This is Not a Conspiracy: Jon Ronson Draws a Dubious Conclus

Writing about books is a legitimate exercise of scholarship. Sometimes you don't want to read the book, but you want to know about it. Reading a review might not help, of course, since many reviewers actually tell you more about themselves than the book they are reviewing. But, either way, you can say you read about the book.

This is Not a Conspiracy: Jon Ronson Draws a Dubious Conclus

Postby admin » Wed Mar 30, 2016 7:55 am

This is Not a Conspiracy: Jon Ronson Draws a Dubious Conclusion in Them: Adventures With Extremists
by Charles Carreon

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REPTILIAN, SCHMEPTILIAN, THESE GUYS RUN THE WORLD

Does a small group of people run the world? Well, duh. How many people even write their own paychecks? Of course power means leverage, and leverage means many little people turning over a piece of their productive value to the people above them. Multilevel marketing is a notably obvious way of aggregating wealth, but all commercial systems operate that way. You have a little money, and the bank has a lot. No one even has enough money to buy a house without taking out a loan. Of course, Ken Lay could buy your whole neighborhood with pocket change, at least until just the end of last week. And his defense is that he was stupid. Well all I can say is that's some profitable stupidity and few are they that come by it honestly.

This English guy Jon Ronson wrote a book called "Them -- Adventures With Extremists," that I read a few weeks ago. Not bad. I finished it, and without any difficulty, which is saying something since only one out of five books holds my interest all the way through. Life is short, and there's plenty to read, so I like to give books the weight they deserve. This one is worth reading all the way through, according to my inner reader. Check out a few chapters. THEM: ADVENTURES WITH EXTREMISTS, by Jon Ronson

Ronson is a non-observant Jew who wants to know why a British Islamic fundamentalist, Randy Weaver, Timothy McVeigh, the KKK, David Icke, the publisher of a right-wing newspaper, and a Texas talk show host, all believe that a secret group called "Bilderberg" runs the world. Following leads provided by a wheezing Washington right wing newspaperman, he goes to Portugal to find the Bilderberg meeting. It sounds like it might be a wasted trip, because at the large resort hotel where everyone denies that anything important is happening, nothing appears to be happening. Until suddenly scores of world leaders and financiers suddenly come rolling up the tiny gravel road in cabs and private autos, no security or fanfare or anything, just arriving from everywhere all at once? Ronson has a practiced eye for English, European, and American political and financial eminences, and is blown away by the parade. Then they were followed. He was scared. The British embassy tells them to stay calm.

The book is ostensibly about the extremists, but Ronson is really looking for Bilderberg. He's hanging out with the extremists, because they want to do it, too. They jointly set out to penetrate the yearly bash at the Bohemian Grove, where apparently about a thousand world bank and military-industrial complex cronies get together in a gigantic park like campus done up in full frat party theatrical style with great big stone owls everywhere, and swimming and champagne and shindigging with the tunes crankin'. Then they have a great big theatrical ceremony where they incinerate an effigy of "Dull Care" and then whoop and holler and get it on big time. Apparently this puts a strain on the local working girls, so they jet in a substantial contingent from Reno and the Bay Area.

The evidence-gathering throughout this book is good. Ronson has a cool-headed way, and occasionally finds himself walking the edge of violence, at one time with a bunch of hostile Islamics in England at a Jihadi camp, and later, with a bunch of white racist punks in Idaho. Being Jewish was the problem, both times. The Klan is much nicer, really, even the hateful ones. And the nice ones are truly Sara Lee sweet. Not like the old Klan at all. It's all about lovin' your own sweet, white ass.

The "extremist" portrayals are pretty human. Randy Weaver sounds like a man who's learned the lesson of a lifetime, and hasn't got all that much intellect anyhow. David Icke, a top-shelf British telly personality who morphed into a reptilian-outer, is shown fighting a pitched battle with left wing Vancouverites in British Columbia, who mobilize Canadian Customs to try to seal Icke out of the country on the grounds that "reptilians" are actually "Jews" in a secret "code" that Icke uses to "spread hate." That sounds Canadian, doesn't it? Liberal, but.

Ronson talks a lot about the B'nai Brith Anti-Defamation League, which has a lot of clout shaping public opinion. A hell of a bruiser of an organization, you do not want them to call you an anti-Semite. Even me. I just went to my first Bar Mitzvah last weekend. I loved it. There must be a Yiddish word for the feelings that overcame me. The ceremony was fun, and the food was great. Now I want to go to an Arab wedding, one that doesn't get strafed by an Apache helicopter, of course. We'll hold it at the Ashland Gun Club, for safety's sake, so that the celebratory firing of AK47s won't attract an antiterrorist response. In fact, I think I'll call the Gun Club president about it. We can wear turbans and fire .308 ammo all night long.

Yeah, I love Southern Oregon. I saw a bumpersticker that said "Charlton Heston is My President." I figured it was possible he was in agreement when he saw my bumpersticker, that says "Bush Knew."
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Re: This is Not a Conspiracy: Jon Ronson Draws a Dubious Con

Postby admin » Wed Mar 30, 2016 7:55 am

THEM: Adventures With Extremists
by Jon Ronson

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


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3. THE SECRET RULERS OF THE WORLD

AT THE NATIONAL Press Club on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., Big Jim Tucker left a coded message on the answering machine of a friend.

"Mother, Your dutiful son is playing kick the can on Pennsylvania Avenue, Tuesday morning, 10:30 A.M., thank you."

Big Jim placed the telephone back on its receiver. He lit a cigarette and glanced around the lobby with a routine vigilance. Even here at his club, his gentleman's club, he considered himself not entirely safe. Anyone could discover that this was where he had breakfast every day, three strong black coffees and some pastries on the side.

"If they ever got me," he said, "they'd make it look like a typical Washington mugging. A mugging on the sidewalk. Killed for a couple of dollars. Another three paragraphs in the newspaper. Or maybe they'd dump my body outside some bar somewhere. Oh yes, they're smooth operators."

Jim paused. He pulled on his cigarette. His heart is not strong due to his habit of smoking unfiltered Camels at all times, pack after pack. He is quite huge, an elderly Southern gentleman in a crumpled suit and a newshound's fedora. He has a voice like gravel (a result of cigarette-induced emphysema that, by a happy accident, gives his speech an enigmatic rhythm, like a charismatic Sam Spade down on his luck) and an office downtown with venetian blinds.

He said, "The thing is, we don't know how much time we've got left. And suppose I just so happen to 'drop dead' in my office on Tuesday afternoon. It could be the following Monday before someone says, 'Where is that boy?' I don't want to be burnt bacon when they find me. I guess I'm just too vain to be found that way. "

Big Jim laughed in a hollow manner.

"So I phone my friend every day just to announce I'm still kicking the can and still hunting the macaroon. Still breathing, see? The day she doesn't get that call is the day she makes inquiries."

Here at his private members' club, Big Jim could pass for a venerable old star commentator for a heavyweight daily newspaper, but he isn't. He works for an underground journal called The Spotlight. Mainstream journalists keep away from him. This is, Jim says, because certain high-ranking members of the aboveground media, even some members of his own club, are in league with the secret rulers of the world.

And it is they who would make his death look like a typical Washington mugging.

***

WHEN I BEGAN hearing about the Bilderberg Group -- about the notion that a tiny band of insidious and clandestine power-mongers meet in a secret room from which they rule the world -- I was skeptical. But I kept hearing about them, and I finally decided to try to settle the matter once and for all.

Which is why I visited Big Jim Tucker. Within anti-Bilderberg circles Big Jim is considered a pioneer, a trailblazer, risking his life to attempt to locate the geographical whereabouts of the secret room.

"They exist all right," said Big Jim, "and they're not playing pinochle in there."

Big Jim Tucker has spent thirty years documenting the facts. He's been after them since the 1970s, when he first got the hunch that they existed. He abandoned a good career in sports journalism on a big city paper. It has been cat and mouse ever since, he said. Good against evil.

"Those sick luninaries are always on the move," said Jim. "They never come together in the same place twice, so as to evade detection. They only meet once a year, for a long weekend in May or June."

They have been ruling the world in secret since 1954, Jim said, when a man called Joseph Retinger, whose name rarely appears in the history books, decided to create them. One of many mysteries is how Retinger -- a Polish immigrant employed as secretary to the novelist Joseph Conrad -- had the wherewithal and the contacts to organize such a mighty endeavor.

Their first meeting took place in the Bilderberg Hotel in Holland, which is why the secret rulers of the world go by the name of the Bilderberg Group.

***

BIG JIM SAID that I happened to have caught him at a very good time. He was ready to take things further, to turn up the heat and cause some trouble.

"So you've actually managed to obtain the address of the next Bilderberg meeting?" I asked Jim.

"Yes, sir," he said.

"You know exactly where it is?" I asked.

"Yes I do," he said.

Big Jim said he fully intended to thwart their security and barge in unannounced to catch them red- handed going about their covert wickedness. I was welcome to tag along, he said, "Just so long as you don't step on twigs or fall off walls while we're on the prowl."

***

"THE PLAN IS this," said Jim. "We'll leave Washington on the last day of May, and we'll arrive at the target destination on the Sunday morning. We'll start patrolling that same afternoon. Patrol Sunday and Monday. Develop sources. Waiters, chambermaids ..."

"So they still meet in hotels?" I said.

"Yes, sir," said Jim. "The chambermaids will be gun-shy at first. They'll know something big and spooky is going on; but they won't know what. But then they'll begin to realize that whatever's happening at their hotel is evil. And that's when they'll open up."

"So what else will we do on the Sunday and Monday?"

"Scout around the resort," said Jim. "Figure out ways to penetrate."

"Scout around looking for what?"

"Where the short wall is," said Jim. "Where the big drain pipe is."

"So we'll actually be climbing up drainpipes?" I asked.

"Climbing up drainpipes," said Jim, "trying not to sneeze or cough or step on twigs. Trying to avoid the guard dogs."

"What's the name of the hotel?"

"I've-uh -- got it written down here somewhere," said Jim. He rifled through his pockets. "Here it is. The Caesar Park golfing resort, Sintra, Portugal."

I looked quizzically at Jim.

"Are you sure about all of this?" I asked.

"They are evil and their evil occurs in the dark shadows," said Jim, emphatically. "Behind closed doors. Ruling the world from a room. Imagine that. Let's get a drink."

***

JIM TOOK ME to the Men's Bar upstairs at his club. We drank beers and watched sports on the TV above the bar. Framed front pages of big news stories of days gone by lined the walls.

War in the Persian Gulf!
Thatcher Resigns!


Jim said that both acts were orchestrated by Bilderberg.

"Margaret Thatcher is one of the good guys," said Jim. "Bilderberg ordered her to dismantle British sovereignty but she said no way, so they had her sacked."

Big Jim said he once found himself at a cocktail party with Margaret Thatcher and he took the opportunity to sidle up to her.

"How does it feel to have been denounced by those Bilderberg boys, ma'am?" he growled. She whispered back that she considered it a "great tribute to be denounced by Bilderberg."

***

I CONSIDERED THE significance of the endeavor we were about to undertake. For the other people I had met, Bilderberg was an inviolable almighty. Big Jim was the first man to have the tenacity to discover the address, and to plan on going in, and damn the consequences. This could change everything.

Jim wouldn't tell me how he discovered the room's whereabouts, but a few moments later as we sat at the bar, a tall man with a mustache bounded over and cheerfully introduced himself to me as Jim's mole from inside Bilderberg.

"I'm an accountant," he explained. "Some very big clients use our firm. One guy happened to mention to me that he was on his way to somewhere near Lisbon in June for a very private meeting."

Jim appeared a little annoyed by his mole's instantaneous candor, but then he shrugged and joined in with the story.

"We know," said Jim, "that the Bilderberg Group always meet in May or June."

"So Jim," said the mole, "started telephoning every five-star hotel near Lisbon."

"They always meet at a five-star hotel with golfing facilities," explained Jim.

"Always golfing facilities?" I asked.

Jim picked up on my subtext at once.

"Believe me," he said, "they're not there to play golf. They're too busy starting wars."

"They may play golf when they're there," clarified the mole, "but they're not there to play golf."

"OK," I said.

"So," said Jim, "I finally got around to calling a hotel up in the hills, and I said to the receptionist, 'I've been invited to the Bilderberg conference in June but I'm afraid I've been very silly and lost my invitation. Could you confirm that this is the correct venue?' And she said, 'Why of course, sir. Oh yes, sir. This is exactly where you're supposed to be, and we're very much looking forward to serving you."'

Jim and his mole laughed. A nearby barfly heard their laughter and he came over to join us. Jim and his mole stopped laughing. They turned their backs on the new guy and myself. There was a moment's awkwardness.

"So what's all this about?" asked the new guy.

"Well," I whispered, "that big old man in the fedora has tracked down the tiny group of people who rule the world in secret. Anyway, the two of us are going to Portugal next week to confront them."

"Oh, right," he said. He seemed unimpressed. "What do they do, these secret rulers of the world?"

I shrugged. "Everything, I guess," I said. "They're called the Bilderberg Group."

"Can't say I've heard of them," he said.

"Jim's dedicated his life to exposing them," I said,

"It's not so surprising that I've never heard of them," said the new guy. He scanned the room. Every barstool was occupied this afternoon. Retired newsmen in suits stared into their beer glasses. The Men's Bar seemed to be where the Washington press corps went when there were no more deadlines, no stories left to file.

"It's not so surprising," he said. "Pretty much everyone here has dedicated his life to something or other that nobody's ever heard of."

***

THE NEXT MORNING, Jim took me to the office of his newspaper, The Spotlight, which is just around the comer from capitol Hill. It is pristine from the outside, gleaming white, on a lovely tree-lined street. But it is dark and dusty on the inside, and there are boxes everywhere. He introduced me to Andy, his editor. We sat in the courtyard and drank iced tea.

"Jon," said Jim to Andy, "thinks those Bilderberg boys are just playing pinochle in there."

