The Santa Ana Sentinel

Spectrum Mural Project Kicks Off

Posted in Art Music, Arts & Culture, Downtown by Omar Ian Ávalos on November 5, 2013

Latino Health Access, United Artists of Santa Ana and Francisco B. Saucedo presented the first of three mural workshops on the night of Monday, November 4th at The Spectrum apartments near Fourth and French streets.

The first workshop consisted of a history of mural painting given by Sandra Sarmiento, followed by a presentation by Frank Saucedo and a group activity for the youngsters in attendance.

Three groups were made and each one brainstormed about what they wanted to see on their mural, always keeping in my mind what they want the mural to say about them. Their mural is meant to be reflective of their experience, and what stories they want to convey beyond their community.

The workshop instructor Frank Saucedo painted four murals at Willard Intermediate from 2011-2012, each one with a collegiate theme. Saucedo shared his experience and stressed three points to realizing the mural project, which were planning, fundraising and execution. Saucedo explained to the youth that the planning stage would be the most difficult due to the needed synthesis of many ideas.

The workshops continue with a presentation by Matt Southgate, who runs the Studio del Sótano gallery in the Santora, and who painted the mural in the basement there.

The workshops will culminate with a presentation by celebrated lecturer on Mexican art history Gregorio Luke on November 15 at Green Heart Park on 4th street, next to the Spectrum apartments. Luke ran the Museum of Latin American Art (MoLAA) in Long Beach, where he made famous his Murals Under the Stars series, in which he taught on Mexican muralists Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siquieros and others. While at MoLAA, he worked in conjuction with Enrique Arturo Diemecke, conductor of the Long Beach Symphony and former Director of the Mexico City Philharmonic, to present the music of Mexican composer Manuel M. Ponce. Luke also presented at the Pacific Symphony Orchestra’s 2007 festival concert dedicated to Mexican composers.


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Nights at the Santora

Posted in Art Music, Art Walk at Artist's Village, Artists Village, Arts & Culture, Downtown by Omar Ian Ávalos on October 16, 2013

The Santora has always been a source of inspiration for my creative process. She’s a beauty. I even titled one of my guitar compostions La Santora. One of my earliest recollections of going to the Santora dates back to ’97 or ’98, when the Neutral Grounds coffee shop was still there. That now is Lola Gaspar. It was a friend and neighbor, José Guadalupe Núñez, who told me about the place and invited me there. They had outdoor open mics on Thursday nights. I returned at one point on a weekly basis, and performed a classical guitar piece every week.

Omar Ávalos by Hugo Rivera

Omar Ávalos by Hugo Rivera

When I started going to the Santora, there was no Memphis. Instead there was a beauty salon, one that bookstore owner Rubén Martínez used to own. That’s what he told me. Across from Memphis there was no Gypsy Den, nor a Grand Central Art Center. What was in place was an abandoned building with grafitti visible from its broken windows. There was no Chiarini fountain, or lofts on Sycamore. Instead, everyone had the enjoyment of free parking on evenings in the large lot that it was.

Upon spending so much time in the downtown area and the Santora, I got invited to perform here and there. I brought flamenco dancing to the Santora and the Gypsy Den, and I wanted to do more all for the Santora’s sake. I conceived of a “Santora Camerata,” which would’ve been a chamber music ensemble.


Eventually I was invited to be a Santora gallerist because of the many ideas and projects that I had in mind. I helped run (pouring $$$ into) Suites K and B for awhile with Moisés Camacho, et altri. I did much brainstorming at the gallery with Camacho and was invited to some artists’ meetings, from before they formed AVAASA (Artist’s Village Arts Association of Santa Ana). Some of these AVAASA members formed out of a split with a pre-existing “Santora Arts Guild.”

Santora Suite K, under Gustavo Santana & Omar Ávalos.

Santora Suite K, under Gustavo Santana & Omar Ávalos.

Some of the suggestions I made to Camacho I remember as clear as water. I clearly remember suggesting that the artists needed a liason with the city, a commissioner type, and an arts commission. These ideas later appeared on a manifesto written and made public by Alicia Rojas, an artist sharing Studio del Sótano at the Santora at the time, which was used as a rallying cry to unite artists and to engage city government.

