Ho. Ho. Ho. Fuck.
Gods, I just want 2018 to end.
This year, without a doubt, has been one of the most challenging I have faced in my life, and comes in around only second to 2004. For the past 12 months I have enjoyed:
It should come without surprise that the Chelmsford Police are now under a massive state and federal investigation, not only for what I have experienced, but for several alleged instances of egregious misconduct throughout the department occurring over the past several years. Similar scrutiny plagues much of the northern communities of Middlesex County, where Chelmsford is located. Maybe this is just what happens in a state where heroin runs rampant and oversight beyond Boston is little.
Below are his messages. I have only blocked the names of the innocent parties whom he had made direct threats of violence and kidnapping to. His official Town of Chelmsford email was clearly used to log into the comments section, and a VPN changing his location to Paris, France was also incorporated in a weak attempt at hiding his identity. Working with my host, I was able to find this officer's real IP address as the VPN he used was a free, run of the mill, and poorly constructed proxy website. The real IP address shows that these messages were sent directly from a computer inside the Chelmsford Police Station.
Warning! These messages contain highly offensive, graphic and racist language targeting my Jewish ancestry. I am only choosing to show this as evidence against these crooked cops:
Apparently, this guy can't be too good at his job if he doesn't realize I'm Canadian.
I have closed all comments on my site indefinitely to prevent any future occurrences of harassment.
Now that I am finally safe, I have resumed working in public as a musician and artist, but have made it a point to never perform in or around that corridor of Massachusetts for as long as I live. I will go to Boston, Worcester and Springfield, but I will never perform or show a gallery in any North Middlesex city, town, or hovel. That region is to me what Innsmouth is to the Cthulhu mythos. In fact, it'd probably be safer for me to work with the fish people and cultists of Innsmouth than it would be to make an appearance in that county.
Before I end this article, I must share some very important information with you:
I hope my story can help others find the strength needed to overcome whatever challenges you are facing. Please remember that you are loved and take care of yourselves this holiday season, and all year long.
I've been keeping very low profile lately, going so far as to cancel all performances and galleries in much of the Northeast US for the majority of the year. I had written a post a few months ago explaining my absence, but had to remove it. The reason being that I have been the victim of a violent stalking incident that has only just stopped in the past four weeks. This is my story.
Originally posted 8 August, 2018:
I have been rather quiet lately on the site, and I want to write to explain what has been going on.
Beginning in December of 2017, I have been dealing with perpetual, organized harassment directed at myself, my family and my friends. This is not internet trolling or junk comments on a website. This is criminal harassment, stalking, and assault and battery. I am actively involved in a court case regarding this matter and as a result, I will only share the details that I can.
On 7 December, the local police came to my home and demanded to speak to my sister. My sister Hannah passed away on 3 May, 2004 so it was an incredible shock to be hearing this from police officers, never mind that it was in the midst of the holidays when her passing weighs heavily on me no matter how much time has gone by. The reason for the police response, I was told, was that my sister was making threats to my former high school sweetheart over Facebook, and that I had to contact the police in Chelmsford, Massachusetts to figure out what was going on.
I have not spoken to nor seen that ex-girlfriend since December of 2004. I called to wish her a Happy Christmas and her father answered, where he proceeded to call me an anti-Semitic slur word and threatened to outright murder me if I called again. That was the end of that relationship and any mutual friendships it bore.
I explained to the officers that Hannah had passed away over a decade ago, and that she never had a Facebook account because it didn’t really exist back then. She didn’t even have a MySpace page as those were fairly new at the time of her passing. The officers were very shocked that this was going on, and further informed me that they had little information other than that the Chelmsford Police had been trying to contact me all day.
I never once received a call from the Chelmsford Police that day, or anyone for that matter, meaning someone in that department was lying.
