Introducing: A New Hat by Jimbo Times

Today it’s my great pleasure to announce a new hat by JIMBO TIMES!

There will be more details soon, but if you’d like to place an advanced order, we can MAKE IT HAPPEN.

J.T

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Why Visit Japan, Part II

Nishiarai prefecture in Tokyo, Japan; Summer 2018

Nishiarai prefecture in Tokyo, Japan; Summer 2017

The year was 1998, and I was about seven or eight years old. I remember that it was some time just after school when my brother and I had gotten back home from Lockwood Elementary.

We’d sat down in the living room for what was supposed to be another afternoon hour of Batman and Superman on what was then known as the Kids WB, but that day, we were in for a surprise: as a band of characters from Japanese anime roared with life off the screen to meet us, Batman and Superman turned into afterthoughts. It was time for Pokemon, the animated series.

Although as a kids cartoon Pokemon hailed from an inherently magical world, there was also something almost nostalgic about their design, as if we had encountered their figures at some different time before. They moved swiftly, with energy in every motion, and interacted with pure curiosity towards one another and everything else around them.

From there, everything we thought we knew about cartoon heroes would be forever altered. They no longer had to wear suits and masks to cover up their identities, or be strictly “grown up” to save the world. They also didn’t need to drive fancy cars to drift through galaxies far unlike our own. And they could make mistakes too. Lots of them. They could be kids, just like we were, stumbling from one place to the next, and so we became inducted into the Pokemon universe.

And the series was just the beginning.

Not long after Pokemon’s cartoon series, Pokemon, the game for Gameboy Color stormed into our lives. Three different versions of it. We thus upgraded from our original Gameboy and Donkey Kong to a Gameboy Color for the Blue version of Pokemon.

And the game was even better than the series because it allowed us to live with our Pocket Monsters every day of the week at any time of the day with them, or at least it did for yours truly. I remember carrying my Gameboy Color with me everywhere, even underneath the covers when it was time to go to sleep. Back then, the Gameboy didn’t have its own LCD bright light to see the game screen through the dark, but I solved that problem easily by hiding a flashlight underneath the pillow. It was that serious. I had to catch them all, even late into the night!

Finally, as if to leave no room for strays, there came Pokemon, the game cards, including holographic versions that were almost sacred just to look at. Pokemon wasn’t a series then. It was a pandemic, a takeover of American life. Pokemon invaded living rooms and lunch hours and after-school activities all across the Western hemisphere, and I relished every minute of it. To this day, at my twenty-eight years, I still love Pokemon.

J.T.

Workshop Flyers Now Ready for Our Back to School Party this August 25th


I’m very happy to announce that today our workshop flyers, courtesy of Samanta Helou‘s and The Think Farms support, and which each attendant in our workshops will receive a printed copy of upon registration, are finally ready for the big time!

NOTE: When my peers and I went to school in the area, we all qualified for lunch tickets. Tickets were a mostly yellow-orangeish background color with dark blueish interior. I like the idea of the flyer being like a “ticket” as well. One inspired by the free and open to the public essence that our lunch tickets signified.

It is happening Los Angeles,

J.T.

Workshops Now Ready for Our Back to School Party this August 25th

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Randy Ertll knows it’s going to be great!

Including:

Tenants’ Rights with the L.A. Tenants Union

Literature and Literacy with Salvadoran-American Author Randy Jurado Ertll

Book Publishing with Ponte las Pilas Press’s Viva Padilla

How to Start your own Company

Buy Back the Block on Branding & Apparel Making

Oral Histories/This Side of Hoover

Youth Summer Program Development

Women’s Self Defense with Peace Over Violence

Math Strategies

Live Art with Swayze

Y EN ESPANOL:

Derechos de Inquilinos con Los Angeles Tenants Union

Como Escribir Tu Propio Libro con escritor Salvadoreño-Americano Randy Jurado Ertll

Como Convertirse en un Publicador de Libros con Viva Padilla, de Ponte las Pilas Press

Como Empezar tu Propia Companía

Como Empezar tu Propia Línea de Ropa con Buy Back the Block

Historias Orales y Fotografía con This Side of Hoover

Como Crear Programas de Verano para Jóvenes

Defensa Personal Para Mujeres con Peace Over Violence

Estrategias Para Aprender Matemáticas

Pintura en Vivo con Swayze

Todo gratis para el pueblo! Or All free of charge and open to the pueblo! Saturday, August 25, 2018 at El Gran Burrito, 3 – 5 PM, Los Angeles, CA

J.T.

La Gentrificación del Pueblo Continuará

Hasta que el pueblo se levanta y dice ya basta.

