The Rite of Passage in L.A.

Sometimes poverty and addiction is all you see,

Is this the world I left behind to you,

Or is this what was left behind to me?

What I know is I hurt with you when you weep,

Broken promises that left you, scars we both keep.

Keep ya head up, they told me

Now it’s your turn.

Destiny?

You see you yourself are not a broken promise, though,

Homie.

You just have to make your way through,

to know

What’s truly free.

You’ll be free.

J.T.

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Anxious in Highland Park

Greetings Los Angeles,

Today I greet the people from Highland Park on the North-east side. It’s a positively gorgeous day, with glistening marine layers overseeing The City and teasing the possibility of a little more rainfall before Spring kicks in next week. It probably won’t rain, but it’s nice to see the remainder of a California winter grappling with the sunlight for control of the sky.

And what a magnificent thing it is, to think the Spring is just over the horizon. Through so much work and wandering about over the last couple of months, at some point I seem to have forgotten about the seasons and the way everything has its time.

Like anyone else, I’ve created a routine out of my time, and the routine has become so ingrained in my mind that it’s seemed like something of a permanent state, when in actuality it’s only the latest chapter in the midst of so many more which follow.

This might seem logical enough, but it’s actually been a challenge for me to place into perspective. I’ve been struggling with a sense of direction lately, feeling out of place at work, and questioning just where and how I want to focus my time and energy as more time passes. The experience has been daunting, and in certain moments, it’s been frightening.

At times, the fear has made it difficult to appreciate the beautiful things in my life, including the simplest things like a conversation with friends and family, or the sound of a bird’s chirping in the morning. It’s also created anxiety, which in its darkest seems to turn the future into an unbearable weight on the mind that isn’t just difficult to carry, but more difficult to let go of.

Fortunately, even through the depth of these emotions, I’ve been able to recognize that probably the best thing to do when I feel overwhelmed is to reach out to others. Each time, this has proved to be just right.

Though they might not fully know it, the people in my life are the heroes and saviors of my life, as even in the moments when I can’t fully be with them, they can be with me just enough for my senses to rise past fear and anxiety and join them in the world. This is the greatest gift of them all; as it happens when the sunlight overtakes the cloudy haze over the sky, the realization that I’m still here for people to hear from, and that the rest of the world is still there waiting for me to be a part of it is more precious than any of the things I can worry about.

And I can find this precious nature about the world in the whirl of a car passing by, or in the relief of an exhalation from my lungs. I can find it in the sight of strangers smiling at one another, or in the memory of my own moments smiling before my friends. I can also find it in the comfort of earbuds enclosing my eardrums, or in the sound of people chattering about in conversation as they resemble the birds chirping in the morning. Watching them, I know I’m just like a bird too, and that I’m just saving my song for another time to be inspired by theirs for a moment.

Everywhere there is this moment. Everywhere there is a friend, or a place, or some other resource to find hope and refuge in. Everywhere there is life rising from the depths of the universe in full force, and everywhere there is something just waiting to have such energy returned.

And so, as I look up and prepare to lift off, whether in rain or in shine the sky continues to support my dreams.

I can only be hopeful of how everything ahead will show this to us, but in the meantime, I thank again everyone who’s supported this ode to the people of Los Angeles.

With more soon,

J.T.

Bernie Sanders

I know politics are ugly, but there’s no way I can actually avoid talking about politics. In 2016, J.T. will have to, and in fact, I guess it starts here.

Bernie Sanders’s camp is said to have rallied a mass of supporters at the L.A. coliseum earlier tonight, which is great to hear in a city that elected its current mayor with only 12% of its registered voters.

Yet if Bernie Sanders were serious about change, he and his camp would recognize that their campaign will ultimately win and change nothing, and they’d thank the women of Black Lives Matter for honoring his podium with their movement, and join forces with them in lending attention to the failure of both democratic and republican parties to serve in the interests of The People’s History of the United States each time they’ve had the chance to honor (Black) Liberation Theory.

From Lincoln, to FDR, to Obama, ‘progressive leaders’ have never actually cared to institute meaningful policy for the success of ‘the minority’, perhaps figuring it just doesn’t make much political or mathematical sense since their constituents are self-interested and reductive of any policy seeking to build the whole country rather than a select group of it.

Opponents of those BLM members interrupting Bernie cite his ‘civil rights’ record as reason to let him speak, but let’s have the conversation with some integrity: a lot of ‘civil rights’ records look good on paper, but they mean nothing on the ground to the black and brown youth who still occupy openly segregated neighborhoods, classrooms, prison cells, and even segregated graveyards because of the legacy of poverty their parents and grandparents come from.

Until Bernie and his supporters acknowledge this, his campaign is vaguely reminiscent of ‘hope’, ‘change’, and other empty campaign slogans that I recall hearing this one other time I got excited about a presidential candidate.

Ultimately though, regardless of whether Sanders or his supporters acknowledge this, the truth is that the power dynamic in this country will simply never honor the people en masse.

Whether the advertisements don blue or red stripes, only one thing’s for sure: what the power dynamic will do is make great commercials about change, and design and execute great campaign rallies about change.

They will deliver this special effect through awesome stereo and television systems, and as the audience, we will (reluctantly) buy into these ads or illusions. Why? Because it’ll be simpler and maybe even more natural for us to do than to actually work towards change as a society. We’ll also buy the ads because it will just feel good, and because nothing will be able to beat a good feeling.

That is, until another ad comes along, compelling us toward another good feeling. By the time we’re disappointed with that false advertisement (Clinton/Bush/Whatever), it won’t matter, since we’ll have another movie –err– campaign rally to attend. This is the U.S.A after all, and if there’s one thing we do best in this country, it’s buying into illusions of power and grandeur.

I’m even doing it now, as I write this. In publishing this, a part of me believes it will change something, and that it’s going to rally people for some real transformation of the world. A bit farther in, some other part of me even thinks of this ‘piece’ as my own bid for the presidency. In fact –the hell with it– I’m just going to go for it:

This message was brought to you by JIMBO TIMES: The L.A. Storyteller. Vote for JIMBO TIMES, because it will just feel good, and because unlike the other candidates, J.T. promises to do nothing more than make you feel it.

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to you(s),

What is the road without a song to it? As I write, I’m on the Greyhound bus leaving Fort Worth for El Paso, Texas. In my earbuds, Max Richter’s The Trees fills the silence with a fiery collision between a piano and violin. In my mind, the instruments conjure images of light-bulbs floating through a night sky, each chasing the other in some aerial dance of perfection. Maybe it’s fitting. The night is on the horizon again.

Tonight I won’t have my laptop or phone at my disposal like the others. The socket in front of me is no good, so I’ll be hanging out old-school through the road. But I’m ready. This evening I feel stronger than I have during any other night. I’ve now observed myself through my time on the bus, and jotted down the little things about how I like to get by, and it’s simple:

A full stomach, a fresh body, and a little bit of a snack or two to fill the mind with some activity does the trick. Whether I snack on some reading or a bag of chips makes only a slight difference: I can devour both just fine. But now, with my trip in the homestretch, I don’t even need much of either. I’m going home, and home is pulling the strings now; no matter what happens, I’ll see my people at the end of it all.

And with this in mind, I dedicate the last bag of cookies in my backpack to all those who have supported me throughout this latest voyage of mine. We made it! And in doing so, we’ve extended the life of our community, which is a community made up of all ages, colors, and backgrounds, and which is spread throughout the West, South, and East coasts of our country. Tonight, we are all stronger together on this bus. And tonight, we are all going home.