The Aesthete

Breaking Bad

by Shelley L. Ackerman

Let Freedom Ring

It’s been a week of extreme highs and lows. On one hand, the Supreme Court chipped away at DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) and Prop 8 in California, thereby paving the way for American same-sex couples to marry in more states; there was President Obama’s Climate Change initiative; and Immigration Reform moving forward (albeit a flawed bill with a rough road ahead in Congress). However, there were also heart-wrenching lows: the same Supreme Court’s invalidation of a key part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (limiting the Feds’ ability to enforce voting laws in all states, particularly those with a history of racial discrimination), we approach America’s 227th birthday with mixed messages laced with push/pull angst from the heavens.

The United States of America (DOB July 4th, 1776) is, first and foremost, a Cancerian nation. From sea to shining sea, it’s all about mom, apple pie and the good old American Dream of owning a plot of land and a home of one’s own. From now through 2015, the U.S. Sun (at 13 degrees Cancer) is being heavily challenged (uh, make that bombarded) by Uranus and Pluto, that outer-planet duo of disruption, revolution and transformation.

That particular planetary set up is very much in evidence this week and in America’s 2013 Solar Return chart (the chart we each look at for our individual birthdays for insight into the year ahead). The overall theme is a tough-to-synthesize “growing pains” mélange of rugged individualism being met and challenged by the not-so-secret agendas of powerful ogres’ and plutocrats’ desire to maintain control while squeezing every last penny out of students, working people and especially the middle class. If this sounds a bit conspiratorial, so be it. But few astrologers would disagree with the symbolism and what it means.

But there is a silver lining in the Solar-Return chart: Set for Washington D.C., Jupiter at the very bottom of the chart provides a certain amount of providence and protection. I’d grab it for my own Solar-Return in a heartbeat.

Monday, Monday

With many New Yorkers already gone fishing or some with a very short work week, it’s worth noting that Monday might be frustrating to say the least. Venus in hard aspect to Saturn talks a lot about restraint, emotional stinginess and people saying “no” too quickly. In addition, the opposition of Pluto to the Sun wreaks of power struggles. The best prescription comes by way of consciously balancing one’s personal will against the bigger-picture zeitgeist. In simple terms, it’s about not making waves, going with the flow until it’s safer to make demands (probably after July 20th, when Mercury goes direct).

On the night of July 3rd and the early morning hours of the 4th, the Sun forms a 90-degree aspect with Uranus. This describes the urge for independence and individual freedom to a T. How meaningful that this takes place on Independence Day.

And finally on Sunday, July 7th, Saturn stations direct. When any planet changes direction, it’s a moment to slow down, take stock and not push. It’s a Sunday, and therefore many people will be traveling home. That with Mercury retrograde prompts this astrologer to advise against racing and speeding and to travel with caution. Keep your eyes on the road and put your iPad and iPhone away.


ARIES: A Balancing Act is needed between asserting your uniqueness and maintaining individuality without offending everyone in the room, especially family members and higher ups who may, at the moment, be nearer the end of their rope than you are. The Saturn Standstill over the weekend requires patience and wisdom with shared finances, banks and sticky emotional and sexual issues with a partner. File it all under “Terms of Endearment.” Remember that Mercury’s backsliding through July 20th ensures that we are nowhere near the end of sequences being playing out now.

ARIES Go To: Even with Mercury Retro and Saturn about to station and turn direct, Mars-ruled types are rarely into sitting anything out ever. The traditionalist in you will get a kick out of The City Sightseeing Fourth of July Cruise. It’s a bit pricey, but it sure looks like a hoot.

TAURUS: A Balancing Act is needed to maintain calm between siblings and other local intimates and less than civilized zealots from abroad. The challenge is to be both gracious and self-protective in the same breath. Sunday’s Saturn Standstill focuses attention on a partner, a spouse or contractual arrangement. Things with one or both will start turning around and moving forward. Give him/her/the other party time to process.

TAURUS Go To: If you’re hungry for a delicious fix of baubles, bangles and beads, there’s none better than the Barbara Berger Collection at The Museum of Arts and Design. The emeralds alone had me salivating. Part of the exhibit runs through September 22nd, and the rest is through January 20th, 2014. 

