The Boston Marathon, My Experience

By Jack Kelly Last Monday, on April 15th, 2013 I awoke with butterflies in my stomach.  The butterflies I felt were a mix of nervousness and excitement.  For anyone who has ever

Working For Mayor Menino

  By Jack Kelly (former Neighborhood Liaison for Boston Mayor Tom Menino) As the news filters through Boston and the rest of the country, of the impending retirement of Mayor Tom Menino,

My Grammy Experience!

Hey All :0) I just got back about a week ago from being in LA for the Grammy’s! It was so amazing being out there during all of the excitment! My hair

Matt Ganem The Poet

  I heard of Matt through a colleague who was “raving” about this poet who wrote about addiction named Matt Ganem.  I started following him on Twitter and really enjoyed his teasers

Pro DJ Classes at the Mmmmaven School!

Hey Loves! As some of you may know, I recently completed the pro DJ course at the Mmmmaven School in Cambridge, MA ( Www.mmmmaven.com ) In hindsight, it was totally worth it!

 

Back in the Studio!

Hey Caesar Readers :0)

Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving! I went to my Grandmas and ate SO MUCH! I love Thanksgiving! :0)

About a month ago, I got a phone call from Bristol Entertainment asking if I wanted to be a featured artist on their Christmas compilation this year- I was very excited and of course said yes! then came crunch time, since it was already November and I hadn’t picked a song, let alone rehearse it or get started on production! but, Chris and I kicked butt and got it done in record time. It felt sooooo good to get back in the studio :0)

After much research and listening to many different renditions of many different Christmas songs, I finally chose to do a cover of “This Christmas”‘, a holiday classic by the legendary Donny Hathaway.

My Christmas single will be out on iTunes and amazon.com Thurs Nov 29th, 2012 and the entire Bristol Entertainment holiday compilation will be out Dec 4th,so be sure to look out for them!

Much Love and Happy Holidays!
Melissa Jane xoxo

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Lincoln and Obama: American Romanticism

By Jack Kelly

 

As the long awaited movie ‘Lincoln’ virals’ its way across the U.S. in the virtual flesh, we Americans are being eagerly invited to participate in the oldest of our traditions: American Romanticism.

Such repeated rituals reverberate in every part of our collectives souls.  Sports, politics, and even historic crimes cannot escape the lexicon known as American Romanticism.  Dead rock stars are transfixed in our generational essense.  We debate historical records in sports because it connects to our fundamental past.  We celebrate Washington and Columbus without complete context of their faults.  The founding fathers are looked upon as diety’s; godlike figures described glowlingly with zero utterance of the very warts splashed upon their figuatory skin.

We dismiss their faults not as an ode to ignorance, but because of the theivery it would cause with our aggregate euphoria.  To speak ill of them, is essentially admitting this whole American experiment was built on quick sand.  Truth be told, their warts like ours, make us and them larger than life.

America essentially works and exists, because we believe that it does.  It is a physicall figment of our hopeful imagination.  It is as much a part of our soul as it is a place on a map.  Forever trying to perfect the founding mission while fixing the unfortunaly tragic imperfections along the way.  It is sometimes complicated and horrific, but something inside us demands we continue on for the destined perfection.

American romanticism officially reflects a time period in the 18th century and narrows the actual phrasing around literature and a cultural concept of early, progressive optimism which separated itself from the Puritans in an independently revolutionized America.

But, I am not speaking of such American Romanticism, although I find it useful and for all my fellow inquisitives’, follow the link to inspire your curious soul.

The romanticism I speak of is more human and emotional in its origin.  It is a widely held practice in singular terms amongst ourselves.  One could argue it is the rope that binds us to one another.  An official summarization of romance says “Romance is the expressive and pleasurable feeling from an emotional attraction towards another person associated with love. In the context of romantic love relationships, romance usually implies an expression of one’s strong romantic love, or one’s deep and strong emotional desires to connect with another person intimately.”

