The book cover for Mike the Poet's Letters to My City, published in 2019

Letters To My City (2019)

Through a tremendous last couple of weeks between the Los Angeles Review of Books workshop, the new Los Cuentos Book Club, and more for your truly, I just finished Mike the Poet’s L.A.’s Letters to My City. By the turn of the final page, I both see it and hear it. Sonsken’s ‘letters’ are not just prose, but also songs from the heart to all comers. Most of all, they’re a tribute to those who’ve been here, as Sonsken shows no fear celebrating L.A.’s Black, Indigenous, Asian, Native & Latinx roots. His book can thus be though of as an invitation for all poets, writers, and anyone interested in uplifting this city and keeping its history sacred to tag along for the ride.

Sonsken’s writing also consistently understands that he’s not the guiding hand, but that his is one led by the voices of others, those around him to uncover or pay heed to the roots. Sonsken’s work therefore comes off as a round-table discussion, a gathering of minds from across L.A., but abundant especially with folks from the South and East sides, as well as with folks from less discussed “L.A.” like Long Beach, Oxnard and even Cerritos and the OC. It is a call for Los Angeles’s artists and all creators to come together with major respect to the city, to the communities, for the stories, which form the heartbeat of this sometimes totally cruel, sometimes surreal town. Los Cuentos sees this, and I look forward to passing Mike’s book along to the next generation of historians with major visions for our city.

Towards the end the book also leads to more questions. For one, I found myself reflecting on reparations awarded to Japanese-Americans in Los Angeles who faced internment. In a closing vignette on Little Tokyo’s history and a Buddhist temple in the area Mike writes:

A key component of Japanese religion and culture is the idea of ancestor veneration, essentially the idea of gratitude to your family and specifically appreciating one’s ancestors.

I thought then of the enslaved, and those whose lives were uprooted and taken by genocide and U.S. imperialism. I seriously wondered: where is the discussion in L.A. on reparations for African-American, Native, and also Mexican bodies? These are our ancestors, and there are more, in and even beyond America. I believe Sonsken would agree for a need to come together and discuss it, and that, at least in L.A., his book is certainly one way to start.


Did you hear? Our first meeting for the first ever Los Cuentos Summer Book Club was Awesome

Our first meeting for the Los Cuentos Book Club this past Wednesday was a success, with 9 attendants, predominantly muxeres, from places like East & South Los Angeles, and even San Bernardino. Our discussion for LA SIGUANABA and The Magical Loroco was over an hour long, serving as an “online venue” for community engagement with literature made just for them.

Our club now just needs a small push or ‘jale’ to cover the cost of our books, which we’ve handed free of charge to each of our participants in an effort to be inclusive, and which we’ve purchased directly from the author in order to continue shopping from & supporting local artists in Los Angeles. As always, any donation or sharing the campaign with a friend will be of great support, and we can assure you to make it go a long, long way!

Our Book Club will hold its second meeting next Wednesday, July 22nd, and did you hear? Every supporter of our club is more than welcome to attend. To donate, you can find our fundraiser HERE.


Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 46

For the 46th column, I’d like to lend attention to another blog in the city of Los Angeles, Slauson Girl: World News with a South Central State of Mind, whose voice is particularly resonant during this time.

Over 28 years since Black and Latino residents of South Central Los Angeles and elsewhere in L.A. expressed outrage over a predominantly white jury’s acquittal of four LAPD officers after the officers viciously fractured King’s skull, broke the man’s bones and teeth, and left him with permanent brain damage, it gives me chills to think that if it weren’t for nine minutes of video, the assault “would otherwise have been a violent, but soon forgotten, encounter between Los Angeles police and Rodney King.”

Today the ability to consume video and photography is all around us and seemingly infinite. But in 1992, footage of King’s powerlessness, considered by many to be “the first viral video” of the modern era, was an anomalous union of technology and the will to use technology to inform the public of a flagrant abuse of power. The video would change the world, even if only for a moment, since many of Los Angeles’s institutions, including the LAPD, would continue using racist policies against communities of color well into the days following.

But this is why today’s voices “on the front lines” are as important as they were 28 years ago. Slauson Girl, who is a native of the historic South Central Los Angeles, is pursuing justice for her community as a community-based reporter and commentator. At her website and podcast, she discusses not only lessons from Rodney King, but also the ongoing displacement of Black culture in L.A. development projects, which continue favoring wealthier wallets over the essential workers whose time and labor create that wealth, as well as on Black businesses during the time of Coronavirus, the passing of Nipsey Hussle, and more.

It is imperative for The L.A. Storyteller to uplift more voices in Los Angeles such as Slauson Girl’s, and so readers (and listeners) should stay tuned, as there will be more from this highlight soon.


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Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 40

The mayor of Los Angeles announced earlier this evening that delivery drivers, as well as taxi and other transportation workers like Uber and Lyft drivers, can now be tested for coronavirus, whether they show symptoms or not, in a sign of increased testing capabilities for L.A. county.

