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Meet Harper Goff, the legendary set designer behind Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory

“This is where all my dreams become realities, and some of my realities become dreams.” American artist and banjo player Harper Goff (1911-1993) was a man of many talents with an extraordinary imagination. He set the standard for camouflage colors during WWII, laid the foundation for the Steampunk revolution, conceptualized Disneyland alongside Walt Disney, and created the unforgettable set for Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. However, due to issues with his union card Harper remains uncredited for nearly his entire life’s work.

Living in New York City, Harper Goff worked as a magazine illustrator for Collier’s, Esquire, and National Geographic. Harper’s techniques as well his imagination were groundbreaking even early on. In his paintings, he often refused to use modeling talent but instead incorporated real life village citizens into the details of his colorful works. Friends, family, and neighbors traveled to exotic beachfront estates and vacation spots around the world courtesy of Harper Goff, half of them never even realizing it. During his service in WWII while Harper was working on a do-it-yourself painters kit he was approached by the U.S. Army to develop a set of paint colors that would become the new standard for camouflage. Near the end of the war, he was transferred to the U.S. Navy where his razzle dazzle technique helped confuse the silhouettes of ships taking the idea of camouflage to a whole new level.

When Harper moved to California to work for Warner Brothers Studios he became a set designer on films such as Casablanca, Sergeant York, Charge of the Light Brigade, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the Errol Flynn classic Captain Blood. It was while working as an Art Director on Kirk Douglas’ The Vikings that director William Wyler saw in Goff a “character type” and began casting him as an actor. “I showed up wearing a beard, they figured I’d make a good Nordic,” said Harper, who would end up heaving a battle axe at his blonde viking wife in the film. Harper made dozens of appearances in film and television as an actor much to the amusement of his real life blonde wife Flossie. In 1951, while shopping in a London model railroad shoppe Harper had a chance encounter with Walt Disney when they both expressed a mutual interest in purchasing the same model train.

“He turned to me and said, ‘I’m Walt Disney. Are you the man that wanted to buy this engine?’ Well, I almost fell over. He asked me what I do for a living, and I told him that I was an artist. Walt said, ‘I’ve heard of you, but I can’t recall where.’” It turned out Walt Disney had seen some of Harper’s illustrations in Esquire magazine and had always admired them. Disney said, “Give me a call me when you get back to the States.” Ultimately Walt bought the locomotive and hired Harper to illustrate the earliest concept artwork and renderings for his proposed “Mickey Mouse Park” (originally intended to be constructed in Burbank). “I liked the idea of working with Walt Disney, and when I called him he began to explain his idea for a kiddie-land near the Studio — perhaps with a steam train connected to Traveland across the L.A. River. He wanted to build something adults could enjoy along with their children.”

Walt sent Harper on a three-month “information gathering” journey to amusement parks all across the United States. “They were dirty places and it was hard to imagine what Walt had in mind creating. I said to him when I got back, ‘Walt, I don’t think this type of environment is what you want,’ and he replied, ‘Mine will be immaculate and the staff will be young and polite,’ then I realized he could do it.” Orange County was eventually chosen as the site for Disneyland and Harper, who was dubbed the “Second Imagineer” envisioned the look and feel of the theme park. Harper used his hometown of Fort Collins, Colorado as the main influence for Disneyland’s City Hall, and his Art Director experience on the film Calamity Jane to design the Golden Horseshoe Saloon.

Harper Goff’s influence on the Adventureland portion of the theme park cannot be overstated, particularly on the ride the Jungle Cruise. In Harper’s own words: “We began to think of hippos and other animals which could be operated without wires and still have animated elements. We brought in Bob Matte, who later created the shark for Jaws to engineer the original animals. I also worked with Bill and Jack Evans on buying expeditions for the landscaping. We would call cities to see if they were tearing out trees for improvements and go and buy them — we got many that way.” While making trips back and forth between Burbank and the Evans and Reeves Nursery in West L.A. they’d pass a house in Beverly Hills that had spectacular tree in the front yard. Harper and Jack believed it’d be the perfect finishing touch to the Jungle Cruise ride. “Finally, I thought what have we got to lose, and I had Jack Evans stop while I went in to ask the people if they would consider selling it. I told the owner we would replace it with a flowerbed or anything they wanted and surprisingly enough the owner told me yes — it was blocking the sunlight and view coming through his windows and we could just come and take it away… it was the tree that went around the original Burmese Temple, and we got it for nothing.”
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Doug Jones | Leave a comment
Kick out the jams: Blue Öyster Cult covers the MC5, Doors, Yardbirds & The Animals

