It has Been Four Years of Jimbo Times: The L.A. Storyteller

JIMBO TIMES began just a little over four years ago following an epiphanous walk from my mom’s newsstand on Santa Monica boulevard the evening of August 19, 2014. It was near mid-night when the idea took hold of me, and I can still remember crawling from the apartment bedroom into the bathroom with the same laptop I write these words on now to spill out an ode to the city I call home.

Four years later, with the Back to School Party, a one day event of art, workshops and music for youth and families in my neighborhood less than a week behind me, I can think of no better place to be with J.T: The L.A. Storyteller.

If I’m fortunate enough to get four more years of this magical glitz through the stars, the idea is to do so not alone, but alongside more of Los Cuentos. Not only Los Cuentos, the shirts by Jimbo Times, but also with Los Cuentos de nuestro pueblo, Los Angeles.

What do you say, L.A? Do we dare dream of what could still be, might be, or should be if we only put our minds to it?

J.T.

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It’s August in Los Angeles,

And we’re going to work.

On August 25, 2018 at El Gran Burrito in Los Angeles, California:

We’re putting together another first-of-its-kind event for our community, including workshops for locals, performances, an Open Mic, and a major “BACK TO SCHOOL” raffle for our students. It’s one you won’t want to miss!

J.T.

L.A. Metro’s Buses Are for Writers

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76 Bus to Union Station; Los Angeles, California

I can still remember riding Metro’s 780 bus –from Vermont and Prospect–all the way to Pasadena City College–with my notebooks in hand, as I mused about the world I viewed through the windows. Still a teenager at the time, in true L.A. fashion I’d always take the seat all the way in the back-corner, right next to the windows where I could see nearly everything and everyone in front of me.

I started college in the city of Pasadena in the Fall of 2008, or the same year that Barack Obama would be elected to the office of the President of the United States.

It was a radically different time for me, and all I could wonder about through the days on the bus was just how much of the rest of the world was changing too. Somehow, I felt right at the center of this change, or at least near the center of something monumental, and I valued that feeling. It’s the reason why I wrote.

I never felt excluded, nor unheard, so long as I had the page to hear my voice and the pen to lift my words onto that page. I also didn’t mind very much being rather alone in this, either.

It didn’t strike me very much, if at all, for example, that I’d find myself as the only person on the bus scribbling away at a notebook. I also didn’t find it odd to spend whole evenings on the third floor of Pasadena’s Shatford Library, even if it meant I’d get to the bus stop just before 10:00 PM.

It all came to me very naturally as I made my way between what were two very different cities to me at the time.

In the evenings on the bus the stillness of nights lit up by the stars and streetlights above made for dazzling visions to take into my dreams.

In the daytime on the bus, the bands of pigeons making their way through the clouds as people crisscrossed the crosswalks made it clear that we were all in it together, separated only by whims of time and space.

Construction in the city was something we’d all have to deal with on our respective commutes as well. One way or another, something was always being built.

And I always cared about these particulars of Los Angeles, seated quietly inside its buses, absorbing its landscape through the boulevards, one street after the next on the way back to or from ‘the pueblo’, long before it was the pueblo.

I’ve shared the days and nights with Los Angeles on the bus in sequences like these for nearly ten years now, and still do. But I wonder just how many people my eyes have actually seen through all of the rides I’ve taken, and just where they all might be now. I imagine most of them are still in Los Angeles like myself, as a result of the blink of an eye that time tends to be for most of us, but only the skies know.

As interestingly, while as a seventeen or eighteen year old I didn’t think that to care about L.A and the state of the world meant it’s where my mind would be dedicated going forward, it’s now clear to me that that’s exactly where I am.

I’ve seen more than just Los Angeles and Pasadena, however, in the ten years since I first boarded Metro’s 780 and 180 buses to and fro between the two.

