Spoke at Concordia University in Irvine this past week — it went okay, I think.
I was asked to speak to the question “What is Truth?” — a heady topic, but par for the proverbial course at the Lutheran college, where I’ve developed an unlikely, wonderful relationship over the past couple of years. The lecture was in their CU Center, with a massive pipe organ behind me.
I think I did okay — I tied the idea of Truth to the history of journalism, and the shifting idea of objectivity and “truth” in my profession. Didn’t repeat myself, but some jokes landed, and some didn’t — it happens.
Not that many students showed up – it also happens. So one of the professors that was in charge of the event was apologetic before my talk even started. They said they did as much promotion as possible, but there was another event that was more popular that was conflicting with mine. I told them not to worry, and then I told them a phrase in Spanish that I like to say to myself whenever I have to do a task:
Los que vengan, vengan.
Those who come, come.
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I wasn’t referring tohow many people were going to show up — it wasn’t about the canto of an audience of three. And I held nothing against Concordia whatsoever for the small turnout.
But the situation reminded me about opportunities taken and missed.
Who was it who said that 80% of success is showing up? It’s mostly true. Life throws many opportunities at you, and you take some and you don’t.
But it’s not just about the decision; it’s about showing up. What good is it if you’re there physically, but not mentally? Where you don’t like what’s in front of you, and are just a waste of matter?
A lot of times, you’re faced with a scenario where you wish you had more – time, people, money, luck. And that’s when you’re confronted with another axiom: you march with the army you have, not the army you want.
Los que vengan, vengan.
There is no use in wishing for more when one more is not going to come – you just need to roll with what you got and hope Gandalf shows up at first light from the east or something. But he might not show, tho.
What matters is that you show up — you take advantage of the opportunity that’s in front of you, or the challenge you must confront.
And that’s when you remember who showed up — and who didn’t. And you march.
Los que vengan, vengan.
We are not Joseph Campbell’s proverbial hero with a thousand faces, lone wolves who must leave their communities in order to save them or for a mythical task. We belong to communities, and remember who stands with us and who doesn’t, High Noon style. Who shaped us and supported us and got us ready for that moment and will be there afterward even if maybe they couldn’t be there at the moment of your face off.
We can forgive, but we won’t forget.
After my Concordia lecture, a group of students who saw me the last time I went talked to me and said I did great, and that they were excited when they found out I would visit their school. And after talking to them, I hung out with faculty members for hours, in a way I haven’t hung out with people I didn’t really previously know in years.
Los que vengan, vengan.
GRÍTALE A GUTI
This is the column where I take your questions about ANYTHING. And away we go…
I’m curious to know if there are any large groups of Zacatecanos that you know of here South Orange County, I don’t personally know any but I have known mostly Jaliscienses, Guerrerenses and Michoacanos here (with a few Nayaritas, Oaxaqueños and Veracruzanos sprinkled in as well).
Nah, the OC zacatecano diaspora is still overwhelmingly in Anacrime, because half of us work for the school district or the city, you know? The second generation lives out in Corona or Riverside because they wanted to be close to Anacrime — and South OC ain’t it, you know?
And for the ones that got money — well, Mira Loma so you can have a big-ass backyard with a horse and chicken. No way does Mission Viejo let us get away with THAT.
Got a question for Guti? Email me here.
Enough rambling. This was the semana that was:
IMAGE OF THE WEEK: Still from Con Su Pluma en Su Mano: The Ballad of Gustavo Arellano, a 10-minute documentary about me — HWUT. Screening in Houston this weekend, already screened in San Diego, is going to get screened in Oklahoma, Hailey — and coming to SanTana soon!
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “The people who are trying to make this world worse aren’t taking a day off. How can I?”
LISTENING:“Mother, the Queen of My Heart,” Jimmie Rodgers. The Father of Country himself, with a HELL of a morality corrido — breaks a promise he made to his mami on her deathbed, then redeems himself right when he could’ve finally found financial salvation. Better late then never — and then, that blue yodel at the end…
READING: “France and PSG star Jean-Pierre Adams was in a coma for 39 years. His wife never left his side”: Wright Thompson at his most Wright Thompsonian — heart, talent, elegiac. A story as much about love as it is about the people who so quickly abandon the side of their supposed loved ones the moment things get tough. Los que vengan, vengan.
