“Ricky’s Beach”, circa 197? from “Living The Life” –Image by © Doug Barber

Having featured the photography of Doug Barber (AKA Q-Ball) in “Living The Life”, it’s now time to honor the epic biker poetry of Eddi Pliska (AKA Sorez the Scribe). Like I said, his scribes throttle, brake, and pull no punches and together with Doug they have created a 1%er’s masterpiece that is truly one of a kind. Sorez’s work has graced the pages of Outlaw Biker Magazine, Easyriders, and he’s a member of the Highway Poets Motor Cycle Club– “America’s Only Bike Club Of Published Journalists.” 

Sorez’s love of the biker lifestyle started at the tender age of ten yrs old when he picked up his first copy of Easyriders, and at thirteen he got his first bike– a Harley-Davidson 350cc Sprint that he walked ten miles to his home and repaired himself. Sorez never finished high school– instead learning life on the streets, and finding family and friends in the clubhouse– some still brothers some 30 years later. He’ll always remember on caring teacher telling him on his way out– “Don’t ever give up writing. One day your works shall be read.”

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My friend Matt over at Smoke & Throttle is on a very cool quest to retrace the tracks left behind by his late father, 1987 AHRMA Champ, Robert “Snuffy” Smith. Matt was knee deep in his father’s racing circle as a kid. It was a way of life, plain and simple. But now that Matt has a love of motorcycles all his own, and a new taste for racing– he’s grown a whole new respect and appreciation for his beloved dad’s passion and accomplishments on the track. Armed with a new perspective, it’s pretty meaningful to reflect back on and understand just how special those days were. I’m excited to see this story unfold as Matt shares it with us over the weeks and months to come. Read on.

1996– Robert “Snuffy” Smith on his ’76 Triumph T140 (25) and Jesse Morris (295) at Daytona.

“I grew up going to the races with my father, the late Robert ‘Snuffy’ Smith. I always loved the hustle and bustle of the pit area. Rushing to get the jetting corrected before the next heat race, or trouble shooting timing issues with minutes left before the green flag drops. Multiple people tearing into a bike like doctors working on an accident victim after being wheeled into the E.R.. It excited me then – and as I’ve gotten back into going to races – it excites me even more now. I knew after last weekends trip to Roebling Road that wrenching on my own bike and competing was just something I HAD to experience.”

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I loved the early days of the Stray Cats back when they were young, raw and fresh from Long Island. Seeing lil’ Brian Setzer in these grainy old pics (if you can help out with any photo credits, I’d appreciate it!), some even from his pre-tattoo days built like a matchstick with a pile of hair that entered the room a full minute before he did…well, they are a sight to see. Their style was pretty tough back in the hungry years before the big payday when they rocked on a steady diet of engineer boots, creepers, skinny jeans, polka dot thrift shop tops with cut-off sleeves, bandanas and a sneer. Soon the look was gobbled up by the mainstream made-for-MTV crowd and regurgitated into a uniform with elements of new wave / new romantics fluffy hairdos, argyles, leopard print, gold lamé, Zodiac boots, and over-sized sportcoats.

Give the Stray Cats their due. Not only were they heavily responsible for a resurgence of interest in American roots Rock, Rockabilly, Swing, and Greaser culture– Brian Setzer was honored with being the first artist since Chet Atkins to be granted a Gretsch artist model guitar built and named for him. A true reflection of how strongly he was identified with Gretsch, and how he helped cement them with a new generation as the true player’s guitar for anyone serious about Rockabilly and the like. After the Stray Cats, guys like the Reverend Horton Heat, Mike Ness (Setzer played on Cheating at Solitaire) and others like them have carved-out their own sound and legacy on a Gretsch– and they owe a nod to Brian Setzer for paving the way.

