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

Monday, December 29, 2014

NOT the Enemy!

If you think the racism that the author of this WP article described is exclusive to the police department, you're living in a fantasy. A liberal bubble where you cannot see the forest from the trees. Racism is everywhere and it crosses all ethnicity. Not everyone is a racist, but the very laws protecting minorities also protects racists. Freedom of speech, of religion, prohibitions on discrimination based on color, creed, or religious affiliation protects liberals and racists alike. Our society is woven of these disparate elemental threads. The question no one wants to address is how do we evolve into a more ideal society where people are not judged  solely on their appearance without destroying the whole cloth? Blaming the men and women who are trying to keep the peace is certainly not the way to go about it.
If we had no violent criminals, we would have no need for a violent police response.
 Here's an analogy from OSHA. Once a worker willfully and knowingly disregards a safety protocol and behaves in a dangerous manner at work, the law no longer protects that worker. 
Once people break the law in the presence of a police officer, that person is subject to some type of enforcement. All the media is ever showing is the enforcement of the law, not the breaking of the law. If you believe that there are not folks intentionally trying to provoke the police into scenes of violence you are dangerously naive. Are there bad cops? Sure and yes, they need to be weeded out. But the police are those we need to weed out bad people from our buildings, our neighborhoods, cities, towns, counties, and states. Thieves, rapists, violent offenders, and anarchists whose sole agenda is self-motivated chaos need to be held accountable for their actions. 

Obey the law. If you don’t like the law then change the law. Do not blame law enforcement for doing their jobs.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Pocatello at Playwrights Horizons

Pocatello is the most recent play by Samuel D. Hunter at Playwrights Horizons. 

Eddie manages a failing restaurant in a small town suffering the fate of corporatization. The state of our nation’s economy plays a not so subtle role here as this nondescript chain, perhaps Olive Garden or something very similar, is governed by the bottom line. Technically the inciting incident is news about the place’s imminent closing. Eddie has his demons, not the least of which happen to be that he is an openly gay man in an area almost devoid of gay culture (Eddie’s mom Doris can’t even say the word “gay.”) All of the action takes place in one dining room.

Troy is Eddie’s longest employee at the restaurant. He is married to Tammy, his high school sweetheart, and is the meat in our sandwich generation’s dilemma between a bulimic 17 year old daughter, Becky, and a father who recently had been committed to the County Care facility suffering the early stages of dementia. Of course, Troy and Tammy’s marriage is in trouble. Becky wishes they would divorce and get it over with already.

Denial plays a big part in the play. Nick, Eddie’s older brother seems to be well-adjusted as he was able to move on, marry, and become a successful real-estate broker in Minnesota. He and his wife, Kelly, take every opportunity they can get to travel as far away from Pocatello as possible. The inciting incident for this play, for me, happens more than 20 years in the past when Nick and Eddie’s father commits suicide after the failure of his own diner. Nick explodes with incredulity as Eddie tries to serve a dish their father’s menu once featured.

It is clear Eddie lives in that past, pining over the old family homestead which is rapidly deteriorating on the edge of town and long since passed from their domain. He has refused to tell his employees that their livelihoods’ at the restaurant are about to be terminated. His character arc peaks quickly and as the plot unravels, so does he.

One of the most fully developed characters, along with Eddie and Troy, is Becky. She goes through the play with a traditional arc and is clearly the most changed by the end. She comes to some kind of terms with the blatant and infuriating hypocrisy of life. The scene between her and her grandfather, Cole, who just wandered out in a classic Silver Alert, and walked five miles from the home to end up in the dining room, was almost metaphysical in the way Becky changed from his touch and a kiss on the forehead. It was as if he was physically passing some great unspoken pearl of wisdom from the wise old sage whose dementia is both disturbing and enlightening, to a ferocious young spirit struggling with harsh reality.

Hunter has the ability to make you feel a part of the extended dysfunctional nuclear family. Using mostly kitchen sink realism, he engages his audience by highlighting the most disturbing aspects of any given situation…in this case two families whose sole connections is the small town in which they all once, or still, live. A few of the characters may be a tad underwritten, like Nick and his wife, or the waiter Max suffering from meth addiction or the waitress Isabella, suffering from a lack of opportunity in a small town? But they are electrons caught in the orbit around the protons and neutrons of the play. As directed by Davis McCallum, all the actors shine in their roles.

Hunter taps in to our primal attachment to nostalgia with the lightest touch of sentimentality. He reminds me of another Sam who dealt with the family drama of Americans and practically invented Heightened Realism. That would be Sam Shepard.

Monday, December 1, 2014


Straight White Men by Young Jean Lee is either a brilliant play by an up and coming playwright or an excuse to explore normally incendiary topics (to the GOP) in a frivolous manner. I must admit I had a few laughs and was prepared to see the play by a plethora of previously published material, including an interview with the playwright featured in American Theatre magazine.

