Category Archives: vegetarian

Into Another

Into Another are a New York City based post-hardcore band. I’ve seen them perform at least a dozen times and consider the band to be a light-year progression in American music. Here is why.

The NYC hardcore years and east coast hardcore were really fertile times. There was something proud about this organized movement of young musicians that were embodying a disruption to the musical genres that had previously constrained it. Hardcore was faster than punk at times, but could slow down to metallic chug-chug levels of thrash. Hardcore musicians were represented as bald, young and passionately creative. The politics were DIY, politically aware, working-class priced and relentelessly political. Youth of Today, Minor Threat, Bold and a couple hundred tiny bands that popped up inspired by this moment.

I came of age at the right time. I was blessed to be surrounded by music at all times and have a forgiving mom that didn’t mind me playing music and discovering my own music. I could play the Dead Kennedy’s in my room and the only boundary was the request that my Butthole Surfers sticker stay on my side of my bedroom door. The foundations had been laid by the time I discovered 7-Seconds at age 14 – there was a whole world of people my age who were making music and getting things done. Honestly, the DIY awareness that you could just do things and figure it out through force of will was a lesson that stuck with me to this day.

As fast as the new hardcore movement was opening up a chance for kids to find their voices and for people to get organized and make a difference, there were also threads that were discouraging. Sexism (particularly the exclusionary assumption that all of the music was written for, created by and performed to boys only), racism and white supremacy and some purity/hipster problems also plagued the hardcore movements. Straightedge, Krishna-influence and animal liberation were also early ideas that came along with the great music I was discovering. There was very limited internet in these days, conduits of knowledge are actually limited (you could miss stuff) – you had to mail order a punk rock band’s dubbed cassette from the back of Maximum RocknRoll.

Everything moved very fast. While I was in high school Minor Threat ceased to exist and Fugazi came to be. Youth of Today ended, and Judge, Underdog and eventually Shelter emerged. You could discover a band and they would break up and you’d never know until you saw an interview or the new project. Knowledge of music became really important. I started to seek out every record that certain labels released (notably Dischord and Revelation). Being broke didn’t deter my musical fiending. I worked part time jobs, borrowed money, traded, sold and got patient in hunting out music.

Into Another were on my radar screen before I saw them live. Any of the players who touched Youth of Today were absolute gold standard. My first year in college at UVM I had worked hard to get the privilege to DJ in the middle of the night on WRUV the independent college radio station. I beat out several other folks because I was focused on playing punk and hardcore music.

Sidenote: when you have to fill two hours of radio time, songs that are 30 seconds long are a disaster. My first night DJing on the radio I had a complete breakdown after playing every 45 I owned and becoming paralyzed on air with nothing to play after 24 minutes. My debate partner Lisa came down to the radio station and helped me out. My arrogance had been the assumption that I would just play what I already knew about – the wonders of a literal library of music (there was a whole room of jazz records lovingly curated by a crew of people at WRUV). I got my head around the radio station as an extension of my knowledge network (skimming the new releases, coming in and previewing new records in the production booth or just taking freestyle risks on air and playing something that looks cool – these were great joys I was just discovering).

I can see the first Revelation Into Another CD at WRUV. The front cover with the 11-pointed star has the white sticker that is covered with comments. The date scrawled in the corner and the review noting that members of Youth of Today and Bold are in the band. Then someone wrote that the record sucked and was pseudo-metal. Another defender wrote that the record was genius in terrible scrawl. The arguments on the CD label between radio station DJs was so heated that the plastic CD cover was cracked down the middle.

I played Into Another blind that night and I wasn’t that impressed. I was going to defend it because it was kind of good, but it wasn’t what I was expecting or used to from the genre. I had not yet understood just how pleasureable that was going to be. I remember thinking that I’d tape a copy of the radio station CD, but that the record didn’t warrent buying my own copy of the tape (I didn’t own a CD player until I was a sophomore in college).

That dubbed Into Another cassette travelled with me everywhere and grew on me. In the back of debate vans while everyone was sleeping I would listen to “Robot Whales” or “For Lack of a Better World” and think about the complexity of the world to a soundtrack that seemed one dimensional, but was starting to get tinged with reggae, jazz, blues, hip hop, metal and international music.

