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Mysterious matchbox

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.

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This particular item which I believe is an artists’ book is quite interesting, published in Paris in 1990 by Ed. Rouleau Libre it was issued as a matchbox measuring 8 x 6 cm and contains a number of objects.  On a folded sheet is a poem by Pierre Mréjen along with a graphic of some sort.  KIC_Image_0002

Little is know about Mréjen he appears to be a poet that produced a number of artists’ books for Les Editions Rouleau Libre.  An additional folded sheet contains two quotations by Henri Michaux and Maurice Blanchot along with small illustrations.  What was most unexpected were the matches, marble, and cigarette that accompanied the folded sheets.  KIC_Image_0004

The work is identified as example no. 11, out of how many we cannot be sure,  and there was little definitive information about this cleverly constructed item.

I did discover that the cigarette is from a German brand called Roth Handle whose identifying hand logo has been recreated on the back of the matchbox with the title of the work.

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Part of the Fine Arts Library collection La main espacée. Paris : Rouleau Libre, 1990 can be located in Hollis

Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager for contributing this post.

This week’s post on Harvard College Library’s zines collection delves a little deeper into how zines are produced, circulated and reviewed. While a previous post on the collection talked about how science fiction fanzines circulated in the ‘80s through the “APAs” (amateur press alliances), this post focuses on how the zines of the ‘90s and ‘00s circulated, and still do, outside of the APA context.

To speak of a “typical” zine is an oxymoron; zines are eclectic in everything from subject matter and design, to production and circulation methods. Besmirched #3, the zine chosen for this week’s post, is not so much a “typical” zine, then, as a useful one for thinking about how zines vary.

Image 1: Front and back covers of Besmirched #3

Image 1: Front and back covers of Besmirched #3


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This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Santo Domingo collection.

As the French Revolution erupted in 1789, the bourgeoisie took up a variety of arms against the aristocracy; among them was literature. Pictured here from the Santo Domingo Collection is La Messaline françoise, a libelous account, published under an obviously false imprint, of the sexual exploits of the “duch… de Pol…”: a contemporary reader would understand this to be Yolande-Martine-Gabrielle de Polastron, the Duchess of Polignac. (The title refers to Valeria Messalina, wife of the Roman emperor Claudius, and another woman in power against whom accusations of promiscuity were levied.)

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Natural Highs!

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Santo Domingo collection.

 

Highs!Although much of the Santo Domingo Collection focuses on illegal and medical drugs, there is some exceptions to these books that suggest other ways of getting that feeling.  Alex J. Packer, Ph.D., an educator and administrator in drug education programs presents the book Highs! Over 150 ways to feel really REALLY good…Without Alcohol or other Drugs….  With various sections including serenity highs, physical and sensuous highs, and social, spiritual and creative highs Packer lays out a variety of ways to alter the way your experience life.   Marketed towards teens, Packer takes every day activities young people might do and suggests changing the way you think of them.

Some suggestions are ones that everyone has heard of and are more run of the mill.  Packer explains the mental benefits of meditation and exercise and suggests adding a new physical routine to your life could really improve it.  Highs!There are also more unusual suggestions like having a silent meal.  “Eat a meal with another person or a group of friends without talking.” Packer also includes variations like: “close your eyes for part of the meal, eat the entire meal with your hands, have participants feed each other, or pick one item like mashed potatoes or ice cream, to eat without hands or utensils (check that no adults are in sight).”

Packer also has other recommendations to appeal to a teenage crowd like showing optical illusions and suggesting one uses those to think about the way they see the world.  Although the idea behind the book isn’t unfamiliar, Packer offers some unconventional tricks to promote a drug and alcohol free life.

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Highs! : over 150 ways to feel really, really good… without alcohol or other drugs / Alex J. Packer ; edited by Pamela Espeland ; illustrated by Jeff Tolbert. Minneapolis, MN : Free Spirit Pub., c2000. can be found in Widener’s collection.

 

 

Thanks to Emma Clement, Santo Domingo Library Assistant, for contributing this post.

Part of the ongoing project to catalogue Harvard College Library’s zines collection involves sorting out non-zine material, such as flyers, books, catalogues and, as featured in this week’s post, photonovelas.

La Gran Limpieza/ The Big Sweep is a 1993 bilingual photonovela about the struggles of the Justice for Janitors movement in Los Angeles published by California Classics Books.

A photonovela is akin to a comic book with the difference that it uses sequential photographs accompanied by dialogue bubbles instead of illustrations. It typically depicts a simple story enveloped in a dramatic plot that contains a moral.