Since 2008, I’ve also been to Seattle, to Washington D.C., to Las Vegas, Phoenix, and New York, as well to Miami and also Chicago.

Through the Golden State, I’ve been to Sacramento and San Francisco more times than I can count, and been to and lived in the wonderful city of Davis, and have been to Tahoe, Santa Cruz, Salinas, Watsonville, Oakland, Berkeley, Half-moon Bay, as well as Pleasanton, Chico, and San Jose.

San Salvador, El Salvador
City Center; San Salvador, El Salvador

Abroad, since 2008 I’ve been to Mexico three times, and seen various other cities and states on the American continent as a result; from Tijuana to Guadalajara, to Mexico City, to the city of Puebla in the state of Puebla, to Zacapoaxtla, to the City of Oaxaca, San Pedro Cajonos, the city of Ayutla, and more.

I’ve also been to El Salvador, to the heart in San Salvador, and to Soyapango, Santa Tecla, San Jose Guayabal, and more.

And I’ve been to Guatemala. To the City of Guatemala, as well as to Tikal, and the adjacent city of Flores in Peten.

In 2017, I even made it to Japan. To the marvelous city of Tokyo and its various mini-cities or Japanese pueblos in Shibuya, Ginza, Harajuku, as well as in the historic Kyoto, the wonderful city of Osaka, and even the great city of Hiroshima too.

I’ve met many wonderful people through each of these trips, and am still in contact with many of them. Together, they form what Los Angeles and the world is to me today.

If some ten years ago on that 780 bus route someone had told me that I’d get to see all of these places and more, I can only imagine how curious I’d find that to be. Now, I’m only more curious about how the next ten years with The City and the world will unfold.

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Atomic Dome; Hiroshima, Japan (2017)

One thing is certain to me, however. The seats of L.A’s Metro buses–whether on the back-corner or elsewhere–are congenial places to write one’s thoughts out, to claim one’s dreams, and to imagine all the other places we can see and be a part of. Just as well, the city of Los Angeles is quite the city to write in. Together, these are the ‘Goldilocks conditions’ that have transported me across the world and which continue to do so.

So let’s keep writing, Los Angeles. That Metro bus is but a great place for it.

J.T.

Sweet Dreams Los Angeles

 

Even with a bounteous affinity for The City, there’s still so much about it which is left for me to get to know; but at the same time, there is also more for Los Angeles to see from JIMBO TIMES. Although The L.A. Storyteller is in its fourth year now, there are certain other incarnations for ‘J.T’ which I’ve had in mind for nearly just as long.

I can assure readers and other supporters that I’m working on it. For example, how about a JIMBO TIMES ball cap for a more grassroots representation of L.A under the sun? Or for that matter, a shirt or sweater with art inspired by photography from yours truly of Los Angeles, the community? My interests in more for J.T. are not limited to just apparel, however.

Most recently, I’ve very much appreciated the NY Timess offering of articles by its staff in both Español and Chinese-Mandarin. The L.A. Times has also begun a multilingual publication process, though it’s still in the formative stages, and I know that for this little set of pages, it would be fantastic to publish in both English and Español. Sixty percent of the American continent comprises of Spanish speakers, and certainly over my last few visits to more of the pueblos throughout America, I’ve definitely got more gente I’d like to reach with the cuentos now.

In the same spirit, I’d like to know how JIMBO TIMES can go to print as a dual-language paper for circulation throughout L.A.’s neighborhoods, or for circulation among its student bodies. I am nearing on four years as a partner with The Plus Me Project, and though in the past I’ve been able to donate postcards and posters to different classrooms and their students following our ‘lectures’, I’m now interested in how I can leave them with some written material just as well.

Maybe it’s nostalgic on my part, but there is still nothing like the feel of a printed periodical or journal for a literary and visual journey through the world. Indeed, it’s what this website aspires to ‘recreate’ for readers and observers. To that end, of course I’ve got to find out how it gets out there for the people to grasp with their very own hands just as well.

