|This is not a humblebrag on my part — I swear! — but people have been jealous of me nearly my entire life.|
They were jealous of me when my mami would make me peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches in elementary school despite her meager income while everyone else got a school lunch.
They were jealous that I read so much.
They were jealous when I got promotions at work even though they had more years there.
They were jealous when I got book deals.
They were jealous when I had a loving family.
They’re jealous right now because I have a columna, am about to host a daily podcast, and drive a truck.
Jan Brady has NOTHING on the people who have followed my life while gnashing their teeth.
I wish those people would talk to me — EN ZERIO.
Because I’d tell them they have nothing to be jealous about.
My life ain’t all that. Heart disease and cancer run in my family, along with male-pattern baldness. I’ve seen less than 10 movies in the theater over the past 15 years, because I’m always so busy. I think I have some weird electromagnetic field that makes ANY electronics go haywire around me.
Besides, a reporter’s life is an existential whoopie cushion, one where 99.9 percent of humanity has no idea who you are, and 60 percent of your pinche subscribers to your pinche newsletter never pinche open it—wait, did I say the quiet part loud?
More importantly, I’d tell folks to not be jealous of because it’ll destroy them as I catapult to the next level—and then they get even MORE jealous.
And the beat goes on.
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This is the template of my life:
I show up to a new level — a school, a job, a social scene — unaware of what I’m about to get into, with little talent except my drive to succeed.
And so I do — by pure hustle.
Los flojos — the lazies — have the proverbial run of the shop, and get mad at me and complain publicly and privately that I’m doing too much.
And then they try to destroy me.
It’s refreshing to not have to deal with that at the Los Angeles Times. Imagine being in a place where your peers actually respect you and cheer you on? Unprecedented in my life.
It’s been a much-needed exception to the rule.
I mention the most notorious example in my little-read memoir Orange County: A Personal History. When it was announced at my workplace that I got a two-book deal back in 2006, more than a few of my coworkers grumbled. One of them actually cried out of admitted jealousy.
Who the FUCK does that? My colleagues did.
It bothered me, but ultimately not THAT much — I had a job to do.
And so I did it.
Not a single one of them remains in real journalism today.
Again: I don’t retell this to brag about how I’m so badass. I’m really not — I just do my job.
But I do say this as a warning to others.
Don’t worry about your competition TOO much. Don’t worry about what the Joneses and Rodriguezes and Changs do. Do that, and you’ll waste your time obsessing over people and things you can’t control.
Jealousy is worrying about others when you should be worried about YOU.
Those type of people never do. They instead blame their failures on the people they hate, who usually are so far up above them to care that the hater gets even angrier.
And the beat goes on.
Jealousy is a hell of a drug. The only antidote? WERK.
GRÍTALE A GUTI
This is the column where I take your questions about ANYTHING. And away we go…
Every Mexican I’ve known well loved spaghetti, always served pre-mixed with a simple, meatless tomato sauce. When I’ve had it in their homes, I’ve noted that it contained no especias mexicanas. Nada, none, zip, zero. Indeed, the spiciest thing it contained — which was a rarity — was … wait for it … Parmesan cheese! I know that part of its popularity had to do with its ultra-low cost and you could feed la familia for pennies; I’m sure the fact that everyone, especially los niños, liked it also didn’t hurt. So, mi pregunta: Why, with the notable exception of fideo, is pasta never seen in Mexican restaurants? How/why did it get left out, even as a kids meal? After all, among mis amigos mexicanos, it was nearly as traditional a meal as enchiladas or pozole. What happened on the way to the restaurante?
My family ate pasta — my mami would make spaghetti sometimes, but more likely fettucine Alfredo. But it was like every other week instead of a regular thing. And all my tías make a mean pasta salad, but only for celebrations. And don’t forget sopa maruchana – Mexico is regularly in the top five in the world in dried noodles, diabetes be damned.
But restaurants rarely offer what you regularly eat at home in general — if they did, then what’s the point of eating out?
Got a question for Guti? Email me here.
Enough rambling. This was the semana that was:
|IMAGE OF THE WEEK: Sticker from my second Moderna shot at the Anaheim Convention Center. Folks, GET VACCINATED! And continue to #wearamask|
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “I thought heroic meant going to the noose cursing your hangman and sticking with a lost cause.”
