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Friday, January 16, 2009

ACCRETION ... the opening of "Steeped in Seattle" + notes

  ACCRETION

The [Truly] Incremental Seattle of My Mind:

SIGHTS and Sounds


1994-2007



Michael Roloff




The light, the clouds, the rolling hills, the ridges, hills and dales, the spits of land, The ten foot tides of the hand of many fingered Puget Sound [1] that reaches down from the North. # A scattering of peninsulas and lakes, of sounds and bays, the gatherings of green. # Mt. Fuji! -- No: Mount Rainier! [2]# The close yet distant jaggedness of the Cascades and the Olympics [3], to the West and East. # Greenlake [4], Lake Washington [5] the big water to the East, Lakelake: Seattle as an island within the largest island in the world. The shores of the Ship Canal [6] and Lake Union [7], their docks thick with wharves, houseboats, aqua planes & pleasure boats. The variegated fishing fleet in Ballard [8], vestigially Baltic. In short: a city for the discovery; for walking boating cycling. These telephone poles are no matchsticks! Drive a truck through was Paul Bunyan's [9] first impress! Yes, the wealth of wood persists. Trees out-peak the Victorian gables; their silhouettes screen the horizons. 50 kinds of spruce, fir, yew, juniper; pine needle carpet, cones litter the sidewalks. The Arboretum-inspired Puzzled Monkey Fir [10] from half a world away, it too flourishes, a huge cactus palm, with grey elephant-toes knuckling firmly in the ground, hundreds of tubular diamond-spike-encrusted ten-foot candelabra-arms dangling about, its monkey much like all the rest. No end of alleys still unpaved, still rich in the memories of farm lanes. Orchards trees, unpicked fruit of every kind. The bear wakens! Crows in crow-capital peck mussels, hold conventions, congregate in the Church of Green; honkers feed on spilled grain on the railroad tracks, drink Haefe-Weizen, legions of them graze on the expansive greens! The profligate squirrel has the best time of all, to play mockingbird, the baby gorillas of hereabouts; one garbage can per family. And no end of trusting cats who haven't caught a squirrel yet, and dance with bumblebees and seek to clasp moth dreams, at least one per house eyes you longingly through the jalousies. The odd possum and raccoon, neither coyotes nor skunks except by the metaphor. Primary acids & sugars, autumn is bunt and multi-hued, kodachrome colorful, over-powering the largely plain mallard shades. Everything continually buds and sprouts, prize-winning pear-shaped slugs, molds, fungi, spiders, mites and mushrooms, but the hopefully planted figs never ripen; north-facing very mossy roofs, gingerbread cottages. The rain forest temperately overwhelms, everything sops, nothing is ever dry. A temperate clime: the Japanese Current, Aleutian storms, [11] the near-invariable California high occasionally diverts Hawaii north, thus the "Pineapple express", the rarer occurrence of the arctic kind, the fog and cabin fever three season oyster shades of grey. An overall many-millennial jet-stream, ocean- going canoes forge on, the drizzle of infinity, Gods snorting their finest from every orifice, a nieseln if ever sieve saw one, the fog that sneaks in through the coastal range and the Straits of Juan the Fox [12]. Lying weathermen, hustling a sun that won't come, diverting jet streams that won't budge. 18 Hours of light at the summer-, barely nine grey ones at the winter solstice. Often it rains right through the blue window between the windy showers onto a defiant paucity of bumbershoots; or, the arctic never more than a mountain range away, three inches leave the city's five supremely deluded snow plows bereft. A disarray of air-currents at every level, the conversion zone in the vicinity of Everett [13], which converts what into what? A confluence of yet more rain! Dramatic clouds moving cross-ways every which way; here too, cloud-watching can lift you up. Spring lasts, April endures from February to May, buds break at all times of year, the Indian Pear February cherry-blossom-time. "Sun-breaks" is common coinage, moon-break might be, too. The state flower the well-bred rhododendron, " Evergreen State" holds even deciduously for the Western part. "Ample blackberries for the homeless, so ample especially downtown, the waste of the great honky-tonk, all those fine lurching wrecks, every shade of black and brown. A turn-of-the-century wealth of Victorian craftsman mansions, in every style, dimension, to clatter 'round or hole up in, their influence fades, becomes sporadic in the newer settlements, the cottages, one self-conscious step from the early Frank Lloyd Wright: that good! Yet: miserable postwar box substitutes when Victoria has been torn down. What happened? Regrades! Not all the hills and dales are any more, the flats south of the Kingdome [14], stadiumopolis, torn between Hometown and & the standard idea of Big Time, more earth was moved than for the Panama canal, on old photos hotels and mansions, castles on a table in a Spanish plain, perch atop crumbling mesas, photogenically defying bulldozers and pressure hoses. The 30s, the 40, and the 50s is what happened, too; something called "rationalization," interstates: the slashes left by automobile and oil and cement giants bifurcate, fuck up, create cul-de-sacs... that, then, protect odd pockets, full of this and that, bric-a-brac, and wealth, Neighbor-hoodS. Yet the plainest facades can conceal delight. Downtown looks like Central Park South at nite: Yes, every butterfly is smitten by bejeweled sky-scraping city lights. In the street-scene Kwakiutl [15] masks pass by. Motley parking lot devastation, twice copy-catted sky-scrapers 'xept for the sleek, black, sculpted Columbia Tower [16] and the three-sectioned Darth Vader hulk; the centerless, bland conglomerate fails to hold but from the tip of Pier 48 [17], and that already sports a sign that advertises this solitary vista point. And bring your compass: First