My mother-in-law Joan reminded me about a memory she had of a Fourth of July party where cousins from Scotland (Peter, Pauline and their kids)  were in town and Peter happened to be home from the road. Nettie was alive, though she was slight, frail, with senility setting in ... she was quietly sitting in her chair nodding her head but not really paying attention.

Since cousin Peter of Scotland is a professional classical guitarist, he and Pete decided to jam a little in the backyard of sister Nancy and brother-in-law Roberts, home on Staten Island, playing songs that everyone could sing along to, while each displayed their musical talents. Cathy had her tamborine and jammed along with them, as the other sisters and family sang harmony. Pete had a mic and in between songs, would make jokes, banter with the family while playing everything from Beatle songs to his mom's and older generation's favorites.

We positioned Nettie in front of him, so that she could see her son and be able to stay involved in the activities. At one point, she was looking up at him, adoring him from her seat, clapping when appropriate. At some point during the session, she took a little snooze. Peter took notice of how peaceful she looked, stood in front of her and in his best spooky voice into the mic he said ... "Annette ... Annette ... This is Jesus Christ Annette ... Welcome ...Welcome to Heaven Annette" It was sad because she practically jumped out of her seat. She smiled when she saw him looking down on her, knowing that once again she was the butt end of Pete's joke.

After the performance, we all ganged up on him and threw him in the pool. It took 5 of us girls (his neices) to drag him in. He of course, held onto us tightly and when he couldn't stand it anymore, dragged us into the pool with him.


Rock Legends Gone Today ... Who Will Replace Them Tomorrow?

Thank you Louie Montalvo for posting this photo

While you all know EXACTLY how I feel about the Revolver magazine "tribute" piece in their December issue -- it was a SLAM to Peter Steele -- I will share this video put out by that same magazine. It kills me to do so ... to utter their magazine name ... but I always want to share things with you all.

What I like is it reminds me of all the great artists we lost in the last couple of years ... we are proud that Peter is considered one of them ...

The two-and-a-half-minute "Fallen Heroes" tribute video which was shown at the third annual Revolver Golden Gods Awards — held on April 20 at Club Nokia in Los Angeles, California — can be viewed below. The clip remembers many of hard rock and metal's most dearly departed, including Ronnie James Dio, SLIPKNOT's Paul Gray, AVENGED SEVENFOLD's The Rev, TYPE O NEGATIVE's Peter Steele and ALICE IN CHAINS' Mike Starr.



A True Brooklynite Can Talk To Anyone

Yes ... It's the 70s.
(Peter with Marie)

The saying is if you are a true New Yawker -- you consider yourself multi-lingual -- because you can curse in a multitude of languages.

When Peter died as you can imagine a multitude of neighbors showed up to the funeral to pay their respects to the family, while honoring Peter's untimely death, amazing talents and beautiful personality. The most interesting thing was the wide range of people who arrived. There were childhood friends from East 15th Street  ... there were long time friends from Peter's early musical career (Stan Pillis, John Campos to name a few) ... there were parks department buddies ...

... and then there was a small group of teen Hasidic Jewish boys and their father, Mr. Gelber who came to pay their respects. While they didn't cry, they did tear up a little when speaking with Peter's sister Pamela about their relationship with Pete. They talked about how they first met Peter when they were very young (he would turn their lights on during the Sabbath). Then throughout their childhood Peter would invite them into his life ... by showing them how to work on his car, or what the meaning was behind the symbols that Peter painted on stage  backdrops ... they talked of Peter's cats ... how they missed Nettie ... and how Peter would ask them specific things about their religion and their family traditions. They felt that they could ask Peter questions about current affairs or to talk with Pete about what it was like traveling the world and playing instruments for millions of fans. They believed that Peter was a cherished friend. And in their life, there was no one like him.

Just like the Gelber boys, Peter had a desire to reach out and communicate to people who didn't fit neatly into his "inner circle."

When we were younger (I was 10 yo), a chinese family moved onto East 18th Street. The mother and father seemed to work all the time, leaving their children, Joseph and Linda, with their live-in grandmother. She was a short, stout, serious-looking women who didn't speak English, but created the most amazing backyard vegetable farm we had ever seen. While Marie and I became friends with Linda (my age) and Joseph (Marie's age), the grandmother wasn't very friendly to us at first ... but then she met Peter.

Every morning, Linda's Grandmother worked in her garden, and when Peter saw her, he would call out to her, in a made-up chinese SOUNDING language just to see what her reaction would be. He'd laugh and make goofy faces to see what she would do. At first she seemed to be a little frightened by him. Whenever she'd see him and he'd call out his language to her, she'd run back into the house. Then the next couple of times Peter saw her, he'd continue with his make-believe language. She would look at him and say something in her language and run in the house.

When Linda and Joseph were allow to play in Nettie's house with us, Peter asked Joseph to give him a couple of words to learn. To spell them out phonetically so he could try to mimic. Then one day we were all out playing "running bases" on the sidewalk -- Peter, Nancy, me, Marie, Joseph, Linda, Michelle, Josh and Tara -- the Grandmother came out to call her grandkids in for dinner. When she called their names, Peter mimicked her voice perfectly (Yuēsèfu  约瑟夫). And for the first time she smiled, waved, and Peter waved back.

Then every morning that Peter saw her, she would say hello to him in Chinese and he would have a conversation with her, using his made up Chinese language, and she would smile, laugh, wave, talk back to him, and blow kisses to him. Weeks later, she had invited Peter into her garden (he climbed the 2 fences between them), and she explained about her vegetables to him in Chinese, while he bantered back in English and his make-believe language. She would send the kids over with presents from Chinatown to Peter (Chinese Taffy was a favorite) and he would bring her watering buckets for her garden. She never learned English and he didn't really learn Chinese, but they were friends because Peter had an interest in her.


Just Never Knew When I'd See Pete Again

The last time I saw Pete, it was Dec 2009 at our sister Nancy’s wake in Staten Island.  Pete had come in from Pa with a friend, who I thanked for making the long drive, and was later joined at the funeral home by the band members.

