Brenda’s Tragedy: Gurl Nine from Charlestown, Boston

Gurl Nine was from Charlestown, a neighborhood exceeding Whitey Bulger's 'Southie” in its reputation for inhospitality to outsiders

Koen Suyk; Nationaal Archief, Den Haag

BOSTON, 1978 – They bum-rushed the door at Cantone’s easily pushing aside the young woman manning the door. They wore light blue ‘cuda jackets, blue jeans, work boots and each of the seven or so thugs had a cudgel of some sort.

“Fack yoo yah punk fahghats” as their battle cry and oddly, for a group of macho imbeciles attacking other guys, “Suck my d**ks” were lobbed like verbal grenades as they wailed mercilessly on any appendage or noggin that got in their line of fire.

They were content to only grab the boobs and shove around the women there and almost as quickly as they barged in, they charged out into the steamy night whooping and dropping occasional bottles of pilfered beer as they ran down Broad Street.

Circa 1976 Hitchhikers – the preferred flight in and out of Boston

Just as art informed a large part of punk so too did mindless, droogie ultra-vi. Especially in Boston. Even before punk came along it was a violent city with distinct enclaves of fuck you that surrounded the city center and stained the “Athens of America” with huge swaths of blood and intolerance.

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Gurl Nine was from Charlestown, a neighborhood exceeding Whitey Bulger’s ‘Southie” in its reputation for inhospitality to outsiders; hair-triggered blasts of rage directed towards anyone, anywhere, at any time, generational criminality and rampant substance abuse.

It was the scene of enthusiastic white riots during the busing era of the early seventies which were merely part of their continuing legacy of opposition to anything or one that got their hot blood boiling since the colonial revolution.

The scene in Ben Affleck’s pretty spot-on movie “The Town” closely captured the neighborhood and its insular, generational approach to crime, life, and family in a 20-second scene.

“Pretty much the best part of Boston, trumping that shit bag a place they call Southie. It’s where the real Boston Irish come from and where nobody will fuck with you. Outsiders hate it because they know they’re not welcome, especially cops! Unlike Southie, Charlestowns never produced any rats, and that’s why the cops hate it. In other words,it’s God’s country! The people who live there, called “Townies”, have always taken care of each other. They all feel a real sense of community with one another.”

FBI Agent 1: Think we should canvass the neighborhood, ask if anyone saw anything?

FBI Agent 2: You do realize we’re in Charlestown not Southie, right? No one here will talk!

Brenda Argabright made herself known pretty quickly the night we met as both a true blue “townie” and a stone fox ready to party.

It was at a show in Jonathan Swift’s where your humble narrator was doing sound for the New Models. They had just finished recording some new songs and were testing new material in clubs around town before they opened for The Cars at Boston Garden.

She was punk and couldn’t give a rat’s ass about what other people thought.

She was funny at first. As she got drunker a certain desperation would take hold of her and her desire to get higher and get laid could reach scary levels of self-loathing and destructive behavior.

She practically dragged us into a cab that night telling the driver an address in Charlestown, telling me when we got there to keep quiet and don’t talk to anyone. In the back of that Checker cab she then proceeded to go down on what was definitely not her first sexually inexperienced 19-year-old.

At her place, the usual things and some delightful perversions only previously read about in certain cheap paperbacks that you would only find in bus stations or your weird Uncle’s closet were enjoyed with vigor by both parties.

Our forays into deepest, darkest libido liberation occurred with hushed moans and tones however because she had a child she didn’t want to wake.

For the next three weeks repeated trips to Charlestown were made with each one unfolding a bit more of the puzzle that was Brenda.

Having an autistic child in the late seventies was bad enough for her to deal with. Unlike today there was little understanding and support and the popular perception was that it was somehow either God’s will or, the Mother’s fault.

Having been raised in a culture of abuse towards women and insular paranoia certainly didn’t help her outlook or behavior either.

The thing that tipped her over the line into the contradictory jumble of emotional excess, vibrant insight and guilt she embodied was no doubt the brutal gang rape she endured as a teen.

The night she recounted the story of this tragic and life-altering event multitudinous and alternating waves of shock, compassion, fear and unrelenting rage at the type of men and the insidious culture that do these things shot thru the soul.

As good as the sex was. As great as the drugs she seemed to find with ease went down, the relationship sputtered, folded in on itself and disappeared in less than a month.

Years later word filtered through that Brenda had passed away. If what they say is true, then she is finally at peace.

No banks were robbed nor faces punched in the writing of this story.

Your humble narrator Elliot Rosewater is the main character of “Slaughterhouse Five” and is known mostly for helping others discover the real story behind it all.

Punk rock music can be heard regularly on John Carlucci’s SpeedieJohn program on
Channel 21 of Little Stevens Underground Garage on Sirius XM Satellite radio.

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