A walk through any neighborhood is the most effective way to survey its culture. This afternoon through my own, at the intersection of Madison and Willow Brook avenue, I took a moment to photograph the complex above, which is now in the process of redevelopment. Around the abandoned buildings, power lines idle next to nestles of leaves from high trees branching out through the air. East of the complex, less than a minute of walking distance, is Lockwood Elementary school, where my old friends and I went to school, and where now even some of the children of those old friends go to school.

Today Lockwood Elementary is no longer just one school, but ‘two in one,’ as the site is now split between the traditional Los Angeles Unified School District program (LAUSD), and a charter school overseen by Citizens of the World – Silver Lake Charter (CWC), which serves ‘qualified’ students whose enrollment is based on a ‘lottery.’ The irony here is that Lockwood Elementary is actually not located in the famed Silver Lake area, but instead in what’s known officially, or according to the LA City Clerk, as ‘East Hollywood.’

In any case, when my peers and I finished fifth grade at Lockwood, our next stop was Thomas Starr King Middle School (King MS) for the sixth through eight grades. King was located East of Virgil boulevard on Fountain avenue, and at just under a mile away from Lockwood, if one made the trek to King MS on foot from say, Madison and Willow Brook Avenues, they might reason that the school was actually better situated to serve students located in the Los Feliz area.

An urban policy planner might reply to this contention that it’d be an easy fix, however, since all that the parents of the complex at Madison and Willow Brook Avenues had to do was drive their kids to King. Of course, that just meant that the parents had to be able to afford a car, which wasn’t always the case for many of the single mothers who oversaw so many of my peers and I. Even so, at just under a mile of walking distance to the school, the daily trek couldn’t be that bad of a slog, right? Some parents did it. Indeed, some had to. There wasn’t a whole lot of support for them otherwise.

When my peers and I finished at King MS, what followed for us was John Marshall High School (JMHS) for ninth through twelfth grade. At just about two miles walking distance from the old apartment complex at Madison and Willow Brook avenues, Marshall High School was significantly farther east of Virgil boulevard, and unlike King, which the aforementioned urban planner could argue was located at a ‘border’ point between ‘East Hollywood’ and Los Feliz and thus serve both areas, Marshall High School was definitely located in the Los Feliz area. As such, it was definitely designed to serve the students of parents within that area.

Even so, somehow my friends and I still made it in through the gates at Marshall, either by carpooling with one parent or another, or by taking the Metro 175 bus for those of us who could catch it early enough in the mornings. But only 48% of the class that my peers and I entered into Marshall with would walk out of the school with their diploma.

Was that graduation rate planned? With ten years of hindsight from the day of graduation, I can say that it certainly wasn’t planned against. That is, from the time my peers and I were at Lockwood, all the way through our time at Marshall, there wasn’t exactly a cultural plan from the urban policy planners around us and the rest of the leadership in the area to get my peers and I through the neighborhood successfully onto college and back.

Was it their job in the first place? One may well argue that it was not, but it’s precisely that same lack of accountability which leads me to believe that in a significant way, the neighborhood surrounding the old complex at Madison and Willow Brook avenues, like many neighborhoods all across Los Angeles, was either supposed to get with the program, or just get lost. That is, parents in our vecindad were supposed to run with the market, or get Left Behind.

Similarly, today’s redevelopment of the old complex at Madison and Willow Brook avenues is a matter of getting with the program. Except that the program of the new complex at the intersection will be one of sleek buildings, the flaunt of which will be accentuated by bold fonts, and the grounds of which will be guarded by steep fences shrouding the complex in seclusion and high visibility all at once, thereby earning its ask for the unenviable rent prices it’s destined for; rent prices that virtually none of the trabajadores now reconstructing the complex day by day, nor any of their vecinos in the pueblo surrounding the complex, will be able afford for them and their children, nor that even their children’s children might afford.

Asi es. Y asi sera, me dirian tantos compadres en los trabajos por ahi. Pero asi es hasta que nosotros decimos no mas, Los Angeles.

There is reason to nevertheless be optimistic about challenging this lack of accountability, or this lack of protection for so many working families in neighborhoods like this one. Everywhere in Los Angeles is growing a Resistance to this old order of power, which has stifled pueblos like those of my peers and I, and our movements, throughout The City for decades.

I’ve got a feeling, then, that even at the intersection of Madison and Willow Brook avenues, even if asi es, y asi sera, a resistance to pricing out the pueblo and its children will grow there too. It may not do so overnight, nor even over the course of tomorrow. But it will rise and make its voice known, one day at a time.

Indeed, it has to, Los Angeles.

Asi es. Y asi sera.

J.T.

