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,

9 Year Old Rapper = Child Neglect?

By Stephanie Burke Brockton native Little Poopy (whose real name is Luie Rivera Jr.) is taking the rap world by storm. He has worked with the likes of P. Diddy and been

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

 

Christmas Charity Event for Homeless Veterans

Hey Caesar Readers :0)

Every year my Dad and I volunteer at the Christmas Charity Event for Homeless Veterans in Boston’s Government Center. I sing for the veterans and my Dad dresses as Santa and hands out presents (except this year-he had Pats tix so I had to fly solo)

My heart really does ache for these men and women who risked their lives and fought for our country- for us- and are now homeless. Believe it or not, they are an amazing crowd to perform for! They are so appreciative, they always cheer extra loud and afterwards they line up for my autograph and/or to get their picture taken with me.

I have to give a big shout out to Mike Soloman and his lovely wife and daughter who do a fabulous job putting the event together every year as well as Joey Scott and John Zucco who also do an amazing job putting together the entertainment every year!

I have many family members who have served in the military. My grandfather, whom I never got to meet, was a Korean War vet and my great grandfather was buried in Arlington National Cemetery right near JFK.

If you would like to donate to the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans, please visit https://secure.entango.com/donate/eplscoQIgfF/

Happy Holidays :0)
Much Love,
Melissa Jane xo

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In Search Of Hasia

(Copyrite to Jack Kelly)

CHAPTER 1

 

Octavius always hated his name.  “What kind of people name their kid after a fucking Roman emperor?”  But he shrugged  it off and on this night, his name was neither a point of frustration or any assorted problem.  As Octavius walked on this breezy, but warm September night, he held in his pocket, that if real would give him everything he had ever wanted.  Octavius was 28 and had a life that seemed interesting to many outsiders, but to him it was a dull and purposeless jaunt through history.   He always felt like something was missing, no desire worth pursuing.

He loved this walk at this time of year.  He could hear a Jack Johnson song playing at a nearby bar and it had a calming effect on him.  But tonight it seemed to have a greater sense of importance.  After tonight, no longer would he have to think of his parents or his sister Jolene.  3 years earlier they had died in a plane crash and his father was considered a hero by many, because one of the passengers said he saved her life when she was escaping the rear of the plane.  And because of who his dad was, the “hero” story was spun and pushed out to any fool who would believe it.

Octavius’s father was a long time Congressman from Boston and everybody loved his dad.  Especially now that his dad was dead.  As he would always say to his friends, “America loves you when you’re dead.”   But the pain was very severe even as he spent most of the time hidding it.  The loss of Jolene was especially painful.  Octavius had a special bond with her.  Jolene understood him more than anyone on Earth.  One of the last things she ever said to him was “some day you will do something great.”

He never understood what it meant, but the motion of her lips and the espressions of her face were blazed into his memory.   He started laughing thinking if what he had in his pocket is what she was referring to.  But he knew that answer, because it was because of her that he ended up here, instead of a downward spiral through life.

When the news hit of the plane crashing, Octavius was at his sometimes on again, off again, back on again, let’s just fuck one more time, sometimes ex-girlfriend’s house, when he saw the news on the TV.  He was enjoying an after sex cigaret as he laid on Jamie’s bed.   See, Jamie was in some ways, just as twisted as Octavius.  He liked her for that, but they could never marry or really take each other serious.  They were not necessarily friends or fuck buddies, but more of a refugee for one another.

Octavius started to look for his shirt when Jamie started screaming and yelled ” O.V., O.V., LOOK, PLEASE COME HERE AND LOOK.”  O.V. was what she called him, not sure why she did, as she was the only one, but he yelled back slightly annoyed “What the fuck are you freaking out about?”

“JUST COME HERE, PLEEEAASEEE” she said.  Octavius walked slowly into her living room and saw smoke coming from the ground with some reporter on TV talking about a plane crash.

And then he saw it-

His father’s face on TV  with the words “Congressman Casey and his wife and daughter were killed in today’s plane crash.”  He felt numb- Jamie screamed and tried to hug him but he shrugged and pushed  her off.    He couldn’t stop looking at his sister’s picture.   He finally fell on the ground and started screaming NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!!! He grabbed the TV off the stand and he hugged it so hard, he ripped it off the stand the plug almost got ripped out of the wall.

He thought of that moment and a tear slipped down his right cheek, but he was no longer sad.  As he continued to walk, he looked out at the beautiful sky line of Boston.  All he could think was how pretty it looked and how this will be the last time he will ever see it like this.  It will be all different after this.  He had an hour to kill before meeting his two mysterious friends he had met one week after the plane crash.  These two mysteries friends were really not mysteries at all, but two regular flesh and blood souls like himself.  Just trying to live the way they should have always been living.

And like them, he was now living the life he was always supposed to live.

One week after the crash and a day after the funeral, Jamison and Elisha knocked on his door, which was on  the North End Waterfront of Boston.  Octavius opened the door and saw two very attractive people outside his entrance.  At first he thought it was a couple assholes from the media trying to interview him about how he felt.  As if someone really needs to ask such a question.  Octavius  would just say to them” How do you think I fucking feel?  I just lost my whole family? Asshole!”  But something seemed different about these two.  He couldn’t quite figure it out, but something told him to open the door.

