Virgil Village Loses Anthony ‘Lil Sleepy’ Ruiz

Anthony Ruiz, a 28 year old disabled man, was a life-long member of the Virgil Village community in the East Hollywood area of Los Angeles. On the evening of October 8th, 2019, shortly after 6:00 PM, Anthony was shot four times at the intersection of Virgil Avenue and Lockwood Street. He was rushed to the hospital, where hours later he was pronounced dead. For fellow locals in the area, Anthony was an unmistakable figure who crisscrossed the local side-walks in his wheelchair.

Also characterizing Anthony was a child-like smile that came over his face when laughing in the company of his homies. Anthony became disabled over 15 years ago during his early teen years, when another shooting permanently severed his spine. He was still at Thomas Starr King Middle School when he lost the ability to walk and would also go on to attend John Marshall High School before dropping out in the mid-2000s. He is survived by his Godfather Vic, as well as friends and family throughout the neighborhood now grieving his loss. If you would like to support memorial services for Anthony, you can do so at his GoFundMe page.

J.T.

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Virgil Avenue and Normal Street; Los Angeles, Winter 2015

Back to this Neighborhood

Even though sometimes it’s one of the toughest things to walk past the gates and out to a neighborhood whose streets I’ve fallen on so many times.

As I put on my sneakers and open the door, I can’t help but stop and ask myself about the arrangement of everything at home: that is, if I’m okay with leaving everything as it is, if for whatever reason I don’t get to make it back in time.

When I think about it for longer than a moment, I can’t help but want to hold onto my home and forget about the world outside, resolving to stay in because the greater experience will surely be found somewhere inside anyway.

But then I think to myself that I can’t see things this way when everything and everyone is out there, when my mother and brother and all of my friends and loved ones are out there.

It’s just that sometimes being at home is so familiar. Sometimes being at home alone is even more familiar than being in the company of friends or family.

Maybe it’s just the vastness of the self after all, broken up into a million scattered seconds, at one moment telling me to get out there and fall to keep going all over again, and at another moment telling me to stick to what I know, because things are just safer that way.

Somewhere through it all, the former gets a step ahead of the latter, and before I know what’s happening:

I find myself outside, walking through the village again.

As I look out towards the familiar streets, I remark at how long it’s been, even if it was only just the other day. The thing is, every time I see the streets again, they’re filled with new life; with new people, new possibilities, new dreams.

Unable to control the emotions this uproots in me, I can’t help but dream with the avenues and boulevards: of capturing all their life and loss and gorgeousness and making them shine bright enough to give them a place among the stars in a city which can always use more of them.

I see, then, how I have to keep walking through the neighborhood. Because it is the village, where every time I fall again, I can get up knowing its streets and I are there for each other, that we were made for each other, and that we rise and fall only to complete one another. Somehow, I believe this.

Last Call in ‘East Hollywood’

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It’s time to get the final batch of conchas, a can of la lechera to make some arroz con leche, and for our ole vecinos, the final refrescos. And oh, we forgot the keys at the stand. Let’s go and get them while we can.

Good Night L.A.; Hasta Mañana.