I saw her Untitled Feminist Show a few years back which was perhaps not the best way to be introduced to her work. As I read her bio, and about her process, and production history, I decided she needed to be seen again. In what she calls her first attempt at “realism” I experienced a cleverly crafted portrait of Straight White Men saying things we hear them say every day, or rarely ever hear them say, but imagine that they do. Or might.

First things first. The most memorable part of the play comes before you get through the door of the theatre where my companion and I were treated to a scene which went something like this:


Usher is standing in the door scanning tickets. He is tall, slim, and young and wears a head-set with ear-piece and microphone.

Enter- Little Old Lady (LOL)

LOL- Excuse me. (to usher) Excuse me is this music going to be playing the whole time before the play?

Usher- What? (He can’t hear her and stoops to get closer.)

LOL- I say, (Raising her voice as high as she possibly can.) Is this loud, offensive, obnoxious music that should be only played late at night in a strip club, going to be playing the whole time before the play?

Usher- Yes.

Exit little old lady.

If you entered the theatre upon opening of the house, you were treated/subjected to… an ear splitting hip-hop mix over which conversation spiked with anticipation was not possible. To many this was a sophomoric prank at best. Young Jean Lee, whose motto is: Destroy the Audience invokes Silenus, the satyr, and makes sure there is some offense right from the get.( I dug it and was rocking in my seat much to the consternation of my companion.)

While she maybe did not destroy her audience, she did her best to destroy their ear drums. I am sure she was working her “Alienation Affect” bone…with a generous amount of lube, but was it worth it?

Oh, yeah, then the lights went down and there was a lovely play.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanks Giving

This year will be a particularly poignant season of giving thanks for all we have. Mom and dad are both gone now. We miss them dearly, but the gratitude for the life they gave me, for the course I eventually found myself on, will never end. I am thankful for my family, for my wife, and the family I married into...I am thankful for my work family, and for the city of New York. Finally I am thankful for life itself. There is nothing more precious. I am thankful for my voice, and for the freedom of speech I am about to exercise.

With that in mind...I just want to ask can we, as a nation, commit to not having one more unarmed person of color die at the hands of our police? Can we commit, in the coming year to take a step back from shooting first and asking questions later? Can we go through a year without violence dominating the headlines? Can we stop giving anarchists and rabble-rousers the fuel for their hateful flames?

Can we say no more: Amadou Diallo, no more Sean Bell, no more Trevon Martin, no more Eric Garner, no more Michael Brown, no more...the list goes shamefully on...For their families and loved ones I pray...there is an empty place at all their tables.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Happy Birthday Daddy.

Day 6…again. November 4, 2014. Happy, Happy birthday to my father. I am so happy he was born. Obviously. I love life and he helped give it to me. He would be 84 today. I miss him. The good, the bad, the seventies!

Just came off of the 22 hour shift. I earned my money. 3 Incidents in the span of my tour. We handled them all. Just as I was drifting off to Kalimba by 46 Bliss, Damon barges in and I spring into action. Rather fell. Into action. It is so autumn. It’s time to vote.

Is it any wonder why I lover her so? Wouldn't trade her for gold!
My wife and my dad. 2005 at his 75th.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

4:48 Psychosis by Sarah Kane

See me, feel me, touch, me...heal me

Saint Ann’s Warehouse is currently located at the beginning of Jay Street in Dumbo. The last event we saw there was an all-female rendering of Julius Caesar set in a women’s prison. The institutional theme plays heavily in the TR Warszawa production of Sarah Kane’s swan song: 4:48 Psychosis a play about a woman dealing with mental illness.

This theater changed me. It is the epitome of theatrical power to express and transform. Magdalena Cielecka is riveting as the tortured protagonist. By the fatal end, I felt as if when she was looking right at me; she was looking right through me. Exposing my fear, my truth, my guilt. I swear we made eye contact. I was the dark figure of her madness. The specter of death itself.

 Adapted and directed by Grzegorz Jarzyna, I felt that I not only intimately witnessed the severe condition of a woman struggling to battle her affliction and express it through her art, but I also felt as if I was experiencing psychosis of my own. There were so many immediately identifiable and relate-able nuanced details that struck chords of truth like a dulcimer. By the end, the audience was torn to shreds.

My immediate thoughts jotted into my black berry on the subway trip home: Still stunned. I have seen greatness tonight. The searing truth. The truth kills. The audience is destroyed. The smattering of applause forced. No curtain call. No joy here. No vanity of craft. No need. All needs filled. Speechless. And thoughtless I am. Stunned into muteness...I will be landing in this for a long time. Sarah Kane was an English playwright whose plays deal with themes of redemptive love, sexual desire, pain, physical and psychological torture and death. Her plays feature poetic intensity, pared down language, exploration of theatrical forms and the use of violent stage action. Kane committed suicide in 1999.

"Love me. Touch me. Speak."