Avenue North runs parallel right next to First Avenue West: the imposition of the Washington D.C. wind-rose onto a heterogeneity = a confusion of abbreviations and directionals, produces a profusion of Northsoutheastwest Sires. The vaunted Space [18] Needle - isn't that ever a silly umbrella, an overly long Chinese U.F.O.? City without an eye? The mercantile memory of Pioneer Square [19], that and other ancient dreams is but the usual tourist trap. Fertile grazing ground for national brands, trucking companies from Broadway. Judging by the theater sets and the ooh-ahhs they draw, Southern Californiaae must be right upon the cultural cuisinard? A lot of sportsbars. A lot of sodden flesh. Droves of naked white mole rats. No amount of coffee will get these slugs moving yet. The burly police. Ferocious meter maids, on an incentive, the friendliest of bus drivers, probably on an incentive too, to abate the gridlock. The Chamber of Commerce booster spirit prevails, a certain self-congratulatory air; that, and a stubborn nativism, semi-provincial as all get out; a lot of "on the cheap," cheap can run deep, memories of the depression, the broken dreams that trickled in from the dried out delusions of the Montana land scams and further East. The way folks hole up, oughtn't there be a summer solstice feast? during house demolding time? Other, even older memories of destitution prevail. As does the annual infusion of the generational American sprightly young. Yet the occasional "real Seattelite," a burst of the pioneer spirit, and the friendliest of guffaws. South-Seattle industrialized no-man's land. Georgetown [20] an ex NY loft inhabitant/s delight. The strips that intrude for ten miles at a time, ill-named Aurora Avenue North, Lake City Way. The incipient blight of the U-District [21], the land- and shop-lord vultures peck and connive and calculate away. The sub-species of the transient, a lot of poverty on the articulated buses, those monstrous, laboring worms with bike-racks for bum legs and chair lifts for the paraplegic, and no end of madmen riding them. The "Eastside" - Bellevue, Redmond, [22] Kirkland - frowns on sidewalks. Occasional glimpses of a more exotic world, small pockets of the Mid-East, of Pakistan, touches of Mexico, babushkas, all of Asia mingles in what's called International District. Not a city without soul, lots of sleepy generosity still, trust, yet sadistic malice laughs forth unselfconsciously in no time at all. Generally civil, especially by compare... a lot of "relative to" can be fitted in there. Fraying at the edges, rutty roads, flickering street lights, a soft looniness, you step into it like dogshit, unawares, or there it is thinking that you're staring at it across the way; far more moon- than sun- light per year. Another island within the biggest island in the world, it costs a buck a day to stay posted to the soft news that the jointly owned Times-Intelligencers [23] purvey! A provincial Mexican daily contains more about the great wide world, the assuaging headline "Let the Mourning Begin" always one keystroke within the impending catastrophe, the fractured underground. Don't upset the folks! Let the make-believe make-believe on. Don't fuck the boat, don't fuck the cradle endlessly rocking. Yes, the papers: nothing to write home about in this city of readers, readings, theaters, bookshops! Rare summer lightning among the freebies. A young Seattle couple making love: the clattering and gnashing of metal, tongues with studs; rings, chains. Youngmen sport astonishing goatees! Day-glow hair as varied as under seas. Vampire kids, magic cards, tattoos, the New Guinea native look, scars inflicted early to prepare, to magic the inevitable away. Young skin will bloom through anything. Grunge, the monster-mash of clean, hard punk, the style of style-less and pallid slugs, the substance here too is a superfice of style, the Swan of Tunella [24] glides except among the children from hell, tossed overboard from the I-5 [25]. The Ave rats. Punks in Reggae rags. Diversity doubles back on itself into universal freakdom, the titillations of perversity and farce. Dramatic sunsets and sunrises at all times of year. The aesthetics of ugliness co-opted. The city democratic arrests its Johns in the outlying lairs. The persistence of St. Olaf's way. The brawny masses on the 4th of July! Or an assembly of drummers on a lake shore! The rememorations of the Indian squish-squash-muk-a-lik suffixes[26] in the widening surround. Mukilteo = a good place to camp. Rumors of a dark side down towards SeaTac, Federal Way [27] SeaTac, Federal Way. Trolls in shorts all times of year. Memories, too, of the Baltic and North Sea and of Camranh Bay [28]. But: look more closely, look even more closely, look inside your looking eye to check its looking in an out. Re-arrange the grammar of your eye. The fortuitously slanting verticals and horizontals. Ochre mingling with the general mallard green and gray... The freight trains and freight yards, the containers, the freighters, the ferries, the vestigial steelyards, and Boeing Field, always also in the sky! The light, the clouds, las brisas, the rolling hills, the ridges, hills and dales, the spits of land, the ten foot tides of Puget Sound, the fog and the seemingly so frequent seemingly eternal thousand shades of winter grey: how easily forgotten at the slightest sun burst. A city for its own discovery; for walking boating cycling... through the gridlock. The light, the clouds, the rolling hills, the ridges, hills and dales, the spits of land, the ten foot tides of the Puget cesspool, even in Vietnamese it says "Don't eat the mercury- livered catch." A scattering of peninsulas and lakes, of sounds and bays, the gatherings of green, Mt. Fuji! -- No: Mount Rainier! The close yet distant jaggedness of the Cascades and the Olympics, a great encapsulator, ten days the soot that half a day deposits in L.A., an hour's walk a smudged face cloth, the pollution bowl of ten year's hence....

