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National Obituary Review

DPD Emeritus – Gregg Allman

No Comments 29 May 2017

Enthusiasts,

The love light is turned down way low tonight. We lost a good one. For yours truly Gregg Allman brought a lot of things in focus. At a weird point in my life, going to music festivals, I’d see the Allmans on the venue and find it reassuring. I couldn’t tell you why. I just did.

As I got older I’d read about them. Learn about the feuds. All the weird stories you’d hear about how they couldn’t stand each other and when they were out on the road they’d travel separately. They were a family that had some issues going on too.

Then there was the music. Sweet jesus. I always felt that because Gregg Allman was white it gave us hope that white people had rhythm too.

Not to mention it was a non-threatening concert my parents would let me go to with my friends without supervision. Steve Miller was in that bucket too…along with the Doobie Bros and a few others.

I learned and saw many things at Allmans’ shows. I saw Derek Trucks for the first time. How about that? I got a Case Logic CD book stolen. The big kind with 4 discs on each page. One time I slept through the entire show in the Lawn. Well worth it to take a snooze under the stars listen to that sound.

I’m not sure about the rest of you guys but there are very few bands that have been relevant to me from the time I was 13 to present day. The Beatles obviously. And maybe some Oldies you used to listen to driving around with your parents. But the Allmans always felt filthy. Classic and current at the time.

Gregg Allman’s musk will infuse the smell of American music for years to come. I think he can be heard from legacy acts such as the Black Crowes to contemporary stars like Chris Stapleton (the relations is particularly strong in this example).

Gregg Allman was rock, soul, R&B, Rhythm & Blues, Country & Western and a whole bunch of other stuff too.

We lost a good one today. If you’re so inclined we’ll be celebrating the Allmans at the HQ all weekend. We just refilled the cookie closet too (Thanks Earl!)

Respectfully,

Norm.

 

Ask Norman, Features, Shades of Gray

A New Dear Norman! Religion & Sneezing

No Comments 11 April 2017

dear Norm,

 i was shopping at the grocer when a man picking out pickles (kosher dill) turned to me and sneezed in my cart. 1 other man in the aisle turned and said “bless you” whilst a 2nd man said “blesh you”. I frowned at the new found germs I’d be paying for and walked away. Can we please do away with this public sentiment of filth and religion?
Shopping in Shirley,
Kweez
—————————————————————————————————————-

Dear Shop,

Thanks for writing – always nice to hear from a lifelong fan. It’s an honor, truly.

From what I can tell in reading your missive your challenges are two-fold – a public health concern and an ecclesiastical affront. I’ll take them in that order.

I’m with you. I don’t consider picking up a nasty illness during my weekly grocery a ‘bargain’ deal. In fact, if I were running things, that pervert would be drawn and quartered in the town square for spewing his venom in such an egregious way. I’ve long been a fan of public shaming and violence and feel both of which send a clearer message than the passive aggressive harrumphing that has come into vogue with the advent of millennials. This quack threatens the livelihood of you and yours it should be well within your bounds to smack his ass. This is why we shove a pup’s face in his poo while training. It works.

On to the ecclesiastical matter.

I’ve long been a staunch supporter of the separation of church and state – and certainly public health for that matter. Moreover I think the church should be separated from everything and be made to sit by itself. It’s been misbehaving for far too long. Nor do I see any reason to associate any type of heavenly body with snot and/or phlegm. If one were being helpful in such situations they’d shout instructions on how to not spread germs while promptly running in the other direction as to not worsen the situation.

Norm.

Pages of Prose, The Written Word

The Day I Became a Coventry City Supporter

No Comments 08 April 2017

In our Coventry homes,
We speak with an accent exceedingly rare,
You want a cathedral we’ve got one to spare,
In our Coventry homes…

Culture: The sum of attitudes, customs, and beliefs that distinguishes one group of people from another. Culture is transmitted, through language, material objects, ritual, institutions, art, and – in the most extreme cases football – from one generation to the next.

We landed in Gatwick at 8:32 (a.m.) and promptly caught the express to Victoria which is where everything started. It was subtle at first. Groups of two or three people donning Sky Blue shirts skittering amongst early Sunday morning crowds. Some chatted quietly, others – too anxious – simply navigated the Underground in anticipation.