I am working on all of it, and more, and while it’s a continual process, I also know that it’s such for good reason. Bear with me, Los Angeles. In the grand scheme of time, we are definitely nearly there.

J.T.

Randomness in L.A with Lucky Baba

Rooftop, Downtown Los Angeles; Winter 2017
Rooftop, Downtown Los Angeles; Winter 2017

It’s the fourth of July, yet my mind is far away from a holiday. I was out in the city earlier today when a stranger came up to me and said something I’ve heard for the umpteenth time in my life…that I “think too much”.

But a moment later, the same stranger told me that I probably “talk too much” as well. I smiled politely and told him he was right; it turns out that the man was there to tell me my fortune, that is, for just a small donation.

We were in the parking lot of a small store as I waited for mom to get back from her errand. I glanced at the stranger again, and saw a kind face in him more than anything else. Figuring that mom would be just a bit longer, I nodded to the man in affirmation of his wager. He proceeded to ask me a few questions about my life, including questions about my family, whether or not I had a partner, and what my number one wish was at the moment.

It was the last hour of the morning before the afternoon, and as the sun rose above, so did the heat. Still we were both humble in front of one another as the game between us spiraled us away from ourselves, or at least, from too much attention to one another.

The man told me that I’d live a long life, and that while I wouldn’t have much material wealth, I would have much respect in my life. He also told me that I would live a healthy life, and that I just had to let go of a few old habits to assure it.

I laughed and appreciated his words; they were refreshing to hear, and whether or not there was full truth in them didn’t matter, they’d hit just the right notes at an opportune time either way.

After another trick of the hand or so, the fortune teller assured me that he could pray for me in this fortune with the help of just another small donation. I smiled and laughed in kind, but informed him that I’d given him all I had. I was a humble man after all, I reminded him.

The man pressed on with his offer, but without even the slightest about-face, still kindly. I smiled again, this time letting him know that I was out of time to spare, too. The fortune teller finally relented, and we made for our separate ways. But just before completely losing sight of him, I asked the fortune teller for his name. He said his name was Lucky Baba.

Immediately afterwards I thought of how there are people out there who’d pay the fortune teller far more than I ever could for his kind spirit in that moment. All it was was location.

That is, he was just in the parking lot outside the store with humble people like himself rather than in the parking lot of L.A.’s more fortunate patrons, somewhere in Beverly or Hidden Hills. He was really bright, after all, with an ability to tell a story carrying the whole weight of the world in ways that many people out there already pay fortunes to hear on a daily basis.

It also seemed that the fortune teller was a family man, and that he wasn’t in his trade just for himself, but for his loved ones somewhere out there. All he needed was his own fortune from one of these encounters, to strike his own lucky payday for him and all of his dreams.

It also reminded me of that moment at the train station when a stranger can be seen missing a train somehow. Everyone rushes to their train when they can see that it’s just a few steps away given the right hurry, gushing forward to make it through the doorway, at times even slamming their fingers on the door handles to force the slightest opening. Sometimes other passengers help the would-be passengers in their desperation. Other times, they just stare. But everyone has to miss the train at some point. Everyone has to almost get there, before they don’t.

Is it like missing destiny? Are we entitled to our destinations, or do we just believe that we are? After all, maybe the toll of just almost getting there is like missing one version of our destiny for the same fate by another route, the latter of which is closer to home or more down to earth or in touch with reality.

In any case, there’s only so much time to gloss over what’s actually supposed to be. Eventually the next train arrives. If we still want our destiny after all, we’ve got to move towards that next route every day, every time, even through the missteps.

And if Lucky Baba presses on this way, not so much in a hurry but with a warm patience, then so can I, and I’ve got to do it. Here’s to a great payday for him one of these days, and to a lucky strike for all of us rushing madly towards our destinations, even after we just miss them.

With warmth from Los Angeles,

J.T.