According to you, the students on this great campus of ours, there seems to be two kinds of decadence in this world. The first is champagne. It’s Prada, fur coats, the Taj Mahal, diamonds, the Renaissance, party animals, Egyptian cotton, cigarettes, orgasms, and heaven. (I guess foreign is chic, no?) The second is lust. It’s greed. It’s a lipstick-stained collar, a high ball, tattooed teeth, intoxication, drag queens, narcissism, Catholicism, orgasms, and hell. Are you seeing the connections? We as humans may overlook it sometimes, but the simple truth is that we are by-in-large, binary creatures. We put things into boxes. We like to say YES! We love to say NO! And on the topic of decadence? Well, we’ve subconciously categorized and given a name to our personal incarnations of good and evil. Yep, it’s all so simple as to split things in two parts - those things we revel in, and those things we are kinda-mostly-ok-yeah afraid of. When I ponder decadence, my mind gravitates to an almost otherworldly notion of excess and excitement. So much verve, so much intensity, it’s - well, Godlike. Is that what God is? A certain swiftness, a potent display of power that can’t possibly be understood or contained? Some might think so. But decadence must have a yin to its yang. Modesty, constraint, reticence. These are good values, to be sure. But when did anyone ever create anything meaningful out of modesty? When did anyone ever make an impact being, polite? You might argue Ghandi, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Ted Danson, etc. However, these people were just as decadent and flashy as the next guy! (I mean, seriously Ted, you’re not fooling anyone.) Let’s just examine that “heaven and hell” notion in the first place - how much tenacity do you have to be to call yourself “The Creator”? And what about the guy that says “I’m going to trick the entire world into not believing in you, ‘The Creator’”? Listen, all I’m saying here is that if decadence is good/evil, then I certainly enjoyed diving divinely/devilishly into what our featured artists of this issue’s DOSSIER MAGAZINE came up with. I hope you do too.
Sincerely, Corey Light Editor in Chief
<cover> Morgan Wright
<left, artist> Bailey Grim <Managing Editor> Paige Lockhart
<artist> Julie Bates
Seann Weir 6
<design + img> Sam Towns
<artist> Yikeem Craddock
<artist> Chelsea Cooper
Tom Mix Cruising at eighty miles per hour, two-door coup, blood shot eyes that pristine cowboy hat above a stiff collar, still flecked from a morning haircut. You’re getting old, Tom too old for that blonde sitting next to you— on top of you, with her head bobbing, bobbing, bobbing. Your hands shaking, blue veins showing through papery skin. Keep them on the wheel, Tom, steer through the dust and sand through the heat and asphalt. Eyes closed now, neck muscles tightened to cords, hands clinging like hell to the wheel. And the coup goes flying your sweet, sweet coup, into the arroyo. She clamps down, you scream, but in this space no one can hear you. And the suitcase, a big fancy Samsonite, chartreuse, takes flight from its rear window position and finds your fleshy neck. Later, they’ll find you, dust and blood and a suitcase filled with diamonds, money, six shooter near a cute blonde with a bloody mouth.
