A dying breed: Jesse Flores, Highland Park typewriter repair man

imageI stopped to investigate our neighborhood’s typewriter repair shop. My true destination was the pet shop, but I had to stop and take a breath of typewriter ink and tune my ears to the clack of worn metal keys, and meet the man whose touch and tinker kept these machines purring out a dance of words, a scripture of one’s desires, fantasys and fears.

Unfortunately Ruben Jesse Flores passed away last week. Memorial posters with his aged face dot the windows, alongside La Opinion’s Sunday front page feature on Mr. Flores from December 2004.

Today the shop is closed and as I stand there translating the
feature, an older man, in his 50’s or 60’s maybe, walks up to the door and sets down his typewriter case to peer inside. The case is yellowed and gray in places, but it looks as though it would sustain an atom bomb, typewriter nestled tightly inside. I couldn’t tell what brand it was.

I gently said, “he passed away last week,” and showed him the posters. He drifted over to the newspaper article. It didn’t seem like he could read it. He stepped away, walked back to the door of the Typewriter Shop, read the sign and said “that’s him.”

He started to walk away, and I trailed behind and asked if he had been there before. No. I asked if he lived around here. Pasadena. “There’s an typewriter shop in North Hollywood,” I recall aloud. It’s been ages since I’ve been past that one though; is it still there?  Will Highland Park’s Typewriter Shop be forever closed with the death of Mr. Flores?

Type in Peace Mr. Flores.

WHBPC Coverage in Urban Velo: “If You Build it, They Will Play”

Eric (SF, left) and Brick (LA, right). Photo by Krista Carlson

My report on the 2011 World Hardcourt Bike Polo Championships for Urban Velo went live today! San Francisco photog Mike Shriver came up North and took some great snaps, which are a fantastic compliment to my article (link below)!

I did so many fantastic interviews with key organizers of Seattle’s polo club and with players in the international polo community as well. I am planning to publish some of my interview material that didn’t make it into this article soon. Here’s an excerpt from the Urban Velo article, from my talks with Messmann, the godfather of modern hardcourt bike polo:

“It’s a pretty great feeling, especially for me, for how long I’ve been playing,” Matt “Messmann” Messenger says of welcoming players from all over the globe to his home turf, after igniting the hardcourt bike polo spark more than a decade ago. “I never thought a bunch of people from around the world would be coming to my city playing this awesome, addictive game that I just started playing with all my messenger buddies back in the day. It’s a little overwhelming and at the same time incredible to have people fly into your own special club that you never thought would ever be established.”

Read the full article here.