A Love/hate Letter To You Boomers!

Discussion in 'What's left to Talk About?' started by toomanycats, Feb 13, 2020.

  1. toomanycats

    toomanycats Well-Known Member

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    Yesterday I saw an interesting 45 record at a thrift store. The name Thunderclap Newman sounded familiar, and I knew I'd heard it before, though I just couldn't recall the context. The names of the songs didn't ring a bell, "Something in the Air," and "Wilhemina". The record also said "Produced by Pete Townsend." I knew whatever it was it was worth at least the 50 cent price, so I bought it.

    When I put it on the record player and set the needle down I immediately recognized the song "Something in the Air" with it's beautiful twelve string guitar intro. I have always loved that tune, though was never sure who performed it. Some quick research revealed that Thunderclap Newman was a vehicle put together by Pete Townsend to showcase the songwriting talents of Speedy Keen, The Who's former chauffeur. Townsend played bass and also produced the group, recording them in his home studio.



    This song has made so many emotions well up from deep inside of me. You see, I was born in July 69, the Summer of love. My life counts down after the cultural watermark of Woodstock. I was born three weeks before that music festival took place. I grew up in the cultural/musical/political wake of the movement that this festival embodied, that is to say, the cultural scenery, ethos, and ideology of rock music: A universal classless society founded upon love, non-conformist creative existence that rejects the routines of rigid, soulless, technocratic life, artistic exploration, urgent questioning of traditional establishment values, hippies, drug experimentation, etc.

    This cultural leaven had a tremendous effect upon my early years. My earliest memories are from the very early 70s, things like gaudy green and orange textiles, wood paneling, bell bottoms, and so on. At that time the afterglow of the late 60s could still be keenly felt in music, fashion, art, across broad spectrums of the culture. That feeling will always feel like a home I was turned out from. That home was the world of the Boomer's youth.

    And so I grew up during this time. While the 70’s was informed by the ideals of the 60’s, much of the idealism of the former generation was lost. The more superficial trappings of 60’s culture became packaged, pitched, and made a mass produced, corporate commodity. The 70’s celebrated partying, hedonism, rebellion, commercialism, and spectacle.

    By the time the 80’s rolled around what had filtered down from the previous two decades had transformed into a pure and unapologetic celebration of debauchery, exemplified by the phrase “sex, drugs, and rock and roll.” I didn’t have the festivals of the 60’s, or even the stadium rock of the 70’s, but rather the corporate arena hair metal of the 80’s. All of this was absorbed into my spongelike adolescent brain. Recreational sex, drug experimentation, alcohol use, listening to rock music and absorbing the political, social, philosophical messages contained therein, these were things simply taken for granted; they were the necessary and required rites of passage for any knowing and hip teenager— which is a thing I desperately desired to be at around the age of thirteen or fourteen. Men like Pete Townsend and Roger Waters were emblematic of songwriters and artist who had something important to say. When I was an adolescent they were like philosophic gurus, worthy of deep study and respect. Their lyrics demanded erudite attention.
    Such artists were wide awake, seeing and living more, having a deeper understanding of things; and having the special and unique ability to communicate these things to us. We who were looking for truth in a world of confusion trusted in their honesty and sincerity. I payed more attention to and trusted the words and insights of rockstars more than those of parents, teachers, priests, or politicians. Their music filled me with hope, with the aspiration to greatness, with love for the world, with wonder. It was magical, magisterial transportation to imaginary realms of deep emotion and feeling.

    And the guitar as re-invented by the Boomers . . . it was a loud, distorted, overdriven, wild, dangerous beast, a dynamic monster of energy, a ferocious machine capable of being restrained only by the most skillful operator. The electric guitar appeared to be physically draining and often painful to operate, as was demonstrated by the strained expressions on the faces of those who played the thing. Pete Townsend tamed his rude and abrasive Telecasters; Neal Schon wrestled with his Les Paul; Eddie Van Halen’s wrangled with that ratty red and white striped guitar, forcing it to make sounds like no other instrument; David Gilmour not only talked with his Strat, but used it to read my mind, read my heart.

    The effect that rock music and the culture based upon the art form and social movement it spawned is so deep it would be difficult to quantify. Rock-and-roll’s personal effect upon me is simply incalculable. In large part I interpreted the world through the lens of rock culture. I saw value in what it preached, in the topics is passionately sung about and extolled. Rock music is amongst one of the 20th century cultural industries that created me, instructed me in what to believe, like, desire, strive for, and value.