Pete looked different from when I saw him backstage at the recent October concert … at 6’8” and now with a full beard and some extra weight, I called him “Paul Bunyan”.  (If you’ve seen the pix from the LTAN interview in Pete’s Pennsylvania basement, then you know what I mean.)  He laughed and tried to get me in a headlock to “noogie” my forehead.  We spoke briefly, but all of us siblings were busy talking to visitors and mourners, but everyone took turns spending some time with Pete.

Later, when I went to talk with him some more, I couldn’t find him.  I don’t know why, but I became frantic, searching all the viewing rooms and the outside of the funeral home, asking everyone if they knew where he was.  I even had my cousin check the restroom. Then I spied him in the parking lot, walking towards a car for the ride home.  I called to him & hurriedly ran to hug him tight.

Pete said, “Hey, what’s up, what’s the matter”.

I said, “I just never know when I’m going to see you again, Pete.”  He gave me an odd look, rolled his eyes back in his head and got into the car.  “Sometimes it’s so long in between.  Love ya; take care”.   I waved goodbye as they drove away.

We spoke every week or so for the next four months --  up until April 10 -- just like always with him calling me some of the time and me checking in with him.  But when I got the call four days later that curtly announced, “Yeah, Pete was throwing up for three days, and then he died”, I finally understood my anxiety-filled frantic search to see & hug him one last time.

I just wanted to say that I will miss you forever, Pete -- Everyday you are in my mind and heart --  xx Pat


I'm sure you have seen this video of the "Making of September Sun." I like it this one ... enjoy


You Couldn't Predict What He'd Say Next

New  Year's Party at Lundy's Restaurant in Sheepshead Bay
Nettie always required that her kids do this pose - oldest through youngest
(L to R) Pete, Cathy, Pamela, Patricia, Barbara, Annette
(Look at Pete's face ... do you know how many times in his life he had to do this same pose? )

Anyone who has met Peter and spent some time with him knows that you never knew what he was going to say next ... or whether the joke was about you or on you ... so, when you brought someone around him for the first time, you knew it was going to be funny ...

When I introduced my husband, Tony to meet Pete one afternoon, it was still a new relationship for us. Pete asked him the usual stuff, like where he worked and what was wrong with him that he was dating me.

When Tony tried to make casual conversation and ask him about his band and  girlfriend,  Pete said, with the straightest of faces, "you should meet my new girlfriend. Her family owns Boars Head Deli Meats, and I'm only dating her for all the free the cold cuts."  I remember punching him in the arm and saying, "Be nice, We don't want to scare Tony off just yet." Pete let out a howling laugh and told my worried bf that it was a joke. Then proceeded to make faces behind Tony's back and tell some outrageous stories of his bandmates on tour.

Months later, I told Pete I was engaged to Tony and when I showed him the ring, he said without missing a beat, "My Condolences To Both Of You." A week later, I get a SYMPATHY card from Pete with a check and note about how "sorry he was to hear of the loss of my mind. "


Life Lessons On A Rainy Wednesday Afternoon

Our family was just like everyone else's -- Nettie watched all the grandkids while some of her children worked. So, it was common that in the afternoons, you'd have Pete's sister, Barbara working on homework with her kids, Tara and Michelle in the same room as Marie, Darcie, Peter and Nan -- all doing various levels of academic work, before running out (yes we played outside) to be with our friends. If it rained, we'd stay in and watched "The Munsters" or "Batman," while Peter made the POW ... BAM ... noises during the fight scenes. It was common for Nettie to teach us something, so one day she'd break out her canvas and oil paints, or give us drapes to practice sewing or help build tents in the livingroom so we can experience make-believe camping.

One day, Marie (3rd or 4th grade) came home from school crying because a boy on the school bus -- Andrew his name was -- punched her in the face. She ran into the house, found Peter and told Nettie the whole story how each day Andrew would do a different thing to her -- trip her, push her -- and today, he punched her. As Peter wiped the blood from her nose, Marie sobbed that she didn't want to go back to school anymore.

Nettie decided it was time Marie learned how to fight -- street fight -- because she wasn't going to allow her granddaughter to be a victim to a bully on the school bus. So, Peter starts moving furniture out of the way, and Pete shows Marie how to make a fist and stand with her feet spread apart. Getting into that stance, he positions her body so it mimics his.

Then, Nettie, who is a little over 5 feet, gets into the same position opposite Marie and she says, "Ok, Hit Me."

Marie coyly says, "No Nana, I can't hit you."

Nettie screams at her "HIT ME"  Peter chimes in and says "Do It Marie ... Punch Her In The Stomach"

Marie starts to cry and says "I Can't"  Pete screams "Punch Her Hard"

And with Peter standing behind Marie, cheering her on, at the same time as Nettie screaming like a drill sergeant, "HIT ME MARIE ! " Like instinct, Marie closes her eyes, pulls her fist back and landes a punch right in Nettie's stomach. As Nettie is knocked off her feet you can hear Peter saying, "I think she's got it now Momma ... We don't have to worry about her anymore."

The next day, even though Peter had already moved onto another school, he walked Marie to the bus stop and waited with her till Andrew showed up. Just as they were boarding the bus, Peter called Andrew over and said, "Hey, I have a secret to tell ya. Try to trip Marie today and you'll be saying hello to her fist." He called out to Marie that he'd pick her up at the bus stop in the afternoon. And Andrew never bothered her again after Peter's little talk with him.

It was great having a bad ass uncle & grandmother. Who better to get fighting lessons than our little Nana & our giant uncle.


Back At Ya ... Peter Steele's Fans Totally Rock !

While I'm trying to navigate this blogging world, I thought I'd reach back out to Peter Steele's fans and ask you a question ...What do you want to read and see more of ?

You know we value your creativity, you thoughtful words, your dedication to us and Peter. For us, this blog was set up to be a POSITIVE force ... let's try to keep it in that vein.

