Gentle cabrones:

I’ll get straight to the punto: Subscribe.

Subscribe (for FREE!) to my newsletter, if you haven’t already (this ask will seem weird for those of ustedes like Sheila, who I saw at my wifey’s Alta Baja Market yesterday — gracias for supporting! — who are already subscribers, but I also post each canto online and get readers from there, so this message is for those laggards).

Subscribe (for FREE!) to my new LA Times podcast, “Coronavirus in California: Stories from the Front Lines,” a 15-minute podcast (also available on Spotify for you Android weirdos) that drops Monday-Friday where I talk to Californians whose lives have been upended by coronavirus — which is to say, all of us.

Subscribe (for CHEAP!) to the Los Angeles Times, the paper that employees me and my colleagues at a time when news is more important than ever before — and a time where thousands of reporters are losing their jobs or getting furloughed.

Subscribe (for a reasonable price!) to Alta Baja Market’s Granola of the Month Club — from Indio dates to Wisconsin cherries to Orange County orange peels, her stuff is seasonal and GOOD.

SUBSCRIBE. You don’t have to take my recommendations, of course (although you’re reading this, so obviously subscribe to my writings — so que más te cuesta to gimme one more subscription for one of my causes). But do subscribe to stuff.

Because subscriptions are the way to a better world.


The podcast room at Puppy Strong Studios

First time reading this newsletter? Subscribe here for more merriment! Buy me a Paypal taco here. Venmo: @gustavo-arellano-oc Feedback, thoughts, commentary, rants? Send them to

The first subscription I ever had was to MAD Magazine. Had one from 7th grade until about 9th, when I let it lapse because they were starting to allow paid ads — a big no-no to MAD founder Bill Gaines, who had passed away by then.

Even when I was young, I was principled to a fault.

I was so proud when I had it, though, because I felt I was able to help something important in my life, and knew my pesos kept them afloat (I even got a personal letter from editors Nick Meglin and John Ficarra where they insulted me in the loving MAD way).

A subscription is not a one-time purchase; it’s a relationship. It’s a commitment by the subscriber to support the subscribed, an affirmation of what they represent.

What are YOUR subscriptions? If all you subscribe to is streaming services and multibillion-dollar digital gods, God bless you!

But I issue you a challenge: Subscribe to something with meaning. Within your region.

It could be your city, your county, your state. Something that exists there, and is primarily devoted to serving it.

It could be your local news, yes. But there are also nonprofits. CSAs (community-supported agriculture, essentially, a weekly box of goodies from your local farmer) who would love a new subscriber. A book-of-the-month club by your local bookstore (idea for you, Libromobile!).

Something where your subscription will give money that betters your immediate community. The people who are your neighbors.

You say you have no money for another subscription? Go look at your Android or iPhone bill, your Netflix or Spotify, and get back to me.

I’m hoping your shelter-in-place month is leading to some personal reckoning. And one of the most important insights I hope Americans get is that where you spend your money matters.

So subscribe to those who need subscriptions — my stuff, yes, but so many others. Joe Exotic sure as hell doesn’t need one.


This is the column where I take your questions about ANYTHING. And away we go…

I’m a high school history teacher in the OC. What fact or story or episode about Latinos in the US do you feel is most under-taught in US schools (I realize your options here are going to be deep and wide.)  How about the history of Latin America more generally in a World History class?

You must not be from Orange County, because NOBODY calls it “the OC” (you must’ve also not seen the initial run of Arrested Development). But to get to your question…ALL OF IT.  No, seriously. Every day, I’m learning new stuff about Latinos and Latin America.

For instance, did you know that the earliest school segregation lawsuit involving Latino students wasn’t the somewhat-known Mendez, et al vs. Westminster case from Orange County in the 1940s, but one in southern Colorado from 1913? Did you know Mexicans in Southern Colorado are their own raza? No? Well, start reading — and before you ask for a source, just keep reading me, and you’ll get a bunch. But I can’t give them all out at once, you know?


Enough rambling. This was the semana that was:

IMAGE OF THE WEEK: The last chance for #cuaresmacuisine: fideo, frijoles, potatoes, nopales, and the ever-elusive tortitas de camarón. Man, I’ll miss them for a year…

LISTENING: Imposible,” Agustín Lara. Mexico’s second-greatest songwriter after José Alfredo Jiménez, this might be the sweetest slut-shaming song ever written (wait for the last line) and shows the maestro at his best: smoky vocals, limber fingers on the piano, and melancholy lyrics with the sharpness of a Ginza. BTW, NO ONE called me out a couple of weeks ago for recommending Lara’s “Granada” as sung by Javier Solís, even though I had previously done that smh

READING: Mossback’s Northwest: Tragedy and terror in 1919 Centralia”: Speaking of local news, I get the daily newsletter of Crosscut, a Seattle-area news nonprofit that does awesome work. One of their columnists is Knute Berger, an alt-weekly legend who here tells a simple, powerful story in print and video about a clash between Wobblies and Legionnaires during the Red Summer in smalltown Washington.

Gustavo in the News

Los Angeles Times Debuts Daily Coronavirus Podcast”: All Access has the news on my podcast.

Coronavirus Today: What a return to normal might look like”: So does the LA Times’ daily “Coronavirus Today” newsletter.

California Playbook”: And Politico’s California-politics newsletter.

Quote…Unquote”: Legendary British broadcaster Nigel Reese answers my question about the origins of “You snooze, you lose,” and “When you’re sleeping, I’m working … When you’re working, I’m working…” and labels them Americanisms. Be still, my etymological heart!

Gustavo Stories

Subscribe to our new podcast, ‘Coronavirus in California: Stories From the Front Lines’”: Landing page for my podcast

Coronavirus in California”: A quick email to LA Times newsletter readers about my podcast. KEY QUOTE:
“It doesn’t matter where you are — the Lost Coast or the Imperial Valley, Chula Vista or Chowchilla. What your station in life is — retiree, newborn, hipster, homeless. Whether you’re a Republican, Democrat, or decline-to-state. Coronavirus has brought Californians together in a way nothing ever has since my late, great amigo, Huell Howser.”

Essential California: A front-row look at how coronavirus has wrecked restaurants”: I moonlight for the LA Times’ usual “Essential California” author, Julia Wick (who’s recovering from coronavirus—be good, mujer!) to talk about how my wife’s restaurant, like so many others, has been severely affected by the pandemic. KEY QUOTE: “I have a front-row seat to Alta Baja’s troubles: Delilah is my wife. I’m now her cashier and dishwasher, duties I fulfill in between interviewing people for my L.A. Times stories from the store’s closet, where I type on my computer that sits among Cambros and colanders.”

Introducing Coronavirus in California: Stories from the Front Lines”: The trailer for my podcast.

Covering the Coronavirus”: For Episode 1, I talk to my colleague, LA Times health reporter Soumya Karlmangla, about how she does what she does.

“Losing the Battle with COVID-19”: For Episode 2, I talk to Sonia Velez, a friend who lost her uncle to the damned disease

Renters Unite”: Episode 3 checks in with Trinidad Ruiz of the L.A. Renters Union, which is pushing for rent forgiveness during coronavirus.

OC plans to turn hotel into COVID-19 hospital for the homeless, but residents protest”: My latest KCRW “Orange County Line” talked about the ultimately successful effort by Laguna Woods NIMBYs to stop homeless from entering their city limits — stay classy, OC!

You made it this far down? Gracias! Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram while you’re down here. Buy me a Paypal taco here. Venmo: @gustavo-arellano-oc. And don’t forget to forward this newsletter to your compadres y comadres!