When I was a sophomore I made a cassette tape with Into Another‘s “Powered” and a couple of Underdog‘s “A lot to learn” at the front. I would get ridiculously over-amped for debate rounds listening to these songs in the hallway outside the rounds. When we won the Marist tournament, my debate partner Scud listened to one headphone of both songs before we won the final round.

Even when you knew that Underdog had the metal energy to get you adrenalized, there was a kind of humanity and complexity in the music. Underdog‘s lyrics were about loyalty, friendship, solidarity and sacrifice. But honstly, I had vague ideas of what Into Another were singing about most of the time. Not to mention the musicians were edging past the hardcore comfort zone with reggae and metal, consider Underdog‘s “Without Fear” a staple of my life in the 1990s.

When Into Another was coming to town to play at 242 Main Street, a few of us gathered together to see the band. I was sort of taken aback at how friendly they were. The first band member I met was Tony – a jolly friendly long hair who was sitting on the stoop of 242. We introduced ourselves, assuming he was a local that we didn’t know and we talked about the band for a while. We were really excited to meet some musical heroes and Tony was just as excited to meet fans who knew about his band.

Tony took us around back to meet Peter, Richie and Drew. Richie was really friendly and quick to talk about veganism, philosophy, and had a funny story about everybody. Drew looked like a rock star and was quiet – it wasn’t until he hit the stage that he really turned on. Richie committed to an interview for my little zine at the time and then the show started. I don’t remember who played with Into Another that night, but I don’t think it would matter.

The crowd at 242 became life-long Into Another fans that night. The band was an organic whole performing world-shifting rock and roll for a crowd of 25 people. Ritchie was funny and personable between songs and then would transition into serious singing (that was one of the knocks on Into Another for decades – was that the lead singer sang). But live, it was the crystalization of a humungous juggernaut machine behind that capable lead singer. Peter Moses brought this exceptional guitar tone and restraint. He plays a lot of stop-start polyrhythms on guitar, but also a lot of viscious metal riffs. Drew’s drumming is snare and tom-forward and complex. Perhaps one of the best martial breakdown drummers ever to play, he and Peter worked in concert to bludgeon audiences. Tony was the artist, grooving along with bass lines and fills that just worked to keep your head nodding. The ensemble could not be beat, and you had the sense that this band was at a higher level.

And they were the opposite of assholes. After the show, every person got a conversation and the sincere sense that they were leaving with new friends who happened to be the best band you’ve ever seen.

The next time the band was in town, the crowd was in the hundreds and the talent was next level. They played several tunes from the Creepy Eepy and destroyed the club. Despite being legit hardcore champions that night they found themselves crashing in our dorm rooms and eating pasta and broccoli I cooked in the communal kitchen with Ritchie and Drew helping. Tony crashed with my friend Rhymestyle Bob who made a life-long friend over vodka, Russian literature and metal guitar riffs. There was a kind of weird juxtaposition that this band looked, sounded and seemed like stars, but you had the sense that they were earnest DIY folks who crashed with grandmothers and college kids across the nation to make this band happen.

Bonding over veganism and hardcore, a lot of the conversations with Ritchie influenced my eventual Ph.D. dissertation about punk rock music and animal liberation. But you got conversations with Ritchie that happened while I was cooking green beans or while trying to get a tape recorder to work for an interview on the back of a loading dock. Ritchie is a solid intellectual who has forgrounded ethics – he also is just a funny dude who didn’t talk down to people.

There isn’t a great ending arc to this essay. Into Another struggled and despite releasing consistently top notch art and rocking shows world wide, they broke up after label difficulities. Beloved bass player Tony Bono died in the early 2000s and the world’s capacity for rocking shifted back a few notches. They have played a few reunion shows this decade and sound excellent albeit the absence of Tony.

If there was one thread that was consistent with Into Another was complexity. The band’s lyrics were complex, the music was complicated and the band was not a transparent youth-crew handcore legacy project. The band extended the ideas present and made something really quite new – the fact that people didn’t have the ears to appreciate what was recorded doesn’t diminish was was contributed. The band offer up a catalog of rocking riff-laden monsters, mental-health lamentation ballads, psych-rock trip-a-thons, tributes to lost friends, and daydreams of apocalyptic surveillance and control.

