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March 21 - April 19 Aries
Your pioneering, confident, energetic Aries self is probably looking at the calendar right now and saying, hmm – August – gotta hit the open road. It’s that time. Well, if you can afford the gasoline, go for it, you Ram you. If not, take a gander at Susan Session Rugh’s great new book Are We There Yet? The Golden Age of American Family Vacations. It’s a cultural history of the quintessential middle-class family vacation from the mid 40’s to the early 70’s. Rugh, an associate professor at Brigham Young University, presents a captivating subject in the first study of its kind. For those who remember being packed into the family car with your annoying little brother and driving across the highways of the USA, playing geography or other car games to pass the time, staying in little motels or camping out under the stars, learning about the country’s history by visiting its monuments, this book is a truly enjoyable read.

April 20 - May 20 Taurus
May 1, 1967 was the date that Elvis Presley wed his long time girlfriend Priscilla Beaulieu. And thanks to Mattel (they’re swell) you can now purchase a set of Elvis and Priscilla wedding day Barbies, dressed in replicas of their wedding attire, though the Priscilla doll could use a lot more eye makeup and her bouffant hair do isn’t as frozen in place as the real Mrs. P’s was that day. The packaging also contains a sticker reading Direct from Graceland. I don’t know about you, but this is one of those times where I just say – I don’t care what I have to do without; I gotta have this item. Although the real-life Elvis-Priscilla union only lasted 5 years, your dolls will live forever in the first romantic blush of their wedding day.

May 21 - June 20 Gemini
Rosanne Cash is our Gemini this week simply because she kicks ass and takes names. She was born in 1955 to country music legend Johnny Cash and his first wife Vivian Liberto right around the time Cash’s career was starting on its upward trajectory at Sun Records. She started her own career by singing backup for her dad, has written essays and fiction for The New York Times, Rolling Stone, New York Magazine and other publications, has a few books out as well, and is a Grammy Award winning singer and songwriter. Her most recent CD, Black Cadillac, received widespread critical acclaim in 2006 and she’s working on a new one now. Plus she’s an active and fascinating member of the blogosphere with Mrs. L’s Monthly. She writes about everything from books she’s reading to concerts she went to the best hotel room on tour, to outrage over school shootings, to the sorry state of the world, to family and friends and life.

June 21 - July 22 Cancer
The Zodiac sign of the Crab brought us guitar virtuoso Nils Lofgren, whose career began at the tender age of 17 when he joined Neil Young’s band and contributed to the acclaimed platinum album After The Gold Rush. He’s played with all the masters, and in fact is a master himself, and by the way also – it so happens – the nicest guy in the world. He joined Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band in 1984 and used to be introduced onstage by El Jefe as “a man as sweet as life itself.” That’s no joke. Not only does Nils have a new CD out – The Loner-Nils Sings Neil – solo acoustic versions of classic Neil Young songs (available on his website) but he also has a online guitar clinic on his website with downloadable quicktime lessons for the unbelievable bargain price of $20 per session. Seriously, what are you waiting for?

July 23 - August 22 Leo
Find an awesomely cool birthday gift for your Leo friends at the wildly entertaining cyber-store Uncommon Goods. Everything from a set of Hula Rocking Glasses to a Dear Diary hidden compartment flask to the Secret Lives of US Presidents Trivia Card Game to adult sock monkey slippers – all here, and much, much more. Every time I break out the credit card to purchase a unique gift here, the accolades come back in spades. And best of all, they feature handmade, recycled and organic products and are a part of the Social Venture Network (along with Ben and Jerry’s and Google), a socially conscious network of business that value healthy communities and the human spirit as well as high returns.

August 23 - September 22 Virgo
Intelligent, genuine, conservative Virgo – I have the perfect radio station for you folks. You’ll dig the blue jeans off of Sirius Satellite Radio’s brilliant Outlaw Country channel, Steven Van Zandt’s sanctuary for the rebels and renegades, rabble rousers and rogues of country music. They’re all here: Dylan, Loretta Lynn, Steve Earle, David Allan Coe, Emmylou Harris, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, and of course all generations of the Hank Williams Dynasty. DJ’s include Shooter Jennings, Cowboy Jack Clement, Dallas Wayne, and truckin’ music authority RigRocker. Come in, come in, breaker 1-9. Dial up this station and open a tall cold one.

September 23 - October 22 Libra
The sense of harmony and balance that is enjoyed by our Libran friends will thrill to a visit to Clayton, the Pittsburgh home of art patron and industrialist Henry Clay Frick. More than 90 percent of the original family artifacts still reside in this beautiful 23 room Victorian mansion that sits on a remarkable tract of land in the residential neighborhood of Point Breeze. Also on the property: Frick’s collection of vintage automobiles, and the full sized children’s play house. You can also have a lovely, sedate afternoon tea in the Frick Café and visit nearby Frick Park.

October 23 - November 21 Scorpio
Scorpio, thy name is independence. Passion. Intensity. Well, all those and more can be found in the storied life and career of Pittman, NJ’s own Patricia Lee Smith AKA Patti Smith, American singer-songwriter-artist-poet. Get your seductive, art loving self over to the Film Forum to see Dream of Life, the just released intimate portrait of Smith by photographer Steven Sebring, who followed her around for ten years making this film. I still remember that revelatory moment when I first heard Land (from Horses) on headphones in my college listening lounge, and realized that this woman did, as she said, hold the key to the sea of possibilities. The word genius comes close. Ever since then it’s been, for me, a brainiac amour.

November 22 - December 21 Sagittarius
Sagittarians can satiate that nagging centaurian sweet tooth with a delectable treat from Tate’s Bake Shop – physically located in Southampton, Long Island but also available in many many retail outlets throughout the New York region. Truly, their goodies are TDF – cookies, cakes, brownies, blondies, pies, you name it… they have it, and no one does it better. The crispy baked just right chocolate chip cookies literally are heaven on earth. You can order online too. There’s even a cookbook available now which includes the chocolate chip cookie recipe.

December 22 - January 19 Capricorn
There are Capricorns and there are Capricorns. But there was only one Edgar Allen Poe, born January 19, 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts. Celebrate his genius with a visit to Edgar’s Café on W. 84th Street, tucked away on the block between Broadway and West End Avenue, so named because Poe lived in this building in 1844 and 1845 and even penned The Raven here. This UWS landmark is dreamy and quiet, an oasis from the shopping frenzies taking place but a few steps away on Broadway. The salads and sandwiches are great, but they are mostly known for their many and varied amazing desserts and coffee drinks. Order yourself a slice of cognac pumpkin cheesecake and ponder over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore, who knows there might also come a tapping, rapping at the chamber door, only this and nothing more. Or not…

January 20 - February 18 Aquarius
The internets never ceases to amaze and delight, n’est-ce pas Mr and Mrs Aquarius? When prepping this column I often delve into the endless toybox the world wide web provides for inspiration. And it never disappoints. This morning’s discovery: Hotels of the Rich & Famous. This site reports on celebrity sightings at various establishments around the globe and also interviews the aforementioned R&F about their favorite places to park their multiple cases of Louis Vitton luggage. Did you know that Johnny Depp favors the St. Mary in Jamaica, the Hotel Jerome in Aspen, and the Beverly Hilton? Natalie Portman likes to hang her hat at the Ritz-Carlton in New York and the Portobello Hotel in London? That Hotel Borg is the favored dwelling of celebs and politicos since 1930 in Reykjavik, Iceland and has hosted William Faulkner, Ella Fitzgerald, and Marlene Dietrich?

February 19 - March 20 Pisces
Feed that squishy, romantic Piscean side of yourself with a visit to Only Hearts, long a staple on the Upper West Side (79th and Columbus) and now with a location in Nolita (Mott between Prince and Spring). Et voila, here’s a whole store full of heart-themed gifts from lockets to notecards to picture frames. Owner Helena Stuart has also started her own clothing line of what she calls inner outerwear, lingerie that can be worn as streetwear. Don’t forget the words of Kurt Cobain: She eyes me like a pisces when I am weak; I’ve been locked inside your heart shaped box for weeks.

