OC Weekly columnist, Gustavo Arellano, was at Saddleback College last Tuesday to promote his newest book and give words of wisdom to students.
The Anthropology and Cross Cultural Studies departments at Saddleback College put together this opportunity for students, headed by Ana Marie Cobos.
“I am so pleased to have our guest here, he is entertaining and funny,” said Cobos, librarian and Cross Cultural studies committee member.
“He gives a lot of historical information you would not believe. He knows who we are and talks about things we don’t even know about.”
For a man born and raised in Orange County, he certainly knows the Mexican culture well enough to send even the most well educated “gabacho” back on the high horse he came from.
“People send me questions about Mexicans and I will answer them, just to debunk stereotypes,” said Arellano last Tuesday in his special appearance at Saddleback College.
This Chapman University and UCLA Graduate not only has a Syndicated column in OC Weekly, he is also the Food Editor for the OC Register and contributes to the LA Times occasionally.
“I don’t claim to be a professional at anything, but one thing I do know is food. I love food. Ask me where the best restaurant are here in Orange County and I can tell you,” Arellano said about his job as Food Editor for the OC Register.
Arellano discussed his book “Orange County: A Personal History” which he wrote as a satirical historical point of view as to why Orange County is the way it is with his “fine line satire”.
“We always insist on telling this wonderful narrative about Orange County and all the great things we do here, but we need to know the entire story. That’s what I do, tell the entire story.”
This OC native knows the Mexican culture since both sides of his family are immigrants from a village in Mexico, Zacatecas.
“When my great Grandfather came to this country, all you had to do was go to El Paso, put a penny in a machine, and you got your passports. Man, times have changed.”
With all eyes on him, he talked about his life here in Orange County and that as he grew he came to realize that “Wow, some people don’t like Mexicans”.
“I started writing the column as a joke. I mean, it’s a column about giving advice on how to deal with Mexicans.
My editor told me to just write the column until there were no more questions, and here I am, 5 years later, with a syndicated column of 38 newspapers.”
Arellano talked about how he uses true historical evidence to provide legitimate answers to the questions that people ask.
He said that without the real answers, people would not be able to take him seriously.
“Some people just ask the dumbest questions though. I once had someone ask ‘Why do I always see Mexicans selling oranges on the side of the road? Is that all they can sell?’
I answered him by saying ‘What would you have them sell? Steinway Pianos?”
He shared that as people of Orange County, we have such a funny relationship with Mexicans, but that with a little historical insight, that we can learn to appreciate the muli-cultural environment we have here in Southern California.
“It’s better to know and appreciate where you live. There are a lot of great things around here for you to see, you just have to open your eyes.”
He ended his speech by taking question from students. When a student asked him what the best place for burgers was, he answered “well In-N-Out of course!”