The Prime of Miss Joyce Kaufman



... Come out of your
half-dreamed dream.
And run, if you will,
To the top of The Hill ...


"Joseph No matter what Rambo Kaufman says, another Joyce would be proud of you: James Joyce ... a true stream of consciousness in a remote control, pscyhological tome. A thought-provoking job."

- Mark Scheinbaum -
Journalist and Talk Host, formerly working with Joyce Kaufman

It would be in 1998, along the New River in Fort Lauderdale, that Joyce would have me sit in her car so I could hear a spoken-word recitation by Bob Dylan. It was on cassette tape, and I think the subject was Woody Guthrie, but my specific recollection may be in error as so many words have passed my way since. Much, in fact, has passed my way since. And so too, it would seem … for Joyce.

It was a time when – as a matter of profile, rather than five-and-dime psychoanalysis – Joyce was far more prone to hurt … than to anger. A woman filled with vulnerability, rather than venom. And an interactive ensemble of personal complexities were far more internalized that spoken outwardly – something that would be generally deemed as unusual for a Talk Host, I suppose. But persona and psyche are often in contradiction – and conflict – among those with varying degrees of notoriety, I would come to learn over the years. Talk hosts, writers, musicians and composers. Names known to many; compositions known to few.

Yes, in years past, Joyce would have her moments of anger – though not tied to politics, most generally. More commonly, they were in response to internal, Talk Radio Wars – both hot and cold – where assorted factions would change allegiances dynamically, amidst an air of uncertainty as to where the enemy might be located at any given moment. But even this externalized anger would merely be an outward manifestation of internalized hurt. A disappointment in a world where, with few aside, personal relationships would not turn out as idealistically envisioned.

It was a time when Joyce would close her email with the words, ‘Peace & Love’, just above her digital signature. And therein, as speculation, a time before desperate longing would be replaced by a sense of therapeutic belonging, no matter what the company. And – if so – among the lonely, she wouldn’t be the first to be seduced by adulation, comforted by validation, finding love among the hate-filled population. Fulfillment, after all, is sometimes filled in by replacement synthesis. As to whether any of the above would lead one to genuine ‘peace’ – whether external or internal – is another matter.

But in recent times, much in the way of speculation has been served up by several who have known Joyce. That the tie-dyed, Grateful Dead, New York Jewish liberal of Leonard Cohen lore would simply ‘sell out’ in search of higher ratings in the conservative-dominated world of talk radio. Indeed, others have done it – and with some degree of success, sometimes high (no pharmaceutical addiction pun, intended).

As to the above theory, I really can’t entirely agree …

If there’s one thing Joyce would say of me – among a few other possibilities, more sordid, perhaps – it’s that I don’t share confidences. Incidental and benign anecdotes, yes. Email excerpts, sometimes – with consideration (as will be found here). Confidences, never. And I wouldn’t be breeching one in sharing that, in my assorted personal communications with Joyce in more recent times, there would be absolutely no indication that she was anything but sincere in her new-found beliefs. There was no “Joseph, this is all a theatrical ruse” – not even the oblique implication of such. If there were, I wouldn’t be sharing it here, it is true. But I wouldn’t lie to my readership either, with false information or impression. I simply wouldn’t make it part of the discussion.

In fact, such was my curiosity concerning Joyce’s sincerity, as part of a more involved email exchange, I made a request to Joyce, to be ultimately included on this very website. I reasoned that it would be of interest to many – even to those who weren't familiar with Joyce ... beyond the satisfaction of my own curiosity …

“I'd love for you to write a piece as to what played into your metamorphosis”, I wrote. “What changes occurred in your life, perhaps – or what changes in the country … or the revisions in one's 'internal self'. How did one get from 'there' to ... 'here'?”

Indeed, it had been close to four years since I ‘lived up the road’ from her as one with dual-region citizenship in The States. Florida had been left behind, to the greater extent. With this, I would have increasingly less contact with Joyce – and her ‘transformation’ had begun to take it’s shape shortly after my departure.

In response to my request, Joyce responded: “I will do it soon! The busier I get, the more I get done ... Luv, JK”.

Yes, ‘Peace and Love’ had been long abandoned – with most of her ‘sign-off’ now following below her initialed signature. Her closing ‘tag line’ would now include several, in succession:

“Never Again means A Secure Israel. Allen West for Congress. God Bless America. Support Michael Savage. You could be next.”