"Well, first off," said Andy, impatiently, "you get a lot of people, including newspaper editors, who say there is no Bilderberg Group, that it doesn't even exist."

"They've kept the vow of silence like they're going to nun school," said Jim.

"This is after you've had Prince Charles attend," said Andy. "This is after you've had Bill Clinton attend. And still people say it doesn't exist. Not that it's just a social meeting, but that it doesn't exist."

"If they're just going to play golf and swap lies and chase girls," said Jim, "why the armed guards? Know what I'm saying?"

"They exist all right," said Andy.

"Prince Charles and Bill Clinton," explained Jim, "are small fry. The rulers of the world are the ones who do the inviting. The steering committee. Clinton was just a small fry from somewhere called Arkansas when he got his invitation, back in '91. Yeah, they had big plans for that boy."

"You be careful," said Andy. "You're dealing with dangerous forces."

***

"MOTHER," SAID BIG Jim Tucker, "your dutiful son is playing hunt the macaroon at the Paris Hotel, Portugal, Monday morning, 10:30 A.M., thank you."

It was a week later, and our first working day in Portugal. Our plan was to scout the target five-star golfing resort situated six miles north, develop sources, and look for the short wall and the big drainpipe in preparation for the midnight penetration later in the week.

Jim placed the telephone back on its receiver and he lay back on his bed. Our hotel had been built on a busy traffic circle. The ocean glistened in the distance, beyond a railway track and a couple of main roads. Even up here on the sixth floor you could hear the never-ending roar of the traffic.

"Unlike the Bilderberg luminaries," said Jim, ruefully, scanning the dirty walls of this bad hotel, "some of us are working on a tight budget."

Jim lit an unfiltered Camel. He is a large, elderly man, and I am not athletic. Our agility levels were impeded by our smoking habits and we wheezed in the Portuguese heat. I was unsure as to how successful the two of us would be in climbing up drainpipes. I pictured slapstick scenarios that would be hilarious to onlookers but not to us.

Jim was acting breezily, but I could sense his nervousness.

"I'm a quarterback," he said, "gearing up for the Super Bowl. Apprehension? Yes. You don't know what you're going to get with those Bilderberg boys. But am I so nervous as to want to take a spare pair of underpinnings in case of leakage? No."

By Jim's reckoning, the Bilderberg Group was not scheduled to arrive in Portugal until Wednesday night. He said he had heard reports that their private security guards had already set up camp at the Caesar Park and were planning to operate a shoot-to-kill policy for all penetrators. This somewhat diminished the potential for slapstick hilarity. I was not feeling cocksure.

We had that morning fruitlessly scanned the newsstands for references to the meeting.

"Surprise, surprise," growled Jim. "Media blackout."

There was, however, one notable exception, buried away in the special-interest sections. The Weekly News, a tiny English-language parish newspaper for Algarve tourist workers and regular English visitors such as Sir Cliff Richard, circulation 8,000, had gone big on the story.

Very big.

As speculation on the Internet runs rife, the News checks it out and it does seem that ... secret world government group is meeting here!


The Weekly News made me feel less vulnerable down here on the ground. Jim said he wanted to touch base with their editorial team later in the week.

"If the Weekly News boys can help us expose those Bilderberg jackasses," he said, "I'm all for pooling information."

***

I HAD RENTED a car from Budget. We drove into the mountains, away from the boisterous good-time package-tour Estoril, towards the more serene and ancient pastures of Sintra, seven miles up the road. On the way, we discussed cover stories in case we incurred suspicion while we were on our covert patrol. We elected to be vacationers, getting a drink at the poolside bar because we'd heard so many good things about the resort, which was undoubtedly the finest around.

The Caesar Park is situated three miles from the main Estoril -- Sintra road -- two and a half miles down a narrow country lane, through the wilderness of a national park, followed by another half-mile private driveway.

It became evident, as we approached the big peach-colored gates that led into the resort, that the midnight penetration would be an even more formidable task than we had anticipated. The hotel is surrounded on all sides by dense undergrowth and sheer mountains. Jim silently pondered these obstacles from the passenger seat. He photographed the mountains. We drove through the gates (the gatekeeper let us in with a wave) and down the half-mile-long driveway. And then the hotel appeared -- a modern peach-colored five-star resort of purpose-built luxury.

"The civilians haven't been shifted out yet," muttered Jim, as we left the car and wandered towards the colossal marble reception area. The civilians were the vacationers. Jim whipped out his camera and photographed the tourists. These photographs would later appear in The Spotlight as "unaware civilians."

We were not inconspicuous, Jim and I, strolling around the Caesar Park in our open-necked shirts. We were, in fact, an unlikely vacationing duo. At a very big push, Jim could resemble a benevolent wealthy Southern sugar daddy and I his gawky early-thirties boy-toy. But I doubted the persuasiveness of the scenario.

"I don't think," I murmured, as we wandered out to the swimming pool, "that the vacationing cover is a convincing one. I think we should think of something else."

"We're salesmen," said Jim. "We're just salesmen getting lunch."

"What do we sell?" I asked.

"We don't like to talk business when we're having lunch," said Jim.

"Surely every undercover journalist claims to be a salesman," I said. "It's like calling yourself Mr. Jones."

"Calm yourself," said Jim.

We sat on stools at the poolside bar. Unaware young women sunbathed in bikinis.

"Ma'am," said Jim to a young passing waitress, bowing slightly, his newshound fedora now replaced by a tourist's straw sun hat, "I'm a little confused. I tried to book a room here for Thursday and they told me that the whole hotel had been closed down for some big meeting. Must be a pretty damn big important meeting if you ask me ..."

The waitress shrugged.

"I don't know," she said. She smiled slightly and left us. Jim got out his notepad. He wrote notes and then he read them out to me:

Dateline Portugal.
Tension filled the air inside the posh Caesar Park resort on Monday. At the poolside bar, the pretty barmaid's face filled with tension when asked to speculate on the big important meeting taking place from Thursday. She shrugged her shoulders and feigned ignorance, but the tension on her face spoke volumes.


Jim put down his notepad.

"Is that accurate?" he said.

"I don't know," I said. "It's hard to confirm."

"Why?"

"Well," I said. "We may be imbuing her with our own feelings of tension."

"Still," said Jim, finishing his iced tea, "now we know what the drinks of the rich taste like."

We paid and patrolled the resort some more. I was disappointed with the Caesar Park, its Eurotrashy aircraft-hangar spaces, its cold approximation of luxury. It was a neo-palace. The lobby shops have names such as "Fashionable." I would have assumed that Bilderberg would meet somewhere classier. I told Jim my thoughts on this matter, and he explained that I still hadn't quite got it. They are not there for classy vacationing. They are there to start wars.

Also, Jim said, there is a finite number of international hotels that can transform themselves into walled fortresses, that have their own helicopter pads and nearby military air bases. And, for reasons of security, Bilderberg never meet in the same place twice, so their choices of location must be running out.

Jim and I split up. I looked at the prints on the wall of the lobby outside the upstairs bar. A half hour passed. I wandered aimlessly through the lobbies and the bars. There were other aimless wanderers too, a woman in a red dress and a man in his thirties wearing a tweed jacket.

It struck me that we all seemed to be wandering aimlessly in some kind of unison, but it didn't cross my mind -- right up until the moment that the man in the tweed jacket marched across the room and began questioning me in an angry whisper -- that I was being tailed.

"We've watched you for an hour. I'm the hotel manager. You take pictures. You ask questions about some big important meeting. Who are you?"

"I ..." I paused. Then I clumsily announced, "I'm from England."

It was the only thing I could think of. This works of course in other circumstances abroad. But it didn't work here.

"What do you want?"

I stared blankly at him.

"What is your business here?"

I continued to stare blankly. And then another man appeared.

This new man was older, with a tan, and he spoke with a smooth European accent.

"It's OK!" he laughed. "Everything's fine! There's no problem!"

He gave the hotel manager's shoulder a little squeeze.

"I am your servant," he said to me. "If there's anything you'd like, please be my guest. Think of this hotel as your home. If I can be of any service to you, any service whatsoever, don't hesitate to ask."

I glanced over with anxiety at the hotel manager, who was now standing a little way off; overruled, slighted, and silent.

"I mean," he smiled, "what could you possibly be doing here that could cause any harm to anybody?"

"Are you ..." I paused. There was something indistinctly alarming about the things he was saying to me. I could not imagine that he really did want me to think of this hotel as my home. So why did he say that?

I presume, in retrospect, that the message he was sending to me was: "We have noticed you, you are not welcome, but we are allowing you to leave without incident just so long as you don't come back."

At the time, however, the message I picked up was: I am extremely sinister and powerful. This is so evident that I can afford to feign generous subservience, a charade which is, of course, intended to make me seem all the more menacing."

Jim Tucker was standing to one side, his arm draped over the balcony, watching this exchange with a lazy amusement, in contrast to the dread that was now swelling within me.

"Are you with the Caesar Park?" I asked the charming man.

"Oh no," he laughed. "No. I am not with the hotel. So, as I say, think of this hotel as your home. Really, everything's fine and there's no problem. What problems could there be?"

What problems could there be? I wanted the young hotel manager to intervene. I suddenly felt that he could be my ally in this situation. But he remained impassive.

"Don't feel as if you have to go," said the charming man, his arms outstretched. "Stay as long as you like. Enjoy the facilities. Have a swim!"

"So if you're not with the hotel," I said, "who are you with?"

"I am with" -- he paused -- "another organization."

"Which is called. ..?"

He laughed and looked at the ground. He said nothing. Then he clapped his hands together.

"Enjoy your afternoon," he said.

He shook my hand, and gave me a bow. Then he wandered idly toward Jim.

"I don't want any trouble," I said to the hotel manager.

"Yes," he smiled, coldly.

***

I WAITED FOR Jim down in the lobby, right by the revolving doors that led outside to the parking lot. The hotel manager stood nearby, watching me with a constant, even gaze. After five minutes, Jim ambled towards us. When he noticed the hotel manager, he slowed his gait to the laziest of strolls -- a little gesture of Southern-gentlemanly defiance. We walked outside together. I hiked. Jim ambled.

There was something new in the parking lot now, a dozen police motorcycles lined up by the revolving doors.

"The big shutdown is beginning," whispered Jim. He pulled out his camera and photographed the police "We're lucky," he said. "An hour later, we wouldn't have gotten near the place."

"What did that man say to you?" I asked.

"Oh," said Jim, "he would just love to be of service and provide any help I needed, blah blah blah."

"How can you say blah blah blah?" I said. "That wasn't blah blah blah. That was actually fucking sinister."

"Those Bilderberg boys can be pretty sinister," said Jim.

We climbed into our car. I started the engine.

"So I told him that I didn't need any help wandering around the hotel, thank you all the same," said Jim. "Then he asked where we were staying --"

"Did he?"

"And I said, Oh, just some fleapit down the road."

I looked over at Jim.

"They're going to have some pretty good photographs of us by now," he said. "I hope you've been smiling pretty."

***

THAT EVENING, WHEN I went for dinner, I put a sliver of paper in the crack between my hotel room door and the frame, as I had seen done by James Coburn in Our Man Flint. Actually, James Coburn put a single hair in his door. But my door crack was too large for single hairs and they kept falling onto the floor and disappearing into the carpet. I was standing there in the corridor tugging my hair out. So I switched to a sliver of paper. When I returned from dinner, the sliver was still there. There was always a possibility, of course, that they'd taken a look around and put the sliver back where they'd found it. I slept fitfully that night, but nothing happened.
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Re: This is Not a Conspiracy: Jon Ronson Draws a Dubious Con

Postby admin » Wed Mar 30, 2016 7:56 am

THEM: Adventures With Extremists
by Jon Ronson

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


4. BILDERBERG SETS A TRAP!

"MOTHER." IT WAS Tuesday morning. Jim was leaving his regular voice-mail message with his friend back in Washington, D.C., to confirm he had not been murdered during the previous twenty-four hours. "Your dutiful son is playing kick the can in Portugal. Thank you very much."

This was supposed to be an easy day. Jim simply wanted to verify that the complete shutdown of the Caesar Park had been accomplished. We would drive up there and be turned away at the gate. Jim would ask why, for the record, and document the response in his notepad. Then we would turn around and drive back to our hotel for a leisurely afternoon by the pool and in the bar.

But this was not to be. We arrived at the Caesar Park to discover no police, no cordon, no shutdown. The gatekeeper lifted the barrier and waved us on with a cheerful smile. For the first time, Jim appeared sidestepped.

"That's surprising," he admitted. "That's surprising already."

"Do we drive in?"

"I'm confounded," murmured Jim. "We saw the shutdown begin yesterday. We saw it with our own eyes. And now no shutdown. This is not what's supposed to happen."

"What should we do?"

Jim faltered. The gatekeeper approached the car.

"Just drive in," said Jim urgently.

Impulsively, I took my foot off the brake and we cruised up the drive. This was a disconcerting new twist. We were venturing into a place where it had been made perfectly clear that we were not welcome, and we didn't even want to be there. We were accidental agents provocateurs, propelled on by circumstance, simply because we had been waved on at the gate.

"The hotel is deserted," I said, as we pulled into the parking lot. "We're the only people here."

"Let's get lunch," said Jim. "Just two guys getting lunch."

We wandered through the now-deserted marble lobby. There were no more civilians. We walked out into the silent grounds and sat at the poolside bar, the only two customers in a hotel designed for thousands. A young waitress appeared.

"Ma'am," said Jim, raising his fedora.

"Sir?" she said.

"What time do you get off work?"

The question seemed to startle her.

"Nine o'clock," she said, cautiously.

"And what bars do you like drinking in?" said Jim.

"There are some nice bars in the village near the cathedral."

"Any bars in particular?" Jim laughed. "Don't worry. I'm buying."

"Just lots of nice bars in the village," she said, evenly.

"That's good information," said Jim. "Thank you, ma'am," he called after her.

He turned to me. "Now we know where the waiting staff drink. Could be good contacts."

"So," I said. "Shall we try the bars near the cathedral?"

"Sure," he said.

"Will we go then?"

