Image by Frank Winkler from Pixabay

Gentle cabrones:

Recently, a younger compa bought a house with his wife. Good for them!

I remember the homie when he was a teenager, and now he’s all grown up. He’s not rich, and he has no generational wealth — him and his mujer just WERKED.

Even in this insane California housing market, dreams can still come true. But you have to come prepared, so after I congratulated him, I told him that I hope he was also planning for his retirement.

Did he have a IRA? Keep a count of his expenses for possible tax write offs? Earthquake insurance?


It’s all good, I told him. Most of us working-class kids know nothing about financial literacy, because we just are not taught by schools, our parent, society, nada.

So I told him the next time we see each other, we’ll catch up a little bit but then I’ll tell him all the financial things he needs to do. To secure and better his life.

Homies helping homies.

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When I got my first book deal, I contacted the richest person I knew — we’re talking a multi-millionaire. He had turned into a trusted source, so I told them I knew nothing about money except to not spend it.

He suggested his tax guy, a Chicano who lucked into doing the returns for millionaires. I would be his poorest client by far — but my source told me that when it comes to finances, you want to surround yourself with people who know more than you, not the cheapest person you could afford.

The tax guy is still my tax guy. He has made sure I pay all my taxes, get all the write-offs I can, and start a retirement account even though I plan to write until I spontaneously combust.

Homies helping homies.

Isn’t that how life is supposed to work? You learn from people who know more about you, and then teach what you learn to others in order to better their lives? Mentorship, internship, apprenticeship, parenthood, siblinghood.

Homies helping homies.

It’s how I try to live my life — as much as I love to think of myself as an Essene, I’m really more of a Socratic type of person, pushing others to try to get them to where I’m at. Because I’m not supposed to be where I’m at — yet here I am, thanks to the help of others. Now it’s my turn to get others to where I’m at.

BTW, that younger compa helps me as well — more than he’ll ever know.

Homies helping homies.


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

I was wondering if you could tell me why the systems of higher education in California are far superior to the ones in Texas.  Why is it that California is able to graduate all of those students, much of them Latinos, at a much higher rate than Texas.

Are we? University of Texas-Austin, the premier public university in Texas (sorry, A & M) is officially a Hispanic Serving Institution, meaning at least 25 percent of its student body is Latino. UCLA, the premier public university in California (sorry, Chico State), plans to be an HSI by 2025. Los Angeles is about 50 percent Latino; Austin is just 34 percent.  Texas ain’t as fucked-up as the rest of the country makes it out to be, Greg Abbott and the Houston Astros notwithstanding.

Got a question for Guti? Email me here.


Enough rambling. This was the semana that was:

IMAGE OF THE WEEK: Me enjoying wine with my love at Frog’s Leap Winery in Rutherford, Napa while wearing a La Princesita Tortilleria t-shirt.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “I never truckled; I never took off the hat to Fashion and held it out for pennies. By God, I told them the truth. They liked it or they didn’t like it. What had that to do with me? I told them the Truth; I knew it for the Truth then, I know it for the Truth now.”

Frank Norris

LISTENING:Qué Padre es la Vida,” Los Hermanos Zaizar. If you ever want to question my paisa bona fides, I’ll respond with the fact I know Los Hermanos Zaizar, which is DEEP TRACK shit. Underrated group, beautiful song (how can you not love a song called “How Badass is Life”) — and Juan sang at my brother’s baptism at St. John Vianney Church in Hacienda Heights, which was attended by at least 1,000 people, because that’s how the jerezano diaspora rolls.

READING: El Misterio de “El Sauce Y La Palma”: de Murcia A Sinaloa, pasando por Michoacán”: I don’t read nearly enough Spanish, but this article is a beaut: about a lovely song, one of Mexico’s most underrated ranchera singers, and the history of banda sinaloense in Mexico. Shoutout to chillerelleknow, who turned me on to this one — homies helping homies.

SHOUTOUT TO: Mike, who kindly donated 50 tacos to sponsor a full month of MailChango! “Visit the Bower’s Museum in Santa Ana, great exhibits and local history!” he says, and I agree!

Gustavo Events

Oct. 20, 12:30 p.m.:
Alta Live: Heritage Barbecue Founder Daniel Castillo”: Join me on Zoom straight from four 1,000-gallon smokers as I talk shop with the king of SoCal BBQ. Gonna do my best Huell Howers impersonation for this one!

Gustavo in the News

David Chang’s new Hulu show isn’t about the future of food. It’s about him. It’s a problem”: I’m in David Chang’s latest TV series, which this critic doesn’t like one bit.

Introducción a la música regional mexicana”: No idea what this website is, but they shouted out me praising Antonio Aguilar, so I’m all for it!

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!

How a Black family regains a beach the government took away”: A kinda-rerun on Bruce’s Beach.

The oil spill along California’s fragile coast”: For once, people feel bad for Huntington Beach.

Deep breath. Let’s talk about our air”: I reconvene our Masters of Disasters, with a new master: air-quality avenger Tony Barboza!

Boardrooms so white and male? That’s changing”: Yet another episode about how California social engineering is doing good across U.S.

The story of an unsung Black Panther”: I turn the mic over to my awesome producer Ashlea Brown.

Gustavo Stories

Grítale a Guti, Ep. 73?”: Latest episode of my Tuesday night IG Live free-for-all.

Oil spill along Huntington Beach oozes into Orange County politics”: My latest KCRW “Orange County Line” talks about OC’s latest natural disaster anew.

Crowning Burritos La Palma with the Golden Tortilla”: My latest KCRW “Good Food with Evan Kleiman” appearance talks about the winner of my latest KCRW #TortillaTournament.

The Pulso Podcast”: I appear on this podcast to take a deep dive into my writing career.

And the 2021 Great Tortilla Tournament of Champions winner is…”: The finale of my KCRW #TortillaTournament. KEY QUOTE: “And our Fuerte Four finalists — Taco Maria and Tallula’s for corn, Burritos La Palma and Ancho’s for flour — represented the best of the best in Southern California this year, especially since each had weathered a competition that brought back every winner from our previous three years to face off in a masa madness worthy of a late 1980s WWF Royal Rumble.”

Is Stetson-loving L.A. Sheriff Alex Villanueva rounding up a ‘posse’ of cowboys?”: My latest Los Angeles Times columna talks about LA’s top lawman’s plan to let his deputies wear cowboy hats. KEY QUOTE: “Instead, the department offered a statement that offered a window into the Villanueva way: When given the choice between facts and grandstanding, he loves to ride into the sunset with the latter.”

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