Dish Drying Dreams

Soapy detergent suds and a setting sun, to the backing track of the Smashing Pumpkins. 

I hope everyone has a dishwasher.
Here, at my place, unless I can convince the girls it is their turn, then I am it. The Dishwasher. Not Harvey Keitel The Cleaner. Nothing as cool as that for me.

So I have to improvise. Tonight, the motivation I sought to stick my hands into the soapy sud kingdom of the kitchen sink, came courtesy of the Smashing Pumpkins.
Tonight Tonight was the tune as it happens, courtesy of Spotify and a wifi speaker. Thanks too, to a glass or two extra of cheap red.

Years ago, as a teen, I developed one cheesy crush after another. All teens do it I guess and for me, there was a theme. Early on there was Deborah Harry. Quite apart from Blondie banging out disco infused New York punk with a French Canadian twist which thoroughly raptured me, (aficionados will know what I did there) Deborah Harry was a gorgeous, explosive blonde. Fiery and devastating, without quite being bombshell, which would have most likely not done it for me.
There was a dirty mystique to Deborah Harry of the late seventies and early eighties that as a young fella, I could not quite define and still can’t to this day. And, it didn’t stop there. Terri Nunn fronting Berlin, a dalliance with a young Madonna, never going to last, before a flirtation outside the norm with Belinda Carlisle and then Wendy James. Oh yes, Wendy James.
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Of  all of them, only Blondie really captured me and stayed with me. But, there had to be something, just a little thing, that meant more to me than just how this bevy of young songstresses looked.
Madonna had that thing, we all know it. Slutty I think it is called. For a young man, well not yet a man, from the southern most reaches of the world, there was no denying her impact. Sadly, for Madonna, her music didn’t do it for me and no matter how well presented the image, it wasn’t enough.
The same could be said for the Belinda Carlisle’s of this world. A husky sensuousness to her voice sure, an underplayed sexuality which went largely over my head.

Deborah Harry stayed there, the bench mark, seeing off flirtations with crops of newcomers, as an eighties pop explosion did detrimental harm to the world, damage we are still yet to recover from. But Debbie Gibson and Bananarama were never going to cut it for me. Babes to be sure, but where was the edge? Where was the challenge? Where was the musical integrity?
And then there was Wendy James. Maybe not the best vocalist. Maybe not the best songwriter or contributor of lyrics. Maybe she didn’t give the best interviews, maybe she didn’t have the greatest impression on me as a person, an individual, but the woman sure as hell made an impact on me. From my Dunedin-esque teenage perspective, here came a woman who was raw, true and honest and compelling and vital and real and so god damned sexy. Transvision Vamp were no Blondie, but bugger if they didn’t try hard to be, in their own way. I loved them for it.

Later, for a whole bunch of different, more mature, angsty reasons, was D’arcy Wretsky.
Siamese Dream was a piece of music, of art, which captured me.
I wasn’t alone. A seminal album, which managed to more than ‘say’ what a generation was feeling at a certain age, like Kurt Cobain did with Nirvana or the Smiths had done before them. Siamese Dream, Billy Corgan and co, made me feel.
I was a rugby playing, beach going lad. I was one of the boys, even if the guys and gals I hung with weren’t strictly the cool crowd. In reality, we were all cool, because we had each other and that was exactly the thing which made us cool. There was shared moments in time we were all experiencing, in our own ways, even while we were all doing it together.

At the time, early nineties, I was making a serious attempt to not take things seriously. In a way, I hope I still manage something close to that. I mean, I still rock. I let myself go, to the tunes that always did it for me, all the while seeking out the tracks which will do it all over again. My tastes have changed, my motivation has changed, my desires and wants and needs, everything is different yet somewhere and somehow, not a single thing is different.
My kids like ‘old man’ music. Every pop wonder hit they know is tempered by a Free Bird. Every cheesy one hit wonder of the day is countered by Rick Astley. Okay, maybe I am getting carried away. Did I mention the cheap red? Let’s try Heroes by Bowie instead

All that really matters, is while I have my hands softening under the effects of scented detergents, I am rocking out. I am in love with a bass player. I am in love with a grove, with a ‘feel’.
I am incredibly pleased to say I have not lost it. The ability to let go, knowing that no matter how ridiculous I look, how stupid and out of tune I sound, no matter the admonitions of my children, I can still rock like I just do not give a fuck.

