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

sexta-feira, janeiro 31, 2003


The Augie Gang will be accompanying me for some Salvadoran food, some time at Laguna Beach, then a "surprise." I'm not sure what it'll be, although I trust them that it'll be grand. They're getting me gifts. God has blessed me with caring friends.

But first, BIRTHDAY WEEK, DAY I...

Went to eat at Al-Sanabel Bakery with NC. After that, we went to the Gypsy Den in Santa Ana, trying to talk over the joyful din of Yellow Submarine. I loved last night.

Back to Day II...

AAS cooked pozole for me, her husband M, ER, and NGF. Afterwards, we talked about homophobia, Nativo Lopez, women, and other general chismes. A read a poem by Sandra Cisneros. I rather liked it.

quinta-feira, janeiro 30, 2003

My Shakira is not a sell-out article was posted on popdirt.com when it came out. I just found out about it today. This is what they have to say...

Calling Shakira A Sell-Out Is Wrong
Saturday, November 09 @ 23:38:30 EST

Gustavo Arellano of OC Weekly insists that those who brand Shakira a sell-out because she shifted from singing in her native Spanish to cross over into the English speaking big money market are wrong. "Her former fans don’t care about the facts: she’s now singing in English and therefore must be ignored," he said. "But to revile her for choosing to sing in another language is jingoistic at best and stupid at worst. Despite a shaky debut, Shakira has limitless talent and will likely be as groundbreaking in English as she was in Spanish. Maybe she didn’t switch to English simply to make more money (her Pepsi sponsorship, on the other hand...). She deserves the benefit of our doubt: that her career can only improve by singing in English."

This site is apparently a discussion forum for pop fans who don't have much insight. Here's what two of them have to say...

I think people might be judging her a little bit too harshly. I don't think somebody should be criticized for singing in another language. What's wrong with that? And besides, Shakira isn't really that big of an act here in the U.S. Yes, she had two hits with "Whenever, Wherever" and "Underneath Your Clothes" but "Objection" was far from a hit in my opinion. So I don't see the big deal.

And here's the other...

I agree with you (except for what you said about Objection) I personally love her and Im glad she went international. Shes got talent and is being judged too harshly for crossing over. She still sings in Spanish and has a lot of Spanish influence (the way she dresses, dances, etc...)

Spanish influence?! Ha! Yes, they agreed with my argument, but they should have expanded a bit more on the subject of culture's role in selling out. BTW, my sister found this same argument in her Spanish class recently, where everyone was saying Shakira is a sell-out. My sister is a Shakira fan (I'm not) and, armed with my article, proceeded to shut everyone up. Who says my articles aren't helpful?

For the first time in a while, I'm scared I'll never be truly happy.

quarta-feira, janeiro 29, 2003

Here's something I wrote to one friend today and said to someone else...

I'm an idealist whose aspirations constantly are crushed by bitter reality.

I'm currently miserable. And nothing truly bad has happened. I'm a wuss.
This takes balls to say!

I hope the man gets UCLA tattoed on his cornea.

terça-feira, janeiro 28, 2003

The Fortean Times is a great magazine out of Britain (the parent company also prints the fab Bizarre) that deals with the paranormal. They also serve a daily dose of weird, linking up to weird articles around the world ala Daily Rotten. What's best about the Fortean Times is their writing: superb, not chock-full of conspirational-type screeds as they're perfectly allowed to, and dryly objectionable as the Brits could be. For example, read this piece on cow mutilations in Argentina. If the Americans had this happening to them, it would be bad.

I'm sorry: I just lost my eloquence.
More letters keep coming in, and I don't make any of them up. Let's start off with some true appreciation...

I have been an avid reader of OC Weekly for a number of years, especially since you've jumped on board. I really enjoy your articles because I can actually relate to them. I too despise the way Nativo Lopez plays the race card, and I also know what its like to ride in a packed truck to TJ. To be honest, I have been a fan since you wrote that article on those day laborers who wait for work outside of Home Depot, it really put things in perspective for someone whose parents are Mexican Immigrants. Anywho, thanks for giving a voice to a lot of OC Chicanos/Latinos who live an acculturated life, and thanks for being frank and honest, oh, and for also giving JUMBO some love (my fav band!)

My response...

Thank you so much for your kind comments regarding my articles. You sure seem to know my articles if you can reference four of them into one letter!

What's your background? Are you a student? parent? radical? proletariat? I'm always curious as to the makeup of the Weekly readership. Keep in touch and let me know if you know of any worthwhile stories.

Jumbo rocks but Zurdok RULES!

No, I'm not trying to hook up with yet another reader; I'm actually curious to see how this fan found me and under what perspective they've come to appreciate me.

The following is a critical piece by my mentor Sam Quinones regarding my article on why Chicano cinema sucks and Mexican cinema rules. This article will live beyond my years...

i read your column about mexican and chicano cinema at LATINOLA.com

again, it's really good stuff.

however, i'd argue with you on your essential point that somehow chicano cinema is less because it deals with middle-class issues of angst, etc., and not with a community, I can't remember how you put it, "under seige" or wordds to that effect.

i think a cinema that deals with middle-class issues is one that is facing reality, not hiding from it, particularly in the US. these emotional issues, and less political ones, simply show that many Chicanos are part of the middle class and that's not bad.

the guy who made Y Tu Mama Tambien got enraged at a french journalist who asked him why he wasn't dealing with the issues of poverty, etc. why his movie was about middle class concerns.....i agreed with him. why must every movie deal with the great political/class issues to be good?

now whether some of these movies are any good is another question. I've been down here too long and haven't seen a lot of what's come out. but the concept of dealing with middle-class issues is a valid one, i think.