On the other hand, earlier in the same day, LAUSD’s Superintendent Austin Beutner announced that reopening schools come fall for the district’s communities would be a gradual process, contingent most of all on one thing: access to testing for COVID-19, not only for the district’s employees, of which there are nearly 75,000, but also for the students they serve, whose numbers, combined with those of their families or households, can reach up to 1,000,000 in Los Angeles.

What kind of access schools will have to testing for the virus is an obviously major question that the superintendent is right to pose publicly; only a few days ago, more than a month after the shutdown orders went into effect in California, L.A. County announced that its testing rates have finally reached the capacity to test up to 11,000 people a day.

But while 11,000 tests a day is a key step forward for the county, it’s also just 1.1% of Beutner’s one million. Moreover, as the superintendent noted in his update, we need to know “who” will pay for over a million tests. Obviously, the answer should be that it’s the state who will pay for it, but thus far, there have been scant details from Governor Newsom as to how schools in the Golden State will resume the school-day come the months of August and September, during which LAUSD will not be the only school district in need; charter schools in California, which are not managed by traditional school districts such as LAUSD, and which oversee nearly 630,000 students in the state, will also need access to testing for the virus this fall.

In other words, it’s all quite a bit of homework that requires time, debate, and consensus building with educators, staff and families alike; if the process is circumvented for “quick fixes,” as such things have been before, then the temporary solutions will once again prove costly over the long term, as this pandemic is making clear of decades of disinvestment in the public infrastructure.

Even so, however the story goes, I believe we’re uncovering something critical, Los Angeles. That is, that we’re witnessing first-hand what our state is capable of–and what it still falls short of–when it puts its best minds to the task of addressing all of the citizenry at a truly basic level.

I believe that many people will continue being dissatisfied with the slow process and progress of their government, and that if the protests against Governor Newsom’s stay home orders show anything, it’s that many Californians aren’t at all interested in the general health of the state, but just in their own.

But beyond that, I also believe that all of this showing will allow many of us to consider and visualize what government can still look like in future days to come because it’s important for us to do just that. I believe that whatever failures are seen today, are what those of us leading for tomorrow can turn into successes.

As always, I believe in the next day, the next cuento, and that I’m not alone in this.

I believe Los Angeles will believe with me.


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Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 25

Even if it’s too early to think about the world post corona-virus, I can’t help but reflect that this year will be the sixth anniversary of my blog. I’ve been overtaken by an idea for the special day of the anniversary: free copies of a special, bilingual “magazine edition” of JIMBO TIMES: The L.A. Storyteller for youth and families in the East Hollywood community.

As I’ve noted previously on the blog, my mother owns a newsstand in East Hollywood on Santa Monica boulevard, which this year will actually establish nineteen years in existence. That is correct. The stand is a 2001 baby, which means it’s still just showing this blogger how it’s done. While the wooden frame of the stand itself remains a humble, albeit resilient establishment, nineteen years is a legacy; one that I prize dearly for feeding my love and passion for the written word.

I want this blog to nurture the literacy and future of my community in the same way, but with an even larger, literal “print”; that is, I want kids, along with their mothers and fathers, to huddle together around Los Cuentos, or stories by JIMBO TIMES and other local writers in and around Los Angeles, so that they can experience the richness of arts and literature like we do.

The year following, there is no reason not to make a magazine edition of this blog a quarterly publication to have in circulation around the neighborhood, and in coffee shops and libraries all over Los Angeles. In the magazine, as I do with The L.A. Storyteller online, I will make a call for more up and coming writers and storytellers, both in English and en español, to submit their work for publication in subsequent editions of the magazine.

And in three years, with the momentum, funding, and correct plan intact, I see every reason for making this blog a monthly, printed newspaper for the community to benefit from, replete with a larger editing, design, and storytelling team for all. This, in my view, is the best way to honor my mother’s legacy in the community, which since the earliest days in East Hollywood has been a passion for supporting others with the written word, information, and education.

While I don’t mean to rush, or “get ahead of myself,” I sincerely see every reason to continue pursuing these dreams permeating within my mind, and even every reason to state them out loud for the whole world to know. It all comes down to one reason, though: that life is too short for any of us not to pursue our passions with every iota of will in our power.

All for and all through Los Angeles,


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Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 19

The question of how to continue educating and organizing for communities during this public health crisis is burrowed in my mind, and I am moving forward with more vision. Today, I am announcing the launch of an official website for Who Is Your Neighborhood/Quien Es Tu Vecindario in East Hollywood, Los Angeles, primarily written in Spanish, which will serve as a tool and resource guide for las familias in the neighborhood to learn about grassroots efforts to support our community during the pandemic.