Okay ….. But she was not done. Her prefab email template would continue below this, now including several paragraphs for a medley of thoughts too long to paste in here. They included such topics (generally quotes) that covered everything from ‘Freedom’ … to ‘Islam’ … to ‘God’.

……. okay.

But surely this would make one even all the more curious as to how someone had changed her playlist from Dylan ... to Lee Greenwood with The Jewish Defense League Choral Ensemble. It should be noted, with fairness and accuracy, that Joyce had always been decidedly Pro-Israel, further voicing support for Intelligence Analyst cum Israeli Spy, Jonathan Pollard, in her most liberal of days. But still …

Yes, in truth, it’s not entirely uncommon for former liberals to become more conservative – or even actual conservatives – as the years advance. Others, most commonly of the conservative ilk, would argue that such takes place as one simply … ‘matures’ – as in, becomes “less silly”.

But here’s the thing … while such a metamorphosis more traditionally favors liberal-to-conservative in direction – relative to the inverse – for most who have shed former skins, it’s … a process. Not one of days. Nor of months. But years. Shy of some life-changing, traumatic-like experience, such transformations are navigated in a long and lingering loop – not by hitting the brakes and skillfully redirecting the car in the opposite direction, a la James Bond. It’s more commonly a gradual – if not always graceful move, contemplated with sustained consideration. And even for those who may – one day – find themselves to be conservative, seemingly without due warning, there was a process – no matter how subconscious, no matter how subliminal. For there are no changes in core ideology that emerge as ‘overnight sensations’.

And yet …

As near as I can ascertain, Joyce spun the car around with such rapidity, the G-forces would have snapped the neck of lesser women. And no, the frequently and long-promoted story of Joyce simply becoming pathologically irate when she was requested to “Dial 2 for English” upon calling her Cable company (one day) doesn’t work for me. This quick, Express Pass to fanatical conservatism is what has further fueled the speculation that Joyce simply ‘sold out’ in search of higher ratings. And I do mean fanatical conservatism. So much so, it’s barely recognizable as conservatism – at least in any traditional sense. Joyce didn’t merely spin the ass-end of the car around – unusual, in itself. She pushed the pedal through the floorboard. This is a hallmark of only one thing: Lack of contemplation.

So … what happened? After all, as further proof of her genuine sincerity, Joyce responded to my written piece on the Tea Party movement in an email that cited me as “an elitist ass”. Having been first delighted in retaining my title, naturally, I would then remind Joyce of my previous invitation for her to pen a piece that essentially “explained herself”. One that would provide some insight as to how such a personal metamorphosis took place – and at the fastest break-neck speed since The Rat Pack turned their collective backs on the Kennedys.

Joyce would write back: “I barely have time to breathe. The West campaign consumes what little spare time I have after work and travel ...”

Busy bee, to be sure. But here’s the thing … In her previous inception, Joyce would have flipped her article to me within 48 hours, if not within 24. But as of this day, it had since been months. ‘Old Joyce’, no matter what the hindrance or obstacle, would have spun the words for me – faster than a court stenographer on coke – if only in recognition and acknowledgement for having freely assisted in her endeavors of years past … as I sometimes further called in the girls of my own production crew to meet with her requests.

And yet … such a reconsideration on Joyce’s part ushered no actual disappointment, as there would be little surprise in her reevaluation – be it one of time, be it one of psyche, be it one of heart, be it one of association ... or disassociation. For where the mind goes, the soul surely travels – in any and all events. Joyce … had changed. And now I – among others – would only be left to wonder why. The ‘how’ … was self-evident.

Still, on the day – or the evening – of Joyce being named as Chief of Staff for Congressman-elect, Allen West, I called Joyce on her cell phone to congratulate her – as any friend would do ... regardless. On this evening, I would just get her voice mail – that which likely answered all calls on this occasion … following the video clips of Joyce, featured on The Rachel Maddow Show just an hour or so before. And, no … the clips weren’t good. As featured …

To quote: "I am convinced that the most important thing the founding fathers did to ensure me my First Amendment rights was they gave me a Second Amendment. And if ballots don't work, bullets will."

