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

terça-feira, dezembro 31, 2002

This is not working for some bizarre reason anymore. And there's so much to report...

segunda-feira, dezembro 30, 2002

Something is wrong with this blog in that it's not letting me publish...
This is what I wrote last year at the end of 2001...

So another year will end tonight. Well, not really. I've never been a big celebrant of New Year's since it's only one year as defined by the Christian calendar. Other cultures celebrate their new year's on other dates. Every day is a new year, a new month, a new beginning...you get my drift.

I still agree...

Nevertheless, some changes have occured in this year that warrant mention. I was still at Chapman, still thinking about going to Harvard or Yale, not thinking at all about journalism as a career, and still without someone to spend special moments with. Currently, I'm at UCLA, with a pseudo-career in journalism, and ! to share special moments with. Next year? In all aspects, I have no friggin' idea.

I have a better idea now of where I lie. My pseudo-career is now full-blown, as I have established myself with a ton of articles--over 100, to be exact. It's as if I work for a daily paper. I've had so much fun doing it, also. And the best part? It gets better every day. I'm going to finish UCLA, only because it would be ridiculous if I dropped out. That also gives me some career insurance if I ever get too many enemies...which seems to be occurring alread.

! is gone, of course. We spent the last moments together in her apartment with her crying--bawling, really--as I told her never to talk to me again. She had met someone else and I refused to play the pendejo for her. Credit must go to her for keeping her end of the deal, although I suspect that sometimes she thinks about me. Of course, that's just the egoist in me. She probably just forgot about me as she wanted to. Pues nimodo.

Here's to Ud., 2002. May it be a good year or at the very least, like every other year I have ever lived--without a dull moment.

Of course, this happened. I've met many new people like the Augie gang, got closer to others like NGF and the Fabulous G Sisters, while other once-dear people drifted away like AG, !, and JT. I don't know where I'll be next year (I'm not even sure if there will be a next year with Bush's disgusting administrators dictating the coming war despite their culpability in putting us in this spot in the first place) but I pray to God that it be safe, happy, and successful. And of course, with nary a dull moment.

domingo, dezembro 29, 2002

Spent yesterday with the Augie gang. I introduced them to the wonders of Cha Thai. They hadn't eaten Thai food so at first were apprehensive of the platters we ordered. That was until they tried the pad Thai. Happiness ensued.

Afterwards, we wen to Laguna Beach. Ah Laguna: sand of so many memories. Added another one yesterday: while we were having fun in the beach, daring the ocean to touch us with her waves, her husband the rain drenched us. My beautiful trenchcoat, the article of clothing I love most yet wear the least, reeked. We were all soaked. But we had fun. Everyone is great, no egos involved. They even got me gifts! LP, et al. gave me this cool Darth Vader-fighting-Obi-Wan-Kenobi action set. And CP gave me a book of hideous afflictions. My type of gal. I thanked both of them profusely for th gift. They shouldn't have yet they did. That is the mark of true humans.

Now, work.

sábado, dezembro 28, 2002

The party at the Fabulous G Sisters' house yesterday was superb, even if I got cheated at the card game Speed and Uno by two other sisters. All in good fun, though. I gave GG a Frida Kahlo book for Christmas; she gave me a Homer alarm clock. Woman knows my likings.

Saw cousin PM there with his great girlfriend P. She's so awesome in every way. She's the one who bought 49'ers tickets for the Boys. What a gal.

Today, heading out with the Augie gang. But first, I have to clean up all the books in my world.

Finally, I think I've found the world's only honest mechanic. More details to come...yeah right, he's all mine!

quinta-feira, dezembro 26, 2002

By the way...

Which one of you readers run a Windows XP computer with Internet Explorer 6 and have "ip68-5-200-133.oc.oc.cox.net" as a computer? Whoever you are, you used to read once in a great while but have read it the past couple of days. Ah, the joys of Big Brother!

I'm going through one of my 24-hour colds right now. I'm burning up, have to do articles, and am wondering what the hell I'm doing with many things. But aren't I like this all the time? Actually, no. But when I'm not doing things I should be doing, I start acting funny.

Another by the way...

Isn't this further proof that the world is unfair?

But what are you supposed to do except live?

And to prove I'm not losing it, I end with a Simpsons quote...

"Ix-nay on the Omar-may."

--Said by Moe to Homer after Homer threatened to reveal Moe's real name was Momar.
And again, misery.

quarta-feira, dezembro 25, 2002

Fascinating article on the origins of Satan Claus. Mythology is so great and I'm proud to say I'm very well versed in it. Compare the Brit's version to this piece of hooey.
Is this what universal motherhood is supposed to be about?

Currently writing a story, but I have a metallic taste in my mouth. Coupled with my bleeding gums, that's NOT a good sign. Oh, the joys of medicine!

terça-feira, dezembro 24, 2002

I listen to the sounds of cumbia on a Mexican regional station. I have just come back from hearing my cousin--who was always considered to be one of the few black sheeps in my mother's side of the family--say more intelligent things in one hour than I've heard many of my associates say in a lifetime. I'm currently battling a sickness and the expected mouth ulcers that make me even more silent (yes, silent) than usual. Tomorrow, I shall write a great article--if God allows me.

The year is ending soon, and it's ending on a good note--at least one aspect. The other aspect is a joke--and I'm the punch line.

Nevertheless, I'm meeting new people and am generally impressed with the way my slice of the world is. I see more punks than gangsters and that's always a good thing. The Augie Gang is great, the Fabulous G sisters are the sweetest people I've ever met, NGF is a sibling to me, and everyone else is relatively fine.

God, please keep it this way and make it better. And if You don't, then please have mercy on me.
I apologize for the last post. Sometimes I forget what little HTML I know.

I received two A's in my classes for UCLA. There is a God. And today, we celebrate his birth. And tomorrow, work. I love much of life--not all of it, of course.

segunda-feira, dezembro 23, 2002

I am stuffed. Went to a Brazilian churrascaria here in Fullerton. Meat, meat, meat.