    But now I'm a cynical, bitter, middle-aged man. Though my heart is pure, there is no longer any idealism in me. There is no artist today who has anything of significance or importance to tell me. They surely cannot enlighten me in any way. I have turned on most of the ideals of my youth, including rock-and-roll, exposing it to the most savage criticism at my disposal. The imperatives of growth and self-overcoming absolutely demanded it. One must smash all idols. My heart loves rock and roll, the blues, and guitar, though the intellectual side of myself despises them, just as the intellectual side of myself tells me that sex is a trick played by the imperatives of the species, though I still can't deny its allure.

    When I look at the young Boomers in this Thunderclap Newman video I'm filled with a combination of happiness and joyful sadness. You were so ignorant, yet so admirable in your sincerity. You expressed your feeling with such genuine talent, carrying over what was best from previous generations (Modernism, Tin Pan Alley, folk, country, the blues, jazz, etc.) while radically transforming the mode of expression. Boomers created my world, and I wouldn't be me if it weren't for you.

    So there it is, I am a deeply divided soul. My deep emotional reaction to this Thunderclap Newman song has made me confront and address the fact in very great detail.

    The question in the opening line to Charles Dicken's novel David Copperfield, "Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else . . .", when posed to myself, must be answered in the negative. You, the Boomers, are the heroes of my own life, a fact for which I both love and hate you.

    The icing on the cake is that I'm married to a Boomer Lady, a woman who is surely one of the most beautiful girls of that generation. Another joke life has played on me.

    Anyways, thanks for humoring my rambling thoughts on this subject.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
  2. Lamf77

    Lamf77 Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Awesome post. Check out the album "Hollywood Dream". Great album. Jimmy McCulloch of Paul McCartney and Wings fame ("Take me down Jimmy") plays guitar. Townshend plays bass on the album. You can get snippets on YouTube, nut "Hollywood Dream" is really a true album....not just one song. There is a flow and purpose to every track....as in most Townshend works.

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    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
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  3. Raindog

    Raindog Well-Known Member

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    The cultural identity of any generation is no more valid than the identities of the races, sexes or religion. Each generation gets saddled with certain tags that just aren't true. I find mostly that these tags come about by blaming prior generations for the current ones' problems and woes. Just as the 20-somethings now blame Boomers and GenXers for wrecking the housing and marketing problems, so it goes.

    Every generation has villians and heroes. Every generations have geniuses and dunces. In the 60's, we had Hendrix, the Beetles, Dylan, Pink Floyd, Led Zep, etc. In the 70's, many of these bands survived and were joined by Van Halen, Aerosmith, Deep Purple and so many others. Each generation gets locked in to the bands of their youth. They are familiar and where we run when we need reassuring that all is right with the world. That doesn't mean that a current generation can't produce artists that can "enlighten." If some new bands can't enlighten, perhaps it is a closed mind and not a generation to blame. Bands like the Foo Fighters, Alabama Shakes, The Dead Weather, and Sturgill Simpsom are creating some great tunes.

    To quote a cliche, life is what you make of it. Human being of the 50's or 60's are no different than you. They have the same wants and desires. It's just the particulars, the details, in which you might differ. Deep down, those details are shallow.

     
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  4. jhull54

    jhull54 Well-Known Member

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    Great post.

    I think as we age and gain life experience, the teenage wonder at the incredible feeling evoked by rock and roll--it's palpable power to effect strong emotion musically and lyrically--can fade in several ways. However, there are some songs and bands that, when revisited, bring back some of those feelings, although now infused with a definite nostalgia of what once was. Perhaps that is as it's supposed to be.

    I am a few years older than you TMC, but I too was simply blown away by the power of rock and roll--and electric guitar--and how, when coupled with lyrics that addressed subjects I was invested in, or simply shouted out feelings I shared at that time--made me feel less alone, less strange, and less unsure of myself as a person.

    As I have matured, I believe I have become more sure of myself in my own skin, and now try to listen to, and make music that evokes some of the original feeling I experienced, but can apply it within the context of my life now, and "how I turned out". (If that makes sense.) It is not as powerful a feeling as I originally experienced, but it still brings me a great deal of satisfaction.
     
