And, of course, please buy my annual calendar and buy Lalo Alcaraz's book about tacos!

Gentle cabrones:

For the past decade or so, I’ve devoted a columna of whatever columna I was writing at the time to a holiday gift list.

It’s always been a compendium of books I read in the past year — mostly academic, mostly Latino-themed.

But this year?

Geez, give everything good to everyone.

Give joy. Give happiness. Give hope.


Give especially to your favorite small business, whatever it may be. Even if you don’t like the coronavirus lockdowns — ESPECIALLY if you don’t like the coronavirus lockdowns — give money to them.

And give the gift of the following things I’m about to plug, things close to me.

I can offer way, way more things, but I wanted to limit it to just five, so I can offer this challenge:

Give to your favorite organization, no matter how small or big.



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

The Slingshot!: My former colleague Gabriel San Román is the last real reporter in Orange County. Every week, he offers dispatches from the evilest parts of OC — Huntington Beach, Brea, Anaheim wokosos — with the investigative chops and HILARITY of our former paper. Subscribe to his newsletter, and fork over some feria to him, por favor.

Libromobile: This mujer-run SanTana bookstore specializes in Latinx books and is the only place you can buy autographed copies of all my books. Support them, por favor.

Orange County Catholic Worker: Dwight and Leia Smith have been secular saints for over 20 years, standing on the side of good, and plaintiffs in historic lawsuits that helped the homeless in a place that refuses to believe they exist. Donate money, supplies, and your COVID-safe labor, por favor.

Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble: Playwright Sara Guerrero is the Autumn Wilson of Orange County, helping to pen at least three plays dealing with Latino life, including my own Canto de Anaheim.  But the best thing about Sara is that she’s the epitome of a coaching tree, and the people who have acted in BOFLTE plays or taken workshops have gone on to do their own things. Give them money, por favor.

Red Canary Magazine: Joe Donnelly is a hell of a writer, yet an even better editor. He’s launched yet another wonderful longform publication, one focused on climate and social-justice issues. Read Joe’s mag and subscribe, por favor.


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

I speak both English & Spanish fluently.  Both my parents are from Mexico and they ensured that I retained my Spanish-speaking superpower.

I’ve always found it awkward when someone is speaking in English and then comes across a Spanish word which is pronounced in a nearly-perfect Spanish accent, and then goes back to speaking in English.

I understand that we are proud of our ethnicity, but should we turn on the Spanish accent (strongly!) when we come across a Spanish word?  Even if we’re talking to English-speaking people?  Or is it better to pronounce those Spanish terms in an English twang?  I believe that if you’re talking in English, then stay in that mode.  However, I also feel that I don’t need to prove to anybody that I am fluent in Spanish.

What do YOU do when your English spoken conversation includes a Spanish term?  Do you say it with an English accent, or do you turn on the Español?  Or does it matter who you’re speaking with?

Answered this question over a decade ago in a columna I used to write; the answer is in a book that Libromobile stocks — buy it for my response! The only thing I’ll add: I’ve still never decided whether custodians of Cervantes are as ludicrous as shepherds of Shakespeare…

Got a question for Guti? Email me here.


Enough rambling. This was the semana that was:

IMAGE OF THE WEEK: Caribbean, Korean, and New Mexican hot sauces sold at my wife’s Alta Baja Market in SanTana. Buy local!

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “I am going to be rather hard-nosed and say that if you have to find devices to coax yourself to stay focused on writing, perhaps you should not be writing what you’re writing. And, if this lack of motivation is a constant problem, perhaps writing is not your forte. I mean, what is the problem? If writing bores you, that is pretty fatal. If that is not the case, but you find that it is hard going and it just doesn’t flow, well, what did you expect? It is work; art is work.”

–Ursula K. Le Guin

LISTENING:Los Comanchitos,” Our Lady of Sorrows Senior Choir in Bernalilo, New Mexico. One of the most hauntingly beautiful songs I’ve EVER heard, it’s a centuries-old Christmas song from Northern New Mexico and recorded in the early 1990s for a Smithsonian Folkways album. The earnestness in the performance of the singers — the one man who keeps singing a bit too early, the melancholy accordion, the simple chords, the shuffling of music pages — is worthy of Bethlehem.

READING: The Man Who Found Forrest Fenn’s Treasure”: I’ll never be an outdoorsman, but Outside consistently published awesome stories like this one, which details a legendary treasure hunt and the man who now has to fend off all the losers.

SHOUTOUT TO: Felipe, who kindly donated 50 tacos to sponsor a full month of MailChango! He writes: “I’d like to plug La Libreria for years of work promoting bilingualism in L.A. (Full disclosure: Yes, it is my wife’s business, but their work is important…and it’s kind of almost a non-profit anyway…:-)”

Loco, no shame in supporting your wife’s business — I do it all the time. The luckiest husbands are those whose beloved does awesome things, you know?

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

Southern California sheriffs are refusing to enforce stay-at-home orders”: Vox shouts out my potshots at the corona-crazy sheriffs of Orange and Riverside counties.

Hospitals On the Verge of ‘Failure’; Congress Haggles Over Help”: So does the Coachella Valley Independent.

Latinx Files: The COVID-19 vaccine and its importance to our community”: The LA Times’ awesome Latino-themed newsletter plugs my pandejos columna from last week.

The 2020 L.A. Taco Book Guide: 32 L.A.-Centered Books to Read, Gift, and Get Inspired On”: L.A. Taco plugs my plug of a collection of poetry that’s great.

Has it Been a Year Already?”: The Liberal O.C. thinks my current columnas “aren’t what they were” compared to my previous columnas in OC Weekly, which they pretend to miss. Of course, back when the Weekly was around, the Blueviator thought we were trash — but who’s counting?

The John and Ken Show”: The longrunning KFI-AM 640 loserfest uses one my columns to essentially advocate for a quarantine on Latinos because our coronavirus numbers are so high. Bigots much?

Gustavo Stories

Is COVID real for OC residents? That’s up to debate, says Gustavo Arellano”” My latest KCRW “Orange County Line” talks about OC’s eternal coronavirus pandejos.

Grítale a Guti, Episode 25”: My latest Instagram Live Tuesday-night free-for-all.

Unregistered 143: Gustavo Arellano”: I appear on Thaddeus Russell’s libertarian podcast for the second time.

This Mexican nerd’s guide to coronavirus lockdown reading”: My latest Los Angeles Times columna is the very annual holiday book guide I’ve been doing for over a decade. KEY QUOTE: “So bundle up with some to-go coffee in hand, a mask by your side, and find a moment of distraction from a year with the scope of Tolstoy, the heaviness of Joan Didion, the absurdity of David Foster Wallace and the Gothic horror of Mary Shelley.”

What in tarnation is going on with Southern California sheriffs and coronavirus?”: My latest LA Times takes on the Orange and Riverside county sheriffs for their hypocritical tough-guy talk agains coronavirus lockdowns. KEY QUOTE: “They’re the Keystone corona-Kops. Except their tomfoolery endangers us all.”

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