Yesterday, saw The Twin Towers with the Augie gang (even though only one actual member of Augie usually goes--the rest are brothers or friends--that is their name for the purposes of this blog). They are much fun, even though I stayed out without no real protection against the cold. Now, my throat is hurting ever so slightly. And I get more spam!

domingo, dezembro 22, 2002

Isn't this just special?

As for my sense of masculinity, playing cowboys-and-Indians-alongside-WWI-Krauts-and-WWII-Americans did wonders!
Disappointed yet again today. Why does it always happen?

On a better note, tonight's show at the Centro was amazing. About 200 punks, nearly all Latinos. Santana is the place to be. I moshed and was so out of breath I nearly collapsed. There's that great Simpsons moment where Homer was cheated by Snake in a three-card monte and took after him. After about 15 feet, Homer was hideously out of breath. Marge chased Snake instead through the dark alleys of Springfield. When the police arrested, Homer came to the scene, still out of breath. That was me today. Except I nearly died.

Ate lunch in beautiful San Clemente with NGF and PSS. Good times, amazing food. Now sleep.

sexta-feira, dezembro 20, 2002

Hung out with BQ of the LA Weekly today with some of his friends. One of his friends is from Oaxaca and made two amazing moles, uno de calabaza and another sweeter one. The latter had 20 ingredients. 20!

I'll write more tomorrow, but to tell you the truth, I have to devote my writing elsewhere. This doesn't mean my writing well is empty; I'd just rather devote myself elsewhere.

In other news, a great opportunity might have opened this week. I think.
There's so much beauty in this life, I sometimes forget about it. I especially forget about it when I cannot have beauty in the way I desire it. I then lose track of what luck I have that such beauty is in my life.

Horrible cliches I just spouted, but all true. I just wish I had beauty in the way I want it once in a while.

quarta-feira, dezembro 18, 2002

I had good today and I had bad. I had indifference. Such is life.

terça-feira, dezembro 17, 2002

Those prudish idiots in Cincinatti are at it again. I don't know much about Cincinatti other than its sports teams and the riots, but a disturbing characteristic of the city is its vigorous efforts fighting pornography. They're the city that tried Larry Flynt on indecency charges, fought Mapplethorpe and the "Piss Jesus" exhibit, and now this. They should view Ron Jeremy's life works before taking another breath.

Went Christmas shopping today, which in my case means perusing through book stores for my loved ones. I don't wrap my gifts, I ask people specifically what they want, and I sign it in ink so that they might remember me for ever. Maybe I'm trying too hard--or maybe I'm not trying at all. Ah, the existential rub.

posted by Gustavo @ 10:56:00 PM   0 comments

segunda-feira, dezembro 16, 2002

Now that I'm working full time, I'm having fun again. But I still need to go out with people to make it complete. This week seems to be a good chance to do such a thing.

domingo, dezembro 15, 2002

Let's talk a little about my life...

Spent the day getting my ass handed to me by NGF in NCAA 2003 for Playstation 2. Maybe I should invest in one so I don't get humiliated any further.

Yesterday, went to a posada by the Centro Cultural de Mexico, an absolutely fabulous organization based in Santa Ana. About 200 people went and they gave out free toys to children--easily one of the most heartwarming acts I've seen in years.

Rest of the weekend was spent working. Friday, went out with M and LP and their friends (my friends, too) to some fancy party in the Newport Marriott. Had good food, got pretty drunk but not so much that I made an ass out of myself. Afterwards, we went to the Balboa Pier and talked in the freezing weather. We're supposed to see Fellowship of the Rings this weekend. Should be a blast.

LP works as a janitor in some excessively ornate office. We spent about 15 minutes in the building's boardroom. I hate this country.

But now, back to the criticism and lauditudes of my Mexican cinema/Chicano cinema comparison. The next is a good one...

As a Latino filmmaker working in LA (albeit not a Chicano), I was delighted to read your remarks concerning the current sad state of Chicano cinema ("Real Cinemas Are Controversial"). I was one of the many Latinos who had the pleasure of working with Ken Loach on "Bread and Roses," and every one of us knew that had a director from the UK not come across the Atlantic (with his own independent European financing), a stark and realistic film such as "Bread and Roses" would have never been made.

Being painfully familiar with the difficulties that directors Carlos Avila
("Price of Glory") and Patricia Cardoso ("Real Women have Curves") have experienced in getting their films on the screen, I can't honestly blame the filmmakers themselves for the current state of Chicano cinema. Each time a bold and honest Latino screenplay has reached the Hollywood development process, it has been met with the same cliched (and untrue) conventional wisdoms: "the story needs to be universal," "it needs more Anglo characters," and "it needs a happy ending." Inevitably, strong and truthful Latino stories are turned into a generic Latino-esque mish mash that no one can relate to.

What can we do to fix this sad state of affairs? As filmmakers, we need to stick to what we know to be the truth. When we rewrite our scripts in order to please everyone, not only do we betray who we are, we end up pleasing no one in the process. As filmgoers, we need to support strong movies such as "Lone Star" and "Bread and Roses." Finally, we need to stop being afraid to criticize our own work. Showering praise on an undeserving film, simply because it's a Latino project and therefore "we must support it," may be the ultimate betrayal. When we lower our standards to judge a Latino film in the
interest of promoting it, all we really achieve is perpetuating the idea
that Latino films are second rate and need to be treated condescendingly. It all comes down to being honest, as only the truth, painful as it can be, will set us free.

My response...

Thank you so much for your kind words regarding my article. I wholeheartedly agree with all of your comments. That is the point my article tried to make: the corrupting influence of the Hollywood process. I'm sure the directors of the films I criticized didn't want their movies to come out that way--at least in the developmental process. But when they concern themselves too much with trying to mainstream themselves, they then become as bland and unoriginal as said mainstream. It is up to Chicano filmmakers (and independent filmmakers in general) to stay true to a personal vision. Even if attracts no one, at least the conviction and passion of an individual would have appeared onscreen. Thank you once again for your response.

