Bad Karma

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Bad Karma[1]
The Other Side
Original Broadcast Date
Jack Kornfield, Larry Block, Kristine McKenna, Ruth Seymour, Joe Frank
Karma Style, 58 minutes
Preceded by: Karma (Part 7)
Followed by: Evening Sky

I'm sitting at a dinner party, attended by Pol Pot, Hitler, Stalin, and Mao.

Bad Karma is a program Joe Frank produced as part of the series The Other Side. It was originally broadcast on July 9, 2000.


Joe tells of a dinner party attended by notorious murderers (Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot…) and a 'children's table' with smaller-scale murderers (John Wayne Gacy, Gary Gilmore, Ted Bundy…) The head table attenders talk about aesthetic matters: clothes, floral arrays… Joe wonders why he's there.

6:10: 'I have a defective aortic valve…' 'John',[1] in the hospital, describes his condition, his life and family. Joe asks questions, some heartless.

15:10: Larry, apparently having heard a recording of the call, calls it 'freelance sadism', identifies Joe as a 'friend of a friend' of John.

17:10: John says it's not much of a story; Joe says it would be a better story if he were sicker. John says he wouldn't be talking to Joe if he were sicker.

18:00: A woman, interrupting via call-waiting (remember that?) tells Joe to call.

18:10: John feels sorry for Joe that he wants him to be sicker.

22:20: Joe and Larry talk more about John.

22:40: Ruth Hirschman[2] calls Joe to tell him they can't air 'suck my [bleep]', even though it's attributed (in a dream) to Joe's mother. She says, 'Graphic sex, Will tells me, is not permissible.'[3]

24:10: Joe and Larry talk more about John. Joe says John's in denial.

25:30: Kristine talks about what's allowable in art, whether it excuses the wrongs of the artists' personal lives, cites the example of Picasso. Then she talks about Joe's calls to John in the same light: how good a show would Joe have to produce to make it worth hurting John? She says she knows 3 stories that Joe won't air because they would hurt others involved. She says Joe's not a bad person.

30:00: Larry talks about his possible skin cancer.

32:30: Jack Kornfield talks about Buddhist vows. He says we must commit ourselves to what we do.

36:40: Kristine opines that Hitler thought he was doing a grand thing, that all the great killers thought they were. She says good people feel guilt, bad people don't.

39:40: Joe was walking down a country road in Tunisia or Morocco - he wasn't sure - it was a dream. He was in an oasis; he had come there to speak with god. He asks some silly questions. Then he says he really wants answers about animals killing other animals, as seen on National Geographic TV. Joe wants to know how he's supposed to pray to a god that created this. God's in a director's chair, stylishly dressed; he plays some silly tricks; Joe decides he doesn't like the dream.

47:20: Joe changes his dream to a club in Prague with euro-trash band and other weirdness.

51:20: Now he's outside, in the dark; bodies hang from the lamp-posts; a pit is filled with bodies. A revisionist historian speaks, calls this fake, calls for the extermination of Jews. A crowd is enthused.

54:10: Joe walks into the country. Joe waves a car down. His mother, father, and he, as a boy, are in the car, on their way their country home. They wave him in, but he refuses. They're killed at a checkpoint, then buried.

56:30: Joe wakes up, drives to Seattle Coffee, buys a coffee and an LA Times, reads about his suicide.

Legacy Synopsis
  • Prison song, "No More, My Lord".
  • Monologue- Joe is at a dinner table with Hitler, Pol Pot, and other brutal world figures. Serial killers are seated at a children's table. They discuss tailors, flower arrangement, kitchen decorating, children's books.
  • John - (A stranger who Joe has called in the hospital.) He's going to have open hear surgery to replace a heart valve. Joe probes his family relationships, religious beliefs. He claims the diagnosis has had little effect on his life. Joe explores why the woman he's involved with isn't planning to visit.
  • Larry Block - Larry criticizes Joe's discussion of the woman, suggests Joe talk to her.
  • John - His story is dull. Joe suggests it would be more interesting if he were more seriously ill. John says he feels sorry for Joe, suggests that Joe is obsessed with death. Joe pushes him further.
  • Larry - Exploring John's response to Joe's questions.
  • Ruth Seymore - Joe's in trouble for descriptions of graphic sex spoken by his mother in a dream in an earlier program.
  • Kristine McKenna - What is allowable in the realm of art. Do Picasso's paintings justify the suffering he caused in his personal life? The danger of cracking facades. Joe's strategy worked - the interview with John became much more interesting when Joe pushed him into conflict.
  • Larry - Maybe John's illness really isn't too bad. Larry's awaiting medical tests on what might be skin cancer. Joe tries to frighten him with the dangers.
  • Jack Kornfield - Impossible vows. Direction. Loving kindness meditation.
  • Kristine - Hitler would say his crimes were justified. Hitler as an artist. Only good people feel guilt.
  • Joe - A dream. He's in an undefined country, enters a building to find an oasis in a vast desert. He meets god and asks him a list of questions. Cruelty in nature.
  • Joe - A new dream: Joe's in a nightclub in Prague. The club is filled with priests and built on an old graveyard. He leaves, passes mass graves, bodies hanging from lamp posts. A revisionist historian speaks to a crowd, says the bodies are paper dolls created by Jews in order to trick people into thinking they've been persecuted, demands thir eradication as punishment. Joe leaves, terrified. He's offered a ride by a car carrying his young parents and himself as a child. He refuses the ride and watches as the car is stopped at a police checkpoint and his family shot. He awakes from the dream, opens the newspaper to read a story of his own suicide.


Additional credits

The original broadcast credits state: "With Larry Block, Kristine McKenna, Jack Kornfield, and Joe Frank. Special thanks to John. Portions created in collaboration with David Rapkin. This program was recorded and edited by JC Swiatek, and mixed by Bob Carlson. Music consultant: Thomas Golubić. Production assistance: Esmé Gregson."


The dinner table segment has been included in compilation CD's under the title "No More, My Lord."


I was listening to KPFK the day the LAPD searched, followed the story of Will Lewis's incarceration, remember the LA Times's supporting the cops.Arthur Peabody (talk) 22:59, 10 January 2022 (EST)


  1. relying on the credits - possibly a pseudonym
  2. then KCRW's GM
  3. 'Will' is Will Lewis, longtime KPFK (the Pacifica station in LA) GM; Ms Hirschman worked there before KCRW. Mr Lewis was the GM when the Symbionese Liberation Army left a tape of their demands in a sofa in a nearby alley, called KPFK, told them of it. KPFK aired the tape. The LAPD searched the station, probably illegally. They stuck microphones near the cops' mouths when they spoke, broadcast it. Mr Lewis spent days in jail. Ms Hirschman hired him as a consultant at KCRW.
  4. Joe Frank: Somewhere Out There licensed "Ki-Mo-No" by AKMusique, which was a derivative work released after Bad Karma.