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Cataloguing work is continuing on Harvard College Library’s zines collection. The latest zines to be listed are the so-called “APA” (amateur press alliance) fanzines published during the 1980s.

APAs are networks set up by people who wish to discuss a common interest in a single forum. While the first APA in the United States – the National Amateur Press Association – was set up in 1876 to further amateur journalism as a hobby, many were founded from the 1930s onwards by fans of science fiction, comics, music and other topics. Their contributions to the “APAs” are known as “fanzines,” the precursors-in-part of the 1990s “zines” plain and simple.

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This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.

My Dog Rex

Well eight foot walls at least!  Meet Rex III, a black and tan Alsatian who was trained to detect dope and help catch criminals.  Rex worked with the Flying Squad, a special crime unit with London’s Metropolitan Police and received several medals for bravery.  My Dog Rex is a biography of this extraordinary police dog written by his handler, Arthur Holman.  Holman not only trained him but fed and sheltered him at the family home.

Rex III was credited with one hundred and twenty-five arrests and even starred in the film Police Dog.  Holman relates that in an effort to help Rex look his best for the film he “…filed down Rex’s nails until they were all the same length, asked my daughter to clean the dog’s teeth more frequently, and gave his coat an extra shine by brushing into it a small quantity of special oils.”

My Dog Rex

Dogs are no strangers to law enforcement, during the Middle Ages money was specifically put aside in villages for bloodhounds who were used to hunt down outlaws.  Bloodhounds known as “slough dogs” in Scotland are believed to be the genesis of the word “sleuth.”  One of the first instances of the police using dogs to combat crime in the 19th-century was during the investigation of the Jack the Ripper murders.  In 1954 the Metropolitan Police Squad in London established its current program which still actively uses police dogs today.

 

 

 

My dog Rex ; the story of police dog Rex III, told by his handler. New York, W. Funk [1958, c1957]. HV8025 .H6 1958. can be found in Widener Library’s collection in the Hollis catalog.

My Dog Rex

Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager for contributing this post.

Hendrix 1This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.  

This week’s feature is the second of two sculptural volumes: in this case, the binding itself, rather than the enclosure, defies convention. The book, a paperback French biography of Jimi Hendrix published in 1976, is unremarkable in itself. However, it’s been rebound in carved wooden boards covered in marbled paper, and attached to the rear cover are several spiky projections painted to resemble flames. Pasted inside the boards are photographs of Hendrix; the paperback’s original covers are preserved within. An autograph in pencil on the title page , “Woderer 92”, may be the binder’s signature; otherwise, we have no indication of this unusual binding’s provenance.

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Benoit Feller. Jimi Hendrix. Paris: Albin Michel, c1976. ML410.H476 F4 1976.

Thanks to rare book cataloger Ryan Wheeler for contributing this post.

Eastern Magic

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Santo Domingo collection.

Indian ConjuringIndian Conjuring, a book written by L.H. Branson is a detailed instruction manual to a collection of tricks that Branson discovered while living in India.  A magician himself, Branson explains tricks he has witnessed, as well as ones he does not know as well, such as the rope trick.  Although well versed in magic tricks, he was not a believer in spiritualism and thought it was based on conjurer tricks.  Branson traveled to India in the British Indian Army where he was promoted to Major and where he eventually retired.

The book begins with a chapter on different types of magic where he discusses branches from India, China, the  United States and other countries and how they contrast.
Indian Conjuring
Branson discusses the circumstances that allow for different types of magic tricks.  European and American magicians can practice illusions, and have money and props that an Indian magician could never afford.  The different loose and billowing clothing of the Chinese magician allows for different tricks as well.   He reflects negatively on the Indian conjurer, both for their lack of skill in his opinion, as well as the for complaint they do not come up with any new tricks.  Branson clearly believes sleight-of-hand illusions to be the best of the magic tricks, and does not think that anyone else can measure up to the Europeans.  He explains peoples’ fascination with Indian magic with the assumption that since magic originally comes from the east, people have the predisposition to believe an Eastern magician.

Indian Conjuring
Indian Conjuring

Despite his negative description of the Indian conjurer, he devotes the book specifically to Indian magic tricks that he has seen and learned living there.  Branson includes line illustrations to highlight the tricks he explains with step-by-step instructions.  Organized by what he describes as a typical set list of an Indian magician, he goes through each trick in the order performed.   Throughout the book he also showcases other magicians from India that he personally knew and who practice the tricks he is explaining.Indian Conjuring

Indian conjuring, by Major L. H. Branson … With 8 illustrations London, Routledge, [1922] can be found in Widener’s collection.