Here's a bad-but-fun one...

I read your piece on LA regarding mexican and chicano cinema. I also read your review on Real Women Have Curves when it came out. Your critique makes me wonder what exactly makes you the authority on what is "chicano" enough for the greater group at large.

I also have a bit of difficulty in feeling out the balance between selling out and making work that is true. My journey to my particular chicanisma has been a relatively short, but ongoing process in which, at one point, I felt the need to "call out" those I deemed less chicano than myself in order to feel like I was hardcore. While I am not saying that is/was your aim in criticizing the Real Women, Luminarias and Tortilla Soup, your manner of stating your opinion reminded me of that time in my life.

In your previous critique of Real Women and this article, you seem to have a HUGE gender bias, as is to be expected, you being male and all. While I do understand that one can only really speak from one's own perspective, you seem to come down extremely hard on the three "chicana films" that have made their way to the mainstream. In mentioning such films as Zuit Suit, Born in East LA (a personal favorite of mine) and Stand and Deliver, you cite films in which the protagonist is male (and bein machisto, in my opinion), has his lithe, supportive, virginal woman. But that is the thing that I have to accept about "chicano" cinema, right? That is my conflict: I love that these films represent mexicans/chican@s/latin@s with dignity, depth and human complexity. But it hurts that their women characters don't even begin to explore everything that it is to be a women in between two cultures.

Do I belive that Tortilla Soup does that? Absolutely not. I think they (whoever they are) took a brilliant film (Eat, Drink, Man, Woman -again one of my FAVORITES!), replaced an asian cast with a brown one (were any of the actresses actually mexican?) and proceeded to sell it as authentic. That, to me, is the real tragedy. That attempt by mainstream hollywood to sell us our culture. It pissed me off and I hated that film.

Now, as for Luminarias, I definitely felt a generational and class chasm when I watched that film. I am not an urban professional (yet), nor were/are my parents and except for my aunt, nor are the rest of my family. However, the one postive thing I saw in that film was that it was something new, something different and something positive. My huge critique was the class issue. But that's not what kind of story it was. It was one type of reality. It was true. It wasn't repackaged and resold with a brown cast.

Real Women Have Curves on the other hand was something I never thought I would see in my lifetime. Because in all of the films that you mentioned, not one showed chicana beauty the way I see it most often with my friends, family and myself: somos llenitas, you know? Don't get me wrong, I don't advocate unhealty eating or promoting American arrogance when it comes to food. Bottom line is, weight, among many other issues, is a class issue. I don't know how you grew up, but beans are cheap, lard is cheap, government issue block cheese, tortillas, packaged ham, eggs and weenies, all of that is cheap. Im not necessarily talking about what the family in the film ate, but cheap food is not necessarily healthy all the time. And that is real.

Also, the characters who were supposed to be mexican living in Boyle Heights were dark and normal looking. They weren't all crazy waxed and tweezed like in Tortilla Soup (I really hated that one! :D). And while self discovery may seem like a manifestation of "middle class angst" to you (and may well be, I wouldn't know), one has to know who they are before they can be of any service to their community. One has to be able to accept themselves and love themselves to be able to take on any kind of worthwhile struggle. Because activism is an upstream battle. Fighting for equality of any kind is a constant battle and there is no one and nothing in this society that will make it easy for you. Each person in this society has their own battle to wage with race, sex, gender identity, religious affiliation, and so on, not to mention dealing with the expectations of how the society at large determines one should be treated because of all those things one is.

I finally saw myself on screen in Real Women. I saw the fights with my mom ( I did not have a dad or all that family around - single family household), the body image issues, the attitude and the lack of help to apply to college. I saw a chunky chicana on the screen who didn't get pregnant, get involved with a drug addict, get shot by a rival gang, no embarassing alcoholic brother, or have some kind of heart wrenching tragedy with someone falling on their knees screaming with a soul searing pain at the end.

With direct reference to John Sayles' Lone Star, I didn't really care for that one and thought it was, again, using fabricated tragedy as a plot device. I mean, that whole brother/ sister thing, what was that all about? Why was that even necessary? Eww. But I do like his work. He has been dedicated to making films about the struggles of working class people, not just latin@s or chican@s. That is his message.

I don't know much about Ken Loach, but he also seems committed to producing work that exposes the gritty reality of, mostly, british society. He also does hail from a socialist country.

John Stockwell, the man who directed crazy/beautiful also has Rock Star and Blue Crush in his repetoire. I don't really have much to say with regard to that film. I couldn't sit through it.

I also notice that you did not once mention any of Gregory Nava's work or use him as an example of "selling out their community to the most appealing denominator." Have you seen American Family (not Chicano Family)? Or anything else he has done since El Norte? Or Robert Rodriguez for that matter. Is it just the women who are selling out the community? For being such a charged chicano, I question why you did not mention them in your breakdown of contemporary chicano cinema.

You also failed to promote any of the "Hollywood outsiders" who are the only ones who "can now properly document the Chicano experience." If you feel that strongly about how hollywood is treating your community (which I do as well), what are you actively doing about it, besides criticizing those who are doing the best they can within the circumstances...circumstances I don't entirely understand or have a full grasp of. It seems to be a question as to who has the actual last say over many things, the producers, director, actors, I don't know. If there is a chicano independant film scene or movement, I would definitely like to know about it. And if there is not, I would like to be able to be a part of its beginning or at least further development. I seem to be outside of the loop in that respect.

Would you like to help out? :)

While you mentioned that "last month’s Chicana coming-of-age drama Real Women Have Curves angered no one," It seemed to have angered you quite a bit. Or at least it has gotten underneath your skin enough to have ripped it apart on more than one occasion.

You also mention its enthusiastic reviews. Who was doing the reviewing? You only seem concerned about what mainstream, middle-class, predominantly white socitey thinks about this film. Are you therefore the spokesperson for the entire chican@/latin@ community? What has our community said about the film? Do you even know? Have you gone searching it out, or have you just looked at the top of what is being presented to you, then made a snap judgement, like a proud american?

