Conrad Schnitzler – “Conviction” (2007)

November 30, 2009 at 1:45 am (Krautrock, Music, Reviews & Articles, Tangerine Dream)

Taken from the Cyclic Defrost website comes this Ewan Burke review (March 20, 2007) of Krautrock legend (and former Tangerine Dream and Kluster member) Conrad Schnitzler’s album Conviction (released on the Ricochet Dream label)…

Conrad Schnitzler is a bona-fide krautrock legend. Born in Dusseldorf in 1937, he went on to study sculpture with Joseph Beuys in the 1960’s, helped to form the Zodiac Free Arts Lab in Berlin, and in 1969 played on Tangerine Dream’s epochal debut album Electronic Meditation. He then went on to form Kluster with Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius. They made two LP’s together – Klopfzeichen and Zwei Osterei (both 1971) – before Schnitzler left, and Kluster became Cluster. Schnitzler’s first solo release was Schwarz in 1972, and since then he’s barely let up from a hefty release schedule (his catalogue runs to over fifty albums.)

And so to Conviction, Schnitzler’s first for the Stateside Ricochet Dream label. The digipak cover shows a bleak scene of a steam-belching locomotive moving through a snow-covered landscape, and the eighteen track titles – ‘Eerie Station’, ‘Across the DDR’, ‘Close by Berlin’ etc. – mostly refer to an imaginary journey from the the former East to West Germany. However, despite eighteen tracks being listed on the cover, this is really just one hour-long track which doesn’t vary hugely from beginning to end. Schnitzler’s signature sound of rhythmic electronics chugs away throughout – there are no drum sounds and no basslines at all, yet the music is intensely rhythmic due to the percussive sounds and repetitive sequences employed.

It’s tempting to compare this album to Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express – but whereas Kraftwerk’s train journey seemed rather quaint and charming – passing by the “parks, hotels and palaces” of ‘Europe Endless’ – Schnitzler’s journey takes place in an endless night illumined by flourescent arc lights, moving through soulless conurbations and blasted, ravaged countryside (like the Zone in Tarkovsky’s Stalker.)

At times there are echoes of Phaedra-era Tangerine Dream, but this music is colder, and less programmatic. Conrad Schnitzler is not an artist who seeks to draw you into his world – you have to make the effort to go to him. Is it worth it? I’d have to say yes. There is something undeniably hypnotic and deeply pleasing about his endlessly coiling, spiralling, morphing sequences and gloomy, industrial ambience.

This CD has been released in a limited edition of 300, so be quick if you want one.

Ewan Burke

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President Obama’s Weekly Address (Nov. 28, 2009)

November 29, 2009 at 6:45 pm (Life & Politics)

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“Naked Lunch” (1991)

November 27, 2009 at 10:26 am (Cinema, Reviews & Articles, The Beats, William S. Burroughs)

Janet Maslin article from The New York Times, Dec. 27, 1991 about the David Cronenberg adaptation of William S. Burroughs’ famous novel. It wasn’t a literal adaptation of the book, as it only used parts of it. I saw this movie at the time and it was definitely strange…

Drifting In and Out of a Kafkaesque Reality

Naked Lunch, adapted by the dauntless David Cronenberg from William S. Burroughs’ 1959 landmark novel, represents a remarkable meeting of the minds. It’s hard to imagine another filmmaker who could delve so deeply into the monstrousness of Mr. Burroughs’ vision, in the end coming up with a bona fide monster movie of his own. Yet while Mr. Cronenberg’s ingenious approach to his material matches Mr. Burroughs’ flair for the grotesque, it also shares the author’s perfect nonchalance and his ice-cold wit. Seldom has a filmmaker offered his audience a more debonair invitation to go to hell.

The director of The Fly, Dead Ringers and Scanners will not disappoint viewers who appreciate his devilish ingenuity. Instead of attempting the impossible task of adapting Naked Lunch literally, Mr. Cronenberg has treated the disjointed, hallucinatory book as a secondary source. Concentrating instead on Mr. Burroughs himself, the drug experience that colors his writing and the agonies of the creative process, Mr. Cronenberg also devises purely metaphorical versions of the author’s wild and violent sexual scenarios. The result, by turns bracing, brilliant, and vile, is a screen style as audacious as Mr. Burroughs’ is on the page.

