Best Music Writing

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So we all know that Pitchfork is unfriendly and elitist; that NME is a shit hype factory and that there is some awful writing on the interweb.
But what 'boot best stuff?
Let's have a celebratory thread for baller music writers and writings.
In the o8...

Maxemillian, Thursday, 11 September 2008 21:14 (eight years ago) Permalink

http://www.oxfordamericanmag.com/content.cfm?ArticleID=390&Entry=CurrentIssue

^^ great lil wayne piece. props to j0rdan s. for digging this up

peace, love, and ban deeznuts (The Reverend), Friday, 12 September 2008 07:28 (eight years ago) Permalink

Josh Eells' piece on serving as Three 6 Mafia's assistant a couple Blenders back.

If Timi Yuro would be still alive, most other singers could shut up, Friday, 12 September 2008 07:51 (eight years ago) Permalink

Excellent piece on Weezy - evocative, original, creatively structured and it leaves the novice reader wanting to find out more about the artist.

Marcello Carlin, Friday, 12 September 2008 07:53 (eight years ago) Permalink

Wow, that Lil Wayne piece really is amazing. The whole way through I was thinking "I wish someone would teach me to write like that.

Tim F, Friday, 12 September 2008 09:12 (eight years ago) Permalink

yeah, makes me want to hear lil wayne....that piece really has a lot of life and living in it...more than you ever read in a review.

LONG time since I read such an old school FT style review too.

Local Garda, Friday, 12 September 2008 17:32 (eight years ago) Permalink

i saw that on marc h0gan's tumblr so props go from me to him

its sad he was a ringtone poster (J0rdan S.), Friday, 12 September 2008 17:57 (eight years ago) Permalink

The guys from The Wire usually know what they're talking about.

Vision, Friday, 12 September 2008 18:15 (eight years ago) Permalink

five years pass...

stay positive, ilx

http://grantland.com/features/wu-tang-clan-20th-anniversary-reunion-rza-gza-ghostface/

scott seward, Friday, 21 March 2014 12:50 (three years ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

unbelievable. so epic. from the only american writer alive that i am jealous of:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/04/13/magazine/blues.html

scott seward, Saturday, 12 April 2014 20:48 (two years ago) Permalink

I rarely am this earnest but I noticed that his e-mail address was linked to his name at the end of the piece so I decided to e-mail him a gushy fan letter. He replied minutes later.

Herbie Handcock (Murgatroid), Saturday, 12 April 2014 21:40 (two years ago) Permalink

Thanks so much for posting, Scott. Gonna send this link out to a few people (who are prob all over it, but just in case they're not,being busy folk).

dow, Sunday, 13 April 2014 00:23 (two years ago) Permalink

Run out of good things to say about this guy.

tsrobodo, Sunday, 13 April 2014 00:41 (two years ago) Permalink

Yeah, what an amazing article. Thanks for the link.

MikoMcha, Sunday, 13 April 2014 11:54 (two years ago) Permalink

definitely one of the best dudes around

just sayin, Sunday, 13 April 2014 12:48 (two years ago) Permalink

Just starting reading that. Wow. Still wondering how he is going to work in Vampire Weekend at the end.

tl;dr5-49 (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 13 April 2014 14:37 (two years ago) Permalink

I started the article skeptical, even tho I am a JJS fan. Another quest for mysterious vanished blues singers blah blah. But it's so good! And so much more than that -- it's as much about that genre as it is part of it -- and the payoffs just keep coming.

something of an astrological coup (tipsy mothra), Sunday, 13 April 2014 17:29 (two years ago) Permalink

i e-mailed greil m. to rave about this and he said i wouldn't believe the stuff that they cut out of it. so i'm hoping their is an unabridged version in some future collection of his stuff.

scott seward, Sunday, 13 April 2014 17:58 (two years ago) Permalink

Understand mothra trepidation as by now we have all already read many articles on this subject matter, many of which can quickly degenerate into a rehash of well-known facts, received opinions, fites -"Robert Johnson is the real deal! Is not! He is! is not!" - relatively new twists -"Did you know that almost all so-called blues singers actually also sang OTHER material including the popular songs of the day, but due to the demands of the recording industry..." and so on.

tl;dr5-49 (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 13 April 2014 18:08 (two years ago) Permalink

DO U SEE? Still have to read it properly, for all I know all that stuff is in there.

tl;dr5-49 (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 13 April 2014 18:23 (two years ago) Permalink

It is, in some ways. If was the first article you ever read about pre-war blues and recording and the obsessive collectors and ethnomusicologists who went in search of ghostly voices on old 78s, you would get all the necessary background. But he presents it with the context of this being an already familiar form, so if it's the 100th iteration you've read it doesn't feel tedious or pedantic.

