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DAY 06

DAYTON


TATTOOS & MEXICAN FOOD

In Dayton, amidst its large deserted avenues that give me a sense of abandonment, I choose to let myself go, try being a dilettante, follow my instincts and to just go have a real coffee in the best bar in town.

I find myself in this trendy spot for the inevitable local hipsters amidst large deserted boulevards that once were industrious. It has a western flair to it, with the railway and ghosts of 50s convertibles parked outside the old diners that are still standing. This is where I meet a tattooed guy that grants me permission to film him in the Mexican restaurant where he plans on grabbing a bite that evening. He’s really nice and cool, but yet I have the feeling that something is “wrong.” This guy has money, a good job, yet he eats alone on a Saturday night while defining himself first and foremost as “father”. This brings me back to my own anxieties. He does not talk about divorce though. I dare not ask for more, in this context of such a short meeting.

At the next table, a family without a man – mother, daughter and grandchildren. The older lady looks very tired like someone who’s seen more than her share of challenges, and who did not have too much fun.

The daughter is wearing extremely high heels. She’s full of tattoos, with her butt arched prominently, blonde locks placated using too much pomade, large golden gypsy hoops on her ear. Men stare when she walks by to grab some paper towels.

Behind him is an entire table of girls all dolled up and young Latino men in military uniforms. One of the girls is kissing her handsome soldier. Has he just returned from Iraq? Or Afghanistan? These images are so timeless, and sad. WWI really wasn’t the “last one”, was it?

I notice the plasma TV hung on a wall. The news is on. A black guy that was just arrested, as the suspect of an attack with knives… Just to set the atmosphere.

All these places that I go through are not that racially mixed. Very few blacks… although I can see that this community is clearly important. And there is this American-made poverty, straight from a James Agee novel. A young white woman sits on the steps of her shack, surrounded by ragged-looking kids…

MARK



DOROTHY & HER CLAN OF WOMEN

In my errands, I come across an old lady with whom I connect immediately. Dorothy is 89 years old. She has always lived here. She lived the era of institutionalized segregation when blacks sat on the balcony in cinemas.

She used to be an energetic Jitterbug dancer in the 40s and she has fluttered around in big concerts such as Ella’s or Louis that she got to see in more intimate circles. She is adorable and bubbly. She quickly invites me at her place, and I find myself filming her family communing around a fried chicken dinner on a Sunday evening. Surrounded by her daughter and her nieces, she has a full house of women who seem inhabited by an indomitable spirit.

They are the ones who best formulate how they learned to adapt and move forward without illusions, without fear, and this over many generations. In-de-stru-cti-ble!

Finally, I am starting to feel the pleasure of being on the road. The journey is starting to impact me. I dive further into the country. It is no longer just a start to get my feet wet, I am really deep in it. At last!… Without a schedule, I have the luxury of staying or leaving, deciding to rest and do nothing… people will come to me somehow! If I try too hard, I will certainly come off a little creepy, like a Bible or vacuum cleaner salesman, and I would scare them.

GWEN, DOROTHY & FAMILY