10 Years of Ask a Mexican! Column by Gustavo Arellano


Can you believe it's been 10-years since Gustavo Arellano started his often humors, sometimes controversial, always honest column Ask a Mexican!? It's been an interesting way of using humor to get at a deeper cultural understanding. Those columns were published as a book in 2008

The first column appeared in the OC Weekly November 11, 2004.

Pop Quiz: What was the first question published for his syndicated column?

Why do Mexicans call white people gringos
Mexicans do not call gringos gringos. Only gringos call gringos gringos. Mexicans call gringos gabachos, which has its etymological roots in the Castillian slur for a French national and does not have anything to do with Don Gabacho, the main character in the classic 1960s Japanese puppet show Hyokkori Hyotan-Jima (Happenings on a Gourd-Shaped Island). So, next time you want to look cool in front of your Mexican friends, say, "I don't want that gabacho Mexican food they make at Taco Bell - I want the real pinche deal!

Spanish Wizard of Oz Production Finds a Home in East L.A.

We're not in Kansas anymore.

I saw the Wizard of Oz play in a Mexican restaurant in East L.A. It's as great as it sounds. 

Inside El Mercadito, the sounds of trumpets from mariachi can be heard, an unlikely soundtrack to El Mago de Oz, a play taking place by director Felipe Cortes. 

The Wizard of Oz takes on a different interpretation when a mostly Spanish-speaking immigrant audience watches a production about taking the yellow brick road to something great, ultimately wanting to return home. 

From Here to La Bamba

Music knows no boundaries. 

From Mexico to Austrialia and, yes, East L.A. musicians collaborated on an international rendition of La Bamba. 

Among the many artists, viewers will find Eastsider favorites Los Lobos and La Marisoul from La Santa Cecilia on the track. 

There is perhaps no more fitting a song than La Bamba. Originating in Veracruz, the Mexican folksong would find new listeners when Los Angeles rockstar Ritchie Valens covered it in 1958 (and rediscovered to younger audiences in 1987 when Lou Diamond Phillips played the role of Valens.) 

The video was produced by Playing for Change, a non-profit organization focusing on building music and art schools.