<artist> Brian Hawkins
TVC 15 on the Turn Dial by Sarah Beth Mundy
<design + img> Coty Beasley
I was raised by pop figures. The youngest in a household held down by a free-spirit mother and a liberal father meant: free reign to explore! Added to this freedom, there was oddly little in the way of musical influence in my family (granted, I tried to resist my older brother’s industrial metal taste as much as possible), and so it’s hard for me to pinpoint when my quest really began. One thing is clear, though: with unrestricted time on the Internet and the advent of Napster, middle school was a time of full-fledged, self-service music education. Our family got cable around the time of 7th grade, but I still sometimes opted for the blanketed and be-couched basement rec room. There lie our small, rejected turn-dial TV, and at the age of thirteen, I still put much excited investment in Saturday Night Live. If you stayed up late enough, NBC would play a far older, more interesting episode. One stands out clear in my mind. I had heard of David Bowie; he is a pop icon whose name is no more avoidable than Prince or Madonna. When the host of that archived episode introduced the forthcoming musician, my mind was blank as to what to expect. Well, David Bowie is not just a performer. He is a strangely coordinated work of art. A handsome man, with a boyish dirty
blond haircut, mascara, and blush, wearing a woman’s two-piece business number and heels, he was a sight to behold. The two men behind him were just as eye catching; one I would discover later was Klaus Nomi, whose own brand of entertainment was just, well, out of this world. The real icing on the cake—a pink, cupcake-colored poodle, standing in front of them, mouth agape with sharp teeth, and a small, static-y TV visible within its jaws. The song performed was “TVC 15”, and the year of this broadcast was 1978. The album the song is pulled from, Station to Station, has a reputation for being one of Bowie’s more... “weirdo” albums. I certainly didn’t understand it. TVC 15? ...TV?... TV screens and a poodle... Is he singing about a lady friend turned into a TV? I DON’T UNDERSTAND. All I knew what: I wanted to be THAT. I was electrified and ached for more. One year’s time found me going through 8th grade wearing as much glitter eye makeup as possible, metallic vinyl pants, and t-shirts with lightening bolts. I played Aladdin Sane on repeat so much that summer that I must’ve drove the whole house mad. But, David Bowie introduced me to the world of artistic flamboyance, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
14 <artist> Thomas Tobin
Some houses are begging to burn— in dreams I walk through smoldering remains and rescue a blue porcelain mug, a doll’s melted face or nothing at all. In waking life I return to find it as sturdy and unchanged as a stone on a hill or the dash between two dates. Sturdy, but never sealed— this house that leaked Anger from cracks in the foundation—It seeped into the ground water, poisoning flowerbeds and strays. The neighbors took years to notice. We kept outdoors & out of the way, seeking fat slugs and puddles the color of rust. Still, damage can accumulate. Ask a former sun goddess about the beauty of radiation. Ask a scorched field about the cleansing of flame. Alex Williamson
I. I am not the face of your rebellion, nor am I the child who grew up alongside you. I stand alone, a transitory escape artist, waiting for the next train away, away from here, directing myself to the basement bars Geddy sang aboutanywhere to settle the restless yearning to become somewhere else. I withdrew a long time ago, along with my compatriots. We never needed what the others did. Blaring amplifiers, crushing drums - those aren't for the weak. And we found ourselves in a new world of possibility, unitydreams others dared not to hold outside the shadow of a moment. If excess can be measured, Iâ€™ll take mine in dreams and a song. Whether glittering or rampant with decay, music is the life force, the be all end all. We are but its servants, carried by the current to every tune. 17
II. The searing vitriol flying from his lips envelopes the masses, pulls them to the ground. Weakened states, inebriation from the elixir of their life gives cause to rejoice, impressionable minds. Impressionable age, speaker of rage fills the pulpit with anger and the bodies, Possession pulsating, thriving on the anger. Theirs is the answer to the question Where is your god? God of death, God of snow, God of ancient travelers, There is not one but many and they are among us, chanting now in this ritual dance. Our cathedral of guttural cacophony: raise your horns this night and praise or die. III. We are the clock makers and astronomers, the precisionists of our time. Our world is of scales, modes, improvisational conversations, the dreams others fear. Were we the illuminati, our symbols would be of far-gone times, and we would watch, behind the lavish paintings we do not possess. <imgs and poetry> Sara E. Robbins
<artist> Amber Jennings
Reader, I doubt you’ve ever held a still-beating heart in your hands, so I’ll start at the beginning. A monstrous sickness swept the world. In those days, we all kept to ourselves— well, the lucky ones kept the company of personal demons. But you ask for the usual knowledge. You crave the basics before the real meat arrives. So call me little Janey—I don’t mind. Ask me to solve your little problem—they all do. Why, everyone has problems these days: health problems, mental problems, weight problems, family problems, drug problems, problems locked up in moldering attics like so much skeletal matter, flesh drying on bones, her voice drying up in her throat, the body’s architecture twisting cracking crumbling. Reader, I starve for him. You understand. You hunger too for love like this; you find the one; you are reduced to ashes soon enough. You dodge an attic too.
