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Lines [1]
Work In Progress
Original Broadcast Date
Arthur Miller, Tim Jerome, Sally Rainer, Julie Renick, Joe Frank
Telephone, Panel Discussion, Absurd Monologue, 59 minutes
Preceded by: The Street
Followed by: Words

What's your name? "Nina." Where are you calling from?

Lines is a program Joe Frank produced as part of the series Work In Progress. It was originally broadcast in 1988.


0:40: Joe talks to Nina (Sally Rainer?), who called in, about her personal life.

8:40: A girl and 2 boys flirt on the phone, apparently on a conference line.[1]

14:00: 2 'experts' (Tim Jerome and Arthur Miller) talk about how distance makes lovers more passionate, that prisoners and their lovers who get used to talking over the phone, separated by a barrier, find that more erotic than being together, that some prefer to stay imprisoned, others set up separation walls in their bedrooms.

17:20: The experts opine that reliance on the phone is separating us in real life. 'people who have phones in their cars, phones in their wristwatches, phones built into their underwear, phone implants in their ears, in their breasts, in their groin.' 'whereas technology originally served to draw us together in the sense of the global village, it seems as though it's turned back on itself and is indeed separating us more than ever'

19:40: Arthur Miller tells of the guy who carried so many phones that they crushed him, speculates that the telephone may be the most-effective birth control.

23:20: Joe and Lily (Julie Renick?) get into a personal conversation on a conference line. (Both have called in.) He's put off by her manner, says so.

29:10: Joe, in a distorted voice[2], describes the strategy of a phone conversation, analogizes it to chess, says that IBM has worked out the best tactics, to most-effectively sell to customers, to 'win'. How one can use these tactics in personal conversations. He goes on to talk about detecting stress in voices, using silence effectively.

34:40: Joe tells of his friend, a recording engineer, who got out of paying for a missed psychiatrist's appointment by adding fake background noises, but suffered in the end because he didn't get the care he needed.

35:40: Some payphones allow adding background sounds to fool the callee. Joe observes that this won't work on a picture-phone.

36:10: Joe deplores the tyranny of the telephone.

34:40: Joe observes that, on the telephone, you can look like anything and still be Alain Delon.

37:30: Joe and Lily resume their conversation.

43:10: Guy (distorted voice) answers a pay phone on his way home about 2 AM, converses with a female stranger who is watching him.[1]

48:10: Joe and Lily have phone sex.

52:20: Tim Jerome and Arthur Miller return to talk about undulations.

Legacy Synopsis

Joe talks to a woman on a telephone chat line and asks an endless series of questions- being a clown in New York, first sexual experience. A woman and man fight about a woman caller who won't talk when she picks up the phone. Some people chat on a chat line. Panel discussions: a long distance couple whose passion is heightened by the distance between them; prison visitation experience heightened by further separating the parties; a man who covers his body with portable telephony equipment; the phone as the ultimate form of birth control. Joe talks to another woman on the chat line - he's suspicious of her, tries to fight with her, "when do you like to be touched?" Deep, distorted voice: a phone conversation as a chess game, computerizing a telemarketing call, people as unconscious voice stress analyzers, lonely people and answering machines, silence as an argument parry, excusing a missed psychiatrist appointment with recorded airport terminal sounds, bar room phones that supply artificial background sounds, the urgency of a ringing telephone, appearing suave on the phone no matter what you look like. Joe talks to the woman on the phone: people who believe they are in touch are deluded, conversation as a board game, being a certain way, bathing. A distorted voice talks about picking up a telephone in a booth and having a suggestive conversation with a strange woman. Joe and a woman engage in a telephone encounter. Panel discussion: telephone modulation as an allegory for human communication.


Additional credits

The original broadcast credits state: "Arthur Miller, Tim Jerome, Sally Rainer, Julie Renick, and Joe Frank. It was produced in the studios of KCRW Santa Monica, and mixed by Jeff Sykes." Credit also given to Mark TeleVenture Conference Line of Van Nuys on some recordings.



  1. 1.0 1.1 re-used in The Other Side
  2. similar to that in Words