As you know, Pete didn't have much love for reporters and often felt that they misquoted him and the bandmembers -- in life and now in death -- so sometimes he'd just make things up when being interviewed. So there is lots of stories and interviews that are just not real -- and in some cases, these rumors/half-truths have taken on a life of their own. LOL

In addition to the great funny stories we'd like to continue to share with you, I hope you will allow us to write about the struggles in Peter's life. From time to time, we may write about how in the lowest points in Peter's life (and really anyone's life), that it's your caring friends and your closest family that helps bring you to that better place. This is where I need to thank his last caring girlfriend LISA for being part of his recovery story. Even in those low times, all the crying, pleading, threatening that a family does to help bring you back to a better place, away from the people who try to leech off of you, is sometimes the hardest part. It's the leeches and evil people who want to keep you down ... getting you away from them isn't so easy ... sometimes they refuse to release their claws.

I remember the day that Peter came to me to apologize for making me worry about him. It was a hard day for both of us. He was nearing his sober time. He knew I had seen a Youtube video of him very drunk and very angry with his family, with his life, with his choices. He knew I was upset because through it all ... even his lowest time in his life ... my mom (Patricia) had been constant connection for him. He apologized for his words, his actions, his failings. And he thanked me for my love. He asked me to go into business with him for a project he had in mind. We laughed about some of his ideas and we made fun of some characters he recently met. THIS is the video you don't see on Youtube -- the intimate interactions he had with his family -- This is a video I play over and over in my mind. Something I will never share with the haters and naysayers. 

So, again, dear readers, I thank you for being AUTHENTIC with your reactions to our blog and your love for my UNCLE. And I thank  YOU for allowing me to be REAL with you.

So, I'll do the best I can to give you what you want to see. I'm opening the floor to suggestions.


Sitting Back With Peter Steele ... Just Talking


This video might be a little too serious for all of you, but it illlustrates what a slightly serious conversation with Pete about the music business was like when he was alive. He bitches about reporters, he complains about mistakes they made with lawyers, he notes the meanings behind his music, who he was writing for and what inspired him most during the Carnivore/Retaliation days.

Throughout the piece you get a feeling for Pete's sarcasm and self-depreciating personality, but you have to listen for it ... Oh, and the audio is very low, so turn it up. It's about 15 minutes long, so while my posts are quick reads, this is not. Enjoy and Thank You for coming to our blog.



If You Meant Something To Pete ... He Never Let You Go

Peter & Mardie
Mardie cherishes the fact that she and Pete were each other's first for everything. And yes, that means EVERYTHING! They supported each other through many ups and downs in each other's lives. When they split up, as first loves frequently do, they still had the same friends, went to the same college, and were each others' confidantes for new and far less interesting relationships.

"When Pete's father died, I went to see him," Mardie says. "We shared a long conversation, talked about what was going on in each other's lives." Then from that point on, Peter and Mardie always checked in on each other. Even though Peter was pursuing his musical career and Mardie was achieving her academic dreams, they kept tabs on each other, always remarking that "when they get back together, they'd do X Y & Z together." 

Then, in 2005, Mardie was diagnosed with a rare cardiac aneurysm. Remaining closest to one of Pete's nieces, Tara, she told him of Mardie's trauma. Mardie remembers that "Peter called her immediately and they talked for hours. After that, they spent the Spring and Summer of 2005 together. "Peter was great with my daughters. He was a huge prankster and they loved to laugh with him (and at him)." This time was a hardship for Peter as his mother was very ill and dying.  But, Mardie was with him throughout the loss of his mother, stayed with him during each and every wake and the funeral, supporting him and the family over the loss of their beloved mother.  Peter and Mardie walked hand in hand for those 3 days with a level of support and trust that was obvious to all of us.

It seemed to me that throughout Pete's life, Mardie was always there for him. And, he in turn, for her.

Even when Peter's eldest sister, Nancy passed away, Mardie dropped what she was doing and came to the wake to be with Peter. She remembers that Peter sat next to her, grabbed her hand and said, "You were there for my father, my mother and now my sister.... you have and are always with me. Our time will come." That was December 2009. That year, Peter called Mardie for her Christmas birthday and she called him for his birthday in January. During that call, he said he was moving to Staten Island and remarked how it would be great to be close again. "And, I thought we would be ... but, we never had an opportunity to speak again," Mardie sadly recalls. 

"Peter's sisters and nieces have ALWAYS included me and made me feel a part of them..... My biological family is so few, having the Ratajczyk's has filled my life in so many positive ways.... and, in true form, I always felt like I was family. Most of Pete's nieces gave birth to daughters, and in keeping with the theme, I have 2 of my own. There is an amazing female bond amongst us"

I agree with Mardie when she says, "We all know that blood and marriage aren't the only ways to create true family."

To us, it never entered our mind that Mardie was anything else, but, our Aunt. We all secretly hoped she would be ... eventually.


If Pete Makes Her Cry ... No School For Us

Pete, Nancy, Michelle and I went to the same Catholic school at the same time: Our Lady Of Refuge school on Ocean Parkway. The school bus would pick up Pete's and Nan's friends from East 15th Street before reaching our bus stop on the corner of East 18th and Avenue L. Pete and Nan were responsible for me while we waited for the bus together.

Since Nettie was a push-over for snow days, if there was a couple of inches on the ground, she'd make the decision to let us stay home ... and most of the time we did. Then, it was a day of building snow forts and having snow ball fights until we were too cold to play.

I was in 3rd grade when we had this fantastic snow storm. We stayed home one day because there was no school bus to pick us up. The next day, Pete developed a game called, "Hide From The Bus." Pete stood in the middle of the street and waited till the bus was a block away. Then, at his command, we all ran and hid behind cars, gates, trees until the bus left the corner. Then we went back to Nettie's house and Peter told her the bus never came. That was a Thursday. We stayed home and played all day.

When Friday came, Pete decided that he wanted the day off and a longer snow weekend. He didn't think we could say the bus never showed again, because it was unlikely and we would probably get caught. So, he decided that I needed a lesson in crying. He figured if I cried to Nettie that I was too cold or that I was hurt, we all could miss the bus and get to stay home one last day.

He spent about 5 minutes teaching me to fake a crying fit, but I couldn't do it. So, he and Nancy pulled off my mittens, and Pete held my hands in the snow until I started to cry from the pain in my fingers. He pulled my hand out of the snow, checked to see if it was red and cold enough, and put them back into the snow until I was hysterical.

