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English tutor publishes compelling book about the Los Angeles street life

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A young Latino with baggy jeans and a white t-shirt stands in front a brick wall and begins to shake a Krylon spray can.

As he begins to tag his crew’s name on the wall, a white 1987 Oldsmobile Cutless Supreme with 20-inch chromed rims creeps by slowly.


The passenger extends his arm to reveal a .45 caliber semiautomatic handgun and fires five shots. The tagger begins to run away but two bullets pierce his back and he collapses to the ground.

Los Angeles street life has subcultures that can lead to fame or fatality. The world of graffiti is portrayed on walls with artistic words or paintings in vibrant colors.

However, the other side of the graffiti world represents gang life. Walls filled with gang writing, sometimes filled from top to bottom, lets the neighborhood know which gang resides in that area.

El Camino English tutor Roger Cannon’s self published book Cross Out gives the readers a glimpse into L.A. street life with the story of high school senior Jaime ‘Kimo’ Flores and his struggle with living a straight life.

“It’s a coming of age story,” Cannon said. “It’s about kids who are on the brink and are dealing with difficulties of growing up in tough, urban areas.”

The grey-haired English tutor who grew up in Downey playing baseball said he got the inspiration for his book from his 14 years of teaching U.S. History, Economics and English at Vail Continuation High School in Montebello.

Cannon said there were 450 students from Bell Gardens, East L.A. and Montebello at Vail and one year, they had 38 gangs represented on campus including a couple tagging crews.

“The book is modeled after my experiences at Vail,” Cannon said. “I had rare access to the world of graffiti and Latino street gangs. It’s an invisible world that people see but don’t understand.”

Cannon said his students were wide open with their stories about things that were happening in their lives. Everyone had a different story to why they were at Vail.

Writing in the first person, Cannon distinguishes himself with some truly exceptional dialogue that creates a truly immersive experience, according to the best thrillers website.

Cannon played baseball at Cerritos College before transferring to Long Beach State University where he was named to the All-Conference team during his senior year.

Cannon said he had an offer from the St.Louis Cardinals after college but the choice was to go back to college and get a teaching credential or play half a season and go to the military because the Vietnam War was going on.

“My dad pushed me to get my studies behind me,” Cannon said. “If I get called to go, then I go.”

The next best thing to playing baseball is coaching so Cannon said he took an offer to coach junior varsity baseball at Peninsula High School in Palos Verdes.

“I really enjoyed coaching,” Cannon said. “I moved to varsity and coached four years there. Every year we got to the playoffs.”

While Cannon enjoys researching his next book idea by traveling around the world, he decided to join El Camino as a tutor after he saw an ad in the Daily Breeze.

“I don’t have to work here but I like getting students ready for the next level,” Cannon said. “I like working with college-level students. They don’t fight you very much. I like learners.”

English Professor Kim Krizan said Cannon is a kind and empathetic tutor. The students feel comfortable with him. They seem to understand that he is genuinely caring, so they like and trust him.

“I love the fact that his book tells a story that EC students can relate to,” Krizan said. “The characters grapple with issues some of my students have faced in their lives.”

Krizan said Cannon was able to paint a vivid world because he knows and cares about people just like the characters he’s created for his book.

Cannon said writers have to write what they know. He plans to write a series which follows the life of Kimo. The follow up to Cross Out will be Roll Out, which Cannon has begun doing research for.

“I love a good story that pulls the readers into a different world,” Cannon said. “Especially one they are not normally familiar with and it can make them comfortable or interested. That’s the beauty of fiction.”


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English tutor publishes compelling book about the Los Angeles street life