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Tuesday, April 16, 2013


We're with you, Beantown. All the way. You've been our bravest heart since the birth of this great nation and we all live in your soul.

I'm a Sox fan this year.

Prayers for all the victims and their families, the medical and first responders, the marathoners and the spectators.  And for we who live with your tragedy and your pain, for we also live in your inspiration and history.

// posted by Ellen @  16:46   //Permalink// 
Friday, March 29, 2013

Paul Williams

from a photo by Michael Stipe

Your godson  played me
Good Vibrations and  
Long May You Run
and that was enough to bring it all back.

"God only knows how I love you"

Listening with you, your eyes
shut fist pump, head shake
─ so you know!
It's a galactic know
─ a knowing we could live in
and boy, did you ever.

So now,
fall into a sweet dream
merge into a sweet dream
become your own sweet dream
leaving us all more awake
and full of love

I could feel the gentle wind from
 the last breath
 of your being, and what a
blessing it has been
for us all,

// posted by Ellen @  11:06   //Permalink// 
Monday, February 18, 2013
Happy Birthday YOKO.
It is an amazing experience being in the same lifetime as you.
All was born with your: love, activism, music, art, ART, ART.
Generosity, patronage, mother, wife, conscience, ART and you
still rock. ART.
Happy Birthday, Yoko Ono

PHOTO from The Guardian, UK, compositing and design by Ellen Sander.  Creative Commons guidelines apply, use freely but cite sources.

// posted by Ellen @  14:37   //Permalink// 
Friday, February 15, 2013

Warm up the house, free

Energy Saving tip:  To warm up the house without turning the heat up:

1. Go outside and stay outside long enough to get a little chilled
2.  Come back in.  The house will feel much warmer

Brought to you by horse sense economics.


// posted by Ellen @  14:48   //Permalink// 
Thursday, February 14, 2013

Be My Valentine

My love is like a rose you give to me
and all those things that roses be

I know I've been away from CC for a while.  I was
unexpectedly appointed Poet Laureate of my city and have
been crazy busy ever since.

More soon.

// posted by Ellen @  10:49   //Permalink// 
Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happy Holidays and Bonne Année 2013

Thank you for visiting Crackpot Chronicles! Find the light in even the darkest days. Propagate kindness.

// posted by Ellen @  15:14   //Permalink// 
Friday, December 07, 2012

The Rolling Stones! Incorrigible.

An excerpt from 21st Century Stones in The Rolling Stones: Incorrigible.
Ellen Sander's Classic Rock Readers (Kindle Edition)

They started out in the early 1960s as a blues cover band in London clubs, doing what every other British band was doing. They are doing now what none of them could ever do: A 50th anniversary series of major concerts. A 50th anniversary. The Rolling Stones.

The Rolling Stones opened their "50 and Counting" celebration at London's 02 Arena, playing their old home turf. They played to an overjoyed and tumultuous audience of three generations. It was a worldwide event. Before the show was even over, the set list went up on web sites, updated live. Within an hour there were openly shot YouTube videos that caught the spirit and sometimes even the high definition of the event.
The London shows were a full court press. The royalty of the "English Invasion" of the 1960s joined The Stones onstage, including former members Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor who had not been with the Stones for years. Guitar heroes Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton lit up the house.

Jeff Beck joined the show to do Going Down on the first night, 25 November, 2012. Four follow spots converged on the stage as Jagger stalked between and around Ronnie Wood, Keith Richards and Jeff Beck, to corral all 3 rockmeister guitarists into playing together. It was clearly not a rehearsed number, a Don Nix track that Beck had recorded in the 1970s, but when it finally came together, it was a flamethrower. Eric Clapton, was all up in his searing tremolos, guest setting on Muddy Waters' Champagne and Reefer on the second London concert 4 days later. The Stones and their Brit contemporaries reawakened a passion for core American blues and brought it back to America and preserved its popularity. And we owe them for that.

It was, by all reports, a concert for the ages, not a spit polished and impeccably choreographed show, but a raucous brawl of hits, roots, and raw showmanship wrapped around this conflagration of sound and fury that is The Rolling Stones. Sound and fury. Signifying everything.

