To The Bar Life

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To The Bar Life[1]
Work In Progress
Original Broadcast Date
Joe Frank, Larry Block, Ryan Cutrona
Serious Monologue, Narrative Monologue, Scripted Actors, 1 hour
Preceded by: Thank You, You're Beautiful
Followed by: Emergency Room

"We don't have any Jamison's, we got some, um, we got a little Imperial over here."

To The Bar Life is the name of a program Joe Frank produced as part of the series Work In Progress. It was originally broadcast in 1987.


A narrative monologue, cut with acted scenes and Joe toasting characters in the narrative and reading a poem praising liquor.

The acted scenes feature a customer in a bar who attempts to order drinks and snacks, only to discover that everything he orders is not only unavailable but totally foreign to the bar tender.

The narrative is the story of Johnny, filled with details about his life in the 20's and 30's:

  • His catholic mother dies giving birth to him, and he spends his early childhood with a caring, widowed grandmother.
  • Memories of a childhood trip to Brittany, being kissed by an older boy on the boat, visiting Lourdes.
  • His father re-marries, and his stepmother takes him from his grandmother, in a scene reminiscent of The Caucasian Chalk Circle.
  • His grandmother is forbidden to visit, moves back to France.
  • His father invests in a modern cooperage, is financially ruined, and becomes a violent drunk.
  • Memories of ships on the Hudson.
  • Johnny stands up to his father.
  • Boisterous fun at his step grandmother's wake. War begins.
  • Johnny grows close to his stepmother. He fights with fascists in a German-American movie theater. He and his stepmother kiss. The next day, he gets drunk and enlists in the Royal Canadian Air Force.
  • Enthusiastic recruits board the ship for Europe.
  • He's shot down on his first mission, gets a desk job, invites death when London is bombed.
  • He returns from Europe, finds religion in a Thomas Merton poem and joins the monastery in Gethsemani.
  • When the abbot makes a pass at him, he heads west, eventually becoming a homeless person in Venice Beach.

Interesting Facts

  • This is largely a retelling of the material from A Kiss is Just a Kiss, cut with poetry and toasts by Joe, and a bar room acted dialog.
  • It sounds like the bar room dialog may have originally been recorded as part of In the Middle of Nowhere. It features the same actors (Larry Block & Ryan Cutrona), the style seems consistent, and the customer makes references to needing to unwind from a traumatic experience and not having a working car, both of which are consistent with an early scene in which Bud and Ray meet. Both programs also feature a prominent reference to Lourdes.



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