Sex on the Rocks at Chelsea Piers; Wall Street Geniuses Suckered by Astrologers

Larry King Jr.’s Two Cents’ Worth

I like meadows in the summertime, especially early in the morning when the grass is dewy …

If you ask me, no fancy pastry chef will ever come up with something equal in taste or texture to the Hostess Twinkie …

I get a kick out of Björk …

I’m no psychiatrist, but don’t you think that visit from the Secret Service guys may have pushed the Capitol Dome killer over the edge? …

Birds are beautiful …

People mock it, but my dad’s column in USA Today is a good read …

Call me old-fashioned, but I like a woman who can talk dirty in bed …

If God seems indifferent to our suffering, maybe it’s because the entire gamut of human experience gives expression to His will. So maybe He’s not actually cold or indifferent–just unimaginably unbiased …

Ronald Reagan was right about one thing: Bananas are the perfect fruit …

I ain’t using umbrellas anymore. Just get wet …

I’m afraid to travel in any country that doesn’t use our alphabet system …

I’ll take an egg salad sandwich any time–but I could do without the flavor of the burps afterward …

Loveliest name for a baseball team? Baltimore Orioles …

I don’t really enjoy watching TV shows that I’ve videotaped. It makes me feel dead inside …

One surefire way to spot the foreign tourists in New York–they’re the ones taking pictures of the squirrels …

People have a simple, instinctive need to go outside. That explains the popularity of golf …

Love is real …

–Larry King Jr

Sex and the Rock

The 46-foot climbing wall at the Sports Center at Chelsea Piers is a real scene, man. Most nights, a troupe of rock climbers meet to gossip, flirt and climb. At any given time, half the people are actually climbing and the rest do stretching exercises and talk about the ones up on the wall.

On July 23, a little after 7 P.M., a beginning climber named Henry found himself about 20 feet up the wall–and he was stuck. Ivan Greene, expert climber and an instructor at the gym, was trying to talk him through it.

“Henry! Dude! Don’t turn your leg in!”

But Henry slipped. There he was, dangling on the rope that extended from the top of the rock to his partner on the ground.

“Damn it!” Henry screamed. “Damn it!”

He slapped the wall.

“I know what he’s feeling,” said instructor Greene.

Mr. Greene heard the call of the climb when he was an art student. “I would be sitting around in my painting class and I would look out and I’d think, ‘I got to get out there,'” he said. So he took a year off and trained, trained like he had never trained before. He ripped out the back seat of his Volkswagen Rabbit to make room for a bed and drove from rock to rock, living off pasta and making just enough money to get to the next site. Now climbing is what he lives for and it’s what he thinks about when he’s not climbing. “I’ll be driving upstate and thinking about moves on a specific climb,” he said. “It’s your own goals and it’s not like you’re trying to get the team to win. It’s just you and the rock.”

As Henry made his way down, the regulars, wearing next to nothing, were gossiping and flirting with one another at the bottom of the wall. Over on the other side stood the “Gums,” which, in climbing vernacular, means the new guys, the losers, the uninitiated. And then there was Suzanne Dottino, a 35-year-old graduate student, who seemed to belong to neither group and sat apart from the crowd. She said she used to date a guy she’d met at the wall, but it didn’t work out.

“These guys are so self-involved,” she said during a break. “They’re problematic that way. Climbing is all about trust, and the person down below has your life in their hands, so there is an immediate bond. It’s like trust is the biggest issue in a relationship, but that trust doesn’t translate over from the wall into life,” Ms. Dottino said. “In a way, climbing is like the worst prototype for a relationship ever, because it’s like sleeping together right away: ‘Will you be my partner for today? Will you take my life in your hands? Will you sleep with me?’ It’s much too fast.”

She considered the sexual possibilities of the rock.

“It just throbs sometimes,” Ms. Dottino said. “I think there’s something very sexual about the rock. Some of these guys have erections when they finish climbing. There’s nothing warm or comforting about the rock, but it takes away your sexual frustrations because it’s so demanding …

“These guys are so unreachable because they’re so zoned out to be one with the rock,” she continued. “They could go live in the Grand Canyon and they would be like, ‘Fine, who cares?’ They happen to be the smartest, most interesting guys–but they’re just unavailable for real life.”

Thomas Andrews, 38, another instructor at the Chelsea Piers rock, said he couldn’t have a serious relationship with someone who wasn’t serious about the sport. “I wouldn’t choose someone who didn’t have a passion equal to mine for climbing,” he said. And then he tried to explain his attraction to climbing: “It’s just about me. Me and the rock. You only have to answer to yourself. You set your own challenge. The rock is the rock.”

Stars Over Wall Street

“At the millennium, we will go back into the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction which draws us back to reality,” said Henry Weingarten.

Mr. Weingarten, founder of the market advisory service Astrologers Fund Inc. that publishes a weekly newsletter called Wall Street Next Week , is part of a small but fervent group of financial astrologists who predict stock and market movements based on the planets.

Mr. Weingarten calls trades by looking at the horoscopes of stocks, currencies and markets. Yvonne Morabito, a Bloomberg columnist who used to be a trader and analyst for management-fund czar Paul Tudor Jones, is another astro-trader. Mr. Weingarten and Ms. Morabito first ascertain significant dates of financial entities–an incorporation date for a company, the first trade date for a currency, the opening day of an exchange–then they check the planets to come up with financial horoscopes. Ms. Morabito claims the stock of Microsoft Corporation is in for a surge. Why? Microsoft and its chairman, Bill Gates, are Scorpios, the sign ruled by Pluto, which is picking up speed these days!

Mr. Weingarten also recommends a concept called synastry to further enhance trading. This idea involves comparing your own horoscope to the horoscope of whatever you want to buy or sell. “It’s my planets versus their planets,” Mr. Weingarten said.

He claims planetary events can shake up markets. Take Saturn lining up with Jupiter in two years. Saturn–exuding pessimism and fear–will crush the exuberance of Jupiter, the planet that is now dominant in the cosmos.

“Everyone wants to buy, buy, buy,” Mr. Weingarten said. “This is not the time to buy.”

Financial astrologist Arch Crawford, a Vietnam veteran and former technical market analyst at Merrill Lynch & Company, said he tracks the price movements of stock, bond, currency and commodities markets alongside the fixed movements of the planets to make predictions. He thinks a Sept. 4 Mars-Uranus opposition, where Mars moves up in relation to a falling Uranus, portends a Dow Jones crash in the fall. “Every crash this century occurred when Mars was opposite Uranus,” Mr. Crawford said.

Mr. Crawford made his name by predicting the October 1987 crash. He has been named one of the best predictors by The Hulbert Financial Digest and the Investment Newsletter Timer Digest .

Mr. Weingarten says he called the 1997 Hong Kong and Asian market crises as well as the New York Stock Exchange’s mini-crash last October. The calls helped get him a gig on Hearst New Media and Technology’s personal finance Web site for women, moneyminded.com.

But not everyone is going for it. Peter Green, technical strategist at Gruntal & Company, conceded that Mr. Crawford was “a very good market-timer,” but added, “At market extremes, people search for things to back their cause whether it’s real or not.”

But then again, financiers have looked to the heavens for a long time. Even the late, great J.P. Morgan once said, “Millionaires don’t use astrology–billionaires do.”

–Carrie Cunningham

Sex on the Rocks at Chelsea Piers; Wall Street Geniuses Suckered by Astrologers