Then Bloggers weighed in. Among them, business titan and bon vivant Richard Branson, founder and chairman of Virgin Group, who got off a phonephoto from the floor, his ticket in the foreground with "Fuckin Great!" scribbled on it.

I think my favorite blog line (besides Ira Robbins' pronouncement that "time is not on their side, " because he is so wrong) is London writers Mat Snow's comment, "A funny thing happened at London’s O2 Arena last night: the Stones played and it was no longer about the bump in your trousers but the lump in your throat. " That, because he doubted there would ever be another tour. Listen, it's hard to count The Stones out, ever. You just never know.

They are not known as the world's best rock band ever for nothing. The Beatles may have been the masters of studio recording, but they stopped touring and The Stones ate that road for breakfast going forward. And now, there is no other rock band that can ever touch them, the bar is that high, their era is that seminal, their arc so rivetingly authentic.

They are not just any legacy rockers trotting out their oldies. The Stones occupy the world of the 21st century as well as and even more pervasively than they defined the 20th. @mickjaggger is on Twitter, teasing tour information, cool comments and new releases. They have an official website with loads of content. Got Stones? There's an app for that. Overexposure? No way. We who love them can never get enough and for that we are handsomely rewarded.

The new rockumentary, Crossfire Hurricane is a snappily edited and impeccably well narrated documentary which features footage and outtakes from Cocksucker Blues, Charlie is my Darling, Gimmee Shelter and Shine a Light—and some new footage as well. Quite a bit of the narration is by Jagger and Richards and other members of the Stones. It is a tour de force and a daring reveal, leaving little to speculation.

Crossfire Hurricane eviscerates the Rolling Stone mystique, and reveals all the bruising speed bumps of their inexorable march through time. The interlude on the death of their original guitarist Brian Jones, evokes tremors of emotion and irony. He had been so wasted he hardly ever showed up to woodshed and when he did, he was incoherent. The last time he did show up able to work, he invented the winsome slide guitar line that coils through No Expectations and it remains a defining element of the song that goes, in part, "I have no expectations to pass through here again. " A few months after Jones was fired he drowned in his swimming pool.

Jagger's bitterness, in his own voice, about how heroin disintegrated the late Brian Jones, melts into a description of him weeping after the now famous Hyde Park Concert that memorialized "the beautiful Stone." Jagger also savages recording engineers, later in the film, that thought Keith was so hip doing smack that they followed in kind, much to the detriment of their work.

We see mod suited boys in tussles with police as Mick Jagger recounts the incendiary effect of their early concerts. We see their fear at the ill fated Altamont concert as it sinks in what a dangerous fiasco they'd gotten into. We see the decadence of the concert tours during the 1980s. We see, from the cockpit window, their private jet landing. We see everything, including Jagger's bare butt backstage as he changes into his jumpsuit for a performance.


What's with the Doom and Gloom video? A bit bloody, wot? Stones' songs and the music vids are frequently not above the English penchant for the gruesome, the twisted, the perverse. They sometimes shock and sometimes astound but never, never ever bore. They are not usually what they seem like at first listen, and you can't always understand the lyrics in the mix, which is why I've always asked for and received lead sheets before I reviewed a Stones album. Brown Sugar sounds at first listen like a boorish celebration of interracial sex but is really about the sexual mistreatment of slaves.
I remember being in a record store on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro buying some Brazilian music in 1985 when a young sales clerk, who spoke not much English, bewildered that I was stocking up on Caitano, handed me an American rock cassette as a suggestion. I laughed, "It's only rock and roll," and the whole store, shouted out in unison "But I like it". They know The Stones in Rio. They love The Stones in Rio. They are born with samba and jazz in their DNA, but they love The Stones.
Photo by and c.  Ellen Sander all rights reserved

The Rolling Stones are all of rock and roll in one ensemble. They inhabit and define rock. The have set the bar and no one can possibly ever reach it because the days when you can do that from the get go are gone. The Stones are not just iconic for upending more than the final third of the 20th century, they are busy bitch–slapping the 21st.