A young and well-coiffed Brian Setzer of the Stray Cats back in the early 1980s

1982, Paris– A couple of lean, mean rockers Thierry Le Coz & Brian Setzer. Brian and the Stray Cats hit the road for the UK and Europe early on, as the Teddy Boy movement and the strong  love abroad for the Sun Records & rockabilly music legends (Elvis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Duane Eddy, and many more) called them there to make their mark. Thierry (yep, he’s French) is a great guitarist and started out in the Rockabilly band Teen Kats back in the early 1980s, and met Brian and the boys while they were there touring Europe.  Le Coz moved to Austin, Texas in ’84, played with Will Sexton in Will and the Kill among others, and is still doing his thing. I love that pic of them, great style.

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I love Texas. There are more Rock, Country, Folk and Blues music greats from the Lone Star State than you can shake a stick at– not to mention the colorful and storied scene they created that lives-on today. The loyal fans who were around back then dutifully keep it alive through a rich oral history.

My buddy Bruce is one of those guys. Ask him if he recalls when the Sex Pistols toured through Texas in ’78 and his eyes light up like a Christmas tree. Before you can catch your breath, out come tales of the filth, fury & raucousness of that time like it was yesterday– “You mean that Sid Vicious kid?  Yeah man, of course I remember it. It was a mess! He was runnin’ his mouth, spittin’, and swingin’ that bass around like a baseball bat on stage– mowin’ people down.  They wanted to kill him!” Ask him about Charlie Sexton, and out come tales of the early days of him and his lil’ brother Will playing in clubs before they were teens…then with the Vaughan brothers (Jimmie & Stevie Ray)…and Charlie’s much-loved band, Arc Angels, with Doyle Bramhall II, son of the legendary Doyle Bramhall…and how Doyle (Senior) and the Vaughan brothers own history together (among many others, Jimmie and Doyle both came out of the legendary band, The Chessman) was foundational in laying the groundwork for the Dallas / Austin music scene in the 1960s & 1970s that is so prolific, relevant, and vital to this day. Whew.

These three families– The Vaughans, the Bramhalls, & the Sextons, are forever entwined with one another in the history of Texas music. Everyone knows about Jimmie & Stevie Ray Vaughan, ’nuff said. Doyle Bramhall (Senior) is a legend who left his mark on this world that sadly lost him back in November. Doyle Bramhall II is known for his early days with Charlie Sexton in Arc Angels. Young Doyle went on to be a singer in his own right, and a much in-demand guitarist who has backed-up some of the greats like Roger Waters and Eric Clapton. Then we have the Sexton brothers…

Charlie Sexton was often railed as a Post-Wave pretty boy, which he definitely was during his mainstream popularity. (I remember a few of the hip girls in High School with Charlie Sexton posters on their walls, and tee-shirts emblazoned with his pouty lips & piled-high coif on their budding chests.) His rising star somehow failed to reach its promised heights back then, but over the years Charlie has silenced his critics by becoming a very well-respected musician (his guitar playing is simply incredible) and producer who has toured and recorded with some of the biggest names in the business– Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, to name just a few. And for you hipsters out there– he even played with Spoon on Austin City Limits back in 2010. Will Sexton is less known, but no less talented– and perhaps even the more sensitive, thoughtful musicians of the two. Definitely more folksy, in a good way. (In all fairness, the video clips I chose of the Sexton brothers are of when they were very young, back in the ’80s, in fact. I think it’s safe to say we all have some fashion / hair moments from those days that we’d all like to forget. Go on YouTube to see their current work, which is very solid.) Charlie and his little brother Will went off on different musical paths, but those paths will bring them together again, as both make their mark in the annals of Texas music history for us to savor, and the next generation to discover.

July 4th, 1982 — A very young Charlie Sexton,13-yrs-old, playing with the Joe Ely Band (which toured as the opener for The Clash back in the day– you heard me right, this kid opened for The Clash.) at Gilley’s, Pasadena, TX. That Rockabilly look would carry through to Charlie’s next band, the Eager Beaver Boys– in fact, the hair would get higher and higher. –image Tracy Hart

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Bon Scott & Angus Young, Atlanta, GA 1978 — Image by © 2011 Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive

Australian photographer Rennie Ellis (1940-2003), manifested his lust for life in the incredibly raw and titillating images of ’70s & ‘8os that perfectly capture the heyday of Rock ‘n’ Roll rebellion, sexual experimentation, high fashion & tomfoolery. He eagerly exposed the gritty and honest underbelly of the times with an insider’s candor that is both magical and mesmerizing. A familiar fixture on the party scene, Rennie was widely accepted in social circles that placed him squarely in the middle of the action where he thrived on the energy– and always got the shots he wanted.