Precision. That is how I would describe the quality and skill with which Sarah Kane's 4:48 Psychosis eviscerated me. I came away from this performance with a new empathy for my fellow creatures. If you staged T.S. Elliot’s “Wasteland,” this is how it would look.

"I gassed the Jews. I bombed the Arabs. I raped the children while they begged for mercy." most probably the most horrid speech ever uttered in any language on any stage. And yet all I could feel was beyond profound pity for this miserable being. Profound pity and direct connection to parts of me experiencing the exact same condition. This tortured individual with whom I share so much, if not so intensely and severely, this same madness, is the “other” I recognize in myself.

Despite the final lines of her poem, Kane will never vanish. But this staging goes away on October 26th. In Polish with English super-titles.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mad Cow, Orlando: The Who"s TOMMY

Usually my reviews are from in and around NYC. Welcome to my first road review!

In 1975 I was having the best year of my life up to that point. I was a junior in high school, I had a beautiful girlfriend and Tommy was made into a film starring just a bunch of my favorite celebrities and artists. When the Rock Opera came to Broadway I was in a different place and I never did see the Broadway production. So when my beautiful wife suggested we go see a staging in downtown Orlando as part of out 11th wedding anniversary celebration I was so pumped!

I will be cruel only to be kind in this review.

Firstly let me commend the ensemble and all the leads. They were individually and collectively magnificent. The energy and commitment projected from that modest stage blew the roof off and kept my toe tapping and my seat rocking through out. Nothing could hold them back. Not the casting, the concept, the costumes or the set. Their brilliance lit the night sky of Orlando. Kudos to the musicians, costumer, scenic designer and choreographer as well.

A staging like this makes me want to go back to grad school and get my MFA in directing. With my biggest peeve the blocking during the opening moments of the Acid Queen number. I missed the entire opening tableaux because Captain Walker and his little son Tommy stood directly in front of me. If they wanted to see the Gypsy, played by the lovely Valerie Witherspoon, in all her revealing glory...they should have bought a ticket like I did and sat in a seat so everyone else could see!

I wanted to shout: Yo, I'm from Brooklyn! Down in front!

Other than that...I don't think it would be productive to go into further detail. My emotional attachment to the material may cloud my judgement. Though my wife, who had never seen the movie or the musical before, and knew nothing of the story going in, had a billion questions for me afterward. Such is life in the theatre!

Ciao for now.

Friday, October 3, 2014

King Lear...staged here...At NYU Skirball

It resembles a dolls house, (not the play, but literally). This is the functional set of a Shakespeare's Globe interpretation of King Lear now playing here in New York City at NYU Skirball. in the West Village.

I must admit, I was a bit trepidatious about going to see Shakespeare at the Skirball again. The first experience was a disastrous deconstruction of Othello with the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman playing  Iago.

No such high concept employed here. Pure Shakespeare as only Shakespeare's Globe seems to be delivering these days. That means the house lights stay on, the audience is included in the fun (in Shakespeare's day, the "4th wall" had not been invented) and a fresh, lively interpretation of text is delivered with great pacing, acting and stagecraft.

The last Lear I saw that had the same, bare bones, honest quality was when The American Bard Theater Company did it a few years back.

Joseph Marcell as Lear is sublime. When he declares "I am a man!" you will not be able to escape the message so timeless and subtle, yet so powerful and contemporary. He sent chills through me.

Yes Jacobi was inventive with his whispering of the speech during the storm on the heath. Yes, Langella was a powerful physical presence and "every inch a king." But the stripped down versions of Shakespeare's Globe provide a more accessible pathway to the words, the poetry, the music of Shakespeare.

In recent productions of Lear, that poetry, that music, would flash like lightening. In Shakespeare's Globe, the deluge of artistry never stops.

According to Executive Director of Skirball, Michael Harrington: this "...marks the beginning of our new partnership with Shakespeare's Globe..." Meaning we can look forward to more and more of this wonderful, exciting, and enlightening style of theater.

Bravo Globe. Bravo NYU Skirball.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

They Got the band Back Together-THE PETERSON'S @ 54 Below

54 Below. September 27th. 2014. Been waiting all year for something special and this is it. They got the band back together. Tony Danza talking to Matt Saldivar at the bar. The room buzzing with excitement.

All I need is a good cigar and dedicated ventilation and I would have been as near to nirvana as I can get without my wife being next to me. 54 Below is opulent without pretensions. Festive like a secure speak easy of old. Pete Peterson (the drummer) is missing. Not the reason they have not played! They have not played because Mrs. Peterson had a baby. Julio got the baby sitter. Julio is "so tired.” Here is the blow by blow of this 11 round bout of non-stop laughter in a club featuring an audience with the likes of C. Michael Hall, Ben Shenkman, and James Naughton.

1. Throw Away the Past (Move On)

They all wipe with towels. Mr. Peterson is looking for Julio to set up the baby monitor. They are playing Frankenstein? No, it’s just like a radio. You have to tune it! Baby sleeping.