It is worth supporting the band with a bandcamp purchase – I recommend the whole catalog, but don’t sleep on the relatively recent “Omens” album.

We need spirit of fertile creativity embodied by Into Another now more than any time. The kind of oppressive bland culture which created the youth-crew positivity would be welcome right now. But so would the dissidents – the kids who can see something more and are willing to risk the mockery of their peers to make great art.

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Salute to tofu

Tofu is delicious.  As a vegetarian who likes good food and cooking, tofu is an essential building block.  I want to talk about making fried tofu and tofu scramble.

Fried tofu should start with pressing out the extra water from the soy cake.  Buy firm or regular tofu, anything but soft tofu (which is great for smoothies and certain recipes where structural integrity isn’t the thing).  Open up the package and rinse your tofu.  Slice it into slabs and then lay it onto a clean towel and gently press the water out of the tofu.

Cut tofu into chunks and then add to hot frying pan with a little oil.  You’ll be getting the pan pretty hot, so I recommend a seasoned cast iron pan and an oil with a high smoke point like peanut or canola.  But anything will do, if you happen to be cooking with olive oil then just turn down the temperature a little.

One CRUCIAL tip is to leave the tofu alone for a minute or two.  Most of us want to stir and shake all the time.  But the first minute of cooking is when the tofu develops it’s developing delicious crispy skin.  If you move it before that happens you’ll tear up the tofu because it is still sticking to the pan.  Let the tofu sit until it gently moves in the pan with a little shake of the handle.

Flip the tofu chunks with tongs or by shaking the pan.  But remember to leave the pan alone after moving your tofu to let that tasty skin develop.

Tofu scramble is really a matter of taste.  There are a couple of health food store semi-corporate seasoning packets that you can buy to get inspired.  If you investigate this way, just note the seasonings on the back and you can usually remake the recipe with your own changes.

When I ate scrambled eggs I preferred them to be a medium for cheese and vegetables.  So my tofu scramble comes out the same way — more heavily seasoned and with a lot of vegetables mixed in.

Step one: sauté a few veggies — whatever you want to eat for breakfast.  Here is some cabbage and zucchini.

Step two: add tofu.  Once you get the veggies a little soft crumble the tofu on top and then stir it all together.

Step three: seasoning.

The most important addition in tofu scramble is nutritional yeast.  I’ll add it into the scramble at various points. It adds salt, fermentation flavor, sweet, color and it dries up the tofu bits making more browned (maillard reaction) flavor.   Start with a tablespoon and add more to your taste.

Turmeric doesn’t add much flavor but it gives a great color and smell.

Hot peppers, chili flakes, hot sauce, any kind of heat.

Soy sauce.  I’ll just splash in soy sauce and mix it around.

Italian seasonings usually go just fine — oregano, marjoram and thyme.

Cook and taste, adjusting seasoning along the way.  If you like runny eggs, then just leave a little of the moisture from the tofu and veggies going.  If you want a more crumbly dry scramble, then cook a little while longer and add a little more nutritional yeast.  Enjoy!

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pattrice jones: animals, ecology and injustice

The official title of this stunning talk is: “Animal liberation and social justice.”  But you should watch it, take notes, change your life and donate some cash to the Vine shelter.

 

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Amazing modernist cuisine videos

I had a sodium alginate olive at Jose Andres’ restaurant in D.C..  It was more than impressive.  Arriving on a spoon and looking like a jiggly dollop of self-contained olive pudding, the olive skin burst in my mouth and it was like eating a dozen olives at once.

Youtube user enthusiochefs has some stunning videos of modernist cuisine.  Lets start by watching someone reconstruct baby corn on the cob?

Or powdered ice cream inside candied strawberries?!?!  (I know the gelatin isn’t vegetarian.  I’m not going to make these, nor do I think that someone should eat animal hooves.   I’m impressed with the videography and the ten billion steps to get this desert right. Yo!  Molecular gastronomists: make more vegetarian science food!)

