just be exhausted. Luckily the first couple of roles I had weren’t too physically challenging, so I made it through all right. And the good thing was that I’ve become a much better listener when I act–and listening is just as important as speaking. So in that sense, being deaf in one ear has been an improvement.

Tiziano Dossena: Living in New York City just out of college was, as you mentioned in your book, “one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made—but it was also one of the best.” Do you feel that if you would have gone to NYC at a different time of your life, with already enough experience for example, the results would have been different? 

CHRIS WIEHLI think the timing was perfect my first time there. I was a small-town boy from Yakima, Washington, and dealing with all the adversity I did really helped me as I moved forward in my career. I love New York; I think it’s one of the few cities in the world that genuinely has a heartbeat. I’ve been back since and worked on shows like Bronx County and Love Monkey, and really enjoyed my time there. But when I lived in NYC the first time was exactly what needed to happen for me—I learned so much!

Chris Wiehl in one of his TV series

Chris Wiehl in one of his TV series

Tiziano Dossena: You refer to the “Hollywood grapevine” being “just vicious” and that if “words get out that you have (or even had) a medical issue, then you’re marked as damaged goods, and you’re essentially done for…”? How have you overcome this problem and kept afloat and successful in Hollywood?

CHRIS WIEHL: I compare it to being a player on a sports team. If you’re injured and can’t play as well, you’re written off. And it’s the same in Hollywood. Competition is fierce, and you need every advantage possible. I just basically worked really, really hard to rehab myself so that now, I’m not physically handicapped and my health isn’t in question.

Tiziano Dossena: Which one was the acting part that gave you the most satisfaction?

CHRIS WIEHL: Wow. It’s tough to just name one. I honestly go back to when I played John Merrick in The Elephant Man in college, because that part really opened up the whole world of acting for me. But also the first pilot I got called Bronx County was great, and my first series to go to air, a show called Bull, was great too. As an athlete, I loved being on the ESPN show Playmakers, when I got to play an NFL quarterback. So it’s hard to break it down to just one favorite.

One of the movies scripted, produced and directed by Chris Wiehl

One of the movies scripted, produced and directed by Chris Wiehl

Tiziano Dossena: What is your next project as movie producer and/or director? 

CHRIS WIEHLWe have several scripts under our veil right now, but the one I’m most excited about is a film that’s still untitled that my writing partner Danny Kolker and I are working on. It’s about Ironman triathlons, and is sort of a coming-of-age story about two guys competing in Ironman.

Tiziano Dossena: Are we going to see you in any TV series or movie in the next future?

CHRIS WIEHLI’m actually reading for several TV parts and a couple of film parts. I don’t really want to say what they are—I’m superstitious about that!

Tiziano Dossena: By meeting you and John together at the New York Book Show, I had the immediate sensation that yours was a deep friendship and not only work collaboration. How did you meet John Turner and decide he was the right person to help you with your book?

CHRIS WIEHL: I met John through Barbara Terry at Waldorf Publishing. Barbara gave me a list of names of people to interview to be my co-author; John and I had lunch, and we hit it off right away. We had many things in common: John was an actor, he’d had some brain trauma too, and we’re the same age. Plus, I really enjoy John’s “Southern sensibility,” him being from Mississippi; I recently shot a movie there, so we have that connection as well. I think John is very kind and is a great listener, so I thought he was perfect for the project. And we’d like to work together in the future adapting or writing an original screenplay.


 

JOHN TURNER

John Turner is a native Mississippian currently residing in Los Angeles. A 1997 graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi (BFA, Acting/Music), John relocated to New York in 1999 to begin his acting career; in 2002, he was the victim of a brutal mugging and assault, and suffered a traumatic brain injury in the attack. After that incident John no longer had the physical capabilities to perform, so he established a career as a writer. John recollects the terrible mugging (along with other life lessons) in his first book, a collection of humorous short stories called “Confessions of a Gimp” (2014). Since then, John has released two more non-fiction books and has had numerous stories published in national magazines. Learn more about John by visiting his official Facebook author page at facebook.com/johnturnerwriter. In 2014 John relocated to Los Angeles to be with the love of his life, his girlfriend (now his wife) Kari.

INTERVIEW WITH JOHN TURNER

John Turner's book published in 2014

John Turner’s book published in 2014

Tiziano Dossena: Did you somewhat re-live your experience with trauma by helping Chris writing his story?

JOHN TURNER: Oh, sure. One thing I liked to do with Chris while we were doing interviews was to talk about my own experiences with my brain injury, and see if he related to them. That way, when I would transcribe the interview, it would be more organic and honest for me as a writer, and it would help me tell Chris’s story in ways I understood and could relate to.

Tiziano Dossena: Did you ever think, when you started as an actor, that you could have become a writer? Was this something that would have happened anyway, with time? 

JOHN TURNER: Well, I read a whole lot as a kid, and had entered some writing competitions in junior high and high school. So I kind of already knew I had the skill. After I suffered my brain injury and could no longer act, turning to writing was just a natural progression. And if I’m being honest, I think I’m a better writer than I was an actor. So where my professional life is concerned, my brain injury turned out to be a good thing.

John Turner

John Turner

Tiziano Dossena: What is your next book project?

JOHN TURNER:  I’m planning to start a fiction novel early next year. Thus far my books have been non-fiction, but I think I have a pretty good sense of story, so I think I’m ready. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’ll be a bit autobiographical, about a guy who suffers brain trauma—but a side effect of his injury is that he gets a sort of “moral super-power.” Stay tuned for details!



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Trying To Walk Like A Man; The Chris Wiehl Playbook. Interviews with the authors.
by Milano52
Oct 23, 2017 | 104 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

 

Trying To Walk Like A Man; The Chris Wiehl Playbook

Interview by Tiziano Thomas Dossena

chrisbook

Christopher Wiehl is an American-born actor and filmmaker.  A native of Yakima, Washington, Chris graduated from the University of Washington in 1993 with a major in Dramatic Arts; he migrated to Los Angeles in the summer of ’94, and quickly booked several major ad campaigns, for Old Spice, Coors, Ford, and Coca-Cola, among others. He soon appeared as a Guest Star on numerous popular television series, and by 1997 he became a series regular on shows like Bull, First Monday, Playmakers, and CSI: Las Vegas.

In 1998, Chris added writer, producer, director to his bio when he formed Yakima Productions. The company has released three films and currently houses over a dozen scripts.

In 2009, Chris’ life took a real turn when he received a brain tumor diagnosis. With his baby boy only a month old and a marriage already on the rocks, Christopher’s life was in peril. He had a successful surgery to remove the tumor, but had major complications during recovery. It’s been a long climb back to relevance in the entertainment world and redemption in his personal world. 

Today Chris is healthy and happy again, working in Hollywood and living at the beach, and living a life he thought was out of reach just a few years before.

