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Archive for April, 2013

Bobby didn’t want to come back, Mommy.  –  Dead of Night

Tomorrow is May Day, halfway around the year from Samhain; today is therefore May Eve, a springtime counterpart of Halloween.  As I explained in last year’s column for the occasion, “the night was…believed to be one on which spirits walked abroad, and…bonfires were [used] to keep them at bay…though it’s become less common in the past few decades, 19th and early 20th century horror stories often depicted dark doings taking place on April 30th.”  Last year I shared my picks for the ten scariest short stories of all time, and back in October of 2011 I shared my list of scariest horror movies; today I’m going to sort of combine the two and give you a list of video equivalents of short stories, in other words my picks for some of the scariest TV episodes I’ve ever seen.

Notice I didn’t say “of all time”; when I decided to do the list, I immediately realized that any list I could create would be like an antimatter version of the ridiculous lists created by twenty-something-year-old entertainment journalists, in which “of all time” actually means “since 1984”.  Since I stopped watching commercial television in 1980, broadcast television in the mid-‘90s and virtually all new television in 2003, my experience is as skewed as that of those young critics for whom the word “cheesy” usually means “anything in black and white or without digital effects.”  But just as I was about to give up on the idea, I realized it didn’t matter; many of my younger readers may not know of most of these selections, and I suspect even my older readers may be unfamiliar with some of them.  So without further ado, I present my top nine (and a few honorable mentions), listed in chronological order by original air date.

1)  One Step Beyond, “Vanishing Point (February 23rd, 1960)

Unlike its contemporary The Twilight Zone, this show featured dramatizations of reports of psychic phenomena and other weird happenings; sometimes the real people who claimed to have experienced them actually appeared on camera in an epilogue.  Regardless of one’s opinion of the veracity of these accounts, they made captivating television and, thanks in large part to the directorial talents of John Newland and haunting music by Harry Lubin, many are as creepy as anything ever to appear on the small screen.  In this one, a man is tried for the murder of his wife after she vanishes without a trace…and after he is acquitted for lack of evidence, his research discovers that she wasn’t the first mysterious disappearance in the house’s history.  HM:  “The Forests of the Night

2)  Thriller,The Grim Reaper (June 13th, 1961)

William Shatner - The Grim ReaperThis effective tale of a haunted painting stars William Shatner; those who only know him as an action star or an elderly self-parodist may not realize that before Star Trek, he often played psychologically-disturbed young men tormented by internal (or external) demons.  His most famous role of this type was of course in the classic Twilight Zone episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”, but other examples include “Nick of Time” (The Twilight Zone), “Cold Hands, Warm Heart” (The Outer Limits) and “The Hungry Glass” (earlier in this season of Thriller).  Considering that the latter two stories are honorable mentions in this list and the Star Trek episode “Wolf in the Fold” (like “The Grim Reaper”, written by Robert Bloch) has a few horrific moments as well, that actually makes Shatner – an actor not generally associated with horror – the name appearing most often in this column.

3)  The Twilight Zone, “It’s a Good Life (November 3rd, 1961)

Anthony FremontThough this series scored a very high number of brain-searing episodes, this tale of an amoral six-year-old with godlike powers edges out all the others in my estimation.  Its power to haunt is attested by the fact that there have been at least two attempts at sequels or remakes designed to paste a happy ending onto the horror, as if to exorcise it from the re-makers’ minds.  Honorable mention:  “And When the Sky Was Opened”, based on a Richard Matheson story of the wholly inexplicable and utterly horrifying fate of three astronauts.

4)  The Alfred Hitchcock Hour,Final Escape (February 21st, 1964)

This series was known more for suspense than horror, but sometimes it’s a hard line to draw; the very first episode, “Revenge”, is so shocking it still had impact when remade for the revival series thirty years later.  In my opinion the later, hour-long episodes are not generally as good as the earlier half-hour ones, but this episode about a convict’s attempt to escape from prison is as harrowing as anything which has ever aired.

5)  The Outer Limits, “Wolf 359 (November 7th, 1964)

This series is remembered especially for its monsters, all of which were created with the minimal special effects available on a television budget of the time.  The creature in this one is literally a hand puppet, but in the context of the story (about a tiny artificial planet haunted by a malevolent spirit-like entity), framed with skillful directing and a creepy Harry Lubin score, you probably won’t care unless you’ve sacrificed your capacity for imagination on the altar of CGI.

6)  Night Gallery,The Cemetery (November 8th, 1969)

Night Gallery The CemeteryRod Serling did not produce this series (he was only its host and an occasional writer), and it showed; its quality was far below that of The Twilight Zone, and a few episodes are almost unbelievably bad.  This one, however (from the original pilot movie) is not one of them; it stars Roddy McDowell as a young ne’er-do-well who murders his uncle in order to inherit his fortune…only to find that the old man has no intention of staying put in the grave.

7)  Space: 1999, “Dragon’s Domain (December 5th, 1975)

Dragon's DomainAs I have explained before, this British series is usually mistaken for science fiction because of its conventional sci-fi trappings such as spaceships and laser guns.  But nearly all of its threats are thinly-disguised supernatural ones; they include a ghost, a vampire, an immortal serial killer, possessing spirits, a cannibal race and even an immense entity clearly inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s Azathoth.  But it’s the tentacled Lovecraftian horror in this episode that gave a generation of young fans nightmares, and the creature itself is only the most obvious scare in a show that gives frissons from start to finish.

8)  Dead of Night, “Bobby (March 29th, 1977)

BobbyAfter Dark Shadows, Dan Curtis went on to produce a number of made-for-TV horror movies (including the pilot for The Night Stalker).  Many people remember Trilogy of Terror, and though the first two stories making up Dead of Night are nothing to write home about, the third part – “Bobby” –  is something else entirely.  Richard Matheson penned this utterly terrifying story of a woman so obsessed with her dead son that she resorts to black magic to get him back, and soon discovers what a truly bad idea that was.