Naked Lunch makes an instantaneous break with conventional reality in its opening moments and never looks back. Centering on the adventures of Bill Lee, played by Peter Weller as a droll, deadpan evocation of the author (Lee was the maiden name of Mr. Burroughs’ mother, and William Lee his pseudonym), the film begins with smallish bugs. Then it moves on to ever more huge, horrible, and intelligent ones. Bill works in New York City as an exterminator and sees even that as a metaphor. “Exterminate all rational thought: that is the conclusion I have come to,” he says.

In addition to viewing his job in philosophical terms, Bill has also used it as an excuse to ingest narcotic bug powder, to which both he and his wife, Joan (Judy Davis), have become addicted. Ms. Davis, who is wonderfully dry and unflappable in two different bizarre incarnations, at first turns up barely long enough to inject bug powder intravenously and conduct a lazy affair with one of Bill’s friends. “Hank and I, we’re just bored,” she tells Bill. “It wasn’t serious.”

This is enough to raise Bill’s suspicions that Joan is a secret agent for an enemy spy ring, especially after a large talking beetle befriends Bill and drops that hint. Joan must be eliminated, the beetle insists, speaking from an orifice that recalls Mr. Burroughs taste for the playfully obscene and talking in the lively, Burroughs-like idiom of Mr. Cronenberg’s inventive screenplay. “It must be done this week,” the insect says, “and it must be done real tasty.”

So Bill and Joan perform their “William Tell act,” just as Mr. Burroughs and his wife, Joan Vollmer Burroughs, did on one drunken evening in Mexico City in 1951. As Bill shoots and kills Joan, the film makes one of its many allusions to the real events of Mr. Burroughs’ life. Soon afterward, he either physically or psychically flees New York for Interzone, a Tangier-like exotic setting in which the film’s nightmarishness escalates to new levels (although Naked Lunch is so thoroughly hallucinatory that it’s difficult to know exactly where its characters are, literally or figuratively). In Interzone, the suffering gets worse and the bugs get bigger as Bill attempts to write what will be Naked Lunch, the novel.

Onscreen Naked Lunch recalls both The Sheltering Sky and Barton Fink in its respective evocations of the life of the literary exile and the torment of trying to write. Mr. Cronenberg’s hideously clever contribution in the latter realm is the insect-cum-typewriter that supposedly assists Bill in his efforts but clearly has a mind of its own. Both the writing bug and the Mugwump, a man-sized and rather soigné strain of monster, are capable of registering their approval by oozing viscous, intoxicating substances from various parts of their anatomies. “I’d like you to meet a friend of mine,” Bill is told upon encountering his first cigarette-smoking Mugwump on a bar stool in Interzone. “He specializes in sexual ambivalence.”

These elements, plus a lot of attention to the addictive powers of the black meat of the giant Brazilian centipede, insure that Mr. Cronenberg’s version of Naked Lunch is no more suitable to the fainthearted than Mr. Burroughs’ was. And the film, while very different from the book, is every bit as impenetrable in its own way. By the time it reaches a repellent fever pitch, with one character literally tearing its body open to reveal someone of a different sex inside (a simple yet extravagantly weird evocation of the author’s thoughts on sexual identity), Naked Lunch has become too stomach-turning and gone too far over the top to regain its initial aplomb. Yet for the most part this is a coolly riveting film and even a darkly entertaining one, at least for audiences with steel nerves, a predisposition toward Mr. Burroughs, and a willingness to meet Mr. Cronenberg halfway.

The gaunt, unsmiling Mr. Weller looks exactly right and brings a perfect offhandedness to his disarming dialogue. (“You’re patronizing me, boys, but I don’t mind ’cause you’re so sweet to me too,” he tells the film’s Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg stand-ins.) And Ms. Davis is chillingly good as both Joan Lee and Joan Frost, a writer Bill meets with her husband in Interzone; between this and her work as the helpmate of the William Faulkner character in Barton Fink, Ms. Davis surely qualifies as the tortured writer’s Muse of the Year. Also roaming through Naked Lunch are Roy Scheider as the demented Dr. Benway, an odd fixture of the pharmacological strain in Mr. Burroughs’ writing; Ian Holm as a fellow writer with a grasp of the typewriter-bug’s habits, and Julian Sands as a debauched Interzone playboy.

