Gustavo Arellano’s “Ask a Mexican” was my first way to understand Americans

askmexican
The first time I lived in the United States was in 2003 and one of my grasps at American culture was ironically through a Mexican column. Or a column for curious gabachos (not gringos, as the author schooled a reader). That pitoniso was Gustavo Arellano because as of October 26th of 2017 he stopped publishing “Ask a Mexican!”.

I remember very clearly how I became a reader. My brother and I were back from Disney Land and our hostess was taking forever to pick us up. That’s when I saw one of these OC Weekly dispensers. I was so amazed by the fact that there was a very thick weekly publication that didn’t cost a penny. I took one and I went through all the pages until I stumbled upon Ask a Mexican.

I couldn’t stop laughing both at the questions as well as the answers. The curiosity with which Americans approach mexicanidad was a much needed primer of what I was going to be facing during my first stay there as a teenager. Questions such as “Why do Mexicans love Morrisey?” or “Why do Mexican girls dye their hair blond” were handled with such wit and humour that left me feeling dignified. Represented.

Ask a Mexican represented an opportunity to understand that life, politics, sex and desmadre could be expressed or understood through humor. –I mean, that same day on that same OC weekly I discovered “Savage Love” by Dan Savage–.

I even had the chance years later to add him on Facebook and exchange messages about his book “Ask a Mexican!” as well as his failed attempt at answering questions through Youtube (But I’ll cut him some slack: it was 2006 and uploading video questions back then was a pain in the ass). Then I couldn’t keep track on him for years.

He came to my radar once again when he announced his resignation as an Editor of the OC Weekly in one of the bravest acts of solidarity that I’ve ever witnessed or read about: he refused to lay off half of his staff and proposed that he would cut his salary in half in order to save those people’s jobs but the company refused. He resigned.

My experience working for different media Outlets is alien to such acts of kindness and appreciation for people that work for you. I correct: what Gustavo Arellano did for his staffers is the best way of saying that they didn’t work for you. They worked with you. And that makes me appreciate the work of this cabrón even more.

Qué bueno que les dijiste ALV, bato.

(No, that doesn’t mean “Hasta la vista”, gabachos -or brits. See what happens when there’s underrepresentation in Media Jobs?)

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