Honey, your December noir horoscope is here …

Brad Pitt turns 49 on Dec. 18.

Fate reigns supreme in film noir, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love us some zodiac fun. Hope your December is full of expensive champagne, exquisite gifts and elegant entrances to parties. And happy birthday, Sagittarius and Capricorn! A special shout-out to Sag stars Julianne Moore (Dec. 3), Kim Basinger (Dec. 8), Brad Pitt (Dec. 18) Julie Delpy (Dec. 21) and Vanessa Paradis (Dec. 22); and super-sexy Caps, the late Ava Gardner (Dec. 24), Sienna Miller (Dec. 28) and Marianne Faithfull (Dec. 29).

Sagittarius (November 23-December 22): Possibility abounds now and in the New Year. Don’t concern yourself with what’s realistic, feasible or practical. There will be plenty of time for thorough scrutiny later on but, at this juncture, dream big and think boldly. It will come together one piece at a time. On the romantic front, you may be tempted by a coy boy; enjoy the dalliance without rushing into anything. If attached, celebrate your passion, hell, get creative. The holiday-party circuit will keep you extra busy and may open new doors.

Capricorn (December 23-January 20): As usual, hard work often pays off for Capricorns. Diligent portion control followed by triumphant shopping these last few weeks has been well worth the effort. You are being noticed even more than usual so try to be fair and carve out a little time for the slew of people wanting to socialize. That said, it’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind. Remember that mid-month when you feel bound to do something simply because of a crossed conversational wire. A brilliant idea occurs to you around the 8th.

Aquarius (January 21-February 19): Why does everyone say “high maintenance” like it’s a bad thing? Striving for perfection has its place. Don’t lower your lofty standards but remember to cut yourself and others some slack now and then. You rarely act on a whim (except when shoes, jeans, boots, sweaters, purses, scarves, bracelets, fur vests, little black dresses and anything from Anne Fontaine are involved) preferring instead to do your homework and make informed decisions. By-the-book types with no imagination may envy your visionary approach to enjoying life. Let them.

Sienna Miller will be 31 on Dec. 28.

Pisces (February 20-March 20): There is a French proverb that says, “Fortune is a woman; if you neglect her today, do not expect to regain her tomorrow.” In other words, find time to nurture your nest egg, even if it feels like a chore. Toward the end of the month, you may receive a flurry of compliments so when someone tells you for 697th time that you’re amazing, do try not to yawn. The 21st is a great day to be spontaneous.

Aries (March 21-April 20): Appreciate life’s simple pleasures – a flawless manicure, a dress on sale, an alibi that sticks. Make the most of every day and treat yourself to something fabulous for a holiday party. And consider hosting a vintage cocktail party yourself. True, it would be nice to dust a bit and polish the silver but, let’s face it, you’ll enjoy the party even more if you prepare by sleeping in late, having breakfast in bed and getting a massage and a pedicure.

Taurus (April 21-May 21): According to Vogue’s Book of Etiquette, 1948, which provides advice on tipping cigarette girls in nightclubs (10-15 cents), traveling in a Pullman car, and saying good evening at a dance, the word escort “should not be used instead of “The man I was dining with” or, “The man who had taken me to the theater.” While this little tidbit will more than likely land in your mental file on useless information, try this month to resist putting labels on any budding relationships. Keep things a bit mysterious and you will be rewarded by magic. Stand your ground on the 30th. [Read more...]

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For author Tere Tereba, mobster Mickey Cohen is the ultimate anti-hero and the story of Los Angeles

Of America’s many grand and gaudy cities, Los Angeles has long been the ultimate siren.

This is the noir metropolis, both sunny and sordid, that gangster Mickey Cohen made completely his own. Brooklyn-born and LA-raised, Cohen as a young adult was uneducated, illiterate and had difficulty counting. But he was smart, tough, ambitious, ruthless, immoral and wildly lucky.

Model/designer/author Tere Tereba shot by Moshe Brakha

He was also the ne plus ultra dreamer, lured by seemingly limitless opportunity to reinvent himself by acquiring staggering amounts of money and clout. It’s hard to imagine his rise from grubby paper boy to one of the most prominent figures in the underworld taking place anywhere but the City of Angels.

