Basketball, San Antonio, United States discussed on The Times: Daily news from the L.A. Times
Another and yet both end up meeting at the end. So where do you get, you know, you said earlier that you learn how to write by teaching by summing up points, but where did you get that specific style? That's just a matter of practice, you know, if you go out on the basketball court enough times, you start to develop your own little moves or things that help you. Hopefully be successful. But when I go play basketball in San Antonio, I'm 5 7. So I'm like pretty tall in San Antonio. I'm a power forward in sanitize leading the league in rebounds in San Antonio, right? But then when I left and I lived in Houston, that wasn't the case anymore, or when I was like, if I went to LA, everybody in LA is like 6 foot two. You have to play a whole different type of basketball out there. So you just learn these little layup package tricks or whatever. It's the same thing in writing. There's some stuff that I'm not good at. And there's some stuff that I am good at. And so I just try to stay in the neighborhood of stuff that I am good at there. And that just is, again, you know, ten years of practice or self trying things and you see, oh, this doesn't work, that does work. Okay, cool. Let me try this, let me try that, you know? So are you more Tony Parker, manujan obli or Tim Duncan? I don't imagine I'm any of those ones. I'm more like I'm more like a Vinny del Negro. Do you remember any diagram? Of course I do, bad. Wildly inefficient player barely hung on in the league, never was an all star. That's about where I am. That's how I feel. Ever humble. You're 5 tools all the way, man. And, you know, you write these essays, which everyone loves. I always go viral, but in the journalism world nowadays, people keep telling us, hey, no one wants to read long things. Everyone just wants to listen to stuff. So why do you keep doing books and essay when you also have so many other avenues out there in projects? It feels more natural to me. I feel like I do better in text based scenarios because you have a longer time to think about something. Like if I'm writing an essay or an article or a book chapter, I can take as much time as I want with it, and I can research every single piece of it. So when I put it out, it is fully informed and sharpened. If I'm doing a podcast, you're probably going to ask me a question here that I'm not prepared for. And I'm going to stumble a bit and I'm going to sound dumb. You know what I'm saying? I feel much more comfortable with writing stuff down because I get to spend whatever amount of time I want on it before I send it out into the world. Another thing I really like about writing is like, when you write a thing or when you read a thing, your brain like forms all of the pictures in your head and you get to decide exactly what it looks like. And I like the idea of me writing like let's say I write a little story. I wrote a little thing the other day where I was talking about playing basketball with one of my sons who's 14. He is the same height as I am now. He's gotten. He's better than I am at basketball now. So I was talking about that. And I get to tell that story and somebody will read it and they will build it all out in their own brain and it's going to look perfect to them. It's going to look exactly how they want it to look because they're the ones in charge of that picture. I'm just providing the text. I really like that part of it. Yeah, you say that right now, I'm already imagining me facing off against my brother when he was, what was it? Ten years old. He's already my high at ten years old. I'm 5 9, and he's backing up at me backing up at me and then he does one of those neck jerks back and just smash broke my nose. And I'm like, okay, I'm Don game over. I'm never gonna play basketball with you again. Exactly. Exactly. And I think that's part of the reason that people who do respond to any of the stuff that I write. That's why the response to it. And that's sort of the intention of it. Like with the book, for example, the new book, hip hop and other things, you have 252 pages or whatever to write about all the stuff you want to write about. There's no way you can cover every single thing. That's not the point of doing a book. The point of doing a book, at least the ones that I work on are I want to write about something that I like in a way that makes you think about something that you like. It doesn't even have to be that same thing. But like I tell the story about this thing happening to me. And in your head, you go and I remember when this version of that happened to me. And then you feel good remembering that story. That's what I'm trying to do in the books or in any other writing really. So you're now a three times New York Times bestselling author, probably going to be a four time with hip hop and other things. You're probably the second most bestselling Mexican American author right now. Do you know who's first? Sandra cisneros. Nope, not even close, man. Really? No way. But her books are all through like in every school in America. I have to imagine mango street has sold a billion copies. I wish and I would hope, but the number one right now, Diana gabaldon. Really? Do you know who she is? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, did the outlander fantasy series. I got turned into that cool star show like time traveling British nurse falls in love with a Scottish warrior, a chicano from Arizona wrote that stuff, man. I had no idea. That's cool. Over 25 million copies sold of all of her books, so that's awesome. Yeah, no, I were talking about huge worldwide translating to a bunch of languages. So what does it say when two of the top selling chicano authors in the United States don't write exclusively about the Mexican American experience? I probably says that you don't have to only write about that thing. You know what I'm saying? So I have this conversation a bunch of version of this conversation. Like if I'm in a you mentioned some Hollywood stuff. If I'm in a room and I'm pitching a thing, there's always a point because you're almost always pitching it to only white people. And there's always a point where you finish telling the story idea and then they start asking questions and they're like, okay, but where's the scene where they talk about being Mexican in America? That's got to be so hard. And I'm just sitting there and I have to tell them, that's not how it works when you're like, there's never been a time in my life when me and my family were sitting at the dinner table talking about what it's like to be Mexican in America because what that does is that that means you're centering whiteness here like the being American that that's another version of them saying, being white. And so if I'm like, that's not what we do. It doesn't work like that. You don't talk about the thing because you're always the thing. You know what I'm saying? Yeah. We'll be back after this break. Staying up to date on all the latest happenings can work up quite an appetite. Well, Grubhub's got to covered. Grubhub works hard to serve restaurants. That's why Grubhub guarantees your food will get to you on time within the delivery window, and for the lowest price compared to other apps, or you'll get back at least $5 in perks. That way, you can experience your food just like the restaurant intended. Order through the Grubhub app or online. Grubhub, we serve restaurants. What do you wish you could do if you only had the time? Do you feel anxious scared depressed or exhausted as our world changes again and again? Are there things that happened in your past you wish you could move on from? If any of these questions strike a chord in you, I strongly encourage you to check out better health dot com slash LA times. I signed up two weeks ago in under two hours I was assigned a counselor who's a perfect match for me. I can message her anytime and she always responds in a timely and thoughtful way. You can find licensed professional counselors who are specialized in depression, family conflicts, stress, LGBT matters, anxiety, grief, relationships, self esteem, sleeping, trauma, anger, and more. You don't have to go through this alone. I want you to start living a happier life today. As a listener, you'll get 10% off your first month by visiting our sponsor at better health dot com slash LA times. Join over 1 million people who have taken charge of their mental health again, that's better help HELP dot com slash LA times. Sheis, so why do you think there's not more Latinos in the world that you now work in with books? I mean, a recent survey shows we only make up 6% of the U.S. book publishing industry and only 3% of the industry's executives, even though we're about what, 20 some percent of the population now in the United States? I think we just didn't know about it for so long, most of us still don't know about it. We started the race late. We're trying to get in there. You know, the Internet has sort of democratized everything. It's making it a little bit easier. It's especially helpful when people who are us are in leadership positions. There's like a common language there already, but you know, we're just a little late to the game, but we're on the way, baby. We're catching up. You're one of the important ones, man. Just right there, again, being on that New York Times Best Seller list, but also I would say because you're advocating you're starting scholarship funds for Latinos again to journalism, you're prepping up like people who need that chance. Why is it important for you to change that? So much of the stuff that I do is like me just trying to get back the feeling of what it was like being a teacher. Because when you're walking to that classroom every single day, you have the chance to do a meaningful thing. Every single day. And you can watch it happen in real time. And you can feel it in your chest when it happens. And so like I missed that part because writing you don't really get that if you're just like writing and making your jokes or whatever. Writing is great for my ego, because people are telling me all of the time. Oh, you're so funny. You're so great this and that. But it's not as good for my heart as teaching was. Nobody cared that I was a teacher, but I felt better about myself. You know what I'm saying? So I think any of this stuff that I'm doing outside of writing that's like trying to help others is like selfishly. It's just me trying to get that feeling back again. I still think though, man, the most powerful Latino advocacy you do is when you'll tweet or say online or say somewhere, you'll say, quote, Mexicans are perfect. And it doesn't matter what it is. My favorite example is when you tweet it out a picture of a plate of enchiladas Tex mex style, which they're delicious, but the rest of the world is like, oh gosh, disgusting. This