This defined romance can and is applied to the history of our country, in all aspects.  As an emotional species, we desire connectiveness.  While inherently violent and territorial, our tribal instincts instruct us to find commonality with one other.  Our violence only emerges upon threat or loss of the vital aspects we need to survive.  Perdition of ‘romantic’ or sexual interest, or access to food and shelter, will inspire violent urges in us.

But the beautiful and aww inspiring quality many of us have is the ability to feel love and inspiration.  That love, or romance helps us not only stay united, but infuses us with a need for it.  It is the evolutionary progress our species continues to transfer to the next generation.

This romantic gene if you will, demands we feel hope and happiness when acts of kindness are witnessed.  Just as our genes can usher us to act violently upon threat, these same genes help us drive towards one another by initiating shots of endorphins pulsating through our bodies.

The movie Lincoln certainly acts as the syringe of that necessary component of romanticism we all desire and collectively need.  Our image of Lincoln rightfully evokes positive feelings.  It makes us proud of who we are as a country.  This is our President who freed the slaves and won the civil war.  He united us not only as a country, but further progressed our species into a place we need to reach; continued connectivesness.

As some of you shall see when watching the Spielberg flick, President Lincoln had to romantically arouse and fight for the 13th amendment.  He not only had to fully recognize the power of the presidency and what that power could accomplish, but he had to use American romanticism on people to get it passed.  Whether it was a racist old democrat he tried to convince to switch his vote in honor of his dead brother or some in his cabinet of the virtue of the 13th; Lincoln understood emotional appeal was necessary.

The reelection of President Obama is a fulfillment of that romanticism.  Outside of all of the issues and the nuanced varieties that presented themselves during the campaign, an Obama victory was almost guaranteed.  Although Republicans who read this may seethe with anger at such a thought, an Obama victory was apparent for a long period before election day.

President Obama represented something much more to our combined spirit as a country.  He was the first African American president and provided clear, significant progress from the time of slavery and the civil rights era. The emotional attachment we have as a country to his presidency is embedded into the fabric of our assembled soul.  For him to have lost, he would have had to have done something horrendously awful.

He was our country’s triumphant pride and joy.  An achievement of democracy and luminous progress for the rest of the world to follow.  His election will historically evoke good feelings.  100 years from now, it will be studied like Lincoln’s actions.  Sure, what Lincoln achieved in actual policy will most likely, not be replicated by any future president, and certainly not Obama.

But as far as a reflective moment?  The Obama election certainly provided the necessary euphoric lift we collectively needed.  So we protected it and him form a loss that would have been devastatingly difficult for history to explain.

So as we flock to the theaters to see Lincoln and participate in good old American romanticism, remember, the reelection of President Obama had a touch of this as well.

And regardless of how much you may have liked or disliked the result, our hearts and genes are filled with love and a yearning for an understanding of one another, All of this and much more, ensured it would happen.

Lincoln and Obama connect us all via American Romantacism

Fatum!

 

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Craigslist: A Criminal’s Playground

By, Amy M. Voltero

 

Wikipedia defines Craigslist (styled craigslist) is a classified advertisements website with sections devoted to jobs, housing, personals, for sale, items wanted, services, community, gigs, résumés, and discussion forums.

Craig Newmark began the service in 1995 as an email distribution list of friends, featuring local events in the San Francisco Bay Area, before becoming a web-based service in 1996 and expanding into other classified categories. It started expanding to other U.S. cities in 2000, and currently covers 50 countries.

Ten years ago, bank robbery was the most popular crime, flooding US newspapers. Today, statistics are down from 30% to a mere 2%. (Uniform Crime Reporting Program) Most people would tell you that robbing a bank is the dumbest thing a person could do. 50% of all robberies are unsuccessful due to getting caught at the scene or later being identified and arrested from security cameras. (Steve Thompson, Yahoo)  Maximum penalties can be up to 20 years unarmed and 25 years armed.