9)  Tales from the Darkside, “The Geezenstacks (October 26th, 1986)

GeezenstacksThough this series was often creepy or spooky (though many episodes were funny, confusing or just irritating), very few episodes were actually scary; this is one of those few, and in my opinion the scariest one (though it’s one of those that gets scarier the more you think about it and talk about it to friends at 2 AM).  The script was adapted from a story by Fredric Brown (notice how some of these names keep popping up in different columns?) about a family who discovers that the daughter’s dolls seem to be predicting everything that happens to them.  HM: “Inside the Closet

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You know three ‘n’ three is six
Three threes is nine
You give me some of yours,
I may sell you some of mine.
  –  Billie Pierce, “I’m in the Racket”

It’s time for another collection of hooker songs!  If you have a suggestion for a future column, check the Musicography page to make sure I haven’t featured it already, and if I haven’t please share it in a comment below.  Our first selection today was suggested by Grim Ghost; though it is of the moralistic variety, it’s actually quite catchy so it gets a pass.  In the 1920s popular songs were often recorded by a number of artists, and this one is no exception; this recording is by Ruth Etting, best remembered today for “Shine On Harvest Moon”.

Glad Rag Doll (Jack Yellen and Dan Dougherty, music by Milton Ager)

Little painted lady,
With your lovely clothes,
Where are you bound for, may I ask?
What your diamonds cost you,
Ev’rybody knows,
All the world can see behind your mask.

All dolled up in glad rags,
Tomorrow may turn to sad rags,
They call you Glad Rag Doll!

Admired,
Desired,
By lovers who soon grow tired,
Poor little Glad Rag Doll!

You’re just a pretty toy
They like to play with,
You’re not the kind they choose
To grow old and gray with!

Don’t make this the end, dear,
It’s never too late to ‘mend, dear,
Poor little Glad Rag Doll!

Oh, you’re all dolled up in your glad rags,
And tomorrow, they may turn to sad rags,
They call you poor little Glad Rag Doll!

You’re admired,
And you’re desired,
By lots of lovers, but they soon grow tired,
Poor little Glad Rag Doll!

You’re just a pretty toy
They like to play with,
But you’re not the kind they choose
To, to grow old and gray with!

Don’t make this the end, dear,
It’s never, never too late to ‘mend, dear,
Poor little Glad Rag Doll!

When I was previewing this video on YouTube, I noticed another appropriate Ruth Etting selection among the suggestions.  It is ostensibly about a taxi dancer, but as we’ve seen previously with “Private Dancer” and “Hey, Big Spender”, that’s practically always code for a whore:

Ten Cents a Dance (Lorenz Hart, music by Richard Rogers)

I work at the palace ballroom,
But gee, that palace is cheap!
When I get back to my chilly hall-room,
I’m much too tired to sleep.

I’m one of those lady teachers,
A beautiful hostess, you know
The kind the palace features
At exactly a dime a throw.

(refrain 1) Ten cents a dance,
That’s what they pay me
Gosh, how they weigh me down.
Ten cents a dance,
Pansies and rough guys,
Tough guys who tear my gown!

(refrain 2) Seven to midnight I hear drums,
Loudly the saxophone blows,
Trumpets are breaking my ear drums,
Customers crush my toes!

(refrain 3) Sometimes I think I’ve found my hero,
But it’s a queer romance
All that you need is a ticket
Come on, big boy,
Ten cents a dance!

Fighters and sailors and bow-legged tailors
Can pay for a ticket and rent me
Butchers and barbers and rats from the harbors
Are sweethearts my good luck has sent me.

Though I’ve a chorus of elderly beaus,
Stockings are porous with holes in the toes.
I’m there till closing time,
Dance and be merry, it’s only a dime!

(refrain 1, 2, 3)

Another means of encoding harlotry is by singing about a related type of “fallen woman”; both Joni Mitchell and Mary Coughlan portrayed the narrators of their respective songs as girls condemned to the Magdalene laundries for merely being pretty, and though it is true that there were such cases the laundries were first established for prostitutes and largely populated by unwed mothers, promiscuous girls and even incest or rape victims.  Coughlan’s song was suggested by several readers after I featured Mitchell’s:

Magdalene Laundry (Mary Coughlan)

For 17 years I’ve been scrubbin’ this washboard,
Ever since the fellas started in after me.
My mother, poor soul, didn’t know what to do;
The canon said, “Child, there’s a place for you.”
Now I’m servin’ my time at the Magdalene laundry.
I’m toein’ the line at the Magdalene laundry.

There’s girls from the country, girls from the town,
Their bony white elbows goin’ up and down.
And the Reverend Mother, as she glides through the place,
A tight little smile on the side of her face,
She’s runnin’ the show at the Magdalene laundry.
I’ve got no place to go but the Magdalene laundry.

(refrain) Oh, Lord, won’t you let me, don’t you let me
Won’t you let me wash away the stains?
Oh, Lord, won’t you let me wash away the stains?

We’re washin’ altar linen, cassocks and stoles,
And we’re scrubbin’ long johns for the holy joes.
But we know where they’ve been when they’re not savin’ souls;
What the red wine spilt, the smooth hand pours.
We’re squeezin’ it out at the Magdalene laundry.
We’re scrubbin’ it down at the Magdalene laundry.

(refrain)

Sunday afternoon, the Lord’s at rest,
It’s off to the prom, watch the waves roll by.
We’re chewin’ on our toffees, hear the seagulls squawk,
“There go the maggies,” the children talk,
Through our faces they stare at the Magdalene laundry.
In our eyes see the glare of the Magdalene laundry.

(refrain)
(refrain)
(refrain)

While white songwriters and singers often portray the whore as a tragic figure, black musicians (especially those of the jazz era) generally portrayed her as smart, independent and tough, as in this one from Street Walker Blues:

State Street Blues (Thompson and Williams)

Goin’ down on State Street, that’s where I long to be
Goin’ down on State Street, that’s where I long to be
But those State Street gals make a fool out of me.

Goin’ down on State Street, stop at 3409
Goin’ down on State Street, stop at 3409
Get some bad whiskey and have a wild good time.

I don’t see how you State Street women sleep
I don’t see how you State Street women sleep
Walk the streets all night like Big Six on his beat.

These State Street hustlers sure do think they’re cute
These State Street hustlers sure do think they’re cute
‘Cause they get lucky and get a payback suit [?]

These State Street women sure do have some time
These State Street women sure do have some time
They clown all night, don’t give their man a dime.