Plus of course he's got hold of a great story.

something of an astrological coup (tipsy mothra), Sunday, 13 April 2014 18:30 (two years ago) Permalink

haven't read the times story yet but strongo linked to this thing he wrote for the oxford american earlier this year, it's pretty great - http://www.oxfordamerican.org/articles/2014/feb/18/chop-upbeat/

balls, Sunday, 13 April 2014 19:00 (two years ago) Permalink

Thanks, balls! (That's not something I have reason to say very often.) Somebody I sent the Times link to just replied with this, by Michael Hall. Note date: McCormick's blues crisis/the blues' McCormick crisis well under way 12 years ago, as Sullivan indicates.
http://www.texasmonthly.com/content/mack-mccormick-still-has-blues

dow, Sunday, 13 April 2014 20:48 (two years ago) Permalink

was excited for a sec that that meant 'something that strongo wrote'

j., Sunday, 13 April 2014 21:07 (two years ago) Permalink

The beginning did seem like the whole thing might turn out to be a rehash for noobs, but with this kind of subject you've got to balance it for old hands and those who came in late, relatively mass mainstream publications-wise, anyway. It's tricky (which is why I may lay off reviewing reissues for a while, if possible). He handles it pretty well, duh.

dow, Sunday, 13 April 2014 21:29 (two years ago) Permalink

Is this really for real? Are we sure it isn't some kind of April Fools Day's joke two weeks late? There is some kind of weird almost sci-fi dimension to this: nobody at the beginning of the previous century left us a recording of Buddy Bolden, nobody tracked down the first person who sang
Line
Line
Another Line

So here at the beginning of this century, what is left for us to find. It's like a Ballard story "The Man Who Walked on the MoonGroove"

tl;dr5-49 (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 13 April 2014 23:09 (two years ago) Permalink

digging deep into that NYT american-blues article now. it is epic.

Daniel, Esq 2, Sunday, 13 April 2014 23:21 (two years ago) Permalink

From the Texas Monthly article:

In 1988 McCormick wrote in the Smithsonian's American Visions magazine that he had promised Johnson's killer that he wouldn't publish until the man died.

!

tl;dr5-49 (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 14 April 2014 00:27 (two years ago) Permalink

not only is the NYT piece an example of great writing, it's an example of great layout and savvy use of multimedia elements. the video clips that populate the article landscape help bring the story alive.

Daniel, Esq 2, Monday, 14 April 2014 00:37 (two years ago) Permalink

Agreed, and it also makes a case for the continued value of big media, or at least deep pockets. Anyone can publish anything now, but to pay for the kind of reporting and design presentation in this story takes serious resources.

something of an astrological coup (tipsy mothra), Monday, 14 April 2014 01:27 (two years ago) Permalink

Now if we could only get those guys to track down the lost bebop home demos from during the recording ban.

Lem E. Killdozer (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 14 April 2014 04:50 (two years ago) Permalink

Or the lost take of "Is That All There Is?"

Lem E. Killdozer (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 14 April 2014 05:36 (two years ago) Permalink

This story reminded me of the titular subject of this thread as well as at least one character in it

Lem E. Killdozer (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 15 April 2014 00:30 (two years ago) Permalink

five months pass...

