Published on July 24, 2004
© 2004- The Press Democrat
BYLINE: DEREK J. MOORE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The summer retreat that Herbert Hoover called ``the greatest men's party on Earth'' is under way in Monte Rio, and the guest list is as eclectic as ever.
Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the CEO
of Bechtel Corp., former Grateful Dead bandmates and vintner Robert Mondavi
are all scheduled to attend the Midsummer Encampment of the Bohemian Club of San Francisco.
So, too, is conservative author William F. Buckley Jr., liberal TV personality Chris Matthews and gay porn star Chad Savage.
Actually, Savage is working the event as a valet, according to the New York
Post, which quoted another, unidentified employee despite confidentiality agreements
that employees sign when they are hired.
The point is, Bohemians and the cast of hundreds who help put on this summer
camp for grown men really are an ``unconventional'' lot, as the word is technically
defined by Webster's.
The 125th gathering of ``Bohos'' is no exception, according to an official
guest list distributed to club members. More than 2,500 men are scheduled to
go to the
club's 2,800-acre redwood grove just east of Monte Rio. This is the busiest weekend of the 17-day event, which means everybody who's anybody should be
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, a perennial camper, arrived Thursday
by private plane at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport. Fifty to 100
private jets have landed at the airport daily in the past two weeks, about average for this time of year, said Walt Smith, regional coordinator for the Federal
But as of Friday, the Secret Service hadn't alerted airport officials to any
special arrivals, despite the fact that Powell is on the guest list and scheduled
to stay in
Mandalay, the same camp as Kissinger and Riley Bechtel, the CEO of the engineering firm whose projects include the reconstruction of Iraq.
Mandalay is one of 119 separate camps that dot the floor and walls of the steep
canyon and is so far up the fern-covered bank that it has an incline railway
firewood and supplies.
Mandalay is the traditional seat of power in Bohemian Grove. Its guest list
this year includes George Schultz, a former secretary of state; 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.
In all, about 30 prominent businessmen and current and former government officials are scheduled to stay in Mandalay.
Rumsfeld and former President George Bush are members of the Hill Billies camp, although it's unclear whether either is actually going.
Former President Gerald Ford, however, apparently won't be in attendance, as
his name does not appear on the guest list. Former President Ronald Reagan also
appears on the list despite his June 5 death.
The associations of powerful men made possible by the Bohemian Club encampment
have raised the ire of protesters, who charge that captains of industry and
government officials discuss business in secret despite the grove's official motto: ``Weaving spiders come not here.''
Of particular interest are the ``Lakeside Talks,'' which this year include:
* An untitled talk by David Gergen, commentator and former adviser to both Republican and Democratic presidents.
* ``The Landscape of American Politics,'' by David Brooks, a New York Times columnist.
* ``College Athletics: Serious Business or Toy Department?'' by Ted Leland, Stanford University's athletic director.
* ``Flight,'' by Chuck Yeager.
* ``The Long War of the 20th Century,'' by James Woolsey, a former CIA director.
* ``Bohemia,'' by author Herman Wouk.
* ``Exploring Mars and Searching for Life in the Universe,'' by Charles Elachi, director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.
* ``The Coming Virtual Soldier,'' by Roger McCarthy, principal and engineer of Exponent Inc.
Local notables scheduled to attend include Victor Trione, son of financier
and philanthropist Henry Trione; winemakers Jim Bundschu, Daniel Duckhorn and
Wente brothers Eric and Phil; and car dealer Henry Hansel.
Occidental resident Mickey Hart will join fellow Grateful Dead member Bob Weir.
The musicians, along with rocker Steve Miller, are part of an effort to bring
younger vibe to the grove, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Not everyone who attends is rich and famous, however.
Peter Phillips, a professor at Sonoma State University who wrote his doctoral
dissertation on the Grove, estimated one in five members actually fits that
and the rest are either the ordinary rich or just plain ordinary.
``There's associate members, maybe a high school teacher from Palo Alto, who plays tuba in the band,'' he said.
You can reach Staff Writer Derek J. Moore at 521-5336 or firstname.lastname@example.org.