Bio

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When all of my writing projects are dead or blocked, I have a fallback project that I use to keep the typing going. I don’t remember when I started this, but a few months back I started writing a biography. I started at January 20, 1971, and moved forward, trying to keep a steady pace with all of the essentials, and without getting stuck on some tangent. Late last year and earlier this year, when I was really blocked and unable to work on either book, I belted out a serious amount of writing, and stayed up all night many times taking the story from childhood to gradeschool to high school.

I’m back on the bio. Everything else seems dead, and I’m sick of my own writing style, so it’s time to pound out the facts for a while. I don’t care how glossy or artistic my prose is (kindof like this journal), I just want to get everything down. I’m now up to the fall of 1992, and there are 43,000 words behind me (maybe 100 pages). Each year gets more difficult. 1971 through 1975 are only a couple of paragraphs; 1992 is already close to 10,000 words. I want to keep writing fast, until I get to 1998 (or 1999, or whenever I finish) and then start at the beginning, making a second pass and adding more detail. I keep forgetting things, or start talking about a person without introducing them in the right place, and I’ll have to fix that. I don’t know if anybody will ever read this, or if I will neaten it up for human consumption, but it’s a fun chore. Maybe the next time I date someone, I will just print and bind the whole damn thing, hand it over, and then have no disclaimers. I’m usually pretty honest when I date people, but it would be relaxing to be able to avoid all of the long stories and make them do the work. But, I guess I like the long stories, so maybe it’s a stupid idea.

I started reading Desolation Angels, and I was certain it was going to throw me, but I read 135 pages last night and would’ve kept reading if it weren’t for that sleep thing. It’s sort of like a darker, more serious version of The Dharma Bums, that’s a little less accessible but also much deeper. It’s got a lot more detail about his time as a lookout, and a lot of Washington details, which is a weird clash of two worlds. It’s cool to read about Kerouac on the UW campus, and wandering the Pioneer Square area. I’m looking forward to some more reading tonight.

It’s been a month and a half since I pulled the plug on the TV. I can barely remember when I sat down and watched hours and hours of shows. I don’t have enough time to do anything now, and I’m not getting a lot of writing done, so I don’t know how I could fit in TV too. TV’s like alcohol – you have to enjoy it in moderation. Unless you’re depressed – then it’s nice to drown in it.

My typing is messed up – not sure if it’s the keyboard, the hands, or the slow connection, but I keep dropping letters. I better quit while I’m ahead.

06/30/98 23:48

Listening to the white album, thinking about the fall of 1992 in order to keep moving on this weird, masturbatory biography. It’s interesting.

I fell asleep for about 4 hours after work, nothing else happened today, and I’m not into whipping up some introspective essay about the past, so I’m going to quit while I’m ahead and get back to writing.

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Kerouac, damage deposits

I finished reading On the Road last night, after ditching any attempt at writing and plowing through the pages like Dean’s Hudson across the country. Each time I read the book, there are parts that hold my interest more than other times, and other attributes or pieces that I skim over with little interest. This time, I was most interested in the routes of the roads – I followed along with my atlas, and tried to find the paths taken. I was also into the Burroughs stories, since I’d just read a snippet of a Burroughs bio last week, and it happened to be the same piece that was described in OTR. This time, I wasn’t into the music descriptions – Kerouac goes into these long, drawn out monologues about the bop joints and clubs full of musicians and everything, and it’s cool and all, but I didn’t feel like it this time around. Maybe I should re-read it this week and see if my interests transform into something else. Actually, I think the next read will be Desolation Angels, although I got stalled on that when I read it 2 or 3 years ago.

Three years ago today, my Mustang’s engine blew up, and I was in a mad dash to sell it’s smouldering carcass, sell all of my furniture, and get enough cash together to rent a U-Haul and leave Indiana in 2 days. I made it too – on July 1, 1995, I locked the door of the ten-foot moving truck and headed toward Elkhart, where I’d spend the night, loot my mom’s house for anything I’d need to set up shop in Seattle, and beg a few bucks off of my parents. On the way up, the trusty Konrath Sound System ™, a pair of battery-powered speakers I bought in 1991 when my Rabbit was sans stereo, finally died. I stopped at the Kokomo mall, and got a new pair of Koss speakers at Target. Those speakers are on my desk here at work, as I speak. When I got to Elkhart, I pitched the old speakers into a trash at the Concord Mall Montgomery Wards, with great sadness. When me and Ray piled into his Buick – FM radio only – and drove to Chicago to see a show, the Konrath Sound System always saved the day. With that, a walkman, and maybe even a discman, we had demos, new music, and death metal, instead of the boring and static-bombed radio stations of northern Indiana.

I talked to a window washer today, one of the guys that rappels down the side of big glass buildings with a bucket and a squeegee. I always wondered how one got started on a job like that, and he said he worked with an older guy, a sort of apprenticeship. I didn’t know if they went to a trade school, started washing cars first, spent a lot of time mountain climbing, or what. So there’s your useful/useless factoid of the day.

06/29/98 20:50

Just woke up from a short nap with the windows open and a nice breeze whipping through the apartment. I love it in the summer, when a post-work nap doesn’t mean waking up in the dark.

I spent all afternoon moving and reconfiguring a SparcStation and a JavaStation, so they’d work in the conference room in the other building. (We have the original building at 1500 Dexter, and the new building at 1100 dexter. This was moving from old to new, but just ’til tuesday.) It took a lot longer than expected to get the Sparc acclimated to its new gateway and IP number, and a lot longer to get all of the associated baggage involved with the JavaStation to work. The JavaStation boots from the Sparc – it has no disc drive, so it pulls an OS and its associated Java applets from the Sparc to boot, a neat but messy approach. It was fun in an odd sort of way – it presented a bunch of problems and involved a lot of thinking and logical analysis. About three hours into it, both mchines worked fine, and we got the product running on both of them, more than I’d ever seen before. By the time I thought about looking at my watch, it was already 5. I had an absolutely beautiful walk back to the other building, and tried to get as much work-work done as possible before I split.

The second shoe will hit the floor a week from Wednesday at Evergreen Ford in Issaquah. That’s when I go there with the Escort for the estimate on damages and soforth. I thought about telling them I’m thinking about leasing a brand new car as they are writing out my estimate, and then when I return the car and pay their written estimate, I’d say I decided to buy a new Beetle or something.

