Ginsberg and the Spies of Czechoslovakia
Allen Ginsberg and the Student
Spies of Czechoslovakia
Left: Interestingly, this newsclip
appeared in the same edition of
the New York Times that carried
on its front page photos of mind
control scientiest Jose DelGado,
stopping a bull with an electronic
The late, great conspiracy bard Allen Ginsberg
became king of the Czechoslovakian May Day
festival in May 1965 and was promptly expelled
from that Communist country. The circumstances
of his ascension to that throne, however, only recently emerged in the current "Allen Ginsberg"
issue of The Massachusetts Review (South College, University of Massachusetts, Box 37140,
Amherst, Massachusetts, 01003-7140.) It reprints the redacted Czechoslovakian secret police
file from that time, with writer Andrew Lass' observation that "the report is accurate in most
details pertaining to Allen...I know, because I was either present at some of the situations described
in the report or because Allen told me about them later. But how did they know? Who among us was
the mole?" The issue also includes the following 1986 exchange between Lass and Ginsberg concerning
his election as May Day king:
AL: Do you remember how you actually got elected,
what the procedure was?
AG: No, that I don't remember.
AL: The procedure was to measure the loudness of the
applause and so there was this microphone hooked up
to this enormous meter, and while you were singing I went
behind this enormous thermometer-bulb meter and there
were these two guys looking at a little version of the meter
connected to the microphone you were singing into and that
was also pointing into the crowds-and these two guys would
move the arrow of the meter as you were singing...
AG: According to accurate scientific method...It was a fake!
Was it a fake?
AL: I have to tell you twenty-one years later that as you came out they said Ginsberg, Ginsberg sssswwwreee, and
the thing went up and you became the King of May.
AG: I am totally disillusioned after this. I thought I won it fair and square.
AL: No, what this tells you is the extent to which this was a political
demonstration and how important it was for the people who were arranging
the parade and masterminding it to actually use you as a symbol and a vehicle
AG: Was the parade that well masterminded, managed and
manipulated, do you think?
AL: I think it was.
AG: I thought it was more spontaneous than that.
AL: It was very spontaneous, but someone had to come up with
the idea and get the permission and orchestrate the actual production.
AG: Who? Who were those people?
AL: I don't really know.
AL: No, no, they were students, they were students who actually
then really became leaders in the student movement in '68. And some
of them actually ended up in prison afterwards.
AG: So I was up on the stage with the official title of King of
May on my throne and the next election was for the Queen of
May. Suddenly about six big guys like the ushers came over and
told me "You are no longer King of May," lifted me, lifted the
entire chair and took it off the stage to the side. I said "what's
going on here?" Someone said that these were sort of like the
fake students that were working with the administration or the
ministry of culture, who were there as ushers for the government.
I assumed that since a hundred thousand people saw me as the
King of May there wasn't any problem about being the King
of May no matter what the government wanted to do. In fact
that put a little salt and pepper into the scene. But I also realized
I was now in a dangerous position and had to be very careful,
very correct in my conduct at this point, lest there be real scandal,
'cause as long as I was impeccable in my behavior I was invul-
nerable. I'd already had the experience of being grabbed and
isolated in Havana, so I was really quite apprehensive and knew
what was possible. I wasn't afraid in a physical way, but I just
didn't want to get into more trouble, actually. I had another
week there and my plane was coming, so I figured I'll just cool
it. So we took a nice long walk ... through the park.