RW23 - The Day The Internet Opened

This week, Dan and John talk about:

The show title refers to street prostitution disappearing immediately the day the internet opened.

The episode starts with John coughing very violently. ”Sorry, listeners of the future!”

Raw notes
The segments below are raw notes that have not been edited for language, structure, references, or readability. Please do not quote these texts directly without applying your own editing first! These notes were not planned to be released in this form, but time constraints have caused a shift in priorities and have delayed editing draft-quality versions to a later point.

John still being sick, his dad talking about his prostate (RW23)

John sounds better than last time. He has been sick for three weeks and doesn’t know what to do about it. He is still coughing, he excused himself from a movie last night to go out into the lobby and cough. The last time Dan had a flu type thing it took the week or so of the fever part and the feeling like you just want to die part, and then there was another two weeks where he was just slowly regaining strength and a lot of coughing. Dan looked it up and they said that the cough and the weakness and lack of energy can last two more weeks.

John doesn’t want to bore Dan with talking about all these middle aged man problems. His dad and his friends used to sit around and talk about their prostates all afternoon. They would sit around a restaurant or something and talk for 45 minutes about their prostates. John wasn't listening, he was rolling his eyes, going: ”You guys, fuck!” Now John wished he knew what they were talking about all of a sudden he is very interested in that. He has nothing to say about his prostate, but he is very interested in talking about it with someone who knows. John would sit and laugh at them and yell at them, and his dad would say: "One day you will know! One day you will be sitting around talking about your prostate!” and he said it with a laugh, but it felt like a gypsy curse. There should be a podcast of just those two guys talking about their health problems, but let's not have it be this one!

Everybody should know by now that if it is a podcast that John is a guest on or principle of they should not be eating breakfast while they are listening because it is probably going to get gross at some point. Either gross mouth sounds or talking about something gross or just the inherent grossness of two middle aged men talking. That in and of itself is somewhat off-putting.

Being self-serious on Instagram (RW23)

John went by a place called the Great Bear Motor Inn and some other motels that look as if they have been destroyed (find Instagram posts about that!). Then he posted a picture of sneakers on the hood of a vehicle. You never know what you are going to get on John’s Instagram. Half of what John puts up there are selfies and when you see them all taken together, you see that it is the collected work of a lunatic. Selfies of people that are making duck faces all the time seems crazy. John is always making the same face, which is non-plussed, it is not like he ever smiles. He gone on record many times saying: If you are going to have an Instagram account, particularly if it is one of those ones where you have imposed upon yourself a theme, like: ”I take pictures of manhole covers” or ”I am the guy that has pictures of salt shakers that look like pigs!”, that type of thing, you have got to include a selfie periodically so that we can know who the crazy person is behind this.

R.E.M., Michael Stipe, bands being too self-serious (RW23)

John happened to be browsing Instagram and went to Michael Stipe’s Instagram, which is the most curious terrifying thing. He takes selfies of himself with a huge cast of enormously successful celebrities, famous people, a whole breadth of people from the popular culture. He has quite a beard now, he has a nose piercing. Michael Stipe centers every photograph on himself. If he is taking a selfie with himself standing next to Bono the photograph is centered on Michael Stipe and Bono is this little shadow of a face edging halfway into the screen?

His whole selfie theory is: ”I am posting selfies that I have taken with all my famous friends and people I have met around the world!”, but every single one of them is almost completely cropped out of the frame and it is just the same picture of Michael Stipe over and over and over, centered right on the tip of his nose. It is not an art thing that he is doing, it is just that Michael Stipe has ever experienced a camera as anything other than something pointed at him to record him. It is like: ”It's a selfie! Get in this selfie with me!” and he points the camera at himself. The other person, if they are really good at getting in close, maybe they get half their face in. You can also just study the beard grow over the course of the last 50 photos.

John studied it until he also started to feel crazy and then he had to get out of there. John met Michael Stipe half a dozen times, he knows Peter Buck pretty well. They have played shows together and have known each other for 15 years probably. John loves Peter, but he knows about those guys, about that band, they are definitely a very quirky group of people. Mike Mills being the one that seems the closest to a normal functioning person, but still a considerable distance from that goal. This insight, looking at this Instagram and this insight into Stipe has given John tremendous pause. Also, it is deeply troubling.

If that Instagram account was David Byrne, absolutely, David Byrne is intentionally doing that as an artistic comment on ego, or he was doing it just because he is a weirdo and it is some kind of RISD art installation. But if there is one thing John knows about Michael Stipe, it is that he does not have that kind of ability to comment on his own ego. None of those guys. If you look at the history of R.E.M., you will see no sign of them ever engaging in self-mockery. Musically and historically they are very self-serious. It is like Radiohead doesn't self mock. Their music mocks people across the whole spectrum, but they never are the target of their own mockery.

Whereas David Byrne, throughout the course of his career, however self-serious that guy is, which is incredibly self-serious, but he was never afraid to make himself look ridiculous. You think about the Once in a Lifetime where he is perspiring and flopping around in a terrible green-screen ocean behind him. He was making himself a clown as a part of an art thing. All the way at the end of the spectrum is They Might Be Giants whose commentary on themselves and on ego is absolutely threaded through everything they have ever done. They are very serious about their work, but there is very little self-seriousness that they don't also acknowledge.

Every band John tries to look at and gauge that. David Lee Roth, superstar sex guy, but also no self-seriousness at all. Always the clown. That was always a problem with Eddie Van Halen who took himself very seriously. Sammy Hagar comes in, very self-serious, and all the self-awareness went out of Van Halen that day. All of a sudden Eddie was much more comfortable in a band where there was no self-awareness. They were Rock stars and no Green M&Ms, it was not funny anymore, whereas with Dave, to whatever degree he was a huge pain in the ass and had a massive ego. He was capable of mocking himself. He was just having fun.

That is the difference between Black Sabbath with Ozzy and without Ozzy. Early Black Sabbath was about Satan and robots, but Ozzy is a fucking clown! Tony Nayomi probably through the whole career of Black Sabbath asked himself why he picked this guy because he never breaks character, he always got an upside down cross, he always got a Mephistopheles beard, he was always glaring at the camera and Ozzy was this chubby dork that has the word OZZY tattooed on his own knuckles.

