my book of poetry about September 11th, 2001...and after Available NOW at -click here

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Bermuda Tri-Angle of Court Street

All night long, I mean from two in the morning until nine thirty...every manner of vehicle got stuck in front of our building at the intersection of Court and Baltic Streets! The most ironic being the salt-spreader, pictured here with a front loader coming to his aid. Even an RMP(Radio Mobile Patrol) from the 76th Police Precinct was stuck at around six!

The first thing one wonders is why anyone would think it a good idea to drive a little egg beater race car with front-wheel drive, over inflated tires and about six inches of road clearance into a blizzard. Really, the little spoiler mounted on the trunk-hood did no good. That noisy sucker was stuck for an hour, at least, without a clue of even how to drive in the snow, and with several good Samaritans helping to no avail. Again he was one of many. One of my favorites was a couple who got out of their yellow cab with suitcases in tow, obviously either returning in defeat from the airport, or triumphantly after a trip. I wonder how far they had to walk.

I was truly amazed at the sheer number of cars on the road between 2 and 6 this morning. If anyone complains about the roads not being clear, you only have these fools to blame. Roads cannot be cleared with disabled vehicles strewn all about! Those who were stuck outside my door blaring horns at four in the morning like it was rush hour on Friday, no doubt got stuck again after leaving this triangle. I bet they wished they heeded the advice of people who know better. The should have stayed home!

Only in Brooklyn.

Friday, December 10, 2010

This, That...and Another Thing!

Its coming on one year since our favorite door-holder and smile giver, Tom of Court street passed. It has been quite a year where we saw his beloved Yankees fall short in their quest for championship number 28. The street itself has gone through seasonal changes with eateries opening and then closing and then opening again as something new.

From Court Street to Broadway, I think I have seen more in the theater on boards of the famous mid-town houses than ever before, and there too, shows have come and gone. The knock on productions like Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson or The Scottsboro Boys is that they were not ready for Broadway. The opposite is more likely: Broadway was not ready for productions that ask audiences to think while they are being entertained. This can be the only explanation for the long running success of a show like Mama Mia, and a short lived shooting star like Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

Speaking of thinking...what was America thinking last November at the polls when we decided it would be a good idea to deny health and compensation benefits to the responders of 9/11? What were we thinking when we voted to increase the deficit and give more to the people with the most leaving those of us in the middle to suffer through with no relief in sight?

It's gotten so bad in New York that now the City wants to charge you for pulling you out of your burning car and taking you to the hospital to treat your injured body because you stopped short for a cyclist who refuses to use the bike lanes your tax dollars paid for in the first place...but I digress.

I was remembering Tom, his gentle smile, his keen observations, his sage wisdom about the important things in life like how cold it was going to get, or if we would have snow, or if the Yankees would win it all next year. During this holiday time, I lift my glass to his memory, Brooklyn Man, Man on the Street, Tom, we hardly knew ye. Fist bump to you in Heaven. I think John Lennon would have liked Tom.

The 30th Anniversary of Lennon's brutal death was marked the other day, I was at work, traveling far and wide in the Big Apple. As I listened to his music and his last interview on the radio I was reminded of who I am, how back in 1980 when I was 22 and I had no idea what the hell the guy was talking about. I just knew it was something radically good, but how now, respect for women, respect for the planet on which we live, love and respect for each other are as current issues as ever. Lennon's feelings about all that is what he expressed through his art. These are the things I value as well. Now that I am old enough to understand, now that I have lived through war and social ennui, now I can better relate to what he was saying about "making it through," and it was a whole lot more than just:"Give Peace a Chance". Now I raise my voice to join the chorus and sing..."So this is Christmas...and what have we done?"

Ransom out!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gridlock Writers Block

OK, so I am not really blocked, the story is in my head. I am just lazy about extracting it from the labyrinthine wilderness that is my brain. It's the story of a building inspector wrapped up in a clash of the old world and the new. Sound familiar?

In addition to my literary exploits I have a new Ten Minute play being read by the Friends Always Creating Theater (F.A.C.T.) this coming Sunday afternoon in midtown. Another of my short plays had a super reading last month. A great bunch of actors, directors, writers and producers jam the small studio theater for "Words and Wine". Andrée Lambertson and Kelly Griffith are Co-Producers, F.A.C.T. Words and Wine.It will be held on Sunday November 21st at 3:00pm at Joria Productions- 260 West 36th Street, 3rd Floor in NYC.

Also some exciting developments on the acting front in terms of taking a long delayed class. I have been waiting for the right opportunity to try a new approach to my acting and hopefully a workshop is about to take place that will reinvigorate the old chops. I have signed up with Actors Access and I am very close to sending my head-shot and resume out to prospective directors and producers for roles right for me.

So here I am blogging...anything to keep me from writing the damn book!

Happy Thanksgiving all!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Measure for Measure not a “Problem” for director Natalie Doyle Holmes

Focused, determined, energetic, passionate, Natalie Holmes directs the American Bard Theater Company in their forthcoming production of William Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure” which is known as one of the Bard's "problem" plays for various reasons. The thirty year old Actor/Director and Dramaturg for ABTC is working hard on making this production a success. I caught up to her the other day before rehearsal to ask a few questions.

MDR: Where did you grow up?