"OK," said Jim.

***

WE WALKED BACK to the car and began driving the half-mile towards the exit. I glanced into my rearview mirror. A dark green Lancia had pulled out behind us.

"Jim," I said.

"Mmm?"

"I think we're being followed."

Jim turned around.

"No shit," he grinned. "Don't worry. Once we're on the public highway they'd be pretty foolish to try anything."

"OK," I said.

"They're not going to want to have a fat old dead reporter on the side of the road," said Jim. "That's too big a news story."

"OK," I said.

"But here they could say, 'Oh, we thought they were armed. They looked threatening. We told them to stop but they didn't stop.' Bango!"

"I get the picture," I said.

A flock of geese wandered idly up the drive in front of me. I honked my horn. We finally reached the peach-colored gates.

"You watch," said Jim. "He'll turn around now. He's done his job. Poor fool."

But the Lancia didn't turn around. It began to follow us down the deserted lane.

"Uh oh," said Jim.

***

"BRITISH EMBASSY."

"OK," I said, "I'm a journalist from London. I'm calling you on the road from Sintra to Estoril --"

"Hold on. "

"Press office."

"I'm a journalist from London," I said. "I'm calling you on the road from Sintra to Estoril. I'm being tailed, right now, by a dark green Lancia, registration number D4 028, belonging to the Bilderberg Group."

There was a sharp intake of breath.

"Go on," she said.

"I'm sorry," I said, "but I just heard you take a sharp breath."

"Bilderberg?" she said.

"Yes," I said. "They watched us scouting around the Caesar Park Hotel and they've been following us ever since. We have now been followed for three hours. I wasn't sure at first, so I stopped my car on the side of a deserted lane and he stopped his car right in front of us. Can you imagine just how chilling that moment was? This is especially disconcerting because I'm from England and I'm not used to being spied on."

"Do you have Bilderberg's permission to be in Portugal?" she said. "Do they know you're here?"

"No," I said.

"Bilderberg are very secretive," she said. "They don't want people looking into their business. What are you doing here?"

"I am essentially a humorous journalist," I explained. "I am a humorous journalist out of my depth. Do you think it might help if we tell them that?"

From the corner of my eye, I saw Jim wind down his window. He leant his head out and blew an antagonizing ladylike kiss at the Lancia.

"Hold on a second," I said.

"Jim!" I said, sternly. "Please stop that."

I lowered my voice.

"I'm here with an American," I said, "called Big Jim Tucker. He's an agent provocateur. That might be the problem. Perhaps you can phone Bilderberg and explain that I may be in the car with Jim Tucker, but I'm not actually with him."

"Listen," she said, urgently, "Bilderberg is much bigger than we are. We're very small. We're just a little embassy. Do you understand? They're way out of our league. All I can say is go back to your hotel and sit tight."

"I'm actually just pulling into our hotel parking lot right now. The Paris Hotel in Estoril. He's right behind me. He's pulling up on the street right next to the hotel. He's getting out of his car ..."

"Sit tight," she said. "I'll make some phone calls. Whatever happens, don't incite them in any way. Don't fan the flames."

***

BEFORE THE CHASE had begun, Jim was lumbering and lethargic. Now he jumped out of the car with the agility of a young deer. The man from the Lancia climbed out of his car and took up a position behind a tree. He was young, in his thirties, with short black hair. He wore sunglasses and a dark green suit.

"I can see you!" sang Jim. "You're behind the tree. Peekaboo! Smile pretty for my idiot-proof camera."

"Jim," I said, "will you stop that."

But everything was beyond my control. It was as if the invigoration of the chase had transformed Jim into a sprightly teenager.

A one-sided game of peekaboo ensued, during which the chaser maintained a steely expression behind his sunglasses, Jim performed a little ballet dance, and I sidled towards the swimming-pool area, attempting to distance myself from the unfolding crisis. Jim wandered over to me.

Am I being paranoid," he said, "or did Bilderberg set a trap for us? No, listen. Yesterday, we saw the shutdown begin. We saw it with our own eyes. Today, surprise surprise, no shutdown. They let us in with a smile ..." Jim trailed off.

"But they weren't going to keep the entire resort open on the off chance that the two of us might ..." I trailed off and looked over to the tree.

"Whatever," said Jim. "It looks like we have ourselves a waiting game.

He smiled and blew a cloud of smoke from his nostrils.

"I consider it a great honor to be followed back to the hotel by those Bilderberg boys," he said.

***

JIM SAID HE needed to rest. He may have twisted something when he leapt out of the car. He retired to his bedroom. I sat by the pool. The man behind the tree shrugged and paced around and adjusted his tie and busied himself there behind the tree. Vacationers splashed all around us. From time to time I made eye contact with the chaser, which meant, "Can I come over and tell you who we are and what is going on?" But he waved me away with a flick of his hand.

Sandra from the British Embassy called me on my cell phone to inform me that she had spoken to the Bilderberg office at the Caesar Park and they said that nobody was following us and how could they call off someone who didn't exist?

"He is," I said, in a staccato whisper, "behind the tree."

"The good news," said Sandra, "is if you know you're being followed, they're probably just trying to intimidate you. The dangerous ones would be those you don't know are following you."

But this was scant comfort. What if these men were the dangerous ones, and I just happened to be naturally good at spotting them? What if I was adept at this?

"But that isn't logical," I said. "Big Jim Tucker is obviously not intimidated. I don't think they'd waste their time trying to intimidate us when it is quite obviously failing."

"You sound a little intimidated, if you don't mind me saying," said Sandra.

"Perhaps so," I said, "but I am not behaving in a visibly intimidated manner. From across the parking lot I do not seem to be intimidated."

***

Two HOURS PASSED. Jim and I reconvened at a hotel bar down the road. As I wandered through the lobby, two men in dark suits immediately grabbed brochures and began scrutinizing them. I found Jim some yards away staring into his beer glass.

"There are two men by the door," I said, "reading brochures."

"I see them," said Jim.

"They are only pretending to read brochures."

"How do you know?" said Jim.

"You can tell by their demeanor," I said.

"Here's the plan," said Jim. "We leave the bar together. When we get within earshot of the chasers, I say, 'I'm gonna meet my Bilderberg contact at the Tiny Bar.' You say, 'Shhh.' Say it urgently as if you don't want them to overhear. Feed them disinformation."

"I'm not going to do that," I said.

Jim and I left the bar together.

"JON," said Jim, loudly, "I'M GONNA MEET MY SECRET BILDERBERG CONTACT AT THE TINY BAR."

I scowled and said nothing and marched ahead.

"Very good," murmured Jim outside.

***

WE SPLIT UP. I walked down to the beach and found a seafood restaurant. I do not think I was followed there (unless, of course, I was being followed by the people who didn't want me to know they were following me -- perhaps an elaborate tag operation was in place involving Portuguese pensioners, a man painting some railings, and small boys in bathing suits, but on the other hand I do not think so).

When I returned some hours later to the bar of the Paris Hotel, Jim was drunker than any man I've ever seen. He was surrounded by four Danish ladies and they were all singing "Yes, We Have No Bananas."

"Jim," I said, urgently, "are you still being followed?" I coughed. "Sorry, ladies," I said.

"Excuse me, ladies," said Jim, bowing graciously. He turned to me.

"So what happened?" I said.

"I went to the Tiny Bar," he said. "They call it the Tiny Bar because it is a tiny bar."

"And did they follow you there?"

" ...We have string beans and onions/Cabbages and scallions ..."

"I'm a superstitious old boy," said Jim. He paused. "Abe Lincoln was a good man. Shame he was an abolitionist. Well, I guess nobody's perfect. I've lost my train of thought."

"You went to the Tiny Bar ..." I prompted.

"They call it that," said Jim, "because it is a very tiny bar. So I'm a superstitious boy and I never sit with my back to the door. Don't want to end up like old Abe Lincoln. But I didn't want them to know, see, that I knew they were there."

"And were they there?"

"I don't know," said Jim. "I had my back to the door. Ha ha ha ha ha!"

Jim nearly fell off his chair laughing.

"Jim," I said, sternly, "when you left, were you followed?"

"Who'd want to follow an old boy like me?" said Jim. "The amount of pills they make me take for my plumbing, anyone would think I was F.A.G. Positive."

"Jim!" I said, startled. "That's a terrible thing to say."

"I'm a Neanderthal," said Jim. "Grrrrr."

***

EARLY THE NEXT morning, a DO NOT DISTURB sign hung on Jim's door, and sounds of typing echoed down the corridor. At 2 P.M., Jim let me in to read me his report.

Dateline Portugal,
Bilderberg Sets a Trap! Was that car following them or was paranoia setting in?


Tucker climbed several steps to the swimming-pool area and poked his camera between tree branches. Chaser took up position behind tree and played peekaboo.

"Come on, smile pretty," Tucker ordered. Chaser struggled against it but for a brief moment his grim expression turned to an involuntary grin, then was reset.

Hours later, by prearrangement, Tucker went to another hotel bar a block away. Chaser's car was gone so the stalking was over, right? Wrong. When Ronson joined Tucker he reported two new stalkers in the hotel lobby. How did he know the two men were stalking them?

"You can tell by their smell," Ronson said.

***

"I did not say that," I interrupted with indignation.

"You didn't say that?" said Jim. "I thought I heard you say that."

"I'm not the sort of person to say something like that," I said.

There was a doubtful expression on Jim's face,

"Their demeanor," I said. "You could tell by their demeanor. Change it to demeanor."

"You can tell by their ... demeanor," amended Jim, reluctantly, with a red pen.

There was a chilly pause.

"You said smell," said Jim. "You just forgot you said it."

"I did not," I said, "say smell. I have never in my life said that anybody could be told by their smell."

A frosty atmosphere had developed between Jim and myself this past day or so. The tension was driving us apart. I was ready to sell Jim out to save my own skin, and I felt that Jim, invigorated by the chase, was grabbing my hand and jumping blindly into dangerous waters.

"OK," said Jim softly, "if you want to have said demeanor, you said demeanor."

"I didn't say smell," I said.

***

WE HAD AN appointment with Paul Luckman, the editor of the tiny English-language Weekly News, the Algarve parish newspaper that had stuck its neck out and gone big on the Bilderberg story. Paul's was the only newspaper in Portugal -- indeed the only newspaper in the world, as far as I could tell -- that was reporting the Bilderberg story.

Paul is an expat from England, fifteen years an Algarve resident. He is not a journalist by trade. He runs a small telephone company. The Weekly News is a hobby for him and his wife, Madeline, and their two friends from church, Fred and Brendan.

Paul told me he was perplexed that their parish journal had stumbled into a world exclusive on this explosive, baffling story.

"I do not consider myself one of the world's greatest thinkers," he said over the phone, "but it doesn't take much to work out that this is something genuine. And no other newspaper will touch it. Nobody. The conversation dies as soon as you say the word Bilderberg. I mentioned it to an editor on the Daily Express yesterday, and he immediately changed the subject. I said, 'Did you hear what I said?' 'Yes.' 'Do you know about Bilderberg?' 'I've, uh, heard of them.' And that was it. The conversation died."

"How did you hear about Bilderberg?" I asked him.

"From a little newspaper on the Internet called The Spotlight, " he said. "Have you heard of them?"

"I'm actually here in Portugal with Big Jim Tucker," I said.

Ooh!" said Paul. "He's a hero! Bring him along."

***

PAUL HAS A LITTLE office in a modern glass building in central Lisbon where he conducts his telephone business. He's a committed born-again Christian. Church posters decorate the walls.

"I find myself out of my depth," he said, twisting an elastic band around his fingers. "If what they're up to is perfectly innocent, why don't they say what's going on? But they don't. Not even a little bit. Not even a hint. Nothing." Paul paused. "Maybe my head's gone," he said, "but the Book of Revelation speaks of a one-world order, one financial order, a one-world religion. There'll be a sense of disorder, of children not respecting their parents, and then a very powerful group will form. So it does all fit together."

"I know they're bad guys," said Jim, "and I hate them, but I don't believe they're Satanist."

"I believe that Paul's not saying they're Satanist," I said. "He's saying they're actually Satan."

"You think that this is some kind of Biblical prophecy being fulfilled?" said Jim.

"All I'm saying is this is the strangest thing I've ever known," said Paul.

***

THE NEXT MORNING, Paul sent Fred and Brendan, his fellow Weekly News editors, to meet Jim and me outside the gates of the Caesar Park.

This was the day Jim said the limousines and the helicopters would arrive. If any of us still had doubts, Jim said, if any of us still didn't believe, today was the day we would realize that the world was nothing like we had been told it was, that it turned on a sinister axis.

The four of us waited out in the heat. A gypsy caravan trotted past, a few hikers. An hour trundled slowly by and we filled in the time with small talk.

"So Paul thinks Bilderberg represents the fulfillment of the Book of Revelation," I said to Fred.

He chuckled. "Well that's where Paul and I part company."

We both laughed.

"You see," said Fred, "I believe that all the prophecies have already been fulfilled."

There was a small silence.

"Oh," I said.

Another hour passed. We ran out of mineral water. We kicked the gravel.

"They'll be here," said Jim, but now even he seemed unsure. He wiped the sweat from his forehead with a silk handkerchief. Our shirts were soaked. We stopped talking to each other and just stood there.

***

PORTUGAL IS NOT an eventful country. There is tourism and there is football and there are golfing tournaments. It was, then, all the more extraordinary that at around four o' clock many of the world's most powerful people really did begin to roll past us in taxis and anonymous town cars.

There was David Rockefeller, net worth $2.5 billion, chairman of the Chase Manhattan Bank, huddled into the back of a local cab.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Rockefeller," murmured Jim.

The gatekeeper bowed and lifted the gate, David Rockefeller waved, and the taxi disappeared up the drive.

Then came Umberto Agnelli of Fiat, Italy's de facto royal family, net worth $3.3 billion, barely noticeable in the back seat of some old sedan.

"Big Bilderberg family," said Jim. He was trying to remain matter-of-fact, but pretty soon he was grinning broadly.

"Jim!" I said.

