- Mark Klee — Mr. Mark's Unbearable Parables
"Kids know the Unbearable Parable provides subtle subconscious information to the inner mind which affects our brain as much as anything can and includes moral instruction to prevent your skull from shrinking." - Mr. Mark
Mark Klee (1957-2001) aka Mr. Mark was a well-known figure in the Lehigh Valley arts scene during the 1980s and 90s. A visual artist, writer, and performer, Klee was primarily known for the live radio program The Mr. Mark Show, which aired on WMUH Allentown for nearly 20 years. The core of the show was Mr. Mark's prolific and surreal monologues. Often stream-of-conscious and improvised, Mr. Mark took a casual approach to his writing, sometimes appropriating content alongside his own fragmented and distorted narratives, which usually took place in a fantastical Allentown, Pennsylvania plagued with Martians, dinosaurs, and living ventriloquist dummies.
The Unbearable Parables are a small, albeit recurring, feature of Mr. Mark's monologues. They are structurally loose, reading more like collaged pulp horror serials than parables in a traditional sense. In Mr. Mark's own words, "The Unbearable Parable is just a short little fable containing a lesson about life to help our listeners stay out of prison." The "lessons" are disjunctive, typically having nothing to do with the content of the parable and are sometimes used to segue into other bits.
Mr. Mark's monologues were accompanied by eclectic playlists. Material from the likes of The Residents, Laurie Anderson, and Supersister were featured alongside his own original music (e.g., Mr. Mark & the Seismatics, the Modern Mummies, and the Floating Members) and that of other local experimental acts, many of which appeared on WMUH’s legendary show The Home Taper.
The Unbearable Parables collected here span from 1986 to 1995 but are by no means complete. They were edited from Glenn R. Frantz's personal recordings of The Mr. Mark Show, which constitute the most comprehensive collection of Mr. Mark monologues currently accessible to the public (available at archive.org).
Special thanks to Glenn R. Frantz, James Billbrough, and Keith Adams.