I started reading Desolation Angels tonight, and I can see why it threw me last time. It’s nowhere near as accessible as On the Road. I’ll have to dig in to keep on this one. Among the many books I want to get but can’t afford right now is the book of Kerouac letters. I wish I knew the whole story behind the Ann Charters vs. Gerald Nicosia vs. Jan Kerouac or whatever. I read the Nicosia biography and found it to be the best. Charters seems to presumptuous, and when I leafed through her bio, it seemed watered down – like if you bought a Sylvester Stallone biography and it had no mention whatsoever of his years in Sweden making porn films. Why would you read a history book with no history. Interested viewers are encouraged to mail me with text files or URLs providing more details about the whole argument.

I have an overwhelming urge to go to Barnes and Noble, but it’s time to work on the book.

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Scientology

I’m running emacs from eve on my local machine through the magic of X, and it’s pretty weird. It’s also a little slow on opening new windows, text selection, and redrawing, so I need to take it easy.

I’ve spent the last few hours reading old mail and cutting out snippets and ideas that I can later use in the second book. It’s recycling, but it’s also stuff that hasn’t been published, and it’s mine, so what the hell? Whenever I’ve done this in the past, I’ve contorted the old stuff so much, that it’s barely distinguisable for the original, so I don’t think anyone will notice. In fact, Rumored to Exist already contains stuff pulled from dream journals and heavily modified. It’s weird to think that ideas from the book originated in dreams, but it happens. It’s even more weird that I read in an interview with Chick Corea that the theme from Eye of the Beholder came to him in a dream. I’ve listened to that album thousands of times, and that song is so haunting – you remember it out of nowhere weeks later.

Chick Corea is a Scientologist, and I’m not sure if that bothers me or not. I don’t know much about Scientology except the extreme sides of the argument. There are people saying “L. Ron Hubbard anally raped my mother and forced me to buy $27,000 worth of child pornography!” and then the snake-oil “just come on down for a reading, just once. All your friends are. John Travolta has – you liked him in Pulp Fiction, didn’t you? Just come on down to the center…”

I’d like to know some basic facts about Scientology. Do they worship God, or a god? Is it all a form of psychology, some kind of conditioning? Is it strictly a new-age thing? What does it cost? Do you go every week, like church, or do you just take the courses and audits? Are there penalties? (I’ve heard that if you don’t sign in every week, they get shitty with you, and that there are bizarre hazing rituals, where you have to get a bunch of people to sign a petition saying you aren’t a fuckup or something) Are there restrictions, such as alcohol, diet, morality, sexuality, etc? What is their view on clinical depression, i.e. would they tell someone like me to stop taking all of my medicine and start spending money on Scientology junk?

Interesting things about Scientology, to me: I have no doubt that the use of an E-meter to clear engrams works. It’s simple conditioning. I have tried to read Dianetics (it’s impossible) and I’ve read some other articles – you can rid yourself of engrams (and probably stress or depression or other bad feelings) as easily as you could keep your cat from jumping on the couch by spraying it with a bottle of water each time it tries. The idea of clearing various bad thoughts from my head in this method is enticing – therapy’s nice, but it isn’t systematic, and even though I’ve heard the clear course costs a few grand, it’s probably cheaper than a year’s worth of therapy. The idea of a group or community is always interesting to me, although I don’t know if the people would be cool, interesting individuals or a bunch of freaked-out, crystal-wearing zombies. So I’m not totally against the idea, but I have the doubts.

Okay, the part about doubts: I’ve heard weird things that lead me to believe that they would tell me to go against medical advice, quit my medicine, and just read a lot of their books until I was better. I’m really not into that. I’ve also heard odd things about how controlling they are about their members. Maybe this is isolated to ex-members who are psycho – the Paula Jones syndrome. Money is also a factor, because it sounds more like a business. In the Catholic Church, it’s pay-what-you-can, and if you are broke, then give a dollar when you’re doing better. It sounds like Scientology is more like “pay x dollars for this course”, like a college, and maybe I don’t have that much money. There’s also the whole Scientology-internet thing, and I don’t know where I land on that one. They tried to stop an ex-member from posting a bunch of confidential stuff on the web. If I had a business with confidential plans and an ex-employee put it on a usenet newsgroup, I’d be pissed, too. But maybe they took it too far with all of their lawsuits. I didn’t follow it that closely, so I don’t know. The lawsuits against the cult awareness network also seem to be in their self-defense, but if they are worried about being labelled as a cult, why don’t they rescind their church tax status and become an incorporated business? If they were just some kind of motivational company that sold cassettes and seminars, they wouldn’t have to worry about the cult persecution. They’d have to pay taxes, but if they were incorporated and hired some good accountants, they’d pay as much in taxes as any other business in this country (i.e. none).

Just my thoughts. I will probably get hate mail from both sides of the fence here. To the anti-Scientology people: I won’t condemn anything I’m not informed about. I’m anti-Christian and anti-Catholic, but it’s because I’ve spent decades in their churches, reading their bible, and examining what they do to society. I couldn’t be anti-Scientology until I fully understood it. And I know there are all sorts of anti-Scientology pages on the web I could read, but there are also a bunch of pro-UFO pages, and they don’t sway my opinion either. Trust nobody, remember? To the Scientology people: if Consumer Guide did a good writeup on Scientology and told all of the good and bad points and a cost analysis, I might consider it. I’m not against spending money to improve myself, but I don’t want the used car salesman treatment about it. I skimmed Dianetics and it rose more questions than it answered. Maybe if I went to a center, this would all be explained, but I’m always afraid that if I went, I’d get lassoed into writing a slew of postdated checks for books, tapes, and courses. Right now, I don’t have a hundred bucks to spend on an auditing course – I don’t even have a dollar. I’d appreciate nonbiased or slightly biased comments about this topic, but please no mailbombs, legal threats, or stories about how your stepsister was gang-raped at a Scientology party.

It’s hard to go from that into anything else, so I won’t try. I should be working on the book, and it’s already 2:30am, so maybe I should either get something done, or give it up for the evening. I have an urge to go put gas in my car and get something more to eat, so maybe I’ll do that. Anyway, more later.