To solve this mystery, I called the Chelmsford station. I spoke to an “officer” after a long time on hold who never identified himself by name, and refused to give me his badge number when asked. He told me to stop bothering people on Facebook, and to cut out the pranks. I informed him that my sister had no Facebook and I had no means of making any such pranks using the site as I seldom use it anymore and, at the time of the incident, my account was deactivated and had been deactivated for several months while I was upgrading my studio computer system and had no time for social media nonsense.
He refused to listen to me so I told him, very bluntly, to inform my ex to leave me alone and to never bother with myself or my family again. The officer nonchalantly agreed and hung up, seemingly irked that I had him figured out as causing trouble on her behalf.
My high school ex-girlfriend, a woman whom I have not seen nor spoken to in (then) 13 years, and her mother made a false report at their local police department just to harass and upset my family. The officer was talking to me off the record, as a favour, which would explain his failure to provide his own name, and why I couldn't hear the usual beeping noises of a police phone system recording the conversation.
This woman has shown up from time to time online via this website and the social media pages I had in the past since late August of 2011. She always would appear out of the blue, asking to be friends again and when I refused, she would leave a stream of poorly spelled threats, anti-Semitic and homophobic slurs, and comments directed at my closest friends and relatives.
Each year in May and again in the November and December holidays, times when I was (and am) at my emotional weakest, she would reappear with new names, new email addresses and new social media accounts just to torment me. Her mother got involved in it, and eventually, so did her husband.
What began as an online nuisance became a real world threat last December. This is a woman who was willing to lie to the police and openly falsify police reports in order to attack me, and to attack my friends and family. If she was capable of this, and if the police were that willing to side with her just because she "knows so-and-so at the station,” it put my entire public life in jeopardy.
Just as I’m recovering from this latest reappearance, the phone calls started. I would receive dozens of calls a day, all in my ex’s name on caller ID. One day she called my cellphone 57 times in a single hour. Every day she called. She called my cell, my landline, my parents’ house and their cell phones. So far, I have received over 500 phone calls from her, and they continue to come each day. In addition, her best friend, the mutual friend who had set us up back in high school, has also been involved in calling myself and my family. This mutual friend’s father, who is (or was) a police sergeant, has also been calling which is extremely unnerving.
They never leave a message. They almost always hang up if the call is answered. If they don’t hang up they just shout slurs into the phone. Their primary phone numbers have been blocked since December and they still call, knowing that the blocked call message is enough to cause aggravation. When the primary numbers don't get through, they use a new, unblocked, cellphone to call from.
Last month, my family and I hired an attorney to handle this ongoing situation. That is all I can say about that for now. The calls are still coming in, and just today they called me four times and my parents three times.
I have been afraid of leaving my house because of their connection to the police. I fear that if I am out performing live, they will harass the venue or call the police to the location to arrest me in front of an audience on counterfeit charges. They have used these ties in the past in order to issue a false arrest warrant on my best friend, which was dropped after the police in her area realized it wasn’t authorized by a living judge (it was “signed” by a long deceased judge from Kansas).
For this reason, I have kept a low profile online. I normally see and can now expect an uptick in harassing, incessant phone calls after posting this. Every new post I’ve made since last December results in such activity.
I can only hope that the justice system hasn’t eroded completely, and that I can bring charges against this woman and receive a restraining order against her for my own protection.
Shortly after posting this, I began receiving threatening calls from a man claiming to be a police officer in Chelmsford, Massachusetts. Things escalated further when two men claiming to be from the FBI came to my home. They had no badges, and did not provide names. The only thing they were interested in was the personal information of friends of mine (addresses, when I last spoke to them) which I did not provide to them before demanding that they leave my property.
My attorney called just as these men were leaving to go over the Cease and Desist notice to be issued to my stalker and her family, and a few weeks later it was mailed to them. They immediately retaliated by having the Chelmsford Police Department call my house (their number is permanently blocked due to this harassment) over Labour Day weekend, even sending the local authorities to my property. I showed them the court notice and they left it at that, knowing that they were being played and that my ex was bypassing the court order by establishing indirect contact using the Chelmsford PD for her illegal gain.
