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‘The Legend of Bruce Lee’: The little-known syndicated comic strip
01.25.2016
11:46 am

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Art
Media
Movies

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The world premiere of Enter the Dragon, the kung fu crossover hit, happened in Hong Kong on July 26, 1973, six days after Bruce Lee’s shocking death at the age of 32. Less than a month later the movie hit America, sparking a global sensation into that most charming of martial arts heroes.

The absence of Lee from his own worldwide phenomenon made it an inviting prospect for others to cash in. This led to the advent of “Bruceploitation,” analogous to the dozens of Beatles imitation LPs that were released in 1964 and 1965, in which “Lee-alikes” were cast in obvious imitations of signature Bruce Lee classics like Fists of Fury or Game of Death.

The kinetic skill of Bruce Lee doesn’t seem like the greatest starting point for a syndicated comic strip, but then again, that bizarre Amazing Spider-Man daily strip has been around for decades and is still going strong. At any rate, there were several attempts to do a Bruce Lee strip in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Actually, one of the widely acknowledged legends of cartooning, Milton Caniff, known for his work on Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon, almost got involved with a daily Bruce Lee strip. In 1977 he and Noel Sickles (of Scorchy Smith renown) produced at least one strip for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate before Caniff lost interest, which you can see below (click for a larger view):
 

 
According to Allan Holtz, author of American Newspaper Comics: An Encyclopedic Reference Guide, “Caniff grew disgusted with what he considered nitpicky suggestions from the syndicate and dropped the project.”

However, five years later, in 1982, the Los Angeles Times Syndicate did run a Bruce Lee strip for approximately a year in “a vanishingly small number of newspapers,” as Holtz puts it. So don’t be too surprised if you missed it in your halcyon youth, it didn’t last very long and it wasn’t in too many papers.

The strip was called “The Legend of Bruce Lee.” It was written by Sharman DiVono, who was also penning the Star Trek strip at the time, and drawn by Fran Matera, who just a couple years later would commence on a 20-year run putting out Steve Roper and Mike Nomad. Later on the strip was taken over by Dick Kulpa.

Holtz is insightful on the reasons the Bruce Lee strip didn’t get wider distribution:
 

The small client list might seem odd given the devoted fandom for Bruce Lee. However, we must consider a few factors. First of all, newspaper editors were pretty much convinced that continuity strips were dead, so the strip had a lot of resistance to overcome. Secondly, the market was awash in media tie-in strips at that time—Spider-Man, Hulk, Dallas, Star Trek, Star Wars and others were all jockeying for newspaper space. Bruce Lee may have just seemed like the low man on that totem pole—popular with teens, certainly, but did he have the mass appeal to sell newspapers? Strips featuring much higher-profile media stars were just limping along as it was—why take a chance on a cult figure that many older readers had never heard of?

 
There aren’t too many images of “The Legend of Bruce Lee” out there, but I was able to score a few. First up is this gorgeous, full-color Sunday edition (in all cases, click for a larger view):
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The Mind Expander Chair & other inventions from the far-out world of 60s architects Haus-Rucker-Co.
01.21.2016
12:10 pm

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Art

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Haus-Rucker-Co. Environment Transformer
Haus-Rucker-Co. “Environment Transformer” the “Flyhead,” 1968
 
In the late 1960s, a group of architects in Vienna decided to see what would happen if they created architectural designs that had the ability to alter a person’s state of perception or consciousness, using sensory enhancement or deprivation. 
 
Haus-Rucker-Co.
Haus-Rucker-Co. “Environment Transformers” left to right - the “Flyhead,” “Viewatomizer,” and the “Drizzler,” 1968
 
Comprised of Laurids Ortner, Günther Zamp Kelp and Klaus Pinter (and later joined by Manfred Ortner in 1971) the group called themselves Haus-Rucker-Co. In 1967 the group formed around something they called the “Mind Expanding Program” which produced a number of sensory enhancement machines like the “Mind Expander Chair,” futuristic helmets known as “Environment Transformers” with names like “Flyhead,” “Viewatomizer,” and the “Drizzler,” (pictured above), as well as the groovy-sounding, “Yellow Heart” (pictured below).
 
Haus-Rucker-Co.
Haus-Rucker-Co. “Yellow Heart” 1968
 
Haus-Rucker-Co.
 