These State Street hustlers sure better buy some shoes
These State Street hustlers sure better buy some shoes
‘Cause them old easy walkers won’t give their ankles the blues.

The “State Street” mentioned here is the famous Chicago thoroughfare; presumably the address was the (fictionalized) one of a speakeasy.  I’m not sure of the last phrase in the fourth verse; if anyone has a better suggestion please let me know.  Our last selection portrays Ray Charles’ narrator as the victim of a rather sophisticated cash and dash:

Greenbacks (Ray Charles)

As I was walking down the street last night,
A pretty little girl came into sight.
I bowed and smiled and asked her name,
She said, “Hold it bud, I don’t play that game.”
I reached in my pocket, and to her big surprise
There was Lincoln staring her dead in the eyes

(refrain) On a greenback, greenback dollar bill
Just a little piece of paper, coated with chlorophyll.

She looked at me with that familiar desire,
Her eyes lit up like they were on fire.
She said, “My name’s Flo, and you’re on the right track,
But look here, daddy, I wear furs on my back,
So if you want to have fun in this man’s land,
Let Lincoln and Jackson start shaking hands”

(refrain)

I didn’t know what I was getting into,
But I popped Lincoln and Jackson, too.
I didn’t mind seeing them fade out of sight,
I just knew I’d have some fun last night.
Whenever you in town and looking for a thrill,
If Lincoln can’t get it, Jackson sure will

(refrain)

(bridge)

We went to a nightspot where the lights were low,
Dined and danced, and I was ready to go.
I got out of my seat, and when Flo arose,
She said, “Hold it daddy, while I powder my nose.”
I sat back down with a smiling face,
While she went down to the powder place

With my greenback, greenback dollar bill
Just a little piece of paper, coated with chlorophyll.

The music stopped and the lights came on,
I looked around and saw I was all alone.
I didn’t know how long Flo had been gone,
But a nose powder sure didn’t take that long.
I left the place with tears in my eyes,
As I waved Lincoln and Jackson a last goodbye

(refrain)

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There is no evidence she condoned being called a horse.  –  Jeffrey Merlino

This was a weird week for links; up until Wednesday evening all I had was the first video (via Mike Siegel, who also provided “flu tax”), and I was trying to figure out what I would do if I didn’t get anything else!  But then the internet came through, and as you can see I have a full slate of interesting stuff.  This week’s top contributor was Franklin Harris, who supplied everything down to the first video; the second video was provided by Radley Balko (who also gave us “Idaho”), and the links between the videos were suggested by Mistress Matisse (“Elvis”), Walter Olson (“cigars”), Violet Blue (“CISPA”), Wil Wheaton’s Cat (“sci-fi”), and Kevin Wilson (“bingo”).

From the Archives

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The laws just don’t make sense.  They don’t help sex workers.  They don’t protect sex workers.  They increase their risks and they make it harder for them to do their jobs.  –  Chris Bruckert

Cops and Condoms

Ugandan men are even worse about condoms than American and European ones; the sex workers interviewed for this article say that only about 20% of clients will agree to use one,  even when the worker tells them she is HIV+.  The problem is that many workers there will provide bareback (“live” in Ugandan slang) on demand, so a woman who insists on condoms is at a competitive disadvantage.

See No Evil

A New Zealand court has sentenced a man to three months in prison for downloading cartoon porn.  Ronald Clark has previous convictions for sexually abusing a minor, but the Japanese hentai he watched…[involved only] drawings…[and these were not even of humans, but rather] “elves and pixies, which led to concerns the images were linked to child sexual abuse…

The More the Better (TW3 #4)Heidi Fleiss at renovated brothel

Heidi Fleiss…is…helping to renovate Dennis Hof’s Love Ranch…in Crystal, Nevada… “this…was very similar to a women’s penitentiary…You had to go through all these weird bars and buzzers, and someone’s peering out the little peephole, scoping you up and down… It was really a creepy feeling.”  [Fleiss says she wants the brothel to be] “…not the dirty little secret where people drive up and sneak in…and then afterwards they’re full of shame…It’s something where people are so proud to be here, not only do they come back, but bring their friends back.”

The Notorious Badge (TW3 #15)

In The Client List…Jennifer Love Hewitt plays a struggling housewife who takes a rub-down side job in order to support her kids after her husband disappears.  The show…has always struck us as more campy nonsense than an accurate portrayal of the erotic massage business.  But how could we tell?  We asked an escort to watch the show and help us tell fact from fiction

Little Boxes

Young people being pragmatic and sensible about sex?  We can’t have that!

…around 85 per cent of sexually active teens in the Bahamas are engaging in some kind of transactional sex…the majority of middle and high schoolers…are not sexually active.  But of those who are, the majority are involved in risky behaviour…Transactional sex…differs from prostitution in the sense that only a portion of the needs of the person providing the sex are met through the practice…“Many young people put themselves through high school and college in this way…They feel that if a man wants to deal with them he has to pay in some way and they are not prostituting themselves by doing this,” [NGO official Prodesta] Moore said…

Somehow I doubt an American court would accept “this isn’t prostitution because I have another source of income” as a defense.

First They Came for the Hookers…

What selfless devotion to duty!  Several different Oklahoma “law enforcement” agencies partied for four months at a strip club in order to “keep the citizens safe” from the scourge of private, consensual sex!

A Coweta strip club was busted on prostitution charges…Cherokee County deputies [investigated] the Secret Cavern strip club [for] a total of four months…[Alcohol Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission] agent [Pedro] Zardeneta…[said] “different agencies from different parts of the state worked well together to keep the citizens safe”…

Beyonce Mrs Carter Show costume
The Widening Gyre

Dear “Sex Trafficking” Fetishists, please keep up the good work; we couldn’t possibly make y’all look as ridiculous as y’all make yourselves look:

Dear Michelle Obama…you were recently quoted as saying that Beyonce is a great “role model” to your two daughters…I think it’s time to stop suggesting to very young girls that ultimate feminine success…comes with the…expectation for them to undress…Variations of Beyonce’s body suit can be found in brothels, strip clubs and red light districts across the world – where sex is for sale…Remember that in the USA, the average age of a girl when she is trafficked for sex for the first time is 13…by drug dealers who promise her a celebrity lifestyle, clothes like the ones Beyonce wears…we are feeding a demonic myth that women must make themselves sexually available to enjoy ultimate success…It can take years of a young girl’s life away from her when she tries to escape a life of abuse at home…only to be sold for sex, beaten, and made addicted to drugs…

