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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Dear Mexican: Help a pocha out—what can I do to reclaim my heritage?

I grew up in Orange County with my white mother and half-brothers and sisters who used to tease me that I needed a green card to get home after trips to Rosarito Beach.

I now live in my Mexican father’s home (he grew up in Rock Town, Duarte) since inheriting it after he passed in 2010. My father never taught me to speak español, which haunts me … help! For instance, I try to practice my Spanish when I order at the local taco truck. Sometimes, I feel like it’s not well-received, because I get answered back in English. I don’t want to come off as condescending. It’s not that I assume that they don’t know how to speak English—I’m just trying to see if someone other than my boyfriend can understand me. (He’s half-Dominican and shares some of my same cultural dilemmas.) I try to participate in my neighborhood’s various events, and I’m learning my aunt’s tamale recipes and such.

Any other things this half-xican should try?

Mexican in SGV

Dear Pocha: Primeramente, you need to get it out of your cabeza that you need to speak Spanish to be a proper Mexican. Cuauhtémoc didn’t, and they still built a statue of him in Tijuana. And take a chill pastilla: If your local taquero responds to you en inglés when you try out your Spanish, it’s probably because he has pity on you and is trying to make you feel comfortable, so don’t take it as an insult.

I’m glad you’re learning your tía’s tamale recipes, and I’d actually focus on that to reclaim your heritage—food is the great transmitter and keeper of culture, and symbolic ethnicity is how fifth-gen Irish Americans can still claim they’re from County Cork, despite having as much in common with a shantytown Irish as a Trump piñata does with the Santo Niño de Atocha.

The most important thing is that you’re proud of your mexicanidad, and you’re most likely better off than your asshole half-hermanos—stay classy, Orange County!

Dear Mexican: I’ve heard a style of Mexican music that intrigues me, yet I cannot find the name of it. It’s similar to mariachi, as it usually has a small group—upright bass, guitar, etc. The vocal harmonies are very, very good. It almost sounds like the Beatles with jazzy overtones. I’ve heard songs like “La Bamba.” I did an Internet search, and the closest thing I could find is son jarocho; however, pictures show bands from Veracruz using harps and other different instruments. The style I am trying to find has conventional instruments.

There was a band that played this style a few years back at Acapulco, the restaurant in Orange on Katella Avenue near a big theater. I also recall that my mom had a record back in the early ’60s called Los Pinguinos at El Shrimp Bucket. This is the recording I loved as a child. The vocal harmonies were extremely good. The music is obviously not mariachi, as there are no horns or violins.

I would appreciate you pointing me in the right direction!

Living in Seizure World

Dear Viejito Gabacho: Since when has a harp not been “conventional”?

I found your album on eBay, but no way am I spending $35 on it. I did look at the tracks, however, and the mix of Mexican classics and the songs you mentioned peg Los Pinguinos’ style as trio. Oh, and there’s the whole thing of YouTube having tracks of Los Pinguinos—you do know about YouTube, right?

The next time you have a question for the Mexican, make it a true head-scratcher, like what happened to los 43 de Ayotzinapa or why Mexicans root for Chivas when a fourth-division German team would send them to la chingada.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: I’ve seen black homeless people and white people homeless. How come I’ve never seen a Mexican or a Chinese person being homeless?

Get a Pinche Job, Bum

Dear Pocho: I can’t answer for chinitos, because the most Chinese thing about me is my love for an orange chicken/chow mein/brown rice lunch combo. But you’re falling into the same trap that many Mexicans fall into on Facebook: Namely, saying that Mexicans never go homeless, because they’d rather sell oranges and flowers on street corners than hold up a sign begging for food like a lazy gabacho.

The answer is more complex than a pinche meme. Percentage-wise, Latinos are over-represented on a national level: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2015 Annual Homeless Assessment Report found about 20 percent of homeless people are Latino, just a tick above the 17 percent of Latinos who make up the American population. But the survey doesn’t break down the Latino homeless—whether the population is more immigrant or assimilated, Salvadoran or Mexican.

A better indicator of whether Mexican immigrants are less averse to homelessness is in a 2015 study by the Institute for the Study of Homelessness and Poverty at the Weingart Center, examining the homeless community in Los Angeles County. It found that Latinos (who make up 47 percent of L.A. County’s population) accounted for only 33 percent of homeless. More tellingly, “about 14 to 18 percent of homeless adults in Los Angeles County are not U.S. citizens, compared with 29 percent of adults overall,” suggesting undocumented Mexicans would rather hustle than live outside.