“Stay until you finish the book, but then come back to us,” Bill’s friends say about his sojourn in Interzone. But if the terror so slyly and sickeningly rendered in Naked Lunch is representative, it’s a miracle that artists ever survive the creative process to come home.

Janet Maslin

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The Rolling Stones – “Far Away Eyes” (Promo – 1978)

November 25, 2009 at 3:15 pm (Music, The Rolling Stones)

The Stones doing country music. Reportedly Keith, who is a big country fan, wasn’t that thrilled with Mick’s piss-taking “country bumpkin” vocal, which gave the song a novelty feel. Humorous though…

A bootleg version of this song reportedly exists with Keith singing.

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Rakim – “Casualties of War” (1992)

November 23, 2009 at 3:35 pm (Music, Poetry & Literature)

Casualties of war; as I approach the barricade
Where’s the enemy?  Who do I invade?
Bullets of Teflon, bulletproof vest rip
Tear ya outta ya frame with a bag full of clips
Cause I got a family that waits for my return
To get back home is my main concern
I’ma get back to New York in one piece
but I’m bent in the sand that is hot as the city streets
Sky lights up like fireworks blind me
Bullets, whistlin over my head remind me…
President Bush said attack
Flashback to Nam, I might not make it back
Missile hits the area, screams wake me up
from a war of dreams, heat up the M-16
Basic training, trained for torture
Take no prisoners, and I just caught ya
Addicted to murder, send more bodybags
They can’t identify em, leave the nametags
I get a rush when I see blood, dead bodies on the floor
Casualties of war!

Day divides the night and night divides the day
It’s all hard work and no play
More than combat, it’s far beyond that
Cause I got a kill or be killed kind of attack
Area’s mapped out, there’ll be no, Stratego
Me and my platoon make a boom wherever we go
But what are we here for?  Who’s on the other side of the wall?
Somebody give the President a call
But I hear warfare scream through the air
Back to the battlegrounds, it’s war they declare
A Desert Storm: let’s see who reigns supreme
Something like Monopoly: a government scheme
Go to the Army, be all you can be
Another dead soldier?  Hell no, not me
So I start letting off ammunition in every direction
Allah is my only protection
But wait a minute, Saddam Hussein prays the same
and this is Asia, from where I came
I’m on the wrong side, so change the target
Shooting at the general; and where’s the sergeant?
Blame it on John Hardy Hawkins for bringing me to America
Now it’s mass hysteria
I get a rush when I see blood, dead bodies on the floor
Casualties of war!

The war is over, for now at least
Just because they lost it don’t mean it’s peace
It’s a long way home, it’s a lot to think about
Whole generation, left in doubt
Innocent families killed in the midst
It’ll be more dead people after this
So I’m glad to be alive and walkin
Half of my platoon came home in coffins
Except the general, buried in the Storm
in bits and pieces no need to look for em
I played it slick and got away with it
Rigged it up so they would think they did it
Now I’m home on reserves and you can bet
when they call, I’m going AWOL
Cause it ain’t no way I’m going back to war
when I don’t know who or what I’m fighting for
So I wait for terrorists to attack
Every time a truck backfires I fire back
I look for shelter when a plane is over me
Remember Pearl Harbor?  New York could be over, G
Kamikaze, strapped with bombs
No peace in the East, they want revenge for Saddam
Did I hear gunshots, or thunder?
No time to wonder, somebody’s going under
Put on my fatigues and my camoflauge
Take control, cause I’m in charge
When I snapped out of it, it was blood, dead bodies on the floor
Casualties of war!


