Me doing about to do an interview at a Bakersfield radio station while taking a phone call for something else. Photo by Matt Muñoz — man, I miss that shirt...

Gentle cabrones:

I hate when people ask me what my resolutions or goals or plans are for the new year.

I make none of those. Most of my life is very much like Torisho Mifune’s character in Yojimbo: Throw up a stick in the air, and go where it points.

See what’s in front of you, and WERK.

Which means I don’t think about things I might want to do; I DO them.

And with that, here are my projects for 2021. Some are years in the making; others just came to me.

But they will all happen, insha’Allah.


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This fall, the University of California Press will release this book, co-authored by Cal State Fullerton Professor Elaine Lewinnek, UC Irvine archivist Thuy Vo Dang, and yours truly. We’ve been working on this for a couple of years, and it’s AMAZING.


Sometime this spring, the LA Times will debut a daily podcast hosted by yours truly. Premise? The world through California and the West, in about 30 minutes, through my glasses of DESMADRE.


Disgusted by the lack of opportunities for ruthless, crusading, HILARIOUS journalists in Orange County ever since the demise of my former paper, I’m going to do something about it. This is NOT a replacement for the infernal rag, but rather an opportunity to fling literary truth bombs at alt-losers that had it easy all 2020. Think The Baffler printed out at my wife’s store haha


Since coronavirus is still a thing, I’m teaching my usual Orange Coast College journalism class online this spring semester. If you’ve always wanted to get into longform and learn it from me, this might be your last chance to do it from wherever, because I’m sure we’ll resume in-person learning in the fall…right?


Disgusted by the lack of opportunities for journalists, I’m going to continue to do something about it. I’ll definitely do another fund-drive — and more.

May your 2021 be better than your 2020. And don’t dream; DO.


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

I believe your roots are from Zacatecas from what I recall, a state in central Mexico. I’m assuming you’ve been there many times. I’m from Monterrey and have had the cabrito that area is known for. What about the culinary cuisine in Zacatecas? I plan to go one day – I want to see the statue of Pancho Villa on horseback there… have you seen it? there’s actually a pretty good one at a park in Tucson which I visited once on the way to cabrito land last year.

Folks: before you ask me questions about me for GAG, do your research. There are very few things about me and my past that I have not written/spoken/rambled about. And if this answer comes off as ain’t! Even a quick Google search brings up articles and podcasts to all the queries above. Ask me about Clan of the Cave Bear, not about a state and its culture that I plug basically every other day and have ever since I became a reporter.

All that said, I always try to teach, so here’s a name-based insult for Zacatecas: Zacatuercas. And the beat goes on…

Got a question for Guti? Email me here.


Enough rambling. This was the semana that was:

IMAGE OF THE WEEK: Mosaic of the Virgen de Guadalupe and San Juan Diego at St. Mary’s Church in Boyle Heights.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”

–Preface to Leaves of Grass

LISTENING:El Rito,” Gustavo Cerati. A lot of chatter right now about Netflix’s six-part documentary by one tocacyo (Gustavo Santaolalla) on rock en español, mostly about its faults. I don’t plan to see it because I really don’t Netflix, but it allows me to remember my other Argentine tocayo (of Soda Stereo fame) and his 2001 Once Episodios Sinfónicos, one of the most underrated Latin American albums EVER. Just take this track, which embodies the stirring scope of the best Aaron Copland. Cerati remains missed…

READING: A Reckoning for the Modi DemocratsDissent always publishes smart, well-written take-downs of international fascists, like this one involving Indian-American politicians and their relationship to India’s Hindu nationalists.

SHOUTOUT TO: Donald, who kindly donated 100 tacos to sponsor TWO months of MailChango! His plugs: The Cheech in Riverside, and the city’s legendary Zacatecas Mexican Cafe, which does NOT really serve zacatecano food but is legit regardless.

Gustavo in the News

We Didn’t Know What We Had Until It Was Gone”: I get name-checked as an alt-weekly journalist of color who had to leave the profession to become something. Um, okay…

Coronavirus Today: Our century-old mask wars”: My columna below makes the LA Times’ coronavirus newsletter…

Today’s Headlines: The $2,000 question”: …and our regular newsletter.

Essential California: Settle in at Home”: …and our Essential California newsletter.

Mailbag: H.B. councilman’s stance on face masks troubles readers”: Daily Pilot readers cite me to trash Tito Ortiz — smart!

Here are the top Latino media moments of 2020 — and hints of what to expect in 2021”: My compa Daniel Hernandez shouts out a previous article of mine…

Latinx Files: As 2020 comes to end, a time for reflection and hope”: …as does Fidel Martinez in his must-subscribe Latinx Files newsletter.

El riesgo más grande de Linda Ronstadt”: CNN en Español cites my writings on Canciones de mi Padre.

Gustavo Stories

Grítale a Guti, Ep. 28 (I Think)” My latest Tuesday-night IG Live free-for-all.

California’s battle over mask wearing began 102 years ago. Stupid then, stupid now”: My latest Los Angeles Times columna digs into the past to show how the maskholes of 1918 are the PANDEJOS of today. KEY QUOTE: “But a look back at the face-off between maskers and anti-maskers during the height of the Spanish flu actually offers a cautionary tale that should haunt us today: A public health official had a chance to help save even more lives, and blew it.”

In the face of a COVID-19 onslaught, it’s time to get angry — but hopeful”: My year-end columna tries to give folks a rallying cry. KEY QUOTE: “We’re all angry — and that can set us on a path onward or dangerously backward. There’s no use in being a berserker whose most potent weapon is spittle. So what are you going to do with your fury?”

People came by to pay final respects to this East L.A. tree that went Hollywood. Too soon?”: My first columna of the year found me at El Pino of Blood In, Blood Out fame. KEY QUOTE: “If you want a metaphor for the gloom that infected 2020 versus the promise of 2021, it’s in the bristly shade of this legendary tree.”

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