NDH: I like to consider myself a "Tri-State Area" Girl. I was born in Brooklyn, NY... moved up to the Catskill region...moved down to Paramus in Bergen County NJ and grew up in the Paramus school system until I graduated high school. When I went to College it was more moving back and forth between NY/NJ, making stops at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, Brooklyn College, and then ultimately Montclair State University where I completed my BFA in Acting and went on to get a MA in Theatre Studies there. Now my husband and I are back in NY living in I am definitely a product of the Tri-State Area.

MDR: When did you get the theater "bug"?

NDH: When I saw my first Broadway show at the age of four. It was The King and I starring Yul Brynner. My father claims that I sat still through the entire show and watched every move they made, later picking out the differences between the movie and the play when we rented the video.

MDR: Who is your most influential mentor or teacher in theater?

NDH: Wow, that's a hard one. I can't chose only one because they have all either taught me what to do or what not to do, so in some way they have all been extremely influential. If I had to chose...they would be Jorge Cacheiro, an undergrad professor I had at MSU, who taught me how to really connect with your onstage partners, Debbie Saivetz, a graduate acting professor I had at MSU who really taught me the importance of ensemble work and being true to yourself as an artist and John Basil, who is one of the most amazingly gifted educators of Shakespeare, (how to read it, act it, think it, breathe it) at the American Globe Theatre in Times Square. Dr. Jane Peterson would be my first choice for a theater educator outside of the realm of acting and a Dramaturg she taught me how to look at a text from all angles, dissect it, and look at the world and its history to use as a major source of creativity in the theatre.

MDR: What was your first exposure to Shakespeare?

NDH: Probably on Sesame Street somehow, back when Sesame Street was intelligently written...but from what I can actually remember, it was freshman year of High School when we studied Romeo and Juliet. I already knew who Shakespeare was, but I had never read any of his work. I told my Mom what we were reading and she exposed me to the movie version starring Olivia Hussey. After that, I became obsessed with watching movie adaptations of Shakespeare's work on video through out High School. That's why I was so honored to have been able to play Beatrice last spring in American Bard Theater Company's Much Ado...I had watched and loved Emma Thompson's Beatrice since I was 15yrs old.

MDR: What is your most memorable experience of the Bard?

NDH: In John Basil's class, when I first felt the mysticism of Shakespeare's language lifted. I don't claim to be an expert, but from that moment forward I was not afraid of the text anymore, it became fun rather than overwhelming.

MDR: What is the most challenging aspect of staging Shakespeare for the American audience?

NDH: Making it fresh and new for a New York City audience in a studio theater setting. We want to honestly tell the story …find the humanity and not get lost in a concept.”

MDR: What attracts you most to Measure for Measure?

NDH: It was originally said to be a comedy, and somewhere along the way it became a tragedy, I’d like to highlight the comedic aspects.

MDR: Why is it important to continue performing Shakespeare?

NDH: Because Shakespeare's poetry and plays still speak to us as human beings in an ever changing society where history repeats itself. Each artist and audience member can always find a Shakespearean character they can relate to on some basic human level. As for theater as a whole, Shakespeare's plays are accessible, universal in themes and malleable. They remind us that, no matter what time period you are from or what part of the world, we are all still human beings, connected to each other by common emotions, struggles, and triumphs.

Well said Natalie, break a leg!

The American Bard Theater Company’s production of William Shakespeare’s
Measure for Measure” opens November 4th at the Roy Arias Theater Center, The Payan Theatre, 5th floor, 300 West 43rd St., (corner of 8th Avenue), New York, NY 10036 For ticket information:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mrs Warren's Profession

Anytime you get the chance to see a George Bernard Shaw play, you take it. Add to the mix an American treasure of the stage, Cherry Jones, and you have the makings of a memorable theatrical experience. The production values are first rate. Even the audience was full of luminaries like Neil Simon himself and actor Alec Baldwin. Cherry Jones delivers and thank goodness she did. Any other actress may have wondered what she had gotten herself into. Costumes and sets were absolutely magnificent, all the male actors were worth their salt, and Cherry Jones was superb. I am leaving someone out because I don't think I can decide on weather I did not care for the actress or the character she portrayed. Reviewed elsewhere will be the actual trappings of the performance, I was really impressed with the social consciousness of the text. "Shaw was a feminist," I said to my wife at intermission. "Yes," she agreed. "Sort of." I think feminists today would be as appalled by a play about the glorification of the oldest profession as the public who first saw this play were back in the day. However, this was a clever way to point out how women were second class citizens in the 19/20th Century and how the battle for equality is far from over here in the 21st. Despite this plays glaring short coming, it is still a must see for the fans of Shaw.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fall Season

Leaves, branches, whole trees falling all around this season so far. We did a reading for White Horse last Saturday night and it felt good to do a little acting again. One thing leads to another they say and the FACT Company has picked one of my ten minute plays for their Words and Wine Series. October 24th at 3:00pm at Joria Productions- 260 West 36th Street, 3rd Floor in NYC. Very excited.

Jennifer and I just celebrated out 7th wedding anniversary. I am lucky to have her.

Got word from Paul Rebhan he sent me a slew of photos from Europe where he and Marcy are doing a victory lap around France and Italy after Paul's battle with Cancer. I am so happy for them. They look great and we hope to see them soon!

It is with great sadness we mark the passing of the father of a co-worker of mine. Anthony Carbone, my heart felt condolences go out to you and your family at this difficult time.