06/27/98 18:10

My digestive system has gone south, so I’m wondering what to do about dinner tonight. I’m sure something will happen. I have enough money to go to Denny’s, but the food would kill me, and I need to ration my cash like Germans rationed gas during World War II. (That’s a completely arbitrary comment – I’m assuming they rationed gas, because we bombed the shit out of their oil refineries. I didn’t. Somebody that lived in the US did. They, not we. Nevermind.)

The VW is still dead. I bolted on the refurbished water pump and housing, hooked it all up, and… it didn’t start. The battery died from the 3 weeks or so of sitting around. I checked it for any visible problems, and saw that it was a 50 month warranty battery that was installed in April of 93. Do the math and you’ll see why I found that humorous/not very fucking funny. I got a jumpstart (the wonder of two cars) and cranked it over, and… it leaked like a sieve. New antifreeze, all over the place. It didn’t leak too fast at first, and I thought that maybe the engine would get hot and the parts would expand and sort of weld together, sort of like how the SR-71 leaks fuel all over the place while on the ground, but once it gets going mach 3, all of the titanium expands and it’s tighter than a drum.

So I got in the car, went for a spin, and within 2 minutes, realized just how fucking stupid I can be at times. The engine temperature light swept from C to H like the second hand on a watch, and I pulled into the parking lot of a medical center. The thing was REALLY losing coolant, and I watched it drain onto the ground while the engine ticked away. I’ve been told that driving an overheated VW is one of the worst things you can do, because it has an aluminum head, and it’s very, very easy to fuck things up on a colossal scale. So I was smart enough to stop before the needle got buried in the red on the temp gauge. I let it cool down, found that I don’t know how to operate the heater in my car, and then I left (the VW heater controls have a bunch of international symbols – instead of saying “vent”, “heat”, etc. there is a triangle, a box, a grid, and some wavy lines. I don’t know what the fuck this means. Also, the heater core might be dead – I’m not sure. I wanted to run the heater because it’s the best thing to do when the car overheats. It’s uncomfortable, but it works like a secondary radiator, and can sometimes save your ass. I had to do this daily in my diesel Rabbit.) I got maybe a half mile back, and the temp redlined, so I pulled into a hospital or a medical building of some sort, and waited a bit more. The engine cooled, so I put in the key, and… nothing. No battery. No cranking. Not even a pathetic “tic tic tic”.

I called Karena on my cell phone, and she showed up and jumpstarted the car. On the remaining mile of the trip, I stopped again briefly. It was cool because I stopped on a little cul-de-sac with a slight downhill grade, and when the engine cooled and we took off, I just pushed in the clutch, shifted to third, let gravity pull me to a gentle clip, and jockeyed the clutch a bit – pow, the engine started. No jumpstart needed.

Anyway, I got the car back, and it doesn’t seem to leak a whole lot when its at a standstill. I think that it’s the housing’s connection to the engine, and that it’s not sitting well. I asked around on usenet, and I think if I pull everything apart again, put a Pamela Anderson-sized amount of silicone sealer all over the part, and torque the shit out of everything, it will stop leaking. But that means draining and refilling the radiator again. As for the battery, I can pick out of those up maybe next weekend.

I’m tired, my stomach hurts, and I’m still dirty from all of this work. I think a nap is in order.

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Empire time machine

After 5:00 on a Friday. I should be tearing down a road at 80 miles an hour, a bottle of liquor in one hand, the other flipping off a state trooper, a woman in the car, some loud music, all that jazz. Instead, I’m waiting for the traffic to die, so I can drive home in under an hour.

I had a glass of champagne a little while ago, and that’s probably what’s bothering me. I’ve been in a bad mood all week, but right now it feels the worst. Fridays should be a cause for celebration, but I feel like my weekend is already shot. Either I’ll spend the whole weekend writing on this book, or I’ll fail. That’s what it’s come down to. All week, I blow off a day and say I’ll make it up in some 18 hour Saturday writing session. And I wish the weekend could consist of wandering, shopping, exploring, meeting new people and doing new things, but with $13 in my wallet and not much more in the bank, I’ll probably be watching old videos I’ve seen a hundred times, and trying to get on that novel.

I started to read On the Road agains last night. Like I possibly mentioned once before, I’ve read it every year for the last few years. Oddly enough, I originally bought my copy, this 25th anniv. issue paperback, in 1992. There was this huge used bookstore right around the corner from my place – some crazy old Russian lady ran it, mostly old, moldy books and nothing of value, but sometimes I’d scour the place and shake down something good. I think I picked up my copy of ‘Road for less than a dollar. I read the first dozen pages, but got disinterested. At the time, I was already living my own beat paradise and I didn’t know it yet. So now I’m back on it again – I figure some good vicarious adventures will help me while I’m starving away with all of my own troubles here in Seattle. Maybe I will take some better notes this time on all of the journeys, cities, roads, and highways. Then when I have a few bucks, I can hit the road and follow Dean’s footsteps.

I’m listening to Queensryche – Empire, which is like a time machine to me. I listened to this album every day, twice a day, for months, almost a semester. That was 1990, when I drove my gray 5-speed Turismo from Elkhart to South Bend and back every day. I’d blaze down US 20 into Osceola and Mishawaka listening to all of these songs while eating my breakfast, either bagels or pop-tarts, and watching the morning Michiana roll by me. It all seemed so hip at the time, getting out of the house, living in the computer labs, learning pascal and writing computer games, eating lunch with Ray every day in the cafeteria. This album reeks of trips to the Miami street comic shop, the quarter pounder value meal, no pickels, from the McKinley st. McDonalds, trips down Logan to the Scottsdale mall, before it got semi-cool, and runs to the Hooks drug store or 7-11 for junk food. I think I’ve described this before (I know I have, I just don’t remember if it was here). It’s now July, almost 8 years later, but it’s cold enough to feel like an October day in Indiana.

What the hell am I doing here? I better go home, at least.

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Hilbilly ISPs

I got a late start, but managed to pull in a few hours of writing last night. I’m trying to keep going on Rumored to Exist, but I keep hitting slow spots. I finally edged over 60,000 words last night. Every time I get close, I delete a bunch of dead stuff, and slip back a ways. I’m almost out of old stuff to delete, so there shouldn’t be much more slippage. I’m still hoping to finish this piece of shit by the end of August or so.

