Gustavo Arellano’s Weekly, Canto CLXXIX: When You Fail

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2061
Ouch...but mine was worse. Image by nemo frenk from Pixabay

Gentle cabrones:

Lot of speeches this past week, and in the weeks to come, in-person and on Zoom. A talk at the Autry Museum with legendary producer Moctesuma Esparza about “The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez,” which we had just streamed to an enraptured crowd. Two hours of interviews on camera for…something. Two speeches to companies for Hispanic Heritage Month. My Monday OCC class. And more.

People say I know how to talk.

I do!

I’ve learned that people appreciate honesty, humor, and anecdotes. Passion, as well. Knowledge of the subject. A fast talker who does frequent asides, rambles toward a point and is self-deprecating.

This is me now.

I’m best off the cuff—speeches handcuff me to the page. But I will give prepared remarks on special occasions—I usually nail those, too.

But not always.

Nothing is more humiliating than bombing in front of hundreds of strangers.

But it happens. Oh, it happens.

Gentle cabrones:

Lot of speeches this past week, and in the weeks to come, in-person and on Zoom. A talk at the Autry Museum with legendary producer Moctesuma Esparza about “The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez,” which we had just streamed to an enraptured crowd. Two hours of interviews on camera for…something. Two speeches to companies for Hispanic Heritage Month. My Monday OCC class. And more.

People say I know how to talk.

I do!

I’ve learned that people appreciate honesty, humor, and anecdotes. Passion, as well. Knowledge of the subject. A fast talker who does frequent asides, rambles toward a point and is self-deprecating.

This is me now.

I’m best off the cuff—speeches handcuff me to the page. But I will give prepared remarks on special occasions—I usually nail those, too.

But not always.

Nothing is more humiliating than bombing in front of hundreds of strangers.

But it happens. Oh, it happens.

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I was invited to give a speech for…something. The person who invited me was a fan, totally spoke me up to the crowd, who had no clue who I was.
That was fine. I like to win over rooms. It didn’t happen this time.

On the page, the speech was fine—good, to the point. But I had misjudged the audience. As I began to read the speech, the places where I expected laughs were silent. The spots where I thought murmurs of agreement would bubble up had none.

This was two minutes in. I had seven to go.

I flopped completely, spectacularly, in a way I hadn’t since junior high. It was so bad that when I got to my final line, I debated whether to say it. It was a joke that, if the crowd was on my side, would’ve resulted in a rousing laugh and tear.

I knew it wouldn’t land. Fuck it.

After I finished but just before I thanked the audience, I heard a man utter Oh, my God and saw him shake his head in disgust.

Damn.

Usually, when I give speeches, people wanna talk to me afterwards. Not this time. The person who invited me gamely said she was a fan of mine, but offered no words for the speech. I quietly left the venue, and no one cared.

It happens.

Anytime I try to think I’m something, I always remember that bomb. I remember that the best baseball players are lucky if they can get three hits every ten at-bats. I remember that failure is life—so what are you going to do when you fail?

You pick yourself up. Think about why you failed. Adjust. And make sure that the next time it happens, to pick yourself up again and adjust.

I had a speech the next day. I nailed it. And the beat goes on…

GRÍTALE A GUTI

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

Whatever happened to the #mexicanhegemony hoopla on twitter?  Did it fade away? Are people still resentful? Is anyone offering an olive branch to the pissed-off Central Americans? Whats the deal with that? I know some pretty salty language was used anyone still simmering?

Talked about it on the podcast this week — listen below! Only other thing I’ll offer is that the last time I checked in on THAT crew, they were arguing among themselves whom among them canceled me.

And here I am.

Got a question for Guti? Email me here.

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Enough rambling. This was the semana that was:

IMAGE OF THE WEEK: T-shirt that played a key role in my LA Times columna this week — read it!

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Nobody wants to be the one to create the path, they want to follow the path.”

