What Have You Been Up To? / by Kenneth Dixon

May 9th, ’17 12:45 pm

I’ve been captioning random posts less. For whatever reason, either I’m on the fly and don’t have time to muster up something witty to say, or I’m just waiting for the perfect time to show you all what’s happening. My preference is to stay low-key and keep to myself, though as you’ve seen over the past few weeks reading these, I have plenty of stuff to say. Nonetheless, I’m gradually sharing more than I usually do, even when I’m not always up for it or just uncertain of myself. For those who’ve seen my random posts of shoulder rigs with wires coming out of a camera you may or may not be able to identify, and an encased canon lens that’s bigger than my foot, I’ll give you some insight as to what I was using all of that equipment for.

I’ve been collaborating with a partner of mine in Dallas on his personal project called the Home Bless Life since late last year. The concept, in short, aims to assist the homeless people in a small part of south Downtown Dallas. So far my friend has helped one man named Alvin replace his old run-down tent that he sleeps outside in, and treated 30 homeless women to complete makeovers and a date for Valentine’s Day. Yesterday was the 4th installment of the HomeBless series where we filmed an elderly homeless man named pops getting a complimentary facial, massage and haircut at a salon. We interviewed him briefly getting some insight into his daily routine and how it is living an untraditional life. Since the episode hasn’t been edited yet, I can’t disclose too many details but the work has been fulfilling. Shooting 8 and 12 hour days can be arduous but documenting these people’s experiences has been eye-opening and humbling. I can recall not feeling these same sentiments just a year ago.

Living in NYC for two years I had encountered an incalculable number of homeless people. I gained adverse opinions of them once I had saw a man get off at the same stop as me riding the A-Train uptown towards Dyckman one evening. This guy was probably in his 60s or 70s and I’d seen him asking for money on the train plenty of times before. He'd walk up-and-down train carts shoeless, with either a white dingy tank top on depending on the season or a torn up shirt or hoody pleading for change. So the one day we got off on the same stop, 168th to be exact, I decided to follow him and see where he’d go after his day long train riding routine.

He walked up the steps to exit the platform as I followed about 15 feet or so behind him trying to remain inconspicuous. I had remembered giving him 10 bucks before, and after seeing him on numerous occasions I admittedly became interested in learning more about this guy’s story and if he was a fraud or not. After reaching the top of the stairs and exiting out the entry gate, I noticed he began searching for something behind one of the DIY metro card stations. I lurked behind watching him stick his slender arms behind the machine and pull out a bag. After grabbing the bag from behind the machine, he pulled out a pair of dirty tennis shoes and some other items, put them on, and walked out onto the street. Walking behind him for just a few moments, I began to think how often people were lying about their situation or just begging for money to come up off gracious pedestrians. From that point on, I vowed to never give a homeless person money. I would only give them food, or help them with a swipe to get on the subway. They couldn’t be trusted in my eyes, and I could never be certain of their intentions.

Working on this current project helped suppress and relinquish some of those emotions of distrust I have for homeless people. Regardless of their situation, I do believe in giving back in some type of way and helping the less fortunate. I’ve been able to shed light on a major issue in Dallas and help bring happiness to the lives of others through assisting and shooting this series. By now I've probably already said too much, but the photo up top includes Pops in a suit after his makeover, a Dallas news crew member, myself, and my partner/director Latarras. I’ve included some of the previous episodes of the HomeBless Life in this post.