Bogeymen

A study conducted by a University of Ottawa criminology professor has confirmed what sex workers and those in the industry have said and known for years — the laws meant to protect sex workers from exploitation by targeting people who work in the industry but don’t actually do sex work end up putting those who do at much greater risk…These could include drivers…security personnel…website designers or photographers…receptionists…or the more traditional pimps or madams…Under current Canadian laws, all of those people, even the ones doing jobs that have mainstream counterparts, could be criminally charged…[despite the fact that] anything a third party could do to exploit a sex worker is already illegal if it were done to someone else…

Too Young To Know

Another sign of the decay of “sex trafficking” hysteria: even the most ignorant, dysphemism-riddled “sex trafficking” scare story chock-full of bogus statistics (“About one-third [of runaways] will be approached by a sex trafficker within 48 hours…the average life span for victims is seven years“) may admit to some real truth these days; this one, for example, recognizes that “pimps” don’t abduct screaming girls from their middle-class homes.  It will be interesting to watch as they start contradicting each other.

Bottleneck

Jules Kim – migration project manager at Scarlet Alliance…told the [federal] inquiry into slavery and human trafficking…[that] the  current “scatter-gun” approach in which police look for trafficking victims by raiding Asian brothels was an “enormous waste of time, resources and misdirected energy…that has resulted in a gap between law enforcement bodies and…sex industry workers…People change the nature of their work to avoid that harassment…because constant raids on your business have an implication…None of the cases involved deception or trickery of the fact the person would be doing sex work.  Instead of an evidence-based approach addressing real vulnerabilities, Australia’s approach continues to try to detect the mythical trafficking victim and trafficker that is a media-driven stereotype”…

Poe Folksteen on laptop at bedtime

According to a report released in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, watching porn only affects [young adult] sexual behavior in a negligible way.  Other influences such as personality type, educational and family background and poverty hold more girth than viewing sexually explicit material.  The study…surveyed 4,600…people between the ages of 15 and 25 living in the Netherlands during 2008-2009…

Another Small Victory (TW3 #133)

The fight in the SCOTUS over the “anti-prostitution pledge” began Monday.  On the side of Good:  The Open Society Foundation, the ACLU, the Cato Institute, the Gates Foundation and even such unlikely supporters as Fox News, the New York Times and MSNBC.  On the side of Evil:  The usual suspects, including the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women.  Here’s Melissa Gira Grant’s look at the battle-lines as they were set up on Monday; note the important point that the whole thing has been framed as a question of free speech (hence the support of otherwise-hostile media outlets) rather than a referendum on the rectitude of the War on Whores.  No matter which way this goes, the persecution will go on until our “allies” stop vomiting out moronic filth like “Sex work is everywhere.  It is a brutal system.  It is an exploitative system.  Nobody thinks it’s OK.”

Big Sister (TW3 #138)

An excellent article, though I must point out that only someone hopelessly mired in the “left-right” myth could seriously consider Iceland “ultra-liberal”:

Ultra-liberal Iceland wants to ban online pornography…[as] the latest step in its attempts to eliminate the sex industry entirely.  In 2009 it introduced fines and jail terms for those who patronise prostitutes (whom it treats as victims).  In 2010 it outlawed strip clubs…No country has yet wholly succeeded in controlling commercial sex, either through legalisation or criminalisation…Iceland’s proposal is in its early stages and may lose momentum after an election on April 27th, which the government is expected to lose.  But its plan puts it in some odd company.  Saudi Arabia similarly bans strip clubs, prostitution and pornography…Prostitution has proved hard…to police and stamp out…[but] regulating pornography is hardest of all.  Distributing and selling it has been illegal in Iceland since 1869…[but] a ban would be legally dubious, technically unfeasible and ineffective, argues Smari McCarthy…of the International Modern Media Institute…In an open letter to Ogmundur Jonasson, the interior minister, he and other opponents compared banning online pornography to repression in China, Iran and North Korea.  Iceland’s constitution forbids censorship…and…Studies in America, Denmark, Germany…Sweden…China, Finland and Japan…show that as pornography became increasingly available, the number of rapes in those countries remained stable or even decreased…

Anatomy of a Boondoggle (TW3 #314)

Florida rapists are cleverer, excusing themselves via the moral panic du jour:

…Police in Florida [went nude] during an undercover prostitution investigation at a Hallandale Beach massage parlor…and…arrested three women…attorney…Howard Finkelstein…said. “It is seedy, back-alley, icky, and we don’t want our cops doing that, especially so when it’s meaningless.”  But Florida ranks third in the nation in the number of reported cases of human trafficking…”This is not just an act of solicitation, but an organized crime effort,” [said] Police Chief Dwayne Flournoy…”It is not just a street-walker. It is a more sophisticated operation…”

The More the Better (TW3 #314)

She hated it so very much that she married a client and went on to own a brothel.  That’s deep hatred, y’all!

Linda Fondren, a mayoral candidate in Vicksburg, Miss., not only admits to a past life in prostitution, she says her husband was one of her Johns.  “I was a working girl in a legal brothel over 30 years ago.  It’s true, my husband was my client…[we’ve] been married for 28 years”…Fondren tried to hold off making that admission for weeks…she…[says] she only did it to support herself after she got pregnant at age 14 and…her mom died of cancer…“I hated it.  I hated it.”  She also said that she would not support legal prostitution if elected…

That last bus-throwing line earns her a nomination for my Hall of Shame, though she’ll have to be still more disgusting to actually be inducted.

Held Together With Lies (TW3 #316)

Step 1:  Define some normal behavior as a problem.  Step 2:  Redefine it so you can claim it’s “growing”.  Step 3:  Increase “regulation” so as to narrow the bottleneck for “legal” behavior:

After years of dispute, Germany’s center-right governing coalition has agreed to enact tougher penalties for human trafficking and forced prostitution…and [to] more strictly regulate the commercial activities of brothels…brothel operators will need special authorization…authorities will be required to enforce hygienic standards and operators will be screened for prior criminal offences…recently, a report by the European Union…showed that human trafficking in Europe has risen sharply.