Trying To Walk Like A Man, The Chris Wiehl Playbook is a wonderful autobiography by the actor/ filmmaker Chris Wiehl, written with ex-actor/writer John Turner; it has sensitivity, honesty and a true account of overcoming apparently insurmountable difficulties that will grab the heart of the reader and will keep it prisoner until the end. In it, the author gets a brain tumor removed, leaving him partially deaf. It’s not only a story of a man prevailing over the aftereffects of a brain tumor, though, but it’s in reality two stories, one of them unwritten in this book: John Turner was also an actor when he was brutally assaulted and left with traumatic brain injury. After that incident, John no longer had the capabilities to perform, so he established a career as a writer.

Their book is therefore more meaningful because of the experience that Mr. Turner had, which allows him to capture Christopher Wiehl’s true feelings and passed them to the reader fully unaltered.

INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS WIEHL

Tiziano Dossena: Do you feel you are a better person because of this unfortunate event of your life? That is, in what ways has ‘being a survivor’ changed you psychologically?

CHRIS WIEHL: I definitely have more empathy. Physically, I’m really not “better”—I’m deaf in my right ear, I have balance issues—but psychologically, you bet. I think I’m more patient, more empathetic, and being near death can really change your perspective. I definitely value the little things more. I don’t take nearly as much for granted as I used to. Being able to stay healthy and fit—a lot of those “little things” are more important to me now.

Tiziano Dossena: From every page of your book transpires your view that nothing really positive can be achieved without hard work and perseverance. Do you feel mental stamina is hereditary? Is it part of one’s personality? Can it be built upon? 

CHRIS WIEHL: I don’t know if that kind of stamina is hereditary, as much as it’s passed down through generations. You kind of learn it by example. I was really fortunate to have parents that worked very hard, and they showed me the benefits of long-term perseverance. Unfortunately, in the acting business nobody showed me how to keep going when times got tough—not directly, anyway. I did have lots of support from my friends and family, but I kind of had to rely on myself. One thing that I’m glad I did early on—and still do, to an extent—is to make sure and do something positive every single day. So when I’d put my head on my pillow each night, I could say I did something to help myself. And when my breaks finally came, I had a positive attitude about things, and that helped me keep moving forward. So perseverance is a learned skill. It’s like a muscle—the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.

Tiziano Dossena: Your book tells about your having to survive an unexpected ailment and its consequences and how you came out of it, but if you had only a paragraph to express your feelings, what would you tell someone who has to confront a similar situation as the one you lived through?

CHRIS WIEHL: Several things: first, that it’s okay to be sad. There’s a great line in Hamlet where his mother says that they need to get up and get going, and Hamlet says, “First, I must bleed.” In other words, take the time you need to work through it, and you’ll be better off in the long run. And depending on the problem you’re facing, try to live day by day—or even minute by minute. Don’t concern yourself with tomorrow, or next week, or even next month. Try to live in the moment. Before you know it, those moments add up to days, weeks, and months. And finally: don’t be ashamed to ask for help! Having your loved ones on your side will go a long way.

Chris Wiiehl

Chris Wiehl

Tiziano Dossena: When you returned to your acting occupation, after the operation, was deafness or lack of equilibrium the hardest to deal with, in that context? 

CHRIS WIEHL: I think the toughest thing was that I suddenly had to strain to listen a lot more. Doing that would tense my body up, and by the end of a 12-hour day of shooting I would just be exhausted. Luckily the first couple of roles I had weren’t too physically challenging, so I made it through all right. And the good thing was that I’ve become a much better listener when I act–and listening is just as important as speaking. So in that sense, being deaf in one ear has been an improvement.

Tiziano Dossena: Living in New York City just out of college was, as you mentioned in your book, “one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made—but it was also one of the best.” Do you feel that if you would have gone to NYC at a different time of your life, with already enough experience for example, the results would have been different? 

CHRIS WIEHL: I think the timing was perfect my first time there. I was a small-town boy from Yakima, Washington, and dealing with all the adversity I did really helped me as I moved forward in my career. I love New York; I think it’s one of the few cities in the world that genuinely has a heartbeat. I’ve been back since and worked on shows like Bronx County and Love Monkey, and really enjoyed my time there. But when I lived in NYC the first time was exactly what needed to happen for me—I learned so much!

Chris Wiehl in one of his TV series

Chris Wiehl in one of his TV series

Tiziano Dossena: You refer to the “Hollywood grapevine” being “just vicious” and that if “words get out that you have (or even had) a medical issue, then you’re marked as damaged goods, and you’re essentially done for…”? How have you overcome this problem and kept afloat and successful in Hollywood?

CHRIS WIEHL: I compare it to being a player on a sports team. If you’re injured and can’t play as well, you’re written off. And it’s the same in Hollywood. Competition is fierce, and you need every advantage possible. I just basically worked really, really hard to rehab myself so that now, I’m not physically handicapped and my health isn’t in question.

Tiziano Dossena: Which one was the acting part that gave you the most satisfaction?

CHRIS WIEHL: Wow. It’s tough to just name one. I honestly go back to when I played John Merrick in The Elephant Man in college, because that part really opened up the whole world of acting for me. But also the first pilot I got called Bronx County was great, and my first series to go to air, a show called Bull, was great too. As an athlete, I loved being on the ESPN show Playmakers, when I got to play an NFL quarterback. So it’s hard to break it down to just one favorite.

One of the movies scripted, produced and directed by Chris Wiehl

One of the movies scripted, produced and directed by Chris Wiehl

Tiziano Dossena: What is your next project as movie producer and/or director? 

CHRIS WIEHL: We have several scripts under our veil right now, but the one I’m most excited about is a film that’s still untitled that my writing partner Danny Kolker and I are working on. It’s about Ironman triathlons, and is sort of a coming-of-age story about two guys competing in Ironman.

Tiziano Dossena: Are we going to see you in any TV series or movie in the next future?

CHRIS WIEHL: I’m actually reading for several TV parts and a couple of film parts. I don’t really want to say what they are—I’m superstitious about that!

Tiziano Dossena: By meeting you and John together at the New York Book Show, I had the immediate sensation that yours was a deep friendship and not only work collaboration. How did you meet John Turner and decide he was the right person to help you with your book?

CHRIS WIEHL: I met John through Barbara Terry at Waldorf Publishing. Barbara gave me a list of names of people to interview to be my co-author; John and I had lunch, and we hit it off right away. We had many things in common: John was an actor, he’d had some brain trauma too, and we’re the same age. Plus, I really enjoy John’s “Southern sensibility,” him being from Mississippi; I recently shot a movie there, so we have that connection as well. I think John is very kind and is a great listener, so I thought he was perfect for the project. And we’d like to work together in the future adapting or writing an original screenplay.


 

JOHN TURNER

John Turner is a native Mississippian currently residing in Los Angeles. A 1997 graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi (BFA, Acting/Music), John relocated to New York in 1999 to begin his acting career; in 2002, he was the victim of a brutal mugging and assault, and suffered a traumatic brain injury in the attack. After that incident John no longer had the physical capabilities to perform, so he established a career as a writer. John recollects the terrible mugging (along with other life lessons) in his first book, a collection of humorous short stories called “Confessions of a Gimp” (2014). Since then, John has released two more non-fiction books and has had numerous stories published in national magazines. Learn more about John by visiting his official Facebook author page at facebook.com/johnturnerwriter. In 2014 John relocated to Los Angeles to be with the love of his life, his girlfriend (now his wife) Kari.