The calls started again after that, pushing the number to around 900 in total.
My stalker then hired a relative of hers in New Hampshire, near the Canadian border, claiming to be an attorney (I have never found his name in the Bar Association or any legal records to this day) who then proceeded to slander my name by publicly proclaiming myself and my family to be a danger to society. At the same time, my stalker began sending me death threats where she stated she would shoot me on sight if I left my house.
She sent several similar threats to friends and family across Canada and the United States.
This resulted in many of my closest friends discontinuing contact with me, leaving me more alone than I've ever been.
I contemplated suicide during the height of this period and was nearly hospitalized for that, for incredibly high blood pressure (that was measured at 148/102) and frequent asthma attacks.
Then all of a sudden the girl who set my ex and I up back in high school emailed me using a Tor address, and confessed to being an instigator in this entire seven year ordeal. She claimed to have moved to Europe so she felt that there was nothing we could do legally in response to her actions.
Everything stopped after that.
Some of my friends and relatives who did receive death threats from my stalker did end up pressing charges and there are now warrants for her arrest in the states of California, Pennsylvania and Washington, and in the province of British Columbia.
Right now I am cautiously optimistic that I can advertise, perform and host galleries again. I have no idea if this woman is in police custody and fear searching for it as she is crazy enough to use that against me.
For now, I'm posting this update and hopefully can return to a normal life.
Here we are at the end of April 2016 and what a year it has been here! I have just released my third record in the span of one year and have finally freed myself for more projects with all these backburner ones completed and made publicly available. It has not been easy, and not all of it has been pleasant, but with my recording of Robert Schumann’s Scenes from Childhood launching this past Tuesday, it’s a massive relief to be finished.
I started these endeavors all the way back in April of 2013. I was reviewing older pieces in my repertoire and started thinking about putting out a collection of classical piano works. I had been toying with the idea of an album since the latter part of 2007, but being in school, not having a fully equipped home studio and not having an idea of what to do for it was the biggest setback. I made a few demos in those days, mostly of original ambient or new age styled works just to get a feel for producing, and they were never made public. These were homemade discs in home-assembled jewel cases with graphics printed out on an inkjet printer and made exclusively for friends and family. It was tedious, frustrating and looked like garbage. I didn’t want to repeat that sort of thing, and with a professional studio setup that I had been running for a few years, I figured now was the time to make a proper record.
But what to do?
At this point in 2013, I was just about to record Erik Satie’s Three Gymnopédies, and considered those as a single, just to get the ball rolling. However, I felt that my first public record would have to be something a little better than just three short and easy piano works. That’s when I decided to do Schumann’s Scenes from Childhood. It wasn’t virtuosic or anything, but it’s widely known, approachable to pianists and listeners alike and provided enough material to make a proper length album.
I started reviewing each piece in the opus, as it had been years since I had looked at them, and decided I would record them as soon as I was comfortable with the interpretations. I started in July 2013, but a few setbacks started to take hold come September.
While in the middle of recording the third and fourth pieces, I started taking extra classes in electronic music with Berklee Online. The project heavy courses meant I had to compose and produce a fully realized EDM track every three weeks in addition to the standard course work, discussions and sound design projects. I had to wait until Thanksgiving to record “Catch Me!” and “Pleading Child” since it was the only chance I had between classwork!
In the winter, I enrolled in two classes, another electronic music class and one in world music. This created a delay in recording both “Perfect Happiness” and “Important Event” as I now had twice as much work. Then, something interesting came about.
I had composed four major electronic tracks for these courses and I felt they all went along with each other. That’s when I got the idea to also work on an EDM album on the side, in between Schumann sessions.
Then it got even better.
Come May of 2014, I was in a bit of a depression and the music of Satie was a big help to me. This got me thinking about my recordings of the Gymnopédies a year prior, and I decided I wanted to play and record the Gnossiennes as well. Now, I had never played these pieces before, so I had to buy the sheet music and learn each one. In doing so, I deliberately set out to find and record the seventh Gnossienne as every Satie record I had or saw excluded it. (The reason being it was not written as a companion to the other six, and was part of at least two other suites Satie had written, the one that is also known as Gnossienne Seven was originally written for two pianists, but has been rearranged for a single player many times in the past century.)
