Snuff It #4
Lydia Eccles interviews Rev. Chris Korda
LE: Last year about this time you were soliciting funds for a suicide
assistance hotline. Whatever happened to that?
CK: That was Pastor Scott's idea, and it got off to a great start.
The plan was to get a 900 number, put up a billboard for it, maybe take out a
few advertisements. People would call up and pay to hear suicide assistance
messages from a voice mail system. We were going to have a bunch of prerecorded
messages--celebrity suicides, techniques from A to Z, damned good reasons to do
it, style, etiquette--you could listen to all these messages and get useful
tips on how to kill yourself, without making a big mess and inconveniencing a
lot of people--and meanwhile you'd be paying by the minute and the Church
would be making money. I made a bet with Pastor Scott that he would never
get Ackerley [our local billboard company] to put up the billboard, and that
if he did I'd pay for the hotline. He won the bet; they would say things
like, "Are you sure you want it to say 'suicide assistance hotline'?
It almost sounds like you're going to help people kill themselves." He's
such a smooth operator, he was able to totally flummox them.
LE: They thought it was a suicide prevention hotline.
CK: Absolutely. And we figured, what the hell? If Ackerley buys it,
then maybe Nynex will buy it too. But it didn't work out that way. Nynex
turned out to be quite a bit sharper than Ackerley. They took one look at
our web site and the game was over.
LE: But you had no problem getting the billboard up.
CK: And what a great billboard it was: "Suicide Assistance
Hotline--helping you every step of the way. Thousands helped, how about
you?" It was just a shame that the number didn't work.
LE: Did you contact lawyers about it?
CK: Yeah, but we couldn't find one who'd take the case pro
bono, and the ACLU didn't return our calls.
LE: Did you do any research on the legality of providing concrete
assistance to people who want to kill themselves?
CK: Let them sue, we need the publicity. Besides, you can walk into
any bookstore and buy a book like Final Exit that gives specific
suicide instructions--drug dosages, everything. With Dr. Kevorkian leaving
bodies in cars and getting away with it, I figured the courts probably
wouldn't bother with us.
LE: How about the other billboard activities this year?
CK: Well, there was a billboard modification in Cambridge...
LE: "Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea--"
CK: "never regains its original dimensions." That's right.
It was modified to say "Man's anus, once stretched by"--
LE & CK: "a big penis"
CK: "never regains its original dimensions." Now whoever
did this--these were obviously very disturbed individuals with sociopathic
tendencies, presenting a serious danger to society.
LE: Although they were advocating sodomy so technically the Church
would have to stand aside and applaud.
CK: But we can't have people running around modifying billboards and so
forth; I mean, that's against the law.
LE: I heard that the billboard got a lot of attention, and that the
Boston Herald was interested and wanted to do a story but the editors nixed
CK: Isn't that funny, that's what I heard too. I also heard that while
the culprits were putting it up, people were stopping their cars in the middle
of the street and honking their horns and hooting and hollering and getting
out of their cars and taking pictures. It's kind of interesting that the
Boston Herald went to all the trouble to send a crew down there to take
pictures and interview everybody about it and then nixed the story at the last
minute, but I guess you can't expect too much from the Boston Herald.
LE: I heard it was up on the bulletin board at the paper, and
everybody really liked it. But I guess the editorial decision-makers--their
minds remained the original size.
LE: How about the Institute for Global Dada event--this was during
the heyday of Pat Buchanan, during the primaries, when Buchanan was making
CK: He'd just won New Hampshire, hadn't he?
LE: Yes, and he'd just come to speak in Massachusetts and was using
all kinds of military rhetoric--you know, really violent-sounding
CK: It was primary day in Massachusetts, around 7:30 in the morning,
in front of the Boston Public Library--the largest polling place in Boston,
where all the Beacon Hill brahmins in their pin-striped suits go to vote.
You were already there with Doug and Jamie, holding "Unabomber for
President" signs. Meanwhile, we're tooling down the sidewalk with what
looks like a giant black tampon. We unroll it, and hoist it up, and suddenly
it's a 25-foot wide, 13-foot tall black banner, with giant red letters that
say "GOP" and the "O" is a solid red circle with a black
swastika cut out of it.
LE: Like something you would see carried down a very wide
thoroughfare during a Nazi demonstration.
