Small World Karma

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Small World Karma[1]
The Other Side
Original Broadcast Date
October 8, 2000
Larry Block, Debi Mae West, Jack Kornfield, Joe Frank
Karma Style, Serious Monologue, 56 minutes
Preceded by: Karma Redux
Followed by: Waiting For Karma

The picture opens with a married couple, sunbathing on a boat.

Small World Karma is a program Joe Frank produced as part of the series The Other Side. It was originally broadcast on October 8, 2000.


Joe tells the story of The incredible shrinking man.[1]

12:30: Larry tells Joe he's found a great new place to hide his scotch. Larry observes that a lot of athletes at the Olympics thank god for their victories; Joe and Larry talk about how ridiculous this is.

18:30: Debi tells Joe about the sacred women's dance circle in Topanga.

23:00: Debi tells about her trip to Europe with a boyfriend.

26:00: Larry talks about god some more, how the Christian god is more powerful than the Jewish god.

27:50: 'My father was a German Jewish industrialist who divorced his wife to marry my mother when he was 42 and she was a 17-year-old high school senior'.[2] 'She was from a poor family that was delighted with the match because it meant that they'd all be taken care of from that moment on - and that's exactly what happened. My father took some of them into his business and subsidized and supported others, and he was always there whenever anyone was in financial trouble. And my father took my mother's older brother, Ben, into the business, and taught him from the ground up and groomed him to eventually take over the firm when he retired. But my father lost his business empire under the Nazis and the family had to flee Germany in 1939, just before the war. My father managed to get most of our relatives out of Europe.'[3] Meier built a new set of shoe factories in the US.

29:10: Joe says his father died when he was 5.[4] Ben took over the business.

29:20: Joe says he was close to Ben's 3 daughters, played together, went to the same school, summered in the country on Long Island together.[5]

39:50: 'Ben was a good-humored, big bear of a man who took over the position my father had formerly held as patriarch of the family. He was invariably kind to me.'

30:10: Joe and his parents[6] moved to the suburbs. Joe started failing his courses, went to summer school, hung out with the bad crowd, got into trouble.

30:50: In a fight in high school, someone kicked Joe in the groin; a tumor developed in his testicle, ended up with testicular cancer, had an unfavorable prognosis, got surgery and radiation therapy.[7] He suffered greatly.

33:00: One night in the hospital Joe prays and end to his suffering, then thinks about all the other sick people in the hospital, prays for them, then for all the sick people in the world... until he decides that prayers are futile against so much suffering, gets mad at god for allowing it.

35:10: 'A year later, in 1965'[8] Joe's uncle Ben became ill, a liver ailment.

36:00: Joe was in Macy's 1965 November 9, the day of the great blackout.[9] Joe went to visit Ben, but turned back.[10]

42:40: Jack Kornfield visits a contractor with a serious brain cancer. The indicated surgery may make it impossible for him to speak; he has to decide in a day. He's only interested in his spiritual life. The surgery went successfully: they got enough of the tumor but kept his speech. He became a counselor for the sick and grieving, lived another 8 years.

47:00: Debi tells of her father's (Noble's) death.[11] She had to insist on more morphine for his pain, then the removal of his oxygen mask, so he died. She said it was a beautiful experience.

52:00: Debi tells of being at the Hard Rock Café in Washington DC on the first anniversary of her father's death; her waiter was named Noble

53:00: Debi says 'intensive purposes', Joe corrects her.[12]

54:20: Debi's cat kills a hummingbird. She's upset.

Legacy Synopsis
  • Joe narrates a detailed synopsis of The Incredible Shrinking Man.
  • Larry and Joe - A new hiding place for liquor. The egotism of Olympic athletes who pray for victory and thank god after winning. Why don't they attribute defeat to god.
  • Debi - A sacred women's dance circle. Earth snake dance. Good sex.
  • Larry - Paying his respects to the more powerful Christian god.
  • Joe - the story of his mother's marriage to his father. Joe's reckless youth, his relationship to uncle Ben. Testicular cancer, cobalt radiation treatment. Praying for the sick. Questioning the nature of god in the face of suffering, hating god. Ben becomes ill. During the great New York blackout, Joe travels to the hospital to visit him. He decides not to visit because he's afraid of what his Aunt will say and feels that he is cursed and carrying death within him. The man dies that night, and Joe regrets not having visited him.
  • Kornfield - He visits a businessman with a brain tumor who wants to talk about the spiritual life. The man elects for surgery which may leave him unable to communicate verbally, emerged undamaged, and lives on as a changed man. "All that matters is what you've learned."
  • Debi - She allows her father to die in the hospital. "For all intensive purposes." Manifesting a waiter with her father's name. She freaks out when her cat catches a hummingbird.


Shared Material

Additional credits

From the broadcast: 'You've been listening to Joe Frank "The other side". This program was called "Small world karma" with Debi Mae West, Larry Block, Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield, and Joe Frank; edited by J. C. Swiatek and mixed by Bob Carlson; production assistance: Esmé Gregson; music supervision: Thomas Golubić'


Shares the Incredible Shrinking Man story with He Hesitated.


A friend went to the sacred women's dance circle in Topanga; she told me they were naked.Arthur Peabody (talk) 01:01, 16 January 2022 (EST)


  1. originally aired in He Hesitated
  2. Joe's father, Meier Langermann, was 41 when he married Joe's mother, Friederike Passweg, who was 18. He turned 42 a month after the marriage, and she had turned 18 a month before, so it was close. He was born in Poland, apparently had a factory in Berlin. Ship's logs record his nationality as Polish.
  3. Ben, his wife and their daughters; Sabine Passweg, Friederike's mother; Sigmund, Sonia, and Michael Spiegel, Friederike's brother-in-law, sister, and their son, all made it to the US. Friederike's father was already dead. What happened to Meier's first wife? Did Meier and his first wife have any children? His parents were probably already dead, considering his age.
  4. He died 1943 October 8, aged 56
  5. Eva, born 1934; Ruth, born 1938; Frances, born 1941; Joe was born in 1938.
  6. Frederika had married 'Freddy'
  7. Joe says this was before chemotherapy.
  8. Joe was born in 1938, was in high school 1952-1956. In Karma (Part 7) Joe says, '2 years before (1965), I had had a particularly-virulent form of testicular cancer. In Too Close To Home he says he had testicular cancer when he was 23.
  9. Northeast blackout of 1965
  10. originally aired in Karma (Part 7), told again in Too Close To Home
  11. I find no evidence of Noble Zadler.
  12. He let it slide in Arena, about 16:10