J.T. EXCLUSIVE 02: SERGIO MORALES ON FOUNDING HIS OWN BARBERSHOP IN CYPRESS PARK

Listen to barber and entrepreneur, Sergio Morales, describe his journey from work as a security guard in downtown Los Angeles for the BID (Business Improvement District), to opening up his own barbershop in Cypress Park, Los Angeles. Sergio also describes a new certification he just got for scalp micro-pigmentation. To get in touch with him and schedule your haircut, find Sergio’s Instagram: @southpawcuts.

J.T
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A white Los Cuentos hat with Black lining and stiching for Los Cuentos

After more than one year since the first Los Cuentos Golf Hat, a special rate for Los Angeles – This Weekend only

Los Cuentos Golf Hat, 100% cotton – $20.00

Celebrating more than one year with these hats, the original White & Black version is going at $20.00 flat for the first 10 sales this 4th of July weekend, 2020. All funds support this website, as well as the production of more styles for working-class families in Los Angeles, and even more with yours truly.

Place your order via VENMO!

J.T.

Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 63

Today I’d like to encourage readers to take a break from their phones, and to take a respite from the news, in order to devote some time to their own personal well-being.

For myself, that means walking, as far as I can go, to enjoy the fresh Spring air and the violet blue jacaranda leaves all across Los Angeles.

For you, if it feels like there might not be anywhere in particular to go, you can give yourself a random task that requires you to step outside.

This Tuesday morning, for example, I took some old black & white film rolls to nearby D & J Digital Imaging, which sits just a couple of blocks away from home, and which opened its doors again just the day before.

When I got to the store, however, Mr. D & J explained to me that his shop only develops color film, not black & white, and that my best bet from there would be the Freestyle Photoshop on Sunset boulevard, a little over a mile out. I thought then that maybe I could walk the few blocks back home to get the car and then hightail it onto Sunset, but quickly decided against it. I was already outside, and all I needed to do was keep heading west. I knew exactly which intersections I needed to cross to get to the Freestyle shop.

What I didn’t know was whether Freestyle would be open, but I figured that if Mr. D & J was reopening his doors, then surely his counterparts were also getting back in the motions as well.

Moreover, even if the shop wasn’t open, I’d enjoy some time apart from my desk and away from my phone’s screen. And while I had a familiar intersection in mind to get to my destination, at the last minute I decided to take a slightly different route, crisscrossing through a street I’d definitely driven past before, but which I’d never actually walked through. What struck me then most of all were the luminescent trees hanging over the block, dividing the light from above into what seemed like fractals over the nestle of single-story homes and apartment buildings along.

Then, along one of the homes, outside, a sparrow arrived as I walked past to dip its beak into a water-bowl set up for it. The bird seemed to celebrate the whole of the environment each time it raised its wet beak, only to dip it in again for another dab of freshness. Even if I might have walked a thousand blocks just like it before then, it felt like I had never seen a street quite like it.

When I got to Freestyle, it was open after all, though with the usual new stipulations as everywhere else. The attendant also informed me that while they were still accepting film, there was also a new process: before dropping my film into the bins set up outside for them, I needed to go online to set up the appointment and fill out a form. Then I needed to print out the form and drop it off with my film for a turn-around of about seven business days. Although my old film would have to wait a little longer then, I told the attendant it’d be just fine; I’d make another task of it. It was time for lunch then. My walk could continue, and Thai food it was.

J.T.

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40 Cuentos become 25

It’s with great pleasure to announce that yours truly has achieved the first 15 sales of the new LOS CUENTOS hoodies by J.T!

I want to thank the community of friends who’ve supported me in turning this dream into a lived experience. It is going a long way!

And as I show up to these friends’ places to drop off Los Hoodies, I wonder just how much I might resemble the myriad of street vendors out in Los Angeles; the fruit-cutters, the tamaleros and tamaleras, and always, my mama with her revistas for the community, all of whom I’ve sough to honor with this blog, and all of whom I’m still just paying an ode to with this latest venture.

It’s an honor to be in their company.

Now, I’ve got 25 more of these hoodies to get out there. What do you say, L.A.? Are we looking like we’re up for the challenge?

But we’ve got more to show you!

J.T.

Super Pan Bakery of the Virgil Village Is Being Displaced from Our Community

Elvia Perez and her family have owned Super Pan Bakery in the Virgil Village community at the intersection of Virgil and Monroe avenues for over 20 years. On any day of the week, locals could stop by the bakery on a crisp morning with less than five dollars for fresh pan dulce or sweet bread, breakfast bolillos made of eggs, cream and frijoles, warm chicken tamales, and even a cup of coffee. In a community of immigrant families where the majority of family members work at or below minimum wage, items and prices like these not only represent culture, but protect it, providing a sense of place for young and ‘old’ residents alike.

