Saturday, January 30, 2016

My chickenshit Bohemian Grove adventure

I am writing from the Volti Choral Institute, where about 60 absolutely lovely and lovely-voiced Californian teenaged women are singing my three Lola Ridge pieces (they've already made me tear up in rehearsal). I'll post some video from the camp in due course, hopefully, but I have to document something very important first.

Shortly after I arrived, I was discussing with Barbara, the Executive Director of Volti, what I might do to occupy my time this afternoon, when the girls were taking workshops and classes unrelated to my compositions. "I guess I'll just explore the area."
"Have you heard of the Bohemian Club?"
"Is that ... you mean like Bohemian Grove?"
"Yes, Bohemian Grove is right here."


Sure enough, I looked at a map.

Oh my GOD. OH MY GOD. I have made jokes about going to Bohemian Grove for over a decade, probably ever since I read Jon Ronson's Them. And now I was sitting less than ten miles away from the actual site, and I had no idea. I didn't even twig when I saw that the address of the CYO Retreat was on "Bohemian Highway." I am on the same street as Bohemian Grove.

So just a few hours ago, after lunch, I jumped in my bright red Mazda rental car and set off down the road.

After a few miles, I turned right onto Bohemian Avenue. Toward the end of Bohemian Avenue, I suddenly saw the low barbed wire fence that I had read in Alex Jones's (I know) account of infiltrating Bohemian Grove back in 2003. I had to pull over, I was so excited. There were No Trespassing signs every few feet, and just past the fence was the moat I had also read about.

I got back into my car and drove a little further. Through the trees on my right, I could see kind of a clearing, the sort of place where people or employees might park their cars for a Midsummer Encampment, perhaps.

And then ... OMG OMG OMG the entrance! The gate was open! But ... there were signs on either side about prosecuting trespassers.

As I stood in the middle of the small road taking a picture of the open pathway to Moloch, a white truck pulled over about 100 feet behind me on the road. I looked back and nonchalantly got back in my car. They didn't move. I had no idea if they were suspicious residents, security of some kind, or perhaps even just a curiosity seeker like myself. Nevertheless, I turned the corner and drove away while I thought about my options.

I was totally unprepared for this endeavor. In my head, a serious venture into Bohemian Grove requires preparation. For a start, I don't look like I belong there because I do not in any way, shape, or form resemble a moneyed old white man. I guess I could maybe pretend to be a deferential female food service employee, but not at this time of year, probably.

Moreover, it was the middle of the day, a very sunny day, and my rental car is bright red. I mean, Barbara actually commented when she saw it a couple of days ago that it was the brightest red car she has ever seen. It's not exactly built for stealth or blending. And it's a Mazda 2, not exactly the car of someone who belongs at Bohemian Grove (although, again, perhaps an acceptable food service drudgeon vehicle).

Thirdly, let's say I was arrested. There were about 60 young women back at the camp who are apparently quite interested in my insights—some of them were even full-blown excited to talk to me about composing. It wouldn't be very nice of me to get myself arrested and leave them in the lurch.

And what then? I don't have a criminal defense attorney. I could be injured or even killed by an over-zealous police or security force. I'd have to ask Matt to bail me out of a small town jail. I mean, it would be messy, and possibly even dangerous.

I thought about all this as I drove around the block and found myself with my car parked once again at the gates of Bohemian Grove, this time with no mysterious white truck behind me. I got out of the car again, and stood with my toe right at the border of the property.

I took this picture.

And I got back in my car, and decided, today is not the day I see the Moloch statue in the flesh, so to speak. Another day, but not today.

Instead I drove back to Occidental, and explored the overpriced craft stores there. I was sorely tempted to buy this tchotchke, but I resisted.

Next time, Moloch, next time.

P.S. If you have no idea what I am talking about with all this, here, watch this, if you can stomach it:


rodeo said...

So much crazy stuff goes on there, I'd love to sneak in :P

Anonymous said...

My husband and I stayed at a Motel in Occidental, right next to the road leading to B.G.
We had our small dog with us. My husband would walk our dog down the road several times and was told by a man in a car that "You aren't supposed to be down here. There are kids, you can't come here anymore. Because, you know the kids." It was a strange thing to have happen and BECAUSE of that we drove down the road in our car. LOTS of Private Property signs and of course Keep OUT! It was a little creepy driving there to say the least.