March 21 - April 19 Aries
There’s nothing that would behoove you adventurous Aries folks more than a weekend midnight movie at the IFC Center in Greenwich Village. August 8 and 9 you can scope George Axelrod’s 1966 classic Lord Love A Duck starring a wickedly satirical Roddy McDowell and sweet young blonde Tuesday Weld. Let’s just say that Weld starts off as an innocent, shy teenage girl who wants to be popular and ends up as a movie star in Bikini Widow. That should be enough to get you into the theater tonight or tomorrow at midnight. The series continues every weekend through September 27 and ends with Roger Corman’s granddaddy of counterculture genius, The Trip (written by Jack Nicholson). The entire schedule is here.

April 20 - May 20 Taurus
Famed Taurean William Shakespeare once wrote: Summer’s lease hath all too short a date. To paraphrase: it’s August, bitches! Get your stubborn Taurus behind out there into the world and take in some fresh air, even if it is heavy with humidity. You’ll wish you had done so come wintertime when the air is freezing cold and hurts when you breathe. Move it and shake it, yo ~ before the ice age moves in on us and takes permanent residence like on that scary episode of the Twilight Zone.

May 21 - June 20 Gemini
Your dual nature will no doubt thrill to the news that David Byrne and Brian Eno have collaborated again for the first time in 30 years - and that’s gotta be cool. Everything That Happens Will Happen Today is released August 18th but you can download a free copy of one of the songs, Strange Overtones, here. A tour will commence on September 16th in Bethlehem, Pa.

June 21 - July 22 Cancer
One of my favorite crab people is Artie Wayne, who is and has been a songwriter, singer, producer, concert promoter, publisher, restaurant host and more during his storied career. He’s also a refreshing stop in the increasingly crowded blogosphere where he shares way cool finds like Simon and Garfunkel performing Sounds of Silence acoustically live on television; The Mighty Quinn by the awesomely underrated Manfred Mann; Society’s Child by shy, sixteen year old Janis Ian; and John, You’ve Gone Too Far This Time by Rainbo (AKA Sissy Spacek prior to her acting career!). AW is apparently working on a book about the music business – sign me up for that one, Amazon!

July 23 - August 22 Leo
Happy Birthday Leo guys and dolls! Yes, Teri, that means YOU! A great way to celebrate your birthday weekend is to crank up the dials to WFMU FM which is celebrating 50 years on the air today through Sunday. And don’t think you can’t listen because you don’t live in the area. Au contraire ma cherie ~ WFMU streams live on the web 24/7! Legendary DJ’s from years past will be dropping in all weekend to help celebrate – including Wildgirl, Vin Scelsa, and Danny Fields! Even the Hound will be back, Saturday August 9 between 3 and 6pm.

August 23 - September 22 Virgo
I know you Virgos are very concerned with not acting old – as are we all. Please to rejoice in HowNotToActOld.com which has loads of tips on how to not give away your age, assuming you’re older than Paris Hilton (who still qualifies as young). Writer Pamela Redmond Satran has written 14 books including 5 novels, and 8 bestselling baby-naming books coauthored with Linda Rosenkrantz. Besides her blog, she also writes for the Huffington Post and has a new book out called 1000 Ways To Be A Slightly Better Woman.

September 23 - October 22 Libra
Librans can satisfy their insatiable need for great documentary films this summer with HBO’s terrific weekly series which started in June with Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired. Even though it has appeared that Showtime has kicked HBO’s ass this year on drama series, I’m here to tell you that these documentaries make for great television. Last week, Baghdad High showed us what it’s like to be a teenager in Iraq where a daily commute to school is fraught with roadside bombings. Quel teenage wasteland! Every Monday night at 9pm through August 25th a new film is shown. Pop some corn and settle down to leave your world for the duration.

October 23 - November 21 Scorpio
It’s about time, Scorpio cats n kittens – your basest selves will thrill to the newly opened Erotic Heritage Museum in (where else?) Las Vegas, Nevada. Over 24,000 square feet of permanent and featured exhibits pay tribute to the world of erotica. The Museum opened its legs, I mean, doors to the world on August 3rd and seeks to bridge the gap between that which is commercial and often misidentified as pornographic. No doubt Jesse Helms will be turning in his grave.

November 22 - December 21 Sagittarius
Sagittarians know from crazy crazy love. Therefore this week’s download is targeted to our self-indulgent, sociable, flirtatious centaur friends. The song is Bernadette by the Four Tops and is a testament to complete and utter jealousy and obsession. This 1967 Motown hit was produced by Holland-Dozier-Holland and recorded at Hitsville USA. The stellar lead vocal is of course by the unbelievable Levi Stubbs. Listen to the raw urgency in his voice as he cries, Bernadette! They want you because of the pride that it gives; But Bernadette, I want you because I need you to live.

December 22 - January 19 Capricorn
In honor of a Capricorn born on January 8, 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi, I’m speaking of course of Elvis Aaron Presley here, I urge you to visit the 24 Hour Church of Elvis. Here in this pocket of madness on the internets you can purchase refrigerator magnets, stickers, pins, t-shirts, calendars, etc. etc. etc. Proprietor Stephanie G. Pierce has run this establishment since 1985 in Portland, Oregon. There used to be a physical store where weddings were performed, but that’s closed for the moment. In the meantime, flat top cats and dungaree dolls can celebrate The King with a refrigerator magnet.

January 20 - February 18 Aquarius
Our Aquarian of the Week is – yes – Paris Hilton. Girlfriend fired back a hysterical response to John McCain’s Britney/Paris/Obama TV ad from last week. Paris lounges in a leopard bikini as she explains her own energy policy to us (surprise, it’s pretty frickin’ awesome). Quoth Ms. Hilton: “That wrinkly white-haired guy used me in his campaign ad, which I guess means I’m running for President. So thanks for the endorsement, white-haired dude. . . I want America to know that I’m like, totally ready to lead.” Even her parents, who contributed $Hilton$ money to McCain, were horrified by his tasteless ad which compares Obama’s celebrity to that of their daughter and Britney Spears.

February 19 - March 20 Pisces
Fish People, here’s a novel you can curl up in for the entire month of August and read your brains out. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts is the largely autobiographical tale of Roberts, who escapes after two years in an Australian prison where he had been jailed for a series of armed robberies performed when he was a heroin addict. He arrives in Bombay with an assumed name and forged papers and luckily meets a street guide who becomes his bridge to an entirely new world. That’s only the beginning; I’m still reading it. The book is so large and heavy it could conceivably be used as a weapon. Fall into this fascinating world like it was a gorgeous colorful silken pillow.

March 21 - April 19 Aries
Let me say this plain and clear: if you haven’t seen Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams, a viral video hit of epic proportions, you are missing something huge. Pausch, who died a few days ago after contracting pancreatic cancer in 2006, has changed many lives and will change many more. A Carnegie Mellon professor of computer science, he saw his terminal illness as a challenge to live out the life of his dreams and have fun doing it. We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand is one of the things he said. And Tell The Truth. All The Time.

April 20 - May 20 Taurus

Travel Betty is a blog that encourages Fearless Independent Travel For Women. Per the site, Travel Betty is a woman in love and lust with travel. All kinds of different travel. From pampering to roughing it, she’s an experience collector. Travel Betty desires to be the old woman with the good stories. To her, travel is freedom. Yay! TB, you’re living my dream! When I was in high school, my friend Janice and I both became enamored of James Michener’s novel The Drifters. The book is about six young people of all different international backgrounds who meet in Spain, and then describes how each got there. A few of the characters work multiple jobs for six months and travel the rest of the year. I could not think of anything cooler than that. It’s terribly dated but still a lot of fun to read. And check in with Miss Betty too. She’s all that.