Self-serious is the enemy of cool Rock 'n’ Roll, but John always loved R.E.M and it is not the enemy of it, that is the thing! There are so many great bands that are really serious, they are not kidding and they are great. John has to rescind that as soon as he says it. Seriousness is not the enemy of great Rock’n’Roll, but there is definitely some tension there. You have to be able to mock yourself a little, and Michael Stipe does not have that gene gene.

John is still sick (RW23)

John is still coughing and Dan feels almost guilty about making John do a show because he is the one who would cancel a show when he was having a cold. Back in the early days of doing shows whenever he would have a cold he would get tons and tons of emails even though he would mute out any kind of disgusting noises, telling him that he should have just not done the show at all. These shows that Dan and John are doing are evergreen. In 5 years, in 10 years, in 30 years, in 500 years, people will still be coming back to this episode of the show. For them to get an understanding on what was going on in our time, this is the show for our time and Dan wants it to sound like that, he wants it to hold up. After World War VIII and this is the one thing of this era that remains, people will think that people just sounded like that back then. John wants them to know how fragile they were and also he wants this lingering cold to live on. He will be healthy again one day, but this cold will survive into eternity.

John’s pictures of old motels, street prostitution disappearing with the internet (RW23)

John’s Instagram pictures, this is absolutely something generational that has passed into history, which is that stretch of motels. Whenever Dan sees photos of John outside of his natural habitat. of Seattle or his bedroom mirror, he gets worried maybe John is traveling again and he will text John if they are going to do the show today and John will text back he is in Guam today and forgot to mention it. Dan gets a little nervous where John is going, but at the same time that is the mystery of the show.

John down by the airport and highway 99 is the famous north-south-highway on the West Coast that used to run from Vancouver, Canada to Tijuana, Mexico. It was a U.S. highway, sort of like Route 66, where it was at street level, there were stoplights on it, but it was the only route if you wanted to go from Seattle to Portland or Seattle to Sacramento. It was the main route through every one of these towns. During the rise of the motor car as a form of transportation these big U.S. highways connected the country together and along those roads a culture of the motel grew naturally at the outskirts of a town on either side north and south or east and west.

These motels popped up because you are driving in on Highway 99 and here you come and rather than drive all the way into town and get a room at one of the big fancy downtown hotels, you would stop on the outskirts of town, park your car at the the Great Bear Motel and it was affordable, it was part of American car culture. That is one of the things about Route 66. You drive along there and you see all these remnants of car culture from the 1940s and 1950s and 1960s and even earlier, the 1930s. John’s mom drove from Ohio to San Diego and back with her grandparents in the mid-late 1930s on Route 66. That was the American neon culture, the signage is amazing, the architecture is all amazing.

Then they built the interstates and in a lot of cases in the north south route on the West Coast the interstate actually just went right over the top of Highway 99 for great stretches of it and the old highway doesn't exist. The same is true of Route 66. The only remnants of it are little places where the highway went around the town. If you are driving that, you get on the freeway for a while and then you get off, you drive on some little stretch of Route 66 as it goes through Las Cruces or something and then you get back on the freeway because the old road doesn't exist.

In Seattle Highway 99 is still a major north-south thoroughfare through the town, and really this whole part of Western Washington. When they built the freeway, they built it on the other side of the city and 99 exists still. Also, it is important to remember that in 1962 they had the World's Fair here that attracted people from all over North America. They got a lot of motels on both sides of town, just these perfect exemplars of the form. The two story motel like the kind where Martin Luther King was shot, open balcony with a neon palm tree and all these things.

This stuff started to pass into history about 25 years ago because about 35 years ago when the interstates were open and motel culture shifted to that kind of Super 8 motel that is at the Cloverleaf, a uniform cookie-cutter motel slapped together right at the exit. This is the thing that Dan will remember and a lot of their listeners will not. When John was growing up, it was an era where there was a lot of street prostitution in certain parts of town, when you would be driving down the street with your mom and dad and all of a sudden on both sides of the road, there would be innumerable women walking up and down the street, dressed very scantily, cars pulling over, women leaning in the windows, this whole sex marketplace happening just on the street at all hours of the day and night.

And a lot of that sex culture and prostitution culture happened precisely in the neighborhoods around these now decaying motels because the motels had cheap rooms available by the hour. This part of town was always the… when John and Dan were kids and into their teen years, in John’s imagination they were always inextricable. When you saw the motel, you just immediately started looking for the streetwalking style of prostitute and all the johns and all the creepy cars and so forth.

As the Internet came on, one of the first things that went onto the Internet was sex work. The day the Internet opened all streetwalking prostitution just disappeared, it just ended immediately. There was a little interregnum where there were still people walking the streets, but the level of class had dropped precipitously. The only people still working the street corners were people that were catering to a clientele that didn't have the Internet or had never heard of the Internet. It got dirtier and dirtier, but then eventually it all went away. You never see someone walking the street in a mini skirt, twirling a little charm on a string. It is all gone.

John was driving down Highway 99 by the airport, which was for his whole life a very colorful stretch where everything used to happen and when you are a kid your nose is pressed to the glass and you have a lot of questions about what is happening outside that mom and dad are reticent to answer completely. All these wonderful motels, this whole idea, this whole notion of all the recent history that is in them. It is just the last 60 years and the rise was so steep and the fall was so steep. John was driving down and saw this whole stretch of these little motels just all being torn down because somebody came along and realized they could buy four square blocks and tear it all down and put in some Home Depot or some Whole-foods or some thing that will instantly sanitize and forever alter the whole idea of this trip.

Even as he was driving down it, looking around, seeing that the city has made a lot of improvements in the sidewalks. The only remnants of the past are a pawn shop and a thing that used to be a motorcycle shop, but now it is a halal grocery store and the neighborhood has changed a lot in a lot of demographic weighs. Here go all these motels and as soon as they are gone the next person to drive down this street for the first time will have no conception of what this was ever. It will look as crazy to them as pictures of New York City with horse-drawn carriage, except even in those pictures you can at least overlay the old picture with the new picture and still some of the buildings remain, but this is just gone forever.

Adding an extra layer to it was that this particular stretch of Highway 99 and these exact motels and the prostitution culture that kept them alive was the hunting ground of Gary Ridgway, the Green River killer. He lived in this neighborhood just three blocks off of Highway 99 and these motels and the women that work the street here were his victims. Gary Ridgway and the Green River Killer. He is pretty widely regarded as the most prolific American serial killer. If put the word green into Google, Green River killer is the fifth thing that pops up. He was convicted of 50 killings, but suspected of a lot more.