Then, we all ran down the block to Nettie's (while I was instructed to swear not to rat them out) and cry until Nettie announced that we could stay home once again because poor little Darcie had frostbite. I can still remember Pete smiling and doing a silent high five with Nan because his plan worked and we got to stay home once again. I was sworn to secrecy or warned that the boogie man was going to get me if I ratted them out.

Eventually that day I was able to go outside with my cousins when my hands warmed up and stopped paining me. But it's been 36 years since that cold day and every time the breeze blows and I get pains in my fingers - I remember Peter's gleeful decision that "If We Make Her Cry ... We'd Get To Stay Home From School !"

Thanks a lot Pete !
: - ))

I love this Headbangers Ball interview with Pete and Josh. I always wondered if Josh was awake during this interview. I'm sure you have seen this, but it's a fun reminder of TON's past:


Be Careful Where You Snooze

I think you understand that Pete's grown man persona wasn't far from his childhood- boy personality. He loved to scare us, push us into the pool with our clothes on, put his foot out and trip us when we walked by, make noises with his voice that would make us scream ... no matter how old he was ...

Well, adults weren't immune to his antics either and I have to say, for this next story, it's a good thing Pete's cousin Steve had a partner who was a slow shooter, or Pete would have learned a lesson the hard way.

Pete's first cousin was a highway patrol cop. And, as hard working men sometimes do, they'd take a little lunchtime nap in their patrol car, on the side of the highway, where they thought no one would see. Pete just happened to be driving by and saw his cousin napping in the patrol car. Pete beeped his horn, but he got no reaction. So, he drove back around, parked the tank and snuck up to the patrol car. Nothing. They didn't even hear him. So, like a large cat he jumped on the hood of the car in an "attack cat stance" and both policeman jumped up scared out of their wits. Steve's parter threw the door open and reached for his gun, when Steve realized who the hell this nut was who was standing on their hood.

Thankfully Steve recognized his cousin and reached out to shake Pete's hand as he jumped off the car hood. It's a good thing the cop partner had a sense of humor and a slow trigger hand. When Pete told this story later on, he would do the animation associated with the stalking, while we all laughed, because, Pete was like that ... he could scare the hell out of you when you least expected.


Peter's Cookie Jar Surprise Just For Me

There is a 'sweets-loving trait"  that went down the family's genetic code from Nettie and Pete Sr, through most of the girls and down to Pete. Most of them hid their candy or sweet snacks from each other in the strangest places. Nettie was notorious for stashing Entenmann's Crumb Cake in every room, with a knife for easy slicing. She'd sweep the floor in the front bedroom, open up the closet and cut herself a piece of crumb cake. Then, later that day, she'd be polishing the wood in the parlor (as she called it), open a draw, and cut herself a piece of crumb cake. Pete Sr. also stashed chocolate bars behind the bookcase (0'Henry bars) and enjoyed a good read and a treat every nite at bedtime. Peter too would do the same. Since he was tall, he'd make his favorite cookies and then hide them on top of the fridge, behind a vase of flowers, because he was the only one who could reach it.

From Pete's niece, Marie:

In our family, no one ever makes cakes or cookies from a box -  we are food snobs -- we make everything from scratch. And Peter would make the best homemade Oatmeal Cookies.( A recipe handed down from his sister Nancy) Peter's cookies were slammin!  Peter would make these cookies weekly, share a couple with whomever was around, put them in a tin box he kept and then hid them up ontop of the fridge. When he went to band practice, I'd sneak over, get the footstool and a box, climb up and eat a few of his cookies. I was about 8 or 10 years old

Peter would come back from practice, grab a carton of milk, open his box of cookies and then notice that some were missing. He'd scream to his mom that someone was stealing his food. So, he started counting them. He changed his hiding spot a couple of times, but because I was the "baby of the family" he never noticed me stalking him. I knew all his hiding spots --even on top of a ledge in the doorway going out to the backyard -- in the green canister.

One day I finally got the whole canister to myself. I figured out how to climb on top of the table, hold onto the curtains, and grab the canister. I ran down the hallway and sat there and ate every single cookie,crumb,morsel that was in there. ( I felt like I was gonna vomit...but it was worth it).

Later on ,Peter came home from work, and went straight to his cookie jar. I was watching from behind the door when he started screaming, "MOMMA .. SHE DID IT AGAIN ... SHE FOUND MY COOKIES AND ATE THEM ALL" Pete sees me giggling and starts chasing me around the house like a nut. He chased me out of the house. I was scared shit.

An hour later, I snuck back into the house and Pete was making another batch of cookies. I went over to him slowly and said I was sorry for eating his cookies. He said it was ok, and asked me to grab a chair so we could talk. He told me to make sure I asked for cookies and he'll give me whatever I wanted. Then he tells me that my grandmother left me some cookies in the jar on the table and that he was sure I was going to like them.

My thought was "Wow, I can't believe I'm not in trouble. I can't believe Pete is being so nice to me." I reached for the jar, opened it and a huge stinky, smelly FART wafted out of the jar. It was a stink bomb. Peter had somehow captured a fart and left it waiting for me. I think I fell off the chair it was so disgusting and unexpected. And he just laughed and laughed, sitting there eating his oatmeal cookies while I ran from the table. 

I never really looked at Oatmeal cookies the same ever again ...


First True Love ... She Always Mattered To Him

It's safe to say that Peter enjoyed the company of some very beautiful women ... some more pure of heart than others ... some ended up being featured in his songs ... some were a spotlight in his life ... some were a detriment. I hope this posting doesn't become fodder for an episode of the "Battle of the Beauties." For those of you who held a piece of Peter's heart ... and you know who you are ... we loved how Peter shared YOU with us. But, sometimes, love's first kiss stays with you for a lifetime ...

If you really mattered to Peter, he shared you with his family.  If you were special, the family never let you go ...

And with Mardie, she was always an important part of Peter's life, and the sister/aunt we adopted long ago and never let go in our hearts and in our lives. 

