Fat Man Down
"Fat Man Down" or "Fat Man Down (remix)" is the name of a program Joe Frank produced as part of the series Somewhere Out There.
- A washed-up musician tries to fill time.
- As an old man, he's in a hospital, but imagines he is in a resort.
- As a college student, he steals brownies from Howard Johnson's restaurants on road trips between home and school. He fills his trunk with them. Later then put them back.
- In New York he gets a job as a janitor at a church and dates a German waitress who he makes love to on the alter of the church, and his caught by a priest.
- Stealing sunglasses, cafe meals.
- Telemarketing for an opera company.
- Subway stations as an underground world.
- His mother tries to kill herself.
- His mother sings The Linden Tree at a restaurant, talks about wanting to become a singer.
- Playing music in a bar.
- Walking in central park and becoming ill.
- Dream of about being lost and leading a child through a strange city, trying to call his mother at the phone company from a booth. Hiring prostitutes.
- A woman whispers in German.
- This program shares most of its text with Dreams of The River, but includes hospital scenes in place of the scenes from a boat going downriver, persistent background music, and no sound effects. This is not a remix, but a recording of the same text with small changes. Also contains a third person version of the telephone booth story from Islands.
- Much of the text in this program also appeared in the short story Fat Man, published in The Queen of Puerto Rico.
- "Alone Again So" - Kid Loco (from "Journey into Ambient Groove 4 ", 1997)
- "Kontakte" - Les Rythmes Digitales (from "Liberation ", 1997)
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This is classic Joe Frank material. It's one of my favorite programs, and also works as a great introduction piece for those new to Joe's work. The writing is brilliant, the program contains both humor and sadness, and the sound mix is perfect. It is one of the most polished shows you'll find. The entire program follows a single story, and the narrative structure is fairly straightfoward (if bimodal), which makes it a gentle introduction for those used to more traditional media.
A young guy who's clever, likable, and smart, fails to keep up in life and rewrites his interpretations of the world into a narrative that flatters him, growing antisocial, miserable, and ultimately isolated, physically and mentally ill. He carries deep unresolved issues with his parents, even conflicted over whether and how to grieve upon his mother's death, and is never able to surmount his internal obstacles and connect meaningfully with the world. While trying to grow up from being a young contrarian I would listen to this show and think, "There but for the grace of God go I."
To me it is among the most well-structured hours of radio of Joe's I've heard. Sometimes an hour gave him a lot of time to wander far, or piece in a lot to make a coherent whole. But this is a beautifully and soundly constructed story, stepping back and forth from timeline to flashback at an even and and compelling pace. Lots of solid little scenes, with tear-jerking used judiciously enough to work. Probably my favorite of Joe's work, and one that informed my life.