INTERVIEW WITH JOHN TURNER

John Turner's book published in 2014

John Turner’s book published in 2014

Tiziano Dossena: Did you somewhat re-live your experience with trauma by helping Chris writing his story?

JOHN TURNER: Oh, sure. One thing I liked to do with Chris while we were doing interviews was to talk about my own experiences with my brain injury, and see if he related to them. That way, when I would transcribe the interview, it would be more organic and honest for me as a writer, and it would help me tell Chris’s story in ways I understood and could relate to.

Tiziano Dossena: Did you ever think, when you started as an actor, that you could have become a writer? Was this something that would have happened anyway, with time? 

JOHN TURNER: Well, I read a whole lot as a kid, and had entered some writing competitions in junior high and high school. So I kind of already knew I had the skill. After I suffered my brain injury and could no longer act, turning to writing was just a natural progression. And if I’m being honest, I think I’m a better writer than I was an actor. So where my professional life is concerned, my brain injury turned out to be a good thing.

John Turner

John Turner

Tiziano Dossena: What is your next book project?

JOHN TURNER:  I’m planning to start a fiction novel early next year. Thus far my books have been non-fiction, but I think I have a pretty good sense of story, so I think I’m ready. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’ll be a bit autobiographical, about a guy who suffers brain trauma—but a side effect of his injury is that he gets a sort of “moral super-power.” Stay tuned for details!

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BOOK EXPO AMERICA 2017: Lots of great authors!
by Milano52
Jun 14, 2017 | 20579 views | 5 5 comments | 603 603 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

 

Book Expo America 2017 (Part1)

Article by Tiziano Thomas Dossena

BEA’s annual encounter in New York (which by the way has missed a step last year by exhibiting in Chicago instead) started under a bad auspice on Wednesday, May 31st. Our journalists encountered uncompleted booths, unreliable directions and basically no real Show, leaving the premises after a useless attempt to make sense of the disorganization they stumbled upon, a first for this usually magic exhibition. Fortunately, BEA partially redeemed itself on the two following days, although some lagging problems puzzled me. What happened to the beautiful organization behind the previous years, when at the autographing boots you could confirm the identity of the book to be signed also by photographs? What about their APP giving you some information about the book and author you are attempting to retrieve? And the missing information on the pamphlets about the books’ content? Well, life is not perfect, and I guess mishaps happen, but I do believe that the much smaller number of exhibitors was tied to last year’s abandonment of the City that never sleeps.

Thomas_Jerome_WrightSr_NinetyNineLiesAndOneTruth

Thomas Jerome Wright Sr.

Regardless, there were still plenty of great surprises that made up for the disappointments. One of these was the large number of first-time authors assembled in an easily reached common area.  There, you could find Thomas Jerome Wright Sr. presenting to the public his spiritual guide to finding themselves through the awareness of “technology’s many lies”, Ninety-Nine Lies and One Truth. This is a book about awakening mass consciousness.

Carmen Ashe

Carmen Ashe

Another ‘spiritual’ uplifting author/book was Carmen Ashe with her I Have a Purpose, the riveting and uplifting story of her life, in which the lessons learned are used to pass on to the readers her understanding that ‘we all have a purpose.’

30yearAn interesting book from that section was also The Thirty Year Diet: The Journey Of Me, Fat Girl and My FOPA by Robin Nutter, a hilarious recollection of her 30 years battle with diets and her long standing identification with the ‘fat girl’ persona.

Interestingly enough, in the proximity of these writers there were also two other fascinating authors with their books.

The first was Fred Clark Sr., born December 1930, who was studying abroad in Cuba when the revolution broke out and the university closed. He stayed and wrote a murder mystery inspired by his time there, The Door Of Death. Clark went on to become a lawyer and work for Prentice Hall as a senior legal editor. The manuscript laid dormant for over fifty years and was finally published on Amazon with the help of his son in 2015. Clark is likely the oldest first time author at BEA 2017.

Fred Clark Sr.

Fred Clark Sr.

The other pleasant surprise was the 16 years old Harley Zed Mona with his Our Guardian Renegade, a science fiction saga with a huge cast of vivid characters and factions into the fray. An Art Book with colorful illustrations of the various characters and symbols is also available. I am certain this book will be followed by others, since it opens a new world (Senia) to the lovers of Science fiction….  Mona may be the youngest first time author at Book Expo America 2017.

Harley Zed Mona with Tiziano Thomas Dossena

Harley Zed Mona with Tiziano Thomas Dossena

favelaKidnemecene1In the same exhibit area there were also previously published authors who have truly original titles to offer, such as Alex Alico (the author has previously published 35 books!) with his The Favela Kid, the first of a three book series about the epic struggles and triumphs of a young man  in the Favelas of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil and in Queens, New York., and Kaz Lefav with her NEMECENE saga of Science Fiction about a toxic future flooded by dead oceans and poisonous gases… Great marketing tools came with the books, such as a canvas book to hold them and greatly illustrated bookmarks and tarot cards…

nemecene2

sears… So, as the day went by, the encounters with the authors revealed themselves to be exceptionally interesting. The hilarious J.P. Sears presented his How to be Ultra Spiritual, 12½ Steps To Spiritual Superiority, a book that claims to contain expert-level master training in competitive spirituality, dreaming up your awakening, mindfulness, merciless meditation, how to be nonjudgmental and much more… With 100 million views on his YouTube channel, Mr. Sears has proven that he can deliver great humor and I believe this book does just that….

JPSears_HowToBeUltraSpiritual

JP Sears

A different kind of humor, based more on the absurdity of real life is the type found in Sucktown, USA, a well written novel by first=time author Craig Dirkes. His main character flunks in college due to too much partying, so he decides to ‘redeem’ himself by taking a job in tiny Kusko, Alaska, and promises to stay a year. Soon he is lonely, low on cash and desperate to leave. It’s a rough, raw, harrowing and hilarious story…

Craig Dirkes

Craig Dirkes

Three more debuts offered visitors and readers alike attention-grabbing topics. The first was The Rule of Half, a novel by Jenna Patrick. It explores what it means to be an atypical family in a small town, mentally ill in the wake of a tragedy, and most importantly, who has the right to determine both. The second was To The Stars Through Difficulties, a charming history of the birth of a cultural center in the Plains by the No Guilt Quilters, a group whose foremothers built 59 Carnegie libraries in Kansas a century before. Gayle Brandeis called it a “wildly inspiring love letter to libraries, to art, to Kansas, to community.” A memoir that the Washingtonian Magazine called “…as riveting as a mystery and as filling as a feast,” was the last of these first-time authors’ book, I’m The One Who Got Away, by Andrea Jarrell. The book, which will be available September 5th, reads like a thriller, but it’s a true chronicle of the author who, as a child was a fugitive with her mother from a man as alluring as he is violent, and as an adult she has an epiphany when a woman she knows is murdered, and she realizes that it’s her mother’s choices she has been trying to escape all along.