Lily Márquez Tamayo (Daughter), Arturo Márquez, Jorge Márquez

Lily Márquez Tamayo (Daughter), Arturo Márquez, Jorge Márquez

There were some definite high points while there. World-reknowned composer Arturo Márquez visited the gallery a few times. His brother, Jorge Márquez, was an attorney in Santa Ana who had his practice up Main street near Librería Martínez. Jorge lived across the Santora and was drawn to the area because of his appreciation for the arts. He met Joseph Hawa, a longtime upstairs gallerist at the Santora, and formed a friendship with him and then Camacho. Hawa used to tell me about a guy who’s brother was a world-famous composer. I finally got a chance to meet the Márquez’s at the gallery. Arturo came with his daughter Lily.

A Mixer with the Masters: Felipe Castañeda (Sculptor), Pilar O'Cádiz (Daughter of Sergio O'Cádiz), Arturo Márquez (Composer), & Omar Ávalos (Musicologist)

A Mixer with the Masters: Felipe Castañeda (Sculptor), Pilar O’Cádiz (Daughter of Sergio O’Cádiz, Arturo Márquez (Composer), & Omar Ávalos (Musicologist)

Another high point was a music recital that I did with local Persian classical musician Arash Kamalian. Arash, who is a tarist and setarist, is a local gem, a real hidden treasure. And he lives downtown at the Townsquare condos on the other side of Birch Park. We did a fusion of flamenco and Persian music that night.

That night, Laguna-based artist Hugo Rivera sketched us:


Here’s a sample of our music during a rehearsal:

Arash Kamalian playing a Persian tar at the music department at Santa Ana College

Arash Kamalian playing a Persian tar at the music department at Santa Ana College

The beginning of the end

One of the challenges I noticed at the Santora was how it was to be conveyed, or presented beyond its galleries. What was the Santora supposed to be? What is a fine arts complex or not?

The Santora, to me and to other artists, was viewed as a fine arts complex. Santa Ana College has a gallery there dealing with the subject of fine art. Unfortunately, there were artists in the Santora that failed to tow a line between what is fine, and what is not.

One event involved a punk rock fest complete with tables setup all over the Santora. It involed the absolute loudest and noisiest music I ever heard there, and worse, it involved a scandal involving the groping of a minor, who happened to be drinking alcohol.

That was the beginning of the end for me.

There were no controls in place. There was absolutely no leadership, nor any careful thought placed. An artist, who I will not name, pondered whether he should call the event off at 10 pm, or not. He should’ve called it off but instead allowed it to proceed. I awoke the next morning to hear of the scandals that took place the night prior.

At times the Santora, and specifically Suite B, was an anything goes type of place. You’d have a fine art exhibit crashed by a trio of neon-suited “musicians” with toy drums and instruments, and that was supposed to be ok, because anything goes, and one has to be zen-like and flow like water. BS. It was an insult to anyone with good taste. It was chaos. Luckily, those types are long-gone and out of Santa Ana.

I’ve always been one to argue for making order out of chaos. It may seem impossible to put “free-thinking” artists in order, but it’s not. Other cities have artistic order in the forms of commissions, councils, departments etc.

Left to right: Omar Ávalos, Jorge Márquez, Arturo Márquez, Moisés Camacho, Joseph Hawa

Left to right: Omar Ávalos, Jorge Márquez, Arturo Márquez, Moisés Camacho, Joseph Hawa

Eventually I left the Santora due to double standards and mismanagement, or that “anything goes” approach to “management.” And that’s another problem; the failure of some artists to see their galleries as businesses, but that’s an entirely different issue.

There were many good times at the Santora, more often that not. But I can’t say that I desire to be part of what it has become. An occasional dinner at Memphis, which is still my favorite downtown spot, is more than enough.

Commentary: Arts in Politics and Vice Versa

Posted in Art Music, Art Walk at Artist's Village, Artists Village, Arts & Culture, Arts Review, Civics, Downtown by Omar Ian Ávalos on October 9, 2013

Art is tied to politics. Some of the greatest works of art have messages tied to all kinds of political topics including social justice, economic disparity, economic policies and history, just to name very few topics.