In 2017, ownership of the building where Super Pan is located changed hands, and in hopes of a fresh start with the new landlord, Elvia and her family sought a written lease agreement for the bakery with the incoming owner, then Miguel Palacios. Miguel assured the family that he would sign a lease with them, but only after they made repairs to the space.

Doña Elvia then invested over four months’ worth of time into repair and renovations for the building, including the installation of a new ceiling, new floors, and new electrical routes through the space, all of which she paid for out of her own pocket. The renovations were completed March of this year, but when Elvia presented the repairs to Palacios in search of the lease agreement, Palacios refused to sign any agreement with her.

Earlier this year, Miguel Palacios sold the property to another landlord, though not without falsely stating to the incoming owner that Doña Elvia and her family had only occupied the space at Virgil and Monroe for just two years prior. When Elvia and her family met with the new owner’s representative, then, they informed him that this was false and and that they had the tax documents since 1998 to prove it.

Although the representative sympathized with the family, however, he nevertheless informed them that sixty days to leave the property was the best he could do for them.

On August 16, 2018, the new ownership of the space gave Doña Elvia and her family a 60 day Notice to Terminate Tenancy.

As of this writing, the family now has less than 23 days to leave their 20-year-old bakery behind, where Doña Elvia’s children and even grandchildren have grown up.

Although Doña Elvia and her family are disheartened by the whole affair, they are still willing to take their things and relocate as need be, though given more time.

They would like from the new owner either assistance in finding a new location for the bakery or some financial support for their oncoming losses. Ultimately, however, the family is willing to settle for simply more time than the 23 days now looming. They would like until the end of the year to be able to gather their things, which includes more than a score of bulky items, tables, and other belongings which take time to disassemble and relocate. This cannot be an impossible request from the new ownership to grant the family, but now it’s incumbent on the community to support the family in their ask.

Over the next few blogs, we will outline a few different ways that we can support Super Pan Bakery. In the meantime, to learn more about Doña Elvia and her bakery’s place in Virgil Village, supporters can do so at This Side of Hoover HERE.

J.T.

Making Magic with Words on Santa Monica Blvd

Glancing at memory lane, it’s my pleasure to share a bit about the origins of JIMBO TIMES. Pictured above, to the left and across of ‘Mr. Snazzyshirt’ is mom’s newsstand when it was located right at the intersection of Vermont Avenue and Santa Monica boulevard in East Hollywood, which is otherwise known as the LACC area.

Today it’s located farther east on Santa Monica boulevard, just right across the street from Santa Monica boulevard’s Union Swap Meet. The difference of location might not seem like a major event, but business at my mother’s stand took a significant loss following its relocation in 2009.

The newsstand at the corner as it’s shown above was simply stronger; it was right in front of the Metro’s 204 and 754 bus stops, where people heavily foot-trafficked the area; that stand was also operating at a time when more people were still purchasing newspapers and magazines, otherwise known as the era just before smartphones totally upended communications everywhere.

Moreover, the newsstand above was doing business before the onset of the Great Recession, which impacted the predominantly working class folks who were my mother’s customers, and of course, mom herself, more than it impacted many other groups of ‘Angelenos.’

Back in 2009, none of us could predict things as they’d happen, but mom knew she had a good location for her business right at the intersection where she was. She wanted to keep the stand there indefinitely, but when L.A. City inspectors got involved citing safety concerns due to the stand’s proximity to the bus stop, that was it.

Preferring to get on with work rather than fighting the city, we broke the stand down and rebuilt it down the block. It’s been there ever since, serving a smaller and different cast of characters. But smartphones have not slowed down, just as the Great Recession hasn’t yet resided, if in fact it is residing.

I don’t know how she does it, but whether rain or shine, my mom opens her newsstand essentially every day of the week, almost 365 days a year. Nestled between two trees equidistant from both Madison and Vermont avenues, la caseta serves a purpose far bigger than might be known at first glance.

All the newspapers and magazines I’d nab from the stand still live on in my memory. Publications she sold like Kaliman, Condorito, and Memin Pinguin fed my love for the written word during my teen years, and I can still see myself taking a seat alongside her to read all the latest stories now.

Today, as I set out to do something different with this blog, I know that if my mother could make words work for our family since this photo was taken, then I can do it for us in days ahead too. Indeed, I just have to.

J.T.