Thus: T.b.c



ANNOTATIONS

[For furriners and i don't mean beaver pelts]



1] Puget Sound, deep inlet of the Pacific Ocean, in northwestern Washington State, which you enter through the birth canal of the Juan de Fucas [see below] and which extends 130 km (80 mi) from Admiralty Inlet to Olympia. Vancouver Island, B.C. represents the northern side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.



2] Mount Rainier, named after a British Admiral, dormant volcano of the Cascade Range in west central Washington. At 4,392 m (14,410 ft), it is one of the highest mountains in the USA. Mount Rainier National Park 235,625 acres (95,395 hectares) was established in 1899. The mountain is snow-crowned and has 26 glaciers, offering a challenge to serious climbers and a spectacular view; its heavily forested lower slopes are popular with hikers; and should she ever blow again, as she does every 1000 years, she will create a lot more havoc than did the explosion of Mt. St. Helena. Mount Rainier is your chief orientation point, since it rises like a huge, isolated, many + evenly grooved cone out of a sea-level plain to the south of Seattle, highly visible when there/s a wind coming from the northerly direction that blows its view clear of the smog and  so in that respect Mt. Rainier is also something of a weather vane.

For Rainiers prominence in the life of the region, you naturally find a wealth of designations, such as Rainier Brewery, which produces Rainier Beer, that unfortunately is not the pinnacle of the local micro-brewing fame, it might be more accurately called Nadir Beer; the Rainiers were a local baseball team when there was a West Coast League, and so therefore there then is Rainer This and Rainier That, everything from the Rainier Lounge to the Rainier Dog Catcher for all I know. I myself live at present at the inception - or at the northern end of - Rainier Avenue and have a direct view down this very straight artery through the Rainier Valley twenty-five miles south to his ever looming splendid and splendidly proportioned highness.