In 2009 when I was out of work, I would surf Craigslist looking for potential jobs. I sent out dozens of emails daily, hoping a prospective employer would be drawn to my resume. I got numerous responses for Administrative Assistant positions via email, with the job requirements. One job requested that I collect outstanding funds from delinquent account holders. I was to collect payment and deduct $500 commission for myself and wire-transfer the remaining funds to the company’s account. I don’t think so!! I reported it to the Police and to Craigslist.

Another incident occurred when a friend was also looking for a job through a Craigslist advertisement. A moving job for a middle aged doctor, moving from Boston to Thailand. His ad was very extensive regarding his traveling back and forth from Back Bay to now relocating overseas. He was willing to pay $500 up front for gas and or moving truck expenses. Once communication and confirmation was established between the doctor and my friend, the doctor would send a check via fed ex for the moving expenses. Once my friend received the check, he was to email the doctor for the next set of instructions, including the address of the apartment to be moved. When the check arrived, my friend was surprised to see the amount for $3500.00 and drawn on a bank he had never heard of. My friend had been unemployed since the recession, and didn’t have that kind of money in his bank account. Eventually my friend contacted the police and informed them about his recent experience. He brought the check and correspondence to the police station and the officer on duty verified that the check was indeed phony.

Sometimes criminals get lazy and use out right robbery as their means of collectivity. In recent news, a man was robbed in Boston after posting a laptop for sale on Craigslist. He was robbed at gunpoint for his cell phone and laptop. The perpetrator was later identified and arrested. The police traced the perp from an email address used.

Who can forget Phillip Markoff, the infamous “Craigslist Killer?” Philip Haynes Markoff (February 12, 1986 – August 15, 2010) was an American medical student who was charged with the armed robbery and murder of Julissa Brisman in a Boston, Massachusetts hotel on April 14, 2009, and two other armed robberies. Markoff maintained his innocence of all charges and pleaded not guilty at his arraignment. A grand jury indicted Markoff for first-degree murder, armed robbery, and other charges. On August 15, 2010, Markoff committed suicide in Boston’s Nashua Street Jail, where he was being held in custody awaiting trial.

The media have referred to this murder and other murders as “Craigslist killings” because the killer was alleged to have met his victims through ads placed on Craigslist, two of whom were offering erotic services. (Wikipedia)

These are just a few cases of how resources for the world are abused by the millions of desperate criminals, infesting the internet and our communities. During a time when our nation is subjected economic hardship, these predators are victimizing people of unfortunate standards. Some of us may fall for their tactics due to personal vulnerability and end up worse in the end than we were before. Buyer Beware! If it seems too good to be true, it probably is!

Next Passage is courtesy of Craigslist:

You can sidestep would-be scammers by following these common-sense rules whenever using craigslist:

DEAL LOCALLY WITH FOLKS YOU CAN MEET IN PERSON – follow this one rule and avoid 99% of scam attempts.

NEVER WIRE FUNDS VIA WESTERN UNION, MONEYGRAM or any other wire service – anyone who asks you to do so is likely a scammer.

FAKE CASHIER CHECKS & MONEY ORDERS ARE COMMON, and BANKS WILL CASH THEM AND THEN HOLD YOU RESPONSIBLE when the fake is discovered weeks later.

CRAIGSLIST IS NOT INVOLVED IN ANY TRANSACTION, and does not handle payments, guarantee transactions, provide escrow services, or offer “buyer protection” or “seller certification”

NEVER GIVE OUT FINANCIAL INFORMATION (bank account number, social security number, eBay/PayPal info, etc.)

AVOID DEALS INVOLVING SHIPPING OR ESCROW SERVICES and know that ONLY A SCAMMER WILL “GUARANTEE” YOUR TRANSACTION.

DO NOT RENT HOUSING WITHOUT SEEING THE INTERIOR, OR PURCHASE EXPENSIVE ITEMS SIGHT-UNSEEN – in all likelihood that housing unit is not actually for rent and that cheap item does not exist.