Since I’m still reading WSB’s The Soft Machine, and it requires extreme attention, I don’t have any current lack-of-attention reading. So, I started reading random snippets of Ted Morgan’s Literary Outlaw, a damn fine biography on Burroughs’ life. Although I have no intention of ending up in a common-law marriage with a benzedrine addict and then shooting her in the head, there are other areas of his life that I wish I could live. I wish I could pack up and go to Vienna for medical school, or spend a few years hiding in Mexico City. It takes money to live free.

I called my friend Larry last night. He’s the one in law school in Chicago, living in his grandpa’s basement. He found some kind of clerk job with a medical firm, where he looks up stuff on a computer all day. He actually gets paid for this internship, unlike 99% of the ones out there for law students. He laid some plan on me about moving to California next year, because he’d be eligible to take the bar without finishing his degree. I think Larry should move to Mexico and become a lawyer, because their brand of justice is more his style. Nothing against Lar, it’s just he would fit in better in a place where bribery is required and everything is rough and tumble, as opposed to the polished yet under the table crap in the US court system. I don’t know, maybe I’ve seen too many Mexican westerns.

My friend Ray switched ISPs for the 27th time in the last 3 years. He keeps subscribing to these piece of shit, hilbilly ISPs that are like $10/month and then he wonders why they don’t work.

I’m still asleep, so I should stop writing.

06/25/98 22:57

I planned on an early start to the writing, but I fell asleep. Now it’s 11pm, and I’m just now starting my dinner. I also had a pretty uneventful day, so I’m going to call it a wash, get to my turkey pot pie, and write more tomorrow.

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Sven carpetbombing

Sven is carpetbombing me with stuff on his mailing list right now. I think I enjoy reading 1 in 3 things he sends me. I guess that’s better odds than flipping through the channels on a TV, and there aren’t any commercials.

The other day when I was talking, recording, and driving at the same time, I got on a major rant on commercialism, society, and what hasn’t changed since the fifties. I wish I could transcribe it, add more, and get it into it. A summary – all of these Newt Gingrich types want us to go back to he wholesome fifties, a time of family values, blah blah. People have forgotten that the fifties were full of racism, intolerance, the start of the cold war, and the beginning of mass consumerization and the homoginization of America. The sixties happened because the fifties happened. That’s all I’ll explain for now.

I considered starting On the Road last night, after all of this thought of tracing his roadtrips across America in a rental car, taking Hi8 and 35mm images of everything along the way. I’ve managed to read On the Road every year for the last four or five years, and it’s about time for another reading. But I didn’t have the energy for something new, so I read a few chapters from Burroughs’ The Soft Machine. It’s always interesting to fall asleep with stuff like this in your head.

I’m going to look at some more journals.

06/24/98 21:58

A mental circle:

I’m listening to Sigue Sigue Sputnik, a strange throwback to about 1988 for me, when I found the tape in a record store in Stratford, Ontario, and I remembered my friend Roger Eppich’s advice that I should seek out this album at all costs. (At the time, all of the Canadian tapes I found had black shells instead of clear or white. Is this normal? A unique fad to that point in time? Is anyone on Open Pages even old enough to know what a cassette tape is?)

I bought the tape, listened to it on the bus trip home (it was all at night, and they parked the busses for an hour at a rest stop at 3 in the morning when they discovered that the itinerary didn’t account for the difference in time zines) and then the next morning, I went to Roger’s to tell him about the tape and to show him a copy of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, my first copy on CD – I’d already spent years memorizing a version Tom Sample dubbed on tape for me from the vinyl. Roger had pierced his ear since I’d left for Canada, and he said he did it himself. I asked him to pierce mine, and two seconds and no numbing later, he did.

Hell, that circle didn’t work like I planned it. There are a lot of interlocking references, but none circular. I wanted to do an A -> B -> C -> D -> A, but it fell apart. There are some other weird references I could mention from the above – I heard the song “Mother” on the radio today, and I still know all of the words; Roger Eppich lived with Tom Sample briefly in 1987 before Roger went completely insane; something else involving roadtrip with either of these bastards. I’ve spent forever talking about roadtrips with Tom, but one time me and Roger loaded up his piece of shit Citation after a Friday night of work at Monkey Wards and drove to his girlfriend’s place in Middleoffuckingnowheere, MI. Roger could drive like a maniac – we must’ve been airborne at least a few times – and we listened to a soundtrack of what was the coolest industrial mix tape you could hope to find in 1988. We get there, and this weird Bladerunner-esque trip dumps us into the most run-down Pizza Hut in the world, where we ate cheesy bread and waited for this girl to finish work. I can proudly? say I’ve eaten at small, redneck Pizza Huts from New York to Washington, and they’re all the same – families bringing in an army of kids for the weekly “restaurant” food, some idiot feeding quarters into the jukebox and picking the same Winger song 20000 times (once, at the Goshen Pizza Hut, we (me, Tom Sample, maybe Matt Wanke) got there just as a huge line of religious motherfuckers walked in. I went to the juke, fed in a fiver, and picked all of the AC/DC songs on the list, mostly the songs “Hell’s Bells”. (On another side note, my independant testing labs have confirmed that Back in Black is the best all-time CD to have in the player at a pub when you’re getting shit-faced drunk with a couple of buddies. There was a bar called Bear’s Place that was stumbling distance from my house, and once when I was there with my old roommate Yusef on $2.50 pitcher night, I heard the tolling bells and realized they were going to play the whole thing through. We tipped back about 5 pitchers between the two of us during the next 10 tracks, and it really hit the spot))

I don’t even remember if Roger even brought the girl back to Elkhart, or if we just went to say hi for an hour and eat free shit at Pizza Hut, or what. I know that on the way he gave me the “she’s got friends” speech, and when we got there, she gave me the “boy, I wish I could think of a friend for you” speech. Not that I would’ve known what to do back then – even with millions of years of genetic predispositioning, I would’ve been lost. At least Roger was cool enough to occasionally try to steer me in the right direction – give him five bonus points for optimism.

I’m now listening to Billy Idol – it’s some kind of nostalgia night. Believe it or not, but for a brief period of time, I had short, spiked, platinum hair similar to Mr. Idol’s. I don’t have any good pictures of it, though.