 "It’s like my heart is walking around outside of my body." Mr. Peterson explains parenthood...but with not so fond memories of the blessed event!  Trauma down there! Alien! Coming out of your body. 

 Mrs. Peterson wants to get naked and do shots! Mr. P can't do it. Yet...

2.(Get Wet) Down There!

Father Tom's sexual history. Father Tom was not visited by a priest.

3. Because, Because ! We were in Love!!!

Julio cries. And is really, really tired. Ricky (He's the new drummer) had to pump. 

Dios Mio! It's been 10 months and they have not named the baby!

Lazy drunk absentee mom. Mrs. Peterson is a feminist. WWDRD

4. (New song) What Would Donna Reed Do?

5. Matt Saldivar! No matter where you are...we think of you and smile!

More patter. More tired-ness. 

Beef jerky? Fruit roll up? "Is that my placenta?" Mrs. Peterson asks. Eating smoked placenta for energy! 


Tony Danza comes on stage. He is the baby sitter! He's good with kids. Julio explains the long running documentary (Who's the Boss) about raising kids.

Tony does a song!

6. Donna was an extreme sunbather in Vegas...who died of exposure...2nd chance. “I couldn't have been rotten-er...I should have gotten her out of the sun!" (He rocks it out of the park!) A song from Honeymoon in Vegas coming to Broadway.

Mrs. Peterson is hot, hot, hot for Tony.

Mr. Peterson's wilted libido shows signs of life! (He's jealous).

7. Arwen- Aragorn-Misfits

Mr. Peterson wants to fight Tony Danza!

8.Bruce Lee! I gotta be!

He's calling Tony Danza out! Baby monitor going off! Baby crying.

 Let's sing him a lullaby.

9. $60.00 Dollar Bra (sotto voce)

Puts the baby to sleep. Matt (aka Julio) played the lil piano! Cracked me up!

Naming the baby after Tony Danza.

10. Michael Corleone-Apollonia… Blow Up-in a car. "You could be grotesquely obese and I'd still love you" Mr. Peterson croons. 

11...Encore! Matt Saldivar! New song? Johnny Loves You? Evans solo sweet. All -I-Know I don't wanna lose you now...

Whew. I am so tired after that recap. I think I need a nap...later. What a great night. I hope they play more.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

9/11/14 - 13 Years a Ghost

It's like the fires never went out. Even after the towers fell, after September passed, after 13 years. The fire still burns. Helplessly I gazed at the north tower and at the doomed face of a man above the flames. He was in a chef's coat and was hanging out a window and was trying to do what we were all trying to do...escape. I was on the outside looking in, yet I could not escape the horror. That man would not escape with his life. I feel as if I have just haunted New York City ever since. A restless spirit unable to comprehend or reconcile the massive heartbreak. 

Good came out of the rubble, out of the search and rescue of victims, out of the determination to fight back and win against tyranny, out of rebuilding. Though I know in my very small way I play an even smaller part in all that, yet, I still feel invisible. Stranded in a past that never existed. A place where lives were all saved and ruin prevented. Haunting the plaza where that brass globe sat between the two towers. Mesmerized by views from that observation deck. Feeling the thrill of those fast elevators to Windows on the World. Being with the people who never saw September 12th 2001.

It takes a lot of energy to keep my emotions in check. I want throw myself back into life with a vengeance but then I think...what the heck. I go forward anyway, haunting the city by night, sleeping by day. Responding to the fires after they are out. Searching for meaning. Helping where I can help. Giving where I can give. Wondering if  the joy of pleasure will ever be mine again.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Dear Dad,

September 8th, 2008 is a day I will not forget. I think of you everyday dad. I hope you and mom are getting along in heaven. This is a poem I know you read, I am sharing it today in an effort to touch your spirit, and to let you know your spirit lives in me.

Adams Street

Two men in warm thermal sweaters with hoods
Caper along planks fixed atop a stage of scaffolding
Bright Brooklyn October Sun rises, shines, and is
Absorbed by thirty pound black felt roofing paper.

A tape- measure razor thin is stretched between
Held in hands darkened by pitch dust
That gets between every skin cell.

How I remember your hands holding a stick rule
As you made deep gouges in soft black membrane
Glowing blacker soaking in all the sun it could.

I held one end of heavy cord full of yellow chalk
We pulled tightly while you tugged smartly snapping
Long straight parallels.

It was crisp, cool, and autumn. Good working weather.

I thought of you, of us together, when I saw hooded workmen
High above Adams Street getting set to strike lines
And begin starter courses of slate or tile.

I know we would have had more patience with each other
If we knew then what we know now,
But I am grateful for everyday you could still hear me say

“I Love You, Dad.”

