When I was in high school, my best friend Art would call me “Demon Gus” because I’d get angry about EVERYTHING.
I yelled a lot, I scolded, I told off nearly everyone and anything. Would’ve been a great protagonist in a kitchen-sink drama if I wasn’t such a nerd.
My temper was such that years later, when I began to go out with my future wife, friends would complain I was now so relaxed, and that my writing was better when I was angry.
With friends like that, who needs haters?
There’s that anger! But I’d respond with the truth: Journalism gave me a channel for my rage.
And what was I so upset about?
The same things I am today: hypocrisy. Ingratitude. Injustice. Ignorance.
Anger isn’t bad in my world. I remember after lecturing to high schoolers about Orange County’s racist-ass past and present, a young man said he was filled with anger that he never knew was in him before. I told him that was okay, and even exemplary.
The sin, I said, would be if he allowed his anger to defeat him into doing nothing — or doing something destructive to him or others.
And here we are today.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
I was really hoping that coronavirus would unite our country in some way in a way we haven’t since 9/11.
It didn’t happen.
Look at all those protestors seeking to “liberate” states from shut-downs that Trump himself supported and advised to maintain until at least May 1. Look at all of their critics wishing coronavirus on them, or saying natural selection will win once more.
So much anger.
So much wasted potential.
Anger is our nuclear power — a powerful, dangerous force best used in small, concentrated doses that few can pull off without burning themselves and others.
That was me.
Oh, I had a lot of legitimate reasons to be angry growing up. A nerd. No luck with the ladies. Hated school. An outcast in my rancho.
I blamed the world for my lot in life, which made me even angrier, which made me even more underachieving, which made me even angrier.
A self-fulfilling prophesy where I was the true loser.
It wasn’t until I let go of my anger that I began to make something of my life.
Scratch that: it wasn’t until I channeled my anger that I began to live the life I wanted.
Oh, it’s still within me. It courses so strong that when someone truly pisses me off, my upper lip starts to quiver as I struggle to stop myself from going full Hulk on them.
But I don’t let it win.
Instead, I now turn anger into stones and fling them like David.
That approach has governed my entire career, a reminder to focus my rage on building the life and world that I want.
When my colleagues at OC Weekly talked trash behind my back or to my face early in my career, I just kept writing. When I had to leave that job, I didn’t wallow in resentment (a cousin of anger) like it would’ve been so easy to do.
When wokosos and alt-losers tried to ruin my reputation shortly after, I just ignored them and leveled up to my current position.
And where are all those pathetic fanboys today?
Wallowing in their anger that they couldn’t stop me.
So go ahead — be angry! Heaven knows we’re in a time where we should be!
But what are you going to do with it? It’s easy to destroy, but hard as hell to build.
GRÍTALE A GUTI
This is the column where I take your questions about ANYTHING. And away we go…
GRÍTALE A GUTI what does it mean?
I realize some of ustedes don’t speak Spanish, and I usually don’t do anything about it — always like to challenge my readers to investigate, you know? But the person who asked this question was so nice, that I’ll answer it: It literally translates as “Yell at Guti,” but actually means “Call to Guti.” And what’s a “Guti,” you may ask? It’s the nickname that the tíos and aunts on my dad’s side of the family always called me; the ones on my mom’s side called me “Tavo.” And all my cousins called me “Gus” — who’s Gus?
Got a question for Guti? Email me here.
Enough rambling. This was the semana that was:
IMAGE OF THE WEEK: Fancy, delicious sushi at Hamamori at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa. Didn’t take any photos of the actual sushi because I ate it so fast haha. Support restaurants by picking up yourself and DON’T use any DoorDash bullshit.
LISTENING: “La Sanmarqueña,” La Furia Oaxaqueña. Fans of rancheras will recognize the lyrics, as this ode to ladies is part of the Great Mexican Songbook. But only the real Gs know that this song refers NOT to the Fería de San Marcos in Aguascaliente but San Marcos, Guerrero, and that its jaunting rhythm is a chilena, the native rhythm of the Costa Chica, the coastal region of southern Guerrero and northern Oaxaca that is one of Mexico’s two traditional strongholds of Afro-Mexicans. Mexico is more than mariachi, accordion, and tubas, bruh.
READING: “Nobody Cheers for Jerry Krause”: As sports fans get ready to start a 10-part ESPN documentary this Sunday on Michael Jordan’s final championship season, here’s a 1990 Chicago Reader profile on the Chicago Bulls general manager who built the team around him. Alt-weekly journalism at its finest — longer than it should be, stubbornly local, ultimately brilliant.
Gustavo Appearances (Yes, Even Now!)
Instagram Live chat: I’m rebooting my stint as scholar-in-residence at Occidental College’s Center for the Study of Los Angeles! Starting next Tuesday, I will resume my Tuesday office hours from noon-3 p.m. where people can book half an hour with me and we can talk one-on-one about WHATEVER. The meetings will be virtual, of course, and I’m kicking them off with a general Q & A on Instagram Live this Tuesday at noon! You gotta follow me on Instagram, of course, so DO IT DO IT DO IT!!!
Coronavirus in California
The latest episodes of my latest LA Times podcast — please listen to them all (just 15 minutes long!), subscribe, and leave me a five-star review on Apple! No, seriously: DO IT DO IT DO IT!
“Take-out and Delivery Only”: I talk to Minh Pham of Porridge + Puffs in L.A. about the struggles of running a restaurant right now.
“Homeless at High Risk”: I talk to the head of the Union Rescue Mission on Skid Row.
“Teaching Outside the Classroom”: A middle-school world history teacher breaks down how he’s reaching his students right now.
“A Journalist with the Coronavirus”: I talk to my LA Times colleague, Julia Wick, who is currently recovering from COVID-19.
“Disneyland Furloughs its Cast Members”: A conversation with a Disneyland Hotel worker about the struggles that cast members will now face.
Gustavo in the News
“L.A. Times Debuts Daily Podcast Focused On Coronavirus”: Industry shout-out to my newsletter.
“Essential California: Looking for the helpers near and far”: My LA Times colleague Esmeralda Bermudez shouts out one of my stories in our morning newsletter.
“Coronavirus Today: What a return to normal might look like”: My LA Times colleague Diya Chako shouts out my podcast in her essential newsletter last week, and also this week.
“Essential California: The affordable housing crisis in the time of coronavirus”: My LA Times colleague Benjamin Oreskes shouts out my podcast in our morning newsletter.
“New book ‘American Tacos’ probes a dish’s evolution across borders”: The Associated Press homie Russell Contreras shouts out my Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America in a story about my homie José Ralat’s new taco book.
“La evolución del taco alrededor del mundo contada en un libro”: And here’s Russell’s story in habla.
“This Orange County company has gone from making hair look cool to fighting coronavirus”: My latest LA Times story talks about Suavecito Pomade’s latest release: hand sanitizer. KEY QUOTE: “Their bigger goal is personal: Hire back the workers they had to furlough because of statewide stay-at-home edicts. Let their largely Latino clientele know that la corona is serious. And help out the hard-luck city they’ve always proudly repped.”
“Inconsistent data plagues Orange County’s COVID-19 preparedness”: My latest KCRW “Orange County Line” talks about issues with testing in 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!