Los Angeles Does Have Writers

It was a literary smorgasbord attending Lit Fest in Pasadena, California this past weekend. Above, pictures of a panel discussion between Olga García, Daniel A. Olivas, Michael Sedano, Melinda Palacio, and René Colato Lainez, all of La Bloga, or what Michael Sedano refers to as “the world’s longest-established Chicana Chicano Latina Latino literary blog.”

Sedano kicked things off with a discussion of La Bloga’s origins, telling of how the blog first came onto the scene in the early 2000s when the web was still a nebulous space for just a handful of “bloggers,” or literary enthusiasts with webpages.

Imagine that.

What followed were engaging reflections by each author about the extent of their writings on La Bloga, and how their work on the website has also branched out into several books, publishing titles, workshops, and more throughout Los Angeles, California, and around the world.

The writers also told of travails with the written word, the continual learning or ‘updating’ process of marketing their work, and even about how Facebook has actually banned La Bloga citing its security systems, which the whole world knows are obviously impenetrable.

In other words, the discussion was a home-run for the city of Pasadena, and by extension, for Los Angeles. The event was also certainly this Chicano literary geek’s homecoming wish come true, and after gaining the panel’s permission to snap a few photos of their lively conversation, I shivered just so slightly as I told them about JIMBO TIMES: a website dedicated to Los Angeles, the pueblo, by yours truly, where the photos would be featured.

The panelists nodded and smiled with their approval, and right then and there a part of me knew that Los Angeles had again just grown by leaps and bounds before the stars.


Get Literary, Los Angeles

Following another lightning round of work for the day, it should have just been another chill bike ride home. But a force came over me as I decided it was time to give something else a try, at last. Just as I was about to make the swerve onto the ole block, I decided to keep going in a stroll through la vecindad. I’d gotten an idea. As I came across intersections through the neighborhood with an outpost or magazine box for the free literature, I stopped, took off my backpack, searched through the folder inside which contained a couple of prints, and then grabbed the prints, taking them out and dropping them off into the boxes. I did this at nine intersections throughout the neighborhood, and the results were printed copies of JIMBO TIMES’s Los Angeles Students at all of the following cross-streets:

Virgil and Normal (1 Post: 2 copies)
Virgil and Monroe (1 Post: 2 copies)
Virgil and Clinton (1 Post: 2 copies)
Vermont and Clinton (1 Post: 2 copies)

Melrose and Vermont (3 Posts: 6 copies)
Vermont and Normal (2 Posts: 6 copies)
Vermont and Santa Monica (3 Posts: 6 copies)
Virgil and Santa Monica (1 Post: 2 copies)

Virgil and Lockwood – (1 Post & The Mini-Library: 2 & 2 -3 copies)

Halfway into making these ’rounds’, I realized something about it all. It was a job. A job that used to exist in days before I came onto the scene when the world was a slightly more literary place. Or at least before all of it became digitized, relinquishing the power of the print into the depths of the past.

Rather than dropping off copies of the New York or L.A. Times, however, I dropped off copies of these JIMBO TIMES. And then something else hit me: I want to make more of these rounds for The L.A. Storyteller. I know that the path towards such future rounds–that is, on a sustainable basis–could be quite long, but then, how I could not give it a shot? Through all these years, the power of the written word has only grown on me, convincing me once and for all that reading and writing are mediums by which a people or pueblo can become aware of their environment in ways that are invaluable to them. And even if Los Angeles never quite had much of A Literary Intellegentsia, as Freire would note, the past does not represent a world we’re consigned to indefinitely, but a possibility incumbent on those of us in the present to uplift for the future.

We’ve got to do it, then, don’t we, Los Angeles? As with all things, one step at a time. But let this be a step towards just that. We are not afraid of a challenge when we know it’s in our veins to take it on. Indeed, that is why we are here.

Let us take it on, then, Los Angeles. Get literary.


Este Pueblo Mío, de Nosotros

It’s been nearly four years since the formation of JIMBO TIMES through the streets of Los Angeles. During this time the site, like its author, has experienced a number of different transformations.