Thanks to Emma Clement, Santo Domingo Library Assistant, for contributing this post.

In Bruce the Psychic Guy Magazine (Vol. V, No.1, 1994) editor Bruce Lewis includes a satire by Ed Hill on how the scientific wonders of the atomic age will transform the average homeowner’s future. The piece is called “War …is Home Improvement!” and it focuses on two war-time developments: computers and atomic energy.

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Grade ‘D’ but edible is a zine authored by Marko and Ms. Chiff. The two issues found so far in Harvard College Library’s zines collection tell of their extended travels in southeast Asia and India, and their life on an organic farm in Tennessee. Through them both the authors share their views of the world.

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Mansour 2This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.  

In the course of these posts on the Santo Domingo Collection, numerous fine, extravagant, and perhaps even ostentatious bindings and enclosures have been showcased. This week, we bring you the first of two books that extend past the codex form altogether. Pictured here is Le bleu des fonds, a short play by the Surrealist poet and author Joyce Mansour, who was born in England to Egyptian parents, but spent much of her later career writing in French.

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This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Santo Domingo collection.

Mitos, ritos, y delitos en el país del silencioAndrés Rábago, also known as OPS or El Roto, is a Spanish cartoonist who focused on social satire and critiques of current events.   In his book of cartoons, Mitos, Ritos y Delitos en el Pais de Silencio, Rábago seeks to illuminate the evils he sees in a culture of silence.  Focusing on politics and religion, he highlights corruption in the church and government as well as depicting people’s inability to listen to anyone but themselves.  Although he focuses on current politics, he also tries to depict a larger sense of the ills of society and encourage people to discover their own political views.  Rábago seeks to highlight issues that aren’t being addressed adequately, especially those about the dominating political and economic powers.

Mitos, ritos, y delitos en el país del silencio

Mitos, ritos, y delitos en el país del silencio

Rábago has published several collections of cartoons as well as contributing to the newspaper El País, and having gallery exhibitions of his work.  Mitos, Ritos y Delitos is a collection that only includes pictures, although many of his cartoons also include captions and words.  The powerful images cross cultural lines and explain the negative aspects of many societies.  Using cartoons and illustrations as his tool for opening a dialog, Rábago has been one of the most successful satirical critics in the Spanish press.

Mitos, ritos, y delitos en el país del silencio

Several other works by Rábago available at Widener Library such as El Roto : el pabellón de azogue and La carne es yerba  by Manuel  Vicent ; ilustraciones de Ops.  Mitos, Ritos y Delitos en el Pais de Silencio can be found in Widener’s collection as well.

 

Thanks to Emma Clement, Santo Domingo Library Assistant, for contributing this post.

Why write zines?

Cataloging work has begun on Harvard College Library’s recently acquired 20,000-strong zines collection. Zines are non-commercial, non-professional and small-circulation publications that their creators produce, publish and either trade or sell themselves.

The 600 or so zine titles listed thus far are best described as an eclectic collection of material whose subject matter ranges from personal diaries on the day-to-day life of their authors (known as ‘perzines’) to politics (Anarchist, Socialist, Feminist etc.), religion, work, sex, travel, cooking, art, literature and fan commentary on sports, television and film, music, and science fiction.  Although their format varies greatly, most are printed or photocopied and stapled or fastened together, and the material is either the author’s own, or copied and pasted from another, usually unreferenced, source. Material is arranged on the page in any direction, color, shape and size the author sees fit.

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In his book Notes from Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture (1997), Stephen Duncombe traces the history of zines as a distinct medium in the United States from the 1930s when science fiction fans began producing ‘fanzines’ to share science fiction stories and reviews. Forty years later, in the mid-1970s, fans of punk rock music, which was ignored at the time by the mainstream music press, started printing fanzines about their music and cultural scene.

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According to Duncombe, it was in the early 1980s that these two currents joined fans of other cultural genres, self-publishers and the remnants of printed political dissent from the sixties and seventies, and cross-fertilized through listing and reviews in network zines like Factsheet Five. By the early 1990s, the emphasis on ‘fan’ zines faded as the culture of zines plain and simple developed and flourished.

During my first two weeks of listing zines, I was interested in getting a sense of why someone would devote time, and often money, to producing, circulating and reading zines. As most zine authors reflect on the zine medium itself, and what participating in zine culture means for them, material was not in short supply. The excerpts below are just three examples from dozens of others on why authors, and in this case, young authors, write zines.