CK: Yeah, it took 4 people to hold it. Within 60 seconds, we were
live on New England Cable, and a few minutes later the WRKO van was going by
and they literally slammed on the brakes and pulled over. They put me on
the air and asked me what I was doing, and I told them I was a Buchanan
supporter. I said I was there to support my candidate like everyone else,
and that Buchanan was the face of fascism in America. I stuck to my story,
and finally Jim Rappaport [chairman of the state Republican committee] got on
the air and called me disgusting. It was pure situationism, because on any
other day the cops would have just said, "you're outta here" and
that would have been it. But this was one day when the cops couldn't tell
anybody to not hold a sign because everybody was holding signs, everywhere!
All they could do was make sure that we were a certain distance from the
polling booth--it was actually quite funny, because the cop came out and
said "Look, you all have to move"--what was it?--"a hundred
feet from the polls." Right? So one of the republican guys says to
the cop, "You just mean them, right, not us?" And the cop starts
yelling "Everybody! Everybody a hundred feet from the polls!" So
everybody had to back up. It was an amazing thing to see. It got pretty
rough towards the end, though--the library staff finally took matters into
their own hands. The manager and the manager's assistant came out with their
goon and started pushing and shoving, trying to make us take the banner down,
saying we were on private property when we weren't, and then the goon threw
hot coffee in Toto's face and punched him in the mouth. He was only taking
pictures and got his lip busted--it was very unpleasant. I guess that's what
happens when you call a spade a spade.
LE: You spent a week at the Democratic National Convention
campaigning for Unapack [the Unabomber for President Campaign] and then
afterwards we all stopped off in Gary, Indiana and took photographs there.
What was the reason for stopping in Gary and what is the significance of
Gary to the Church?
CK: I viewed it from the beginning as making a pilgrimage to Gary.
I grew up in New York, but I'd always heard that Gary beat anything I'd ever
seen, so I felt it was my duty to go out there and see what had been done to
the Earth. We were driving down I-90 when suddenly you could actually see
it from the highway; I remember the moment very clearly--we were all stunned.
I don't think any of us were prepared for just how complete and utter the
devastation was--it went on for miles and miles and you could see the clouds
of smoke in the air. It really was a scene from hell. At that time, I knew
that I would have to go to where the refineries were, to get up close and
see it. I hooked up with $t. @ndrew [OGYR Network] and Pope Phred, and they
drove us out there. I was staying with Deacon Kelly, and he kind of knew
his way around, so he came along too. We were driving around all day,
looking at the refineries. We stayed in the car mostly, but I got out and
got down on my knees and prayed in front of one. I was so moved that you and
I decided it would be worth it to go out there and do it again, do it
LE: We tried to get close to one of them and ended up getting
followed by security.
CK: It was a disaster! We were being followed the whole time by
these Cherokee Jeep things with flashing lights on them. We were in the
belly of the beast and they didn't like us one bit. They pulled us over
and asked us to leave, and instead we pulled over somewhere else and got
out and started taking pictures inside the perimeter, and then they nailed
us. They wanted our film, and I think they were pretty much ready to haul
us off until you told them we were doing a fashion shoot.
LE: One of the things that amazed me was in the midst of all that
wasteland and smoke to see tract housing popping up in between the factories
every once in a while.
CK: It was right out of Eraserhead; people living in the middle of an
industrial wasteland. People are born and raised and grow old and die
without ever leaving Gary, Indiana. I've never seen anything worse.
LE: You also made a pilgrimage to the Rainbow this year--tell me
CK: The Church's annual meeting was held at the Rainbow Gathering,
somewhere in the Ozark National Forest, in Missouri. It was my first
Gathering, so it was quite an experience for me. I drove down with my
friend Kevin--he's been to a bunch of them and told me a bit about it, but
nothing could have prepared me for it really; it was unlike anything else
I've been exposed to. The most obvious difference is it's a money-free
zone; it's considered deadly impolite to offer people money at a Gathering.
Another big difference is there's no homeless people; the general idea is
that even if you have only the most minimal social skills, somewhere,
somehow, somebody's going to feed you. There are people who show up with
nothing, not even a cup or a spoon or a blanket. Nobody's going to serve
them without a cup--they're going to have to find one or make one out of
a Pepsi bottle or something. But once they do then somebody's going to
feed them and they're going to be taken care of and not just left to die.