May 21 - June 20 Gemini
Thanks to the good people at Vosges, you can have a marvelous experience with chocolate that will blow your mind. The Vosges Exotic Barcelona Bar is a mix of dark and milk chocolate married to hickory smoked almonds and grey sea salt. On the packaging are loving directions telling you exactly how to consume this item to get the full experience. There are five steps: See, Smell, Snap, Taste, Feel. The sweet salty creamy crunchiness of the chocolate is like waves hitting the shore of your taste buds.

June 21 - July 22 Cancer
He’s as handsome as they come, per the name (Handsome Dick Manitoba), he’s the lead singer of the Dictators (a band for which he was formerly a roadie), he’s got a radio show on Sirius Satellite Radio’s Underground Garage Channel, and he owns the coolest rock and roll bar on the planet – Manitoba’s, located (of course) on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Many a beer has been hoisted inside those august walls, many a tale has been told. For the moment they don’t have any live music going on due to some annoying neighbors, but it’s still the best place around to listen to a great jukebox and shoot some pool. And the photos of great punk legends on the walls are worth the trip alone.

July 23 - August 22 Leo
Bonne anniversaire! ¡feliz cumpleaños! Janam Din Mubarak! Sretan Rodendan! Happy Birthday, My Damn Channel! One Year Today, July 31! It feels like you’ve been our friend forever. You thrill us and inspire us, you make us laugh until soda comes out of our noses. Your peeps – Don Was, Harry Shearer, Andy Milonakis, David Wain, A.D. Miles, Coolio, Steve Kerper, and Big Fat Brain – are now our beloved heroes. We love you ~ keep on keepin’ on.

August 23 - September 22 Virgo
Strange human remains found in the hills of West Virginia…no one has a clue what might have happened…evidence of bizarre medical experiments…well, it has to be a case for the X-Files. And it is; my beloved Moldy and Scoldy are back, reunited to chase down the dark demons once again. The trailers tease us with a shot of them being quite romantic. The TV show, in its early years, stunned and delighted before collapsing in on itself in a classic case of a show lasting too long. I could do with a trip back to 1993 just for a couple of hours. I want to believe!

September 23 - October 22 Libra

The Beat Goes On forever at Sonny Bono Memorial Park, located on a traffic island near Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. The 800 square foot area was developed into a tribute to Mr. Bono in 1998 by his friend, local real estate developer Geary Simon. Perhaps the only Congressman who also had a string of hit records in the 1960’s and co-hosted a popular variety show, Sonny is memorialized here with a plaque and a vault of memorabilia which includes the sheet music for The Beat Goes On and a set of his official Congressional cufflinks.

October 23 - November 21 Scorpio
Gretchen Craft Rubin is a former lawyer and U.S. Supreme Court clerk for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor who has written a number of books. Her daily blog, The Happiness Project, tests happiness principles and theories from Oprah to St. Theresa to report on what works and it’s a terrific read. A book based on The Happiness Project will be published in 2009. Watch her film The Years Are Short in which she suddenly comes to the realization that life is a string of precious moments that we need to be grateful for.

November 22 - December 21 Sagittarius
Shoyeido is a 300 year old Japanese company, established in 1705, which produces what is thought to be the highest quality and finest natural incense in the world. A family owned business, the company operates in the same location it has occupied in Kyoto, Japan for three centuries. The incense blends are Inspiration, Peace, Joy, Love, and Hope. Hope, a blend of sandalwood, frankincense, vanilla, ginger lily and spices, is my favorite. Each box of approximately 35 sticks comes with its own ceramic burner.

December 22 - January 19 Capricorn

This week’s musical treat is Tracey Ullman, a Capricorn lass. Ullman is known primarily in the States for her acting and comedy (she has a hit show - State of the Union - right now on Showtime), but our U.K. friends know that she was quite a musical sensation in the 1980’s. And you can download The Best of Tracey Ullman and hear why. It’s always a mystery why some things don’t make it across the pond and she barely created a ripple here with some great material. My favorite is the fabulously dramatic Doc Pomus-y I Close My Eyes and Count To Ten. There’s 20 songs in total and nary a clunker in the bunch. Check out the video for They Don’t Know which was a big hit in England and features a famous British rock star who’s also been knighted. (Hmm, who could it be?)

January 20 - February 18 Aquarius
Housing Works Used Book Café is located on 126 Crosby Street – a few steps from the intersection of Canal and Crosby in Soho. Open every day until 9pm on weekdays and until 7pm on weekends, the store is a reminder of the days when Soho was not chockablock with high end couture stores and packs of tourists. A selection of some 45,000 new, used, and rare books and records make this by far the best book outlet in New York City. Add to that a café with sandwiches and salads, coffee, wine, beer and desserts. Add to that live events and readings. And add to that the fact that all proceeds go to Housing Works, which provides housing, health care, job training, advocacy, and other services for homeless New Yorkers living with AIDS and HIV.

February 19 - March 20 Pisces
Glory in the timeless beauty of Hedy Lamarr as you listen to Tony Bennett’s Stranger in Paradise. This kind of clip is what I love about YouTube – a truly creative, well edited slideshow which pays tribute to an actress who was thought to be the most beautiful woman of her time. Lamarr, born in 1913, was known for her appearances in Samson and Delilah, Boom Town, Ziegfield Girl, and other films. She was also a brilliant inventor. In 1942, at her highest peak of popularity, Lamarr and composer George Antheil patented a frequency-switching system for torpedo guidance that was well ahead of its time. Along with Antheil, in 1997 she was awarded both the Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award and the Bulbie Gnass Spirit of Achievement Bronze Award which is given to individuals whose creative lifetime achievements in the arts, sciences, business, or invention fields have significantly contributed to society or the earth at large.

March 21 - April 19 Aries
I don’t know about you, but Barack Obama is definitely my new bicycle and has been for some time. Wired Magazine contributing editor Mathew Honan created his website in February of this year and it was a screaming success, like millions of hits - the kind of success web sites dream about. His site is simple and direct and provides mondo entertainment. On August 5th he will be publishing a book collecting all the things ‘America’s sweetheart of a senator’ has done for you, like dancing with your mom at your sister’s wedding. Shoveling the snow from your walkway. Leaving a comment on your blog. (I’m waiting…) Preorder it here.

April 20 - May 20 Taurus
Thanks to Sree Sreenivasan, Dean of Students and New Media Director Columbia University Journalism School and Technology Reporter for WNBC-TV in New York, I learned about Nike Plus. It was actually through one of Mr. Sreenivasan’s fascinating online video courses at the mediabistro website, of which more later. Get this: you can connect a pair of Nikes to your iPod nano and presto! you’ve got your own personal trainer. The iPod will log each step you take and keep track of it on a special website. It’s rather amazing. More info here.

May 21 - June 20 Gemini
As we move into the white hot heart of summer, dangerously close to the famed dog days of August, my thoughts naturally turn to where to find the best margarita in town. Rosa Mexicano is well known for their signature pomegranate margarita and they have three locations in New York City as well as Atlanta, Palm Beach Gardens, and Miami. The food’s divine as well. I have it on good authority that Barrio Chino and Dos Caminos, both in Soho, are also very skilled with the juice of the blue agave plant.

June 21 - July 22 Cancer
Knit One, Haiku Too is a pocket sized gem which incorporates stories, quotes, and haiku about knitting and how it grounds and centers us in our lives. Author and poet Maria Fire, a knitter since childhood, has been a lawyer, hospice director, and massage therapist. The book sparkles with snapshots of sweet moments. Maria as a fourth grader, sitting on the porch with her grandfather as he recited poetry by heart and she knitted by lamplight. At girl scout camp arguing with her best friend about where babies come from. Shaving her head in solidarity with a sick friend. Knitting socks for her father, who’s illness caused him to have cold feet. Her son, inspired by Baryshnikov, dancing at a recital with a long gold silk scarf she’d made.