Dr3w's argument against 'best records'-lists (refusing to do a Baker's Dozen for tQ) is eloquent, intelligent en some fan-tas-tic writing

definite classic, predicting a solid 8/10 from the p-fork boys (Le Bateau Ivre), Thursday, 25 September 2014 11:42 (two years ago) Permalink

oh cool, can't wait to read this.

zip it shrimpy (dog latin), Thursday, 25 September 2014 11:46 (two years ago) Permalink

not a writer but v-blogger the needle drop seperates the men from the boys

i got BIG HOOS in different area codes aka the steemdriver (missingNO), Thursday, 25 September 2014 12:00 (two years ago) Permalink

can it just be assumed that I reposted this^ to every ILAFL thread ever

pretentious over rated bloody old rubbish (imago), Thursday, 25 September 2014 12:06 (two years ago) Permalink

Great piece. All true of course bar one slight detail: we use lists to keep our heads just above water not to coin it in. Great writing. Great musician. Total hero.

Doran, Thursday, 25 September 2014 12:07 (two years ago) Permalink

anyway, the DD piece is great & the guy's a total zen guru. in defence of numbers? it's a scoundrel's defence, but they're a means of initiating a discourse (however flawed) in order to proselytise music in an efficient & copious way. this doesn't invalidate DD's arguments, though - just makes us all scoundrels :D

pretentious over rated bloody old rubbish (imago), Thursday, 25 September 2014 12:08 (two years ago) Permalink

Doran, if he chose to bless tQ with such elegant & voluble writing, he obviously digs your site regardless of its occasional reductivity ;)

pretentious over rated bloody old rubbish (imago), Thursday, 25 September 2014 12:09 (two years ago) Permalink

The piece was written with our complete blessing. We knew what he was doing from the start. We're going to be changing the Bakers Dozen format next year to make it more interesting and this articulates a lot of the reasons why very well.

Doran, Thursday, 25 September 2014 12:12 (two years ago) Permalink

That's very nice to hear Doran. Also, this piece - subversive towards a format you are publishing - couldn't appear on a better music website than tQ.

definite classic, predicting a solid 8/10 from the p-fork boys (Le Bateau Ivre), Thursday, 25 September 2014 12:14 (two years ago) Permalink

nice! it definitely strikes me as one of the more important pieces of music writing from recent years and one that could definitely alter the way i personally categorise albums by bands

pretentious over rated bloody old rubbish (imago), Thursday, 25 September 2014 12:15 (two years ago) Permalink

my 2 cents? the whole list thing is killing the industry. know what else people make lists for? the grocerys. laundry lists. lists of 10 ways to keep your man. The hell has this got to do with raw musical passion? the way i see it, you wanna read about music, leave it to the pitchfork boys and anthony fantano. but forget the lists and all this intellectual mumbo jumbo. just some thoughts..

i got BIG HOOS in different area codes aka the steemdriver (missingNO), Thursday, 25 September 2014 12:16 (two years ago) Permalink

Thanks for the kind words! I'm a big believer in variety though… I likes me some intellectual mumbo jumbo to balance out my raw musical passion. Too much of the latter and not enough of the former and I start feeling like I'm an extra in Point Break.

Doran, Thursday, 25 September 2014 12:21 (two years ago) Permalink

"my 2 cents? the whole list thing is killing the industry."

I dunno, I feel like the industry has a lot more efficient ways of being killed

katherine, Thursday, 25 September 2014 12:23 (two years ago) Permalink

"Top Ten Ways In Which The Industry Is Being Killed!" *starts writing list*

Doran, Thursday, 25 September 2014 12:24 (two years ago) Permalink

Great article, minor gripe – would be nice if there was a View All option instead of having to click 13 times to read the whole thing. I get that you're trying to increase clicks but it's a pain to navigate through it and makes reading it seem kind of disjointed.

goth colouring book (anagram), Thursday, 25 September 2014 12:49 (two years ago) Permalink

hahaha that works well though when page 12 rails against it

pretentious over rated bloody old rubbish (imago), Thursday, 25 September 2014 12:58 (two years ago) Permalink

That piece also misses the point, as I see it. Numerical ratings, Baker's Dozen lists, democratic procedures of list-creation like Metacritic, or voted-by-critic pools like Polaris, they create an illusion of "objectivity" and that is the problem. Under that pretence, all 13 of Drew's arguments are in fact true. The pretence of objectivity. It's reinforced in the language used by music writers, when they presume to speak on behalf of everybody instead of themselves or their publication alone. All my absolute favourite writers put themselves at the heart of their criticism, take responsibility for what they praise and what they pan, instead of being some illusive ghost prophet. I mean, I didn't actually realize that the Baker's Dozen thing was supposed to be an "all time" list, tbh, I assumed it was meant to be fun and subjective, just like Quietus usually is

flambient 4: on goon (fgti), Monday, 29 September 2014 15:03 (two years ago) Permalink

It's reinforced in the language used by music writers, when they presume to speak on behalf of everybody instead of themselves or their publication alone.