Jameson had brown hair and a rugged look.  Seemed to be about 34, give or take a few years.  Elisha, was exotically interesting.  She had hazel eyes, dirty blonde hair and was about 5″6′ with a slender body, and a nice smile.  In hindsight, she was probably the sole reason he opened the door.  His father would always say, “a pretty girl can cause a man to knowingly walk off a cliff .”  I guess that was one thing he had in common with his dad.

As he opened the door, Octavius asked what the two wanted with him.  Jameson, with a sort of twisted Fight Club Brad Pitt type style smile said ” Octavius Casey, Can we come in?”  Octavius at first said no, but just as he said it, Elisha gently walked past him and into his house.  Octavius looked at Jameson and he simply said “I know dude, it’s not fair” and then Octavius gestured for him to come in.

Elisha said, “wow nice place and a great view, must be cool to be you!”  Octavius was annoyed but also quite interested in this whole scenario playing out in front of him.  He said, “What do you guys want and who are you?”  Jameson and Elisha just smiled while looking at each other and then Jameson said “what if we said we could change your life and give you everything you ever wanted.”

Octavius just laughed and said “I thought I had a bad week.  Do you guys just smoke dust and walk around saying crazy shit to random strangers while sitting in their living room?”  Elisha said,” Good, one O.V., but you will like what we have for you,  if you can be patient.”

Octavius was confused that she called him O.V. since Jamie was the only one to ever do that, but Jamie had some crazy friends, so it was completely logical she told one of her crazy friends about him and her endearing nickname for him.

But, seriously even if so, why would these two people come over here?  To taunt him with some dumb nickname as he just buried his parents?  It made zero sense.  Octavius asked both of them in a serious tone, “C’mon guys, what is this about?  If Jamie sent you here to fuck with me, at least light something up so I can enjoy the foolishness too.”  Elisha, smiled and says to Jameson “I told you how cute he is.  Then she walked up to Octavius and said ” we have a gift for you.  It is a place, a state of mind.  A place you have been searching for all of your life.  You can’t go yet, but soon, if you are patient we will take you with us.  But on one condition; you never tell anyone that you met us, ok?”

Octavius was irritated by this.  Sure it was intriguing, but what kind of bullshit was this?  Who was this little fucking girl to walk in his house and start saying crazy shit like this, while at the same time being totally memorizing?   Octavius replied harshly ” What place?  when, where?  This makes no sense.  Just speak in in English!!!  Damm it”

Elisha then said “Octavius, just trust us.  We were just as surprised by this as you are now.  But, like you are feeling now, we knew we had to just go with this.  The place we speak of is everything you have ever wanted.  A place where no one judges you.  A place where you can love freely and pursue all of your dreams.  We picked you, because like all of us, you have the right spirit to join us.  But before you can come, you must realize that spirit within yourself and apply it in this world.  Once you reach that point, we will come back in two years and take you with us.”

Octavius was somehow riveted by Elisha and he had no idea why, but he believed her, even if he didn’t realize what or where he was suppose to believe he could be going or what it was.  Finally Jameson jumped in “You should believe her man.  It is all true.  Octavius then says “Ok, Ok, even if I do believe there is some place that has all of this cool shit, whatever that cool shit maybe or means to me, where is it and what is it called?”

Elisha said “It is called Hasia!”

“It is of this world and very real, but like all of us who live there, you have to earn entrance.”

Then Jameson says to Octavius ” we will call you in about a year, if it ends up working out and talk once again.  O, ya, shit, I forgot to mention this.  But Octavius, there is one thing we can tell you.  I knew Jolene before I went to Hasia.  She helped me get there. Just follow her advice and go become great like she said you would be.”

And with that Elisha and Jameson walked out of his house.  Elisha looked back at Octavius and gave a reassuring, yet tender smile that made him feel oddly comforted, if one could be after such a barmy encounter.  As Octavius closed the door, he walked over to the couch and laid down facing the ceiling.  He was exhausted, drained, confused, sad and lost.

As Octavius faced the baby blue white ceiling that looked like the oceans of Aruba, all he could hear was his sister Jolene’s last words to him,

 

“Some day you will do something great.”

 

 

 

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World AIDS Day and The Fiscal Cliff

By Jack Kelly

As another World AIDS day comes to fruition and slides into history, it is important we rediscover our complicated relationship as a human species with HIV/AIDS.   In my lifetime, no disease or virus has had the psychological and collective impact as the “virus that causes AIDS” has.  The “virus” as it sometimes called, both negatively and endearingly depending on the messenger, has been in my life almost since inception.

I can remember the moment in finite details.  I was up the Boys and Girls club in Charlestown (a neighborhood in Boston) and the TV was ‘illuminated’ as I saw Magic Johnson on TV looking solemn.  It was On November 7, 1991, which would have made me 10 years old.  At such a tender age, medical details and situational circumstances of how Magic contracted this “thing that was making him look so sad and other’s around me stare in disbelief” were elusive.  However, the impact of that moment was persistently burned in my psyche.

