I’m not sure how many times I need to tell you about this kid, but I’m sure that one more time won’t hurt. As I’ve repeated many, many times in this blog, I am a big fan of Gustavo Arellano, an OC boy who writes a column for the OC Weekly called ¡Ask a Mexican! (now in syndication and appearing in an alt-weekly near you). He invites readers to submit any kind of question you have ever wanted to ask a Mexican. Arellano ends up doing his fair share of stereotype dispelling (and confirming) and racism bashing, all while sounding incredibly knowledgeable. So what makes Arellano an expert on all things Mexican? Well, in several interviews that I’ve read, he doesn’t think he’s an expert and feels that anyone can write his column. Yeah, someone’s being a bit modest. The thing is that Arellano actually has a master’s degree in Latin American Studies (from FUCLA, so unfortunately he’s a Bruin) and his answers are always well thought out and researched, often quoting anthropological or linguistic experts. I’m a proud Mexican, but this guy has schooled me plenty of times.
Last week, Arellano came out with a book (coincidentally also titled ¡Ask a Mexican!), which is a compilation of some of his column’s greatest hits, some Q & A exclusive to the book and essays on various issues. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to pick up this book and I had been eagerly awaiting its release since I found about the book. Jesse and I headed out to Borders on Friday night and I searched for the book. To my delight, only two copies were left (sure there may have been some backstock but I’d like to think that they sold those too). I grabbed my copy and held on to it for dear life (I’m not sure why since it was unlikely that someone would rip it out of my hands) until Jesse and I were both ready to check out. Since then, I haven’t been able to put the book down (well, except for all day Saturday which was a Baltimore excursion) and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. With the end of every chapter, I can’t help but think, Damn this guy knows what he’s talking about.
Here are some highlights:
What is it with Mexicans and jaywalking? No crosswalks in Mexico?Run, Don’t Walk
Dear Gabacho: Try no streets. Although the number of urban Mexicans immigrating to el Norte is on the rise—Tulane University sociologist Elizabeth Fussell estimated in her 2004 paper, “Sources of Mexico’s Migration Stream: Rural, Urban, and Border Migrants to the United States,” that 61 percent of Mexican immigrants in 2000 came from cities with populations of at least 15000—most streets in Mexico still lack such amenities as stoplights, stop signs, or even lanes. Mexicans learn to navigate these mean calles from a young age and keep this mentality upon sneaking into the United States, where they find everything so orderly, so preplanned, so…lame. We ignored the jagged fence, deserts, and Minutemen that separate the United States from Mexico—what makes you think we’re going to obey a pinche YIELD sign when we’re driving?
Why do Mexicans always cram into a small car?Baba Louie
Dear Gabacho: Because a burro can’t support more than three people.
See what I mean? Hilarious. I highly recommend his book. And if you’re a little short on cash, check out his column at the OC Weekly, which is always free!
For some of Arellano’s greatest hits, please click on the Gustavo Arellano tag below for my earlier posts on The Mexican (including a clip of his appearance on The Colbert Report). Also check out the current issue of the OC Weekly online for an article by Gustavo about the column and the book. And if that's not enough, check out this interview of Arellano from KROQ, the best station in Southern Cali.