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.