Pete & Mardie in Nettie's Kitchen

It was a chance glance on the D train in Brooklyn where Peter and his first true love, Mardie first saw each other.  Mardie was with her friend Dawn heading into The Village to buy feather earrings (remember those?). Peter and Josh were on the train when the two girls got on. They looked at each other from the Sheepshead Bay station all the way to Avenue M, where Peter exited. For 5 stops Mardie and Peter couldn't take their eyes off each other. Dawn was chatting away to Mardie and Josh to Peter but neither were listening to their friends.. they just stared at each other! At the Avenue M stop, Peter waved to Mardie as he got  off the train just as the doors were closing. As he stood there staring at her,  Mardie said to her friend, "That's the most beautiful face I've ever seen."

Two months later, Mardie went to a "Battle of the Bands" concert at her school, John Dewey High School in Brooklyn. On stage a band called Fallout was playing. Mardie was mesmerized when she went into the auditorium and saw that beautiful face again. Peter spotted her in the crowd and after the performance walked straight up to her and said, "Hi Train Girl. I knew I would see you again." Chills went down Mardie's entire body. She couldn't believe he remembered her face and picked her out of a packed crowd.

From that day forward, they were inseparable. They spent every moment they could with each other. Everyday Peter stood outside of Dewey H.S. waiting for Mardie so they could do something ... anything with each other. They rode the B train to Coney Island some days. Other days, they went to walk on the boardwalk for hours at a time; hours that went so fast for the young couple. They would walk around Sheepshead Bay together just so they could avoid separating. They got lost in each (add space) other like first time lovers  do. They felt like soulmates. Mardie, a petite dark-haired young beauty with a genuine laugh and soulful eyes was a perfect match to Peter's strong tall frame and gentle spirit.  It was a carefree relationship filled with laughter, support and inspiration on both sides.

"I felt the safest when I was with him," Mardie remembers. "When we were together, he listened to everything I said as if they were the most important words ever spoken !"

Peter quickly introduced Mardie to his mother, Nettie and father, Pete. At first, Nettie was worried that Peter was dating a "Jewish girl." But, after talking with Mardie she realized that Pete's gf was so much like herself - charming, beautiful, real - Nettie loved her like one of her own daughters. In fact, Peter's eldest sister, Annette (we called her Nancy) was Mardie's dad's age, "So, I fit in neatly in between the nieces -- I even gave make-up lessons to Tara in Nettie's bathroom on a regular basis," recalls Mardie. "I have so many memories of family gatherings, drinking the homemade iced tea, swimming in the pool at Nancy's house in Long Island, and just being treated like I was part of the family."

... Please come back to read Part 2 which posts on Friday, May 20th


Since Blogger Lost My Saturday Post ...

While Blogger gets it's ass in gear and figures out what it did to my Saturday post, I'm left with sharing some photos that I haven't seen anywhere.

If you have seen these already -- sorry -- but I thought they were fun photos of Pete.


I'm sure when any of you got autographs or did photos with Pete,
you were greeted with these kinds of faces

I think he looks fantastic here:

Sorry, but I thought this was cute so I added it:

Thanks for stopping by ... If Blogger keeps their shit together, we'll have a post on Monday ...


Wile E Coyote ... SUPER GENIUS

My mom, Patricia reminded me that while Peter WAS fun and games, that wasn't the only thing that we did with him. And, it's true. While we can remember the great playful times, we also remember the curious, intellectual side of Peter.

His apt was always filled with books, maps, photos, articles on everything from Philosophy, to Russian literature, to learning to make typefaces, to photos of Iceland -- he was forever learning and educating people about what he read.

Some of his interests were:

* The Study of Languages - Romance languages versus Slavic languages
* The Roots of words
* Iceland - both wanting to live there and the customs of the people of Iceland
* Russian dictators
* Politics
* Art: Sculpting, drawing, painting
* Photography
* Typography
* How the brain works
* Autism
* Comedic Timing
* Astronomy
* Science
* Math
* Religion

When he would travel and then come home or call us, he would talk about these things. He wasn't necessarily a debater, but he liked to find all sides to a subject and then talk about the negative and positive affects and details of the subject matter.

He was very interested in the birth and death of living things ... like trees and their leaves. He would get into conversations with me about the beauty of death (from a nature point of view) and how the changing of the leaf colors were actually the beauty of death. The leaves were dying, but still we found beauty in their death.

So, if you can imagine a person who knew how to laugh, enjoyed a good joke (at your expense or his), was an intellectual, was incredibly creative and could discuss both sides of any story, that was Pete for most of his life.

His beauty and creativity was unmatched. His heart was always in the right place. His mind was astonishing.

We Miss Him

Peter's Bark Was Better Than His Growl

Since It's Friday the 13th, I thought I'd share a story good enough for a chuckle... Enjoy:

In Brooklyn, we have an area called "Coney Island" which is famous for it's rickety rides (well, not anymore since they tore it down and made it like 6 flags). Each season that the amusement park opened, and Pete was old enough to drive, he'd take his nieces to ride the Cyclone Rollercoaster and then have dinner at Nathans. As you can imagine, he'd have 6 hot dogs, 2 fries, 2 burgers and a large orange drink. Then we'd get dessert on the boardwalk.

One time, Pete was driving his dad's station wagon (the kind with the simulated wod paneling on the doors) with all his nieces: Nancy, Michelle, Tara, Marie and me. The music was blasting hard rock. Peter's hair was flowing out the window and he had sunglasses on. All us girls were singing along to the music - our long hair flapping in the breeze, while Pete sped down Ocean Parkway.

At a red light, a car load of Guido guys pulled along side of us, blasting their disco music and making cat calls to us. The guys leaned out their open windows and were yelling, "Hey baby, give me a kiss" and "Turn around baby in the front seat and show me those lips" 

So, Peter flipped his hair around, snarled his teeth, growled and barked at the guys. They SCREAMED.
You never saw people roll their windows up fast enough. These guys were screaming like little girls and then they just sped away.

I guess Pete's long hair fooled them into believing we were a car full of hot young girls. Ha ha ... little did they know we had a wolf driving our car.