Fortunately, these pieces were very easy and I was able to learn and record all seven in less than four months. It would have been faster had I also not been reviewing and recording the remaining works in Scenes from Childhood and composing another EDM track. All at once!
To calm things down, I decided to reduce the EDM record to an EP (extended play) release over a full-length album, and that the one, gigantic track I was working on at the time would be the title track and the last one I did before calling the project complete. Just a little bit of original material in the midst of all the impressionist and romantic works to avoid being pigeonholed as a strictly classical musician.
Then in July of 2014 my studio computer crashed. Big time. It stopped turning on due to a problem in the boot protocol that prevented the operating system from moving forward in the startup. I had a good friend of the family repair it, twice in the span of two months, before it just stopped turning on at all come September. It was just a white screen with a spinning wheel (typical Mac display). I had to move all my work over to my college laptop that was half the RAM and a third of the hard drive space while a brand new hard drive was installed on the studio iMac (kids, don’t get a Mac, they might look nice, but they’ll give you a headache and make your wallet puke. Trust me). Installing a new internal hard drive on an iMac is the worst thing ever. My friend, Ahmed, who has repaired my family’s computers since I was in high school, had to rent a windshield repair tool just to get the glass edge of the screen off. You see, Mac screens are held down with powerful magnets, you can’t access the inner workings unless you open up the screen, and nothing can remove this except tools from the auto repair trade. See why you should avoid Apple now? They make their products so hard to repair so that you’re more likely to buy a new one over fixing the one you have, and therefore getting more of your money.
Anyways, that gets taken care of while I record and produce music on a laptop barely capable of handling the job. The classical works aren’t hard; it’s just sequencing the performance in Cubase with the Ivory II plug-in on a single track. But the EDM track basically had to be delayed as it was using up to 93% of the CPU’s power when trying to play it in Ableton Live (compared to the 75% on the desktop, still lofty, and this is with frozen tracks and CPU-intensive MIDI plug-ins converted to audio). After the desktop comes back, and I spend three or four days reinstalling hundreds of programs and copying over all my files from an external backup, I was back to work.
During the time my desktop’s hard drive was sputtering, I did manage to finish the Satie record, but I waited until it was repaired to begin mastering. That didn’t matter anyway since I wait at least two weeks after recording or mixing original music to master it to avoid any bias in the process. Ideally, I’d have it sent out to another studio to do the mastering, but I wanted to keep my budget tight and was able to approach it without any major issues.
It is now October of 2014. The Satie album is finished and mastered, and I have just come back from a photography trip to the Tower Hill Botanical Garden in Boylston, MA to create the related artwork. The Schumann record only has about four tracks left, and I have just finished writing “Earwig Rising”, the eight-minute title track for the electronic EP.
Come January, everything is looking good, the Satie recordings and artwork have been sent to the Copyright Office and it’s ready to go. Earwig Rising is mastered but missing artwork, and at the end of the month, the final tracks of Scenes from Childhood are recorded. In about a year and a half, I have created three records, now to release them! Should be a cakewalk, right?
I planned on releasing the Satie collection on March 10, 2015. I made the date without any trouble, but trouble did rise come June of that year. A troll had emerged and filed a fake DMCA notice against my recordings, forcing me to remove them from CD Baby and all other digital distributors until the case was resolved. Because I filed a counter measure and the troll didn’t respond, the case was dropped. The same damn person filed a second strike against my work two weeks later and the only thing in his report was basically a note about how much he hated me and that was it. It’s taken down again, but restored within a week because I have the proof of ownership with the Copyright Office and can prove that all the tracks are in fact my own performances.