Love fueled our anger for so long
And we both know what it is
To be angry young men
Hammering away in sunshine.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Smoke, the Play @ the Flea

A play by Kim Davies
Smoke, the residue, and by-product of combustion, of burning. Smoke can take
many forms. Its aroma is either pleasant or wretched. It can, depending upon its
origin, be soothing, a sign of warmth and peace as in hearth and home. Or it can be
deadly. As any Fire Marshal will tell you, it’s not the flames, but the smoke which
kills. The winds of war are full of it. Smoke can also often obscure things as in
“smoke screen.”

The Smoke of Kim Davies play for the Flea is that contentious, noxious spew
made popular by 20th century film stars from an era known as the "Golden Age of
Hollywood" who hawked America's cash crop with great charm and even greater
ignorance as they glamorized the smoking of cigarettes. Smoking in those films
was either a prelude to or a post-climatic ritual after the act of having sexual
relations. And sex plays a very vivid role in this play.

The cigarette evolved as a poor man’s answer to the rich man's cigar. The sweepers
in tobacco factories would gather the discarded detritus and cuttings from the floor.
Wrap them in paper and proceed to enjoy an elite treat. So social status is
intricately entwined with the history of smoking. When inhalation became the
norm, the deleterious effects of habitual consumption began to be apparent. Lung
cancer being chief among the killer diseases directly linked with smoking along
with a plethora of associated maladies which can diminish a person’s quality of
health began to become prevalent conditions of the post war American population.
With all the conclusive science directly citing the smoking of tobacco products
with illness and with shortening life, you could think people would avoid the
substance as if it were a carcinogen like PCB's or Asbestos. Or imbibe with more
cautious and spiritual reverence. Not so. It is still in vogue with hard core addicts
who cannot kick the habit and with young people who believe it’s rebelliously
cool. Why is this? What drives otherwise intelligent human beings to such
dangerous and self-destructive behavior?

This could conceivably be the question of the play since the characters also indulge
in dangerous behavior of the sexual kind. Ah, but it might also be that smoke
screen I spoke about.

In brief it's a play about an adventurous young woman of privilege, Julie (Madeline
Bundy), the daughter of an heiress and a successful artist, and a man, John
(Stephen Stout) who is eleven years her senior and in the employ of her father.
Despite his claim to the contrary, he is a slave to both his gender and his class.
They meet while sharing the clandestine act of sneaking a cig in the kitchen of a
loft party with a particular theme. (Read: 10,000 shades of purple). The ensuing 90
minutes, which moved at a very good pace as directed by Tom Costello, is
somewhat of an amalgam of David Ives' Venus in Fur (2010) and Nilo Cruz's Anna
in the Tropics (2002).

Anna is set in a Tampa Florida cigar factory on the verge of the industrial
revolution. Smoke, for family owners of the factory, is symbolic as a way of life
that adhered to and respected traditions. The invasion of modern machinery and
mass production threatened familiar ties to old world civility. Nilo Cruz with lyric
genius describes the significance of smoke and the leisurely, slow, celebratory
indulgence of taking ones time to enjoy a fine cigar. He makes the distinction
between that ritual and the bastardization of smoking a cigarette to justify a worker
taking a break from the assembly line.

Venus in Fur deals with Sado/Masochism in a very subtle manner. The characters
engage in a kinetic psychological thriller where physical flirtation inspires an
intellectual thrust, and retreat between a man and a woman who each believe they
know implicitly what the other wants, and needs.

Kim Davies’ Smoke turns out to be an Apache Dance with a message. The actors
work to inject a lot of charm into the piece which diffuses much of the menace.

Madeline Bundy as the overly worldly-wise Julie is delightful to watch as she slugs
a shot of Vodka or dribbles orange juice. Steven Stout as the charismatic John is
wonderful. It is a rare treat to see an actor actually blush on stage in character.
There is some very clever intellectual give and take between a dominant man and a
submissive woman. Julie, against her declared feminist sensibilities, wants
someone to hurt her. Physically.

Mind you, to this point in her 20 year old life, no one has accepted her challenge, so whatever is turning her on comes from her imagination. John is veteran of "the scene" which indubitably is a different concept determined by one’s own notions, readings or experience. His preferred instrument of erotic torture: knives. Sexual relations on stage are always problematic and seldom as erotic as one may imagine. It can often be uncomfortable, but the two actors beautifully handled their choreography (Jesse Geguziz). There is actually something quite provincial about their relationship. These two were like any couple courting, except they both just like it a little rough. Things do get ugly before the end. Not unlike an evening at a frat party filled with alcohol, flirtation, and even foreplay, there comes a point where the stop sign gets run. Everything was very considerate and sexy until the “spoiled little rich girl” pissed the edgy S&M guy off by insulting...just about everything about him. Then it was no more Mr. "is this all right? Too much? Are you ok?" nice S&M guy. After the violation, he was all: “you just had a bad reaction, you're ok, it's ok," as he packed his stuff and callously left without remorse. “See ya.” The last tableau is of her reaching for the knife left on the kitchen table.