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D’arcy Wretsky arguably made a mess of her live, thanks to the wonders of opiates. I can’t say I am where I ever thought I would be, a big part of this being because I never really gave it, life, a great deal of thought. Thing is though, for a time, as fleeting as it may have seemed, D’arcy was my dream girl and she lived my dream. One of them anyway.
She had that moment, her fifteen minutes. Or maybe, a little slice of forever. I prefer to see it that way.
The joy is, I can still live those moments. Recapture those dreams, lost or not, with her. I can do it while I wash dishes, while I vacuum or hang out washing or sit here at a keyboard and make out like I have something worthy to offer. D’arcy offered and we accepted and she drove a wedge into me, placing her right next to Deborah Harry and Wendy James and just because I twirled a drumstick or two years ago, I feel I have been a little, tiny, insignificant part of it and damned if I am not going to rock the fuck out every now and then, just because I still can and still do.

Can you?

Do you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foos and Weez

I am going to file a compensation claim against the Foo Fighters and Weezer.

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Dad band! Who the fuck came up with that one?
Who cares. This Dad might be passed it, but proved at the weekend he can rock with the best of them. Mt Smart Stadium put a whole lot of people together and got them wet. Soaking bloody wet. And it couldn’t have been better.

I donned a bin liner, topped it off with a poncho and with boots on, was relatively sorted. Ages since I had attended a major stadium event that didn’t involve a rugby ball and I was prepared, in the way only an aging rock dad could be.

A few drinks in me, but not pissed. I had no intention of hearing the gig from the sweetly scented confines of a port-a-loo. Stoned, but not smashed. Lightly toasted. Light on the food, as I knew I was gonna be jumping and lurching and stumbling and all the rest. I was keyed up, before I turned the ones in the ignition and started the four hour drive the morning of the concert.

Eyes wide open, handy when you are driving in the pouring rain, I headed south on the morning of February the 3rd, not entirely sure what to expect. I knew who the Foo Fighters were and are, of course. Not many my generation wouldn’t. Positive I would get a polished and professional performance, loud and full on, it was Weezer I was off to see.

Long time favourites, life had never thrown me the opportunity to see them in action. Seriously good musicians, who at one time or another, gotten it so right on their instruments, the lyrical content, the delivery, the production, the whole kit and caboodle, they were able to grab at an impressionable young man. Some of my ‘life moments’ have Weezer as the soundtrack and I felt the need to give Rivers Cuomo and his crew the chance to give me another of those moments. They didn’t disappoint and I knew they wouldn’t. Weezer fuckin’ rocked!

All the hits, from the Blue Album, Pinkerton, including El Scorchio…’our song’. As damn good as I knew they could be and the only problem I had was, as the warm up act, their set wasn’t long enough. Weezer rocked solidly for just over an hour and a half, in jackets and gumboots and sombreros, displaying their musicianship, their own brand of cool, their showmanship and put a smile on my dial.

Weezer got me up and moving instantly. I didn’t stop. Not for the next nearly five hours. So I am going to bring civil action against Weezer and the Foo Fighters.

Foo Fighters can compensate me for my sore and bruised feet, my big toe, already completely bereft of cartilage, which has ached non-stop since. Foo Fighters can cover the expense of whoever it is going to take to get the pain out of my spine; the stiffness and the shooting, agonising, torturous stabs of evil, beginning in the small of back, radiating across and away, down and finally up, all the way to my neck, where movement is restricted and headaches begin. Someone needs to get the muscles in my thighs working properly again, there needs to be more action taken to resurrect my core, terrifying me every time I sneeze or cough.

I could hardly walk, as the last squeal of distorted feedback faded from the amplifiers. Kicking mounds of empty plastic cups aside, rain still beating down. I could have kept on rocking though, kept on singing and screaming, voice hoarse, kept on throwing myself in the air, dropping on the beat.

The Foo Fighters were not and are still not, my band. I went for Weezer and I got what I wanted. But I did get so much more than I expected. I saw a bunch of guys who know their instruments, know their audience, know their passions and know each other inside out. So they should, after a stellar twenty-two year career. I saw, sure as hell heard, a band having fun. They loved what they were doing and that is infectious. I was infected.