Politics are not only present in visual art, where they perhaps are most evident, but also in musical art. Politics occur when an orchestra conductor or a philharmonic society that he or she serves decides what music gets programmed.

Politics occur at music venues that deny a type of genre to be performed, or at movie houses that won’t show certain film genres, or at museums that won’t display visual art forms that they don’t see fit.

These two things, art and politics, are inseparable. That’s the way it works and always will.

With regards to the controversy over a proposed Santa Ana mural

A grand-scale project, like painting a mural, obviously has to go through a public approval and process of some sort. This wouldn’t be just any mural, it would be the largest publicly visible one ever painted in Santa Ana. Do you know that the City of Los Angeles even has a Mural Ordinance? In fact, Los Angeles even has a Department of Cultural Affairs and literature concerning mural processes including issues, rights & responsibilities.

It turns out that Santa Ana’s Planning and Building Agency has guidelines for Public Art processes. These sections in Chapter 15 are crucial to the development of a public artwork, like a mural.

a. Public art associated with
commercial development is
encouraged. It is strongly
encouraged that art should invite
participation and interaction,
add local meaning, interpret the
community by revealing its culture
or history, and/or capture or
reinforce the unique character of
a place.

Already, a problem is presented with the recent painting of a mural at Plaza Santa Ana. Based on PBA Chapter 15.1, said mural does not “add local meaning, interpret the community by revealing its culture or history, and/or capture or reinforce the unique character of a place.”

Fairness dictates that the following question be asked of the desingers / owners: How does that design add local meaning, interpret the community by revealing its culture or history, and/or capture or reinforce the unique character of a place?

Also, regard section 15.3.d:

d. Art should be sited to complement
other features, such as a plaza or
architectural components that
acknowledge and respond to the
presence of the art and make the
art an integral part of site

So, again, in fairness, how does that piece complement the plaza? I’ve seen the Workshop for Community Art’s propsed mural sketch and it would not complement the one above the plaza. They don’t complement each other because the one proposed one tells a story and the other one just…?

And this gets me to another mural, one in an alley on the side of the Yost. That mural raises a very valid and serious question that no one has bothered to ask publicly. Again, how does that mural add local meaning, interpret the community by revealing its culture or history, and/or capture or reinforce the unique character of a place?

What is in place is a giant graffiti mural or “bomb” (what the one at Plaza Santa Ana is, in reality) with a giant dragon, which is a symbol of Asian culture. Is it because when people think Santa Ana, they think Asian dragons? Or is that what developers want people to think?

The “re-envisioning” and re-characterization of downtown Santa Ana has been studied and proposed before. Refer to this person’s master’s thesis on ripping out Mexican symbols in downtown Santa Ana called “Identity Design for Downtown Santa Ana.”

So now you see the politics behind this newfound “mural movement” in the downtown.

Developers should contact the City as
early as possible during the design
process to obtain information
regarding inclusion of artwork within a
development proposal and guidelines
for developing a project art plan,
selecting and working with artists and
art consultants.

Project developers are strongly
encouraged to work with an art
consultant in the selection of artists
and artwork. An art consultant can
provide expert assistance
about artists
who work on public projects.
Budgets, site selection and contract
knowledge will assist the developer in
developing the Public Art Plan.

Artists selected should be generally
recognized as a professional of serious
intent. Their work should show strong
artistic excellence, the ability to
produce works appropriate to the site,
integration of artworks into the design
of the building or landscape. The
artwork should show recognition of
accessibility, durability, and an
awareness of the issues of security,
maintenance, and safety.

Based on these guidelines, and based on the fact that such a thing as a mural ordinance does exist in other places, I recommend that the City of Santa Ana enact a specific mural ordinance, with a body to oversee projects, and make recommendations.

The process should be opened to interested groups to bid on mural projects (what’s fair) to find the best-qualified muralists with a proven record as accomplished muralists and for them to provide that expertise expected in the Chapter 15 Public Art Guidelines.