My response...

In response to your email...I guess one of my biggest critiques of Chicano cinema is the usage of the term "Chicano". To me, if you self-identify as "Chicano", you are accepting the responsibility that comes with the term, mainly that of having a revolutionary perspective towards everything. Perhaps this is an oversimplification on my behalf, especially considering the fluidity of ethnic labels. But I'd nevertheless make the argument that anyone who identifies as Chicano is aware of the "stigma" that comes with the terms. If they're ashamed of that term, then they'd probably identify as something else like Latino, Hispanic...or plain ol' American.

That said, I'd expect any "Chicano" cinema to address issues more mundane than dating or the trials of the middle class. It's true that being able to say you can be part of the middle class is an accomplishment, but is this really a goal for filmmakers? I majored in film in college, and I always found cinema that addressed issues of class, race, and politics--no matter how obliquely--as the most entertaining. That's why I loved "Y Tu Mama Tambien", which despite being a road trip/teen sex romp with upper-class boys as the main protagonists nevertheless managed to weave in a heavy undercurrent of politics.

That's why I also enjoyed "Real Women Have Curves". In the article you read, I disparaged the film much too harshly. I wrote a previous article for the Weekly praising the film for its brutally-honest depiction of female relationships. But I was disappointed the film didn't deal more with sweatshop relations. I guess that's the radical in me that comes out once in a while...

Here's a really weird one from the Jupitersciples crew. Goes to show you can't please people even if you try your best...

Brian asked that I reply to you on behalf of our group in accordance to how we received the article. Overall we're thankful for the oppurtunity for exposure, and the fact that someone out there is reading about us and our musical existence is dope to us. If anything the article seemed to reflect how you received us as people, our personalities our spiritual beliefs and the nature of the music we make. From the humorous to the seriousness of our state of beings. However it struck as quite a blow from the title of the story to the jokes made about "G-zeus" and the implications made that we are "saints in a sinful world". For in all actuality we are far from being saints and we feel as if our beliefs were poked fun at and unfairly magnified in comparison to the ratio between the GOD we spoke in the interview and all the other ideals that we shared with you in the limited time we had to express ourselves. I apologize that at the time of the interview I came off as almost rude and uninterested, for I have many things going through my mind at this point in my life, and I hope that you do not take this reply as an overexcessive unnecessary monologue on my behalf. Whether my saying that we are like "gangster rappers who really arent gangsters" was taken as negativity on my part, when this group is supposed to be something I should be positive about, nevertheless it is the truth. And it was said in hopes that you would not portray us as "saints in a sinful world" , for the effect on the reader most likely will be that we are of the "holier than thou" breed ,when in all truth only the one and only Almighty God has the right to judge. But I also know that you had no ill intentions when writing the article, and that your purpose was to shine light on a group that you felt deserved it. Thank you for that, and your article that brought to the surface the truth of where we are as spirits and where we need to be. I hope that you would receive this as a reflection of how we received your article and not a picking apart of the work you do. Overall we thank you for the opportunity, and the lesson learned that our words must be more succinctly formulated in the future. Thank you. Peace and blessings.

My response...

I apologize profusely if I offended the group with my story. Part of the hallmark of the Weekly is to have an offbeat approach to stories--hence, the remark about "G-Zeus" and his posse. I did not mean to malign your beliefs or somehow pass your group off as self-righteous Christians. My point in the irreverancy was primarily to inject some humor into the article; obviously, it didn't work. But as for the "saints in a sinful world" comment, that was my observation regarding Jupitersciples' status in the current hip-hop scene. I truly believe that the group stands out so much that such a comment is warranted. Due to my demarcation of the passage in my story, readers should be able to understand that such insight is my opinion and should not reflect on the beliefs of your group. If anything, the direct quotes I have from you and Brian shows that you would never assume such a mantle, that your beliefs and humble nature are above such thoughts. My intents with the story was to promote Jupitersciples as something fresh, exciting, and even inspiring--something that people usually don't get from hip-hop anymore. I hope that readers got that. I apologize profusely once more and wish you the best of luck in the future. Please keep me up to date on any new releases you might have.

I'm going to reserve any other comments. But this exact problem happened with Enjambre. I feel that sometimes people forget that the Weekly is the Weekly. I do feel bad if a band doesn't like what I wrote about them. At the same time, however, they should realize that an article will have the nuances of the writer all over the paper. As long as the story is correct, a band should be happy for any publicity--especially when it's good.

No one called today. I'm getting impatient.

segunda-feira, janeiro 27, 2003

Not surprisingly, I've already alienated many with my Kinky/Niño Astronauta show review. Here's a fan letter...

I'm writing to you in regard to your review on the kinky/nino astronauta show at the Mayan in this past l.a. weekly (1/23/03).

I'm discouraged to read all those negative comments about nino astronauta's performance. and I'm sad that you have such limited knowledge about this circuit and the people involved ... and that you seem to have no basis for your criticism. i have seen them perform several times, and each time they are incredibly good. i am aware of their influences that have guided them to their sound, and perhaps that is what makes them too complicated for you to understand. perhaps you should do some research and learn about electronic music and sounds of the future if you are going to continue to review musical acts that may be out of your league.