I don’t want to spend all night writing pages of obscure stuff that will throw 98% of my readers (what is 98% of 4?). I’ve got a book to write, so I better get to it.

It’s after midnight…

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Running monologues

I’ve been obsessed with reading this journal, about endless cool travels on the road. I wish I knew how this guy pays for all of it, so I could get into a similar situation.

Nothing else is happening. I had incredibly vivid dreams about a woman similar to someone I dated toward the end of 1992. It really freaked me out, the level of authenticity, the emotion involved. It made me wish I knew where the hell she went after school.

Connection’s slowing down, on the way to death. I’ll write more tonight.

06/23/98 21:44

It’s almost July and I’m running the heater. Welcome to Seattle.

I don’t know when I fell asleep, and I didn’t know where I was when I awoke. I was freezing, and I rolled on my other side, thinking “go back to that cool dream I had thismorning.” It didn’t work, although I felt like either sleeping for another day, or injecting a cardiac medication directly into my heart with a vetirenarian needle, I knew I had to get out of bed, get a cold drink of something, and force myself to eat a TV dinner, even though I felt nauseous. Said TV dinner (beef tips, carrots, potatoes, a cherry cobbler) has been reconstituted, I’m on my second glass of Sprite, Type O Negative’s latest is in the album, and I feel ready to describe… what was I going to describe tonight?

I keep a running monologue at almost all times, unless I’m 100% buried in interesting work, which hasn’t happened in a while. I don’t know if I would call it a monologue, or more of a daydream. I find a certain topic, a puzzle, scenario, or fantasy, and use it like a screensaver. When something isn’t burning cycles on my brain, I slip into this interactive daydream. In its simplest invocation, I’m figuring out a problem or maybe doing some shopping in my head. For example, maybe I’ve stumbled across a grand from a tax return, and I want to update my computer. When I’m stuck on I-5, I’ll be thinking about this monitor and that motherboard, and getting x amount of memory and video card y. I’ll hash and rehash the combinations and think about installing it, tearing apart the old PC, buying the pieces, and so forth. It’s a simple game that lets me have some fun, and avoid thinking about the ozone layer or the fact that my insurance company is raping me, or whatever.

That’s the simple case. A more expansive and fictitious case would be a few weeks ago, when I was thinking about buying an old Camaro and restoring it. I don’t think I’ll be doing this now, especially in the wake of my latest car repair disasters, but it’s an interesting way to burn up free cycles. Another similar future-planning-for-something-I-won’t-do game is thinking about graduate school – taking classes to get in, what program I’ll try to finish, etc. A flag is usually thrown by the time I think about how I’ll pay for and find time for grad school, versus my inability to get in a program, versus the lack of practical value of a master’s degree given my current situation. Then the whole thing is blown, and i need to find a new mind game, like planning a trip to Amsterdam.

These are the the simple, practical hallucinations to which I subscribe. Here’s a good one that is embarassing to admit, but has pulled me from the depths of heavy depression; a psychiatrist taught it to me about 6 years ago, although it’s fairly obvious: imagine that through some kind of weird inheritance, someone has dropped an incredible amount of cash in your lap. Then extrapolate what you’d do, and how you’d blow $661 million tax-free dollars. It’s like a vial of the purest heroin for your central nervous system – I can roll in this for days, weeks – I’ve been using it on and off since 1992 to keep me in line. It’s totally self indulgent, it’s childish – sort of like the people that play PowerBall every week, and it might put you further off-course than the original depression. But if you’re pointing a loaded gun to your head every day, it can knock you off track long enough for the biological low to pass and for life you resume course somewhat.

Now I have all-out fantasy programming that I can’t even describe here, weird stuff that’s probably dangerous for me to think about for long periods of time. Joining up with old ex-girlfriends, hanging out with famous people, going on book tours for books I haven’t written yet, that sort of thing. Sometimes I wonder if I’m operating beyond the bounds of sensibility, and if I’m hurting myself more than helping with these mind games. There are days I spend more time shopping for Italian sports cars in my head than I spend thinking about the things in front of me, yet I don’t feel detatched or removed. I’m not driving around my neighborhood in a motorcycle thinking I’m in Vietnam like Stacy Keach in Up in Smoke. Yet I’m not one of those super-applied people with three degrees and a shitload of stock options before their 25th birthday. So I don’t know. You tell me.

Like I said, I am listening to Type O Negative’s October Rust, which I think is a beautiful, powerful, and impressive album. When I go shopping for new speakers (winter? fall? spring?) this is the only test album I’m bringing. Aside from the sound, it’s an incredibly emotional album. I first got it when it came out, in September? of 1996. I’m going to go into a tirade here, so let me go back to where it all begins here.

September or so, 1991. Ray is visiting me in Bloomington from South Bend for a long weekend. This is when I am dating the girl Ray refers to as “The Za Chick”, for reasons I’ll have to get into later. He HATES her, and when the three of us our together, it’s like sodium and water, so the time spent only with Ray was the best of the weekend, of course. I left Ray alone with my roommate Yusef so I could go do my thing with the Za Chick one night, and they took off on ten-speeds at 3 in the morning looking for parties, which sounded infinitely cooler than what I endured. Anyway, Ray was there, and this was when I was back in the fold with Metal Curse – because of strict martial law and psychological warfare at home during the summer of 91, I ditched one issue of writing for Ray’s zine, something I put high on my all-time regrets list. But I was back, and when me and Ray were driving around Bloomington in his Escort, eating a Pizza Express pie in the parking lot of the library, he laid this new tape on me, by a band called Type O Negative. The album is called Slow, Deep, and Hard.

“It’s all the guys from Carnivore, but a new name,” he said. Cool, I remember hearing some Carnivore songs like Jesus Hitler a few years before, and thinking they were cool. “These songs are a lot longer, and slower. And totally fucked up,” he said. The tape started with a twelve minute song called “uncuccessfully coping with the natural beauty of infidelity”, which really hit the spot, since I was 100% certain that the Za Chick was fucking everyone else in the galacy, and I was completely oblivious to it. Then, over a fast metal-meets-hardcore beginning, singer Pete Steele said “Do you believe in forever? I don’t even believe in tomorrow.” The album was coated with a self-hatred so thick, it would make Sister Angelica slit her wrists and piss in the severed veins. The music went from a fast but relatively clear metal sound (this was when Death Metal and unintelligable vocals were on the way in, and ultrafast grindcore with little cohesive guitar work was on the way out) and lots of feedback-laden guitar work. Then it would downshift with fifth to first with totally doomy, almost gothic low end stuff, and blood-curdling screams. Although it attacked every part of your brain with extreme toxicity, it had a somewhat accessible tone to it – you could hear the lyrics, which were incredibly depressing, satirical, and offensive.