DO NOT SUBMIT TO CREDIT CHECKS OR BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR A JOB OR FOR HOUSING UNTIL YOU HAVE MET THE INTERVIEWER OR LANDLORD/AGENT IN PERSON.

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Purdue Pharma: The Nino Brown Of Oxycontin And Heroin

 

By Jack Kelly

 For movie buffs and cultural enthusiasts, Nino Brown is an infamous, cold-hearted drug dealing character played brilliantly by Wesley Snipes in the Mario Van Peebles film New Jack City.  In the film, Nino Brown pioneers a crack dealing empire that brings him immense profits while simultaneously destroying his community in New York.

On the surface, the tale of Brown is a familiar one.  Drugs are bad and people such as Nino Brown are evil, however charismatic and subtly seductive they may be. Throughout out the movie, Brown strategisizes with fellow ‘investors’ and convinces them that crack, as a product will be a smart investment.  Because as Brown describes it, people of his community are down trotted peons who need a lift, and crack will provide this.

Well, Brown’s plan was executed to a degree that would make Gordon Gekko blush.  As Brown predicted, his New York City neighborhood had an insatiable appetite for crack and profits soared making investors happy.  In fact, investors were so enthusiastic about the business, they decided that an expansion was in order.

So Brown engineered a hostile takeover of a dense, New York city public housing unit and “insourced” the production of crack.  a factory of workers were recruited from the surrounding community.  Brown even started giving turkey’s out during thanksgiving, a la Robin Hood.  Sounds good right?  Give Brown all your money for a little crack, but don’t worry, the turkey will taste good on Thanksgiving.

As one could imagine, profits increased, but so did the destruction of the community.  Sure, Brown and his investors were making a killing, but crime started to soar and his community was devoured beyond recognition.

One particular individual, an older gentleman took exception to Brown and confronted him on several occasions.  But as Brown stated, he was an entrepreneur, a natural extension of the message for upward mobility provided by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Of course, it was statement born of nonsensical horse shit.

In the end, Brown was arrested, but because of a tricky legal maneuver was not convicted.  But alas, Brown was shot and killed by that old guy who he rendered a useless pain in the ass earlier in the movie.

So how does this compare to Purdue Pharma you may ask?  Well a lot, only the difference being is legality and mainstream acceptance.  One is protected by the federal government and socially accepted by all of us, whereas a non-fictional Brown would be vilified outside of the Harlemesque borough he commanded.  Executives at Purdue are lauded as entrepreneurs; good business people who are allowed to legally invest and splurge their tremendous earnings.

But like brown, their earnings were garnered through pain and destruction of hundreds of thousands of lives at the cost of hundreds of millions.

 

Recently, I came across an excellent piece written by Erin Baldassari for the Boston Phoenix about Oxy’s and Purdue Pharma.  This was as detailed an article I have ever seen and deserves greater bulging eyeballs pouring over its content.  Over the past decade, we have become accustomed to horrific stories of Oxy’s in the U.S. In television shows, documentaries and various forms of literature, the horrors of this pill have been tabulated.

Except, these stories have largely avoided the big fat elephant in the room residing not in Afghanistan or some foreign outpost easily disdained.  This place of dystopian dreams is in the nondescript state of Connecticut.

As Baldassari highlighted, the Oxy epidemic was no accident.  It was a calculated money grab perfectly planned by individuals who want us to believe a pill containing large amounts of oxycodone (a very similar chemical to heroin and the main ingredient in percocet) would somehow be non-habit forming.  Despite thousand of years worth of evidence to the contrary demonstrating how addictive opiate laced substances are, Purdue tries to maintain a posture of “AWW shucks, sorry, we really didn’t mean all that destruction.”

But like Nino Brown, Purdue had a reason to cause such destruction and it is called cold hard cash. And there is a lot of it.  Let us look at the stats Baldassari states:

“Purdue raked in billions for its flagship pain medication OxyContin — despite federal indictments that resulted in hundreds of millions paid out in legal judgments, following a highly publicized 2007 court battle. Nor did the legal outcome slow the drug down — Purdue’s Oxy profits soared from $800 million in 2006, the year before the federal settlement, to over $3 billion in 2011.”