Merging Lanes

I hope this greeting finds readers well. In the grandest journey that is the discovery of ourselves, I’ve found that sometimes there’s no greater validation than in someone else’s eyes, when the fragments of each perspective make up for a greater whole; views that reflect our own but which are also different enough to be apart allow us to reach farther into the universe and see into life’s endlessness. There, we discover not just reflections, but whole troves of new dimensions for us to plant seeds in.

Through the course of reading and researching for POC Today, I’ve been fortunate enough to find this validation again and again. On this day, the reading is on infrastructure and policy, and the story is from Eric Avila, in his Folklore of the Freeway (2014):

“In the context of urban history, infrastructure can make or break a community. In the United States, the historical development of urban infrastructure has both formed and followed the inscriptions of race, class, and gender on the urban landscape. Ample in more affluent communities, usually absent or minimal in historic concentrations of urban poverty, infrastructure does not serve its public equally. Some cities have a more equitable distribution of infrastructure than others, but many urban neighborhoods remain woefully underserved.”

For P.O.C.Today and with more soon,

J.T.

Voting in Los Angeles: Municipal and Special Elections 2017

Less than 18% of registered voters in L.A. County cast ballots for the Municipal and Special Elections of Tuesday, March 07, 2017. But in the election postmortem, when L.A. County’s Voting Registrar and KPCC discuss the paltry turnout of voting in The City, the key point is how they talk about it: they neglect to mention the demographics of Los Angeles. Yet the turnout or lack thereof for voting has much to do with ‘identity politics.’

If we’re going to talk seriously about the turnout, that is, to make an impact on it going forward, discussing “the voters” in purely abstract terms is not helpful. We have information at our fingertips, and it’s meant to be used; below, for example, is a telling info-graphic on voters identified before the election on March 7th, 2017, either by registration or vote by mail submissions.

As a note, these graphs are incomplete. They do not account for people who identify as mixed, Native American, or Pacific Islander as the 2013 Census does. However, the graphics nonetheless offer valuable assessments for a comprehensive look at the patterns we’re dealing with when it comes to voting in Los Angeles.

Returns

Based on the data, we can see that elections start early through the registration of voters. In terms of eligible voters, whites outnumber their non-white counterparts by considerable margins at 47%, or nearly half of all registrations. However, the combined population of non-white registered voters is slightly larger at 52%.

Assuming that each of these voters hold a place on the vote-by-mail list –as is standard procedure– the potential for at least a reasonable turnout of the vote either by mail or on election day is there.

When it comes to ballots returned from those registered voters, the number of returned ballots from 18 – 24 year olds is exceptionally low at 3.4%, while the number of returned ballots from 25 – 34, 35 – 44, and 45 – 54 year olds is spread more or less similarly across the board at 10%, 10.4%, and 12.9%, respectively.

The highest number of returned ballots from registered voters, however, comes from 55 – 64 year olds and those 65 years and over, who make for 19.3% and 44% of returned ballots, respectively.

When it comes to the racial makeup of ballots returned after election day, according to the data, white voters make up for more than half of all returned ballots at 64.7%; the non-white population on the other hand, makes up for 35.7% of returns.

There is a considerable dropoff, then. Although non-white registered voters make for a combined total of 52% of votes eligible to be cast, post-election day only 37% of ballots turned in belonged to non-white voters.

Is there a way to be more specific, however, or to see more about L.A. voters besides their age and racial category? Sure. The three categories for the large numbers below as set up by the samplers are ‘registered’, ‘has ballot’, and ‘returned’, respectively. This data more or less corroborates the aforementioned, but also tells us about voters’ living situations.

Screenshot 2017-03-13 at 3.25.25 PM - Edited.png

From here, since we already know that Senior white voters make up for more than half of all returned ballots of the share, we can also see from this second graphic that these folks are overwhelmingly a group of homeowners, outnumbering apartment renters by essentially 58%.

Finally, we can also see that a sizable portion of vote-by-mailers registered or re-registered for November’s general election, and that hardly any new voters entered the game in 2017.

Based on the information presented by these graphics, then, what’s clear about politics in Los Angeles is that while most of its constituents, or the 52% of eligible voters are stuck in traffic somewhere, a swath of mostly Senior white homeowners are electing the city’s officials and policy-making decisions.

What a fascinating dynamic. At a time when the 2011 Texas legislative session has just been indicted for drawing district lines discriminating against Black and Latino voters in favor of Republican Anglos, we might say that L.A. is a 2011 Texan Republican’s perfect empty vessel, a dreamland of political opportunity for white identity politics.

Isn’t that something?! But of course there’s more the story; again soon.

For POC Today,

J.T.