PODCASTING: “Shared State”: It’s sometimes a bit too explain-y, but the Montana Public Radio series has a great premise — stories of political conflict across the state, and how the actors in them need to live with each other — that delivers again and again.
SHOUTOUT TO: Neil, who kindly donated 50 tacos to sponsor a full month of MailChango! His plug goes to Community Cookouts, which offers delicious food to those who want it.
Sat. March 26, 1 p.m. aka TODAY: The first signing for my co-book A People’s Guide to Orange County. Los que vengan, vengan.
Gustavo in the News
“MapLab: A People’s Guide Maps the Hidden History of Orange County ”: A plug for my co-book via Bloomberg CityLab.
“Note From the Nest: Seeing the Real O.C. & Making Sustainable Art”: Red Canary Collective plugs our appearance TODAY.
“Looking back and forward to big Oscar moments”: A LA Times newsletter you should subscribe to plugs my columna.
“Essential Politics: Supreme Court nomination hearings — long awful — have gotten worse. Here’s why”: Another LA Times newsletter you should subscribe to plugs my columna.
“Book club: Amanda Gorman joins us at the Festival of Books”: Yet another LA Times newsletter you should subscribe to plugs the columna.
“Letras para taquear”: A Spanish-language plug for Taco USA.
“Headlines: First Latina On California Supreme Court Confirmed; Armed Man Challenges Mike Tyson in Hollywood”: L.A. Taco plugs my columna.
“California Playbook”: Politico’s Golden State newsletter plugs my columna.
“CON SU PLUMA EN SU MANO: THE BALLAD OF GUSTAVO ARELLANO: Interview with Brendan Bubion”: YOU KNOW I’ll devote a canto to this when we’ve got a date — details to come…
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!
“Ketanji Brown Jackson is feeling supreme”: No one better to talk about the prospective justice than legendary L.A. Times legal reporter David Savage.
“Disney’s stumbles on “Don’t Say Gay” bill”: Something to blame on Florida.
“The medieval prince that Putin adores”: Some nerd-out shit here!
“Where’s Jack?”: A Minnesota family looks for their missing loved in in Venice Beach.
“An existential crisis for the Oscars”: We turn it over to our sibling podcast “The Envelope.”
“Grítale a Guti”: Latest edition of my Tuesday night IG Live free-for-all brings on the DESMADRE.
“Democrat in what was once Reagan country is not seeking re-election”: My latest KCRW “Orange County Line” talks about the career of Assemblymember Tom Daly — and who might replace him.
“FOX 11 Special Report”: I appear with Elex Michaelson to talk about my columna, and react to L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s reaction.
“L.A. County’s sheriff leans on his Latino identity. Does he exemplify our worst traits?”: My latest Los Angeles Times columna talks the ostensible reason to interview L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva. KEY QUOTE: “That resentment undercuts a sharp mind underestimated by opponents, a mind that could actually do good if its trollish id didn’t always feel there were scores to settle. It’s an Achilles’ heel exposed again and again the more and more Villanueva talked.”
“L.A. County’s sheriff has a strange obsession with how much media coverage Black people get”: My next latest LA Times columna finds Villanueva blowing all sorts of dog whistles. KEY QUOTE: “What was the point of all this? I had no idea. But not only did Villanueva walk into this theme, he kept going back to it throughout our one-hour chat.”
“Villanueva’s beef with firefighters, the L.A. Times, Gascón, ‘Latinx’ and more”: My still next latest LA Times columna is a grab bag of Villanueva thoughts. KEY QUOTE: “But throughout our one-hour chat, for which he arrived late but nevertheless gave me a tad more than his promised 60 minutes, el sheriff offered all sorts of insights, each more out there — and telling of his Nixonian nature — than the other.”
“Newsletter: Essential California: Gustavo talks with Sheriff Villanueva; desmadre happens”: Context to my history with el sheriff via the L.A. Times’ Essential California newsletter. KEY QUOTE: “We were like two rappers dropping diss tracks on each other. All that was the prelude to a one-hour interview Villanueva granted me last week, from which I’m still reeling.”
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