Bottom line, I really enjoyed reading your piece. It reminds me how important it is to remember your community and where you come from. It also reminds me that your family will always be the first to knock you down in front of other people. And, it also reminds me people are entitled to their own opinion. :D

My response...

You start off with two false premises. Firstly, you think that I do not like "Real Women Have Curves." You say you read a previous review I did on the film. Are you sure it was my review? I had nothing but good words to say about the film. Read it at http://www.ocweekly.com/ink/03/08/film-arellano.php and please let me know where there's anything negative in the story; I'd love to know.

Then you make numerous assumptions about my critical abilities because I am a man. At various points, you accuse me of attacking only women films, of thinking I consider myself a spokesperson for the Chicano community, and that I'm somehow privy to any independent Chicano cinema scene. I know fully well that the films I critiqued deal mostly with a female perspective. But I did not critique them because of their female-centric plotlines; I criticized them because their plots had little substance. We both seem to be in agreement about Tortilla Soup and Luminarias, but I'd argue that Real Women focused too much on the melodramatic and not enough on the sweatshop issue, an angle that could have been examined much more thoughtfully and would have been a welcome addition to cinema. Instead, we have the smarmy daughter keeping the knowledge of sweatshop abuse all to herself.

You want a good female-centric Chicana film? Try "Salt of the Earth," a powerful documentary in which women play a major role. It doesn't patronize them, has them actively involved in politics, and is a classic. Why? Because it is immediate and was serving a purpose--namely to let people know about what was happening in New Mexico mines.

To me, if you call yourself Chicano, you are assuming a revolutionary legacy and responsibility. To be Chicano is to actively struggle to make a difference for everyone in the community, to have an uncompromising vision and goal. Chicano cinema as of recent is all about compromising, which makes it then not Chicano cinema but something inferior. When I said only outsiders can document the Chicano experience, I meant filmmakers like Sayles and Loach--independents. (And you should have seen all of Crazy/Beautiful. It's not perfect by any means, but it's remarkable for what it is). Robert Rodriguez to me is a Chicano who makes films. He doesn't make Chicano films and has never professed to. Nava's "American Family," once again, dilutes itself. Nava's great film "El Norte" was made in the 1980s but doesn't deal with Chicanos as a main focus. There is an independent Chicano cinema movement, but you'll never see those films outside of their circles since Hollywood would never produce them. Instead, they want safe stuff like the films I mentioned.

Finally, "Real Women" did not anger me, as you state (remember, you said that under the premise that I hated it). And when I said "Real Women" received pleasant-if-not-enthusiastic reviews, I was referring to those I have read, Latino and non-Latino alike. Please, next time you write a letter, no assumptions.

Now, to sleep
Another letter regarding my Mexican cinema/Chicano cinema story...

You present an interesting perspective in your "Real Cinemas..." article. However, I disagree that Chicano cinema has achieved any distinct period of accomplishment. I believe Chicano Cinema, which I consider part of American Latino cinema, is still evolving and should be allowed to take many different shapes. Although I find REAL WOMEN, LUMINARIAS, and TORTILLA SOUP dramatically weak and not of my particular taste, I still believe the themes of these movies are more vibrant because of the Latino creators behind the development and production of them. And to me, that is the central issue which will continue to define what Chicano cinema can be.

As an Irish-Chicano-American moviemaker myself, I only ask that my audience and my critics grant me the freedom to tap into the dynamic range of human experience so that the stories I present them will evoke emotion and the desire to tell others not to miss out.

I would love the opportunity to engage you with more discussion about this subject. Thanks for writing the piece.

My response...

Thank you for your response. I agree with you when you say Chicano cinema is still developing; however, I feel that a distinction between early Chicano cinema and today's harmless releases can be made. In the period I described, Chicano cinema was completely independent, with virtually no big money bankrolling it. Consequently, the films were made for a particular audience already knowledgable of the issues at hand, and directors didn't have to oversimplify anything. Today, there is still independent productions (such as your company) but these seem to be burdened by a perceived sense that they have to appeal to as many people as possible. This aesthetic usually ruins any sense of personal vision independent cinema is known for.

The only vibrancy that recent Chicano cinema possesses as of recent is the use of culture. And while culture is very important to the overall feel of the film, when the stories being told are tired-and-trite plot lines like the ones I discussed, any vibrancy is little more than ear and eye candy. Perhaps it's the militant in me, but I feel that any ethnic cinema must address issues of importance. Difficulties in dealing with the mainstream is good; self-discovery IS mainstream. Thank you once again for your response.

sábado, dezembro 14, 2002

Many, many letters keep pouring in, some good, some bad. Let's start with a good one, a letter sent to the Weekly regarding my article on the Salvadoran rapper Yaoh. This one was published in the Weekly...

I have much respect for Yaoh’s raps because he does not resort to blabbering about hos and money, and he manages to keep his raps powerful, lively and relevant (Gustavo Arellano’s "With the Name of the Warrior," Dec. 6). There is a wealth of young, raw talent in OC that is just waiting to be tapped, so it is high time the people be made aware of who these artists are and where they can be found. Both Yaoh’s music and the Cultural Center of Anahuac offer havens for many Chicano youth who may be questioning the values and assumptions of dominant culture.

Here are the bad. As I mentioned earlier, my article on conservative loudmouth Michelle Malkin was posted on American Patrol, that other paragon of stability. This is one letter the Weekly published, although I will print it in it's entirety...

I find it amazing that the OC Weekly can still openly champion illegal
immigration ("Way Out There With Them", by Gustavo Arellano, December 6-12th). Only the braindead can read daily news of a $1.7 billion shortfall in education, hospital closures and massive housing shortages and fail to see the connection between mass illegal immigration and these grim headlines.

The 250 members of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform
(CCIR) that came to hear Michelle Malkin talk about her book "Invasion" pay dearly for the lack of border enforcement her book criticizes. According to the National Research Council California native households pay $1200 in state taxes each year to support the financial burden imposed by immigration. Collectively that audience paid $300,000. Perhaps those folks are not "fanatically anti-immigration" as Arellano dismissively describes them but rather just deeply angered at being played for suckers by millions of foreigners living here illegally.