3] The Cascades and Olympics, mountain ranges to the East and West of Seattle, the Olympics lie across the other side of Puget Sound, some snow year around. Comparatively new ranges, as the age of the world/s crust goes, they have the jaggedness of the coastal range that becomes your old familiar as far down at the tip of Baja California Sur.



4] Greenlake is a lake north of the =ship canal= [as though there were any other! But thats Seattle redundancy for you!] in the same-named section of Seattle, about five miles north of downtown. Greenlake is so named not only because of the belt of greenery that wraps around it, but for a thick growth of green algae which militate against water sports during the warm months; and for all the green that the Canada geese that feed on the grass then deposit on the green. Of course if you lived in the Sahel you would be green just thinking of it or seeing it come as a mirage!



5] Lake Washington stretches from Renton, an ex-coal-mining, now Boeing, town with houses dropping into the honeycombed hillsides to the south, twelve miles to the north to Lake City and Woodinville. It is crossed by two frequently overcrowded =floating= bridges, the State Route 520 & the Interstate-90.



6] The =Ship Canal= begins at Lake Washington, that is on the eastern edge of Seattle, at Montlake Bridge, at the Montlake Cut, where it was dug out, it then extends through Portage Bay, which has a lot of Yacht clubs, through the northern part of Lake Union, and through Freemont, evacuating into Puget Sound at the Ballard Locks The low bridges  Montlake & University & Freemont - make ample congestion in a city that God did not design with the automobile in mind. The Ballard Locks, built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, have some wonderful =ladders= for the Salmon traffic, that is windows through which you can see them working their way up stream.!



8] The Indians in Ballard was originally displaced by Scandinavian immigrants. Annexed to Seattle in 1907, it is today a residential neighborhood with an in every respect strong Nordic heritage. In Ballard is where a very Baltic fishing fleet ties up. To the east of Ballard, along the north side of the Ship Canal, the neighborhoods of Fremont, Wallingford, and the University District stretch to the University of Washington. The Green Lake neighborhood, just north of Fremont, includes Woodland Park Zoo and Green Lake, a popular city park with picnic grounds and play-fields. North Seattle's many residential neighborhoods such as Greenwood, Maple Leaf, Wedgwood, and Lake City run north to 145th Street, the city's northern boundary. Heading south from the University of Washington, the lake-front neighborhoods of Madison Park, Madrona, Leschi, Mount Baker, and Seward Park look east to the city of Bellevue and Mercer Island, a residential island in Lake Washington. West and inland, Capitol Hill, the Central District, and Beacon Hill run north-south, parallel to downtown. Capitol Hill boasts some of the most beautiful older neighborhoods in the city, as does Queen Anne; Volunteer Park, which is home to the Seattle Asian Art Museum and the Volunteer Park Conservatory, sits atop Capitol Hill. The Central District is the historic heart of the African American community in Seattle; the area also used to encompass the heritage of Jackson Streets [long ago] vibrant jazz culture, which was put out of existence with city ordinances in the 40s prohibiting after hour clubs. During the 1940s the Seattle jazz scene fostered the careers of musicians such as Quincy Jones and Ernestine Anderson and trained musicians who worked with famous jazz artists Lionel Hampton and Count Basie, for above cited reasons, not much since. The local term Eastside refers to Seattle's suburbs in King County, covering the towns and unincorporated area east of Lake Washington to the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. The area includes the suburban cities of Factoria, Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond , Renton, and Issaquah. The Eastside has become home to dozens of high-technology industries including Microsoft Corporation, ATL Ultrasound, Nintendo of America, divisions of The Boeing Company, and many other firms. In the 1960s commuters headed to Seattle jobs from homes on the Eastside, some taking the ferry to Madison Park. Today, the the reverse commute is from Seattle homes to jobs on the Eastside is just as heavy, and both streams of traffic cross, or try to cross, the same bridges over Lake Washington at the same times. West of Puget Sound, from Seattle, lies Kitsap County, with the well to do Bainbridge Island, and Port Orchard and Bremerton which has lots of U.S. Navy shipyards. It is possible to commute comfortably via ferry from there as well as from Vashon Island. One long look at the Sound and adventure beckons.