Yeah. This, with the store logo of Target looming in the background, as I recall. Joyce would later tell reporters that she wasn't suggesting people take up arms if West lost the election, but only if the ability to vote was taken away. Silly us, for not being aware that such was in jeopardy. Or that the First Amendment concerned itself with one’s ability to vote in the first place, for that matter.

* (UPDATE: In an interview with a local news station, Joyce would now additionally proclaim that the clip was "taken out of context" because it didn't include her preceeding read of The Declaration of Independence ... as if that ... you know ... would, in any way, matter). *

But let’s not get bogged down with the details. Good thing Joyce was there to explain further – setting the record straight – in another, follow-up clip …

“When I say I'll put my microphone down on November 2nd if we haven't achieved substantial victory, I mean it. Because if at that point, I'm gonna go up into the hills of Kentucky, I'm gonna go out into the Midwest, I'm gonna go up in the Vermont and New Hampshire outreaches, and I'm gonna gather together men and women who understand that some things are worth fighting for – and some things are worth dying for."

…… Pretty dramatic. But okay, in this instance, Joyce probably harbored the same degree of sincerity as Alec Baldwin’s pledge to move up into Canada upon the election of George Bush … but nice touch, nevertheless.

But unlike the 'Leftist Media' (as characterized), cherry-picking their footage and selecting their edit points at will, I thought I’d back the tape up a bit, just prior to Joyce’s celebration of the ‘Second Amendment Solution’, where she said – as preface – and I quote …

“I don’t care how this gets painted by the mainstream media.”

And yet ….. upon the airing of that very clip on the Maddow show, Joyce would spend the next two days in a personal, single-subject Radiothon … caring how it got painted in the mainstream media.

…… And there I would be … slapping open palm to eyes and forehead. All of this as a perfect compliment to Joyce having previously suggested that illegal aliens who committed crimes in The States should be hung – execution style – with their bodies sent back to their respective families ... C.O.D. Specifically, Joyce offered the ‘proposition’ from her own microphone – not a caller to her program, as a recently attempted object of blame deflection, who had expressed a similar sentiment on another day. Of course …… on a technical front … by virtue that illegal immigrants would be here – you know – illegally in the first place, all would be guilty of a crime by default, it seems to me. How convenient. But I’ve long been accused of being too much of a “details man”, it’s true. Silly me.

Of course, all of these ‘clips ‘n quotes’ would come some months before the entire Broward County school system would go into lockdown mode as the result of an email sent to Joyce at the radio station – with a follow-up call that promised violence at a variety of possible locations … inspired by Joyce’s very words, it would be said.

The plot thickens. And Joyce would further thicken it with her indication that she had received personal death threats – as an occupational staple of Talk Radio for even the most benign of weekend fill-in hosts, pushing herbal supplements.

Conspiratorial speculation would build momentum – from Joyce’s listeners (“it’s a setup”) – to Joyce, herself. The fingers of blame would take aim, back and forth, Left to Right. The “person of interest” would be a Joyce Fan, it would be reasoned ... Rather no, it would be a fanatical Leftist. But no, again ... It would be something more globally orchestrated by The Left to sully the reputation of Congressman-elect, Colonel Allen West … Yeah, as if Joyce’s words were required for such a tactic – beyond the words of West, himself. Allen was doing a perfectly fine job of nut-job staging, all on his own, without the additional assistance of Joyce.

In brief, Colonel Allen West could be most easily compared to the Sterling Hayden character, Brigadier General Jack Ripper, from ‘Dr. Strangelove’ – only Allen West’s precious bodily fluids seem to have collected in the area between the brain and the skull’s interior. Horrible, awful thing. The VA hospital has been trying to drain the fluid with a surgical vacuum for years, with little success.

But with what would more recently transpire – what, with the schools in lockdown mode, and the release of the ‘Kaufman Klips’ that Joyce didn’t care how the mainstream media painted – Joyce, as the newly appointed Chief of Staff would “resign her commission”. (“Goddamnit, Hot Lips, resign your goddamn commission”). And, with that, Joyce would storm out of the tent, trying to keep her breasts contained within the bathrobe.

And, with this, Joyce would say – and no kidding here ... “Congressional District 22 will not have Joyce Kaufman to kick around anymore.” Great, Joyce … recycle the third person, paranoid schizophrenic script savvy of Richard Nixon. And while I relay this quote without kidding, I can only hope … that Joyce was. Because if I have to hear about the little dog she received as a gift, I think I’ll puke. Perspiration on the upper lip would not become her.

