Tango induces tribal love. After tango, coupling with just one feels sort of claustrophobic.

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Photo by Preillumination SeTh on Unsplash

No matter the stranger’s laser blue eyes and satin silver hair. The magic resides in the embrace and he knows how to power it from his core through my torso. The music begins and we are dancing airborne tango.

Airborne tango occurs when my partner and I are so in sync we leave the ground. One of tango’s basic tenets is that one leg is always free. So, for split seconds during weight shifts, both feet seem to dance on air. If cars hydroplane on wet pavement why can’t fleet-footed dancers generate uplift on a wood floor? …

You are your writing, your writing is you. You only feel separate until you journey through the process.

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We are one with the bull. Wikimedia Commons

The Ten Bulls or Ox-herding Pictures date back to about the 11th century in China, representing progress toward enlightenment, at a time when Buddhism was traveling from India, taking root in other parts of Asia. The childlike drawings serve as an allegory for moods, emotions, and shades of resistance that many writers experience.

1. Searching for the Ox — Sitting down on a Chair/Ox to find the Story. You & Story are separate. “Everything is shifting and unsteady.” Frisson of excitement and/or agitation.

2. Seeing the Traces Aha! Moments. You spill some ink, symbols on a blank page. Flashes of insight. Startling! Scent of your own genius arises. …

Some traditions should not be tampered with. Maybe slightly, this year.

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Pre-Thanksgiving repast: Mama just whipped up a few snacks here for her visiting children and grandchildren.

In our family, Thanksgiving is a Sicilian-American holiday. My forebears did not set foot in America until the early twentieth century, way after the Mayflower, Plymouth Rock, and the pilgrims (who apparently were not nice to Native Americans). So it was easy to believe as kids that the feast arrived through Ellis Island with our four grandparents.

On Thanksgiving my family, like many Italian Americans, would not think of foregoing the ravis (ravioli), meatballs, sausage, and many other old-country dishes. …

In which Dog was our Guide

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All photos: Camille Cusumano

I had hardly finished my coffee when would-be banditos descended upon our pit stop. Freda, Cleo, and I had driven to the Mexican border at Nuevo Laredo, soon to cross into Texas. What could be safer than the park across from the police station? Freda had just exited the station where she had her work visa stamped so she could return in sixty days.

We had left her casita in Monterrey in the cool morning at 7 a.m. Now, after 9 a.m. it was sweltering and Freda’s Subaru had faulty air conditioning. Before getting in the long line to immigration we needed a break. We parked near the meandering Rio Grande and got out. Freda took her adopted dog Cleo (short for Cleopatra) for a walk in the trees. …

Time to get cracking, easy to do around San Francisco.

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Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco Photo: Fred Hsu, Wikipedia Commons

Consider a mollusk such as the escargot. It would be nothing but a garden pest without a megadose of garlic and butter. On the other hand, Dungeness, the crustacean indigenous to the West Coast, needs absolutely nothing — not even a pretty French name — to elevate it. The sweet, briny meat can actually improve your garlic and butter.

I have found no evidence that you could say the same for other types of crabs — blue, for instance.

“For many West Coast seafood lovers, including me,” writes Mark Bittman in his book Fish: The Complete Guide to Buying and Cooking, “this great-tasting Pacific crab . …

Ain’t what it used to be.

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Photo by Alka Jha on Unsplash

In his 2004 book Dark Star Safari, Paul Theroux describes how Mark Twain, upon seeing Egypt’s sphinx, wrote that it “reveals to one something of what he shall feel when he shall stand in the presence of God.”

Just as you’re thinking, Gee, wish I had said that, Theroux destroys the impulse with “This is traveler’s invention: I saw it, you didn’t, therefore I’m licensed to exaggerate.” You’ll cheer if you’ve ever had to sit through a person’s over-the-top rapturously long description of a place they saw and you didn’t.

Next time an editor pushes you to beef up your travel story, you can quote the sharp-witted Theroux. (When I was an editor on a travel magazine we had a list of verboten words — verboten was probably one, as were nestled, quaint, colorful . . . I made a point of forgetting the list since leaving that publication, not needing that constraint.) …

Monica, Hillary, and Bill find peace—in an unimpeachable way.

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Monica almost bites her nails. It’s been three years since she stopped, was cured, right after the impeachment fiasco was finally over and Bill, the Stud, was acquitted. She knew he would be but still her nails were bitten to the bloody quick. Her weight soared. She kept her composure with the help of St. John’s Wort. And Valium. And meditation.

This was mostly her idea — Hillary was game for it — not the site, but the whole concept of putting the scandal behind them. For a couple of years they had not communicated as if they could go on in a world with each other, knowing what they knew. The intimate details of Bill’s anatomy, the great most powerful one (whose name would likely be invoked for years by those who hated him, those who revered him). …

And save it too, from Big Oil.

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Enter the pages of “a sexy, savory romp through the Great land.”

Craving Alaska by Day Pesh Melba has been described as “a sexy, savory romp through the Great Land.” That’s a measure of the prevailing mood of this unusual novel. Beneath the wild food, sex, and adventure is a not-so-hidden message worth pondering: Is it acceptable to achieve our cherished ends by whatever means possible, even a hoax, even fake news?

The fast-paced novel opens in Manhattan Plaza’s famous Champagne Bar, where the plot will come full circle some 300 pages and two months later. Protagonist Daphne Forest is about to sign a contract for her next cookbook, called Craving Alaska. We meet her, her agent Ellie Shorter, her Alaskan lover Jason, and confidante Kristie. …

Dedicated to Franz Kafka

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Kafka Sculpture in Prague Photo: C. Cusumano

I’m a pitbull on the pantleg of popportunity. George holds off to the outer perimeter, standing in the shadows, sharpening his diction.

“It’s a remarkable piece of equipment,” Karl says brightly. His eyes glance off Colin, then lock darkly, gleefully with Dick’s. Karl, Dick, and the Russian Technician form the core circle around the apparatus.

“Matter of fact, it is,” says Dick, thinking how he once thought that of Lynnie, his wife. He pets the apparatus that animates under his palm.

George drones on in the shadow, raises his eyebrows in a steeple. He imagines the seductive countenance that he radiates and chuckles nervously. …

The way is right in front of you.

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No matter how many times you see this, it triggers “ekstasis.” All photos: C. Cusumano

Millions of acres are burning in California, not just wilderness but residential homes and neighborhood structures, some historic and old enough to have withstood earthquakes. …


Camille Cusumano

Author(ity) in/on San Francisco. Novel, essay, memoir. Teaches tango. Travel, outdoors, culture. Former editor at VIA Mag.

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