Nery Edwin Monroy: Loving Father, Tío to Many

Kryzia, Darcy, Nery, Edwin and Emily Monroy

On January 31st, 2020, Nery Edwin Monroy, a father of four, passed away at the age of 50 years old due to a liver and kidney failure.

Nery left behind his former wife of twenty years, as well as four children. His three daughters and single son are all under 30 years old, and were each alongside Nery at bedside until his last breath.

In my years of working for the community in East Hollywood, no single family has come together like a team to support and advance the work of uplifting the neighborhood alongside me the way the Monroy family has. Ed Monroy’s voice helped me launch J.T. The L.A. Storyteller Podcast, and Kryzia and Darcy Monroy supported both Back 2 School Parties in East Hollywood in 2018 and 2019.

I know from these experiences that the family’s future remains bright, but that this time is also filled with other transitions. Ed graduated from Cal State University Northridge just last year. This Fall 2020, Kryzia will begin her classes at Cal State Los Angeles following one last semester at Los Angeles City College.

It’s thus a small token of my gratitude for the Monroy family to uplift their mourning and recovery process following this loss.

To support the Monroy family’s fundraiser for Nery Monroy’s funeral, which is nearly halfway to its goal, please do so HERE.

J.T.

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Song Unsilenced

Let loving words unsaid remain

In place of lost goodbyes withheld

For unsung verses bittersweet

In songs of memory shall obtain

A timely voice without conceit

Untuned yet echoing harmony

Lyrics unheard yet ever felt

Our song unsilenced bidding farewell

T.B.T.

A few words from the author: I’ve realized recently that the more living, learning, and loving you do, the more you have left to do. It’s a perpetual cycle, so it seems, but I kind of like it. Writing has become one of my vehicles to express and reflect upon this cycle. Come along for the journey, if you so wish, HERE.

Old Habits

How easy it is, how easy,
for the brain to trick us
into wiping pain away,
into thinking you’re here at my door,
or in the kitchen by my side, sipping
at the mug, sighing at the early hour,
calling my name, your
mouth at my ear.
How easy, how easy.

The brain contorts memory
to shadows of itself, clipping
connections to calendars
and seasons, children growing
into future mists we veil over when
we’re tricked. I hear footsteps,
jingling keys, the gentle click
of a door unlocked, water lapping
at your washbowl, gentle, curling,
steaming stream gurgling, and
you humming as you shave your neck.

How easy it is
to hear these precious sounds again,
these tiny tunes of love,
tricking death and me with
double shots of cruelty: warmth
at the reliving; then stabs
of recollection,
of seeing you lowered,
sinking,
roses sliding
to the soil.

T.R.

“Former Poet Laureate Thelma T. Reyna weaves her nationally recognized skills as poet and as storyteller to craft a stirring, heartfelt memoir in poems that captures the essence of her husband’s brave, love-filled life—and the despair she navigated and surmounted when her spouse of 50 years died suddenly in minor surgery.”

Mayor of Breed Street: A Remembrance for Demetrio Zuniga Farias

On December 2nd, 2019, a small, working class community in Boyle Heights experienced a sorrowful loss when Demetrio Zuniga Farias passed away at his home on Breed Street. He was 85 years old.

Born in 1934, Don Farias made Los Angeles his permanent home in the mid-1960s. In his long tenure in the city, Don Farias was an active member of his community who was constantly providing a lending hand. In 1987, he even earned recognition from the City of Los Angeles and Governor Jerry Brown for his commitment to the public good.

When Don Farias opened and managed his own mini-market in Boyle Heights, he showed much compassion for the community, at times helping families and single mothers in need with items such as milk, tortillas, and more at his expense.

Outside of Boyle Heights, Don Farias also traveled all over Europe, loved baseball, boxing, and Mariachi music. In fact, during the 1980s, he was actually associated with the Dodgers, working with the Spanish translation group for the prized blue franchise. Don Farias also had a network in the world of boxing and counted legends such as Julio Cesar Chavez and Don King among people he knew.

Don Farias was no ordinary man. He knew how to live life to the fullest at the same time that he counted his blessings. This led many members of the community to frequently gather at his home on Breed Street, making him constantly surrounded by people who had nothing but endearment for him. Breed Street was the heart of Don Faria’s pueblo, making him to locals the “Mayor of Breed Street.”

Although this great and honorable man is no longer with us physically, Don Farias’s legacy will always be the soul of Breed Street and a gem in our hearts.

JT – Boyle H

About the author: JT – Boyle Heights is a resident of Boyle Heights on the east side of Los Angeles and an avid supporter of grassroots movements in the community.

