Karma (Part 7)

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Karma (Part 7)[1]
The Other Side
Original Broadcast Date
Larry Block, Kristine McKenna, Jack Kornfield,Joe Frank
Karma Style, 60 minutes
Preceded by: Karma (Part 6)
Followed by: Bad Karma

My next door neighbors are a married couple.

Karma (Part 7) is a program Joe Frank produced as part of the series The Other Side. It was originally broadcast on June 18, 2000.


Joe tells of his wonderful next-door neighbors: he's executive producer of a sitcom on ABC, she's a medical student at USC (and pregnant) - 'wonderful, warm, and very smart', and a 1-year-old. Joe contrasts his life with theirs, in their favor.

3:10: While sitting their baby one evening, Joe misses Kate. He didn't go to meet her in Rome[1] Joe worries the baby will die on him.

4:10: Joe remembers the 1965 Blackout,[2] when his Uncle Ben was in the hospital. Joe went to the hospital to visit him that evening but turned back at the door to his room.

5:40: '2 years before, I had had a particularly-virulent form of testicular cancer.'[3] Because of this Joe felt he carried death with, worried that Ben would get it from him, that his wife would blame Joe for his death. Ben died that night.

8:00: Jack Kornfield asks how many people would be grateful for the life they have, conjectures the story of the person, diagnosed with cancer, finds out it was a mistake: how much happier s/he is with him/herself, despite the sameness of his/her life to before the diagnosis. He says the purpose of meditation is just to be.

11:20: Joe tells the story of his maid, Elena, an Ecuadorean. Her daughter is ill; she can't afford her medical bills. Joe adds the cost of the bills to that week's payment. Joe imagines marrying her, how it wouldn't work out.

15:10: Larry asks Joe what he had for breakfast. Joe says French toast. Joe uses the most expensive maple syrup ('First Drip', flown in from Vermont), throws the rest away. They talk about what Joe drinks. They talk about anti-depressants, Larry's hip psychiatrist, orthopedic psychiatrists.[4]

19:40: Kornfield quotes T. S. Eliot's 'Ash Wednesday':

Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,

He tells us about his colleague, Julie Wester (sp?), who used to be a hospice nurse, that, in hospice there are no more emergencies, that they just accept what happens.

22:20: Joe dreams that Kate came to his house, with braces on her teeth, as though she were a teenager. He's desolated when he wakes to find it a dream.

23:10: Joe discusses his relationship with Kate with Larry.[5] Joe tells him they can't have a thoughtful, fair relationship. Joe claims he examines himself, Kate doesn't. Larry supports him.

27:50: Kristine McKenna talks about how people feel about breakups, applies it to Joe and Kate.[6]

30:20: Joe woke up in a sweat last Saturday, missing Kate; they usually went on a trip. Joe wondered what to do, mixed a bottle of vodka and orange juice, started drinking. He noticed that he talks to himself all the time. He went to the station to work on the show.

33:50: Joe talks about the 'hot, French, blonde' who works at the station on Saturdays. While Joe talks about music with his friend Thomas Golubić,[7] she and Joe talk about sex.

36:00: Kristine tells about working at a job 10 years ago. She had a relationship with her boss's former boyfriend. They did too many drugs. He started a relationship with Kristine's 'best friend at the time'. Kristine lost her mind (so she says), lost control, threw his bike across his office. She got fired, even though she was the top salesperson (so she says.)

40:10: Kornfield tells of the English monk who came to his monastery, was unhappy with it, went to a number of different monasteries, disliked all of them. His master, Ajahn Chah, said, 'He's like the monk who put his bag down in dogshit and thinks all the monasteries he goes to smell bad.'

42:00: Kornfield tells of Konigiri (sp?) Roshi, a Zen master dying of cancer. He told his students that they were waiting around to see how a Zen master dies.

42:40: Kornfield quotes Jung, 'One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.'

43:00: Kornfield remembers teaching with Stephen Levine, how people deny death.

44:50: Joe tells of Kristine's 2 cats, who fight unless separated. (She lives in studio apartment.) She tries to get them to get along. During one such session she was cut so badly she went to the emergency room. She was sick again the next day; Joe drove her to the ER. They see someone arrive, die within an hour. Kristine gets an IV of medication. She goes home but has to go back later. She calls Joe, who records their conversation. One of her neighbors was screaming in pain; she finds out he is expected to die. She talks about how difficult is acceptance of death.[4]

50:50: Joe tells of going to a birthday party. Someone tells the story of the antics of comedy writer Norman Wexler: buying everything in a bakery, taking a dump at LAX.[4][8]

55:10: Kornfield tells us how large the universe is.[4]

59:00: Kristine tells Joe how horny she is; she wants to have Tantric sex this summer.

Legacy Synopsis
  • Joe: He contemplates his successful neighbors, being alone. He babysits for them; mentions his experience with cancer; talks about going to visit a dying uncle during a blackout and turning away out of fear that he would be blamed for the man's death.
  • Jack Kornfield: imagine being told a cancer diagnosis is a mistake.
  • Joe: He pays a medical bill for his maid's child; imagines marrying the woman.
  • Larry Block and Joe: A discussion of French toast, high end maple syrup, expensive vodka, medical drugs, hip psychiatrists.
  • Kornfield: A TS Eliot poem; caring and not caring
  • Joe: a dream of Kate wearing braces
  • Larry and Joe: avoiding Kate when she returns from Rome. Larry discusses people who are too self confidant.
  • Kristine McKenna: pride and jealousy; Joe's theme of being replaced by another man.
  • Joe: trying to fill a Saturday without Kate.
  • Debi Mae West: A messy relationship with a boss at the office.
  • Kornfield: a monk is dissatisfied with a series of monasteries. A master faces death. No one expects to die.
  • Joe: Kristine is bitten by her fighting cats, ends up in the hospital. A woman dies in the ER.
  • Kristine: a man on the ward screams and seems to be dying. Growing spiritually just in time for the body to die.
  • Joe: A birthday party. A comedy writer who has an assistant carry around a briefcase with his entire advance for a film and two tape recorders, one recording the present, one playing what happened twenty four hours previously. He is rude in a cafe, then buys the place piece by piece. He squats and shits in the airport terminal.
  • Kornfield: the scale of the universe, microscopic and cosmological empty space.
  • Debi: she wants tantric sex.



  1. as imagined in Karma (Part 6)
  2. November 9/10
  3. Joe was born in 1938, so he was 24/25 in 1963. In Too Close To Home he says he had testicular cancer when he was 23.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 originally aired in The Nature Of Things
  5. Larry uses the word 'karass' to describe Joe and Kate's relationship, a word invented by Kurt Vonnegut in Cat's Cradle
  6. In Karma (Part 5) Kristine says she hasn't met Kate.
  7. credited as a music consultant on many of Joe's shows
  8. According to his IMDB page, 'Andy Kaufman's character of "Tony Clifton" was partially based on Norman Wexler' and 'Wexler was the mysterious "Mr. X" referred to in Bob Zmuda's biography of Andy Kaufman, Andy Kaufman Revealed.