I was reading that the famous Bohemian Grove event was taking place again this year. I went looking for some information online and found that it is mostly protesters websites hating the rich fat cats! Where I am sure having a men only club is far from PC these days, it is simply amazing that it event takes place at all. I know the protesters are angry that these political powers talk freely with big business players.
I spent one summer working as the lone waiter at the arguably the most prestigious camp. The Mandalay campsite. The Mandalay was poised way up on a hill, an old elevator pulley system brought up the bags and groceries. A winding path lead to the top. I found most of the campers to be acting more like College students after finals.
Mandalay (Big Business/Defense Contractors/Politics/US Presidents)
I was going to school at California State University, Chico at the time and was working at a health club for the summer when I was approached by this old guy who never spoke to anyone while he was in the gym. I always said. “Hi” to him and he would briefly smile. His wife on the other hand was always chatting with everyone. One day he said to me. “You seem like people like you and you work pretty hard around here, do you want to work for me for 2 weeks? I need a waiter and I will pay you $2000 for the two weeks. Cash.” I agreed because 2k was sounded great for my college fund.
The Bohemian Grove is a 2700 acre redwood forest, located in Monte Rio, CA. One month later I drove my car to the Rewdwood lined parking lot and walked in. I had to take a little open air bus that shuttled guests around.
I went up the path and the old guy who hired me had this transformation into a raging lunatic. He was no longer quiet and he was yelling at everyone. The guests were to arrive in three days, so we had to clean and get everything ready. I met two Asian guys from University of California, Berkeley who were also hired. A couple of great guys and the only reason I say they were Asian was that (they were) and the old guy said to them they were to stay out of site of the guests. When they came down for meals they were to slip in and clean the tents- make beds etc…. I would be the lone waiter for all of the camp guests. The old guy who hired me was the camp cook and I found out he had been a merchant seaman for years and he had his side kick an even older guy, who was his prep cook who he had sailed with. I shared a room with him. Real nice guy but he said he didn’t trust college types. We shared a small bunk room on a row of rooms behind the kitchen. The other rooms held the 2 Berkeley guys and the old guy who hired me had his own room.
When the campers arrived it was crazy busy. I asked if one of the Berkeley guys could help me wait the huge table they sat around. He then said.” They cant see them” I thought to myself -why not? I mean they were attending Berkeley so they obviously had some brains. I went to Chico State which at the time was training me to be more of bartender then a waiter. Then it dawned on me is was because they were Asian. He never came out and said it but he always stressed they were to to run and clean the tents/rooms of the Mandalay members without being seen. Also to stay behind the kitchen when they were not working. Nice really nice. I don’t really think the members cared about anything but drinking. They were all very nice except Henry Kissenger who demanded his bread to be buttered to the edges. Real fetish he has. I desperately tried to have Mr. Kissengers bread buttered to the edges before bringing it out. But he always sent me back into the kitchen to rebutter it. Of course he also had a little cup filled with butter pads right in front of him if he really needed it.
Other notables were Kirk Douglas, Clint Eastwood and a host of other people whose last names all had something to do with something; Normstrom, Gillette etc. Or they were part of even bigger things: Phillip Hawley of Bank of America; George Shultz; William Casey of the CIA, Reily Bechtel; Thomas Watson Jr. David O´Reilly; chairman of ChevronTexaco; H.B. Atwater Jr., chief executive officer of General Mills; and Edgar Kaiser Jr., founder of the Kaiser Foundation among others.
Old cook guy who hired me was a raving lunatic the whole 2 weeks. He kept saying we could be replaced in a heartbeat. Though most of the members were just drinking and having fun talking. They did complain about the food a little which i never told him. He might have had a heart attack.
