Nothing against ducks, mind you...Image by SeaReeds from Pixabay

Gentle cabrones:

My wonderful wife — like all wives in this vale of tears — thinks her husband talks too much.

She even has a name for it: quack-quack.

As in, I talk so much in her background that I sound like a chattering duck.

Actually, when pressed for an explanation for her uncharitable take, she explains that I talk so much that she imagines me to be the adults in Peanuts cartoons. When I remind her that the sound is actually a wah-wah trombone, and that when we go to parties, she actually asks me to be social, she won’t back down.

I digress.

We both agree on the definition of quack-quack, though: aggro chatter.

Talk just for the sake of talk.

Without any action.

That ain’t me, babe.

But it’s a plague worse than hen-pecking.


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Election 2020 is gearing up. Social media is ablaze with performative bullshit — people hashtagging and posing and doing their damndest to look stylish and woke.

Or just to talk shit on people they disagree with.

A bunch of quack-quack.

Lot of talk, with little doing.


I always liked the Teddy Roosevelt advice to speak softly and carry a big stick — except my 4×4 isn’t imperialism but actions.

And my ultimate goal isn’t destruction, but rather a flourishing.

The rose does grow from concrete — but it needs water and care to not only survive, but thrive.

When you trash your political or moral enemies, do you try to inspire your side afterwards?

When you bash, do you try to lift up others afterwards?

When you publicly excoriate others, do you in private — when no one is looking — try to better this world?

The whole Matthew 6:6-8, you know?

Actually, the whole Matthew — but I digress.

I try to make every word and action to count, because quack-quack does nothing to build. It only, ultimately bores.

A plague worse than hen-pecking.


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

What about poetry? Do ya have favorite poems? I might as well tell you mine Jabberwocky by a fellow named Charles Dodgeson because of the imagery and Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost because of my love of nature and its reference to living and dying.

Neruda, of course, especially “I’m Explaining a Few Things,” one of the purest distillations of anger ever produced. Can’t stand Dickinson, nor most of the Romantics. Allen Ginsberg is a perverted genius. “I am Joaquín” retains its powers all these decades later.

But you know what poem is just grand? Maya Angelou’s On the Pulse of Morning.” I remember hearing it when she read it at Bill Clinton’s inauguration, and although I didn’t understand what it meant, I knew it was powerful. I finally get it all these years later — if only we all dropped our bloody sears…

Got a question for Guti? Email me here.


Enough rambling. This was the semana that was:

IMAGE OF THE WEEK: Cantinflas wearing a mask at a taquería in SanTana. If Mexico’s greatest comedian can #wearamask, so can Huntington Beach, you know?

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Eating, laughing, and telling stories. They love that. They like life more than they like money”

Ernest Matthew Mickler, about Southerners. Reminds me of Mexicans, too…

LISTENING:Corrido De Eliseo Piza,” Siglo XX. The Costa Chica is one of Mexico’s primary regions for Afro-Mexican culture and roughly corresponds to the southern Guerrero and northern Oaxaca coasts. Their most famous musical genre is chilenas, but their corridos are DEEP TRACK stuff — makes trap corridos sound like a bunch of fresas. Like this menacing waltz, which gives a shoutout to Tlacoachistlahuaca, a town that doesn’t get nearly enough shoutouts…

READING: Up-Island” A great history-remembrance of Martha’s Vineyard, that playground of the Eastern elite — but it’s more than that, too. Unsurprising news: The Obamas like the good life, but are nice about it.

SHOUTOUT TO: Chad, who kindly donated 100 tacos to sponsor TWO months of MailChango! For one plug, he asks for some love to the Centro Romero in Chicago, which “have been doing good work with immigrants and refugees in Chicago for a long time.”

I offered Chad a second plug, but he declined it and instead wrote, “I’ll echo another reader who donated recently and encourage everyone who gets your newsletter to pitch in some tacos as well.”

You heard the Chad — TACO UP!

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

A.M. Brief: Food for Thought on California’s Fire Policy”: Something called We Like LA shouts-out a 2018 LA Times column I did about Mike Davis and fires.

Though Extinguished Far Too Soon, Ruben Salazar Still Lights the Path for Future Journalists”: The student newspaper for Cal State Dominguez Hills shouts me out in their remembrance of the pioneering LA Times columnist.

LA Times Columnist Gustavo Arrellano. Hector De Leon Tracks Ascent of Latino Vote”: Librotraficante Tony Diaz interviews me about my upcoming role as a columnista, which starts THIS WEDNESDAY.

La Moratoria Chicana y el poderoso legado del periodista Rubén Salazar tras 50 años de su muerte”: Univisión’s Al Punto California interviews me about the journalism martyr.

Herald Publisher Meets With J-Groups”: Journal-isms also shouts out my upcoming columna. No pressure, right?

Gustavo Stories

Anaheim wants to sell Angel Stadium to baseball team’s owners for a radically reduced $150 million” My latest KCRW “Orange County Line” talks about how the city council of my beloved hometown is allow Arte Moreno to fleece residents. But Trout, bruh!

Grítale a Guti, Episode Lucky #13” My latest Tuesday-night free for all, where I answer people’s questions about ANYTHING. Consider it to be my podcast, and tune in!

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