Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Allen Ginsberg - King of May



Allen Ginsberg is always welcome at the Series of Tubes, singing or not. Here he does a reading of Kral Majales or King of May, based on a real incident during a trip to Czechoslovakia.

On May 1, 1965, after being deported from Cuba (triggered by his calling Che Guevara "cute," according to Ginsberg) Ginsberg visited Czechoslovakia, and was supposedly spontaneously elected King of May by Prague's citizens during an outdoor parade. Celebrating Czech nationalism, the "King of May" election had long been banned by the communist régime and was the first of its kind in 20 years. The ceremony Ginsberg participated in - and may have helped plan - was in fact a carefully planned demonstration by a group of Czech students who would later stage the student uprising of 1968. Ginsberg was reportedly expelled by the authorities from Czechoslovakia several days later. The story was dutifully noted in the international press, but the source - a Czech student newspaper - is suspect, and Ginsberg noted in a later interview that he had planned to leave on that date, so it's problematic as to whether he was officially shown the door.

Sitting next to Ginsberg during the reading is an unfortunately silent Neal Cassady, "Dean Moriarty," in Jack Kerouac's On the Road, and probably by this time one of Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters. Footage of Cassady is rare and unusual to see, most of it is out-of-focus, low-quality film shot by the Pranksters during one of their various road trips. It's too bad that he has nothing more than a supporting role in this clip.

1 comment:

AllenGinsbergOM said...

Thanks for posting. OM !