Virgil Village Loses Anthony ‘Lil Sleepy’ Ruiz

Anthony Ruiz, a 28 year old disabled man, was a life-long member of the Virgil Village community in the East Hollywood area of Los Angeles. On the evening of October 8th, 2019, shortly after 6:00 PM, Anthony was shot four times at the intersection of Virgil Avenue and Lockwood Street. He was rushed to the hospital, where hours later he was pronounced dead. For fellow locals in the area, Anthony was an unmistakable figure who crisscrossed the local side-walks in his wheelchair.

Also characterizing Anthony was a child-like smile that came over his face when laughing in the company of his homies. Anthony became disabled over 15 years ago during his early teen years, when another shooting permanently severed his spine. He was still at Thomas Starr King Middle School when he lost the ability to walk and would also go on to attend John Marshall High School before dropping out in the mid-2000s. He is survived by his Godfather Vic, as well as friends and family throughout the neighborhood now grieving his loss. If you would like to support memorial services for Anthony, you can do so at his GoFundMe page.

J.T.

Happy Blogaversary: Jimbo Times

JMBTMS_JRG

There are birthdays, and then there are blog-days. Today is the latter for yours truly, as JIMBO TIMES: The L.A. Storyteller completes its fifth year in publication.

On this special day, I could think of few activities more fitting than sitting down to write just a snippet about L.A. for the purpose of bolstering the workshop experience for guests at our free and open day of art, workshops, and engagement with the vecindad.

See the following note for BTS 2’s workshop facilitators, because how can a workshop facilitator deliver a great experience for their workshop participants, if they don’t pause to consider a few key details about those participants before workshop begins?

“Consider a day in the life of Doña Maria and her two children in Los Angeles. By 7:30 AM on Monday morning, Doña Maria serves breakfast for her two children, Carlos and Miguel. By 8 AM, she begins walking her kids to school. She first drops off Carlos (11 years old), the younger of the two brothers, at nearby Lockwood elementary, then Miguel (13 years old), the older of the two brothers, at King Middle School, which is nearly a mile away from home. By 9 am, Doña Maria returns home and prepares to head out to her neighbors’ apartment nearby, where she’ll look after their toddlers for four to five hours. By 2 pm, Doña Maria finishes her shift with the toddlers for the day, and prepares once again to pick up Carlos and Miguel from school. By 4 PM, she’s back home with her boys. She spends the rest of her day preparing dinner, cleaning up after the kids, and setting up for Tuesday morning. Considering Doña Maria’s schedule, at which point in the day might she and her kids be able to access your program or resources?”

These are the questions we have to ask if we’re to deliver critical experiences to our special audiences. The party begins now. Happy Blogaversary, JIMBO TIMES!

J.T.

Los Cuentos Is In, Los Angeles

It’s been nearly two months since the first-ever sale for the new Los Cuentos took place on JIMBO TIMES. This morning, I’d like to take a glance back at just what the project has led to for Los Angeles. I consider each Los Cuentos hat to be an accomplishment both for myself personally, as well as for The City they’re dedicated to. They tell me that we’re only as limited as we believe ourselves to be, while everything else is up to our imagination. Thank you for your continued support Los Angeles, there’s much more on the way!

J.T.

It’s Going to be Another Trailblazing Summer in Los Angeles

Last summer when the First Ever Back to School Party made its way to East Hollywood in Los Angeles, it was following in the steps of an earlier precedent set in the neighborhood by the First Ever Open Mic at Cahuenga during Spring 2018.

Each event was designed from scratch, essentially made up of ‘thin air’, and would go on to create reverberations in and around the neighborhood for days. Now, with a 2nd Annual Open Mic Night at Cahuenga Library officially done and documented, and with the official start of summer just over a week away, it’s my pleasure to announce a 2nd Annual Back to School Party (BTS II), once again at El Gran Burrito in Los Angeles on Saturday, August 24, 2019. BTS II will coalesce with several other projects by yours truly, including the East Hollywood Neighborhood Survey, an upcoming Summer Writing Challenge for Students in L.A., and more Los Cuentos Merch, among other goodies.

In other words, it’s an exciting time to prepare for summer heat in The City, where our marks under the sun wait once again to be remade. In celebration and anticipation of the next ‘BTS’ Party, it’s also my pleasure to publish the gallery in this blog, each picture courtesy of Samanta Helou, of This Side of Hoover. Samanta’s pictures are proof of the power that emanates so boldly when communities come together unapologetically seeking something new for themselves. My world changed magnetically in the flicker of time that was the event–just as it would in the time following it–and I know I’m not the only one for whom that’s true.

I look to create the same opportunity and more for The City alongside my team this next Summer 2019. Expect nothing less than the world!