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  5. nomadh

    nomadh Well-Known Member

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    I guess I'm a few years older than you but not much. I also was influenced by much of the same music. I was lucky that my dad got me started so that my favorite band at 5 years old was the 3 guys on the couch (CSN) and then the 8 track with the scary ghosts on it. ( blood sweat and tears ) But there was also ABB, Beatles, Stills, 3 dog night and a hundred others. In some ways no one at age 4 through 20 could have loved music more than me But I also suspect I was an old soul and never took most of the messages seriously. I knew it was incredibly simple minded and to follow much of it would destroy your life and if enough followed it would collapse civilization. I had an uncle that I realized early on took an lsd trip that he never fully returned from. I remember wondering why tax payers were giving him disability money so he could hobo around and give nothing back to society. Then as a teen I started playing guitar and found hendrix and rush and ufo and pat travers. But I remember I would be at a jam sessions and 2 guys would go off, do a bong and come back and completely suck and ruin the jam. I could do the math early on that it wouldn't take many not pulling their weight to attract enough others into collapsing civilization. Living in CA where we have now attracted 1/2 of all the homeless in the US I am no seeing what I was expecting as a teen. So in a way I see Rock as a gateway drug that sucked a lot of people in who weren't able to handle its allure to tank your life. But I still love it and I'm still finding new to bands to enjoy. Anyone here know about temperance movement?
     
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  6. Raindog

    Raindog Well-Known Member

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    I will point out a common misconception here. Disability payments is not given money. You earn your disability pay throughout your lifetime and, if you have to collect, it is based on your average wages over the prior five years. It's an insurance policy. No taxpayer money is used, unless the government has illegally "borrowed" from the fund. I worked my ass off for almost 40 years and never collected a cent of disability. When I finally had to collect last year I got so tired of people making it sound like welfare. I felt like shaking them and telling them "It's my money, mother-fucker! It's money that I was forced to pay against just such a contingency." Now I don't know your uncle's story and maybe he started collecting at a young age. But if he collected anything beyond the minimum (which is very low) then it is because he paid in to the fund. Perhaps you are thinking of SSI (not SSDI).

    Stepping off now....

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    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
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  7. redman

    redman Well-Known Member Supporting Member+

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    @toomanycats WOW what a great thought provoking post going back to those times in my mind when I read it you put a huge smile on my face so many thanks. @Raindog excellent post!! I am one of those boomers I graduated high school in 73 and just like the youth of every generation we were just trying to fit in and most of our thoughts, actions IMO were more about being accepted than any philosophical ideas. Most of my generation were tired of social barriers that were in place just like the kids of today. We didn't get the prejudices because of a persons color because barriers had been dropped and we now went to school with each other and found out we were the same so we started to become friends and stood up for each other. We didn't like the fact of so many folks were doing without while we felt those that were in charge were filthy rich and self serving. That led to a social rebellion with some going as far as participating in communal living. I could go on but won't.
    I do want to say that in my formative years that rock and roll was at the forefront of every thing we did and truthfully more often than not the beat was much more important than the lyrics. We were however blessed with some great songwriters but I really believe the lack of technology helped fuel that media for self expression. . There were no social media no cell phones if you wanted to talk to someone you could call but you were stuck in one spot of your home on a phone with a cord and most times it was in the middle of where your family hung out or you go to their house and if you did that you took your guitar and tried to write a new song. when you look at how those groups like Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, CSN&Y got started that same theme resounds through group after group and seems to be how they did it as well. We were also in a new era for recording so we were armed with away to capture our improv on tape leading to some great songs developed and lots of creative people did some great stuff with very little. Most of the Beatles stuff was recorded on 4 track including the highly orchestrated Sgt. Peppers.
    I could talk on this subject for a long time but I want again @toomanycats great post.
     
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  8. redman

    redman Well-Known Member Supporting Member+

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    @Raindog I wanted to finish the other post and also wanted to say something else about yours. I was hurt at work broke 3 vertebrate ruptured 5 disc in my back yep genuine broken back. 12 hrs of surgery 2 weeks in the hospital then 6 weeks in a rehab hospital and came home in a wheelchair. Infection sat in I went septic turned into flesh eating bacteria had all the muscle removed in the back of my left leg from the waist to the knee this led to a stroke and being hit by the pedals 3 times before they got me back this time I went into the hospital on June 11 got back home on November 17. Oh yea I get Social Security Disability because I worked from 1973 until I was hurt in 2011 and I paid into the program with every paycheck I ever received and my employer matched it It's not an entitlement, special government program or any other hand out so @Raindog I agree with you 100% "IT'S MY DAMN MONEY"
    As they say with out pictures it didn't happen here's my fat ass in my wheelchair.