Said ordinance would complement and strengthen existing guidelines.

Take for example that in Los Angeles, there’s even curriculum being developed for Judy Baca’s mural La gente del maíz (The People of the Corn). Including curriculum could be part of a new ordinance.

It just seems obvious that prior to painting such an important mural, that it has to be done right, with as much information synthesized from what can be learned from other mural movements. We don’t have to look that far, LA is a perfect model. In LA there’s the Social and Public Art Resource Center – SPARC. How do they work with public entities and with the LA mural ordinance? What can be learned from a community that has more of a history with public art in the form of murals? There is much to be learned from an organization involved with the production of 105 murals since 1988. Again, their work directly engages and involves the City of LA’s Department of Cultural Affairs.

Going forward it makes all the sense in the world to adopt and enact a process, one even guaranteeing conservancy.

What we have now is a rush job and a horse race, all the while disregarding processes and more careful studies of other mural projects. There’s an overwhelming amount of information about each mural out there, complete with the histories they contain and the processes involved in getting them done. They too synthesize public input.

Fairness dictates that neither group competing for a public wall, not WCA or UASA, should be awarded anything until there are mechanisms and systems in place in the form of a mural ordinance and an arts commission.

A project like this can only benefit from more thought put into it.

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Santa Ana Mentioned by MLS as a Possible Chivas Stadium Site

Posted in Chivas USA, Chivas USA Youth Academy, Major League Soccer, Saint City Soccer, Sports by Omar Ian Ávalos on October 5, 2013

Fellow CSUF Titan Scott French, a soccer writer for ESPN and Major League Soccer, recently wrote the most insightful and comprehensive article concerning a Chivas USA move to some location in the Los Angeles area. The article lists a number of cities of which Santa Ana is one. As we well know, Santa Ana started talking with Chivas as far back as 2007. Talks stopped in 2011, due to the fact that neither our mayor Miguel Pulido nor Chivas USA co-owner Antonio Cue made concessions.

Mayor Pulido told me about a year ago that the problem in getting a negotiation done was Antonio Cue’s stance that the city had to pay for whatever possible reconfigurations would have to be done to Santa Ana Stadium. We can deduce that this is what the mayor meant when he said that “The stadium was off the table,” as Voice of OC writer Adam Elmahrek once wrote. What Elmahrek conveniently left out was the all important why? Why was the stadium thrown off the table? We know that the downtown stadium was mentioned as a temporary site until a new stadium could be built at Willowick golf course, and again, we can deduce that Chivas required that we pay for remodeling our municipal stadium and the mayor refused.

Kudos to Pulido.

We can substantiate what Pulido told me by looking at this insightful article published in the Inland Valley’s Daily Bulletin, in which Pomona’s redevelopment director Raymond Fong said that “Chivas was looking for significant local assistance.”

The Santa Ana area, including Anaheim, is an attractive part of the LA region because of the Latino demographics within these two combined cities. Chivas obviously doesn’t want to ignore this segment and that’s why there are Chivas players from Santa Ana and Anaheim within their ranks. But Chivas also doesn’t want to ignore the important demographic of the Los Angeles east side including Montebello, Bell Gardens etc and other areas. So they may have to compromise two satisfy the East LA and Santa Ana ends of the LA region. And that puts them at: Cerritos.

Other options for Chivas

MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Chivas full owner Jorge Vergara have been talking to USC about possibly tearing down the Sports Arena at Expo Park, which USC now controls, to build a stadium for Chivas there. Garber strikes me as the type that wants the highest-profile project possible, and that’s why Expo Park is their first choice. That’s also why he opted on selling the new New York City MLS franchise to the owners of the Yankees and Manchester City for a hefty $100 million instead of helping the New York Cosmos join MLS. Oh, and NYC FC? They don’t have a stadium deal going as a required for new MLS franchises, which goes against what Garber has been pontificating.

The whole turnover of Expo Park to USC is littered with snags and scandals. I don’t see anything happening for Chivas there until the Coliseum Commission, which used to control Expo Park, is found not guilty of any wrongdoing. But just yesterday, the LA Times reported that the head of the Coliseum Commission testified falsely in some matter.