"Damn right, soldier," he beamed. "Pretty overwhelming, huh?"

There was Vernon Jordan, Bill Clinton's closest friend, his unelected unofficial adviser and golfing partner -- Vernon Jordan, who plucked the president from Arkansas obscurity and nurtured him to the White House, and who is widely credited with pulling strings to get James Wolfensohn his job as president of the World Bank.

There was James Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank.

"Incredible," murmured Fred. "Unbelievable."

And there was Henry Kissinger, possibly the most powerful individual the postwar world has known: Dr. Kissinger, who sanctioned the secret bombing of Cambodia and later won the Nobel Peace Prize, who revealed to the press his heart attack with the words, "Well, at least that proves I have a heart" -- and here he was trundling up the drive of the Caesar Park in the back of an old Mercedes.

"I'll tell you one thing I bet you didn't know about Henry Kissinger," said Jim. "His accent is as American as mine. Creep up on him at a bar, as I once did, and whisper that you know exactly what he's up to, and he'll splutter and shout at you in an accent as American as Mom's apple pie."

I attempted, for a moment, to judge rationally whether there was any truth to this startling claim -- whether Henry Kissinger really had throughout his life adopted a fake European accent to camouflage his American one. But I couldn't. My rationality had suffered a tremendous blow, and I now no longer knew what was possible and what was not.

The taxis kept coming. There were CEOs of pharmaceutical giants and tobacco companies and car manufacturers, the heads of banks from Europe and North America. Some, like Richard Holbrooke, America's United Nations representative, gave us friendly smiles, which Jim returned with a glare of undisguised loathing.

"Who are these people?" said Fred. "Why does nobody want to know?"

"They're the masters of the universe," said Jim. "The rulers of the world. You know their names now."

There was Conrad Black, the world's third-biggest media magnate, the owner of the Daily Telegraph and the Jerusalem Post and the Chicago Sun-Times and forty Canadian dailies and 447 other newspapers around the world. Conrad Black, who when asked what epitaph he would like replied, "Just my name and dates. The more exalted a person, the less is written on their tombstone. Charles de Gaulle just has his name and dates, Winston Churchill has the same, Otto von Bismarck has only his last name, and Napoleon Bonaparte has only the letter 'N' with no dates at all." This was a man sure of his place in history, and now I felt that perhaps I understood why.

Fred and Brendan stared in horrified awe. Like Paul, their fellow editor back in the Algarve, these two men were taking an evangelical stance on Bilderberg, presuming its existence confirmed the prophecies laid out in the Book of Revelation. They looked as if they were witnessing the Devil himself ride past.

An old bus cruised up the drive. I paid it little attention, assuming it was full of hotel workers. Only Brendan scrutinized the occupants. I glanced over. Brendan seemed frozen to the spot.

"Brendan?" I said.

"Brendan!" said Fred, sharply. "What is it?"

"I looked through the window," he explained, finally, "and I focused on one person, and he was staring back at me. I was standing with my camera in hand, and this person ... just stared."

"What kind of stare was it?" I asked.

"It was a strange stare," he said. "It was a different type of stare. Yes. He looked down at me. As if he was staring right through me." There was a pause. 'I couldn't even lift my camera."

"And who was it?" I asked.

Then Brendan said, softly, "It was Peter Mandelson."

Peter Mandelson was the architect of Tony Blair's New Labour Party. He was the image-maker, a wily spinner and a fixer, masterminding Tony Blair's ascent to power, the quintessential man behind the man in front. But times had turned bad for Peter Mandelson. He had, six months earlier, been forced to resign from government amid allegations of financial sleaze -- he had, contrary to government policy, secretly accepted a sizeable loan to buy a minimalist house in Notting Hill. His Machiavellian back-room deal-making had afforded him, among British journalists and politicians, the nickname "The Prince of Darkness."

I saw from Brendan's facial expression -- from his look of frozen horror -- that this nickname had never been more appropriate.

But Brendan was a handsome young man, a blond South African with an excellent physique. And I remembered that shortly before Mandelson's political downfall, he had been outed as gay on the BBC's Newsnight program. So perhaps Mandelson wasn't staring the stare of the Devil. Perhaps he was simply eyeing Brendan up.

There was a long silence.

"Peter Mandelson?" I said.

"I've never seen a stare quite like it," said Brendan.

"Who's Peter Mandelson?" said Jim.

There was nothing left for us to do, so we got lunch. We lavished praise upon Big Jim, who grinned with satisfaction. He had, indeed, uncovered something extraordinary. Fred half-joked that Jim should win a Pulitzer, except Pulitzer was probably in Bilderberg's hands. We went back to our hotels to freshen up, and after a while Jim called to ask, if I had a moment, would I mind meeting him in his room?

***

THERE SEEMED TO be something on Jim's mind.

"We can only wonder what evil things they're doing in there right now," he said, lighting a cigarette.

"They've only just arrived," I said, lighting one too. "They're probably showering."

There was a pause.

"So what is it, Jim?" I said.

And then Jim dropped his bombshell -- he was calling off the midnight penetration.

"When I was at the Tiny Bar last night," he explained, "I met this taxi driver. Local guy. Knew the terrain. I said I'd give him a hundred dollars to escort me through the undergrowth and up the drainpipes. 'One hundred crisp American dollars,' I said to him. 'Buy the wife that red dress she's always wanted.'"

Jim paused to cough. He had a coughing fit. He lit a cigarette. I lit one too.

"Anyway," resumed Jim after he had drunk a glass of water, "the taxi driver called just now. He said his wife wasn't going to let him go. Too dangerous, she said. She didn't want him killed. Poor fool."

Jim looked out of the window.

"I'm sorry," he said.

Jim gazed out at the traffic and the ocean beyond. He pulled on his cigarette. As I watched him, I considered the cancellation of the midnight penetration. Jim was never without a cigarette. He didn't like to admit it but his lungs were shot. His health was no longer a match for drainpipes and guard dogs and armed security. Bill Clinton's best friend Vernon Jordan was there, thirteen years a director of America's second-largest cigarette manufacturer, RJR Nabisco. I was sure that it was Jim's rattling, cigarette-induced emphysema that had put an end to his midnight penetration.

I went back to my own room and lay on my bed. I drifted off for a while, and then I was woken by the telephone. It was Fred from the Weekly News. He said he had something of great importance to tell me. Could I meet him at once at his hotel?

"Just come as fast as you can," said Fred. "I'll meet you by the pool. And don't bring your friend Jim Tucker."

***

AT THE POOLSIDE of the Hotel California, Fred held a document. The document was screwed up in his hand and damp with sweat. Fred said that he had discovered something terrible in the hours that had passed since our lunch.

"OK," said Fred, "I returned to my hotel and I had a swim and then I went to my room and began surfing on the Internet. And after a while I found this ..."

Fred passed me the document. I uncreased it and laid it on the table.

Bilderberg material is fascist hoax!

Dear friends,
I am writing to you urgently to warn you about material being circulated about a "Bilderberg Conference" due to take place in June in Portugal. The Washington-based journal Spotlight is quoted as a source of information on the Bilderberg Conference. Spotlight is published by the fascist Liberty Lobby. The purpose of the material appears to be to make people imagine there is a sinister Jewish conspiracy that is trying to dominate the world. You may find much information on Spotlight by contacting any major anti-fascist organization.

Against fascism and against capitalism,

Lisa Taylor
(International Solidarity with Workers in Russia)


"What do you think about that?" said Fred.

There was a long silence.

"Well," I said. "I should tell you that the other night Jim told me it was a shame that Abraham Lincoln was an abolitionist."

"Did he?" said Fred, clearly startled.

"But I can't really think of anything else Jim said that might be construed as ... oh -- he did say that with the amount of pills they make him take for his plumbing anyone would think he was --"

"We're getting all our information from neo-Nazis?" interrupted Fred. "We're publishing a newspaper all over Portugal and our sources are neo-Nazis?"

"You might be," I said. "But that doesn't mean ..." I paused.

Fred looked out at the pool. Children were splashing around. It was a lovely day. He put his head in his hands.

"What," he said, "have we got ourselves into?"
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Re: This is Not a Conspiracy: Jon Ronson Draws a Dubious Con

Postby admin » Wed Mar 30, 2016 7:56 am

THEM: Adventures With Extremists
by Jon Ronson

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12. THE WAY THINGS ARE DONE

IN MY ATTEMPTS to find out whether the world really was being secretly ruled from inside the Caesar Park golfing resort that June weekend, I contacted dozens of Bilderberg members. And, of course, nobody returned my calls. Nobody even wrote back to decline my request and thank me for my letter, and these are people whose people always write back and decline requests -- Peter Mandelson's office, for instance -- which is why I began to envisage these silences as startled ones.

I did manage to speak to David Rockefeller's press secretary, who told me that Mr. Rockefeller was thoroughly fed up with being called a twelve-foot lizard, a secret ruler of the world, a keeper of black helicopters that spy on anti-Bilderberg dissenters, and so on.

The Rockefeller office seemed to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the conspiracy theories. They troubled Mr. Rockefeller (his press man said). They made him wonder why some people are so scared and suspicious of him in particular and global think tanks such as Bilderberg in general. Mr. Rockefeller's conclusion was that this was a battle between rational and irrational thought. Rational people favored globalization. Irrational people preferred nationalism.

I asked him why he thought no Bilderberg member had returned my calls or answered my letters.

"Well," he shrugged, "I suppose it's because they might want to be invited back."

***

I PERSEVERED. I wanted the information. I felt I deserved to have the information, and I simply couldn't believe that, in this day and age, there was some information that I couldn't get my hands on. It was driving me crazy.

I learned that being followed around by a man in dark glasses was tame in comparison to the indignities suffered by some of the few prying journalists who had traveled this road before me. In June 1998 a Scottish reporter tracked Bilderberg to the Turnberry Hotel in Ayrshire, and when he started asking questions he was promptly handcuffed by Strathclyde police and thrown into jail.

BILDERBERG MEMBERS CONTINUED to ignore my inquiries through the end of 1999 and into 2000. It was around the same time that my former Islamic fundamentalist friend Omar Bakri decided to take against me in a big way.

It began innocently enough. I wrote an article about him in the Guardian newspaper, and a few days later he phoned to say that as a result of it he had been asked to appear on a TV discussion program entitled Fanatical Debate.

"Fanatical Debate!" sighed Omar. "What a name! See how you've typecast me, Jon."

We laughed about it.

The next day Omar called back. Something had changed.

"I am very angry with you," he said.

"Why?" I asked.

"You said you'd portray Omar the husband, and you lied."

"How could I portray Omar the husband if you never introduced me to your wife once during the entire year we were together?" I said.

"Anyway," said Omar, "I am not angry. I am happy."

"Why?" I asked.

"Because it was a funny article," said Omar. "It made me laugh."

***

THREE HOURS LATER, I received a telephone call from Helen Jacobus, a journalist on the Jewish Chronicle.

"I've just been speaking to Omar Bakri," she said. "He's very angry. He says that you have personally destroyed relations between all Muslims and all Jews in the U.K. He says that if there is a violent aftermath, you will have nobody to blame but yourself. He says that the Zionist-controlled British media has demonized him, and it is all your fault. Would you care to comment?"

"But," I said, "I haven't."

"Is that it?" said Helen. "Is that your comment?"

"I haven't," I said. "I just haven't."

"My God, Jon," said Helen. "This is all we need."

"What else did Omar say?" I asked her.

"He said that you will burn in hell," she said.

***

THIS WAS THE worst possible news. Here I was, still smarting at the heavy-handed treatment afforded to me by the Bilderberg security guards in Portugal, and Omar was going around telling people that I was part of the international media-controlled Jewish conspiracy. I seemed to be in a unique, and not pleasant, position in the grand conspiratorial scheme of things.

I debated whether to phone Omar and remind him that journalism is very much a team effort. There are researchers, publishers, and so on. I realized then, with shame, that I do not cope well under pressure.

I telephoned Omar.

"Omar," I said, "did you tell the Jewish Chronicle that I have destroyed relations between all Muslims and all Jews?"

"Yes," he said, merrily.

"Don't you think it's getting out of hand?" I said.

"Oh, Jon," said Omar. "I know how to work the media! Ha ha! Don't you think it is all very funny? I'm going to cause as much trouble as possible, ha ha!"

"But what if some of your followers take your words seriously and -- you know -- kill me?" I said.

"Oh, Jon," he muttered. "Don't be silly. We are all very mature. All Muslims are very mature."

"So we're friends?" I said.

"Of course," said Omar.

"Maybe I can come over?" I suggested.

"Oh no," said Omar. "I can never trust you again. You lied. I am very angry. You have caused much unhappiness among the Muslims."

"But you said you were very happy."

"Oh yes," said Omar. "I am very happy."

"Omar," I said, "are you happy or angry?"

."Happy," said Omar.

There was a silence.

"There's something else," I said.

"What?" he said.

"Helen Jacobus said that you said that I would burn in hell."

"Ha ha ha!" said Omar. "I was joking. I say that to my children! If you don't do your homework you will go to the hellfire! Ha ha! I can't believe that you believed me!"

"So I won't go to hell?"

"You will go to paradise," said Omar. " And if you go around telling people that I said you will burn in hell then I will give you sixty lashes."

"Will you?" I said.

"Jon!" said Omar. "I'm joking again! Ha ha!"

"Ha ha," I said.

"Sixty lashes for you!" said Omar.

***

IN 1999, THREE mail bombs exploded in London -- in Brixton and Brick Lane and at a gay bar in Soho. The bomber, David Copeland, believed that Tony Blair's government was being secretly controlled by a clique of powerful Jews who call themselves the Bilderberg Group and meet once a year in a five-star hotel at an undisclosed location. He also believed that this Judaic-Satanic elite attends a secret summer camp every year called Bohemian Grove, where they sacrifice children on an altar to their owl god.

The Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic publicly blamed the Bilderberg Group for starting the war against him in the former Yugoslavia. His accusation was barely reported. I suppose that the journalists at the press conference had never heard of the Bilderberg Group and simply didn't know what to write.