From the left: Jenna Patrick, Andrea Jarrell and Romalyn Tilghman

From the left: Jenna Patrick, Andrea Jarrell and Romalyn Tilghman

bakingMelissa Palmer’s delightful Baking For Dave is a novel that addresses the fears that people with autism, or Sensory Processing Disorder, of any level confront in doing every day’s tasks. It does so with delicacy and a pleasant style, describing the ‘road trip’ of an adolescent who runs away to compete on a national bake-off. To get there, she will need to “borrow’ her mother’s car, cross stateliness, and do the most terrifying thing of all, interact with actual people! Ms. Palmer stated that she created the world and characters in the book building it on her experience with her two daughters.

Melissa Palmer

Melissa Palmer

Detroit Lions’ Don J. Carey III made an appearance, to the delight of football fans, so as to present his It’s Not Because I Am Better Than You!, a motivational and inspiring book that is aimed at providing a plan of sort for a successful life despite the odds and the environment in which one grows. This book may turn out to be a useful tool for people who want to overcome the habit of letting others decide what they are capable of…

Don J. Carey III with our Journalist Nicoletta Mita Dossena

Don J. Carey III with  Nicoletta Mita Dossena

Book Expo America 2017 (Part 3)

Tiziano Thomas Dossena with Marvin Scott

asisawitA definitely pleasant surprise was meeting Marvin Scott, the legendary journalist from WPIX Channel 11 who has left a deep imprint upon us all in the news field with his flawless and emotionally charged reporting. Looking exactly as I remembered seeing him on TV through the past thirty years, Mr. Scott confirmed himself to be a true gentleman and a pleasant conversationalist, offering us a summary of his book; a brief interview will appear on a separate article.   His nonfiction book, titled As I Saw It; A Reporter’s Intrepid Journey, is a reflection on the stories  that have stuck with him personally over the years, and the people who gave them life. From Dr. Martin Luther Kings’ marches to a tense interview with Yasser Arafat, from bringing Christmas to our troops to conversing with Marilyn Monroe, his more than 50 years adventure in reporting, which has brought him eleven Emmy Awards, is offered to us in passionate glimpses of the most heartfelt encounters and situations. This is a book that will be enjoyed by everyone.Roe_DePinto_ANewLifeBegins

Roe_DePinto_ANewLifeBegins1There was a sizable presence of children’s authors at the BEA, mostly presenting brightly illustrated books with a learning message, but some of them deserved special attention on our part because of their high quality of content or presentation.  Roe De Pinto’s series of books on Zealy, a little seal pup with sparkly eyes and beautiful, silky white fur, and Whubba, a precious baby orca whale, are visually pleasing and teach about friendship among different individuals. These are books to be praised for their sturdiness, an advantage for early readers, besides their content. A ‘bravo’ for the author’s as well as the publisher’s choices.

Dael Oates and Stephen Beck

Dael Oates and Stephen Beck

A really great visual experience can be lived by your children turning the page so The Adventures Of Cloud Girl, a smart view of a girl’s vision of the ever-changing images that can be found in clouds, when she lets her fantasy run wild… The illustrations are sweet and extremely well-conceived and drawn (Dael Oates and Stephen Beck, the authors and illustrators, are also professional cartoonists), making this a great choice for a young child…

James McNally’s two books, Of Ducks, Dogs And Children and The Shepherds’ Story, are marvelous gems of children’s books, with great stories, illustrations and moral teachings.

James McNally

James McNally

Aimed at people who want to improve both their career chances and their life, Take Charge Of Your View, Career Advice You Won’t Get From Your Boss is a brilliant manual that can really be useful if followed attentively. In it, Lisa Prior will teach you how to develop new skills for career and life, analyze various aspects of your life and behavior, and how to pitch to your boss without creating a confrontation. Charts, lists of useful tools, and plenty of examples enhance the book and make it even more enticing.

Annie Baker

Annie Baker

A superb work of drama, Annie Baker’s John is a play that received its Off-Broadway world premiere at The Pershing Square Signature Center in New York City. Theater lovers have now the opportunity to purchase the book with the play by this awarded playwright.

There were two books that touched me deeply for their content and the courage of their writers in approaching the subject. The first, Sleepwalker by Kathleen Frazier, is a compelling tale of the author’s terrifying experience with her somnambulism and her long travel to achieve freedom from this condition. Ms. Frazier bluntly describes her struggles, attempts and failures to find a solution and the final epiphany that brought her recovery from being a sleepwalker.

Kathleen Frazier

Kathleen Frazier

tryingTrying To Walk Like A Man, The Chris Wiehl Playbook is a wonderful autobiography by the actor/ filmmaker Chris Wiehl, written with ex-actor/writer John Turner; it has sensitivity, honesty and a true account of overcoming apparently unsurmountable difficulties that will grab the heart of the reader and will keep it prisoner until the end. In it, the author gets a brain tumor removed, leaving him partially deaf. It’s not only a story of a man prevailing over the aftereffects of a brain tumor, though, but it’s in reality two stories, one of them unwritten in this book: John Turner was also an actor when he was brutally assaulted and left with traumatic brain injury. After that incident, John no longer had the capabilities to perform, so he established a career as a writer.

Their book is therefore more meaningful because of the experience that Mr. Turner had, which allows him to capture Christopher Wiehl’s true feelings and passed them to the reader fully unaltered.

More children’s books at the Book Expo America 2017 attracted my eyes for their value as teaching life lessons while entertaining the child. One of them is Hey Mom, Can I Be Big?, an appealing story aimed at toddlers or early readers by Cari Pointer and illustrated by Hazel Quintanilla. The tale is simple and to the point: sometimes it’s easier being small and let someone big take care of you or protect you.

Cari Pointer

Cari Pointer

Erik Orejel and Jennie Wren

Erik Orejel and Jennie Wren

Another great writer for children was present with her last effort, Slicker McQuicker and the Rescue, where she emphasizes that friendship and safety are important. This book, written by the well-known Jennie Wren is one of the Slicker McQuicker series, deftly illustrated by Erik Orejel. An appealing character that has found great success among children, Slicker will be appearing in many more books…

In Rockstar Monkey, a great new book by Tiffany and illustrated by Alonzo, the main character Charlie dreams of being a rock star! Unfortunately, the other monkeys didn’t believe in his dream and discouraged him. Thank goodness he had a friend that encouraged him to believe in himself and know he could be anything he wanted to be! Rockstar Monkey encourages its readers to “Push to Achieve, Even When Others Don’t Believe!”rockstar_Monkey

 

Julian Lennon’s (yes, that Julian Lennon) Touch The Earth is a marvelous story aimed at making kids 3-6 years old  aware of the importance of water and how the lack or the poor quality of it may influence people’s lives. Excitingly illustrated by Smiljana Coh, the book is written at four hands with Bart Davis and it also contains a poem by Julian Lennon. A portion of proceeds from book sales will go to support the environmental and humanitarian efforts of The White Feather Foundation.touch the earth

Geoph Essex

Geoph Essex

Geoph Essex’s Lovely Assistant is an offbeat adventure of modern magic and mayhem, in which a reluctant magician’s assistant discovers the secrets of life and death, slowly and awkwardly, just in time to save the world from the oncoming apocalypse: a program into itself. Readers will love its quirky humor and outlook on life.

