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Monday, April 6, 2009

Alex Shoumatoff's Vanity Fair Article On The Bohemian Club

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Bringing an end to a story that made my blogs famous, infamous Vanity Fair (VF) Contributing Editor Alex Shoumatoff finally published his work on the Bohemian Club’s timber management plan and how he got snared by police for tresspassing at its private retreat near the town of Monte Rio, Calif. 

If you remember, Alex Shoumatoff set out last year to help his Harvard roommate Jock Hooper do a smear job on the Bohemian Club, which is a kind of resort home for many San Francisco luminaries, and not all of them male.  Hooper was someone described as a "disgruntled former member" of the exclusive gentlemen’s club that has is favored by the business elite, former presidents, international leaders, and men who enjoy music, wine and song, and ok, I know at least two women who've recently been there (with their boyfriends).  The club's lightened up a lot over the years.

Anyway, Hooper quit the club when it wouldn’t approve his forest management plan (read: major ego) and then became the leading critic of the club’s plans to preserve and protect old growth redwood trees on its property.  He then got Alex and Vanity Fair to do some dirty work for him, or try to. 

Now I write this with the full expectation of being invited to the 2010 Vanity Fair Oscar Party, rather than having to sneak into it.  Hear me talking Graydon! 

This story started last year when Shoumatoff managed to sneak in to the Bohemian Grove during the annual event the club holds in July. But his wandering, covered in detail in his story, only lasted 40 minutes before he was arrested by security guards and a part-time service employee at the famed Grove who quickly spotted that the kind of sloppy, preppy Topsider-wearing editor was not one of their own. 

In VF, Alex writes that he was trying to fit in with that style of dress, but folks I talked to say he wasn’t hard to miss: he was dressed like a caddy wearing a Pebble Beach pullover and apparently asked off-beat questions that proved to be his downfall.  Most of which he mentions in his article. 

He was quickly captured cowering behind a bush, but his large body gave him away.  He was then arrested by the Sonoma County Sherriff’s Department, spent the night in county jail, and forced to pay a fine for trespassing.  His arrest was captured in the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Post, Gawker, Huffington Post, and, of course, here at zennie62.com and the San Francisco Sentinel .

Shoumatoff’s piece in Vanity Fair this month may be the first case of a hatchet job that turned into a hachet boomerang:  Club members say Shoumatoff’s piece is so  dramatized and so full of factual errors (that I will detail in a follow-up post), that it proves to be an embarrassment for him and well as Vanity Fair editor-in-chief Graydon Carter. And they refered to being attacked by "right wing bloggers"! 

I'm neither right of center, nor posessing wings like a bird, but I am a blogger.  As an Oakland guy who hangs out in San Francisco a lot, has worked for and helped  many local politicians both Democrat and Republican (but I'm a Dem), and gotten to personally know a number of "Grovers" as Alex calls them, I can tell you they're more than a little tired of people putting them into this "conservative White male" box, especially since this "liberal Black male" has been invited to visit and by members who are not all White, and aren't at all conservative. 

I'm happy to come to their defense to be frank. 

I'm glad Alex got caught because he could have just used the contacts he was developing to visit the club in a legitimate fashion.  Instead, he bozoed his way in and looked like a clown in doing so.

And the club's forest plan?  According to several sources, it's going through the review process well.  But what I find so interesting even over the important consideration of the trees, is how one blue-blood institution, Vanity Fair, can muster the gall to call another blue-blood institution The Bohemian Club "elitist" when VF's not even invited me to its Oscar Party, and Graydon Carter will not take my calls. 

This'll teach 'em!

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