That's a very different way of looking at things. Some people arrive months
before and put tremendous energy and love into feeding people, other people
show up with nothing--most people are somewhere in the middle, and hopefully
it all balances out.
LE: Did you do any Church activities while you were there, I mean
aside from having your meeting?
CK: Well, I came prepared to cause major trouble. I lugged all these
signs in with me, like, "The Rainbow Family is Big Enough",
"Bear Asses Not Children," "A Hippie with Kids is Looking for
Work," "Peace, Love and Sterility"--I was prepared to really
tear it up with those Rainbow people.
LE: This was because you thought there'd be a lot of breeders.
CK: And there were a lot of breeders. But when it came down to it, I
just couldn't do it. I would have been totally by myself. I couldn't find a
single other person to carry one of those signs.
LE: Also I got the impression that you wanted to just enjoy the
experience of being there.
CK: Yeah, I didn't want to have to be the Reverend the whole time.
I wanted to enjoy being close to the Earth, with like-minded people, and
that's what I did and it was the most powerful spiritual experience I've
ever had. The Fourth of July is the big day at the Gathering: the whole
morning it's silent throughout the area, everyone forms a huge circle around
the sacred fire, thousands of people meditating and praying their asses off,
and then at noon the children arrive in a big parade, the energy is released,
and everyone goes cuckoo. It was serious Earth magic, the largest scale
magic I've ever participated in.
LE: What is the purpose of the Rainbow?
CK: Well, that's hard to say, because by long-standing tradition, no
one speaks for the Rainbow family. The Rainbow family is everyone who's
there. I think there's a strong Indian influence--for example decisions are
made by consensus in open councils, as opposed to the democratic method,
which is tyranny of the majority over the minority. There's lots of music,
and hanging out, and eating, and taking care of each other, and making love,
and purifying yourself.
LE: You were there for a week. As a city kid, how was it being out
in the woods for that long?
CK: It was awfully hot, but clothing was optional, and there was a
nice creek to dip in. It was a three-mile hike in, and I did the hike several
times, one time with a 50 lb. bag of rice; that was rough. We were hauling
around giant buckets of water and digging shitters and carrying wood. I'm not
used to that type of thing, so my back hurt a lot, and the chiggers were gross,
but overall it was very exhilarating for me. I was incredibly lucky; I found
Scott Lamorte right away and he hooked Kevin and me up with his friends at Bi
The Way kitchen. They are wonderful people; they welcomed me into their family,
and I'm very grateful.
LE: Okay, now I want to get on to the abortion clinic activities. How
did that get started?
CK: I'm really not sure.
LE: I just remember that Der Spiegel [the German equivalent of
Time Magazine] was coming.
CK: Aaah, you're so right. I'd been wooing them all year, or they'd
been wooing me, really; it just had been a matter of getting it hooked up.
They'd been saying that they were going to come to Boston for months and they
finally were coming and they were coming the week after we got back from
Chicago. Pastor Kim and I talked about it and realized that we were going to
have to show them a good time. I mean, they made it pretty clear that they
weren't coming all the way to Boston just to sit around and chat and drink
coffee. They wanted to see us in action.
LE: So the first one was at Repro in Brookline, and Operation Rescue
was supposedly going to be there but--
CK: Yeah, there was only a handful of them there.
LE: Let's name off some of the signs you had because I know they're
not all in the photos. "Fuck Breeding," "Sperm-Free Cunts for
CK: "Fetuses are for Scraping," "Depressed? Commit
Spermicide"-- [also "Make Love, Not Babies," "No Kid, No
Labor," "Love the Earth, Tie Your Tubes," and "Feeling
Maternal? Adopt!"] Vermin Supreme was there, and he was in rare form
that day. He had his Satan mask on and his little jiggling eyeballs--he had
his megaphone out and he was harassing people going by, saying something
about "This is Satan here, and I want you all to--
LE: "Watch TV, eat red meat, and try to drive your car as much as
CK: "Read a newspaper, and throw it away."
LE: "And together we can make hell on Earth."
LE: He also asked passers-by to raise their hands if they were using
contraception, or if they'd been sterilized. And a woman across the street
was praying with a rosary, and Vermin was yelling with a megaphone that we were
going to sacrifice a gerbil--
CK: Yes, we were going to sacrifice a gerbil to the unborn.