Growing up in the Northwest in the 1970s and 1980s the Green River killer was the ultimate boogie man because they didn't catch him for decades and he seemed to be everywhere, he was taunting the cops. In retrospect, it turns out that, they all thought that he was this master evil Dracula figure, but it turned out he was a total idiot, a guy with a 70 IQ or something, who worked as a truck painter. He just got away with it, nobody knows why. Bundy had 140 IQ and in the end that didn't help him, but this guy was just this dip-wad who killed and killed and killed. This exact stretch where these pictures John took on Instagram was ground zero for that. People in the Northwest spent years and years and years churning over this very stretch of 99. You couldn't drive down it without seeing girls working the street and also thinking about the Green River killer and wondering when he would strike again.

Watching these motels get torn down, you don't want to feel nostalgia for the Green River killer, but it also is some massive flag planted in John’s emotional landscape, his childhood landscape. To see these motels go and then be replaced by a Lowe's, it was really opportunistic. If John had come by there a week later, those places would be gone and if he had gone by a week earlier they would just be boarded-up motels, of which there are tons. He wouldn't have said: ”Oh, what a pity! Those motels are boarded up!” They belong to be boarded up. John just never thought that they would be all torn down at once. There was a brief period in the late 1990s when John had just enough resources, when he had a car for the first time, seeing girls. and at one point, and that is fairly commonplace among hipster dingelings like he was. He got into this mode where I was like: ”Hey. Why don't we go get a motel room out on 99?” Typically the Rock’n’Roll girls got the kitschy appeal of being a little bit scummy. It wasn't dangerous exactly, but it was definitely a little bit: ”Oh my God, we are going to go get a motel room on 99. That is kind of dirty!” and then: ”It is kind of dirty!”

There was a while where John tried to stay the night in all of these different places, the Thunderbird Motel. He never stayed at the Great Bear, but the Palms and all these weird places that still had their original decor but had just fallen so far. Some of them had the original decor, the original curtains, everything gray and the bed so used that there was no spring left in it. It was very much a dark side tourism. John was 26 and poor. If you didn't want to make out in her apartment with her roommate in the next room, for $25, you could get a room at the Thunderbird.

Now the Thunderbird is torn down. All of them, little by little, are getting torn down. What is crazy is that it feels like it is just ripe for people John’s age to start buying these places, fixing them up, mid-century modernizing them, and turning them into $200 a night hotels for people who are nostalgic for a thing that they never experienced firsthand, which is the popularization of mid-century modern as a style.

It is really popular with a generation of people that never experienced it firsthand or that only knew it because their grandparents lived in a place like that. It was aesthetically reintroduced to people because it is both old and cool, but it is also new and modern. At one point it was touted as modern and still feels kind of modern, you get to have modern amenities, but it is also vintage. These motels, maybe as car culture morphs into whatever it is going to be next. These car centric businesses and strip malls and stuff will start to take on a different cast. John was having a very complicated reaction to these motels getting torn down.

It feels like a coffee table book that somebody should have already been making because so many of these hotels are gone now. If 10 years ago someone traveled around, taking pictures of all the old motels in their late stage decay, that would be an amazing coffee table book. John is not going to Google it because he is sure it is there and he would be mad. Now it is too late. They are all gone! John wouldn't be able to put the Great Bear Motel in there, for instance, because it is gone, torn down. But John wouldn't have to be the photographer. He could acquire these photos and just be the one to document, collect and annotate them and assemble them together. John asks the listeners to email him if anybody knows about photos like that.

John knows the motels of the West. There are so many motels in America and so many of them that have been in decay for decades and will never get torn down because they are on the outskirts of some town in Indiana that isn't going to get redeveloped for another 50 years. If you wanted to go out and document the motels in America, you could drive yourself crazy. You could spend 15 years on this quest. Just the ones from Vancouver, B.C., to Redding, California, that alone would be an amazing coffee table book, because they are not just limited to Highway 99. They are on Highway 1, on Highway 101, everywhere that highways were built, so, too, were motels.

A part of John feels like maybe he would be a good hotelier. If he bought an old motel somewhere and turned it into a quirky, kitschy, boutique hotel. Something about sitting behind the front desk of a motel that he owned and every day welcoming new guests: ”Welcome to Fantasy Island Motel!”, make it a destination for people where they would not be going because they want to go to that particular place, but because it is John Roderick's quirky hotel. Dan always thought of John more as running a tackle shop than a hotel, but he could see that. The real great tackle shops are another thing that is going away.

The tackle shop on Rainier Avenue (RW23)

There is a tackle shop, John has never been in there and he can't believe he is about to talk about it because it is now going to force his hand. Very close to the center of Seattle on Rainier Avenue, basically at King Street, on the outskirts of Chinatown there is a tackle shop that still exists. It is open every day, the windows are so dusty and dirty that you can barely see in, it has not been modernized since the 1940s, and it makes no sense at all. Who is patronizing this tackle shop in the center of town? The only reason that it still exists is that this little stretch of real estate remained unappealing to anyone else. There was no pressure on it to redevelop it, and so this little tackle shop just puttered away, but has to be a labor of love of one person. He has got to have employees, there got to be four or five old men who love fishing, and who the fuck is fishing in that style around downtown Seattle?

If you go out of town and you are in some little town on the outskirts of Seattle and you see a tackle shop: ”Well, sure! Guys are fishing in the rivers or in the lakes around!”, but downtown? The culture of fishermen John has never fully understood anyway. This tackle shop is not near any of the other fishing infrastructure, of which there is a ton in Seattle. There are whole portions of the town given over to commercial fishing, fishing as an industry, but this tackle shop is nowhere near that. It is basically in Little Saigon.

Rainier Avenue used to be them one of the two or three main routes out of town to the south. Let's say you are in your 1939 Chevy and you are headed south to Mount Rainier, you are going to fish some of those high lakes, you are going to camp out in your canvas tent, then you would head south on Rainier Boulevard. Ever since the freeway was built, you wouldn't head south on Rainier Boulevard. Ever since 1966 you would just go south on the freeway. But up until 1966 Rainier would have been your exit route and this tackle shop would be basically as you left town on your way through the suburban South End, here was this tackle shop, and you could pull over and get your worms or whatever you get in a tackle shop, led weights? Fishing line? 50 years ago this tackle shop, the premise of it there was some logic to it, but how has it survived if a motel can't survive? How can a tackle shop? What is his monthly rent and what does he take in? What is the most expensive thing you can sell at a tackle shop? A reel?

