Iceland (Part 2)

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Iceland (Part 2)[1]
Work In Progress
Original Broadcast Date
Joe Frank
Absurd Monologue, Narrative Monologue, Absurd Lists, 56 minutes
Preceded by: Iceland (Part 1)
Followed by: Iceland (Part 3)

We find ourselves adrift, not knowing what to believe in.

Iceland (Part 2) is a program Joe Frank produced as part of the series Work In Progress. It was originally broadcast in 1990.


13 minutes of this episode is about Lila and Iceland. Most of the rest is Joe's amazing new radio ministry. 6 minutes repeat segments from Part 1. There's an odd travel vignette and other oddments.

Joe tells us how debased society has become. In response Joe says he has started a new religion with a radio ministry. He hasn't figured it out yet, is working on it. He describes possible unifying symbols. Physicians, artists, sculptors, couturiers, draftsmen are at work designing the stuff of the new religion despite having no idea what its principles are. He asks for donations from the audience.

8:10: Joe tells us that Lila is always late, tells of losing their reservation at a restaurant because they arrive late, have to wait for an opening. She gets mad at Joe for not forcing the issue with the maître'd.

9:50: Joe describes Lila making him late for movies, which he hates.

13:30: Joe describes practicing Zeno's Paradox in eating, halving his steak repeatedly, so it takes forever to eat. He's still working on a meal he was served in 1978 in celebration of Uncle Oscar's birthday at Chez Wong in North Hollywood.[1]

14:30: Joe is fascinated by a woman he sees, but can't place where he met her. After considering the possibilities, he asks her; she doesn't recognize him. Joe bumps into a waiter carrying a huge tray of champagne glasses. Trying to catch his balance, he briefly dances a tango, then falls. The room applauds.[2]

18:00: Joe plants suspicious packages at the airport then calls in a bomb threat, enjoys resultant bedlam.[2]

18:50: 'Wearing a duck suit, I stroll down to the boat pond where divorced fathers spend Sunday afternoons with their children. I don't know exactly why I do it. Perhaps it's because my visits to the City Planning Commission, to medical boards of inquiry, and to the Criminal Court Building, have met with such derision.'

19:30: 'Lying in a hay wagon in Germany, rolling along a moonlit country road, I gaze across a field at a darkened farmhouse window, and see a naked woman standing in a tin bathtub, holding a light bulb in one hand, and reaching for a socket dangling from a frayed wire.' (sound of electrocution)[2]

20:10: 'I gaze out the window at the traffic on 8th Avenue. Silent, still on the bed, his mouth open, a small pool of saliva collecting on the pillow, Boris lies motionless. Then he begins to moan, and pukes up a handful of pills he swallowed. Time to go to the telephone. How wearying. I look at my watch.'[2]

21:00: Joe describes the open-air market in Marrakesh. Joe dances to the music of an Arabic ensemble to the crowd's applause. Then he discovers that his fly has been open and his shirt-tail had come out, gotten into a tureen of lamb stew, and soaked the crowd.

23:30: Joe describes how he strains to act naturally, in detail.

26:00: Joe recounts the dinner party at some of his oldest friends, how late Lila makes them. She's sympathizing with a neighbor whose husband left her; then, Lila's mother calls, distraught about her son's arrest for voyeurism in a women's bathroom at the Hilton. After that, she puts a lot of effort into her makeup, then tries on different outfits, asking Joe what he thinks. Just after they get out the door, the phone rings: Professor Vogel has died; she's to come to the reading of the will. She describes their fieldwork with Bedouin tribesmen, everyone's passion for the work, his nursing of her after a scorpion sting.

34:40: 'Never trust a naked man who attempts to sell you a skin graft. The edge of the paper contains the kernel of wisdom. Don't ever hook your thumbs in your vest when using a public toilet.'

35:20: Joe tells the miraculous good luck of the people who call to donate to his radio ministry: cures from cancer, marvelous fortunes, unexpected pregnancies, business success; and the terrible luck of those who don't: incurable injury, plane crash.

Legacy Synopsis

We're witnessing the decline of civilization. People feel spiritually disconnected. Joe announces the founding of a new radio ministry. Deciding on iconography for the new religion. More critique of Lila; she's always late, meeting Lila for a movie and for dinner. Zeno's paradox - eating a meal forever by repeatedly halving one's food. Joe approaches a familiar stranger in a restaurant, knocks into a waiter who begins to dance. Leaving unmarked packages in an airport and calling in bomb threats for fun. Wearing a duck suit to a pond in the park. Scenes from a market in Marrakech. Dancing in the square with an open fly, dripping lamb stew. Straining to be natural, trying to carry oneself in a positive way. Trying to leave for a dinner party with Lila. She comforts a lonely neighbor, talks with her mother on the phone. Lila's exhibitionism. They are told that Vogel has died, make plans to attend the funeral. She describes working with him studying compulsive behavior in nomadic tribesmen. Random one-liners, ("never trust a naked man who tries to sell you a skin graft.") The radio ministry solicits donations. Stories of donors who receive miracles, those who did not donate are ruined.


Additional credits

The original broadcast credits state: "[P]erformed by Joe Frank, and created in collaboration with David Rapkin and Arthur Miller. Mixed by Bob Carlson, with sound effects by Jeff Sykes. Special thanks to Michael Yasui, Lee Papageorge, Eric Meyers, and Sheila Bjornlie."


A note at jfwiki reads, 'The version of this program currently available on is a slightly longer remix of the original.' Iceland originally came in 3 parts. Later, it was distributed as 2 parts, the second an abridged version of the original Parts 2 and 3. Later, the original Parts 2 and 3 were released again and the second Part 2 was identified as 'Part 2, remix'. The segments of Part 2 that are reused from Part 1 aren't in Part 2, remix. Could Part 1's second version have had segments from the original Part 2 inserted?Arthur Peabody (talk) 14:28, 27 August 2023 (PDT)


  1. There's a Chez Wong in Lima, Peru.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 originally aired in Iceland (Part 1)
  3. Online music services mislabel this track "Fragrance".