The fact of the matter is that before the coronavirus swarmed over each walk of life, JIMBO TIMES was only getting started with bringing together the vecindad; two consecutive Back to School Parties and two Open Mic Nights for youth and families in East Hollywood were just the beginning. This year, before the shuttering of L.A.’s schools and libraries, there was already a 3rd Open Mic Night scheduled at local Cahuenga Public Library for this April 9th, replete with another flyer by The Think Farm. That event is of course now cancelled, and it’s a question as to whether there can be a 3rd annual Back to School Party this August 2020, but I do know this: there is no need to wait until summer to rise once again for the uplifting of our communities.

Indeed, there is already a community at work each day with or without any organization making a formal commitment to it. There are neighbors speaking with their neighbors, daughters dialing their mamas, friends texting, emailing, and face-timing each other, bloggers passing on the latest to subscribers, and more.

Even so, I know it’s not easy for many of the humble gente still carrying this wondrous city on their backs while quartered at home, whose kids rely on school meals, and whose work relies on the good will of many they’ve now lost touch with; people who don’t quite have the time to read the L.A. Times reports–even if they’re en Español–and whom also therefore still have much to learn to get through these times still better prepared for the future rather than not.

For these reasons, the new site will seek simply to build upon what their voices and manos have already taught this blogger (or is it blogero): to be honest with our intentions, graceful in our learning, and ever ambitious in our will to go the distance no matter the depth of the road.

We can do this, Los Angeles. Or is it, si se puede!


Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 07

Today it dawned on me that what’s more likely about the proximity of the coronavirus to my community is not that it’s on its way, but that it’s already here, somewhere in the vicinity, albeit undetected.

When I think about that, I realize just how much I’ve got in common with millions of other Americans who’ve little to no access to basic healthcare services. In one of the last estimates, the Wall Street Journal notes that the “average” test or screening for coronavirus can run a patient up to $1,464.00 USD. According to the statistics, more than half of American households–which is to say somewhere around 165 million people–don’t even have an emergency savings account.

While Congress passed legislation to make screenings for coronavirus free of charge earlier this month, healthcare systems all across the U.S. are notorious for still billing people who can’t afford thousands of dollars in fees relating to pre-screenings or other costs that can accrue in a last-minute visit to the hospital.

In turn, even if the stock market surged earlier today in lieu of a stimulus package making its way through Congress promising $1,200 USD to Americans impacted by COVID-19, the fact of the matter is that the check is a one-time payment that’ll barely cover rent for many when it’s due next week. After that, where is our country to go?

Four years ago when the president launched his campaign, were millions of Americans who were out of work and on the verge of eviction, for which his administration would promise only a one-time payment to, as if to bid them good luck and farewell, was that his idea of making America great again?

In the meantime, at least Governor Cuomo in New York has put in place a statewide ban or eviction moratorium for New Yorkers unable to pay rent through the next 90 days due to a lack of income. Governor Newsom, on the other hand, has yet to announce any such plans for renters here in California, of which there are more than 17 million, or nearly 43 percent of the state’s total population.

In Los Angeles, the L.A. City Council canceled meetings for the rest of March a day before a scheduled vote on expansive orders halting evictions. If not for an executive order issued by Mayor Garcetti placing a temporary ban on evictions of people affected by COVID-19, L.A. tenants would have virtually no protections during this time.

I’ve thus got a feeling that more coordinated leadership from our elected officials would be much appreciated by those who’ve financially been hit the hardest by this pandemic. Those people who comprise the community this blog continues to be dedicated to.



On this 14th episode, we answer 10 of your most pressing questions relating to Coronavirus in Los Angeles. Most importantly: if you’ve lost your job or had your work hours reduced because of COVID-19, you can file for unemployment benefits here at the EDD website, which you can learn more about at Also, there are just nine (9) Los Cuentos hoodies left to warm up through these times with. Order yours at


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The Situation is Crucial in Los Angeles

In the last ten years, inequality across the city lines has never been more abundant. The number of unhoused people on the streets has skyrocketed, while political leadership on the issue has all but abandoned these citizens to the dust of L.A’s crust and freeways.

Just around the corner of makeshift “tent cities” founded by this inequality, minimum wage in Los Angeles continues to bleed workers out of their living; these workers are parents, siblings, community college students, and a myriad of other vulnerable people just trying to survive another day. Maybe another month.

At L.A.’s schools, swaths of students continue to be underserved while their teachers and counselors continue searching past the droves of work placed on their desks for a better way. Those teachers also continue to be widely underpaid.

L.A. as home appears to have never hung more in the balance. On some days it feels like I only see more of my community falling into the same old cliches.

And yet, here comes LOS CUENTOS.

Los Cuentos is love for my community. Just like my blog, Los Cuentos is an ode to my community recognizing the people of Los Angeles for who they are:




Heroes to this lover of all things Los Angeles.

It is between their shoulders that jimbo times was founded. And now it’s on their shoulders that we stand.

Los Cuentos hoodies are thus but a handful of precious threads to warm those awesome shoulders.

Our hoodies may not save the world for our community, but they will say thank you to their sacred beings.

Thank you is a start. As good of a start as we need right now. 40 Cuentos have become 9 Cuentos left to get out to the city.

Thank you Los Angeles,


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