But there’s nothing to brag about here—don’t be a heartless pendejo, and help out the homeless, regardless of raza.

Dear Mexican: Why aren’t there more Mexicans in outdoor-type jobs? I’m referring to camp guides, naturalists, river rafting guides, etc. My theory is that the outdoors haven’t always been a safe space for us, and most times, that is where we were working, not relaxing.

Tomás but Not a Tío

Dear Tom but Not an Uncle: A 2009 survey by the University of Wyoming and the National Park Service (NPS) found that Latinos (read: Mexicans) actually made up the largest percentage of minorities who visited national parks—a whole 9 percent! And pochos like you are even rarer: only 5 percent of NPS workers were Latinos (read: Mexicans).

This aversion to the gran outdoors is logical, actually. Gabachos have the luxury of enjoying backpacking for weeks at a time and rafting down the Withlacoochee. (Quick aside: Since this Florida river sounds like huitlacoche, it is this further proof for armchair Aztecs that the Nahuatl empire went all the way to the Sunshine State the way it extended to Michigan, aka Michoacán.) Mexicans, meanwhile, view nature much the way Manifest Destiny did: something to tame, not to revel in.

The Mexican has many fond memories of spending days with his Papa Je in the beautiful cerros of Zacatecas—but that’s to find logs to chop down for his campesino life. Once he came to el Norte, there’s no way my grandpa—or I, or most non-assimilated Mexicans who knows rural life—would want to camp on purpose.

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Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: Is pinche considered a “bad” word among Mexican Americans? Or is it like güey, where it’s generally all right?

Mandilón in Manhattan

Dear Pussy-Whipped Pocho: Don’t forget that among Mexican Americans, #fucktrump is considered appropriate for children 5 and over. But among Mexican Mexicans, pinche (which technically means a short-order cook) is still mostly a synonym for “fucking” in its adverbial sense; I, for instance, would never use it in front of my mami, lest I get the chancla. But, like here in el Norte, Mexican culture keeps coarsening, making pinche more acceptable than ever before.

One of the first news stories the Mexican ever wrote was a 2001 piece about how a Mexican yaktivist took out a radio ad calling former California Gov. Gray Davis a pinche güerito—a “fucking little white man.” Tellingly, the AM station bleeped out pinche so it sounded like pin-bleep. Fast-forward to today, and that radio station—now on the FM dial—regularly plays the track “Pinche Borracho” (“Fucking Drunk”) by female duo Dueto Las Azucenas (a swap-meet version of Las Jilguerillas) without bleeping out pinche. What a pinche vergüenza.

Dear Mexican: Why is it that every time I pull up next to a Mexican in traffic, they're bumping one of two things: either some polka-sounding stuff, or Tupac? I like Tupac, but it seems like Mexicans are single-handedly keeping his music alive. Why do Mexicans love Pac so much?

Confused by Colored Folk

Dear Gabacho: Tupac Shakur forever endeared himself to Mexicans thanks to his 1996 jam “To Live and Die in LA.” In this ode to the City of Angels, he sang, “Cause would it be L.A. without Mexicans? / Black love, brown pride and the sets again / Pete Wilson trying to see us all broke.” Wait, that wasn’t Pac; that was Makaveli, since Tupac is ALIVE.

Besides, game recognize juego, and Mexicans see Tupac as the moreno version of Chalino Sanchez, the legendary narcocorrido singer who was also assassinated before his time, and whose ballads made gangsta rap seem as imposing as the Mills Brothers.

Dear Mexican: History has shown that given time, all immigrants to a new country eventually assume the new language. That being said, it is also important for Americans to help the immigrants cross the language barrier.

Because of this, I do not understand why there are not more Spanish-language programs on television, not just for the Spanish-speaker, but for everyone. Spanish Sesame Street would be great. I have studied Spanish and Japanese in school, and it has helped me understand my surroundings better. What are Americans afraid of? We flock to Mexican restaurants. It would also be nice to see other foreign-language programs on the television from time to time.