Indeed for author Tere Tereba, Cohen is Los Angeles. Her book “Mickey Cohen: The Life and Crimes of L.A.’s Notorious Mobster” (ECW, $16.95 paperback/$29.95 hardcover) outlines the history of the man and the city, from Prohibition to the mid ’70s. “He was LA’s top mobster for a generation,” Tereba recently told me over a glass of iced tea in her elegant living room.

“He terrorized, captivated and corrupted Los Angeles. He’s about to be introduced to the American public through ‘Gangster Squad’ (the upcoming movie in which Sean Penn plays Cohen) and people don’t know who Mickey Cohen really was.”

Tereba, an award-winning fashion designer and journalist, is a quintessential Angelino. Born in Warren, Ohio, she has lived here since childhood. As a teenager, Tereba frequently saw bands at Sunset Strip clubs and connected with Jim Morrison’s girlfriend, Pamela Courson, who jump-started her design career.

Tere Tereba shot by George Hurrell

Tereba’s account of Morrison in Paris was selected by The Doors to appear in their book, The Doors: An Illustrated History. In addition to her creative talent, Tereba’s classic features and stop-and-stare bone structure drew much attention, from the likes of famed Hollywood photographer George Hurrell for whom she modeled and Andy Warhol, who cast her in his 1977 black comedy “Bad.” Warhol described Tereba as looking like Hedy Lamarr and acting like Lucille Ball.

The day I met her, she wore a chic black dress, a vintage shrimp-pin and zebra-stripe pumps. “I could put on one of my Irene suits, if you want,” she offered, with a laugh.

Tereba’s book renders a portrait of a complex and compelling man in a city ripe with chances to strike it big, especially for unscrupulous players. Of Cohen’s return to the West Coast in 1937 after a stint in Cleveland and Chicago, Tereba writes: “He found Los Angeles to still be a big small town. The underworld setup, the 23-year-old learned, was not the eastern system.” Or as Cohen put it, “Gambling and everything … was completely run by cops and stool pigeons.”

Fast forward to the fall of 1955, when Cohen, 42, was released from McNeil Island Federal Penitentiary. Tereba describes Cohen’s turf this way: “The land of perpetual summer, carnal delights, and blue-sky ennui still captured the imagination of dreamers everywhere. But L.A. had changed. Bigger and bolder than ever, freeways linked the suburban sprawl. Hollywood’s old guard had lost their luster; a new and different breed was on the horizon.”

Tere Tereba shot by Paul Jasmin

Speaking of Hollywood, Tereba’s book explores the intersection between mafia characters and the Tinseltown elite, such as the 1958 fatal stabbing of Johnny Stompanato by Lana Turner’s daughter, Cheryl Crane.

Until Cohen’s death on July 29, 1976 (he died in his sleep, having survived 11 assassination attempts over the years), the brawny former boxer lived each moment intensely, often courting publicity and flaunting his power.

Said Tereba during our interview: “He was the ultimate anti-hero because he did what he wanted to do. He went against the cops, he fought city hall. He did all the things you’re not supposed to do and everybody’s afraid to do.

“You don’t get more outrageous and brazen than Mickey Cohen. Even his showy style of doing business. He dressed the way he wanted to, in a semi-Zoot suit. He knew what he liked and he followed it.”

Some facts are already well known. In setting the scene, Tereba reminds the reader: “After the [1938] scandal decimated the LAPD, the city of Los Angeles was closed to underworld activity. But Los Angeles County remained wide open.

Tere Tereba shot by Moshe Brakha

“Sheriff Eugene Biscailuz’s mighty domain stretched from Lancaster in the north to Catalina Island, 26 miles off the coast, south to Orange County, and east to San Bernadino County – from the desert to the mountains to the sea.

“Geographically the largest county in the country, at more than 4,000 square miles, it was bigger than many eastern states and made up 43 percent of the state’s population.”

She also reveals never-before-released documents and information, such as the anxiety disorder Cohen struggled with for most of his life, his wife LaVonne’s unsavory background and his relationships with women after he and LaVonne divorced in 1958.

Much has been written, speculated, invented and whitewashed about Cohen and his city. Tereba spent more than 10 years researching and writing her book; she tells Cohen’s story swiftly and assuredly. Her page-turning and entertaining narrative neither glamorizes nor judges its subject.

Mickey Cohen

By the time “Gangster Squad” hits screens this fall and plants Mickey Cohen firmly in the spotlight (which he would have loved) Tereba’s readers will have already pierced through the shadows that have shrouded him for decades.

Tereba will discuss and sign her book at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 14, at Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, 90027.

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