But ‘Dad Band’? Plahease. In fact, that shit doesn’t deserve capitals. dad band.

If that is what a band full of dads sounds like, appeasing a crowd full of dads, if that is how a bunch of Fathers do it, rocking audiences so much the earth shakes, the rains stop, rainbows sweep the skies, then bring it on!! Bring it on all day everyday and all fucking night long too. Because that was one of the best fucking, rocking, awesome, smashed it nights I have ever fucking had and I don’t even like the Foo Fighters.

I fucking love the Foo Fighters.

This sad old rocker had his tired old mind blown. Rivers Cuomo can just not be that cool and try and make out he isn’t. Fuck right off. Rock God.

Fuck the Foo Fighters. You owe me. You stole a piece of me on the 3rd of February, in Auckland. You drained me physically and emotionally. Two and a half hours of pure rock. I mean these guys have topped the charts, repeatedly, have won awards and accolades and whatever. Who gives a fuck? I don’t. The first time in ages I have wanted, desperately, to pick up the sticks and play again. Feel the lights, hear the crowd, the fold back amp, loose myself.

Weezer rocked. Weezer rock. They covered the Pixies for fuck sake and did it more than justice…they fucking smashed it!!

Foo Fighters rocked. Foo Fighters rock. Sky Is a Neighborhood, Run…wow!! Everlong, Hero, all the classics from their back catalogue. Best of You…holy fucking wow!!

This Dad rocked with the Foo Fighters and Weezer.

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God damn those half Japanese girls.

There goes my hero.

 

 

 

 

 

THE WORLD IS A STAGE

The Killers, out of Las Vegas, have proven it best

Their particular brand of music, is not remotely. Not even close to their own brand. They are doing ‘Brand’ their own way. Good to hear, good to the ear. A good pop song is, and always will be , a good pop song. The Killers are the Cars. The Cure. Blondie and Talking Heads. They are a little bit of Bryan Adams, a touch of U2, and a big dollop of Duran Duran. There is Brian Eno and Lou Reed and Elvis Costello and there is, of course Bowie.

The Killers create a good pop song or two. Something that makes you bop along. I know it sounds cheesy, and when I do, have a wee bogey, a little bop, it looks as cheesy as hell too. I dance like a white guy, slipping a little on wet lino, trying desperately to keep up with a beat his knee can’t match and a rhythm his heart hasn’t been capable of for years.

Thing is, The Killers haven’t done a thing different than so many before them, many of whom did it as well, if not better. There is a cross over, like everything, like everybody. A gathering of influences, that convalesces in each of us. We are all, after all, a product of our influences. Her Indoors and my good self, have influenced four little people. Her and I are responsible for their individual crossovers.

For a while I played in a band. I was drummer, the bloke who sits in a room full of musicians and hits things. I came into a sound they were already producing. I changed it. Not intentionally, it is merely something that was, unavoidably, going to happen.

I was all Brit Pop. I was Supergrass and Oasis and Blur and I was Stones Roses and Inspiral Carpets and Happy Mondays. I was also a fair bit Blue Album from Weezer, I was a little bit Pearl Jam and I was a cliched Kieth Moon, without the talent. Think Jane’s Addiction meets The Jam, having a jam with Smashing Pumpkins, covering the Pixies, listening to Prince, slaves to the late 60’s and 70’s.

The guys I was playing with, the guys who allowed me to play with them, were Dinosaur Junior, there was Leonard Cohen and Nick Cage and there was stuff I had never heard of and there was stuff I have never heard. There is grunge and there is punk and there is rock and there is blues an there is three dudes with instruments and one with a voice and there we are, on a stage, reflecting everything we brought there with us.

There was pop. And so much more substantial than pop. Each one of the young men on that stage, under low slung lights in the back of a public bar somewhere in the south of Dunedin CBD, came with energy and lust and rage and fear and anger and fright and belly’s full of it all.

We came from warm homes. We came from loving environments. There were faults, in those environments. They too, were reflected on  smokey, damp, cloistered Dunedin nights, tucked away in the confines of musty old brick. Not the place for Young MC or Ice Cube or Beastie Boys. Yet somehow, they were all welcome too.