Bring Back Esteban Colberto

Dear Gabacho: That’s a problem exacerbated by Hollywood, which would rather green-light shows about gangs and narcos than anything that remotely deals with the modern-day Mexican-American experience.

And by the way, there is a Mexican version of Sesame Street (well, besides the actual Spanish-language version of the show, called Plaza Sésamo); it’s called Dora the Explorer. Donald Trump has already announced she’s the first Mexican to get deported, since Dora taught millennials that Mexicans are actual humans and not baby-making cockroaches—a first on network television.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: I heard you on NPR describing the various ways that Mexican food images are used to scare white people about the brown hordes from the South coming up here to steal their stuff and take away their ketchup.

You used the phrase “greaser” as an example of a culinary-related insult. But I thought “greaser” originated as an occupational term for Mexican helpers on 19th-century cattle drives who were supposed to keep the wagon wheels greased so they wouldn’t jam—not anything related to tacos or deep-fried rellenos or even hair oil.

What’s the real story?

Gabacho Academic

Dear Gabacho: Greaser, for the younger readers out there, was the illegal of its day, an epithet used by gabachos through the 19th century and beyond to degrade Mexicans as inhuman and, well, greasy. It’s nowadays also seen as a food-related epithet, even if it wasn’t originally the case. But, híjole, gabachos academics sure love folk etymologies!

Your theory is almost as bad as the one that gringo came from 19th-century American soldiers singing “Green Grow the Lilacs” while invading Mexico, with Mexicans mishearing it—didn’t J. Frank Dobie invent that one? Greaser was already established as a favored American slur against Mexicans by the time cattle drives became a thing, so to say the term came from wagon wheels is as laughable as Latinos for Trump. But don’t take it from me: No less a genius than Américo Paredes, in his paper “On Gringo, Greaser and Other Neighborly Names,” dismissed this theory—popularized in American letters by legendary raconteur H.L. Mencken in his supplements to the magisterial The American Language—as “probably never taken seriously by anyone.” BOOM.

Paredes, in the same paper, explained greaser’s popularity to insult Mexicans as being due to “the fact that people of darker complexions have oilier skins than do the Nordics”—a result of diet, not work. He had no idea about its origins, but noted an 1853 definition said greaser was how Texans referred to bedraggled rancheros who wore “economical apparel … shining from grease and long usage.” He also said the earliest known mention of greaser in its anti-Mexican tense dated to 1846, which is two years earlier than the Oxford English Dictionary’s earliest citation.

Well, the Mexican is humbled to advance Paredes’ and the OED’s good work by announcing the discovery of an even earlier reference: in the Telegraph and Texas Register of Houston, Texas. On April 20, 1842, a letter from Mexico City by a nameless prisoner held captive for participating in the Texan Santa Fe Expedition (a failed invasion by the Republic of Texas against New Mexico) mentioned that "foreigners” in the metropolis used greaser to describe “a ragged fellow, or one with his breeches split up at the side”—again with the sartorial hint! Interestingly, the anonymous American didn’t mean Americans or Texans when referring to “foreigners,” but rather another nationality—the Brits, perhaps?

So where did greaser come from? The Mexican’s theory: It’s an English speaker’s mispronunciation of grosero, which technically means “rude” but sounds like “gross”—a false cognate if ever there was one. We at least know that the earliest use of the term referred to clothing, so perhaps gabachos picked it up from Mexican elites ridiculing poor Mexis.

Silly folk etymology, Gabacho Academic? Perhaps. But still better than yours.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: I employ two lovely ladies who clean my home and take care of my toddler two days a week when I go out to run errands. They are loving and kind and take superb care of her. My daughter adores them, and they adore her.

From the minute I brought my baby home, I asked them to speak Spanish to the baby so she would grow up bilingual. For some reason, they will not do it, unless I really push them—and then they speak Spanglish to her, as in, “Do you want more leche?” That isn’t going to help my child learn Spanish.

What really frustrates me is that their English is not all that great. I don’t want my child pronouncing shoes as choos, and chicken as shicken, and I don’t want her using no double negatives. My husband and I speak English very well, and we can teach our child English. What we don’t do is speak colloquial Spanish, which is where I hoped these ladies would help us. The frustrating parts are that they speak Spanish to one another all the time—just not to my child; and one of them is convinced my child will grow up speaking Spanish, and she comments on it, even as I ask her repeatedly (and pointedly) how that will happen when she barely speaks two words to my daughter in Spanish the whole time she is in my house.