Bear in mind, every time this was removed, I had to pay to have it put back on CD Baby and then sent to the digital distributors like iTunes and Spotify. This one record cost me over $600 because of this problem. A problem so bad that the person filing the fake claims, a non-existent company that went by “Jakob MILLZ World Entertainment, Ltd.” had to have their IP address banned to prevent any future headaches to me or my distributors.
You’d think that a company that has no address, phone number, website, email, a CEO, or anything else pertaining to it would alert the receiving parties that this is a fraudulent case. But in today’s YouTube fed algorithmic copyright systems, where making false claims has no consequences for the accuser, the burden of ownership always lies in the hands of the accused.
No matter, he was taken care of.
But this left a huge financial hole in my budget. I had planned on releasing all three records in 2015, now I was over my ideal spending threshold from having to pay for the Satie record three times as a result of this blatant harassment by someone I’ve never even met. It’s July, and I’m planning on releasing Earwig Rising on August 25. And because I was so busy having a nervous breakdown for the past month and a half, I haven’t even done the artwork yet!
Seriously, I had to shoot the cover art for that EP about a week and a half before the release date! I wanted the cover to look like an old B-movie, like Beginning of the End or Godzilla. My father helped me build the set using Styrofoam to create Wiggy (the giant earwig), an unfinished birdhouse we started when I was 8 for the frame of the building that was then covered in cardboard, and then cardboard and tissue boxes to create the rest of the set, built around a now dilapidated electric train set I had when I was a kid (that was also unfinished in building, so yeah, lots of those sorts of things lying around). I bought some dye cast cars from CVS and smashed them with a hammer and lit one on fire so that I could add to the devastation. The front of the main building was painted, torn, crushed and abused in so many other ways to give the impression that a giant, cheesy monster was responsible.
I ended up shooting this in my basement with all sorts of crazy lighting setups and sacrificing my large black backdrop to contain the entire diorama (it ended up with dirt and dust all over it from being in the cellar, and it had to be stapled to the rafters in order to be held up over such a long and awkward stage that it ended up tearing afterwards). But I managed to beat the deadline and get that out just in time.
Now with two records available online, and the financial burden created by the copytroll, I decided it was best to promote what I already had and wait until the next spring to release Scenes from Childhood, ironic considering that was the one planned to be my debut in the long run (I went with the Satie because the final tracks had already been mixed and mastered before 2015 started, while the Schumann tracks were all still in mixing by February 2015). I booked myself at several local events to showcase the artwork I have for sale on Fine Art America, and a limited run of physical CDs alongside download cards.
These didn’t go as planned. The Horseshed Fair in Lancaster came on a day when a major nor’easter hit the area, and the surrounding days (and weeks) of heat and dust were replaced with temperatures in the forties and heavy rain. And this is an outdoor event with no rescheduling. The winds were so bad that even if I had had a tent, it would have blown away! I had to cancel as a result of the weather and the damage it would do to my work whether or not I had the canopy.
The next event was a craft show at the Sterling Village nursing home. Of course, I was put on the second floor where nobody went. I was sharing floor space with a group of elderly ladies selling their knitted works, a young man around my age who crafts jewelry, and an older woman selling homemade fashion accessories. All of us bombed compared to those on the ground floor. I managed to sell a couple CDs, a tote bag and a lot of greeting cards, but then a middle-aged woman ran off with a whole box of the Satie discs, making for a major financial loss at the end of the day.
But that brings us here. It’s a new year, with new promotions and new projects to come! I’ve sold a ton of records in the past year, mostly overseas in Europe, Southeast Asia and in Israel, and have had the chance to give Scenes from Childhood the promoting it deserves that fell a little short last year due to trolls, set design mishaps and other family issues. I’ve also learned a lot more about how to promote myself successfully after a lot of trial and error last year.
So, what’s next?
