Karma (Part 1)

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Karma (Part 1)[1]
The Other Side
Original Broadcast Date
April 16, 2000
Larry Block, Jack Kornfield, Joe Frank
Karma Style, 60 minutes
Preceded by: The Nature Of Things
Followed by: Karma (Part 2)

Last night, after a series of phone calls in which I was forced to listen to hours and hours of Kate raging against me...

Karma (Part 1) is a program Joe Frank produced as part of the series The Other Side. It was originally broadcast on April 16, 2000.

The Karma series follows the breakup of Joe's relationship with an actress named Kate, cut with Jack Kornfield's Buddhism lectures and phone conversations with Larry Block, Kristine McKenna, and Debi Mae West.


0:30: Joe explodes in anger at Kate after hours of phone calls raging against him, tells her he wants nothing to do with her anymore, hangs up. (Kate claimed that Joe had been 'sexually incested' by his mother.) She talks, doesn't listen.

2:40: Joe calls Larry, explains the problem with Kate, mostly blaming her.

6:00: Joe disconnects the answering machine, doesn't answer the phone, hears it ring until she gives up.

6:30: Joe and Larry again.

7:00: Joe wonders what went wrong - was he really so awful?

7:30: Joe tells us about Kate: she was born in Wales, came to LA to be a movie star. He tells us what he likes about her: her spirit, humor, intelligence - and what he doesn't: astrology, graphology, divination with runes, her pathetic new-age church (on Sunset in West Hollywood). Joe forwent listening to his radio show[1] to attend church with her. The sermon always claims that you can achieve your goals with the right attitude, which Joe thought insane.

17:30: Jack Kornfield quotes the first sentence of the Dhammapada: 'Mind is the forerunner of all things', talks about the importance of mind.

19:30: Joe tells of meeting a pretty young woman 'literally half my age' 'a number of years ago'. She has only a shower in her apartment, misses taking baths. Joe invites her over to use his 'large luxurious' bathtub. They talk the first time, then she sews the buttons back onto his pajamas. The next time Joe joins her in the tub (!) and they make love. She wants to have a more serious relationship, Joe doesn't, citing the difference in ages. Joe says, 'I pointed out that when I was 70, she'd barely be 40'.[2] He tries to get her to compare their relationship to her having one with 15-year-old (half her age) boy. She falls in love with him, he breaks it off. She visits and calls, desperate for him.

25:40: Larry tells of a love affair he had '22 years ago' when he was '32, 33 years old'[3] with Barbara, a tall blonde woman from Washington (state) who worked as a waitress where he worked as a bartender. It lasted for '3, 4 weeks', ended Larry did not know why. Larry was distraught, told her that he had given her his 'love feather',[4] didn't know if he had another.[5] She married soon afterwards, later divorced, teaches acting at Rutgers and has 2 grown daughters. That was the last time he really fell in love.

'After her, I did one of those "Albert Camus" things when the first woman who came along and said "Let's be boyfriend-girlfriend" I said, "Okay". And that's kind of the way it was with my wife. I didn't care, I had no will. I felt by the time I was 35 that I had failed in my life. Of course now it's 22 years later'.[6]

31:40: Joe tells about Liza (in NYC), a woman who's a friend of Joe's friend Fred, who thinks they would like each other. They talk extensively on the phone. Joe records the conversations and has his assistant transcribe them. She flies to LA. She's pushy; Joe dislikes her. They take up their phone conversations after she returns to NYC. She comes out to LA again on business. Joe thinks she'll be flattered about the transcripts; she's angry instead. She threatens a lawsuit; Joe pays $1,200 to settle. She keeps on calling, says she's addicted to the conversations.[7]

41:10: Larry says he thinks he'll never experience real love again.

43:10: Joe goes to Florida to visit his 89-year-old mother.[8] Joe pays Kate's friend Mary $25/day to sit his cat. Kate stays with her. Joe calls Kate when he gets back; she starts a long monologue about a dream she had about Joe, which devolves into a fight. She blames Joe for ruining the bathtub girl's life and Liza's.

50:40: Larry calls Joe an 'Odysseus-like character' because he experiences life in its fullest, tells the story of the Sirens, compares Kate to a Siren.

55:30: Kate reads the transcript of phone sex with Liza, runs to the bathroom and throws up.

Legacy Synopsis
  • Joe: The day after a breakup, Joe describes a long fight with Kate on the phone in which he hangs up repeatedly. Joe tells Larry about the fight. He wonders if he should blame himself. Dylan Thomas went "into that good night." Kate's contempt for America, her acting career. Joe praises Kate, refuses to give us her phone number. Astrology, the book of ruins, a new age church. The absurdity of believing people control their destinies. Joe listens to his own show, considers and rejects suicide. Graphology and homosexual tendencies.
  • Jack Kornfield: the power of mind, imagination leads to buildings.
  • Joe: The origin of the breakup - a young woman uses Joe's bathtub, they make love, he refuses a long term relationship and breaks her heart.
  • Larry: he describes a brief affair with a coworker, noting the instant it goes sour, giving away "love feathers." Life going downhill.
  • Joe: Joe secretly records long distance calls with friend's friend, has them transcribed, meets the woman for a date and is not attracted to her. They meet again as friends, he tells her he recorded her calls. Joe's transcriptionist adds comments to the transcription. The woman freaks out, threatens to prosecute him, then tries to seduce him. A hanging during "Summer Day."[7]
  • Larry: A memory of making love. The weirdness of sleeping next to someone.
  • Joe: He comes home, asks Kate not to meet him, and is disappointed. They fight on the phone. Kate accuses him of destroying the young lady's life, having phone sex with the long distance woman. She talks to Joe's transcriptionist.
  • Larry: Joe as Odysseus before the sirens.
  • Joe: Reading both sides of a conversation which references an erotic telephone call.



22 years seems like a short time for Barbara, an actor, to have married, become a professor at Rutgers, have 2 grown daughters.

Perhaps Barbara found out about the other 2 women. Did any 1 of these 3 women come back to him? NO! Ingrates.

I suspect the story in 'Karma part 1' exaggerated. I can imagine how Larry's wife reacted to his characterization of their marriage when the show came out. They stayed married until his death in 2012, 12 years later; she was making more money than he, they lived in a small apartment - she didn't have to put up with him.


  1. it aired at 11 AM Sunday
  2. Thus she must have been 30, Joe 60, when they met, which was 1998-9, not 'a number of years ago' before 2000.
  3. He was born 1942 October 30
  4. allegedly an image borrowed from Native Americans - I find no evidence of this
  5. In Four Part Dissonance (2001) Larry tells of the summer he did The Comedy of Errors in Central Park (1975) (about 24 minutes in). He claims he had sexual affairs with 3 actresses. Joe asks if they're recognizable names. Larry says, 'One readily, the second not-so-readily, and the third is a professor of theatre at Rutgers - and she'd be the one I'd probably go to if the three of them came back to me again... Within 1 week I had sexual romance with these 3 beautiful women.' He identified then as 'probably the highest point of my life'. He didn't sound distraught about the outcome of his affair with Barbara.
  6. Larry was 35 in 1977-8; 22 years later is 1999-2000.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Recounted in "In Memoriam: The Real Joe Frank". Esmé Gregson, January 31, 2018, The Argonaut.
  8. She was born 1910 December, so this is 1999-2000