gravy and yellow cheese. And then that picture, there's also a bottle of big red, which is like this cult soda from taxes. And then the caption, Mexicans are perfect. So where did Mexicans are perfect come from? And why are we perfect? The very first time I did it, it was because it was like a food related thing. I just sat down and was looking at this plate of food. I think I had been on the road for a while a couple of weeks and I got back home. And I went to like Blanco cafe in San Antonio, the best enchiladas I've ever had in my life. But I got those enchiladas and the beans and the rice and the soda and the chips and the sultan. I just had it all in front of me and I was so happy to be there, eating this $4 plate of food again. And that's just what I thought I'd just felt like the Mexicans made it. They made the food so I tweeted the picture. And then it just became like this. This long running thing I've been doing it for several years now. My favorite thing about it, my absolute favorite thing about it is that Mexicans get so mad. They get so mad when I post a picture of Tex mex food. They are just livid. Livid. They hate it. And then it becomes this big argument and it just makes me laugh every single time. But it's fine. You know, like that's the thing we can all argue about amongst ourselves. We've been doing it for a billion years and we'll do it for a billion more. It's like when you go home and your cousins make fun of you. And you're like, they're only doing this because they're my cousins and we all love each other. Like this is sort of how those relationship is. It's all love. But then you'll say something like Mexicans are perfect. You say in opposition to say Trump or all these xenophobes going after Mexicans. Is this really profound statement that it's like chicano pride that we haven't felt in a while and you just sum it up in three words? It just sort of encompasses everything. You just say those three words. And that's it. It's beautiful, man. If people want to get the real you, that's where they should be following you on Twitter. You have over 426,000 followers. It's period you. Pictures of your twins and your wife, or you just flip off the camera, just just for the hell of it. But you'll just drop it like that. I always crack up. I don't think Jonathan franzen or DOM de lilo are doing that, you know? But you also have something called the FOH army. What's that? That's this goofy like a gorilla philanthropy thing that started up several years ago. Completely as a joke. So much of this stuff was just like, it starts as a joke, and then it becomes this whole thing. The way that that worked was when I was working at grantland and this was 2015, I signed like a contract to work there for a year. I signed the contract in July in October of that same year, three months later, they shut it down. They're like, hey, guess what everybody's fired. But I had a contract for a year so they had to pay me out for the year. So I had like 7 or 8 months of I don't have to do any work. And I thought it was gonna be great, but like two weeks into it, I was really bored and just wanted to do stuff. So I started this newsletter and it was me and Arthur la Torres who illustrates all the books over the course of a couple of weeks for like 30,000 subscribers to it. It was his whole big thing, but we're doing it for free. Just because we felt like doing it. But because there were so many people who are subscribing to it, they kept asking if they could donate money. And so one day after, we got tired of saying we don't need the money. We put a donation button in there. And then people donated money to it, and it was like, well, what the fuck do we do now? I don't want this. Do you want this? Or could we take the money we donated it to the genesis women's shelter, which is in Dallas, Texas, and it's a place where Arthur his mother and his brothers lived for a while, like they gave him as far as art supplies. And it's just like a meaningful place to him. So we sent them the money. And then we told everybody what we did. Ha ha ha, your dummies, you gave us this. We gave it here. Like as a joke, like a couple months later, we did it again. And then people were asking immediately like, oh, where are you donating it this time? And it just became like a thing we were associated with. So we're like, I guess we're going to donate it again. And then we just kept on doing it. And it started out small in the first time we did it. It was like 2700 bucks or something like that. But by this point, by now today, it's been like, you know, $600,000 that we've donated to various places. It's crazy, dude. No, and that's where I think is the best you because you're brilliant, everyone should read you, listen to you, but you're giving out money like a reverse Scrooge mcduck man. 600,000, you know, I remember there was a hurricane, your fans raised over a 100,000 just a couple of days for hurricane victims. And then people just hit you up randomly. Hey, man, I need 50 bucks. I need $500 to pay my cell phone bill or this, whatever. And not only do you make it happen, you post a receipts like proof. You're not just saying it to say it. You said earlier like, part of that comes from you being a formerly being a teacher and you want to feel that making that difference in someone's day for that. But really, where does that come from? Because I don't see many other writers or reporters who do it at your level so.