It is unfortunate that you feel the need to bash a talented group for either not understanding them, or having some sort of unexplained grudge. In this city full of competition it is only cordial to have respect and encouragement for other Latinos regardless of their musical sound. not all Latino musicians feel the need to constantly exploit their Latin heritage.

As I am being introduced to your writing, I will also now discard your music review contributions as I have now been proven that they are biased and baseless. due to this latest critique of nino astronauta you have now aquired many unhappy readers.

avid nino astronauta fan... and kinky fan

p.s. in my "professional opinion" pastilla sucks and they're not half the musical talent nino astronauta is.

My response...

You criticize me for having a bias against Niño Astronauta. So what's your point? The raison d'etre of a music critic is to be biased. If I think a band is great (like Kinky), I will say so and write great things. If I don't like a band (like Niño Astronauta), I will not. It's that simple. I never claim to have the ultimate opinion; it is mine. You can agree with it or disagree with it, but ultimately what I write is my own opinion; nothing grander, nothing lesser.

I can accuse you of being as biased as me for disparaging Pastilla in your post-script, but I won't because I know it is your opinion. And I also will not accuse you of ignorance for not liking Pastilla or suggest that you can't possibly understand their music because they're "out of your league" as you did towards me in your letter.

As for your insistence that we should have "respect and encouragement for other Latinos regardless of their musical sound"...that's the kind of insiduous thinking that allows Super Estrella to dominate the airwaves. And I think we can both agree that the station is detrimental to the nurturing of acts like Kinky, Niño Astronauta, and Pastilla.
I nearly crashed twice today going to school. For some reason, I was incredibly sleepy.

Went to the dentist, where I was once again commended on my healthy teeth. Their shape, on the other hand...
The Bucs won. I'm tired. I want to talk to someone, but I'm kind of shy about it.

Some more Daily Rotten history...

Jan 27 1992

Falsetto Mike Tyson on trial for rape.

By the way, musicians are ingrates.

domingo, janeiro 26, 2003

From the greatest website ever...

Jan 26 1998

Residents of the Japanese town of Ito are attacked by a pack of raving wild monkeys. A total of 26 were injured and had to receive rabies shots. It remains unclear why the monkeys chose to attack.

But right now, I'm suffering writer's block...

sábado, janeiro 25, 2003

Bliss might have been found today...but now, another party.
As a journalist, I always wonder how it must be toiling in obscurity. Sure, I work for a commie fag rag, but at least it's in one of the largest media markets in the world. But how about people working in no-name places like Wyoming? Or Montana? Heaven forbid I ever become an editor in Eastern Washington, where a former Weekly writer is currently working.

I remember my Chapman chum TN once noting that Rob Fukusaki once did the sports for a station in Hawaii. He even remembered when Fukizaki did his farewell show, announcing he was moving on to the big time. Fukuzaki was right when saying he was moving to a better job: he landed on KABC and replace Todd Donahue.

I actually had this conversation with the LA Weekly tribe last week, talking about anchors who have been with us forever like Hal Fishman, Jerry Dunphy, and Paul Moyer. The person who became most famous was , who went from being a doofus on KCBS to sportsman on KTLA to newsman with MSNBC to current Fox Sports broadcaster.

But what do you make of those who never leave Iowa?

sexta-feira, janeiro 24, 2003

Sometimes the hardest decisions are those you believe most in. And I'll leave it at that.

The weekend should be memorable. But first, work.
I made three shots in a row in pool tonight. Three impossible shots. No, really. The gods might be smiling upon me soon...

God, please forgive my blasphemy!

quinta-feira, janeiro 23, 2003

Just had my first class today of a seminar of which I missed the first two weeks. Teacher's great: former military man from the South. Funny, too, in making analytical points. Apparantly not a Marxist or postmodernist. Impossible at a university!

Here is a devastating attack on the Bush administration's aspirations towards an American empire.

Now just waiting for my sister to get out of class so I can get back to life...

quarta-feira, janeiro 22, 2003

A letter from my dear friend Ryan Gattis regarding my article skewering the Orange County Register for not knowing its South Korean history...

Damn G!

"Guard our borders from the Mexican hordes!?" That made me laugh out loud! Fuck'n Buchanan. When is that guy gonna drive off a bridge on his way to a Klan rally?

Beyond that, I found your article enlightening and disturbing. Which is the true converse of your sadly predictable target Dillow. I thought you showed him up nicely with your writing as well as your style, which was neither predictable (unless unpredictability can be so) nor unfairly biased or excessively rooted in "the past is sacred" rhetoric.

I do not know Dillow, but I think I know his type. Folks like him
predictably remythologize the past to suit themselves. So it is all
sweetness and white (if you'll forgive my play on words...truly, it matters not the color of one's skin, but the dominant and unrepentant viewpoint from which they choose to view things), no depression, no civil rights riots that stemmed from injustices, no monopolies, no Sinclair's Jungle, no killing of innocents on death row, no invading of countries for purely monetary reasons, and by the way, the dropping of not one but two atomic bombs was not only necessary but deserved retribution. Because in his world, everyone "gets what they deserve," just like a John Wayne western, no? Hindsight being 20/20, "Unforgiven" is more like it...

Well done as always, your writing makes me think, and that is the highest one can attain with words

My response...

Thank you as always for the overflowing praise for my articles. Buchanan is such a weirdo. But in a weird way, I respect the guy. I completely agree with him regarding opposition to imperialism, even though we're against it for wildly different reasons (I think it's morally abhorrent to impose your power on another nation, Buchanan wants our army to fend off all the Mexican savages). Yet he sticks to his anti-imperialist screed at a time when all conservatives are falling behind Bush. Gotta give him credit for something, even if he thinks Islam is a threat worse than Mexicans.