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President Obama’s Weekly Address (Nov. 21, 2009)

November 21, 2009 at 2:36 pm (Life & Politics)

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Jim Morrison – “Poems from Tape Noon”

November 20, 2009 at 9:35 am (Jim Morrison, Poetry & Literature)

We must tie all these
desperate impressions together

Money, the beauty of

pale green

Skin or leather

Enter the slip
of the warm womb tide

Wet labyrinth kiss

digging the wells
& riding the lies

all holes & poles

Walk down a street
A drive to the beach
Drowning man’s flash
A town in siege

The Desert
-roseate metallic blue
& insect green

blank mirrors &
pools of silver

a universe in
one body

Bibulous compound of
muck & mulch milk

Tenebrous connections
in forest & farm

all-swarming dish-like

Say No More

-That sure was a mouthful.
-You said it.

you must confront
your life
which is sneaking up
on you
like a rapt coiled


you must confront
the inevitable
Bloody Bones has got you!

hope is just a word
when you think in
Table Cloths
Laughter will not end
her funny feeling
or assuage our
strange desire
Children will be born

Welcome to the American Night
where dogs bite
to find the voice
the face the fate the fame
to be tamed
by The Night
in a quiet soft luxuriant
Hitchhikers line the Great Highway

I am real
Take a snapshot of me
He is real, shot
Reality is what has been
concealed from us
for so long
birth sex death
we’re alive when we laugh
when we can feel the
rush & spurt of blood
blood is real in its redness
the rainbow is real in
absence of blood

Sudden attack
Stabbed & hacked but no
pain no death

Zone of silence
Sudden powered
mute strangeness
& awareness
most awkward to the mind
alive w/love & laughter
& memory sweet of kinder
when we spoke & words
had soft form by
a fire

This is my forest
a sea of wires.
This gaggle of vision
is my flame.
These trees are men,
the engineers.
And a tribe of farmers
on their Sunday off.

Gods-the directors.
Cameras, greek
Centaurs on the boom,
sliding w/silent
Mobile grace

Toward me-
a leaping clown
In the great sun’s eye.

Grand danger there
in curved thigh.
The avenging finger-

Dancing & thrashing
the reptile summer
They’ll be here long
before we’re gone
Sunning themselves
on the marble porch
Raging w/in against
the slow heat
Of an invaded Town

The Kingdom is ours

Translations of the divine
in all languages. The Blues,
The records get you high,
in armies / on swift channels.
The new dreamer will sing
to the mind w/thoughts
unclutched by speech.
Pirate mind stations. Las Vegas T.V.
Midnite showings.

electric storm
from the front
barometer at zero
blue-eyed dog
strangled by snow
Night storm
flight-drive thru deserts
neon capitals, Wilderness
echoed & silenced
by angels

Angel Flight
to tobacco farm
the roadhouse

get ready for the Night
the rumors on waking
a gradual feeling of
learning & remembering

imagine a heaven in the
would one member be missing?

The form is an angel of soul
from horse to man to boy
& back again

Music sex & idea are the
currents of connection

friendship transition

conductor of soul from the
fat brain of stealth
to sunset

Work out

Welcome to the night
Welcome to the deep good
dark American Night

a man gets time to die
his amber waste

sloven footsteps of swine

in the camps, w/dark black
crooked stars have destiny’s

Lord help us

Leave the informed sense
in our wake
you be Christ
on this package tour
-Money beats soul-

Last words, last words

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Anthony O’Grady – “AC/DC: Australia Has Punk Rock Bands Too Y’know” (1975)

November 18, 2009 at 4:09 pm (Music, Reviews & Articles)

April 19, 1975 article from RAM magazine, right after AC/DC had released their first album (the original domestic Australian version of High Voltage)…they were still a local band and unknown to the outside world…  

Ladees and gentlemen, introducing one of the few bands in Australia that deserves the tag of a real street punk band…putcha fists together in ominous slow handclap fashion for AC/DC!

“Street Punk Band”. Maybe you’ve heard the description apply to groups like the early Rolling Stones (in whose honour the phrase was first coined back in the mid sixties). In recent years the tag has been applied to such as The New York Dolls, Iggy and The stooges, the MC5, The Troggs and The Sweet.

But Australian bands have been too good-natured on the whole and have been a bit inclined to suffer from malnutrition (a disease contracted from low paying gigs) as a result. Real Aussie roughies with real rock and roll skill have been hard to find. But AC/DC, they play real blitzkrieger rock and roll and you’d better not believe they won’t stomp you if you make a wrong move.