July 23 - August 22 Leo
We lost Johnny Cash in 2003 when he followed his beloved June to the sweet by and by. But you can celebrate his music on Saturday July 26 at 8pm over at the World Financial Center in Manhattan – free – at The Big River Project: The Music of Johnny Cash. Artists from a variety of genres will cover well known and obscure Cash songs. Performing their own arrangements will be John Doe, Ollabelle, Laura Cantrell, David Bromberg, The Persuasions, Hymns, Catherine Russell, Marshall Crenshaw, and more. Check out Gary Pig Gold’s great column The Mantra in Black: Ten Reasons Why Johnny Cash Always Matters.

August 23 - September 22 Virgo
For the celiac-challenged among us, take heart: Glutino manufactures a couple of really good breads that you can eat sans gluten. Their premium fiber bread and premium flax seed bread are terrific. They also make corn bread, cinnamon bread, English muffins, and bagels. I’m finding their stuff in more and more health food stores and you can also purchase it online. For an unbelievably enlightening experience, try a day without gluten; you will not believe the health benefits of not eating it. Whether or not you have celiac disease, many people have a sensitivity to gluten and don’t know it until they remove it from their diet.

September 23 - October 22 Libra
In 1972 the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band released the triple album set Will the Circle Be Unbroken. The ambitious project attempted to unite the folk-rock Nitty Gritty Dirt Band from Southern California with country legends like Roy Acuff, Mother Maybelle Carter, Doc Watson, Merle Travis, Vassar Clements and others. The album’s 38 tracks were for the most part recorded in one or two takes. It’s a reverent and moving document to the power of country music and sounds as fresh today as if it were just recorded. From Orange Blossom Special to Tennessee Stud to Sunny Side of the Mountain to Wildwood Flower, they’re all here and waiting for you at iTunes and Amazon.

October 23 - November 21 Scorpio
There are films and there are films. And some films have the power to shake you so thoroughly that nothing looks the same when you’re finished viewing them. Such a film is The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Directed by artist Julian Schnabel, it is the true story of Elle Magazine editor-in-chief Jean-Dominque Bauby, who suffered a massive stroke at the age of 43. A victim of the rare locked in syndrome, in which one is completely aware of his surroundings but paralyzed, Bauby was able to communicate solely through blinking his left eyelid, and dictated a memoir in this fashion which was published ten days before he died. All I can say is see this film and you’ll be forever changed.

November 22 - December 21 Sagittarius
Writing Down The Bones: Freeing the Writer Within was written in 1986 by Natalie Goldberg and resonates today just as it did then. It’s inspirational and vivid and moving and dare I say, just plain magical. Whether you’re an aspiring writer or just sad and tired, you’ll find a new way to view things with Goldberg’s techniques. Her rules: keep your hand moving, don’t cross out, don’t worry about spelling – punctuation – grammar, lose control, don’t think – don’t get logical, and go for the jugular (if something comes up in your writing that is scary or naked, dive right into it. It probably has lots of energy).

December 22 - January 19 Capricorn
Two words: Bruce Springsteen. Yes, he’s back with his merry band of E Streeters at Giants Stadium this week. July 27, 28, and 31. Beg, borrow, steal, do whatever you have to do, but go. I know it’s a stadium. So what. Just go. They just got back from a five week sweep of Europe during which many thousands of souls were healed and rejuvenated. And they actually performed Drive All Night for the first time in 27 years. Do I have to say any more?

January 20 - February 18 Aquarius
It’s that time again, O Best Beloved. And I say unto you, Make It Work. Yes, Project Runway is back. Episode 2 of the new season just aired and it’s the usual bitchy nonsense that we love to watch. Heidi Klum is her usual flawless Germanic ice princess self (you’re either in or you’re out), Nina Garcia stll scares the pants off everyone, and Michael Kors continues to act as if he is the Voice of the God of Fashion. And Tim Gunn - well, he’s my dream man. The web site can be as addictive as the show, with blogs, video outtakes, photo galleries and more. I’ll bet you’re not surprised to hear Ms. Garcia hates crocs. And we have to keep watching in case a new Santino or Christian Siriano reveals him/herself.

February 19 - March 20 Pisces
I just returned from the Omega Institute where I was privileged to spend part of an afternoon with Sister Alice Martin, who teaches gospel singing workshops there every year. She was Marion Williams‘ teacher and is currently the music instructor of the Bryn Mawr Haverford Gospel Choir in addition to serving on the music faculty of the B.N. Oakley Memorial Temple. There’s another chance coming up to take a class with her at Omega from August 10 to August 15 and if you want a really life-changing experience, honey, get yourself there and raise your voice in praise of God.

the diver’s clothes lying empty on the beach
~ Rumi ~ (Coleman Barks Translation)

you’re sitting here with us
but you’re also out walking in
a field at dawn
you are yourself the animal we hunt
when you come with us on the hunt
you are in your body like a plant is solid
in the ground — yet you’re wind
you’re the diver’s clothes lying empty on the beach
you’re the fish
In the ocean are many bright strands
and many dark strands like
veins that are seen when a wing is lifted up
your hidden self is blood in those -
- those veins which are like lute strings that
play ocean music — not the sad edge of surf
but the sound of no shore

March 21 - April 19 Aries
It’s now the hot hot heat of full summer and what’s a better emblem of summer than a motorcycle on the open road? Good timing for the opening of The Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee. Yes, you can now visit an entire museum about the history of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle. One of the many items contained herein is Elvis Presley’s 1956 red and white Harley, as well as the paperwork that accompanied its purchase. Presley, who bought the bike shortly before Heartbreak Hotel became a hit single, apparently made payments of $50.15 a month and said his reason for buying it was “pleasure and business.”

April 20 - May 20 Taurus
Rock shrimp tempura with creamy spicy sauce and broiled black cod with miso from Nobu are two of the most sublime restaurant dishes I’ve ever had the pleasure to nibble in all my born days. I know what you’re thinking…I could never get in to Nobu!! It’s way expensive!! FYI it’s no more expensive than any other top shelf restaurant ~ and it’s well worth the money. O Best Beloved, you get what you pay for – especially here. And as for not getting in, c’mon you must really not be trying that hard. Call up the reservation line at the original location, the 57th Street location, or go to Next Door Nobu, which has a no-reservation policy except for large parties. And there are locations elsewhere in the U.S. and even London, Milan, Melbourne and more. Just go; trust me on this – you will never forget this meal.

May 21 - June 20 Gemini
No less a connoisseur of the finer things in life than Kim Fowley famously said of the A-Bones, “They’re like Chan Romero with the Hombres doing Trashmen songs.” I don’t know about you, but that’s enough of a recommendation for me to check out this classic garage band whose epicenter is formed of the redoubtable Billy Miller and Miriam Linna. You can see them this coming Friday July 18 rocking the rafters at Maxwells in Hoboken. Or check out the A-Bones Booze Cruise to Shea Stadium on Saturday July 26! Cruise up the East River to the Mets game aboard the Half Moon from the Skyport Marina, equipped with a full dance floor. Ticket price includes tickets to the game and everyone from the boat will be seated together. What says summer more than the Mets and rock & roll? Details here.

June 21 - July 22 Cancer
The novel Whistle Down the Wind was published in 1958 by Mary Hayley Bell, wife of actor John Mills and the mother of actresses Juliet and Hayley Mills. It was made into a movie in 1961 in which Hayley Mills stars as a young farm girl who finds an escaped convict (sexily played by Alan Bates) sleeping in the family’s barn and believes him to be Jesus Christ. She and her brothers and sisters attempt to keep him a secret from the grownups so they don’t find him and crucify him again. The book is stunning, spare, and haunting. The film will break your heart. Apparently it’s now been Andrew Lloyd Weberized into a Broadway musical set in the American South but I urge you to check out the original book and film.