Step 4 (early next year):  Complain that “criminality” has increased, and repeat step 3.  Proceed until full criminalization is achieved.

The End of the Beginning

Down near the end of this article about another idiotic and dangerous “sex trafficking” law is a reason for hope:  “A bill focused on tightening punishments for pimps…[which] would require some to register as sex offenders, is progressing in [Texas]…Opponents believe the…requirement for sex offender registration may overwhelm an ‘overly broad database that includes too many offenders who are not threats to the community’…”  In other words, these opponents recognize the “pimp menace” as hype and the “sex offender registry” as far too large.  The same could be said for the reporter covering this story in which a Florida police department is claiming that the law says it “has to” humiliate so-called “sex predators” with huge red warning signs in their yards; she seems extremely skeptical of these theatrics, and asks a number of very sensible questions which the police chief of course answers dishonestly and smugly.

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This essay first appeared on Cliterati on March 31st; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.

Killer Chickens 3/23/13One of the best things about country life is being able to have as many animals as one likes, and for me that includes chickens because I absolutely love having a steady supply of fresh eggs.  I most emphatically do not love chickens, however, and if I had to do much more than give them food and water, collect the eggs and clean out the henhouse every once in a while, I probably wouldn’t bother.  Those who have never kept chickens generally think of them as comical (if they think of them at all), but in reality they are stupid, filthy, cruel beasts.  The expression “pecking order” is a reference to that cruelty; they establish their dominance hierarchy by pecking one another, and if they collectively decide for some unaccountable reason that there is something wrong with one of their number, that pecking is both merciless and, often, terminal.

Late last month I lost one of my white leghorns to this horrid behavior; she had always been a nervous, timid bird even by the low standards of poultry, and though I knew she was at the bottom of the pecking order I had no inkling that I would go out to close the henhouse that evening and find that she had been killed by the others sometime earlier in the day.  She wasn’t pecked to death exactly; her physical injuries were not fatal in and of themselves, but hens are extremely susceptible to stress and she had essentially died of ill-treatment.  My friend Grace (a great lover of animals) was very angry at the others, but as I pointed out they were only acting according to instinct, rejecting a member of the flock whom they had decided did not belong.  Chickens have extremely tiny brains and can’t exceed their programming, but humans have no such excuse; that makes this story (which broke earlier that week) all the more disgusting:

A transgender teacher…is believed to have committed suicide after her case appeared in the national media…in an email…sent to a supporter before her death, Lucy Meadows describes how she had to dodge waiting reporters and photographers as she went to work…Her decision to undergo gender reassignment in December was reported in a number of national newspapers and was the subject of a controversial comment piece by…Daily Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn, who accused the popular teacher of “putting his (sic) own selfish needs ahead of the wellbeing of the children”…

Those who persecute sexual minorities just love to pretend that they’re acting “for the children”; I reckon they can’t admit that their behavior is actually on the same moral level as that of barnyard fowl.  Even worse, they imagine that encouraging those same “children” to participate in this kind of barbarism is totally acceptable:Destin Holmes

…Destin Holmes, a 16-year-old lesbian, said that…students and teachers…[at Magnolia Junior High School in Mississippi referred to her] as an “it,” “queer,” “freak,” “alien,” “dyke,” and “he-she.”  Holmes was also denied access to the girls’ bathroom.  In one of the most shocking incidents, Holmes’ teacher degraded her in front of the entire class when she divided it up into boys vs. girls for a trivia game, but left Holmes in the middle.  “She told me since she didn’t know what I was, I should be on a team of my own,” Holmes said…when she went to the principal to complain about the harassment, the principal allegedly replied, “I don’t want a dyke in this school.”  Ultimately, Holmes left the junior high after one semester last year and is now being home-schooled…

Though it is now socially unacceptable to openly express hatred for others because of race, religion, disability and a number of other factors, it’s still “open season” on a few sexual minorities, including sex workers and transgender people.  But while it’s become fashionable to cloak anti-whore rhetoric in the pretense of wanting to “save” women, anti-trans sentiments are right out in the open.  Legislators and judges openly persecute them; one Tennessee representative defended his bigotry with, “Don’t ask me to adjust to their perverted way of thinking and put my family at risk.”  Reporters make up for their lack of legal weaponry by humiliating them in the media instead, and the vitriol hurled at them by radical feminists is little short of nauseating.  Hateful people think of their targets as monsters, subhuman beings to be hated and ostracized, and want the rest of us to feel the same way.  But the true monsters in these situations aren’t the targets but rather the perpetrators, people who are no better than chickens mindlessly attempting to peck others to death for the offense of being different.

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We live in oppressive times.  We have, as a nation, become our own thought police; but instead of calling the process by which we limit our expression of dissent and wonder “censorship,” we call it “concern for commercial viability”.  –  David Mamet

shocked young womanIt has been said that every man has sexual fantasies which would horrify the average woman.  And while I can’t deny that this is probably true, have you ever stopped to wonder how it could be true?  Back in the days before printing, and for the roughly 400 years after it that most women were illiterate, this ignorance was unsurprising; a typical woman would only know about such things if a man chose to tell her, and if he did she was probably a whore.  But after the sexual revolution, and especially since the invention of the internet, it seems as though Western women who were ignorant of the depth and breadth of men’s erotic thoughts should be a small and steadily-shrinking minority…and yet they’re not.  Many women don’t have a clue about the more extreme (by female standards) male fantasies; these are the chicks whose idea of “kinky” is having sex in the living room or, if they’re real party animals, putting whipped cream on their tits and letting a man (*gasp*) lick it off!  Others are fully aware of the variety of male fantasies, but convince themselves that only a small “pervert” minority think about them, and that most men’s interests are as non-threatening as theirs.  A smaller fraction are either relatively kinky themselves or at least sexually literate enough to be accepting, but still believe the majority of men are vanilla (those who believe only 15% of men have ever paid for sex fall into this category).  Just about the only ones who really get it are the whores and the few really adventurous and open-minded amateurs who have been around enough to learn.

