President Herbert Hoover once called this club "the greatest men's party on Earth." While the club was formed in 1872 by a group of San Francisco journalists, the male-only club now bars journalists from membership to protect the group's privacy. Membership is coveted, and people routinely wait 10 or 15 years before gaining admittance. There are currently about 2,700 members. The annual gathering near the Russian River, which was first held in 1879, starts with the "Cremation of Care" ritual, in which the club's mascot is burned in effigy, symbolizing a freedom from care. Members also perform several plays, and gourmet food and expensive wine is plentiful. The club has drawn criticism for years because of its emphasis on privacy.
What particularly concerns Phillips and others are the "Lakeside Talks" held during the summer retreat. This year, Powell was expected to deliver a talk titled "America's Promise Leading Armies and Leading Kids," and Popoff, of Dow Chemical, was to give a speech called "Environmental Journey." The club's famed annual gathering has been held for more than 100 years at the 2,700-acre Bohemian Grove in Monte Rio, about 70 miles north of San Francisco in Sonoma County. This year's event drew in notables such as former President George Bush, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, Henry Kissinger, retired Gen. Colin Powell, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Dow Chemical Chairman Frank Popoff, as well as actor Danny Glover.
The men gather to celebrate what they call "the spirit of Bohemia," said Peter Phillips, a Sonoma State University sociology professor who wrote his doctoral dissertation on the Bohemian Club. The fiercely guarded, 2,700-acre retreat is the country extension of San Francisco's all-male ultra-exclusive Bohemian Club to which every Republican President since Herbert Hoover has belonged. Recent information may radically change perception of Bohemian Grove. Not merely drunkenness, unbounded use of alcohol and drugs with vague homosexual tones (confirmed by our sources) but reported activities much more serious - kidnapping, rape, pedophilia, sodomy, ritual murder. Investigation is blocked under the 1947 National Security Act. (!) And like the Omaha child abuse case, includes illegal detention of children.