The Iraqi government announced in November 2000 that the vote-rigging scandal that convulsed the American elections in Florida was all part of the great Bilderberg Jewish conspiracy to get their man, Al Gore, into power. Other conspiracy theorists contended that this could not be true because George W. Bush was himself a regular attendee at Bohemian Grove and must, therefore, also be part of the conspiracy.

I thought about Timothy McVeigh visiting the remains of Randy Weaver's cabin and rummaging through the family's scattered belongings like an archaeologist, or a pilgrim, shortly before blowing up the federal building in Oklahoma City -- a building he considered to be the local headquarters of the global elite. I realized just how central these conspiracy theories were to the practice of terrorism in the Western world.

In October 2000, in Gaza, a twelve-year-old boy called Mohammed al-Direh went out looking for used cars on a Saturday morning with his father. They blundered into a street battle with Israeli soldiers. The boy hid behind his father's back for safety. He was killed. It was a clean and deliberate shot. The Israelis appeared to the world like old-fashioned monsters.

A series of posters appeared overnight in London and Birmingham calling, in vast letters, for the murder of the Jews.

The final hour will not come until the Muslims kill the Jews ...

At the bottom of the poster was a telephone number. I recognized it straightaway. It was Omar's cell phone number.

That night, a Jewish student was brutally stabbed while reading the Talmud. Britain's Jews were becoming scared. I was becoming scared. I felt that things were getting out of control. I was one of the only Jews in Britain on speaking terms with Omar, so I telephoned him.

"Hello, Jon," he said. "How are you? It is lovely to hear you."

"Omar," I said. "Why have you done this? Why are you bringing all of this to Britain? I think that you have done a terrible thing."

"Oh, Jon," said Omar, sadly. "You know me. I had nothing to do with the posters."

"But your phone number was printed at the bottom," I said.

"Some terrible person must have found my number," said Omar.

"But why would they do that?" I asked.

"To frame me," said Omar. "To get me into trouble. I had nothing to do with the posters. I promise you that. We are not at war with the Jewish community but with the terrorist state of Israel. The posters were nothing to do with me."

"Oh, Omar," I said.

"What?" said Omar.

"Nothing," I said.

What else was there to say?

***

FOR A WHILE, I became paranoid. Even when I wasn't actually being followed, I imagined I was. One morning I found my car unlocked. I had locked it the night before. But nothing had been stolen. A wire was dangling behind the rearview mirror. Had that wire been dangling there before? I didn't want to tell my wife that I suspected we were being surveilled. I didn't want to panic her. For a month after that, the conversations we had in our car were stilted and awkward.

"Have we got enough milk?" my wife would ask.

"That is so," I would reply.

In the spring of 2001, two extracts from Them appeared in the Guardian newspaper, including the chapter about being chased through Portugal by the Bilderberg Group. As a result, I was invited to appear on Channel 4's Big Breakfast TV show. A taxi picked me up at 5 A.M. and took me to the cottages in East London that they have turned into a TV studio. I was greeted by a production assistant who wanted to run through the questions with me.

"The interviews will be filmed in the attic, she said. "It's creepy and shadowy up there."

"That sounds like a good idea," I said.

"First," she said, "Paul will do a bit of an introduction -- 'Joining me up in the attic is crazy conspiracy theorist Jon Ronson' -- and then he'll ..."

I coughed. "I really don't feel comfortable being introduced as a crazy conspiracy theorist," I said.

She looked panicked.

"Could you not introduce me as a writer and documentary maker?" I said.

There was a silence.

"I know it isn't as good," I admitted.

"How about conspiracy theory investigator?" she said.

"I really prefer writer and documentary maker," I said, apologetically.

"How about conspiracy theorist and writer?" she said.

"That still doesn't sound absolutely right," I said.

"How about writer and conspiracy theorist?" she said. "Or writer on conspiracy theories?"

"I would be prepared to accept writer and documentary maker who investigates conspiracy theories and theorists," I said.

"I definitely have a problem with documentary maker," she said.

"Conspiracy writer?" I said. "Actually, no ..."

"Yes," she said. "That sounds good."

In the end, I was introduced as a writer and documentary maker and crazy conspiracy theorist.

I felt I was gaining insight into what it must be like to be David Icke.

***

I CONTINUED DUTIFULLY to write to Bilderbergers, although I held out no hope of a breakthrough.

And then, one Tuesday morning, the phone rang. It was the instantly recognizable voice of a Bilderberg founder member, for thirty years one of their inner circle, their steering committee, a Bilderberg agenda setter, a headhunter -- a secret ruler of the world himself, should you choose to believe the assorted militants I had spent the last five years with.

It was Denis Healey.

Denis Healey was one of Britain's most powerful political figures during the 1970s. He was the deputy leader of the Labour Party and Chancellor of the Exchequer during the dark years of spiraling taxation and inflation. Despite his fearsome budgets -- he once promised to "squeeze the rich until the pips squeak" -- he was remembered as a jovial and scrupulous moderate, with a tremendous laugh and vast eyebrows, two great hedgehogs nestling on his forehead. It was a surprise to find Lord Healey at Bilderberg's heart. Unlike Peter Mandelson, or Henry Kissinger, or David Rockefeller, or Vernon Jordan, he was not seen as a cunning puppet-master. He was a plain- living centrist, who spent much of his retirement years eulogizing the Yorkshire Dales. (David Icke, by the way, remained on the fence about whether Dennis Healey was a shape-shifting reptile. He said he hadn't done his genealogy.)

"How can I help you?" said Lord Healey.

"Well," I said, "would you tell me what happens inside Bilderberg meetings?"

"OK," he said, cheerfully.

There was a silence.

"Why?" I said. "Nobody else will."

"Because you asked me," he said. Then he added, "I'm an old fart. Come on over."

***

ONCE LORD HEALEY had agreed to talk to me -- and I had circulated this information far and wide -- other Bilderberg members became amenable too (albeit on the condition of anonymity).

These interviews enabled me to, at least, piece together the backstage mechanics of this most secret society.

So this is how it works. A tiny, shoestring central office in Holland decides each year which country will host the next meeting. Each country has two steering committee members. (The British ones have included Lord Carrington, Denis Healey, Andrew Knight, the one-time editor of The Economist magazine, and Martin Taylor, the ex-CEO of Barclays Bank).

They say that each country dreads its turn coming around, for it has to raise enough money to book an entire five-star hotel for four days (plus meals and transportation and vast security -- every package of peas is opened and scrutinized, and so on). They call up Bilderberg-friendly global corporations, such as Xerox or Heinz or Fiat or SmithKline Beecham or Barclays or Nokia, who donate the hundreds of thousands of pounds needed. They do not accept unsolicited donations from non-Bilderberg corporations. Nobody can buy their way into a Bilderberg meeting, although many corporations have tried.

Then they decide who to invite -- who seems to be a "Bilderberg person."

***

THE NOTION OF a Bilderberg person hasn't changed since the earliest days, back in 1954, when the group was created by Denis Healey, Joseph Retinger, David Rockefeller, and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands (a former SS officer while he was a student -- ironic that a former Nazi, albeit a low ranking and halfhearted one, would give birth to an organization that so many would consider to be evidence of a Jewish conspiracy).

"First off," said a steering committee member to me, "the invited guests must sing for their supper. They can't just sit there like church mice. They are there to speak. I remember when I invited Margaret Thatcher back in '75. She wasn't worldly. She'd probably never even been to America. Well, she sat there for the first two days and didn't say a thing. People started grumbling. A senator came up to me on the Friday night, Senator Mathias of Maryland. He said, 'This lady you invited, she hasn't said a word. You really ought to say something to her.' So I had a quiet word with her at dinner. She was embarrassed. Well, she obviously thought about it overnight because the next day she suddenly stood up and launched into a three-minute Thatcher special. I can't remember the topic, but you can imagine. The room was stunned. Here's something for your conspiracy theorists. As a result of that speech, David Rockefeller and Henry Kissinger and the other Americans fell in love with her. They brought her over to America, took her around in limousines, and introduced her to everyone.

"I remember when Clinton came in '91," he added. "Vernon Jordan invited him along. He used it as a one-stop-shop. He went around glad-handing everyone. Nobody thought they were meeting the next president." (Of course, Jim Tucker would contend that they all knew they were meeting the next president -- for they huddled together that weekend and decided he would be the next president.)

At times I become nostalgic for when I knew nothing. There are so few mysteries left, and here I am, I presume, relegating Bilderberg to the dingy world of the known.

The invited guests are not allowed to bring their wives, girlfriends, or -- on rarer occasions -- their husbands or boyfriends. Their security officers cannot attend the conference and must have dinner in a separate hall. The guests are expressly asked not to give interviews to journalists. Rooms, refreshments, wine, and cocktails before dinner are paid for by Bilderberg. Telephone, room service, and laundry bills are paid for by the participants.

There are two morning sessions and two afternoon sessions, except for on the Saturday when the sessions take place only in the evening so the Bilderbergers can play golf.

The seating plan is in alphabetical order. It is reversed each year. One year Umberto Agnelli, the chairman of Fiat, will sit at the front. The next year Norbert Zimmermann, chairman of Berndorf, the Austrian cutlery and metalware manufacturer, will take his place.

While furiously denying that they secretly ruled the world, my Bilderberg interviewees did admit to me that international affairs had, from time to time, been influenced by these sessions.

I asked for examples, and I was given one:

"During the Falklands War, the British government's request for international sanctions against Argentina fell on stony ground. But at a Bilderberg meeting in, I think, Denmark, David Owen stood up and gave the most fiery speech in favor of imposing them. Well, the speech changed a lot of minds. I'm sure that various foreign ministers went back to their respective countries and told their leaders about what David Owen had said. And you know what, sanctions were imposed."

The man who told me this story added, "I hope that gives you a flavor of what really does go on in Bilderberg meetings."

***

THIS IS HOW Denis Healey described a Bilderberg person to me:

"To say we were striving for a one-world government is exaggerated but not wholly unfair. Those of us in Bilderberg felt we couldn't go on forever fighting one another for nothing and killing people and rendering millions homeless. So we felt that a single community throughout the world would be a good thing."

He said, "Bilderberg is a way of bringing together politicians, industrialists, financiers, and journalists. Politics should involve people who aren't politicians. We make a point of getting along younger politicians who are obviously rising, to bring them together with financiers and industrialists who offer them wise words. It increases the chance of having a sensible global policy."

"Does going help your career?" I asked Denis Healey.

"Oh yes," he said. Then he added, "Your new understanding of the world will certainly help your career."

"Which sounds like a conspiracy," I said.

"Crap!" said Denis Healey. "Idiocy! Crap! I've never heard such crap! That isn't a conspiracy! That is the world. It is the way things are done. And quite rightly so."

He added, "But I will tell you this. If extremists and leaders of militant groups believe that Bilderberg is out to do them down, then they're right. We are. We are against Islamic fundamentalism, for instance, because it's against democracy."

"Isn't Bilderberg's secrecy against democracy too?" I asked.

"We aren't secret," he snapped. "We're private. Nobody is going to speak freely if they're going to be quoted by ambitious and prurient journalists like you who think it'll help your career to attack something that you have no knowledge of."

I noticed a collection of photo albums piled up on his mantelpiece. Denis Healey has always been a keen amateur photographer, so I asked him if he'd ever taken any pictures inside Bilderberg.

"Oh yes," he said. "Lots and lots of photographs."

I eyed the albums. Actually seeing the pictures, seeing the setup, the faces, the mood -- that would be something.

"Could I have a look at them?" I asked him.

Lord Healey looked down at his lap. He thought about my request. He looked up again.

"No," he said. "Fuck off."
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Re: This is Not a Conspiracy: Jon Ronson Draws a Dubious Con

Postby admin » Wed Mar 30, 2016 8:01 am

THEM: Adventures With Extremists
by Jon Ronson

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13. THE CLEARING IN THE FOREST

THE FOG ROLLED in over the giant redwoods of northern California and settled for the night outside my motel room in the logging town of Occidental, giving the place a menacing air that became less menacing when the fog lifted the next morning and I saw that the motel's restaurant specialized in low-cholesterol egg alternatives and breakfast smoothies.

I spent the day sitting in my car and watching limousines pick elderly men up from Lear jets at the nearby Santa Rosa airport. I followed them along Bohemian Highway to a lane that read NO THROUGH ROAD. There, the limousines disappeared up the hill.

This was the lane that led to Bohemian Grove, the clearing in the forest where, it had long been said, the rulers of the world -- President Bush, for instance, and Bilderbergers Kissinger and Rockefeller -- dress in robes and hoods and burn effigies at the foot of a giant owl. As far as Randy Weaver and Alex Jones and David Icke and Thom Robb and all the others were concerned, the very heart of Luciferian globalist evil lay at the top of this hill.

I wanted to attempt the impossible. I wanted to somehow get in, mingle, and witness the owl burning myself. After all, I had heard about the global elite these past five years -- the claims and the counterclaims -- and I believed this to be the only tangible way I could finally learn the truth. What were they doing in there?

I had no clear idea how to accomplish this. My original plan had been to enter the forest alone, perhaps climb up some hills, and basically just scout around until I found it. Recognizing that this was an ill-conceived strategy, I telephoned some of the anti-New World Order radicals I had met during my travels to ask their advice.

David Icke warned me against it. He said the reptilian bloodlines transform themselves back into giant lizards at Bohemian Grove. Furthermore, he said, Henry Kissinger, Jimmy Carter, Walter Cronkite, and the male members of the British royal family routinely sexually abuse their harem of kidnapped sex slaves -- brainwashed through the MKULTRA trauma-based mind-control program -- at the Grove. I asked David how he knew this, and he explained that one of the sex slaves, a woman called Cathy O'Brien, escaped and wrote a chilling memoir about her experiences called The TranceFormation of America.

"If you read Cathy O'Brien's book," said David, "you'd know not to go anywhere near the place. People disappear in those forests."

I called Alex Jones, the radio and TV talk-show host I had met while visiting Texas with Randy Weaver. He instantly invited himself along.

