Confessions of a Gangwannabe

The life of a conformed streetkid.

The Old Bombs

Last year I shot a wedding video of an old veterano from the Clover gang. He was celebrating fifty years of marriage. In honor, the homies brought out the bombs and cruised through the old neighborhood.

Excerpt of my short story: Y2Wierd


My brother got out of Youth Authority on his twenty-first birthday just after the big Y2K scare. As a departing gift, the state of California gave him a bus ride to the nearest station and dropped him off. That was after an intimate relationship with a cellblock of brick and mortar of four years. California Youth Authority, also known as CYA or prison for youth is the hardest time someone can spend behind bars. There is nothing like a supermax high school, surrounded by overinflated testosterone of the worst of the worst fuck-ups.

Don’t get me wrong; I love my brother, that’s why I decided to pick him up from the bus station. We both had no idea what we were in for and who we had become. The last time I saw him was when he was in the now defunct Camarillo Mental Hospital three years prior. His whole reason for being there is another story but let’s just say he put on the act that he was crazy in order to serve less time. Unfortunately, he didn’t work the system; the system eventually worked him over.

There I was waiting for my shorter, darker-skinned brother to emerge with a big smile and a welcoming hug. What I got was nothing like I had imagined. His dark brown skin had turned to a pale white that made Danny look sickly. He had dark circles around his eyes and a brown strip of hair across his upper lip. The contrast to his skin scared me. His shaven head, which I had grown accustomed to, suddenly had long thin hair that was braided to the middle of his back. Part of my brother’s problem in my opinion is that he was born short, 5’6 maybe on a good day. Our sister towers over him at 5’10. He had a lot to prove, I turned out to be a giant, at six foot. Regardless, he has always been twice the man I could ever be. I didn’t even join the neighborhood gang like the rest of my family. He joined for the two of us and was tougher than a box of nails.

Danny didn’t smile, didn’t hug me at first. The only way I knew he recognized me was because he raised his scary eyebrows at me. He looked like he was still watching his back, moving in slow, calculating movements.

“Hey, let me help you with that.” I reached for one of the two small bags he was carrying. “My car is over there.” I lead the way holding onto one of his bags.

I opened the passenger door to my white Tercel. We made a successful transfer. I turned the car on and we were off.

“Is that a CD player?” He spoke for the first time. Danny’s eyebrows perked up. He had been locked up from camp to mental hospital to CYA for so long he had never seen a CD player in a car. For that matter most of the cars on the road were new to him. Danny was about to experience many, many new things. For example, when I took out my cell phone and he demanded, “Let me see that!” almost like if I was a kid he was trying to punk.

“Man, these things are getting smaller. I remember seeing those big brick ones . . . can I call mom with this thing?” His eyes lit up. Our mom was the glue that bonded us together. She was Danny’s idol, as our father was a drunkard and lost in LA somewhere.

“Of course, here let me call her for you.” He handed me the phone. I went down my phone log and called our mother. I heard it ring and handed it back to him.

“Q’vo mom, its your son, Gangster! I just got out . . . yeah; I’m with him right now, using his phone . . . I love you too. I can’t wait to see you . . . Yeah I know its crazy being out.” Danny was referring to our mom’s five-year prison stay. She had just got out a year before. “All right mom, I love you too.” Danny handed me the phone.

“So, what’s up with the long hair anyways?” I finally asked.

“What’s up with YOU? He asked back. “I didn’t expect to see you like this.”

I knew what he was talking about. I looked just as different to him as he was to me. Over the last six months, I had transformed my body. Other than working and going to school full-time, I worked out for two hours a day. My girlfriend, the go-go dancer, had an ex-husband who was a male stripper. I had to show her I could have a nice body so I did it. I added twenty pounds of muscle to my skinny frame. I was six-foot, a buck eighty, and tan. I’m sure I looked odd to my brother with a tight muscle shirt and Adidas workout pants. It’s a long cry from Dickies and white t-shirts.

I’m a gangwannabe

I grew up in Northeast Los Angeles in the area of the notorious Avenues gang. My grandfather and brother were from the clique Avenues 43rd, my parents were from Eastside Clover gang in Lincoln Heights, both long established gangs from the 40’s.

I never joined either gang. In my youth I only associated with the Avenues. As an adult I now attend the Clover gang reunions. Growing up, I did experience the violence during the late eighties and early nineties and it has shaped my life. I have had to accept the fate of my family.  My mother is dead as a result of the hard streets, my dad is a drunk and my brother is barely trying to carve out a new life for himself after spending half his life in prison. I, on the other hand, have made something with my life. I’m the first to graduate college, I own a house (a kid who grew up on welfare), I’m getting my master’s degree in Social Work and I wrote my first novel. Because of my success, I recover from guilt, gangster guilt. Some days I think I should be like the rest of my family other days I realize I have something to give back.

I now work with delinquent youth as a drug counselor.

So, this blog is about my views, opinions, stories, and news about the life pertaining to gangs, gang culture, effect of gangs, prevention, solutions, etc.

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