Brad Meltzer’s ‘Decoded’ team exposed the Bohemian Grove on the History Channel last night. The super-secret club of the rich, the powerful, and their stooges has been around for a long time. The male-only, two-week annual fun-fest started in Monte Rio, California in 1872. ‘The Grove’ originally started out as a 160-acre playground where prominent journalists would gather to let their hair down and their wild-side show. In later years, politicians and ultra-wealthy businessmen joined in the festivities, which include a kick-off ceremony called the ‘Cremation of Care’. In the modern era, 2,700 members pay $25,000 each to participate on the now 2,100 acre grounds, where security is even tighter than the CIA headquarters.

Bohemian grove   1909
This photo from 1909 shows attendees at the Bohemian Grove preparing to perform the Cremation of Care ceremony.

Buddy, Mac and Scott are told details of the exclusive club by Brad as they make their way to Monte Rio. They learn more about the Cremation of Care ceremony, held the first night of the Bohemian Grove retreat. The voice of none other than Walter Cronkite booms from a 40 foot tall stone owl. No, he’s not counting how many licks it takes to eat a Tootsie Pop. Old Walter instead encourages the Bohemians to place the ‘cares’ into a coffin which holds an effigy of a young child. The ‘Owl’ demands that the child, know as Care, be burned in order to free the members of the club from their worries and concerns. Pretty spooky, huh?

It gets even more weird! Imagine CEOs and heads of state partying for two weeks, often dressing like women, putting on plays or jamming in pick-up bands. Bizarre to say the least. All the while, the movers-and-shakers plan the course of events for the world. Needless to say, Brad wants the team to find out what they can. But upon arriving in town, the locals are mum. Many work at the retreat and weren’t about to bite the hand that feeds them. The team attempts to visit ‘The Grove’, but are turned back, with a police warning, at the front gate.

Brad’s team then meets up with Mary Moore, a local activist who has issues with the Bohemian Grove. She is not pleased with all of these rich and powerful men meeting to discuss and shape public policy without the public. Next, the team meets the only person to successfully infiltrate and exit the Grove with video, the infamous Alex Jones. In July 2000, Jones snuck in and faked his way past security, claiming to be part of the ‘Hillbillies’, the name for the Texas delegation to the affair. While ‘Decoded’ could not air the video, as it was acquired through performing an illegal act, trespassing, Jones does show his recording of the Cremation of Care ceremony to the team.

According to Alex Jones, the Bohemian Grove is based on Druid mythology and pagan death cults. What the team sees further entices them to try to sneak in to have a peek. Jones is game, though he warns them that if caught, they will be arrested. After his own experience, Jones claims to have received death threats. The team gets a document from Brad that lists some of the membership. It’s an eclectic bunch, ranging from Jimmy Buffet to the Rockefellers, the Bush ‘boys’ along with to 200 richest men in the world. Hollywood, Wall Street and Washington are well represented, along with many from around the planet.

Buddy devises a plan to infiltrate the Grove via the Russian River, which runs through part of the property. Scott, being the lawyer of the team. advises them that so long as they stay on the river, they are safe. Before setting off, they meet Prof. Peter Philips, a sociologist who earned his PhD researching the Bohemian Grove. He downplays the darker aspects of the gathering, having been invited once as a guest. But he does confirm that the Grove does serve as intimate venue for high-powered talks on global affairs and is not exactly comfortable with the club.

The team uses two-person kayaks for their adventure. Scott keeps a sharp eye out looking for any trespassing signs. Legally, the waterway is public and free to use. However, once on shore, private property begins at what is considered to be the “normal high-water mark”. The big question is, where does that start? They go ashore along a small sandy beach. The only sign around deals with a warning that there is no lifeguard.

As they venture deeper into the interior, the Decoded team gets spotted by the Grove’s many, many electronic sensors. Buddy and Mac are apprehended by police. Scott and Jones escape back to the river, worried about the fate of their companions. Nine hours later, Scott bails Buddy and Mac out of the Sonoma County Jail. Both were processed, with mug shots and fingerprints, and were charged with trespassing.

The ‘Decoded’ team end their quest of the Bohemian Grove learning nothing really new. Mac concedes to their need for such tight security, considering all of the wealthy and powerful players who attend the two-week frolic each July. But Buddy still has issues with the extreme secrecy. It is obvious that public policy is discussed, perhaps even determined. Once again, the Elites of Earth are doing what they please with no transparency.

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