I might just mess with this clementine sorbet with candied pumpkin seeds:

I’m certainly going to spend more time cooking with tweezers. Salute to the innovators!

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Italian seitan links

Seitan take 4.

I’ve documented my seitan adventures in three other posts (sauerkraut and vegetarian barbecuevegetarian noodle bowl with seitan and seitan refined).   I have a short list of what I want out of this refined seitan project:

– more firm texture

– more italian style seasoning infused into the seitan

– sausage “link” shape

– increased salt flavor in the seitan

With these needs in mind, I added a ton of spices to the dry wheat gluten.  I also ground the spices up in a mortar and pestle.  Oregano, basil, marjoram, salt, pepper, fennel seeds, and chipotle pepper (for smoke and heat) were my spices of choice.  Do your own darn thing.

I was hoping that the small pieces of spice would just absorb into the tissue of the seitan.  And I remembered that the whole fennel seeds in the last seitan experiment seemed to cut up the gluten strands.

I had seen an Australian youtube video where the cook wrapped the seitan loaf in some cloth to help shape it into a particular form.  So I chopped up a couple of old pillow cases (well washed).  I pressed the cut chunks of kneaded seitan into logs and then wrapped them tightly and tied off between each link.

I cooked the wrapped sietan links for about 45 minutes in stock that was just short of boiling.

RESULTS:

The addition of ground up spices seems to have flavored up the seitan.   Kneading the seitan until quite firm seems to have toughened up the dough and the final project.  Within a few seconds I could see that the cloth wrapping was billowing around . . . I think I could have just dumped the links into the broth without bothering to use the cloth.  I also had mild chemical fears about halfway through the process . . . afraid that some dye would get into my food.

Next time I’m going to knead even more and increase the salt in the broth.

But it is pretty dang good.  And nice to have vegetarian Italian sausage hanging around for meal prep.

Keep eating and experimenting party people!

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Seitan: refined

Swiss chard, mashed potatoes, fried seitan and vegetarian gravy. Everything is Humboldt locally grown except the flour.

 

The life of refinement is about making things better.  It takes practice for most of us to get good at the things we want to do.  It requires that we try and try again in order to achieve our goals.

So I’m back in the flour aisle of the health food store looking for vital wheat gluten to make seitan.  There are thousands of flours that have the gluten removed, but only one brand of wheat gluten.  Casual evidence that the  anti-gluten side is winning in the gluten vs. non-gluten wars.

For the second time around I pick up up some Bob’s Red Mill vital wheat gluten.  I don’t usually promote any brands on this website, but I think Bob’s is a fairly positive corporation, and the dude gave his flour factory to the workers.   Not to mention if you are out in the boonies and don’t have access to a local health food store to buy vital wheat gluten, Bob’s will mail you a bag.

STOCK

The basis of my stock is usually a browned fond — onions, oil and flour.  Cook the three on a lowish heat with regular stirring to ensure that it doesn’t burn.

As I added vegetables for the stock, I cooked it down with a little white wine each time, reducing and then browning each time.

Thinly sliced carrots, cooked down until the pan was browning and then douse with white wine.  Then I added a couple local potatoes (chopped with skins!), browned and then added more wine.  Repeat with chard stalks, and then I added oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, chili powder (personal preference), and some chili flakes.

What you get is a thick goo — a seasoned foundation for a vegetable stock.

I added water to almost an inch of the pot.  Dropped a giant frozen nub of ginger into the soup, and added some soy sauce and a spoon of miso to taste.  I let it sit for a while, just simmering while I made the seitan.

SEITAN

Last time I felt like the dough came together too quickly and not all the flour got moist at the same time.  The seitan was tough, and I knew I wanted a more loose dough.  I wasn’t sure if the broth I added to the seitan was too hot or if didn’t add enough broth at one time.

So this time I put the flour in a wide bowl, added recommended herbs from the package and stirred the whole thing gently with a whisk.   Concerned that the stock might have been too hot last time (potentially cooking the dough strands into seitan before kneading), I chilled two cups of stock.

This time when I added the cool broth, the seitan was a joyous mass of juicy chewy-ness within seconds.  I made sure everything was moist and stirred together and let it rest for ten minutes.