The psychedelic architects described the experience of being inside the “Yellow Heart” as follows:

The idea that a concentrated experience of space could offer a direct approach to changes in consciousness led to the construction of a pneumatic space capsule, called the ‘Yellow Heart.’ Through a lock made of three air rings, one arrived at a transparent plastic mattress. Offering just enough space for two people, it projected into the centre of a spherical space that was made up of soft, air-filled chambers. Lying there one could perceive that the air-filled “pillows,” whose swelling sides almost touched one, slowly withdrew, that is to say the surrounding space appeared to expand, finally forming a translucent sphere and then, in a reverse motion, flowed out again. Large dots arranged in a grid on the outer and inner surfaces of the air-shells changed in rhythmic waves from milky patches to a clear pattern. The space pulsated at extended intervals.

 
Haus-Rucker-Co.
Haus-Rucker-Co. “Mind Expander” chair, 1968
 

“Mind Expander Chair” II by Haus-Rucker-Co. 1969
 
The idea for Haus-Rucker’s “Mind Expander Chair” was born from their “Balloon for Two” installation, which was a large balloon hung from a window outside a small apartment in Vienna with structures and trees inside of it. The Mind Expander Chair on the other hand was not as precarious, and was created for two people to use at the same time. The idea was that a woman would sit on her male companion’s lap and once everyone was too close for comfort, the large cover of the Mind Expander Chair would be pulled down and something called a “rhythm machine” would be (ahem), turned on.

Haus-Rucker’s CV is rich with sci-fi daydreams, and to feature them all here would be much like their creations, seemingly impossible. There have been a few books published on the history of Haus-Rucker-Co. worth looking into like Haus-Rucker-Co: Architectural Utopia Reloaded that features a large sampling of the group’s space-aged creations. Images from Haus-Rucker’s “Mind Expansion” series, as well as their interactive piece from 1970, “Giant Billiard” follow.

You could grab your bong to enhance your own personal experience, but trust me, you’re not going to need it.
 
Haus-Rucker-Co.
An early version of the “Mind Expander” chair, 1967
 
Oase Number 7, an installation by Haus-Rucker-Co. in progress Kassel, Germany, 1972
“Oase Number 7,” an installation in progress by Haus-Rucker-Co., Kassel, Germany, 1972
 
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Revealing portraits of neo-burlesque performers (NSFW)
01.21.2016
09:46 am

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Art
Sex

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Kat Mon Dieu.
 
The photographer Leland Bobbé describes the neo-burlesque movement as “an art form that allows the performer to use their bodies and costumes to deliver a statement or message.”

It can be a political, social or comedic statement. The message is up to the performer because they come up with their own act including costumes and music to deliver their message. It’s different from classic burlesque in that in classic burlesque it’s just about a seductive reveal of the body without having a specific message.

Neo-burlesque kicked-off around the mid-1990s. Billie Madley in New York and Michelle Carr her Velvet Hammer Burlesque troupe in Los Angeles revamped the spirit of old burlesque with some feisty punk pizazz. Neo-burlesque “put the tease into striptease” and brought spectacle, comedy and art back to the stage. They created their own characters, designed and made their own costumes, and choreographed their own acts. Unlike old burlesque, these young independent performers were making shows that often appealed more to women than men. And so neo-burlesque became a thing.

When New York-based portrait, lifestyle, street and landscape assignment photographer Leland Bobbé heard about the resurgence in neo-burlesque he knew it was something he had to photograph. He was not interested in just documenting these artists’ stage performances. He wanted to “capture their creative costumes and stage persona in very real non-posed studio portraits.”

Bobbé put an ad in Craig’s List. Made some contacts, got some referrals and soon neo-burlesque performers were knocking on his door. He photographed these beautiful everyday performers between 2010-2012. See more of Leland Bobbé‘s beautiful photographic work here.
 
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Perle Noir.
 
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Harvest Moon.
 
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Ferro.
 
More beautiful portraits of neo-burlesque performers, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Artist creates freakishly realistic doll faces
01.21.2016
09:08 am

Topics:
Art
Design

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Out of polymer clay, Russian artist Michael Zajkov creates doll faces and moveable doll body parts that are unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The detail within his work is utterly exquisite. The handpainted glass eyes are from Germany and the dolls’ hair is fashioned from French mohair. The end result, to me, is quite spooky. The longer I stare at them, the more lifelike they seem. The quality of the expressions is haunting, like they’re lost souls or have tortured pasts.

All images via Michael Zajkov’s Instagram.