The essay is much longer in the book, which also has articles about their 1969 tour, Beggars Banquet, exclusive coverage of a Let It Bleed mixing session with never before published photos.  Reprints from Vogue, Saturday Review and Trips. And more.

// posted by Ellen @  09:25   //Permalink// 
Thursday, November 29, 2012

“A Christmas Carol”

--by Ellen Sander
Belfast, Maine

A poor child from the projects
writes a letter asking for a towel
so she doesn’t have to use her brothers’
already wet and cold.
Her mother cringes in shame
What she brings home is never enough.

I saw a shopkeeper beat a man senseless
for stealing a bunch of bananas.
What does he care that I’ll never go in there again?
He is angry. He can’t make it alone.
What he brings home is never enough.

The homeless, despairing in the streets
and the homesick, despairing in the condos
the sales in the malls depleting
credit card opulence and poverty of spirit
there is no way out until it’s over.
What they bring home is never enough.

The urban hunger aches
for that scrap of tinsel or some sparkle
to illuminate the dread
of getting up in the morning; they are
gorged and bloated on eggnog and hams
full of seasonal adulterants,
poison for profit, remedies for sale
antacids, tranquilizers, fat substitutes
substitutes for comfort, ease and good sense:
What they bring home is never enough.

The broken toys of mornings after
chase us through the season
through decades, they ridicule the
feast and famine of heart.
The broken hearth
of season’s greetings mock us;
we comply numbly, feigning gayety
waiting on the food lines of the missions
What we bring home is never enough.

// posted by Ellen @  12:42   //Permalink// 
Sunday, November 04, 2012

The obesity challenged lady gets ready to sing - Romney paid 0 Taxes for years: D.Kos, Bloomberg

So a November surprise. Daily Kos has sourced Bloomberg in a report revealing Romney paid no taxes from1996 until just recently. No wonder he didn't want to make his returns public!

"Using a tax shelter called a CRUT (charitable remainder unitrust) that was held by the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), Mitt Romney was able to pay zero taxes (legally) every single year from 1996 to 2009. Why did he stop in 2009? Because he would make public his 2010 tax return, that is why".
Story at Daily Kos
Story at Bloomberg

// posted by Ellen @  19:29   //Permalink// 
Monday, October 29, 2012

Awaiting storm w Neil Young - Hurricane!

(neil younger)

I feel a deep intrigue and fascination, an energy that electrifies the core of my sensibilities.  Fear is the little death.  Rock is the resurrection: Neil Young.

All thought comes to a standstill in the face of  this fiery and tattered execution, I become lost--or is it found--in this track.

Here I sit on the edge of a hurricane, the entire region on alert for hundreds of miles around me. We await an epic storm named Sandy. It rages to the south of us, headed our way. I'm stocked up on groceries, cooked food, a bottle of good single malt Scotch and other libations. And I watch and listen to this video over and over; it touches yearning and explodes it into vision. It corrrelates the impossible:

"I am just a dreamer, but you are just a dream..."

Watching Neil Young's hair whip around in the stiff wind, hearing his guitar fire lightning bolts, zigzagging across the proscenium, drilling sonic catacombs, knocking time on it's ass.

I can't think of a better song to listen to as this hurricane heads our way, scheduled to slam us at full moon high tide tonight.


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// posted by Ellen @  16:06   //Permalink// 
Thursday, October 25, 2012

Autumn in New York: CSN concert and Fine Art

It was wonderful seeing CSN at The Beacon Theater in New York last weekend.  It was, all things considered, amazing.

The lush and emotional performance, an almost 3 hour set with an intermission,  in a packed house, was full of  wonder and graceful endurance. They were supported by a great band.  They didn't mince their politics. Crosby remarked that the founders of our nation probably did not intend for elections to go to the largest television ad budget. They sang Nash's "Almost Gone," a sympathetic song about Bradley Manning, which is a cause he's taken up.

( I have to say I really don't get it about supporting Bradley Manning.  I personally think they should throw the book at him. Military law is not the same as civilian law and what he did was egregious. Don't get me started.  I heard the song got booed the night before, but that night's audience didn't respond to it in any unusual way.)