I don’t get it—why will they speak Spanish to one another and not to my baby? As I understand it, even if she doesn’t grow up speaking Spanish, just hearing it now will develop neural pathways in her brain that will make it easier for her to learn foreign languages later in life.

Spanglish No Me Gusta!

Dear I Don’t Like Spanglish: Did you know that conservative icon William F. Buckley’s first language was Spanish? Taught to him in Mexico by a nanny. I’m sure Buckley’s parents didn’t hover over the niñera every moment, demanding she teach their son a certain Spanish to their exacting standards; after all, the nanny was the person who knew Spanish, not the parents, so they knew to stay the hell out of the way.

Do you think your toddler doesn’t listen to the ladies speaking Spanish and absorb it all? You’re insulting the help and your child—and hating Spanglish? Vete to pinche hell, pendeja.

Dear Mexican: I’ve noticed a pattern among Mexican men: They seem to be able to focus on large breasts and asses to the exclusion of everything else on a female. She could be the fattest, ugliest, nastiest-looking chick in town (often, she doesn’t even need to be Mexican), and they’ll still go nuts for her ample T-and-A.

In the past, I’ve even heard lascivious remarks about Rosie O’Donnell! Rosie O’Donnell? Please shed some light.

More of a Eyes Guy

Dear Gabacho: Mexican men are so obsessed with tits and ass that we coined the sacrilegious puns “chichis Christ” (“Tits Christ,” a play on “Jesus Christ”) and “nálgame Diós” (“Ass me, God,” from the expression “¡Válgame Diós!”—“Oh, my God”).

Why the curve addiction? Nature, son—same reason nearly all the Paleolithic Venus figurines were of BBWs and not a flaca. And don’t forget hips—glorious, sumptuous caderas, cabrón.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: Why is it that mid-30s Mexican heinas let their bush go all out? And then they get mad ’cause you ain’t eatin’ them?

I Won’t Make a Pink Taco Joke, Promise

Dear Pocho: Bruh, you’ve watched too much porn—you really think expecting women to have no pubic hair so they can look prepubescent is healthy? That’s pedophile territory right there—I should call To Catch a Predator on you. If the mexicanas you bed are au natural, it’s because they’re in touch with Pachamama and rightfully have no shame with what God granted them.

As for the second pregunta: I actually answered it a decade ago, with me reporting then that “a 2002 report by the National Center for Health Statistics showed that 74 percent of Latino men had performed cunnilingus at one point in their life.” Now comes the 2010 results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which found that 84.6 percent of Latino males reported performing oral sex … but only 72 percent of Mexican Americans did the deed. And we wonder why so many of our mujeres leave us for gabachos and Salvadorans …

Dear Mexican: A young California high school boy of Latino heritage asked me: Why did us whities steal California from Mexico? I asked him who told him that, and he said his father. I told him we purchased California from Mexico, via the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to discuss the history or the details of the transaction with him.

Is common for Hispanics to think California was stolen? If so, that makes them appear very uneducated about their so-called homeland … don’t you think?

Retired Teacher

Dear Gabacho: Wow, so many babadas to unpack here! First off, pick: Hispanic? Latino? Those terms ain’t interchangeable. Really, you mean “Mexican”—say our name, pendejo.

Most importantly, the U.S. “purchased” California and the rest of Aztlán from Mexico the way the U.S. “purchased” Georgia from the Cherokees. Mexicans see the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo for what it is: a purchase done down the barrel of the Mexican-American War. And it wasn’t just us: Abraham Lincoln opposed it while a congressman, and Ulysses S. Grant described the war years later as “one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation. It was an instance of a republic following the bad example of European monarchies, in not considering justice in their desire to acquire additional territory”—and all those guys did was save the Republic, you know?

Even if we play your Manifest Destiny game, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was still thievery: It didn’t respect the land rights of the conquered Mexicans, therefore allowing a bunch of Pikers to murder, pillage and rob Mexicans of their lands under the threat of marrying their daughters. “Uneducated about their so-called homeland?” That’s you and your fellow gabachos, pendejo.


THE MEXICAN NEEDS AN EDITOR!