Rape is implied to have occurred in Anna in the Tropics when Cheche, the agent of progressive mechanization, appears to force himself on the young, idealistic, and innocent Marela. The rape in Smoke is far more graphic, yet less overt. A jolt to a jaded and sophisticated audience into the realization that rape is an act of violent domination regardless of circumstances?

When Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed the smoking ban into law in 2003 New York City, it was actually the culmination of a trend which began more than a decade before. Smoking is perhaps the most aggressive form of passive/aggressive behavior. The smoker is adamant about their right to be free to inhale their tobacco product. Yet that seemingly innocuous act has a downside. The smoker must exhale. In doing so they subject everyone around them to the by-product of their actions and make others, willing or no, participants by exposure to so called "second-hand smoke.” This almost describes very succinctly the Master/slave paradigm with the smoker assuming the dominant role. In addition, smokers will offer every justification under the sun to their right to imbibe their own poison since the environment is bombarded with a variety toxins from car exhaust to nail polish salons. Kim Davies captures the Nihilism of a generation of young cynics.

However, according to her, the impetus for the piece goes beyond the strictly philosophical. In an interview with the playwright by the Flea, Kim Davies explains her motives: “The undergraduate college I went to had a very pervasive date rape problem… I became very interested in anti-sexual assault activism, and I was involved for a while with a grassroots group based in the BDSM and queer communities… interested in ending the culture of acquaintance rape that is surprisingly endemic within the BDSM community in New York. The more I worked with people from that culture, the more I was reminded of the double-think and victim-shaming that happened at my relatively conservative undergrad. It was really fascinating to realize that a community that strongly self-identified as liberal and sex-positive and feminist was actually just as prone to rape as my predominantly white, upper-class, and heterosexual college campus had been – if not more so.”

Make no mistake; this is a theatrical interpretation of the scene. If indeed, it is a play about acquaintance rape, it is embedded deeply in a dramatization so provocative that to call the message mixed is an understatement. Yet all in all it is a very sexy production. "Great theater disturbs, inflames, transfigures.." to steal a quote from the Black Swan Theater manifesto. Consider me disturbed by watching what was essentially a rape. My belief may have been suspend, but the knowledge that what I witnessed wasn't real was of little comfort.

Smoke by Kim Davies, kitchen sink realism, Adult themes, raw, edgy, Cellar Theater at the Flea in downtown Manhattan. They smoked clove cigarettes, so that was a plus. At one point, the screen on the window slid closed on its own and the actors were really great with that. I think it’s really scary/hard to go from being strangers to having sex with knives in 90 minutes while trying to take care of a mixed audience. The Bats did just that.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Mysteries by The Flea...Rocky...Once...& When We Were Young and Unafraid...

Mom's passing did not mean that I would never sit in a theater again to experience a play. On the contrary. One of the things we loved to talk about was Broadway and Off-Broadway...and I even tried to educate her on the Off-Off Broadway scene. Mom loved her New York Daily News and was a subscriber and avid reader of that paper all her life. What ever the News covered theater wise we talked about. She became very curious about the play "Once". That might, had she lived, have been the next family outing to Broadway. I bought her the movie and the soundtrack to both the play and the film. She was also very interested in Rocky as all of us were who experienced the 1970's. The Mysteries is as ancient as western religion itself. These are a series of Bible plays generally performed by the trades-people of a town during religious festivals in the middle ages. It was difficult to tell mom about how the Flea version was a modern sensual take on stories about everything from Creation to the Passion of the Christ.

Usually I don't cover so many events in one blog, but I have also been busy lately writing a short story dedicated to my sisters, and reading the biography of Johnny Cash. That and our mini family re-union last week have been keeping me busy.

When We Were Young and Manhattan Thertre Club is a beautiful and important play about women set in 1972 by playwright Sarah Treem who may be better known for her work in cable television as the writer on "House of Cards". The play is about a safe house for women run by Agnes portrayed by the powerful Cherry Jones. This was the 4th time I've had the absolute privileged of witnessing her work. (Moon for the Misbegotten, Mrs. Warren's Profession and Glass Menagerie) She is a performer not to be missed on stage.

The battered woman she takes in is played by the young and talented (and often seen in my Cobble Hill hood) Zoe Kazan (Clive, Angles in America). Her performance is complex, layered and utterly contradictory at times, amazingly capturing the bizarre reality of  the Battered Woman Syndrome. The cast is rounded out by the charismatic Cherise Booth (Ruined) and Morgan Taylor making her Broadway debut.  This play is above and beyond my capacity or authority for review. If you go see it and are not moved, that would be proof positive that you are not human.

We went to see Rocky for and on my birthday which was completely bittersweet since mom died exactly two weeks before. The fantastic spectacle directed by Alex Timbers (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Peter and the Star Catcher) which takes place in the last 20 minuets or so is not even nearly enough to make up for all the missed opportunities at story telling proceeding the climatic fight scene. Still, as a huge fan of both boxing and the film, I was all wrapped up in every aspect of the show.