But I admire activism and CSN is sincerely and consistently attuned to the pulse of politics and justice.  On their last New York venue, Crosby and Nash sang at Occupy Wall Street.

They close the show with Stills' "For What It's Worth" and also sang "Bluebird" as a homage to Buffalo Springfield.  I recall what a wake-up call "For What It's Worth" was in the sixties.

I love this music that has punctuated the narrative of its times. I am on record with my love for this music.  I feel lucky to be able to be with it live, today. 

Stills didn't say much, as usual, and his electric guitar work was incandescent, as usual. He stumbled a little with the acoustic guitar.

It was clear that Nash is master of the trio's cohesion. When parts went astray, and they did, very occasionally, he literally, with outstretched arms,  pulled it all back into time and tune. Their set pulled the last 43 years into a lanyard of history, music, wars, protests, triumphs, endurance, stamina and harmony. The Beacon is a beautiful venue for them.

Afterward in the backstage area, which was actually underneath the stage, I got a quick hi out of Stephen Stills, who was huddled with Elvis Costello.  They'd done one of Costello's songs, but I'd never heard it before and don't know its name.   It was about war fought in the name of religion.

Nash greeted me with a big smile, hug and kiss, complimented my appearance and asked me how old I was now. Not a question you ordinarily hear, is it? I told him (68) and I asked his age: 71.  Gee, it's worth being a geezer to have seen and heard all I've seen and heard in my time.

Now, here in Maine, when you turn 70, you get a free lift ticket at any ski area in the state.  At 71, and in good shape under a thick sheaf of white hair, Nash was eager to meet and greet and take pictures with anyone backstage who asked. "I figure my job isn't over till my head hits the pillow," he said.  He was incredibly gracious to everyone.  He also had a show of his photos in a gallery in Chelsea.  Quite the Renaissance man.  It was curiously wonderful and distancing to see them all.
I'm not nostalgic for the past. I'm nostalgic for the future.

Earlier that day, I went to one of my favorite art events, the annual International Fine Art & Antique Dealers Show at the armory, which was gorgeous.  I saw bound maps and maritime charts from the 14th and 15th century and other extraordinarily beautiful items.The exquisite art deco jewelry shown by Primavera Gallery included a brooch designed by Dali.

All in all a weekend full of gems. Gems from time immemorial that still glitter and sparkle through time and changes. 

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// posted by Ellen @  21:40   //Permalink// 

Ellen Sander's Classic Rock Readers

Databirds Studio Inc is pleased to announce the first three Kindle editions of Ellen Sander's Classic Rock Readers. Please check them out at Ellen Sander's Classic Rock Readers on Kindle

Or, use the links in the sidebar to your left. These are the first three volumes of what will eventually be about 12 Classic Rock Readers, which are annotated collections of magazine articles written during and about rock's finest hour.

You don't need a kindle to get these books.  You can get the free Kindle reader/app for any device from the Amazon website or from the iTunes store or the app store for your Android, etc.


Plaster Caster!  Hilarious super groupie adventures in rock 'n' roll weinerland:

Rock and Roll Womanhood: How rock in the classic rock era affected womanhood. Interviews and essay.

The Lifestyle that Rock Unleashed and other articles from rock's golden age:

// posted by Ellen @  19:53   //Permalink// 
Monday, October 08, 2012

Joni Mitchell memories

I was driving Stephen Stills to  a CSN recording session, it must've been 1969, and the subject of Joni Mitchell came up.  Nothing unusual about that, "everyone" was talking about her. "Every man within 50 feet falls in love with her." Stills let loose with that gravelly chortle and his sideways grin told me that he was probably one of them.

I had occasion to listen to a private collection of some live tracks of Joni Mitchell recently and her voice was just soaring, rippling, traversing octaves, hitting that little yodel-y break. From deep in a spiral of memories I fell into the same thrall as when her music was a frequent visitor in the air around me, as sweet as it gets, like seeing a sun rise just for you, pouring through backlit clouds in billowing hues.

I remember when I met her in New York (in Chelsea) and her first album, with that breathy folksy sound. And later exploring her lower register in the second album. After a couple of tours, and she'd moved to L.A. by then, to Laurel Canyon, she held her sides and told me she felt the muscles around her ribs bulking and remarked that she now understood why opera singers are so barrel chested.

