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Archive for July 2008

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.