On that fateful November 7th day when Magic shocked the world and announced he had tested positive for HIV,  it had the impact of a seismic earthquake in the collective psyche of America.   His declaration was pertinent for a variety of reasons, most notably for ushering into the fabric of the country and the world, a new cultural shift.

Before Magic stepped to the podium on that day and uttered the words “I have HIV,” the perception of HIV/AIDS was of a deadly disease that would never inflict a “hero” like Magic Johnson, or a ‘normal’ person such as myself.

Whatever normal is or defined by those who aspire to be it.

As time and I ticked forward, more details became available about the “Virus.”  As with all things born of ignorance, some  dispensatory information was flat-out insane and inaccurate.  But the basics seemed to reside on a few points; many young gay men and IV drug users were contracting the virus and because of Magic, we were finally seeing and being told that HIV was not biased.  Meaning, HIV is a truly bipartisan and non-racially caring entity, unlike us humans.  As a virus, it only concerns itself with invading the human body.

ANY-body!

 

Your sexual preference, political views, racial identity or musical tastes’ are not considered when trying to enter.  HIV simply wants in.  If you’re human, it loves you.  In some ways, we as a species could learn something from virus’s such as HIV, but that is a subject for another time.

After Magic, everything changed.  Doctors, community health centers, politicians, the government, both locally and federally albeit slowly, became fixated on the virus.  HIV/AIDS became the trendiest disease in the country.  Sure no one necessarily wanted it, but many, and for good and altruistic reasons, wanted to be apart of the movement.

“The movement” was varied and nuanced.  Some were trying to find a cure.  Some focused on awareness and educating people about practicing safer habits, such as distributing condoms.  Others were concerned with finding effective treatment for those who were HIV + and slowing the progress of the virus as to not cause AIDS.  But what all of these collective efforts had in common was trying to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Since the time of Magic, so much progress has been made in the fight against HIV, it is possible that all of the aforementioned efforts helped me and countless other’s from contracting it.

As any reader of mine knows, I battled drugs and more specifically needle specific heroin addiction.  How I ended up being addicted to heroin is a longer story for some other published time.  But the point being, when I was that 10 year old kid watching Magic up the Boys and Girls Club, I could have never known how much that announcement may have had on my actual life.

As a result of my addiction, I participated in every high risk behavior one could ever involve themselves in.  And yet when, by the grace of some higher entity that some refer to as God, and on occasion I do as well; I somehow  separated myself from the most powerful entity one could ever encounter and I was not HIV positive.

AND,

I was not the only one.  Many other journey challenged souls also were negative.  But how?  We had just engaged  in one of the worst drug epidemics in American history and no one was HIV +?  I mean, it’s not like we were specially immune individuals incapable of  contracting anything.  After all, I did have Hepatitis C and many of them did as well.  So how did such a miraculous thing occur?

Turns out, nothing miraculous occurred, at least not in the biblical sense of the word.  The ‘miracle,’ was actually cold hard cash and people power that had been dedicated to solving the many issues the HIV/AIDS outbreak caused.  Because activists, donations and most importantly, the government made fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS a priority, people such as myself are allowed to continue the journey of life without HIV/AIDS.  In addition, those who do have it, are allowed to live a full and promising life because of the medical advancements.

HIV is no longer a death sentence.

In my title, I mentioned the “Fiscal Cliff.”  It is a political term concerning a budget fight between President Obama and congress.  Without boring you with all of the details, the fiscal cliff, if not averted will cut billions of dollars from programs and automatically raise everyone’s taxes to pre-Bush levels.

One particular item that will be dramatically effected will be funding for all of those aforementioned life saving,  HIV/AIDS programs.  According to the Boston based group ACT UP, “more than half a billion dollars ($659 million) from domestic HIV/AIDS programs that fund services such as HIV counseling, testing, case management, nutritional and housing assistance. And Massachusetts is facing state level cuts amounting to $5 million, which will decimate state HIV/AIDS programs. In Massachusetts alone there are an estimated 28,000 people living with HIV and over 650 new HIV diagnoses each year.”

Specifically, this means those who are poor or lower middle class, will have a difficult time receiving their medicine, thus allowing HIV to develop more rapidly into AIDS.  So beside the obvious moral imperative, cutting these programs will halt the progress we have made as a society in stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS and helping those who have it.

Solving the fiscal crisis of our country is important for a variety of reasons, but doing anything but increasing funding for HIV/AIDS programs is illogical and immoral.  (What would Jesus do????)

Over 21 years ago as an innocent 10 year old boy, I watched a basketball legend announce he had HIV and it seemed likely he would soon die.  But not only is Magic still alive, but he is thriving and inadvertently saved my life and millions of others.

Don’t let DC cut those programs.  Who knows, it may save your son or daughters life someday.  Strange how this thing called life sometimes works.

 

 

Now enjoy this classic U2 song about a girl who was hooked on heroin, called “Running to Stand Still/Dirty Old Town” Live in Dublin

The video cannot be shown at the moment. Please try again later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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