Karma For Dollars

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Karma For Dollars[1]
The Other Side
Original Broadcast Date
Larry Block, Joe Frank
Karma Style, 58 minutes
Preceded by: Evening Sky
Followed by: Karma Don't Deny Me

"I have a funny feeling that this gnawing sense of self-loathing which grew very much in me today in despair..."

Karma for Dollars is a program Joe Frank produced as part of The Other Side.


Larry attributes his 'gnawing sense of self-loathing' to how he looked (fat) in a recording of his one-man show, Uncle Philip's Coat. He tells of people who tell him he has a wonderful life - but they don't have to live it. Larry says people are shocked when he tells them he's an actor but they don't recognize him; he starts telling them he's a failed actor. On a flight the person behind kicks his seat, but Larry doesn't want to confront him; when the plane lands, the guy recognizes Larry; he and his wife are excited to see him.

6:10: Jack Kornfield talks about the quality of love, quotes Merton, who uses rain as an example of non-judgment.

8:20: Larry tells Joe that he can't buy Dewar's on the road, buys John Barr (an inferior brand). He recounts his performance of Uncle Philip's Coat at Hampshire College. (It paid $1200.) He forgot the clothes for the performance, had to buy them at a mall.[1] He gets back home at 3 AM, has to fly to Seattle for Ionesco's The chairs[2] at 6 AM. Larry complains that the play is nonsense, the death of the theatre, anti-theatre; he's dismayed that people take it seriously. He wants to walk out but needs the work. Larry thinks that Joe isn't going to use this segment on his show.

16:50: Kornfield tells us that we all suffer pain, should be compassionate with ourselves. He says one of the great practices is to pretend that you're enlightened and try to act that way.

19:50: Larry tells Joe that he has to go to bed, can't promise that he will use Larry's material on his show, won't pay him if he doesn't. Larry's unhappy with talking to Joe but not getting paid for it, tries to negotiate alternative payment; Joe refuses.

26:50: Kornfield quotes Ecclesiastes, 'To everything there is a season...'[3] to introduce the idea of things always changing, that we have to learn to accept it. He tells the joke about the department store that asks a customer what the neighbors would think if they repossessed his furniture. He tells the story of the fellow in a boat on the river, run into by an empty boat, then by one with a man in it.

31:20: Larry tells about acting in The Workroom in Baltimore about 1982. It's about a sewing factory in Paris after the war. They visit a sewing factory in Baltimore. The workers there are contemptuous of them, tell them actors can't understand their work. Larry recurs to how Joe pays him. Joe tells Larry that if he had to pay 'top dollar' for every conversation he couldn't afford it, would fire him.

41:40: Kornfield says that nothing can appease suffering but facing it.

47:10: Larry says there must be a Larry-Block following in Joe's audience, that Joe should advertise his works at the end of Joe's shows, as he does Kornfield's.

48:40: Kornfield asks how we can judge others when we don't know their stories.[4]

55:40: Larry and Joe talk about payment more. Larry describes Joe's luxurious life (yachts, chauffeured limousines, olympic pool...)

Legacy Synopsis
  • Larry Block - Considers his life/occupation as a mediocre actor.
  • Jack Kornfield - Talking Rain (solitude).
  • Larry - Strange day - doing one man show out of town and forgot his clothes/costume. Got new clothes, show went well. Back to NY for flight to Seattle, long night. Rehersal in Seattle - feeling energized - but not understanding the play at all - "it makes no sense." Joe reminds him that he has thought it was great, but Larry found no meaning in it during rehersal and considered quiting the play.
  • Kornfield - Suffering we must bear, and still have compassion.
  • Joe and Larry - Is this material useful? Will Joe pay for it? Professional relationships. Larry tells a story Joe is interested in.
  • Kornfield - Ecclesiates - a time for everything being about the eternal changes. Praise, Blame and truth to yourself.
  • Larry - Doing a play about adjustment to post-war life. Visiting a sewing factory to get a sense of that life for the play. The seamstresses trying to work while being talked to by actors. Actors can never understand. Money in Public Radio? Joe would not put this negotiaion on his show. (But he did...) Joe fires Larry?
  • Kornfield - Being present in the midst of changes.
  • Larry - Larry Block following? Larry wants a credit like Jack's.
  • Kornfield - How can we judge each other? The Earth receives all things. May I be at Peace.
  • Larry - Rates have gone up. Larry claims Joe has a lavish life and can pay for him.


External links


  1. The woman arranging his show is Pearl-Anne Margalit https://www.wmassjewishledger.com/2012/09/pearl-anne-margalit-heads-adl-major-gifts/
  2. The Seattle PI's review
  3. 3:1
  4. He mentions Stephen Levine and a hospice nurse he also mentioned in Karma (Part 7).