After that we just spent the rest of the ride laughing and we took turns barking and growling at cars that passed us on the street.

It was a great day out with Pete.


Never Safe From Ridicule At The Dinner Table

In my family, you need to have thick skin. Especially if you were eating with Peter. And no one was immune -- not his mother, Nettie, or his sisters, family, friends, etc. -- from being made fun of, or being the subject of a practical joke or pig squeal. If you were sitting at his table (and all the cousins wanted to sit with him), dinner was going to be fun.

Every time we sat down to dinner, there was a fake choking stunt, or Pete would be putting his fork into your ear, taking a bite of an imaginary item, and make crunching noises in his mouth. No matter what age he was 10 or 46, he would be doing these antics. Even the last Thanksgiving we had together just a couple of years ago, he was doing disgusting things with milk, a straw and his nose.

One week, Peter took my sister and I to "The House of Hocus Pocus" on Coney Island Avenue. He bought 4 vinyl fake vomits and then brought us down to the basement to practice how to make the right noises while we took turns vomiting the fake vomit. So at dinner, just after Nettie served the plates, we were instructed on his count to take the vomit in our hands, and when he made a wrenching noise, to stand up from the table and let the vomit fall from our hands onto our food or the table. He instructed one of his sisters to scream to their mother that the food is poisoned and everyone is sick.

Well, Nettie ran into the room and looked at all the kids with vomit next to their plates while Pete made his best wrenching noises. She ran to the table, look real hard at the vomit and screamed at Pete, "What's the matter with you!" When his mom screamed at him, Pete couldn't keep a straight face anymore and he burst out laughing.

I remember I was the rat, who told Nettie that "Peter made us do it."

The rest of dinner was filled with fake wrenching noises from Pete and the sound of uncontrollable giggling from the nieces at the dinner table until Pete's father yelled at us to "stop it already."


Cookies Used To Be All-You-Can-Eat ... Before Pete Showed Up

You have to figure that a man of Pete size, would have been a large growing boy with an appetite. I'm sure all you mothers know what a feeding frenzy it can be having sons at the table and how much teenagers can pack away.

There used to be a steak place on Avenue M and East 16th Street (Brooklyn) called Cookies. It was a favorite of Pete's because in addition to the main courses there was an all-you-can-eat salad bar, and at lunchtime, they put out shrimps, pasta, dessert in addition to regular salad. By the time I was 10 years old,  I believe it had closed down, but Pete loved that place. (Think Beefsteak Charlies type of restuarant).

When Pete was a teen, he and some friends decided to go there for lunch one Saturday afternoon. It was 4 guys (I believe Josh was one of the guys). So they all decide to get the Buffet lunch. And they kept getting up for seconds, thirds, fifths. The manager came over and told them they had been there 4 hours and they had to leave because the restaurant was getting ready for the dinner crowd and there wasn't going to be anything left for anyone else.

I remember sitting on his stoop with my cousin Nan, and Pete was walking home with the guys. He complained to us that they got kicked out of Cookies before they got a chance to have the all-you-can-eat jello and pudding. He said that they "went for lunch, but ate into dinner time, before the owner told them to leave." I remember him calling up to his brother in law Robert asking if he could sue Cookies for restricting his lunchtime meal. It was about a week later, that Cookies put up a sign at the buffet with a 2 hour time limit.


Any time we went out to eat, Peter liked to tell this story and I hope you don't mind that I share it with you.

There was a game that our family likes to play at the table. I don't know whose bright idea it was, but my sinking suspicion was either Pete's sister Nancy or himself. We would all take turns trying to do this stupid thing where you put your hand on the table with the fingers spread out. Then you take a knife with the other hand and stab between each finger with the point building up speed each time trying to not stab yourself in the process. Then, when you are really good at it, you close your eyes while doing it. 

WELL, for some reason Pete's cousin Nancy was doing this at the table at Cookies one evening. She had her eyes closed and very carefully she stabbed the table between each of her fingers, one after the other. In fact, she had a good momentum going. And Pete, being the jokester, took his knife and stabbed Nancy lightly in the middle of her hand while she was doing this trick.

Well, her reaction was crazy, she threw her body against the chair, it flipped back onto the floor and all you heard was her blood curdling scream because she thought she had stabbed herself. And then you heard Pete, cackling  on the top of his lungs with laughter because not only had she made a scene, but he was the cause of it.

Pete retold this story so many times and everytime he told it, it got better and better. We all laughed at Nan over that, and she was a good sport. BUT, no one was every allowed to do the "Knife Game" at the table in Cookies ever again.


Peter & Geezer - An Update To "Call Me Roger"

Pete's Sister, Patricia
Just Gave Me These Photos of Pete & Geezer
From Their Meeting
I Had To Share Them With You

I'm sure they were published elsewhere, but I thought it was good to have on this blog

Don't Worry, An Incubis Is A Nice Demon

I don't know whether I pointed this out, but even though Peter was my uncle, he was only 6 years older than me, 10 years older than my sister, Marie. So, it made sense that he was asked to do "Uncle" duty and babysit for us every once in a while.

Of course, I don't have to tell you, we were allowed to do whatever we wanted - blast the music, stay up later than usual, eat pizza at midnight, and all the things young girls like to get a chance to do when their mother isn't around. Heck we spent at least an hour learning how to capture our farts in our hands so we can learn to "blow it " at people (a true talent invented and taught by our uncle).

One time, Pete came over to mind us when I was about 10 and my sister was about 6 (making him about 16 yo). He made popcorn on the top of the stove, poured a ridiculous amount of butter on it, gave us each a big glass of soda, and put on a scary movie called INCUBUS.

Now, we are watching this movie, which I later learned was about a male demon that has sex with a woman. And, the film gets to the part where the demon is for lack of a better term, raping the woman while she is in bed. So, Peter starts looking a little nervous. He asks us if we are tired. He attempts to turn off the tv, trying to avoid this uncomfortable scene in the film.

And I ask him, "What is wrong with the woman in the movie? Why does she jump around like that in the bed?"

