About a week after I arrived in Berlin, I posted to the local Craigslist here an advert that said, essentially, "Are there any open mics in this city?" I received quite a few responses from people throughout the city, one or two of whom have become friends. My songwriting is gaining strength, I've written two new songs just this past week (like many songwriters, I HATE all of my old stuff), and am ready to get up and play again.
So, this letter came to me on Saturday, out of the blue, which was approximately one month after I posted that advert:
Hi Unnamed Canadian
welcome to Berlin - I noticed your ad because I have been looking for the same thing too.
I was going to say - let me know how you get on but that is a really annoying answer.
I also wanted to organise some live music if you are interested - though perhaps not the same style. Anyway - I did look up open mic nights awhile ago - so am both asking incase you already have replies, but also to say if I'll look and tell you what there is.
Some of us meet every so often for a regular drink - English speakers in Berlin. Let me know if you are interested.
He didn't really sound like a native speaker, though his Yahoo! address indicated "UK", but I was more taken aback because the name in my subject line was "Naughty Ricci". Nonetheless, I decided to reply in my typically friendly way:
I almost deleted your email because of your username (it said "Ricci Naughty" in my Inbox, and considering all the filthy / XXX spam that I get in this account, I thought it may have been yet another one!). Thanks for writing! My name's Nadya, actually, and I got some interesting responses to the ad I posted...
There are a few open mikes going on around town, although I haven't been to any yet because I haven't found anyone to accompany me...I think this might have to change, and I may just have to go alone. There is one on Tuesday nights at a place called Joe's Cafe in Kreuzberg that looks to be my speed (at least, the poster does...kinda punk rock) and I might just take my guitar there on Tuesday and see what happens. There's also another one on Thursday nights in Prenzlauer Berg that I cannot recall the name of....and finally, here in Friedrichshain, I think there are one or two happening on Sundays, specifically at a place called Schokolade.
I'm actually a drummer and a vocalist / lyricist, and have been trying to put together a musical project with some experimentally-minded people who don't just want to play grunge or covers (I was in an avant-garde band in Canada and really loved it). As a solo artist, I play acoustic guitar and sing, but not typical chick-folk music...my style is quite unique and influenced more by punk-folk artists. I love to perform, basically, and really miss doing so. I think Berlin might enjoy my stuff.
Are you from the UK? I kind of guessed that based on some of your word choices....:)
I am always into meeting people here, especially expats and musicians. What's your story, what do you play, and where do you English speakers meet?
(If you want to check out some of my past musical stuff, by the way, I have a personal website at http://www.nadyabe
,com, and go under "Audio")
Great. So--and this is all in the same night--about half an hour later, he wrote this to me:
I wouldnt have known about that if you didnt tell me - the email that is ...
that is what happens when you keep joke email addresses from 10 years ago that you have to check less than monthly - and then you have it open at the time you want to reply to someone and are too lazy just to log into a normal email address - I cant remember writing any about this email!
I guess you arent interested in other open performance, such as comedy?
People meet at a bar near Bülowstrasse station and Nollendorf platz on Wednesday.
So you have already had a lot of responses from native English speakers in Berlin?
So you are enthusiastic to perform?
I have been looking for something a bit different though - like access to a grand piano - I know where there are some but not such about access - Dussmann and Steglitz library for example have great pianos that seem to be never used.
I can or could play the guitar quite well but havent practised for years - therefore my efforts have been in the traditional and classical direction.
You might be interested in making a song from already written verse or poetry?
I'll wait to hear from you!
Something about him struck me as...strange. I don't know. He was a native speaker, wrote like an ESL student, and his ideas / thoughts didn't flow properly. I trusted my intuition that he might be a bit of an oddball, and decided to send him this in reply:
I am always interested in creative collaborations, or doing innovative things with writing and music. I'm not really averse to anything, especially when it's experimental. I can't say that I've ever done anything involving classical music or anything of the sort; my leanings are definitely more towards rock and roll, punk, avant-garde, etc.
I do plan to attend one or two of the open mics around town very soon, though, to play some of my stuff. With a band, I usually drum and go crazy. When I'm solo, it's just me and a guitar and my storytelling. I definitely need to do that soon.
Maybe I'll see you around at one of them!
And that, I thought, was that.
THAT WAS NOT THAT.
Today, five days later, I got this, and to say it knocked me off my feet would be a laughable understatement:
are you interested in actually performing or creating art or just getting attention then? Hard to tell.
