Patti Fucking Smith.
It’s so obvious it embarrasses me.
It’s like: she’s the coolest and the sun is hot. To say anything else seems redundant. Obvious.
But then again, that’s the whole point.
That is why this all started.
Because of the British.
Because I’d rather feel over saturated with news of women whose titles include a few conjunctions than with news of women who are lauded for their genetic makeup and silence.
Because of what Amy said and especially because of the last line of her quote.
Once it comes into the adult realm it’s like, ‘Great, go for it, do your own thing … Sit on cakes. Do whatever the fuck you want.’ It’s just that I get worried for young girls sometimes; I want them to feel that they can be sassy and full and weird and geeky and smart and independent, and not so withered and shriveled … More than it being the Pussycat Dolls thing? It’s just distracting from what is real power.
Did you know Patti Smith invented the mosh pit?
Patti Smith’s black hair inspired millions of girls and boys with Xs on their hands to dye their own hair inky black and stage dive into crowds.
Patti Smith wore ripped jeans sitting next to John Stamos on a plane once and the next day he bought ripped jeans.
Okay, Patti Smith may or may not have done any of the above, but in 1967 the 21-year-old future “Godmother of Punk” moved to Brooklyn to become an artist and then she did. THE END. It was really easy and simple and she didn’t understand why EVERYBODY wasn’t doing it because OMGEASY.
She was 21 and seeking refuge and acceptance. She found Robert Mapplethorpe and, consequently, everything else she was looking for—or, at least, everything she needed.
She was a poet first, a rock star by accident and a punk by necessity. She and Robert lived through poverty and all the necessary growing pains of finding yourself. And she’s shared it all with us.
Just Kids, the 2010 National Book Award non-fiction winner, is a memoir of Smith and Mapplethorpe’s early lives in New York and you’ve either heard about it and already read it or plan to read it and water is wet and other shocking discoveries. But in case you don’t know, it was just announced that it’s being adapted into a screenplay.
Patti and Robert were friends until the day he died.
I can never decide what the most interesting part of a memoir is: the meandering path that people take to become who they’re supposed to be (always so much clearer in retrospect), the little secrets nestled into already known information or the freak encounters that change the entire direction and trajectory of someone’s life. Sometimes, just the act of writing it seems like the most interesting part.
David Sedaris once said that when he re-reads journals from years ago and wants to tear pages out, he resists the urge because he knows that if he feels that way it means he hasn’t learned anything from it yet.
So, here’s Patti, showing us the pages of her journals, pointing out the beautiful and ugly parts like a kindergarten teacher at story time.
“Here is the boy I met and fell in love with in New York City.”
“Here is where I found my confidence.”
“Here is where I lost my confidence. And money.”
“Here are my ambitions.”
Memoirs, and especially the memoirs of women like Patti, are good reminders to keep the pages in your journals. Because the stories worth telling don’t come without their share of bad and it’s a good idea to remember that.