9] Paul Bunyan, legendary hero of lumber camps of the American Northwest. Endowed with prodigious strength, vision, speed, humor, and cunning, Paul Bunyan has become the basis of a saga suited to the vastness of the North American continent. According to legend, Paul Bunyan and his giant blue ox, Babe, left an indelible mark on the landscape of America. Paul Bunyan created Puget Sound, the Grand Canyon, and the Black Hills, and Babe could haul an entire forest at one time, apparently however dropping no end of trunks into Washington in the process, and when his name became Weyerhaeuser clear-cuts in the Cascades. Some authorities find a French-Canadian origin for this modern folklore; others believe that the tale was a fabrication of a logging company during the early 20th century. Still others consider it a European import, elements of which were later magnified. All agree that this fusion of bigness with the =tall story= is a legend peculiarly American. This legend circulated through the logging camps of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, where the rugged loggers first heard and then retold the Paul Bunyan fables, adding local or personal or ancestral embellishments.



10] The Arboretum, which lies between Madison Park and south of the Ship Canal near the University, is one of the wonders of Seattle, not only for its collection of the wealth of North West trees, but also for that of trees from around the entire world, the most curious of them being the Chilean Crazy Monkey Fir, which has the foot of an elephant, the trunk of a palm tree, but the intertwining branches of a cactus, and the cones of a fir tree.



11] The Japanese Current originates where it was christened, but then makes the mistake of coursing via the Aleutians through the Gulf of Alaska, where it deep freeze, frosty water that it propels all along the West Coast as far down as the Cabos, Aleutian storms can drive some very wet weather systems into the Northwest.



12] Juan the Fox - Juan de Fuca Strait inlet of the Pacific Ocean, 100 mi (161 km) long and 11 to 17 mi (27 km) wide, between Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and Washington State, linking the Strait of Georgia and Puget Sound with the Pacific; forms part of the U.S.-Canada border. Victoria, British Columbia, the strait's largest city, is located at its eastern end; ferries connect it with the U.S. mainland. Discovered by the English captain Charles W. Barkley in 1787, the strait was named for a sailor, Juan de Fuca, who reputedly had explored it for Spain in 1592.

13] The city of Everett, in Snohomish County, north of Seattles King County, too, began as a fishing port, but now is famous as a Boeing based city.



14] The Kingdome was an indoor sports stadium until the late 90s: it had a dome, a ceiling which famously kept dropping, a weather all its own, however, it was repairable, if not especially pleasing aesthetically. It has been replaced by two stadiums, one for football, which is played six months a year; and another for baseball, which is also played for just six months a year: both these new stadium have ceilings that can be opened if it is not raining.



15] Kwakiutl group of closely related Native North Americans who inhabit N Vancouver Island and the adjacent mainland of British Columbia , Canada. They, together with the Nootka, their southern neighbors, make up the Wakashan branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock. Kwakiutl culture was typical of the Northwest Coast area (including the custom of potlatch, of which I am especially fond, having been introduced to it by Ruth Benedict). The ethnographer Franz Boas produced a significant number of ethnographic studies on the Kwakiutl. Numbering circa 15,000 before European contact, they are now reduced to around 4,000 and are mainly engaged in fishing and farming, or being drunks in downtown Seattle, or working at Indian run casinos.



16] Columbia Tower is the tallest of Seattles sky scrapers, and the only one that could be transplanted and raise a favorable eye-brow, it is twice as tall as Seattles favorite observation tower, the Space Needle and therefore affords by far the better view of the surround.



17] The Piers with public facilities stretch from # 48 in south as far as pier # 70 to the North: the piers to the south and north of either are strictly working, that is trans-loading piers. The Port of Seattle is chiefly a container port at this point in time.



18] The Space Needle, at Seattle Center [an amusement area adjoining the Opera, and the Seattle Repertory and Intiman theaters and the Northwest Ballet] was constructed during a 60s World Exposition. It tapers both towards the bottom and towards the top, where it sports its Chinese umbrella, with an observation restaurant. I am in the minority as one of its detractors.