Speaking on behalf of the publication is often the publication's house style, not a decision made by the writer. I'm all for the "I."

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 29 September 2014 15:10 (two years ago) Permalink

I don't think it's bad to say that some albums are better than others. I have a friend who gets very cynical about any sort of Rotten Tomatoes/Rate Your Music type site, because "why form your own opinion?" - to which my response is "just see every movie and listen to every album, then you can!"

Maggie killed Quagmire (collest baby ever) (frogbs), Monday, 29 September 2014 15:11 (two years ago) Permalink

Well yeah! The delusion-of-objectivity holds writers back just as much as it eradicates enthusiasm in audiences xp

flambient 4: on goon (fgti), Monday, 29 September 2014 15:14 (two years ago) Permalink

It's different for video games and films. I always look to Rotten Tomatoes and other numerically-based review sites for video games and blockbuster films because at the heart of those art forms is the necessity of functionality. Gameplay has to be tight, i.e. 3D has to titillate. That famous argument that Hideo Kojima had that video games like food cannot be considered "art" because they still have to be playable, be edible. Not like music or dance or lit

flambient 4: on goon (fgti), Monday, 29 September 2014 15:16 (two years ago) Permalink

I tend to like writers that express fannish enthusiasms about things, and lists are an outlet for fan enthusiasm. There's a kind of arrogance involved, though I wouldn't characterize it as arrogance to objectivity. It's more like arrogating to tell the world what is good. I don't need writers always to be careful thinkers. Sometimes imposing absurd hierarchies is more fun and more reflective of the writer's honest feelings.

jmm, Monday, 29 September 2014 15:19 (two years ago) Permalink

Luke Haines and Peter Hammill weigh in:

https://twitter.com/LukeHaines_News/status/515127513212026880

goth colouring book (anagram), Monday, 29 September 2014 15:19 (two years ago) Permalink

They only have to be functional for the player to understand the controls. A game like Minecraft doesn't really explain anything to you and has no clear objective, for one.

xposts

Evan, Monday, 29 September 2014 15:24 (two years ago) Permalink

Yeah I don't agree with Kojima of course, but I only play ADOM and I only eat Chipotle

flambient 4: on goon (fgti), Monday, 29 September 2014 15:30 (two years ago) Permalink

pompous drivel shock!

scott seward, Monday, 29 September 2014 15:32 (two years ago) Permalink

ha fuck that guy

flambient 4: on goon (fgti), Monday, 29 September 2014 15:32 (two years ago) Permalink

well this is Luke Haines we're talking about

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 29 September 2014 15:33 (two years ago) Permalink

i remember that guy from the 90's. he was debonair.

scott seward, Monday, 29 September 2014 15:56 (two years ago) Permalink

He's widened a bit

the tune was space, Monday, 29 September 2014 15:57 (two years ago) Permalink

thank god peter hammill is here to save us from pomposity

john wahey (NickB), Monday, 29 September 2014 16:04 (two years ago) Permalink

i mean i love the guy but that's a bit rich

john wahey (NickB), Monday, 29 September 2014 16:05 (two years ago) Permalink

LOL (xp)

The Count has shot himself (Tom D.), Monday, 29 September 2014 16:09 (two years ago) Permalink

the guy from VDGG calling out pompous things is so many levels...

Non-Stop Hongrotic Cabaret (dog latin), Monday, 29 September 2014 16:18 (two years ago) Permalink

Maybe he's gone all Chas + Dave in his old age

The Count has shot himself (Tom D.), Monday, 29 September 2014 16:22 (two years ago) Permalink

Fuck yeah! Finally someone speaking up about this music ‘journalism’ bullshit.

can we please replace the awful "my god it's made of girls" ILM board description with this

example (crüt), Monday, 29 September 2014 16:29 (two years ago) Permalink

...got my beer on the mellotron here, let mother sort it out if he comes round here...

