" These are things that I saw and heard. They mainly reflect what the people I encountered made me feel, or have conveyed to me. This is merely a diary derived from my thoughts and my candid perceptions, and does in no way shape or form claim to represent the real identities or life courses of the people who had the great kindness to let me peak into their lives. "
TORONTO TO DETROIT It inevitably starts in an airport. This time, it’s the Toronto one, where I live. The plane is late. Two hours to kill, filled with good resolutions.
ARRIVAL IN DETROIT Detroit is a little bit like Fargo. It’s not really what you would expect. There is more to it than meets the eye…
STILL IN DETROIT It’s fascinating how you pass from one extreme to the other within two blocks. Going from a city so desolate and abandoned that it seems to have been bombed...
LAST DAY IN DETROIT I have only been here for a few days and already the romance – perhaps naively European – that I associate with these Rock ‘n’ Roll and R&B cities, this route to the South, has already taken a toll.
TO CINCINNATI I chose not to take the highway, as I exit Detroit. This is good. While playing around with the GPS, I discover the “take side roads” option. But the scenery is far from being a bucolic countryside.
DAYTON OHIO 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.
BACK TO CINCINNATI I am afraid that – after Detroit – any other city is going to seem fresh and dainty in comparison. Cincinnati seems to be in a healthy and dynamic state, even with its “junkie neighborhood”!
LEXINGTON Doubt settles in. I realize that the pace that I have imposed on myself given the territory I am about to cover makes the whole journey rather performance-like, and goes against the spontaneous kinds of meetings I was hoping for. It’s the reality check of the humble French who doesn’t really get the sense of scale of distances in America.
MALAISE IN LEXINGTON Robbie introduces me to her friend David whom she defines as an “electropunk“.
NASHVILLE Just like in the TV series ” Weeds” and “Breaking Bad” contemporary to this trip, the America that I am crossing seems to be one riddled with cracks and that is rotting, behind its appearances.
AN AFTERNOON WITH MAX The next morning, while still nursing a heavy hangover following rounds of Moonshine at Gip’s, I nevertheless painfully head over to Max’s place. He invited me to brunch. I once again discover another facet of the city.
TOWARDS MOBILE I’m on the road to New Orleans. It’s hot and humid. I come cross unsympathetic cities. Poverty clearly has no racial boundaries. Religious and political billboards, as well as trailer parks, are multiplying.
NEW ORLEANS First, I’m off to Bullet’s. I got the insight from an academic specializing in jazz. I head directly to Bullet’s, after dropping my bags off at Maurice’s, an adorable French expat settled here since the 60s...
LAFAYETTE The next day, I drive to Lafayette. Along the way, and through the consulate of France in New Orleans, I meet a young French teacher of African descent who’s been catapulted into high school in a small Cajun town. Her story is inspiring.
LAYOVER IN HOUSTON From Lafayette, I drive to Houston where I reconnect with friends. The road seems long, too straight, under a metallic blue and cloudless sky.
TO SHREVEPORT With the stop in Houston, I went a little out of the way. I will not be going further south. It’s time to start making my journey back up along the Mississippi.
IN A TRAILER PARK IN SHREVEPORT It’s so damn hot. Most of the buildings and stores don’t have any windows or shops to protect themselves against the heat; the closed curtained and almost non-existent windows make me it difficult to really identify places.
LITTLE ROCK & CLARKSDALE Epic failure at the trailer park, the few people that had volunteered cancelled at the last moment. The “systematic” method clearly doesn’t work. Must not force things. I am glad to leave this place.
OFF TO MEMPHIS I let myself wander. By fidelity to the little boy fed with Westerns who always sleeps in me, how could I not to take a second to imagine the Indian warrior and cowboy crossing these great outdoors?
SAINT LOUIS Seen on the road: “Ron Myers, elected rodeo clown for the fourth year”. This is proclaimed on an imposing caravan. Each person is seeking their niche, trying to make their small business flourish.