I was eighteen. Maybe nineteen. Truth is, I don’t really remember it at all well. Drank way too much. Smoked all sorts. Swallowed this, snorted that. Mixed and matched. Not as bad as some, as many, but I went pop.

Angst. The latter part of my teens. For boys, it’s always latter. Except where it matters perhaps, but let’s leave that thought for another day. For girls, I am seeing it form a fraction earlier. No, a whole lot earlier. What seems worse, seems terrifying, more frightening than a Rick Astley/Taylor Swift duet, is that the angst ridden hormonal thrust that is the teenage years, seems to come in a feisty feminine rush.

A good mate has a teenager. A girl. Two years senior to my Number One. Two short, apparently action packed, years. Seeing her grow, develop, is following Robbie Williams, writing the album, maybe on the last tour, the gist of it anyway. Now he has left the studio, polished and buffed and tired and frazzled and worn out and drained and exuberant, pumped, lusting the coming days, weeks and months and missing home and yearning for the road. Conflicted. Confused. Full of creativity and energetic self discovery. Full of doubt and anguish.

There is a shit ton of stuff going on. While some forty something guy sees in the new year lying on the couch on his own, in the dark, room not even spinning, because he hasn’t had enough of any substance to set it so, upstairs in the bedroom of his first born, it never ends. Her head is spinning for sure, trying to work through all the influences, internal and external.

God, how I hope it ends. Of course, I know it does. I can see where it begins, I have seen it over and over now. It is there, all that angst and fear and confidence and uncertainty and anger and push and trepidation and quickness and second guessing, all right there in the face of the E-Bomb.

The testing grounds, the three-nager. Just a phase. A very important one, it seems. Take all she learns, all she gleans from the responses she gets to her stubbornness, her quick witted, cheekiness, her blatant rejection of you, her overbearing love. It is all filed, all stored. All the smiles and the growling and the snapping and the scooped up cuddles. Somewhere between the ages of twelve and thirteen, she will access those files.

She has formulated her approach. Her multifaceted brain has been coding the program to be delivered when the time arises. Every riff, every bridge and melody, all there to be played to you. Back at you. Because, you put most of it there, as Mum and Dad. A teenager is no more than the sum of the influences we have given her and the ones she has found and taken on board on her own. Only difference is, that teenager hasn’t quite figured how to process it all. Some time in the studio and it comes together. The live concert can be a mess.

When it is your Three-nager, the E-Bomb being the perfect example, the response to the heavy metal melt down is easier. There is a whole combination of things from banishment, to a stern, in your face telling off, to withdrawal of privileges. The list goes on.

Sure, it doesn’t mean your three-nager is going to be open, receptive and content with your response, but you are in control. You have the final say, even if it is a physical last resort. Picking up your child and removing it from the scene, is always an option.

The E-Bomb is going to go off. Her triggers are there for all to see. Compared with a teen, I feel the buttons used to get her going are easier to identify. Not necessarily any easier to avoid, but at least you know when it is happening.

And I let it happen. Sometimes, I just start push play as soon as the E-Bomb shows signs she is about to do a Roger Daltry and lose the plot in a hotel room, go all System of a Down on it. You see, I have a day to get on with, we all do. I could wait, try and settle and appease. The result will be delayed, but it will be the same. Eventually, the E-Bomb, BYOB, will go off.

So push the buttons. Blow her up. Twenty minutes of carnage will ensue. Five to ten more minutes of sobs and gathering herself back together and bingo, half an hour later, on with the day.

Try too hard to placate, to appease and ease and generally be all sweetness and light, be the passive, kind and caring, understanding one, and the E-Bomb goes pop anyway. An hour later. There is still half an hour to work through before the day is back on track.

So I switch the E-Bomb from pop to rock, to heavy metal and watch her explode. It all comes pouring out, in a concussive rush, a cathartic moment for everyone in the vicinity. Like that stroppy teenager, she goes through angst, grunge, expressing dissatisfaction at her scene. Katy Perry or the Black Eyed Peas won’t appease her anymore, no longer satisfies. She gets a bit U2 Sunday Bloody Sunday, goes a touch The Clash before they discovered Caribbean islands, reaches for AC/DC, finds Metallica and then boom, System of a Down all over again.

