J.T. the L.A. Storyteller Turning Four

It’s been nearly four years since the formation of JIMBO TIMES. During this time, the site, like its author, has undergone a number of transformations.

When J.T. first began the premise was simply a dedication to Los Angeles, entailing an effort on my part to capture 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 therefore 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 serving in Los Angeles as one of its baristas showed me about myself. Today, as a result of the time I’m at a significantly better place with managing the different work environments I’m now a part of. 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. This was no more clear than with POC Today, a video-interview project which saw me working with different peers and colleagues of mine to take our engagement with the community to the next level. Our third year also included a trip to Japan, through Tokyo, Kyoto, 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 once I returned from Japan, pulling me into its glorious stretches. And so 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 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 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 or 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 actions, has expanded my understanding of the world in a way I couldn’t quite formulate four years ago when I first launched the site.

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. 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, in and beyond Los Angeles; in 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 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 my community to witness. Of course, in true L.A. storyteller fashion we can’t quite reveal the exact location of the next trip 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 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 so let us get to more of the work we need to to find it, Los Angeles.

The future is waiting on us,


Los Angeles: Intellegentsia

Cahuenga Library; East Hollywood, L.A.

“First of all, Los Angeles is usually seen as a peculiarly infertile cultural soil, unable to produce, to this day [1990], any homegrown intelligentsia. Unlike San Francisco, which has generated a distinctive cultural history from the Argonauts to the Beats, Los Angeles’s truly indigenous intellectual history seems a barren shelf.”

Davis’s introduction to The City as a land with no ‘intellegentsia’ is an interesting way of casting L.A. as a place without leadership; even if intellectuals don’t necessarily lead people, they influence people, or at least acknowledge that there is a group of people to talk about in the first place, without which people have less of a sense of themselves or their culture. In the case of San Francisco, for example, San Franciscans can point to the literary romance held between the young Beats and their town. It is also an historic process. Though Jack Kerouac and his contemporaries weren’t ‘homegrown’ in SF, the Beats still inspired San Fran legend and discourse to this day as figures of a revolutionary time in the town, not to mention the United States as a whole. For L.A. to lack in its own cast of poets and cultural icons, then, at least in the intellectual sense, is for L.A. to lack in culture or a sense of culture.

But I want to scan my mind for a moment, to think of the icons of Los Angeles.

Snoop Dogg and D.R.E?!

Tupac Shakur, certainly.

Eazy-E, maybe?!

To be certain, Mike Davis’s City of Quartz is talking about L.A. up to 1990, and it’s 2016. We’ve had some additions to the band of intellects from and about The City since then.

In particular, I think of musicians that also serve as intellectuals or cultural critics, like Zack de la Rocha and Tom Morello of Rage Against the MachineKendrick Lamar, Nipsey Hussle and YG, and generations of lesser known but equally active political artists in the ‘underground’.

I also think of L.A.’s writers, who have grown the canon substantially since 1990, and which includes authors such as Hector Tobar, Luis RodriguezHelena María Viramontes, and generations of other literary forces in the scholarly and journalistic fields throughout L.A.’s universities and other research centers.

Still, even if Davis introduces L.A. in terms of what it lacks, he expands on the introduction to make the point that even while ‘L.A.’ commands fame and reputation second only to that Other City, what it lacks is a true historical archive which shows what L.A. was, is, and is becoming.

“Virtually alone among big American Cities, Los Angeles still lacks a scholarly municipal history – a void of research that has become the accomplice of cliche and illusion.”

I see, then: even in its history, Los Angeles is just like its streets and boulevards; decentralized; a sprawl of different histories across different neighborhoods and communities, with no area or any of its figures really capturing more of the overall character of The City than the other.

I also see, then, how the author introduces what’s lacking in order to fill it up with something at last. That is, if L.A. is lacking history, City of Quartz is going to do something about it.

And hey, JIMBO TIMES is going to do something about it, too.

With more soon,