It feels like one of those Guns & Gas type of places, like Guns, Gas & Grits. John has been looking at this place for 25 years, but he is afraid he is going to go in and get into a conversation about fishing. He doesn’t know what to say about fishing. John thinks they will greet him with ”Howdy!” and Dan wonders if that means they are relocated Texans.

Texas barbecue in Seattle, Jack’s barbecue (RW23)

There is a guy who opened a barbecue restaurant here in Seattle who is named Jack. He opened a barbecue place just recently called Jack's Barbecue. He is from Austin, Texas. He is a very handsome guy, tall, lanky, cowboy build, and he saunters around his store. Up until that point there were barbecue places in Seattle, maybe five barbecue places, but they were all St. Louis style, all run by African-Americans, and they were very hot, but very saucy barbecue. When people in Seattle wanted to go get some barbecue, they would go over to Bellevue or down to the south end and they would get this saucy hot. St. Louis style barbecue.

Jack, this lanky cowboy, opened up Jack's barbecue, which is in a location that is not a restaurant district, it is out on a stretch where there are no other places to eat, no one ever even slows their car down on that stretch of road, in a restaurant that used to be called Bogart's. Bogart's was a place that after you got off work, you'd go get a shift drink, you get a beer after work, and everybody in the place had a boiler suit on. There inexplicably was also karaoke, one of these bars, like: "What the hell kind of bar is this?”

Jack came and he opened this place and immediately he was fulfilling a need that no-one realized they had. From the moment it opened IT was full every minute. They turned on the OPEN sign and there were already 60 people in the parking lot waiting to get in. He had to change his hours on accommodate all these people. He expanded the thing right away, he bought these huge, huge barbecues that are back behind the store, where he is just roasting brisket 24 hours a day. Jack just saunters through his restaurant and he turns up the fucking Texas so loud. He will walk over to your table to be like: ”Howdy, y’all! How do you all how you doing today? Thanks for coming into Jack's barbecue.” - ”Is that even real?” But he is totally real and he also knows that by turning up the Texas real loud, it is like opening a British pub and walking around with this very exaggerated Cockney bartender voice. He got this Texas thing and he is the rare restauranteur that is an instant, enormous success. What he is making is very uncomplicated, he is just doing it a particular way. He serves this food with no sauce. In a place like that, John would absolutely walk in and expect to be greeted: ”Howdy, partner!”

tackle shop (cont)

But in a tackle shop, they might say: ”Howdy!”, but they would presume John was there to buy tackle or to buy something to do with fishing. John would just be walking in as an anthropologist. When John walks into a place as an anthropologist and someone says: ”Howdy!”unselfconsciously, he immediately feels like a sex tourist: ”Oh, hi! I'm just looking!” - ”You are just looking? Who browses at a tackle shop?” Dan has spent a lot of time in tackle shops, for better or worse. Back in his Florida days, they used to have a lot of tackle shops and his stepdad was very, very into fishing. There is no kind of pointless fishing like Florida fishing.

You have all your crap, there is a pier over there, you just drive to the pier, you climb down where the rocks are, and you just sit there or stand there and fish directly into the ocean. The theory being that it is a pier and this is farther out in the ocean than you would be if you just stood on the shore and theoretically fish are attracted to the pier because there are creatures living in it that they maybe want to eat or whatever. You would go to the tackle shop on your way to the pier and the majority in Florida would be salt water. You would buy your bait, which usually was live shrimp, that you would put on the hook, cast your line and go fishing.

Compared to the very, very limited fly fishing that Dan has done and a bit more lake fishing he did when he used to live up north, there is no art or craft to pier fishing. You put bait on a hook and submerge the hook into the water one way or another and reel it back in, and you do that until something bites it. It is not A River Runs Through, perfectly putting your little hand-tied fly into the little shallow. At least in the tackle shops, there is a heck of a lot of browsing around and just milling about, talking, looking at different weights you might want to put on your line, what tension of line you might want to do. You could spend decades fly fishing and still not be very good at it and still have a lot to learn. But fishing off a pier, a child who has never done it before could catch as much as somebody who has been doing it for their whole life. There is no skill, there is no craft, there is no art to it.

In these tackle shops, they are almost like the barber shop in an old New York Italian neighborhood. It becomes a place that men of a certain age and inclination will go to talk to like-minded or not talk or just mill about and be with people who also don't want to talk, but who share the same interest. Dan doesn’t know what a Seattle tackle shop would be like. There is a lot of fresh water fishing here. John could go in there and say: ”I've never really been into fishing. I want to learn and I figured this was the place to start!”

John taking his dad’s gun to a gun-shop (RW23)

John went into a gun shop one time and had his dad's service pistol, wrapped in a little towel. He went into this gun shop which was down on 1st Avenue in Seattle. This was again one of these last remnants. First Avenue in Seattle used to be pawn shops, gun shops, bars full of sailors, and sex shops, girls dancing behind glass. There was a magic shop down there that John used to go to as a kid, a little magic shop that was tucked in between a girls dancing behind glass store and a gun store. That was 1st Avenue and that was true of the 1st Avenue of a lot of towns in America in the 1970s. The term 1st Avenue was synonymous with the scummiest street in town. In Anchorage it was 4th Avenue.

John’s mom worked down at the King County Courthouse and they lived in the northern suburbs. At a certain point when John was 7 or 8 she took him from their house, they got on the bus that was at the corner, they rode the bus to the transfer station, they got on the next bus, they rode that bus to downtown to The Bon Marché and got off at The Bon Marché and got on a third bus that took them all the way down to Pioneer Square where she worked. She walked John through that and said: ”Now, do you know how to do this?” - ”I do!” - ”Do you think you could do this with your sister?” who was 5 or 6 - ”Yes, I think so” and periodically John would make this trip after school. He would take his sister who was a little girl, and he would get them both on the bus and get transfers for them.

Even back then, when anyone sees an 8 year old and a 5 year old on the bus, they get protective of them. They would take the bus to the transfer, transfer to the other bus, and they get downtown. At the point at which they got to The Bon Marché they were in downtown Seattle and in 1976 Downtown was a very scary, very freaky scene. Sometimes they would take that third bus and sometimes they would get off at The Bon Marché and their mom would meet them there. They were in that part of town unescorted and John was in charge of his sister, so he felt like he had a lot of responsibility. They navigated this downtown scene to get down to Pioneer Square, which was also a very sketchy scene at the time. Their mom was a single parent and this was necessary for some reason periodically, John doesn’t remember why.

