Bob Weir sells out to the Elite
From Wall Street Journal July 16, 2004: MONTE RIO, Calif. ... Members are instructed not to talk about what goes on here....
Bob Weir, the former Grateful Dead rhythm guitarist, has become a Bohemian member and has played at Grove events the past six years. Joining him onstage at times is Steve Miller, the rocker known for such 1970s hits as "Jungle Love" and "The Joker."
As I'm sure most of you are familiar with Bohemian Grove and who meets up there every summer If you do not know of the Bohemian Grove, this is where the boys(Bush Sr., Rumsfeld, Kissinger, Bechtel, Cheney, and so many more),who bring us war for profit, frolic! here is a few links to learn more:
WSG.July 16, 2004, Friday
One thing in flux at the Grove is music
Aging rockers shake up secretive men's club
MONTE RIO, Calif. - What would Herbert Hoover think?
Since the late 19th century, tycoons, politicians and artistic performers have flocked to the Bohemian Grove, a private, 2,700-acre forest 60 miles north of San Francisco. Here, cronies party their way through the 17-day summer festivities, which begin today. They gab. They drink. They urinate on trees.
Hoover called these get-togethers "the greatest men's party on Earth," and older attendees aren't in any hurry to meddle with the secretive club's traditions. Women still aren't welcome as members. Overnight guests sleep in various lodges, or "camps," that look like relics of the railroad era. Newfangled gadgets such as cellphones are forbidden. And members are instructed not to talk about what goes on here.
But, oddly enough, musical tastes are in flux. In recent years, the Bohemians have been admitting a few aging rock 'n' rollers as members and tinkering with the Grove's concert program, trying to catch up with a new generation.
It isn't just time-honored performances of Chopin sonatas and swing-era standards that fill the air anymore. Bob Weir, the former Grateful Dead rhythm guitarist, has become a Bohemian member and has played at Grove events the past six years. Joining him onstage at times is Steve Miller, the rocker known for such 1970s hits as "Jungle Love" and "The Joker." Last year, local musicians slipped snippets of gospel, blues and Motown songs into the program.
The new sounds don't sit well with longtime Bohemians like 90-year-old Tro Harper, a retired broadcaster and bookstore owner. "How did music get to be so awful?" he asks.
To placate the old-timers, rockers confine themselves to a small clearing in the forest, away from the Grove's main stage. They forgo pulsating light shows and giant amplifiers.
A few hundred Bohemians usually huddle around and cheer at these performances, but most of the 2,000 to 3,000 men on hand for summer festivities keep their distance. "My generation is still locked in the days of big bands and decent music," explains Harper. He can't make it to the Grove anymore because of leg ailments, and he notes that a formal vote wasn't ever held on whether to let the rockers in. Had there been, Harper says, he would have signaled his discomfort.
"I would have sat on my hands," Harper says. "I wouldn't have censored it, but I wouldn't have endorsed it."
Long ago, the Grove boasted more of an avant-garde sensibility. The site, which sits largely vacant most of the year, is owned by San Francisco's Bohemian Club, which was formed in 1872 as a haven for writers, artists and musicians. Early members included left-leaning novelist Jack London and full-time hell raiser Ambrose Bierce.
Over time, the Grove became best known as a private retreat for a different breed of Bohemians: powerful politicians and executives. Members since World War II have included Dwight Eisenhower, David Rockefeller and scions of the Bechtel construction family. Increasingly, it is older men who find the Grove's all-male culture appealing. While Bohemian Club officials won't disclose members' average age, visitors estimate that it is 60 or higher.
As the Grove's membership got older and more establishmentarian in recent decades, the Bohemians became more set in their ways. Little things - like camp names from the 1920s, such as Cave Men, Sons of Toil and Aviary - became immutable. This month's festivities begin with a giant bonfire called the Cremation of Care, now in its 125th year.
The "Midsummer Encampment" last year included a talk on the evolution of classic jazz, a magic show, an organ concert, an evening salute to Burt Bacharach, an afternoon of quintet for clarinet and strings, a slide show about Gens. Grant and Lee, skeet shooting, a lecture by Clint Bolick about vouchers, a talk about horse racing by jockey Chris McCarron, a talk by George Shultz titled "A Changed World," talks by Charlie Rose and William Safire, a fly-fishing demonstration, and a horse-racing play involving horses named Rocket Boy, Wonder Bra and Attila the Horse.
Left-wing protesters in the 1970s began targeting the Grove as a supposed clustering point of the ruling class. Grove officials responded with guards and, later, barbed-wire fences. Secrecy about even the most routine aspects of Grove life became the norm. As a result, old-time pranks and playfulness continued, but the Grove became rather resistant to new ways of having fun.
In music, the Grove continued to recruit musicians as members, but looked mainly for men who could entertain their elite comrades by playing pieces that were popular a half century ago. Keyboardists perform on a giant outdoor organ that has been at the Grove since 1920s. A Dixieland jazz band has existed in one form or another since the 1950s. A full orchestra plays works by the likes of Ravel and Berlioz.
But the cherished old ways don't always entice the next generation of members, an awkward problem for the Grove. "They have an affirmative-action program to get younger people in," says Peter Phillips, a sociology professor at nearby Sonoma State University, who wrote his doctoral dissertation on the Grove and is a periodic visitor to its events. "They've been aware of the age issue for a while."
Bridging the gap is new member Zachariah Spellman, a 48-year-old tuba player for the San Francisco Opera. He was recruited to join the Grove's traditional band, where he plays Sousa marches and songs from "The King and I." That won him a sizable discount from annual dues that otherwise would top $ 10,000.
But Spellman says that one of his biggest thrills was a chance to perform with Steve Miller in a winter blues concert sponsored by the Bohemian Club in San Francisco. "We did a lot of standard blues," Spellman recalls. "We played St. Louis Blues. It was fantastic."
Through spokesmen, Miller and Weir declined to discuss their musical ties to the Bohemian Grove, citing the club's privacy rules. Club officials also declined to comment about their musical evolution. But Weir's spokesman did point out that the former Grateful Dead musician grew up in Atherton, Calif., one of the country's wealthiest communities. "Bob knows how to handle himself around fancy people," the spokesman said.
With the passing of time, of course, the young rebels of one era become the next generation's elder statesmen. Miller is now 61 - about the average age of his Bohemian Grove audience. Weir is 56.
So the Grove carries on with its own version of jam sessions - to the delight of visitors such as Alabama businessman Ted Hooks. In 2001, Hooks recalls, he wandered over to a clearing in the woods one evening to hear an impromptu performance by several Grateful Dead alumni. He could pick out the tunes with no trouble. But something was missing, and it didn't take him long to figure out what: There wasn't a trace of anyone smoking marijuana.
"Of course," says Hooks, "there might have been some people smoking Cuban cigars."
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