It’s a year to the day that Peter Steele died, and some part of my soul aches in sympathy with the grief of many. A while back, I read an article where the writer asked why Peter Steele matters. And I mean, really, why should this six-foot something guy from Brooklyn, New York matter to me at all? After all, it’s not like we knew each other. I owned some of his music. Enjoyed annoying a succession of partners to the strains of October Rust.
But Peter Steele does matter. He was human, with good points and bad, and it shone through. And his music and self-deprecating humour touched a particular group of people who're not afraid to look at the beauty in some of the shadow parts of the Self, to revel in what some may consider trite gothic imagery. Peter Steele was honest, personable and heartfelt. He wasn't afraid of laughing at himself in an industry where many take themselves too seriously.
Many probably couldn't see past the long-haired Brooklyn boy. Many didn't "get" the humour or the goofing around. Or maybe it's because that I too have played in metal bands and that base humour doesn't bother me so much and I can relate to its silliness.
We ascribe meanings to people, places and objects that resonate with us that mean very little to others. We see diamonds where others see only coal. But I'm not going to get all existential now. My brain's not wired for that today and it's too depressing.
Peter Steele’s death makes those of us who've already been touched by death realise that all that we have can be taken away in an eye-blink. Which brings me to the Paul Bowles quote used on Brandon Lee's tombstone:
Because we don't know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. And yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, an afternoon that is so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four, or five times more? Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless...
And every day I'm so totally driven by this URGENCY, this sense to get a move on and GET THINGS DONE. Because everything exists in a fragile equilibrium. One small thing can be the lynchpin that, when removed, brings it all crashing down.
Peter Steele matters to me because he’s a reminder of work left undone, of a creative spirit snuffed out before he reached his peak. Who knows. The next time I try to kill myself I may just succeed. Or I may get pushed under a train. Or tomorrow evening six men may break into my home, rape me and murder me. Life is red in tooth and claw. I accept that.
Life is short, fragile and fraught with misery. My words may be opiates, pretty baubles, but they give me a reason to exist.