Thursday, July 28, 2005

Bobby, Mickey & Bohemian Club

From Free Press International:

Fervor wanes at Bohemian Club demonstration

Sonoma West Times & News

Police nearly outnumber those demonstrating in front of club for rich and powerful men

MONTE RIO - A crowd of about 50 people came to the Bohemian Grove protest last Saturday in one of the smallest turnouts of the demonstration's 25-year history.

Those who did attend verbally lashed corporate America and the Bush administration for a long litany of crimes against humanity, but the demonstrators' effect on the immediate course of history seemed a little underwhelming.

"What difference will it make?" said Rabbi Michael Robinson of Sebastopol, of his decision to join Saturday's annual dissent.

"It makes a difference to me. It raises my consciousness," Robinson told demonstrators outside the 2,700-acre retreat frequented by San Francisco's Bohemian Club whose members have included every Republican U.S. President since Herbert Hoover.

Robinson, the recipient this year of a Sonoma County ACLU award for promoting civil liberties, said he came to the demonstration to protest "a system that works for people at the top" at the expense of those at the bottom.

The sparse crowd surprised some, considering the robust level of anti-war sentiment in Sonoma County and the Bay Area. The annual Monte Rio protest historically has drawn hundreds of demonstrators from progressive political action groups for three days of speeches, music and picketing. The apex may have been the 2001 demo that drew an estimated 1,000 people to what was then called the the Bohemian Grove Action Network demonstration that in its heyday attracted national media coverage.

This year's demonstration was organized for the first time by the Green Party of California, whose leaders "got a late start," said Mary Moore, the Camp Meeker political activist who organized the original Grove protest in 1980 and kept it going for more than 20 years.

"I'd start in February," said Moore. "You really have to do it in advance."

Attendance this year included two busloads of Veterans for Peace from Humboldt County, some local residents, perennial Peace and Freedom Party candidate Pam Elizondo and Green Party members such as Pat Maginnis, a 70-ish Oakland Green who had driven up with friends. Maginnis said she's a member of the Lake Merritt Neighbors Organized for Peace, a group that walks around Oakland's Lake Merritt every week "rain or shine" to protest the U.S. war in Iraq.

As she joined the march down Bohemian Avenue last Saturday, Maginnis carried a sign that said "Follow the leader go AWOL George Bush did!

"Two human walls of uniformed law enforcement personnel from the California Highway Patrol and the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department greeted the marchers to make sure none of them, no matter how grey-haired and harmless-looking, could get closer than 50 yards from the Bohemian Grove's entrance. There was nearly one cop for each demonstrator.

Bohemian men driving in for their two-week summer encampment were directed along an alternate route down River Boulevard where they could come and go without having to confront the stressful sight of disapproving picketers.

Working news media are not allowed inside the private club although famous TV and print journalists attend as members and guests. Walter Cronkite has been a regular, along with William F. Buckley, Jr., David Gergen, and U.S.A. Today newspaper founder Al Neuharth.

The absence of any inside news reportage creates a vacuum filled with rumors, some fanciful, such as TV's Daily Show host Jon Stewart seen talking with Tucker Carlson, the politically conservative cable TV pundit who Stewart recently called "a dick" in a bow tie on Carlson's Crossfire show. That scenario was remote but not outside the realm of possibility.

Grateful Dead band members Bob Weir and Mickey Hart have joined the club in recent years, a sort of cultural breakthrough that hasn't been lost on Mary Moore.

She recently wondered in a Sonoma West commentary whether Hart happened to join the Hillbillies, a Bohemian Club encampment whose members include Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush Sr., as a way to infiltrate the enemy palace and share intelligence with the "hundreds of peace and justice groups" who were also "the kind of people who have supported the Grateful Dead so loyally.

"Moore, now 70, attended the demonstration this year but she did not march. She sat, in the shade, at a card table displayed with historic peace buttons, political flyers and other memorabilia reflecting 40 years of social protest.

She talked with friends and well-wishers about the annual travail of marshalling anarchists and idealists together in one place for the Monte Rio gathering. "There are so many groups that are saving the world," said Moore, "but they don't seem to communicate.

"Does she feel a little burned-out after orchestrating this diverse gathering for more than 20 years? "That," said Moore, "is the understatement of the century."

Other articles about the Grateful Dead and Bohemian Grove:


Mary Moore's 1998 letter to Bobby

Common Dreams


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