I really got into this album that fall semester – Ray had picked a winner for me. It was both depressing and funny, and I listened to the violence of “xero tolerance”, the eerieness of “glass walls of limbo” and the extreme, mind-numbing self-hatred of “gravitational constant…” I asked Sid and Matt, a couple of my punk rock friends, about the album, and they were totally into it to – it transcended the barriers between punk and metal, at least for freaks like these guys. And my long and depressing walks at 4 in the morning became Slow, Deep, and Hard walks with the tape in my walkman. It burned into my experience so deep, if I had to pick one album to summarize that few months, that would be it.

Fast forward to the summer of 1992. I was pretty much right about the Za Chick, so Pete Steele is smarter than I thought. I’m now DJing at WQAX thanks to the punk friend Sid, who is the acting GM for the summer and tells me to come in and play whatever the fuck I want. The first thing I spy in the racks is – a prerelease of a new Type O Negative live EP called Origin of the Feces It’s got 7 tracks – two are new, one is an intro called “Are You Afraid” that’s pretty cool, and a cover of “Hey Joe” that’s pretty over the top, sandwiched between the two halves of “Kill You Tonight” (aka Xero Tolerance). I play the SHIT out of the EP – I play the whole thing at least once a week, and play select cuts constantly. Turns out Sid’s doing the same thing. At the end of one week, the Hey Joe cover turns out to be not only the #1 metal song on the station’s charts, but the #1 song played, period!

I get on the case and start letter-bombing Ken Kriete, their manager, and Sophie, the PR rep at their label. Within a week or two, I get a nice letter from Ken and gang saying “don’t you have anything better to play at the station?” and “give us a call if you’d like to set up an interview on the air”.

I don’t know if you can imagine this, but going from worshipping a band’s album to having them say “give us a call, and we’ll talk” is a complete mindfuck. I was nervous as hell – this is an interview Ray didn’t get in the zine, because radio stations usually get the good stuff first. We were both sure that Steele would fuck with me, and I had no idea what questions to ask. The night of the interview, they were late in calling, so I thought they bagged out on me or something, and I went to doing something else on the air. Then I got the call from both Pete (vocals, bass) and Josh (keyboards) and off we went. The whole thing is printed in Xenocide 5, wherever it is on my server these days, but it went from weird to strange to disastrous to hilarious. I think they thought I was pissed off, but I was really just straining to hear over the piece of shit phone link at the studio. Either way, I taped the interview, it was live, and I ran it in my zine later. They wrote back and sent me a Type O Negative pin (a black circle with a green minus inside of an o) and I proudly wore it on my jacket until it fell apart about a year ago.

Their next album was highly anticipated and highly delayed. I re-ran the interview in the spring of 93 with an addendum, since I heard the album was coming out that summer. Perfect timing – I got the promo for Bloody Kisses the weekend I was with Ray at the Metalfest (~June 31, 1993). This album was more produced, less metal, more gothic, and just as powerful as the last. I played the shit out of my copy while awaiting my return to Bloomington from my temporary exile in northern Indiana for the summer. This album completely blew me away – it was incredibly catchy, but still had the weird invade-your-soul propertyu that tore you apart with depression and angst, yet made you feel good about it. There was still a lot of humor, but no chainsaws and “kill you tonight” type stuff like the last album. I was depressed about my girlfriend at the time being in Tampa while I was stuck in Shithole, IN, and songs like Blood and Fire and Can’t Lose You permeated while thinking about her. I loved this album – it had its weak points, but I thought it was incredible.

I guess some other people thought so, too, because within a few months, a lot of goth people really got into the album, and it went a lot further than its original metal roots. So when I wore my jacket, a few non-metal people would see the pin and say “hey, Type O Negative!” and I could lay the story on them. Then, one night I was reading the liner notes, and – I saw that John Conner from WQAX was thanked. Hey, that’s me! They totally misspelled it, but it was there. By the time I found this, the album had already gone gold, so it was an even bigger deal.

So I kept listening, especially since I walked everywhere in the 93/94 school year and I had my walkman on for at least 20 hours a week. Bloody Kisses was the perfect album to listen to when it’s 2 in the morning and you have to walk 3 miles to get back home. It’s even better when you’re completely devastated by the loss of a girlfriend and you need something to enrich your depressive lows. It became the soundtrack for my long-ass walks back from campus that fall and spring, and permeated most of my memories in that area.

Fast-forward to September of 1996. I’m in Seattle, at the Bellevue Silver Platters, and I grab the new album, along with $100 of other stuff. The clerk looks at it and says “hey, I heard about this…” and I lay into the ego trip. (Once I was at Tower and a clerk saw the button and said “cool button”. My reply: “Pete Steele gave it to me”. Him: “You heard Bloody Kisses?” My reply: “I was thanked in the liner notes.” His reply: “Check this out…” and he rolled up his shirt and showed me that he had one of the gargoyles from the digipak artwork tattooed on his back. End of ego war.) I got the album home, and started the memorization…

October Rust is a much more produced and consistent album than the others, and it seems like they went totally all out with the gothic thing, but still poked fun at it, which is good. It has more songs about relationships than the others, and it’s more of sadness and nostalgia than depression and rage. Songs like “Love you to death”, “Die with me”, “Haunted”, and “Burnt flowers fallen” knocked me over like a full-speed metro bus full of lead. I was already in an extreme depression at the time, and listening to stuff like this filled it out nicely. It’s not like Pink Floyd or something that pushes you over the edge – it just provides a nice soundtrack for what you’ve got. And the lyrics are simple, but try on stuff like this when you’re depressed about someone that dumped you:

now like a bird
she flew away
to chase her dreams
of books and praise
still i miss her
yeah i miss her
since she’s gone

girl i want to die with you
in each other’s arms
we’ll drown in flame

I’ve rambled for long enough. Now the apartment’s too hot. I appreciate it if you made it this far.