More guitars than most rock bands had back in 1970, the mighty Blue Öyster Cult.
Like the young Patti Smith, I am a huge fan of one of the greatest bands ever to slither out of Long Island, the Blue Öyster Cult. Since getting their start in the late 60s, BÖC has put out over 20 albums including three live records on which the band test drives tracks from the MC5, The Yardbirds, The Animals and the sleazy, acid-coated jam by The Doors “Roadhouse Blues” with Robby Krieger on guitar. Damn.

So full disclosure—I had never heard BÖC’s version of the adrenalin charged 1969 MC5 track “Kick out the Jams” before. Recorded in Atlanta’s historic Fox Theater in 1978, its a very strange oversight that I can’t really comprehend as not only is the MC5 rocker one of my go-to songs when I’m running but so are other covers of the track by Bellingham, Washington band Mono Men and Monster Magnet. So the fact that my rock-seeking radar somehow missed this gem from BÖC’s 1978 live album Some Enchanted Evening (which also features the band’s cover of 1965’s “We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place” by The Animals) is really beyond me.

The rest of the covers appear on On Your Feet Or On Your Knees (“I Ain’t Got You” by The Yardbirds and “Born to Be Wild” by Steppenwolf), and Extraterrestrial Live on which BÖC’s cover of “Roadhouse Blues” appears—and the story of how that came to be goes like this. According to vocalist Eric Bloom, BÖC was playing a gig at the Starwood in LA when Krieger showed up and asked to “sit in” with the band. But instead of having Krieger play along to one of their own tunes, BÖC ran with The Doors 1970 classic.

More Blue Öyster Cult after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Iron Butterfly and Grand Funk Railroad shot a double feature in a pirate-themed amusement park

Many treasures from Something Weird Video recently turned up on Night Flight Plus ($2.99 cheap!). Among them is Musical Mutiny, a 1970 feature directed by former RAF pilot and Nazi prison camp escapee Barry Mahon, who got into the movie business by taking a job as Errol Flynn’s personal pilot after the war. Mahon’s 1969 film Fanny Hill Meets Dr. Erotico can claim the single greatest plot summary on IMDb:

Dr. Erotico, a reputable urologist, becomes a hard core sex maniac.

Musical Mutiny was filmed for like zero dollars at Pirates World in Dania, Florida, Mahon’s headquarters during the late 60s. An enterprising fellow, he shot the bands he booked to play at the theme park and then created movies around the footage. Iron Butterfly’s performances in Musical Mutiny were padded with an original plot involving a pirate who comes out of the ocean so that the youth may rock (or something). Mahon released it as a double feature with Weekend Rebellion, a movie he created by splicing his footage of Grand Funk Railroad and others playing at Pirates World into a print of Mondo Daytona.

If it sounds like these pictures are astonishingly cheap, it looks that way too. By comparison, the comic segments in Good to See You, Alice Cooper are Lawrence of Arabia. The Something Weird catalog quotes the director to the effect that he didn’t get where he was by paying top dollar:

“l took over the studio at Pirates World, a bit north of Miami, and made Jack and the Beanstalk and Thumbelina and a bunch of pictures like that” remembered Mahon in 1994. “Pirates World’s biggest claim to fame was the rock concerts we held there. I hired Michael Jackson and The Jackson Five for $10,000! And Grand Funk Railroad and Iron Butterfly. Got all those for around ten thousand bucks. And we made a lot of money doing that.”