Isnt it better to have the talent in abundance and less ego and therefore not care about the attention?
It is unlikely I would be anywhere by choice that people are freely "experimenting" with something they admit is by definition requiring ego in place of talent.
If you can be sure you want to perform for reasons other than histrionics syndrome then I would love to hear it! If you just want attention you know you could get work as an art model in Berlin - the western hang ups about the body and the sense of denial about it have reached berlin from the west therefore you can get the attention while being in denial about the motivation - sounds ideal! Also you could pull some women who are also in denial too.
The fire / anger in my sternum fired up--my old pal, Rage!--and the first thing I typed out was "You are an asshole..." but I didn't want to curse. I decided not to call names and instead take the middle road. I had intuited this guy was off his rocker, and I had been correct. So this is how I responded, for better or worse:
You're very impolite, maybe a dirty old man, and you don't know who I am. I've got more talent than you would know what to do with.
You likely checked my website and got frustrated. This is understandable to anyone who calls them selves "Naughty Ricci".
Don't contact me again.
Maybe not the most diplomatic brush-off, but I was so taken aback by his abrupt nastiness that I couldn't really think through the overall tone.
Now, anyone who was just a bit of a jerk would have taken this and stopped writing to me.
Not "Naughty Ricci", or "Richi". Oh, heck no. The following email is what I received about four hours later. Make sure you're sitting down for this one:
You're a joke and know it - and a lesbian sex offender who transfers her own sexual perverstions on to others without enough selfawareness and understanding of psychology to realise you are totally predictable.
What self indulgent website? Glad I dont know you have such a thing - predictable a talentless cunt would have - you show selfawareness of your total lack of talent and ability - and the pain and frustration you have in the face of a male model doctor with actual musical ability - even though I wouldnt need to say that - you already got the sense which is why you were unable to deal with it and communicate normally. You know you are a freak - a loser, talentless and ugly, you want to be able to reject men but you are too ugly -
you come from a joke country - where society has failed due to the sick feminist sense of entitlement - something you buy into being both ego centric
You are a pathetic cunt - beneath contempt or insulting really, your worthless - when ever in history did anyone with talent ever have to say so or would? They wouldnt - you have none and not only does it not matter what you say - but saying you do confirms you dont you fucking idiot - it is for other people to say - yet you have admitted your talentlessness - did you graduate from the royal college of music or Juliard? No - you just had a massive ego disorder and were so pathetic and spoilt you granted yourself the self importance - you havent the selfawareness to realise you are seriously mentally ill nor the soul or education to begin to understand art and culture.
You are a joke and know it by your immature outburst - though you are as mature as the age of girls you go for - as you are a pervert.
Why would a male model who can teach martial arts and tantric sex who is a doctor and trained in piano and can perform hours of jazz improv be frustrated by someone beneath a joke?
Not only have you no idea about music and performance (ego centric desperate for any attention as you are too ugly to get any normally) you also clearly have no idea about male sexuality at all - you have never attracted a man to begin to understand - just like all canadians a repressed lesbian - whose predictable hatred of men comes from not getting attention and a desperate need for self empowerment in the face of obvious inferiority.
No wonder you cant begin to deal with real music you call "classical" like an idiot - not realising all other music is a joke - and like you beneath contempt - your the type of immature idiot who tells themselve "yeah i can do grade 8 at the piano I just dont want to"
and like a brat with learning difficulties you make a noise on drums - in this sick society you are indulged - in any sane society you would be punished or outcast.
Am probably younger or at least look younger - being a model - but you just are mentally a retarded child - and even a sick mind at some level realises it has no talent - but that rather explains your outburst doesnt it? You cant deal with reality and life - you never did charity work, nor a hard days work in anyway -
you feel ridiculous in the face of the culture of berlin and a country that produced Bach Brahms and Beethoven - you dont even begin to compare with the worst u bahn busker.
If you dont feel ashamed and depressed - it goes to prove you arent even human - have no soul or morality and therefore do not deserve any human respect -
you like the many like you are about to be found out when society wakes up.
...he had also adjusted his email so that he had an avatar, and the avatar--though small--was of a shirtless man looking down (at his groin, perhaps?).
This was beyond misogyny or madness; this was actually the most solid embarrassment to the opposite sex I may have ever come across. I do, however, have to give him some grudging kudos for the most creative insult that's been hurled in my direction in quite some time, that of "lesbian sex offender."
Whenever I think I'm nuts, it takes a Naughty Ricci to remind me that my own sanity has actually driven others insane.