Duplicity

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"Riesling meets a woman at a party."

This one-hour serious/absurd monologue, recorded over music loops, was presented in November 2004 at www.joefrank.com. It is available as premium archived content.

Synopsis

Riesling

  • Riesling accompanies the woman to her place, and they end up in her bed.
  • He finds himself unable to perform sexually. Metaphors about a bad day at Kennedy Space Center, the rocket deflating.
  • They eventually give up and she reassures him, his confidence gone.
  • He considers possible excuses for his lack of performance.
  • They watch TV, but there's nothing on but various types of sexual material.
  • He imagines her making love to others, including a friend of his.
  • The next morning he remembers his one passionate fling.
    • They met on the Internet. She occasionally came to visit him, and they had a couple of passionate hotel trysts.
    • Memories of skating together at Rockefeller Center. They ice dance like no one has ever seen: the crowd is transfixed. Suddenly they crash horribly, causing injuries and mayhem.
    • While rushing them to the hospital, the ambulance crashes.
    • She claims to see Jesus, and levitates heavenward, disappearing forever into the sky.
    • The wedding is cancelled. Despondent, he travels around the world in a rowboat, with an absurd collection of items.

Professor Clayman

  • Professor John Clayman is surprised to see himself pictured as a missing child on a milk carton. Suddenly he is eight again and wonders what is happening.
    • Is he eight, or is he a University Professor living in the home of the Dean, who insists on being allowed to watch as Clayman makes love to his wife?
    • A stream-of-consciousness monologuefollows which is difficult to characterize. "Life is merely the punchline of a joke told backwards."
  • Clayman awakens on a treadmill in a gym in front of a bank of televisions. He develops a twisted view of the goings on in the gym.
  • Later he's at the podium, giving a lecture. He has an out-of-body experience and fixates on a student.
  • He knows he is no longer attractive to his young college students: "A lifetime of living in a world of gravity has done something unspeakable to his nose."
  • Clayman considers his life and flees on the next train.

McKenzie

  • McKenzie is a 70 year old veteran and frequently hangs out at the local VFW hall.
  • Price served with him and appears one day to reenact a battle they served in together.
  • Price accuses him of being a coward and McKenzie is expelled from the VFW. He's glad to be rid of them.
  • He gets home and absolutely everything is gone, down to the mouldings on the doors, not to mention his wife. He's excited at the opportunity to start anew.
  • Later, his house is forclosed on and fenced off.
  • He wanders down the road, determined to start a new life.
  • He tries to hitch a ride and is killed by a semi which loses control trying to pick him up.

The Priest, The Rabbi and the Hyena

  • This section begins as though it is a joke, but turns into a story in which the three travel on a train with some Girl Scouts to a place called Duplicity.
  • The absurdity of prayer, the foolishness of faith.

The Panhandler

  • A panhandler at a traffic light rants and raves at motorists, who try to ignore him.
  • Eventually he returns to his luxurious home for a cigar and a snifter of cognac.
  • He receives a lovely visitor. They watch the city together: children playing (and making various objectionable sounds), a vicious mugging.
  • They discuss her affair with his father, who left her everything in a last-minute alteration of his will before his death. He assures her that he and his family will stop at nothing to contest the altered will.
  • The next day he returns to work as a panhandler, yelling at motorists from his street corner.
  • A final brief story: touring a wrecked city on a train.

Commentary

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Spblat

Golly, this was a hard one to write up. It occurred to me that when Joe starts to meander across topics and into and out of miscellaneous red herrings, that's what makes some of the best material, even if it's hard to capture. The essence of Joe in the monologueformat is his storytelling, his speaking style, his amazing choice of words.

This is a stellar piece of work. The sequence where Clayman is drifting through different realities made me think of LSD. The music loops are excellent, and the thoughts on the pointlessness of prayer and its implications for God's attributes are (in my view) excellent distillations of what I find objectionable about traditional religion. Then in the beggar story we hear Joe curse like a sailor: it's nice to see him using a little of the freedom afforded by a non-airwaves medium.