ALWAYS RUNNING BOOK
Always Running has become a lightning rod for certain rightwing groups who are trying to stop its use
in schools because of the book’s politics and graphic nature.
Rodriguez believed that there is too much censorship going on in the classrooms and that they can’t be
exposed to the real world if they are sheltered from it for so long.
Always Running is graphic, but the story cannot be told without such.
It has saved the author’s life at the very least. PREFACE TO 1993 EDITION
“We have the right to lie, but not about the heart of the matter.”
Ruben Joaquin, born in 1988.
Andrea, 13 but lives with mother in LA.
Ramiro is a troublemaker and a gang member, just like his father was.
Been kicked out of several schools.
Reminds Luis a lot of himself.
They lived in Chicago.
Ramiro ran away for 2 weeks, but finally returned home.
Luis got him counseling and tried everything to have him stray away from the “gang life”.
“This work is an argument for the reorganization of American society – not where a few benefit at the
expense of the many, but where everyone has access to decent health care, clothing, food and housing,
based on need, not whether they can afford them. It’s an indictment against the use of deadly force which
has been the principal means this society uses against those it cannot accommodate.” CHAPTER 1
“Cry, child, for those without tears have a grief which never ends.” CHAPTER 1
Luis and his siblings go by animal names his Dad gave them.
Luis: “Grillo” (Cricket)
Rano: “Rana” (Frog)
La Pata: (Duck)
Live in LA.
Always moving from place to place, never had a solid place to stay.
Father was High School Principal but was accused of stealing school funds.
Found innocent, but got let off job.
Parents married, but father already had four or five children with three or four other women.
Mother was “emotionally charged, border woman, full of fire, full of pain, full of giving love.”
Father was “stoic, unfeeling, unmoved individual who did as he pleased.” CHAPTER 1
Found common ground in Watts, LA.
They never stopped crossing borders.
Mistreated by Americans.
Brother was “most dangerous person alive” to Luis.
Still got beat up by Americans.
Very poor, can’t pay bills.
Mother is sick.
Diabetes and Thyroid problems.
First day of school when he was 6.
Mistreated by teachers, sent to back of class to “play with blocks” the whole time because they didn’t know
what to do with him since he didn’t speak English.
Eventually made friends.
First real friend. CHAPTER 1
Eventually Dad got a substitute teaching job and bought a big house.
Eventually Father got fired and everything he bought turned into debt.
Moved in with Seni, but then got evicted because Seni got in a huge/violent fight with husband.
They were about to move back to Mexico, but mother backs out and decided to live with Father.
Back to LA. CHAPTER 2
“If you ain’t from no barrio, then you ain’t born.”
A 10yearold boy from South San Gabriel
Tino and Luis trespass a school to play basketball.
Cops come, chase them.
Tino falls off roof and dies.
Now live in South San Gabriel.
Over time, area became more diverse.
Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese.
San Gabriel became known as “Little Japans or Chinatowns.”
Eventually created a gang or “club” as they call it.
Luis saw other gangs and how much they were feared and wanted that much power himself.
Wanted even the teachers to be scared. CHAPTER 2
Gangs started organizing all over the place.
Had to move schools because of Father’s job.
Club couldn’t move with him, he was alone in an area where Thee Illusions and Mystics Gangs were.
Most feared gangs.
Luis starts turning into a terror.
A low life. People linked to gangs.
Luis was 13, wreaking havoc in schools, tattooed, involved with drugs, and sexually active.
Luis’ brother was stellar, lead in plays, teachers loved him.
People called him “Joe” instead of “Jose”.
Luis got in fights because people were jealous of his brother and since his brother was such a good fighter,
they turned to Luis for revenge.
Luis was tight with three other kids and wasn’t in a gang yet. CHAPTER 2
Called themselves the “Southside Boys.”
New Gang was forming and taking over every other gang.
Animal Tribe became huge, with kids joining from all over to be a part of the gang.
“El mero chignon.”
Miguel, old friend from Thee Impersonations is now in Animal Tribe.
Told Luis that he would have to join the Tribe or he would be eventually beaten so badly maybe even killed.
Miguel approaches Joaquin and asks if Luis and the rest of the “Southside Boys” can join “The Tribe.” CHAPTER 3
“You cholos have great stories about climbing fences.”
A barrio boxing coach
His friends call him “Chin” because of his protruding jaw bone.
A Mercury came and yelled “Sangra Diablos” and shot at Luis’ friends.
Clavo was seriously injured, losing an eye.
