EPISODE 24 – LISBETH COIMAN

In our twenty-fourth episode, listeners meet Lisbeth Coiman, an Afro-Venezuelan poet and author of I Asked the Blue Heron: A Memoir (2017), which yours truly reviewed for the new page on PATREON. Coiman shares with listeners about growing up in Venezuela during the “Latin-American boom,” her thoughts on Hugo Chavez, leaving Venezuela for Canada, and taking yet another sojourn through the United States, where she eventually makes her way to Los Angeles. Our discussion also touches on Coiman’s mental health battles in her later adult life, as well as the loss of her best friend and mentor. A truly special session for listeners, especially those interested in the Latin-American diaspora.

J.T.

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Who is your Neighborhood, the team behind two back to school parties in East Hollywood, is Now Official

It’s true! Quien Es tu Vecindario–also known as Who Is Your Neighborhood–or the team behind two Back 2 School parties in the LACC area for two consecutive years, is now an official “non-profit” corporation for arts and education in East Hollywood registered with the state of California, entity number C4612184.

The organization is the first non-profit in East Hollywood founded and led by members born and raised in the community of immigrant single mothers and families. Following completion of our first fund-raiser, the team will begin work on our first grant application for opportunity programming with the L.A. County Department of Art & Culture. Goals for programming this Fall include an online book club for the neighborhood, homework help for teens, and forums for families in our community during these trying times.

Keep up with Quien Es tu Vecindario online, and please don’t hesitate to reach out with any lines of support. To be sure, as with our “unofficial” events before any non-profit lingo, we do not need a lot of money. We just need a lot of ganas!

J.T.

EPISODE 22 – MIKE SONSKEN, LETTERS TO MY CITY

In our twenty-second episode, we hop on the Zoom call with Mike Sonsken, a one of a kind ‘poet-journalist’ in Los Angeles. We discuss Sonsken’s studying under Mike Davis at UCLA, his first time meeting the former poet laureate Luis J. Rodriguez, lessons from Watts’ very own Wanda Coleman, KCET, and much more. A very special session for all of Los Angeles and lovers of storytelling.

J.T.

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Sam Yorty at City Hall

On this Day: Watts Spiraled Into Flames at the hands of the LAPD as Mayor Yorty Blamed “Communists” for Sowing Black Resentment

55 years ago, a summer celebrated for its record-setting economy led to prosperity for whites at the same time that it missed Black youth in Watts and South Los Angeles when then Mayor Yorty went rogue. In violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s “maximum feasible participation” clause, which sought to give local elected working-class community members an active role in community development programs, Mayor Yorty refused to create an official set of anti-poverty programs in areas such as Watts, South Central, or the Chicano Eastside of Los Angeles. At the same time, LAPD officers in 1965 virtually resembled the white Southern segregationists, and in fact many came from the South, as with the 77th street division of the LAPD. Officers in the “de facto” segregated South side of Los Angeles regularly roughhoused Black folks there into jail, fines, and even worse indignation.

In Set the Night on Fire, Mike Davis and Jon Wiener provide one anecdote of the latter, reporting the story of Beverly Tate, a 22 year old Black woman & mother who at some point during the morning of July 1st, 1965 was stopped in her car by police, ordered out of the passenger’s seat, taken to a discreet location, and subsequently raped by LAPD officer W.D. McCloud as another LAPD officer stood watch. Tate’s story was given a brief mention as a “rumor” on the Los Angeles Times on July 31st of that year, and was also reported in Jet magazine on August 12th, 1965.

While McCloud was fired from the LAPD the next day, he was never charged for a crime. Yet the Black community in Los Angeles at the time was well aware of the account as an example of the LAPD’s blatant disregard for Black life throughout the city. In October of 1965, Tate, who was five months pregnant, died mysteriously of “unknown causes,” to be survived by her two children.

Together, each of these factors and more converged when a group of 77th street officers decided to jail an entire Black family following an unnecessary traffic stop outside their home near the Watts area. When a crowd gathered in shock at the LAPD’s manhandling of the family members, the officers responded aggressively in an effort to intimidate the crowd back. But after a few women jeered at the police officers, the officers grabbed several of the women from the crowd in an attempt to drag them into their patrol cars on “battery” charges. That’s when the bystanders erupted, throwing soda cans at the LAPD and chasing them out of the vicinity.

What followed over the next six days was a bloodbath that treated Black Los Angeles like the Viet Cong guerilla force in South Vietnam. Along with M14-toting National Guard troops, the LAPD, armed with shotguns, shot to kill and jail Black citizens in Watts and along South Central in an effort to subdue the community’s outrage at the inequities of joblessness and over-policed Black bodies. In less than a week, LAPD and National Guard troops would kill 26 civilians, and injure and arrest thousands more, overwhelmingly Black bodies, but also Latino. All 26 civilian deaths would be deemed by the LAPD and subsequent commissions as justifiable homicides, while Mayor Yorty backed these findings, to the satisfaction of then police chief Parker.

