Monday, January 14, 2013

The United States of Capricorn

My husband as a baby showing solidarity with the movement.
In honor of my husband's birthday on January 15th, the same day Martin Luther King, Jr. was born –– and because there are many Capricorn individuals I appreciate daily (entertainers or otherwise) –– here's a dedication to those who represent the most grounded, and grounding, of Zodiac signs. 
Capricorns are achievers. They do not back down from a challenge. On that note, take Martin Luther King, Jr. who fought tirelessly for civil rights. What MLK managed to accomplish in the span of his life, one sadly cut short, was certainly a challenge. Look at everything he was able to achieve; we celebrate him each year because of the magnificence of those efforts. My husband gets to feel a bit of honor in sharing his birthday with the civil rights leader and I love that.
We will march.
I'll bring up Francoise Hardy (Jan. 17th) again, whose birthday is coming up, in relation to my husband's birthday. As I've mentioned in a post about her, she was instrumental in defining, perhaps even determining, who I'd marry. [An excerpt from that post: "Because I loved her energy, I decided I might want to become romantically involved with a Capricorn. Sure enough, the next person I became involved with was my now husband, a Capricorn. In fact, their birthdays are only two days apart! My being incredibly interested and influenced by astrology is itself yet another connection to Francoise Hardy, [who] happens to be an avid astrologer."]
Francoise Hardy
What strikes me about Capricorns is how they tend to be consistent, not only in their behavior, but even as a group; they are united in their state of being. Being around a Capricorn can be a relatively uncomplicated situation, as long as one can handle their sometimes dour approach. There are times when I'd prefer a little sugar-coating. But more than anything, I like it when people make sense. Capricorns are sensible even in their craziest moments. There is a method to their madness.
Take Elvis Presley (Jan. 8th), that other King, for example. His brand of 'crazy' and self-abuse famously consisted of a mixture of drugs and food. His indulgence in heavy foods was his comfort place. The drugs were used so that he could have enough energy (after all the food was weighing him down) to keep on performing on stage. 
It was a cycle that worked for him –– at least for a while. So for Elvis, that all made sense. It wasn't that he wanted to self-destruct. It's just too bad that Elvis Presley was feeding his lonely heart in whatever way he could, and his heart finally couldn't keep up the pace. Elvis' body just wasn't able to muster enough energy and strength to go along with his hard-living, hard-driving, challenge-loving Capricorn spirit.
Elvis Presley
And of course there's my special dedication to one of Elvis' costars (the only one who remained entirely professional with him, despite his having a crush on her) Mary Tyler Moore (Dec. 29th). She would be the first to tell anyone that she actually has a much darker side to her than people assume, much of which revolves around a driving ambition and professionalism. 