More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Demo versions of Black Sabbath songs that completely smoke the album versions
09:10 am


Black Sabbath
Ian Gillan

Though it is often maligned by Black Sabbath fans as being “one of their worst albums,” I’ve always had a soft spot for the Born Again LP. Featuring Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan on vocals, many referred to this line-up as “Deep Sabbath.” Gillan, a rock super-star in his own right, was obviously no slouch, but Ozzy and Ronnie James Dio both left big shoes to fill in the Sabbath camp. Many fans at the time expressed great disappointment over the album recorded with this line-up.

It may have been hearing “Trashed” on a K-Tel compilation as a kid that warmed me to this era of Sabbath and that song in particular, but I’ll readily admit that the production on Born Again always left something to be desired. It always sounded a bit hollow to me and a bit cheesed out with the keyboards.

Fans have always been divided on the album’s iconic cover art as well. Some decrying it as one of the worst album covers of all time or at least, certainly, the worst Black Sabbath album cover, while others have found it to be a repellant work of genius. I’ve always adored the demonic baby image and its disturbingly vibrating blue and red color scheme. One of my favorite hardcore bands of the 1990s stole their logo directly from the hand-lettered “Born Again” font on the sleeve.

The story of this sleeve almost deserves its own post, but it’s totally worth reprinting here, direct from designer Steve Joule’s mouth, speaking to

The Black Sabbath Born Again album sleeve was designed under extraordinary circumstances; basically what had happened was that Sharon and Ozzy had split very acrimoniously from her father’s (Don Arden) management and record label. He subsequently decided that he would wreak his revenge by making Black Sabbath (whom he managed) the best heavy metal band in the world, which, of course they are but back then in the early ’80’s they weren’t quite the international megastars that they had been in the ’70’s. His plans included recruiting Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan, getting Bill Ward back in on drums and stealing as many of Sharon and Ozzy’s team as possible and as I was designing Ozzy’s sleeves at the time I of course got asked to submit some rough designs.

As I didn’t want to lose my gig with the Osbourne’s I thought the best thing to do would be to put some ridiculous and obvious designs down on paper, submit them and then get the beers in with the rejection fee, but oh no, life ain’t that easy. In all I think there were four rough ideas that were given to the management and band to peruse (unfortunately I no longer have the roughs as I would love to see just how bad the other three were as sadly my booze and drug addled brain no longer remembers that far back), anyway one of the ideas was of course the baby and the first image of a baby that I found was from the front cover of a 1968 magazine called Mind Alive that my parents has bought me as a child in order to further my education, so in reality I say blame my parents for the whole sorry mess. I then took some black and white photocopies of the image (the picture is credited to ‘Rizzoli Press’) that I overexposed, stuck the horns, nails, fangs into the equation, used the most outrageous colour combination that acid could buy, bastardized a bit of the Olde English typeface and sat back, shook my head and chuckled.

The story goes that at the meeting Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler were present but no Ian Gillan or Bill Ward. Tony loved it and Geezer, so I’m reliably informed, looked at it and in his best Brummie accent said, “It’s shit. But it’s fucking great!” Don not only loved it but had already decided that a Born Again baby costume was to be made for a suitable midget who was going to wear it and be part of the now infamous ‘Born Again Tour.’ So suddenly I find myself having to do the bloody thing. I was also offered a ridiculous amount of money (about twice as much as I was being paid for an Ozzy sleeve design) if I could deliver finished artwork for front, back and inner sleeve by a certain date.

As the dreaded day drew nearer and nearer I kept putting off doing it again and again until finally the day before I sprang into action with the help of a neighbor, (Steve ‘Fingers’ Barrett) a bottle of Jack Daniels and the filthiest speed that money could buy on the streets of South East London and we bashed the whole thing out in a night, including hand lettering all the lyrics, delivered it the next day where upon I received my financial reward. But that wasn’t the end of it oh no, when Gillan finally got to see a finished sleeve he hated it with a vengeance and hence the now famous quote “I looked at the cover and puked!” Not wanting to sound bitchy but over the years I’ve said the same thing about most of Gillan’s album sleeves. He also allegedly threw a box of 25 copies of the album out of his window. Gillan might have hated it but Max Cavelera (Sepultura, Soulfly) and Glen Benton (Deicide) have both gone on record saying that it is their favorite album sleeve.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Art school sketches of Iggy Pop in the nude (NSFW)
11:42 am


Iggy Pop

If you’ve seen Iggy Pop play live, you’ve probably seen his pubic hair—it’s a veritable trope of his stage show, kind of like Gallagher and his watermelons. Recently, a small group of art students got to examine it in a new way when Pop posed for a nude life drawing session at the New York Academy Of Art. The session took place on February 21, 2016, and 21 artists participated in the session, which was conceived by artist Jeremy Deller.

