"Before I went to prison, my relationship with my father was kind of rocky and not good, but through my imprisonment we got a lot closer," Ramiro said. "I'm following in his footsteps and dedicating myself to youth."
Less harmonious was the reaction of Luis Rodríguez's siblings to his disclosures about their father's alleged serial molestings. His father's victims, he said, included one of Rodríguez's daughters, a niece of Rodríguez's and possibly one of Rodríguez's sisters. "I went morose, then hard, then crazy," he recalls in "It Calls You Back." "I wanted to kill my dad."
To prepare his relatives for the new book's publication, Rodríguez called a private family meeting. His eldest half-sister surprised him by telling him, "You were very courageous for doing this." But others felt angry and embarrassed that he was publicly airing their laundry.
"I feel bad about that, because you don't want to do that to your family," Rodríguez said. "I have two responsibilities. One is to tell the truth. Two, how I tell it: Can I do it with some dignity? I didn't want to make my dad a monster. Because most of these guys aren't monsters; they're guys who generally you love, and then they do things to you."
Densmore, who has known Rodríguez for years, said that his friend tends to "flog" himself for his perceived shortcomings. But having dealt with some of his own family secrets in his autobiography "Riders on the Storm," Densmore believes that Rodríguez's full disclosure can help readers grapple with their own demons.
"Reading the book ["It Calls You Back"], it's so brutally honest that you love him and you love Ramiro and you pray for everyone in this book," said the musician, who has hosted benefits for Tía Chucha's, the Sylmar-based cultural center and bookstore that Rodríguez and his wife Trini and brother-in-law Enrique Sanchez operate, along with their publishing company, Tía Chucha Press.
Rodríguez said he'd never planned to write a second memoir after "Always Running." But once he set himself to the task, he ended up with 800 manuscript pages that he eventually trimmed to about 320. The book is selling "pretty well but I'm sure it's not selling what it should be selling," he said, adding that he doesn't know what the current sales figures are.
He thinks one problem with "Always Running" is that its triumph-over-adversity story line created a heroic image of him that he didn't intend. "I'm not really a big hero; I've been very lucky. I did make some choices that I think were good choices — getting out of the gang, getting out of drugs. But on the other hand I was also very fortunate. I should've been dead like my homies, but I wasn't."
Although he has no designs on a third memoir, he knows the subject will stay relevant as long as "we've got all these kids that are falling in the same traps."
"One time I told somebody I wish 'Running' could be obsolete, that it just becomes a story that nobody wants because nobody's going through this."