More to Molly than meets the eye: A look at rap’s latest drug trend

Move aside Mary Jane, and make way for Molly.

Once associated primarily with weed, hip hop has cozied up to a party drug with a cute name, a mysterious identity and a potentially lethal set of side effects.

Artists such as Kanye West, Juicy J and Trinidad James have all name-dropped Molly, and Rick Ross’ Molly-laced date rape lyrics (“Put Molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it/I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it”) caused an uproar and got the rotund rapper dropped from Reebok.

Some emcees have dedicated whole songs to rap’s new designer drug — take, for example, Tyga’s “Molly,” which has racked up over 7 million views on YouTube and features Tyga-as-cyborg rapping “I show up in that party like where the f*ck that Molly?” A robotic female voice chants “Molly” during the chorus, and Wiz Khalifa offers up more drug references during a guest verse — “Got champagne and we pourin it/she poppin it and she snortin it” — while images of pills flash onscreen… Continue reading at

Stevie Nicks steps onstage and back in time on new tour

[Originally published in the Boston Herald in June of 2007.]

Some stars reflect on past mistakes and claim they wouldn’t change a thing. Not Stevie Nicks.

The rock goddess, who plays the Tweeter Center tomorrow with Chris Isaak, may weave layers of ambiguity through her songs, but she’s straightforward about her desire to erase almost two decades of drug abuse.

Nicks battled a cocaine habit from 1977 to 1986, and almost immediately after, an eight-year addiction to the tranquilizer Klonopin.

“I would absolutely do it differently,” Nicks said from a tour stop in New York City. “Cocaine almost ruined my life. And if I hadn’t done Klonopin, I would have made two or three more fantastic albums. I lost most of my 40s to Klonopin and that really makes me mad, because your 40s are great. Maybe that’s why I see through 40-year-old eyes, because I lost my 40s, so I’m trying to get a little of my 40s back.”

If Nicks is making up for lost time, she’s doing it in style. For her Crystal Visions Tour, the singer/songwriter has a girly new wardrobe that helps her slip into the persona of an ageless rock star even as she creeps toward 60.

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Near-death experience: Woman training for mental, physical challenges of Spartan Death Race

Ivana Peterkova probably has a breaking point. She just hasn’t been able to find it.

She’s trudged through mud, crawled under barbed wire, competed in overnight challenges, placed among the top finishers in grueling events with names like “Rugged Maniac” and “Spartan Ultra Beast,” and still, she can’t find her limits – physical or mental.

That’s why the 32-year-old will compete in her first Spartan Death Race on June 15.

Yes, a death race.

It’s an extreme endurance test that pushes competitors to the brink for 24 to 48 hours.

According to the race website at, contestants will endure between 15 and 20 mental and physical challenges through a 40-mile course in the Vermont woods during the one- to two-day event.

While the exact race itinerary is top secret, those challenges might include chopping wood for two hours, lifting 30-pound rocks for five hours or memorizing the names of the first 10 U.S. Presidents, hiking to the top of a mountain and reciting the names back in order. In short, nothing is off limits… Continue reading at The Sun Chronicle.

Detoxing from Facebook

Jessica Mooney gave up on Facebook last July. The 30-year-old pediatric nurse knew something was wrong when she caught herself looking at a friend of a friend of a friends’ wedding photos on the popular social networking site, which boasts 800 million users worldwide.

“I was like, ‘This is so pathetic and a waste of time,'” said Mooney, a former Foxboro resident who now lives in Boston.

Then, last summer, Mooney traveled to Europe with her best friends and realized she was taking pictures of incredible places and people, only to put them on Facebook.

“I knew I was done then,” she said. “It was stupid to take pictures just to post them on Facebook, instead of actually enjoying things.”

Since ending her Facebook life, Mooney says her relationships have become “deeper and more meaningful.”

She logs on to LinkedIn about once a week to keep in touch with professional contacts, and now makes time to meet with the friends she formerly “connected” with on Facebook… Continue reading at The Sun Chronicle.

Welcome to The Machine

This is the story of a cover band that never set out to be a cover band.

Four-piece outfit The Machine has been described as more like Pink Floyd than Pink Floyd itself, but band members never intended to exclusively perform the progressive rock group’s material.

The Machine began as a venture between lead singer/guitarist Joe Pascarell and drummer Tahrah Cohen, who were stuck playing in weekend bands together and opted to establish something more serious.

“We said, ‘Let’s just put a band together and play music that we love,'” Pascarell said by phone. “That was the criteria. We played some Floyd, but we played other stuff, too.”

But the Pink Floyd songs always got the best responses.So before there were “a billion Pink Floyd tribute bands,” The Machine supplied what crowds demanded.

Soon, an agent took notice and told band members that if they learned more Pink Floyd material, he would book them as a Pink Floyd cover band. And The Machine was born.

“In less than three months, we had all quit our jobs and were playing full-time,” Pascarell said. “It took off from that. I always find it so interesting that it was never a conscious decision.”

Ironically, The Machine has been a more consistent source of live Pink Floyd material than the British band itself. The group has performed more than 2,000 live shows and released several live CDs and DVDs, including “The Symphonic Side of the Moon,” a live rendition of the seminal “Dark Side of the Moon” album with a full symphony orchestra… Continue reading at The Sun Chronicle.

Occupy Boston: Demonstrators say the system is broken

The signs told the story.

On the cusp of Boston’s Financial District, just after 7 p.m. on Tuesday night, a collection of homemade posters and handwritten messages conveyed the collective frustration that fuels the Occupy Boston movement.

The sentiments ranged from anger to desperation:

“Eat the rich.”

“How do we pull ourselves up by our bootstraps when we can’t afford boots?”

“America, this is your intervention.”

“The only banks that need bailouts are food banks.”

“Use my tax dollars for jobs and education, not war and occupation.”

“Too many problems to fit on one sign.”

Occupy Boston is one of about 150 offshoots of the Occupy Wall Street protests that began almost a month ago in New York City, condemning corporate greed, government bailouts and politicians more concerned with the interest of lobbyists than citizens. Providence’s version got under way Saturday night.

While the movement has a tendency toward self-absorbed rants and vague objectives, it also calls attention to significant problems, from skyrocketing unemployment rates to staggering income inequality…continue reading in the Sun Chronicle.

Opening Knight: A New Kid’s ‘Unfinished’ business

[Originally published in the Boston Herald in May 2011]

Strolling down Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge last week, New Kids on the Block superstar Jordan Knight seems less like a heartthrob in one of the world’s biggest boy bands and more like, well, a regular person.

His fourth solo album, “Unfinished,” drops Tuesday and a joint tour with NKOTB and fellow pop idols the Backstreet Boys kicks off this week. But you’d never know it by talking to the unassuming crooner. When asked how he stays humble amid the hoopla, Knight revealed for the first time his struggles with alcoholism.
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Millyz opens up about sophomore album “Whiteboy Like Me 2”

[Originally published in the Boston Herald on May 20, 2011]

For Cambridge rapper Millyz, two years have brought both triumph and tragedy.

In 2009, the enterprising emcee released his debut street album, “Whiteboy Like Me,” and turned a budding fan base into a cult following. When recording the follow-up “Whiteboy Like Me 2,” available for free download on Friday at and, the 25-year-old looked to capitalize on the success of the original while pushing beyond its street-oriented scope.

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