 

 

 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Draw David Lynch’s hair
01.20.2016
11:09 am

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Amusing
Art
Heroes

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The good people at Welcome To Twin Peaks have shared a wonderful web widget with which you can kill some quality time today—”David Lynch Doodle.” It’s a caricature of Lynch (who turns 70 today) with his epic haircut lopped off, and you get to draw it in, with eleven simulated brushes to choose from. (While you justly make fun of my shitty efforts, bear in mind that I went to art school. And graduated. In lots of debt.)
 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Astonishing pictures of 21st century pagan ritual garb from all over Europe
01.19.2016
03:25 pm

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Art
Belief

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Germany
 
You might not know it, but we’re in the middle of pagan ritual season! Every year from December until Easter, people from every country in Europe partake in pagan rituals in order to honor the planet’s annual cycle of death and rebirth.

Several years ago Charles Fréger set out to document the many costumes used all over Europe for pagan rituals, visiting 18 countries on his journey to pin down the archetype of the “Wild Man” that transcends any one culture. The pictures were then collected in a marvelous book called Wilder Mann. The costumes he found resemble something out of commedia dell’arte or Día de los Muertos, only far deeper and far stranger. They clearly represent the devil, billy goats, wild boars, and bizarre conflagrations thereof, using all manner of masks, straw, horns, pine twigs, antlers, bells, fur, and bones.

As it happens, I’ve attended pagan rituals myself, in rural Austria, and I’ve met men who work on their intricate, large, wooden Krampus masks all year long in preparation for the fantastical Krampus “performance” in early December. I mention this as a prelude to explaining that (in my opinion) telling the difference between some authentic pagan belief and just people partaking in a fun pastime isn’t a straightforward proposition. It isn’t that such people are necessarily undertaking such rituals in order appease the earth goddess Erda and improve next year’s crop yield or anything like that, but at the same time I think that participants and spectators alike would agree that everyone is getting something necessary out of it, something communal, something emotional.

Of the project, Fréger says, “‘It is not about been possessed by a spirit but it is about jumping voluntarily in the skin of an animal. You decide to become something else. You chose to become an animal, which is more exciting than being possessed by a demon.”

Enjoy these remarkable pictures.
 

Finland
 

Basque Country
 

Portugal
 

Macedonia
 
More pagan ritual garb after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The B-52s and Friends’ Art Against AIDS commercial, 1987
01.19.2016
12:25 pm

Topics:
Art
Queer

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In 1987, the B-52s produced an incredible public service announcement for AMFAR (The Foundation For AIDS Research) with the late NYC-based video artist Tom Rubnitz (best known for the “Strawberry Shortcut” and “Pickle Surprise” videos) and several of their closest famous friends. The colorful tableau vivant recreated the Beatles’ iconic Sgt. Pepper’s album cover with the flowers spelling out “Be Alive”

Along with the B-52s, you’ll see Korean video artist Nam Jun Paik, Allen Ginsberg, Dancenoise, “voguing” pioneer Willi Ninja, Nile Rodgers, Joey Arias, Tseng Kwong Chi, Mink Stole, ABC’s David Yarritu, “Frieda the Disco Doll,” John Kelly as the Mona Lisa, Lady Bunny, performance artist Mike Smith, Kenny Scharf, David Byrne and then-wife Adelle Lutz, model Beverly Johnson, NYC “It Girl” Dianne Brill and Quentin Crisp among many others.

If this isn’t eighties enough for you already, note the presence of “Randee of the Redwoods” (comedian Jim Turner) the acid-fried MTV “presidential candidate.”
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Man regrets getting tattoo of Henry the Hoover above his penis
01.19.2016
10:05 am

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Amusing
Art

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: When England-based Lewis Flint was just 16 years old, he thought it would be hilarious to get a Henry the Hoover tattoo right above his penis. Yes, you heard me, a freakin’ vacuum cleaner. Apparently the tattoo gag worked for a while, as Flint was the talk of town and the ladies really dug it. He got his Henry hoovered constantly!

But now that Flint is 21 years old, he’s starting to rethink the wisdom of his Henry the Hoover tattoo:

When I first got it done aged 16 I couldn’t stop getting it out, I got loads of attention and I was a bit of a local hero, I loved it. But I was with a girl recently and I liked her, things were going well until we got naked. When she saw it she said ‘what’s that? I am off!’ I was gutted, I never thought I would regret my tattoo when I got it done.

Naturally Flint wanted the tattoo removed:

When I think about that night the girl walked out it does haunt me and puts me off showing it to other women in the future. I know laser removal is painful but never getting laid again would be more painful.


 
Sadly, Flint tried to go through the laser removal process and found the whole thing to be too painful:

The thought of that going round near my balls is unbearable. I don’t know how people put up with 20 minutes of it. Laser is too painful for me to get rid of this tattoo, I am going to have to put up with it.

