Jimmy “Jimbo” Recinos is The L.A. Storyteller, founder and Editor-in-chief of Jimbo Times, an online publication featuring photography, art and writing about Los Angeles. He will also be serving as a writing facilitator for the InsideOUT Writers program for juveniles who find themselves in L.A. County juvenile detention facilities. Jimmy is a VONA/Voices 2015 Fellow for the Workshop in Memoir with Andrew X Pham at the University of Miami.
I’m reminded of something I heard in my writing workshop with VONA at Miami, when a fellow writer mentioned how on first getting to L.A., the place felt “like a country town.” I remember being so struck by her words, as before then it had never occurred to me just how much the city feels like a village nestled out in the wilderness! Somehow, I’d gotten so caught up in the concrete and density of the L.A. that I viewed it purely as a metropolis, when its origins clearly still mark it as a nexus of hills, canyons, and other dry land that just had concrete plastered all over it one day.
In fact, when I think about it the place isn’t even radically different from the pueblo in Southern Mexico where my mom originally hails from: a tiny little town in the mountains with its own miniature twists and turns through the landscape like the streets of Los Angeles.
On VONA 2015 at the University of Miami:
On the inspiration behind Jimbo Times:
What was your inspiration for launching Jimmy Times? And, I guess the other thing you can enlighten me on is how long have you been known as The L.A. Storyteller?
Jimmy Recinos: Well, the inspiration for Jimbo Times came from returning home to a city after I was done with college. I started realizing that I really love the city, and I really am not going anywhere unless I’m working within the city or unless I’m working for the city somehow that I’d be happy. I sort of saw it this way just because I think like anyone when you grow up in an environment for so long you sort of feel as if you grow out of it. And, you want nothing, but to get away and to never look back again somehow. And, I felt that, to an extent, when I went to college in NorCal at the University of California at Davis. So, I went there and it was very different. It was very green. It was friendly. People weren’t angry. You go out in traffic. You can’t have nearly as many helicopters or police officers patrolling the street. No gang problems in the same way that we face them here in the metropolis.
So, there was a number of various reasons in addition to those that I just described that led me to believe I was really going to get away from L.A. except that when I came back it was like…it was a tragedy. There was no helping it. I loved being back in the city. I loved seeing members of my community coming up. And, I loved seeing my family in this town. And so, once I sort of came to accept that, I thought to myself it feels as if I have to honor L.A. It feel as if I would love to do something for L.A., and, eventually, I sort of just I brought a couple of things together. And, I thought here is some photography. Here is some writing. Let’s see what happens and let’s name if after The New York Times and then The L.A. Times, and let’s call it Jimbo Times for Jimmy “Jimbo” Recinos. So, that’s sort of where it came from.
That’s an awesome concept.
Recinos: Yeah, I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback on the name itself and just hearing that feedback is such an affirmation that it’s sort of about a vision I’ve had…and…But, it also goes beyond my own vision. Other people sort of see or hear the name and it’s almost as if it rings a bell. It’s almost as if it’s been something in store for sometime…And, it’s only until now that it is finally coming into fruition. And so, I’m very excited about continuing the momentum that I’ve gained from the great feedback that people have given to me for the work on Jimbo Times.
That’s good. I’ve read some of the articles out there and they’re really impressive and I love the photography.
Recinos: Thanks so much.
I think you do an excellent job of just capturing the city and really showing those places that maybe people aren’t noticing…cause you start taking them for granted, right? Cause it’s there all the time. And, The L.A. Storyteller is that something your friends call you?
Recinos: The L.A. Storyteller came about because I’ve done, well, I’ve participated in so many adventures throughout the city at this point in my life that there is always a story to it. And, I’m always somehow describing story to one friend or another or to one organization or the other. And so, I realized that I loved this concept. I loved narrating and I love sort just putting together something for other people to enjoy and for other people to get in someone else’s shoes so to speak. So, once I looked at the say New York Times and the Daily News or the L.A. Daily News, which is also another media organization in the city, I realized that while there are stories on there so to speak which are news stories, which are…news items, they don’t seem to get to the core of what a story is about. It’s almost as if media is too concerned with facts or perhaps is too influenced by…the money, which drives the publication and so on and so forth.