While we’d been traveling for 8+ hours in many ways our journey was just beginning. Needing to drop our things before we headed to Wembley we continued on to the Victoria line (north) to Oxford Circus. As we waited for the Bakerloo line heading northbound numbers started to grow. Not just Sky Blue jerseys but yellow and black jerseys too. Their presence grew less subtle as volume increased.

Finally, arrived at Paddington we were hoping for a quick drop-in (maybe snap one off), leave our things and head towards Wembley for a few pre-game pints. For reasons I won’t get into here we ended up having to wait quite a spell for our flat owner due to a key mix-up and a general all around massive fuck-up by a wretched woman with her head so far up her arse she should consider proctology. Again, I won’t get into that here.

With the flat (finally) sorted we were on our way. Pip, pip!

Back on the tube the volume of supporters had grown dominating the lazy Sunday afternoon revelry. Primarily Sky Blue jerseys mixed – to a lesser degree – of yellow and black jerseys. And the songs start. Yes, I’d heard team supporters on TV sings songs/chants at matches. As an American I’d always been impressed/jealous of the crowd enthusiasm and interaction but seeing it in person is completely different. Amongst supporters anyone can start the song and immediately dozens (at least) jump in in support. In mixed company City supporters would start their anthem immediately rebutted by the Oxford United faithful. This is on public transportation – miles from the stadium.

Finally we switched over to the Metropolitan line for our final leg into Wembley. The train was packed full of CCFC fans. Young and old. In the final 20 minute ride decibel levels hovered between 85-100. For reference Black Sabbath concerts typically register at ~120 (on average).  The atmosphere was jubilant. The anticipation was palpable. Kinetic.

What specifically stood out to me was the older supporters making it a priority to include the young. There’s a fraternity there that cuts deeper than just one match. The team, the culture is present for everything. Bringing the younger fans in isn’t a chore. It’s shepherding a birthright. It’s an honor.

I’ll never forget the sight of Wembley as we got off the train. Organized chaos. Seas of people surging towards the stadium – yet, somehow parsing out by supporters. Black and yellow up the left ramp, Sky Blue up the right. In the states we don’t have the separation by supporters. It’s just a big jumble for better or worse. I understand the concept but seeing it in person, on that big of a scale was impressive. It has to be said – there seemed to be 3 or 4 Sky Blue jerseys for every Oxford United. Despite the differences one similarity this event had to other big time sporting events I’ve been to in America was the Jesus Freak. You know the type. I guess some things transcend culture & country. That poor bastard was there reminding us all that Jesus died for our sins. I only gave him a passing glance as we made our way into the stadium but at the time he was being approached by 4-5 clearly inebriated United fans. I was somewhat concerned for the zealot but soon got over it rationalizing that he put himself in that position.

We were lucky enough to have a friend (and CCFC supporter) already at the stadium that we were going to meet before kick-off. For those that haven’t been Wembley is massive. It took us a bit to navigate the crowds but we finally made the rendezvous point across from section 548.

“This is literally the best day of my life!” Tom yelled as he wrapped us up in a bear hug.

“You guys….landed this morning and came right here. You’re fucking insane! Here, meet my mom and dad.”

He was there with the entire family – brothers, sister et al. Our meeting consisted of sweaty hugs, spilled drinks, singing and some yelling. It was great! Tom, ever gracious, realized we had no beers and quickly went to remedy the situation.

“We really are shit this season” Tom said handing us our drinks. “But it doesn’t matter, this is literally the best day of my life”.

We chatted a bit more about the teams, match, our travels etc. The unbridled enthusiasm, jubilation and revery from Tom – and his family – was palpable. I’ve been to big games for my home teams and experienced nothing like this. On one of their biggest sporting days, before a crucial match the Fosters took us in like we were one of their own. Mr. Foster imploring my fiance – Kerry – “to come up to Shipley, we’ll cook you something nice”. It was incredible. Gametime fast approaching we bid farewell and heading for our seats.

Signs were posted everywhere clearly stating no alcohol be brought to the seats but the bloke sitting next to us didn’t seem to know/care. He came barrel-assing through with two meat-pies and 3 cups of red wine. Interesting combination. Other than his body odor I really liked his style.

God Save The Queen. Side announcements. All 75,000+ supporters accounted for – and we’re off!