LE: And you were singing, "All we are saying"--
CK: "All we are saying is fetus pate."
LE: The neighborhood around the clinic is very affluent and boring,
and it was great watching people walk by these incredible signs and Vermin
in his Satan mask and the dolls nailed on to sticks with bloody hands and
mouths--and many of these people would just walk by and pretend there was
nothing strange going on at all.
CK: We got a good reaction from the clinic escorts, though, and that
was a huge relief. If they'd asked us to leave, we would have had to leave,
because they're guarding the doors and hopefully keeping the Christians from
going in there and shooting everybody. But the escorts liked us.
LE: Now was that the clinic where the shooting actually took place?
CK: No, that was the next weekend. Der Spiegel had such a good time
that they decided to come back. We'd heard rumors that there was something
big happening at Preterm, so Becky infiltrated Operation Rescue and got the
inside dope. We wanted to turn the voltage way up, so we decided to make a
15 foot tall, 6 foot wide "Eat a Queer Fetus for Jesus" banner--we
figured that might get their attention. We had the carnivorous babies again,
but we used much bigger sticks, just in case there was trouble, and we added
life-size skulls on top, painted blood-red. Also Vermin brought some gigantic
cartoon fetuses that he'd made out of day-glo paper, plus we had all the
signs from last time.
LE: Since I was videotaping, I was at all of these events before you
guys showed up, which was fun because I got to see you make your entrance.
Before you came the Christians went marching down the sidewalk in formation
singing hymns through megaphones. They got to the building and planted
themselves and they were starting to say their prayers when all of a sudden
I saw the "Eat a Queer Fetus for Jesus" banner come marching down
the street. And everyone stopped, they were all staring in total
CK: We had at least 20 of our own people there, and we were marching
down the street in formation with all of our stuff. The cops saw us coming,
and the first thing they said was, "If you turn on that megaphone, we're
going to arrest all of you." We came and we stayed--we were there for
hours, in the rain. There were two TV stations, the cops were videotaping,
the clinic was videotaping, the Christians were videotaping. It was a pitched
battle: they had their trench and we had ours, and they were singing their
hymns and praying and we were singing "Every Sperm is Sacred" and
"All we are saying is fetus pate"--
LE: That was also where Nevada's speech premiered, right?
CK: "Abortion as a Sacred Right." Pastor Kim screamed it
at them until he lost his voice.
LE: The police kept you behind the barricades for a while, until
Vermin noticed that some of the Christians were doing a walking picket in
front of the clinic. So he said, "If they can walk, we can walk."
People were sneaking out one by one, and you ended up with a walking picket
that was half Christians and half Church of Euthanasia. One person would
walk by with a scraped fetus and right behind them would be someone holding
"Fetuses are for Scraping."
LE: And it was really confusing. The best thing about these events
is that it creates confusion as to who's on what side.
CK: We were standing in front of one of the clinics where a shooting
had taken place not even a year ago, and there were five people from NOW
[National Organization for Women] facing hundreds of Christians--it seemed to
me that the situation called for extreme tactics. The pro-life agenda is
fundamentally coercive; they want to push you into a situation where you have
to respond to them. They seize control of the issue, and try to pin the
violence on you, but we know perfectly well that the violence is coming from
them. So our object is to unseat the Christians, to expose the violence
that's slumbering in them. We want the violence to be on the surface,
because when it's out in the open, it's less dangerous.
LE: I think NOW's big problem is that they permit themselves to play
the role of audience, and of course the news isn't going to cover the audience
at a theatrical event.
CK: NOW is fucking up. Abortion is restricted in almost every state,
and if you don't have money, forget it. Why are the Christians winning?
They're winning because their tactics are better: they have good timing,
they're imaginative, they use visuals well, and they definitely go for the
throat. But they count on people taking them seriously, and that's their
Achilles heel. It makes them extremely susceptible to ridicule; the one
thing they can't stand is being made fun of. They try to intimidate everyone
with shock tactics and disgusting props, but we can out-shock and out-disgust
them any day. We're seizing the moral low ground right out from under
LE: Let's go to the third abortion clinic demonstration, at Gynecare,
and this is where you introduced the Pedophile Priests for Life.
