HAPPY 32nd BIRTHDAY
Dustin Allen Joedicker
Born 3 October 1989
Died 1 May 2009
This page is dedicated to the life and art of my friend Dustin, aka Snowy.
When he died, I made an archive of everything of his that I could find online. All of the graphics and artwork on this page were made by him, except for a few things that I made in tribute after his death. Some photos are from his old Myspace, others from his family and my own collection.
I send all of my love to the Joedickers. He will always be with us.
I decided to make this webshrine for his birthday in 2021. He would be 32 years old.
I am not sure what kept me from making this sooner. I think it's because until recently, I was not strong enough to share my grief in any constructive way. The seasons have changed on two specific dates for the past twelve years. Spring dies with him, and in autumn he is born again. Finally I am trying to hold my joys and sorrows in balance. I want Dustin to be as present as my living friends are, and I want you to meet him.
I can only say who Dustin was through my limited perception of him. I knew him for three, maybe four years. I was told that I knew him better than most, but I know that he did not tell me everything. He was troubled and mysterious, which is exactly why I was so smitten. It is strange to grow older while someone I love does not. I can look back and see more clearly our teenage condition: two closeted queer edgelords stranded in Gilbert, Arizona. God help us. We wanted to get out so bad.
We found ways of rebelling. Our modes of escape were limited up until high school graduation. Snowy went to a lot of raves. I only ever went to one with him. He spent a lot of time with fellow ravers, all PLUR and kandi and blurry photos posted on DontStayIn. I never got to meet those friends. I was a straight-edge kid, so I think he was afraid that I would have judged him for being so experimental. After he died, I wasted no time catching up on all that I'd missed. What did he see in those lights? Could I find it too?
I loved being in his car. It was a 1989 Chevy Suburban, cream and brown. I remember the mirrors had some old vinyl covers with a local radio station's logo on them. The inside of the doors were falling apart, their plastic hardware cracking. I didn't have many friends who could drive, let alone command an old beast like that. He was proud of his ride. One time I watched him ghost ride his whip in our high school's parking lot.
I remember his face while he danced. Like this:
Sometimes he would drive me home after school, when we could get away with it. I had a boyfriend at the time. D and I would lay in the back seat and just hold each other and talk. It was unlike any friendship that I thought possible. It could not be defined. I felt very guilty for having found this freedom. I thought that I had to choose, so I pushed him away. That blighted suburb was no place for clueless queer love. But we were children, so we did not know.
He was sensitive, sensible, anxious. He coped with the anxiety by being an adrenaline junkie. We printed out our Photoshop drawings and wheat-pasted them to electrical boxes and canal fences. He went further than that on his own, though. He got in trouble a lot but still refused to be contained. He was too clever, too kind, to be anything but rebellious. He liked soft things. Fuzzy hats and arm-warmers, stuffed toys, baby animals. He was a complicated young man who drew cute anthro girls dancing in bright landscapes, and I was a manic furry dream girl who liked drawing skinny dog-boys with sad eyes. I only just realized that we mirrored each other that way.
Knowing now that I'm nonbinary, I wonder what our friendship would have been like if I'd simply been his friend, if I did not feel expected to perform Woman behaviors for my love of him. I wonder if Dustin might have been happier, too, if he did not feel the same pressure to perform Man behaviors. I could tell that he wanted to be rid of all expectations. He wanted to make art and friendships but seemed to be only faced with institutions. I kept secrets from everyone for fear of judgment or worrying, or both. I also think that he was protective of me, and maybe preferred that I was separate from the chaos. We were both very depressed, but in different ways. I thought that we were just playing with our sorrows, but he had been making plans. I only ever saw glimpses of the darkness that consumed him. In him dwelt an existential panic that I could not comprehend until he was gone.