The Sky Blue supporters were raucous. 43,000 people chanting in unison creates a wall of sound like I’ve never heard before. Frenetic energy mixed with some sloppy midfield play had the pace at a breakneck, end-to-end clip. Before we knew it the bloke next to us was 1 ½ pies in and slugging is merlot. At the 11 minute mark winger Jordan Willis sent a delicious cross into the box. Stuart Beavon’s attempted volley was blocked invitingly into Gael Bigirimana’s path for a somewhat easy finish.

1-0, CCFC! The supporters jumped and roared! The stadium was quaking! Our neighbor lost 2 cups of merlot but didn’t care. The underdogs had scored! Could momentum be setting in?

Despite the scoreline United always looked the stronger side – dominating possession and set pieces. Anxious play caused a few unfortunate off-sides. The pace of the game slowed as the minutes ticked away. City was primarily defending. Pressure was building and the Sky Blue supporters feared what seemed to be inevitable. Our neighbor in front sensed what was going on and lept to his feet. With a festive thrust of his hips he pointed to his crotch and taunted the United supporters with a chant of “suck my cock!”. The 43,000 Sky Blue supporters went ballistic.

Stand up,
If you love City,
Stand up,
If you love City,
Stand up,
If you love City…

The players, feeding off the crowd, finished the half strong. At the referee’s whistle the scoreline stood at 1-0, good guys.

The concourse was a melee at the half. City supporters were jubilant with a hint of cautious optimism. Surely United would capitalize on all this possession and equalize. Surely the Sky Blues couldn’t see this out…could they?!?!

Early on we knew there was no chance we’d reach a rendezvous with the Fosters. Even a beer was a bridge too far. Not wanting to miss any of the second half we returned to the seats.

After a cuppa the crowd filed in, the players took the field and the second half commenced. It only took 10 minutes for Coventry winger George Thomas to net a cracking goal further tilting the match for CCFC. Thomas neatly settled Kyel Reid’s left-wing cross at the top of the box before smashing a shot just inside the post, 2-0. The Sky Blue section went bananas! There were thrusts! There were taunts! There were cigarettes rolled! Our wine-glugging neighbor cursed at a prodigious pace! Hope sprung eternal! We were a half hour away from glory.

LET’S GO CITY!

Oxford felt the time crunch and began to press. They were relentless but City goalkeeper Lee Burge was a force between the pipes. First tipping Chris Maguire’s set piece over the bar in the 74th then – doing his best Patrick Roy impression – turning away Rob Hall’s shot with a kick save in the 76th. Tension was high – both sides began to grind. The clock continued to tick and the unbelievable became increasingly more believable!

LET’S GO CITY!

As we approached the 90th minute referee Chris Sarginson delivered the harshest blow yet to the Sky Blue supporters – 5 minutes of injury time. 5 MINUTES!? What a wanker!

United pressed – whipping in balls into the City box from all angles. Players were cramping. There were late substitutions trying to run the clock. Then – all looked lost for the Sky Blues. There was a scramble on the City goalmouth. Surely an Oxford player could get a toe on the ball and send this game to extra time. Alas Lee Burge, with an eggplant in his shorts, thrust out his bear-size paw and inexplicably saved Josh Ruffels’ shot. That’s it! The whistle blew! The game was over. City took the title. The unbelievable happened. CITY TOOK THE TITLE!

I thought back to our meeting with Tom pre-game. “This is literally the best day of my life!” – a storybook ending. I couldn’t be happier for him, the Fosters and the 43,000 supporters. I was just glad to be a part of it.

Anything you read will say Coventry City supporters are ‘long-suffering’. Long suffering because of their exile from the Top Flight? Long suffering because currently their team is owned by a soulless organization that has no business being there (Sisu)?  If the performance of the group on the pitch and the stands on that Sunday at Wembley is any indication – they are far from suffering.

Some say Coventry may get relegated yet again this season. For me – no matter. Wherever they end up I”ll be there.