But again, how could this possibly be true in the internet age?  I think it’s partly because women have their own dichotomy, similar to the Madonna/whore dichotomy but less talked about; we’ll call it the Adonis/pervert dichotomy.  Like its better-known sister, it is the fallacy that all members of the sex to whom it is applied are either sexually “pure” or “dirty”, and those who are “dirty” are social misfits to be shunned.  But while men afflicted with Madonna/whore thinking still consider whores to be suitable bed partners, women laboring under the Adonis/pervert delusion think of men with earthy sexual desires as “creeps” to be avoided; neofeminists could be considered victims of an extreme form of this paradigm in which most or even all men are perverts and therefore dangerous monsters.  As with all belief-systems, people mired in these fallacies about the opposite sex become emotionally invested in them and will generally reject information which threatens their mental status quo; furthermore, most of the popular media are bound and determined to perpetuate the ignorance of their readers.  Take, for example, the experience of writer Chad Kultgen:

…My books [are]…sexually frank to a degree that some people think borders on pornography…[so] I was surprised [when]…a popular women’s website…wanted me to write a thousand words on what a man really wants from a woman in the bedroom.  My first question for the editor was:  “How honest do you want this to be?”  She told me to make the article 100 percent honest — no punches pulled, no holds barred.  I could be as vulgar as necessary in order to get down to the real dirty details.  With those marching orders, I sat down and cranked out an article that outlined what I think most people already know.  Guys are filthy.  We like really dirty things — far beyond anal sex, swallowing, and threesomes with our significant others’ best friends, although those were all certainly included in the laundry list of “what guys really want in the bedroom.”  The point of the article was, essentially, that guys want a sexual partner who is open to anything and enthusiastic about everything.  The language was vulgar…to reflect the way guys actually think about these things.

So I turned in the article, feeling confident that I delivered exactly what they asked for and excited to see the reaction — because, in tone and content, there was nothing like it on their site.  A week passed.  Then I got an email from the editor…[containing] an edited version of my article and a writer’s agreement that needed to be signed…I assumed the edit would be toned down a little, but not too much, based on the editor’s assurances that the site wanted a piece that was honest.  My assumption was incorrect.  Every instance of vulgar language was removed…any reference to a sexual act beyond missionary, doggy style, or girl-on-top was removed.  Any reference to anal sex…was changed to “the back door.”  Beyond the [removals]…there was another component…that astonished me.  Someone had…inserted new writing — including puns like “Arma-get-it-on”…throughout the text…Needless to say, I wrote the editor back thanking her for her time and respectfully declining to sign the writer’s agreement on the grounds that the article in its edited form was not only stylistically incongruent with anything I would ever write before suffering from a stroke or undergoing a lobotomy, but also because its content was so dishonest.  In fact, it had become the exact opposite of what was asked of me in the first place…Is it that people…don’t actually want the truth when it comes to sex?  I can’t imagine that’s it…I think it’s that the media outlets who circulate these things, by their very nature, can’t deliver the truth when it comes to sex…giant media companies are beholden to their sponsors, and…have to uphold whatever standards those sponsors dictate…

Censored content warningI think Kultgen is right on the money there.  It’s not that the owners of these companies are all a bunch of prudes; it’s that far too many of the people who buy their products are, and they can’t afford to take chances in a world where “offense” is as fetishized as it is today.  So even though both the information and the means of disseminating it exist, the most prominent sources are controlled by people whose legal and marketing departments have informed them that a very large and vocal minority (most especially in America) don’t want other people (especially not young ones) to know the truth about sex, and are willing to lie, cheat and buy politicians to censor most sources and drown out the rest in a flood of disinformation.

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A reader asks:

I read your post and answer to the question:How does one find a male prostitute for a straight female?”  Is there really a market for females that want male prostitutes?  Could you recommend a male prostitute that a man could fashion himself after (both physically and mentally)?  And could you recommend any books, websites or articles on the topic?

Showtime GigolosI’m afraid there just isn’t much of a market for heterosexual male prostitutes, which is why that reader had so much trouble finding one.  While every town in the world has female hookers and most make much more than they could at other jobs for which they’re qualified, men who want to do sex work usually deal mostly with men.  This isn’t to say that no woman ever pays a man for sex, but those who do so are statistical outliers and therefore not a dependable source of income.  The English sex worker Sensuous Amanda expressed it quite well:

Whilst I won’t say there is no market for straight male escorts, I will tell you that it is a teeny tiny market and it is awash with bright eyed hopefuls.  As far as I know, even the successful guys do it part time and have another job to pay the rent…Boys, go for it if you want, but don’t rely on it for income.  For instance, my ex – a tall strapping chap, pretty good looking, in his early 30s at the time – advertised his services.  He’d seen what I was earning and decided that he wanted in on the action.  He never made a sodding penny.  Nothing.  Not so much as an email or a call.  Not even a timewaster.

That article also suggests a helpful model:  Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice.  No, he wasn’t a sex worker, but that’s exactly the point; as Amanda writes, “in general, women don’t want [it]…to be a charade.  We want a man to be all of those things to us because he wants to be.  Not because we’ve just handed him a wad of twenties…”  Or as I expressed it in “Just Drawn That Way”, “it is a rare woman indeed who will pay for sex with a man [because] it is an undeniable statement that he is not attracted to her, and that invalidates the primary reason for which [most women] might seek unprofitable, non-relationship sex.male prostitute  People try to refute that by pointing to female sex tourists, but the exception proves the rule because what these women are looking for is adventure and romance rather than sex per se,  which is why they seek this in exotic places rather than at home.  Furthermore, you must remember that dollars, pounds and euros go a long way in such locales; what constitutes a generous fee there might be only a small sum in the Global North.  That matters because women tend to be cheap tippers, especially where sex is concerned; as I explained once before, “A friend of mine who owned a male stripper service in addition to his escort service eventually had to stop offering so-called ‘bachelorette parties’ because none of his boys would do them anymore.  The reason they gave?  ‘Women are lousy tippers and they’re more interested in the buffet than the dancers.’”  The good, dependable income in sex work is from male clients, whether the sex worker is male or female; as Amanda put it, “You wanna be a male escort?  Fine, you go for it sweetie.  You wanna make real money as a male escort?  Lube up, bend over and take one for the team.