Dino Ferrari, Toorak Road 1976 — Image by © 2011 Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive

“The thing with Rennie was that he was always having fun and would never miss an opportunity to take a photo. I remember being at Rennie’s 38th birthday in Prahran when the police turned up for a noise compliant. We were all pretty smashed and our natural reaction was to stop and be quiet. Not Rennie though. We saw him take a girl outside and start taking pictures of her sitting on the police car. He just wanted to get that shot. And, from what I can recall, the police stuck around for a few drinks too. That’s how people reacted to Rennie—everyone just instinctively felt comfortable around him.”

–Rennie’s old friend Jenny Bannister 

MC, Paradise Club, Kings Cross 1970-71 — Image by © 2011 Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive

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“For me to survive, me have to find something for myself and it was like a spiritual vibration, so me said– me going to make spiritual music.  This spiritual music coming– they call it Reggae.”

–Lee “Scratch” Perry 

Reggae and Dub master, Lee “Scratch” Perry is often overshadowed by the Reggae giants that followed in his footsteps– namely Bob Marley.  Not that Marley doesn’t deserve praise– Perry is just long overdue, and grossly under-acknowledged.  Growing up in rural Jamaica, he later moved to Kingston and worked his way up from music studio janitor to songwriter and producer. Perry’s debut single “People Funny Boy” was one of the first recordings to sample– the sound of a baby crying.  In fact, what “Scratch” Perry was able to lay down on old, broken-down, low-tech equipment is nothing short of genius.  Perry’s crazy garb and outlandish, eccentric behavior have oft played perfectly to his reputation for being crazy– but many believe (and by his own admission) it was more a ploy to shield himself from the brutality of Jamaica’s badasses.

Now, to coincide with Lee “Scratch” Perry’s 75th birthday, there’s the release of the new album Rise Again, and documentary film called The Upsetter (narrated by Academy Award Winner Benico Del Toro)which chronicle’s Perry’s epic songwriting and producing career– highlighting his pioneering recording techniques, and ground-breaking (and still influential) contributions to reggae and dub music.


Reggae / Dub master Lee “Scratch” Perry at his Black Ark studio in Jamaica

Lee “Scratch” Perry

Jamaica, 1976 — Lee “Scratch” Perry (and The Heptones) — Image by © Kate Simon  via

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“Hi, it’s Deb.  You know, when I woke up this morning I had a realization about myself.  I was always Blondie.  People always called me Blondie, ever since I was a little kid. What I realized is that at some point I became Dirty Harry.  I couldn’t be Blondie anymore, so I became Dirty Harry.”

–Debbie Harry

Debbie Harry of Blondie, Coney Island, NY, 1977 — Image © Bob Gruen

“It was in the early ’70s and I was trying to get across town at two or three o’clock in the morning.  This little car kept coming around and offering me a ride.  I kept saying ‘No’ but finally I took the ride because I couldn’t get a cab.”  

“I got in the car and the windows were are rolled up, except for a tiny crack.  This driver had an incredibly bad smell to him. I looked down and there were no door handles.  The inside of the car was stripped. The hairs on the back of my neck just stood up.”  

“I wiggled my arm out of the window and pulled the door handle from the outside.  I don’t know how I did it, but I got out. He tried to stop me by spinning the car but it sort of helped me fling myself out.”

” Afterwards I saw him on the news–  Ted Bundy.”

–Debbie Harry

Debbie Harry, NYC, 1976 —  Image © Bob Gruen

1978 — Debbie Harry of Blondie — Image by © Martyn Goddard/Corbis

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In a move that would forever change the Pittsburgh Steelers, and create the cornerstone for their legendary “Steel Curtain,” a little-known defensive big man named Joe Greene from North Texas State was drafted in the first round. The silence was deafening.

Fans’ Reaction: “Who’s Joe Greene?” — headline from The Pittsburgh Press, January 28th, 1969.