July 23 - August 22 Leo
Cheb i Sabbah is a Jewish Algerian composer/DJ/wizard who weaves trance/dance soundscapes out of African, Asian, Arabic music and more. Born in Algeria, he later moved to Paris, and now spins his magic weekly in San Francisco every Thursday night at the Bollyhood Café from 10pm to 2am. Visit his site for other appearance info and to listen to clips from his albums. His most recent release is Devotion, released earlier this year, based on Hindu, Sikh, and Sufi religious music. Prepare for transcendence.

August 23 - September 22 Virgo
The website of the week is Score, Baby! – your guide to the cult soundtracks of the 60’s, 70’s & Beyond. Literally hours of time wastin’ fun can be had here, in a site that reminds me of the many ways the internet has changed our lives for the better. Here is a living, changing work of art containing hundreds of reviews of obscure film soundtracks with mp3’s. I take off my chapeau to webmaster Kristopher Spencer; his knowledge of these movies and the music that informs them is truly staggering.

September 23 - October 22 Libra
Lisa Zaslow and her company Gotham Organizers has helped many hundreds of people be more productive and less stressed by organizing their lives at work and at home - including me. She is a nationally recognized expert on organization and productivity and has been featured on television and in print on the subject. She also gives free consultations and as a customer, I highly recommend her. Her website is chock full of great tips and tricks for decluttering and she has a mailing list that periodically sends out free organizing tips.

October 23 - November 21 Scorpio
I’ve never liked peanut butter and in grade school when everyone pulled out their PB&J’s for lunch I just wrinkled my nose. Last year I finally tried almond butter and now I am addicted. I can’t tell you how it differs from peanut butter because I honestly have never had peanut butter, but I’m all about MaraNatha Organic Creamy & Raw Almond Butter (no salt added). Try it on toast, sliced apples, in smoothies, hot cereal, sauces. It’s full of protein and the good kind of fat that we all need in our diet.

November 22 - December 21 Sagittarius
The B&B of the week is the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, located in Fall River, Massachusetts. You may have heard of Ms. Borden. She was acquitted of the crime of slaying her father and stepmother in 1892 with an axe believed to be the murder weapon. Every year an E-bay auction is held for the honor of staying in one of the rooms where the murders occurred on the anniversary of the event, August 4th. Sorry kids, this year’s winner has already been determined. B&B guests are treated to a breakfast similar to the one consumed by Mr. and Mrs. Borden the morning of their last day on earth, replete with jonny-cakes and bananas. There’s even a gift shop on the premises and online where you can get your own Lizzie Borden Bobblehead Doll or a fetching pair of hatchet earrings.

December 22 - January 19 Capricorn
Has your get up and go got up and gone? Well, submitted for your approval: Magma Plus, a magical elixir from Green Foods. It’s what they call a ‘superfood,’ with green algae, herbs, probiotics, whole food extracts, active enzymes, antioxidants and chlorophyll. You can find it in health food stores. 3 teaspoons of this mixed into cold water or juice and you’ll feel centered and energized but without the high pitched whine of caffeine. Don’t believe me? Try it. Every one I’ve told about it so far has been astounded. And thank you Teri for turning me on to it in the first place!

January 20 - February 18 Aquarius
Perhaps you heard about Carol Kreck, the tiny 61 year old librarian and former Denver Post reporter who was ticketed for trespassing and forcibly removed from a McCain speech in Denver, Colorado because she was exercising her first amendment rights by holding a handmade sign that read McCain = Bush. Well now Ms. Kreck has a much larger forum than the perimeter of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. She’s blogging on the Huffington Post website and her court appearance on July 23 will no doubt get a lot of attention in national media. Says Carol, “I didn’t ask for any of this, but like dropping a stone in a pond, that idea is so much bigger now than if they had just left me alone in the first place.” Watch Carol’s encounter with the Gestapo on Youtube.

February 19 - March 20 Pisces
Thanks to a friend with an extra ticket, I got to see August: Osage County on Broadway last week. The New York Times called it “a fraught, densely plotted saga of an Oklahoma clan in a state of near-apocalyptic meltdown” and went on to rave that “’August’ is probably the most exciting new American play Broadway has seen in years. Oh, forget probably: It is, flat-out, no asterisks and without qualifications, the most exciting new American play Broadway has seen in years.” Well, not being one who frequents Broadway plays very often, I can’t comment on that but I can tell you that its well worth 3 and a half hours of your time. Playwright Tracy Letts deservingly won both the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony for the Best Play of 2008. The acting from the large ensemble cast is stupendous from the venerable Estelle Parsons on down to young Annie Berkowitz making her Broadway debut. It’s sarcastic, wise, funny, horribly sad, depressing, and beautiful.

March 21 - April 19 Aries
Charming Aries wisenheimer / radio personality / political pundit Rachel Maddow has been guest hosting Countdown with Keith Olbermann all this week and I’ve decided she needs her own TV show. She’s witty, fresh, and scintillating – and comely to boot. Maddow is a wunderkind who graduated from Stanford in 1994 with a degree in public policy and is also a Rhodes scholar. Her radio show on Air America airs at 6pm on weeknights and she is a frequent commentator on MSNBC. Plus, according to her website, she shakes a mean cocktail, drives a bright red pickup, hates Coldplay, loves arguing with conservatives, spends a lot of money on AMTRAK tickets, and dresses like a first-grader.

April 20 - May 20 Taurus
Are you hungry for change? Who isn’t? Put your money where your mouth is this weekend at one of the many Hungry for Change Bake Sales all over the country sponsored by moveon.org. Go to their website and put in your zip code to find the one nearest you. It is fairly likely you won’t find any of Cindy McCain’s plagiarized cookie recipes here.

May 21 - June 20 Gemini
Talk about a summer getaway! Take a ride up to Kate’s Lazy Meadow Motel ~ B52 Kate Pierson’s cabin fever fantasy dream getaway in the Catskills. From the website: Inside the cozy, rustic cabins, you’ll find mind-blowing mid-century modern/space age/rocket-your-socks-off décor. The suites are filled with authentic 50s-style kitchens turned out with vintage cabinets, Frigidaires and stoves – all in dazzling colors! Not to mention an unusual selection of DVD’s/VHS tapes for your viewing pleasure, and toiletries collected from around the world which Kate grabbed while on various tours – shhh!

June 21 - July 22 Cancer
It may be the classic tourist trap and it’s right in the heart of Times Square, but Virgil’s Real Barbecue has the best cheese grits I’ve ever had in New York City. Don’t bother getting a table in this always-jammed joint, pony up to the bar and have a lip smacking culinary experience. If you’ve never had cheese grits in your life, I envy your first time discovery of this yummy creamy mix of cornmeal, butter, and cheese. Your arteries will be screaming stop…but you’ll continue on because you have to. And the barbecue here ain’t too shabby either.

July 23 - August 22 Leo
Two words: Mary Weiss. Four more words: Walking in the sand. Remember!? Miss Mary has returned from a tour of the continent and will be appearing next Friday night, July 18, at the South Street Seaport. Show starts at 7pm with the Nouvellas opening. In case you still need more biographical info, Mary was the former lead singer of the Shangri-Las. She and the other girls were high school students in Queens when their singing brought them to the attention of George “Shadow” Morton and the rest is history. Read the most awesomest interview ever with her here. She released a solo record on the swingin’ Norton Records label not long ago, backed by the Reigning Sound. They’re good bad, but they’re not evil.

August 23 - September 22 Virgo
Speaking of chanteuses, Patti Smith wrote a book several years ago that fits in the palm of your hand: Wool Gathering (Hanuman Books). Unfortunately it seems to be on the rare side these days. The little tome of vignettes are illumined by Patti’s glorious prose – In the ring of the impossible night. Everything elastic. The sky a deep disturbing rose. I can feel the dust of Calcutta, the gone eyes of Bhopal. I can see the prayer flags flapping about like old socks in the warm, ironic wind.

September 23 - October 22 Libra
Let’s talk about one of our favorite Libras, John Winston Ono Lennon. Apparently in 1969, 14 year old Beatle fan Jerry Levitan interviewed John in his and Yoko’s hotel room in Toronto during one of their Bed-Ins for Peace. Now, 38 years later, Levitan has produced a short film about this encounter which he calls I Met the Walrus, during which he interviewed John about peace and non-violence. Using the original interview recording as the soundtrack, director Josh Raskin presents a visual element in which Lennon’s words are beautifully illustrated by Alex Kurina and James Braithwaite. It will take your breath away.

October 23 - November 21 Scorpio
It will come as no surprise to you that the music industry has crashed and burned in the last few years. We’re at a very interesting moment in time; poised on the brink of something huge. All the old models don’t work anymore and no one has yet created one that does. Read all about how this translates to everyday life in the insightful piece that Sal Nunziato penned for Newsweek recently. Sal used to run a record store that was a fixture for upper west siders – NYCD. Not just a store…a community. And now it’s gone, thanks to our economy and the current state of the industry.

November 22 - December 21 Sagittarius
Ten Thousand Waves is located in the mountains above Santa Fe, New Mexico and is patterned after a traditional Japanese onsen. It’s a day spa that now also features thirteen hotel suites and I can’t think of a more relaxing place on earth. Go for an hour – go for a day – go for a week. You truly haven’t lived until you’ve relaxed in one of their private hot tubs, perched in the open air among the piñon trees with high wooden walls assuring seclusion and quiet.

December 22 - January 19 Capricorn
Canadian cosmetics store LUSH has starbucksed itself all over the world in case you didn’t know, and is now available on just about every continent. Their products are all hand-made, fashioned from fresh organic fruits and vegetables and the finest essential oils, and a blessed absence of animal products. If you’ve never experienced their items, you’re really in for a treat. Try the Butterball Bath Bomb, the Karma Handmade Soap, the Creamy Candy Bubble Bar. Quoth the folks at LUSH: We believe in long candlelit baths, massage, filling the house with perfume and in the right to make mistakes, lose everything and start again.

January 20 - February 18 Aquarius
Sweet Smell of Success was produced in 1957, directed by Alexander Mackendrick, written by Clifford Odets, Ernest Lehman, and Mackendrick, and stars Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis. A classic film noir, the movie is about the volatile relationship between the characters played by Curtis and Lancaster. Lancaster is J.J. Hunsecker, a popular New York City columnist who is universally hated but constantly courted by types like Sidney Falco (Curtis), a Type-A publicist trying to get his clients into the paper. Best line in a movie full of great lines: “I’d hate to take a bite of you: you’re like a cookie filled with arsenic.”

February 19 - March 20 Pisces
Mixed Up was released by The Cure in 1990 and is a collection of extended mixes (5 minutes plus) of their most popular songs. The songs are delicious, hypnotic, dreamlike and fanciful. It’s as if a gang of gothic fairies were set loose in the studio with the original tracks and went hog-wild. These are now the versions I cherish and when I think of The Cure, this is the album I’m thinking of. Stunningly brilliant.

March 21 - April 19 Aries
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that as we ease into the Independence Day three-day weekend, Gotham city dwellers have the unalienable right to honor the Birth of our Nation by viewing a buncha explosive political films - a mix of the wacky and the weighty in contemporary America presented by the fine folks at Rooftop Films. There will be food, drinks, live music, and an incredible view of the fireworks on the pier at Solar One (23rd St. at the East River). All audience members must be at the venue by 6pm; doors open at 5pm. Such a bargain! Only $30 for a fabulous night, presented in partnership with New York Magazine, IFC.com, and Solar One. Quoth the organizers, In this crucial election year, we present films on a range of topics, stressing the importance of history and offering irreverent looks at our heroes, making a case for a re-evaluation of who we are as Americans and who we want as president.

April 20 - May 20 Taurus
Hey, where the hell is Matt?
Seriously, if you haven’t seen this viral video hit, just sit down right now and dial it up on los internets. Matt is a self-described 31 year old deadbeat from Connecticut who decided in 2003 to travel around the world and record himself dancing. In 2006 and 2007, Stride Gum bankrolled two more trips in which Matt traveled to all 7 continents and danced with people in 42 countries who had contacted him about his original video. The results are sweet and endearing. Matt’s website tells the whole story, with journals, maps, and FAQ.  Matt even shares some of the best emails he’s received out of thousands. “Are you doing anything on these trips? How about spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and saving some souls” writes one irate video observer. To which Matt responds, “Right! Jesus. Totally slipped my mind.”

May 21 - June 20 Gemini
Celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence by seeing at least ONE independent film this weekend in the tradition of our founding fathers. You know they would have approved. We told you last week about Alex Gibney’s new film Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson which opens today, July 4th. Also opening today is The Gits Movie, produced by Jessica Bender and Steve Moriarty and directed by Kerri O’Kane. The Gits were one of the many brilliant bands to be birthed out of the Seattle scene that launched Nirvana and others back in the 1990’s. On the brink of huge success, 27-year-old lead singer Mia Zapata (said to be descended from Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata) was brutally murdered. This movie reminds us of her beauty and spirit and undeniable talent. Viva Zapata!

June 21 - July 22 Cancer
And speaking of Seattle, the book of the week is Gina Arnold’s Route 666 ~ On the Road to Nirvana, published in 1993 by St. Martins Press. Arnold writes about her complete and total love for music starting from her school years to her professional career as a Bay area music critic. Anyone who’s felt the siren call of rock & roll reaching into their drab suburban home can relate to this fascinating and joyous book. It doesn’t matter one bit whether or not you have followed the Seattle scene or know Mudhoney from Soundgarden. It’s a book about loving music and following it to the ends of the earth. If you can relate to that… you will enjoy it.

July 23 - August 22 Leo
Some Sunny Day ~ The Golden Age of Sheet Music
opens next Tuesday, July 8th, and will run until August 15th at the Pelham Art Center, 155 Fifth Avenue, Pelham, New York. The exhibit of two dozen pieces of sheet music, with cover art ranging from Art Deco to Art Nouveau to Cartoon and C&W illustrations, represents a range of popular music from the 1920’s to the 1940’s. The collection is on loan from music historian and record producer Teri Landi, with contributions from the collection of Dr. Albert Andresen, and was co-curated by Elizabeth Saperstein. Meet the simultaneously erudite and swingin’ Ms. Landi at the opening night reception next Tuesday at 6:30pm.

August 23 - September 22 Virgo
Have you believed for lo these many years that because you’re of the Jewish persuasion you’re totally unable to get your religious groove on with rosary beads? Thanks to Brooklyn designer and Nice Jewish Girl Carlen Altman, may I assure you that is no longer the case. Altman makes these mitzvah beads by hand and offers a variety of styles, even providing a glow in the dark option for the more adventurous amongst us. Such a bargain!

September 23 - October 22 Libra
What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Or so it is said. You’ve only got two more months to catch Star Trek The Experience - an exhibit so old (10 years) that its website doesn’t even work in Firefox! Seriously though this popular attraction closes its doors forever on September 1 at the Las Vegas Hilton so get yourself over to Sin City pronto before that happens. Where else can you hoist a few in Quark’s Bar and Restaurant? View Spock’s coffin from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan? Take a thrill ride called the Borg Invasion? And get married on the Bridge by a starship captain, with witnesses who are Klingons? Get there now before these options are forever closed in our galaxy.

October 23 - November 21 Scorpio
Another Seattle mention! Holy Space Needle! I give you KEXP: Where The Music Matters. This station started back in 1972 with only 10 watts and in 2000 became the first radio station to offer uncompressed CD-quality audio on the internet 24/7. Check them out; support them; stream them; enjoy them! No icky guys in suits tell these folks who to play and who not to play.

November 22 - December 21 Sagittarius
Find yourself a labyrinth at the World-Wide Labyrinth Locator. The site’s stated vision is to activate and facilitate the transformation of the Human Spirit. Labyrinths date back to prehistoric times. They are believed to help quiet the mind and help the user to enter a meditative state. They are a metaphor for the journey of life.

December 22 - January 19 Capricorn
French fries…..mmmm! It is believed that no less an august presence than Thomas Jefferson first served these tasty treats in 1802 at a state dinner, but they really didn’t become popular until the 1920’s after the first World War. May I reveal to you that one of the best places to get really great french fries is - yes, believe it - the Hard Rock Cafe. Doubt me if you must, but go to one and order them and you’ll see exactly what I mean. They’re located worldwide; find a location here near you.

January 20 - February 18 Aquarius
Here is a fun computer trick for the next time you’re bored at work - Visit the Read at Work website, which was launched by the New Zealand Book Council to encourage people to read. The cool thing is that it looks exactly like a Windows desktop screen with all the reading material filed into folders. Poetry, novels, short stories are all here at the click of your mouse and no one will be the wiser.

February 19 - March 20 Pisces
She totally out-shangris the Shangri-Las. I’m speaking, of course, of Denise James. Her 2004 release It’s Not Enough to Love on Rainbow Quartz Records is as close to heavenly as an album can get. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to receive an entire album in which every single song is a nugget of perfection and not one of them is superfluous or doesn’t fit in. This is grown-up girl group music. This work of art was produced, of course, by unsung hero and way-beneath-the-radar musical genius Matthew Smith, a long time denizen of the storied Detroit scene. Smith is a songwriter, musician, and producer who should be far more famous than he is. He’s also the mastermind behind the psychedelically delicious band Outrageous Cherry.

March 21 - April 19 Aries
The Video Beat! is just about the most fun you can have with your clothes on. This web site specializes in 1950’s and 1960’s movies and TV shows. To quote them: When you order from The VIDEO BEAT! you’re not just gettin’ a hard to find movie, you’re gettin’ a full evening’s worth of high-cultured, jet-propelled rock and roll entertainment 100% guaranteed to make you the host with the most! Crazy man! I can hardly think of a place that deserves your hard-earned money more than this one. Check out LSD: Insight or Insanity from 1966 or Marijuana - Sonny Bono’s anti-drug film from 1968 which he hosts wearing what looks like gold lame pajamas. On the new titles list: the 1968 TV Special Noel Harrison is Where The Girls Are. Guests include The Byrds, the Association, Cher, Don Adams, Professor Irwin Corey, and Rob Reiner. Highlights: A comedy skit about Transcendental Meditation; Noel Harrison visits Sunset Strip nightspots including the Haunted House. They just don’t make television like this anymore.

April 20 - May 20 Taurus
We lost one of our greatest Taurean minds recently: the man the New York Times called “your outrageous beatnik uncle,” George Carlin. Carlin shuffled off this mortal coil last weekend at the age of 71. Celebrate his cranky twisted genius with the mega box set All My Stuff, released last year to commemorate his 50th year in showbiz. It includes 30 years of his HBO Comedy Specials, plus interviews, plus a lot more. This is the man who said, “The only good thing ever to come out of religion was the music.” Check out his incredible Tribute to Modern Man. Read Jerry Seinfeld’s splendid commentary on Carlin’s life from the New York Times. Said Seinfeld: As a kid it seemed like the whole world was funny because of George Carlin. His performing voice, even laced with profanity, always sounded as if he were trying to amuse a child. It was like the naughtiest, most fun grown-up you ever met was reading you a bedtime story.

May 21 - June 20 Gemini
I am a pen fetishist. There - I said it - and I am not ashamed. A good pen is everything to me. And I recently discovered one that is as close to perfect as they get; it glides over the page; it seems to encourage my recalcitrant hand to write more and better. That would be the Uniball Bold 0.8mm Vision Elite. I recently bought a pack of them at Staples and I’ve been hoarding them like a miser - when someone asks to borrow a pen, it’s not this one that I give out in case I don’t get it back. Declarative statement on the package: won’t leak in flight.

June 21 - July 22 Cancer
I can’t think of a better way to spend Independence Day than going to see Alex Gibney’s new film, Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, opening July 4th. This work, narrated by Johnny Depp speaking the words of Thompson from his own writings, is said to be the definitive biography of the man who Tom Wolfe called “the century’s greatest comic writer.” The press release says: Fueled by a raging libido, Wild Turkey and superhuman doses of drugs, Thompson was a true “free lance”: goring sacred cows with impunity, hilarity and a steel-eyed conviction for writing wrongs. I had the honor of meeting Dr. Thompson on the first day of a new job I had straight out of college. He was a speaker at Salem State college and the gig had been arranged by my boss. We accompanied HST in a stretch limo (my first limo ride ever) to the campus. On the way there we stopped for directions at a strip mall. As the driver got out, Dr. T noticed that there was a package goods store in front of us. He growled so low only I could hear him “It’s a sin against God to pass a liquor store.” He had ingested mass quantities of liquor and drugs to prepare for the speech and was completely lucid and clear as the proverbial bell.

July 23 - August 22 Leo
Roasted cauliflower. A taste treat that cannot be beat. Try it even if you hate cauliflower because once you roast it with a soupcon of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees, you won’t believe how amazing it tastes. I could eat it like candy. I am told you can add garlic and fresh lemon for even better yummification. Manga!

August 23 - September 22 Virgo
There are spas and there are spas. But there’s only one Kabuki Hot Springs, located in the Fillmore district of San Francisco. To say this place is a bargain would be a tremendous understatement. It’s open to men Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Women only days are Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Tuesday is the only co-ed day. Modeled after a classic Japanese public bath house, facilities include a hot pool, cold plunge, dry sauna, and steam room. Relaxation is, quite simply, the only option. They also provide massages and other spa services, and I had one of the best massages of my life here.

September 23 - October 22 Libra
And speaking of relaxation, I would like to clue you in to Svaroopa (AKA Bliss) Yoga, my yoga of choice. Yoga Journal wrote “This style of yoga teaches different ways of doing familiar poses, emphasizing the opening of the spine by beginning at the tailbone and progressing through each spinal area. Every pose integrates the foundational principles of asana, anatomy, and yoga philosophy, and emphasizes the development of transcendent inner experience, which is called svaroopa by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra. This is a consciousness-oriented yoga that also promotes healing and transformation.” Find a teacher on their web site. You’ll never feel the same way about yoga after taking one of these classes.

October 23 - November 21 Scorpio
Propeller Island City Lodge is a habitable work of art in the heart of Berlin. Each room is different and each room is a complete experience unto itself. The web site has photos and descriptions of them all. ‘Repeating nothing and copying nothing’ are the guiding principles here as stated by German artist Lars Stroschen. Some favorites of mine - The Symbol Room; Created entirely from 300 square wooden plates, this black and white room incites and excites the imagination to ponder the meaning of the one symbol or other; The Castle Room - in which guests slumber in the midst of a gigantic, colourful wooden fortress, between dwellings harbouring both wardrobe and desk; The Upside-Down Room - the furnishings hang from the ceiling and you sleep and sit in comfortable boxes beneath the floorboards. Uncannily surreal!; The Chicken Curry Room - An exceptionally bright and empty room with gigantic lighting boxes and roll-out backdrops. The bed is located in the floor, beneath a ‘garage gate’. This hotel is worth a trip to Berlin in itself.

November 22 - December 21 Sagittarius
Cat lovers everywhere ~ align your spaceship to reach the delightful destination Planet Cat. Acclaimed publishing power duo Sandy and Harry Choron along with author/pet expert Arden Moore collaborated on this tome which provides hours of fun for those who trend towards the feline things in life. From a list of Hemingway’s cats to human habits that drive cats crazy to how cats changed the course of history and hundreds more great lists and articles; this book is, quite simply stated, the (ahem) cat’s pajamas.