The resultant sketches will be on display in an upcoming exhibition called “Iggy Pop Life Class” at the Brooklyn Museum that runs from early November through late March 2017. The sketches will also appear in a book called Iggy Pop Life Class, to be released in the U.S. by HENI Publishing on October 25.

Of the choice of Pop for the project, Deller said, “For me it makes perfect sense for Iggy Pop to be the subject of a life class; his body is central to an understanding of rock music and its place within American culture. His body has witnessed much and should be documented.”

Indeed. His body has witnessed much.

Below, you can see some of the sketches from the session:

Okim Woo Kim, Untitled (Lying pose)

Taylor Schultek, Untitled (Seated pose)
More nude Iggy after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Blindman’: Ringo Starr’s white slavery spaghetti western
10:30 am


Ringo Starr

I’ve spent some serious quality time steeped in Beatle lore, so it’s not often that something of which I’ve never heard crosses my radar, and yet, here’s Blindman. It’s a 1971 Ferdinando Baldi spaghetti western that featured Starr second-billed after the redundantly-named genre mainstay Tony Anthony, and it’s really quite good.

Anthony is the titular Blindman, a man-with-no-name figure (everyone just calls him “blind man”) who’s tasked with escorting 50 mail-order brides to a group of miners in Texas. He’s double-crossed when an associate sells the women to a Mexican criminal named Domingo (Lloyd Battista). Starr plays Domingo’s semi-sympathetic brother Candy (absolutely nothing to do with the 1968 film Candy in which Starr also had a role—as a Mexican gardener), who shows very little interest in the family’s slave/brothel business, and who’s undone by his forlorn love for a rancher’s daughter.

Despite his eponymous handicap, the Zatoichi-like Blindman fights and shoots with eyerollingly improbable Book of Eli-ish canniness, but when the plot demands a clumsy blind guy who knocks things off of tables and breaks stuff, he obliges. His penchant for dynamite abuse is amusing, as is his (I’m not even fucking kidding) seeing-eye horse. But though his part is smaller, Starr is quite fine here. This isn’t just celebrity stunt casting, he actually gives the rather limited role of “lovesick bandito” some heft. There’s been much said lately—and justifiably—about the casting of white actors in non-white roles, but since the film is 45 years old, I’ll leave that be, as he plays the part so well. (And now I’ll be earwormed with Ringo’s version of “Act Naturally” for a few hours.)

Besides, casting isn’t even Blindman’s most notable values dissonance between its time and the present. The movie—as is to be expected from a western about mail-order brides and sex traffickers—is rapey as all hell, and all of its Mexican characters are villainous or cartoonishly lecherous. Even Candy, who we’re supposed to kind of like, is forcing himself on the rancher’s daughter Pilar, who’s mighty upfront about her disinclination to having him around, which is the only personality trait with which that character was written, making her the second most rounded female character in the film after Domingo and Candy’s one-dimensionally corrupt sister. Try drinking a shot every time Blindman says “I want my fifty women” and YOU’LL end up blind. But this being a western, just desserts are meted out quite unequivocally to the abusers. Mostly.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Poison boyfriend. Tender pervert. Pubic intellectual. Timelord. A brief introduction to Momus
09:10 am



I first became aware of Momus back in 1994. I was standing in front of the goodie closet at the Tokyo offices of Nippon Columbia, the big Japanese record company. I was greedily loading myself up with as much free product (mostly jazz CDs) as I was going to be able to carry in my luggage back home to Los Angeles when I noticed the extravagantly packaged CD of his Timelord album with its distinctive Pierre et Gilles cover portrait and slipcase.

“What’s this?” I quizzed one of the record execs who spoke better English than the others.

“Ah…it’s…ah… ah… music for gay people!” he said laughing, after thinking about it for a moment.