John was downtown quite a bit already and when his dad would come to town, he had no filter. Sure, sailor bars and magic shops and titty-bars, what the hell! John would take John into those place and sit him down at the bar and say: ”All right, don't move! I will be back in a half an hour!” All of that is gone now, but one of the last remaining places, there were two places that held on, a place called The Lusty Lady, which was a strip club that was owned by women, one of the first places that really took that kind of sex positivity and overt female sexuality, like: That's right, we are running a strip bar and it is empowering and go fuck yourself if you don't like it!”

John knew a lot of people that worked there. If you were 22 and come into town, wanted to get your start, make a little money, you could work at The Lusty Lady for a while. It was never quite that casual, but it was a place that you could dance and make money if that was something that you were inclined to do and it was a safe space and you didn't have to go into some kind of scene where you immediately felt in danger. It was a cool peep show in the sense that if you were in that culture where you might potentially be dating one of the dancers, you could go to the peep show and feel cool about it and like a creep that is at a peep show.

They would go down and feed their quarters into the slots and the little window would open up like in that Madonna video. It was exactly like that. You go into a little booth, put quarters in the slot, and then this metal door would slide open and you were looking in at the girls dancing in this big room. As soon as the door slides opened, the girls would come over and start dancing for you. Half the windows were clear so that they could see you, and half of them were mirrored, so they would know that somebody was there, but they couldn't see you.

Depending on what type of guy you were, you either wanted to be in a little mirrored room where she can't see you and you can just see her, or you want definitely for her to see you. The Lusty Lady survived until really recent memory. The entire street had been gentrified right up to its ear lobes and here was this Lusty Lady right in the center of it, right across the street from the Seattle Art Museum, the new museum that the rich benefactors of Seattle had paid millions and millions of millions of dollars to build and populate with Rothcos and so forth, and then right across the street there was this seedy little strip club. John was sorry to see it go.

It has been replaced with little art galleries that sell hand-carved bowls made out of barrel wood, and the bowl is meant for some fruit or bananas or something and it costs $900. Behind that there is a globe made out of semi-precious stones. Just shite, expensive downtown shite that you would find in any downtown. Nothing good has replaced those things. Just more shite, just Wolfgang Puck’s Hand Fired Pizza and a North Face store and some stuff that nobody cares about. You drive down 1st Avenue now and you are in anywhere USA.

John went into this gun shop with his dad's 1911 model colt automatic pistol and there were all these guys sitting behind the counter. The place is dark, it is musty, people are smoking cigarettes in there still, guns all over the place, an overweight guy in suspenders sitting on a stool behind the counter. John walked in and unrolled this little hand towel and said: ”Here is my dad's gun. I don't know anything about it. Can you help me?” Right away, there are three or four guys who come out of nowhere, around the one guy, and they are all talking about the gun right away: ”Oh, wow. Look at this! What do you know?” and the guy says: ”Well, let me tell you what: This gun is an original 1911 model. It said property of the US Navy stamped on it. This was issued to your dad in World War II” -

”Yes, he joined the Navy in 1942” - ”This gun is a lot older than that. It would have been manufactured pre-World War I and somehow must have sat in a Navy supply depot all those years, waiting to be issued to somebody and it finally got put into circulation in 1942 when they gave it to your dad!” - ”Seriously?” - ”This is first gen and it would be worth a lot of money, it is already a very collectible guy, it is a very nice gun, but at some point in the 1970s your father had it re-blued. The Finish had decayed and he took it into somebody and at the time the thing to do is to get in re-blued. The re-blueing job was excellent, it was done by a true professional, but in having it re-blued in the 1970s, which is absolutely a normal thing to have done, he ruined the collectability.” It is no longer a unauthentic original piece and instead of being a $50.000 gun it is a $5000. Just like having a 59 Les Paul, but somebody in 1974 sanded the finish off and painted it black because they wanted it to be Rock ’n’ Roll and so rather than be a $1 million guitar now it is a $500.000 guitar. The re-finish steels the value.

These guys sat there and he took the gun and immediately just disassembled it. That was amazing! He just did it by unconscious memory. The amazing thing about this day was that he pulled up a stool for John on the other side of the counter and he sat and walked John through, teaching him how to disassemble and reassemble this gun. He showed him and then had John do it and then showed him again and then had him do it until John was pretty good at it. You disassemble it, you clean it like this, you oil it like this, this is how you care for your gun, this is what you do with it. He did take this time, he wasn't trying to sell John anything, it was like the tackle shop. He was just sitting there on his stool, maybe they sold a few guns every day. There were a bunch of them working there.

They were that old school kind of gun-crowd. It was before the NRA became an insane asylum, before the national conversation turned into: ”Either you are pro-gun, in which case you have no complaints about gun ownership at all and you are entirely pro-gun and believe that machine-guns should be in our schools and there should be no restrictions or limitations whatsoever on gun ownership. People should still have to get driver's licenses, but they should have no trouble buying bazookas. Or you are anti-gun, in which case you want no guns, you believe all guns should be eliminated.” There is no middle ground anymore.

What do you mean, pro-gun/anti-gun? If you want a gun, you should have a gun, but you should probably have a license for it or take a class even. It is not that much of a burden. It seems a weird place to be, this enormous middle place where guns are just things, they are just machines that people made. What is the big deal? This was a gun shop then and there wasn't anything political about it. John still goes to gun shops and if you walk into one now, there is a 99% certainty that there is going to be on the wall a target of bin Laden and then a target of not Obama because that kind of would be illegal, but some ethnic-looking bad guy pointing a gun at you that you are trying to shoot, and then some bumper stickers to the effect of ”Thanks Obama!” or ”Not my president”

Every gun shop now is politicized, but there were no politics at all in this gun shop. Maybe there was a POW MIA flag as the most political thing in there. There was no tension being in there and this guy was just sitting on a stool and he took an hour and a half out of his day to teach this kid about his dad's gone. John still thinks about it and watching that store close was another blow. None of those guys it going to open another gun shop. They were all in their 60s or 70s and when this store closed it is just over and the people that open a new gun shop on the edge of town are all young dudes with Dimebag Darrell beards who are part of this Dodge Ram 3500 Diesel truck with the giant smokestack culture. It is like the tackle shop guys just passed into history, except there is still this tackle shop and now John talked himself into an obligation to go to this place and he didn't want to.

