In my forty-seven years of being a San Franciscan I never imagined the tyranny of 2020's shutdown.

Image for post
Image for post
Boulders still grow on trees in the time of Corona. Art by Giuseppe Penone

When I moved to San Francisco in 1973 from a dreary industrial town in New Jersey, I became a proud urban dweller for the first time. Even as I shed my car a few years ago, I would brag how the city was still my oyster. I lived on Jackson at Polk, the center of my robust universe, which stretched from Aquatic Park to the Dog Patch, from Ocean Beach to the Embarcadero. Happy to travel on foot, bicycle, Muni, Lyft, Zip car, or the kindness of friends, I would tick off the many places at my fingertips or footsteps…


It’s crab season! Time to get cracking.

A person wearing an apron, preparing crabs at a workstation with a brown-tiled countertop.
A person wearing an apron, preparing crabs at a workstation with a brown-tiled countertop.
Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco. Photo: Fred Hsu via Wikipedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

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…


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

Image for post
Image for post
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? At the Verdi…


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

Image for post
Image for post
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…


In 2007, Ms. Harris won 2nd place in Museo Italo Americano’s Pasta Contest. I nominate our new Vice President an honorary paisana.

Image for post
Image for post
Kamala Harris stirs the ragu, 2007 Pasta Contest. Photo courtesy of Museo Italo Americano

Since 1978 the Museo Italo Americano, located in Fort Mason, has celebrated Italian culture, including great art, architecture, literature, fashion, and of course our world-renowned cuisine. A goal of the museo is to preserve the heritage of Italian-Americans for future generations. No surprise, our then-future Vice President Harris stepped in to that end, showcasing her cooking skills with a classic Italian dish fit for royalty—make that for all democratic palates. In celebration of her historic inauguration (of the United States’ first African-American and first South-Asian-American and first woman VP, whew!), the museo sent us members our monthly newsletter with Kamala’s…


“Love consists in this, that two solitudes protect, touch, and greet each other.” —Rainer Maria Rilke

Image for post
Image for post

Tomorrow, Friday, February 12, two days before Valentine’s Day, Sasha Cagen, patron saint of those of us who love solitude as much as we love intimacy, strictly on our terms, is hosting a grand party for all. Sasha calls the bash Pre-Quirkyalone Day Party, and all are invited.

You can find out more about quirky Sasha Cagen at her web site. Sasha first coined the term “quirkyalone” a while ago. She authored the Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics and founded the quirkyalone movement.

Sasha says “I have been writing, talking, thinking, coaching, and teaching about living an inspired, empowered…


A seawothy view of San Francisco, the bridges, and skyline from the bay wins any beauty contest, oars down.

Image for post
Image for post
Rowers sometimes find their wooden rowboats dwarfed by container ships. All photos: Nanda Palmieri

Fellow Dolphin Club member Nanda Palmieri shared these images from a recent rowing outing in the club’s handcrafted wooden boats. It was one of the bay’s calmer days, no big swells or fierce wind gusts. They had encounters with big vessels in their shipping lane, a gull’s eye view of the city skyline and the Marin Headlands—it doesn’t get much more serene and gratifying.


She floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee, and gives lessons in botanicals.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Alfred Schrock on Unsplash

I had been working at Rodale Press in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, for six months that fateful afternoon of June 15, 1981. My boss, Charlie Gerras, called me into his office and asked if I would drive an out-of-town visitor, with some French-sounding name, to Rodale’s organic farm. Looking out his window, I couldn’t hear the crickets I knew were buzzing, but I could see the thickness of early summer gathering like phlegm.

Sure, I said with forced enthusiasm. Charlie, wheelchair-bound since a diving accident years ago, had been a prince of an editor to hire me to write cookbooks, given my…


His aphrodisiac power excites a glow in some men usually reserved for one’s sweetheart.

Image for post
Image for post
Henry Kissinger has been on both ends of the homoerotic stick. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

My neighborhood Trump lover appears nothing like the Neanderthals (uncivilized and unintelligent) seen in images of January 6th’s insurrection. Rudy, I’ll call him, comes across as a regular guy. He is always cordial, well-mannered, divorced and friends with his ex-wife. Rudy, who is attractive, can be an insufferable spouter of his hero’s greatness but you can also engage him on other topics.

Still there was something unsettling I noticed about Rudy some months ago. He smiled sheepishly as he was eager to show me a photo of Trump in his thirties. I could almost feel Rudy’s heart swell as he…


“The loneliness of the friendless is a special horror,” writes Herbert Gold.

Image for post
Image for post
The 96-year-old’s book of poetry with ironic title. Photo: Camille Cusumano

I first met Herb Gold, author of numerous works of fiction and non-fiction, at a press event hosted by the French consulate in San Francisco. Years passed, careers and family demands waxed and waned. Then, a year ago, the stars aligned, we got in touch and have become good friends, in an organic sort of way, the way writers who are weary of strutting and fretting their hour upon stage are drawn to each other. (Even if one of them is obscure, the other a famous who’s who.) Friendship with few demands, other than sharing company, brews naturally—with easy come…

Camille Cusumano

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

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store