Written with a different perspective, The Curse Of The Werck Family, a set of two books, claim to have been given to the author by the spirit of a woman who accompanies her as a guardian angel. Written originally in Portuguese by Valeria Lopes, the books are quite interesting, especially for readers who like mysteries, and follow the events unleashed by the killing of a whole family during the Spanish Inquisition.thecurse

New York Times Best-selling author Jennifer Probst reveals her path to success, from struggling as a new writer to signing a seven-figure deal in Write Naked, in which she intermingles personal essays on craft with down-to-earth advice on writing romance in the digital age. This book will teach you how to commit to your current work-in-progress, get focused, and complete it on schedule, overcome writer’s block and also how to reveal raw emotions, develop themes, and write the most difficult elements of romance with skill and style. It’s practically a manual on writing romance novels, and a good one at that.write_naked

Another manual of sort is What You Need To Know to Go Global, A Guide to International Trade Transactions, by Stephen Creskoff. Obviously aimed at a limited readership, this book is a valuable implement to comprehend all the insights of international trade and could easily be used as a textbook in that subject.whatyouneed

carboncode

 

 

 

 

 

A thought-provoking book that answers very thorny questions regarding the use of fossil fuels and its damage to the environment, offering simple strategies to help you reduce your carbon footprint without abandoning common sense is The Carbon Code, How You Can Become A Climate Change Hero by Brett Favaro. The author claims that people don’t need to be climate change experts to be part of the solution, and that he will show you how to take ownership of your carbon footprint and adopt a lifestyle of conspicuous conservation that will spur governments and corporations to do the same. A great book for people who believe the Earth is worth saving. Bravo Brett!!

Lost dreams is a collection of short stories that were winners of a contest requesting nonfiction portrayals of loss in less than 4,000 words. The book wants to illustrate that dreams are lost in many ways and each will produce its own manner of grief, and by collecting these stories the editor, Dawn M. Bell, wants to encourage compassion for all types of loss, no matter the measure. She claims that ‘all loss is the loss of a dream. The dream is the path thought their life would take, how they envisioned their future. The path is irreversibly altered by the loss. While some losses may be deemed less painful, the first loss is ground zero for the sufferer. It’s the worst pain that person has ever felt and should not be minimized.” These stories offer a brief but significant view of how it is to walk in another person’s shoes.lostdreams

Another three days of scrambling through the booths to discover the hidden gems of the Book Expo America has gone by, but they were fruitful (though really shortened to two, thanks to the organizers) and these four articles proved it. Some authors’ interviews and book reviews will follow in time, but in the meanwhile I leave you with the recommendation to read and read again, because books are precious and so is your mind.

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November 11, 2017
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The Lady Or The Tiger: The Young Man Must Choose
by Milano52
May 31, 2017 | 22338 views | 1 1 comments | 534 534 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Written By: Tiziano Thomas Dossena

The Lady Or The Tiger: The Young Man Must Choose

costarellaReview by  Tiziano Thomas Dossena

In a smooth and exciting style, Linda Costarella presents us a story that is meant to be the continuation of Frank R. Stockton’s “The Lady or the Tiger”. Brief and to the point, this story qualifies as a ‘fable’ in its narration, contents and morality undertones. Young people of every age (that is, if you are young at heart you qualify) will love the way the author develops Stockton’s premises into an exciting and surprising story of its own, with a king who lost his integrity and a princess who will do everything to save her love. Death sentences and trickery, escapes and captures, fear and love pervade the rhythmic and enjoyable course of events that make this enchanting story a delight to read.

The story is linear but will probably still find you off guard in certain moments and the final outcome is one of profound satisfaction at the simple but genial evolutions fashioned by Ms. Costarella. That the story was written by a teacher is confirmed by the appearance of a glossary at its end, reflecting the notes at the bottom of the pages and making it a viable teaching instrument for educators of young adults. The appealing illustrations were not created for the book, but accomplish their job anyway and may further stimulate the readers’ fantasy while keeping their attention focused on the flow of the story.

Linda Costarella

Linda Costarella

An interesting book that I am sure will be soon complemented by further ones by this appealing writer who seems to have found a way to write fables in this technological and globalized world of today and still make them engaging.

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October 06, 2017

"Sunny Days and Sleepless Nights": A Brooklyn author born in Italy tells his story through his poems...
by Milano52
Mar 27, 2017 | 24062 views | 0 0 comments | 593 593 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Tiziano Thomas Dossena’s collection of award-winning selected poetry is titled “Sunny Days and Sleepless Night.” The author, born in Milan, Italy, spent his high school (John Jay H.S.) and college years in New York, in the Carroll Gardens section of Brooklyn, graduating from Kingsborough C. College (Math) and Queens College (Italian). He furthered studied Medicine  at the Università degli Studi of Milan, completing then two more degrees in the States (Environmental Control Technology at the New York Technical College and Environmental Studies at Purchase College). A Renaissance man par excellence, the poet has written two other books, hundreds of articles on Arts, classical music and cultural roots and is the director of OperaMyLove magazine.

LindaAnn Loschiavo in the preface declares that: 



“His verse sets a bar for openness, frankness, and vulnerability few lives could ever match. In his work, the surprise of his “confessional life” is the one lived off the page, refracted through decades of his sorrowful, pensive, but vivid lines…. Dossena’s work has always been uncompromisingly frontal, a face-forward presentation of himself, simultaneously scrutinizing and vulnerable, writing that often contains the mutual reliance of spontaneity, confession, and calculation. Many of his poems are chronicles of various barriers first anxiously feared but then crossed, and of the spiritual, physical, and sensual pleasures and pains that would inevitably follow. His realities on the page are a series of crossed thresholds as a lover, a friend, a father, a Roman Catholic…”

Most of the poems present in this book were written either in Brooklyn or Milan in the 1972-1983 years, and there are a few geographical references to prove it,

Marianna Randazzo, Director of Education of the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum in Staten Island commented on this poetry collection:  



“In his book of poetry, Tiziano Dossena encourages the love of poetry, especially for those not accustomed to such short but poignant collections of raw emotion, subtlety and sensitivity.


With his bilingual, parallel text, side by side, it is the perfect tool for students of the Italian language or those wishing to master English.

Tiziano has managed to translate his poetry flawlessly from both English to Italian and Italian to English. He is clearly versed and fluent in each language as each interpretation flows as only a native speaker could express himself.

I find this collection of poetry to be an excellent supplement for my Italian students as it gives the learner an opportunity to appreciate the eclectic collection of poems and practice the various nuances of the language."



On Bridge Puglia USA Magazine, the critic Giulia Poli DiSanto states that.

“…it must be said that

Dossena’s poetry is founded on the humanity of the poet, with lines enlivened by the delicate presence of the female. Love is sung, desired and perhaps brought about and meant as the permanent yeast of the cosmos, and offers to the reader a lively play of light and shade.

Right from the first lines, in Sunny days, the poet highlights his familiarity with poetic codes, since “first of all poetry, if it is such, seduces by means of the music of its words”, as Ungaretti said. And it is from this starting-point that Dossena’s poetic expression makes his claim to the ways of the heart and the poetic validity of the feeling that we find throughout the work, from the first line to the last.