I'm surprised you never came across Dillow's wild columns during your time in OC. Dillow is a county institution, the worst possible type of American: smug, proudly ignorant, and foolish as fuck. Dillow-bashing is a treasured sport at the Weekly, so I'm glad I was able to both bash him and allow our readers to learn something about the world. Hell, even I was disturbed after I researched this.

I agree with your argument regarding the remythologizing of the past by Dillow's ilk. However, I don't think they pretend things didn't happened so much as they twist the past to their convenience. Now, the Civil War becomes a battle over state rights. The depression was really because of Roosevelt's New Deal. Robber barons were simply visionary businessmen. And the A-bomb was absolutely necessary--Japan would have never surrendered! I'm not against a reinterpretation of history, per se. But the shaping of history for the use of advancing certain arguments--that's where methodology mixes with ideology. And that's where the fascist state comes into play.

And your play on words was great.

Nothing better to go to sleep to than lively discussion. God bless America--and I mean it with all sincerity.
So much writing, so much studying, so much reading...and there's yet hope for happiness. Will talk more about it soon...if there is something to write about, that is.

Drove around Anaheim today with LR. She's a very enthusiastic gal who's one of the friendliest people I've ever met. She treated me to a kufta sandwich. We shall go out again.

terça-feira, janeiro 21, 2003

Weird things abrewin'...that's all I can say at the moment.

I wish I could study but...weird things abrewin'
I actually already knew aboutthis cyclops/elephant theory. It seems plausible, athough I think we should give the ancients a bit more credit for their beliefs and descriptions.

Went out with CS yesterday, an absolutely stunning individual. And I'm not even talking about her looks. We ate Honduran food and I made a disturbing discovery--sopa de caracol is an actual dish rather than just a giddy song. Means I'm going to have to eat it soon, something I'd rather not do. But for the sake of journalism, anything short of sin.

segunda-feira, janeiro 20, 2003

Yet another letter to LatinoLA.com regarding my "Real Cinemas are Controversial" story for OC Weekly...

After reading Arellano's article, which unfairly compares and contrasts American Chicano cinema with that of Mexican cinema, I felt compelled to write in defense of the latest crop of Chicano films that Arellano feels do not faithfully depict 'a community under siege.' I do not know which America Arellano is referring to in his article, but surely times have drastically changed since Cheech's 'Born in East L.A.' and Olmos' 'Stand & Deliver.' Why must all Chicano movies deal with our people being under siege? I am Chicano; I have been Chicano for twenty-five years (since I was born) and have not been under siege once. Granted, I am third generation, I was born here and I am very Americanized in my beliefs and ways, but maybe (just maybe) that is what current Chicano films are all about. I hate to burst Arellano's bubble (and that of anyone else who thinks this way) of true Chicano films and what they should or shouldn't depict. There is a new generation of Chicano filmmakers who are making films that truly depict the struggles and difficulties of our generation in an America where we are freer and more like 'Bill Cosby' than our predecessors were. We may not be going through the battle over immigration, being over-worked in grape fields or having to deal with the struggles of race and class as our parents and grandparents did -- but our concerns are just as viable and just as important to document in the genre of film as any. Our struggles may include middle-class life, family, relationships, etc., but, they are REAL struggles that most of us Chicanos are affected by on a daily basis. While I do not identify with the characters in 'Zoot Suit,' 'Born in East L.A.,' or 'Stand & Deliver' -- I totally see aspects of my life and today's Chicano society in movies like 'Real Women Have Curves' and 'Tortilla Soup.' In this respect, they have done the job of the true Chicano Cinema and that is to embody the battles and triumphs of Chicano society... whatever they may be."

Please. Middle-class life is not a struggle. And once again, nobody seems to remember the responsibilities that come with identifying oneself as a Chicano. To be Chicano is to struggle for your community every day and have a radical perspective. Don't want that? Call yourself Hispanic then. Just don't sully Chicano with your middle-class complacency.

domingo, janeiro 19, 2003

There were many protests yesterday against the upcoming war with Iraq. I couldn't make it to any due to work and life, although I like to think I contributed my share of exposing imperialism with this little piece. But many of my friends did protest, as this article attests to. Would Nixon had been opposed to the war? I dunno; the man both bombed Cambodia and finished the war.

A contingent of Orange County protestors went to San Francisco to protest. I don't agree with this approach. Local people should be fighting the government on the local level, not preaching to the choir at other progressive outlets. I seem to be the only person who believes this, however, at least amongst my circle of associates.

I need to sleep early tonight so I can live tomorrow.
I'm sick but need to work. Had a good talk last night with CP about various things. We drove the length of PCH from Corona del Mar to San Clemente. So much of the beach is privatized, it's rather sad. We talked about that also.

Had breakfast with NC, although I didn't talk much because I felt sick. Then went to visit CC, who's in the hospital awaiting a bone marrow transplant. I'm such a selfish bastard.

sábado, janeiro 18, 2003

Hung out last night with some of the fine folks at LA Weekly. We hung out at the Cat & Fiddle, a British pub that's supposedly (actually, no: it is) frequented by Steven Patrick. The time spent was wonderful; the curry chicken salad wasn't. Next month, we're doing German cuisine despite my reservations about its heaviness. But I'm completely looking foward to it.

Working on stories and have to study. And football; I have to see football at least for a bit this weekend, no? Also might go out with CP. We'll see...

sexta-feira, janeiro 17, 2003

There has been a recent spate of animals acting crazy. Take this report from South Africa. Or the story about penguins going berserk. Or the Jules Verne-imagined giant squid attack. These stories follow others like monkeys invading a Shinto temple, drunken pigs taking over a Turkish village, and even a marauding wallaby wreaking havoc on Stockholm.

George Orwell's nightmare is coming alive. I hope there's a Snowball out of this.

quinta-feira, janeiro 16, 2003

Going to see Kinky with yet another batch of beautiful sisters. Guys, you should be my friends. Actually, somebody be my friend!

quarta-feira, janeiro 15, 2003

Any wonder why doctors generally freak me out?

For some reason, I'm dreading tomorrow at UCLA. The class, that is; not the drive. I love the drive. The only time I have to myself--and my sister is there to complain about my choice of music!
Somebody in the Santa Ana Unified School district (more specifically, 207-105-34-2.sausd.k12.ca.us browsing on Netscape 4.0--I guess school's need to update their technology!--with a Windows 98 OS) looked at this blog today at 11:45:36 in the morning. To access my site, they typed in the words "Gustavo Arellano". Gee, I wonder who could it be?

Bring it on, babosos.

terça-feira, janeiro 14, 2003

I ate some Polynesian salted plantains. They went down well on first bite. An hour later was a different story. No details will be provided as to save all of you unpleasantness.

More writing, more stories, more reading. Vamos quierendo mas y mas, mas y mas, mas y mas!
I've already spoken about the teeth. And I'm currently reading a boring book. What else is there to report but I'm fearing the removal of teeth.

segunda-feira, janeiro 13, 2003

How strange is this: I went to the dentist for a check-up. Dentist said I have horrible gums (gingivitis!) but no cavities. Why would all the plaque and contaminents I've amassed in the six years since my last dental check-up bypass my teeth in favor of gums? Such is the mystery of existence.

Dentist also said I have too many teeth, i.e., I need to have my wisdom teeth pulled. Going back on Wednesday (ever been to a Beverly Hills dental office? I now have) for an appointment with an oral surgeon. Now I need to decide which weekend I'm going to rest my swollen face in isolation...more isolation than the current lonely days, that is.

domingo, janeiro 12, 2003

This query was sent to our Letters section...

Subject: Can you give me Gustavo Arellano's email address?

Sheesh! He's harder to contact than Jonathon Gold! I have a few leads for him. And no, I'm not trying to get my brother's restaurant in the paper! I don't even have a brother. It's just that he's led me to some good eats and I'd like to return the favor. To compare notes, so to speak.

First off, to even be mentioned in the same sentence as Jonathon Gold is the highest compliment. For those of you not in the know, Gold is one of the country's greatest food critics. His Where to Eat Now is my bible. Then for the writer to say they've not only read my articles, not only tried my recommendations, but have liked them! is humbling. And then to offer some choices of their own is even more humbling. I wrote back to the person and they're sending me some restaurants. Good ones, too.

Have done no work today yet did. I should have done more. I will.
Came back from a Weekly party for Dave Wielenga, who's leaving the paper for a year as he lives in Sinaloa. I gave him a CD of El Recodo. What else could have been better. Now that I mention it, Pedro Infante, Luis Perez Meza, Los Tigres del Norte, Chalino Sanchez, and many other artists from one of the greatest musical states in the Mexican union. It was fun, and he told me I bring good energy to the Weekly. I hope that was a compliment; I never can tell with these things.

sábado, janeiro 11, 2003

I'll try to find the link later to the whole article (I'm reading it on a .pdf format that doesn't allow me to rip it off), but here's the bitchiest quote from the article I'm currently reading. In it, the author is defining cultural studies and its deficiences and methodologies. He takes special exception to the prose of many cultural studies authors and ends a paragraph with this gem...

Yet I am not sure that the dull and repetitive thud of new cultural history is likely to batter down any walls, although it may help put the defenders to sleep.

If academia were always this entertaining, I would be more interested. As it is, I'll continue getting boring A's.
Came back from seeing South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut with the Augie Gang. The film goes by very fast and I didn't laugh as hard as I saw it the first time. Nevertheless, a hilariously satirical masterpiece.

Reading today, as some work. Actually, a lot of work. People angry at me. "Natural High" playing on KRTH. KRTH! The world might be changing for the better for me, God willing.

sexta-feira, janeiro 10, 2003

Blogger for some reason does not want to post some of my thoughts or posts them a day after the fact. Such bizarre things.

I'm proud of myself today. Not prideful, mind you; only proud. I can be good.

quinta-feira, janeiro 09, 2003

Very embarrassing moment today...

I wanted to petition a class. I showed up to the class at 11:20, thinking I was 10 minutes early. I was 20 minutes late. In addition, the class had met for only 15 minutes. I had had previous troubles with the classroom it was held in (too ridiculous to get in detail here), so I was busy cursing God because I thought the class wasn't in session. In desperation, I went to the professor's office, half-expecting a sign announcing his departure from this planet. Knocking, I instead was greeted with a "Come in!" I explained my situation and he was charitable enough to let me take his course. May this episode not be a precursor of my performance in the course.

quarta-feira, janeiro 08, 2003

Next class is tomorrow. Tomorrow, I wil report on how it goes. Tomorrow, always tomorrow...
All in good fun. Here is some rambling letter Nativo Lopez sent me accusing me of conspiring to destroy the immigrant-rights activist...

I read with extreme disgust the piece Gustavo Arellano’s "El Dia de Nuestro Señor Nativo" (Dec. 20). I found it offensive and distasteful but quite typical of the articles written by Arellano that have anything to do with me. For whatever reason, Arellano has repeatedly targeted me over the past year with critical pieces, ideological attacks, political irreverence and downright cynicism.

I’m as much for political irreverence as the next guy, but I inevitably look for the ideological underpinnings of such irreverence. Ultimately, all irreverence can be found to lean in one political direction or another. "Whose ox is gored?" is ultimately the question most readers with any political savvy seek to answer even if only intuitively. I am convinced that these are the readers of the OC Weekly.

Arellano’s articles strike out not against those who sit in powerful economic or political positions, but against those who sit on the opposite side of that power. For example, Arellano has never raised his voice against those who have used their power to deny a driver’s license to the estimated 2 million immigrants in California presently driving without such a document, but he unfairly targeted those who criticize such a backward public policy. Governor Gray Davis escaped unscathed from Arellano’s venomous pen in that article.

He previously lashed out at big capital that agrees to a union contract for its workers in favor of little capital that opposes a union contract for its underpaid immigrant workers in his article on the Gigante Supermarket in the city of Anaheim and the broad alliance that forced the Anaheim City Council to concede a commercial permit to the Mexican-owned supermarket chain.

In the most recent article, he refrained from raising his pen against the powerful English-Only lobby represented by multimillionaire Ron Unz, author of Proposition 227, the English-Only ballot initiative approved in California in 1998. Unz seeks to unseat the four Latino school board members of the Santa Ana Unified School District. This is a district with 62,000 students, 92 percent Latino enrollment, and the fifth-largest school district in California. Not a word from Arellano about the wealthy few property owners in the north of 17th Street section of Santa Ana who vehemently oppose the building of a new elementary school in their neighborhood or their campaign to recall me from the school board for supporting this school-construction project. Arellano offers up only mockery, political disrespect, irreverence and distasteful cynicism toward those who confront the extreme right wing of the Orange County Republican Party in the current recall campaign in Santa Ana.

Cynicism is the pernicious ingredient that produces political apathy, the malaise that suits the political and social status quo adored by the power elite. Not even when dressed up by the pancake makeup of seeming political irreverence can cynicism be disguised for anything other than what it is. Herein lies the reactionary character of cynicism. It provides great comfort and support to those who have economic and political power and who use it to perpetuate the powerlessness of their victims.

On the balance sheet of the current political scene and power arrangements, it is not very hard to discern where Arellano directs his ire. He omits any critique of the existing power elite and their convenient economic interests, as such relates to the Latino communities of Orange County, and targets those who seek to change these power arrangements in the interest of the powerless. He seeks to pass it off as irreverence, void of any substantive critique, but he is only successful in displaying a disdainful cynicism and, thus, more fodder for the political apathy that mires our community in its own powerlessness. Thank you, Gustavo.

Nativo Vigil Lopez

Santa Ana

Here is my response, which was also published...

Gustavo Arellano responds: The fact that you’ve devoted much of your life to fighting for immigrants and against right-wingers does not exempt you from criticism. Every one of my "irreverent" articles concerning you was inspired by your occasional—and perhaps merely human—boneheadedness. Sponsor radio ads calling Gray Davis a "fucking little white man"? Characterize the arrival in Anaheim of Gigante—a Mexico-based multinational conglomerate—as progressive? (Also see this article. Use the Virgen de Guadalupe in a manner more self-serving than Bob Dornan could ever imagine? That’s all you, chulo, not me.

You describe my cynicism as "pernicious." Maybe so. But more pernicious is your expectation of complete fealty from me because I’m Latino and progressive.

Finally, it takes a studied ignorance to claim my articles "omit any critique of the existing power elite" and "target those who seek to change these power arrangements." Because of your passion, intelligence and ambition—and your willingness to play the race card—you are part of the power elite.

Nativo conveniently forgets how I defended him from those harrassing idiots over at La Voz de Aztlan. He must have also not seen my Pacific News Service article speaking in favor of drivers licenses for illegal immigrants. I guess he doesn't read La Opinion, which translated my article in order to publish it.

Ultimately, what happens is that I dare criticize Nativo. And for that reason he is mad and therefore denigrates me as somehow defending the power elite. If that were true, I would never criticize Nativo.

NS was nice enough to bring me some documents from the Registrar of Voters. The only bad that came out of that, however, was that I wasn't able to partake of the great Bolivian food at Beba's. Oh well; next time some idiot politician confirms their ineptitude, I'll have some chicha.

terça-feira, janeiro 07, 2003

Some comments posted on LatinoLA.com regarding myarticle on Mexican and Chicano cinema. My responses follow...

Does every Chicano film have to be about 'the radical 60's,' the angst of not being accepted? I have taught for 25 years in 'low-income/minority schools' and I have found that the young people of today don't care to know about what went on. I have incorporated a brief 'Chicano history' lesson into my AP Spanish lit class to whet the appetite of the more driven students. Alas, they can't or don't want to relate. Many of my students only relate to being mexicano, hondureno, guatemalteco, etc. They don't see themselves as necessarily disenfranchised. On the contrary, they see many opportunities. Many of my students have moved on to schools of the caliber of Stanford, Berkeley, UCLA, etc. with no sense that they don't belong. As for those of us in the middle-class, many of us have moved on and are actively participating in the many facets of main-stream American life. We are in government, education, law, medicine and in the business world. Must we forever wear our 'Chicanismo' on our sleeves? Why must everything we do be radical? As a Chicana, raised in So. Calif. I can't believe that we can't move on. We, those of us raised in the 50's, 60's, 70's did not have it easy, but those being raised today, those with goals and dreams are being successful. They are being accepted into the mainstream. Our dreams for them are coming true. After all isn't that what the movement was all about? Getting our Chicano students into schools? Yes, there are many who aren't. We can't save them all! Trust me. I know. We, as educators, must fight the media, the old traditional ways that are being reinforced by the continuing immigration of people who don't view life as we do. Who are we to decide what is important? The immigrants of today, unlike those of my grandmother's generation (la revolucion mexicana), have no intention of trying to assimilate. Most of my students feel no allegiance to this country, but rather to the country of their parents and grandparents. The irony is that we worked hard to be part of the mainstream, opened doors for others and those others aren't interested. So, in order to be successful, must we promote stereotypical caricatures of the past or can we move forward and be a part of this great mosaic that is the United States. No, I am not a pollyanna. Trust me, I know prejudice first hand. It has followed me all my life. But, the worst treatment has usually been at the hands of my own. It is one thing to deal with the 'majority.' It is quite another to deal with Chicanos, Mexicanos, Latinos, Hispanos who feel you aren't 'enough' of what you should be. I don't believe I have to dress like Frida to be a Chicana. I don't have to see Chicanos in stereotypical roles to applaud. I want us, all of us, to be able to portray all aspects of being a Latino in the United States.

I agree with some of her points (namely, the struggles that a member of an ethnic class has to be "real" to her "race") but she misses my point completely. For one, I'm talking specifically about CHICANO films, not Latino cinema. And, aside from that, I used my labels consciously. To me, considering yourself to be "Latino" means you're part of the mainstream; to be Chicano is to be on the outside. And although past activists did fight to escape their subaltern status, I feel there's much to be said about having an outsider perspective. It's the freaks that create the beauty of the world, not the status quo. Here's the next letter...

So what is your point? I don't see any reason to divulge on issues, that depicts a class of people of foreign origin as second class citizens. First of all, the word Chicano is a derogatory term. It depicts an uneducated, shiftless, drunken individual without a glue. Secondly, most people of non-Hispanic origin, cannot distinguish between the different Hispanic cultures ( Mexican, Caribbean Islands, Central American, South American ). In their views, they're all Chicanos. Therefore, the cinema's portrayal of a "Chicano" is a misconception of the entire Hispanic community. Moreover, it is important to remove the identify of " Chicanismo " as you put it, "Chicano filmmakers mask the difficulties of their community, presenting Chicanismo as a middle-class wonderland." into it's true prospective. Hispanics are middle-class people with one of the largest, fastest growing business enterprises and political forces spreading, throughout the United States. The difficulties encounter by the Hispanic community here, are rooted from their former countries, that robbed, plunder and destroy all posterity and foundations of stability in their country, by a ruthless; greedy political system. If the "Chicano" film industry wants to grow as a vital entertainment instrument , it would serve best to show the true reasons of the Hispanic Plague in this country, as a product of disenfranchised people by their former government and not with the problems of the Catholic Church, Urban poor or issues of Race & Class.

Ah, a perfect Hispanic. "Chicano" is not a dirty word, for starters. I admire those who use it to describe themselves. Sure, some Chicanos are morons, but at least they're morons who believe in something. "Hispanics" believe in trying to become Americans.

A quick aside: to me, being American is about the worst thing you can do. I'm not critiquing the country or its opportunities, but I fear the complacity (sp?) that comes with being a member of the middle or upper class. This is what I fear for any immigrant group as they assimilate into the country: the spark that made them so great and visionary in the first place. While I agree with the letter writer when they say many of the problems Latinos face originate from their home countries, I feel he also disregards the very pertinent racial construction of this country and how it has affected non-"white" immigrant groups. But he does inadvertantly address this by positioning Hispanic as "white" and Chicano as "non-white." It's all part of our country's racial scale to acceptance.

Final letter...

While I appreciate Arellano's critique, that Chicano cinema has been watered down in the 1990s and 2000s, I disagree with his relegation of Real Women Have Curves to the 'middle class angst of self discovery.' During the Chicano Movement, Chicana feminists were often viewed as engaging in self-indulgent processes of grasping the meaning of their oppression not only as Chicanos but also as women. Arellano's description resonates with the antifeminist commentaries, especially given the film's rather groundbreaking focus on a Chicana protagonist who actually does claim her own space and comes to understand various forms of oppression -- class, race, body, sexuality (unlike, it appears, Selena, as represented in Nava's film). Besides, the film is not about 'self discovery' but about the issues that face young Chicanas seeking an education. Real Women is not perfect, and, at times, offers a troubling portrait of Chicana mothers while presenting a saintly father figure. We might be critical of its representation of an individualist narrative of success. But then again, that is often the experience of young Chicanas, whether supported by familias or not, who find themselves as 'pioneers' in college space. Real Women also speaks in complicated ways to issues of exploited women's labor (even while showing the complications when the owner of the sweat shop is your own sister), gender roles, and class (im)mobility. To write it off as 'self discovery' glosses over its attempt to place a Chicana at the center of the story."

