A Guide to the Bohemian Grove

What really goes on inside the secluded Bohemian Grove, the site of the ultra-exclusive Bohemian Club’s yearly bacchanalia among the California redwoods? Related:Bohemian Tragedy,” by Alex Shoumatoff.

by Julian Sancton WEB EXCLUSIVE April 1, 2009

Conspiracy theorists believe the Bohemian Grove’s idyllic grounds, in northern California, are host to right-wing, old-boy machinations about the New World Order. Honorary member Richard Nixon, meanwhile, called it “the most faggy goddamned thing you could ever imagine.” For V.F. contributing editor Alex Shoumatoff, who was arrested for trespassing at last year’s encampment while investigating the club’s forestry practices, the most suspicious activity that takes place in the grove is the alleged logging of old-growth redwood trees. But common to all reports from the two-week-long gathering of the country’s rich and powerful old guard—members have included every Republican president since Coolidge—is an account of profuse outdoor urination. With gin fizzes being poured at seven a.m., so many enlarged prostates, and such majestic natural urinals, who’s surprised? We present to you a guide to the Bohemian Grove, including a map of the premises, highlights of the events, and a list of prominent members and regular guests, from the club’s founding, in 1872, to today.

The last Bohemian Grove encampment took place in July 2008. Here’s an abridged schedule of events from the club’s program. Who knew the Grovers were so soulful?!

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Situated 75 miles north of San Francisco, the Bohemian Grove covers 2,700 acres of magnificent Douglas firs and redwoods, some over 1,000 years old. As of 2007, there were 118 camps, distributed around the site’s central feature: a man-made lake, watched over by a towering Owl Shrine, where the infamous “Cremation of Care” ceremony is held at the beginning of each encampment. Survey the idyllic grounds with our map. (Click to enlarge.)

Related:Bohemian Tragedy,” by Alex Shoumatoff.

Saturday, July 12
9:15 p.m.—Owl Shrine—Cremation of Care
            “Come join us as we raise the battle banners in the name of beauty, truth, peace and fellowship. Oh, Beauty’s Vassals, let us together seek the counsel of the Great Owl of Bohemia so that we may rediscover the wisdom needed to banish Dull Care once again!
‘Hail, Fellowship’s Eternal Flame!’”
[Around 9:30 p.m., V.F. reporter Alex Shoumatoff is apprehended.]

Monday, July 14
9:15 p.m.—Campfire Circle—“Sly Fox”
            “Come enjoy an evening of laughter as we reprise this Broadway hit comedy. M*A*S*H creator, Larry Gelbart, provides a laugh around every crooked corner in this witty look at the workings of greed and lust. Come see why our jubilant City Club audiences gave this talented cast a ‘Standing O!’”

Wednesday, July 16
9:15 p.m.—Campfire Circle—“Sam Cooke”
            “Sam Cooke was one of the founders of Soul Music with 29 top 40 hits between 1957 and 1965, including ‘You Send Me’, ‘Chain Gang’, and ‘Bring It On Home To Me’. Join some of Bohemia’s most soulful vocal and instrumental talent as we celebrate the music of this legendary singer, songwriter, publisher and producer.”

Thursday, July 17
10:30 a.m.—Museum Talk—“The Role of Nuclear in America’s Energy Choices,” John Grossenbacher, Vice Admiral, USN, Ret., Director, Idaho National Laboratory.

Friday, July 18
12:30 p.m.—Lakeside Talk—“Always Present: The Role of Religion in American Politics,” Hunter Rawlings, Professor of Classics and History, and President Emeritus, Cornell University.
9:15 p.m.—Grove Stage—“The Little Friday Night”
            “This is the night that size does matter. Our ‘Little’ show takes over the BIG stage with BIG acts from Bohemia plus some surprise BIG names and that means BIG stars from the BIG time. Don’t miss our show, it’s really, well, BIG!”
[M.C.’d by Christopher Buckley.]

Saturday, July 19
9:15 p.m.—The Low Jinks, at Field Circle—“Easy Going”
            “Set in a funeral home during the final days of prohibition, ‘Easy Going’ asks that eternal Bohemian question, ‘What’s the best way to get pickled?’ Will Prentice Boxem conquer his midlife crisis, derail his shrewish wife Barbara’s political ambitions, and keep his business from going under? The Shadow knows, but he’s not telling, so you’re going to have to come to Field Circle and find out for yourself.”

Monday, July 21
4:00 p.m.—Fly Casting Demonstration at the Lake
            “Bohemian expert fly-casters Ray Lewis and Ralph Osterling will demonstrate and give tips. Extra rods will be available.”

Wednesday, July 23
12:30 p.m.—Lakeside Talk—“Life in the Press Room,” Tony Snow, Bohemian, and Journalist.
[Cancelled due to Snow’s death.]

Thursday, July 24
12:30 p.m.—Lakeside Talk—“In Space,” Charles Simonyi, Chief Executive Officer, International Software Corporation.
9:15 p.m.—Jinks Band Concert at Field Circle—“The Jinks Band Has the Blues”
            “The mention of the blues generally conjures up images of soulful tunes about hard times and bad women. However, the blues can also be joyful, and the idiom is the foundation for an infinite variety of musical styles, including those of Bop masters Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker and the ‘sheets of sound’ of John Coltrane. Join conductor, John Capobianco, the Jinks Band and their great vocalists, Jamie Davis and Tom Liles, as they celebrate the blues.”

Saturday, July 26
9:15 p.m.—Field Circle Show—“Hitsville USA: the Motown Review”
            “Founded in a Detroit row house named ‘Hitsville USA’, by Berry Gordy, Motown records created hit after hit after hit. In this show, we have assembled a band worthy of the Funk Brothers and a list of singers, including some surprise guests. From the opening piano lick in ‘Money’ to the smooth sax of Jr. Walker there Ain’t No Mountain High Enough to keep us from bringing you a great show!”


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