A Week in the Life of Gustavo

"Seems to think that if he fails to write, la migra will find him."--OC Weekly More merriment available at ronmaydon@yahoo.com

quinta-feira, junho 20, 2002

I am constantly amazed by the Internet. Its power in housing information for the entire world to see is so incredible it's a bit scary. For some reason, I'm reminded of the Futurama episode where the evil corporate witch (she really was in the show! not just my observation!) Mom wants to dominate the world as her birthday present and activates the world's electronics to follow her every whim. End result: a tiny birthday card starts spouting Marxist rhetoric that's so revolutionary Lenin would be shamed into buying a Laguna Beach house with its own private cove.

I'm reminded of the power of the Internet in an incident today. As happens from time to time, I typed my name into Yahoo!'s search engine to see where my name is being spoken. I discovered that my Simpson's piece is in some TV discussion website. Then I came across this interesting blog...

I am not really sure what to make of Gustavo Arellano. Sometimes his articles are dead on target. Other times he reflects the political orthodoxy of Anglo hatred so common in our ethnic studies departments.

Arellano seems to have a knack for presenting "immigrant perspective" while at the same time claiming he doesn't represent immigrants or Mexicans. This is disingenuous, at best. Make no mistake, he has designated himself a cultural spokesperson without having any real connection to the immigrant community. Yes, Arellano may be of the Marxist class of the aggrieved minority.

I wrote this letter (my note: the one criticizing my banh mi/torta piece) because I get tired of Anglo-bashing in the media. Of course, Arellano calls my letter "hate mail," when in fact the only hate being spouted came from very own his keystrokes.

This is revisionism much like the current debate over slavery reparations. No one is outraged that slavery still exists in Africa to this very day. Everyone wants money, and the race card is used for economic gain. Likewise, Arellano never mentions in his own articles the brutality of the Aztec, Mayan and Toltec savages because it would defeat his purpose of portraying Anglos as persons to be hated. If these historical facts were acknowledged (even in a food review) then it might change public sentiment towards the influx of those who have no regard for the laws of this country. We wouldn't want that, because we have an axe to grind, and the omission of facts serves our political agenda.

Another Matt Groening moment: remember when Homer and the kids found that Japanese detergent box in the Springfield dump with the likeness of Homer and Homer started freaking out wondering who in Japan was documenting my life? I didn't feel this way; if anything, I got a kick knowing that some guy up in Berkeley was reading my articles (any person for that matter). But I didn't like the fact he was wrong about many of his claims about me, especially since it seemed he was a student of my work (I have students!) so I fired off the following response...

Let me begin my email by stating how flattered I am that a complete stranger from Berkeley is taking the time to comment on my articles. That this stranger also reads my web blog disturbs.

The fact that you don’t know what to make of me is confirmation that my career is on the right track. I’ve received letters from Chicano haters calling me a Chicano radical. I’ve received letters from Chicano radicals calling me a Chicano hater. I’ve been told to go back to Mexico and been called an “American” as a slur. It is so simple for me to be pigeonholed as an “ethnic” writer simply because of my surname or the fact that I do not shy away from my background. But try as people may, I will not conform to people’s preconception of me simply because I am firstly an individual. My work shows this.

I have not designated myself as a “cultural spokesperson” of any community. Yes, I bring an immigrant perspective to my stories but only because that is my reality. Contrary to your assertion, I do have a “real connection” to the immigrant community, namely the fact that I was raised in one and still belong to it. It follows, then, that I reflect my upbringing in my writing as any individual would theirs. But I do not represent anything or anyone. Ultimately, I represent only myself. If people see me as such (as you seem to), good for them. If not, good for them.

I still take issue with your continued attack of my bánh mì/torta article (I should have referred to it in my blog as “attack”, not “hate”, I acknowledge, but I used “hate” in the context of a disagreement with my work, not the actual letter itself). I was not “Anglo-bashing” in the piece: did you conveniently forget that I also threw in a dig at my own Spanish ancestors and classified the French as subjugators? In fact, if you read the entirety of my articles, I always bash Spanish and American imperialism, not “Anglos” (of course, if you equate “American” with “Anglo”, we have a great topic to argue!). This is not “the political orthodoxy of Anglo hatred so common in our ethnic studies departments”: it’s my opposition to imperialism of any kind. Call it what it is, not what you want it to be.

You also seem to be mistaken in your definition of “revisionism.” I did not change history in my articles; the Spanish and English conquest of the Americas is well documented. As is the Toltec/Aztec/Mayan. Once again, before you make broad statements like “Arellano never mentions in his own articles the brutality of the Aztec, Mayan and Toltec savages,” do your research. Let me direct you to here and here (my note: links to pieces where I mention some indigenous bloodletting). When it is applicable, I will say it. The Aztecs have about as relevant a part in a story about the French imperialistic culinary ties between Vietnam and Mexico as the Montagards do.

One final note: if you are going to put a link to my name when mentioning me in your blog, put it to my real website: www.geocities.com/ronmaydon Thank you once again for taking the time to read my articles. Read more of them and be more confused as to what I stand for.

God, my shameless self-promotion disgusts even myself.

Petty Bourgeois (his handle, not my christening of him) wrote back admitting that he was wrong and apologed. I am not posting his response at his request but the olive branch has been offered and accepted on both parts and some intellectual Olympics are about to begin, which are always fun.

God bless the Internet, but time to watch some football. Contrary to my Latin American roots, I shall root for the English since Michael Owen is on my FIFA team and the Brazilians humiliated me when I was Paraguay.