The Wire

"I'm doing this play called 'God of Vengeance'."

The Wire[1]
The Other Side
Original Broadcast Date
March 26, 2000
Larry Block, Jack Kornfield, Joe Frank
Karma Style, 60 minutes
Preceded by: Zen
Followed by: The Nature Of Things

The Wire is a program Joe Frank produced as part of the series The Other Side. It was originally broadcast on March 26, 2000.


Larry tells Joe he's in Seattle acting in God of Vengeance, a play written by Donald Margulies, an adaptation of Sholem Asch's play of the same name.[1] Larry summarizes the play.

7:10: Joe tells us his family used to summer-vacation in Amenia. The neighbors bred chinchillas. One died, they buried it, Joe's dog dug it up; his parents thought their dog had killed it, so they cleaned it up and put it back.

9:10: Joe remembers when he spilled auto battery acid onto his pants.

9:40: Joe tells stories of his childhood, which include his sister Naomi and his crude grandfather, including when the grandfather pushed a piano off the roof of the apartment building.

12:00: Joe remembers a bully holding his face against a subway grating. Later, Joe smacks the bully's trumpet into his teeth.

13:40: Joe remembers a dog stealing his sandwich.

14:10: Joe, 8, remembers a girl from a wealthy family visiting Joe at his home. She vomits when she sees Joe's father cutting up a bloody piece of stewing beef. The experience makes them closer.

16:30: Joe remembers attending junior congregation when he was 11 or 12. Because the cantor had such a powerful voice, it was said that it could break glass. Joe brought a window pane, broke it during his performance, cutting his hand.[2]

19:50: Joe tells of stealing a ribbon of magnesium from the science lab, to burn it in the park. They replace it with a beef lung to which they attach a duck call.

22:50: Jack Kornfield reads a poem of Rumi about a man with a jealous wife and beautiful maid servant, as an illustration of the difference between fear and love. He points out the problem grasping causes. He tells the story of the old Zen master and the thief.

30:20: Larry tells about Lorin Hollander; Larry claims he was a friend of Hollander's older sister, grew up in the same neighborhood. Hollander's playing a concert.[3] Larry attends, meets him afterwards. Hollander is nice to him, but Larry wonders if he really remembers him.

40:10: Joe gets a job in the garment district when he's 13, working for a friend of his father. Nora got a job at the same time, fell in love with the boss, Sol, because of his knowledge of Restoration poetry. Joe sees them making love.

42:40: Joe remembers 'the era of beatniks'[4] He would hang out at cafés, trying to be hip. He remembers listening to Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Ted Joans. One night, at the Café Wha?,[5] a pimp sets him up with a 'housewife' from Morris county, New Jersey. They park next to the Staten Island ferry; she gropes him.

46:00: Joe remembers being 19, in Santa Barbara; he's borrowed his boss's car. He set the seat on fire by lighting a match to find some marijuana he'd hidden under it. He says it's the '60s.[6] The seat was destroyed; Joe replaced it with folding bridge chairs taped to the floor.

48:40: Kornfield tells about his teaching partner Joseph Goldstein. He tells about Goldstein's mother visiting Goldstein in the monastery in India, how much she liked the simplicity of it. This leads into more slanging of grasping. He talks about the different kinds of giving. He quotes Epictetus, 'Never suppress a generous impulse.'

57:00: Larry tells of walking along the beach, thinks of writing Karl Wallenda's line 'The wire is life; the rest is waiting' on a piece of driftwood. As an actor, he's on-stage 2 hours at a time; the rest is waiting. Then he decides against it, that it'd be litter.