CK: We did some reconnaissance this time. I went down there myself a
week early and fraternized with the Christians--it turned out they all belonged
to a group called "Our Lady's Crusaders for Life". I talked to them
quite a bit and managed to get a hold of one of their newsletters.
LE: That's kind of a handy aspect of your dressing in women's
clothes, that you can go undercover as a man.
CK: Absolutely, it's very convenient. I think a lot of them still
haven't put two and two together.
LE: That's where we get our little line, "Don't be fooled by
CK: So the newsletter was denouncing the Catholic church for allowing
sex education in Catholic schools. They had an example of some "obscene"
Catholic sex-ed material, and it was all about eggs and sperm and God's plan--no
mention of orgasm or masturbation, not even the slightest hint that sex might be
enjoyable. It went on and on about the miracle of life--it even said a fetus
has the same rights as a person, but it was still too much for them. They wanted
to burn the books. I remember talking to Nevada about it, and understanding
that the real issue is sexual pleasure. These people are terrified of human
sexuality, and especially of pleasure.
LE: The basic point is they want to make it impossible for people to
have sex without having children. It's not that they care about fetuses, it's
that they want to stop sex.
CK: They want to stop sex because it's so connected to the body. The
body reminds them of death, and they can't deal with death, so they deny the
body--in the old days they tortured it too, especially if it was female. They
idolize innocence and virginity, and meanwhile the priests can't keep their
hands off the altar boys. How could they be expected to? It's ridiculous.
The sexual urges are still there, and the boys are a safe outlet. People
can't deny their sexuality, it just comes back in another way.
LE: ACT UP has brought this out a lot, they have these special condoms
for priests--it's well known that many men join the priesthood because
they're homosexual anyway.
CK: I'd been reading Wilhelm Reich all year, and thinking about
sexuality, and I came to the conclusion that he was absolutely right. He
said that one of the greatest mistakes our society makes is the repression
of childhood sexuality; that children should be not just free but encouraged
to explore sexually; to explore their own bodies and to explore the bodies
of other children their own age--that it's healthy and positive. Meanwhile
I just happened to have these beautiful line drawings of naked boys, so I put
two and two together, blew them up, and added in giant letters "SEX IS
GOOD" and "Pedophile Priests for Life." I also made a new
batch of signs, yellow ones with black letters that said "Drink Your
Holy Water." This was a bit of a pun [and a reference to
Snuff It #2] because if you make
Pedophile Priests for Life into an acronym it spells PPFL, which sounds like
LE: How about Brigitte?
CK: Pastor Kim and I were talking about how to symbolize the situation
and we came up with the idea of a blow-up doll on a cross. So I went down to
the zone [where the porn shops are] and found a lovely blond doll named
Brigitte. I put her on a giant wooden cross, and gave her a blue-and-white
striped hospital robe, ankle socks, rosary beads, a crown of thorns made of
barbed wire--plus she had a carnivorous baby coming out of her vagina, with
blood dripping down its chin. A real traffic stopper.
LE: It definitely created massive confusion. I'm sure a lot of people,
including the tour buses that were passing by, thought that those were Christian
CK: Yes! There was confusion and shock and disgust--
LE: Because you also had "Eat A Queer Fetus For Jesus"
there, so there were three different images that related to Christian
CK: It wasn't one group in one trench and one group in another. It
was everybody all mingled together. So you couldn't tell anybody from
anybody. And there were groups that we'd never even heard of that were
showing up because of our publicity. We had the pro-masturbation,
anti-intercourse group that was claiming they were the middle ground,
that both sides were wrong. We had the Satanist Youth Corps doing their
LE: You had the reelect Michael Dukakis guy...
CK: Yeah, I don't know how he got in there. Then there was the
Pedophile Priests for Life which were ostensibly a separate group from the
Church of Euthanasia. Pastor Kim was all dressed up in his priestly outfit.
So, it was absolute bedlam. I mean, if you were walking down the street--
LE: It was a circus. People weren't just walking by this time, they
were gaping; they were sticking around to see what would happen.
