Gentle cabrones:

Part 3 of my barely-popular series on the teachers of my life continues with Anaheim High freshman and sophomore years!

Freshman year was kinda a blur because I was constantly afraid that seniors would beat me up, because it was still allowed back then. Sophomore year was a wash because that’s when I dated my second cousin.

It happens if you’re from the rancho, you know?


Freshman year

Ms. DeFazio (sp?): Eccentric English teacher — but what English teacher is normal? She always had a positive attitude, even when students would make fun of her. I remember she always wore dark-tinted sunglasses. Once praised an essay I did about Lord of the Flies.

Coach Miller: Gym teacher. Older man. Nice.

Mr. Rubalcava: Math. First male Latino teacher I had. Great teacher, even though I was terrible in math. Funny, but he was VERY much against the rancho culture many of us were proud of — would make fun of it, even. Left Anaheim High during my time there. I’ve always wondered what happened to him in a way I do with few of my teachers.

Unnamed typing teacher — maybe Mr. McClosky (sp?): I owe my career to the man. Portly but kind. Asked me if I wanted to join the typing club because I was good at it, and I refused because I’ll never belong to a club that would have me as a member.

This photo of me is actually from my senior year in high school, because few photos exist of me from my freshman and sophomore year by design 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

Mr. Godinez: History teacher, I think. Had him sophomore year, as well. Saw the film version of Black Like Me in his class, which influenced me deeply. Son of the first-ever Mexican-American U.S. postmaster, Hector Godinez. Kinda boring, though — and a lot of his former students say stuff about him that they can say on their own.

Mr. Brennan: Biology teacher. Had him my sophomore year, too. Funny but could yell — but was as empathetic a teacher as I ever had. Just left Servite High School, where he was principal for 14 pinche year — man, how time flies…

Mr. Hager: Health teacher. Old man. Everyone called him Bundy because he looked like Al Bundy from Married with Children, except older. Somehow was able to determine your health history by looking into your eyes. 

Mrs. Goodwin-Noriega: Legend.    Sophomore Year

Mr. Cross: History teacher. Also had him my junior year. Told us how Bobby Hatfield of the Righteous Brothers, who also graduated from Anaheim High School, was a racist fuck. Legend.

Mr. Atkins: I can’t remember the class I had him in, but he was a beloved sports coach. Kids who ditched another class usually would show up to his because he wouldn’t rent them out. I do remember we spent most of our time watching films in his class as nd little else. 

Mrs. Patsel/Mrs. Lafler: My English teachers. Talked about my experience with them last year for High Country News in my remembrance of Rudolfo Anaya. Both of them told me years later that they were proud of me, and Mrs. Patsel apologized to me for making me stand in the corner of the room one time because I talked so damn much.

Mr. Logan: Math teacher. Tall, intense, Steve Martin-looking and -acting. A lot of students didn’t like him, but I did. Saw me for the underachiever that I was and pushed me to do better—for which I’m ever grateful.

Coach Fowler: Gym teacher. Always wore sunglasses and had an awesome goatee. Funny. 

Ms. Mahaffey (sp?): English teacher — older. I always felt bad for her because students mercilessly mocked her. Also had her for my junior year. Ran into her years later at a panel I was a part of in Long Beach — she didn’t seem happy to see me.

Mr. Darakjian: Science of some sorts. Boring but kind. 

Mr. Rojas: Spanish. No me llamo niño.


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

…and I actually have nothing this week, because the computer that has all of your questions is in the shop—DAMNIT! But this is a good reminder for ustedes to send me more questions, porfas!

Got a question for Guti? Email me here.


Enough rambling. This was the semana that was: IMAGE OF THE WEEK: My wife and I with Socorro Sarmiento and her husband, Orange County Superior Court Judge Salvador Sarmiento, who just retired this month. Both are unsung legends of Latino civil rights in Orange County, and Judge Sarmiento officiated at the wedding of my wife and I. Felicidades, Judge Sarmiento!

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: All my cool quotes are kept on my other computer, so, um woozle-wuzzle?

LISTENING:Mañana,” Aterciopelados. Went to a fundraiser for Colombian activists yesterday, and the soundtrack was of course LIT — vallenato, cumbias, and this legendary rock en español group that should’ve been bigger than they were. The song everyone remembers from them is “Bolero Falaz,” but always loved this track more — jazzy (check out the fretless bass!) trip-hop with sultry doo-wop backup vocals for Andrea Echeverry’s smoky voice. Guti trivia: She was the first famous person I interviewed.

READING: Pleasure Domes and Postal Routes”: This past issue of the New York Review of Books was particularly strong, but my favorite article was this review of a book that makes the case that the Mongols were far more sophisticated than history makes them out to be. I knew this already because of what happened with Prester John — but that’s a whole other thing.

SHOUTOUT TO: X, who kindly donated 50 tacos to sponsor a full month of MailChango! X says all of you should subscribe to The Times podcast that I host, and I agree!

Gustavo in the News

Eight meals for $8 (or less) in Orange County”: My former food critic Edwin Goei kindly plugs my food work in an article he did for the Daily Pilot, where he continues his wonderful work.

Newsletter: As the world burns, California will pick up the pace on climate — maybe”: One LA Times newsletter you should subscribe to plugs a columna of mine.

Episode 67 with Keen Observer, Fearless Fighter for Justice, and Food and Culture Writer, Esther Tseng”: The Chills at Will podcast name-drops me to illustrate a point.

Gustavo Podcast

Latest roster of episodes for “The Times: Daily news from the L.A. Times,” the podcast that I host. Listen to them, and SUBSCRIBE. Don’t let me become the Poochie of podcasts!

Introducing ‘Battle of 187’ week!”: We rerun Episode 1 of This is “California: The Battle of 187,” the 2019 podcast I did in conjunction with Futuro Studios about the infamous anti-immigrant 1994 California proposition

The Latino revolt against California’s Prop. 187”: Here’s Episode 2…

The Battle of 187 ends — and the war begins”: And Episode 3 and…

Hey, Pete Wilson decided to talk to us”: Episode 4.

The Battle of 187’s ripple effects”: In this new episode, I talk to my colleague Sarah D. Wire about the 187 generation currently in Washington DC.

Gustavo Stories

Grítale a Guti, Ep. 57!”: The latest of my Tuesday-night IG Live free-for-alls, which will now start at 9:45 p.m. after a vote by my fans!

Despite public opposition, OC Supervisors won’t walk out on a land deal with wealthy political donor”: My latest KCRW “Orange County Line” talks about good ol’ Buck Johns.

Rush before recess”: My latest KCRW “Left, Right & Center” appearance talks about PANDEJOS, woke asphalt pavers, and Virgin Megastores.

The Bleed Los Podcast”: I appear on this podcast to talk Dodgers.

Column: Apocalypse, cow — our growing drought and the great L.A. cattle escape”: My latest Los Angeles Times columna ties in escaped cows and the Great Drought of 1863, the worst drought in modern Southern California history. KEY QUOTE: “But there’s a reason why Southern California’s cattle era is rarely remembered, let alone discussed. It ended like a real-life biblical apocalypse, complete with floods, pestilence, locusts, and the worst drought in modern California history.”

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: