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Herewith a completely solipsistic list of things that tickled my fancy this past week and that bear further investigation by The World Out There. IMHO.

Kate McKinnon on Saturday Night Live: She had me with her recent channeling of Ann Romney, but last night took the cake with her wondrous portraits of the Long Island Medium, Ellen deGeneres, and (most side splitting of all) Celia Gimenez, the eighty-year-old Spanish lady who painted over a 100 year old fresco of the face of Christ. I’ve got my eye on you, McKinnon. You’re now officially the one to watch on SNL. Gracias.

Not Fade Away, David Chase’s new movie: Well I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I have been waiting for this film to come out for what seems like years. The feature film directorial debut of genius David Chase (ahem, The Sopranos), it stars James Gandolfini, John Magaro, Jack Huston, Will Brill, Bella Heathcote, Brad Garrett and others and is the story of a rock group in 1960’s New Jersey. The music supervisor is Steven Van Zandt, so ’nuff said.  It’s due out in December from Paramount. Check out the trailer here.

The return of Homeland, on Showtime: Even if you didn’t watch the first season, or know anything at all about this show, you probably grokked that it swept the Emmys and also racked up a few Golden Globes. Apparently all this attention resulted in a huge ratings win last week when Season 2 premiered, and it did not disappoint. We find Claire Danes’ character Carrie puttering around in the garden and closing down her laptop when a news story about the Middle East pops up, until her old buddy Mandy Patinkin (um, J’adore) reaches out to get her help with an asset she recruited years before. Of course it doesn’t take much to get her on the plane to Beirut. And suddenly our Sunday nights look a whole lot better for the next few months.

Theatre Is Evil, By Amanda Palmer, racks up the establishment kudos: Rolling Stone named Amanda Palmer’s new album Theatre Is Evil one of the year’s best rock records. Palmer made world headlines earlier this year with her massively successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the production of this album, from which she raised $1.2 million. The record is kickass. The band is magnificent. Palmer is a goddess. You can stream and purchase the record here for as little as $1.00 in a Pay-What-You-Want scenario. Mark my words; she’s the Queen of Social Media and she puts on one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen. Plenty of chances to see if I’m right on that, here.

The Candy Bar of the Week goes to the New Smoked Banana Caramel Chocolate Bar by Vosges: I haven’t had it yet, but who needs to with a description like this: Smoked bananas blended into soft caramel, with a touch of Alderwood smoked salt and tucked it into the pockets of a 72% cacao dark chocolate bar. When tasting the bar, the smoke flavor is distinct with the smoky notes found primarily in the Mesquite smoked banana. Who writes these things? Vosges always comes through and I’m sure this is my tastebuds’ version of a rocket to the moon.

Janey Milstead, Editor In Chief of my favorite magazine, like, ever, TeenSet, located via Google!: Well, to me, this is Ultra Mega. Not only did I locate the website of Ms. Milstead, I also found out that while at TeenSet she wrote under many names and one of those was Shirley Poston, possibly my favorite writer…ever. All these years, I never knew they were the same person. To my teenage self this is the equivalent of the Mars Landing or some other huge scientific discovery. I’m still hoping to find someone has digitized all those TeenSet magazines, somehow, somewhere.

The Communication Cure, by Dr. Neha Sangwan: I was lucky enough to meet Dr. Neha at a nutritional seminar several years ago and have stayed abreast of her work ever since.  Sangwan is an internal medicine physician as well as a gifted corporate communication strategist who speaks internationally on the topics of conflict resolution, stress management, and wellness. This video sets out the premise of her upcoming book, and I guarantee you she’s going to be a household name when it comes out.

The 30th Anniversary of Men Without Women by Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul: Earlier this week, it was thirty years to the day of the release of Men Without Women, an album that, to be quite honest, I probably played more than any other record I own. Ten songs - a masterpiece of passion - the first solo statement from an artist who had already proven himself as an incredibly gifted songwriter, though until this album, not for himself. In July 2011, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes paid tribute to the record with a live show bringing those songs to life again, and you can now pay homage to it by purchasing SSJ’s version here.

Oh yeah; two guys who want to be President for the next four years were onstage together for 90 minutes in Denver: If you know me, you know how I feel. And if you don’t may I quote Immanuel Kant to you:  We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals. Under no circumstances would I vote for Mitt Romney to be President of a Block Association let alone the US, once I heard the story of Seamus strapped to the top of a car in a cage for hours during a highway drive. Laugh all you want, if you think this is trivial, but the mere fact that Mitt Romney did this; that the dog was ill and had the runs; that Romney pulled over and hosed off the dog and put him back up there, now soaking wet, to freeze in the wind; it doesn’t even bear thinking about. So yes, I was disappointed in Obama’s performance this week at the debate. But if you don’t want half the country, the poor, the unemployed, the 47% he spoke so disgustingly of when he thought no one but big money donors were listening, to be strapped on top of Mitt’s car while the special people ride inside as he races up the highway to glory — I beg you — don’t vote for him.

And lastly, if you need another reason to love Bruce Springsteen, he was part of a big campaign this week for gay marriage:
Springsteen joined The Four2012 Campaign, putting forth his macho Jersey stare right into your soul and blasting some strong words in support of marriage equality specifically in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington. Marriage equality is now a plank in the DNC’s platform, at last, and is sure to be a subject that will continue to be discussed as we head towards the Election on November 6.

ALSO ON MY RADAR:

If you’ve been reading SDJ for awhile you’ll know that occasionally I predict that Amanda Palmer AKA Amanda Fucking Palmer AKA Force of Nature / New Media Goddess will eventually be a name everyone knows due to her most awesome talent as a singer, songwriter, and performer. Well it’s that time again because AFP is about to embark on a short tour of the East Coast which begins tonight in Burlington, VT and ends on November 22 in Knoxville, Tennessee. New York is sold out for the show this weekend, but if you’re in Portland Maine, Northampton MA, Philadelphia, Falls Church VA, Carrboro NC, or Knoxville - do consider spending about $20 for one of the greatest musical experiences of your life. Because she may not be a household name now - but she will be. And someday you’ll say, why the F didn’t I get a ticket to that show when I could?

Just sayin.’

More info here. And here. And here.

And that’s my Way Cool Item of the Day.



March 21 - April 19 Aries

Yon adventurous Aries folks will no doubt find the Peace Fountain, located next to the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in upper Manhattan, fascinating - as I did on a recent re-visit there with my friend Buffalo Jill. Greg Wyatt, the artist and sculptor-in-residence at the Cathedral, intended the piece to depict the struggle of good and evil as seen through the battle of wills between Satan and the Archangel Michael. I can’t even begin to describe this sculpture, as it has to be seen to be believed. Around the plaza where the fountain resides are a number of plaques with pithy quotes by gifted thinkers like Einstein, Socrates, and John Lennon. The plaque below the fountain itself says, in part: Peace Fountain celebrates the triumph of Good over Evil, and sets before us the world’s opposing forces—violence and harmony, light and darkness, life and death—which God reconciles in his peace.

April 20 - May 20 Taurus
To those stubborn Taureans out there; indulge your love of comfort and luxury for a change. I know you’re all hey there’s a recession on and suchlike and I get that; but once in a great while you have to live the way you want your life to be rather than the way it is – even if only for a few minutes a week. And when you’re in this mode, rub some creamy sweet-smelling shea butter into your skin. Shea butter contains Vitamins A, E, and F and has healing properties that address various ailments like dry skin, burns, muscle aches, wrinkles, and rashes. Shea Yeleen International is a company that makes shea body butter, body balm, and lip balm and, being a fair trade cooperative, they also funnel half of the retail price back into the communities that made the products. SYI’s mission is to promote sustainable economic development and empower women in rural West Africa through organizing and training women owned cooperatives to produce, market, and sell high quality shea butter; and educate consumers in the U.S. about natural body care products and fair trade.

May 21 - June 20 Gemini
Yes, it’s that time. Gemini Time. Brink of Summer Time. And time, once again, for us to check in with the Goddess of Ganja, Nancy Botwin. Weeds has returned. I’ll be recapping each episode weekly on the Huffington Post throughout Season Five – first installment here. I’ll also be picking a 420 moment during each episode as well. If you’ve never been a stoner you won’t get that reference, so feel free to google it at your leisure. Anyway, to be brief, Nancy’s life has been spared since she’s carrying the spawn of her Mexican drug lord BF – Celia’s been kidnapped by her own daughter, the Mighty Quinn, who’s been living in Mexico since she was sent there for boarding school – young Shane is following his brother into the family business – and that’s only a few strands of the plotline. Viva the wacky world that Jenji Kohan created, and stop by for a visit Monday nights at 10PM on Showtime. (Followed by the great new show Nurse Jackie, starring a very different Edie Falco than her last incarnation as Carmela Soprano).

June 21 - July 22 Cancer
So put this on your calendar because it’s a great birthday present for you Cancerians. Under the Covers Volume 2 (Shout Factory) by Sid and Susie, that is to say, Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs, will be released on July 21. The first volume in 2006 was rife with great 60’s pop songs like And Your Bird Can Sing (Lennon/McCartney), Monday, Monday (John Phillips), Different Drum (Mike Nesmith), Cinnamon Girl (Neil Young), Who Knows Where the Time Goes (Sandy Denny) and many more. May I say that anyone who brings back the great Sandy Denny, and that song in particular, into the public consciousness deserves multiple thanks in my book. Vol. 2 includes 16 fantastic songs from the 1970’s – everything from Sugar Magnolia to Maggie May to Beware of Darkness. Thanks as always to the learned Sal Nunziato and his extremely necessary music blog Burning Wood for this great news.

July 23 - August 22 Leo
Faithful, yet intolerant. Creative, yet patronizing. That is the eternal dichotomy of Leo. Seems to me that you conflicted souls would enjoy Susan McCorkindale’s terrific autobiographical tale of leaving the city behind for a quieter, simpler, possibly boring as hell life in the country, Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm Girl. McCorkindale, former marketing director for Family Circle Magazine, left her fabulous New York City six-figure job behind to go with her husband and two sons to live on a 500-acre beef farm in rural Virginia. This book is about her struggle to assimilate in a very different world and it will leave you howling. Check out her blog. Follow her twitter feed (“Husband’s making hay. Kids are making a mess. And I’m making margaritas. Just another smokin’ Friday night on the farm.”).

August 23 - September 22 Virgo
And speaking of twitter feeds… yes, I’ve gone down that daisy path, like many of you –obsessive Virgo or not. I follow feeds as diverse as The Onion to NPR to Rachel Maddow to Perez Hilton. I pick ‘em, I read ‘em, sometimes I keep ‘em, sometimes I unsub, most times I don’t. It’s like a moving haiku billboard. Sometimes they’re so great that I need to tell the world about ‘em. Such is the case with SustainableDump, the fabulous feed of journalist/culinary student Kathleen Willcox. KW’s feed delivers substainable food news, plus oatmeal recipes. How about the 411 on the ingredients of Sara Lee bread? Or the scoop on conscientious cacao? All here, plus this - oatmeal du jour: toasted then cooked in light coconut milk with chilies (I plucked ‘em out before slurping it up), salt, brown sugar. Check out more of Kathleen’s erudite gems on the Eat Me Daily group blog and catch her delicious review of David Liebovitz’s new memoir, The Sweet Life in Paris, at the Daily Beast.

September 23 - October 22 Libra
This one’s in honor of my Libran cat, Mr. Boy, a healthy and robust five and a half year old tabby. He’s lived with me since last year when I got him as a rescue pet. I recently had to take him to the vet, which is not the easiest task when a cat weighs 15 pounds and really doesn’t want to leave the house for any reason, ever, since he is king of the castle here. A friend told me about Pet Taxi and we tried them out and now I want to tell you about how great they are. They offer local service in Manhattan and will take your furry companion anywhere from Soho to Singapore, door to door. They transport dogs, cats, and exotic animals to and from airports, kennels, vets, groomers – with or without you along. They can arrange for your pet to travel by air – from shots, to paperwork, to the plane. They also operate a Hampton Petney shuttle service in the summer. Mr. Boy and I enjoyed them immensely.

October 23 - November 21 Scorpio
Since Halloween falls within the dates of this sign, it’s no surprise that Scorpios tend to gravitate to the beauty of forgotten places, the poetry of decay. On her spooky beautiful site abandoned theaters, photographer Julia Solis presents a number of photo essays about the dark and quiet places where people used to live their lives, the places that have not yet been torn down, empty yet still breathing. Check out Detroit Wonderland: Snapshots of Detroit’s notoriously spectacular decay, with sidetrips to plywood, glamour, industry and playtime somewhere along the merry long haul. Draw in your breath at the image of an empty baby carriage in the shadow of an abandoned train station. And the crumbling façade of the Hotel Ft. Shelby. The spooky hallways of an empty office tower. The echoing silence of a mental hospital power plant. The screaming orange booths of an old restaurant, covered with concrete dust. Thank you Amanda Palmer for turning me on to this site via twitter.

November 22 - December 21 Sagittarius
It’s a known fact that Sagittarians love good and plentiful food and drink. So I have one word for you people: Zingerman’s. For those of you who don’t live in or near Ann Arbor, Michigan, this word may require an explanation. Think deli. Think roadhouse. Think coffee. Think creamery. Think catering. Think bakehouse. Think mail order: extraordinary, traditionally-made tasty gifts sent all across the U.S. There’s surely no occasion that would not be enlivened by utilizing the Z-word. There’s still time to order up a fabulous Father’s Day gift if you hurry (how about a Phantom of the Fridge Secret Stash?), or go a little nuts with some Hazelnut Spread from France, or carbo load supremely with a subscription to the Bread Club (Did someone say Parmesan Pepper? Roadhouse Rye? Chocolate Sourdough?). Thanks to another ex-Michigander, Paige, for this tip!

December 22 - January 19 Capricorn
Work, work, work. Sound familiar, O Capricorn? Are you starting to feel a little tired? A little crispy around the edges? Irritable? Sad? Worried? Scared? Take the time to read Dr. Judith Rich’s 7 Keys For Living The Passionate Life. Dr. Rich, currently living with breast cancer, says “I am growing older, but I’m not growing old.  Old happens when we stop being curious about life.” My favorite is key #3, partially quoted here: Let yourself be moved - Allow life to transport and expand you. Let it open you, touch you . . . Be moved to tears at the magic and mystery of it all. Life is so much bigger and grander than you can possibly imagine. That’s what it’s all about. And you know it, deep down in your real true heart.

January 20 - February 18 Aquarius
When the power of love is greater than the love of power, then the world will know peace - Jimi Hendrix. This Aquarian-themed quote is prominently featured on the website/blog of the Petal Belle Café in Soho, located on Sullivan Street near West Houston, right across from St. Anthony’s Church. A nosh at this teensy eensy beensy café is like stepping back in time, or perhaps going to Europe and sitting in a café off the town square in Vienna or Brussels. Have a red velvet cupcake or a roast pork sandwich with mesclun and pesto on rustic bread or a coconut flavored Belgian waffle sprinkled with powdered sugar. Get on their email list for notices about future classes on cupcake making. Follow their twitter feed to find out when Enrique will be doing tarot readings. Tarot plus cappuccino, does it get better than that?

February 19 - March 20 Pisces
If I was to guess, I’d say Sookie Stackhouse was a classic Pisces. She’s a dreamer. An intuitive. A sensitive human being with an old soul. And it’s time for us to be sucked up (sorry) into her rural Louisiana world again as this Sunday night, June 14, Alan Ball’s True Blood returns to HBO with its second season. If you haven’t scoped this show yet, give it a chance. Anna Paquin is delightful as Sookie, Stephen Moyer as Bill is way sexy and kind of the dream boyfriend (if you can live with his being dead, that is), Rutina Wesley is outstanding as Sookie’s bedeviled best friend Tara, and Nelsan Ellis as drug dealer / short order cook Lafayette is magnificent. Add to that some of the best music scoring on any television show and I’m there. You should be too. Sunday nights at 9pm on HBO.

Earlier this week, Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman presented a joint spoken word and musical performance at Soho’s Housing Works Café as part of the SPIN Liner Notes series, which pairs writers and musicians together to promote reading and raises money for the Housing Works Foundation supporting New Yorkers with HIV/AIDS. The room (which is small, deliciously crammed with books, and reminiscent of an old library in the very best sense) was sold out completely with people practically hanging from the rafters. The audience of 250 hung on every word and musical note as a monsoon raged outside in the what’s-next late May climate.

Palmer told the throng about her years as a living statue in Harvard Square, where she appeared as The Eight Foot Bride and stood tall, white, and silent, accepting flowers and money from the teeming mass of humanity that came through the square. This presaged her creating the Brechtian punk cabaret team The Dresden Dolls with multi-instrumentalist Brian Viglione, touring the world and creating much magic.

Fast forward quickly to September 2008 and the release of Who Killed Amanda Palmer, Palmer’s first solo album, produced by Ben Folds. She launched a tour with a group of outrageous, spectacular Australian performers called the Danger Ensemble, who worked for free, living on money received by passing the hat every night at gigs and staying at the homes of local fans in each city. The shows were gut-wrenching, theatrical, transcendent and I lucked into seeing one at New York’s Webster Hall last fall. You know that feeling when you’re sure you are in the right place at the right time? It doesn’t happen all that often. That’s how I felt that night.

Ms. Palmer took to the stage last night at the Highline Ballroom in New York, a vastly different room than the baroque Webster Hall, sleek and streamlined and very kind of Clockwork Orange. She was all Peter Pan come to life as she began the show strumming a ukulele, perched in the upper balcony. The sold out crowd went silent, heads craning up. Back to the stage, she pounded that piano like a postmodern Jerry Lee Lewis, and coaxed sweetness, joy and sorrow out of it. I managed to drag three Amanda virgins with me to the show; all left believers.

This was not the show I saw last year, which alternately ripped open my soul and made me giddy with glee, but it firmly established AFP (as she calls herself - Amanda Fucking Palmer) as a veritable force of nature. Great beauty ballads from WKAP like Ampersand, Runs in the Family, and Astronaut were delivered to us whole and seething, along with fun covers like Yakety Yak.

The show, which can teeter on almost too much intensity at times, is tempered halfway through by the Ask Amanda segment in which AFP takes random written questions from audience members. This particular night we also had a birthday singalong for Amanda’s longtime comrade / photographer / aide de camp Beth Hommel.

Towards the end, Emily Brodsky and opening band The Lisps joined AFP on stage for a rousing version of Delilah, a Dresden Dolls number about a girl who seems to enjoy being abused in a bad relationship. Much of Palmer’s work is about women in the grip of such badness who can’t seem to find a way out.

The show ended with a sweet duet between Amanda’s way cool dad, Jack Palmer, and his daughter on Leonard Cohen’s tragic love ballad One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong. And yet another night in Palmer’s presence convinces me once again that, a year from now, I’ll be saying, yes I was there when you could still get tickets easily to see her and you could still see her in small places. Because this extremely talented goddess angel is going to be around a long time. And it’s not always going to be this easy to see her.

This review was originally posted on the Huffington Post.

in art, everything must be fair game, everything must be explorable, everything must be speakable, or we go BACKWARDS! we go DOWN!
~ Amanda Palmer ~


March 21 - April 19 Aries
Aries, my sweet. I’ve got two words for you: 1) Amanda. 2) Palmer. Hear me now and believe me later; she’s the real thing. There isn’t space here to wax on about her incredibleness so suffice it to say that this weekend she’s doing a play at Massachusetts’ Lexington High School (she’s a ’94 grad of same) called With The Needle That Sings In Her Heart. The play can be seen Friday night (tonight) and twice on Saturday, this weekend, yes, go there if you can (tickets available here until 5pm tonight). And if you can’t, glory hallelujah, the play will be webcast on Saturday night here. The play, which was written by Palmer with 23 students, is based on Neutral Milk Hotel’s 1998 album In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, which was inspired by the story of Anne Frank. The whole shebang was born of Palmer’s desire to come back to her alma mater to collaborate with former theater teacher Steven Bogart. And by the way, Ms. Palmer’s going to be appearing with Neil Gaiman on June 3 at Housing Works Books in NYC. Tickets here and going fast. Lucky New Yorkers can see her perform at the Highline Ballroom on June 5 (tix here), in LA on June 25th, and San Diego on July 24. If you’ve believed nothing else I ever wrote in this column believe this: Amanda Palmer is amazing. See her now while you can still get tickets.

April 20 - May 20 Taurus
Us Taureans, we love good food, yes, indeed we do. And recently we were privy to same, the southern soul food variety, at Murphy’s in Atlanta, Georgia, thanks to Katy J. Seriously: fried green tomatoes with delicious dipping sauce; cheddar cheese grits; eggs benedict with sundried tomato hollandaise. Add in a couple of Bloody Marys and oh man! what a meal. And there were about twenty other things on the menu we wanted, bad, but had to consign to another trip. Murphy’s has been on the Atlanta landscape for 25 years and people wait, as we did, in line for hours to eat there. If you’re lucky enough to live in the area – I can hardly think of a better place for a Mother’s Day Brunch. It’s this Sunday so plan on getting in line early. Free roses to all Moms!

May 21 - June 20 Gemini
Mercury – that foxy trickster – turned retrograde in the sign of Gemini on Thursday May 7. You know, even my friends who don’t believe anything else about astrology believe in mercury retrograde. Right on schedule for me Thursday morning I felt the retrograde presence when my computer suddenly stopped being able to burn discs. Then I went to a store to print photos at a kiosk that mysteriously stopped working when I used it. Typical M.R. stuff. If it has to do with machines or communications, just beware. And try never to sign legal documents during M.R. The retrograde period generally lasts about three weeks which is a stone drag, but there are – believe it or not – a few good things about this time. It’s a fine time to clean your house, do creative work (write, paint, make music), and sleep. Mercury goes retrograde four times this year – each time for three weeks or so – which is about one more time than usual. The planet Mercury turns direct again on May 31, though the effects can last until June 9. Keep your head down and don’t sign anything. Except for your rent check.

June 21 - July 22 Cancer
Cancer presides over home life and comfort. You love to be safe and secure in your feathered nest. And don’t we all like to snuggle up to the hearth with a nice glass of wine, n’est-ce pas? Therefore I’d like to suggest that you consider purchasing said wine at Artisan Wine Shop in Beacon, New York. If you’re anywhere near the Hudson Valley, Beacon’s definitely worth a day trip. And every Saturday you can pretty much count on a wine tasting with some delicious snacks at the shop. Call for times (845-440-6923), but generally this takes place in the late afternoon / early evening. You won’t find the ordinary group of labels here. Artisan specializes in lesser-known smaller-production wines, putting a great deal of time and effort into finding well-balanced, great-tasting wines. Proprietors Tim Buzinski and Mei Ying So are both graduates of the Culinary Institute of America and are delighted to help customers pick just the right bottle of wine for whatever occasion it happens to be. They’re also available as wine consultants and to lead private tastings and events. The current Wine of the Week is Tomàs Cusiné Geol Costers del Segre 2004; available for 31% off. Artisan Wine Shop is at 180 Main Street in Beacon (845-440-6923).

July 23 - August 22 Leo
I know that Leos love music of all genres and varieties. I’m sure you’d like to be apprised of the good work of the New Orleans String Project, which is all about making high-quality stringed instrument instruction accessible to inner-city NOLA kids. The New Orleans String Project believes in the importance of early music education to improve the well-being and overall quality of life for children. To enroll your child in this marvelous program, to send them a contribution for the wonderful work they’re doing, to donate an instrument, to read about the correct postures for playing the cello or viola, visit their website here. Thanks to Norena B. for this tip!

August 23 - September 22 Virgo
Hey, while you’re in Beacon picking up some vino at Artisan Wine Shop, stop by Mount Beacon Fine Art at 155 Main Street to check out the beautiful photographs of one of my favorite Virgos, Ronnie Farley. The show is called Earth Keepers: Portraits and Testimonies of Native American Women and opens May 9. Join Ronnie in celebrating the spiritual, strong women that she’s interviewed and photographed over the past 23 years. If you’re in Beacon this Saturday May 9 stop in for the opening night reception from 6 to 9pm. See more of Ronnie’s work here. She is the author of Women of the Native Struggle: Portraits and Testimonies of Native American Women, Cowgirls: Contemporary Portraits of the American West, and Diary of A Pedestrian: A New York Photo Memoir. A three year national tour of the Cowgirls photo series is currently on exhibit through the Mid-America Arts Alliance and appears from May 15 to August 16 at the Sheldon Art Galleries in St. Louis, Missouri.

September 23 - October 22 Libra
One of the best Libras you can find anywhere is Bruce Springsteen. Celebrate his magnificent career, literally From Asbury Park to the Promised Land, at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. This exhibit, the first of its kind about Springsteen, will be on display through the spring of 2010. The first artifact-driven exhibit about Springsteen’s life and work includes several of his guitars, handwritten lyrics, posters and handbills, numerous photos, and the 1960 Corvette he purchased in 1975 after the Born to Run album catapulted him onto the national stage. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is open seven days a week (seven nights to rock, anyone?) from 10am to 5:30pm.

October 23 - November 21 Scorpio
Whilst in Atlanta, hanging out with Katy J. as mentioned earlier, we also visited the incredible Paris on Ponce – 50,000 square feet of Antique and Modern Detritus, a veritable bohemian warehouse located in the heart of midtown Atlanta. I know that you Scorpios like to keep on the cusp of what’s cool and suchlike. Paris on Ponce was created about eleven years ago by George and Judi Lee, who aimed to create an interesting experience where everyone is welcome to browse and dream. Which you will do, as you stroll through three buildings which include everything from 18th century antiques to new designer furniture at lower than wholesale prices. If you’re looking for something, chances are they have it in this incredible place. Plus, they have a spring sale on at the moment – up to 75% off. Slideshow here. Can’t make it to Atlanta right now? Check out their ebay store. Need an amazing place for a film or music video shoot – or a party? Look no further than the burgundy velvet nightclub Le Maison Rouge inside Paris on Ponce. It’s kind of like walking into 1920’s Paris. Rental info here.

November 22 - December 21 Sagittarius
Sagittarius, the Archer, lover of travel and culture and idealism. Be the first on your block to experience the total awesomeness of the debut CD by Montreal’s Elephant Stone, The Seven Seas. Formerly of the band The High Dials, for which he played bass and sitar, Rishi Dhir started this new band in 2008. After leaving The High Dials in 2006 after six years, Dhir studied up on classical Indian music, which informs this new release. Dhir also played sitar on recordings by the Black Angels and the Earlies. The Seven Seas is true psychedelic pop and you can hear the sparkling, gorgeous tunes on Elephant Stone’s myspace page. Close your eyes and it’s 1966 again. And I mean that as the highest compliment. According to Rishi, we worship at the altar of Sri Ganesha, the Beatles, Ananda Shankar, and Indian food. Buy it here.

December 22 - January 19 Capricorn
I know that Capricorns love to support artists and writers and also love ethnic food and old New York. At least the ones I know have these characteristics. May I present the new book Sizzle in Hell’s Kitchen by Carliss Retif Pond, recently published by Gibbs Smith and available here as well as in your local bookstore (if you’re lucky enough to have one). Pond earned a masters in English Lit from the University of New Orleans and received a culinary education at Paris’ Le Cordon Bleu and the Ritz Escoffier School. She’s been a culinary advisor for Bloomingdale’s and a banquet coordinator for the Plaza Hotel. The book gathers ethnic recipes from 27 different cuisines in the colorful Ninth Avenue neighborhood of Manhattan, also known as Hell’s Kitchen. HK is internationally known for its diversity and the longevity of its restaurants, many of which are in the same family for generations.

January 20 - February 18 Aquarius
On a recent Aquarian-themed fact finding mission SDJ signed up for a three day free trial with Sirius XM. Whilst perusing the channels, we came upon the beauteous Elizabeth Cook, who has her own show twice a week on Outlaw Country, Channel 63. We’ve told you before how great Outlaw Country is - Steven Van Zandt’s sanctuary for the rebels and renegades, rabble rousers and rogues of country music. They’re all here: Bob Dylan, Loretta Lynn, Steve Earle, David Allan Coe, Emmylou Harris, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, and of course all generations of the Hank Williams Dynasty. Cook’s show, Apron Strings, is worth getting up early for (it is broadcast from 6 to 10am on Thursday and Friday mornings). She’s fresh and awesome and just plain fabulous. She’s also got a bunch of records out, the most recent being the Rodney Crowell-produced Balls on Thirty Tigers Records, available here.

February 19 - March 20 Pisces
The website of the week was picked with our Piscean friends in mind. Creativity, sensitivity, and spirituality – that’s you guys. I know you’ll dig Crazy Sexy Life, the brainchild of author/filmmaker/motivational speaker Kris Carr. You may have heard of Crazy Sexy Cancer, the film which Carr wrote and directed about herself for TLC and Discovery Health. The site is a self-described supercharged health hub which gathers together resources and cutting edge experts in one easy to navigate hot spot. Kris has gathered a terrific Blog Posse (featuring Kathy Freston, Rory Freedman, Sara Melngailis, Chloé Jo Berman, and others) to augment her own writings on the site. Quoth the site: Whether you want to dazzle your guests with a rockin’ vegan dinner, embark on a juice feast, clean up mama earth, or connect with other like minded bright lights, you’ll find that, and a whole lot more here . . . An entire community loaded with love and support awaits you. Don’t miss their store which features one hundred percent vegan, cruelty free products.

We are one people; We are one nation; and together, we will begin the next great chapter in America’s story.
- President-Elect Barack Obama

The weekend horoscoop* will return next Thursday at its regularly scheduled time, but in between it being freezing cold right now in Manhattan (um, 14 degrees) and me being giddy with joy at the fact that we’re so close to Inauguration Day, this weekend’s column is completely consumed with the events of Tuesday January 20. And it’s for those of all astrological signs, religions, nationalities, races, sexes, and like that. So here’s 12 ways to get your groove on in regards to our new President.

1. On Monday, Jan. 19, to celebrate the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President-Elect Obama asks us to summon a new spirit of service and make an enduring commitment to the neighborhoods we live in. As Americans we have a responsibility to help our communities and fellow citizens. Volunteer for the King Day of Service Monday. Gandhi famously said, You must be the change you wish to see in the world. Find or host an event here.

2. Check the Countdown Clock on Backwards Bush here. This site has a clock that gives you the exact days, hours, minutes and seconds until Obama is sworn in as President on Tuesday. You can also download a free screensaver, and widgets and gadgets up the wazoo in order to mark the last remaining moments before the regime change.

3. Note to self: purchase the special issue of Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man Comic (#583) which was published earlier this week. Obama is on the cover and the storyline is about him meeting up with Spider-Man to fight crime and save the world, one would think. Actually I am not sure what kind of mayhem they get up to after they meet but it sounds like something they should be doing. There’s even a fist bump between the two superheroes. Apparently, Obama is a longtime comic book aficionado and Marvel Comics stated, “This is not so much a pro-Obama statement but a tip of the hat to having a Spider-Man fan in the White House.”

4. If you’re one of the many millions of folks heading to our nation’s capital for the festivities, check out the Opening Ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial that kicks off the entire week Sunday, January 18 at 2:30pm. It’s free, free, free. Musical performers include Mary J. Blige, Beyonce, Bono, Garth Brooks, Sheryl Crow, Herbie Hancock, John Legend, John Mellencamp, Shakira, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, will.i.am, Stevie Wonder and more. Historical passages will be read by Jamie Foxx, Martin Luther King III, Queen Latifah and Denzel Washington. More performers will continue to be added and it will be broadcast live on HBO and repeated twice later that night. HBO is unblocking their signal to all cable providers, so you don’t have to be a subscriber to watch this event.

5. The swearing-in ceremony begins at 11:30AM on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday January 20 and it will be telecast live on just about every TV station in the world. If you want to go and you don’t have a ticket, you will be able to go to the National Mall and watch and hear the broadcast on large screens. Get there early is all I can say. The Presidential Inaugural Parade will follow along Pennsylvania Avenue starting at 2:30pm. My guess is no one will be throwing rotten fruit at any of the cars like they did last time. Guide to inaugural events here. YouTube Inauguration Channel here.

6. If you’re not making it to D.C., you can watch Obama take the oath of office amongst a happy throng of people celebrating at any number of places; in New York you can watch at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (515 Malcolm X Blvd at 135th St.) or Trinity Church (89 Broadway at Wall Street) or BAM (30 Lafayette Ave between Ashland Pl and St. Felix St, Fort Greene, Brooklyn). Check this site out for a list of events near you. Or host one!

7. If you are in D.C. next Tuesday you can swing out sister with the Dresden Dolls (among others) at the 9:30 Club starting at 8pm. If you’re not going to one of those exclusive inaugural balls, this is the place to be for sure. To quote Dolls Amanda Palmer and Brian Viglione, let’s start this new chapter of american - and world - history in style and with rock love. Tickets are $50.

8. New Yorkers can say goodbye to Bush at the Boom Boom Beauty Bar between now and next Tuesday. They’re offering 25% off bikini waxing (ranging from $20 to $49). The location is 35 Seventh Avenue between 12th and 13th Streets. Call for more info at 212 229 2666. According to the proprietors, Let’s have our own personal party in our pants and rejoice that we still have the right to choose a landing strip, Bermuda triangle or skinny dipper. We hope this will also help welcome the ‘Big O.’

9. Wake Up World comes to DC this weekend! 2 shows only, Friday Jan. 16 and Saturday Jan. 17 at the Arlington Cinema n’ Drafthouse. Wanna see how wacky these folks can be? Check out their Joe Biden Commemorative Plate video. Rachel Maddow said of them: “Best thing I’ve seen in a million years.” Wake Up World is a satirical wrap-up of the week’s news from Daily Show Co-creator Lizz Winstead. A live sketch comedy show that gives us the world as seen by fictional producers and on-air talent at the worst morning news show in America. The results are both a hilarious and scathing view of both newsmakers and the news media that molds them. Tickets here.

10. If you’re in Times Square on Tuesday night, Jan. 20 you can celebrate the end of the last 8 years of soft shoe shuffling and shoe ducking by President #43 at the Goodbye Bush Bash at the Latitude Bar & Grill (783 Eighth Ave between 47th and 48th Streets). Bush-themed drink specials and a quote wall of the most idiotic lines uttered by GWB will be featured. Sometime around 10pm the organizers of this event will lead the party outside for – literally – dancing in the streets. RSVP here. And for the last time I’m quoting #43: If you don’t stand for anything, you don’t stand for anything! (November 2, 2000 at Bellevue Community College)

11. If I hadn’t maxed out all my credit cards I’d be heading right now to the Presidential Inaugural Store right now to buy these fabulous limited edition items. Buttons, stickers, glassware, coins, tote bags, t-shirts, scarves, cufflinks, coloring books, fleece jackets, coasters, onesies, hats, wristbands, key rings, messenger bags, even a wooden train for kids imprinted with Obama Biden / Renewing America’s Promise and the inaugural seal.

12. Look ahead to the next chapter of our lives on Wednesday January 21 at 8pm at the 92nd Street Y in New York City when Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor in chief of The Huffington Post, moderates a discussion on The Year Ahead in politics and culture on the day after the inauguration. She will be joined by HuffPost bloggers Nora Ephron, Erica Jong, Barbara Ehrenreich, Trey Ellis, and Paul Rieckhoff. More info and tickets here. And remember, today is the first day of the rest of your life. (By the way you are a child of the universe and you have a right to be here)



Who Killed Amanda Palmer
Amanda Palmer. Stunning. Heartbreaking. She’s going to be a supernova. Thank you Sandy & Harry for telling me about AFP.

The Way I See It - Raphael Saddiq. I did not know that they made records like this anymore. Back to the future. Thanks Laree B for turning me on to this.

Sunday at Devil Dirt - Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan. Clearly Mark L is the Leonard Cohen of his generation. Sal Nunziato at Burning Wood clued me in to this record.

Live: Hope at the Hideout - Mavis Staples. Stirring. Absolutely terrific. Again props to Burning Wood.

Dream Baby Dream Bruce Springsteen. (CD single) This Suicide cover was the set closer for the shows on Springsteen’s “Devils and Dust” Tour. Spare and haunting.

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The following are not 2008 releases but I either discovered (as in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) or rediscovered them again and fell in love with them again this year – in no particular order:

  • Jesus Christ Superstar (Original Soundtrack)
  • Nurds - The Roches
  • Peter Pan (Original Cast Recording)
  • Play It As It Lays - Patti Scialfa
  • The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Original Soundtrack)
  • Will the Circle Be UnbrokenNitty Gritty Dirt Band
  • Hobo’s Lullaby - Arlo Guthrie
  • Wednesday Morning 3 AM Simon & Garfunkel
  • Nebraska Bruce Springsteen
  • Just about everything by The Kinks

O Best Beloved, the weekend horoscoop* column returns Thursday January 1st. in honor of finally kissing 2008 goodbye, i bring you SDJ’s list of the 12 best things of the year; a completely subjective list, in no particular order except for the 1st slot - cuz Obama is #1 no matter how you slice it:

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1. BARACK OBAMAI spent much of this year being consumed by and working for Obama’s magnificent presidential campaign. I believe him to be a leader the likes of which we’ve never seen before. We’ve so desperately needed to hear those words we heard him speak during the moment of victory on November 4, 2008 in Grant Park, especially after the incredibly bloody, hateful, divisive road he had to walk on to get to the White House: We have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States; we are, and always will be, the United States of America. Two wonderful strong women are smiling down at him from the next world; his mother Stanley Ann Dunham and his grandmother Madelyn Dunham.

2. AMANDA PALMER - A tip from a friend whose taste I implicitly trust led me to see Amanda Palmer perform in November at New York City’s Webster Hall. I stared openmouthed at the stage for much of the night. She’s brilliant, she’s special, she’s beyond belief. There is no doubt in my mind that she’s going to be a supernova. Someday I’ll be telling people that yes, I was there, in the way people have told me they witnessed Nirvana’s CMJ gig (I think I was home washing my hair that night). Which reminds me - she’s playing the Bowery Ballroom at 2am on January 1st. Go. Just go. And next New Year’s you can tell people you were there. Because she won’t be playing at places that size for very long.

3. LYNDA BARRY - I was lucky enough to spend a week studying with writer/cartoonist Lynda Barry this summer at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. Picture going to summer camp again - but you’re an adult and therefore you can enjoy it even more than when you were a kid and had to do what other people told you to. And picture the very best teacher you ever had, a full week of studying with that teacher, who regularly inspires you to take your creativity to the next level. Made you laugh. Made you cry. And you’ll get a little bit of what that week was like.

4. DAY OF THE DEAD IN QUINTANA ROO, MEXICO - After a blissful week I spent in Mexico at the end of October, I’m now in love with the country, particularly the Yucatan. I was able to join with a community of beautiful Mayan women in preparing their Day of the Dead altar, tamale making, and participating in the Day of the Dead ceremonies when the wall between the worlds dissolves. What a beautiful custom, what a spectacular country, and what warm and lovely people. Not to mention the tamales and chocolate coffee.

5. DR. MARK HYMAN - My dear friend Gloria P clued me in to Ultrametabolism: The Simple Plan for Automatic Weight Loss by Dr. Mark Hyman, formerly the medical director of Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Mass.  It was a life changing read; after dropping gluten, dairy, and sugar from my diet I realized a sense of health and well being I hadn’t had in years. Also, no longer eating any processed foods or high fructose corn syrup. Read it and try it; even just for a few days. You’ll be amazed at how your life changes for the better.

6. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN and the E STREET BAND - Bruce and his merry band were on the road again this year supporting the album Magic. The shows; electrifying, magnificent. Just when I thought he couldn’t possibly wow me any more (I’ve been seeing his concerts since 1978 - a staggering 30 years) he completely whips out the rug from under me and blows my mind again. During this tour he started a delightful practice of reading and honoring fans’ song requests on signs. Hence, many songs were played live (can you say Drive All Night?) that I never thought I’d see again except in my mind’s eye. Also, the mighty E Street Band suffered its first casualty; Danny Federici died in April of melanoma. I think we were all humbled to realize that Bruce and his paisans were indeed not superhuman and the fabric of that splendid musical texture they’ve created for so many years could be rent.

7. FACEBOOK / LINKED IN - Both these sites have changed my life, rekindled old friendships, found me new clients, and allowed me to keep in touch with people I thought I would never see again. Facebook is like sitting in homeroom but the teacher never coming in so you’re free to do whatever you want and even throw a paper clip at the cute guy across the room. Linked In is far more serious, yet endlessly entertaining in its own right.

8. RACHEL MADDOW - I pegged her months ago as someone who needed and deserved her own teevee show on MSNBC after admiringly watching her punt for Keith Olbermann. Apparently the suits at the network also realized her great potential and now she’s the hostess with the mostest. She’s so damn smart and likeable! Yay, Rachel, yay.

9. FRIENDS AND FAMILY - My friends and family are wonderful and I love you all. And undying thanks for your love and support. Happy 2009!!!

10. MR. BOY, MY CAT - Saturday May 10 was a big day here, the day that Mr. Boy came to live at my house. He’s a rescue, five years old, and a sweeter more friendly feline there never was. Thank you Teri L and Dorothy S for putting us together!

11. DEMOCRACY - This election brought so many new people into the political process (me, for one); it energized and moved me, it made me want to keep my eyes wide open and my mind engaged instead of burying my head in the sand. I want to know what’s happening and who’s doing what. I don’t want to go back to sleep.

12. BLOGGING - I started this blog one year ago and made a commitment to it. Blogging and the internet have changed our world beyond recognition. We can all have a voice. We don’t have to wait for a magazine publisher to hire us and pay us to write. Quoting Barack Obama again - We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.


March 21 - April 19 Aries
Ram on, Aries people. It’s Thanksgiving already, where does the time go?! I know you eschew sentimentality and prefer to jump into life sans frills. N’est-ce pas? I also know that you love weird and wacky historical facts. Corn for corn’s sake is good too. Point your mouse to culture vs content and take the Corny Thanksgiving Trivia test. Is Indian corn edible? Where did the word “turkey” come from? And the ship that brought the Pilgrims to America was originally intended to bring over what item to the New World? (hint: not people) A wonderful person named Bonnie does this blog and it is worth a long visit for the posts, photography, and haiku.

April 20 - May 20 Taurus
I’m breaking my rule of not repeating things here, because I took my own advice in this here column and went to see Amanda Palmer and the Danger Ensemble at Webster Hall. Ms. Palmer (a Taurus) and her merry gang provided one of the best live concerts I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen several (trust me on this). It was one of those rare occasions when you know that a year from now people will be saying, you were there at Webster Hall that night? with starry eyes. I’m going to write a whole blog post about Amanda so check back in the next week or so. There’s not enough room in this format to say everything that needs to be said. In the meantime go here. And here. And here. Watch everything. Listen to her new album. Read her blog. And she’s still on the road, so if you’re in Pittsburgh, Toronto, Ferndale MI, Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver, Aspen, Salt Lake City, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, San Francisco, or LA – go. Just go.

May 21 - June 20 Gemini
Gemini is a curious mix of adaptability and superficiality. Sometimes you need to flex that good-deed muscle a little and get out of your comfort zone. Things are pretty dire right now in the USA – in the world, actually – and here’s a way you can put a smile on someone’s face easily. And rack up some good karma, which we all could use. Thanks to KarmaTube, here’s a story about a Starbucks drive-thru in Loveland, Colorado where people were amazed to get to the window and find out that their coffee was paid for by the person in front of them in line. Lindell Green, a beneficiary of this karma gesture, paid for the person behind him when this happened. So guess what? It’s not just Loveland, Colorado. It’s not just Starbucks. The CNN story documents another random act of kindness taking place at a supermarket elsewhere in the country. Apparently it’s spreading. Like a disease in a Stephen King novel. A disease called pay-it-forward.

June 21 - July 22 Cancer
Moonchildren and everyone else; as we gather around the Thanksgiving table with family and friends this year and express our gratitude for our blessings (try doing this every day by the way; it will change your life), let’s also mark next Monday, December 1st, on the calendar for World Aids Day. World Aids Day was created exactly ten years ago to raise awareness of the pandemic caused by HIV infection. The date is observed globally by governments, charities, and international organizations. This year you can search the World Aids Day website to find events anywhere in the world. You can find interesting and creative ways to get involved and raise awareness. You can learn about HIV and get the facts about this terrifying disease.

July 23 - August 22 Leo
It’s my feeling that the Leos among us would really dig Dominick Dunne in the unlikely event they don’t already follow his prose as he covers the trials and tribulations of the rich and famous. Mr. Dunne is an investigative journalist who writes for Vanity Fair Magazine. Without fail, his is the first article I go to when I get my copy in the mail. His birds’ eye view of the rarified celebrity lifestyle is always absolutely riveting. Read a collection of twenty five years of his adventures chronicling the greatest scandals of our time from O.J. Simpson to Claus Von Bülow to Imelda Marcos to the Menendez Brothers to Brooke Astor to Princess Diana and more. My advice: get a big dish of ice cream and settle down and read them all. Make sure all the lights are on. Before you settle in, though, go to this site and wish Mr. Dunne a speedy recovery from cancer.

August 23 - September 22 Virgo
Let us now celebrate the genius that is Elvis Costello, who is a Virgo by the way. There is certainly not enough room here to discuss all the varied strands of his fabulosity. But I want you to be sure and catch his new TV show which debuts Wednesday, December 3 on the Sundance Channel at 9pm. Spectacle: Elvis Costello With… invites viewers to enjoy an intimate conversation between Costello and his guests, sprinkled with musical performances. The debut show features Sir Elton John. Upcoming episodes have Declan McManus (his real name) chatting with Bill Clinton, Lou Reed, James Taylor, The Police, and more. I personally cannot think of anyone I’d rather sit down to tea with than Elvis Costello.

September 23 - October 22 Libra
My favorite all-time Libra is John Lennon. I was surprised and amused to read this week that the Pope has officially forgiven Lennon for his remark in March 1966 that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus. Apparently, the Vatican’s official newspaper has absolved J.L. 42 years after the statement was made to a teen magazine called Datebook as part of an interview while the Beatles did their last American tour. L’Osservatore Romano said, “After so many years it sounds merely like the boasting of an English working-class lad struggling to cope with unexpected success.” For those who don’t remember, Lennon’s off the cuff remarks that he’d observed that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus at that time caused a huge shitstorm that ended up with Beatle records and memorabilia being set on fire. Radio stations stopped playing Beatle records. It was huge. And terrifying. And it was a world far unlike our own today in every way you can imagine. Lennon was made to apologize in front of the world at a press conference because of the vast carnage that his remark caused. One has to think that he’s up there shaking his head in wonder that he has now been pardoned by the Catholic Church. Good on ya, Johnny.

October 23 - November 21 Scorpio
And then there’s ripxoid. Avast ye Scorpio hearties, this is a handsome blog that takes on subjects like Philip K. Dick, pocket-sized primates, Obama, film noir, et cetera. You gotta love a blog with these categories: Bullshit, Movies, Music, Photos, Politics, Video, Web, and Weird News. That’s all I care about! Thank you Jeff Kopp of Garage Punk fame for birthing this baby. Writes Jeff: Yep, this is it. The very first post on a very new blog. Ah yes, just what the world needs, right? More blogs! Yeah, well, so what? Everyone has something to say (even if it isn’t entirely original) and I think us ‘xoidians have just as much if not MORE wacked-out, cool, crazy, funny or just plain INTERESTING stuff to say as any other group of geeks, so let’s make this happen.

November 22 - December 21 Sagittarius
Methinks that the refined sensibilities of the Sagittarian would thoroughly enjoy my favorite Scorsese film of all time, The King of Comedy. Released in 1982, the film is about nerdy geeky Rupert Pupkin (played by Robert DeNiro in what I think is his best role ever) and his obsession with becoming a comedian. He lives in his mother’s basement and play acts scenarios where he is a talk show guest discussing his glorious career. He idolizes talk show host Jerry Langford, played spectacularly by Jerry Lewis. I can’t tell you any more, but one of the taglines was: Nobody knows Rupert Pupkin, but by 11:30 tonight, the whole world will know he’s . . . THE KING OF COMEDY.

December 22 - January 19 Capricorn
Ah Capricorn! Pull up a chair and let’s talk about independent bookstores, shall we? I know you love new books. This week I’ve chosen Pandemonium Booksellers & Café located in beautiful Wasilla, Alaska. According to their website, they are an energetic, comfortable, bookstore & gourmet beverage/dessert establishment. Open every day of the week, this bastion of the free press also provides online ordering. It’s great to know that Wasilla has an indie bookstore. You betcha!

January 20 - February 18 Aquarius
Every once in awhile don’t you suddenly crave hummus? I do and when that urge comes on I go to Jerusalem Restaurant located between 103rd St. and 104th St. on Broadway. The place is the size of a postage stamp. Seriously, my living room is larger and I have a New York apartment. They’re open late, and they have great falafel as well as shwarma, baba ganoush, stuffed grape leaves, and more. I know that Aquarians have been known to hanker for middle eastern food on occasion. Well, hanker here.

February 19 - March 20 Pisces
Speaking of the Catholic Church…Pisceans everywhere need to know about the 33-foot tall stainless steel statue of Our Lady Queen of Peace in New Castle, Delaware. The 8,400 pound statue, sculpted by Charles C. Parks, was dedicated on May 25, 2007 at the Holy Spirit Church. According to their website, At Fatima Our Blessed Mother revealed that Our Lord intends the present world to be saved through devotion to her Immaculate Heart. We have built a statue to make this message known to countless numbers of people who otherwise would not know Her.  In her desire to save her children, she has asked us to Pray The Rosary. In our world of many realities, we have known the REALITY OF THE POWER OF PRAYER. All the prayers we have ever said are ours - a real wealth - treasures stored up for us in heaven.  The Rosaries Our Lady asks for are ours to give - a treasury of prayer for her to use. She needs these Prayers NOW to give to her children in need. Parks, the sculptor, also made another huge steel Mary in Santa Clara, California. The Delaware Mary holds out her arms to bless the travelers on the nearby Delaware Memorial Bridge. It is apparently possible to enter a door at the base of the statue and go up a ladder to view the inside of her immaculate heart.



March 21 - April 19 Aries

Our Aries friends are ruled by the Red Planet, Mars. You are impulsive and, at times, tend toward the reckless. Well, bring your bad self on down to New York City’s Webster Hall on Friday, November 21 to see Amanda Palmer take the stage. Palmer is best known as the lead singer and lyricist for dark cabaret outfit The Dresden Dolls, and she’s about to bust out in a big way with her first solo album, Who Killed Amanda Palmer. The album, produced by Ben Folds, was released in September. Explore her YouTube channel and watch the videos, including Oasis (dedicated to Sarah Palin). Read her blog. According to her MySpace page she counts among her favorite books The Clown by Heinrich Boll. That’s all I needed to see to know she is my stone cold soul sister. Between now and mid December she’s got a major tour going on hitting all areas of the United States and I urge you to go, because I feel that someday you’ll be telling people you did. It’s like that.

April 20 - May 20 Taurus
Taureans love good food, as I have said before. It’s a known fact. Well, if you find yourself up in Duchess County in the hamlet of Beacon, New York, I urge you not to miss a visit to BJ’s Restaurant at 213 Main Street. Talk about home cooking. Fried chicken, mac and cheese, fried fish, potato salad, greens, yams, and the piece de resistance – the incredible fried pork chops. They’re like poetry in your mouth. Juicy and tender and fulsome. Finish your arteries off with a wedge of sweet potato pie and you’re done. Promptly lapse into a contented food coma like Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled into one.

May 21 - June 20 Gemini
Gemini folks come under the direct influence of fleet-footed Mercury - the Messenger of the Gods in Greek mythology. Pretty much everything interests you. Therefore you’ll be fascinated to know that there is yet another interesting religious development taking place in Nepal (where the three year old living goddess was recently discovered). An 18 year old boy named Ram Bahadur Bamjan is believed by many to be the reincarnation of Buddha. He recently came back into society after more than a year in the jungle. Thousands of his followers from as far away as India came to see him once it was learned he came out of his retreat. He’s been worshiped since he was first noticed three years ago meditating for months at a time without food and water. Bamjan is expected to address his followers on November 18 and then return to the jungle for meditation. You can view photos and video here.

June 21 - July 22 Cancer
The astrological sign of Cancer is shared by luminaries as diverse as Helen Keller, Princess Diana, Lindsay Lohan, Ringo Starr, and Tom Cruise. Who would ever have thought these people had anything in common? We all have a lot more in common than we realize. And one of the main things we all share as human beings is the desire to love and be loved. Keith Olbermann hit yon nail on the head the other night in one of his Special Comments, this one about California’s passage of Proposition 8 last week. Prop 8, in case you’ve been under a rock, rescinded the right of same-sex couples to marry in the state of California. Olbermann is at his finest here, stating flatly that the issue is “about the human heart.” Nothing more, nothing less. Says Keith: “The world is barren enough. It is stacked against love, and against hope, and against those very few and precious emotions that enable us to go forward. Your marriage only stands a 50-50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and how hard you work. And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just that chance, and that work, just for the hope of having that feeling.” Read the whole text here and watch the video. And if you’re as outraged as I am about the whole thing, there are demonstrations taking place across the country in protest tomorrow, Saturday November 15. There is at least one in all fifty states. Find one near you.

July 23 - August 22 Leo
Leos are leaders, warmhearted and beneficent souls who like to inspire others. The good people at SMITH Magazine and the National Constitution Center are asking you now to help President-Elect Obama inspire America. In six words, a President can speak volumes: Malice toward none, charity for all; Nothing to fear but fear itself; Like a thousand points of light. Suggest six words for Obama to inspire America and the world here. The six best submissions will win a six-word memoir book from SMITH Magazine and a year’s membership to the National Constitution Center. Think about it. Let’s make our voices heard. It’s a new day in this country and things will never be the same again. Let’s restore the American dream together (Heather Frank’s entry).

August 23 - September 22 Virgo
Virgos are the fussbudget of the Zodiac. I mean that in the nicest possible way. You’re all about tying up loose ends and suchlike. Therefore you’ll be thrilled to know that the venerable PBS series, FRONTLINE, now has a fantastic website that enables us to be able to watch dozens of their programs in full, going back to 1983. The series has served as public television’s flagship public affairs series since its debut 25 years ago. Since its inception, FRONTLINE has never shied away from tough, controversial issues or complex stories. FRONTLINE remains the only regularly scheduled long-form public affairs documentary series on American television, producing more hours of documentary programming than all the commercial networks combined.

September 23 - October 22 Libra
Our independent bookstore this week is in the smallest state in the United States, Rhode Island. Book Nook is located on Block Island, an island which can only be reached by ferry from ports in New York, Connecticut, and R.I.  Book Nook’s fall hours are limited to weekends only, and the store offers a wide range of paperbacks and hardcovers for adults, young adults and children, including a large selection of Block Island titles. Although Librans hate to be alone, they do love to curl up with a good book. If you’re in the tri-state area, make it a reasonably priced day trip in these austere times.

October 23 - November 21 Scorpio
Passion and power are the cornerstones of Scorpio. You’re transfixed by anything that combines these two elements.  And in case you’ve never seen the incredible 1967 film Privilege, I urge you to remedy that situation now that it has become available on DVD. Original tag line: Behind the screams and headlines are the manipulators…the puppet masters who pull the strings and make the pop scene work. This is the story of “Steve” - pop singer extraordinary who dared to say “I won’t conform.” It’s a comedy; it’s a drama; it’s a sci-fi musical. Paul Jones plays the protagonist Steven Shorter with the frighteningly gorgeous Jean Shrimpton (her only feature film) as his gal pal. Director Peter Watkins set the scene in a futuristic Britain as the state attempts to crush popular music.  Watch the trailer here. Netflix it here. Buy it here. See it, whatever you do.

November 22 - December 21 Sagittarius
A perfect afternoon for a Sagittarian would be a stroll around the largest gothic cathedral in the world. That would be The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, located on Amsterdam Ave. between 111th and 112th Streets in New York City. St. John’s is the mother church of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. It is chartered as a house of prayer for all people and a unifying center of intellectual light and leadership. There is simply no more peaceful place on the island of Manhattan. Take a tour of its depth and breadth; vertical tours are held every Saturday. Climb 124 feet to the top of the Cathedral on spiral stone staircases. (Ten people limit; reservations highly recommended). Next Sunday November 23 Cathedral Guide Andrew Griffin reveals the biblical messages in the stone and glass of the structure in a special tour entitled Behind the Beauty: Spotlight on Geometry. And try to be there at the end of the month when they strike the keys again on the Great Organ as the entire length of the Cathedral is again revealed after months of renovation.

December 22 - January 19 Capricorn
The download of the week is from Capricorn Shawn Colvin, Grammy-award winning American singer, songwriter and musician. Colvin was born January 10, 1956 in the town of Vermillion, South Dakota. Steady On, released in 1989, was her debut album. She had a top ten hit with Sunny Came Home almost ten years later, which also nabbed both Song and Record of the Year awards, and there have been quite a few more albums as well. But Steady On remains my favorite record of hers. It’s just about perfect. There is not one thing I would change. The songs seamlessly fit one to the other and every one of them is a moving portrait of a life. From the title song: “Cause he seemed like a miracle / I ate it up like cereal / But it was something like shrapnel.” Colvin is on the road right now touring the northeast United States.

January 20 - February 18 Aquarius
Let’s all of us praise Steve Chen, Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim. These three guys invented YouTube in a Menlo Park garage. Thanks to them, we can now find many video clips that we would have assumed lost to time. This no doubt appeals greatly to the Aquarians among us, who are nothing if not independent and inventive, with a healthy dose of total eccentricity. So let me turn you on to David Bowie’s 1980 Floor Show, which was originally aired on Burt Sugarman’s Midnight Special TV show on November 16, 1973. The show had been taped over a period of three days at London’s Marquee Club. It was Bowie’s last public appearance as Ziggy Stardust and was filmed in front of 200 lucky people chosen from the David Bowie International Fan Club. It’s hard to believe but there were only two cameras used in the shoot, due to the small size of the venue. Bowie was absolutely at his most glittering, scary eye makeup best. Other performers: The Troggs and Marianne Faithfull playing a character called Dooshenka (I know, I know). Highlight: Bowie and Marianne singing a duet of the Sonny & Cher classic I Got You, Babe (in which she wears a nun’s outfit). Sublime. Watch Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

February 19 - March 20 Pisces
And speaking of YouTube, did you happen to catch Bruce Springsteen’s Halloween video a few weeks ago? Our Pisces friends, who dig the mysterious and mystical, will want to see this if you missed it. A Night With the Jersey Devil was posted on his website for Halloween and is now immortalized on YouTube. The Jersey Devil, according to Wikipedia, is a legendary creature said to inhabit the Pine Barrens in southern New Jersey. It was reportedly seen as recently as August 18 of this year by three teenagers in a car who watched it fly past their windshield and land in a farmer’s field. Those of us who grew up in New Jersey have long been regaled with tales of this creature. The video will blow your mind; Bruce looks like nothing so much as a sinister, demented preacher wielding an axe and hunting his prey. And the song proves him to be the devil spawn of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. Not that I ever doubted it. “Ram’s head, forked tail, clove hoof, love’s my trail / I sup on your body, sip on your blood like wine / Our world theirs, this world mine” (B. Springsteen)