I’ll acknowledge my chief conspirator in this experiment, my sweetie who happens to be an artisan bread baker.  With decades of dough experience, I asked her to knead the seitan.

I strained the stock and after a quick rest (another ten minutes), I chopped up the dough into slices and slipped it into the simmering broth.

I let it cook for an hour or so, and then shut it off.

The result was pretty tasty.  The seitan is tasty by itself, rich with the broth and a little taste of flour.  This seitan is wonderful to fry, staying moist inside while getting a crispy exterior.  Next experiment is to try to bread and deep fry seitan — make a nugget so good that I don’t want to share it with other people.

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Vegetarian noodle bowl with home made seitan

Vegetarian noodle bowl OR the seitan chronicles part II.

BROTH: I wanted a beef-like vegetarian broth.  So I started with oil, salt, pepper, and flour in a roux.  I added scorched onions chopped fine and let the whole thing start to brown in the bottom of the pan.  Basically I’m making fond and letting it almost burn, then scraping it up with some more liquid.  Then cook down and repeat.

Along the way I constituted some veggie broth out of some miso and bouillon.  I added soy sauce and hot chili peppers.  Sauté the onions and fond down and then add fluid, then reducing until goo appears.   Repeat to your comfort.  I cooked down the base of the broth three or four times.

By the way, when I say scorched onions, I mean it.  Onions and ginger were burned on the stove burner.

I took the ginger and peeled it then diced it up.  Flame roasted ginger loses a lot of the gingery burn and mellows to a sweet hot flavor.  It’s nice.

I added the ginger and some other veggies (carrots and zuccini) to the broth, lots of fluid, soy and veggie broth into the pot.   I made a spice sack out of the corner of an old pillow case.  (Cinnamon, cardamon seeds, hot chili, a nob of burned ginger, and a little coffee went into the spice sack — basically everything that I worry will overpower the broth).  Test the flavor and remember that when you add noodles it will become 25% less salty and hot, so err on the side of spicy!

Start a pot of water boiling for noodles.   Once it’s going, I blanched some broccoli.  Set aside (broccoli in most soups becomes over-powering.  I just want a little bit as a topping for our noodle bowl).

TOPPINGS:  I chopped up some raw cabbage, raw bean sprouts, and diced up cilantro (from the garden none-the-less).   Stir fried some thinly sliced seitan  to be set into the broth.  Also I bought a pack of corporate vegetarian egg rolls, baked them in the oven, chopped them into quarters and then tossed on top of the noodle bowl.   Don’t forget peanuts, garlic chives and loads of lime to finish.

Once everything is set, cook noodles, strain and then plop into the bottom of the bowl.  Ladle on some broth and top with veggies, egg rolls and seasoning.

Enjoy!

 

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Sauerkraut and vegetarian barbecue

Sauerkraut and brio bread.

I got inspired to make my own Sauerkraut and batch one was fantastic.  I simply chopped up an organic cabbage, sprinkled with a little salt (less than a teaspoon), mashed it up and then stuffed it into a breathable jug.   In a little less than a week there were nice bacteria bubbles and a healthy sour smell.  I like my sauerkraut to taste like steamed cabbage sprinkled with fresh lemon — a delicate and sweet flavor.  When it reached critical mass, I jammed the kraut into some jars and put it in the fridge.

The ultimate plan was to make my own vegetarian spicy sausage to go with this finest of condiments.

It has been a long time since I made seitan, but it was exceptionally easy.  I made a nice stock (carrots, onions, garlic, spices, veggie broth and some leftover veggies from old meals), mixed up the vital wheat gluten with chili flakes and fennel seeds, added liquid and then kneaded the seitan.

It came together so fast that some parts of the mix didn’t get hydrated well.  Sliced into slabs and then into the broth.  I’m also realizing that my broth might have been too hot.  But some of the seitan came out firm and some was jiggly perfect.

But it was not, sausage-like.  What I had was a kind of firm beef-like substance, not quite what I was intending.

When life toughens your seitan, you make barbecue!

