Making Magic with Words on Santa Monica Blvd

Glancing at memory lane, it’s my pleasure to share a bit about the origins of JIMBO TIMES. Pictured above, to the left and across of ‘Mr. Snazzyshirt’ is mom’s newsstand when it was located right at the intersection of Vermont Avenue and Santa Monica boulevard in East Hollywood, which is otherwise known as the LACC area.

Today it’s located farther east on Santa Monica boulevard, just right across the street from Santa Monica boulevard’s Union Swap Meet. The difference of location might not seem like a major event, but business at my mother’s stand took a significant loss following its relocation in 2009.

The newsstand at the corner as it’s shown above was simply stronger; it was right in front of the Metro’s 204 and 754 bus stops, where people heavily foot-trafficked the area; that stand was also operating at a time when more people were still purchasing newspapers and magazines, otherwise known as the era just before smartphones totally upended communications everywhere.

Moreover, the newsstand above was doing business before the onset of the Great Recession, which impacted the predominantly working class folks who were my mother’s customers, and of course, mom herself, more than it impacted many other groups of ‘Angelenos.’

Back in 2009, none of us could predict things as they’d happen, but mom knew she had a good location for her business right at the intersection where she was. She wanted to keep the stand there indefinitely, but when L.A. City inspectors got involved citing safety concerns due to the stand’s proximity to the bus stop, that was it.

Preferring to get on with work rather than fighting the city, we broke the stand down and rebuilt it down the block. It’s been there ever since, serving a smaller and different cast of characters. But smartphones have not slowed down, just as the Great Recession hasn’t yet resided, if in fact it is residing.

I don’t know how she does it, but whether rain or shine, my mom opens her newsstand essentially every day of the week, almost 365 days a year. Nestled between two trees equidistant from both Madison and Vermont avenues, la caseta serves a purpose far bigger than might be known at first glance.

All the newspapers and magazines I’d nab from the stand still live on in my memory. Publications she sold like Kaliman, Condorito, and Memin Pinguin fed my love for the written word during my teen years, and I can still see myself taking a seat alongside her to read all the latest stories now.

Today, as I set out to do something different with this blog, I know that if my mother could make words work for our family since this photo was taken, then I can do it for us in days ahead too. Indeed, I just have to.

J.T.

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