Which brings me to Once directed by one of our all time favorite directors John Tiffany (Black Watch, Glass Menagerie). I had not seen the movie before the play. I had heard the songs and knew very loosely about the story. As always, Tiffany's direction along with his long time collaborator "Movement" man Steven Hoggett (Black Watch, Rocky) created an award winning show that was a simple as it was powerful.  I have said it before and will say it over and over: I am not a huge fan of musicals. I have a few favorites, but you will never catch me humming a tune from Le Miz or Phantom. Sorry. Just how I roll. I like theater. I want to be moved, not entertained. If I want entertainment I will got to the movies or a strip club. And Once moved me.  It moved me to write the song I published in my previous post. Still working on the music.

Of all the shows I've mentioned only Once will be open for the foreseeable future I can't endorse it more highly as a fun night out. This bit of theater had more moving sentimental value because of mom. I probably would have missed it if it were not for her.

Like I would have missed my whole life.

And I miss her more and more everyday. "I love her so...wouldn't trade her for gold..."

Later for now friends.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

What Mom Taught Me

My mother liked to tell the story of how her grandfather, my great grandfather, worked on building the Brooklyn Bridge. I miss her stories, but that Bridge was built to last.

My mother led by example. She loved to talk, but articulation of the important stuff, the complex things? Well that was never her strong suit. That stuff she just showed you. She showed me how to love, how to cry, how to fight, and then how to make-up after a fight and not carry a grudge. She taught me how to stand up for myself. She showed me how to share. She showed me the importance of saying "I love you" maybe two or three times before hanging up the phone. She taught me, maybe most importantly, how to withhold. I found out very early on how little patience this world has for the truth.  Mom got that. She knew how powerful truth could be. And she showed me how not to abuse it.

There are a million things my mom taught me that I can't remember here as I write this, but they come to me nearly every moment of every day. She taught me how to dream, how to not only get by, but how to thrive with very little. How to appreciate the small things.

 how they are:


My mom gave me life. And I intend to relish it, wallow in it, play with it, celebrate it and share it! Even the sad stuff, because most recently, my mom...taught me how to die. She showed me how to do it with grace and dignity and peace and calm.

Not long ago my mom showed an interest in a movie that had been made into a play. I got her that movie. We were going to try and take her to see the play like we did on her 80th birthday when we went to see Jersey Boys. Inspired by mom, I went to see the play "ONCE" based on the movie of the same name, directed by John Tiffany of BLACK WATCH and the most recent Broadway revival of The Glass Menagerie. Seeing it made me want to write a song.  Here are the lyrics.

Once or Twice ( And the Melancholy Soothes Me)

I've been doing this a long time
Playing someone else's songs
On a borrowed guitar

Now, this time, it's only for me
And it feels like my whole life
Is just one big broken heart

And the melancholy soothes me
All those
sad songs about love gone wrong
On the radio
All those sappy unhappy endings
Going on forever 
Man, that kind of stuff just turns me on!

I never let my passion get
the better of me, though I don't 
know where the better of me went

Thought the best thing a man could say
Was "I love you" even if he
Never knew just what that meant


I know I'm lucky to have found you
And the many magic places
we have together gone

Even though I've done my best to face my fears
I can't imagine walking down
Those roads alone


And the melancholy soothes me
Lets my restless wild spirit
Sleep at night

Sets my dreams in motion
Before the dawn of another chance
To get this right

And I've been doing this a long time
Shadow boxing with my demons
Like I don't care

Never landing one damn punch
like I'm disappearing 
Into thin air


Thank you all for being there for me.
Love, love, love...


Thursday, July 3, 2014

At My Age

This is a bit crude. I composed it at the surgeons office where I was having my Lipoma examined. The past month has made me more and more aware of how little time there really is.  Since mom passed even my dreams seem more vivid. Each moment of the day carries a new significance which I never imagined. I never imagined life without mother. I just wouldn't. Couldn't. I loved visiting with her. We watched TV, caught up on the family gossip, and I got to ask her how she met my dad. No doubt there is a huge hole in my life now. But with her passing mom taught me the final lesson. Live. Live now.

At My Age

Its about the kiss
Not the...f*#k

The taste
Not the glut

The aroma
Not the smell
I begin to have
The discipline
To Tell
With a whisper not--

Not a yell

Slowing to enjoy
The miracle of

Sharing with family
My wife.

All the good
All the time

Present to each

And each triumph
As each obstacle
Is overcome.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


Grief is the strangest of all human experience in my humble opinion. Time stands still when the precariousness of life hits home. One minute you think you are OK, the next...There are a million decisions to be made. This can be difficult when you continue to be in denial...when you continue to not accept life without your loved one. And from the line of cars following that black limo to the burial park...she was loved by many. Then time speeds up. Knocked into next week I realize I didn't talk to some folks who turned out as much as I would have liked. I did not take care of some things. But everyone took care of me. I am grateful. Thank you to the friend who filled our fridge while we were away. To the family who offered and delivered help with physical labor and solace with offers of spiritual guidance at a surreal time...sincere gratitude and unyielding fidelity.