*flute solo*

john wahey (NickB), Monday, 29 September 2014 16:32 (two years ago) Permalink

I mean, I didn't actually realize that the Baker's Dozen thing was supposed to be an "all time" list, tbh, I assumed it was meant to be fun and subjective, just like Quietus usually is

It isn't. We tell people to interpret it however they want and we also offer them the choice of doing themed lists - no matter how weird or obscure.

Doran, Monday, 29 September 2014 16:54 (two years ago) Permalink

crüt otm

it's taco science, but it works like taco magic (WilliamC), Monday, 29 September 2014 16:55 (two years ago) Permalink

XP: See The Haxan Cloak's recent favourite teenage metal albums list as an example.

Doran, Monday, 29 September 2014 16:56 (two years ago) Permalink

oh man i want to do a weird obscure list! i'm not famous though...or in deerhoof or whatever.

i have my list-y moments.

scott seward, Monday, 29 September 2014 16:58 (two years ago) Permalink

I'm working on one at the moment... my 13 favourite screen drunks. We may blast the idea into smithereens after Xmas.

Doran, Monday, 29 September 2014 16:59 (two years ago) Permalink

I've picked up some amazing LPs via Bakers Dozen and that was maybe the secondary or tertiary reason for me starting the series originally but after a while it did feel like I wasn't reading enough interesting choices after a while. So it feels like just giving people the option isn't maybe enough, like we have to actually pro-actively say to people, 'Will you choose your 13 favourite Turkish psych records' or 'Will you choose your 13 favourite horror sound tracks?' just to get it back to more of a potential buyer's guide or listening recommendation device.

Doran, Monday, 29 September 2014 17:04 (two years ago) Permalink

I would do: 13 Records that Dr*w Dan*el Would LOVE to Pieces!

scott seward, Monday, 29 September 2014 17:06 (two years ago) Permalink

I loved doing mine w Luke but was disappointed that I didn't actually go deep with the how's and why's of Total Freedom's music saving my life

flambient 4: on goon (fgti), Monday, 29 September 2014 17:09 (two years ago) Permalink

:///////

Ƹ༑Ʒ (imago), Tuesday, 30 September 2014 15:00 (two years ago) Permalink

*squares hero-worship of hammill w/ all this, can't, weeps*

Ƹ༑Ʒ (imago), Tuesday, 30 September 2014 15:00 (two years ago) Permalink

i suppose his thing was always to stray the slightly wrong side of emotional largesse & get away with it on the strength of the music, plus he's fairly seasoned now, not that this is an excuse

Ƹ༑Ʒ (imago), Tuesday, 30 September 2014 15:01 (two years ago) Permalink

I like A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers as much as the next man but that was a major own goal right there.

Non-Stop Hongrotic Cabaret (dog latin), Tuesday, 30 September 2014 15:09 (two years ago) Permalink

Personal taste in music is transferable. Because if somebody- anybody, really, doesn't have to be someone I know or care about- is sufficiently enthusiastic about a record, I am going to listen to it in a different way, and after I am done there are two likely outcomes: I will love the record, or I will hate that person. There are plenty of bands I simply didn't like until I read a recommendation from someone who was really enthusiastic about that band in a compelling and persuasive way.

rushomancy, Tuesday, 30 September 2014 22:46 (two years ago) Permalink

five months pass...

This looks wonderful (and organised by an ur-ilxor, too). The list of contributors is v.strong.

http://marksinker.co.uk/birkbeck_under_over.html
http://www.bbk.ac.uk/events-calendar/underground-overground-the-changing-politics-of-uk-music-writing-1968-85
http://therockwriteproject.tumblr.com/

UNDERGROUND / OVERGROUND
The Changing Politics of UK Music Writing: 1968-85

This will be a two-day symposium at London’s Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, consisting of panel discussions and Q&As. Run by Mark Sinker, former editor of The Wire, it will bring together writers, editors and readers of the underground and trade music presses of the 1970s and 80s with academics and other media commentators, to discuss the emergence and evolution of the countercultural voice in the UK, as inflected through the rock papers between these dates. The plan is for proceedings to be recorded and transcribed, to form the core of a subsequent published collection, alongside additional memoirs and essays from participants (especially those unable to attend).

