I couldn’t believe the email in my inbox that came a couple of weeks ago — an apology 16 years late.
But an apology nevertheless.
I’m not going to get into the specifics TOO much, because this person has obviously buried our encounter deep enough to where it hasn’t affected them professionally — and I have no interest to ruin their career, even though I easily can.
But let’s just say that back in the day, this person publicly humiliated me in a way I never forgot or forgave.
Not that I obsessed over the slight – had too many other things to worry about. Besides, look at how I turned out, and look at how the offender did (well, you can’t because you don’t know who the person is ha ha).
But on the rare times I had an opportunity to remember the matter, I did. And let the people who heard me know what this person did to me, even if I never bothered to mention their name.
Otherwise, I hadn’t thought about the incident in years — until the person reached out this week.
They wanted to, of all things, congratulate me on my newish position as a columnist for the Los Angeles Times.
They didn’t even mention our past — but I had to.
And then they apologized — an earnest, thoughtful one that explained the reason why they attacked me but didn’t justify it.
I accepted their apology—forgave them, even. And finally forgot.
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Ever been part of a rancho rivalry? Where family members don’t speak to someone from the village — either a distant relative, a former friend, or (most of the time) a family member — because of some slight that happened three generations ago in the old country, or last month at a carne asada Sunday?
Not only are they not fun, they’re plain PENDEJO.
To obsess over your past is toxic, especially when there’s no there there (that’s why I hate nostalgia — if you can’t imagine better days ahead for you, might as well get pretty for the vultures).
It turns out most desaires (disrespects) are much ado about NADA.
If you cannot forgive someone for a past fuck-up — especially if they’re apologetic about it — that says more about your insecurities than the issue at hand.
Unless it involves a felony or bona fide slander, get over it.
Don’t let your past blow-ups with someone govern your relationship with them in the future — but keep it in mind.
I sometimes remember another professional face-off from my past, because we run in the same circles. This person ridiculed me consistently from their position back in the day, both publicly and privately. They never really apologized, but did see the errors of their way. I never took it personal, because I knew that their hatred towards me stemmed from jealousy.
So a decade later, when I had a chance to score them a payday…I did. They couldn’t believe it. I could— they were down on their luck, and needed the money.
And later on, when they had a chance to help me, they didn’t.
I wasn’t surprised, but I also didn’t regret the help I gave them. We’ll never be pals, because of our past — but that doesn’t mean I wish ill on them, or even that I won’t help them in the future.
Forgive, and move on.
As for the 16-Years-Late Apologist? We’re definitely not going to be friends, because in a subsequent email…they called me Gus.
THAT I will never forgive, because who’s Gus?
GRÍTALE A GUTI
This is the column where I take your questions about ANYTHING. And away we go…
I was thinking about Chapman today (I think we were there at the same time) in relation to some sociology papers on museums and the perception that they are white space and that definition is normative. I wondered how you experienced the campus. In the music department, we were already pretty highly segregated, and then within the department siloed into vocal and non-vocal tracks. I was one of the few who crossed over since I sang and played an instrument.
Anyway, value your thoughts if you have the time.
This isn’t just curiosity on my part, btw. I’ve been thinking for a long time about the new Musco Center, and how accessible it really is to the community, placed right in the middle of the campus.
Two variations on a theme: How does a person of color navigate the white world?
Same answer: By just navigating it.
I don’t mean to sound so flippant, but I’ll tell you what I always tell young PoC who come to me with the same concerns — the gabachos are more scared of you than you should be of them, so OWN your Other.
I did — and here I am.
Got a question for Guti? Email me here.
Enough rambling. This was the semana that was:
IMAGE OF THE WEEK: A Good Ol’ Chico — Mexican Coke, chile peanuts, bourbon-flavored soju, with a Tajin rim — at my wifey’s Alta Baja Market in SanTana. Named after my columna for the Southern Foodways Alliance. How I enjoy my weekends — and you should, too!
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “We would pick three or four songs with social messages and three or four songs that were nothing but dance, party songs, then we’d have three or four that were lush ballads, love songs. We tried to write songs that people would relate to for years to come.”
–Kenneth Gamble, of Gamble & Huff fame, to Smithsonian Magazine about their hit factory’s strategy
LISTENING:“Hawaii ’78,” Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. So you know IZ’s wistful take on “Over the Rainbow” that Hollywood turned into a treacly cliche? Get on the Hawaiian singer’s TRUE cover masterpiece: this anti-development prayer that the environmental movement would’ve turned into their anthem if they ever allowed PoC into their upper ranks. Beautiful, powerful, and Eddie Vedder had the smarts to cover it when Pearl Jam played in Honolulu back in 2006 #respect
READING: “On the Run”: The political evolution of Pablo Neruda, along with his poetry — an on-the-lam tale like few others.
SHOUTOUT TO: Araceli, who kindly donated 50 tacos to sponsor a full month of MailChango! She wants to plug her friends’ L.L. Shop, which specializes in wrestling/UFC collectibles and has other cool stuff. Hey, someone buy me a figurine of Kurt Angle wearing a small Stetson when he was following Stone Cold Steve Austin, porfas!
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
“Danette Mitchell: Black men, and the Democratic rout that wasn’t”: A columnist for The Reporter up in Vacaville, CA shouts out my work for LA Times.
“Latinx Files: The story behind the name, and why Latinx voters are exhausted”: The LA Times’ new Latino-themed newsletter shouts me out — subscribe to it TODAY.
“Essential Politics: The GOP’s calendar problem”: Another LA Times newsletter shouts me out — subscribe to it TODAY!
“Essential California Week in Review: A week of waiting”: Still another LA Times newsletter shouts me out — subscribe to it TODAY!
“Reflecting on the 2020 Elections: The Humanities Respond”: I take part in a roundtable sponsored by the UCI Humanities Center.
“Danny Trejo Responds to Calls for Senate Run: ‘I’d Rather Be on the Frontlines’”: Machete himself responds to a columna I just did about him.
“Danny Trejo: “Una carriera in politica? No, preferirei aiutare chi ha bisogno””: And his response makes news in Italy..
“Danny Trejo reageert op suggestie om senator te worden”: …and Belgium!
“Danny Trejo (Machete) reageert op vraag of hij senator wil worden”: …AND the Netherlands!
“Latino, la categoría polivalente de las elecciones presidenciales de EE.UU.”: A Spaniard in England mentions me in his analysis for a Barcelona-based newspaper. Ah, globalism…
“Grítale a Guti, Ep. 20”: My weekly IG Live free-for-all — tune in every Tuesday at 10:15 PM PT for DESMADRE.
“It wasn’t a Blue wave this election, but Orange County begins to hue blue” My latest KCRW “Orange County Line” talks about how the 2020 elections played out in OC.
“Column: ‘Machete’ for U.S. Senate? The bold choice for California Gov. Gavin Newsom”: My latest Los Angeles Times columna urges Newsom to go for Danny Trejo. KEY QUOTE: “That’s why we need a unity candidate, someone all Californians can rally around in these divided times. And the more that I weeded through Newsom’s long list of hopefuls, the more I thought about Trejo. His candidacy contains multitudes.”
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