When a journalist attempts to tell a person’s story, they take on an immense responsibility to their subject. There is not only a duty to impart the subject’s story truthfully, but to do it well. Any good profile captures one’s “-ness,” illuminates the person in way that no one else has and makes their idiosyncrasies sing.
This task becomes more difficult with a Bostonite such as Rick Berlin — a 67-year old musician/artist/writer/playwright/photographer/creator — who defies any easy categorization.
Shit, my shoulders are feeling heavy right now.
Within the first couple weeks of moving here, I attended the Jamaica Plain Music Festival, where I spoke with several of the musicians and volunteers involved in putting it together. Rick was mentioned by almost all of them. All roads — particularly in the Jamaica Plain music scene — lead to Berlin.
In December, Berlin invited me to live band karaoke at the Midway Cafe with a suggestion to dress up. I was one of the only attendees to do so – certainly the only skeleton Slash/Gene Simmons amalgamation in a leather miniskirt – and hence, Skellerella was born. But more importantly, I met Rick.
Soon thereafter, the opportunity arose to do a multi-media project about any subject I desired in Boston. I immediately thought of Rick.
In an interview with Charles McNerney, Berlin describes himself: “I’m not ever going to be somebody’s young, cute, hot star. I’m an out-to-pasture former minor local rock star who is lucky enough to keep doing music that’s relevant.”
This is going to be fun.