My response (which wasn't printed)>...

Blaming illegal immigrants for "suckering" Californians conveniently absolves politicians who'd rather build new prisons and raise funds for themselves than give an iota to infrastructure. With or without new immigrants, politicians wouldn't give a damn about the state's concerns, so demonize the real culprits--your elected officials.

Not addressing the topic? Not at all. Stats are meaningless to me (not that I ignore their emprical value, but I can easily cite studies that say illegal immigration--rather, ultra-cheap labor--is a benefit to our economy. What the anti-illegal immigration front will eventually say is that they do not want illegal immigration here because it "upsets the fabric of our nation", i.e., immigrants' culture is harmful, i.e., I'm anti-immigration. And its not such a far-fetched argument to debunk.

Here's the next letter...

Your recent article concerning Michelle Malkin was demonizing by any
standards. I'm a lifelong Democrat, with lifelong Democrat family members, colleagues, and friends, who simply don't agree with your writer's comments.

Illegal immigration is not an issue important to just one party or one
group, either liberal or conservative. "Illegal immigration" has become a
household phrase, and most Americans agree with Ms. Malkin's views. Most Americans want to see our troops on the border, and most Americans want to see illegal aliens deported immediately for breaking the law.

In short, you don't have to be a "conservative white" to know that illegal
immigration is ILLEGAL, and no amount of sympathy or illegal immigration advocacy can change that fact. Thank you for allowing my comments.

I didn't respond to this man's comments; however, I never made the assertion that only conservative whites are opposed to illegal immigration. Of course not. That's another argument by the anti-illegal immigration lobby against the anti-anti-illegal immigration lobby, namely that we try to castigate them as white racists. I never make the first distinction wholly (I do note that anti-immigrant activists are overwhelmingly white, but there's a disturbing number of African-Americans also) but I will always make the second accusation. Maybe "racist" is not the right term, though. Then again...

Here's the next one. The person found my website and so sent it to me via a personal address. She thinks Ron Maydon is my webmaster, which explains the intro. I like this one because it's loopy...

Could you please forward this email to Gustavo Arellano? I have just finished reading his article "Way out there with them" twice and find Mr. Arellano totally biased toward American citizens. This is quite common with Mexican-Americans of his ilk. Not all Hispanic-Americans agree with him. I believe that his opinions are based on race alone, Arellano's own Raza! If it was Haitians entering by the millions, Mr. Arellano would be speaking along with Michelle Malkin at the CCIR meeting, in my opinion.

Gustavo Arellano: Such reasoning finds an especially receptive audience at meetings of the fanatically anti-immigration California Coalition for Immigration Reform (CCIR).

Reply: There are many Hispanic-Americans that agree with Michelle Malkin and Barbara Coe.

Gustavo Arellano: Christina Aguilera's new look as the bitter fruit of a "radical feminist sexual liberation" movement that has produced "a generation of shameless skanks."

Reply: Note the way Arellano tries to brand Malkin as anti-Hispanic.
Incidently, I also agree that Christina Aguilera is a skank and along with Brittany Spears and both should clean up their act for the sake of our young impressionable youth. (Along with most of Hollywood.)

Gustavo Arellano: Malkin took the stage after being introduced to a
who's-who of local anti-immigrant activists (including infamous Aaheim
cop Harald Martin, who later in the evening would call his police chief a
"coward"). CCIR chairwoman Barbara Coe-dressed in a baptism-day
white blazer-noted that Malkin was "born to Philippine parents who came to the U.S.-legally, I might add." Much applause ensued.

Reply: Another Arellano falsehood! CCIR is against ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION! "CCIR Chairwoman Barbara Coe---dressed in a
baptism-day white blazer? Reply: Now Arellano is attacking white clothing?????

Gustavo Arellano: She spent the remainder of her 20-minute speech
faulting the mainstream press for ignoring illegal immigrant-caused murders. ("They're all too happy to tell the sob stories of poor illegal immigrants," Malkin asserted. "We get plenty of those stories.

Reply: I happen to know of one Hispanic-American that is building a Website that lists crimes by illegal aliens in the United States!

Gustavo Arellano: Malkin repeatedly stressed that she wasn't anti-immigrant, just anti-illegal invader. "Not only is [illegal immigration] the
ruination of us culturally and economically, but what an insult it is to all
the naturalized citizens here!"

Reply: Why does Gustavo Arellano have a problem with this
statement??? It is the truth!

In my humble opinion, Gustavo Arellano should be reporting for the Mexican government, they would love him!

I didn't get the opportunity to respond the the person. I asked them to forward their response to the Weekly, but I guess they chickened out. I've already given my opinion on the claim that people who are anti-illegal immigrant are not necessarily anti-immigrant. Her assertion that I try to make Malkin seem anti-Hispanic by citing her disparaging remarks towards Christina Aguilera is hilarious. Hell, I think Aguilera is a skank, but I don't blame it on feminism. I was attacking Malkin's hyper-morality, not her observation. The baptismal-white comment is another howler. Has this writer ever heard of mood setting? As for the suggestion that I work for Mexico...no thanks, I love this country (YES I DO) despite its many misgivings. I ain't about to leave it anytime soon.

Here's another one...

Are you in the habit of allowing your reporters to lie? Here is a claim Gustavo Arellano made regarding Michelle Malkin's appearance at an Orange County bookstore:

But Malkin proceeded to mock these same "good" immigrants-because as a good minority, she can. She told jokes about Ethiopians and-in the interests of equal time-a similar howler about a Swede.

Having built her rapport with the audience on a foundation of ethnic jokes and terror

This is a bald faced lie. Here is a transcript of the alleged ethic jokes from someone who was actually there:

When I was in Houston, I met an Ethiopian taxi driver. He came here legally, he had an advanced math degree, but he was willing to do that job nobody else wanted to do. And we were talking because he asked me what I was doing, what kind of business I was doing, and I talked about my book. He was very enthusiastic about it. And actually, he talked about how he was really annoyed with other people from his country who come here and don't speak our language, and he said, "I don't understand what they're doing here. It's like they don't want to be an American!"