May God Bless and keep you all as Fall, this beautiful fall winding toward Halloween!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Last week we went to a preview of ORLANDO presented by the Classic Stage Company as part of their Fall Season. Orlando is an adaptation of Virgina Woolf's novel of the same name where a young nobleman in the Elizabethan Court becomes a woman and travels forward through time. In this enchanting production adapted by Sarah Ruhl, directed by Rebecca Taichman and choreographed by Annie-B parson with an original score by Christian Frederickson, one is transported to a whimsical, fantastical world by the likes of Francesca Fairdany, Tom Nelis and David Greenspan (all worth the price of admission). In a contained spectacle the story telling commences straight away with movement, spoken-word-like poetry, and a sublimely beautiful reveal. The second act drags a tad when questions of existentialism are raised, but all in all well worth our time.

Speaking of Spoken-Word...

Last night we went to see Laurie Anderson at BAM. I had never seen the legendary artist in residence for NASA. I thought it high time. Introspective pieces about the nature of maternal relationships rendered into music for electric violin and bass sax accompanied by Colin Stetson and Eyvind Kang are augmented with evocative visual effects by Anderson and lighting by Rus Snelling. The rain on stage echoed the rain outside. "We die three times," Anderson says. Once when our heart stops, once when we are buried or cremated, and once the last time some one says our name.

Tonight: Angels in America.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Time To Remember

Nine years ago the world changed forever. I was lucky in so many ways. The job I had recently started went beyond being a vocation, and became a way for me to help New York City heal. Not all of us are altruistic, but to a person, those of us who worked for the city during those difficult days of mourning will never forget the unity and compassion shown by our friends and neighbors. When the quiet hours of early morning came and I watched workers on the pile diligently toiling to restore our sense of order, honor, and security, I felt the mighty sacrifice of all humanity in the name of decency and peace. Those men and women trapped in the deadly collapse are who I dedicate my service to, and to those simple New Yorkers they left behind in my care, I pledge my very best. Civil Servants are tough threads holding the fabric of our society together. To the members of the Armed Forces of the United States, the NYPD and the FDNY, OEM, HPD and all the city agencies with which we interface daily: "I thank the Lord for the people I have found." It is a privilege to serve with you and I thank you all for the opportunity to aid and comfort the citizens of this City.

Two years ago, on September 11th, 2008, we bid a final farewell to my father, David Jude Ransom, forever in my heart, always on my mind, the light of my conscience.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tony Noe "Chasing Better Days"

Meticulously composed, performed, and produced, this collection of songs and music brings Tony Noe’s recording artistry to a whole new level. Noe produced and arranged the music along with Vinnie Zummo on this ten song collection of emotionally charged material easily accessible to the listeners of our generation and beyond.

Stand out tunes include: Rescue written in response to the tragedy of 9/11, and honors the spirit of community with those who rush in where angles fear to tread. The irony of “no choice” is the powerful choice made to risk one’s own safety and well being in the service of others. With awe and reverence, Noe points to the foundation of our future resting on shoulders of those giants of the past including his own father who with “no hesitation in his moment of fear” risked it all for the promise of a better day.

Also a favorite is Forgive Me Mandolin twangs of Country and Blue Grass, lilting and steeped in folk traditions; this self-deprecating confession of ignorance at hurting someone unintentionally is a joy. Simply beautiful as the mandolins also pay homage to Italian country sides as well as Venetian cafes, the hills of Virginia and the city of Nashville. With the help of Karen Lee Larson’s violins, this is a delightful musical departure and a highlight of the CD.

Available now at CD, I give this collection 5 ***** Stars!

Friday, August 6, 2010

What Work Is: My Brother-in-Law's Kitchen

So for a couple of days this past week I got out my old tools and literally knocked the rust off of them and did some repair work on a stoop I built for my sister and brother-in-law at their house upstate. It has been a long time, 1992 I think is when I built the thing, making all the concrete pavers myself in the basement of a house we rented on Staten Island. Not all of my masonry work comes with a lifetime maintenance contract, but if you ever tasted my brother-in-laws cooking, you would not be surprised that I make a trip up there now and again to taste what his grill produces in exchange for some deck painting or power-washing.

This morning there is not a part of my old body that does not hurt. Getting old sucks. Moving on can be very painful. This brings me to the real subject of this missive: Moving on after 9/11. For some of us the events of that day will be forever and indelibly imprinted on our souls, the pain and the nightmare with us in a very palpable way every waking and many sleeping moments for the rest of our lives. The world moves forward and there is going to be an Islamic Cultural Center built on a block where citizens once had to run for their lives from a massive dust and debris cloud caused by the collapse of two of the worlds tallest buildings. Many died, many more have been poisoned afterward by toxic air. The wound is still fresh and slow to heal. So the out-cry against the mosque is understandable. We cannot force healing on a wound in a humane way. It is a slow process aided by compassion, understanding and most of all, faith. Even Atheist's have faith. After all is said and done I will be proud to say I am an American, and a New Yorker and tolerant of the building and the people who want to see it built. I see their point. They are as American as you and me. They feel the same hurt as I about the events of 9/11 and have had to live with a bigoted stigma ever since. Efforts to establish identity and change hateful perceptions is a lofty and worthy goal. It will be a long hard battle before their dream can be realized, much rhetoric will issue forth re-opening old wounds. I have ultimate empathy for those who want to build and create, and I only have my faith that those who propose to move forward into this forever hallowed ground will understand the resistance from the many who suffered at the hands of a few.