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You know it’s going too far when you’re walking in a mall, trying to make yourself invisible.

I just got back from the VW mechanic, and I dropped off my screwed up parts and new parts, and he said he should get it all done in a couple of days for around $50. That’s not a great deal, but most mechanics would’ve laughed me out of their garage if I would’ve come in with the same problem.

I’m feeling sick to my stomach, and very tired today. The tired part has worn off now, but my stomach has been killing me. I tried going to bed early last night – I even opted to skip writing so I could be in bed by midnight. But I ended up tossing and turning for hours. Temperature is always a problem in my apartment. Heat rises, and I’m on the top floor, so it’s always too hot, but it’s easy to get the fans running and drop the temp so low that I instantly get a head cold. Finding a balance is a full-time job.

The bread in this sandwich is absolutely appaling. I think it has pieces of sawdust in it. I keep biting into pieces of what look like drill shavings, or what particleboard looks like when it’s just particles. I hate the bread department in the store. Why can’t they make bread like they use when you buy a sandwich at a deli or a restaurant? Like Denny’s bread, or McDonald’s buns. Instead you have white bread, horrible generic wheat bread, and a bunch of esoteric, worthless 17-million grain breads that all taste like white bread soaked in a carinogen. I need to find some better bread.

I spent part of yesterday recording myself on the MiniDisc. It sounds pretty good, and gave me an opportunity to talk to myself for an hour 15 minutes. It probably sounds like the tapes the army recorded of Col Kurtz in Apocalypse Now (“I saw a snail, walking on the edge of a razor…”) Maybe I will trade the tapes with other people into similar stuff. Audio journals. I like it.

Reading more about Burroughs in The Job. You know it’s going too far when you’re walking in a mall, trying to make yourself invisible.

06/22/98 21:26

It’s amazing that I remember all of the words to Megadeth albums I haven’t heard in 10 years, but I don’t remember anything from a college physics course that required 10 hours a day of slaving at the scientific calculator. And it’s even more amazing that I can now casually say “ten years ago…” and refer to a part of my memory that’s vaguely considered adulthood. In high school, ten years ago meant kindergarten.

I’m a salsa convert. I was never into the stuff before, but now I’m eating it on a regular basis. I forget what the deal was in the Seinfeld episode with salsa, but maybe that subliminally had something to do with it.

I read a bunch of online journals after work today, but I couldn’t find any that I really liked. The last thing I found that I liked was The Cyprian Virago, since Heidi seems about as stable as I am. I read a lot of other journals that didn’t do it for me, and I’m thinking of making up my page next April 1 so it redirects to a GeoCities site covered with animated GIFs, an HTML-calender, and a giant diatribe about how you shouldn’t read this site if you know me in real life. And then I’ll password protect it.

I thought I had a stream of thought, but I lost it reading a travel page. I wish I could hit the road forever, but I guess I’m stuck here for now. Seattle, a TV dinner, and an evening of not much else. I guess that’s OK, for now.

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1992 flashbacks

Having incredible flashbacks of 1992 today. I was lying in bed, and the heat and smell of the air and desolation almost transported me there. I started thinking about details I’d forgotten, little things – the voice of a long-gone summer fling, the constant spin of the box fan in my room, the lazy emptiness of sitting around, not having a job the next day. It made me think I could put on some shorts and a shirt and go to Kirkwood and catch a WQAX streetdance on my way to CD exchange or something.

I guess going nuts over the past is permissibile, considering that I’m writing a book about it right now. I put down a few words last night about the same deal, about never really being able to touch your past again. Sometimes you can get so close – you can find that note from an ex-girlfriend and read it and get transported back, and touch the paper and know that she touched the same paper 5 or 10 or 50 years ago. It’s like when that dude from Quantum Leap went back to his own family when he was a kid, and he couldn’t tell them that his brother was going to die in Vietnam, and even when he did, it didn’t change anything. Even though my book uses the most lax, taboo, and destructive time travel methodology, it’s still impossible to go back to your own past and get what you want. All but the most devious are limited to being only observers.

Had a weird dream that I was hanging out with a few different women in Wright quad back at IU – no real prospects, just friends. Maybe I was living there? Anyway, Jenny McCarthy was going to college there, and was friends with one of the girls. One morning, I was sleeping on the floor there, and she came in completely naked, wanting to borrow something. It was very awkward, and I wanted to tell her “I loved your CD-ROM” or something else to piss her off. Later (or maybe earlier) she called the room and I answered, and she said “This is McCarthy” and I said “Joseph McCarthy?” Also in the dream, I got into a huge ethical discussion with her and the roommates about whether or not it was safe to go to a college class if it’s three weeks into the semester and you haven’t attended once. When I woke up, I was still thinking about cover stories that might work for this (clinical depression, father was sick, allergy attacks…)

I think I’m going to go see the X-Files movie after a hit of lunch…

06/21/98 22:01

I don’t want to slag the X-Files film on the off-chance that Gillian Anderson is stalking me, reads this, and then decides not to suprise me. I’ll say this much: Scully=good, Mulder=good, all of the other characters=what the fuck? Everyone else was a caricature of a caricature. And wasn’t this black oil alien already discussed at length in the series? Why didn’t Mulder know about it, if he was infected with it in that Russian gulag? Am I hallucinating? I don’t know. It was nice watching the X-Files without commercials, even if it seemed like a padded out 1-hour epsisode. They didn’t cut it off in the middle or end with a To Be Continued. And it looked and sounded great. I dunno – maybe if they would’ve divided the movie into 4 continuous episodes, like the Twilight Zone film, and gave each episode to a different director. Then you’d get a little of humor, a little high-tech angle, some more about the other people, etc. Oh well. Worth $4 and the bullshit involved with so many people and having to sit in the second row.

Beautiful day today. I got home, opened the window, and sat in bed, with a nice breeze coming over me. So nice, that I fell asleep and awoke to darkness.

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Twilight

It’s already twilight out, and I can’t sleep. I’m feeling sort of nauseous – I think I drank too much caffeine. On top of that, my monitor just made a sharp cracking sound, went completely blank, then came back on and is now working fine. Maybe it’s going to blow up. I just bought the damn thing in January. Maybe the 6-month warranty timer just went off.