mike t-diva, Monday, 9 March 2015 19:18 (two years ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

so mad i won't be able to fly to london for this.

creaks, whines and trife (s.clover), Tuesday, 24 March 2015 21:02 (two years ago) Permalink

That does look like a great May event:

Simon Frith , Paul Gilroy, Barney Hoskyns, Cynthia Rose, Charles Shaar Murray ,Bob Stanley Richard Williams and more

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 25 March 2015 14:03 (two years ago) Permalink

ILX's Michaelangelo Matos has the best Christgau interview from his book tour up on Red Bull Music Academy. Fantastic piece:
http://www.redbullmusicacademy.com/magazine/robert-christgau-interview

campreverb, Thursday, 26 March 2015 17:07 (two years ago) Permalink

three months pass...

Another good post from Damon http://pitchfork.com/features/oped/9667-drop-the-bass-a-case-against-subwoofers/ - apparently he's writing a book. Good news.

On a different note: I'm going to see the Patti Smith Horses tour in a month, and I was thinking I should read up beforehand and then I looked up the 33 1/3 book on Horses, but judging from the user reviews it deals mainly with post-structuralist thought / academia stuff, and so I figured nah I'll just reread Just Kids. Made me think about what I like in music writing, which is not really clever analysis, more like narrative and poetry.

niels, Friday, 17 July 2015 12:59 (one year ago) Permalink

I read that Horses book when it came out and I don't remember it being that academic-y. What I found strange about it was the amount of space the author devoted to Smith's life and career leading up to the album, only giving the album itself an inordinately brief song-by-song analysis. I think any fan of the record will find entertaining, if not particularly revelatory, but I can't really argue with the decision to reread Just Kids again instead.

The New Gay Sadness (cryptosicko), Friday, 17 July 2015 13:48 (one year ago) Permalink

A double dose of Taylors - love both of these.
Jia Tolentino reviews Taylor Swift in Washington DC for Jezebel: http://themuse.jezebel.com/taylor-swift-is-definitely-in-her-zone-1718196417
Taylor Parkes interviews Sleaford Mods for The Quietus: http://thequietus.com/articles/18327-sleaford-mods-interview-2

mike t-diva, Friday, 17 July 2015 14:14 (one year ago) Permalink

one year passes...

Not sure if this is the canonical Best Music Writing thread, but anyhow I'm greatly enjoying (most of) the writing on this site, as well as the tournament they're running and the 90s nostalgia it is inducing: http://www.marchfadness.com/

davey, Saturday, 18 March 2017 20:21 (one week ago) Permalink

(also rooting for "Groove is in the Heart" to take the title)

davey, Saturday, 18 March 2017 20:30 (one week ago) Permalink

who is voting on it? some pretty shameful results there so far

dyl, Sunday, 19 March 2017 01:10 (one week ago) Permalink

but i did just read some of the essays and i will agree there is good writing to be found

dyl, Sunday, 19 March 2017 01:23 (one week ago) Permalink

Anybody can vote! Look in the "current games" page. I think lots people are voting for the more faddish songs rather than the best songs, hence the embarrassing results.

davey, Sunday, 19 March 2017 06:17 (one week ago) Permalink

the writing is good but scanning the list of writers I do not see many people known for writing about music, and do see rick moody, which is a trend that (selfishly, obviously) worries me

a self-reinforcing downward spiral of male-centric indie (katherine), Sunday, 19 March 2017 21:13 (one week ago) Permalink

Anybody can vote! Look in the "current games" page. I think lots people are voting for the more faddish songs rather than the best songs, hence the embarrassing results.

righteousmaelstrom, Sunday, 19 March 2017 23:03 (one week ago) Permalink

*of

davey, Monday, 20 March 2017 10:35 (one week ago) Permalink

I wasn't familiar with Rick Moody but I will brace myself because I guess he'll be writing the Final Four analysis this year again.

Anyway, vote for Deee-Lite everyone!

davey, Monday, 20 March 2017 10:56 (one week ago) Permalink


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