The day before, 37 yr old Chuck Noll, was brought in as Head Coach to brutally retool what was considered to be the worst team in all of the NFL– Yep.  The Pittsburgh Steelers.

Feb 10th, 1982, Pittsburgh, PA — Steelers’ defensive tackle Joe Greene displays his number 75 jersey after announcing his retirement. Greene was the foundation (and many argue, the Steelers’ greatest and most valuable player) used by coach Chuck Noll to build four Super Bowl Championship teams. 


“Back in the ’60s, the Steelers were– pretty bad. We just could not consistently win games. We would lose games by the most bizarre circumstances– we’d find a way to lose every time. So, it was quite a frustrating experience — and a remarkable change — when Chuck Noll came.

He called me in on the off-season. I’d made my first Pro Lowl in ’68, prior to him coming, and I thought, “Oh, he’s calling me in to congratulate me.” So I went in to see him. We shook hands, but he wasn’t overly friendly. He looks right at me and says–

‘You know, Russell, I’ve been watching the game films since I’ve taken over the job here– and I don’t like how you play. You’re too aggressive… You’re too out of control… You’re trying to be the hero… You’re trying to make big plays. I’m going to change the way you play. I’ll make you a better player than you are right now– because you’re not disciplined enough.’

I was just stunned!” ” —Defensive Captain, Andy Russell (with the Steelers since ’63) on his first meeting with new Head Coach Chuck Noll

1972 — Pittsburgh Steelers’ coach Chuck Noll beams after Franco Harris scored the winning touchdown against Oakland to win 13 to 7. On the play, Steelers’ Terry Bradshaw passed to Frenchie Faqua. Faqua and Oakland Raider Jack Tatum collided and the ball bounced to Franco Harris. Tatum denied he touched the ball but the official ruled he did.


“When we got to our first training camp, Chuck Noll’s first speech to the team goes–

‘Look, I’ve been watching the game films since I took the job. And I can tell you guys that the reason you’ve been losing is not because of your attitude, or your psyche, or of that ‘STUFF.’ The problem is– you’re just not good enough. You know, you can’t run fast enough, you can’t jump high enough, you’re not quick enough. You’re techniques are just abysmal. I’m probably going to have to get rid of most of you– and we’re going to move on.’

And you know– five of us made it from that room to our first Super Bowl following the ’74 season.”

–The Steelers’ Andy Russell

1975, Miami, FL — Members of the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers pose for pictures as the AFC pros opened training.  (L to R)  Franco Harris, Andy Russell, L.C. Greenwood, Jack Ham, Roy Gerela, and Joe Greene relaxing on the sod. 


Joe Greene had been holding out on the Steelers for 2 to 3 weeks.  The day he signed the contract and joined the team, he was escorted down to the practice field for the Steelers’ “Oklahoma drills.” There he was met by the Steelers’ offensive linemen who were looking to break the greenhorn in.

“Immediately we did a one-on-one blocking drill. Ray Mansfield picked him to go first, because he wanted to show Joe Greene that he was better, and pull a– “we’ll show the young rookie.” Joe destroyed Ray Mansfield, our center for so many years, and we were like, ‘whoa– this guy can play!'” recalled Andy Russell.

It was obvious to his teammates (and soon the entire NFL) that “Mean Joe” Greene was an unstoppable force– the likes of which had never been seen before. His skill, strength, intensity, and determination to win were unrivaled– and gave the Steelers franchise the badly needed backbone it had been lacking for some forty years.  Even with his excessive roughness on the field and multiple ejections, he deservedly won the  NFL honor of Rookie of the Year.

“Mean Joe” Greene’s teammates would feed off of his intensity, and raise their play to new levels– sending a message heard loud and clear, that the Steelers were here to win it, and would not back down to anyone. Greene was always looking for a demonstrative way to make this point.  The bigger the foe, the better. Not even the NFL’s reigning badass, Dick Butkus, was shown any respect.  Greene once spit in his face– in front of what must have felt like the entire world to Butkus. Dick did the only thing he could– tuck his tail and walk away.