by Kit Hunt
Well! Aren't you old-fashioned for such a modern man? Didn't you try to be an experience? There you were, looking like you knew nothing, a know-nothing who knew it all, a recalcitrant little man throwing a tantrum to tear down the world. Really you were sick of walking in straight lines, so you let your hands slide up and down, up and down. You learned to make girls feel afraid. Later you were ridden almost to your grave, whipped 'til your skin split, held down under the sun 'til your falsehoods spilled out like spiders and scurried to hide, your sickness laid open for all to see. You writhed—you thrashed — you burned in that light, and didn't they pity you? Didn't they forgive your every sin?
This is where I come in. I'll slip my tiny hands just there—between the slats of your ribs— and I'll wrap my fairy fingers around that twitching lump you dare to call a heart, which you believe holds some measure of concentrated soul, some wretched scrap of humanity, as if a heart could ever be so clotted with old lies, so worn down in such an unfortunate manner. Let me eat it from your chest, you revenant. Oh, let me! I can sanctify you by fire and by blood. I will swallow your black, infected history. I will have and hold your fragile heart. Have they never before called you blessed? That will change. Do not allow us to be divided. I will devour all impurity. Get to confession! Spit out the filth which chokes you! Then—and only then—we'll blaze together, consummated and consumed. I am not of two minds. Your heart is a bad thing. Let me have it. Or would you rather look out on cold fields and be alone? <design> Sara E. Robbins
24 <artist> Sam Towns
calvin foster launched kick balls over the moon and took his time orbiting the yellow, painted-on bases of the York Elementary blacktop—bases which held so much meaning during recess that it seemed criminal for parents to drive atop them during band concerts and back to school nights when the blacktop was used as additional parking. Blonde hair blowing in the breeze and breathing out of his mouth as usual, Calvin walked those bases with pride while some children scurried to retrieve the ball from a nearby yard and others waited impatiently for their turn to kick.
probably play in college,” Calvin said, carrying his tray of rectangle pizza, corn and chocolate milk from the cafeteria window to his usual table by the stage. “That or wrestle. I want to hit a guy with
<design> Caleb-Michael Files
by: blue mcniel a chair someday, on TV,” he’d later add on the walk back to our classroom. “You’d be a fine wrestler,” sort of reality at all, and the teachers often told she’d never come back him, and they meant it. as long as she lived.
have been the fact that indoor recess did not allow kicking any balls of any sort, it could have been the fact that Calvin and his 7 siblings, who also had C names, lived in a three bedroom house with a basement full of pug dogs that constantly bred with each other and spread parvovirus back and forth again and again, none of them eating much—the children or the puppies—because Mr. Foster couldn’t get work in winter and Mrs. Foster daydreamed too much. She daydreamed herself out of the house and the neighborhood and the city, out of any
men went into their house and took his mother away. I rode my bicycle by his house that afternoon and I saw him and his older brother out in their backyard trying to dig a hole in the frozen ground.
winter came a mean last winter Calvin lived in streak in Calvin. It could the neighborhood some
heard from a girl who lived in the same cul-de-sac that after I rode by they raked all of the puppies out of the basement and into the hole and covered it up with snow from their dad’s truck bed. Someone came back the next day and took some of his siblings away, and then took him away, and no kids at school ever saw him or kicked as far as him ever again. Long distance running became a new favorite that Spring. 25
A Lovely Excess paige lockhart
the etymology of the word decadence translates to decay or failure, I think many people associate it with luxuries - living a life of opulent self-indulgence drinking champagne out of a glass slipper or two. Donna Foulk, the owner of Donna’s Dress Shop on 39th street, describes decadence as a “lovely excess,” and explained this idea with three stories of people she’s known or bought clothes from: a former pseudo-playboy bunny, an old neighbor with a basement-full of neverworn accessories, and an engaged couple she only knows through letters written during World War II. One day a woman stopped into Donna’s shop and said very matter of fact, “I have more vintage clothes in my basement than you do in your shop.” This could sound like a jab, but for Donna it turned into an adventure into decadence. The woman lived in the area, and while Donna picked out clothes from her collection, she listened to her story. Her mother was a seamstress for the playboy bunny club, and in 1968, she became a “playmate” for the club. The place was classy, she described, and had strict rules. The "bunnies" weren’t allowed to keep the clothing from their photo shoots, but because of her mother’s position, they snagged a few of the outfits – yes, even a pair of bunny ears and tail.
