A.G. & C.I.A.

Richard Helms (1913-2002) – C.I.A. chief – Director of Central Intelligence (1966-1973)

Allen and the C.I.A. –  Writing in 1967 (May 29, 1967) – “I would like to know if the C.I.A. has a dossier on the undersigned.  This may be a paranoid question, but in case of paranoia it is always comforting to check back to the reality, by open question.”

We have no record that Helms ever replied to this communication (tho’ the channels certainly remained (potentially – sic) open (as evidenced, several years later (March 1971) via their bizarre encounter in a drawing room of the Corcoran Gallery in Washington DC. (as a result of his and Alfred McCoy‘s extensive research, Allen was able to debrief Helms concerning C.I.A activity in the southeast Asian drug trade, even if Helms didn’t particularly want to hear it).

“Guileless forays into the actual face of the epicenter”, (intelligently using his access and notoriety), that was Allen’s modus operandi  (see, of course, this notorious phone conversation – and, for that matter, here)

and the 1967 letter:

Dear Mr. Helms:
I do not know the appropriate section of your organization to apply to for monies so I am addressing this letter to you.
I am the treasurer of a tax exempt non-profit corporation, properly registered and approved by the government.  Our national and international activities, tho small, are extremely useful in the artistic world: we supply cash and comfort to artists & poets harried by society, police, themselves and the universe; or ill; or too poor to do their proper work.  Monies I receive from poetry readings are made over to Committee on Poetry (C.O.P. for short) (Inc.), and given to poets less fortunate than others.
I notice that the C.I.A. has been giving money to groups rather arbitrarily chosen in the past. I am therefore asking for a proper redress of that secret balance, by means of a large grant from the C.I.A. thru its fronts, or preferably, directly from C.I.A to COP.  I don’t see why, in the balance of things, C.O.P. — President Peter Orlovsky, Vice President Ed Sanders of Fuck You: A Magazine Of the Arts and the Fugs — doesn’t deserve equally to receive Government stipend as did more conservative socially-minded organizations. In other words if social education is to be paid for, it should not be education so one-sided as to be communally square.  Investment in some hip community is only fair. Otherwise one part of the citizenry has been unfairly defrauded of its perquisites & dignities.  And the government may be accused of brainwash.  Certainly that is not the conscious intention of the C.I.A, and if it were it would have to be repudiated.
If your agency does not have information about my own educational activities & those of my fellow trustees, or of the activities of C.O.P.  I will be glad to supply more detail. Meanwhile I await your reply.  The sum of $10,000,000.00 would be useful the next few years to begin to right the unbalance of cinema, poetry, publishing, legal protection for artists and persons of new consciousness — their poverty and second class alienated status where Government moneys have been going in more aggressively angry and war making direction, specifically anti-communist in an ambivalently intemperate way.
While I am at it I would like to know if the C.I.A. has a dossier on the undersigned.  This may be a paranoid question, but in case of paranoia it is always comforting to check back to the reality, by open question.        Yours truly..  ”

Thoughts of this emerge following a particularly vituperative and mean-spirited interview published last week with poet Charley Plymell  (no love lost between him and Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, clearly!)

regarding early Naropa fund-raising:

Charlie Plymell: “Yeah, Allen and I remained cordial. But once he got his Buddha master (Chogyam Trungpa), he was different, because he found his master. I didn’t meet him. They invited me to Naropa, but I didn’t go. Ginsberg told me that he got a guy at the C.I.A to back Naropa, the whole works, and then I figured out between the lines, because I worked at universities, so I know when they come out for credentials, a letter for credentials to give out degrees. Everyone sort of gets in a little tither and wants to make sure everything’s right, then here all of a sudden, here’s a place called, disembodied poetry at Naropa, all of a sudden, they can give out degrees, you know, that ain’t right..

Yeah, so they had to be C.I.A, all that’s C.I.A-run. That’s from Ginsberg’s mouth to me, saying he got the C.I.A to back Naropa, to get Trungpa there. They backed the Iowa Workshop, they backed it all, but they didn’t back the (Johns) Hopkins Writing Seminars, because Elliot Colman would’ve left.”

and on Allen and his engagement with “Wichita Vortex Sutra”:

” ..I was with him when he wrote that. I have some pictures I took of Ginsberg and Orlovsky out in Kansas. We were in the bus going from Wichita to Lincoln, Nebraska when he wrote that. He recorded it on the thing Bobby Dylan gave him, a big-best technology tape recorder. They’re on the bus he bought from Guggenheim money. I thought he was just talking, you know, but I never cared for the poem..

Oh yeah, ..I had to tell him what the pumpers were on the oil fields, the oil things, pumped up and down. Man, I didn’t like that poem at all, it was typical Ginsberg, it’s kind of like what Trump would write if he was going to be a poet. I’m serious. I don’t know how big a prick his Trungpa guru was, you know, stupid things, then, like Trump, he had his media savvy..”

Paranoia? – Dossiers? – Allen was not mistaken for asking – See notes on his F.B.I and C.I.A files – here

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