Gentle cabrones:

Soon after we bought our house about a decade ago, we began to buy rain barrels.

We must’ve been in a drought at that point — and haven’t we always been in drought in a region that wasn’t meant to have so many people? So one 50-gallon rain barrel turned into two turned into about 15.

They’re incredible — after a good rain, the barrels all fill up quickly, so much water Mother Nature gives us.

Mother nature isn’t giving us much water anymore.

So I monitor those barrels well, and sparingly use the water to garden. That’s why I was so happy when it rained on Monday — not much, but enough to fill up all my barrels.

So I thought.

I was walking around our backyard the following morning and I noticed one barrel overflowing, while the other one connected to it not.  It didn’t make sense — water should’ve flowed over to the other one, you know?

So I went to investigate. I saw that I had accidentally pinched the hose that connected the two when I moved them the week before in anticipation of the rain

I untangled the hose. Glug glug glug. The two barrels each filled up halfway as water poured into the empty one. I had unwittingly rejected 50 precious gallons of water when it rained, all because I didn’t check the hose.

What good is a hose if it’s not unfolded? By Thiemo Schuff – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

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This past Tuesday night on GAG, Irene Libertine asked a great question: what’s the best piece of advice that my dad ever gave me?

I started with his most recent loquation, which I thought was pretty clever: No te metas con la mafia ni el gobierno.

Don’t involve yourself with the Mafia or the government.


But thinking about it now, Papi has an even better piece of advice, one that’s not really memorable and rather mundane and yet essential to life .

Nearly every time I see my dad since I’ve moved out of my house, he tells me the same thing: check your oil, check your tires.

It’s smart advice overall, but it was essential to him in his days as a truck driver. The small things in life can quickly become the most important if you don’t pay attention.

I have burned out car engines because I didn’t check the oil, I have blown out tires because I didn’t check on them before I took off to drive.
Thankfully, I currently drive a 2005 GMC Yukon that has a sensor that lets me know when the tire pressure is low. That saved me years ago when we were in Albany, Kentucky, and it saved me this week, when a big ol’ screw was sticking out of my right rear tire that I didn’t notice when I was on the way to UCI.

Thankfully, I live near a tire shop like any good Mexican should, and catastrophe was averted.

We always got to be vigilant, especially those small, daily things. Your health. Relationships. Your job. Life. The things we take for granted.

And even if you notice, it could all still just collapse. That nearly happened this week, when a tire blew out on my dad as he was driving my Tía Chayo back home from Tijuana. One of the tires on his ’99 Corolla exploded on the 5 freeway with such force that it dented the car. He had checked the tires when he put gas just an hour earlier.

My dad and Tía Chayo were shaken but averted any injuries.

You could do all the right things, and still see failure. But that’s no reason to lose vigilance. Check for termites, your earthquake kit, expiration dates. Life’s too short to be blasé.

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

Worst caudillo, best caudillo? Does Cardenas count as a caudillo?

Worst caudillo was Trujillo of the Dominican Republic. Best one? Probably Bolivar. Cárdenas was no caudillo, unless you’re British, and specifically Evelyn Waugh, pinche creído.

Got a question for Guti? Email me here.


Enough rambling. This was the semana that was:
IMAGE OF THE WEEK: The legendary shrimp tacos from Mariscos Jalisco in Boyle Heights.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Sit in your cell as if in paradise”

–St. Romuald

LISTENING:Hoja en Blanco,” Monchy y Alexander. One of the few things I DON’T like about Southern California compared to NYC is hearing nonstop bachata EVERYWHERE. That’s why this legendary duo ain’t playing that Dodgers Stadium chipster boomer nostalgia fest (nor Brujería, for that matter  PASS). But this song — I still think they drop so many words beat-for-beat than it makes “Rap God” sound like a chop-and-screwed track.

READING: The Coen Brothers and Their Big Socialist Losers”: With the exception of Armond White, leftists always make better cultural writers than conservatives, and Eileen Jones of the socialist magazine Jacobin is proof. Her writings are always crisp, knowing, funny when needed, and ever-progressive — shades of James Agee?

SHOUTOUT TO: Samantha, who kindly donated 50 tacos to sponsor a full month of MailChango! Samantha plugs my next event, whenever it may be!

BUY MY NEW CO-BOOK! People’s Guide to Orange County tells an alternative history of OC through the scholarship and reporting of myself, Elaine Lewinnek, and Thuy Vo Dang. There’ll be signings all year — in meanwhile, buy your copy TODAY. And, yes: I’ll autograph it!

Gustavo in the News

Sheriff Villanueva discusses recent allegations of an alleged cover-up involving Department personnel”: You know it’s been a good week when the head of the largest sheriff’s department in the U.S. holds a press conference to blast you haha.

Latinx Files: This one’s for the Latina gay icons”: One LA Times newsletter you should subscribe to plugs a columna of mine.

Letters to the Editor: Does Sheriff Villanueva actually think his deputies getting into fights is OK?”: Another LA Times newsletter you should subscribe to plugs the columna.

Villanueva denies involvement in cover-up of use of force incident; new inquiry underway”: KTLA-TV Channel 5 covers my fun.
Vintage Los Angeles Crime”: Some LAPDer goes off on me and immediately undercuts his argument by wearing a weak-salsa Superman necklace haha.

L.A. Newsletter”: The progressive politics podcast/newsletter shouts out my work.

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!

A lot of magic with “Winning Time””: We shout out a cousin podcast.

California tries to figure out reparations”: As the Golden State goes…

A soldier’s funeral in Ukraine”: The tragedy doesn’t stop…

In praise of long-scorned Black women’s hair”: One of my jefas, Ashlea Brown, heads this one!

The takedown of a dial-up drug network”: I turn the mic over to my awesome colleague Michael Finnegan.

Gustavo Stories

Grítale a Guti”: Latest edition of my Tuesday night IG Live free-for-all brings on the DESMADRE.

Steering pub transit funds to private bus company? OCTA says hit the brakes”: My latest KCRW “Orange County Line” talks about public-transit hilarity.

The News with Tanzina & Chad: Ukraine, LA Sheriff, Markets”: I appeared on Tanzina Vega’s Clubhouse show to talk Villanueva.

Axios Latino One-Year Anniversary”: I appear on Twitter Spaces to do my thing.

L.A. County sheriff shoots his mouth off again”: My latest Los Angeles Times columna talks about my recent series on Alex Villanueva. KEY QUOTE: “And it’s just not good to have someone like that in any elected position, let alone the one entrusted with law and order over L.A. County’s 10 million-plus residents.”

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