May Love and Peace guide us.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Our Divine Mr Brooks

Screenplay written by and starring Scott Brooks, Directed by Jenny Greeman, with Heather Dilly,Diana Delacruz,Jonathan Sale and Kristofer Aigner

Mid-town International Theater Festival
Workshop Main Stage Theater
312 W 36th Street

Scott Brooks has been "banging his head" against the stonewall of success for as long as I've known him. In his latest stage effort his considerable story telling talent and his knack for crisp, witty, dialogue have combined to bring us this acerbic tale of faith, faithlessness, disappointment and the cold hard facts of life. And he can act! Wow, can he act! This is a must-see for people who enjoy watching people living their dreams.

Diana De La Cruz is wonderful, as are Heather Dilly and Jonathan Sale. Jenny Greeman's direction is superb.

The script leaps off the stage; brought to heart-wrenching life by some wonderful actors. The black box quality of the Main Stage actually enhances the experience, the minimalism of the set shadows the essential-ism of the text. Nothing is superfluous, or fluff, and every note rings with scathing truth. Masterfully done. Kudos, kudos, kudos. They say good theater compresses time…this did not feel like 90 mins. Scott: Man you hit one out of the park!

PS This is my resume. Let's do lunch.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June Swoon

As June ends and Summer begins in earnest I can't help but think how beautiful a photograph this is. The back-back, the skate board, and the Yankee cap tell one story, but the music emanating from this young man by way of his piano playing was absolutely sublime. Moments after I snapped the picture his cell phone rang and he was off to another "appointment" reminding me of just how fleeting life is and how it is important to take a moment to simply get present with the wonder of it all. The Mayor, Mike Bloomberg, in his infinite wisdom has scattered pianos all over town inviting players to play to the delight of everyone. NYC is a summer place when the nights hum with the electricity of the streets, people are out of doors walking, running, kayaking in the Hudson, riding bikes, and skate boarding or lounging in a cafe or sidewalk bistro. Life is being lived to the fullest by residents and visitors alike. It reminds me of why I am desperately in love with my home town and take great pride in the privilege of serving her.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

We Have A Doctor in the House!

The final flourishes on a celebration that started when Jennifer-Scott Mobley completed her graduate work back in March of this year culminated with Commencement ceremonies at Avery Fisher hall last night. I am so proud of her achievement. Congratulations on a job well done and a degree well earned. To my wife: All of our love and your hard work combined to make this moment, thank you for sharing your life with me.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A New Month

Time flies when you are having fun and fortunately for us, we didn't fly anywhere over the long weekend, but instead drove "home". Take me home country roads. There is nothing that evokes more a feeling of Freedom as when you get in your car and drive. I don't care if it's down the block or across the country. When we got frustrated by flight delays for a trip we had planned, we chucked the trip and chose instead to visit family in Virgina, and that turned out to be a tonic for city weary workers like Jennifer and I. We paddled, we ate, we shopped, we strolled our favorite haunts in Billy Burg and had a fantastic time with Jen's parents. Looking forward to more of the same later on in the summer. Ciao for now. Here's howling at the moon with you...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

What a...Week!

Last week we saw three plays. They were all great. Since Jennifer is going to review Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson for publication I will just say we had a great time. The weeks ahead will see less theater and more the inside of my mind as I write a play myself, work on a short novel and continue to work on my poetry. My crazy day job for the city keeps things lively especially when the wind gusts 50 mph or better. A shout out to my diverse and far flung family of fans. Drop me a line sometime.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

"You take my breath away..."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010 7:00 PM

by Sheila Callaghan
directed by Daniella Topol
with Rob Campbell, Dana Eskelson,
Ronete Levenson, and Elisabeth Waterston

The last time I sat in the theater on West 55th that makes a home for The Women’s Project I saw a whimsical and campy piece by the legendary Virginia Woolf. The most recent production now gracing the old stage is quite different. The play itself is amazing, an awkward love parallelogram between August, Daphne, Liza and a character named Boy that is steeped in Greek tragic tradition and American angst. The time is very specific: November of 1980 when idealist hearts broke upon the landslide election of Ronald Reagan,(more about “landslides” in a second). The place is a non-descript Greek island in the Mediterranean Sea which comes as near to utopia as Western thought can bring you. On this island, we find August played by the delightfully swarthy and satyr-like Rob Campbell, an ex-sixties radical hippie rabble-rouser who long ago lost his copy of Das Capital. Instead of leading workers to revolution, August has become a worker of the land and a farmer whose crop is a rare varietal with which he hopes to produce a legendary bottle of fine wine. His young wife Daphne, played to Goddess-like perfection by the radiant Elizabeth Waterston, is bearing their child. To complete this incredibly idyllic male fantasy, a girl named Boy shares the confines of their family vineyard into which August has married. Ronete Levenson as Boy is perhaps the most lascivious thing in Lascivious Something being about as taboo and inappropriate as it gets. She is the embodiment of unbridled passion, her looks, her body language her speech (all in Greek) evoke the reckless impulsiveness of youth. Into this seeming Garden of Eden strides Liza, a crazy-maker of legendary proportions played deftly by the beautiful Dana Eskelson. Liza is an ex-lover and cohort from Augusts’ war protesting past, a ferocious lioness with a mane and a propensity for biting to match.

Together this foursome unravels a tale of wine, politics, and tragedy. The lines about Greece and her money problems are almost prescient. Sheila Callaghan is a playwright who employs what my wife terms “magical realism”. Her characters in Lascivious Something wax poetic. Some of the most important scenes in the play have alternate endings. This repetitive device is jarring at first, but you soon get the hang of it. This first playing of the scene will be wildly inappropriate with real intentions and reactions of the characters’ truthful feelings revealed. The second playing of the scene gives a more reasonable reading and moves the play forward. Callaghan uses film genre methods in her plays ala Paula Vogel in Hot and Throbbing, but in a more subtle and challenging way. She employed similar techniques to great effect in her Pretty, Pretty or the Rape Play staged here in New York last year. Lascivious Something has been around since 2002 and had a run in L.A. earlier this year with a different cast. That production featured full frontal female nudity, which this one here does not.

One major problem I have with the New York production is the set by Marsha Ginsberg which is elaborate and seems shoe-horned into the old Julia Miles Theater. The retaining walls of crushed stone and wire-mesh are foreboding and overpowering. The stone beneath the actors’ feet shift and move as they walk over them and the entire set threatens to avalanche into the first rows of the audience. It makes an otherwise large stage seem crowded and difficult to navigate for the actors not to mention the constant thoughts about the structural stability of the stage holding all that weight. Intimacy may have been the goal here, but it is hard to believe anything can grow on such a rocky place.

Be all that as it may, this is a beautiful production which ideally should move to a larger house. We are still talking about it.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Passion of the Christ...sort of...


IRONDALE, 85 South Oxford Street, Fort Greene, Brooklyn

This is actually three plays with the same premise: A behind the scenes look at a troupe of actors rehearsing and performing the classic Passion of Jesus Christ at three specific times in history: one being Elizabethan England, the second Hitler’s Germany and finally Reagan’s America.

What an experience, we went on Sunday, the perfect day for a Passion, though early spring would have made more sense. The play itself must be seen to be judged. I enjoyed most of the 3 hours and 30 minutes with two intermissions. However, the last act was a tad cliché with the Viet Nam vet suffering from PTSD. Be that as it may: The actors are amazing; the props gorgeous, perhaps this is a bit of an “actors” play in that there are a few esoteric jokes about theatre. Nevertheless, the point of this play is how the origin of theater itself is always with us in communion. It is also is about how monarchies, fascism and capitalism have just about hijacked theater (and religion?) as the world once knew it while attempting to co-opt them for their own purposes. Sarah Ruhl is one of our favorite playwrights at the moment, she also wrote “In the Next room…or the Vibrator play” which was staged on Broadway this season. The Irondale Center is a jewel in Fort Greene. This is a great find. Traditional companies focusing on Shakespeare might want to check this space out.

VIDEO: "Passion Play" Rises
How Epic Theatre brought Sarah Ruhl's new play to a Brooklyn Church

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Busy Week Ahead...

Busy theatre going week in store for Mark & Mobley (as little Ty likes to call us). Sunday at three is Sarah Ruhl's Passion Play, Tuesday we see Sheila Callaghan's Lascivious Something and then Thursday we check out BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON at the Public. Hot enough for you? Photo courtesy of my cousin Stew.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Victoria Libertore debuted her solo workshop performance to a sold out space at the Brooklyn Art Exchange (BAX) last night, and received a standing ovation from her audience. The show lasted about sixty minutes but had us talking into the wee hours of the morning. I have distilled our discussion about what the piece is now, and what it can become with time. Portraying Countess Bathory, a notorious mass murderer from Hungary who died in 1614, Libertore takes on the most challenging role of her career. We meet the Countess in the last moments of her life as she is walled into a room in one her many castles. Aided by magnificent costumes, props and sets by Jeff Studivant and Jono Lukas respectively, Libertore has a bit of fun with the gruesome, gory details of Bathory's legendary cruelty. In so doing she dominates an entire audience. In the end this sad tale is about a woman who is the prisoner of her desire to be beautiful forever. Narcissistic vanity may be the driving force of her fury, but a keen sense of our place in history here and now allows Libertore to bridge centuries of myth with laser like accuracy. "I have eye like hawk," she says. With those eyes she communicates present day themes of lust and greed, along with the irresponsibility of those in absolute power using graphic depictions of torture and abuse. Rosalie Purvis directs.

Friday, April 16, 2010

American Bard Theater Company Presents:

Review*: Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare presented by the American Bard Theatre Company, Flamboyan Theater at the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center April 16-May 1st 2010.

*This review based on a final dress previews for the next three performances and opens Wednesday, April 21st.

In the neighborhood of a Perfect Blue Building and a hot-bed of Cultural Diversity that is 2010 Lower East Side of Manhattan, the American Bard Theater Company has chosen to stage its debut full length Shakespearean production.

Let me first say this is no troupe of wanna-be amateurs. The production values of their Much Ado About Nothing are extraordinarily high; and when you are talking about Shakespeare that means a spotlight squarely and firmly on the language. Directed by Jefferson Slinkard and loosely set in post Spanish Civil War Italy, this Much Ado comes most alive when that loose setting becomes background to the formidable story telling by wonderful actors. Shakespeare in America is almost always a crap shoot, but with The American Bard, you see a group that has been through those tedious stagings of classics and the work they have done in preparation for their own production is immediately apparent. The only laughs to be garnered here are in all the right places.

