Gentle cabrones:

Greetings on this unprecedented Thursday morning: first time I’ve sent out a full canto on a day that WASN’T a Saturday or Sunday.

I think.

But I wanted to beat the Memorial Day weekend, as surreal as this one will be, and make sure I had as much time as possible to figure out this Mailchango…

So here it is!

My new newsletter!

Same-ish as the previous one…okay, so the changes are really the equivalent of a racing stripe.

So the logo to my website now leads everything off.

And the font is now serifs instead of sans serifs, because I’m OLD SKOOL like that.

It’s also a little bit bigger, I think…but I’m still including just two photos for now.

The roundups of my stories and original rant and recommendations I’ve offered in the past remain.

But a little of the wording in the shameless plugs are tweaked.

So what’s new? Well, this is all costing me $50 a month, because my provider Mailchimp is the top of the game — and the game ain’t for free, you know?

But also new are the possibilities.

Or better yet, a return to why I started this pinche canto in the first place.


Sunflower seeds sprouting — put in 12, have eight so far…

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

So…what do you want from this newsletter?

More personal stories? More moral lesson? Random rants? Recommendations?

I’m going to start to include quotes I like — I’m a big fan of quotes. Get inspired and shit.

How about a shoutout to the people who donate? Just might (gracias to all of ustedes who did last week but ESPECIALLY Craig, Sonia, and Aurora — who donated a month’s worth of Mailchimp fees — and even MORE especially Christine, who donated a month and a half’s worth #respect).

I really can’t offer full opinions, or much original reporting by me, because I save that for my homie jefes, you know?

But I AM going to start commissioning more original reporting for my website.

What I originally wanted to do.

Because American journalism is in crisis mode.

And I want to help.

With your generous donations here, I plan to do that.

So starting in June, I’m plan to commission at least one original story a month — about 700-900 words — and one long story (2,500-plus words) per quarter.

And I will pay contributors, and link to their stories here.

We’ve done this before; let’s do this again, but now for real.

Because all of ustedes have believed in me to do something unique — and I’m ready.

(And if you’re a freelancer who wants to pitch me something? Hit this cholo nerd up)

Anything else  y’all want? Email me! Definitely tell me if there’s any hiccups with the design and all that so I can try to fix.

Have a safe Memorial Day weekend — and don’t forget the sacrifice José Angel Garibay and so many others gave for our right to ignore past pandemics…


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

So here is my dilemna.  I live part-time in a rural town just big enough to have one Kroger chain store, Smith’s. They only sell tortillas from that Mexican giant, GRUMA. Ah, sufrimos bajo el imperialismo azteca

What am I to do? Not eat tortillas or put my wife back to making those thick chunky ones she grew up eating in El Salvador? They really don’t bend to be used for tacos or enchiladas. Please absolve me of sin, Padre.

Su humilde seguidor que besa vuestro pies y que lee religiosamente vuestra misiva semanal.

Hey, there’s nothing wrong with Salvadoran tortillas — they’re PERFECT with a casamiento, or alone with a dollop of crema salvadoreña. Besides, you’re not trying hard enough to find good Mexican tortillas.

You didn’t say where you live, but I know that the Smith’s chain is a Mountain West standard, which means there’s Mexicans near you. Betcha they’ll tell you where to find some good ones instead of relying on the abomination that is the Guerrero/Mission/Maseca devil.

Worst-case scenario? Get someone to buy some for you, have them shipped, then freeze them (they can easily keep a year). Find some fine choices at my KCRW #TortillaTournament project, porfas!

Got a question for Guti? Email me here.


Enough rambling. This was the semana that was:

IMAGE OF THE WEEK: Tacos made from the AMAZING falafel mix by Kareem’s Restaurant and corn tortillas by Kernel of Truth. The former ships anywhere in the U.S.; the latter sells at my wife’s Alta Baja Market. Buy local!

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “If they give you $10 for a day’s work, you give them $12 worth in return.”

–Father of basketball great Bill Russell

LISTENING:Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite,” The Spaniels. Whenever we have parties at our house, I have a closing set on Spotify of three songs that signifies to guests it’s time to get the hell out. I’m adding this doo-wop classic — the second-to-last song heard on American Graffiti — to the mix. Oh, to kick out guests again…

READING: The Haunting of Drums and Shadows.” Latham’s Quarterly is the journal of longtime Harper’s editor Lewis Latham, an ever-interesting compendium of the past and present. He also commissions original online pieces like this fascinating history about the Depression-era Federal Writers Project, Geechee folklore, and more. Maybe I’ll start a quarterly as a furlough hobby…

Important Note for Next Week!

Starting next week, I’ll be sending out my cantos from because Mailchango tells me my open rate will be better if I send from a domain I pay for instead of a free email service. So please put the info email in your address book so this canto doesn’t go to spam!

Gustavo Community Office Hours!

I’m rebooting my stint as scholar-in-residence at Occidental College’s Institute for the Study of Los Angeles! Every Tuesday, from noon-3 p.m. people can book half an hour with me and we can Zoom (over a secure line, of course) one-on-one about WHATEVER. Interested? Email me to book your time NOW!

Coronavirus in California: Stories from the Front Lines

This is my latest project for the Los Angeles Times, a 15-minute podcast that appears Monday through Friday. Do me a favor: Download them all, stream them, then leave me a five-star review on Apple–each one helps!

Hollywood Coronavirus Shuffle”: A conversation with Hollywood’s hardest-working Mexican, Al Madrigal, on how the industry has (and hasn’t) changed.

A Coronavirus Middle Road in … Orange County?”: My talk with Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett about my beloved OCC.

Sympathy for the Mom-and-Pop Landlord”: I speak with Darryl Marshak about what smaller landlords are dealing with right now.

Archive Your Pandemic Days”: I speak with Liz Ramirez, librarian-archivist for Los Angeles Communities and Cultures at the UCLA Library Special Collections, about documenting this coronavirus moment for posterity.

Gustavo in the News

Chili con carne: amikor tényleg babra megy a játék”: A Hungarian paper shouts out my work on Mexican food — COOL…

Center for Disease Control Releases Federal Guidelines for Restaurant Reopenings” Eater LA shouts out my LA Times piece on sports bars

Gustavo Stories

Why are COVID-19 cases in Orange County stubbornly high?” My latest KCRW “Orange County Line” tells the story local politicians conveniently don’t like to acknowledge.

En Casa con LA Plaza: California in the Time of Coronavirus with Gustavo Arellano”: My conversation with the awesome museum’s Abelardo de la Peña, Jr. about coronavirus — check out their series!

Surviving the shutdown: No sports, no bars. So what’s a sports bar to do?”: My latest LA Times story highlights Kelly’s Korner Tavern in Placentia, which makes AWESOME bar food. KEY QUOTE: “Friends will order at the same time just so they can catch up from a distance in person for a bit,” he said. “We’re a bigger part of the community than I figured.”

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!