I took this to mean “witty” “camp” or simply “in the same ballpark as Marc Almond” and so I asked him “Can I have this, too, then?”

The following day I saw who I immediately realized was this very same Momus character—he stood out in the context of Japan, as any non-Japanese tends to in Tokyo—and although he seemed rather effete and fashionable, he was with a super hot Japanese girl and he didn’t seem to be gay at all. (In retrospect, I think the record exec had heard “The Homosexual” a 1988 song by Momus—but not about him—and just assumed something that a language barrier didn’t help with. Having said that, he wasn’t really that far off either and I did know vaguely what he meant, which is the important thing anyway.)

Timelord is a strange, but intriguing album, a love letter sent by Momus (real name Nick Currie) across time and space to just one person—a young woman of Bangladeshi descent he’d fallen in love with whose parents had her shipped off to an arranged marriage when they found out about him. Currie described it as “the album that shot itself in the foot” but there’s a lovely quality to it.

Like The Visitor in The Man Who Fell To Earth who hopes his wife on her distant planet will hear his music on the radio, Momus hopes this music will cut through the static interference of fundamentalist Islam to reach Shazna.

The song that really stood out to me first on Timelord was “Enlightenment,” a number that waxed poetic about a certain sexually promiscuous person—this would be Momus, about to settle down in a serious relationship—sitting in a doctor’s office waiting for the results of his AIDS test.

I realize that this doesn’t sound romantic, but it really is when you think about what he’s singing:

But tell me you’ll be there
When I’m knocked out flat
With a drip feed in my arm
And tell me you’ll be there
When the swansong starts to fade
And when a life support machine
Supports me in a coma you’ll be there
And when I’m just a cabbage save me from the spade

So tell me you’ll be there
If I ever find
I’ve only got one kidney left
And tell me you’ll be there
When I’ve only got one eye
And say that you’ll still be my baby
When a wheelchair is my chair
You’ll be there upon the day I die

And tell me you’ll be there
When my head’s on backwards
And my skin is turning green
You’ll be there
When my brain has gone to sand
And tell me you’ll still be my baby
When my guts are on the floor
And when I’m catatonic
I’ll still be your man

A terribly post-modern take on the Beatles “When I’m 64,” isn’t it?

The lyrics were unlike anything else I think I’d ever heard before in a pop song. Wordplay and sentiment so intelligent, so unexpected, so idiosyncratic. So wonderfully and unabashedly smart and literate and funny. And morbid!

Momus is an absolute chameleon as a songwriter and sheds musical styles from album to album—vaudeville, New Wave, synthpop, Brechtian cabaret, Baroque, acid house, folk—as I would soon find out fanning through his catalog, which at this point includes over 30 (mostly fantastic) full length albums. To be sure, Currie has a “thing” that he does—it’s very consistently him, but also ever evolving, too.

Truly there is no one even remotely like Momus on the music scene today. The man is brilliant, a global treasure and the greatest songwriter that Scotland has ever produced, but his profile has remained stubbornly obscure, much to the consternation of his fervent, but admittedly small, fanbase. Momus is bigger in Japan, but he’s probably not all that big there, either. As the man himself once said “In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen people.” It’s ridiculous that he’s not much better known, and widely revered, but I still envy anyone just discovering his music anyway.

Momus rendered in watercolors for the cover of El Pais newspaper’s magazine by Jose Manuel Hortelano-Pi

A grand new three CD Momus retrospective, selected by the artist himself and spanning some 30 creatively fertile years, Public Intellectual, An Anthology 1986-2016 (out now on Cherry Red and streaming on Spotify) is the perfect place to start if you find yourself curious about this most singularly singular of musical entertainers. But because I want to make it easy on you, I’ve selected a few of my own very favorite Momus tracks and performances for your listening enjoyment and embedded them here, courtesy of Cherry Red.

Personally I prefer what would now be termed, I suppose, “mid-period” Momus, but this is not to say that he’s ever been any less than at the height of his powers throughout his prolific career. His most recent material is just as good and just as inspired as the music he produced when he was in his 20s. His first albums are as good as his later albums, even if I personally tend to grab the 90s material when I want to listen to a little Momus. It’s all different, but all obviously Momus and the quality is always remarkably high.