So, I felt as if what Jimbo Times is doing is really unique to storytelling…I think it sort of gets at the heart of the simplicity of a story and the essence of a story and that it just goes beyond what is supposed to be completely accurate or goes beyond what is supposed to be…completely captivating in a way that a news item on television might be. So, with all that in mind, I realized that, okay, if there was a subtitled Jimbo Times, it’d be The L.A. Storyteller. Because, it’s really what it’s all about, telling a story, one after the next, in a way that is different from every organization that I’ve seen throughout my time looking at all the different outlets for that in this city.
Yes, I like how you end, at least, right now the posts end with a salutation, so it gives it a very personal feel. I think…I like that…cause…I think most posts you see they don’t have that so it doesn’t feel so much like… like a letter, like someone greeting you or anything…I like that.
Recinos: (laughter) Yeah, exactly. I appreciate you paying attention to that because it means a lot.
On the influence of family:
Jimmy “Jimbo” Recinos, The L.A. Storyteller, the founder of Jimbo Times pictured with his mom.
The other thing I was going to ask you about is I have seen some pictures of your mom’s newspaper stand and you have mentioned…your mom in your blog here, your Jimbo Times. So she, your mom seems like an awesome person, and a go-getter and very influential in your life, is part of the, do you think part of the reason you are interested in news is because she ran a newspaper stand and you’ve always been around newspapers?
Recinos: Absolutely! Absolutely. It’s great. There was one time that I was with a friend, a friend who is also familiar with my mom, and a friend with whom I spent a lot of days and afternoons up to nothing but trouble with for some time, which mom was completely aware of. There was a friend who said, about my mom one time, that if she didn’t go to school, I should say…that if she didn’t have me or she didn’t have my brother, that really what she’d be doing is she’d be going to school to become a journalist somewhere. She is just, just as I am. She’s a talkative, engaged, sort of always curious individual that is continually seeking knowledge. And so, actually, what happened at the beginning of the year […2015…] for Jimbo Times is that, maybe by the third post, I realized that even my love for the city is just a sort of metaphor for the love for my mother, the love for my roots, the love for where I come from and what I’ve been born with and what I have and what I don’t. And, how it’s poetic and beautiful.
And so, it’s interesting because I dedicated website the Jimbo, I dedicated Jimbo Times to mom late last year. But now, you know, as I move forward with the second year, I realize that it’s not just dedicated to mom. It’s really kind of about her. And ,it’s about individuals like herself who are go-getters who are entrepreneurs, who are just absolutely precious individuals, who comprise or make up the underground belly, all of the side bars, all of the…behind the scenes.
So, mom working at a newsstand is hugely influential because she’s always loved words. And, she’s always had a powerful way of reaching out to me and reaching out to my brother with the power and sort of nobility of her speech. She’s just a poet without knowing it, she doesn’t really enjoy poetry or look at a poetry as an art form but she’s a poet when you really kind of sit down to hear her speak. And so, throughout the years, that’s sort of what I experienced, that kind of voice and that kind of flow of speech… is something I continually learn from and which I still learn from. And, coupled with the fact that she was selling newspapers and that she wanted to sell magazines like National Geographic or something like that. It all led to a great deal of respect for literature.
If there wasn’t love for literature in my…growing up, there was certainly a great respect for literature in this home. And, that to me is really interesting just because mom only ever got to go to about the 6th grade in her youth. And so, she only got a degree of reading and writing experience at school. And yet, that tiny degree would last her her entire lifetime and lead her to work within literature and within an entrepreneurial venture in literature. And so, now Jimbo Times is really kind of a recreation of that process. It is an adventure in literature, a kind of entrepreneurial…journey with words and with writing and with storytelling. And it’s just a little more new age, but it kinda takes the same recipe that my mom had. And so, she’s definitely. She’d definitely be the heart of Jimbo Times…and…without her, it just wouldn’t be.