So it’s Henry the Hoover for life, I suppose. Perhaps he can cover it up with an even larger tat of the Kool-aid Guy?

via WOW

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Six Into One’: Seldom seen doc on Patrick McGoohan’s cult TV classic ‘The Prisoner’
01.18.2016
03:24 pm

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Art
Belief
Television
Thinkers

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The actor Patrick McGoohan had been kicking around ideas for a new television series when writer George Markstein told him about Inverlair Lodge in Scotland. The Lodge had been used by Special Operations Executive during the Second World War as “a detention or internment camp” for those individuals who refused to take part in covert operations “once they became aware of the full details.”

Some were unable to kill when the occasion was reduced to a one-on-one scenario, as opposed the anonymity of a battlefield exchange. With information being released on a Need to Know basis, their training meant that they were in possession of highly classified and secret information relating to pending missions, and could not be allowed to return to public life, where a careless remark could have compromised their secrecy.

As Markstein later explained the residents were:

...largely people who had been compromised. They had reached the point in their career where they knew too much to be let loose, but they hadn’t actually done anything wrong. They weren’t in any way traitors, they hadn’t betrayed anything, but in their own interest it was better if they were kept safely.

Inverlair Lodge was also known as “No. 6 Special Workshop School.” McGoohan was intrigued by the idea and began developing a series idea set in a similar internment camp, The Prisoner.
 
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Patrick McGoohan started his career as an actor in theater. He was spotted early on by Orson Welles who cast him his production of Moby Dick. Welles thought McGoohan had “unquestionable” acting ability and thought he would become one of cinema’s greatest actors.

McGoohan’s early success in theater led to a movie contract. Unfortunately, the film producers who snapped him up didn’t know what to do with this unique talent. McGoohan was cast in a few B-movies that offered limited scope for him to shine. At his earliest opportunity, McGoohan got out of his film contract and moved into television.

Learning from his ill-fated experience in movies, McGoohan stipulated that he had control over what he did on the small screen. McGoohan was a Roman Catholic and eschewed violence and refused to kiss on grounds that he considered it unnecessary and even possibly adulterous.

In 1960, he starred as John Drake in Danger Man. The series was moderately successful on its first run, but quickly took off after the release of the first James Bond feature Dr. No—a film that McGoohan had knocked back as he disliked its script’s promiscuous sex and violence.

By 1966, Danger Man was a hit across most of the world and McGoohan was TV’s highest paid actor. But McGoohan felt he had achieved all he could with the character and wanted to move on. Determined to keep him working for his TV company, legendary producer Lew Grade asked McGoohan if there was anything he wanted to make. McGoohan pitched him The Prisoner. Grade liked it and agreed to a produce it. The deal was sealed on a handshake.

A secret agent (McGoohan) resigns his commission to his handler—a cameo from the show’s co-creator George Markstein who is seen in the opening titles. Returning to his apartment, McGoohan is gassed. When he awakes he is a prisoner in the “Village” a kind of Psy-Ops theme park on a strange island. He no longer has a name but is identified only as “No. 6.” He is interrogated by No. 2 who demands “information.” In each episode No. 6 attempts to escape the Village while trying to unravel the mystery of who is No. 1.

The Prisoner became one of the most famous TV series of the 1960s. It was hailed as “television’s first masterpiece”—one of the most talked about and controversial shows ever made. Almost fifty years after it was first aired, its appeal continues—and The Prisoner was even remade in 2009 with Jim Caviezel as No. 6 and Ian McKellen as No. 2.

There are numerous theories as to the “meaning” of The Prisoner, but it difficult not to view the series without some small reference to McGoohan’s own religious beliefs. Here is an island where everyone is watched, recorded, and examined by an omnipotent and omniscient overlord; where No. 6 is repeatedly asked to give up information—or to confess his guilt; and where No. 1 is finally revealed to be No. 6—“The greatest enemy that we have” as McGoohan described No. 1 in an interview with Wayne Troyer:

No. 1 was depicted as an evil, governing force in this Village. So, who is this No. 1? We just see the No. 2’s, the sidekicks. Now this overriding, evil force is at its most powerful within ourselves and we have constantly to fight it, I think, and that is why I made No. 1 an image of No. 6. His other half, his alter ego.

McGoohan suggests that “The greatest evil that one has to fight constantly, every minute of the day until one dies, is the worst part of oneself”—which is something he could have lifted directly from the Catholic belief in “original sin.”

