So glad I spent the longest day of the year on the tango dance floor. Miriam Larici and Hugo Patyn, performers formerly with “Forever Tango,” were the guest artists at the one-year anniversary of the Sausalito milonga. So far, studying tango is the singlemost thing that has changed my life since January, and I congratulate myself for taking the chance on classes. I’ve made some great new friends, including my teachers Gustavo Hornos and Jesica Salomon, and just finished writing an article for the local weekly on the tango/flamenco dance phenomenon. Hopefully when published it will have an online link. I’ve put up a recent poem too, about my relationship to dancing shoes (!) See below.
My friend Bill is in Cuba right now, allowed on an educational mission that will soon be forbidden if the Bush government has its way. Our so-called president is trying all means of regime change in that tiny country which has been under US sanctions for more than 40 years. Even invasion is on the table! Despite claims of oppression and lack of freedom due to the Cuban revolution (and ouster of U.S. multinationals and mafia), the Cuban people have been more harmed by U.S. policy than they have by Fidel.
Meantime, people in Florida are being prosecuted for organizing a sailboat race to Cuba to the tune of $15,000 fine (see national lawyers guild website http://www.nlg.org/news/statements/cubatravel2004.htm for more details of the rules that are to go into effect June 30. The lawyeer in charge of this aspect of the NLG’s work is Art Heitzer of Milwaukee, my friend from the anti-war, anti-draft days of the 1960s when I lived in that great Wisconsin city.)
Other rules seriously restricting Americans’ freedom of travel (do we live in a democracy?) include limiting the amount of cash brought to Cuba by travelers to $300 (down from $3,000) and forbidding gifts or goods being brought back to our country. Also Cuban Americans can only visit immediate relatives once every three years. Geez! Think Buena Vista Social Club, think Elian Gonzales, think about those wonderful drummers and musicians from Cuba you have heard and danced to. All this while the terrorist responsible for the shooting down of a Cuban airliner years back is living in protected exile on the east coast of this country. Geez again.
I always have more to say, but this is what’s up highest this beautiful California morning. (15 days until I’m back to 9-5!)
If the Foot Fits
for Jesica and Gustavo
See the bend of his knee, the crease of his slacks breaking
just so over patent leather shoes. With legs intertwined, they
hook and spin each other, twin wind-blown seeds; her steps flick,
flirt like a mare’s tail. From within the Tango embrace,
she pivots, turns, rises, at the will of her high-heeled, pointed
dancing shoes. The shoe commands the body
to reinvent its movement. Clicked three times, the sparkling
ruby pumps sent hapless Dorothy home from the land of Oz;
glass slippers revealed Cinderella as the future queen. Oh—
coveted scarlet shoes that danced a girl to death
in Andersen’s pleasure-hating fairy tale, I want to tame you,
and claim you for my own. A ballerina cries on pointe
for her blood in the lamb’s wool, remembers the bound,
broken feet of China’s daughters. Fashion models
sculpt their toes by surgery to get a perfect fit;
Red Shoe Diaries glorify sexual fetish in footwear. But—
for real heat—take me to the byways of Buenos Aires,
where I’ll trade my flat-heeled sandals for hand-made suede,
black mesh, or red leather Tango shoes, and flash a ring of gold
through the open toe, burnish the wooden floor with many ochos.