Monday, September 20, 2010

An interview with Gustavo Arellano

Up until recently, Gustavo Arellano was a staff writer with OC Weekly, an alternative newspaper in Orange County, California, where he also writes “¡Ask a Mexican!,” a nationally syndicated column and winner of the 2006 Association of Alternative Weeklies award for Best Column in which he answers any and all questions about America's "spiciest and largest minority." The column became a bestselling book by the same name published by Simon & Schuster on Cinco de Mayo 2007. Arellano’s second book, Orange County: A Personal History, was published in hardcover by Scribner on Mexican Independence Day 2009, and the paperback edition will be released on October 1.

Arellano 's commentaries on Latino culture appear regularly on National Public Radio's Day to Day and Latino USA program, the Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere. He was a finalist for the 2005 Maggie Award's Best Public Service Series or Article category for his work on the Catholic Diocese of Orange sex-abuse scandal, a topic for which he was the recipient of the Lilly Scholarship in Religion from the Religion Newswriters Association. Arellano was also a finalist for the 2005 PEN USA Literary Awards for Journalism for his profile on a disabled Latino veteran of the Iraq War. In 2008, he received the Latino Spirit Award from the California State legislature for his "exceptional vision, creativity, and work ethic." Arellano makes his home in Anaheim.

Well, the big news is that Arellano has been appointed managing editor of the OC Weekly effective the first week of October. He kindly took a few moments out of his busy schedule to discuss his new role:

DANIEL OLIVAS: So, any death threats yet? Oh, I mean, how have OC Weekly readers responded to your appointment?

GUSTAVO ARELLANO: HA! Actually, I don't think our readership has any clue of my promotion — we didn't announce it on our news blog, so the haters probably have no clue. All I've received, then, is congratulations from friends and co-workers, which is a nice break from the nastiness I've grown to love.

DO: Do you have any particular plans for the OC Weekly? What are your favorite parts of the publication?

GA: My immediate plan is to assist my jefe, Weekly editor Ted Kissell, in whatever he needs. We're also looking for a staff writer to replace me (hint,hint out-of-work La Bloga reporter readers!). From there, we'll see what needs to be done, although being the managing editor of the Weekly is like being third-base coach for the 1927 Yankees — our staff is so pinche talented, it guides itself. Favorite part? The whole thing, from the great covers to the escort ads in the back.

DO: Who's going to write the "Ask a Mexican" column now that you're moving into management?

GA: I'm continuing the column — I still have too much fun writing it. I'll also continue to write, although most of my writing will now be online in our blogs instead of in the paper. But our mayordomos have made it clear they don't want my voice to disappear from the desmadre that is the Weekly.

DO: Since La Bloga is made up of writers, we all want to know: Will you expand book coverage at the OC Weekly?

GA: I sure want to! As it stands, we usually only offer book reviews or mentions of libros that have to do with la naranja, for the obvious reason. But I'm a voracious reader, and going through the good and bad, and we haven't covered books in years. The only problem, of course, is money: we'd like to pay people for reviews, instead of nothing. We'll see...

DO: And now for a question you really want to answer: If you were to plan your last three meals on earth (breakfast, lunch and dinner) in Orange County, what eateries would you go to and what would you order?

GA: Not fair! Rather than answer that question, I'll direct readers to our food blog, Stick a Fork in It, where we're counting down the top 100 dishes in Orange County. Last three meals? Drown me in mami's cooking, then.

DO: Mil gracias for spending time with La Bloga.


Please join a multitude of authors and a cornucopia of good food on September 26, 10:00 a.m. to 6:oo p.m., at the 9th Annual West Hollywood Book Fair, 647 N. San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood, CA. I will on a panel, and so will many other writers of all genres for all ages. Parking is free! For more information, visit here. My panel is at 10:45 a.m., so come early and enjoy the entire day!


Unknown said...

I just absolutely love Dan Olivas' work! I nominate him to start an "Ask a Pocho" column!

Anonymous said...

Gustavo arellano is a racist.