Other areas mentioned are East LA College, Cerritos College and Titan Stadium at Cal State Fullerton. The problem with East LA and Cerritos is that their fields are surrounded by oplympic-style tracks. That would require significant investment to renovate either field. And East LA College is state property, which means more snags for Chivas.

It looks more and more like Cerritos and Fullerton are better options for Chivas. Fullerton’s stadium doesn’t require much alteration but that’s assuming that CSUF even wants Chivas there. But Cerritos, when you look at the map, is right in the middle of the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana metropolitan statistical area designation. It’s close to, and in the middle of, the two largest Mexican-American concentrations of people in the LA east side and the central Orange County region with Santa Ana and Anaheim combined.

Cerritos turns out to look like a very sensible option but significant money and political will are required, wherever Chivas and Vergara decide to go. The folks at East LA College gave a $50 million dollar figure to renovate their stadium and called it a bargain, but they aren’t paying for it.

The path is clear. Vergara has to spend the money. They wanted Chivas in the U.S., they have to house them, not local municipalities.


Scott French mentioned Santa Ana’s downtown stadium as a possibility but overlooked an important detail: Willowick Golf Course. The course was always mentioned as a final destination, as a place where a stadium could be built. What are some advantages to building there? You don’t have to convince local community college districts to part with their olympic track fields. Instead, you build from scratch. The drawback? It’ll cost more but you can build something state of the art from nothing like Houston, Kansas City, Salt Lake, and others have done.

Those of us in Santa Ana that have debated the Chivas issue completely overlooked Centennial Park also. That area makes as much sense if not more than Willowick because there already is a city-owned soccer complex there with upwards of four or five fields. And there’s room behind the fields to build. Who owns that land is not clear. And there’s a small artificial lake near the last fields that’s never used. You might as well fill that up. Some of us have seen what the lakes look like at Centennial, so why not?

To Jorge Vergara, there’s no way around it. Spend the money, wherever you decide to go.

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Students mark 45th anniversary of Tlatelolco massacre

Posted in The Santa Ana Sentinel by Omar Ian Ávalos on October 3, 2013

The Tequila Files


Around 200 people took part in a demonstration in Guadalajara on Wednesday to mark the 45th anniversary of the infamous Tlatelolco massacre in Mexico City.

The demonstrators marched along Avenida Alcalde shouting “never forget or forgive,” while others in Zapopan defiled a statue of former President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz, daubing the bust with red paint to symbolize the blood of the hundreds or even thousands of leftist student protestors gunned down by Mexican soldiers on October 2, 1968.

After a summer of rising tensions, Ordaz ordered troops to quash a huge student protest in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas, just days before Mexico City was due to host the 1968 Olympic Games. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) government then covered up the incident and the full extent of the atrocity has only come to light in the 45 years that have passed.

Yesterday I came across this brief…

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Community Message: City of Santa Ana, Senator Lou Correa, and Assemblyman Tom Daly Organize Covered California Town Hall

Posted in The Santa Ana Sentinel by Omar Ian Ávalos on September 30, 2013

SANTA ANA, CA (September 30, 2013) – State Senator Lou Correa and Assemblymember Tom Daly, in collaboration with the City of Santa Ana, Covered California, Cal-Optima, and Orange County Legal Aid, are hosting a Covered California Town Hall. The event will take place on Friday, October 4, 2013, from 2:00pm to 4:00pm at the Southwest Senior Center, 2201 W McFadden Ave, Santa Ana, CA.

Starting October 1st, Covered California, the state’s new health insurance exchange, will begin enrollment of individuals. This town hall will provide constituents with an overview of the healthcare plans offered by Covered California and Medi-Cal. In addition, there will be information on SHOP, the Small Group Option Program, which will provide incentives to small businesses (less than 50 employees) who offer health insurance.

“Healthcare plans will be made available to individuals, families and small businesses based on their needs and income. Covered California is a step in the right direction toward providing quality care for all,” says Senator Correa.