I find it hard to place where our ideals were at the time. I suppose it doesn't matter since everything in a teenage brain is soup. We were at that age where we were exploring ideologies. Mostly we made really bad edgy jokes and references. You know the kind. 'Fight Club' nihilism was going out of fashion so Socialism seemed like the next best thing. At least the memes were good. We only had inklings of how messed up our world was getting, but it was enough to make us act out destructively. I wish there had been a better way to channel all of that angst.
I remember once, in the back of his car, I dozed in his lap while he traced letters between my shoulder blades. He asked me to guess what he was spelling. I caught the word "love" and some letters. It was something like, "I love you as I love every one." I remember feeling a little disappointed, like I wasn't special, but he really meant it. In him was a vast love and need for human kindness, contact, creativity. I was in awe of that, and for a while I shared that feeling with him. Mellowing out to house and psytrance music was a relief from all the dread and self-hatred. His heart was pure gold.
He gave me that stuffed cat. I still have it. My fursona was an orange cat so he got it for me while he was on a cruise with his parents. Italy, I think. They'd stopped off at a harbor and he went wandering for some hours. He made them worry. I never worried about him, though. We still had that illusion of youthful invicibility. The night after he died, I listened to an album that I'd meant to send to him ('Music By Cavelight' by Blockhead) and cuddled the cat. I looked into its eyes and saw a scratch inside of one that I had not noticed before. It freaked me out because it looked like an impression of his face. Say it's pareidolia or whatever, but some really weird things happened for a week or so after he died. I remember my alarm clock went off inexplicably one evening when I was talking about him with my roommate. I like to believe that he was there, offering us little signs.
But I did lose my faith when he left us. It's taken me this long to build it anew. I used to believe in all kinds of supernatural things. You'd think that losing a friend would make me want to believe in spirits even more, but it had the opposite effect. The horror was mind-shattering. He was gone. Dust in the wind. His friends used to tease him with that song, and then suddenly he was cremated. I think what drew me to him is that he had been searching for something beautiful and eternal in this world. Then I learned that the only eternity is death. I hoped to find a new eternity --a living, transcendent love-- but that's hard to do when you're stuck cradling your memories like the Pietà.
Seeing his body was something I will never forget. They'd dressed him in his favorite vest. I tucked a heart-shaped dog tag in his breast pocket. My friend and I got to speak at the podium after the viewing. We shared funny stories about us three hanging out, attempting levity. I remember his raver friends messaged me on Myspace that morning to tell me that they couldn't make it for some reason. I hated them for not showing up, which was easy to do because I still had never met them in person. I think I still hate them to this day. I felt that they'd taken him from us, luring him away and then bailing on us all in the end. The rave experience may have been freeing to him in some ways, but they made his other mental health issues so much worse. This was also something that I did not fully understand until later, after I was able to talk to his parents.
After the funeral, I still had to finish up my second semester at NAU. I went back home for the summer and spent three months retracing our steps along the canals, alleys, greenbelts, and other liminal spaces where we'd gotten into mischief. I had to track down every last trace of us before it all disappeared. I needed proof that it happened, that he was real, that the love was real, that these memories were real. I found some spray-paint stencils he'd done around our neighborhoods. This one was supposed to be Skitty (the Pokemon) but with my cat-eye glasses. "Skitty Henny." He'd also tagged our high school with Pokemon stencils. I wonder if any of them are still there.
I painted over one of the few photos of us together.
I saw him as a serene entity with enough grace to care for an evil goblin like me.
He appeared in many dreams. The first round was just me trying to bargain with his ghost or travel back in time. He still shows up every now and again, sometimes not in human form. I like it when he's just a guy in a suit with a bizarre head made of abstract shapes. Most recently he showed up as himself, dressed as handsomely as he was in that photo of us. We were posing for the picture. Then, he leaned back in his chair to look in the mirror. "Looking good!" he said. I think he was appreciating how well I've guarded our memories. As long as I am living, he is not dead. We laugh and we dance together.
Some more digital art. One based on a photo of him (left)
and another of us based on a photo of Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe (right).
"Man of Fire (Catalyst)" / A drawing I made while in grad school (2014).