Love Letter #5 – On Being Nice

little strike

Photo by: Beto Moscoso

Here’s what I’m up to:

  1. SHOWS (last ones until Spring):

11.19  Thurs   — NYC   @ Silent Barn         ~w/ Quitzow, Love Spread

12.3   Thurs   — Philly @ PhilaMOCA        ~w/ Bakithi Kumalo, Art Department

12.4   Fri         — Philly  @ Goldilocks         (chill set)  ~w/ RR Perkins

12. 10  Thurs  — Philly @ Ortlieb’s             ~w/  Phix, Dogs on Acid

  1. MUSIC VIDEO: FUN FUN ALERT: I’m making one ! Last year I wrote an intense song about a good friend. This year, amazing producer/ musician/ friend Peter English and I have been recording it. I AM SO HAPPY to share it and to attach some visuals to it, with the help of badass video artist Kyle Brown. If you live around Philly  and want to be in this music video as a “person in a small audience looking fierce”, stay tuned. The shoot will be early December, and will only take a few hours + snacks. The shoot will be early December, and will only take a few hours + snacks. I will send an email/post notification in the coming week and an event will pop up on facebook.
  1. REAL MOMENT: I’m going to Ecuador for 2 months (mid Dec- mid Feb). I’m going because I’m feeling very lucky these days, and I want to share this feeling by volunteering in a school. Also, I want my Spanish to improve so I could roll my r’s all day all day. Any advice? I plan on shooting lots of footage and doing at least one open mic. I will also eat all the fruit B-)

I wrote another essay. This one is about being nice, and it feels extra personal, y’all. As always, please feel free to share a response with me if you feel inspired, or maybe even suggest a topic~

Thank you for your time, you’re why I’m here.


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The Performer: Part 5

On Being Nice

My former partner, and longest love, taught me the hidden meaning behind the word ‘nice’. Interestingly, he was born and raised in a town called Niceville, which yes it’s real, and materially exists in North Florida. Yikes but also wow.

Nice. in art school I was taught to roll my eyes at this word whenever it was carelessly dropped during critique: “the way the light falls on the left side of her face, it’s like, you know, nice..”. Art school was all about why something made us feel some type of way; the details, the little connections, the run-on sentences. But that’s just critique life,  which is essentially a room of people that are interested in rigorous analysis — or to put it more vividly: bathtubs full of floating question marks ( ?  ¿   ??  ¿). It’s a room of artists obsessed with knowing and asking why. Outside of this environment, this type of analysis is frankly exhausting and likely unnecessary.  Except maybe in essay writing. Oh hii.

My former partner – we’ll call him Bees – would use the word nice as the highest form of flattery; whether it was to describe a beautiful mountain he felt moved by or to tell me, his former special someone, that he thought my idea was fantastic: “oh, that was so nice, Tamar”. At first I was bothered by this, partly due to my art school brainwashing and drying, and partially because it felt like an easy way out. The more I heard him use this word, the squintier my eyes got, until finally one day it hit me like a ton of baby seals: feeling nice is all we could ever ask for. That’s it. And being nice, well, that is the greatest strength you can show. If you want an intro into my brain carvings, here it is: the greatest strength you can display is to be kind to someone that cannot do anything to further your existence. That is strength manifested. Or more vividly: bathtubs full of exclamation marks. And seal pups ( !!! ! !!!).

The word nice is no filler, rather it functions as emphasis. Bees taught me that the heaviness of a word is entirely dependent on the universe that we create around it, not just the universe inside of ourselves. I’m doing it again, I’m being vague: what I mean is that we all bring our own baggage, our past, into every word. And also every room. Every time we step into a conversation, we bring our associations with us. I brought art school with me to the word nice, which sadly came along with eye rolls and skepticism. Perhaps for you, when you hear the word “nice”, you think of weakness. Maybe being nice wasn’t a possible instinct where you grew up, though Ironically, I find that people that had a severe struggle in their lives — e.g. grew up very poor, dealt with disease, war, rough family life, trauma — are often the nicest people in the room. What’s up with that?

More and more I find myself deeply connected to people that have come around full circle from planet trauma and landed firmly on the gratitude star; these are people that feel lucky every day and therefore they exude nice like it runs heavy in their ducts. They’re fearless: they recognize the needs from the wants // the love from the lust // the pineapple from the pines // they have no time for smoke and very little time for mirrors /selfies.  They are simply grateful.

Being nice is not a  simple act, and is never an accident: it is a deliberate act requiring being present in the moment while having the mental energy to give. When I’m nice to the audience while on stage (and after the show), people, more specifically musicians, sometime take my niceness as weakness. They liken my open arms to an open wound, a potential ‘way in’ for manipulation. These people /viruses are easy to detect — and hunt —  for 2 reasons:

1. They often use the same language that I use on stage as a means of relating to me. Consequently they then ask for a favor / try to further their own agenda.

2. If you’ve spent your life being somewhat manipulative, you lack experience at being nice, or simply, genuine. I do possess said experience — I’m working on it — and therefore I can smell you, virus, from a mound away. “Being good at something means that you’re good at it.” – Little Strike. y’all already know~~

So, good humans, practice niceness. If nothing else, it will help sort the viruses from the pineapples. Your smoothie awaits~

/dedicated to bees bzz and to you

Written by

I'm a world electronic folk musician. Born in the middle east, based in Philadelphia. I love evoking and hunting for meaning. and smiles.

4 thoughts on “Love Letter #5 – On Being Nice

  1. Hey Tamar, I’m not entirely sure you’ll remember me. We both graduated from the FSU”s art department. I was the tattooed asian kid that was always smoking cigarettes rather than making art. Regardless, I just wanted to say that I loved reading this essay. It was a great reminder of the simplicity, yet complexity, and necessity of being nice to oneself and others. I hope you’re doing well. I listened to the EP, and its amazing. Good luck and cheers.

    An old acquaintance


    • Of course I remember you, Chris ! your drawings were tiiight, i’ll never forget them. Hey thank you so so much for the kind words and for taking time to read my ideas. I figure might as well put my thoughts into the ether(net), maybe make someone smile. So glad it resonated with you, I think that says a lot about your well being, and that you have a lot to give. Hope you’re indeed well, and you’re always welcome to stay in touch (i’m in philly these days btw), and share art.

      be well be you ~


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