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Excerpt 1: ‘All hail me’ by Megan, summer ’96, #8

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Excerpt 2: ‘Banana Revolution, Sucka’, issue #4

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Excerpt 3: ‘Absolute beginners’

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Thanks to Alina Lazar for contributing this post. Alina is a second-year PhD candidate in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard.  She is one of the initial cohort of Harvard Library  Pforzheimer Fellows, working with curator Leslie Morris at Houghton Library to compile a title listing of Harvard College Library’s Printernet Collection of approximately 20,000 zines. The Printernet Collection was assembled by an anonymous collector, and was purchased by Widener Library in 2012.  The current project to create a title list is the first step in the process to decide where the collection, or portions of it, might best be housed at Harvard, and how it will be made available for research. 

A heavenly cure?

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection

As you look at the cover of this pamphlet you might wonder what divine content might hide within its covers, well that would be… The Pink Pills!  The Pink Pills for Pale People were introduced in 1886 by Dr. William Frederick Jackson and supposedly helped with anemia and fatigue.  This type of product is known as a patent medicine or a compound that was both promoted and sold as a medical cure but was simply hucksterism at its finest.  Patent medicine in its early days was known as nostrum remedium, or “our remedy’ in Latin.  It is especially misleading since these products are not actually patented, but trademarked.

The promotion of patent medicines was one of the first major products highlighted by the advertising industry, and we can see many of the techniques pioneered by them still in use today.  These types of “cures” were widespread in the early 20th-century and included liniments with snake oil, which is supposedly where the term snake oil salesman originates.

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The back cover depicting a Santa figure with his sack full of pink pills is particularly manipulative as the logo touts that they regenerate or refresh the blood and are a tonic for nerves. 

This item can be found at the Countway Library at the Harvard Medical School in Longwood. Almanach Pink.[Paris ?] : [publisher not identified], [1902-]. RM671.P6 A44.

Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager and Joan Thomas, Rare Book Cataloger at Countway for contributing this post.

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.  Leary 3 detail

Cataloging work is now underway on the complete bibliography of author, psychologist, countercultural guru, and erstwhile Harvard lecturer Timothy Leary. The Leary volumes in the Santo Domingo Collection were previously the collection of Michael Horowitz, Leary’s associate and bibliographer. The collection is exhaustive, with translations, uncorrected proofs, pamphlets and other ephemera, and even computer software included with the monographs.

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Comic Mischief

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Santo Domingo collection.

Nostalgia ComicsNewspaper comic strips illuminate society in a way many other mediums cannot.  Available on a daily basis, one can track changing trends in cultures by looking at the types of comic humor that was popular at the time.   Collected by Nostalgia Comics, in issue number 6, 2 Great Kid Strips from the ‘20s, shows two popular newspaper cartoons from World War I and continuing on through World War II.  Jerry on the Job and Reg’lar Fellers, both focused on children and their daily exploits but in very different ways.  Jerry on the Job, chronicles a young boy’s first experience with working in the economy.  Reg’lar Fellers, on the other hand, was about several young boys and typical playtime activities.

Reg'lar Fellers

Gene Byrnes, the author of Reg’lar Fellers, depicted his characters as innocent, fun loving boys without any witty introspection.   The follow up to his first comic strip, It’s a Great Life if you Don’t Weaken, Reg’lar Fellers was an instant success.  Published in the New York Herald Tribune, Byrnes was one of the top paid cartoonists of the times.   He used his comic to showcase thoroughly American children at a time of global conflict and the strip made its way around the world, eventually translated into nine different languages.  Reg’lar Fellers was so popular it was also turned into movies and comic books.

Jerry on the Job

Jerry on the Job by Walter Hoban also ran for over 20 years, like Reg’lar Fellers, but it never reached the same commercial heights.  Hoban’s humor focused more on puns, with Jerry making witty comments to his boss that literally knocks him off his feet.   Although innocent and full of good natured humor, with phrases that come across as anachronisms today, Jerry on the Job still stands up as a funny comic.

Also included in this comic issue are Johnny Hazard, Gasoline Alley, Flash Gordon and Brick Bradford.  For anyone looking to reminisce, this collection is an excellent source.  Nostalgia comics : Franklin Square, N.Y. : Nostalgia Press, can be found in Widener’s collection.

 

Thanks to Emma Clement, Santo Domingo Library Assistant, for contributing this post.