Legacy Synopsis
  • Larry Block describes a new play in which a brothel owner reforms and buys a hand written Torah and his daughter runs off with a prostitute.
  • Monologue of Joe's random memories part one:
    • Joe's family on vacation resurrects a neighbors dead chinchilla.
    • Joe dissolved his pants in battery acid while standing in a patch of mint.
    • Joe's father destroys his sister's indestructible glasses.
    • His grandfather tosses teacups out of windows when they don't suit him.
    • Joe's grandfather pushes a piano off a roof.
    • Joe is targeted by a bully trumpet player and takes his revenge by hitting the end of the trumpet while the bully was playing it, knocking out his tooth and causing his mouth to bleed. They get into a fight and are sent to the principle's bench. Joe's mother tells him he is a moron, and Joe's grandfather punches him in the stomach. Joe retires to his room to read about the Moors of North Africa who's skin turns blue.
    • A dog steals Joe's sandwich.
    • A rich girl friend of Joe's vomits when she sees Joe's father cutting bloody slabs of beef. Joe's mother changers her expensive dress into Joe's sister's clothes, gets the dress dry cleaned by the Chinese launderers who break the buttons. Joe's mother tries to find replacement buttons but cannot, so she replaces all of them. She returns the dress by taking it to the servant's quarters of girl's mansion in a brown bag.
    • Joe breaks glass to accompany a singer at a service because he thought it would be funny. He cuts his hand on the glass and the service ends. A gentile black man takes care of Joe because the others are not allowed to handle blood on the Sabbath. He gives Joe whiskey to east the pain. His mother smell the alcohol on his breath and thought he was drunk when he broke the glass. She verbally scolds him on the way to the hospital, telling him she thinks he is truly a moron, but then is very kind and doting to Joe in the presence of the nurses at the hospital. The nurses are so kind, he wishes one of them were his mother, so he considers getting hurt more often.
    • Joe and his friend steal a magnesium ribbon from the science lab at school so they can light it at the park. To create a diversion from the missing magnesium, they get some cow lungs from the butcher. They take a duck call whistle and put it at the end of the trachea because when the lungs where squeeze, it would make a duck call sound. They leave the trachea and lungs in the classroom on a Friday. On Monday morning, the lungs where covered in maggots. The science teacher stashed some alcohol with all of the chemicals. In his excitement, he accidentally takes a swig of sulphuric acid. The fire department arrives and they flush the teachers mouth out with water. School has to close for the day so Joe and his friend go and see a movie.
  • Jack Kornfield discusses a Rumi poem about a jealous wife and a maidservant, talks about grasping and immortality. He tells about a society of people that believe in immortality. He tells a story about a thief robbing a wise man's house.
  • Larry talks about meeting a childhood friend turned concert pianist.
  • Monologue of Joe's random memories part two:
    • Joe worked for a poetry-quoting family friend in the garment district as a teenager, his coworker falls in love with the boss. He gets hit by a car and encounters a nurse. A description of the beat scene in new york, getting offered "some housewife action."
    • In Santa Barbara with a girl in his bosses car, Joe drops a joint in the car causing the seat to smolder and burn. They find a gas station that takes the seat out and hoses it down. Joe replaces the seat with a folding bridge chair gaff taped to the floorboard. He gets fired and has to back to New York.
  • Kornfield: a middle class woman from the Catskills visits her son in a monastery in India, different kinds of giving.
  • Larry talks about leaving a note on the beach.


Additional credits

The original broadcast credits state: "[C]reated in collaboration with David Rapkin, with Larry Block, Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield, and Joe Frank; edited by Scott Fritz; mixed by Bob Carlson.


  • This program is also available on as Zen Two


This show has 3 components: Larry's story of living in Seattle while acting in a new play; Joe's childhood reminiscences (some of which have to be fictional; I suspect they all are); Jack Kornfield with his usual shtick.Arthur Peabody (talk) 19:06, 12 January 2022 (EST)

Joe's story about breaking a pane of glass, at 16:30, includes a comment about Jewish law, which I think is incorrect. I'm no expert. I'd appreciate an opinion from a more knowledgable person.Arthur Peabody (talk) 19:06, 12 January 2022 (EST)

This is the only time I've heard of Ted Joans. Arthur Peabody (talk) 22:18, 11 January 2022 (EST)


  1. Film Reference page for Larry Block has only this entry, 'Reb Eli, God of Vengeance, Adams Memorial Theater, Williamstown, MA, 2002', which was after 'The Wire'. I figure it's incomplete.
  2. Joe says the janitor, a gentile, had to help him because the Jews couldn't break the sabbath. I'm not Jewish, but I think this is wrong, that in matters that threaten death or serious injury the rule doesn't apply - so I've read.
  3. Larry calls it a Gershwin symphony; it was his Concerto in F
  4. 1955? Joe says he was about 16.
  5. Joe says he was listening to Richie Havens playing music, which he didn't start doing until the '60s; he says he performed poetry in the Village in the '50s.
  6. Joe was born in 1938, thus 19 in 1957/1958.