I don’t know. I have a lot of original compositions to get through now that had been pushed aside for these three behemoths of recording projects. I’m working on original classical, jazz and blues music at the moment. The classical works are virtuosic tone poems, the last two out of five (the other three being very easy), the jazz works are mostly for a trio format (piano, bass guitar and drums) and the blues are solo piano. It feels nice to be playing exclusively original material now, but also a bit anxiety inducing as I find I’m second guessing myself more on these as there is no reference, no prior recording or performance of them, to compare and take notes on. Especially when it comes time to improvise on the jazz and blues tunes. It’s all me, and that can be a frightening place to be on stage or in the practice room when you have an anxiety disorder. You can be your own worst enemy.
But other than music, I’d love to get back to making some short films. My last movie was three years ago, and that was my first one in nine years! I have been making short movies for a long while, like, all the original ones are on VHS or VHS-C tapes. Deliverance Chips was the first publicly available film I ever made done entirely in digital. I’d like to do more of those. I’ve been talking about it for years now, the whole 2-minute movies series, and now that I’m not working on a major record (at this point, they get done when they get done) it could be a nice change of pace. Especially if I paired the music from some of these releases to accompanying visual stories, sort of like a video spin-off of the classical records I’ve made. “Earwig Rising” (the track) definitely needs a music video, but for what I’m picturing, it would have to be animated, and I’m not an animator.
Right now, I just want to start enjoying working on my own pieces for once, getting back into the gigging scene and relaxing after all that work, stress, depression and frustration. But at least I can confidently say I proved all my high school bullies (which included a few teachers and guidance counselors), numerous haters and other people who have told me I’d amount to nothing and that I’d be better off working in a paper mill, completely wrong. And I have the income from my record sales to prove it too.
This past Tuesday my second album, Earwig Rising, was released without incident (unlike that previously mentioned debacle involving harassment surrounding the Satie record). It is available for download now with a limited stock of physical CDs for my friends and relatives.
For upcoming events, I am going to appear at the Horseshed Fair in Lancaster, MA on October 3 at booth #62 selling physical CDs of both the Erik Satie album and Earwig, alongside download cards that you can purchase for an electronic only version. I will also have a very limited stock of fine art photography sets available in greeting cards, smartphone cases, tote bags, throw pillows and matted prints. These supplies will be very small and will be sold on a first come, first serve basis. Directions to my online store will be available so that customers can purchase anything that has been depleted, images that were not available for the fair or on items that were too bulky for the booth's allotted space.
Some updates since I've been quiet over the past couple weeks.
First, the Kawai piano I had purchased to replace the Nord was an absolute abomination. The keys were far too light and "springy" for a piano, especially one that costs around $1200. It was also damaged in shipping and the entire cabinet was cracked with a cylindrical puncture in the upper right hand portion of it. The sound quality was very poor and because the only speakers are underneath the instrument, it makes them sound muddy since they're not being projected to anything but your feet. In addition to this, the audio outputs, MIDI inputs and outputs and all other controls were underneath, meaning that if I wanted to record a piano part in Ivory (my preference for piano music), I'd have to crawl underneath the instrument, get behind the pedalboard, and insert a MIDI to USB cable in a very hard to reach area. Pass. If you changed sounds from the default grand piano, the instrument selection light constantly flashes too, which is incredibly distracting when working. It looks like a glitch, but the manual says it's intentional. Ugh. That thing went right back to the store.
I ended up biting the bullet and bought the Nord Piano 2 the next day and have been happy ever since. I also found a new repairman who can fix the keyboard assembly in the Nord 1 and get that back up and running so I have a solid piano to use on gigs instead of the older Yamaha P60 I still have stored in my cellar.
And lastly, artwork for Earwig Rising is coming out of final pre-production stages so I can at last get to that EP. There have been a lot of financial setbacks in April alone due to the piano incident, the cost of the replacement and the repairs on the original, so it may be delayed by a month as a result of this. I was aiming for a June release, but mid to late July is probably the earliest you'll see it now.
The Nord Piano 2 was returned to Kraft Music after all the white keys started to clunk and then got stuck in the downward position due to a defect. Kraft outright refused to refund the order at first even though it was within a proper time frame. Will update on that one later.