Dear Readers: Many of ustedes must be scratching your heads right now. “What happened to ¡Ask a Mexican!” you’re preguntando yourselves. “Who the hell is this cholo nerd where the Mexican logo used to be?”
It is I, gentle cabrones: your eternal Mexican. Gustavo Arellano, child of immigrants from Zacatecas, one whom came to el Norte in 1969 in the trunk of a Chevy driven by a hippie chick from Huntington Beach. And I’m triste to say that this columna is coming to an end. Ustedes probably don’t know this, but my day job during the life of ¡Ask a Mexican! was at OC Weekly, an alternative newspaper in Orange County, California, where I was born and raised (don’t believe The Real Housewives of Orange County: there’s a chingo of raza here). I started as a staff writer, then became managing editor, then was editor for nearly six years until October 13, when I resigned instead of laying off half my staff, just like the Weekly’s owner wanted me to. No me rajé, and I’ll never regret quitting my dream job because I know I did the right thing.
But with me leaving the Weekly, I also must leave behind ¡Ask a Mexican! See, I don’t own the trademark to the title, and I’m can’t pay muchos pesos for something that the Weekly’s owner (or the ones before him) should’ve given to me as a gift for 13 years of being the hardest-working Mexican this side of Beto Durán.
I thought about continuing under a different name (¡Ask a Pocho! ¡Query a Mexican! ¡Pregunta, Pendejo! But then I realized I don’t have to continue the column anymore. See, I’ve been to el cerro. And I’ve seen the Promised Land of Aztlán.
It sure doesn’t seem like that at a time when millions of our friends and familia are at risk of deportation, when Donald Trump wants to build a border wall (man, where’s Alex Lora when you need him?) and when gabachos keep mistaking Día de los Muertos for Halloween. But we’re now at a place where whip-smart humor is at the touch of a meme. Where our political and economic power continues to soar like voladores totonacos. We live in an era where everyone can be a defender of la raza against gabachos, whether said gabas assault us or try to claim Rick Bayless is great.
In other words, ¡Ask a Mexican! is no longer necessary, because Mexicans have won a war that began when Sir Francis Drake sunk the Spanish Armada. We’re here, y no nos vamos. We’re victims no longer; we’re actually chingonxs. And the sooner Mexicans realize this, the better we’ll be.
I’ll let others debate whether my attempt to fight racism with satire and stats was visionary or just vendido. I’ll still answer questions about Mexicans on The Tom Leykis Show on the last Wednesday of every month at 4 p.m. (tune in to blowmeuptom.com), because doing so keeps my mind Julio Cesar Chavez sharp and not Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. soft.
But in print, no más. Besides, let ¡Ask a Mexican! die, and let its passing join the pantheon of gabacho atrocities against Mexicans, like the U.S. stealing half of Mexico or Rick Bayless.
I wish modern-day journalism allowed me more print space, so my thanks must be brief. Gracias to: friends, Marge, family, my chica; All the papers that carried my columna over the years; Santo Niño de Atocha; Will Swaim; Daniel Hernandez. David Kuhn. So many more. And a special thanks to Weekly Alibi, the first paper with the huevos to carry me, and to the people of Albuquerque, who adopted me as one of their own. When I make the next Breaking Bad, I'll make sure to buy a casita in Nob Hill!
Nos vemos, gentle cabrones. Follow me on social media to see what I do next, and hook a compa up with bacanora! No se rajen against evil. Diga no a la piratería ¡Viva la Reconquista! Oh, and #fucktrump