She depended for quite some time on alcohol, to calm her nerves. Her career dedication has involved some terrible (even tragic) personal setbacks, and decisions. So there it is again... whatever MTM's flaws and shortcomings or brand of 'crazy' might have been, there has always been an innate sensibility and grounded-ness in the core of her being.
Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore 
Ever the pioneer, Mary Tyler Moore insisted to producers of 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' that Laura Petrie would/should wear pants at home amidst great controversy. She wanted her version of a 1960's TV mom to be more realistic. So she famously wore those capri pants. And after that, Mary Tyler Moore pioneered the greatest female-ccentric TV show of all time, and many other notable shows, through her MTM production company. For someone who started out as a dancer, she certainly managed to accomplish more than any woman, and even most men, who have made their career in television.
Mary Tyler Moore
And there's David Bowie (Jan. 8th), born on the same day as Elvis. When people think about and refer to his 'crazier' days of glam –– Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Thin White Duke and numerous other stagey shenanigans –– they often think about his being an alien-like, gender obscure, bisexual sort of guy (his lengthy, happy and solid marriage to Iman easily disproving that) and an impression of his being 'out there'. I think of David Bowie as a hard-working, ambitious musician who was game to take on the challenge of making it big in his particular era. He was writing incredible lyrics and songs... and for a little while, people weren't even listening. Once he decided to make everyone pay attention by putting on the striking costumes and being far-fetched, the wheels began to turn. It was a way for him to ensure he could work in his chosen profession and be monumentally successful, and it was a very sensible move. 
I remember distinctly when this first occurred to me. I was 21 and living in NY right after I graduated. I was watching an old clip of David Bowie in the 70's performing in a glittery body suit –– looking sort of shocking, even decades later –– and it struck me just how serious he looked. There was nothing silly or goofy or even attention-seeking in the expression on his face. In fact, even in that de-masculinating getup, he looked very masculine. There was a certain resolve in his manner, no dancing or prancing. He just looked like he sincerely wanted you to listen to what he was trying to say. And the lyrics weren't flowery either. This was his song and he wanted you to hear it. He was simply doing what he felt he had to do to make that happen. He made himself a formidable career out of being a respected songsmith rather than a shameless exhibitionist. His is another case of that determined little goat climbing up the big hill. 
David Bowie
Or take the king of debonair, Cary Grant (Jan. 18th), who was a passionate advocate for LSD. He not only used LSD, he championed its use and tried for decades to get others on board (he attempted for quite some time to make his wife, Dyan Cannon, a believer in the wonders of the drug.) Maybe that's a little bit crazy. Certainly for most people it is considered very careless behavior. And today, we know the dangers of using psychedelic drugs. But in Cary Grant's case, he was highly functional individual, despite being a frequent LSD user for decades, and he was able to reap (what he thought were) enough benefits in using the drug that it was worth the potentially scrutiny he faced from others over it –– since he was certainly open about it. Again, there was a great deal of method to his madness. His assertions about why he believe in it made using LSD seem like a sensible thing to do. Doctors who heard about or reviewed his case were amazed he wasn't negatively (or dangerously) affected by his long term use of the drug in the way people ought to be. 
Cary Grant
So... he was right in saying that it worked for him. He believed using psychedelic drugs was a way to go on a healing and spiritual personal journey with oneself, in order to fully understand oneself (and this was years before the hippie movement surrounding psychedelics.) And somehow, amazingly –– as even those who knew him best would attest –– despite using an unheard of amount of LSD over the course of many, many years, Cary Grant always remained perfectly composed. Don't try this at home, of course. Many people have lost their minds entirely after only one attempt. For the record, he had plenty of good reasons to seek whatever type of 'therapy' he deemed helpful. Lest you judge him too harshly, keep in mind that young Archibald Leach had an alcoholic louse of a father who had, for no good reason, put his mother away in a mental institution. As if that isn't bad enough –– little Archie was told she had died. So for most of his youth, and then most of his adult life, Cary Grant believed his mother was dead. Many years later, his so-called father contacted him (by that time, Cary Grant was already middle-aged and the biggest movie star in the world) and finally confessed that his mother was very much alive, withering away for no apparent reason in a notoriously scary looney bin. After saving her from that horrible place, Cary Grant was ridden with a guilt that could never be justified (as her terrible fate was in no way his fault) and he struggled for the rest of her living days to make her feel just a little bit better –– even though the woman who was once his mother was a lost cause, emotionally. Somehow, I think we can all dismiss Cary Grant's love of LSD.
My point in bringing up the crazier side of these Capricorns is to point out the consistent sensibility in all of them. Of course astrological signs are not entirely emblematic of whomever they represent and plenty of people place very little importance on what they mean. I'm a Libra, and as it happens, Libra's are often especially interested in knowing about zodiac signs. The reason for this, I believe, ties directly to our sign. Libras are the only inanimate sign. We are represented by the scales. Every other sign is represented by some kind of living creature, whether that being based in reality (a crab, a goat, a lion, a ram) or fantasy (like a centaur, a.k.a. the archer –– and the 'twins'). So in a way, we are the non-creatures observing those around us. Libras love nothing better than harmonious relationships, justice and diplomacy; we like to be relaxed and we don't like conflicts. So in order to ensure we're fair with others, and well-prepared (we like to understand and empathize with people in whatever way we can) and in our manner of weighing and balancing and being constructive about it, knowing a person's Zodiac sign provides a sort of 'cheat-sheet' to allow some level of understanding to begin with. That's my conclusion.
Donald Fagen (Jan. 10th)
And why was I drawn to Capricorns, in particular, enough to want to marry one? Why did I submit the thought of becoming romantically involved with a Capricorn prior to meeting him, only to have that notion become a reality just two weeks later? It was a very defined sort of decision on my part, based on knowing myself and the sort of energy that would work well with me. And right before I met my husband, I was going through my first unexpectedly harsh heartbreak, caused by someone who turned out to be unreliable and insincere. I decided I ought to be with someone very honest and dependable. I thought about the various Zodiac signs and realized I had never had a relationship with a Capricorn –– and was immediately convinced that a Capricorn would be the right fit for me. Sure enough, I met him on Christmas Eve that year at a small party. I walked in and saw him, and he seemed illuminated. We both remember that moment vividly. We both knew right away. The fact that he turned out to be a Capricorn, as I'd hoped he might be, didn't phase me. It felt like a deliberate eventuality. As awful and cliched as it might sound to say one person completes another person, it can be true.
Rod Stewart (Jan. 10th)
So what does our relationship mean for me? As a Libra, I can be as airy as can be. Despite seemingly limitless bursts of energy, I prefer being relaxed. My husband brings me back to earth when I'd rather just use my imagination. Sometimes I'm alarmed by the amount of pushing I get by him –– I push myself a lot already. Capricorns are tirelessly responsible. The great thing is, I can also help my husband too. Whenever we're all caught up with our respective to-do lists, I'm the one to insist we take it easy –– which is also useful for him. 

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