Last week, I tweeted about the horrific assault on Leslie Jones’ website and tried to use the hacker obsession with Harambe as a punchline. People took it as me comparing the actress to an ape, which shows I REALLY need an editor.

The tweet pissed off and hurt good folks—I’ve owned up to my pendejada, and I will continue to do so. This column has slammed raza for our inherent anti-blackness almost from the start, and we need black and brown solidarity now more than ever in this era of Trump—and definitely don’t need a weak-salsa satirist fucking shit up.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

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Dear Mexican: I’m not bilingual, but I am fascinated with the differences and similarities between Spanish and English words and idioms. They often point to interesting differences between the cultures. Some words, like vejigazo (to get smacked in the ass with an inflated cow bladder) are self-explanatory, but there is one that I’d like your help with.

I don’t remember the word, because I stumbled across it in a Spanish-English dictionary once right before I fell asleep, but I do remember the definition. It means “to wear for the first time,” and I can’t think of any reason why a culture would need a verb to describe that situation. Do you know what that verb is, and more importantly, can you tell me why Spanish would need it?

Thanks very much.

El Guapo

Dear Handsome Gabacho: The verb is estrenar, derived from the Latin strena, which meant a “favorable omen.” Estrenar isn’t just a verb to describe wearing new clothes, though: It also means “to premiere,” as in “un gran estreno.” The Real Academia Española doesn’t give any clue how estrenar got its sartorial sense, but the connection is pretty obvious, and it ain’t unique to us hablas: Every materialistic culture on Earth brims with modern-day Beau Brummels showing off their latest kicks, and their most vintage Saint Laurent—and you don’t need one word to describe this anymore with the advent of Snapchat.

Oh, and #fucktrump.

Dear Mexican: I know that in Japanese, when you want to emphasize a relationship with a person, you add -kun or -chan to the end of someone’s name.

Is there anything like that in Spanish? I’ve heard people use an -ita or a -ito, but I need some verification.

Taco-chan

Dear Chinito Wab: You have verified correcatemente! The suffixes you cited are diminutives that Mexicans add to the end of male (-ito) and female (-ita) names to signify fondness or endearment toward the cabrones. Grammar rules are generally simple—the diminutive seamlessly latches onto the fín of nombres with consonants (Davidito, Daffodilita) and morphs in strange ways if they end in vowels. (Pepe becomes Pepito, while Maria transforms into Mariquita, and Maclovio’s diminutive is Maclovito.)

Males have two other suffix options, with the same grammar rules: -ote (which is the equivalent of calling someone “Big,” as in Big Miguel—Miguelote), and -ín (Gustavín), which makes no sense to me. You wouldn’t use them with girls—go ahead, try calling one gorda and see how fast mexicanas can punch.

Oh, and #fucktrump.

Dear Mexican: Sope. My question is: What is the proper way to actually eat the damn thing? Do you pick it up like a taco (inevitably making a mess), or do you saw it up with the barely adequate plasticware provided at the counter? And in what part of Mexico did this enigmatic li’l morsel originate?

CUlinarilly CHAllenged

Dear Gabacho: Proper way? Whichever way is your bag, baby. Where it came from? It goes back to the ancients, because putting something on top of a thick tortilla ain’t no thing, you know? Oh, and #fucktrump.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Readers: The Mexican is currently in the hills of Kentucky, drinking white dog with the good ol’ chicos while doing tamborazo covers of “Molly and Tenbrooks” and bluegrass versions of “Las Isabeles”—because hillbillies and paisas are brothers from another madre, you know?

Anyhoo, onto some oldies-pero-goodies. Salud, and yee-haw!

Dear Mexican: It seems that whenever Chicano professors want to show off their mexicanidad, they wear a guayabera. In fact, I saw a picture of you in the Los Angeles Times donning the shirt, along with Dickies pants and Converse All Stars. How trite and bourgeois! You go to a café or bar in any university town in Mexico, and the students will think you’re totally naco. I stopped wearing the guayabera when a friend said I looked like a waiter in a Mexican restaurant.

Do certain clothes determine your Mexican-Ness?

Sexy Mexy

Dear Pocho: Abso-pinche-lutely. “The bigger the sombrero, the wabbier the man,” is a commandment all Mexicans learn from the Virgin of Guadalupe.