And, he turns bright red and says to me, "The incubus thinks the woman is so pretty he wants to hug her."

So, of course, that doesn't do it for me. So I ask him, "But I thought demons are bad and do bad things to people. Why does the incubus want to hug her."

So he jumps up and turns off the tv and says to me, "This incubus started out to be mean, but then he turned into a nice demon."  Then he goes over to the bookshelf and says, "come on, let's play with the Ouija Board instead and conjure up spirits."

Years later when I was old enough to understand how inappropriate the movie was for us to watch, I used to nudge him about the "incubus being a nice demon." Because Peter was modest and embarrassed, he couldn't bring himself to be the one to have to explain the deviant behavior of a demon to his two young cousins.


5 Rock Legends That Yield Biggest Laughs

Fan-Sculpted Pete Action Figure  ~ Created by "Hatred In Black" 

I guess I don't have to convince you all that Peter was a funny guy, but I thought I'd share with you this little tidbit:

Don Jamieson (of That Metal Show) has interviewed some the most legendary names in hard rock and metal. He notes in his new record, Live and Hilarious, that Pete is one of the funniest rock legend he's ever had the pleasure of interviewing. Here's what he says about 5 noted stars:

Pete Steele“R.I.P. you funny bastard! The most self-deprecating guy ever onstage. The Richard Lewis of metal! After playing a Sabbath cover, he remarked to crowd, ‘Now that we butchered Black Sabbath, we’d like to butcher one of our own songs!’”

Ozzy Osbourne
“In every interview he does, Ozzy has a million one-liners. He’s like the Rodney Dangerfield of metal! Favorite Ozzy quote: ‘I got rabies shots for biting the head off a bat, but that’s OK. The bat had to get Ozzy shots!’”

Alice Cooper
“An amazing storyteller with a killer punch line for every crazy tale. The Bill Cosby of metal! Elvis once put a loaded .38 in Alice’s hand so he could demonstrate how to take a gun from someone. Alice’s first thought: Shoot him!”

“That dry, deadpan wit is almost as powerful a weapon as his bass and throat. The Steven Wright of metal! Fave Lemmy quote: ‘That was a great time, the summer of ’71. I don’t remember it but I’ll never forget it!’”

Johan Hegg
“Yes, Vikings can be funny. Especially early on when his English wasn’t as good. (Insert name of famous Swedish comedian here) of metal! An interviewer once remarked that there were more and more females showing up at Amon Amarth gigs. Johan replied, ‘Yes, we are beautiful!’”

To Watch an episode of That Metal Show, you may want to see how these three hosts talk about what bands should have been more popular. If you watch from 4:30 - 10:00 it's an interesting notation. Me, well, I'm biased, I do believe TON was huge. But, it would have been great if they were played more on the radio.  http://www.vh1.com/video/that-metal-show/full-episodes/sebastian-bach-anvil/1663091/playlist.jhtml?xrs=share_fb  Then again, radio sucks for showcasing really interesting bands.

An appropriate audio to insert here would be "Jack Daniels & Pizza" but I couldn't find an audible copy of it on YouTube. Anyone have a link to share?


Please ... Call Me Roger

As our friend Sean notes, " Peter was a wonderful storyteller and on occasion, he was full of a wee bit o' blarney."

But from our understanding from all parties concerned, here is a true story behind Peter meeting with an idol. Peter always knew exactly how to break the ice and have some fun:

When Pete was meeting  the bass player for BLACK SABBATH , Geezer Butler, for an interiew in a bass player magazine, he was of course thrilled and a bit nervous -- especially since this band was one of his biggest musical influences.

Peter was shown into Geezer Butler's office and being Peter, he extended his hand and said  '' Mr. GLOVER - It's a pleasure to meet you - I'm a huge fan...''

Geezer Butler smiled and without missing a beat said to Peter ''Please , Call me Roger''
and both men laughed heartily at Peter's DEEP PURPLE joke.

(Now  Hard Rock Fans know that ''Mr. Glover''  is Roger Glover who played bass for fellow British rock band and rivals DEEP PURPLE - another terrific hard rock group and contemporary of BLACK SABBATH)

Peter said he was deeply impressed that Geezer Butler could not only take a joke, but could play along as well...

When Peter died, Geezer Butler released this statement:

"I was so saddened to hear of Pete Steele passing away. He truly was one of the nicest blokes I've ever met. He came to the first G//Z/R gig, in New York, showing his support for us.

"I last saw him in Copenhagen, on the HEAVEN & HELL tour, where he interviewed me for a bassist-to-bassist piece. We had lots of fun talking together.

"I always maintained that the best SABBATH cover was TYPE O's version of 'Black Sabbath' on the 'Nativity In Black' album.

"I always looked forward to hearing what he'd come out with — he was always surprising, musically, and such a very special person.

"One of the truly great ones has now left the stage.

"R.I. P., Pete — Bog Blast yea."


Come On Baby ... Light My Fire

I don't know if it was wishful thinking on his sister Nancy's part, but she always remarked to Peter that he should play more ballads, because in her mind, he sounded like Jim Morrison. All of the sisters constantly remarked on how his voice was uncanny and that it had a deepness to it, that stayed with you. In fact, while I don't actually hear it the resemblance to Jim Morrison, I do remember Pete cringing and rolling his eyes back at the mention of it.

While I don't think Peter sounded like The Doors, whenever anyone played their music he'd tap out the drum or cackle along with the lyrics. For his voice, he was fond of the slower melodic parts of songs. One of my favorites in Peter's early singing days is Carnivore's  "Male Supremacy." Not very Morrison-like, but, catchy and melodic.

