Freelancers know what's up with WERK. Image by Pixabay

Gentle cabrones:

If you’ve been reading these cantos every week – and only about 40 percent of you regularly do smh — you’ll know that I’ve been publishing original stories on my website as of recent.

It started off with a dispatch from San Diego by Mario A. Cortez on a famous Chicano muralistupdating a piece of his for the Black Lives Matter AND coronavirus era.

Next was a long, elegiac essay by Roberto José Andrade Franco about his testy relationship with Pancho Villa.

This week, Cynthia Rebolledo wrote a review of Orange County’s first vegan taqueria.

All of them were great stories.

All of the writers are freelancers looking for steady work.

All of them got paid for their work, thanks to the tacos you gift me every week.

Let’s do a full taquiza this week.


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

Two years ago, I asked ustedes to give me $1,000 within a week to fund a dream.

At the time, I had no job and was freelancing like crazy. I had just launched my personal website, named after this newsletter, named after my dream at the time:

My own publication.

Ustedes gave me $1,000 within 36 hours.

Y’all liked the idea of me commissioning four original pieces (at $250 apiece) and one of my own. And I followed through.

So let’s do it again.

This time, I’m asking for $2,000.

That allows me to commission 3 original pieces of about 600-1,000 words at $300 apiece for the author.

A long, narrative story — from 2,500 to 3,500 words — at $1,000.

And that extra $100? I’ll commission an editorial cartoon (I know just the person, too!)

I’m doing this because American journalism is at an even more precarious spot than it was two years ago.

Far too many reporters have lost their jobs this year. Even my colleagues and I at the Los Angeles Times were furloughed once a week for most of the summer.

I’m lucky: I still have a job, and one where my jefes treat me well.

But I want to help.

Freelancers don’t want freebies; they want to WERK.

Once I get the funds, I’ll commission some stories off any pitches I get (freelancers: I’m looking for reported stories, not essays. I like local stories, but am open to ANYTHING as long as it’s great. Pitch me at

Once I have edit the pieces into shape, I’ll publish them all in one week to showcase writers I like, and hope bigger publications tale notice.

I’ll even join in the fun with one of my Mexican-music listicles!

So help me help others. Contribute tacos on Venmo and Paypal. Send them made out to me (with extra salsa roja) to P.O. Box 1433, Anaheim, CA 92815.

Por favor include an email so I can send you a personal gracias (for those of ustedes who contributed last time and didn’t get a gracias from me — trust me, I think about my ingratitude all the time and am still trying to figure out how to acknowledge ustedes. This is a start, I hope.)

I know times are hard for everyone. If ustedes can’t give, no worries whatsoever. But I care deeply about journalism — and so, I commission with your help.

And in case you’re wondering: my rates are about the industry average. It’s excusable when it’s one guy, downright disgraceful when it’s national media companies paying that.

Let’s do better. Let’s start with Gustavo Arellano’s Weekly. Let’s do it in 72 hours.

And if this proves successful?

Let’s do it again.


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

Why so many Latinos are against flu shots? Don’t mean to generalize, but this has been my experience?

But you DID generalize, didn’t you? U.S.-born Latinos definitely get vaccinated against la gripa less than gabachos — but foreign-born Latinos tend to be near the average American rate (refry the findings in “Generation status as a determinant of influenza vaccination among Mexican-identified adults in California, 2011–12” in the June 2016 edition of Preventative Medicine Reports).

Medical experts use the usual poor-pathetic-Mexicans argument of lack of health access and poverty to explain the disturbing disparity, but let’s get real: pochos can be as anti-vaxxer as any gaba because they buy into American exceptionalism. This is proven by the fact is that the longer Latinos are in this country, the lower their vaccination rates get. And now you know why your primo listens to Alex Jones and is a QAnon-preaching pendejo.

Got a question for Guti? Email me here.


Enough rambling. This was the semana that was:

IMAGE OF THE WEEK: Mural of the Maize Queen outside La Blanquita in East Los Angeles. Been spending my weekends preparing for my KCRW #TortillaTournament — details to come…

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “When I used to do card shows, guys would come up to me all the time, tears in their eyes, and they’d say, ‘Mickey Mantle. I’ve been waiting all my life to meet you.’ This one guy said to his little boy, ‘Son, that’s the greatest ballplayer that ever lived.’ And the little boy looked up and said, ‘Daddy, that’s an old man.’”

–Mickey Mantle

LISTENING:La Rielera,” Lucha Moreno. Not Lucha Villa, or Reyes, but the OTHER Lucha of ranchera, a fine singer who does a great job on this legendary ballad of the Mexican Revolution. Heard it on public intellectual Gregorio Luke’s KPFK-FM 90.7 Wednesday night show on the history of Mexican music, and so should you!

READING: Nowhere Land” How a town on the U.S. side of the Maine-Quebec border slowly died because of 9/11 — and how it just might yet survive. From Down East, a great magazine on all things Maine.

SHOUTOUT TO: Juanita and Ryan, who kindly donated 50 tacos each to sponsor a full month of MailChango! None of them wanted shoutouts, so I’ll just shout out generosity in this world — may all learn it!

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!

Gustavo in the News

Back to School Reading List for Grown-Ups”: The alt-weekly Santa Fe Reporter shouts out my Taco USA book, but thinks it was published in 2018; it was published in 2012, kids!

For back to school, he takes roll of his K-6 teachers, one by one”: Beloved Inland Valley Daily Bulletin columnist David Allen liked my canto about my elementary school teachers so much he kindly asked if he could rip off the idea. I agreed, only because I knew he’d do the idea better — and he did!.

Alta Asks Live: Gustavo Arellano”: I appear on the weekly interview series for Alta, where I serve as contributing editor and need to do a story for them stat!

Gustavo Stories

Supreme Court rules in favor of OC Sheriff amid concerns over inmate safety” My latest KCRW “Orange County Line” talks about the latest tomfoolery in the OC jail system.

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