In our Coventry homes,
We speak with an accent exceedingly rare,
You want a cathedral we’ve got one to spare,
In our Coventry homes…

 

reins, The Written Word

Taking a seat at the adult table

No Comments 02 November 2016

I took a seat at a highway 58 eastbound rest area to ponder the meaning of life. I wasnt sure if i had what it takes for this particular  struggle until I saw the writing on the wall:  ‘David was here ’07′, ‘David is a fag alwayz’, ‘that’s not cool’, ‘f u’, ‘Scraggy bangs ur mom’, and so on. What was i to do with all of new found  knowledge! With every passage of this learned doctrine i fell deeper into the wormhole. So much in fact that i would occasionally forget to push. The deeper i fell the more questions i had; mostly because I’ve never been in a position of determination, preparedness or coincidence to effectively scribe my own visionary message on powder coated bound sheet metal. That would all change on this day as i spent some time signing autographs in the parking lot for a large Asian family that didn’t speak English. I thought they were taking a picture of me but as more time elapsed in this menagerie of thoughts i began to think they could have been photographing anything.  Equipped with the same black Sharpie i penned the message, “To Whom It May Concern, I’m not really sure where to begin as I am a newbie with stall scripture.  The typically human has roughly 14 minutes of sitting time before their legs go completely numb. Don’t get so caught up in the reading that you forget to check for toilet paper before it’s too late. Better luck to you.”

Features, The Written Word, Top Ten

The Do’s & Don’ts for Labor Day Weekend

No Comments 30 August 2016

Enthusiasts,

If you’re like me you can’t put this summer in the rearview mirror quick enough. Am I right? Sweet Moses Malone was it a hot one! But fear not, sitting right in front of us is the perennial Gateway to Autumn. Ah, yes – Labor Day Weekend.

Now, I’m sure you’ve got lots of irons in the fire what with Back-to-School in full swing and Old Navy’s sale on jean jackets. SO, we wanted to put together a quick list of Do’s & Don’ts heading into the weekend to both help maximize your fun levels and help you steer clear of any awkward moments.

Here goes:

Do:

  1. Beat the traffic. The last thing you want to do is spend a significant amount of time in the car. Make a plan and get after it early.
  2. Bring a snack. The worst case scenario is you don’t eat it. Perhaps you could even feed a stray dog and really make his/her day?
  3. Wear sunscreen – and lots of it. It’s too late in the season to tango with a burn.
  4. Have a few regrets – it’ll give you something to think about over the winter
  5. Say something nice about Ryan Lochte. He really needs a friend right now.

Don’t:

  1. Eat anything new. Epipens are now 600 dollars. Stick to the basics, save yourself a bundle.
  2. Drive once you get there. The most common case of this is picking up a friend. Don’t. Tell that friend to screw. Cops are everywhere and have nothing better to do than watch porn in their cruisers or bust you for having a few casuals.
  3. Commit to weekend plans through September. Didn’t you learn anything this summer? You won’t keep them. You’ll never keep them.
  4. Wait to fill up your gas tank until the weekend. Prices spike on holiday weekends you dummy. Get it done now!
  5. Say anything remotely bad about Beyonce, regardless of how sick of her you are. People are nutzo about this. Seriously you’ll be cast into such a shitstorm you’ll with you kept your mouth shut. Keep it to yourself and it’ll be smooth sailing.

Be safe out there!

 

Shades of Gray

Sexy Memoirs Chapter 12: Teamwork

No Comments 18 August 2016

She showed up with her friend and of course the pessimistic in me starts to multiply the bar tab by 2.  It wasn’t until the 3rd round of shots interweaving with the dreadful amount of dubstep that I realized why the +1 was brought along.

For she had shared her tall tales of our sexual adventures with her just-as stunning-blonde friend compelling her to join us in inking another chapter into our book of fables.  My excitement quickly gets lost, though, while playing it safe – careful to not give one too much attention.

It isn’t until the face sitting and salvation came into play that i was able to get my flag to full mast. With the combination of their lust and my desire I suddenly found myself in a scene from a movie, and I’m not talking Pixar, although there was a woody.

It didn’t take long before they were passing it off like a baton in a relay race.  When cotton-mouth set in for one contender it was a telling sign that we were close to the finish line. Just as the Prince of Time was about to roll the credits we got the satisfying finish we all worked so hard for… with high fives, pearl medals and a spaghetti dinner.

Teamwork does, in fact, make the dream work.

Shades of Gray

Reins is BACK!

No Comments 21 June 2016

Well folks, It’s’ nice to hear that TW’s activity induced jaundice was kept shelved with the acquisition of ‘Handshakes’.  I know she was a much welcomed addition to the aging, struggling (with movement) and frequently irritable core in The Shade Athletic Department.