J.T.

Los Angeles is In Fashion: Meet Mauricio Zelada

Mauricio Zelada, 31; Winter, 2018
Mauricio Zelada, 31; Winter, 2018

In today’s big-city culture, one thing I’ve often noticed is that people generally imitate each other. That is, they shop at the same places, wear the same clothes, drive the same cars, and even listen to the same music. While there isn’t anything inherently wrong with this, it’s also true that with so much imitating it can be difficult to find something more original or organic. This is precisely what makes Buy Back the Block, a design label by L.A. born and bred Mauricio Zelada so refreshing. With bold designs reminiscent of L.A.’s old street culture, Buy Back the Block both reminds city-goers such as myself about the importance of valuing the places we come from, and how no matter what day it is, we still carry a piece of those places with us, taking strength from the memories they encompass. Below, Mauricio tells us a bit of the story behind the BBTB!

Age: 31

Where in Los Angeles do you hail from? I grew up around various neighborhoods: 15th & Normandie, 20th & Hoover, 3rd & Westmoreland, and Rampart & 3rd. All those places got a place in my heart. Normandie Park in particular is a place filled with memories for me.

Tell us about your brand. Explain it to someone who’s never heard of it before. Buy Back The Block is a young men’s street wear brand. The mission of the brand is to empower young men by inspiring confidence. With the messages I choose to print on blank canvases, I want to plant seeds in the minds of these young men and help their confidence grow. Buy Back The Block is a limited edition, high quality clothing brand that is energetically infused with confidence with the hope that whoever wears it may feel powerful and confident. I believe confidence and self-esteem are must-haves for the future of our youth. When our confidence is high as a collective, then we can start to build a world where we own our blocks.

Is fashion something that’s always been a part of you, or is it something more recent in your life? Fashion has always been a part of me. I’ve always prided myself on being able to pull off fits or looks that not many could rock. As far as fashion design, I remember one of the first moments I wanted to try my hand at it was when I saw a pair of Mankind jeans giving a woman with a flat butt a big butt (laughs). I thought, “how they do that?!” From there, my desire to create clothing that looked and felt good was born.

How do you manage deadlines with Buy Back the Block? And what does a successful project for the brand mean to you? Meeting deadlines can be challenging. I do all the production (designing, drafting, pattern-making, cutting, sewing, graphic designs), marketing, branding, business plans, and I fund everything from my own pocket. Sometimes setbacks get in the way but I have limitless faith in what I’m creating so I’m never short on faith. Every now and again I also get impatient, but only because my excitement to get the product out is off the chain. A successful project to me is when everything is geometrically aligned. When the project flows, lines up beautifully, and it Photographs amazing then I know the project is complete.

What should folks look forward to next with Buy Back the Block? I’m in the final stages of production for my first capsule collection! I named it Baboso, which means dummy in Spanish. I dedicated it to all the people that I’ve angered or hurt because of my stubborn ways sometimes (laughs). Once I drop this first collection, I’ll begin the creative process for the 2nd collection.

To learn more about Buy Back the Block, follow the up and coming brand on Instagram.

J.T.

Why Visit Japan, Part I

Harajuku, Tokyo; Japan, Summer 2017
Harajuku, Tokyo; Japan, Summer 2017

One of the first questions I get when I tell people about visiting Japan is: why there? I’d like to answer this question with a short series for readers on how Japanese culture came into my life at an early age as a young person growing up in Los Angeles.

It started with Nintendo’s Gameboy. Not the Gameboy SP, nor even the Gameboy Color, but just the very first GAMEBOY released by Japan’s Nintendo company, along with a little cartridge disk inside of the Gameboy with a sticker at its center that glistened in the daylight as it read DONKEY KONG.

When the Metro 26 bus from Virgil Avenue to Downtown L.A. still existed, I couldn’t have been more than five years old as I sat next to mom in the terse round seats that used to make up the bus. In my hands I clutched the big, brawny Gameboy, and practically hugged it with my stomach to keep it from falling.

The 26 bus would bobble up and down Virgil boulevard and rattle its way through Temple street’s damaged pavement, but with my Gameboy in hand, there was rarely a single shock during the commute which could startle me. I sat immersed in an alternate universe with Donkey Kong, one of gaming’s favorite characters at the time, and together we skipped past troves of wooden containers and darts hurled our way, gliding through digital skies collecting banana peels for points en route to gaming victory.

It was the future, but back then it was just the early 1990s, although we the little ones knew, or our hands knew, that we were edging on the brink of a digital revolution which would change the world for decades to come. That is, until mom tugged at our hands on arriving to our stop because it was time to race off the bus.

J.T.