Pete With Sister Barbara

Cathy recalls a Summer evening where her friends got a glimpse into Pete's  early musical inspirations:

It was a lazy summer day in 1966 when the kids I grew up with on 18th street would hang out on the stoop and listen to Cousin Brucie, an AM DJ who'd start playing music at around 6 PM or so every night. Pete was only 4 going on 5 years old but he'd run with the "big" kids whenever he could and stay out till late at night hangin' out with me (12 years old), Dianne (very soft spoken and petit age 9) and her brother Tommy (age 11) both who lived 5 doors away from our house; Denise ( about 10 years old) from across the street whose last name was "Rega-something"  sounded like some italian macaroni;  and Neil  (age 11 too) who lived around the corner across from Midwood field. As long as I would keep an eye on Pete, he could hang out till late with us on our stoop listening to the radio station playing this new song called "Light My Fire" by the Doors, which we all quickly went crazy over. Well, Pete didn't wander at all once he heard the music. In fact, we all took turns trying to mimic Jim Morrison -- forming our own stoop band, we strummed our air guitars, pounded on garbage pail tops as drums, and screeched the notes of the keyboards.

Then, all of a sudden, Peter raced to the top of the stoop and sang out  ... " Set The Night On FIRE ! "

We all applauded him and ourselves and waited for Cousin Brucie to start up the next song ...

I can hear Peter asking in his best "Lenny and Squiggy" voice, "Do ya know what a STOOP is?"


I'm Her 9 Year Old Uncle ... Mr. Peter Ratajczyk

Here a cute little story that I had to share:

Pete about 18 y o in photo

One of Pete's closest cousins, Nancy was only a year younger than Peter.They had similar friends, went to concerts together, same school, and basically were together more often than the other cousins. They spent many afternoons hanging out on East 15th Street with their friends The Lane's, The Penta's, The Chiusano's, The Mickelsen's and others that I'll be mentioning from time to time.

Nan recalled that one time while she and Peter were attending Our Lady of Refuge schoold on Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn, that she had gotten into trouble with her teacher, a nun, and some other kids. Being in fourth grade, she was about 8 yo, she had yelled at the teacher and caused a little scene. So, the next day, Peter, who was only 9 yo,  went into school with her, walked up to her teacher with Nan in hand, and introduced himself as "Nancy's Uncle, Mr. Peter Ratajczyk." He said he was there to " apologize to the teacher on behalf of his niece and told the teacher that he had a long talk with his niece and there wouldn't be any further outbursts from her this year."


Interesting Usage for Post It Notes

I remember when Peter told a couple of us, confidentially, that he was going to pose for Playgirl. He told some of his younger sisters first, then, the closer cousins, and before you knew it, everyone heard the rumor. When he told me about the photo session, he was making a joke about how women are going to cancel their subscriptions after he poses.

WELL ... July of 1995, Pete's sister Cathy came over the house with advanced copies of the August Playgirl issue. Nettie was home and Peter was downstairs. We all gathered around -- yes, we kept nothing from each other -- and Cathy excitedly told her mother that she brought a copy for her to see. When Nettie looked at the cover, she looked up at Cathy and asked, what kind of photos are in here? And Cathy said, "Don't worry Momma, I put post-it notes on the parts that you shouldn't see. But, just to let you know, he's not your little boy anymore."

Just then, Peter came upstairs and flipped out that his mother was going to look at the Playgirl. But Cathy assured him that she used the Post Its in strategic places so that his mother would be able to see the artistic design of the photos, but not have the shock value associated with the photos.

Each page had 1 or 2 Post Its covering Peter's privates ... but in one photo, to Pete's credit, she needed to use 3 Post Its.

I looked at the centerpage with the 3 Post Its and said to Pete, "WOW, now I understand Pete why girls follow you home from the road and show up on your door step." Pete grinned and walked into the livingroom while his mom flipped through the other photos. He wouldn't even sit in the same room with us.

After Nettie closed the magazine, she walked over to him and  told Peter how handsome he looked, how artistic the photos were, how she was positive he was going to have more dates. That's when Peter laughed and said, "I really wish all you ladies would have told me that Playgirl is read mostly by gay men. Now I'm gonna have new fans that I never intended on attracting." And the funny thing is Pete's Playgirl photo shoot was highly rated among gay readers as one of their all time favorites.

In this case, Pete thought the spread would garner him more fans for the band ... Oh, it did ... and the joke was on him.




Well Done, Greenman -- You Live On In All Of Us

My favorite story of my uncle Peter is not just based on one particular episode. Peter had so much comedic personality in him its hard to point out just one.

I fondly remember the green pumas that he jumped into the pool @ his sister Nancys house, his love for Tab soda, yelling at my cousin Marie and I as we sat on the basement stairs secretly listening to him play "Smoke on the Water", the baritone voice who read to me "Where the Monsters are".

I can see him clearly whistling down 18th street on his ten speed with no hands and thinking that's cool. I remember the first purple skateboard he gave me and the lesson!! Loved the ice tea in the summer and pool parties.

Hated when he would scare Marie and I with masks but loved the time we broke Grandpas back window at Mickey Ds and he took the blame for it. And I profoundly remember asking him to be my son Antonio's godfather and Baptise him. Antonio is very saddened by his death and was the first one to tell me.

He is the first boy in 36years to come into this estrogenic powerhouse of girls. Antonio will make his Confirmation this year and will take Petrus as his name. Peter's cross that laid on his coffin hangs over his bed to always protect him. He now takes guitar lesson with Stan Pillis a longtime friend of Peter and former member of Canivore. He holds Perer's pic in hopes of playing like this genius someday.( I am waiting for my son to hit puberty for his voice to deepen.)

Peter's talents, generosity, devotion to his fans and family will always be front and center. When I think of Peter I am not sad, he always made me laugh! He always lived like there was no tomorrow. For a man of 48 although too soon to depart from us, he did what he wanted, said what he wanted and didn't pretend to be a megastar, he was real.

He sang about the stuff we all push down and he embraced his stature ,christian upbringing and all the demons. We didn't have much but we had each other. Born and raised on the Brooklyn streets, the era was grand. He is missed but had lived a life only some of us could only dream of.

Well done, Greenman you live on in all of us...family friends and eternal fans who get it. While others were stealing from you, tears rolled down my face to find a paint set you kept that was my favorite comfort as a child. I visit your grave often in the early morning hours after delivering a new life. Its a paradox that i come to you for comfort even though you are not physically here, you are always here.

When I scream for blood you know I need TYPE O NEG to save my patients' life. You are always with me.

Love Tara