Así Está La Cosa
My life has since been divided between dedication to troubled, marginalized kids, a need to tell stories and a love of music. The coin laundry in the background was where I spent a lot of my childhood. We bought the oldest coin laundry in L.A., in what was back-in-the-day a high crime corner of Highland Park. My dad would sometimes hang me upside down behind the ancient washers so I could reach and wrench places he couldn't.
My first book told the story of a one room school for the Clanton and First Flat's gangs of South Central – I built it when I was a twenty, still a kid and with little fear. Everyone came by to help: nuns, Kentucky Fried Chicken, local cops – the universe does seem to encourage a little crazy idealism. The next book added what I had learned working with Pima and Apache gang youth in Indian Country, and then with the inner-city gangs in Boston, Oakland and Phoenix.
I've recently been helping as a therapist with Guatemalan refugee kids separated from parents, and hoping our politics is soon kinder than it has been. My book "Shelter: Notes from a Detained Migrant Children's Facility" is apparently the only inside account life within our immigration shelters for unaccompanied minors
Here at the end of 2020, our pandemic year, I am preparing to open a farm based charter school on the outskirts of phoenix. It will be a very different educational experience than currently available.
My one novel is based on my other life. While working with children has been a life-long commitment, I have been blessed with a second life as a storyteller and musician. The Music of Jimmy Ojotriste has been an intense labor of several years, and born from my admiration of a glass-eyed orphan who used to serenade restaurants along East L.A.'s restaurant boulevards. I was also once a street musician, and with each interaction I had with this child, a story brewed a little warmer and further.
Like many authors, I write stories that I want to read: tales imbued with the warmth, humor and subtle magic that has permeated my experience. I hope you enjoy this story of music, a glass eye, brujos, abuelas, amores, locuras and illusiones.