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Hi there! Welcome to my journal, where I share the latest about my writing and wanderings. Stay a while and say hello!

Hi, I'm jasmin.

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Note: This essay was originally published on Literary Hub. When I moved back to the Bay Area, where I’d grown up, in 2013, I could barely recognize whole swaths of San Francisco anymore, but one part of it, North Beach, was almost exactly the same. More than ever, spending time there had the feeling of […]

How Dorothea Nutzhorn Chased the Promise of Possibility and Became Dorothea Lange

April 10, 2021

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Note: This essay originally appeared in the April 2021 issue of Marin Magazine. There are places that happen to you and places you choose. For photographer Dorothea Lange, California was both. She was 23 years old when she left her native New Jersey and arrived in San Francisco. The year was 1918 and she thought she […]

Where She Felt Free

April 3, 2021

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“She knew what it was to be invisible, and she knew what it was to be too visible.” Writing Caroline’s character in THE BOHEMIANS was a pleasure—and also a challenge. As a mixed-race woman (the genteel term then was “Eurasian”), just stepping into the street in 1918 would have been a fraught experience for her, […]

With Each Step To Say, I Am Here

March 31, 2021

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In 1919, a seventeen-year-old San Francisco boy fell seriously ill. The second, and deadliest, wave of the Spanish Flu had reached the City. It struck down the young with particular cruelty. The boy had always been a bit different–restless and fidgety and given to long rambles on Baker Beach and through the Presidio, but now, […]

Faith, Temple, Calling

March 29, 2021

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Here’s one more item to add to your list of San Francisco originals: Taxi Dancers. In 1913, San Francisco enacted new laws that forbade dancing in any cafe or saloon where alcohol was served. Enterprising folks came up with a scheme called the “closed dance hall” by which (to use today’s language) they “rebranded” their […]

How Much for a Dance?

March 23, 2021

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“She was a terribly attractive, dashing kind of gal.” So said Dorothea Lange about her friend and fellow photographer, Consuelo Kanaga (1894-1976). One of the many amazing women Lange met when she came to San Francisco in 1918, Kanaga was the first woman newspaper photographer Lange had ever met, and she was totally bowled over […]

The “Dasher”

March 9, 2021

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He arrived in San Francisco wearing a white sombrero, black velvet coat and velvet waistcoat, and a pair of pointy shoes. It was the spring of 1882. Oscar Wilde was twenty-seven years old, not yet a well-known writer but already a style icon and terrific wit. By the time he arrived at the ferry crossing […]

Wilde About San Francisco

March 1, 2021

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And on the Thousand and Second Night, Paris became Persia. One evening in June of 1911, Paul Poiret, the “King of Fashion,” appeared before 300 members of the city’s creme de la creme. He was dressed in full-on sultan’s garb. On his head, he’d placed a bejeweled and beplumed turban. The evening’s “Persian” amusements culminated […]

When Paris Was Persian

February 24, 2021

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It’s the sound of “the jungles in the dead of night.” It “lures white women” into sex and sin. It’s the sound of “civilization” dying—and a new country becoming. It’s 1920. The first war’s just ended. Black jazz musicians are migrating from New Orleans to major northern cities such as Chicago and New York. Nearly […]

Who Put the “Jazz” in “The Jazz Age”?

February 13, 2021

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Did you know Sophia Loren once played me in a movie? Okay, she actually played a Middle Eastern temptress named Yasmin Azir in a 1966 film called Arabesque, but hear me out. Over the weekend I watched the wonderful new short documentary “What Would Sophia Loren Do?” on Netflix and it got me thinking about […]

Sophia Loren C’est Moi

February 9, 2021