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Sunday, March 17, 2019

MARCH 17, 1954

Welcome to day 2 of my 17 day challenge to myself. I will forego Facebook and all its trappings until the cruel month of April.

Today I celebrate the life of a man I never met, yet without whom I would not be. My grandfather, Stewart Ransom, passed this day in 1954 while watching the parade on TV.

Since then, St. Patrick's Day has always been a, let us say sedate, if not somber occasion for our family. Which is very out of character for us. (We like to party.) But I have never had the green beer, nor passed out drunk at any of the festivities.

When we were very young, my kid sister and I, were taken to the big parade down Fifth Avenue by our neighbor. We sat on the curb as so many marchers went by I thought the ground moved and the people stood marching in place. I caught a good glimpse of Mayor Lindsey, and an even briefer glimpse of Bobby Kennedy, for he was surrounded by photographers.

How did I know it was Bobby Kennedy? Mrs. Agnes Butts, our neighbor who had taken us to the parade, leaned out against the blue and white police barricade and shouted,


She talked about it all the way back to Mariners Harbor.

I do like to hear from my relations who tell me stories about "Pop". He was gone before I came along and I often wonder how different my life might be if he had the opportunity to influence me.

That is part of the mystery to life I indulge in these days, now that the pressure to be perfect at work is part and parcel of my retirement.

God Bless, and Keep you, Pop. Say hi to mom, and dad, and all the aunts and uncles.

(from L to R) Uncle Stew, Pop, and Daddy)

Saturday, March 16, 2019


On March 15th, 2019, Facebook unwittingly broadcast a murderer rampage through Christchurch, New Zealand for 17 minuets.

This is unacceptable.

So, for 17 days I will not look at their page, nor see their targeted advertising, nor promote in any way the use of that irresponsible medium.

Thank you to those who have found this page. Please comment. I will be posting here more regularly.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Last Commute

From where it all began, Staten Island, I drove into work the morning of Monday, February 25, 2019.
The flood of thought and emotion has yet to subside. Later in the week my family and friends would gather for a festive evening. But not before I attended mass for a fallen hero.  A heartbreaking loss.

What follows here are a few snapshots and musings from my last week on the best job I ever had: serving the people of the City of New York. Along with a tribute to not only a great inspector, but also an amazing man.

SIE at sunrise

Damon start of last tour.

“I am, I said. But no one cared. “
Neil Diamond.

Not just leaving a job, but leaving. Leaving New York. A place of supreme pain and ultimate pleasure. The portal of possibility. Emerald City. My family. My home.

New York gets into your blood. Under your skin, it can torture and delight you all at once. Drive you insane with pleasure. Enrage you with envy. Misshape you with avarice.

NYC. The ultimate amphetamine. Adrenaline rushes that last for weeks. Months. Years.

NYC. Powerfully seductive. A barbiturate. Hallucinogenic opiate. Her old bones and new glass. Her power to create and to destroy the very molecules of dreams.

A place of unlimited and towering success. The nadir of failure. Heights reaching for the stars. Depths unfathomable to the gentle and naive. Love more powerful than time. Hate malignant and terrible.

For every action, equal and opposite ... lawless justice. Unkind civility. Camaraderie.


Always Greed driving mad drivers forward faster and faster until, one day, their wheels come off. And the only way to insulate yourself from the excruciating pain is to surround yourself with people. Family. Friends. Strangers. And things. Work. Play. Houses. Boats. Cars. Clothes. Art. Jewelry. Or...

Booze. Drugs. Sex. All the addictive forces of nature and chemistry, (Yeah, chemistry. ) conspire to console a challenged mind, a broken heart, a despairing soul.

And in the end...yes. The love you make...but also, in the end...

   ... there is no end. 

Though we all come and go, The City remains.

“I am a rock, I am an Island.”
Paul Simon

The current Emergency Operations Center for DOB

Thomas Zurica and Jen-Scott Mobley

And amid my exit I am reminded of  life's real value. We lost Tommy Zurica. 59 years way too young, as he succumbed to his two year battle with brain cancer a week before my retirement. He coached me to the end on how to go about submitting my papers. These photos are from 2013 after receiving the Commissioners Award for Team Excellence. Tommy Z was the best of the best.

TZ and me.

(from L to R) Willie Blake, Damon, Lenny, and Tommy

(from L to R) Scoffield Smith, Damon Boccadoro, me, and Tommy.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

SOMETIMES - a poem...


The hurt of my whole life
comes upon me unawares.
A certain song or a fragrance
on the late winter, early spring air

And like a zephyr
it envelops me.
This feeling of loss,
and grief,
 and love, and


and peace.

All at once.


But always  a woman 's voice singing.
And always woman's perfume.



Monday, December 31, 2018


Year End post...

I was recently watching the Kominski Method with Michael Douglas and Allan Arkin, a new Netflix series. It made me laugh and cry at the same time. There is a line in it which inspires this post.

