Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A.

Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A.

Luis J. Rodriguez

Language: English

Pages: 262

ISBN: 0743276914

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The award-winning and bestselling classic memoir about a young Chicano gang member surviving the dangerous streets of East Los Angeles, now featuring a new introduction by the author.

Winner of the Carl Sandburg Literary Award, hailed as a New York Times notable book, and read by hundreds of thousands, Always Running is the searing true story of one man’s life in a Chicano gang—and his heroic struggle to free himself from its grip.

By age twelve, Luis Rodriguez was a veteran of East Los Angeles gang warfare. Lured by a seemingly invincible gang culture, he witnessed countless shootings, beatings, and arrests and then watched with increasing fear as gang life claimed friends and family members. Before long, Rodriguez saw a way out of the barrio through education and the power of words and successfully broke free from years of violence and desperation.

Achieving success as an award-winning poet, he was sure the streets would haunt him no more—until his young son joined a gang. Rodriguez fought for his child by telling his own story in Always Running, a vivid memoir that explores the motivations of gang life and cautions against the death and destruction that inevitably claim its participants.

At times heartbreakingly sad and brutal, Always Running is ultimately an uplifting true story, filled with hope, insight, and a hard-earned lesson for the next generation.

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hideout we had alongside the Alhambra Wash, next to the drive-in. We sat ourselves down on the dirt, some blankets and rags nearby to lie on. We covered the entrance with banana leaves and wood planks. There were several cans of clear plastic—what we called la ce pe—around us. We each had paper bags and sprayed into them—and I had already dropped some pills and downed a fifth of Wild Turkey. I then placed the bag over my mouth and nose, sealed it tightly with both hands, and breathed deeply. A

interests as a class respect no borders. To me, this was an unconquerable idea. I also learned there was no shame in being a janitor or a garment worker; I never looked at Mama and Dad with disdain again. So fundamental. So Christian. So American at times. Yet this conflict would be the most intense and prolonged of our lives. A party below the Hills swung with music, ruquitas de aquellas and anything to get high with. Suddenly, this dude Rudy rushed into the living room, breathing hard and

determine how to deal with disruptions. I proposed they take affirmative steps for people to talk out their problems, to address the inequities, and allow more power to fall into the hands of students. This led to a wild debate. As we argued the finer points, a teacher ran into the auditorium. “They’re at it again!” she yelled out, her hair disheveled. “They’re fighting in the halls!” “Okay, everyone,” Daryl said. “We’ve got to go out there and stop this.” The Communicators poured out of the

me numerous scars, but there were also victories: Mr. Pérez got his job back, the school hired another Chicano Studies teacher—and Mr. Humes received an early retirement. In my last year, ToHMAS members attended Mexican American Leadership Conferences with students from all over Los Angeles County. The Belmont High School teacher Sal Castro, a leader of the 1968 East L.A. “Blowouts,” and other Chicano leaders were key speakers. We also participated in L.A.-wide conferences with youth of other

por vida). El mero chingón: The top dog (the biggest, meanest fucker). El pie: The foot. Engabachados: To be anglicized. Escamao: Caló term for “losing it;” shaken up or panicky. Ése: A greeting among vatos; “hey you.” In L.A., African American street youth use this term to mean any Mexican gang-banger, pronounced as “essay.” Eso, así: Yes, like that … Ese malvado, deje que se pudra: That no-good, let him rot. Esqüintar: To leave, derived from “making our squints.” Está bien: It’s okay.

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