“Before I joined the band,” says singer Bon Scott who’s now been with AC/DC for six months, “Angus ‘n Malcolm, the ones you’d least expect to be the heavies, used to get up to some incredible things. The first gig I was with them, in Adelaide, there were a dozen guys in front of the stage shouting ‘Hey, Hey Come on down here ya…’ and Angus, he walks up to the edge of the stage and screams at them ‘Go and get…’ So me, I’m looking for a microphone stand ready for the onslaught…it happens all the time. Especially with the school uniforms…”

For anyone struggling through the backwash of them for opens, Malcolm ‘n Angus Young are the guitarists for AC/DC. They’re also the younger bro’s of ace songwriter George Young who combines with Harry Vanda to knock out such pop opii as ‘Evie’ and ‘Hard Road’ for Stevie Wright. Angus bears the added attraction of playing in a white school tunic with ridiculous brown kindergarten satchel strapped to his back. He’s played with that satchel so long now, he would maybe feel lost on stage without it.

The group was formed in early ’74 for a gig at the Sydney disco, Chequers. Bon Scott was the first change, replacing singer Dave Evans. Next, Phil Rudd replaced Peter Clack on drums. And currently they’re looking for a bass player.

“It’s a pretty rare type of bloke who’ll fit into our band,” says Bon Scott. “He has to be under five feet six. And he has to be able to play bass pretty well, to.”

Short tough bass players may apply to AC/DC, care of Mike Browning at the Hard Rock Café, Melbourne. (Though rumour has it a short toughie ex from Mississippi now has da job).

It has been said of AC/DC, that any band under the guidance of Vanda and Young has a better than average chance of making it. The fact that the bro’s Malcolm ‘n Angus Young cap rip out a pretty mean guitar riff, and Bon Scott has been a member of two significant Australian bands, The Valentines and Fraternity, is often underscored by the fact that Big Bro’ George has sometimes lent the helping hand. As Bon says: “Yeah, George is pretty scared that the sort of attitude will spread too, so he stays out of it as much as possible. Like he played bass for us for six weeks in Melbourne and whenever we’re stuck he’ll give us a hand, but we write our songs, play our own material; it’s not a case of George pushing the band to where they couldn’t get by themselves.”

Another thing that rankles the band, even months afterwards, is the treatment meted out to them at the Sunbury ’75 Festival. Over to Angus:

“They come and they drag us away half way through a job y’know…and they say ‘You gotta come out cause Deep Purple aren’t gonna play tonight’. So we go out to Sunbury. We get there and we have to walk through the crowd in our stage gear. Then Deep Purple decide they’re going to play after all…which was fair enough. So we’re supposed to go on an hour after they finish.

“So we’re down there and we find there was one caravan for the Australian bands. We got there and everyone was crowded into that. Deep Purple, they had everything else, all the other caravans and changing rooms cause they’re international right? …and we’re Australian.

“What happened after Deep Purple finished, their roadies are getting Purple’s gear off and while we’re setting up, one of the Purple roadies gets hassley with Michael Browning our manager, telling him we can’t go until Purple’s gear has been cleared…which will take y’know, something like five hours. So then there’s brawl and we cancelled y’know, like they wanted to put us on next day…but we said ‘Up yours’. Well it saved us from not getting paid anyway. It was just one of those things I guess.

“But we cancelled them, they didn’t cancel us.”

Actually, the first time I’d met AC/DC, Angus, all five foot five of him, had approached me with homicide in his eyes. It was due to the Sunbury report in RAM’s first issue which stated AC/DC were cancelled by the promoters, which was the prevailing opinion at the time, especially since the group had left the Festival grounds and were uncontactable.

At this stage in time it doesn’t matter either way I guess.

Their album High Voltage is the new thing. So let’s talk about that, lads.

First thing you notice is that it doesn’t contain the band’s first single ‘Can I Sit Next to You Girl’.

“Yeah, well it’s a new band init?” says Bon, “We gotta different style now.”