As for myself; 2 weeks ago I was cut from the varsity action adventure team and have finally decided to report to jv camp.
I feel part of the problem at tryouts was this feeling of overall peaklessness that was running through my entire body. The temperate rainforests that I’ve been running through are becoming drab with all of the luscious greenery making swimming in the waterfalls littered throughout the region seem mundane.

I hardly want to jump off of anything into a pool at the base of a fall then drink a beer anymore.  The realization struck me like a dislodged rock to the top of the head. I needed a hill, a big hill and if I could get some scrambled ham & eggin’ in we’d all be better off.

Mt. Thielsen, affectionately  known as ‘the middle finger to the sky’, would be the stage where I begin my ascent to varsity. Standing at nearly 9200 ft with 3700+ ft of elevation gain and a class 4 scramble to the summit providing views of the rim at Crater Lake, Mt Bailey overlooking Diamond Lake, 3 sisters, Diamond Peak, Mt Shasta (McNasty) and some other fucking thing that I didn’t know. All of this on a bluebird day. Yuck.

Besides a few vistas the first 3 miles were below tree line and relatively uneventful. Popping out of the trees it looked like the mountain took an explosive shit as a scree field lay ahead (Kweez/Norm- see Abol Trail). Shortly thereafter I sat on Chicken Ledge and gazed upon the climb to the top. A fun little romp around with hands and feet that were all there.

The stay at the top was long enough for a beer (Worthy IPA) and a view at everything next. The march down was uneventful except for just below the summit where some dipshit informed us he wouldn’t set up his rope until we downclimbed to avoid dislodging rocks above us that might hurl towards our heads and then he started setting up his rope before we were off and dislodged a rock that missed Sean by about 10 ft. I was happy with his decision making abilities. Fuckin moron. Tootles

Features, The Written Word

Your 2016 Gaspee 5k Round-up

No Comments 12 June 2016

Enthusiasts,

The 2016 Gaspee Days 5k was one for the books. I know yours truly will not soon forget it!

Yes, it’s true, the entire staff is still mourning the (temporary) loss of Reins while he follows his dream traversing the Cascade Mountains in search of an audience with the rare Yeti-like creature Panboche. We all long for his poetic prose and miss his sharp reporting on deli meats, foot stink and digestion. However his absence is most sorely felt on The Shade’s athletic squad anchoring our running team. For years his odd posture and nimble feet earned him the nickname ‘Sour puss’. He became a fixture at the Gaspee Days 5k. Whispers of anticipation could be heard around dumpsters weeks in advance of race day.

Alas – since his departure – the entire Race Team had been fretting about where inspiration would come from this year. Luckily the guiding hand of Zoroaster brought us a gift in the 11th hour – Felicity Schlitz and the Shimmy Sham Handshakes.

  • Yes, she is a singular entity that prefers to be spoken of in pluralities
  • Yes, she’s a chicken nugget aficionado
  • Yes, she prefers ‘plain shirts’
  • Yes, she’s the newest member of The Shade staff heading up the new Youth Beat initiative

In short, she gave us the kick in the pants we’ve so sorely needed since Reins dumped us (sad face). She bobbed when everyone else weaved. Zigged when everyone zagged. Boom! She even tricked me into buying her a pack of madeleine cookies 30 seconds after I swore up and down that I would never do anything of the sort. Now THAT’S panache!

She showed up to the race, scrunchie in-hand (see: hair), working the crowd with a business-like attitude. Eyes always on the prize. As some of you know the Gaspee race course is a hilly, unforgiving little sucker. Upon zipping right through the course Felicity reportedly “kicked those hills’ butts”. While the rest of wheezed our way through we were all pleased as punch to be drunk on her youthful exuberance.

While Felicity was clear MVP she was almost outdone by her foil that day – the Public Address Lady. Boy, this lady was a tremendous shithead! Normally I can appreciate anyone who commits themselves so thoroughly to sucking every ounce of fun out of a good time. It truly is an artform I admire. But this lady…..ooooof! She brought no artistry to the endeavor. A real JV squad effort on her part. If the team didn’t have a luncheon date at Wendy’s immediately following the race I would have personally sought her out to give her a verbal dressing down she could have told her grandkids about. But, she escaped unscathed – an injustice we’ll have to endure, I guess.