Joe Greene would go on to play in 10 Pro Bowls, and lead the Steelers to 4 Super Bowl championships, in a career that defined him as Pittsburgh’s most valuable player of all time.

“Joe Greene would come into the huddle sometimes and say, ‘I’m taking the ball away this play.’ I’ve never in my entire career seen an athlete be able to do that. He was actually unblockable in those early years.” –teammate Andy Russell

Oct. 5th, 1975 — Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive tackle Mean Joe Greene kicks Cleveland Browns’ guard Bob McKay in the groin as the Steelers stomped the Browns, 42-6.  AP photo via


Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Terry Bradshaw is attended to by medical staff after being slammed to the turf by Cleveland Browns’ defensive lineman Joe “Turkey” Jones. — PD historical photo.  “The teams didn’t like each other, and they played hard. There were a lot of vicious hits and dirty plays– on both sides. There was the 1976 game in Cleveland where Joe “Turkey” Jones grabbed Steelers’ quarterback Terry Bradshaw and plunged him helmet-first into the turf. Jones received a personal foul penalty and was fined $3,000. Bradshaw suffered a concussion. Browns fans still talk about that play.”  via

1972 — Pittsburgh Steelers’ running back Franco Harris is mobed by fans at Three Rivers Stadium after scoring the winning touchdown, nicknamed the “Immaculate Reception,” during the American Football Conference (AFC) semi-final game against Oakland. Harris made the touchdown, one of the most famous single plays in the history of professional American football, on a tipped pass from quarterback Terry Bradshaw to Frenchy Fuqua to Harris for the score in the fourth quarter in Pittsburgh.

Dec 23rd, 1972, Pittsburgh, PA — With 22 seconds left in the Steeler-Raider playoff game, Steelers’ quarterback Terry Bradshaw threw a 4th down desperation pass intended for John “Frenchy” Fuqua. When the ball was deflected by Raider Jack Tatum it traveled 7 yards into the arms of Franco Harris who ran 42 yards for the winning TD. “I learned early at Penn State to always be around the ball, be around the action,” admitted Harris.  “Maybe there will be a fumble.  Maybe I’ll throw a block.  Because of that attitude the play happened.” 

1972, Palm Springs, CA — Frank Sinatra was made a one star general in Franco Harris’ one-man army as he watched the Pittsburgh Steelers workout for their big game against the San Diego Chargers in San Diego. Franco, the Steelers’ one man army and leading ground gainer, is pleased at having Sinatra in his army.

Terry Bradshaw, top draft choice of the Pittsburgh Steelers, poses with coach Chuck Noll at a news conference in Pittsburgh, Pa., Feb. 13, 1970.  The Louisiana Tech quarterback is in Pittsburgh to discuss salary terms with the club.  (AP Photo/Harry Cabluck)

The following is reprinted from “The Ones Who Hit the Hardest” by Chad Millman and Shawn Coyne–

It wasn’t just that Terry Bradshaw liked going to church while his teammates liked going to bars. It was the game. College football was Bradshaw’s domain; pro football was Chuck Noll’s. It was the difference between checkers and chess. Bradshaw had never studied film before. In high school and college, if his first receiver wasn’t open, he tucked the ball and ran. He didn’t know how to read defensive coverages at the line of scrimmage. He underestimated the speed of the game, the intensity, how hard opponents were going to hit and how high a standard his coaches were going to hold him to. He was, in every way, overmatched. And no one had any sympathy.

Cleveland, Ohio, 1971 —  From the sidelines Pittsburgh quarterback Terry Bradshaw and coach Chuck Noll watch the defensive unit against Cleveland.

In his very first game, against the Oilers, Bradshaw completed just four of sixteen passes with an interception and was pulled from the game to a chorus of 75,000 boos. This is where a new Chuck Noll emerged. The calm teacher who preached technique, the master manipulator who looked the other way when Joe Greene attacked opponents with scissors, handled Bradshaw like he was an abusive father. He grabbed his quarterback’s facemask, his jersey and unloaded obscenities that would make the bluest of comics cringe. The anger shot from his knuckles through Bradshaw’s pads. “I couldn’t believe how cruel Chuck was,” Bradshaw once said. “You would think someone as smart as Chuck was would be a better psychologist, but he beat me down. I totally lost my confidence. I was the kind of guy who needed a pat on the back–shouting at me only made things worse.”