“We’re just starting to get to work playing the album at our gigs now. It’s real tough music so it’s good to play on stage. Melbourne and Adelaide radio are playing stuff from it.”

“One of the problems with the album,” says Malcolm, “is the words. There’s a lot of ‘dirty’ words in the songs which they can’t play on straight radio…like on one line there’s the word climax…as in sex. And you can’t have a climax on radio…it just ain’t done. Wouldn’t want to corrupt the kids y’know…har…har…”

“Musically it’s real rock and roll. For a while, before we got AC/DC together, I went off rock and roll a bit. Like me and Angus, we were into jazz chords and progressive music…the real complex timing change things. But that only lasted a year, ’cause really we grew on rock and roll and we’ve been progressing through rock and roll ever since.

“It’s the way it’s played that we’re really into. If we don’t come off stage really sweating and absolutely stuffed we don’t reckon it’s been worthwhile out there. We’re really into getting a real energy thing happening. So that’s what’s happening on the album; it’s the way we play rock and roll that’s important.”

“It’s a lot harder to play something simple in a way that hasn’t been played before, than it is to play something complex”, says Angus.

Malcolm by the way has been playing in rock and roll bands, even accounting for a year of guitar experimentation, for six years.

He is nineteen.

Angus has been in bands for six years too. He’s seventeen.

“Christ,” says Bon Scott, “I didn’t join my first band ’til I was nineteen.”

Bon Scott is in the twenty eight and over age bracket. As mentioned earlier he’s been with both the Valentines, a gaudy and successful straight pop band of the sixties, and with Fraternity, a well respected Music Band of the late sixties and early seventies. They’re still around, but not nearly as high on the music tree as they used to be.

“Fraternity were just a copy of the real Band…not much in their music but in their heads and all. They breathed and lived like the Band. From the Valentines to Fraternity was a big change…I got sick of doing bopper audiences with the Valentines and I wanted to become a musician, to be recognised in the Australian rock scene as more than just an arse shaker. I really enjoyed myself in Fraternity, got a new direction I could never have got with the Valentines y’know. But there was a lot of stuff I was writing I could never give to them and I was getting old, and the pace Fraternity were moving I thought ‘God I’ll have grey hairs before I’m thirty.’ Then these guys come along and took ten years off my age.

“Fraternity and me had been together four years and they were all married with kids and I was married too…which was something I wasn’t ready for. I joined the band and got divorced.”

A bit drastic, that?

“Well I dug and band more than I dug the chick so I joined the band and left her.”

“Bon writes the words to the songs,” said Malcolm. “And they’re straight Bon. Just exactly like he lives. We have to censor half of them…and they’re still outrageous.”

“They aren’t poetry, that’s for sure,” says Bon. “I don’t write about flowers and trees.”

That’s for sure.

I remark that Bon has both ears pierced and there are gold rings in them there lobes, giving him a distinctly piratical look.

A few years ago, of course, it was the custom for heroin addicts to have the right ear pierced and to wear an earring there…is it at all possible that…

“Nah” says Bon, “I’m not a druggie. What happened y’see, was a few years ago I was working on a cray fishing boat and there was this guy there I really respected and admired. And he had his ear pierced…so I got one of mine done then.”

And the other?

“Well y’see one night we’re coming home from a gig and I was feeling pretty bored…wanted to wear another earring but like I didn’t have anywhere to put it, see. So I got a safety pin and told the roadie, stick it in here. Well it was something to do to pass the time anyway.”

I guess you could say that AC/DC live and breathe bloody aggressive rock and roll.

Anthony O’Grady

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Happy Mondays – “Step On” (1990)

November 17, 2009 at 5:28 pm (Music)

Happy Mondays’ hit cover of John Kongos’ 1971 British hit (see below). They also covered Kongos’ other big hit “Tokoloshe Man.”

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John Kongos – “He’s Gonna Step on You Again” (1971)

November 17, 2009 at 5:27 pm (Music)

This song, which was a big hit in England in 1971 and was produced by longtime Elton John producer Gus Dudgeon, is cited by the Guiness Book of World Records as the first song to use a pre-recorded sample. It was later covered by Madchester legends Happy Mondays as simply “Step On.” 

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