THE INVESTIGATOR, SANTA BARBARA NEWS-PRESS, JULY 26th, 2008
Bohemian Grove, 400 miles north of Santa Barbara, is the USA's most exclusive summer camp.
It occupies 2,700 acres along the Russian River and annually hosts an exclusive fraternity of middle-aged and elderly bigwigs that come to retreat from reality among the redwoods for two weeks.
(It is men only, absolutely no women, not even among a staff run by "head valets" who are trained to meet members' every need.)
To set the right tone, these old boys enact a pagan ritual called Cremation of Care.
Here's how it works:
Standing below a forty-foot shrine featuring the club mascot--an owl named Molech--and dressed in ceremonial red-hooded robes, warriors like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld chant "Be-gone Dull Care--midsummer sets us free!"
The Investigator is not making this up.
Then they toss an effigy that they've named Dull Care upon a bonfire to symbolize their collective release from the pressures of everyday life.
This apparently sets them free to engage in hijinx, which includes performing musical skits dressed in drag.
(Remember Matt Damon in The Good Shepherd? It was the only time he smiled throughout the movie.)
BoHos, as they like to call themselves, quaff martinis at ten in the morning and wander around camp in their pajamas all day long.
If they need to take a whiz, well, that's why this place is also known as "the pee on a tree club."
Bohemian Grove is divided into 128 luxury camps.
Each has twenty to thirty members, with names like Wild Oats, Woof and Cave Man.
They're not supposed to talk shop, hence the Grove motto: Weaving Spiders Come Not Here.
Nonetheless, the Manhattan Project, which gave birth to the atomic bomb, was woven at the Grove in the summer of '42.
Conspiracy theories therefore abound about the Grove and its campers, about power elite machinations.
But the Bohemian brotherhood is, ultimately, about social bondage.
Even President "Tricky Dick" Nixon, awkward socially, finally bonded with these mis-named Bohemians.
Nixon, like every Republican president of the 20th century, confided his candidacy first to his fellow campers--in one of their "Lakeside Chats"--before taking it public.
About the transvestite productions, Nixon once said, "It is the most faggy goddamned thing you could ever imagine."
Ronald Reagan surrounded himself at the White House with his Bohemian brotherhood: George Shultz, Caspar Weinberger, James Baker, Donald Regan, and William Casey.
Confirmed attendees this year include President George H.W. Bush (41), James Baker, Henry Kissinger--and Jimmy Buffett.
The Grove's parent is the Bohemian Club of San Francisco, created in 1872 as a haven for genuine bohemians: painters and musicians and actors and writers, including Mark Twain and Jack London.
Over time, the rich and powerful hijacked this artistic fraternity into a mostly conservative Republican "our crowd" of industrialists, bankers, lawyers and lobbyists.
A Washington D.C. insider told The Investigator, "The good and the great gather from around the world. There's lots of good food, booze, and some high powered speakers." But, he added, "I actually found my time at the Grove boring."
Perhaps he did not break camp and venture into the nearby towns of Monte Rio or Guerneville.
That's where the real excitement takes place:
Some campers are said to cross the river-- a Grove euphemism for taking their lust to town.
To handle this effort, the local inns swell for two weeks with ladies (and gentlemen) of the night, in from Nevada and elsewhere to liberate these BoHos from dull care.