EPISODE 23 – IT GIRL THOUGHTS

In our twenty-third episode, listeners meet Tricia Lopez, the author of In Time I Will (2020), a collection of poetry, as well as the host of It Girl Thoughts, a podcast by Tricia documenting her work and journey as a 21 year old graduate student in the creative writing program at Mount Saint Mary’s University. We discuss Tricia’s coming of age in the Cypress Park area, L.A.’s Downtown Magnet schools, her matriculation through Woodbury University as a first generation college student, family life, and more. A truly special session for listeners.

J.T.

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EPISODE 18 – TOM LUTZ, LA REVIEW OF BOOKS

In our eighteenth episode, we sit down with none other than Tom Lutz, the founder of the LA Review of Books, whom yours truly is currently work-shopping with to take JIMBO TIMES to the next level as a publishing platform. Our discussion includes points on the working-class roots of popular literature, “the death of the book,” whiteness in America and Donald Trump, and more. Another can’t miss session for listeners.

J.T.

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Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 66

Today I’d like to take a moment to congratulate the class of 2020.

It’s been over two months and just shy of one week since the shut-down orders in California went into effect, and as this writing series stretches into the end of the school-year, I realize that I would be remiss not to address the class of 2020 for a moment.

Students, let’s be heard:

To be a graduating senior at this time is to trade your one-way ticket for the journey of a lifetime for a one-way entry into the challenge of a lifetime.

It is to leave one of the most familiar institutions in your life for a globe that’s just teeming into newfound uncertainty.

And it is to be introduced, to a world that needs far more exposure if it is to change.

In Los Angeles, over the span of two months, we’ve learned much about the world here that we might have already known, but which, just in case we’d forgotten, has come back resoundingly for us to keep in mind:

The world has come to accept an unacceptable inequality.

The world is profoundly in need of new leadership.

The world needs new voices to lead these calls.

The fact of the matter is, in times of great crisis, much of the world is convinced that the only resolution is to “get back to normal.”

But if normal in this country is far and away a time spent waging wars, incarcerating the poor, and pricing the most vulnerable among us out of their homes, is that a “normal” that we should want to go back to?

This is what our elected officials mean by “normal.”

But if normal in this country is indebting first-generation college students, and maintaining racialized job markets upon their graduation to solidify racial hegemony, and offering all of these students and workers only the most basic benefits and health services in low-wage work, is that a “normal” that’s optimal for us to go back to?

Remember also that normal is a world in which Black, Brown, and white children in the United States still go hungry, in which people over the age of 65 have no health-care during the most important days of their lives, and in which Wal-Mart executives would rather let their full-time employees live on food stamps instead of raising their wages.

I believe the students have to scrutinize this “normality” better than anyone in the days going forward.

I also believe that America needs the students, as well as their parents, to see America for what it truly is in this way.

A world that is not fair; a world that has actually spent an immeasurable amount of time and energy in arresting the development of generations of people, in effect bolstering inequality, and a world which can only grow more unequal if we don’t take this moment, that is, this next decade, to stand for something better.

Class of 2020, I congratulate you, not only for all your hard work leading up to and in spite of this moment, but also because America will benefit greatly from your exposure to this stark reality. In the days ahead, no matter what may lie ahead, I promise you this: my voice will not be far.

J.T.

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Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 41

I want to take a moment through this series to recognize the myriad of teachers, professors, and other educators in Los Angeles whose herculean efforts to continue providing instruction to the many students relying on them are a clear show of the profound work they take part in on a daily basis during circumstances of all kind.

Only yesterday, I spoke briefly with an instructor who informed me that they “have no weekends,” as they do the work of lecturing, advising, and grading for three different classes with more than two dozen learners in each class all by themselves.

I marveled at the heroism in the professor’s voice, unbeknownst even to them as they told me of their troubles. Then I remembered a line by another professor, one of my favorites, from many years ago:

“Being a professor, is just like being in college for the rest of your life.”

Of course, it made perfect sense when she said it. And I can still remember thinking to myself, I can do that too.

So guess who’s looking at a credentialing program this morning. Our teachers need help! Let’s assure them more support is on the way.

J.T.

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Helen Bernstein High School from Sunset boulevard, East Hollywood

José Ocampo: I Wanted School to Be Over

Many students (high school seniors, I’m talking to you!) constantly share one common wish: for school to be over. As seniors, we have put up with nearly 12 years of schooling, have gone through twice as many teachers, met 5 times as many annoying-ass kids, and just wanted our final year to be a breeze. Do we still want that?

When we said, “UGH! I want to get out of here already!” we meant that we wanted the school year to go by fast, unnoticed. However, fate and life (and some may even say God) enjoy toying with us, and like making a wish at a magic genie booth at the L.A. County fair, we actually got what we wanted, just in the most undesirable way possible.