“...yes, even a pair of bunny ears and tail.”
the many faces of Donna
The woman not only provided vintage photo shoot get-ups and costume items, but the former model’s mother had kept her sister’s and other relatives' outfits – many of them with the tags still attached. Now, Donna’s is the home to these collections, possibly bought on a whim and seldom or never used, holding the memory of a proposal or an unforgettable evening. Whatever the story behind the outfits, Donna's store, chock-full of findings from the 1950’s and 60's inspire new adventures for her customers.
exploring the topic of excess, Donna reaches into her jewelry case and pulls out several items. She begins telling me a story of an old neighbor whose mother had passed away, leaving behind all the fancy jewelry she’d collected over the years. She seemed to buy things in bulk and couldn’t even begin to wear everything. With the original cards intact, each accessory appeared untouched. The woman lived in Prairie Village, but frequented jewelry shops downtown whenever she ventured to pay her gas bill. While pulling out five sets of the same broach in different colors, Donna tells the woman’s story from her daughter’s perspective. Her mother wouldn’t buy just one broach; she would buy the broach, earrings and necklace set all in every possible color she could find.
It’s easy to imagine a scene from Hoarders, with earring hooks poking out of the ground and piles of shiny jewels cluttering hallways, but the idea of this woman who chatted up every jeweler in Kansas City conjures the perfect image of lovely excess. The overindulgence need not be contained in material possessions, though. We can be excessive in any of our behaviors. Some overeat, others overdrink and I’m certain anyone can admit to spending too much time on Facebook. The last story Donna tells me didn’t involve a rack of clothing or a collection of miniature hats. This time, she brought out a stack of at least 30 letters, still in the original envelopes, bound in a thin, light blue ribbon. 29
brought in a wedding dress wrapped around a stack of letters exchanged between a young couple during World War II. Inside the letters were black and white photos of the two in bathing suits posing on the hood of a car, and Donna reads the letters as their relationship developed. The man served in the army and was stationed in an Arizona training spot, learning to fly B29’s. The girl stayed home, writing to him and eventually visiting him at the base. The early letters progressed from beginning with formal “hellos” to later letters with full use of pet names and signing the end with the word “love.” The exchanges finally lead to an engagement, but it isn’t clear through the letters alone if they ever married. The intention of marriage is prominent, and the dress, as proof, is for sale at Donna’s. The letters, of course, are sold with the dress. Although there is only one article of clothing, the letters attached to it provide an entire love story without a clear ending. Obvious assumptions can be made about the outcome of their relationship, but the garment is an astonishing artifact in the couple's progression. This “lovely excess” is only one of the intimate keepsakes found at Donna's that now provides a romantic, never-ending narrative. This narrative in particular reaffirmed Donna's belief that “older is better,” because it carries history.
I have items in my closet I’ve never worn, and I might try and rip the tags off to sever the attempt of ever returning that sequin covered jacket or velvet, cheetah print leggings, but I don’t think I’ll ever actually get rid of them. Like the stories attached to the clothes at Donna’s shop, or the love letters that came with a single wedding dress, sometimes excessiveness is exquisite and can remind us of a memory just as much as a photograph or the verse of a favorite song. 30
<imgs> Lauren Nolting <design> Corey Light