When I reviewed her first album, Song to a Seagull, for The New York Times (published December 29, 1968) I wrote "Joni Mitchell's songs are the product of her fascination with changes of heart, changes of mind, changes of season and changes of self. [...] The songs about herself are songs for today's independent young woman [...] I Had A King is a sad, backward glance at the artist's broken marriage, without bitterness or self reproach. Cactus Tree speaks of todays young divorcee on the  rebound 'so busy being free' ..."

What actually intrigued me, which I didn't put in writing, because I didn't know how to admit it, was how she handled a litany of relationships in her songs, with such class and unapologetic confessional. Not to mention gorgeous melodies, exquisite lyrics. Nobody ever painted womanhood in such lithe watercolor strokes.

Her loves were also the fodder for reprehensibly gauche  notice: Warner Brothers came out with a print ad for the first album with the headline of "Joni Mitchell is no Virgin."  Mitchell's manager hit the roof and they pulled it immediately.  I'm not sure where I actually saw it, perhaps in the trades? Rolling Stone, with a chart identifying her lovers, from rumor and from inference, named her "Old Lady of the Year." Crude, rude and lewd.  A woman articulating the nuances of relationships in explicit detail? And no remorse? I guess no groundbreaking work goes unpunished, even works executed with such poetic skill, dignity and insight.

I know for a fact that upset her very much.  But it didn't faze her, not one bit. Because in addition to her stunning understated beauty, her extraordinary talents and taste, she's got courage  and lots of it. Personally and musically.  She composes in modes few musicians can name, plies vocal lines with unexpected shifts and intervals and has forged a career that is unique.

People analyze her songs all the time to figure out who they are about. I happen to know exactly who "stood out like a ruby in a black man's ear" in That Song About the Midway, one of my favorites. And he certainly does. Even now.

She once told me the smartest thing anyone ever said about songwriting.  People ask her all the time if a certain song is about such and so a person. She said if you never tell who the song is about everybody thinks it's them.

And I do. Joni Mitchell writes my life, the part of my life that connects with nature and romantic misadventure and womanhood and language and wondering under the night sky. And yours.  What a gift.

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// posted by Ellen @  20:38   //Permalink// 
Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Beck, Jeff. Beck break

Beck's Bolero, the fuzztone sweeps my skull clean of clutter and infuses it with energy, inspiration and wah wha pedal pushing daydreams.  An urban song, full of traffic, soot, sinister turns and shady alleys of the soul.

Turn the corner and get on New Ways Train Train, the tracks thrumming, the cars shuddering, the rattle of the  rails chattering and a lonely horn blows through the tunnel of rocky love, echoing against the stones. In the station, a solo fiddler plays, wheedle, wheedle whee... and it's one afternoon, one song but that last note, it lasts forever, plies itself into the fiery center of the tornado and melts it down.  It never ends, that note. Once you've heard it the second time it lives in your very marrow.  You can never get over it and you never want to.

And there, from the molten lava, rises Over the Rainbow. A brave move, that. Dreams slide over the Rainbow and liquify into pools of color, they fill the room they fill my thought, they lift and linger and leave me ready to get back to my day, now filled and sweet, reaching, reaching.  

Beck.  Jeff Beck.

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// posted by Ellen @  14:49   //Permalink// 
Friday, September 21, 2012

Essence of U.S. Election Politics in Under an Hour

When Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown debate for the senate seat in Massachusetts (yesterday), they both make a good case for their side of the dichotomy of values emerging from the 2012 campaign.  Warren (D), a consumer rights and corporate responsibility warrior, acquits herself admirably in the face of some hefty challenges from Scott (R),  a moderate conservative, who won Ted Kennedy's seat from the Democrats in 2010 by confronting liberal arrogance.

This is the best kind of political debate where each side made substantial arguments on painfully relevant issues. I prefer Warren, but can also see why a lot of Republicans thought Brown won.  Got an hour to feel like there are some competent pols in contention?  For some relief from the usual political clown car?  Watch, or even just listen to this. 