Colonel Allen West would soon call into Joyce’s radio program – whether it was West Call Number 387 or 388 still remains a subject of much debate. But in any event, the Congressman-elect made this pledge to Joyce and her listeners: That he would be (quote) "even more focused that this liberal, progressive, socialist agenda; this left-wing, vile, vicious, despicable machine that's out there (attempting to extract my precious bodily fluids) is soundly brought to its knees.”

Yes, the long-lived and time-honored credo of a cooperative American democracy. Of course, if Allen West had any congressional savvy or knowledge at all, he’d know that – in the halls of Congress – there have been countless people already poised on their knees … and he’ll likely be among them. I think it was pretty much chronicled in the gay porno docudrama, ‘Military Biker Men’.

In any event … this truly abridged overview – with entire paragraphs removed – has not been about Joyce turning her back on her several decades of liberalism. Or about her turn to conservatism. I’m reasonably well known – and sometimes despised – for calling out ‘my own’, when and where applicable. Joyce further knows that I have numbered conservatives to be among my friends – some known, some nameless. The thing is … Joyce has not surrounded herself with conservatives, true and actual. She, instead, has become the minstrel for those who have become conflicted in their identity, uncertain as to whether they prefer to be pathological … or merely sociopathic.

Joyce would not learn the lessons of her own best friend, conservative talk host, Rick Seiderman – now since passed, with regret. Rick would champion the virtues of ‘logic’ – of ‘reason’, turning his back on emotional evaluations that – in his mind – weren’t truly evaluative in the first place. Interestingly, in her most devout of liberal days, Joyce would possess a much higher degree of respect and tolerance for those in political opposition, with Rick Seiderman as but one example, than she affords… today. And while I know that Rick would have cheered Joyce’s increased radio noteriety, along with celebrating her (momentary) appointment as a Chief of Staff in Washington – as a friend would – I wonder if he would celebrate the visceral and incendiary path she took to get there. Logic and reason – as Rick’s credo … abandoned.

Indeed, Seiderman's rejection of  'the nutty' and the growing talk radio ensemble of irrational 'Obama Haters' was reflected in the last few personal conversations I had with Rick – to be additionally witnessed in one of his last online video commentaries for public consumption.

But there once was that ‘Old Joyce’ – one far less defined by politics, in truth. It was far less Joyce, the liberal – and far more Joyce, the person. Emotional, yes – but emotion not so filled with hate, with anger. On a purely human level, she had a greater appeal – odd though it may seem – when her emotions were far more guided and defined … by hurt, peppered with vulnerability. Not as some chauvinistic desire or ideal often assigned to women by men. But as a more encompassing, human consideration.

As to my writing here, the ’Old Joyce’ would have not expected anything other than this from me. She likely would have encouraged it, even. As to the ’New Joyce’ … I can’t be so sure.

Joyce would once tell me – more than 10 years ago, speaking of me – that “people look to you, they listen to you – because what you think matters to them.”

Well, Joyce … does it matter now, still? After all, I’m not the mainstream media who paints you, am I? I’m not Rachel Maddow. I’m not Keith Olbermann. I’m not Ed Schultz or The Miami Herald ... I’m your friend ... And, in that friendship, there would be no strategy. No campaign. No end-game. No calculations. No coattails. No victories to anticipate. There would only be the rewards that friendship, itself, provides – even when skewed by disappointment. And it is this latter consideration that often defines friendship, determining its value – or, for some, its perishability. As for me … I’m a loyalist – though I may not seem as such at this moment, on this day.

For each man – each woman – there is a universal desire, even if often denied to oneself, often at one’s own hand. The wish to find peace – internal, most of all – along with even the most modest of external tranquility ... notions that are often offered little consideration in one’s youth, I know. But as one enters their prime – and beyond, the same youthful venom that once drove us can sometimes be crippling to oneself – even as one often remains wholly unaware of the handicap.

So, I ask you, Joyce … Are you happier today than you were, say, 10 to 15 years ago? Are you more ‘at peace’ – if not with the world, with yourself? Or is one, instead, to be forever haunted … by half-dreamed dreams?

Peace & Love,

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