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Alexander Cockburn
Alexander Cockburn
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"We Remember Thee, Oh Sian" -- Love Song of the Bohemian Grove

Comment

The secret government of the planet — a perennial topic of conspiracist speculation — is assembled this month for the summer session of the Bohemian Grove — three weeks of heavy-hitter revelry in a well-guarded 2,200-acre grove of mighty redwoods on the Russian River, 60 miles north of San Francisco. Here, in mid-July, a well-placed infernal device at the opening masque last Sunday night would certainly have put a serious dent in the high brass of the Republican Party, czars of Fortune's World 500, most of California's business elite, a passel of European politicians and a Third World leader or two. Henry Kissinger would most likely be among the fallen. The trashy Christian Evangelists, and Mrs. Clinton, all unwelcome at the Bohemian Grove, a men-only affair, would inherit the earth.

The conspiracists who track World Government as its assignations perambulate through the calendar from Bilderberg through Ditchley to Davos, claim the Bohemian Grove rendezvous is the ne plus ultra of these secret sessions because it involves hideous rituals, possibly including human sacrifice (admittedly the default occupation of bankers) of whom there are many to be found at the Grove, drinking gin fizzes — a prime lubricant of Boho rituals.

The climax of this past weekend was the traditional masque, representing the Banishment of Care. If tradition held, robed tycoons moved with stately gait (gin fizz consumption starts early in the day in the Grove) through the trees amid Wagnerian music and a supportive squadron of caped riders. The prosperous cortege carried a bier supporting the effigy of Care, probably this year a papier-mache creation of worthless derivative contracts and sub-prime real estate loan paper. They launched the effigy into a vast bonfire (inside every tycoon is still a little boy roasting marshmallows), and Care was finally cremated. In its place they lit the flame of eternal friendship, and three weeks of Boho-dom were underway. I can disclose that Boho Grove member Paul Pelosi, Nancy P.'s mate, was in the cast (and recorded as such in the program) for the big ceremonial event.

From the cremation of Care stem the conspiracist allegations of beastly ceremonial and human sacrifice, though in fact, the core Boho rituals were worked up nearly a century ago by a real estate plunger who took to poetry and finally banished Care in conclusive fashion by poisoning himself with strychnine on the Club's premises in 1926.

In its late 19th century origins the Bohemian Grove was a journalists' hangout in San Francisco, patronized by Jack London, Bret Harte and Mark Twain. As so often in the annals of club-dom the riffraff sought prosperous underwriters for their carouses and brought in businessmen who took the club over in short order and finally relocated it on the Russian River, well beyond the lurch-and-totter capabilities of the lowly hacks and scriveners.

"World government" these days means some well-guarded rendezvous where you catch sight of a Rockefeller or a Bechtel peeing against a redwood, or Henry Kissinger lecturing some European prime minister. The Bohemian Grove offers such attractions, and this being most distinctly a Republican affair, Republican candidates for the presidency thirst to be invited. Nixon got the nod here for his 1968 candidacy, which put him in the White House. George Bush Sr.

shares his "camp" — Hillbillies — with William F. Buckley Jr. There are some 120 of these permanent frat houses — some of them luxuriously appointed — stretching along River Road and Morse Stephens Canyon. Former Secretary of State and seasoned World Government member James Baker is in Woof camp. Ronald Reagan used to share Owl's Nest with Eddie Albert. There's another one called Ye Merrie Yowls.

Club humor tends to the heavy-handed, and such heavy-handedness climaxes at the end of each July with the Club play and satirical review, both of them productions planned up to five years in advance, which occupy the passionate anticipation of Boho tycoons. Visit a captain of commerce or industry in San Francisco in his corporate HQ in San Francisco and you will most likely find him practicing his juggling act or ordering adjustments to his drag assemblage with grotesque bust bodice, designed to have world governors rolling in the aisles. Acquisition of membership comes by birthright or sedulous lobbying and the usual blackballing obtains.

There's a no-shop talk rule, honored in the ceaseless breach. "They talk business here all the time," a waiter once confided. "The younger members brown-nose shamelessly, making contacts." The waiting lists for membership are so long it takes years for the novitiate to be admitted. Lobbying is pathetically fierce. A friend of mine, big in Reagan time, has been on the doorstep for 15 years. He says he likes it that way. He's spared the hefty sign-up fee of around $10,000 and annual membership dues and only has to pony up when he's invited, which is every two or three years.†

In the hectic Seventies, feminists made a fuss about the men-only rule, and the lads riposted plaintively that they could surrender the American male's prime expression of intimacy with Nature's realm, peeing against a tree, preferably Sequoia sempervirens. The male staff, living on the fringes of the Grove has naturally evolved into a gay community. Hookers from afar afield as Las Vegas heed the Grove's July call and await their clients in nearby motels.

The lead-up to this year's revels have been enlivened by the search for a former Miss Wales, whose pin-up, taken at the acme of her career as Beauty Queen and Bond Girl ("From a View to a Kill") was pinned on an outside wall of one of the camps, in an area called "Skiddoo," much admired by successive cohorts of world governors, who would fill in the conversational gaps between gin fizz consumption and lakeside talks on the commercial possibilities inherent in global warming by wondering what Miss Wales — aka Sian Adey-Jones — was up to these days. They wanted to find her, honor her with a dinner, which under the Men Only rule, she would be unable to attend. From Sian they wanted a greeting and a new pic. Confided one, "The poster has become rather famous throughout the club because of the artistic photography and the beauty of the subject.

Sian tells the Daily Mail: "I'm flattered to be in the hearts and minds of such important people, but my modeling career is in the past now. And, since they are so secretive, how do I know if this will be a nice gentlemen's dinner or men leaping around doing weird and distasteful things in a forest?"

The search launched for Miss Adey-Jones by the publicity-shy Boho-magnates soon ended up on the front page of the Mail, whose investigators determined that 49-year old Sian is living on Ibiza, married to an Italian, mother of two and — to judge the photograph — still fetching enough to raise a wistful whistle in Skiddoo.

Alexander Cockburn is coeditor with Jeffrey St. Clair of the muckraking newsletter CounterPunch. He is also co-author of the new book "Dime's Worth of Difference: Beyond the Lesser of Two Evils," available through www.counterpunch.com. To find out more about Alexander Cockburn and read features by other columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2007 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.



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