The lovely illustrations of the young artist Francesca Malara interpret the poetic thought, and complete the work validly."

 

The critic Marina Agostinacchio, on her article appeared on L’Idea Magazine (a Brooklyn magazine for over 40 years which is now mainly online), declares that: 

"The author proves in this book his maturity; he is Ulysses who has sailed across the seas, never feeling tiredness. Ulysses (who is) able to savor life, to accept the limits, to be thirsty of the knowledge of human actions so as to ‘read inside himself’ with wisdom, and cross the boundaries, the Pillars of Hercules, without falling into the abyss."

 

“Sunny Days and Sleepless Night” is a book by a poet who has never forgotten his roots in Brooklyn, which should be read, discussed and shared

   

 

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August 18, 2017
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The French Connection: Oldies But Goodies Movie In Yonkers With Real Stars
by Milano52
Nov 19, 2016 | 19075 views | 1 1 comments | 548 548 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

 

The French Connection: oldies but goodies movie in Yonkers with real stars

Article by Tiziano Thomas Dossena

On November 14, Alamo Theaters in Yonkers presented, on the 45th anniversary of its release, the Oscar winning film The French Connection, which played to a large audience of enthusiasts, a rather unusual occurrence for a Monday night. The reason for the large crowd was also the presence of Randy Jurgensen, an actor and Police consultant for the movie. The spectators were not disappointed. After the experience of viewing this wonderfully directed film, which offers a realistic and endless car chase among the many thrills, Mr. Jurgensen, a retired police detective, spoke about the little known unusual features of this movie. Some of these will surprise the reader as much they surprised me.french_connection

In a scene in which drug dealers are making a purchase, for example, the money in the briefcase is actually real money, or at least the visible bills are… The drug that is being tested by the dealer is real and there are no computer effects in the car chase; what you see is all real. The collisions, obviously, were staged, all but one, but when you see the car driving at 60 mph under the el and missing other cars by an inch or two, well, those were real stunts performed by Randy himself, except when Gene Hackman was visible in the car by the camera; in that case, Mr. Hackman was performing the stunt himself. Once, the famous actor hit a telephone pole and crashed the car; he was brought to the hospital for that incident… A subway train wreck was achieved by placing the two cars next to each other, backing one of them away from the other at high speed, film it and then reverse the film; simple, no?french1

In another scene, the detectives enter a bar full of apparent low lives; well, in reality most of them were real undercover cops and not actors. Would you have guessed it? The night club in which the duo goes to have a drink is the Copacabana and the performers are really the Three Degrees, and not some unknown act….

The music in the movie was purposely dissonant to raise the tension of the narrative, but there was no music whatsoever during the car chase and all you could hear was the sound of the car engines, the screeching of the tires, the bangs of the smash-ups, all 100% real sounds; no sounds were prepared in the editing booth.french2

Another interesting fact was that when acting in his scene, staged in a garage where towed cars were brought, Randy was told to just act as a cop who wanted to waste time, allowing the reassembly (or replacement) of a car which had been taken apart; be natural, that’s all! He did just that, and what came out was the only humorous scene of the movie! It was another great choice by the Director, William Friedkin.

Mr. Jurgensen also explained that he had strongly objected to the scene in which Eddie Egan (A.K.A. Jimmy ‘Popeye’ Doyle) shot the unarmed French killer in the back, because that would have been a murder, but the Director told him not to worry and reminded him that he was just a consultant and not the Director. At the opening of the movie, the audience stood up and cheered after that shooting scene, and at that time Mr. Friedkin told him playfully, “I told you so…”

Mr. Randy Jurgnsen (third from left) and a group of retired detectives from the Bronx at the event.

Mr. Randy Jurgensen (third from left) and a group of retired detectives from the Bronx at the event.

Randy Jurgensen (left) in a scene from the movie.

Randy Jurgensen (left) in a scene from the movie.

There were many other interesting facts that Mr. Jurgensen and Mr. D’Antoni (son of the producer and a producer himself for other movies with Mr. Jurgensen) offered to the excited public, but I will leave the reader with just one more: the movie was turned down by Movie Studios three times and it was finally when Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation was practically bankrupt that they offered $2 Millions to start the production of the film, a mere small change left over after their enormous and disastrous financial loss with the historical movie Cleopatra; the movie at the end cost $32 Millions.

Watching the movie, with its hair raising scenes and frenetic rhythm, rediscovering visually in it the old ’70s New York, and also listening to the commentary by Mr. Jurgensen and Mr. D’Antoni was a tremendous, unmatchable experience, and I wish more of these anniversary film projections were undertaken with similar results. Certainly, knowing that in the real French Connection sting, $489.000 and plenty of drugs were recovered by Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso, the two detectives in charge of the case, and meeting some of the heroes of that story made it even more rewarding.

A moment of the presentation

A moment of the presentation

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October 05, 2017
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It’s Only Forty Years! Homecoming 2016 At Queens College
by Milano52
Oct 25, 2016 | 24093 views | 0 0 comments | 1181 1181 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

 

It’s only forty years! Homecoming 2016 at Queens College

Article by TIZIANO THOMAS DOSSENA

It’s funny how time is relative to people and moments in their life (I know that’s not what Einstein meant, but this is possibly a variant of his theory of relativity, or maybe not). When one is young, time is apparently slow and summers never seem to end, but then, the older you get the faster time seems to run by you, and summers tend to come to a conclusion before you even noticed their arrival. Well, at least until you get to the sixties; I can’t vouch for later years, but I would assume it’s probably following the same pattern. Regardless, time flies, or appears to do so when you get a bit older. That seems to go against logic, but it is an absolute truth (or at least that’s how it is to me, and since no one is in the room at the moment to contradict me, I guess it sounds about right: a perfectly acceptable scientific method!). The exceptions to the above are when you are waiting to be served at some restaurant or you are at an association’s award ceremony, where the speaker forgot the rule that when people start to fall asleep it’s time to stop speaking, or maybe you are in the back of the room at some  lectures, if you know what I mean…

Exceptions excluded, and I am sure there are many more, time tends to catch up with you, and you find yourself in the inconvenient position to have to say: “What? Already forty years?” Or even worse: “What? Already seventy years?” For the readers who are wondering what my digressions about time are aiming at, I am referring to Alumni Homecoming. If you are not aware of what that is, it’s the day chosen by a college for alumni to return and celebrate their Alma Mater and their own accomplishments, which are supposed to be tied to their previous attendance to that college.

The alumni attentively listening to the Political Science Panel. Second from left, Fiorella Kelley, Class of 1972

The alumni attentively listening to the Political Science Panel. Second from left, Fiorella Kelley, Class of 1972

In that spirit, on Saturday October 22 I was invited and attended Homecoming 2016 at Queens College with my wife Nicoletta (Class 1977) and a friend, Fiorella Kelley (Class 1972); it was a blast. Upon registration we were introduced to a thoughtfully-brief award ceremony, followed by a marvelous show by students and alumni of the Aaron Copland School of Music of Queens College. The heavenly voice of Candace Lynn Matthews, who is also a graduate of Purchase College, another one of my Alma Maters, and who therefore earned extra points in my perspective, was matched by the manly baritone voice of Sean Moonsammy. They performed a well-chosen medley of Broadway songs that touched everyone’s heart. Their voices, whether singing solos or duets, brought much joy and a few tears to the audience. The pianist, Professor Youn Ju Namkoong, made it also happen with her perfectly balanced accompaniment.