When J.T. first began the premise was simply a dedication to Los Angeles, entailing an effort on my part to capture and share pulses and characters of the town that I felt were being overlooked or passed over for the city’s more glitzy and glamorous developments. Looking back at that first year in business today, no dedication from the time speaks more to this intention than Dear Leo, which addresses the tragic loss of a young life in the community in the form of a letter to the deceased teenager. In just ten days, it will be a full three years since Leo’s passing, and while the community he left is still (t)here, there have also been more losses to come to terms with since.

In the second year with JIMBO TIMES, J.T. became wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, and right with its people. A wonderful road trip to Miami for VONA was quickly followed by work, community, and then more work. And as a still-fairly recent college graduate at that time, getting used to managing these different elements of work for J.T. was a learning curve. Nevertheless, in Bah’!, I declare my love for what every drink served showed me about myself. And today, as a result of the time I’m at a significantly better place with managing the different work environments I now find myself in. The second year of JIMBO TIMES was also the Year of the Quartz.

In the third year for L.A. Stories, an affinity for photographing L.A. became enmeshed with a need to address the political climate of the time as well. This was no more clear than with POC Today, a video series that saw me working with different peers and colleagues of mine to take our engagement with the community to the next level. That third year for JIMBO TIMES also included a trip to Japan, through Tokyo, Osaka, and even Hiroshima, all of which I tried to capture to the best of my ability in Never Alone. Then, as if not to be outdone by the wonders of the East, Mexico called out to me after I returned to L.A. from Japan, pulling me into its glorious stretches. In turn, just a few months later I flew out of LAX again, this time for Ciudad Mexico, Puebla, Mexico, and finally, Oaxaca, Mexico. Nearly one year later, POCT is on something of a hiatus, but each colleague from the project and more are still circulating through The City with me, and somehow none of us doubt that we actually haven’t seen the last of the project yet; POCT is still with me, just as Japan and Mexico are still with me.

Finally, in this fourth and most recent year with J.T., everything from traveling abroad to protesting in downtown Los Angeles and MacArthur Park, to videographing for POC Today up and down L.A., and to sitting down to read and further my analysis of all of these movements, has expanded my understanding of the world in a way I couldn’t quite formulate four years ago when the site first launched.

There is also more throughout these four years that’s developed to a milestone point, like time with the Inside Out Writers visiting different juvenile detention facilities throughout Southern California, or time with the Plus Me Project visiting different schools throughout all of Los Angeles, or even time with the Sacramento Area Youth Speaks Summit in Davis, California. I’ve now spoken with dozens of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated young people, and even thousands of students both at the grade and university levels, and in and beyond Los Angeles; through the process I’ve learned how this work truly matters to me, and how, if I don’t get it done, there isn’t quite a guarantee that it will get done.

To make things more interesting, in the same light speed with which the last four years have gone by, there is one more trip on the horizon for JIMBO TIMES just up ahead. At the center of the trip are the people I’m set to meet, and just how they’ll inform me as every character and environment throughout this journey has done. Because in actuality J.T. has never really been about meeting or ‘capturing’ people just for the sake of it, but about learning from them to see how I can bring it all back to the pueblo. Nuestro Pueblo, Los Angeles.

Moreover, because I’m now aware of the different interests I have when taking part in excursions like the next one in a way I couldn’t quite see four years ago, it’s only more exciting for me and all of my community to witness. Of course, in true L.A. storyteller fashion we can’t quite reveal the exact location of the next trip, nor the specific goals of the work therein, until just the right time. But we will get there, Los Angeles, and we will once again utilize the experience to elevate our vecindad.

What I can say is that in the fourth year of JIMBO TIMES the intention is to expand my analysis once again so that I can also challenge and grow that of my peers and those after us; I can only do this with the information that’s out there, and which only I can uncover because I’ve got to uncover it.

So let us get to more of that great work out there again, Los Angeles.

The future is waiting on us,