If I ever go off like that, and it is rare as I am too old to expend that sort of energy unnecessarily, I need to wind it back down gradually. Cycle down through Black Sabbath, find a little Foo Fighters, a touch of 80’s fluff, say Poison because every rose really does have its thorn. Radiohead might give me Elvis Costello who will hand me someone like Nathaniel Rateliffe and I am happy again.

Not the E-Bomb, not my little teenager in waiting. She will go from thrash/death metal to a sleepy Sunday jazz mix just like that.

I envy that. The no holds barred approach to expression. The unadulterated passion. The openness and the honesty of it. It is like a medley, an old school mixed tape. Tape, people, refers to cassette, a form of media to record…oh never mind.

One day, instead of pushing her buttons, instead of pushing play, maybe I should push record. There is a number one hit there, a chart topper. Somewhere inside everyone, no matter the age or stage.

You just have to listen.

 

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Runnin’ Down A Dream

When those that made you are dead and gone.

Sound off the names: Leonard Cohen, Glenn Fry, Prince, Lou Reed, David Bowie…David Bowie for goodness sake!..and now Tom Petty.

There are other names I have missed and I have touched on this subject before. It is just, with the passing of Tom Petty of  Heartbreakers fame, I am once again struck by a few things. The fallibility of your idols, the way I am clearly getting old, how people can have such an effect on you without you necessarily being aware of it and how powerful that effect could and can be.

For me, it is musicians in particular. A song, a tune, a melody, even a lyric, can transport you back to a time and place, just like that. The work of a musician can reach you, touch you, get inside you and take a hold. When that happens you are marked. That musician, that artist, has left his or her imprint. And you aren’t even aware it has happened.

Think about it. What song was on when you had your first kiss? The proper one, not the peck you got playing catch and kiss in the playground.

When you were handed the keys to the car, for your first solo drive, what tape did you slide in, to blast out, speakers up and windows down? High School dances and that first big hall party or the bonfire, what tinny sound system or thumping P.A channeled the tunes of that day? Beat boxes on the shoulder to that first MTV music video, the first vinyl 45, EP to LP to CD.

The tracks that get you hopping and bopping and jumping and throwing your hands in the air and waving lighters (sorry, cell phones) and the songs that you scream for if you are lucky enough to see that artist perform them live.

The songs that bring a tear to your eye, or an outright sob. I mean, who hasn’t thought of the track that will lead your coffin out of the service? (Simply Red’s If You Don’t Know Me By Now for me thanks).

Of course it isn’t about music for everyone. Maybe it is something political, a world leader, who inspired/inspires you. A JFK or a Che Guevara or Martin Luther King. Think of all the philosophers who have blessed us with their thoughts, the great thinkers of our time and times gone. The poets and the painters and the sculptors and the writers. Perhaps it is nature which inspires; a landscape, the eruption of a volcano, a glance to the stars and planets and galaxies above. Maybe your cultural heritage and history, maybe crafts, or architecture or something botanical.

Many get hooked on sporting idols. I won’t get into the debate around if a man or woman can kick, pass and catch makes them a  role model or otherwise, because either way, kids inspire to be like them. David Beckham, Mohamed Ali, Jonah Lomu, Jesse Owens, the Williams sisters, Lydia Ko. You could do worse than pinning some hopes and dreams on emulating a crew like that.

When these idols and legends pass, the rock stars and the superstars and the greats and the awe inspiring, don’t despair. Reflect, cry, bemoan the unfairness of the world it you have to, but be comforted in the knowledge the works of these idols, the people who inspired you, lives on as long as you allow it to.

The potential to inspire is endless and it is personal. I guess the point is to be inspired. Find those around you doing it, whatever it is, their way. Then find your way to do it a bit like them, if that is what works for you.

And while your at it, crank out the tunes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rolling Stone

Am I too old to rock? If Jagger and co still do it, surely I can too?

In February I am off to the Foo Fighters.

They aren’t actually my thing but check out their new album, Concrete and Gold. Bloody magic.

Backing up Dave, of former Nirvana fame, and his pals, is Weezer and they well and truly are my thing. The Blue Album is one of the defining pieces of music in my life and a big influence on my tastes, what I am prepared to put into my ears.