I don’t know of any other resources for heterosexual male escorts, but by serendipity one of them (who says he has 15 years of experience) posted a reply just a few weeks ago on the very same Sensuous Amanda post I quoted above.  He confirmed that he couldn’t make enough to live on, points out the difficulties of trying to see more than two to three clients a week, and explained that his sessions have to be open-ended on time rather than by the hour as with female escorts.  He has a lot to say that I think you’ll find enlightening, including the fact that 75% of his clients were couples; this of course reinforces what I said above, because if it weren’t for the man’s interest in the fantasy you can be sure his wife wouldn’t be there.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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A government that is big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away.  –  Barry Goldwater

The Auctioneer by Norman Rockwell (1922)I will never cease to be amazed at the inability of statists to recognize that the expansion of government will never stop until it is somehow forced to.  Every year the American governmental machine adds new employees, new “mandates”, hundreds of new laws and thousands of new regulations (all with the force of law and most with criminal penalties).  Government now consumes approximately 40% of the gross domestic product, and given that any decreases have been both minor and short-lived there is little reason to believe it will not exceed half within the lifetimes of most of y’all reading this.  Meanwhile, the scope of government reach has also increased, though at a much higher rate; modern governments interfere in their citizens’ lives to a vastly greater extent than at any time in history, and in some countries (the US especially) this is more or less a one-way ratchet because only a miniscule fraction of laws enacted, no matter how odious or tyrannical, are ever repealed.  Once a legal precedent is established it provides a base for still more laws, and so the mound continues to grow year after year, getting taller and wider until some irresistible force levels it or (more likely) it collapses of its own weight.  Early last month, an article by A. Barton Hinkle described it this way:

…Call it the auctioneer effect.  Having approved a new law or program to address a circumstance in one year, politicians confront a dilemma in subsequent years…the problem does not disappear.  It wouldn’t do to conclude that, since previous laws and programs have failed, perhaps the problem lies beyond government’s ability to solve.  Answer:  Write more laws and fund more programs!  As in a genuine auction, the winner is the pol who can propose the most.  You can see the auctioneer effect all over the place.  You can see it in public education, where ever-increasing expenditures produce flat test scores, which are then met with calls for even more spending.  You can see it in the war on poverty, which now boasts 126 separate means-tested programs at the federal level alone.  You can see it in gun control, where “high-capacity” once referred to 20- or 30-round magazines but now applies…to those holding as few as eight.  And you can really see it in the war on crime, in which politicians seek to out-Roy Bean one another by perpetually ratcheting down thresholds for offenses – and perpetually ratcheting up penalties for same…

melee weaponsOf course, those who believe in the magical power of government to perform virtually any task with meat cleavers, sledgehammers, steamrollers and guns don’t see this as a problem, but they forget that once a tool or weapon is added to the governmental arsenal there is absolutely nothing to stop others from using it for their own purposes:

…Because they cannot ban abortion outright, conservative politicians have tried to discourage it in heavy-handed and sometimes humiliating ways.  Thirty-four states impose regulations specific to abortion providers; 35 require counseling, and 26 impose waiting periods.  Eight…now require women seeking abortions to have an ultrasound.  Last year [Virginia] lawmakers…drew national scorn by proposing…an invasive transvaginal ultrasound…then [last month]…the Indiana Senate approved a bill to require…transvaginal ultrasound…[and demand] that establishments dispensing pills such as RU-486 meet the same construction standards as those performing surgical abortions…

Texas saw that and raised the standards to those for an ambulatory surgical center, a move that will close 38 of the 44 clinics in the state.  Then at the end of March, North Dakota raised that still further by requiring an abortionist to be a doctor with hospital admitting privileges; another measure passed at the same time banned abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected (possibly as early as six weeks, when many women are just beginning to realize that they’re pregnant).  Of course, this is old hat for sex workers; countries where sex work is legal often try to pass so many ridiculous restrictions that it’s very difficult to actually work within the law, and the newest “sex trafficking” laws define “prostitution” and “coercion” so broadly, at least a third of the population could be charged with “trafficking” and threatened with decades in prison and lifelong “sex offender” registration.  This isn’t a joke, y’all; it’s not a “fallacy”, or “alarmism”, or “anti-government propaganda”.  This is real, and happening in every area of government.  When you arm “your” politicians to give you the goodies you want and to oppress your enemies, you inevitably arm “their” politicians to give them the goodies they want and to oppress their enemies…and the only ones who win are the politicians.

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Each is liable to panic, which is exactly the terror of ignorance surrendered to the imagination.  –  Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have written before that individual moral panics tend to last roughly twenty years at most, and that is true; however, it is also true that the cultural conditions which favor certain types of moral panics over others can be extremely long-lived.  For example, though individual periods of witch-hunting typically lasted less than 20 years, the era in which they were extremely common lasted from the late 15th century to the mid-18th.  There were other (non witch-related) moral panics during that time, such as the syphilis panic of the early 16th century; there were also witch-hunts throughout history outside of that era.  But for various sociological reasons (not the least of which was the Protestant Reformation and the religious climate which gave rise to it), witch hunts were the most common and characteristic moral panics of that time.

From Dance Hall to White SlaverySimilarly, the Victorian Era is noted for sex panics; again, there are many reasons, but the largest one is probably the ascendance of the middle class due to the Industrial Revolution, and the subsequent urbanization of the working class which placed its members within the sight of the bourgeoisie, from whom they had been relatively isolated for centuries.  From about 1840 on the middle class became increasingly alarmed by the sexual freedom of the working class; they feared “moral contamination” and demanded that the masses submit to the same self-denial and rigid social structure as their “betters”.  And though the weapons they developed to fight “vice” were ostensibly intended for sexual minorities such as whores and homosexuals, they were also freely employed against women who violated the increasingly-strict social controls on female sexual behavior.  The sex panics waxed and waned, flowing into one another throughout the 19th century, finally culminating in the white slavery hysteria and anti-prostitution campaigns which resulted in the establishment of prohibitionist policies throughout the West, most especially in the United States.  Eventually, the First World War in Europe and the Great Depression in the US put an end to the anti-sex climate; people had more important things to worry about, and the increasing freedom of women had helped the rising young generation to develop a healthier attitude about it than that of their parents and grandparents.  From start to finish, the whole process took about 70 years, but signs of decay were clearly visible by the ‘90s; in other words, a clever sociologist might have been able to predict the eventual end of the sickness a generation before it finally came.

