Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Loud Women

Friday is the first anniversary of Peter's death, and I've spent a lot of time thinking about what I learned from him, which I know he'd think was important too. He'd probably say he taught me about good music, which he did; Liza recently told me that Peter took "a kind of big brother pride in the fact that he turned you on to David Bowie" - and X, and the Blasters, and on and on.
But actually the most important thing he taught me about, accidentally maybe, was women.
When I was a kid I knew that it was crucially important for a woman to be "pretty," and was very concerned about how I'd ever end up attaining that state myself. Now I realize it was always a losing battle for me, as pretty is about smallness, fragility, quietness, and blending in - all fine qualities for lace doilies and baby bunnies, but not so good for adults.
My brother didn't hang out with women like that, and because of him, while I was still a teenager I met or saw performances by Exene, Lydia, Heather and Pat Oleszko - who were, to a woman, loud, weird, abrasive, fascinating, kind, and feared no one. They were completely mind-altering, especially in the bland hell that was Buffalo in the Reagan 80s.
I remember being 17 and hearing Lydia, then all of 25 herself, remark that if a man tried to rape her she'd just laugh in his face. Had I been more self-aware at the time, I would have proposed to her on the spot.
They were - and are - so powerful. But they also tended to be amazingly nice to me, maybe just because I was Peter's little sister, but I hoped that they also saw that I was a little bit like them.
So thank you, Peter: I am loud, often irritating, and somewhat strange, and extremely proud of it.
I love you.

Pat Oleszko, Roamin' Holiday: A View from A Broad (

No comments: