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Gustavo Arellano

October 10, 2012

Gustavo Arellano has carpal tunnel and he asked me to call him to get his answers for 12 Questions. I can’t deny that I felt a bit trepidatious as I dialed his number to gather his answers. No respondent has ever asked to talk with me before. It was refreshing to hear his voice, cadence, and listen to him ponder his answers. He’s wonderfully funny and personable.

If you don’t know who Gustavo Arellano is…he is the editor of OC Weekly, an alternative newspaper in Orange County, California, author of Orange County: A Personal History and Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America. He’s a lecturer with the Chicana and Chicano Studies department at California State University, Fullerton. He writes “¡Ask a Mexican!”, a nationally syndicated column in which he answers any and all questions about America’s spiciest and largest minority. The column has a weekly circulation of over 2 million in 39 newspapers across the United States, won the 2006 and 2008 Association of Alternative Weeklies award for Best Column, and was published in book form by Scribner Press in May 2007. Arellano has been the subject of press coverage in national and international newspapers, The Today Show, Hannity, Nightline, Good Morning America, and The Colbert Report, and his commentaries regularly appear on Marketplace and the Los Angeles Times. Gustavo is the recipient of the Los Angeles Press Club’s 2007 President’s Award and an Impacto Award from the National Hispanic Media Coalition, and was recognized by the California Latino Legislative Caucus with a 2008 Spirit Award for his “exceptional vision, creativity, and work ethic.” Gustavo is a lifelong resident of Orange County and is the proud son of two Mexican immigrants, one whom was illegal.

1. What is your hometown?

Anaheim CA

2. With what fictional character do you most identify?

Tom Joad without the murdering. Or Jim Casey without the unlawful fornication or murder.

3. In the movie of your life, cast an actor to play you.

People have compared me to Billy Crystal. It’s a huge insult. I would probably say the mannerisms of Woody Allen with the quirkiness of Steve Buscemi, and a ruthless take-no-prisoners Lee Marvin. Basically a hardcore nerd.

4. What work of art speaks to your soul?

Probably the works of Henri Cartier Bresson.

5. What books are you currently reading or recommending?

I don’t really read fiction. I am finally getting around to reading Candide by Voltaire and a book on the supreme court case of Gideon vs. Wainwright.


6. What song or album is currently in heavy rotation on your iPod?

My girlfriend usually steals my iPod, but I drive ’74 Cadillac El Dorado convertible and listen to an 8 track of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

7. What’s the last movie that made you cry?


8.  Cat person or dog person?

Dog person all the way, although I don’t hate on cats, but dogs all the way.

9. What is more important, truth or kindness?

Truth. Without truth we have nothing; we have illusions and those are the cruelest form of torture you can inflict on something.

10. How do you define sin?

Defined as something that grievously injures yourself or someone else.

11. How do you define virtue?

Virtues are good and good is anything that helps others and yourself.

12. Design your headstone: What does it say? What does it look like?

I wish I wouldn’t even have a headstone. My way of burial would be zoroastrian.

But my family might not like that…so, just my name. Hopefully those that bury me would come up with something.
There’s a song…wait, wait, wait…Fist Full of Dirt – famous Mexican song.

Bonus Question: Who would you like to see answer these questions?

Patty Calhoun the Editor of Westword

Gustavo Arellano

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