I finished reading Naked Lunch, and what can you say – pretty awesome stuff. I read the reviews on amazon.com, and everyone gave it either a 10 or a 1. The 1 reviews are hilarious. I have to admit, I wasn’t 100% fond of the book because of the randomness, but now I’m a convert. I think I’ll start reading some of his other more challenging stuff, like the cutup trilogy. I’ve read all of his more basic stuff, like Queer, Junkie, and Interzone. Time for a trip to the bookstore.

I got a fair amount of writing done on Rumored tonight. I’m way behind schedule – like 10,000 words behind. But, I cut a bunch of dead wood I knew was going to be dropped, and my schedule didn’t account for that. Although by wordcount, it appears that I lost about 4,000 words tonight, I lost about 7,000 and gained 3,000. And since I ideally write 2,000 a night, that’s a good haul. Most of all, I’m happy that a lot of new stuff is appearing in the time travel part of the book, and the order is all falling into place. I have a lot to do in this half of the book – it’s maybe 50% done at this point, not even that. The other half of the book is about 60% done.

I’m sure these numbers bore you. It’s 5 in the morning. I’ve got to get to bed before it’s completely daylight out, and the room temperature goes from 55 to 273.

06/20/98 12:26

I played GameBoy until like 6:30am, and couldn’t dissolve the caffeine fast enough. Now I feel like the living dead, and I’m preparing for the great water pump surgery, and eating some applesauce for lunch.

On my way to sleep last night, I thought of a long ramble of something I wanted to talk about in here, but now it’s gone. Story of my life.

To quote Dennis Hopper, “let’s hit the fuckin’ road.”

06/20/98 17:51

I knew it would be a mess. It always is.

I had a few things I could’ve done first – drain the coolant, remove the water pump pulley, loosen the alternator – and none of them were going to happen. I couldn’t hold the water pump pulley still to break the bolts (I also found that one the three bolts was MISSING!) I couldn’t move the alternator because I’d forgotten that a shitload of VW stuff isn’t held on by standard bolts, but by allen-head bolts, and I have no wrenches for those. I bought a siphon and did manage to get some of the coolant out of the radiator. I’m suprised the damn thing even ran – it looked like Love Canal sludge, more black and muddy than antifreeze green.

Okay, there’s a Sears about 10 miles from Karena’s (did I mention that I had to do this repair at her apartment complex, where I’m storing the Volks? She’s out of town, so I was there by myself.) so I went to get some 3/8″ drive allen wrenches. I guesstimated it as a 6mm, and found that my mailbox key almost snugly fit inside there. I drive there – some kind of weird radio station on location deal is going on, with a guy dressed as a clam, a bunch of freaks wearing dayglow yellow painter’s overalls and dancing like one of those retarded Intel commercials, and a bunch of people honking their car horns. Inside, the Sears hardware department was a zoo – Father’s day is tomorrow. A set of 6 or 8 metric allen wrenches was like $28, so I guessed and got a 6mm and 7mm for $12. The sales clerk kept trying to guess how to pronounce my last name based on my Visa card, and I thought I was going to have to wheel her over to a display radial arm saw and cut her head off. I wanted to wander the mall, but I already had antifreeze and grease all over me, I’d just spend money, and I promised I’d work until 5 and then fuck around for the rest of the evening. The round trip took almost an hour.

I had a weird system of draining the car, involving a 2 quart tupperware bowl, the plastic tray from a one-gallon vaporizer (that would probably now kill everyone in the room if I plugged it in), and a 2 or 3 gallon dishtray-type thing. I had a couple of fuckups, and spilled some antifreeze, but most of it stayed in the plastic pans. I pulled the bottom radiator hose and got a few quarts to dump loose there, and after I fucked with the pulley a bit, the water pump leaked a steady drip. But I only got maybe 3/4 of a gallon out of the thing, and it supposedly held 2. The radiator had been half empty already, so maybe there wasn’t a lot of water in there.

I broke loose the alternator, no problem (it was a 6mm hex). Then I found that one of the two bolts on the pulley wasn’t much more than finger tight. I spent forever fucking with that last bolt – I couldn’t turn it when the pulley itself was turning. Finally, I jammed a screwdriver in the way so it wouldn’t spin, and got the last nut out. The water pump was now in the open and ready to be pulled.

A lot of cars have a one piece pump that bolts right on the engine, but this particular VW uses a hollow housing that bolts to the engine and has the three hose mounts, and then the water pump bolts on the side of that. Imagine an open-mouthed canister, with a bunch of hoses on the closed end, and a hole in the side that goes to a pipe. The lid to the canister has a fan blade on the inside, so when you put the lid on, it churns around and moves water from the hoses to the hole in the side. The canister is the water pump housing, and the lid is the water pump itself. And what I was trying to do was loosen the 8 or so bolts so I could pry off the lid, throw it in the dumpster, and put on a new one.

What’s the catch? I kept breaking the fucking bolts. There are like 8 bolts holding the two pieces together, and they were snapping off like plastic when I got a socket in there. Plan b – I tore off the alternator, and pulled out the entire housing and pump at the same time. It was only 4 bolts and 3 hose connections, and I got the whole damn thing out without much difficulty. It also drained another 2 quarts of coolant from the system.

So I sat on the sidewalk, with this piece of shit part, trying to see if I could remove any of the bolts without snapping the heads off. A semi-attractive woman that lived at the complex walked by as I sat there, drenched in grease and antifreeze, fucking with this cumbersome piece of cast iron that looks like something off of a 19th century steam engine. Right as she said “Having fun?” I snapped another bolt in two. After the damage was done, I snapped maybe 5 of 8 bolts, and couldn’t pry the two pieces apart. My only hope is to find a shop that will drill out the bolts, pry off the old pump, slap on the new one, and install some new bolts, hopefully for less than $10,000. Hopefully some VW shop will be a pal and do it on the cheap for me. Plus, then they will be the ones installing the gasket between the pieces and torquing it all down, not me. And once I have the housing-pump-pulley assembly, it’ll be easy to put back together – 4 bolts, 3 hoses, plus the alternator.

I’m guessing that at least one reader will look at that giant monologue, say “what the fuck is this guy’s deal?” and never come back to this journal. Right on.

I’m going to wash my hands for the 900th time, and either take a nap, or go to the mall and maybe the movies.

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