Momus on the song (from the liner notes of Public Intellectual):

You’re settling into a longterm relationship in the early 90s: you take an AIDS test. But do you really want to know the answer, considering the fact that at this point (as Derek Jarman was in the process of proving) to be HIV-positive was to be sentenced to death? Expand that question a little and you get to Adorno and Horkheimer’s doubts about Enlightenment in general. The song’s coda is spookily visionary, asking: will you still love me when I’ve only got one eye?

Dig the Pizzicato Five sample. It drove me nuts trying to figure out what it was.

Much more Momus after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Man face swaps with classic album covers with hilariously surreal results
08:36 am


Face Swap

The Stooges
I was hesitant on blogging about this because the face swap stuff has kind of been over for a while now. We’ve blogged about people face-swapping with their own tattoos here on DM back in July. It seemed to have run its course.

However—and that’s a big HOWEVER in ALL CAPS—Tumblr ‘Record Cover Face Swap’ is damned hilarious. It’s just one dude who sports a beard and face swaps with classic album covers. The results are fucking funny. The longer you scroll his images, the funnier it gets.

Here’s a taste of ‘Record Cover Face Swap.’ These are my personal favorites. There are many more.

King Crimson

Gary Numan


Loretta Lynn
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Number 666: The Aleister Crowley issue of Flexipop!

I learned many things during my recent conversation with David Tibet (Current 93 and related projects) and Youth (Killing Joke, the Orb, the Fireman, Brother Culture, Pink Floyd, et al.) about their fabulous new album as Hypnopazūzu. One of these was that during the early 80s, a British pop magazine had, at Tibet’s urging, numbered its final issue 666 and put Aleister Crowley on the cover. Tibet had written the cover story, too, about the Beast and his influence on pop musicians.

Both Youth and Tibet seemed to think the magazine in question was Smash Hits, but in fact Flexipop! was the one that employed Mark Manning/Zodiac Mindwarp as art editor and concluded with the Crowley issue. Though I wasn’t there, Flexipop! seems much hipper than Smash Hits from my vantage point: Every issue came with a flexi disc, and alongside the shit (and not) pop stars of the day, they profiled quality bands like the Birthday Party, Pigbag, Motörhead, Bauhaus, and Killing Joke (Youth dropped his pants in the pages of No. 19).

Having reached the kabbalistically significant number 32 with their second-to-last issue in June 1983—featuring both Killing Joke sans Youth and Brilliant, Youth’s new band with Jimmy Cauty—Flexipop! made a daring editorial decision at its perch atop the Tree of Life. For the cover of their valedictory number, instead of Paul Young or Sting, they took a chance on this fresh-faced, golden-voiced up-and-comer with a song in his heart and an Enochian key on his lips.

More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Robert Fripp and David Sylvian on ‘The Road to Graceland’
03:10 pm


Robert Fripp
David Sylvian

Even a woefully incomplete list of Robert Fripp’s collaborators is something to behold—Brian Eno, David Bowie, Andy Summers, Peter Gabriel, Blondie, the Roches, Adrian Belew, Daryl Hall, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Grinderman, Van Der Graaf Generator, Talking Heads….. the guy gets around. He even composed some of the sounds in the Windows Vista operating system! Sheesh Robert, take a nap once in a while…..

In 1985 Fripp appeared on David Sylvian’s Alchemy: An Index of Possibilities, likely little suspecting that the two men would have a highly fruitful musical relationship in the years to come. Fripp actually asked Sylvian to take part in a reconstituted King Crimson. Sylvian demurred, but the duo put out several albums in short order as Fripp took up with Crimson in its “double-trio” iteration, which unfortunately didn’t endure.

For the Fripp/Sylvian material, Trey Gunn plays a variation on the bass guitar called the Chapman Stick, which looks like this:

In 1993 Fripp and Sylvian went on tour—the Tokyo concert, which took place on October 26, 1993, was taped for Japanese TV under the title “The Road to Graceland.” That title is a reference to their epic composition “Darshan,” which appears here late in the show as a particular highlight.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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