I might have been perhaps too harsh on Real Women. I have praised it in other places, I still have received criticism that my gender clouds my critique of Real Women's power. I guess. However, I will not take back my criticism of Tortilla Soup or Luminarias. The latter blew, the first was pleasant. But when I see films, I want to be challenged, not pleased. This isn't the militant in me, this is the intelligent film-lover.

I like to read. But nothing of note will be examined in the coming weeks. Just more academia to regurgitate at the urging of my peers or superiors. Bring it on.
I think things are good. But the last time I expressed such thoughts, my world came tumbling down.

segunda-feira, janeiro 06, 2003

I'll post some letters tomorrow regarding my Real Women Have Curves article; fun ones.

Started school today. Could actually be fun and interesting. In the meantime, time to work on stories for tomorrow...

domingo, janeiro 05, 2003

Adaptation is a very interesting movie. Go see it.

At this point in my life, I'm not sure what I'm doing anymore. And yet I go on, creating achievements that I set for myself a long time ago. I should take credit for them once in a while, step back and gloat on my success in this world. But that would be selfish. Or, as I always make sure to tell my little brother: Never gloat or take pride in what you do because sooner rather than later, your vanity will be the unbecoming of you. The last thing you want to do is unbecome.

I need sleep and an orchid of my own.
Did I already express the following thoughts? If so, it's for a reason...

I start school tomorrow and I'm not looking forward to it. Oh, I'm sure the discussions will be stimulating, the experience of debating with titatic minds exhilarating, and the grades outstanding, but I want to write full-time. There's so much out there in this world for me to describe, to discover and disseminate. Academia can only take me so long...unless I get a fellowship. In that case, I can go all over the world.

But I don't want that. I love this city of Anacrime, this despicable county. I want to document everything then document it again. I still feel the only thing that will ever motivate me from leaving here is a woman or a magnificent job offer. I doubt either of those will come anytime soon.

sábado, janeiro 04, 2003

Some fun from my novelist friend Ryan Gattis regarding an article this week on some upcoming releases...

I have to disagree with you here: Bon Jovi pre-1989 is definitely
listenable. Ah shit, you didn't even write that one...friggin Kane. Ok,
ok, so what's a monkey march then? Not like Toots & the Maytals' 'Monkey Man' is it? But if it's the WofOZ DVD, then wouldn't it be FLYING monkey marches? And speaking of Augies...have you ever heard an Aussie group called Augie March (named after the Saul Bellow book)? If you have the means, check out 'Sunset Studies.' It's a 'masterpiece of comic timing,' as Belle and Sebastian would say. Have I dropped enough indie names yet? Anyhoo, just one article today for my warped little brain

My response...

Methinks anyone who knows a bit about the Wizard of Oz understands that I'm referring to flying monkeys. The question then becomes, however, if a flying procession can be deemed a "march". Does the verb "to march" signify the pounding of limbs upon the ground? Cannot a march be aerial or transcendental, like the march of time? Or perhaps I should have compared Enjambre's music to a monkey flutter? But who would ever describe monkeys--even those with wings--as fluttering? Monkeys are demented, crazy creatures. They march!

As for the rest of your queries...I've never heard of Augie March (ha! Back to the march!) but I'm sure they're excellent if you say they are. After all, wackos like us have pretty cool tastes.

Nothing like two crazy writers going at it. I'll have some more fun letters regarding my work tomorrow...
Why are farmers such assholes? I've gone up to three separate local farmers as part of an upcoming story and they all refused to be interviewed. Maybe they thought I was going to expose their exploitative working conditions. Perhaps I should...

Nothing else to report today. I hope I'm doing well in every facet of my life. But only the afterlife will tell me.
Off to work and then no rest. Maybe I should go eat something well...or maybe I should go to the best little joint in San Clemente.
Saw the conclusion of the college football season with PM today. Great game, and the team I was going for won even though they were 11 1/2 point underdogs. If only I were a betting man.

This is the final weekend for me to rest...and of course I'm going to spend it working. I wouldn't have it any other way...except with somebody to drag along to all these events. Friends, you say? I laugh at your helpfulness.

sexta-feira, janeiro 03, 2003

Misery yet again, misery yet again, misery yet again. Am I never out of that? Sometimes. Not often enough, obviously.

In better news...I start school anew Monday at the worst possible time. Yay!

quinta-feira, janeiro 02, 2003

Said at the office today...

You know, on paper you really seem like an appealing guy. But when you talk, that's quickly debunked.
Talked to JR for the first time in ages today. I was supposed to go to her wedding in September but couldn't go since me and the Boys went to see the 49rs demolish the Rams.

Speaking of demolition, USC's spanking of Iowa was well-enjoyed by me. Yes, I go to UCLA, but their football program has been such a mess, I haven't liked them much. Spent the game with PM, who then left to go out with his girl. Bastard. DM took his place and promptly humiliated me in Foosball. Bastard.

My New Years was spent with the Augie Gang playing dominoes then watching three hours of The History of Sex on the History Channel. We were so fascinated and genuinely intrigued by the program, we never even got to seeing South Park, the Movie. The Augie Gang was great as always, and LP in particular is a good man.

School starts on Monday. What vacation? I have more free time going to school than now. Which doesn't bode well for my brooding.
I'm finally back online with so many things to say...and I won't be able to say them at the moment because I have other things to worry about. But #1 resolution for 2003: stop being lonely. Good luck on that one, no?

quarta-feira, janeiro 01, 2003

So print already, stupid on-line diary!
Um, why is everyone able to post except me?