California: Buddy, Can You Spare $7 Billion?

There has been so much financial turmoil in so many places, it’s hard to keep up with it all. BusinessWeek, whose cover language this week is the Pluto in Capricorn-inspired “The New Financial Ice Age,” recently ran a story on California’s financial problems. The headline was “California to Feds: Got a Spare $7 Billion?”

What’s going in on the Golden State? Well, transiting Saturn, the stern taskmaster, is conjuncting California’s natal Sun in hard-working, health-conscious Virgo. You don’t have to be a California Psychic to figure out that’s going to result in some belt-tightening around those very toned California abs.

You can look at California’s chart here, courtesy of Astrodienst.

Back in June, I wrote about the imminent conjunction of Saturn in Virgo to the California Sun, which is also being opposed by Uranus in Pisces. I predicted everything from increased wildfire activity to possible unrest among Golden State residents.

This time, though, I have a prescription for Saturn in Virgo. Here’s my solution to California’s fiscal woes. So many people, Americans and Mexicans alike, want to enter the Golden State that I think California should set up toll booths at its borders and collect a fee from everybody who wants to come in.

Why does everybody want to come in? No, it’s not just to enjoy California’s splendid natural beauty and laid-back lifestyle and to catch a glimpse of a movie star or two. (Remember, this is a state where movie stars like Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger have been elected governor.)

With a Virgo Sun, California’s main attraction is work. According to The World Factbook published by the CIA, if California were an independent nation, it would have had the 10th largest economy in the world in 2007.

Before you dismiss the idea of tolls to enter California, consider this: New York City essentially does the same thing by charging fees on tunnels and bridges leading into the Big Apple. For example, it costs $8 to cross the George Washington Bridge from New Jersey into New York. (No toll going out.)

Californians will hate me for my next idea: tolls on highways. I recently drove from New York to Washington D.C. and was astounded at how much the little state of Delaware (represented by Senator Joe Biden) manages to extract from you for driving a few miles on Route 95.

I used to do this drive on a regular basis back in the Eighties. Driving through Delaware was free then. Now, I think it’s $9 or more. Forgive the sloppy reporting here. If I wanted to Google this morning, I’m sure I could find the exact toll and the exact number of miles you’re on Route 95 through Delaware. But I want to help California solve its economic woes instead.

I hope my commenter SFMike, who writes the Civic Center blog, will weigh in on these civic matters. I’m sure there are some highways in California that already have tolls, but I’m thinking of Interstate 10 running from Los Angeles into Arizona.

Maybe “the 10” needs to become a toll road. I know that truckers would be hurt because this is a main thoroughfare for them to transport produce out of California, but desperate times require desperate measures.

I’m sure there are some truckers or libertarians out there who are going to explain why states can’t or shouldn’t be allowed to collect tolls on interstate highways. In advance, I will tell you that it’s done in the Northeast on Interstate 95. Perhaps 95 has been declared a state road for the stretch that runs through New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. I plead ignorance.

That’s what’s great about blogging. Somebody out there who is a taxation or federal highway freak will write in and set me straight.

So to steal a line from that great California film The Graduate: “I just wanna say one word to you. Are you listening? Tolls.”

P.S. If you click on the “plastics” clip from The Graduate, you’ll be amazed that even in the revolutionary times of 1967, people still had manners. When Ben (Dustin Hoffman) turns away from talking to the women, he says, “Excuse me.” When the plastics man says, “Ben,” he replies, “Mr. McGuire.”

How many times have you been at a party when someone you were talking to was whisked away and never bothered to say, “Excuse me” or “I’ll catch up with you later”? Geez, I’m not turning into my mother. I’m turning into my grandmother!

Give Paul Simon a Break Already

I was born too late for the heyday of Simon and Garfunkel, but I’ve been a big Paul Simon fan ever since the release of There Goes Rhymin’ Simon in 1973. The Brooklyn Academy of Music recently put together a three-month festival celebrating his songs, Love in Hard Times, but alas, I wasn’t in town for it.

I’ve been catching up on the media coverage of the show, including a piece in New York magazine complaining that Simon exhibited the “enthusiasm of a postal clerk on tax day” during his performance. Sounds like Virgo, I thought. So I did a little legwork and found his birth chart, which has a 6 degree Virgo rising.

Here’s the link to Paul Simon’s natal chart.

Be careful with this site. You may need to have Java running. Anyway, be prepared for a slight delay to look at Simon’s chart, set for Oct. 13, 1941 at 2:33 a.m. in Newark Heights, N.J.

One thing that I’ve never understood is why Simon has been criticized for bringing music from other cultures and countries to the attention of the masses. He hasn’t stolen or plagiarized, but he’s been unfairly accused of exploitation, in my opinion, particularly for his South African tribal-infused works on Graceland.

This kind of Simon-bashing is particularly annoying to me in the age of rap and hip-hop, where the sampling of earlier works is accepted and even encouraged. As a suburban teenager I wouldn’t have learned about the Dixie Hummingbirds if it weren’t for their vocals on Simon’s Loves Me Like a Rock on Rhymin’ Simon. This is his Venus in Sag at work, evincing a love of other cultures and sharing it with others.

Why am I such a Simon defender? Maybe it’s because his Neptune at 28 degrees of Virgo is right on my North Node, which symbolizes a collective and healing experience. His songs have always resonated with me, from America to Homeward Bound to Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard.

I’ve always felt that Simon (and Art Garfunkel) captured the ennui and disillusionment in a land of plenty. In my view, the seminal moment was Mrs. Robinson as the theme song to The Graduate, which debuted in New York on Dec. 21, 1967, according to the Internet Movie Database. At that time, electrical Uranus was at 29 Virgo, conjunct Simon’s Neptune, and transforming Pluto was slightly behind, at 22 Virgo. Expansive Jupiter was at 5 degrees of Virgo, smack on Simon’s ascendant.

Over the years, Simon has continued to work his alchemy on the American psyche. At the same time, he was woven classical riffs, African tribal melodies, and a Caribbean beat, to name just three influences, into the tapestry of his music. Like fellow Libran Bruce Springsteen, Simon has served as the poet of his generation. In Simon’s case, the collective consciousness crystallized with the Uranus/Pluto conjunctions of the late Sixties.

Here’s one of my favorite tunes of this troubled troubadour, recorded during a 1974 appearance on The Dick Cavett Show : Paul Simon’s American Tune

(This is my first music link, coming just a few days after my first photo link. Can you tell that stationing Neptune is trining my natal Jupiter in Sag, which is being opposed by a slow-moving retrograde Mercury?)

What sums up the American experience right now better than these words?

We’ve lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the road
we’re traveling on
I wonder what went wrong
I can’t help it, I wonder what went wrong

If you know the answer, please let me know. I’m still trying to figure it out.