// posted by Ellen @  12:39   //Permalink// 
Monday, September 17, 2012

Dylan Still Rocks My World

Google Search for Bob Dylan new album: about 87,200,000 results. Google search for "new iPhone" 7,970,000,000 results. For perspective, "Topless Kate" had 685,000,000 results.
When a new Dylan album came out, back in the day, it was the talk of the town, the town consisting of radio, publications and "buzz." No cellphones, no internet back then. Today the town has a much different geography. The iPhone rules. Even over Royal boobies. As of today, the new iPhone has been "out," that is, announced, described, enpictured, and hyped for 5 days and Tempest has been out for about a week.

In my fondest sense of things, my world is talking about Dylan more than anything. Don't get me wrong; I love tech with all my heart, with all my soul and with all my might. (I'm not a big upgrade fan, in fact I resist as long as I can. I'm still on WinXP.) The iPhone and it's related technology, the iPod Touch, other smart phones, the notion of carrying internet connectivity in your pocket, has changed this world as much as Bob Dylan did our world. The world is smaller now for both of them, and also larger.

 The iPhone broke the division between a telephone, a media player and a PC. The smart phone made messaging preferable to a phone call. The smart phone made the telephone nearly obsolete. (The iPhone, from most reports is actually a crappy phone but the the other functionality is irresistable. Even to me. I have an iPod Touch and a stupid phone.)

 Bob Dylan broke the sentence. He broke the length barrier for airplay. He broke the mold for the pop recording artist. He broke the mold of his own persona, over and over again. But he fixed utter literature into popular music, referentially, expressively and permanently. And as he progressed in his career over a half century that spanned two centuries, he made 35 studio albums, some of arguable interest, others that burst onto the airwaves and into minds and mp3 players with startling and resonant intensity. And among the many elements that are incandescent about Tempest, its scope, its depth, its texture, is that it is one of those Dylan albums that changes the experience of listening to songs. Add another, his voice, like fine Scotch, is as penetrating as when he virtually screamed into the mic. He is still and yet, the most authentic, most groundbreaking, most relevant popular singer songwriter in history. It's not likely anyone else will approach the bar he set.

It's not Bob Dylan vs the iPhone. They are symbiont. iTunes made the entire Tempest album available for streaming before it was released. They are married in their impact on the mindset, the music and the culture.

And by the way. A search for "Jesus" yielded 827,000,000 results. Do we need John Lennon to evaluate that?

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// posted by Ellen @  22:04   //Permalink// 
Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Musings 9-11-12

--- what fell out of my head as I awoke this morning.
That is what I cherish about your heart, your courage, your scope of reference. You can experience conflicted issues, embrace opposing ideas, walk through a forest of contractions and some how find in them  meaning. They are compatible by virtue of simultaneity, by confluence, by the presence in your life of marvel and complexity. That is your special nature, the bigness of understanding that is our special gift. And if we don't always use it in expression or action, it is just a gift to in someone else's opportunity to reconcile conundrum. That is what I cherish about your heart, your courage, your scope of reference.

A day of peace to us all, from deep inside yourself, to contemplate and thank.

// posted by Ellen @  10:34   //Permalink// 

Bob Dylan's new Album, Tempest

Trust Bob Dylan to salve and brighten a day of mourning and bitter awakenings. Tempest is his best album in years, maybe decades. 

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// posted by Ellen @  08:00   //Permalink// 
Saturday, December 24, 2011


// posted by Ellen @  15:46   //Permalink// 
Sunday, September 11, 2011

In gratitude. In memoriam.

// posted by Ellen @  11:13   //Permalink// 
Ellen says hey
Mainer, New Yawka, Beijinger, Californian, points between. News, views and ballyhoos that piqued my interest and caused me to sigh, cry, chuckle, groan or throw something.

Previous Posts

Paul Williams
Happy Birthday YOKO. It is an amazing experience b...
Warm up the house, free
Be My Valentine
Happy Holidays and Bonne Année 2013
The Rolling Stones! Incorrigible.
“A Christmas Carol”
The obesity challenged lady gets ready to sing - R...
Awaiting storm w Neil Young - Hurricane!

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This Modern World
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