"That place is sick!" he yelled. "You've got presidents and governors and prime ministers and corporate chieftains running around naked. They have orgies. They worship their devil owl. I'll smuggle a camera in and get right up in their faces."

"I think stealth might be a better approach if we want to witness the owl-burning ceremony," I said.

"You're right," said Alex, thinking aloud. "Let's liken it to Indiana Jones. Getting in their faces will be like going for the little emeralds along the way to the big ruby in the head of the idol, which would be to actually witness the owl burning itself."

"Exactly," I said.

I was glad Alex was joining me. He struck me as someone who would behave fearlessly in the face of danger. He also had five million listeners. He was a high-profile person. He had personally organized the rebuilding of David Koresh's Branch Davidian church at Mount Carmel near Waco. He had a can-do attitude. I could not imagine that, with Alex around, they would dare to do anything should we be caught.

I had arranged to rendezvous with Alex, his girlfriend, Violet, and his producer, Mike, at the Occidental Motel on Wednesday evening, but they didn't show up. Instead they telephoned me from somewhere along the road at 10 P.M.

"It's all fogged out," yelled Alex, "so thick you can't see. Weaving roads. Deer jumping in front of us. I'll tell you, the hairs on the back of my neck are standing up."

Alex called again at 11 P.M. to report on their progress.

"There's fog everywhere," he yelled, "and there's all these strange people, old men and old women just standing on the side of the road watching us. I know the Bohemian Grovers have their snitches all over this forest. We're going to take a more circuitous route down side roads. I'll call you back."

At midnight, I received a final call from Alex's increasingly crackly cell phone.

"A jeep has come off the side road and has started following us. We're going to turn around. Oh my God, it's turning around too! It's following us back down the road. Write this down. A red jeep. Newer model. Write down the license plate. Hang on a minute."

Alex handed the phone to his producer, Mike.

"If something happens to us make a big stink about it!" yelled Mike. "Promise me that."

"I promise!" I yelled.

I did not hear from them again that night. The motel receptionist informed me at breakfast that their beds had not been slept in.

***

I SPENT THE morning leaving concerned messages on Alex's cell phone. Then I shrugged and thought, well, life goes on, and I paid a visit to Mary Moore, a local anti-Bohemian Grove activist who lived a mile from my motel. Mary was once a beauty queen, the winner of the 1953 San Luis Obispo County Fiesta, but she became radical in the 1960s and moved to Occidental. Mary protested the Grove every summer for three decades, holding up placards, yelling at the warmongers cruising past in their limousines, but now she is sixty-five and retired. Her cabin was decorated as a monument to her participation in left-wing causes. There were posters and bumper stickers pinned everywhere reading NUCLEAR WAR? NO THANKS and WHO KILLED KAREN SILKWOOD? and SPLIT WOOD NOT ATOMS and VOTE JESSE JACKSON.

"Is it dangerous to try and get into Bohemian Grove?" I asked her.

"Yes, if you get caught," she said. "They do not want publicity. But I will tell you this. Getting in is easier than most people think."

She paused, and added, with a cryptic smile, "Easy when you know how to do it, that is."

I asked her if she'd help me, but she said she had been burned in the past. In 1991 she had gone to great lengths to help a journalist from People magazine smuggle himself in -- she had co-opted her deep throats and her people who knew people -- but he was spotted inside by two executives from Time Warner, People's publishers. They called security and had him removed. His article never appeared.

"I don't know who your On High is," said Mary. "I don't want to get burned again."

We talked for an hour. She gave me a detailed map of the Grove that had been published by the Bohemians themselves. The Grove's 2,700 acres do not appear on any normal map of the region. She warned me of the nearby Russian River's treacherous currents and the surrounding sheer rocky canyons. She said that penetration via the surrounding terrain was not a good idea.

She showed me the lists of Bohemian attendees she had managed to surreptitiously acquire over the years. They read much like a Bilderberg roll call, with Kissinger and Rockefeller alongside Presidents Bush and Reagan and Ford and Nixon. There were movies stars like Clint Eastwood and Danny Glover, the ex Tory cabinet minister Chris Fatten, Alan Greenspan of the Federal Reserve, and Caspar Weinberger and George Shultz.

"What do you know about the owl-burning ceremony?" I asked her.

"They call it the 'Cremation of Care,'" she said. "Is it deeply occult as many people think? Some say they're killing children up there and sacrificing them on the altar. Maybe they are. But I doubt it. I think we'd have heard about it by now, at least locally."

Mary rifled through her filing cabinet and she found a copy of an old "Cremation of Care" program from the 1980s. One of Mary's deep throats had smuggled it out to her. The front cover depicted a cartoon of a giant red owl with a snarling grin clutching a small man in its claws, about to throw him into a giant fire.

"Goodness," I said.

"Make of that what you will," said Mary.

Mary said there was much evidence of prostitutes from San Francisco being flown in en masse to the nearby village of Monte Rio to service the all-male encampment for the two-week duration, reports of a great deal of alfresco urination against the redwood trees -- even though the campsite was equipped with a great many toilets -- and world leaders wandering around in drag, with giant fake breasts.

I tried to remain objective, but it all seemed uncommonly strange and unexpected and hard to rationalize.

"The truth is," said Mary, "I couldn't care less about what they do in their private lives. I don't care what their sexual habits are. Men are men. That's not news to me. I care about the networking. This is where the ruling-class bonding happens. This is the ultimate back room."

Mary told me about the "lakeside talks," the unofficial power meetings that occur in an open-air amphitheater on the grounds of the Grove. One of these lakeside talks, said Mary, had conceived the Manhattan Project, which gave birth to the first U.S. atomic bomb. In 1978, she added, the chief of the U.S. Air Force gave a lakeside talk in which he directly pled for, and later received, congressional approval for the B2 stealth bomber. Mary said that the future of the world is discussed at the Grove by men like Henry Kissinger who have the power to change the course of history, men who actively thrive on secrecy, hence the mystique that has grown up around any secret society Kissinger belongs to, especially if that very same secret society undertakes berobed ceremonies involving owl effigies.

"It's strange to see the left and the right coming together on this issue," I said.

"Well," she shrugged, "we all hate Henry Kissinger."

"My colleague Alex Jones hopes to smuggle in a hidden camera and film the owl-burning ceremony," I said.

Mary brightened.

"Well, if you guys can do that," she said, "that I'd like to see. That has never been done. Hang on a minute."

Mary went into the other room to make some calls. She returned some minutes later to tell me the good news. A friend of hers called Rick -- a local lawyer who had twice successfully infiltrated the Grove -- was prepared to meet with Alex and me.

"He says he'll even come in with you," said Mary. "He looks the part. He could be one of them. You'll be OK with Rick."

***

ALEX AND VIOLET and Mike finally showed up at the motel mid-afternoon. They explained that their circuitous route down mountainous side roads had proved unsuccessful, so they had retraced the road back to town and checked into a hotel.

I laid out Mary's map of the Grove on Alex's bed. They gathered around to study it.

"OK," said Alex. "Here's the lake. Here's the shrine of their devil owl."

"Where does it say that?" I asked.

"Right there," said Alex, pointing to a spot marked Shrine. "Here's Bohemian Highway. I guess our hotel must be right over there. Hey. Where did you get this secret map?"

"Deep throat," I said.

"Now wait a minute," said Alex. "This map is unheard of. This map isn't widely available." He narrowed his eyes and scrutinized me. "Where did you get it?"

I could tell that dark thoughts had entered Alex's mind.

"I am not one of them," I tutted. "I am not luring you into a trap. Can we have some trust here, please?"

"Yeah, yeah," said Alex. "I'm sorry."

The treacherous currents and the sheer rocky canyons did not seem intimidating to Alex and Mike. They had made their plans. They intended to rent a boat, sail it down the Russian River, moor it, climb a mountain, shimmy down the other side, and get in that way.

"Hiking in two thousand seven hundred acres is not hard," said Alex. "We need to catch these people at their Luciferian worship."

The cleaning lady wandered past the open bedroom door holding a vacuum cleaner. Alex slammed the door shut. He pulled the curtains together.

"I saw her before," whispered Alex, "just standing there staring at me. Really. Standing there and just staring. She had her hand to her ear like this."

Alex cupped his ear.

"All the literature I've read on the Net says the Bohemians have got their snitches all over this town," he explained.

"The actual clearing seems to be only about five hundred acres," said Mike, still studying the map. "The rest is undergrowth."

"God only knows what's really going on in the other two thousand two hundred acres," said Alex. "I would guess that's where they perform their more nasty or beastly activities. But that is only speculation. We've got two hidden cameras. We've got a tie camera and one that looks like a pager."

"Do you think that Alex's temperament is such that he'll be able to maintain the stealth needed to undertake the operation?" I asked Violet.

"Alex is not only a great activist and a great broadcaster but also a great actor," she said.

"Thank you, honey," said Alex. They kissed each other on the lips.

"Do you worry for Alex?" I asked.

"I do," said Violet. " Alex gets so impassioned. I'm afraid sometimes he might be a little too fearless. And it's creepy at night up here in the woods."

There was a silence.

"I just wish we were armed," said Violet, wistfully.

"Well," muttered Mike, "guns would be no good out here without silver bullets."

"I've arranged for us to meet a local lawyer called Rick," I said, "who has twice infiltrated the Grove."

"I'll meet your guy," said Alex.

"I think his advice might be valuable," I said. "I think you should just listen and not say anything."

"Why not say anything?" asked Alex.

"He comes from a different political persuasion to you," I said. "I don't want your words to disturb him."

"A socialist, huh?" said Alex. "Well, if he wants to consolidate power and enslave the world's population and kill eighty percent of us like the UN are publicly stating then he ought to be all for Bohemian Grove."

"I don't think Rick wants to sacrifice eighty percent of the world's population," I said.

"Well, you said he was from a different political persuasion to me," said Alex.

"Still," I said, "the important thing is for you to not say anything."

***

AT 6 P.M. Rick and Alex and myself sat by the pool at the Occidental Motel. Rick was sixty but he looked ten years younger. He wore a plaid shirt and khaki trousers. Alex laid out Mary's map, which he and Mike had annotated with little red arrows, plotting their proposed route along the torrents of Russian River, up a mountain, and down the other side. Alex's arrows ended at the spot on the map marked Shrine.

"Going in that way," said Rick, "will get you killed. We are talking about a sheer rocky canyon."

Alex produced a notepad and wrote down, "Sheer rocky canyon -- Killed."

"So what's the secret?" I asked. "How do we get in?"

"The secret?" said Rick. "Just walk right in up the drive. That's what I did. There'll be one or two security guys sitting on the side of the road looking bored. You're just going to nod to them as you walk in. Just nod and say hi. And that's it."

"That's it?" said Alex.

"What you don't do," said Rick, "is stand out. You don't dress young. Even the young ones in there don't dress young. Dress casual. Khakis. Cotton pants."

"Preppy?" I asked.

"Preppy, yes," said Rick. "It's a preppy crowd. Wear a baseball cap."

"Flip-flops?" asked Alex. "Sandals?"

"Sandals would be fine," said Rick. "Flip-flops might not be such a good idea."

Alex wrote down "sandals."

"What time do they have the owl-burning ceremony?" asked Alex.

"The 'Cremation of Care,'" corrected Rick, "is at dusk tomorrow night."

"Have you witnessed the ceremony?" asked Alex.

"Yes," said Rick. "It's pretty elaborate. They do it down at the lagoon. The crowd is on one side of the lagoon on a grassy slope and the ceremony is on the other side. So the crowd are quite a way away from it. Some people bring cushions or little lawn chairs. There's a chorus. There's a symphony orchestra. A good symphony orchestra, right there by the lagoon."

"Wow," said Alex. "What type of music?"

"Boston Pops-type music," said Rick.

"Sounds pretty eclectic," said Alex.

I smiled at Alex. He smiled back. He was saying the right things.

"What is the owl made out of?" asked Alex.

"I have no idea," said Rick. "I know there's a druid type of ceremonial altar in front of it."

"A druid type of ceremonial altar?" repeated Alex, writing down "druid type of ceremonial altar."

"It has that look," said Rick. "Very old. Very pagan. I'm sure it's meant to be harmless pranky type fun. "

Alex raised his eyes.

"This is not harmless pranky type fun," he snapped. "You have all these superpowerful men in druid outfits, as you witnessed, Rick, burning an effigy in front of an owl. It just so happens that other primitive cultures have had that same owl, they just throw children inside the burning innards. That's historically based."

Rick looked perplexed.

"And if you ask them what it's all about," Alex continued, "they'll just say, Oh! I don't know what you're talking about. Get away from me, little man, or I'll set my dogs on you. You sniveling twit. I'll have you removed immediately. How dare you! Wretched fool!'

I shot Alex an annoyed look.

"You're probably right," Alex shrugged, calming down. "It could be just big-kid grown-up fraternity behavior."

"The important thing," said Rick, "is to look like you know where you're going. Smile. Just walk right in. Hell, I'll walk in with you. And dress preppy."

Alex wrote down "preppy dress."

***

THE NEXT MORNING we drove into town to buy preppy clothes at Eddie Bauer. I nearly gasped when Alex and Mike stepped out of their dressing rooms. The visual transformation was astonishing. They no longer looked like highly strung Texan right-wingers. Now they were the very picture of Ivy League graduates, the East Coast elite, in sports shirts and khaki trousers, cashmere sweaters draped with carefree abandon over their shoulders.

"You look very handsome," said Violet.

"Thank you, baby," said Alex. They embraced and passionately kissed right there in Eddie Bauer, and Mike and I and the shop assistants shuffled uncomfortably.

Back at the motel, Alex and Mike practiced being preppy by wandering up and down the corridor in a preppy fashion, their hands in their pockets, a slightly effeminate lilt to their gait.

"The point is," said Alex, "we belong here. We're just normal."

I didn't join in with the rehearsals. I felt I already knew how to behave preppily.