John avoiding the new Filson store (RW23)

There are not that many places in town that John has been avoiding this way, but he sometimes struggles with being a cliché of himself. John used to go to the Filson store all the time because it was a place where a bunch of old Alaskan guides were and people sitting around whose wax cotton jacket smelled like cigarette smoke and their wool pants had a stain on them which was clearly deer blood and there would be just a kind of bunch of guys leaning on the counter, talking about Hunting Bear, and these clothes were bullet proof and it just seemed like a place like this imaginary tackle shop or the gun store where John would just go. Like the barbershop thing Dan was talking about, where John would bask in this outdoorsy masculinity that was lacking elsewhere, a remnant of an earlier time from John’s dad's generation. These people had never embraced Gortex or polypropylene because they just either had never been introduced to it or fundamentally disagreed with it.

Now the Filson brand, just in the course of from when John started talking about it on Roderick on the Line a handful of years ago, where that store still existed and the employees of it were still the ones that had been there for decades. It has all cycled so fast. There is a new Filson store now and just exactly what happened to North Face in the 1980s, when North Face had been this brand for mountaineers and hikers and outdoorsman, where every seam was triple-sewed and things were just bullet proof, you could wear them for decades, and all of a sudden everything was made in China, all the seams were glued, and they were selling 1000 puffy jackets a day to sorority girls and frat boys. It all flipped over in a day.

No-one who was spending any real time mountaineering was depending on North Face Gear, and John told the story of mistakenly depending on a North Face bag (see RL14). All of a sudden this Filson stuff had become fetishized because there is an entire generation of people who are looking for those kind of tackle-shop worlds, but they don't really want to go into this weird dusty tackle shop, but they want it sanitized and they don't mind it being expensive, they want to pay a little bit extra so that they can have the fantasy feeling of being in an outfitter of the old school, but when they buy the jacket and it gets put into a bag that says Filson on it, they are going to bring it home and they are going to leave that bag somewhere purposefully. They are going to use it as their shopping bag or something.

The new Filson store John just went into it for the first time about a week ago, he had been avoiding it, they replaced the old one that has now been converted into just a manufacturing place. They expanded the factory and moved over into this enormous space. It is a giant star now. They have expanded their line and there are all these things that are not part of their traditional stuff, it is all made for this new clientele. John was walking around the store very confused and then he saw his guy, the last guy who has been working there forever, a tall, sort of weathered former guide, and he walked over to John: ”What do you think, man?” - ”I am a little overwhelmed!” - ”I just can't believe it!”

They were like two old scabs next to each other on the knee of some hobo, like: ”Can you believe it? He's got new pants, I don't believe it! What happened? He went to rehab!”, like: ”What the hell is this place?” He walked John around and showed him all the new stuff and: ”Look at this, we are consigning bowls now, fancy pants hand thrown Japanese style cereal bowls” There is a leather bag here that is made by… ”What is all this garbage? It is all expensive. Look at the clientele now!” and John looked around and everybody was 29.

He felt like a tackle shop guy. On the one hand Filson keeps him there because he is a mascot almost. He looks real, he is real. He is just wandering around and doesn’t have to do anything now, but looks like somebody that has slept outside once in their life. He doesn't know what he is supposed to do anymore, he is just wandering around going and at least he got health insurance. None of the new clientele really wants to talk to him, they just want to look at him across the store and then they want to talk to a young salesperson. John doesn't know if he can recommend the Filson universe anymore and he feels very conflicted about it.

The way it happened was that some guys who used to work at J. Crew bought the brand because the brand had had retail power in the marketplace and then they did that Shinola thing: Don't mess with the brand too much because what people are buying is authenticity, but let’s make it really profitable, let's really sell this stuff to people. You are picturing a board room of people in very tailored clothes, making decisions about how to sell this outdoor gear to a different clientele and all of a sudden there are three or four different intermediary layers that puts John at a distance from the thing it used to be, that experience where he was going into the guide store and listen to these people talk about hunting and fishing and he is going to save up money and get one of these hunting and fishing coats because he likes to walk in the rain.

Other people having taken over John’s style (RW23)

John never had pretension that he was a hunting and fishing guide, but now? When the fetishizing of it happens, John doesn’t know what his relationship is to it anymore. He can't be as vocal about: ”Hey, discover this thing!” But he doesn’t want to suffer from hipsterism any more than he already does, which is a considerable amount, but this is what he means about being a cliche of himself: There was a time. 15 years ago, where if you lived in Seattle and you had a beard and you wore horn-rimmed glasses, there was a 90% chance John knew you personally. If he didn't know them there was a 50% chance John would walk right up to him and say: ”Hey, what's up? Were are you from? What's your story?” because those adaptations communicated something very real about what your taste was, what kind of person you were, and you were making such a specific choice.

It was pretty sure that you and John either would be friends or had friends in common, or that they were absolutely competing for the exact same space in the world and there wasn't room enough for both of them. There were a few times where John would be in a bar and there would be a guy across the way that had horn-rimmed glasses and a beard and they would just stare at each other because he cuffed his jean cuffs over the top of his Danner boots and John cuffed his jean cuffs over the top of my Danner boots, and it was like: ”Fuck you, man! Get out of here! You are stealing my moge (?)!”. But now you walk around town and the one guy that isn't wearing horn rimmed glasses and doesn't have a beard is the remarkable other. John doesn't know where to locate himself in that because it all welled up around him.

A lot of time people would send him pictures of these guys: ”Looks like this guy is stealing your thing!” and he still gets that all the time. When the man in the tree was up in the tree two days ago here in Seattle, a crazy guy climbed up in a tree and was hanging on to the top of this 80 foot tall tree and every time the police or the fire department tried to communicate with him he would break off a branch and throw it at him. 20 people sent John this picture, like: ”What are you doing today? Did you get lost on your way to…” For a while it felt like there were actually times where John would say: ”That guy actually is biting my rhymes a little bit!”, but now you can't say that. John walks into the room and looks like an old guy that is wearing a beard and horn-rimmed glasses like the other 80 people in this place.

It was a little bit of a costume on John, but it was a natural costume. It the stuff that made sense. Now he looks at people and it feels absolutely like a costume.