“The starting enrollment date of October 1st marks an important milestone for the Affordable Care Act in California. This meeting will give people helpful information on the benefits of Covered California,” says Assemblymember Daly.

The Covered California Town Hall will include a presentation and Q&A with representatives of Covered California, Cal-Optima, and Legal Aid. Light refreshments will be provided.

For more information or to RSVP for the town hall, please contact Asia Cunningham at Senator Lou Correa’s District Office at 714-558-4400.

Sent by City of Santa Ana
20 Civic Center Plaza, 8th Floor/ P.O. Box 1988, Santa Ana, CA 92701

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Gov. Brown Signs Law Requiring Cars Give Bikes 3 Feet of Clearance

Posted in The Santa Ana Sentinel by Omar Ian Ávalos on September 23, 2013


A bill requiring drivers to give bicyclists 3 feet of clearance when passing was signed into California law Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Promoted by the California Bicycling Coalition as “Give Me 3,” Assembly Bill 1371 was authored by Assemblyman Steven Bradford of Gardena. Its official name is the Three Feet for Safety Act.

Existing law requires drives to pass while keeping at a “safe distance,” but the new law establishes exactly what that distance is: 3 feet.

The city of Los Angeles — known for generations as a car-centric locale that presents difficult conditions for biking — sponsored the bill.

In recent years, enthusiasm for cycling in L.A. has been buoyed by the support of a growing activist community and that of politicians such at former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The city in 2010 launched a “Give Me 3” graphic campaign encouraging drivers to create a safe cushion between vehicles…

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Twitter Uses Tweet To Announce It Has Filed IPO Documents

Posted in The Santa Ana Sentinel by Omar Ian Ávalos on September 12, 2013

CBS Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Twitter is going public. The short messaging service says it has filed confidential documents for an initial public offering of stock.

San Francisco-based Twitter Inc. posted on its official Twitter account that it has “confidentially submitted an S-1 to the SEC for a planned IPO.”

Twitter’s IPO has been long expected. The company has been ramping up its advertising products and working to boost ad revenue in preparation.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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State Senate Approves Bill To Raise Minimum Wage

Posted in The Santa Ana Sentinel by Omar Ian Ávalos on September 12, 2013

CBS Los Angeles

SACRAMENTO (AP) — California’s minimum wage would rise to $10 an hour within three years under a bill that is all but certain to head to Gov. Jerry Brown, giving the state one of the highest statewide rates in the nation.

Washington state currently has the top minimum wage, at $9.19 an hour, an amount that is pegged to rise with inflation. Some cities, including San Francisco, have set higher minimum wages.

The state Senate approved AB10 on Thursday, sending it back to the Assembly for a final vote later in the day that will be a mere formality before it goes to the governor. Brown has said he supports it.

If signed into law, the bill would gradually raise California’s minimum wage from the current $8 an hour to $10 by 2016.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten…

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The Santa Ana College Applied Music Recital Schedule for Fall 2013

Posted in Art Music, Arts & Culture, SAC Music Dept., Santa Ana College by Omar Ian Ávalos on September 11, 2013

Recitals are held in Fine Arts Hall, room C-104 and are free to students and the general public.

Tuesdays, 5 PM

September 10
Jazz Menagerie

Sept. 17
Voice Students of Melody Versoza

Sept. 24
SAC Jazz Quartet

October 1
Rachel Kaplan, Flute

Oct. 8
Judy Huang, Piano

Oct. 15
Kayoko Adachi, Violin

Oct. 22
Vernalis String Quartet

Oct. 29
Don Mariachi

November 5
SAC Big Band

Fridays, 12:30 PM

Sept. 13
Alison Edwards, Piano
David A. López, Saxophone

Sept. 20

Sept. 27
The Rolon Trio

Oct. 4
David F. López, Clarinet

Oct. 11
Judy Huang, Piano

Oct. 18
The Denali Guitar Duo

Oct. 25
Dang Tran, Piano

Nov. 1
Eric Salinas, Guitar

Nov. 8
Melody Versoza, Soprano


Student Workshops and Recitals
November 19 – December 6

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