For its part, the L.A. Times during this period would center and reinforce the narrative of white victimization in predominantly Black Watts, publishing headlines such as”‘Get Whitey,’ Scream Blood-Hungry Mobs’” and “Negro Unrest Laid to Negro Family Failure.” Such coverage, along with media reels of disorder in the community, only stoked further white resentment of Blacks all across Los Angeles. More than a few groups of white caravans from places such as the valley and other white strongholds would arrive to attack Blacks in Watts, to be turned away by the LAPD, but not arrested.

Fifty five years later, Watts is now 80% Latino, and less than 20% Black, but it remains one of the most impoverished areas in all of Los Angeles. More than a quarter of the population in the Watts area lives underneath the federal poverty line, while the vast majority of the conditions that fueled Black outrage in 1965 at inequities in their community, including joblessness and scant access to a college education, adequate health-care and home ownership, remain intransigently locked in. Or, as the Reverend Marcus Murchinson tells it:

“Multiple generations of the same families continue to live in public housing projects and only a small percentage get off government assistance and achieve the dream of owning a home.”


It has been said that change is the only constant. Yet in places like Watts, those are but words in contrast to a stark reality on the ground. To turn such conditions into conditions that support the quality of life in this part of Los Angeles will thus take more than activism, but a rain of support like the reign of fire that engulfed this community into generations of second-class citizenship fifty-five summers ago. Yorty, for his part, has been dead for more than two decades now, but the federal moneys he and his political allies held away from support of Black employment, education, and home ownership remain missing in action.

J.T.

The official flyer for the first ever Los Cuentos Summer Book Club

Our Fourth and Final Meeting For The New Los Cuentos Summer Book Club with J.T. Takes Place this Wednesday, August 5th

Save the date and time, Los Angeles: This Wednesday, August 5th from 6:00 – 7:30 PM via Zoom.

The fourth and final Wednesday for the new Los Cuentos Summer Book Club is upon us! Our last meeting will see our community conclude discussions of LA SIGUANABA‘s incredible journey through Ertll’s novel, and will also feature Ertll himself to give our book club members a chance to chat with the author. To make our final meeting all the more special, any and all Los Cuentos supporters are welcome to attend. Our meeting will also feature a raffle, giving away four free copies of LA SIGUANABA AND THE MAGICAL LOROCO to four lucky attendees. Find the login info for our meeting posted on the @jimbotimes Instagram page this Wednesday morning at 11:00 AM, and follow J.T. on Twitter for live updates.

J.T.

EPISODE 19 – PONTE LAS PILAS PRESS

In our nineteenth episode, we hop on a call with Viva Padilla, the founder and editor-in-chief of Ponte Las Pilas Press, a publishing house from South Central Los Angeles. We talk about Viva’s funding and design process making literary journals, challenges and opportunities after five years of doing the work, motherhood, the future of the literati & open mic scene in L.A., and more. A truly fun session for listeners.

J.T.

To subscribe to jimbotimes.com, add yourself to the list HERE.

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.

J.T.

The official flyer for the first ever Los Cuentos Summer Book Club

Our Third Meeting For The New Los Cuentos Summer Book Club with J.T. Takes Place Tonight

For the third week in a row our team reconnects to discuss our latest reflections on LA SIGUANABA and The Magical Loroco. Discussion items will include the way literature acts as a form of escapism, how popular culture might influence policy decisions, and the transactional nature of politics as seen in Ertll’s SIGUANABA. Follow JIMBO TIMES on Twitter for live updates from our chat.

J.T.

The official flyer for the first ever Los Cuentos Summer Book Club

Today Marks the Second Meeting for Our Los Cuentos Summer Book Club with J.T.

It’s true. Our second meeting for LA SIGUANABA and The Magical Loroco is taking place this evening at 6 PM. Our club will discuss the book’s consideration of Latinx-American history in the diaspora from places like Central America, issues of masculinity in Latinx-American culture, and the sometimes fraught, resentful relationships that transpire between families through these and more circumstances. It promises to be another meaningful evening over Zoom. Follow JIMBO TIMES on Twitter for live updates for the community’s reference.

J.T.

The official flyer for the first ever Los Cuentos Summer Book Club

You are invited to the first ever Los Cuentos Summer Book Club with J.T.

It’s true. For the third summer in a row we continue bringing Los Familias and Las Letras together in Los Angeles with the official first ever Los Cuentos Summer Book Club. Those interested in participating can email me through our site’s CONTACT form, or message me on Instagram: @jimbotimes. Application window closes Monday night. Admission is FREE for Las Mamas and Los Students but donations of $30 or more are encouraged to help pay for book copies in support of the author, a local Salvadoran American in Los Angeles. Meetings will take place for at least the next four weeks starting this Wednesday, and will be published here on JIMBO TIMES for the community’s reference.

J.T.