Like the Public Theater’s recent staging of Othello, there is some interesting non-traditional casting taking place. Unlike the Public, American Bard Theater uses this device to great effect. Damon Kinard as Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon, and Marcus Denard Johnson as his companion Claudio, are both African American actors of impressive stature and verve. They both infuse their characters with life that leaps from the stage. The non-traditional casting comes in the form of Cheri Wicks as Antonia, the Duke’s sister (instead of brother Antonio). When she confronts The Prince and his friend for having shamed Hero at the altar, her use of the word “boy” carries a not so subtle racial insult as befits her rage, yet makes one cringe in our era of political correctness.

Andrew Eiseman has some stellar moments as Benedick. His comic timing is most fun to watch at a hilarious opening to the second act. Natalie Doyle Holmes as Beatrice is caustic with her wit and wisdom, and beautiful to behold as is Tara Henderson as Hero. Bryan L. Cohen is Constable Dogberry, a part he was born to play. He embodies the buffoon of a civil servant to the hilt. Almost a bit over the top, to say he plays a mean trumpet is an understatement. Erin Gilbreth as a guard on Watch is just delightful with her fluffy gray mustache, tin-pail helmet and rolling-pin for a weapon; she embodies the spirit of play for which Shakespeare is famous.

This is not to say the production is without flaws. Costuming the Bastard Don John in a period Fascist Uniform and having him hold a copy of Mein Kampf complete with red cover and black swastika is a bit heavy handed especially when there is no obvious political symbolism in counter point. Aptly played by Clint Morris, John and his co-horts played by Jack Herholdt and Evan Scott Schweitzer reek of maliciousness by virtue of their spot on delivery of the text. Schweitzer, Betina Joly and Garciany Miranda prove the old adage “there are no small parts” by playing their bits with skill and the enthusiasm required of a successful ensemble.

Ross Hewitt plays a credible Governor and while Mary Riley sings beautifully and is stunning decked out in her red dress as Margaret, there is no costume change for her, other than a period hair net, when she switches roles to play the local judge. The set by Sheila Phalon is simple; I especially love the center fountain with what appears to my failing eyes as a green frog with a crown on its head. Costumes were most effective when not trying to evoke a specific era; I loved them for the most part except for the fact that the Prince had private-first-class stripes on his sleeves. The players were well lit at all times thanks to lighting designer Jeffrey Whitsett. Overall, this is an effort worthy of attendance by those who love Shakespeare and an auspicious start for this company.

Monday, April 12, 2010


GIRL MEAT is the provocative creation of Victoria Libertore appearing as part of the Air Festival at BAX. In this solo tour-de-force, Libertore channels the infamous Countess Erzsebet Bathory who, over four hundred years ago, gave Count Dracula, Caligula Caesar and Jack the Ripper a major run for the money as the most blood thirsty human being on earth. Possibly the world’s most prolific female serial killer, Countess Bathory of Hungary has been the source of legend about incredible beauty and wealth as well as unspeakable cruelty. They say she actually bathed in the blood of some 650 people she murdered in a bizarre ritual designed to keep her looking young.

Written and performed by Libertore, directed by Rosalie Purvis with dramaturgy by Jennifer-Scott Mobley Ph.D., GIRL MEAT taps into our great American hunger for sex and violence. With archetypal set design by Jono Lukas and stunning costumes by Jeff Sturdivant, this captivating portrait of the Countess will come to life April 23, 24, and 25 at the Brooklyn Arts Exchange, 421 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn New York 11215.

Check out the promotional video:

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Reunion: Me and My Old School

I was right in predicting there would be cousins I never met waiting for us there in Baltimore. Tanya was a complete surprise and I am so glad I met her and her two lovely daughters. The great thing about “family” is no matter how long you’ve been apart, when you finally get together, you pick up where you left off. I showed Jen my elementary school and the path I walked to where we once lived on Mayfield Avenue. I had not seen that route in years. That, in and of itself, does not compute. I don’t feel like I’m that old. I was very moved and touched at all the attention generated by my first book. It was great to see my sisters all in one place, my mother, her sisters and brothers, their children, and their children, first cousins and second cousins…in all four generations of the clan gathered for the best cookies on Earth!

Lots of theater news in the coming week including reviews of "Much Ado About Nothing" by the American Bard Theater and I am very excited to see "Girl Meat" by Howling Vic at the Brooklyn Art Exchange.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Not Out of the Woods

Pay up
Pay down

They own you
Wild Tiger
Captured and caged
Put on display
Poked and prodded
Teased into being ferocious
Not too ferocious
Or precocious

No, that will not do
Not for us
Not for you

We like you in the rough
Prowling the sand
Stalking the green

But take more than your
Share of white women?
Oh, that is simply

And we won't have it
Not from the Tiger we tamed
If you want to indulge
In the treasure of the

Go play another game
These hypocrites
Don't swing that way.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Silence is Blissful

Cobble Hill is very quiet at the moment. It is Easter Sunday, and the church bells have just chimed calling the faithful to mass. I am here at my alter, the writing desk, meditating on the bliss and horror of our world.