From the left: Candace Lynn Matthews, Sean Moonsammy, Professro Youn Ju Namkoong and Professor Charley Repole

From the left, Candace Lynn Matthews, Sean Moonsammy, Professro Youn Ju Namkoong and Professor Charley Repole

Professor Bonomo during the Discussion

Professor Bonomo during the Discussion

After such a splendid performance, I believed that the ensuing political Science Panel Discussion would be out of place, but I found myself mistaken. After a brief intermission and an appealing presentation by the college President, Félix Matos Rodriguez, the Panel Discussion took place with the utmost attention payed by all the alumni, s consistent number of whom shamed my 40th year’s anniversary with their 50th, 60th and even 65th year’s anniversaries (hard to believe, but it’s absolutely true: there was an alumnus from 1951 graduation year!).

From the left, the author with Professor Michael Krassner

From the left, the author with Professor Michael Krassner

Professors Carl Bonomo’s and Michael Krasner’s The Perfect Storm, A Discussion of Our Political System & Elections brought the audience together on many topics, but mostly on the need to vote. It reminded me of when I used to be all ears during the lectures by Prof. Russell on Dante’s Inferno or discussed Pirandello’s work with Professor Pacifici (ah, those far away days, how much they are missed…)

A wonderful dinner concluded the Homecoming; the whole process was well organized and it allowed alumni to feel at home once again.

To conclude the experience, I also attended a Reunion Brunch at the Presidential residence in Douglaston on Sunday, October 23rd. This was much more of an intimate experience, with 64 attendees from the 1946 (Clara Capozzoli-Woll was the sole gracious representative of her Class), 1956, 1966 and 1976 Classes.  This was also a blast for me, but of a different kind. Mingling among my classmates from 1976 and those who had opened the doors to our studies in the previous decades, I could not help noticing how well-poised, intelligent and alert everyone who was present seemed to be. Considering that I was one of the youngest alumni  present (got to believe it, friends, for once I was not the oldest one in the group!) everyone appeared sharp, cordial and most of all at ease. Mr. Félix Matos Rodriguez was a delight to listen to and a wonderful listener.

From the left: Nicoletta Mita Dossena, Queens College President Felix Matos Rodriguez and Tiziano Thomas Dossena

From the left: Nicoletta Mita Dossena, Queens College President Felix Matos Rodriguez and Tiziano Thomas Dossena

Clara , Class of 1946, talks about her years at Queens College

Clara , Class of 1946, talks about her years at Queens College

The alumni shared anecdotes about Queens College (Mrs. Clara Capozzoli-Woll had one about meeting Eleanor Roosevelt at the college), all of them interesting and bringing a fresh view of ‘our’ college and of the students’ experiences within it and in the after years.

Noticeable absentee was the comedian Jerry Seinfeld, Class of 1976, who I vaguely remember meeting at a Student Government  gathering of some sort (but then again, forty years have gone by and I am not that great with faces or names or places or… whatever, he was just another student at the time and not a friend of mine in particular, so…)

 A moment of anecdotes-sharing at the Presidential Residence

A moment of anecdotes-sharing at the Presidential Residence

Yes, time is relative, especially when you meet people who proudly act as if time has not really gone by, or at least not that much, since all the memories are in them, vivid as if it was just yesterday. After all, it was just forty years ago when I graduated…

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Exclusive interview to Michael Bacarella, author of “Lincoln’s Foreign Legion: The 39th New York Infantry, the Garibaldi Guard”
by Milano52
Jul 19, 2016 | 22552 views | 1 1 comments | 1165 1165 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

 

 

 

lincolnYour book “Lincoln’s Foreign Legion: The 39th New York Infantry, the Garibaldi Guard” is now available on Kindle. What brought you to investigate this type of topic?

From my earliest memories to quite recently is that to be an Italian American can mean being commended with honor in one extreme or face deplorable rejection at the other extreme.  I learned that the source of that public perception of Italian Americans was and continues to be fomented through the eyes of the media, by motion pictures, television and the news. Italian Americans have been experiencing macro and micro aggression for at least 120 years. The result is every Italian American experiences at some time in their private or public life an ephemeral bias directed toward them that has caused them to be overlooked, ignored, discounted, or singled out to be maltreated and even aggressively punished.

Many years ago my grandmother’s brother gave me a book by the Italian American writer and researcher  Giovanni Schiavo entitled “Four Centuries of Italian American History. “  This one book gave me a whole new look at how greatly Italians contributed to American history. This book is what prompted me to get to the truth, and then if the truth could be brought out that there would be change in public perception and attitudes toward Italian Americans.

CAPTAIN ENRICO ALBERTO D'ALBERTIS

CAPTAIN ENRICO ALBERTO D’ALBERTIS

I believed I could prompt this change through writing and the cinema.   Schiavo did some of his research at the Newberry Library of Chicago, so I began my search there.  Using Schiavo’s book as a reference I began to look up all of the men and women he had written about.  At the Newberry I discovered a treasure trove of information about them, the migration of Italians to America prior to the Civil War, where they settled, lived and how they participated in the events of American history, and in particular a regiment that participated in the Civil War, the “Garibaldi Guard.”  Theirs was a story based in historic fact that was an exciting topic, a great deal of information on them was there ready to be looked at. Of course this information was not written in a series of book, or even one book, that it had to researched, assembled, and written, and I was the one who was going to write it.  The result was the book “Lincoln’s Foreign Legion.”  I always hoped this would influence the public to see Italian Americans in a new way. If it were adapted to a script, then produced as an epic motion picture it surely would have an impact and lead other creative people to create many more projects.

Garibaldi Guard recruitment poster

Garibaldi Guard recruitment poster

Were you more interested in the subject as a New Yorker or as an Italian American?

As an Italian American.  I am not a New Yorker.

Could you give us a brief explanation of what the Garibaldi Guard was and why it was called that way?

At the outbreak of the Civil War this regiment was a regiment of infantry assembled in New York City from the many immigrants living in their ethnic neighborhoods.  There were ten companies of soldiers with 110 soldiers and officers in each company.  There was an Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese, Swiss, 2 companies of Slavs and Hungarians, and 4 companies of Germans.  They saw action for all four years of the Civil War and fought from Bull Run 1861 to Appomattox 1865, in 50 battles, engagements and skirmishes which devastated the ranks and reduced their numbers.

During its period of service, 5 officers and 62 enlisted men were killed in action; 3 officers and 49 enlisted men died of wounds received in action; 1 officer and 158 enlisted men died of disease and 1 officer and 99 enlisted men died while captured by the Confederate forces.

There is a history behind each and every man in the regiment.  Their lives in Italy, the reasons they left Italy for a new life in America, their lives and the lives of their families,  their presences on the battlefields of the Civil War, and if they survived, their lives and the lives of their children afterward.