LISTENING:“El Verde de Tus Ojos,” Kiko Rodriguez. I was in a bachata conversation this past week, and the East Coasters were SHOCKED I knew this jittery classic. Well, DUH: Mexicans remade it into a sonidero of the same name, and have remade many a Monchy y Alexandra standard. Now, if I only knew how to dance bachata…
READING: “Why flights from Central America often have the enticing aroma of fried chicken”: My Los Angeles Times colleague Brittny Mejia took an idea I gave her over a year ago to turn out a brilliant ode to the power of nostalgia, homesickness and Pollo Campero, a legendary Guatemalan fried-chicken chain. Open an OC spot, already!
No One Gave Me Tacos Last Weekend
Folks: for only the fifth time in the 152-canto history of this newsletter, no one gave me tacos — not even a Choco one or Taco Bell one. I’ll NEVER make this a paid newsletter, but no one gave me tacos last week. Even just one a week reminds me I’m not writing into the void, you know? So do give your eternal Mexican with glasses a taco every once in a while, which goes toward paying MailChango and allows me to commission original works for my website. Don’t make me do my Dr. Gene Scott impression haha!
April 23, 1 p.m.: “Gustavo Arellano in conversation with California MacArthur Fellows”: As part of the LA Times’ Festival of Books, I’ll be in Zoom conversation with UCLA professor Kelly Lytle Hernandez and USC professor Natalia Molina about their genius work and the future of California. Event is FREE, but you gotta register here.
Gustavo in the News
“Marine Laid to Rest in Los Angeles Almost 80 Years After WWII Battle”: The underrated website InsideHook shouts out one columna of mine.
“Today’s Headlines: A World War II hero comes home”: One LA Times newsletter you should subscribe to shouts out a columna of mine.
“Newsletter: Essential Arts: Pandemic curtain begins to rise on the performing arts”: Another LA Times newsletter you should subscribe to shouts out another columna of mine.
““Hice todo lo posible para darles un buen espectáculo…”: MLB celebra a Fernando Valenzuela y el 40 aniversario de la Fernandomanía”: Another shoutout to my work on the legendary Dodgers southpaw, this one in español.
“The Times They Are a Changing”: More media on me hosting the LA Times daily podcast where the reporter didn’t bother interviewing me.
“Here’s the complete list of virtual panels for the 2021 Festival of Books”: Another plug for my upcoming panel with two Macarthur geniuses from Southern California.
“Fernandomania still resonates decades later”: The MLB.com homie Jesse Sanchez interviews me about Fernando Valenzuela.
“Eater’s Guide to the World S01E03 The Ass Crack of Dawn in New York City 2160p”: My somewhat-read Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America makes a cameo in this Eater.com series gracias to the homie profe Steven Alvarez of St. John’s University in Queens.
“Los Angeles Times enters crowded daily news podcast market with a West Coast twist”: Digiday has the scoop of the daily podcast I’m set to host, although didn’t bother to interview me for some reason.
“Some OC cities will begin posting monthly hate crime stats”: My latest KCRW “Orange County Line” talks about how cities here have finally realized racism is a thing.
“‘Fernandomania’ 40 Years Later: How Fernando Valenzuela Captivated Baseball Fans For Decades”: I appear on WBUR to talk about the legendary Dodgers southpaw.
“Event Recap: Myriam Gurba Redefines the California Memoir”: My conversation with the great writer for Alta, in which we crack up about her saying she’d rather read Richard Ramirez than Richard Rodriguez haha.
“The Endless Summer of the VW Bus”: My latest Alta piece treads familiar terrain: the beloved Kombi, which is now coming as an all-electric model. KEY QUOTE: “That’s another thing that makes them so emblematic of California: underneath the glossy facade of the Type II existed an automotive fraud. Yet…the fraud is what made Buses so darn enjoyable.”
“Lost for decades, a World War II hero finally comes home”: My latest Los Angeles Times front-pager talks about Marine Pvt. Jacob Cruz, who was killed in the Battle of Tarawa in 1943 and whose remains went missing for 77 years — yet his family never lost hope. KEY QUOTE: “A certificate signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt assured Grace and her children that Jacob continued to live “in a way that humbles the undertakings of most men.” The lofty words were right, in a sense. He turned from son to brother to legend to myth with each passing generation.”
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