Today it feels as if the Earth has renewed itself in an especially palpable way. I have sensations in my chakras that I’d almost forgotten over the long winter. Grief and sorrow colored, like fancy eggs, with joy and fulfillment now co-mingled as one. We have prevailed through darkness, ice, snow and rain to a rebirth of leaves and grass, sun and blue sky. The deluge has passed. It is a time for sowing. Therefore, I sow warm and loving thoughts in your hearts with this missive in hopes we may soon reap laughter and good times together, soon and through out the year fulfilling the Bacchanalian traditions of wine and song. Happy Vernal Equinox to my Pagan sisters and brothers. Happy Easter to my Christian Fellows. Happy Passover to the descendants of Abraham. Blessings upon the followers of Muhammad, Buddha, and all the deities great and small who encompass our love of life and mother Earth.

Also today I pray for TJ on his 4th birthday. This little boy is going through some rough times with his health. Please take a moment to send him good thoughts and well wishes.

At times such as this I reflect on how very fortunate I have been in my life to have met and known such awesome, wonderful people, and to have fallen in mad passionate love with all of you.

Wishing everyone the best Spring and Summer...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Book of Grace

Susan-Lori parks and the Public have presented a moving and ephemeral portrait of America that has to be experienced. Using a combination of broad and subtle strokes, this three-hander takes the audience on a journey patrolling the borders of our perceptions about good, evil and every shade between. Buddy played beautifully by Amari Cheatom is the quintessential prodigal son whose checkered past has been redeemed by a Bronze Star winning stint in the service of his country. His skeptical US Border Patrol Officer of a father named Vet, played by the awesome John Doman, is about to receive an award of his own for intercepting a shipment of illegal Cannabis-sativa from Mexico. Between the two estranged men stands Grace who passionately loves them both. Grace, played as a down-to-earth, scared feminine step-mother and wife by Elizabeth Marvel, collects “evidence of good things” in a scrap book, augmenting them with her own thoughts and meditations about what good is like the Magic Castle in Disney World. Staged in the intimate environs of the Public, 90 minuets of un-interrupted, surreal family drama unfold. This is not a laugh fest, but a gut wrenching portrayal of what is good, decent, decadent and evil about what we are as a nation and a family. Deftly directed by James Macdonald with an alive set by Eugene Lee and Projection/Video design by Jeff Sugg, we enjoyed a thought-provoking evening.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Jen-Scott Mobley Ph. D.

The Luck Strike was when I met this woman 10 years ago and we embarked on an Odyssey through the Academy which culminated Friday March 12th, 2010 at approximately noon with her committee of distinguished professors congratulating her on a successful dissertation defense. What did that mean to a lay person like me? One thing : PARTY!

So we went bowling with a group of friends who braved a deluge and subway delays to meet with us on the far West Side of Manhattan to bowl, shoot pool and enjoy the swanky vibe of Lucky Strike Lanes. The service, for the most part, was great except for when lane 21 kept breaking down, but our wait staff was attentive, so thanks to Tatiania, Jessica, our waiter whose name escapes me because I never had to call him he was always there, and our event coordinator Laura Leon. Thanks to all our friends, to Chet, Routh, Ken, David, Tommy, Dale, Babs, Rod, Lee, Scott, Jill, Kelly, and Bill for coming out to say: Happy Birthday Doctor Mobley!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

NEWS from Jen and Mark land.


Last night we went to see Karen Finley in her latest First Lady incarnation. The venue certainly was an added challenge to her already alternative material in that it was just so main stream as to almost be distracting. Add to that the fact it is the place where my wife and I met and fell in love way back 10 eons ago when she was a bar tender/aspiring actress and I was an aspiring actor/construction worker. Proprietor of the Westbank Cafe, Steve Olsen graced our table with a visit; he remembered "Jay," as she was known back then, very fondly.

Also in the audience ingenue Rachel Weitz of "The Constant Gardener" film fame among others. Her entourage left after only five minutes of the performance piece, perhaps because they had sold-out tickets to "A Lie of the Mind" directed by Ethan Hawke across the street at Theater Row. Or perhaps Finley wasn't exactly what they expected. (Back to Ethan Hawke in a second.)

Finley's final performance of "The Jackie Look" was at times ridiculous and at others torturous as she not only opened mass wounds, but prodded and explored them using a barrage of multi-media, poetry, and primal scream therapy. Finley does an interesting impersonation of the icon, not the woman, and iconography is at the core of her thesis on Jackie O. I am not the scholar my wife is about to officially become, I only know that when Finley goes into her deeply maternal and sacred-feminine "You Know...You! NO!!" I was reduced to a puddle of man-goo. I heard people in the audience audibly try to console her. Jennifer commented that the piece doesn't sound "finished yet". I know what she means, but is anything a performance artist ever does "finished"?

On our way out of the Westbank, Jen spotted Steve and wanted to thank him for the complimentary Risotto balls he sent over to our table, which were fantastic by the way, along with the Stinky's of Brooklyn cheese plate we had. I found my self in the vestibule of the famed celebrity hang-out with none other than Ethan Hawke himself scratching his head under a blue and white ball cap. We exchanged pleasantries, may be it was intermission of the Sam Shepard play he directed, I recounted for him a moment 10 years earlier when we encountered on another on the street in Greenwich Village. He graciously shook my hand and allowed me to introduce myself. "I'm Mark Ransom," I said. "I'm Ethan Hawke," he said, as I presumptuously gushed "I know who you are," and now I think hey, wait a second, what did I say? Because I really don't know who he is. I only know the icon, which is what Finley was pointing out all night. But the one thing he said that makes me feel like we had a human exchange to day was "Until we meet again..." a positive and generous thing to say to a stranger such as myself, let there be no mistake, I am, people, strange.