A war, fought for generations between Lomas and Sangra, flared up again.
Tells story about Pancho and getting circumcised.
Pancho forced them to lift weights, but in the end he would need surgery because he injured himself.
Some of Luis’ friends went to a beach to celebrate Clavo’s recovery, but he never ended up coming.
They went anyway.
Has a little crush on a girl named “Hermie”.
White guys, as they appeared, starting yelling discriminating things to Luis and his friends on the beach.
Black Dog got angry and challenged them to a fight.
They walked up to the van, and when they were about to fight the “white guys” pulled out badges and guns
and revealed they were really cops. CHAPTER 3
Black Dog got arrested and put in juvenile detention, for he was arrested multiple times prior.
He had mescaline on him and other drugs.
Starts reminiscing on previous jobs he had as a kid.
Clavo disappeared after he got shot, so Yuk Yuk took his place in “los cuatro”.
No one knows what happened to Clavo.
Yuk Yuk got them involved in organized stealing.
Their “stealing mentor”.
Taught them how to steal certain cars he needed and strip them down.
Their other “stealing mentor”.
He would buy whatever Luis and his friends stole for him.
Luis and Los Cuatro decided to rob the cashier at a DriveIn Movie, but the person working said they
couldn’t open the safe for them.
While they were trying to get the safe open, someone fired shots at them.
They quickly ran away from the shots and barely escaped safely. CHAPTER 4
“Oh, you’ll get over it … eventually.” CHAPTER 4
La Payasa de Lomas
Luis tried to commit suicide by slitting his wrists and bleeding to death but he couldn’t bring himself to go
through with it.
His family exiled him to live in the garage.
He could only come in the house when his mother gave him permission.
Went to High School.
The school revolved around class differences with families.
Luis tried to be a nice kid, but the teachers already perceived him to be a thug and it was hard to prove
Decided that if they thought he was a thug, he needs to just fill the part and become one.
Learned how to play the saxophone.
Animal Tribe formed a band.
Joe got in a fight with Luis because he took some of his records.
Joe stomped on his saxophone and broke it and then they got in a fist fight.
Met a girl named Viviana and she appeared to be really into him. CHAPTER 4
However, she is friends with the enemy.
Luis was with Viviana when he saw Lomas and Sangras getting into a huge fight.
He told her he had to go, but she demanded that she’d stay with him.
He stayed with her and while they kissed he talked about everything he heard in the background.
Police Officers harass and mistreat Luis and his friends.
This happens on a regular basis.
This starts a riot and Luis and his friends just walking around beating up every person they didn’t like.
He had a gun pulled on him by a white guy and he told him to shoot him, but the white guy couldn’t and
Fights continued in schools, for the Mexicans and Whites fought every time they saw each other.
It got so bad that they had to cancel school sometimes.
Every time they got into a fight and the cops came, the cops let the white guys go and arrested the
Worked in a restaurant as a bus boy.
Got really into drugs. CHAPTER 4
Reminisces on trips that he had while on drugs.
There was a time where he “died” and overdosed but came back to life.
He wishes that he died during that time, because every pain he had ever felt was gone.
Got expelled from school.
Started spending time with Wilo’s sister Payasa.
She was high all of the time.
Payasa became his girlfriend, but he couldn’t stand that she was high all of the time.
“She was like the walking dead.”
Luis finally asked if he could come eat in the house, and his mother smiled.
He could only if he respected her and the house rules.
He did and went to sit down and eat eggs. CHAPTER 5
“It is the violent poetry of the times, written in the blood of the youth.”
Linda Mendoza, Chicana poet from South San Gabriel
The Animal Tribe was splitting up, because Joaquin is in jail and another President was shot and killed.
Animal Tribe was then split up into groups based on age.
Lomas reorganizing and recruiting.
Chicharron nagged Luis to join.
To get initiated he had the shit beat out of him by the leaders.
He got through it.
In the short time he was in, he talks about killing an innocent man with a screwdriver.
Crime, gang violence, and drugs were at an alltime high.
He admired a man named Chente.
He wasn’t involved in gangs/drugs, and everyone respected him. CHAPTER 5
Luis wanted that same respect from everyone, but the way he did it was through gang violence and
He wish he did it the other way through school and education.
Talks about gang leader “Puppet” and how he doesn’t like anybody at all.
The initiation to being a Sangra meant you had to jump a cop.
One night he was in the garage and the Lomas came knocking tell him that they needed to put a hit against
They’re going after Sangra’s main warrior.
Went to bomb Chava’s house.
They were unsuccessful, but people w