Now, I've heard that same refrain wherever I've gone. I'm not making this up. When I was in Palm Beach, Florida, I met a guy at my hotel who was Swedish. I mean he said the same thing. There is a huge Swedish population, apparently, in Palm Beach. Eleven thousand. And when new Swedish emigres come here legally, they settle in this part of Palm Beach, and it's sort of like the ghetto. I mean, it's Balkanized, everybody speaks Swedish and stays with their favorite Swedish customs and families, and after a couple of weeks, after he arrived here, some 13-14 years ago, he said, "They don't want to be American. I want to be an American!" This Swedish guy!

Where is the ethnic slur here? Malkin was being downright positive towards the Ethiopian in question.

What ever happened to requiring reporters substantiate what they are claiming in an article? Does that journalistic ethic get thrown out the window if there is a conservative to be slimed?

This was my response to him (also not published and his letter wasn't published, either...

What the letter writer fails to mention is that Malkin quoted the Ethiopian using a voice better suited for an Amos & Andy episode. As for the Swede, she mimicked his words with the heaviest Scandanavian accent outside of Fargo. And the audience loved it.

Everything the guy said was correct. But he didn't include some things.

The next comments are not regarding any story in particular. It was an email sent from our secretary to Guillermo regarding a phone message we received. Read on...

I am relaying a message from a gentleman from Norwalk it was on our voicemail box. He said that Gustavo writes excellent articles. And wanted to thank the OC Weekly for it's continued support of the Hispanic community.

Wait until next week, and we'll probably be getting some calls for my head.

But most of the emails I've been getting as of recent are concerning my article lauding Mexican cinema while criticizing Chicano cinema. I'm only going to post a few since I need to start working and two in particular are long. I will post them later.

The reason I received so many responses is because my article was also posted on LatinoLA.com. Here's a weird one...

I read your article on LatinoLA. Thank you for sharing your good words. I wanted to share this this poem I wrote. Hope I'm not intruding.

The Reality of Our Absence*

movie screen was black and white,
an absence of brown,
sun was ice,
earth cement,
english only,
janitors and maids,
gardeners and bandits,
invisible blurs
faded into a white sky,
hollywood cameras,
eye of selective vision,
film a conquistador myth,
reality of our absence.

My response...

Thank you for your response. I liked your poem on chickens also since I used to own one myself. Her name was Alice and she died of natural causes.

Interesting, no. Here's a laudatory email...

Congratulations, your article on Chicano cinema was like a breath of
fresh air. What you said needs to be repeated often. I always believed
that the raise of the Bourgeoisie sensibility has been the death of all
Cinema. And we, Neuyoricans & Chicanos, must not fall into that trap.
Let me know of any other article you have.

My response...

Thank you for the kind words regarding my article. I also agree with your analysis regarding the bourgeois influence in all cinema. To me, cinema should be brazen, incendiary, and willing to expose both beauty and evil. Chicano cinema (most cinema in general, actually) simply doesn't want to do that today.

I actually publish quite often for the OC Weekly. You can check out my articles on www.gustavoarellano.com Let me know what you think. Thank you once again for your response.

Had to throw a plug in when asked, no?

Finally, the next is really a inquiry but needs to be said...

My novel "La Caridad" was published in 1991. It chronicles a female
newspaper reporter's life after she discovered that what was thought to be a global charity is, in fact, a global conspiracy to control world oil
production. The thesis of the novel is that the world is keeping Mexico poor by NOT developing its oil. Those in the Middle East, Canada and the U.S. want Mexico right where she is: poor. Since Mexico has vast untapped oil reserves, my story was not too much of a stretch, if any at all.

I was a newspaper reporter on the Texas-Mexico border for five years and spent time on both sides of the border with the richest and the poorest from both countries.

I have written a screenplay entitled "The Pigeon Shoot" which is an
adaptation of my novel, using the metaphor of the sport of pigeon shooting (legal in Mexico as you know) for the country's poor. Pemex's jefe's control Mexico's economy and really, really don't like it when a newspaper woman from Texas inadvertently discovers what is happening in this so-called charity. They want her silenced, permanently. It is a thriller. It is raw. It is honest and it pulls no punches.

My problem? I don't know how to get it to the proper producer. If made into a movie, it would have 85 percent Latino actors. It could be made in Mexico or in Texas or both. I feel that it is a story that needs to be told and would have a world-wide audience.

Any suggestions?

I teach journalism full time at Fullerton College and have had your OC weekly colleagues Debra, Rich Kane and Joel Beers as my students on the college newspaper. In fact, ask them and they will tell you I helped raise them all.

I would love to hear from you. Just last week I sent an e-mail to Richard Azurdia from Lucid Dreams Entertainment after seeing a call for scripts on Latinos in the Industry. I got an immediate response and will be mailing my script to his development department tomorrow. But, this could be a shot in the dark. Still, I was happy someone asked to read it.

I know this is a story that needs to be told. I have the proof about
Mexico's oil reserves from documents in Time and Newsweek from 1970 when the discoveries were made. The amount of oil there was said to be "greater than that in the Middle East" but also, in the same article, the writer said those in power in Mexico feared what would happen to their country if the oil was ever fully developed and the poor became educated and powerful.

Take care. Thanks for reading my ramblings.

P.S. You get A+ on your fine writing!

My response...

Thank you for your grading of my writing style. I do not have too many contacts in Hollywood since I prefer to critique the business rather than become part of the monster. However, I will give you the emails to two friends of mine.

The first is Alex Cortez. He's currently working on "American Family" and that email should still be current. My other friend is George Estrada. He also worked with Nava before (I'm not sure if he still does). Both could help you out much better than I ever could. Good luck on your queries and thank you once again.

More letters later...