One thin sliced onion

two garlic cloves, diced

Oil for cooking

salt and pepper

one tablespoon of brown sugar

chili flakes

chili powder

smoked paprika or a drop of liquid smoke

yellow mustard (or any mustard) to taste

ketchup to taste

cider vinegar

Sautee the onions and garlic at a low heat.  Add all the spices and let it all soften.  Add wet ingredients to taste and keep stirring.  Once you have a healthy barbecue sauce going, add in thinly sliced seitan and stir.  I let the whole thing cook for a few minutes to warm the seitan.

Served on thinly sliced bread open face.

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Eddie Huang: Fresh off the boat

It was late at night when I stumbled onto Eddie Huang’s new Vice TV show Fresh Off the Boat.  I like food travel shows, and I like degenerates, so this show was already in my wheelhouse.

I’m a vegetarian, and I wouldn’t recommend the first episode of Eddie’s Bay Area show because he spends much of the episode with a Bay Area motorcycle crew killing rabbits.  (Although I’ll note that I enjoyed his ending rant where he suggests to meat eaters who don’t kill their own critters that they imagine the dead bunny every time they take a bite.)

Yeah, there are a bunch of things to discount these Eddie Huang shows: the slang which seems both forced and out-of-date, the relentless sexism (women appear only as sex objects or as servants), and the hipper-than-thou tone which permeates the whole project.

But I’m not going to pretend that I don’t like parts of the show.  Eddie comes across as pretty smart, adding complexity to some of the traditional narratives about food, culture and popularity.  And more than that, he simply shows his foolishness.  He tells self-deprecating stories, snaps on absolutely everyone, sports terrible fashion, and spends more than enough time mired in drugs.  Witness his first episode in Taiwan where he not only explains how to buy Betel nuts, but also how to use them, showcases a juvenile aversion to penis shaped waffles, and spends some time at the late night shrimp pool.  Not your traditional travel food show.

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Carol Adams and the New York Times justifications for meat eating

The New York Times invited only prominent white men to discuss the ethics of eating meat.  Blisstree remedy this by inviting Carol J. Adams, the preeminent feminist vegetarian ethical thinker writing today to respond.  She begins by noting the invisibility of identity in the New York Times choices:

Let’s remember the insight about who is “marked” and who is not marked in our culture. Until Black Liberation and Women’s Liberation began to change consciousness in the late 60s and early 70s, white men were unmarked, that is, their whiteness and maleness were untheorized and unremarkable. We all have to resist a kind of “colonization of consciousness” in which we participate in maintaining what is normative because that is what we are used to seeing. The irony here is that the Times helps to create what is normative and who the experts are. Whoever is quoted in interviews and is invited to be a guest writer in the Magazine section, becomes more well known.

via Author Carol J. Adams Weighs In On The Ethicist’s All-Male Meat Panel.

And of course, the delicious core of the argument: that gendered representation is tied to how comfortable Americans are with meat eating.  Adam’s continues:

Does it speak to the gendered politics of meat-eating? How much time do we have?

First, it begins with the presumption that meat eating as a normative practice can be defended, especially here in the United States. I don’t believe in general that it can be, not here in the United States.

Our culture is heavily invested in the identification of meat eating with manliness: The idea that meat protein is better for you; the notion that men need to eat meat to be strong (the countless vegan athletes who disprove this notwithstanding); the identification of veganism with women or with gay men (i.e., it is okay for those “kinds” of people to give up eating meat)! The fixation on hunting as being an important part of our evolutionary heritage is part of the sexual politics of meat, (and interestingly one of the panelists, Michael Pollan describes his very masculine experience of hunting wild animals).

Then there is the philosophical tradition from which much animal theory is written that emphasizes the rational and distrusts the emotional. I am part of a group of feminist writers arguing that a feminist care ethic helps us to see the important of choosing to be vegan. But if caring is disdained, then those kinds of arguments get drowned out in favor of the “rational.”

There is also the status of the other animals in a patriarchal world, one in which they are feminized and sexualized. (I argue in The sexual politics of meat that all animals are made female in image or language through meat eating.)

via Author Carol J. Adams Weighs In On The Ethicist’s All-Male Meat Panel Page 2 |.

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