Don’t Pass Up Passing Strange

Readers of this blog know that I like to go out on a limb and make predictions. Some come true (Jayhawks to beat Tarheels in the NCAA Final Four, Kansas to win the Final Four), others don’t (Tiger Woods to win a Grand Slam in the same year, David Archuleta to win American Idol).

Tonight, I’ll have my fingers crossed for a Leo named Stew, the star of Passing Strange, the Broadway show that has been nominated for seven Tony Awards. Back in April, I predicted that Stew and Company would take home at least one Tony. (See “Stew, Meet Tony,” April 17, 2008, https://astrologymundo.wordpress.com/2008/04/17/stew-meet-tony/)

Even though I have been talking up Stew in previous posts based on his favorable transits of tonight, II hadn’t actually seen his show, a musical meditation on what it means to be black in America, until yesterday. And boy, it knocked me out!

To discover his blackness, Stew travels to Amsterdam and Berlin and poses as a refugee from the ghetto, when in fact he has grown up in a comfortable African-American neighborhood in Los Angeles.

It’s a wild, rollicking ride with first-rate performers. This show hasn’t caught fire, but I still think it will (if not here, then overseas), given Democratic Presidential hopeful Barack Obama’s meteoric rise on the U.S. political scene. (The use of the word “hopeful” is intentional. Although Obama has surpassed the number of electoral votes needed to clinch the nomination, he will not actually be the Democratic Party’s nominee until after the August convention.)

Stew is a light-skinned black who goes to live among Northern Europeans, while Obama’s mother was white. Both have asked themselves the question: What does it mean to be black?

Black entertainers, from blues singers to Motown’s greats to today’s rappers, have helped define American values and style. But the de facto segregation of whites and blacks in this country has allowed powerful media figures to define black identity, whether it be through blaxploitation films like Superfly and Shaft in the Seventies to the black sitcoms like Martin and Living Single that were hits on Fox TV before it went white (http://fun.familyeducation.com/television/african-americans/35259.html).

A case in point: While everyone was celebrating Michelle and Barack Obama’s playful victory bump of fists, I found myself asking: Is this their secret handshake or is this a black thing that I wouldn’t understand? The truth is, I don’t know the answer. Maybe if I were a regular watcher of Oprah, I would.

The fact is even though I work at the same company and live on the same street as African-Americans, our worlds rarely intersect. In my life, I’ve had a couple of good black girlfriends (especially back in the days of the Jackson Five), but not since college.

Until I moved to New York, I could have made the same statement about gay people. But through media and astrology, I’ve made some close gay friends. That’s what I love about astrology. It brings together people of different persuasions, all searching for the truth. Maybe my cosmic pursuits will bring me some black friends too.

Stew’s musical journey in Passing Strange raises some deep issues. I left the show, which essentially is a tribute to his mother, wondering: Who is Stew’s father and why is he never mentioned, not even in passing? As is the case for Obama and many other black men, it appears that Stew was raised by his mother, who devoted all her love and attention to her son.

Though it appears Stew’s Mom helped form his character (clearly this is a self-made man in many ways), astrologers and psychologists know that even when a parent is dead or no longer participating in the family, he or she still exerts a powerful influence.

Interesting that on Father’s Day, my ode to Stew turns into an essay on fatherhood.

I visited my Dad last month in Santa Fe. He makes his home in the veterans’ national cemetery there, though my medium Gretchen Clark in Lily Dale, N.Y., informs me that he’s happily eating popcorn and watching movies in the afterworld, a fitting pastime for a Pisces. We miss you, Dad!

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