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  9. toomanycats

    toomanycats Well-Known Member

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    Here's a pic of me in 1969 in my groovy flower power playpen.

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    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
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  10. T100D

    T100D Well-Known Member

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    Wow! More than a kettle of fish here—more like a whole reservoir. Plus maybe a silo full of worms!
    Truth in advertising—I turn 78 this summer (where the hell did the time go?).

    I started playing at age 4 or 5—my father was a self-taught banjo and four-string guitar player who fell in love with what was then contemporary jazz in the 1920’s. He started me out on a banjolele (!), playing popular novelty songs of the 1940’s, progressing to New Orleans and Dixieland standards.
    By my early teens I had gotten hold of a 6-string acoustic (somewhat to his disdain) and then when I was about 13—Blam!!!—Bill Haley raised his little curly head in the UK with “Rock Around the Clock”.
    My crowd/gang/coterie/crew at school kept daily lists of all the new records we heard on the radio (in the UK, the BBC was the only domestic option at that time, and their programming was very eclectic, no such thing as “a rock station”, “country station”. “easy-listening station”, etc. However, we did have access (if you had a strong enough receiver) to VOA and AFN (Voice of America and American Forces Network), which had a greater proportion of pop music,

    Anyway, having been immersed in Jazz and Blues, I was soon captivated by R’n’B (at that time called rock’n’roll), and then came that fateful day when my young and malleable body and soul received the electric shock of the guitar intro to “Roll Over Beethoven”, quickly followed by “Johnny B. Goode”, and then a wave of Fats Domino, Little Richard, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, and so on.
    I dug Elvis up until “Love Me Tender”—even at that age I could call BS on a sell-out—and never forgave him until “Steamroller Blues”!

    My father poured scorn on this, saying “Well, it’s all just a 12-bar blues”, which was kinda odd since he loved the blues—more BS, anybody?
    Ignoring his critique, I soon had a Hofner President and a little Supro amp, put together a little band and was happily playing at coffee bars and teen dances.

    Flash forward to the early 60’s—by now I was in a R’n’B horn band playing Chess, Stax-Volt, Motown stuff, touring the UK, and jamming and hanging out with other unknown bands such as the Yardbiirds, Rolling Stones, etc., etc., Who knew?, they were just a bunch of guys from other towns having a lot of fun away from home!

    In the meantime my father, a fervent member of what had become known as the “Mouldy Fygge” movement, was still maintaining that true jazz died int the late ’30’s when Louis Armstrong joined a Big Band!! However, he had broad tastes outside of jazz, and my life changed when he brought home one of the early ’45’s, an EP from the album “Brazilliance”, by Bud Shank and Laurindo Almeida, which fired up my life-long fascination and involvement with Brazilian and Latin music and culture.

    Then came the Summer of Love and Jefferson Airplane, “Sergeant Pepper” and all that. Although I reveled in it, for some reason I stayed in the “R’n’B, Soul, Jazz camp as a player …

    I then moved to the US (Seattle) in 1969, was blown away by Santana, who opened up a new realm of possibilities of combining the kinds of music I loved. Played in a number of large avant-garde jazz groups, influenced by bands like Art Ensemble of Cicago, McCoy Tyner, Ornette. Hard to find guitarists to listen to in that vein, except Sonny Sharrock and John McLaughlin, who I had known back in the UK, at a time that he was channeling Kenny Burell!!
    Early 70’s seen as a sort of Golden Age of American songwriting—I loved all that stuff—but then I fell in with a group of younger players who turned me onto Yes, ELP, and others—Oh boy! alternate time signatures! changing time signature! viruoso technique! extended form!
    More and more music was coming in from Brazil, and the new artists who caught my attention were on the same wavelength—Milton Nascimento, Egberto Gismonti, Hermeto Pascoal, and from Uruguay, of all places, OPA—man, what a rush!

    I put together a 10-piece band playing all my own originals, fusing all the elements of my musical intake up to that point, then after a couple of years joined a series of lounge bands and hit the road to try and make some cash—huh !”How did that work for ya?”