19] The Pioneer Square area {P.S. itself is triangular!] has a truly fine collection of turn of the 19th century American architecture, of which I grew appreciative during my ten year stint in downtown Manhattan, which included a two year stint at Duane Park, which Pioneer Square resembles in many ways. P.S. was saved from the wreckers ball by a French restaurateur!



20] Seattles Georgetown bears no resemblance to any of the many other Georgetowns that I know in this country: it is a rundown turn of the 19th century factory district with a little bit of artistic loft development going on. Georgetown lies about ten minutes south of the more modern industrial area in South Seattle.



21] Lake City Way, the incipient blight of the U-District, Aurora Avenue refers to certain commercial strips. Aurora Avenue is actually State Route 99 and runs all the way to Everett and Bellingham



22] Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland are small cities on the Eastside.



23] Times-Intelligencer combines the names of Seattle/s two main newspapers, The Seattle Times & The Post-Intelligencer, where the latter of the two, though Hearst-owned, is the somewhat more liberal. The two papers have what is called a joint operating agreement, where they share printing plant, distribution, collection of listed advertisements; and a Sunday edition. In fact, there is little to distinguish them from each other. The Times first section consists almost entirely of material from news services, especially that of the

New York Times. There's lots worse, but also about a dozen better papers in the United States. The Eastside has its own paper, the Eastside Journal, and Tacoma, which lies 50 miles south, has the News-Tribune, with excellent coverage of the Puget Sound area, which in many respects is superior to either of the two Seattle papers, at least so this boy feels. Seattle also has two alternative weeklies, The Seattle Weekly & The Stranger . The Weekly has been around since the counter culture days of the 60s, but, by compare with The Village Voice, the L.A. Weekly and many another counter cultural publication is Seattle-staid, presently [2003] is has a fine editor in chief in Knute Berger, who writes a readable and informative weekly lead column, otherwise it is rarely a publication that you would read for its writing, though there are surprising exceptions. The Stranger is maybe ten years old now, and seems to exist in an entirely gay world of its own. Started as an outrage au public, it, too however, now has turned =responsible= with sections devoted to muckraking and the pursuit of civic causes. The writing, far more often than not, is an abomination to the English language. It is most famous for its columnist Dan Savages sex advice column.



24] Swan of Tunella is a composition by Jan Sibelius, a favorite of the local classical music crowd, as is Carl Orff. Such beginnings do not point to what some think as the utter hopelessness of the Nordic mush merging with the indigenous mush-a-lik of the first primates to inhabit the region, since the North American continent used to be both monkey and ape free. No, such taste indicates that Grunge is the equivalent mush for the connected crowd. There is some hope yet, but it will take many more decades of Global Warming before a sufficient percentage of Southern California claritas will dry out not only the climate but the bogs of the minds of the locals. Somewhere inbetween turning into Southern California Norte and its current generally clammy and inclement condition lies Seattles golden age, which, God willing, certainly still lies well into the future, so pull out your Global Warming Calculus, and place a bet with Jimmy the Greek in Vegas. Your descendants may win yet.



25] I-5=Interstate # 5, which slashes Seattle in half. I-5 runs from the Canadian Border all the way to San Diego. Parallel relief routes are # I-405, which, here, runs along the eastern side of Lake Washington. Both routes, during rush hours, are arteries that contribute hugely to global warming.



26] mush-a-lik: e.g. Puyallup, Mukilteo [a good place to camp in Nootka], Tukwilla & the like. However, the oddly named Cedro-Wooly is neither a transmogrification of an Indian word, nor a reference to the Wooly Mammoth who makes its reappearance in local lore as the Sasquatch, but  so I am told  derives from the joining of the two names of two early Anglo Settlers.



27] The city SeaTac is named after the airport, which services both Seattle and Tacoma, Federal Way lies some miles further south. In fact, from Tacoma all the way to Bellingham, this is rally one fairly substantial metropolis, a strip of about 3 million people, built along I-5 and the railway, and Puget Sound.



28] Camranh Bay is an allusion to a famous trans-loading port in Vietnam during the U.S. attempt to dominate the country, and the fact that the only good thing to come out of this war, like so many others that this country fought, is a flourishing Vietnamese presence in the International district in Seattle.



T.b.c.


Michael Roloff


We all live at the mercy of the Jetstream [formal version


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