Snowblind

Snowblind 2 detailThis post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.

Robert Sabbag’s semi-biographical Snowblind, first published in 1976, tells the story of Zachary Swan, a 1970s cocaine smuggler who relied on scams and ruses to move drugs past customs officials and keep himself out of harm’s way in the years before organized crime took control of the trade. Sabbag’s lively, literary prose and his subject’s outsized adventures have won the book critical acclaim and enduring popularity. The Edinburgh publisher Rebel Inc. celebrated this popularity in 1998 with this opulent reprint.

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This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Santo Domingo collection.

Plain Facts for Young WomenWritten in 1938, Bell Wood-Comstock’s Plain Facts for Young Women on Marijuana, Narcotics, Liquor and Tobacco offers advice for those ladies whose goal is to get married and settle down with children.  Wood-Comstock wrote several books on advice for women, focusing on personal hygiene, raising children, and maintaining a feminine allure.  Using a mix of motherly advice and medical information, Wood-Comstock suggests that smoking and drinking will lead women to premature aging, nervousness and divorce.   Although at one point she explains that since men are allowed to drink and smoke women have the same rights, but then continues on to say that women are much more negatively affected than men and should be more careful.
Plain Facts for Young Women
Wood-Comstock doesn’t shy away from describing the negative aspects of heavy drug use, explaining the physical effects of addiction to substances like heroin and cocaine, and summing up with, “the path of the drug addict is the road to hell.”  She also describes women whose lives have been ruined by drugs including a young woman of 22 is convicted of murder.

Plain Facts for Young WomenIncluded in this advice book are amusing illustrations to really accentuate Wood-Comstock’s stories.  Whether showing the way alcohol affects the brain, or nicotine affects the nerves, the images lighten the message and the advice can be easier accepted. Plain Facts for Young Women

 

 

 

 

Plain facts for girls and young women on narcotics, liquor, and tobacco / by Belle Wood-Comstock ; in collaboration with Alonzo L. Baker. Mountain View, Calif. : Pacific Press Pub. Association, c1938 is in Widener Library’s collection.

 

Thanks to Emma Clement, Santo Domingo Library Assistant, for contributing this post.

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.

“Tintin is myself.  He reflects the best and brightest in me: he is my successful double…Tintin has accomplished many things on my behalf.” -Hergé

Tintin who was created by Hergé, a pen name of Georges Prosper Remi, is known to many as the reporter turned detective whose stories chronicle his adventures chasing various villans and criminals throughout the world.  Tintin first appeared in the 1929 pages of Le Petit Vingtième, a children’s supplement to Le Vingtième Siècle.

Tintin’s story, serialized over a period of months in the paper, was set in the Soviet Union much to the displeasure of Hergé.  Abbé Norbert Wallez, who was the editor of the paper and a vocal fascist, ordered Hergé to set the initial series in the Soviet Union so that Tintin in the Land of the Soviets became a kind of anti-socialist propaganda for children.  In keeping with the deeply conservative tenor of the paper Hergé wrote several more Tintin series that took place in the Congo and America, which though popular at the time, would most likely be considered paternalistic and anti-capitalist by today’s standards.

Eventually Hergé sent Tintin on more escapist adventures including Le Temple du Soleil or Prisoners of the Sun.

In this story Tintin and Captain Haddock attempt to resuce the kidnapped Professor Calculus and become prisoners of a lost Incan civilization.  Widener has copies of many of the stories in both French and English including Le Temple du soleil.  Tintin was so popular that Hergé entered into a partnership wtih American publisher Casterman Hallmark to produce a series of pop-up books known as “Pop Hop.”  The books are an abridged version of the stories and use these fabulous pop-up illustrations to show the reader about the perilous circumstances of our trusty hero and his sidekicks, including Snowy the fox terrier.

We can also get a glimpse of Captain Haddock as the comic relief.


The popularity of Tintin is still quite clear today with the visibility of the character in popular culture, various films, merchandising, and even the Musée Hergé which features rotating exhibits of Tintin materials.  To find more Tintin pop-ups in Widener’s collection look here:

Le temple du soleil / Hergé. Tournai ; Paris : Casterman, c1970.

Le tresor de Rackham le Rouge / Hergé. Tournai ; Paris : Casterman, c1970.

L’ile noire / Hergé. Tournai ; Paris : Casterman, c1970.

Le sceptre d’ottokar / Hergé. Tournai ; Paris : Casterman, c1971.

Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager for contributing this post.

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