Like another Catholic, writer Anthony Burgess—who wrote about the freedom of an individual to do right or wrong in his cult novel A Clockwork OrangeMcGoohan stated that No. 6:

...shouldn’t have to answer to anyone. It’s entirely his prerogative, his God-given right as an individual, to proceed in any way he sees fit. That’s the whole point of it all.

The Prisoner was not just a Cold War series about individual freedom in the face of totalitarianism but the freedom of each individual to choose one’s own path and take responsibility for their own actions in a materialist society. McGoohan was against the materialist/capitalist world of the Village and when The Prisoner ended in 1968, he aligned himself with the rioting students in Paris. He hoped his series might inspire a revolution, a point he discussed in an interview as to why the French were so obsessed with his series:

...there comes a time when revolt is necessary: In the last episode…there was no room for niceness anymore. There were machine guns, and people died. It was time for the Revolution. The French know that: Allons z’ enfants…

 
Watch ‘One Into Six’ plus McGoohan’s lost ‘LA Tapes,’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Suck me, baby: The Virgin Prunes’ new form of beauty
01.18.2016
11:51 am

Topics:
Art
Music
Punk

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Meet the Pig Children…

“Like a crazy singer in a band that’s lost the words.”

I’ll go out on a limb here and declare that I think the Virgin Prunes are THE #1 most underrated group of the post-punk era. Go ahead and do your worst. What about _____? Or ______?  Or _____?

Well, what about ‘em? Sorry, but I’m right. No other band with their theatrical power and musical genius has been so wrongly overlooked as the Virgin Prunes.

The main reason for this gross miscarriage of cultural justice is simply because their albums were extremely difficult to find until the mid aughts. Unless you bought the expensive limited edition import vinyl pressed in France and Italy when they actually came out in the early to mid-80s, you were pretty much shut out of enjoying the din glorious of the Virgin Prunes. You probably weren’t going to encounter much, if anything, of the Virgin Prunes’ output in a used record store, either. People who owned those albums, even those who slimmed their record collections down considerably over the years (like me) held onto them. They were not common on Limewire or Napster. Not only were they rare and coveted albums, they were glossy, darkly glamorous and obscenely weird objects d’art in their own right.

I think another reason for their obscurity has to do with the (mostly) misinformed notion that the Virgin Prunes were a goth band due to their “Pagan Lovesong” being such a big dancefloor mainstay at places like London’s Batcave discotheque (which is admittedly where I first heard them myself). Being lumped in with bands like The Specimen, Danse Society, Gene Loves Jezebel and Clan of Xymox hurt their credibility with rock snobs, but their scary, intimidating noise/art rock had far more in common with Faust, The Pop Group, The Birthday Party, Public Image Ltd. or Throbbing Gristle, certainly, than it did with Sex Gang Children. The goth label was, and is, an unfortunate one for the legacy of the Virgin Prunes to bear and is still a barrier to proper critical re-appraisal of the group’s work. The goth label didn’t exist when they started. They were Irish hooligans who came of age with Bowie and punk. They threw pigs heads around onstage and spoke “in tongues” in cheek out of disrespect to their Catholic elders. To lump them in with goth is just… lazy. The Virgin Prunes wanted to do things like this:
 

 
(Imagine the collective reaction the people of Ireland had to seeing THAT on their tee-vee sets. Then shed a tear for the current generation of boring, well-behaved young people.)
 

 
“We entertain people from another level…”

Another excuse that they’re still so unknown and underground after so many years have passed is that their work is simply not for everyone. Motherfuckers are evil sounding. If you don’t like an evil-sounding racket, get back to your Carpenter’s albums—quick—and just keep moving. These guys might damage you for life.

If Satan himself had a band, they would try to sound like the Virgin Prunes.
 

 
“Mirror, mirror on the wall. Mirror, mirror, I’ve seen it all…”

It’s been remarked often that the Virgin Prunes are the reverse image of U2. Dik Evans, original Virgin Prunes guitarist, is the brother of The Edge and the members of both groups grew up as friends in Dublin. Quoting from the Wikipedia entry:

The band consisted of childhood friends of U2’s Bono. Lypton Village was a “youthful gang” created by Bono, Guggi (Derek Rowan) and Gavin Friday (Fionan Hanvey) in the early 70s, where every member got a new identity and where they could escape from dreary and predictable Dublin life and be anything they wanted to be. It was both lead singers Friday and Guggi who first gave a teenaged Paul Hewson his alter-ego and world-famous moniker “Bono Vox of O’Connell Street,” later simply “Bono.”

 

 
U2 were the good boys, the Christians. The Virgins Prunes were feral and downright demonic.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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