GEMINI: A Balancing Act this week between what you desperately want and can afford in the long run takes the better part of your attention and skill to negotiate. An unexpected shoutout from a friend in need could make the decision for you. Sunday’s Saturn Standstill emphasizes that attention be paid to a health-related issue or something as simple as revisiting where you exercise. If you’ve been stuck with a practitioner or with a trainer in a particular routine that’s been getting you nowhere, know that things will start to loosen up and soon.

GEMINI Go To: At first glance, this extravaganza appears to be part Cirque du Soleil, part flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz. But whatever it is, Monkey Journey to the West is touted as a “high-octane 90-minute rock ‘n roll circus.” Guaranteed to hold the interest of even the most distracted "monkey see, monkey do" Gemini, the production at Lincoln Center’s Koch Theater runs July 6th-28th.

CANCER: Maintaining a balance between staying true to your emotional center in the face of a partner’s weirdness and the unexpected demands of a boss or parent could mess with your sense of well-being. And while you do have and will keep the upper hand in this one, the boatload of energy it takes to keep it together is substantial. Sunday’s Saturn Standstill in your 5th house brings clarity with an offspring, a lover and/or something powerfully creative that you’ve speculated on. As intense as whatever this is, it will feel better for the energy to move forward and evolve.

CANCER Go To: Taking your creativity seriously is where it’s at. Be inspired by and see how dozens and dozens of designers have successfully built their dreams and visions into viable commercial enterprises at The Artists and Fleas Chelsea Summer Market at 15th Street and 10th Avenue. This pop-up is open daily through September from 10 a.m. - 7p.m.

LEO: The Balancing Act between your need for legitimate privacy and disruptions from academics, legal types and friends from overseas who feel it’s their inalienable right to drop in whenever along with demands of co-workers to cover their ass during a holiday week can drive you to drink, but don’t. You’ll need your wits about you as Sunday’s Saturn Standstill brings a drawn-out sequence with family members and/or a living situation to a close. As intense as this transition may be, it does bring relief.

LEO Go To: Nine of Alfred Hitchcock’s silent films (from when he was in his 20s) have survived and been lovingly restored by the British Film Institute. Through July 3, see them at BAM’s New Harvey Theater accompanied with live scores performed by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra and acclaimed silent film pianists Stephen Horne and Steve Sterner.

VIRGO: The Balancing Act required to keep things chill between the community that nurtures you (i.e. your closest buddies) and an unreasonably demanding child, lover or guilty pleasure that’s gotten a foothold is so outrageous that it may actually be entertaining. It’s all in how well you can step back and out of your predicament and observe. Bottom line, this will blow over, but with interesting lessons learned as a result. Sunday’s Saturn Standstill will mark the end of a trying exchange and a testing phase between you, siblings and neighbors. A delay involving a local project comes to a close. However, for the next few days, stuck energy in the neighborhood may make getting around more of a challenge.

VIRGO Go To: If life’s absurdities have gotten the better of you, perhaps a taste of the “ridiculous theater” that the late Charles Ludlam created might be the medicine you crave. If you’re in the Hamptons between now through July 28th, check out The Mystery of Irma Vep at the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor. The over-the-top production stars Tom Aulino and David Greenspan.

LIBRA:  To label what’s going on between your professional life, your family life and a significant other a Balancing Act does not do it justice. In fact, what you’ve been up against has pulled you so much, you’re more similar to salt-water taffy than a human being right now. After Thursday, this will begin to shift. Sunday’s Saturn Standstill brings resolution, clarity and a no-turning-back stance on your obligation to yourself to improve your financial lot in life. Hip, hip, hooray. It’s about time.

LIBRA Go To: Celebrate the 4th with the music and ambiance of Louis Armstrong, America’s premier jazz trumpeter at the Louis Armstrong Museum in Corona, Queens. It’s part of the Hot Jazz/Cool Garden Summer Concert Series.

SCORPIO: Balancing Act is needed to mediate between your noble higher self, the bone-headed communication of neighbors and siblings and curveballs that mess with scheduling and routines. Don’t stoop to a fool’s level. Sunday’s Saturn Standstill “Sweet are the uses of adversity,” said the Duke in As You Like It. And for all we know, Shakespeare’s character may have uttered that sentiment after the Bard experienced a major run-in with Saturn. So rather than get your knickers in a twist over annoying B.S. you can’t control, recognize that this week, frustration tolerance goes a long way. And regarding any pending battles, when Mercury is retrograde, whoever fires the first shot loses. So, be economical with resources and energy, hold your horses until after July 20th, and let the opposition wear itself out.

SCORPIO Go To: The survival stories and sagas of those who beat the odds to make things happen always appeal to Plutonian types, especially during a Saturn transit. In Malawi, a young and impoverished teenage boy used scraps to make a windmill hat he used as a power source. On Tuesday, July 2nd at 8 p.m., Rooftop Films presents a free screening of the documentary William and the Windmill at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza (East 47th Street).

SAGITTARIUS: This week’s Balancing Act is part financial and part creative and raises questions about where your priorities and loyalties truly lie. Can you nurture and be responsible to a partner and family members while honoring your own creative trip and economic evolution? If this sounds lofty, well, it is. But it wouldn’t be taking place were you not up to the task. Sunday’s Saturn Standstill in your 12th house of buried ancestral content could begin a period of liberation from unconscious patterns that have held you back. Sign me up for that one.

SAGITTARIUS Go To: If, for whatever reason, you haven’t been able to get out of dodge, the next best thing to being anywhere but here might include a calming sail around the city. Manhattan by Sail offers delightful rain or shine/day or night sailboat rides with spectacular city views. Private charters are available, too.

CAPRICORN: Balancing Act between your sense of personal power and control (or lack thereof), unexpected eruptions at home or with family and the basic rights of others. Go the extra mile to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Sunday’s Saturn Standstill brings closure to an issue with a group you’ve had intense dealings with. While whatever has been decided may not totally satisfy you, all involved feel the same. And so it is with all compromises reached, until the next time.

CAPRICORN Go To: The rigors of Pluto in your sign test the hardiest among us. However, we must be reminded that it is through tribulation that individuals and cultures learn, grow and make positive adjustments. As marriage slowly becomes legal between all individuals (straight or gay) in the USA, we are reminded of the impact that AIDS has had on our culture, healthcare system and lives. The exhibit AIDS in New York: The First Five Years is at The New York Historical Society through September 15th. While on site, there’s another fine exhibit worth dropping in on: From Colony to Nation: 200 Years of American Painting.

AQUARIUS: A Balancing Act between saying whatever you want whenever versus hurting someone in your employ, a co-worker or on whom you depend for day-to-day support demands maturity. Is indulging yourself really worth the damage? Sunday’s Saturn Standstill will signal the ending of professional setbacks. An authority figure, parent or boss may flex his or her muscles. However, there will be movement and more flexibility on their part in the weeks and months that follow.

AQUARIUS Go To: Aquarian Malcolm McLaren was an iconoclastic impresario, clothing designer, boutique owner and a solo performing-artist in his own right. Known best for managing the Sex Pistols (and recruiting Johnny Rotten to the group), he epitomized the “creative revolutionary” archetype. On Wednesday, July 3rd at 6 p.m., Not For Sale, Nancy Cohen’s documentary film about McLaren, is at The Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue at 2nd Street. And I wouldn’t be much of an astrologer if I neglected to mention the New York Philharmonic’s Summertime Classics presentation of The Planets: An HD Odyssey. Performances are July 5th-7th.

PISCES: A Balancing Act is required between a lover (or creative project or offspring) and a stick-in-the-mud group of friends who may be acting more like killjoys than buddies. Though an unexpected expense may pop up, guard against impulsive spending. Sunday’s Saturn Standstill could be quite literal when it comes to travel or being able to easily connect with someone overseas. On the positive end of things, a long-standing legal issue could reach a conclusion.

PISCES Go To: To sleep, per chance, to dream? For an other-worldly experience far less toxic than propofol or permanent than hemlock, mosey over to Lincoln Center for The American Ballet Theater production of Sleeping Beauty. Wouldn’t we all love to be awakened by Prince Charming’s kiss? July 1st-6th.