Those of my readers old enough to remember the 1970s know, as my younger readers may not, that the current climate of sex hysteria only began about 1980; the major reasons were religious backlash against the sexual revolution, cultural backlash against the increasing freedom of women, panics about rape and child sexual abuse purposefully stoked by organized feminism for political reasons, and of course the specter of AIDS (which brought all the other threads together).  Though there have been other moral panics in the past 33 years, all of the major ones were about sex and most of those which weren’t directly about it were at least tangential.  The most important hysteria of the early ‘80s, child sex abuse hysteria, split into two closely-related panics by the late ‘80s: the Satanic Panic and the child predator panic.  The original feminist narrative of the hysteria, that huge numbers of women had been sexually abused by their evil fathers, brothers, uncles or whatever, proved too uncomfortable for Americans to embrace for very long, so it was externalized; the abusers were no longer family members but lust-crazed “pedos” or Satanists lurking in day-care centers (a venue whose implications for rapidly-growing numbers of women working outside the home should be obvious).  These twin terrors went forth into other Western countries, and though the Satanic Panic eventually metamorphosed into “sex trafficking” hysteria, the “child predator” panic has only expanded as governments have recognized its utility as a tool of social control.  The definition of “child” has rapidly expanded over the past twenty years to include young adults (thus pathologizing relationships which were perfectly normal throughout human history), and that of “sexual abuse” to include drawings or words about sex with or between younger people, not to mention non-sexual photographs of children of a type common in virtually every single family album in the Western world prior to the advent of the panic.

I’ve written elsewhere about increasing signs of decay in the “trafficking” hysteria, and now I’m pleased to call attention to similar signs of illness in its twin sister.  Both panics have proven useful to governments:  “trafficking” for border control and whore-persecution, and “child predator” as a means of abrogating privacy, expanding legal definitions of “harm” and relegating increasing numbers of non-violent citizens to pervasive control and surveillance.  And because of this, governments (especially the US government) have dumped astronomical sums into promoting, encouraging and enforcing laws rooted in both of them.  But though this sponsorship has extended both beyond their natural life-spans, it has also sowed the seeds of their destruction;Patty Wetterling the incredible heavy-handedness which characterizes government involvement in anything has begun to make the problems with these narratives more obvious even to those unaccustomed to critical thought.  Articles criticizing the hysteria over “child porn” have begin to appear in the mainstream media, and though bloggers have been writing about the tyranny of “sex offender” registries for years, even those who are politically invested in them are beginning to take note:

…Since the Wetterling Act was passed in 1994, laws governing sex offenders have grown successively stricter and more far reaching.  In many places, residency restrictions dictate that sex offenders cannot live within a certain distance from…places where children gather.  Online registries broadcast the names and pictures of offenders, often without specifying the nature of their offenses.  Juveniles treated as adults and labeled as sex offenders for acts involving other kids bear that stigma well into adulthood…The laws tend to fuel the impression that sex offenders are a uniform class of creepy strangers lurking in the shadows who are bound to attack children over and over again.  That’s what [Patty Wetterling, mother of the namesake of the mandatory registration law] used to believe…too.  Yet over the course of two decades…she found her assumptions slowly chipped away…she learned that abductions like Jacob’s are extremely rare, and that 90 percent of sexual offenses against children are committed by family members or acquaintances …[and] they…have a distinctly low recidivism rate…According to Human Rights Watch, at least 28 states require registration for consensual sex between teenagers, 13 for public urination, 32 for exposing genitals in public, and five for soliciting adult prostitutes.  Restricting where sex offenders can live, in many cases forcing them into homelessness and disconnecting them from family and social support, hasn’t had any quantifiable reduction on the rate of sexual abuse…Wetterling…[has] quietly emerged as perhaps the most unlikely voice questioning sex offender laws…and…has expressed gnawing doubts over the past several years about how we deal with sex offenders…

But while politicians were only too happy to listen to Wetterling when she supported more laws, they’re not so eager to pay attention to her misgivings now.  Still, a very few of them have apparently begun to recognize that the hysteria has gone too far; while most states have subscribed to the delusional argument that the registries are somehow not a form of punishment despite the fact that any child could see that they are, a Maryland court has taken a baby step in the right direction by ruling that “requiring an individual to register as a sex offender for a crime committed 12 years before the registry came into existence violates the Maryland Bill of Rights and the ex-post facto clause of the Federal Constitution”:

The prohibition against ex post facto laws is rooted in a basic sense of fairness, namely that a person should have “fair warning” of the consequences of his or her actions and that a person should be protected against unjust, oppressive, arbitrary, or vindictive  legislation…Based on [these] principles…retrospective application of the sex offender registration statute…is unconstitutional.

falling rocksThis decision is little more than erecting an umbrella against an avalanche, but it does represent a very small sign of shifting attitudes.  It is not by any means the beginning of the end; we’re still a long way from the end of  the “child predator” panic and an even longer way from the end of this anti-sex era in history.  But once it’s clear that “sex trafficking” hysteria is beginning to collapse and the laws governing “sex offenders” aren’t getting any worse, we’ll at least be able to say that we’re at the end of the beginning.

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Dinosaurs aren’t mysterious, strange creatures. They are creatures that God created to help Adam and Eve and they did until Adam sinned.  –  Creation Truth Foundation

The big story this week was of course the bombing at the Boston Marathon, but I’m sure you’ve had enough of that and I’m certainly not inclined to participate in promoting the mainstream narrative of the events.  Instead, I prefer to call your attention to this essay in which Clark of Popehat discusses Boston’s massive exercise in security theater which used the bombing as an excuse, and to the first of Radley Balko‘s four links above the first video (which was provided by Jolene Parton).  The second video (which needs to be internalized by any man who’s ever been made to feel guilty about paying for sex) was suggested by Sarah Woolley, and the links between the videos by Franklin Harris (“Elvis”),  Mike Siegel (“contempt”), Jesse Walker (“Lovecraft”), Mistress Matisse (“hipster babies” and “dialects”), and Popehat (“headline”).

From the Archives

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