December 22 - January 19 Capricorn
Let us say a prayer to thank the Universe for Ray Davies. A few weeks ago I went to see the ultra-fabulous Losers Lounge pay tribute to the Kinks and it was so totally awesome that I had to go back a second night to see it again. I had forgotten (silly me) about all those wonderful songs. I mean!!!!: Tired of Waiting, Set Me Free, See My Friends, Lola, Celluloid Heroes, Waterloo Sunset, Apeman, Stop Your Sobbing, Days! No less an authority than Pete Townshend once said that Davies should be the poet laureate of England. Remind me again why these guys never had the success in America that they should have? Because I truly truly do not get it. Buy every Kinks record - and all Ray’s solo stuff. That’s an order.

January 20 - February 18 Aquarius
You will never forget Prudence Sarn after reading Mary Webb’s 1924 classic novel Precious Bane. The story of Prudence and her brother Gideon, Gideon’s intended bride Jancis Beguildy, the intuitive weaver Kester Woodseaves, and more are illumined by Webb’s glorious prose. Check out this description of a location near her home: There’s a discouragement about the place. It may be the water  lapping, year in and year out–everywhere you look and listen, water; or the big trees waiting and considering on your right hand and on your left; or the unbreathing quiet of the place, as if it was created but an hour gone, and not created for us.

February 19 - March 20 Pisces
The city of Philadelphia was my high school playground back in the 70’s. I used to tryst with my BF in places like the giant heart at the Franklin Institute and the spooky Mütter Museum. The latter was founded by The College of Physicians of Philadelphia to educate future doctors about anatomy and human medical anomalies. The collection, started in 1858 by Thomas Dent Mütter, retired Professor of Surgery at Jefferson Medical College, now features over 20,000 unforgettable objects including the plaster cast of the torso of world-famous Siamese Twins, Chang & Eng and their conjoined livers, and the preserved cancerous growth removed from President Grover Cleveland.

March 21 - April 19 Aries
If you’re anything like me, nothing delights you more than a huge Jesus head appearing in the middle of nowhere along the boring nothingness of Route I-75 close to Cincinnati. This is the location of the Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio. Word has it that the statue of Christ’s head and hands reaching up to the sky has been submitted to the Guinness Book of World Records as the World’s Largest Christ. The statue presides over a gargantuan cross and a very large peaceful baptismal pool. You really have to see it to believe it.

April 20 - May 20 Taurus
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
All I kept thinking during this week of trying to make sense of losing Tim Russert was oh no, and now he will not know who wins the General Election. I can’t think of a worse fate for this incredibly gifted newsman. His untimely death was a complete sucker punch in the soul to me and everyone else that I know. And Bruce Springsteen had a few well chosen words on the subject as well as a song.

May 21 - June 20 Gemini
We’re right on the cusp of the Summer Solstice - the longest day of the year. This signals the pagan holiday of Midsummer’s Eve. Go all Swedish and mark the occasion with boiled new potatoes and fresh dill, grilled meat or fish, and strawberries. It is said that young girls should pick flowers for under their pillow on Midsummer’s Eve and their future husbands will appear to them in a dream.

June 21 - July 22 Cancer
On July 18 Nelson Mandela will be 90 years of age. That’s totally KIF! Wish him a happy birthday by signing this card. I remember watching Mandela’s first steps out of jail on global live television in 1990 in complete and utter shock and disbelief that this man was finally free. He was later elected President of the country that had kept him prisoner, South Africa. Mandela once said: “I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

July 23 - August 22 Leo
Alice Austen was a photographer from the age of 10 almost until she died at the age of 85 in 1952. She took amazing, stunningly beautiful photos of her family and surroundings as well as contemporary life in New York City. In the later years of her life, the family fortune after the stock market crash of 1929 had dwindled so grievously that she had to declare herself a pauper. Her photographs were discovered and published in Life Magazine and the money enabled her to live her last years in a nursing home. Now her childhood home is a national historic landmark on Staten Island.

August 23 - September 22 Virgo
If you’re like me and sometimes require the companionship of an iPod during mundane tasks like waiting in line at the bank, it’s all about the headphones apparently. And thanks to Stock Footage Goddess & Starbucks Employee of the Week Melinda, I now am in possession of Koss ‘plug’ stereophones. And simply put: you need them. They’re not even as much as $25 and they really bring the music on home, up close and personal.

September 23 - October 22 Libra
This must be the Ohio edition. I need to tell you about the Quaker Square Inn in Akron, which has a secret connection to a very special Libra that I know (not telling). The structure was formerly mills and silos used by the Quaker Oats Company back at the turn of the century. Every room in the hotel is totally round and the silos are 120 feet tall and 24 feet in diameter. You can view photos on their website but to really see how cool it is you have got to go there in person.

October 23 - November 21 Scorpio
Due to the writers strike, we won’t be getting with Jack Bauer until much later this year. God, don’t you miss him? His one dimensional acting, his manic intensity, the time he took a bite out of a guy’s ear, the certainty that whatever happened next it would be so much worse than you could even imagine, and dare I even mention Chloe?? The bitchiest, bitchenest IT genius with a soft marshmallow heart that you could ever conjure up. Remember when she was hiding the baby at her desk? If you’re a 24-head from the beginning you’ll remember well the old intros: Right now I’m <insert horrible situation here> and <insert horrible outcome here>. I’m Federal Agent Jack Bauer and this is the longest day of my life. So now go to 24 dreaming and you can generate zany versions of that classic open by refreshing the page. For instance: I’m Federal Agent Jack Bauer and this is the most defibrillating banshee of my life.

November 22 - December 21 Sagittarius
Chick-O-Stick. Bottle Caps. Necco Wafers. Sugar Daddy. Need I say more. Yes, you can still find all these and more at the outrageously addictive website Groovy Candies. This is the best gift in the history of the world: to rediscover the candy of your childhood. Go ahead and tell me I’m wrong.

December 22 - January 19 Capricorn
Celebrate Elvis Presley by visiting Elvisly Yours. It’s a shop in London where you can buy all things Elvis.  You know you need a talking Elvis Clock. Honestly, we really all do. You can also send Elvis greeting cards to your friends for free through the site. Coming soon: Elvis Duvets. Check out Gary “Pig” Gold’s list of the top ten reasons why Elvis rules. All Hail The King!

January 20 - February 18 Aquarius
Two words: Genya Ravan. There really is not enough room here to explain how incredible this woman is. Read her bio Lollipop Lounge where you’ll find out her amazing story from holocaust survivor to leading the first all-female band Goldie and the Gingerbreads and touring Europe with the creme de la creme of the British Invasion to being the first female record producer hired by a major label. And then go straight to the download site of your choice and download the heart stopping ballad Junkman where she duets with the formidable Ian Hunter. And there’s a lot more where that came from. Oh yeah and did I mention she now has her own radio show from 10pm to midnight the first Friday of every month on Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 25 (Little Steven’s Underground Garage). And she takes requests!

February 19 - March 20 Pisces
Let’s pretend that it’s story time and I’ll tell a tale to you, I’ll tell you a story of make believe and all your dreams will come true. And when the story’s over and when we reach the end, we’ll live happily ever after where? In the Land of Let’s Pretend.
Those lyrics were sung every afternoon on Gene London’s TV show Cartoon Corners, a children’s show broadcast on local TV in Philadelphia from 1959 to 1977. Gene played a store clerk in a general store who had an evil, stingy boss. Of course Gene was in love with the boss’ beautiful daughter. After the TV show was cancelled London became a dress designer and owned a collection of incredible Hollywood movie costumes. Sometime in the early 1980’s my compatriot Dayle and I (who had both been guests on the TV show as children) went to his store in Manhattan so we could meet this man who we had both had a raging crush on when we were eight years old.