Drawing of the officers, soldiers and a vivandiere

Drawing of the officers, soldiers and a vivandiere

 

Antonio Arrighi, Iowa Troops

Antonio Arrighi, Iowa Troops

What interesting facts have you unearthed in your research that made you decide to write the book?

The predominant details I want your readers to know and use in their studies, research and writing. There were many thousands of Italians and Italian Americans who served in the Union and Confederate armies and predominantly in Louisiana.

The information used about Italians in America are now completely outdated and obsolete. With the advantage of using the internet there is much more information about Italians recorded in American history than was previously known or presented to the public; one need only to search on the internet.

We all owe a great deal of thanks to the Mormons’ Church of Latter-day Saints, which offers over 16 billion records online that we can search.  Their sites are Ancestry.com, RootsWeb, Fold3, Find-a-Grave, the United States Federal Census records from 1790 through 1930, Genealogy.com, and newspapers.com.   Other search sites include  Chronicling America at the Library of Congress website, and  The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System (CWSS)  a database at the National Park Service website. For example just type in the name GIOVANNI and you will be amazed to see all of the  men with that name in the database.

 

Captain Schwarz, Swiss Company Garibaldi Guards

Captain Schwarz, Swiss Company Garibaldi Guard

Do you feel that there is a lot more presence of Italians in American history that has really been shown in the past?

No, because there has not been support to investigate, research, and write about the lives of Italians throughout American history.  I have learned a good deal about the media through my many attempts to publish the book, or to produce it as a motion picture.  There is no interest in the Hollywood status quo to change their perception of Italians, so the same images they have always used to portray Italians will continue.   Italians and Europeans are history minded and have made the film epics that have presented history. This is why I know that  it will have to be the Italian motion picture industry that will produce the historic epics to  re-write Italian American history.     It will be the Italian and perhaps other European studios who will be producing history events,  while American studios are cranking out films about zombies, monsters, crime, space aliens, dinosaurs, and comic book super heroes. Which is why Italians and Italian Americans must begin the task, using the tools I mentioned to write The Comprehensive Book on Italian American History.

Colonel Enrico Fardella

Colonel Enrico Fardella

Are you planning to publish this book in a non-digital fashion in the near future? Did you publish other books prior to this one?  

I do not plan to publish the book in hard copy. I have another book that is published on Kindle about Italians in motion pictures entitled “Italactors: From Don Ameche to Louis Zamperini: Italians in Motion Pictures and Television from 1895 to 1996”

Are there any other topics that have popped up in your research that you feel deserve more attention, and eventually another book?

There is so much information can be used that writers, historians and genealogists will be very busy looking into all the periods of time in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

Before the American Revolution, Italians were coming to French Canada, the Spanish South West and Florida, along the Mississippi River, throughout America’s Southern states, and of course in the cities of the North. There are the alliances between America and Sardinia, Genoa, Venice.  And the most notable  of all the alliance of America with the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies against the Barbary pirates. This is something we can do, it is all there if you take the time to look for it and write about it.

Here follows the review of the book by B. Keith Toney:

Lincoln’s Foreign Legion: The 39th New York Infantry, The Garibaldi Guard, by Michael Bacarella, Amazon Kindle The Irish and Germans are the two nationalities that spring to mind whenever the subject of immigrants or foreigners serving during the Civil War arises. Most buffs are familiar with the Irish Brigade and the heavily Germanic Union XI Corps, both of which served in the Army of the Potomac. Others can name units and individuals of Irish and German heritage who served on both sides during the conflict. One of the most famous regiments in the North in the early months of the war,however, had its origins elsewhere–in fact,its roots ran back to at least 52 different places–and when its members marched down Broadway in New York City in answer to President Abraham Lincoln’s call for troops, they proudly bore the name of a famous Italian patriot. That regiment was the 39th New York Volunteer Infantry, known familiarly as the Garibaldi Guard. When war broke out in 1861, General Giuseppe Garibaldi was one of the best-known military men on the European continent. As a result, it was Garibaldi’s name that a foreign language tutor to New York’s rich and famous used to recruit a regiment of men from 14 different states and 52 European principalities. The tutor, Frederick George D’Utassy, would be elected colonel of the regiment despite his somewhat shadowy past. It would not take long for the men of the Garibaldi Guard to realize that they were being commanded by one of the most outrageous, thieving rogues ever to wear the uniform of the Federal armies. Michael Bacarella, author of Lincoln’s Foreign Legion, does a creditable job of detailing the outlandish activities of D’Utassy. The roster of the regiment is also very well-done, giving insight into the many different countries and walks of life from which men came to answer the call to arms during the Civil War. For someone interested in learning more about the role of foreigners during the war, Lincoln’s Foreign Legion: The 39th New York Infantry, The Garibaldi Guard is certainly worth a read.

 

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Leonard Holtz
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February 15, 2017
My great-grandfather, Pvt. Herman Holtz was one of the 60 Jewish soldiers in the Garibaldi Guard. He was in Company K, and was shot in the abdomen at the Battle of the Wilderness on May 6, 1864. He survived. Now his great great grandson is an officer in the US Navy and an elite Rescue Swimmer in Surface Warfare. Its Jewish Colonel, Frederick George D'Utassy, was the subject of the most documented case of anti-Semitism contained in primary source material in the Civil War as recently researched by Shapell Manuscript Foundation in Washington, D.C.


Marco Malvaldi’s “Game For Five”
by Milano52
Dec 13, 2015 | 32886 views | 1 1 comments | 1413 1413 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Review by Tiziano Thomas Dossena

To read a book that was originally written in Italian and that uses idiomatic expressions with validity and proper impact in the English translation is a special treat that is not quite common to be offered to readers in USA.  If we add that the story is a thriller, actually a work of crime fiction, we can safely say that Marco Malvaldi’s “Game for five” is a flawless and successful novel in its genre.

game forfive2

The second book of the Bar Lume series.

For the people who have travelled to Italy and gave themselves the opportunity to eavesdrop into the small talk of shopkeepers, hotel staff and passersby, they will recognize the marvelous balance between crass vulgarity and playfulness that is so common amongst friends in Italy, at every level and class. To those who did not have the opportunity, be aware that the apparent vulgarity of some expressions is not considered so, when used in a friendly fashion, and the protagonists of this story are not unusual people in that aspect.

Taken aside the particularity of the language, which undoubtedly enriches the story with the apparently improper verbal clashes between Massimo, a barkeeper and owner of the Bar Lume, and his steady customers, a quartet of older gentlemen who love to play cards, the story is well-flowing and mesmerizing in its fast-paced presentation of the crime details as they are observed and discovered by Massimo and shared with the friends and the local police Inspector.

Trilogia-del-BarLume-di-Marco-Malvaldi

Interspersed among the revelations, talks of the proper way and time to drink an espresso or a cappuccino bring a wind of hilarity that manages to make the book even more enjoyable.

This book, which is the first of the Bar Lume series of crime novels, is highly recommended to anyone who loves crime novels, the Italian landscape, its customs and its people.

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anonymous
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September 25, 2017
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