Rick had advised that Alex should assume a profession familiar to him -- a talk-show host from Austin, for instance -- but after much deliberation he and Mike decided to pretend to be high flyers from Silicon Valley. Alex was to be the CEO of a microprocessing firm, and Mike the technical brains with a doctorate in molecular science.

"What are our names?" asked Mike.

"I'm David Hancock and you're Professor Mike Richards," said Alex. "We're just going to talk. We're just going to walk normally as we would. Calmly. La la la. We're fat cats."

Alex and Mike began rehearsing preppy conversations.

"But seriously," said Alex, adopting a recondite tone of voice, the two men rambling delicately along the corridor, ''as fast as microprocessors are beginning to move ... it's getting down to a molecular level ... the question is, at what level will the actual basics of science stop us from making these systems smaller? It's the entire nanotechnology revolution that I find most dynamic ..."

I could see that Mike's hands were shaking, making his polo shirt quiver.

"I agree," he murmured, unsurely.

They looked over to me for approval.

"I'm not sure about 'I agree,'" I said.

"I don't think we should practice talking," snapped Mike. "What comes up comes up. It's got to be natural when we do it."

"No," said Alex. "We're going to go over it and over it until we get it right."

"OK," said Mike.

They resumed wandering along the corridor.

"But I really want to know your opinion of nanotechnology," said Alex. "You've been studying it so closely. You've already got these transistors down to the size of molecules. What I want to know is when will the science, just the basic laws, stop our progress in the miniaturization process. Doctor?"

Mike smiled wisely but he said nothing.

"What do you think?" said Alex to me.

"Are you sure you don't look too preppy?" I said.

"I need a prop to stop my hands from shaking," said Mike.

"Mineral water," said Alex. "They drink mineral water."

***

WE ABANDONED REHEARSALS to purchase mineral water from the local general store. In the few moments it took us to cross the road, two limousines and an open-top BMW cruised past us towards the Grove.

Rick's logic was that no security guard would risk his livelihood by insulting potential VIPs with impertinent questions about their right to be there, but Alex was still unsure.

"You think we can trust Rick?" he asked. "People have recommended him to you? I'm not going to end up tied to a pentagram with Henry Kissinger's fat belly hanging over me while he's necking with a big dagger, am I?"

I could see Alex's point. Rick's tips seemed so contrary to everything we had heard about Bohemian Grove. How could we just walk in? That seemed incorrect.

"Have you worked out something to say as a last resort in case you get caught?" I asked.

"Yes I have," said Alex.

"What is it?" I asked.

"I'll say, 'DON'T COME ANY CLOSER!"' screamed Alex.

"I'm sorry?" I said.

"I'll say, 'BACK OFF! JUST BACK THE HELL OFF! DON'T TAKE ANOTHER STEP!"'

"Oh my God," I said. "That's a threat."

"It won't come to that," said Alex.

"'Don't come any closer is not preppy talk," I said.

"Definitely not," said Alex. He smiled slightly and looked me squarely in the eye.

There was a silence.

"Are you dangerous?" I asked Alex.

"Are these people dangerous?" he replied. "They certainly are. I'm completely nonviolent. Dangerous? I'm definitely dangerous to corrupt bureaucrats and their financial bosses that like to control the people on the planet."

"But not in a violent way," I said.

"Not in a violent way," he said.

"Alex is one of the best guys you'll ever meet," said Mike.

"This world government is dangerous," said Alex. "Henry Kissinger and George Bush are the dangerous ones. This degenerate inbred New World Order crowd are the dangerous ones. I have no criminal record."

"He's not dangerous," said Mike. He turned to Alex. "You need to clear that up," he said.

"This is really a gross analogy," said Alex, "but I'll use it. I see most of these elitist individuals as a whole bunch of dog turds being laid all over this society. I don't run around stomping on them because I don't want to get it on my feet."

Alex paused. His voice became somber.

"I just say to the general public, 'Let's clean these dog turds up. Let's tell these people they can't do this anymore."

Mike nodded in earnest agreement.

"They can't shit on us," said Alex. "That's really what I'm saying. You can't shit on us anymore."

There was a silence.

"I just want them to stop shitting on us," said Alex.

"OK," I said. "Sorry."

***

ON SATURDAY AFTERNOON at 4 P.M. -- three hours before our allotted rendezvous with Rick -- Alex had a private meeting with Mike and Violet in Mike's bedroom. Then he took me to one side to formally inform me of their change of plan. Yes, Alex was grateful for Rick's clothing advice and, yes, they were willing to walk up the driveway, just as Rick recommended. But, no offense, Alex said, they were not prepared to actually walk into the Grove with either Rick or myself. They had decided to go it alone.

Alex didn't admit it outright, but his reason was clear. He simply could not know for certain that Rick or I were not them: undercover Feds, or worse, part of some complex trap to capture an outsider and perhaps even offer him up as a sacrifice to the owl god. I considered launching a defense, but the truth was I had no tangible evidence to prove that I was not one of them. Furthermore, as crazy as it sounds, those suspicions had also crossed my mind about Rick, and I too was finding It difficult to shake them.

"When are you going to attempt your penetration?" I asked him.

"Right now," said Alex.

"Well, at least let me come along to see you off," I said.

***

THE JOURNEY TO the gates of Bohemian Grove was undertaken in an anxious silence. Violet pulled up in a turnout near the entrance.

"If we're not here at eleven P.M., come back at eleven-thirty," said Alex.

"And every half hour after that," said Mike.

"What time do I get in touch with the police?" asked Violet.

"Six A.M.," said Alex.

"If something does happen to us, make a big stink about it," said Mike. "Promise us that."

"I promise," said Violet.

"Here we go," said Alex.

Alex and Mike climbed out of the car. They strode away from us in a conspicuously preppy manner. They were looking good. I could tell by their hand gestures that they had already begun debating the miniaturization process of microprocessors, even though they were still a hundred yards from the driveway.

"It seems to be going well so far," I said.

And it did seem to be going well, right up until the moment, some ten seconds later, that Alex and Mike, for no apparent reason, suddenly dived frantically into the undergrowth at the side of the road.

"Bloody hell," I said.

For a second the two men became visible as they stood up in the bushes, brushed themselves down, turned around, gave Violet and me a surreptitious thumbs up, took a step forward, cascaded headfirst down into a gully, and were gone.

Violet gasped.

"Hmm," I said.

***

"WHERE ARE THE Texans?" asked Rick.

It was two hours later. Violet had gone back to the Occidental Motel. Rick and I were steeling ourselves for our impending penetration with cocktails at the Village Inn, a lovely riverside bar on the edge of the Grove.

"I last saw them diving into the bushes," I said.

"Boy Scouts," tutted Rick. "So predictable. You know there's poison oak all over these forests."

"Will they die?" I asked Rick.

"I don't know," he said. "Depends how many times they get stung. Anyway. Are you ready?"

"As I'll ever be," I said.

I took a last big swig, we paid up, walked the hundred yards to the entrance, up past the sign that read NO THROUGH ROAD, and were immediately approached by a security guard.

"Hey there," said Rick.

"You guys should have driven up here," smiled the guard.

"Oh, we wanted to walk," said Rick. "You know. Enjoy the air."

"Hey!" said the guard. "No problem. Have a good time at Care."

He gave us a little salute. We walked on.

"That was easy," I whispered.

"Told you," whispered Rick.

We walked the length of the parking lot -- there were perhaps five hundred cars, Mercedes and BMWs and Range Rovers and Jeeps -- and up to a second wooden guardhouse, manned by a bored-looking security officer and some young valet parkers. Nobody seemed to notice us as we walked past.

And then we were in Bohemian Grove.

THE BANK OF sixteen public telephones offered the first indication that this was no ordinary campground. The piano music drifting down from a nearby hill was another. There were clusters of canvas tents everywhere, some just off the road, others perched in the hills, as if built out of the trees. Each encampment was equipped with a bar, a grand piano, a huge stone fireplace, a stone barbecue, and a wooden owl sculpture.

One had an open-air Jacuzzi. A live band played rock and roll standards in another -- "Lucille" and "Shout" and "Go Johnny Go" -- to a group of men, most elderly, some middle-aged, dancing and shouting and gulping down cocktails. I did not recognize any of them. But we kept our distance.

From time to time an open-top tram drove bumpily past us --decorated with a drawing of an owl -- carrying khaki-wearing Bohemians from one end of the camp to the other. Again, I recognized nobody, although they all had an unmistakable aura of wealth and power. They all looked like they were someone.

Rick and I continued to explore. The camps were each marked with wooden signs: CAVE MAN and WOLF and DRAGONS and LOST ANGELS and STOWAWAY. Red lanterns hung in the trees behind Dragons, like little devil eyes. The Grove's ambience seemed deliberately spooky, as if a designer had been instructed to utilize the shadows of the giant redwoods -- the whole place was in shadow -- to give it some kind of chic druid-Satanic milieu.

Everywhere we walked we discovered the remnants of a recently defunct party. Dozens of empty bottles of Moet et Chandon were scattered around a secluded lawn. The ice had not yet melted in the silver bowl that stood on a wooden table. Three strawberries remained. I ate them.

"Look at this," said Rick. He was standing by a bulletin board, full of snapshot photographs presumably taken at the previous night's entertainment. In these photographs, elderly preppy- looking gentlemen stood around, drinking and laughing. Some were dressed in full drag, with fishnet stockings and hideously applied makeup, humorously oversized fake breasts protruding from their nylon blouses. They struck burlesque erotic poses, their legs wide apart, fingering their buttocks, tongues out, etc. Others were dressed as Elvis impersonators, with fake chest wigs. Next to the photographs was a notice advertising the following Tuesday's concert -- MC: George Bush Sr.

There was a further notice, locked in a glass case. It was the guest list. I quickly scanned the names. Bohemians were wandering past me and I didn't want to appear too nosy. Under C was the name Cheney, Richard. It would be reported on CNN a week later that George Bush learned of his son's decision to appoint Dick Cheney as his vice-presidential running mate while he was camping on vacation in northern California.

And there was the list of guest speakers for the following week's lakeside talks: Henry Kissinger and John Major.

Black linen drapes hung from a bank of trees near the lagoon. We walked between them. I turned around to find myself face to face with a giant stone owl, nestling between two huge redwoods. It must have been fifty feet high and covered in moss.

***

"The shrine," whispered Rick.

Bohemian Grove was, all in all, an unusual place. Besides the photographic remnants of the drag/Elvis costume party, which I had found decidedly unpleasant in a palpably woman-hating way, and the pseudo-spooky Rocky Horror Show touches, this was a very beautiful spot. The ancient redwoods were vast and breathtaking. The tents looked luxurious and opulent, and I imagined myself sipping cocktails at twilight, discussing preppy issues with like-minded world leaders.

We wandered along the winding path. We found a private beach at the edge of a tranquil part of the Russian River, the sand perfectly manicured. There was a landing stage and a diving board. A handful of Bohemians were swimming naked in the waters below.

Rick and I gazed out at the trees and we discussed world events. How did we feel about the breakup of Microsoft? Rick was on balance in favor. I hadn't made up my mind. How about GB? Rick was on balance against. I hadn't made up my mind. I realized that my preppy demeanor was not a camouflage. I was genuinely interested in these matters. I didn't have a care in the world. I had made it to the inner enclave. Dusk was falling and the owl burning was soon to begin, and with Rick as my cover I knew I would not be caught.

"Hey, look," said Rick. "There's your friend Alex."

Sure enough, Alex and Mike were heading down the path towards us.

"Hi, you two!" I said.

"Don't go that way," hissed Alex. "There are cameras in the trees!"

"There are owls everywhere!" hissed Mike, his eyes wide in terror.

"Just keep walking!" said Alex. "Just keep walking!"

And before I could say another word to them, they had gone.

"Hmm," I said.

"They seem to be trapped in some sort of paranoid state," said Rick, breezily.

"They certainly do," I said.

"Ah," said Rick. "Can you see the osprey?"

"Oh yes," I said. "A lovely seabird."

***

NINE P.M. There was no formal announcement. No bell was rung. But the Bohemians instinctively knew that the time had come for them down at the lagoon. The ceremony was about to begin. Rick and I found a prime spot, directly opposite the giant stone owl. We sat on the grass and we rested our backs against a tree. Soon the grassy bank was packed. A thousand men had drifted down, in groups of twenty or thirty, and were crowded together, sitting cross-legged on the grass. Many lit cigars. A few scrutinized me. I was probably the youngest person there.

I glanced behind me and spotted Alex and Mike. They spotted me. We looked away.

"First-timer?" asked a big man wearing glasses.

"Yes," I said.

"You're going to love the ceremony," he said. "Fools! Fools! Ha ha!"

"Sorry?" I said.

"You'll see," he laughed. "Here. Have this."

He handed me a color program. The cover read "Cremation of Care. July 15th, 2000. 121st Performance. Bohemian Grove." I thanked him and flicked through it. It was a cast list.

High Priest -- Jay Jacobus.

Voice of the Owl -- John MacAllister.

Funeral Cortege -- The Gentlemen of Lost Angels Camp.

And so on.

From across the lagoon, a single violin began to play. A hush descended. A figure appeared before the owl. He wore lederhosen. His lederhosen were covered in leaves. He resembled some kind of elfin Germanic Tarzan. He was, I learned from my program, Eden's Garden Soloist.

He stretched out his arms and began to sing, with operatic grandeur: "Glorious! Glorious! Oh twigs! Oh boughs! Oh trees ...!"

For the next ten minutes or so, Eden's Garden Soloist eulogized nature's splendor, his voice ringing through loudspeakers concealed in the trees. Spotlights picked out individual redwoods. They glowed green.

Then we were plunged suddenly into darkness. The drums thundered. Boom! Boom! At each boom a robed man carrying a flaming torch appeared amid the trees. There were perhaps thirty of them. It was, without question, a berobed torchlight procession. Their hoods were red, their robes black. They resembled posh Klansmen, or the cast of a Broadway musical, should Broadway ever decide to do the Moloch Pagan Cult of Sacrifice story.

They lit a pyre at the foot of the owl.