"True love is letting go."

There are so many things this past year that I have let go, and there are even more ahead for 2019.

The explanation on why it has seemed so difficult is love. Simply love.

And to be truthful, to myself, and my love, I need to let go of 2018, and embrace the future.

There are not enough heartfelt thanks to express my gratitude for all the people whom I love, yet must leave behind in order to face my new life. We will still know one another, still be friends, but our day-to-day contact will cease. Your physical being will now be consigned to memory. I know I will think of you all often and fondly. Should you find your way to these words, know that each and every one of you has had a profound and lasting impact on my life. Thank you all for making an adventure out of Civil Service.

To those who have seen so little of me over the years, my family, my loved ones from the beginning, with whom I have missed so much during a career that took me into the very arteries of NYC, I mean to make up for all that some how, some way.

I "retire" from service to the city of my birth, from the weird hours and stressful situations where I met people often on the worst day of their lives. I set out now on a new adventure. To find out who I am now that ERT Inspector 338 has taken his final bow and long.

Ransom out.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Words Strung Together Inspired by the Old West

Words Strung Together Inspired by the Old West

No romance novels  
No Leaves of Grass
No paper pulp

The news comes word of mouth
Spoken like Navajo prayers and
Comanche war cries

Here there are only hand-hewn planks
making Prairie Schooner floors 
to separate pilgrims from
dusty trail and open sky

Necessities of survival
packed at the general store of my saddle bag
Local law enforcement strapped
to my hip

My sole conveyance through hostile territory has a rock
wedged between her shoe and fore-hoof
Lame they say, but soon, 
the farrier will have us on our way...

Peace in solitude.
I take deep breaths
far from a world of gentleness.

I was a young man when I set out West
Been riding that horizon ever since.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Penultimate Human Constellation : a Father and Son Converse in Poems

My dad used to call me bud, I called him dad, or daddy. So as not to confuse him with my grandfather whom was called pop before I was born. And long after also, though I never got to hear him call my name aloud. He was gone before I arrived.

Penultimate Human Constellation is a conversation in verse between father and son in contemporary northeast USA.

The son, Benjamin, his voice is distinct from the father, Steven.

Full disclosure : Steven Ostrowski is a person with whom I have been acquainted since a very young age. Even today we could probably sit and converse about what’s happened to the old neighborhood for at least a six pack. (Each). 

Yet, his son, Benjamin Ostrowski, was a stranger to me. Still I can see the influence the father has had on the son. Much more subtle is the influence of child on parent. Especially when the child has reached such a flower of maturity I am certain he no longer wishes to be referred to as a child. Yet so we all are.

Part One:Seen/Unseen Lovely, hypnotic verse full of twists , turns and surprises.
Pages 28 & 29. Temperatures by Benjamin and Omniscient Sky by Steven are such wonderful examples of this influence. Tattoos for the son, kissing later for the father are themes stitched together through early pages. 

Part Two: q and a, Poems of Inquiry, the poetry in call and response kicks into high gear with questions and answers. Spiced with wry humor and deep passion for familial bonds, not just father son, but husband/wife, father/daughter, sister, mother, brother/adopted son, gardener and soil. Answers to all the questions: Advice as fine as intricate embroidery.

Part 3. Post Cards from far, far away. (I was going to say Post Cards from the Edge, but this collection does such a nice job of putting cliches in a Cuisinart that I changed my mind. )

For my generation, going to Hanoi was nothing but bad news. For soldiers like John McCain and Hollywood royalty Jane Fonda alike. Nothing good ever happened to an American in Hanoi. Yet Benjamin puts me into the heart of that darkness with a fusion meal and I feel I begin to know the individual man.

And his father’s response to a son’s journey is no less cosmic than the effects the moon has on tides. What I find so daunting about math is its relentless discipline. How even at its most creative it’s used to uncover and express what is already present. Yet math is an intricate part of the verse here and yet so masterfully applied one forgets it is there.

These poems especially make me feel like a voyeur eaves-dropping and making a spectacle of the father/prodigal son relationship. Only because the images are so razor sharp, I can almost smell the New England grass clippings and see that little boy shot putting a baseball to the delight of all fathers.

Part Four: What Matters

What matters? Matters of course. There were no Woodstock Gurus in sight because you were not looking in a mirror Steven, and stumbling upon Bears I could almost swear I began to detect a wry code between the two friends, one friend with more ahead than behind and the other with more past than tomorrow, but still expressing the mystery of mortality with every thought. And at the same time, their collective thinking back, rings of truth about family and reassured me that the confusing conundrum of young manhood has not changed since I was young.

Maybe I don’t read enough poetry, or just have not set aside the time, but I rarely encounter a book of poems which becomes a real page turner. And so this morning, I began to read Penultimate Human Constellation : a Father and Son Converse in Poems, and I could not put it down. It was the very best way to spend these hours.