So did the fact that, on his first play from scrimmage in place of Bradshaw, local hero Terry Hanratty threw a touchdown. After the game, Bradshaw sat in his car in the Three Rivers parking lot and cried.

Aug 1974, Latrobe, PA — Quarterback Terry Bradshaw said if striking Pittsburgh Steeler veterans can’t respect his decision to enter camp, “then maybe I can’t respect them.”  Bradshaw, 25, the Steelers’ regular quarterback this past three years, walked into the club’s St. Vincent College training camp and worked out. 

The Steelers lost their first three games that season, with Noll shuffling his quarterbacks practically every quarter. It got so bad for Bradshaw that his mom came to stay with him. One night he took her to a hockey game and fans in the stands started booing the both of them. Another time, before a game, he was standing outside the doorway of the locker room talking to Art Rooney Sr., within the eyesight of Noll. The owner was telling his young quarterback to keep his confidence, that everything would be all right, with Bradshaw’s blond locks bobbing up and down in agreement. When the conversation ended and Bradshaw walked into the locker room five minutes late, Noll, who had seen the conversation between rookie and owner taking place, fined him.

April 1970, Washington, DC — President Nixon compares hands with All-American quarterback Terry Bradshaw, of Louisiana Tech, when the latter called at the White House with a group from the school. Bradshaw was the number one draft choice of the Pittsburgh Steelers.


It didn’t help with fans that he was burly for a quarterback. His blonde hair was thinning and unruly and his face lacked the kind of angles Madison Avenue likes in its football idols. He had a funny Louisiana accent that, to those in the North, made him sound simple. He preferred spending time on his farm with his parents to drinking at the Jamestown Inn in Pittsburgh’s South Hills with his teammates. He wore buckskin coats with fringe hanging from the sleeves. “I was an outsider who didn’t mingle well,” Bradshaw once told Sports Illustrated. “No one liked to fish or do the things I liked to do. The other players looked upon me as a bible-toting Li’l Abner.”

1980 — Show business for Steeler quarterback Terry Bradshaw gets a big yawn as he does an interview with Jimmy ‘The Greek’ Snyder prior to the Eagles-Cowboys game. Bradshaw has been linked to a show business deal that may require that he quit the Steelers.


1970 — Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw. — Image © Bettmann/Corbis

1970 — Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Mean Joe Greene. 


Three decades ago, 24 year old architecture student, Elspeth Beard, set out to ride her bike around the world– a trek that would take 3 years and over 48K miles. The young Englishwoman, who’d been riding since she was just 16 yrs old, had already taken a few solo journeys to Scotland and Ireland– and now was ready to take on more before she finished school and settled down into a career.

Beard’s bike was a used 1974 BMW R 60/6 flat-twin, already with 30K miles, that she bought from a friend of a friend. Her around-the-world bike trek began in New York– “It cost $340 to send the bike and $197 for my own air fare,” she recalls. From NYC she rode up through Canada, then headed south through Mexico and Los Angeles– racking up 5K miles. From LA Beard shipped the bike to Sydney, while she first headed to New Zealand for a visit while her motorcycle was en route.

That’s when her luck started to run out…

elspeth beard bmw motorcycle

Elspeth Beard and her ’74 BMW R 60/6 that she rode around the world over the course of three years. “I worked for months in a pub saving the money to buy my BMW 600. That gave me the bug for travel on a bike. It’s the best way to get around – cheap, efficient and I enjoy the freedom.”  –Elspeth Beard (photo of Elspeth shortly after returning home by Peter Orme) (via) She also made her BMW’s lockable top-box and panniers out of riveted aluminum sheets while living and working in Sydney during her around-the-world trek. It was a necessary stop when the funds she’d scraped together as working student ran out– she’d end up spending a total of seven months apprenticing with a firm in Sydney.

young elspeth beard bmw motorcycle

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