"Hail, Bohemians!" said the High Priest, and it was clear he was the highest of all the priests because his robes were silver and gold and made of silk. The High Priest reprised Eden's Garden Soloist's eulogy of the great outdoors. "The ripple of waters, the song of birds, such music as inspires the soul ..."

To summarize, he informed the crowd, these men of wealth and power, that Dull Care, archenemy of Beauty, must be slain, right here and right now!

"Bring fire!" he roared.

I wondered what Alex and Mike were making of this. I, personally, took Dull Care to mean the burdens and responsibilities of business, but I imagined that Alex was interpreting the scene differently. A naysayer could easily presume that Dull Care meant the world beyond the Grove, the average Joes, and that the High Priest was suggesting the world leaders in the crowd should not give a damn about ordinary people.

As I pondered this, a startling thundercrack rang out through the trees, followed by a scary, cackly voice. It was the voice of Dull Care.

"Fools!" he roared. "Fools.! Ha ha ha! When will ye learn that me ye cannot slay?"

Dull Care suggested to the High Priest that he was invincible.

"When ye turn your feet to the marketplace," he mocked cacklingly, "am I not waiting for you as of old? Fools! To dream ye conquer Care."

At this, and in a breathtaking display of pyrotechnic wizardry, the spirit of Dull Care spat fire onto the High Priest. From the treetops, a gob of fire rained down upon the High Priest's hat. This infuriated the High Priest.

"Nay, thou mocking spirit," he spluttered. "We know thou waitest for us when this our sylvan holiday shall end. But this too we know: Year after year, within this happy Grove, our fellowship has banned thee for a space. So shall we burn thee once again and in the flames that eat thine effigy, we'll read the sign. Midsummer set us free!"

And the crowd roared and cheered and yelled the last line back at the priest.

"Midsummer set us free!"

At this moment, Death appeared on a gondola on the lagoon, carrying a papier-mache effigy towards the giant owl. Dry ice floated upon the lagoon's surface. It was a beautiful sight. The effigy was retrieved from the boat by (my program informed me) the Brazier Bearers, held out to the owl's midriff, and then thrown -- by the Mourning Revelry Dancers -- into the fire.

"Aaaargh," said Dull Care, his grotesque death rattle filling the forest.

"Hooray!" said the crowd.

Then fireworks erupted. Then everybody sang "When the Saints Go Marching In." Then it was over. We clapped. The Grove descended once again into silence, broken only by the sound of many elderly men murmuring to their neighbors, "Could you possibly help me up? Thank you so much."

"Well, well, well," I said.

"Pretty spectacular," said Rick.

"I guess we should go," I said.

We wandered back towards the exit. A ragtime band was playing near a bonfire. All along the path, men unzipped their khakis and urinated up against the trees and straight onto the road. This did not strike me as mere convenience. There were public toilets everywhere. It was a statement. I needed the toilet myself, so I urinated too, my urine joining theirs, forming a little golden stream down the path and into the mud.

***

AT 1 A.M., back at the Occidental Motel, Alex and Mike and Violet knocked on my bedroom door. We nodded to each other. Alex locked the door behind him. He pulled the curtains closed. Violet hooked the hidden camera up to the TV set. She fiddled around with the wires. We sat on the bed.

"OK," said Violet. "I think we've got it."

She switched on the TV to reveal an indistinct blob of green to the right of the screen. We squinted our eyes.

"I don't understand what I'm seeing," said Violet. "The picture is very blurry and crooked, honey."

"Nobody has ever lived to get this footage out before," snapped Mike.

"I think it might be Eden's Garden Soloist," I suggested.

"Who?" said Mike.

"The elf in the leaf-covered lederhosen," I said.

"Glorious! Glorious! Oh twigs! Oh boughs! Oh trees ...!" sang Eden's Garden Soloist.

"Look!" said Alex. "Torches! Two torches! Now there's three torches! See them? More torches! It was some kind of sick torchlight procession."

Sure enough, specks of light had appeared at a perplexing ninety-degree angle in the corner of the TV screen.

"Damn," said Alex. "The camera must have toppled over."

"That's so scary," said Violet. "I would have been terrified. How terrifying is that?"

"That's nothing," said Alex. "They start worshipping the owl any minute."

"Hail, Bohemians!" began the High Priest. "The ripple of waters, the song of birds, such music as inspires the soul ..."

"Were you scared?" Violet asked Mike.

"I'm not going to lie," he replied. "I was scared to death in there. The whole place was full of owl statues and gods. Just owls everywhere."

"But surely that's like going to a Hilton and getting freaked out because they had H's everywhere," I reasoned. "The owls were a motif."

Mike stared at me as if I was mad.

***

IT WAS CLEAR that the Texans' interpretation of the ceremony differed from my own. My lasting impression was of an all-pervading sense of immaturity: the Elvis impersonators, the pseudo-pagan spooky rituals, the heavy drinking. These people might have reached the apex of their professions but emotionally they seemed to be trapped in their college years. I wondered whether the Bohemians shrouded themselves in secrecy for reasons no more sinister than that they thought it was cool.

I remembered something that my Bilderberg Deep Throat had said to me on the telephone one Sunday evening shortly before I set off for the Grove. He said that far from being fed up with hearing wild conspiracy theories about themselves, many of the Bilderbergers actually thoroughly enjoy it.

He also said that, in all honesty, neither Bilderberg nor Bohemian Grove attract the caliber that they used to. The current members are getting older and older, and the prospective newcomers -- the world leaders of tomorrow -- don't seem all that interested in getting involved.

"Let's face it," my Deep Throat had said to me, "nobody rules the world anymore. The markets rule the world. Maybe that's why your conspiracy theorists make up all those crazy things. Because the truth is so much more frightening. Nobody rules the world. Nobody controls anything."

"Maybe," I said, "that's why you Bilderbergers love to hear the conspiracy theories. So you can pretend to yourselves that you do still rule the world."

"Maybe so," he said.

"Fools!" roared Dull Care on the video in my bedroom.

"Oh my God!" shrieked Violet, clutching Alex's arm. "How is that normal? That is so Satanic!"

Mike washed his face at my sink. He said he wanted to get the hell out of northern California. He said that as long as only one copy of the videotape existed all our lives were in danger.

"We should make copies," said Mike, "give one to Jon, mail another back home, and keep the third with us at all times."

Alex and Mike and Violet plotted the future of their video. Once home, they would stream it on their Web site. Then they would release the complete version as a mail-order VHS.

"Look," said Alex, "I'm not into the occult. I deal with concrete things. Waco. Ruby Ridge. I deal with hardcore things. But this was much worse than I expected. The catcalls and the insane cackling. After it was over I was walking through the crowd and I was hearing little bits of conversation. Old men were going, 'Yes! That's the key! We must burn him again! I do want to burn him again.' These people were in a fever."

"Even so," I said, "it isn't as if you overheard any of them secretly discussing global control or anything like that."

There was a short silence.

"Yes I did," said Alex.

"Did you?" I asked.

"Yes," said Alex. "I heard old men going around bragging about how they manipulate the world. I heard two guys going, 'Yes, we're going to get him elected.'"

"Did you hear someone say, 'Yes, we're going to get him elected'?" I asked.

"I swear to God," said Alex. "Mike was right there with me."

"Is that word for word?" I said.

Mike nodded.

"Another guy said, 'Our new missile system is really on top form. They're delivering the reactor next week,'" said Alex.

"You're making this up," I said.

"No I'm not," said Alex.

"These people are sick," said Mike. "This was sick for America."

"You do seem freaked out," I said.

"I am very much freaked out," he said. "I'm so tired of these people telling us that David Koresh ran a cult. That was a cult. I have never seen the Branch Davidians worship an idol."

This was a good point. I wrote the line down in my notepad.

"Write this down," said Alex. "The government is so good at calling people weirdos and ... and .... cult members ..." Alex paused, stumbling on his words. "I'm so tired," he said.

"The government," prompted Violet, "are saying the Branch Davidians are a cult but here's a bunch of old guys that run America in their black robes ..."

"I'm exhausted," said Alex.

"I'd be exhausted too if I'd been through what you've been through," said Violet. She leant over to hug Alex. But he flinched away.

"The point I'm trying to make is this," said Alex. "These people point their fingers every day. If you're against the government you're an extremist. You're crazy. But this was a pagan ceremony worshiping the earth and engaging in human sacrifice."

"Oh, come on," I said. "Mock human sacrifice. At worst."

"I know the Branch Davidians," continued Alex. "They have their little five-hour Bible-study meetings every Saturday. They are really boring, to be frank ..."

"That wasn't boring," I admitted.

"That was occultic," said Alex. "You've got former and current presidents, all these old men in the crowd chuckling their mirthful death rattles. 'Burn him! Burn him!"

"They're cheering for this guy to be killed!" yelled Mike. "It's disgusting!"

"That's not normal," said Violet.

"It just got weirder and weirder and weirder," said Alex. "You've got eighty-year-old men peeing on trees and going, 'Here! Let's pee!' You've got the Fortune 500 crowd, politicians, peeing on trees, out in public. I mean on concrete paved roads. Even though they've got toilets, like, five feet away. Whipping it out and peeing and peeing and peeing. It's running down the street. Now they're worshiping owls and burning humans in effigy. You've got death on a black boat bringing a papier-mache person so they can burn him for some idol, some owl god, some demon."

"Oh, come on," I said. "They were only saying that for two weeks they should forget their worldly cares. Be reasonable:

"Look," snapped Alex, "we understand that they're not literally killing a person, OK? We understand that. But, Jon, let's get this straight. They were burning a human in effigy in deference to their great owl god. This was a simulated human sacrifice complete with the person begging and pleading for his life. This was bizarre Luciferian garbage."

Mike stood up. He paced the room. He rapped the walls with his knuckles.

"They did not kill an effigy of a person," I said. "They burnt a symbol of their troubles so they can enjoy their bloody summer holiday."

"THEY WERE KILLING AN EFFIGY OF A PERSON!" roared Alex.

"THEY BLOODY WERE NOT!" I yelled. "YOU'RE DOING TO THEM" -- I pointed furiously at the TV screen -- " EXACTLY WHAT THEY DID TO RANDY WEAVER AND DAVID KORESH! SURE! THEY'RE BEROBED! SURE! THEY RULE THE WORLD! SURE! THEY'VE GOT A GIANT STONE OWL AND THEY'RE BURNING A -- UM -- HUMAN-ISH EFFIGY IN FRONT OF IT! BUT YOU'RE PUTTING TWO AND TWO TOGETHER AND MAKING FIVE IN EXACTLY THE SAME WAY THAT THEY SAW THAT RANDY WEAVER WAS HIGHLY ARMED AND HE FREQUENTED ARYAN NATIONS AND THEY CONSEQUENTLY DECIDED THAT HE MUST BE A HIGHLY ARMED -- UM -- WHITE SUPREMACIST!"'

I paused for breath and saw that Alex and Mike and Violet were staring at me with incredulity.

"Look, I'm sorry," I said. "It's just been an exhilarating night."

"This will not fly with the American people," said Mike. "How do you think the American people will react when we tell them?"

"What are you going to tell them?" I asked.

"That it's all true!" yelled Mike. "I looked the New World Order in the face out there! I saw a bunch of old rich white men, our leaders, out there sacrificing something to an owl god. I think they're sacrificing people in the real world too. Ruby Ridge. Waco. Oklahoma City."

Mike splashed cold water onto his face.

"There will be an outcry about this," he said. "These are the doctors who make the vaccines that get pumped into our children. These are the people who make the movies our children watch. They're at the top, bringing all that stuff down on us. These are the people that bomb innocent countries and justify it by making them demons. It wasn't fun and games to me. I had a tear in my eye."

Mike had a tear in his eye now. I gave up. I be1ieved I was right, but who knows? Perhaps Alex and Mike's interpretation was equally correct. Alex patted Mike on the shoulder.

"Good job, Mike," he said.

***

THE NEXT MORNING, as Mike had recommended, Alex copied all of his undercover Bohemian Grove footage for me. I watched the tape being transferred. I watched the ceremony again in my hotel room in Los Angeles on my way back home to London. I placed the tape underneath my clothes in my suitcase. I checked my suitcase in at the airport. I retrieved it at Gatwick. When I arrived home, I put the tape into my VCR and pressed Play. There was Alex and Mike diving into the undergrowth. There they were wandering through the grounds. There they were heading down to the lagoon at dusk. And then -- and I offer no explanation for this, no theories -- the tape blanked out. The ceremony had somehow been erased.

Bombshell: elitist Bohemian Grove cult blown wide open!


In the weeks that followed, Alex did, indeed, stream his video on his Web site. It immediately became an underground blockbuster. Everywhere I looked, the Internet was aflame with news of the daring raid.

First ever video from inside the Northern Californian globalist retreat obtained! Leaders from politics, big business, academia, and the arts captured on tape worshiping a 50~foot horned owl and engaging in mock human sacrifice.


Radio Talk-Show Host and Documentary Filmmaker Alex Jones infiltrated the cult on one of their highest holy days to witness the infamous "Cremation of Care." On July 15, 2000, Jones, carefully disguised as a "Grover," spent four hours inside the elite cult compound. Armed with two hidden digital video cameras, he observed and documented bizarre public urination and the worship of a giant stone horned owl deity.

Other news:

The Bush Gang: wanted for international murder, child abuse, drug running, and genocide. You know the father now meet the son.

NATO leaders controlled by Bilderberg. Bilderberg summit closes in Portugal under massive security.


... Reporter Jon Ronson was understandably disturbed by the experience of being trailed by security men in a green Lancia K throughout Wednesday. According to Ronson, the British Embassy had told him not to provoke any incidents and that his fate was in his own hands ...

Why was The Spotlight's Jim Tucker and reporter Jon Ronson chased by Bilderberg security in Portugal?


Perhaps the whole reason was just so Tucker could write an outlandish article about it that nobody would believe because of The Spotlight's racist tendencies. Perhaps they were chased just so nobody would believe them.

I got tired. I turned off my computer.
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