Orthodox rabbi in Youngstown, Ohio, regarding the disappearance of Jews in the Rust Belt town

LISTENING:Así Fue,” Juan Gabriel. His greatest song, perhaps THE most heartbreaking song ever recorded, this live version is the most-played on his estate’s YouTube channel. This one goes out to the compadrxs NelCyn, who know EXACTLY why I’m playing this song right now — but we fail, and move on.

READING: On the Coronavirus, Loss, and My Mom’s Tacos”: It begins with such promise, ends in tragedy — all through the prism of tacos. I wish the homie Obed Manuel went longer, just so I could tear up longer and marvel at great writing.

SHOUTOUT TO: Debby, who kindly donated 50 tacos to sponsor a full month of MailChango! Her plug — this newsletter! Aw, shucks!

Gustavo in the News

Ali Khan Is Not Impressed With This One In-N-Out Menu Item”: My skepticism about In-n-Out’s grandeur is gaining traction worldwide.

Latinx Files: The photo that captured the decades of failures of U.S. border policy”: One LA Times newsletter you should subscribe to plugs a columna of mine.

Government Accountability Office hits media for lacking Latinos”: Axios shouts out my columna, but not my podcast — fascinating…

The Celebrated Joaquín Murieta”: I get quoted in a good story about California’s original anti-hero.

A distrust of the health care system: How to confront vaccine refusal in communities of color”: My work against PANDEJOS gets shouted out.

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!

Abortion rights spread in Latin America”: I discuss the matter with LA Times Latin America correspondents Patrick McConnell and Kate Linthicum.

Biden shut a migrant camp. Then this bigger one appeared”: First part of a two-part special on migrant camps on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Why Latinos hide their identities”: I chat with my fellow LA Times columnista Carolina A. Miranda about las castas, then hit up Culture Clash members Herbert Siguenza and Ric Salinas about coming out as Salvadoran after all these years.

Our nation’s Haitian double standard”: Part two of our migrant-camp series with L.A. Times Houston bureau chief Molly Hennessy-Fiske.

She was the Rosa Parks of the 1800s”: I turn over the mic to my colleague Jeannette Marantos for a great episode about a forgotten civil rights pioneer.

Gustavo Stories

Grítale a Guti, Ep. 69”: My latest Tuesday-night IG Live free-for-all, which always happens at 9:45 PM PT unless there’s a California gubernatorial recall.

Anti-Asian hate incidents up 1,800% in Orange County”: My latest KCRW “Orange County Line” talks about the latest tomfoolery to afflict OC.

Who will take home the 2021 Golden Tortilla? It’s down to the Suave 16”: I appear on KCRW’s “Good Food with Evan Kleiman” to talk #TortillaTournament.

Gustavo Arellano discusses column on Dodger Stadium and recent protest on ‘dark moment in Latino history’”: I appear on KTTV-TV FOX Channel 11 to talk about the barrios that once stood on what’s now Dodger Stadium. show to talk up the podcast.

Tortilla Tournament 2021, Week Two: We Have Our Suave 16!”: Latest update to my KCRW #TortillaTournament

¡Ask a Tortilla Tournament Judge!: If Larry Elder and Gavin Newsom were tortilla brands…”: My pop-up advice columna for my KCRW #TortillaTournament

You must remember this flour tortilla at Casablanca in Venice”: I write about a wonderful tortilla de harina at a shrine to the Bogey movie for my KCRW #TortillaTournament. KEY QUOTE: “But now, I was more eager to try the flour tortillas, and ask: Of all the Mexican joints in all the towns in the world, how did this one in Venice become the ultimate monument to an Old Hollywood classic?”

Column: They ran out into Dodger Stadium to remind L.A. of a dark moment in Latino history. But fans booed”: My latest Los Angeles Times columna talks about the never-healing wound that is the Dodgers building their stadium on what used to be three barrios — and how people really don’t care. KEY QUOTE: “The protesters had embarked on a Sisyphean task when they ran onto the Dodger Stadium outfield last week. This week I met that night’s Sisyphus-in-chief and his friends at a park in Rosemead.”

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

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