Olaf getting read to give thanks. By Rhododendrites - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Gentle cabrones:

As far back as I could remember, I’ve hated Thanksgiving — and told everyone about this.

It’s not even the whole genocide thing with the Pilgrims, the ahistorical spectacle of it all, or the hypocrisy of Americans – as ungrateful a people on this planet as God could’ve ever imagined — devoting a whole holiday to supposedly giving thanks, yet never actually learning or bothering to give thanks the rest of the year.

No, what I hate the most about it how the American system has designated it specifically so that its people can return home and hang out with family for a tad, because the system is so screwed up that it’s taken us away from each other the rest of the time.

Did I mention I’m a hit at parties?

I’ve hated the holiday my entire life. I still consider it a giant waste of times and carbs. But I need to stop being such a damn misanthrope and try to get with the reason for the season.

So to get to that, I’m going to do something I do every day, but not with intention, or mindfullness, or whatever pinche self-help lingo is in vogue now.

Give thanks.

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I’m a pretty grateful person, I think — I say it whenever possible, at least. But one can never be grateful enough, so behold a new tradition in Cantoland: The week before Thanksgiving, I’ll give thanks.

Why the hell not? You can never give enough gracias. It’s an acknowledgement that something good has come to you, and that something or someone made it possible. A brief spark of good, in a world so often filled with bad, or performative idiots who can’t be bothered the rest of the year to be grateful during a holiday centered around a bird only yucatecos and Salvadorans can make yummy…wait, is this thing on?

So, here it goes: I give thanks to…

*My siblings, who make my Mami proud every day in their own way.

*My dad, who continues in his 36 years of Alcoholics Anonymous to bring more alcoholics into sobriety, a task I don’t think I’ll ever fully appreciate.

*The universe, for bringing me opportunities that I’m never quite sure I deserve but nevertheless grab for.

*Plants, for always keeping you alert and accepting of the vagaries and cruelty — and joy — of life.

*My wife, for showing me what WERK truly is.

*My bosses — the print jefes and audio jefas — for letting me do my thing and never letting me skate.

*Cosmo and Hook, for showing me what love does to a sentient being.

*People and places I’ve been able to write about, for their hospitality and graciousness.

*And, most importantly, to ustedes gentle cabrones — for the tacos you give, the kind words you offer, and for continuing to subscribe. The subscriptions here haven’t really grown over the past year — as many people subscribe as unsubscribe, for reasons I can’t quite place. But whatever. As long as there’s one person subscribing to my stuff, I’m going to give it my all.

Hey, that would make a great newsletter…which I’ll do the day after Thanksgiving, because I’m no ingrate.


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

I just bought another copy of your tacos book (I gave my first copy away years ago). I’m going to use it to explain to my wife why I shouldn’t feel guilty for stopping at Del Taco and picking up two Crispy Chicken Tacos ($2.08) for lunch. I know that here in Tucson, Pico de Gallo (my very favorite) makes their own corn tortillas and Anita Street Market makes the best flour tortillas but sometimes I want a change of pace. Will the book help to absolve me? I think so.

You should feel guilty; Del Taco’s crispy chicken tacos are whatever. The REAL get is the half-pound bean-and-cheese burrito with red AND green sauce — get to it!

Got a question for Guti? Email me here.


Enough rambling. This was the semana that was:

IMAGE OF THE WEEK: Hook, our rescue Chihuahua, wearing the cone of shame because he’s licking his paws too much. The kind vet for Frosted Faces Foundation (where we adopted Hook and his fellow elder rescue Cosmo) is taking care of him good! And, yes, this photo is horizontal, but what are ya gonna do…

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “When I was a boy … in front of every house in the summer evenings, you would find young people together singing the songs of the day or old songs. Today you hear these infernal machines going night and day. We will not have a vocal cord left. The vocal cord will be eliminated by a process of evolution, as was the tail of man when he came from the ape.”

John Philip Souza

LISTENING:It’s Okay,” The Sunglows. Has to be one of the top 5 oldies-but-goodies EVER. Straight outta SanAnto’s Westside, locos — laughs, pain, horns, with organ? Legend.

READING: Prickly Love”: A beautiful ode to family, assimilation, and nopales and their tunas.

SHOUTOUT TO: Irma, who kindly donated 50 tacos to sponsor a month of MailChango! Y dice: “Definitely wanna plug Re-Encuentro the LA Latino Theater’s Online Festival, and my one-woman show, Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name? streaming Friday, 11/19 – Monday 11/29, register here. Lots of great shows at the Festival, all free. Just watched Interview with a Mexican, it was fabuloso. Gracias.”

Irma is smart and funny and a loyal taco-giver and reader, so I sign off on this plug!

Gustavo in the News

Letters to the Editor: Anti-vaccine workers give LAPD and LAFD a chance to clean house”: Our readers have fun with another columna of mine.

Newsletter: Can Major League Baseball step up to the plate on climate change?”: One LA Times newsletter you should subscribe to plugs the podcast.

Latinx Files: Facebook’s Latinx disinformation problem”: Another LA Times newsletter you should subscribe to plugs the podcast.

Coronavirus Today: Shifting the focus from herd immunity”: Yet another LA Times newsletter you should subscribe to plugs the podcast.

Coronavirus Today: Who’s to blame when COVID-19 kills?”: Still yet even another LA Times newsletter you should subscribe to plugs the podcast.

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!

Leyna Bloom on breaking ground as a trans woman of color”: Another run of “Asian Enough,” because DUH.

In-N-Out Burger enters the COVID-19 wars”: I talk about the overrated burger chain with my colleague Stacy Perman, who literally wrote the book on it.

Mega-drought + mega-rain = uh-oh!”: I reconvene our Masters of Disasters to talk about how mudslides don’t exist!

Social media’s Latino misinformation problem”: One of the reasons why I’m souring on FB and IG.

The story of L.A.’s glitzy gambling boat kingpin”: I turn the mic over to my awesome colleague Daniel Miller.

Gustavo Stories

Grítale a Guti in EXILE, Ep. 2.3”: Latest edition of my Tuesday night IG Live free-for-all brings on the DESMADRE from YouTube because Zuck hates me.

LA Times Today: A priest died of COVID-19. His congregants got vaccinated in his honor”: I appear on the L.A. Times’ Spectrum 1 show to talk about a front-page columna of mine.

OC Board of Supervisors draw their own district maps. Is that a problem?”: My latest KCRW “Orange County Line” talks about the future of OC supes–at least for next decade.

Food Systems Change Takes a Community: “No One Can Do This Alone””: I appear in Food Tank’s latest virtual panel, this one focusing on dairy.

Column: L.A.’s unvaccinated public workers go Ayn Rand, throw fit over city’s vaccine mandate”: My latest Los Angeles Times columna talks about public-employee PANDEJOS. KEY QUOTE: “They view themselves as heroic loners, the embodiment of the eponymous Greek Titan of “Atlas Shrugs” who bears the world on his shoulders. That’s a fine philosophy to tout when you’re a 20-something undergrad, but not when you’re a public worker whose ostensible job is to serve the masses.”

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: