Upstream. A Mohawk Valley Blogzine.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Bowling For Columbia High.


Movie Title: Bowling For Columbia High (Not Yet Released).

Tagline: Our children are the future of America, unless they just happen to be nuts.

Plot Outline: Filmmaker Michael Moore explores the roots of America's predilection for locking the mentally ill in prison rather than giving them the psychiatric treatment they need. Focuses on poorly treated and untreated mental illness, not guns, as one source of school shootings.

Credited Cast:
Ralph Tortorici as himself. Tortorici, a severely mentally ill young man, held a class hostage with a gun at The University at Albany. Eventually, he was subdued, tried and sentenced to prison where he committed suicide.

John Romano as himself. 16 year old mentally ill boy who fired a gun filled with birdshot at Columbia High in Rensselaer County, New York. One person was injured by a ricochet. Romano received twenty years in prison, more time than many people have gotten for greater offenses. Appears to have been sentenced not for what he did, but for what he could have done if he hadn’t been tackled by some teachers. Made plea bargain while in mentally ill condition. Film speculates about Romano’s future. How will prison change him? Will he too commit suicide there?

Patricia DeAngelis ( a.k.a. Barb Wire ) as herself. District Attorney for Rensselaer County, New York. Offered mentally ill Romano a plea deal of twenty years. Told him he would get fifty years if he didn’t accept it. He took it. DeAngelis says her job is to protect the children of Rensselaer County. This film asks the question, “Is not Jon Romano one of those children, and is not prison a dangerous place?”

Cheryl Coleman as herself. Coleman was the prosecutor who successfully prosecuted Tortorici even after she didn’t think she had a case to prosecute. Was rewarded with a judgeship for her prosecutorial ability. She did not last long as a judge and would have had to step down if she had not resigned first. Her tenure as judge may explain why the voters of Rensselaer County did not want Patricia DeAngelis as judge during last year’s election. After she lost a child of her own and after Tortorici committed suicide, she felt responsible for his death and believed he should never have been tried. She finally found her niche as a defense attorney in Albany, NY and appears to be a good one. Sometimes she appears in the courtroom opposite DeAngelis. In a recent case DeAngelis withheld a critical piece of evidence that could have set Coleman’s client free. Coleman speculates in the film about the future of DeAngelis. What will DeAngelis have to experience to learn what Coleman did?

Length of Film: Varies depending on the version. Averages 10-20 years. Sometimes 25 to life. Film made in real time.

Music by P.O.D. The Youth Of The Nation.

Last day of the rest of my life I wish I would've known
Cause I didn't kiss my mama goodbye
I didn't tell her that I loved her and how much I care
Or thank my pops for all the talks
And all the wisdom he shared
Unaware, I just did what I always do
Everyday, the same routine
Before I skate off to school
But who knew that this day wasn't like the rest
Instead of taking a test I took two to the chest
Call me blind, but I didn't see it coming
Everybody was running
But I couldn't hear nothing
Except gun blasts, it happened so fast
I don't really know this kid
Even though I sit by him in class
Maybe this kid was reaching out for love
Or maybe for a moment He forgot who he was
Or maybe this kid just wanted to be hugged
Whatever it was I know it's because

[chorus:]We are, We are, the youth of the nation


  • One might think that losing the race for judge by 6,000 votes might have served as a wake up call for DeAngelis. Ahhh, not our Trish! Her warped perspective seems somehow to tell her that her humiliating loss means she has a mandate from the people to keep acting like she does. She still fights tooth and nail in the local papers that she did the "right thing" in the Romano case. Many question the stability of someone who so rabidly defends putting a 16-year-old mentally ill boy in prison for 20 years.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:26 AM  

  • I think the only wake up call she will understand is when she is removed from office by some judicial body or by the electorate.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:20 AM  

  • It makes me happy to think that our Justice Now organization played some part in DeAngelis' defeat by Bob Jacon in the race for county judge. Lord knows several of our members worked very hard during the campaign. On the phone, door to door, on the radio.
    You can hasten the day when Patricia DeAngelis is no longer in the Justice System by joining Justice Now. Contact our website,,
    email us- or phone
    448-6950. Subscribe to our newsletter.
    Ernie Tetrault

    By Anonymous Ernie Tetrault, at 11:54 AM  

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