Stars are lining up for us. By this time next week, Jennifer-Scott Mobley, my friend, my lover, my wife, will have been through her third exam, her dissertation defense and, if all goes well her panel of esteemed scholars will confer upon her the title: Doctor of Philosophy. When that happens...I think I will burst, into tears, into laughter, into the next chapter of our lives that has us publishing and performing. We are ready for our close-ups. So I want to spread this glorious energy into the world in an effort to counter the effects of earthquakes and war. Until we meet again...stay tuned! Hi to Paul Rebhan, whose recovery from Cancer is an inspiration to me, and urges me ever to fulfill my potential.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Winter Still Bites

Just heard a man was killed in Central Park by a falling tree limb. Yikes, it is the second time in less than a year. I love the winter and all the snow, but this is a little ridiculous. Hope everyone makes it home safely tonight. Keep warm. Blessings upon you! News from the front is that I am very close to completing a second book of poems. Very different from the last collection. I will let you all know when it comes out.

Love Mark

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

New Book/New Music

I am working on stuff...I visited Davey in Vermont last month and recorded some old songs. Nowhere near done, I am now working on my second book of poetry...but the real exciting news is that my wife...soon to be Dr. Jennifer-Scott Mobley...has a date set to defend her dissertation. The road has been long and the work one of passion and love. My wife is so well read, she has seen more and done more than any one I know, I am in awe of her accomplishment. She inspires me, without her I don't think I would have published a book of poetry, or continue to work on my music, or ever dream of acting on stage again. I truly look forward to the coming months when she achieves what has been long delayed for one reason or another. I am proud of her and what she has accomplished.

Paul is doing well. While not exactly cancer-free, his tumor has reduced in size since completing his chemo-therapy. He is still very much in our thoughts and meditations (prayers too!) Happy Valentines Day every one!


For what is a heart…?
but a couple of question marks?

One straight forward
One reversed
The second joined
To the front of the first

And what is Love
But the space between
That infinitesimal universe
Inner space of dreams

Monday, January 11, 2010


Tom had been a fixture on Court Street since we moved here from Wyckoff Street in 2002. He never smoked or drank as far as I could tell. He loved the Yankees and if there was a game on he knew the score. I asked Tom once what his story was. He told me: "Well, Mark, the guy who had this spot before me left. So I took it over." That was my last attempt at a serious conversation about who he was and where he came from, or how he came to be the guy just standing outside the deli, but most days Tom was always there with a smile and a thumbs up. A usual exchange would be like this: "How you doin' Tom?"... "Hello Mark, not bad for a Wednesday," followed by a fist bump and a comment on the weather, the Yankees or the news on the street. Tom was the one who described for us in detail what happened the night of the fire in 240 Court. He was not homeless though I don't know where he lived. He was not destitute, though he never refused a sandwich from Louie at SAM'S, or a couple of bucks from me. He helped us with our groceries, he watched the meter for our cars, he opened the door on the deli entrance, he stood out there most evenings from around five to midnight everyday, rain, shine, hazy, hot, humid, or bitter, freezing cold. He was part of this hood. Some of my favorite exchanges with him were when I would pass by and others were talking with him about this or that as he stood or sat on that blue metal box. People loved him. He had big, kind eyes and a wide grin spread from under a wiry mustache. When I noted his absence shortly after Christmas I felt something was amiss. Then we saw the memorial and heard from Brenda across the street at Ruben's Liquor store where he often bought his lottery tickets, that Tom had stomach cancer and passed away. So, just to repeat:

We Love You Tom, you will be missed.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year

Christmas in Virginia with Jeff and Sue, Sea and Dom was a respite from the stone and steel of New York City. The only gunshots we heard were from duck hunters in Williamsburg. It was good to feel the muddy earth underfoot in Palmyra.

Meadowood was a particularly moving experience as Sea and Dom are nearing completion of the "Studio" for the creation of art and all that entails. We are reflecting on the decade. The start of it found me adrift in a sea of humanity with no compass. I had met Jennifer and we began our way out of the madness together, meeting many fellow travelers along the way, people who are near and dear to us today, yet mostly unknown to us ten years ago. Those of you who are our oldest friends have witnessed the collective changes. We have grown, our wisdom deepened, our understanding expanded, our compassion realized in ways we could only imagine. We made a commitment to each other and to ourselves, and to you our friends and family, to make a difference in the world for the good of all. This effort is an attempt to balance a world seemingly so one-sided with evil. May whatever God you pray to bless you and help us heal the sick, enrich the poor, and find the forsaken. Happy 2010.

"To the Stuff in the Studio"

Is a curiously versatile

Meaning not only
The physical exertion required
To put something together,
Like a peppery arugula salad
With quartered tomato and shaved

Or take something apart,
Like an old pine car shed,

Or to move something from
one place to another
Like a cairn of sandstone, or a mountain, or an old chair
Across town
But also

The final product of that labor

Here to fore eternal
Versions of unique visions
Of nature's life and
Immense beauty, her
Hallowed mystery
Rendered for all
To share

Places where this
Takes shape are sacred

And the people who
Perform it

Holy, holy, holy.