Things have really changed, especially in regards to things like beards. Dan’s kids always want to see old pictures of him from when he was younger because it is really weird that he wasn't always this right. He didn't skate or anything like that, but pictures of him from high school where the sides of his hair were buzzed around the top. It was the opposite of a mullet where the top of his hair will be really long, almost like an extended mohawk in a way. The sides and back were completely buzzed. Pictures of him in college with longer hair and his Les Paul. They love photos of that. There are a couple pictures of Dan with a great beard back in his 20s. Dan had beards on and off his whole life, starting with his last year of college because if he sleeps in a couple of hours, he got a beard.

Back then people thought it was really weird for Dan to have a beard, but he liked it and wanted to grow one. His dad had one and why not? He was 24, why would he have a beard? He looks 70 years old! Now it is a complete opposite: Everyone… Dan is of the opinion that just like some people shouldn't wear muscle shirts, some guys shouldn't have beards. Dan welcomes everyone who has a beard, but certain people maybe should reconsider. It maybe doesn't quite fill in the right way.

Today it is very much a style the way cuffing your jeans would be a style or horn-rimmed glasses would be a style and growing a big Seattle tree man beard is also a style. This guy up in the tree doesn't look that different from the guy who poured my coffee a few hours ago, maybe he has got a few less leaves stuck to his shirt, but there are guys right now cultivating this guy's look. Back then, that look would mean you were rejecting the norms and you were rejecting the rules and going against society in a way by making this statement of: ”This is the side that I'm standing on!” John can not get inside their heads to know what is motivating them.

Different fashions and genres becoming indistinguishable (RW23)

This is what is true about the mainstreaming of anything: Not to get too deeply into Punk Rock, but when Punk became mass culture, it is not that all those people that adopted their mass culture felt like they were conformists. Every single one of them felt like they were a rebel, which was so confusing about it: It had become the majority culture. Every single thing was influenced by Punk: Fashion, music, writing, the culture across the board, but every single person participating in it still understood Punk to be anti-authoritarian and anti-mainstream. No matter how much you said: ”Listen, if every band is Punk, then Punk is meaningless or rebellion is meaningless!”, but no-one wanted wanted to hear it.

John’s sense is that every single person who is rocking this particular aesthetic also perceives themselves to be outside and it is communicating all of these same things, maybe a variation of the same things that are communicated to John when he was 25, but now it is promulgated to the whole, so is there even a distinction? Just because John was an early adopter of the idea that you could be a downtown Rock ’n’ Roll hipster and dress like someone who worked outdoors in the wood-processing field or the mountain guide field doesn't mean that John was anything more original or authentic. Maybe slightly more original, but no more authentic than it just becoming mass fashion.

John pictures the people from 1960 who were preppy and that preppie communicated so much class and belonging to this small group of people who lived in this very rarified air, where all the symbolism of a pink shirt or polo shirt with the collars turned up or a sweater knotted around their neck, were all signals that were only readable by people within that narrow world. You would walk out into the wider world and the reaction was like: ”Haha, your shirt is pink! What are you, some kind of girl?”, but within the prep school micro-culture it was not just accepted but communicated all this extra information. Then sometime in the 1970s Ralph Lauren co-opted that whole aesthetic and not just made it widespread, but made it ubiquitous. There is not a person in the world who hasn't at one time or another worn a blue Oxford cloth shirt. It became the uniform of Kinko's. A blue Oxford cloth shirt used to mean something to a generation.

Whatever that experience was, it is just now happening to John the same way, it is just the Ralph Lauren-ization of lumberjack style and John just has to roll. You can't tell anything about a person by what music they listen to really anymore, or really by anything because the linear progression of culture has stopped. There is no more sense that this is in style today and then tomorrow there is going to be something else in style and the thing that was in style yesterday is now out of fashion. We are living in a world where everything is in fashion all the time and all music is available to everyone across genres.

You can listen to Black Flag and the Eagles and see no problem, have no conflict about the fact that you were just listening to My War and now you are going to listen to Hotel California and that is fine because all music is fine and everything is fine. There is no awareness of the fact that for a long time if you put on a Black Flag, a big part of that was expressing a desire for the Eagles to die in a fire. If you were playing Black Flag in your car and pulled up next to somebody whose car was playing the Eagles, you immediately both hated one another.

That was true of style, too. You would walk in and depending on what you were wearing everybody in the room knew their hot take on you and that is all gone now. John was part of that happening. It was not that sometimes he would walk in with a baseball hat that said Suicidal Tendencies on it and the next day he would walk in wearing Mickey Mouse ears, but he felt free to experiment across many fashion silos. He was not somebody who wore black jeans every day of his life, but sometimes he would do this and sometimes he wold do that. It was fun to play within all those different languages. What John didn't anticipate was that we would be completely unmoored from all the cultural symbolism of these different silos, partly because rather than keep on this treadmill of constantly coming up with new stuff we have stopped the notion of moving forward and have circled back and are: ”Let's milk everything we can get out of all this amazing stuff we made for the last hundred years!”

Somewhere in the 1970s we lived through the 1950s again and somewhere in the 1980s we lived through the 1960s again and at a certain point post-Grunge there were still people living through the 1950s and living through the 1960s that were contemporaneous and now we are in a place where if you are 16 years old and you want to listen to the 1960s music and the 1950s music and the 1980s music nobody is stopping you. Whatever music we are making now into the future just doesn't seem to have any novelty to it, or not enough novelty to say it is a new movement. Kanye comes out with a new record and says: ”It is the greatest record ever made!” and everybody goes: "Ha ha!” and then it immediately disappears. It is not like a million people rally behind Kanye and they march forward behind a new flag. It is just another Kanye record, another Hip Hop record, another record in a style that is instantly recognizable. Maybe it is a good version of it, but it doesn't advance the ball anywhere.

At one level John approves of it in the sense that there was so much great music that didn't really get a proper airing in its day. Now we have re-evaluated that stuff so many times that we appreciate it more fully. It just scares John that it doesn't seem like we are making new stuff culturally. We are in a kind of eddie (?) right now and there surely will be another breakthrough, it is just a strange time to be living in. The breakthrough will probably come as a result of VR or AR, where it won't be a question of: ”Now we are all dressing in gold lamé jumpsuits because it is the fashion and if you are not in a gold lamé jumpsuit, then you are just a dummy!”