COVID-19 has every school in the major Los Angeles area closed with a very high chance that they’ll remain closed until the upcoming fall. Suddenly, all of us students have been forced into online schooling, with every teacher trying to host a Zoom session at the same time, with many teachers assigning homework every single day, and with some teachers still having no idea how to use technology. This is not the end we wanted.

Suddenly, it seemed our introverted lifestyles were becoming a law and a survival guide: don’t go outside, don’t interact with anyone, avoid direct contact, only leave to get food. Finally, our binge-eating and binge-watching routines were no longer taboo, but being encouraged by the leaders of our state. In a nutshell, it can seem ideal. Living in it, though, has been a serious challenge.

Be careful what you wish for. You don’t know the value of what you have until it’s gone. These are sayings that are kicking everyone in the ass at the moment.

The vast majority of people always complain about the insipidity of their daily routine; we’re always asking for a change. It’s only now that we start to realize how dependent we are in our customs. Think about it: you’re sitting on your couch, watching something random on Netflix for background noise, eating your 5th Cup Noodles this week, and daydreaming about how life was perfectly normal a month ago (though you were probably complaining about it then too).

Many of our lonely souls just want this to be over because we miss our friends. We miss making plans we probably weren’t going to show up for. We miss rolling our eyes at the kids in the halls who take their sweet ass time walking to class. We also miss seeing that one teacher that remembered what being a high school student was like. Some of us are even questioning if we’ll still remember our social skills once this is over. Will we remember how to say “hi” properly, or how to hug our friends?

No matter what kind of person you may be, you probably miss the times that seem like forever ago too. Every day lasts 72 hours now, and there is apparently nothing to do. We all want this to be over, and soon. But what can we do? Be awesome and listen. That’s what. Also, remember to wash your hands and practice saying “hello” at home whenever possible.

(This blog was originally published on the new LA Voice Blog by José Ocampo)

JO

José Ocampo is an 18 year old Senior high school student in Los Angeles who will be studying at the University of San Francisco as a Psychology major this upcoming Fall 2020. He loves writing about the world, and sharing his mind with as many people as he can. Please check out and subscribe to his new blog, the LA Voice, immediately during this quarantine season!

EPISODE 6 – LIVE FROM LACC RESOURCE FAIR, OCTOBER 12

In this special broadcast rich with sounds from LACC’s Resource Fair, Kevin Lopez joins us for a brief reflection on the day’s turnout, our takeaways, and what our organization may just be on the precipice of with our continued ‘stand’ as community advocates in the neighborhood.

J.T.

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Working-Class L.A. is Real and Will be Heard

I always knew I came from ‘the hood’, but I didn’t exactly view ‘the hood’ as anything more than a fact of life. Or, I didn’t view my upbringing as anything which was truly unfair, but as something which was just unique in its own regard, like anyone else’s upbringing.

I still view things this way, but I’m more interested than ever in how the different backgrounds in L.A. got to be this way. I’m interested, for example, in just how LAUSD’s 2008 class graduated only 48% of its students on time.

I’m similarly interested in how over 58,000 people ended up on L.A.’s streets and parks. I wonder during which mayoral administration homelessness took off so much, and just how shelters and civic groups have failed to catch up throughout the years.

I’m also interested in the link between L.A.’s role as the largest jail system in the country, which books over 171,000 people annually, and the 450 hoods claimed by over 45,000 gang members throughout the county.

Critics and sociologists have long recognized a ‘school to prison pipeline’, but with J.T., I’d like to create space for discussions that consider the individuals referenced by such phrases as actual people, not as statistics. I’d like to do this for the simple reason that I’ve been one of the statistics described above who’s also met a number of other people with stories that have been ignored, neglected, or flat out denied.

I can also see that just as it has been for me personally, it’s also true that while many of the youngsters at L.A.’s schools today may not exactly know how they’re being marginalized, they do understand that something is tragically unfair about their environments.

And so, as I was fortunate enough to meet people from so many different walks of life through the course of my education, so many of whom would encourage me to see a different side of the world, I want to serve as a motivating source for the next generation of individuals who will make L.A.’s schools, governing offices, and much more.

I now see this “working class L.A.” then, not as a hopeless world, but as a sleeping giant, filled with the potential to create a world in the 21st century which the people of the 21st century deserve.

After all, it was just in 2013 that LAUSD increased its graduation rates to 66%! By the same token, in 2014 voters in California passed Proposition 47, which reduced penalties for petty drug crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, lowering the potential number of people sent to California’s overcrowded prisons instead of treatment centers or clinics.

And while L.A. hasn’t yet committed itself to ending homelessness on its streets, I’ve got a feeling that we’re getting there.

One step in commitment at a time,