Purdue, like other cowardly companies or certain elected officials who wish to shield themselves from responsibility, complained of unfair reporting and put suffering cancer patients out in front to defend them.  They started a PR campaign, rigorously defending their product as a public good.  Legitimate people were pimped out in front of cameras talking about Oxy’s being a life saver.

From a PR standpoint, it is a brilliant, yet tired practice.  Sure, it certainly put adversaries in a precarious position, because who wants to take something away from people suffering from cancer?  Not me or anyone else with a moderate sense of humanity.

However, the dirty little secret is this:  We have more than enough opiate pain medicine on the market.  In fact, here is a list: Percodan®, Percocet® Roxicodone®, Tylox® OxyContin® Lorcet®, Vicodin® Zydone® Tylenol 3® Fiorinal® with Codeine Fioricet® with Codeine Demerol® Darvon®, Darvon-N® Wygesic® Duragesic®, Actiq® MS Contin®, Avinza® Dilaudid® Dolophine® Lortab® Phenaphen® with Codeine 3 Stadol® Talacen® Talwin NX® Ultram®.

Here is what this lengthly list means in laymen terms. There is enough opiate laced pain medicine to drill anyone into submission.  In addition, all of these mentioned medicines can be digested in a variety of forms including pills, patches, injections and even lollipops.  Yes lollipops!?

From a personal standpoint, this is an important story that must be told.  I personally became hooked on Oxycontin in the year of 1998 and eventually, like many of my peers moved onto heroin.  I have seen so many die over the years and have heard of many more.  It has caused destruction most are afraid to truly admit.  Especially on the east coast, the Oxycontin epidemic is truly an epic dark paradise.

Some may think this plague has not affected them and they would be wrong.  Unpaid emergency room visits and the dramatic rise in infectious diseases such as Hepatitis C and B are indirectly related to rising health care costs.  Increasing of police as a result of communities who have suffered from wide spread addiction, has caused taxes to rise to combat the resulting crime.

Purdue Pharma is protected under the same guise as many of the corrupt policies that harbored several companies on Wall Street.  Purdue, like the Wall Street guys, have enormous power and influence.  Lawmakers are terrified to take them on for fear of an aggressive pursuit of political castration, with weapons of money and granting of seed dollars for investigations to dig up any dirt existing on a lawmaker.  So they do nothing and play ball.

Does this mean everyone who worked for Purdue is evil or bad?  Of course not.  But the group of people who allowed this drug to hit the streets, simply put, have blood on their hands.  I know, I known, their defense is a simple one.  How is it their fault? How could they know this would happen?  Well my answer is simple, if not poetically charged in the self-ritiousness of an American idiosyncrasy.

 Oxycontin, as previously mentioned, is an opiate and thus means it is a federally controlled substance.  It is not Aspirin and a greater responsibility is tasked with those who bridle and dispense it. So either Purdue Pharma was to incompetent to sell Oxycontin to begin with or they knew exactly the destruction it could cause and looked the other way.

Regardless, someone should have went to jail, but it never occurred.  Well, unless we count the addicts and Dominican heroin dealers who sold dope when Oxy’s became to expensive.  But they are bad and evil right?!  I forgot that socially acceptable part.

So what was the real reason for Purdue to create Oxycontin?  Well, like Nino Brown it was all about the money, or as Randy Moss would say, Straight Cash Homey!  But maybe a quote from Nino Brown actually says it all and summarizes the sad state of affairs our country has dwindled into and clearly explains why Purdue Pharma got away with raping and pillaging their own country:

Nino Brown: Im not guilty. *You’re* the one that’s guilty. The lawmakers, the politicians, the Columbian drug lords, all you who lobby against making drugs legal. Just like you did with alcohol during the prohibition. You’re the one who’s guilty. I mean, c’mon, let’s kick the ballistics here: Ain’t no Uzi’s made in Harlem. Not one of us in here owns a poppy field. This thing is bigger than Nino Brown. This is big business. This is the American way. 