Each morning I rose at the crack of dawn to make the trek to the front gate to get newspapers. Many people movers past me by (little open air trucks above) but since I was a worker they no longer would give me a lift even though it was empty. (camp policy) I went and got the newspapers and headed back. I set out the newspapers and then waited for the guests to come down to take their Breakfast orders. Each morning Mr. Gillette would come in way before everyone else and make two Gin Fizzes. one for me and one for him. We would sit and drink them. The first day I thought it was funny, but as he came down each morning it became our morning ritual. Nice man. As the other guests came down to eat, the Berkeley guys would hit their tents to give them maid service. Once breakfast was over they would have a sit down lunch each day on the massive deck. What I found particularly funny is they would stand up and turn around and do their urinating over the deck railing. Usually with a cocktail in hand. Still chatting it up 2 feet away. Here I am serving food and taking orders and I would have to weave through these guys relieving themselves. Pretty funny sight. They were all very good natured and having a good time being campers. It basically is a vacation for them all where they can let loose. Lots and lots of drinking and urinating. Then they would hang around and drink and I would clean up and then get ready for dinner. We would repeat the same thing for dinner. I got along well with the Mandalay campers.
Why put this in an Events & Media Blog?
I guess I am including this brief little snippet of my time at the Bohemian Grove/Camp/Club because of the major productions they put on a couple of the evenings. These were elaborate plays and the sound systems were perfect around the towering redwoods.(The Grove itself consists of redwood trees over 1,500 years old. It is a spectacular nature preserve, untouched by logging, and containing many elevated walkways.) We were not suppose to go down there but the 2 Berkeley guys and I would head down there to watch and drink a few beers. It was simply amazing. I saw a little snippet of a guy who snuck a c
amera in to say that they are all devil worshipers but I didnt get that feeling at all. Aagin seemed liek a place where these high poered guys could drink and pee in the woods. Which they probably do do alot of the rst of the year.
From Wikipedia Grove Stage – it is an amphitheatre with seating for 2,000 used primarily for the Grove Play production, on the last Friday of the midsummer encampment. The stage extends up the hill side, and is also home to the second largest outdoor pipe organ in the world.
Field Circle – a bowl-shaped amphitheatre used for the mid-weekend, “Low Jinks” musical comedy, as well as for variety shows.
Campfire Circle – has a campfire pit in the middle of the circle, surrounded by carved redwood log benches. Used for smaller shows in a more intimate setting.
Museum Stage – A semi-outdoor venue with a covered stage. Lectures and small ensembles shows.
Dining Circle – seating approximately 1500 diners simultaneously.
The Owl Shrine and the Lake – an artificial lake in the middle of the grove, used for the noon-time concerts and also the venue of the Cremation of Care, that takes place on the first Saturday of the encampment. It is also the location of the daily (12.30pm) “Lakeside Talks.” Professor G. William Domhoff states these significant informal talks (many on public policy issues) have been given over the years by entertainers, professors, astronauts, business leaders, cabinet officers, CIA directors, future presidents and former presidents; these have been the subject of ongoing controversy, as the transcripts of these talks have never been released to the public.
The primary activities taking place at the Grove are varied and expensive entertainments, such as an elaborate Grove Play (known as “High Jinks”) and musical comedies (“Low Jinks”) – where female roles are played by men in drag – produced by the members and associate members of the Club. Thus the majority of common facilities are entertainment venues, interspersed among the giant redwoods.
There are also sleeping quarters, or “camps” scattered throughout the grove, of which it is reported there were a total of 104 as of 2005. These camps, which are frequently patrilineal, are the principal means through which high-level business and political contacts and friendships are formed. For senior corporate executives, the camps are said to be the pinnacle of socio-political networking in the US.
According to Joel van der Reijden the pre-eminent camps are:
Mandalay (Big Business/Defense Contractors/Politics/US Presidents);
Hill Billies (Big Business/Banking/Politics/Universities/Media);
Cave Man (Think Tanks/Oil Companies/Banking/Defense Contractors/Universities/Media);
Stowaway (Rockefeller Family Interests/Oil Companies/Banking/Think Tanks);
Owls Nest (US Presidents/Military/Defense Contractors);
Hideaway (Foundations/Military/Defense Contractors);
Isle of Aves (Military/Defense Contractors);
Lost Angels (Banking/Defense Contractors/Media);
Silverado squatters (Big Business/Defense Contractors);
Sempervirens (Californian-based Corporations);
Hillside (Military – Joint Chiefs of Staff)
All in all I wish I had paid more attention to my time at the Mandalay camp it was interesting to see the powerful people of the world and listen in to the conversations as I butter bread and got drinks for these historical folks. Tonight after work I will enjoy a Gin fizz in honor of my old drinking buddy Mr. Gillette.