    Got off the road, Joined a 14-piece Afro-pop band, initially as third guitarist, then took over as bass player—a couple of bands more in that groove, then back to jazz. Moved from Seattle to Bainbridge Island, 35 minute ferry ride from Seattle—lack of a thriving music scene and exorbitant ferry fares and wait times slowed my career drastically for about ten years, but got into Logic Pro and concentrated on composition, drawing on all my previous experiences, also to my great joy discovered chigken pickin’!
    As of about ten years ago have started playing out a lot and meeting some great musicians, even if I have to drive for an hour.

    Developing new interests all the time, getting into walking bass/chord stuff, chord voice leading and harmonized melody pieces—for most of my career, apart from playing rhythm guitar I primarily focused on lead work, as my major influences were people like Sonny Rollins and Cannonball Adderley, not so much for their harmonic and melodic approach as their overall gestalt …

    Now I just play what I want, mixing up styles at random—if some purists can’t handle that, I say “F**k ‘em if they can’t take a joke!”

    So, my tastes are pretty eclectic (I forget to mention Greek and Middle Eastern music, both traditional and popular), although I admit to a blind spot when it comes to most Grunge and Hip Hop/Rap, etc. Guess that just doesn’t speak to me, although I did find a really cool Cuban woman rapper on YouTube …
    The great thing about YouTube is that there’s just so much that we wouldn’t be exposed to otherwise, a whole world of Rock en español, African music, South American, Middle Eastern, the list goes on—so much music, so little time!

    The point is, I guess, that it’s so important to keep your ears open to fresh ways of presenting music—yes, we may have our favorites that represent high points in our lives, but who knows what’s around the next corner?
     
  11. T100D

    T100D Well-Known Member

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    As regards disability, of course you're entitled to it if you paid in, or if an employer's negligence was a factor. It's a no-brainer (except for those with no brains!)
    Hell, I now get both Social Security and UK Pension—not a huge amount, but that's my reward for working under the counter so much :sick::sick:. I also work a part time job for crappy pay, but it's only ten minutes from my house and 6 hours a day for 3 days a week, lots of time to practice :smileycat::smileycat:
     
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  12. nomadh

    nomadh Well-Known Member

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    I dont recall what pocket he was taking from but he burned out early and I'm sure didnt work much before that. And I agreee that we want to help the less fortunate even the self inflicted ones but he wasn't laid up. He traveled and hitchhiked and had a grand ol time while someone working their ass off paid for him. If he was getting a pay check then there should have been a bus dropping his ass off at 8am at a work center to do whatever a bureaucrat needed to be done. He would have been off the dole in 2 weeks.
     
  13. fullonshred

    fullonshred Well-Known Member

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    Already working on that Flat Bench form I see. :D

    I bet you used your rattles as tiny dumbbells.

    [​IMG]
     
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  14. toomanycats

    toomanycats Well-Known Member

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    It just occurred to me that in 1971 Townsend said a lot of the things I wrote in my rambling OP, though much more succinctly and elegantly. The Who song "Won't Get Fooled Again":

     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
  15. OMB

    OMB Well-Known Member Supporting Member+

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    I won't comment on us Babyboomers except to say I am sorely disappointed that we allowed the world to turn in to this crapmire and coninue to wage wars that do m=no more than line the pockets of rich ass jerks and take the lives of of our unaware youth. But I stop cuz I don't want to get in to politics.

    A couple other pretty cool songs by Thunderclap Newman often overlooked.


     
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  16. Mikesr1963

    Mikesr1963 Well-Known Member

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    At 56, I just can't spend that much time reading all that stuff. Please figure out a way to fit it in a paragraph.
     
  17. Pratteman

    Pratteman Well-Known Member

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    Yes, Jimmy McCullough. Another rock and roll causality.

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  18. nomadh

    nomadh Well-Known Member

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    That and other costly decisions and put it all on a credit card for the kids to pay for. When they realize what we've done and the bill comes due we may have a civil between the generations.
     
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  19. OMB

    OMB Well-Known Member Supporting Member+

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    I guess the thing that is a huge head scratcher is why we seem to learn little from our past in any areas. Just a lot of rinse and repeat. But then we will always have the music!
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2020
  20. DonM

    DonM Well-Known Member Supporting Member+ Supporting Member

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    I’ll be 73 this summer and man, it’s scary, didn’t seem that long ago. And, one minor correction, the Summer of Love was 1967.
     

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