CK: Dan and his friends were banging on their tambourines and singing
and dancing around--it was like a Fellini film. I'd never seen anything like
LE: Moments after you guys arrived, the Christians were on their
cell phones calling the cops and then calling the state cops--I heard the guy
say to them, "We've been coming here for ten years! These people have
no right to be here." And the first thing the cop wanted to do was
separate the two groups, which, of course, was impossible--he had no idea how
to separate them, because he didn't know who was on what side. And then he
said, "Take me to the leader of this group" and people said,
"there is no leader, just a lot of people who really believe in what they
have to say."
CK: That's right! So then he went over and talked to Pastor Kim, and I
guess he didn't get anywhere, because he came back and asked me if I was the
leader, and I said no, I wasn't the leader. He was one confused-looking cop.
Of course, it had gotten ugly by that point because Vermin had finally squirted
one of the Christians with his water penis.
LE: He was saying, "Spread those Christian cheeks to receive the
CK: He squirted the guy who was holding the giant Madonna statue, the
same guy who called the state police, what an asshole--he started screaming
"Assault!" and the cops ran over and said, "Look, you can't do
that anymore." I knew that if I gave Vermin the water penis that he was
going to squirt a Christian with it. I warned him not to do it, but I knew
he was going to do it anyway and that as soon as he did, all hell would break
loose and he wouldn't get to do it twice. He didn't do it twice, because if
he had they would have arrested him.
LE: The Christians had a megaphone and were sitting there praying
and singing into it throughout the entire thing. So of course Vermin was on
a megaphone too.
CK: And I was on my megaphone, and the pro-masturbation guys had one.
There were four megaphones going at once!
LE: One of my favorite parts was when they started saying that they
were surrounded by demons, that Satan was among them. They were praying for
help, and then they started saying "God will not be mocked." And
Vermin meanwhile was yelling into the megaphone, "God will be mocked and
that's what we're here to do!"
LE: And the other thing was that Madonna had just had her child and
Vermin had a great spiel going about it--"Madonna has just given birth,
isn't that enough for you people?" "It's the second coming!"
and all that kind of stuff, which horrified them as well. But one tactic you
used, both at this clinic and the previous one, was talking about sex and
using explicit sexual terms, yelling them loud in front of these people to
disconcert them, like cock and pussy.
CK: That's right, we were chanting "sex is good, pussy is good,
cock is good, orgasm is good"--
LE: And then you went off into a rant about, "it's a well-kept
secret, but there's such a thing as sexual pleasure."
CK: I was shouting about genitalia, and all kinds of sex, and how
orgasm was good and positive and nothing to be afraid of. And pretty soon
there was not one, but two, three, four cop cars--a lot of cops, and a lot
of us, and it was getting to be, you know, pretty exciting. And then finally
the head cop came up to me and told me that Brigitte had to go. I was amazed
that we got away with it as long as we did. I mean, we had electrical tape
over her nipples, but her robe was wide open, and her--everything was quite
visible, and we were out there for an hour before they did anything about it.
Anyway, the cop says "We've received complaints, the doll is lewd and
lascivious, it's gotta go." So I said I was just as offended by the
enormous photo of a mangled fetus that the Christians were displaying right
next to me, and why didn't that have to go too, and he gives me a stony look
and says "The doll has to go, now." He wasn't budging, so I said,
"What if we just close her robe?" and quickly tied it back up. I
think the cameras were having a soothing effect on him, because he said
"Make sure the robe stays closed," and walked back to his
car [the police are your friends].
LE: They didn't seem to do anything about the nude boys on the
Pedophile Priests for Life signs.
CK: That's because we had those little pink crosses over their penises.
I was so tempted to let them hang out, I agonized over it, but in retrospect
I'm glad we drew the line--I mean, one of them had an erection, and I think
if it hadn't been for the little pink crosses it would have been over in
5 minutes instead of an hour and a half.
LE: It was kind of like religious lingerie.
CK: [laughs] Yes it was! And every now and then the wind would blow
and lift up the pink crosses. There was something kind of lascivious about
that too. Between the young boys and the penis pistol and the blow up
doll--the whole thing had a kind of peep show feeling to it that was very
nice. It was all very sexually charged.
LE: Vermin jumped up on a wall and delivered Nevada's speech again,
which had the crowd transfixed.
CK: It was even better the second time. It's great oratory and it was
wonderful to hear it. We screamed until our megaphones went out, you could
hardly hear what was happening. Everything was going on simultaneously.
LE: That was the power of confusion, I think.
CK: The power of confusion and ambiguity.
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