I composed the following as I rode the subway home from seeing my mother last Mother's Day. My truck still in Florida I rented a car from Manhattan and on the way back from returning it I made these observations. My mother taught me about diversity. Not with words, but with deeds. She taught me tolerance and above all she taught me forgiveness.  I hope all of you can forgive me for my indulgence.

Mother's Day

He stands
at the platform
To feel a mass of subway
Sweep by so close
To his chin

Jamming his rap
Into space
Holding the doors in place
For late ones through the gate
No hate
His brand of street love
Rising above sewers and
Who-ers and doers of nasty deeds to others not their brothers
From behind blind thieves of the bright, bringers of night

That's the foe he fights
Right. That's the sight he
No fright but for those who mean harm.
Thems he wants to disarm sound the alarm send them back to the farm.

Subway tunnel loops around with sounds of
Underground city without

so gritty the white rat and the black rat are both gray in the endless track of night without day saying the say. Playing the play. Avenging the wronged and staying the stay. 450 years ago he was in chains. 450 years later his life has no chance but to perpetuate misery? Now misery has company and brand names and P Diddy. Maybe there is a way up from the steel dust of rails to nowhere laid down and spiked by his Grand Pare from back again to here and there. Down the pike up the junction no moment but for suction in totality of the diction compressed in reduction cannibalized and destabilized as force of history moves beyond mystery and into the realm

    of the unknowable.

Mark Ransom

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Rose Mary Talerico Ransom Annibale 1929-2014

Dear friends and beloved family, after 85 amazing years my mom passed away peacefully in her sleep early this morning. Please find below details of the proceedings if you are interested. Thank you all in advance for your well wishes and love. In lieu of flowers, a donation to a Veteran's Association of your choice in her name would be welcome.

Loving sister, wife, mother and friend, Rose Mary Annibale nee Talerico late  of Wheaton Pointe, East Windsor, NJ,  originally of Dunmore, PA, passed peacefully June 7, 2014 . Preceding her were her husband the late Carl S. Annibale (2003) and brother the late Joseph Talerico. She is survived by her three daughters : Martha R. Metacarpa of Plymouth Meeting, PA, Patricia A. Ciulla and husband John Ciulla of Rockland County, NY, Susan Shaw and husband Joseph Shaw of Arlington, VA, her son Mark  David Ransom and wife Jen-Scott Mobley of Brooklyn, NY and step children Carlene Kelly, Susan Ramsaroop, Anthony Annibale, Teresa Balzarano, and Carl S. Annibale Jr., 10 grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild. She is also survived by her brothers Paul Talerico, Carmen Gilotte, and Carlo Gilotte and her sisters Mary Butta and Caroline Rose as well as many, many  beloved nieces, nephews and cousins. She cherished her mother, Serafina, her friends, her children and above

Viewing will take place on Wednesday June 11th from 9am -12 noon with service immediately following at...

M. David DeMarco Funeral Home
205 Rhode Hall Road
Monroe Township, NJ 08831

Please forward to any family you know of.  Thank you so much.

"Now cracks the noble heart...may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest..."

Thursday, May 29, 2014


Speaks louder than waves crashing
Than water. Falling
From a hundred miles
Than a fire spout
On a drought ravaged plain
A volcanic eruption
At the ocean floor

What's more
Silence pulls me deeper like a walking
Sleeper like a mountain
Steeper than sheer glass

Like silence is all
I can think of
All I can drink of
Drawing me in and down to the brink of

Dissolution reality intrusion insanity
Fusion of our

Silence is brutal
As it is beautiful
Deep and eternal
Silence infernal

Silence between silence
Silence without sound
Eyes darting away
Let's me know I'm down
Way down
On your list of things
You need to get to
I've let you get to me
To let me regret you

Silence does to me
What nothing else does to me. 
It serves to prove to me 
there's a darker place than 

Silence reminds me
There's still a mass of pain in me 
that festers never to let me be
something I. Can. See. Taking over

And now on the MARCH bouncing from bar to bar...
lines begin to blur...speech to slur...
I confer with a bottle of Jack 
and Mac and Johnnie Black...
sneak attack.

Did you say something?

Are you?

Are you talking?

Are you talking to ME?

Or is silence
stalking me
taunting me
wanting me

To set you free
That silence of yours


Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Low Moan of a Wounded Dog

Back when I was a boy
and we lived in that  House

With my sisters, and my mom, and
My Father

From time to time
I remember--there was a sound
emanating from somewhere
seeming far off

And it struck so deep
the way a particular
moment of music will

Some call it the soul
Others the Heart --
I say
Fissure of
Umbilical connection

To that place
from whence we came
to which
we inevitably shall

This Howl
haunts me now
even as then

When the moon is full
and city falls silent
just before the precipice
of another
Earthly day