Weezer aren’t challenging, not like Muse or Radiohead or the other great guitar rock bands that came smashing out of the U. K in the 90’s. They are more Oasis, without the bullshit and a whole lot of talent. Those boys just plain rock and I don’t think there is any more you can ask for. As for the headline act, I am not familiar enough with the Foo Fighters repertoire to know if they are going to spark some sort of musical awakening, or just let me hurt my neck, banging my head back and forth like I have the muscles to back that up. Like a much younger man would.

I am just thinking that neck of mine is not going to hold up to a mosh pit. No way in hell. At 43, I don’t belong there anyway and now I am thinking, what sort of demographic shows up to gigs by iconic rock bands of past eras?

I am going to go out on a limb and say predominantly male. Which is good. Theoretically I will only look foolish in front of my own gender. Looking like a dick in front of the opposite sex is far worse.

So if i am roughly the age of your average Foo Fighter fan, your Weezer aficionado, then I am guessing I will be surrounded by hundreds, thousands, of out of breath, balding, sweaty, can’t dance, carrying a bit too much around the middle, wannabe old boy rockers. Cool, I should fit right in.

Hopefully that is the case. It might mean I won’t get grumpy at all the mind dulled screen bandits who will watch the whole show through their fucking phones. Drop that I-whatever any where near the aforementioned mosh pit and I am stomping all over it.

Where was I?

When is too old to rock? There is no way I can afford a Rolling Stones concert and my guess there is not much chance there will ever be another tour. McCartney is here soon, but he sold out a long time ago and I don’t mean the tickets and Roger Walters is touring these shores too. At least he has had the sense to go all acoustic and folky. About all a fan should expect from a 70 year old man. Bowie is dead, along with so many other great acts recently.

So what does that leave? Me and a couple of old timer mates, making out like when can still let it all go, cut foot loose and do it without looking ridiculous. I don’t give a rodents rectum how I look and I am damn sure no one will be looking anyway. If my picks on the demographic are any indication, that is a good thing too. But looking foolish and feeling it are two separate things. Sure, the former can and often will, correlate to the other, but I am more concerned that it just won’t feel right.

What if the lads and I are surrounded by the young and the carefree? What if everyone around me, shaking their long, luxuriant hair, which didn’t happen over night but did happen, turns out to have wallets and purses stuffed with disposable income? What if they are full of the chemicals which enhance their good times, stuff that I can’t spell, pronounce or indeed have ever heard of.

I don’t want to be left out of the action, but I am not even sure I can afford an Auckland beer, let alone chemical enhancement. Not that I can even handle a night on the piss like I used to. Certainly not the first old guy to claim that though and in reality, no bad thing.

The other side of the scenario, opposed to hanging with a bunch of the young and beautiful, could well be far worse though. What if the entire stadium is full of sad, aging, semi-decrepit rockers like me? What if all the dancing is a stilted, don’t stretch the hamstrings, head nod. A sea of waving bald spots, swaying back and forth in a middle aged rendition of mosh pit malaise.

Worse still, what if all the lovely ladies hoppin and a-boppin are wearing sensible knickers and over the shoulder boulder holders, underneath dresses the fabric of which is stained an off white shade of baby blurk. That is, of course, we assume these delightful rock goddesses haven’t already left their baby manufacturing days behind them.

What really troubles me is not the ringing in the ears I hope to have because I got too close, for too long, to the P.A. It isn’t that my back and neck might hurt from standing and jumping and thrashing my head around like a rabid teenager and it isn’t concern over a lack of lusty babes for me to ogle in the sad, slightly desperate way only men of my age really can…you know, caught between the forlorn hope you might still have ‘it, and the sad realisation you probably never really did.

No, I am troubled by the thought of all the mundane and all the tiresome things that the young and carefree don’t bother wasting valuable thought energy on…traffic, parking, accommodation and the biggy, expense.

So maybe no Hot Tub Time Machine recapturing of misspent youth. Maybe no winding back the hands on the clock and the years with them. But I will let go, I will jump and thrash and dance (sort of) and sing and yell and bang my head and party to excess and it will be the stuff of legend.

See you there.

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