Excerpts from Rodríguez's journals, written while living in Los Angeles, 1992-94

Chivo wants a job. Chivo, Monica, and their son Joshua at home. Earlier Chivo and Gyro went to a factory in East L.A. looking for work, but they got "we will call you." Chivo says, "Nobody wants to hire a gangster." Later he tells Monica, "I can't take you and Joshua to the park, they'll shoot me and our family if they see us." The morning after a carjacking Chivo goes to Monica's house to give her money for his son and to help pay some bills.

John Hope Continuation High School
One teacher says, "For all the problems I believe I can help one out of seventy students. About ten graduate every year." Later on in a classroom the kids discussed the merits of an AK-47, comparing the cost of a .380 vs. a shotgun. These kids don't believe in the dream, they see corruption, they see starving people here, and yet Bosnia and Sudan are getting help.

Mr. Flores: "I have four foster kids, my son was killed in 1980 by a gang.... You must try and save some of these kids. The best are six to eight year olds. Around here after the age of eight it is a dangerous age for kids. If you don't hold a kid it is too late. I teach them how to survive with little money. Teach them values and how to save. My six year old was caught stealing-he said, 'I did it because my mother used to do it.' I sat down and talked to him. We show them not to be a hero. A coward is going to live a long time, a hero is going to die."

Oki, Japanese-American, fifty-one years old said to me, "You can teach your sons all good values: home, trust-and then one day he asks to borrow the car and you ask to where and with whom.... But once he steps out that door he is on his own on the streets where anything can happen.... In these streets there is not a weekend that has gone by without a shooting in the park." As I left down 1st Street, my farewell was met with rattles of Uzi fire and clouds of smoke-the usual Friday night.

El Dia De Los Muert
os (Day of the Dead)
Marcy, aunt of Husky, at home she begins to build an altar for Husky who has recently been slain. Tonight they will have a rosario for him; family and homeboys start to fill the tiny apartment. It is a tradition to honor the dead on this day by bringing all things they had during life-food, clothes, music, etc. Many tears are shed. I ask Marcy what she thinks about the gangs. She says, "They are always being pushed, by family, society. Husky didn't have a family although his mom and dad are alive. He wanted to believe in something but all he found was Evergreen. They build their own prisons in their own neighborhoods. It's confusing for a lot of them. Trigger's mom gave him everything, and Trigger says one day, 'My mom was always too busy.' She would say, 'I have to work.' What Trigger said was 'I would rather have just been loved.' Everyone is trying to prove something. The boy who killed Husky was no older than fourteen. Before it was kids having kids. Now it's kids killing kids. They have the need for somebody to notice them."

Porky, sixteen years old:
"I wasn't always a gangbanger. I liked to draw. My mom and dad are veteranos (veteran gang members), even when I was real young I started going to school I was a real loner type. I was heavy.... One day I started seeing my father dressed up in nice clothes. It was my birthday and I wanted clothes to dress up like that. I wanted to be a cholo (gangster).
In seventh grade I got my brainwashing from a friend. I was twelve years old. I have put in work (gang activities: stealing, robbing, shooting people) for five years.
They shot my mother in the face and my little brother in the hand. They shot at me in front of the house. I have too much heart. I've been through so much I feel old. I have been shot ten times-look at me, I am really limping. I am respected by all my homeboys, wanted by many, and hated by others, but respected by all. I love the barrio (neighborhood) more than I was loved."

Quiles family
Joaquim, Danny's older brother: "Being in a gang really limits you to a small area to live in. You can't leave the block. I don't know where to go. I like staying here taking care of this side, so we are always on guard."

Extended interview with Chivo.

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