In other news, my mom's purse was stolen from our car. The window was smashed. Yay!

quinta-feira, dezembro 12, 2002

Good day, bad day, weird day, normal day.

More information tomorrow.

quarta-feira, dezembro 11, 2002

Finals are done. They should be good. At least that'll be my primary prayer tonight and for la virgen.
Some internutter fun courtesy of my friend Pablo. Isn't the Internet grand?...

Googlism for: gustavo arellano

gustavo arellano is the senior editor of oc latino and didn't even get to cinco de mayo's takeover by american beer companies gustavo arellano is the editor in chief for oc latino gustavo arellano is the editor of oc latino gustavo arellano is a graduate student at ucla and a contributing writer to oc weekly gustavo arellano is a graduate student in latin american studies at the university of california gustavo arellano is a writer with the oc weekly gustavo arellano is my favorite writer and always has me laughing

He got this Internet description of me courtesy of www.googlism.com, which allows you to type in a name and see what has been written about it. Of course, it doesn't get everything, just what Google discerns. Still, a rather enjoyable game.

One more final, then prayers to la virgen tomorrow.

terça-feira, dezembro 10, 2002

First final is done. As it has been in previous finals, I was thrown off by a question. I'm not sure how well I will do as a result of this unexpected development, although I think I'll pass the class. I hate myself.

On a brighter note, I'm thinking of buying the entire collection of the Maledicta Journal, a semi-academic collection of articles written on the use of vulgar words in society. They have one issue of it here in the UCLA library, and when I opened it, I came upon perhaps the most disgusting thing I've ever read. It was in a British dictionary of the 1700s:

Cunt: A nasty word for a nasty thing.

Needless to say, I laughed my ass off. This is what happens when you listen to Howard Stern for 11 years.
Time to rock and roll. After that, more studying and writing.

If you're bored about my constant reiteration of my impeding finals...too bad. This is my life right now. But after Wednesday, this blog will go back to my usual vacuousness.

segunda-feira, dezembro 09, 2002

More commentary regarding my Malkin article. This is a good-natured debate between me and a gentleman who read my article off the reprehensible American Patrol website...

I saw your piece on Michelle Malkin the OC Weekly.

I actually read her book, and I presume you haven't, because nowhere in it does she even come close to an assertion that the 9/11 attacks were caused by Latino day laborers as you claim. Any reputable publishing house (which Regnery is, BTW) would have an editor go over the author's work for accuracy, and an ridiculous assertion like that would never make it to print.

Your problem with Ms. Malkin is that you don't like her politics. Based on the extremely hostile tone of your column, I would say that you consider Ms. Malkin to be an especially effective adversary, precisely because she is female, a minority, and the daughter of immigrant parents.

My response...

Malkin's book indeed has her putting some of the blame of 9/11 on Latino day laborers. I cannot cite exactly where at this time since I do not own a copy of the book, but this isn't the only time Malkin made such an assertion. Read her Sept. 13, 2002 column on the subject:


I'm not sure if you actually went to hear her speak, but she further expanded on her wild claim that night. Inane logic, to be sure, but that's Malkin's belief, not mine.

His response to my response...

I do own a copy of Ms. Malkin's book, and no, she does not make any claim about day laborers causing the attacks. I also did not attend the book signing, so I have no idea what she may have said at that event. I'd be interested in seeing transcript of Ms. Malkin's remarks, if one is

The column Ms. Malkin wrote that you refer to describes a commonplace occurrence, that is to say, the buying and selling of bogus documents. If you would read Ms. Malkin's comments more closely, she is blaming the local authorities for their failure to put the lid on this illegal activity. Selling bogus documents not only facilitates immigration fraud, it also creates the opportunity for identity theft, which is a crime that you are every bit as likely to be a victim of as I am.

As for the people who sold the fake i.d.'s to the hijackers, how do you
suppose they're feeling? They thought they were engaged in a harmless business deal that hurt no one; all they were doing was helping people in that the U.S. government had not seen fit to admit. If they have any conscience at all, I am sure they are wracked with guilt that their actions had a direct causal relation to 3000 people being killed.

My response to his response of my response...

The direct causal link you refer to is actually a convoluted trip that Malkin uses to assign blame to day laborers. Her reasoning is as follows: the hijackers bought the fraudulent documents from illegal immigrant day laborers which allowed the hijackers to obtain drivers licenses which allowed them to obtain residency which allowed them to obtain passports which allowed them to board the flights which allowed them to crash into the Trade Centers. While I might not agree with her logic, it's pretty obvious that Malkin puts the blame on day laborers as at least partly responsible for the attacks because they sold the fraudulent documents to the hijackers. In addition, after sharing this anecdote in her book signing, Malkin further went on to state with contempt that the Pentagon was rebuilt with day laborer labor. She most definitely links day laborers with the 9/11 attacks.

He'll probably respond. I have no problem with good-natured debates, even if I don't agree at all with the other person's viewpoint. He sent a letter with respect and I thusly corresponded. If he calls me a moron from the start, fun ensues.

Back to studying.
Some actual fan mail regarding my Michelle Malkin piece. The person saying these words did it as part of a mass email forwarding my message. That's always fun...


It has been a while but it is back. This time the topic is columnist and Fox News correspondent(the news channel that sounds more like a bunch of weiners than actual reporters) Michelle Malkin. She was recently in Garden Grove to discuss how it is the fault of Latino
day laborers for September 11th, how immoral Christina Aguilera is not(and how it is the fault of Mexican illegal immigrants.) and how Muslims are not the victims of hate crimes, (it is also being done by
Latino illegal immigrants.) Being the daughter of LEGAL IMMIGRANTS from the Philipines, she has completely sold out her people and gone to the far far right wing. Yet she is seen a "Voice of the people" in
Orange County. Someone needs to remind her that 17 of the 19 hijackers were also LEGAL IMMIGRANTS!

People like Michelle Malkin, who are unfortunately in abundance in Orange County, scare me on how violently xenophobic they can get. Well enjoy the article from OC Weekly by Gustavo Arellano, a good writer by the way, and feel free to laugh at Michelle Malkin and her psychotic fear of Latino immigrants.