Sadly, he is right

For the walking dead, hope resides within you. Today is the day, the fight is over. A soul is such a beautiful thing to retrieve~ Some addict who has tasted the good life

 
Oxycodone
Oxycodone
Hydrocodone
Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen
Codeine
Codeine Phosphate/Butalbital/Caffeine/Aspirin
Butalbital/Acetaminophen/Caffeine/Codeine Phosphate
Meperidine
Propoxyphene
Propoxyphene and Acetaminophen
Fentanyl
Morphine
Hydromorphone Hydrochloride
Methadone
Hydrocodone and acetaminophen
Acetaminophen and Codeine
Butorphanol
Acetaminophen/Pentazocine
Pentazocine
Tramadol

 

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War Against Drugs

6 years ago today, I lost my childhood best friend to a heroin overdose. He was the funniest, most caring person, he always treated everyone around him with love. He loved music, the outdoors, and his dog Bruce. We had such a blast together growing up, especially during the summers. He was more of a rebel than me, always causing mischief. I was more of a girl-next-door type, so we were quite opposite of each other but we got along very well (for the most part, lol). I still to this day have his phone number memorized…

I’ll never forgot the day I found out Johnny was gone. I hadn’t spoken to him in about a year because his exgirlfriend had forbid him to see me and we sort of lost touch after that. The funny thing is, I drove by his house a couple of days before and thought to myself that I needed to go see him. In hindsight, I wish I had just stopped by right then and there, because at least I would have gotten to see him one last time.

When I first found out, initially I was in shock and denial, I couldn’t express any emotion and I didn’t believe he was gone. Then my mother and I went to his house and as soon as I saw his sister Allie, it hit me and I broke down in tears. I couldn’t help but feel guilty that I had lost touch with him, because maybe I could have stopped him, maybe I could have done someone about it and saved him. But, one thing I have learned since then is this- a person has to want help and change for themselves. No matter how hard you try, or what you do to help them, it will be useless unless the person actually wants it. And when they want help and change, they will reach for it. Then and only then can anything be done about it.

I sang “Amazing Grace” for Johnny at his funeral. It was probably the most emotional performance of my entire life. Later we went back to his parents’ house and I met all of Johnny’s friends. They knew all about me and told me that Johnny talked about me all the time, which made me happy to hear but at the same time broke my heart.

A woman saw me sing at Johnny’s funeral and hired me to sing at monthly candle light vigils at her church in remembrance of all the kids from the south shore who we lost to heroin overdose. The Patriot Ledger newspaper came to one of these and did a whole news series on the heroin epidemic, including a slideshow on their website featuring a live recording of me singing. Another woman saw this slideshow and hired me to sing at a large political forum on the war against drugs held at Bridgewater State College. Since then, I have also done volunteer work for “The Truth About Drugs” campaign. Also, I personally contacted the superintendent of Abington Public Schools (my hometown) and got the “Truth About Drugs” anti drug program added to the health curriculum at Abington High School.

I wrote a song, which will be on my new EP due to drop early 2013, featuring a verse about Johnny. It’s called “The Butterly Song.”

This past year I had a very close family member become addicted to heroin. For obvious reasons, this made me extremely upset. But what broke my heart even more is that this person is a grown adult who clearly knows better and is so selfish to not care how they are hurting everyone around them who love them. Meanwhile, they are getting high and can’t feel a thing while we are all suffering having to deal with this. And what happens if they overdose? The people who love them will be left here devastated. And, I repeat, this person is a grown adult who clearly knew better… Don’t get me wrong, I still love this person very much and they will always have the opportunity to turn it all around, but it has to come from them.

So, the moral of my story is: don’t do drugs. You will destroy not only your life, but the lives of those around you who love you.

One last thing… Please share this link:
http://www.drugfreeworld.org

Much Love,
Melissa Jane xoxo

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