In closing I’d like to welcome Felicity to The Shade family! Your shirt is currently in development and we’ll expect your dues check in the mail.

Still Wet with Sweat in Watertown,

Norm.

P.S. Mittens St. John (pictured below) was given a warm saucer a milk then tied up to a tree after reportedly attacking an elderly schmuck that was holding a Trump sign

IMG_1589

 

The Written Word

Hey July 4th, It’s me Memorial Day – A Quick Word?

No Comments 25 May 2016

How’s it going? It’s me – Memorial Day. Remember me? Just kidding – haha.

I get it. You’re ‘the best’. Your celebration is a living memorial of our independence. Softball games abound. The Marinas are chock full of fun-loving folks chugging light beers and listening to Bon Jovi. People from across the nation cram into backyards to eat burgers off the grill, play yard games and rejoice in all things America.

I’m in, I like it too!

Here’s the problem. What happens when the 4th falls on a Wednesday? Or a Tuesday? Sure, some of us have the luxury of taking the days off. But a good portion of us working stiffs have to go straight back to the salt mines the next day which can take a solid poo all over your July 4th fun. Am I right?

I mean, look at me! You can COUNT on me coming the last weekend of May. Every year, like clockwork, you’ve got a nice 3 day weekend kicking off your summer. I wish I could say the same about you.

It’s not your fault! We should be comrades. Me, you & Thanksgiving are the best secular holidays this goddam country has and we should be treated as such. Even Thanksgiving dumps into a 4 day weekend jamboroo of indulgence. People love it – as you know. Personally, I think you’re getting stiffed.

Here’s the plan:

  • For starters – the 4th of July is sacred in this country. It’s not going anywhere and will continue to be the celebration of our nation’s independence – no issues there.
  • The Gold Nugget – Independence Day Weekend. Yes! The first weekend in July is always a 3 day weekend where everyone really get’s their America on. Sometimes the 4th is on it, sometimes it’s not. Either way we all win no?

If you’re in text me back and we’ll bring it up on at the next convention eh? Viva Independence Day Weekend 2017!!

Patriotically yours,

Memorial Day

 

National Obituary Review, The Written Word

DPD Emeritus: Prince – A Remembrance

No Comments 21 April 2016

Needless to say, sad day here at The Shade HQ. On the heels of Bowie and Toussaint I found myself asking ‘When is enough, enough?’. I paced around the house for hours chasing shadows. Not even Mingus could help me sort things out. I found myself in my rocking chair, cat on my lap, wrestling with the same questions about the passage of time we all do. What the fuck?

I can distinctly remember Prince at every transitional point in my formative years. Starting with Linda. I was 14 and had no job with parents that wanted me out of the house. The idea of a few bucks in my pocket seemed appealing. It was early Spring and my pal Steve had a job filing at some small potatoes appraisal company. By small potatoes I mean the business was run out of a slowly falling apart converted home with a pile of concrete in the back lot.

I had no idea what filing was really but Steve was starting baseball season and leaving the job. I could walk right in and take over. All mine. A few hours a couple of days after school and I’d get $40 a week. Big money. Believe it or not that was plenty back then.

I showed up, got the walk through from some dude that worked there:

  1. When you come in there’ll be a stack of files there
  2. You take them, sort them alphabetically, by name of client,
  3. Then put them in those cabinets over here.

Pretty easy. I was on my way. Then a curve ball. A file with no client name. Back then my problem solving skills weren’t what they are today.  I heard some conversation from the front room so I figured I’d check it out and ask my question

I come around the corner and see these women really hootin’ and hollerin’ with the stereo way up. I guess they didn’t hear me coming because as I approached I startled them. One of the women – Linda – caught my attention. While she was probably 50 she was all dolled up with tight jeans and dancing practically out of her seat. She had teased, dyed blond hair that would have been stark white otherwise and plenty of make-up. Lip liner, TONS of lip liner.

Without the slightest interest in answering my question she asked me if I was into Prince as she turned the volume up on the CD she was listening to. I wasn’t but I sure as hell wanted to be. At that time in my life I was into Kurt Cobain and the teen angst that came along with that. Back then, at no point did it occur to me that girls listen to music and get all hyped. At that point, and moving forward, it did – thanks to Prince. So I looked into him.

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