People still associate Orange County with loonies. While partially correct (OK, wholly correct), there's some of us here fighting the good fight also.

Enough fun. Back to studying.

domingo, dezembro 08, 2002

It's getting better all the time (it can't get any worse).

Nothing has happened today except consuming useless knowledge. But after 6pm Wednesday, I am free...well, as free as a young journalist expected by himself, his editors, and his friends (ha!) to constantly produce muckraking pieces.

I had a dream, but I can't remember it anymore. Hopefully, someone will teach it to me again.
Came back from ER's birthday party, where I saw many friends. Fun time had by all.

Afterwards, me and NGF (who had gone to a Democratic Party party earlier at LAX) went to the Thai restaurant I have talked about before in these pages. There was no band playing this time, although the karaoke singers were in full force. The waitress seemed shocked that we were there so late at night and were even more shocked to see me order a raw beef salad. And she probably died of a heart attack after I proclaimed it good.

sábado, dezembro 07, 2002

Am supposed to go to a party tonight...actually, three of them. I'll go to all of them alone, of course.

My sister took the SAT's today--as a junior. When I took my SAT's, it was at the last possible date, I didn't study at all, and I stayed up until two in the morning the previous day lost somewhere in the hills of Orange.

We had our CD release party for the Weekly this past Thursday. It was pretty fun, although I spent one half of the party talking to Guillermo about the Armenian Holocaust and why Mexican culture is so reverant towards the past while Americans consume it without leaving any remnants. The other half was spent with fellow music nerd AA talking about anti-Semitism. When Guillermo told his wife what we were talking about, she branded us geeks.

That's fair.
Mom is fine, thank God. Nothing serious to begin with, but thank God nevertheless.

I, on the other hand...

quinta-feira, dezembro 05, 2002

I truly am the biggest idiot in the world. I can't even do research correctly. I'm a horrible excuse for a writer. I wish I was a janitor or gardener so I wouldn't have to deal with the horrible existence that is life.

On the other hand, I just got walloped with a big ol' bill. The holidays! Yay!
I'm in the dregs yet again. Am I ever not out of them?
Hung out with GG and her sister A for a while at JC Fanango as we saw Maldita Vecindad. Also saw CF for the first time in months. She's fine and is happy. Good for her.

Have two more stories to do, then the deluge.

quarta-feira, dezembro 04, 2002

I think I'm becoming a better writer despite this pit of despair I currently inhabit. Imagine how good I would write if I was unencumbered by the flab of useless responsibilities that currently occupy my life. Or is it that the annoyances I go through give me the drive to excel? I'm not sure. But I do know I wish sometimes that the wishes I desire the most would come true once in a while. I don't think they ever have.

terça-feira, dezembro 03, 2002

All my creative energy comes from anger, whether it's retributive, righteous, or defensive. It drives me, consumes me. I could have been the Incredible Hulk in a previous lifetime. Or perhaps I'm him now.

This is my bane and my blessing. I am a passionate individual but people could easily get burned by me if they don't know how to handle me. At the same time, my timidity can sometimes internalize my rage to make me completely ineffectual. Maybe I'm not the Incredible Hulk. I'm probably the Human Torch, turning on my fire on and off at will. Except I don't have the will to turn it off.

Only one thing quenches my fire and she arrives and leaves with a different woman every year. The rest of the year is spent thirsting for comfort.
Some words for myself...

Patience, Gus, patience. Everything comes with due time. Suffering is a natural state of being and shan't go unrewarded. As the old joke goes, "If suffering builds character, then I have more than Warner Bros. The damned time is almost over, then two weeks of paradise followed by more infernal time spent wasting away.

Ruega por mi, San Judas

segunda-feira, dezembro 02, 2002

Had dinner at an enchanting Thai restaurant tonight with PS, AAS, and ER. So great to chismiar with all of them.

Finals are approaching with dread, so I will finish for the moment with some good stuff written to me. First comes from a fellow activist friend...

thanks for taking Lalo out to eat after the event, that was cool. I wish I could have with my morritos around me.

Also, keep up the good work about Nativo and Amin. I can't believe people actually view these guys to be leaders in our community. Man, I have know them since back in the day and every movida they pull they are so slick about it and proud of it. I hope people are getting the onda that they are corrupt.

Those guys make me sick.

Not my words, but I won't disagree with that statement. The next couple of fine words comes from my old Chapman chum, Ryan Gattis. He's making quite a name for himself in the British publishing world. Since he is a fellow writer, I take all his comments seriously, but should I believe him when he says the following about my nepotistic article?

Another nice article. You realize it's the norm now?

Anyhow, Droughns rules.

I won't disagree with the Droughns compliment. Ryan is a Colorado native and Droughns is doing a good job returning kickoffs for the Broncos this year.

Now the following regarding
As always Gustavo, I am very impressed with your food knowledge and ability to articulate it to readers like me. Particularly this: "What distinguishes San Sivar pupusas from those of other pupuserías, however, is rice flour. The difference between a rice-based and corn-based pupusa is like that between Gouda and Brie. Each is superb, but the rice flour exhibits a lightness that doesn’t overwhelm the other flavors as corn masa tends to deliciously do." Where do you learn this stuff? Very cool.

My response...

I know full well the usage of stones in the UK. That's exactly why I used that weight measure to describe the tamales. Salvadoran tamales are exceedingly huge. Plus, "10-stone tamale" flowed very smoothly off my tongue when I said it. Your envisioning of my description come to life cracked me up. You are strange. Fat man in a tamale suit?! That rocks.

Thank you once again for the too-kind words regarding my articles. The way I research my food articles is the only way it should be done: eating out a lot. I'll sometimes cheat and look up a particular dish online, but I'm never deceptive: I eat what I describe. As a result, I once ate a grasshopper quesadilla. Not as bad as it seems, although the shock value was the tastiest part of the dish.

Ryan Gattis: a true writer. As for me, I'm off to practice my yellow craft!