But seriously, Mexican clothes correspond to social and economic status—a sweaty T-shirt indicates laborer, a calf-length skirt means a proper Mexican woman, and if a cobbler used the hide of an endangered reptile to fashion your cowboy boots, you’re probably a drug-dealer or a Texan.

The guayabera (a loose-fitting, pleated shirt common in the Mexican coastal state of Veracruz and other tropical regions of Latin America) also announces something about its owner: The güey is feeling hot and wants to look sharp.

Why the hate, Sexy? Remember what Andy Warhol said: “Nothing is more bourgeois than to be afraid to look bourgeois.” Who cares if people mistake you for a waiter if you sport a guayabera? Just spit in their soup. And who cares if Mexican university students call me, you or any guayabera wearer a naco (Mexico City slang for bumpkin)? They can’t be that smart if they’re still in Mexico.

Dear Mexican: Why do Mexicans pronounce “shower” as “chower” but “chicken” as “shicken”?

Vietnamese About To Orate (VATO)

Dear Chino: This column has provided readers with many indicators of the differences between recently arrived Mexicans and los que have lived here for generations: skin tone, car purchases, whether the Mexican in question flushes his soiled toilet paper or tosses it in the trash can, etc. Another sure-fire way is the ch/sh phonetic test.

Proper Spanish doesn’t feature a “sh” sound (known among linguists as a lingua-palatal fricative), so Mexicans pronounce English words using the “sh” sound with the harsher “ch” (known as a lingualveolar affricate). However, many indigenous Mexican tongues use lingua-palatal fricatives. The most famous example is in the original pronunciation of Mexico: As said in Nahuatl, the word sounds like “meh-shee-ko.” The Spaniards couldn’t pronounce the middle consonant, though, instead substituting a guttural “j” (as in “Meh-hee-ko”) early in the Conquest. They killed most of Mexico’s Indians in the ensuing decades, but the indigenous “sh” sound never wholly disappeared: If you do hear a Mexican using “sh,” it’s probably a Mexican Indian.

So next time you hear a Mexican ask for a “Shinese shicken sandwish with Sheddar sheese,” VATO, por favor, don’t shortle.

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Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: I’m a gabacho living in a barrio. It took a year after we moved in (we’ve been here for five years now), but I grew accustomed to the bicycle-horn-honking guys selling churros out of grocery carts, the tamale lady selling out of a stroller, the couple selling new clothes out of a panel van, the fruit/vegetable guy who really just sells crappy chips, and the every-other-day yard sales. Don’t get me wrong; I love the “micro-economics” of it all; it’s kind of like living at the ballpark. If you sit there long enough, somebody will show up with something to eat. 

I’ve started to not jump every time I hear the “Tijuana Doorbell.” A LOT of trash gets thrown into the street and my yard, much of it from the crappy chips the aforementioned fruit guy sells. The trash and the honking still piss me off, but I’m used to it. The cholos, ’copters and potholes—old news.

What I just can’t get my head around is this: Why do so many Mexicans—men and women—sit in their cars for hours at a time? Or start the car and then walk away for a half-hour? The car’s just sitting there—ON—and nobody’s around. The sitting around might be attributable to not having any privacy at home; I get that. But starting your car and just sitting there or walking away?

Señor Gabacho Con Questiones y Mariscos

Dear Mr. Gabacho With Questions and Seafood: Ever heard of carburetors? That’s what real cars have in their engines, and you need to warm up said carros in the morning in order for them to run. Mexicans have always preferred real ranflas, so even when we eventually get weak-ass fuel-injection cars, we still warm up cars as a form of habit.

While this might seem like a weak answer, it’s based on precedent: Look at that classic Mexican habit of not flushing away toilet paper full of caca.

Dear Mexican: I’m a 64-year-old white guy. I’m one of your readers and a Facebook amigo. I’m a huge fan of Tejano music, which led me into appreciating Mexican music. Then, of course, there are Los Lobos and Los Lonely Boys, who can (and do) play anything. Then there’s that whole Depression/World War II diaspora that had a hand in the Oakland/Bay Area horn funk bands of the ’60s and ’70s, and, of course, the whole damn Escovedo family up there in NorCal.

Boy, did I get off base. My question is: Am I a gabacho?

