Anthropology professor Andrew Lass (right) with friend Allen Ginsberg in 1963.
Capturing a "coronation" on film Anthropology professor Andrew Lass will be part of the Odyssey Bookshop's Allen Ginsberg commemoration and Beat Generation book weekend. On April 3, he will introduce and show a ten-minute film he shot in Prague in 1965, depicting the now-famous crowning of beat poet Allen Ginsberg as "king of May." This historic event is recounted in Ginsberg's poem Kral Majales.
How did Lass came to take that footage? The son of American journalists stationed in Prague, the 17-year-old Lass became Ginsberg's interpreter and friend in 1965. Lass owned a 16mm movie camera and filmed as he and Ginsberg hung around together. It was Lass who invited Ginsberg to the official communist party May Day parade and to a student celebration that followed it.
Lass says students had planned a quiet traditional Czech celebration to welcome the springtime, but the event turned into a mass rally. "The whole city was in the streets, and Ginsberg was swept into the tide. Someone put him on a float [from the parade] and crowned him 'king of May,' " Lass recalls. He later smuggled the film out of the country. Ironically, it will be shown for the first time in Prague this April as part of a beat poet festival there.
Intrigued? Attend the Odyssey event, and look for a detailed account of the Lass-Ginsberg connection in the summer issue of the UMass magazine Massachusetts Review.
Migration sensation With help from Alethia Daughtry and Teena Johnson-Smith, four middle-school students at Springfield's Saturday School have won second place in a regional competition sponsored by the Western Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies. Their multimedia application traced the migration of African-American families to Springfield, and includes text, photographs, and video images. For several hours a week over the last three months, Daughtry, head of the Saturday School and administrative assistant for the SummerMath Program, taught students the history and Johnson-Smith, LITS instructional technology consultant, taught students how to create a multimedia presentation. Students researched how their own families came to Springfield and broader patterns of migration into the area. The group will take its project to Brockton next month to compete in statewide competition.
Riding high The MHC riding team has started its spring season at a gallop. With only one show remaining in regular qualifying season competition, rider Alison Stackpole '98 says, "It is more than likely that Mount Holyoke will win its region and head off to IHSA zone finals in April." The top two of three teams competing in zones will continue to the national show in May. Stackpole believes this spring "could prove to be record-breaking as the first undefeated yearlong season for Mount Holyoke." The team's last qualifying show is March 29, at home. Postseason competition will begin April 4, when individual riders will compete for a trip to the zone finals.
Correction Sincere apologies for the typographical error that appeared in the "in memoriam" item on Helen Bowen Canney in last week's issue.