Instead it will be the separation of people who are living with augmented reality technology and the people who aren’t. It will be a new leap that will transcend fashion, it will be an insider thing at first and it will set you apart so much that it will have the effect of being a fashion, but with all these other ramifications. It will transcend narrow things like: ”What bands do you like? What T-shirt are you wearing?” and be this other thing of: ”Which apps are currently dominating your your view of the city as you walk around? Are you walking around in a Snapchat reality? Are you walking around in a Tinder reality? Are you walking around in a Twitter reality?” and that will supersede what clothes you are wearing. That may already be happening to a certain extent.

SnapChat being inscrutable to John and Dan (RW23)

John was talking to somebody the other day who is really into Snapchat. She was saying: ”I never got into Twitter. She just Snapchats with her friends.” John still spends 3 hours a day on Twitter and asked her to explain why Snapchat is cool. She laughed because to her it is self-explanatory why Snapchat is cool. She walked John through it, like: ”I send this thing out and then these people look at it and then they send a thing out and then it goes away.” - ”Yeah, I don't… Is the dress blue and black or is the dress white and gold?” John doesn’t have any foothold there, and it seems so strange. It is not about adopting new technologies, it just seems like it is fulfilling something in the people that John is not desperate to have fulfilled. He doesn’t want pictures that he takes to disappear!

One of Dan’s friends who is 10 years younger recently talked to him about SnapChat and sold him on it: ”Try it for a week, it will change you!” and Dan tried it for a week and hated it even more at the end of the week. He really went into it to have fun with this, to use this, to do it right. Maybe he is at that point now where he is crossing a threshold where he can no longer think of himself in the way of: ”I love all the new hip, cool technology! Whatever it is when it comes out, I am the first person to love it and use it and embrace it and I am going to explain it to all of the elders!” Maybe Dan is not that guy anymore. The new cool thing may come out and he may say this not for him. That thing that is out that five years ago or three years ago, he might have been like: ”Not only am I all about it. It was made with me in mind for me and I am going to explain it to you because it is old hat for me. This thing has been out for almost an hour and I have been using it for the full hour. I am the resident expert on this thing!”

Now stuff comes out and Nest doesn't appeal to Dan, Snapchat doesn't appeal to him, it is not because he looks at it and says: ”Not for me!”, but he really gave it a try and wanted to like it. The point that really sticks with Dan that John said is: ”I don't want to take a picture and then have it go away!” Dan prides himself on having longer than a 30 second attention span because most of the people that he knows and that he admires have the ability to focus on things and talk about things for extended periods of time and to stick in a conversation about one thing and let it naturally move into other things. Maybe that makes him old-fashioned. If he takes a picture and it is good and he shares it, he wants to know that six months from now it is still there. That is the beauty of the Internet, as much as it can be a bad thing, it can also be a good thing and that things stick around.

This may be the World War I problem of: Every time there is a new war the generals are still fighting the last war. Our generation had a lot of punditry about the Internet and technology because all this stuff would come up and we would say: ”Future generations are going to live their entire lives so documented!” We are always applying our interpretation, our standard, and assuming that future generations are going to share our values and the technology is going to change, but they are going to keep doing what we did right. We came up at a time when taking a photograph was a big deal, a lasting thing that you put into an album or into a box. When photographs became cheap and easy we took a lot of them, but we saved them in the same way in virtual albums and we assumed that going forward into the future ad infinitum all that would happen is that people would just have more and more and more documentation.

Pundits across the world have talked about this: ”These poor kids are going to live their whole lives completely documented, every note of it. There will be no mystery!”, but what turns out is that the generation immediately behind us had access to the Internet their whole lives and access to digital photos, but all of a sudden Snapchat comes along and makes no sense within the context of the idea that photographs are things to be saved, but it makes perfect sense to a generation that's like: ”Oh my God, there are so many fucking photographs and so much documentation. All I want to do is just communicate with friends. I have the ability to do that through photograph and video, but I don't want it saved. It is just like talking on the phone!”

Nobody talks on the phone anymore and there were no recordings of our phone calls. Nothing lasted back when we talked to each other on the phone. This is just a new style and they intentionally don't want it to last. They just don't think of photographs in the same way, and effectively they are returning to a more natural state, which is that not everything does want to be documented. It doesn't mean that they are going to stop using their phones, but they are just almost duplicating closer to our world, which was: You saved the photos that are good, the ones that matter, but you are actually living in a world that is more immediate. We are overlaying this whole old man trip on them, like: ”I took that photo. It is something that should be stored in a silo in a salt mine in Salt Lake City forever!”

They just shrug and laugh. All of a sudden you start to prognosticate into the future: ”We have no idea how this technology is going to be used!” Our punditry is meaningless because we are applying effectively 19th century values to technology that is going to be used in ways that… What we are not talking about is that technology is effectively going to change the nature of ego, the nature of identity.

Michael Stipe’s Instagram is a perfect example of a dinosaur who is taking pictures of himself reflexively over and over, failing to recognize that the interesting element of that photo is not him, it is Bono! We know he is there. If it was a full face picture of Bono and half a face of Michael Stipe, it would be no no less Michael Stipe in it, it would just be more Bono. What Stipe is in realizing is to center himself in the photo actually makes there be less Stipe. You care less about the Stipe in it because you are looking over his shoulder, trying to see what is ostensibly the reason for the picture. He got this old version of ego!

John’s friend was showing him Snapchats and she would take a picture him and post it and show him: ”Now watch, we are going to get a lot of replies!” She got 14 people she is communicating with regularly, and all 14 of them sent a photo of themselves making a duckface, reacting to the photo that she just put out: ”Hi! Oh, my God! Nice to see you! Look at him!”, or whatever. And then they are gone. What the hell was all that?

It is completely ego-driven, but also completely egoless. They are replying to one another as a way of giving each other praise and strokes and it seems alien to John, but what could be more alien than when you used to sit with the phone crooked between your ear and your shoulder and talk to a friend for two and a half hours where neither of you really said anything the entire time: ”Are you still there?” - ”Yeah!” - ”Boy, it was really funny at school, wasn't it?” - ”Yeah!” Two hours later, and you are still on there to be together. You are exchanging no information, you are just on there to feel supported and feel connected. What it is going to spell out for us is what are the core human needs and we already know what they are. Through all these different technologies people will constantly find ways to get back to first principles, which are: ”Do you love me?” - ”Yes! Do you love me?” - ”Yes!” - ”Ahhh!”

silent ending

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