Green Goes the Gringos

Dear Gabacho: Did you ever hear that joke Chris Rock said about black people and “niggas”? That’s how it is with white people and gabachos. The Mexican frequently gets accused by gabachos of being racist toward white people, when that’s not the case at all. Some of my best friends are white people—hell, one just installed a door for me the other day, and I even let him use my bathroom!

This column takes on the gabachos of the United States, though. It’s gabachos who think Mexicans are destroying this country, and gabachos who want to elect Trump, yet profess their enjoyment of Mexican food. White people hate gabachos as much as Mexicans, which is why they don’t have a problem with the Reconquista. Gabachos, on the other hand? Better stock up on the Tapatío as a peace offering, ’cause you’re gonna have to make nice with us muy soon.

So you, sir, ain’t no gabacho: You’re just a plain ol’ gringo.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: So how long can you keep up this racist shtick in an area where Latinos are the majority? You’re clever enough to use irony as a device to blunt your own just-kidding racism, but most of the Mexicans and pochos I know don’t care enough to bother with such clever tricks.

I’ve lived in L.A. most of the last 30 years, and I’ve worked and lived with many Mexicans and Mexican Americans here. I even married a couple of them. I’m raising a half-Mexican child right now. What I’ve noticed is that Mexican hate for gabachos is surpassed only by their hate for, roughly in order: blacks, non-Mexican Latinos (mostly those from Central American countries closest to Mexico) and Asians. Europeans, with the possible exclusion of the French, are held in relatively high regard—meaning you might not get spit in your burrito if they understand that your whiteness doesn’t preclude your shared status as enmigrantes. I’ve heard about how “inteligente” Hitler was from Mexicans far more than I ever heard it working with the white sons and daughters of slave states. And the Germans I’ve worked for over there were much kinder to their own Turkish and Italian laborers than I’ve seen Mexicans be to salvadoreños, guatemaltecos or—God forbid—blacks in the workplace.

Why this victim/oppressor ambiguity? Is it a mirror of the legacy of La Conquista? The Stockholm syndrome of your non-consensual Aztec hottie (great-times-15) grannies for your bearded Euro forefathers? Once you get your standard canned-insult response out of the way, please enlighten us all on this point.

El Humano

Dear Human Gabacho: Mexicans hate no more than gabachos—no, seriously, look it up. And we worship whiteness no more than gabachos—no, seriously, look it up. Hate blacks? Y’all beat us by a bunch. Asians? The same. Gays? We might hate Central Americans un chingo, but it doesn’t compare to the gabacho treatment of Mexicans.

Really, the only difference between Mexicans and gabachos is that when we scarf down a bunch of hamburgers or bed a gabacha, we don’t appoint ourselves experts on the Mexican condition, unlike ustedes pendejos after a michelada and a morenita.

Dear Mexican: I occasionally stumble upon news articles about your compadres sneaking in hundreds of pounds of illicit bologna and cheese from Mexico. The thought of eating bologna that’s been sitting in a hot car for a couple of hours is enough to make me gag.

So what’s the deal? What is it, exactly? How good can this stuff taste that it’s got to be smuggled in like kilos of weed? Surely there’s got to be a more legitimate source for it in Southern California, no?

Cheese It

Dear Gabacho: I would’ve answered this question, but I have to pay for my wheels of illegal queso de pata from Zacatecas. So I threw the pregunta to Javier Cabral, West Coast correspondent for Munchies and a fellow zacatecano.

“It’s a little-known fact that most of the cheeses that you find at supermarkets in the US are pasteurized, rubbery garbage,” Cabral told the Mexican. “This stands in stark opposition to the world of full-bodied, complex cheeses made from raw milk that most Mexis grew up eating before tunneling over to the U.S. I’m talking about sharp parmigiano reggiano-like quesos añejos and briney, mozzarella-like Oaxacan quesillo fit to be on the pizza scene of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. In some Mexican families, if your Mexican relatives show up without a neatly-wrapped ball of cheese, they might as well be excommunicated. Sadly, the stringent laws against raw milk in the American dairy industry do not allow for the production or sales of any true Mexican cheeses. Until that day comes, you best bet that the underground Mexican cheese trade will be as rampant as the Mexican poppy trade.”

As for Mexican bologna? Cabral and the Mexican have never heard of such thing. “However,” Cabral adds, “come back if you want to talk illegally imported carne seca from Sinaloa.”

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Published in Ask a Mexican