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Book: Pattern Recognition

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I liked this book a lot. It's not my favorite Gibson book, but it's definitely in the top tier (along with Idoru and Neuromancer). Thematically, this feels like one of Gibson's strongest efforts, as he manages to create a novel within the grief of 9/11, without the overbearing sentiment, shrillness, or hackneyed emotion that is characteristic of nearly every other effort that we have long become desensitized to. It helps that 9/11 is more of a small piece in the backdrop of the novel, but the thematic parallels are still very strong.

Gibson also manages to create a novel that leaves the cyberpunk roots behind and strikes out in the present day, summer of 2002, in a world that is very nearly our own. The Web browser in the book seems a little strange, but the most sophisticated machine in the book is no more than an iBook. Web bulletin boards and e-mail are the important communication tools in the book, and Gibson captures the obsessive, investigatory nature of fan sites.

The rest of this entry are notes that I took, and should be ignored by the casual visitor. I have broken them down into several sections: themes, outine, footage/dig, and people. The "themes" section benefitted greatly from multiple postings on the williamgibsonboard, which has a section on Pattern Recognition.

WARNING: Massive SPOILERS ahead! Usual disclaimer: these notes are of little use to anyone who has not read the book, and probably not even useful to people who have, as notes tend to be useful only to their creator. I post them here, because I find it convenient to be able to search my notes online.


Parallel between Cayce's unravelling of the mystery of the footage and
the mystery behind her father's death.  Also similar to Nora's footage

Parallel between Cayce's cathartic digging of the grey muck at the dig
and 9-11 rescuers searching for survivors in the WTC rubble.  Digging
for her father.  Also similar to Nora's quest to map the t-shaped
detonator in her head.

Stucka plane buried in mud, planes buried in WTC debries.

Buried stucka pilot, Win Pollard.  Empty limo in WTC debris vs. stucka
pilot perfectly preserved in the plane.

Interesting, but not important:
 - Excerpts from father's tape talk about "the bone.. in the head"
 - Damien's shower reminds Cayce of a shower Russians would use to
decontaminate you


(1) The Web site of the Dreadful Night
London, Camden Town
CP staying at Damien's pad
Mirror-world (US vs. England)

*Jet lag: result of the soul moving slower

 - Helmot Newton's _Jane Birkin_
 - Tarkovsky's _The Stalker_
 - Tuffaut
 - Peckinpah

(2) Bitch

CPU (Cayce Pollard Units)
 - Black/white/gray clothing
 - Unmanufactured look, logo-free
 - Mimimal, design-free, message free

Dorotea = bitch

Cayce rejects Dorotea's logo design
Dorotea burns Cayce's jacket with cigarette

*"Jacques Cousteau said that jet lag was his favorite drug"

 - Buzz Rickson's MA-1 flying jacket
 - Cartoonist Rick Griffin
 - Lighter engravings:
   - "If I had a farm in hell and a house in Vietnam I'd sell them both"
   - "Bury me face down so the world can kiss my ass"
   - "There is no gravity.  The world sucks"
   - "Phu Cat"
(3) The Attachment
Cayce has an allergic reaction to Tommy Hilfiger
 - derivative of derivative, event horizon of derivative
 - Jermyn Street + Savile Row -> Brooks Brothers -> Ralph Lauren -> Tommy

Footage #135

 - Cathar Heresy

(4) Math Grenades
Cool hunting at Notting Hill Market

Cayce meets the hand grenade calculator merchants (curtas)

*"He took a duck in the face at 250 knots" (pg.34)

Hand grenade calculator merchants
 - Hobbs
 - Ngemi
 - Voytek Biroshak

*"Homo sapiens is about pattern recognition"
  - Curtas
    - mechanical calculator
    - Curt Herzstark ~1945, in concentration camp (Pankraz)
  - Sinclair ZX81
    - Timex 1000
    - 1K RAM, programmable
  - Trepanning
  - Lithotomy set by Grangeret
  - Bow drill

(5) What they deserve
Children's Crusade, Camden Town sat. night

Break-in at Damien's apartment
 - browser url clues Cayce in, site she never visited
 - Tape on floor

Cayce redial's phone and gets Dorotea

(6) The Match Factory

Completists vs. progressives

New locks at Damien's pad

Dinner at Stonestreet's (Match Factory)

Hubertus Bigend, Lombard

 - a best guess narrative
 - "The future is there looking back at us trying to make sense of the fiction we have become"
 - The one constant in history is change: the past changes

 - Baudrillard
 - Lombard: loads of money but a real dickhead
 - Spongiform encephalopathy

(7) The Proposition

Bigend asks Cayce to find the maker, Cayce weakly turns down offer

*An incomplete artistic work cannot be reassembled (remixed)
 - Robot girl knuckleduster

(8) Watermark

Damien writes from The Dig

Footage #135 on CNN

Parkaboy, with translation help of Musashi, believes #78 is watermarked with a number

Parkaboy has been posting on Japanese footage boards as Keiko

 - Otaku coven
 - 17 stories of twisted, impacted girder

(9) Trans

Cayce runs into Voytek and Billy Prion
 - meets Voytek's sister Magda

Magda marketing footage.  Covent Garden

*Cayce=Pattern recognizer

*Magda=Pattern creator

(10) Jack Moves, Jane Faces

Dorotea jack moves Cayce, shows her Bibendum
 - few know Cayce's Bibendum weakness (family, shrink)
Cayce accepts revised shoe logo

Cayce forgets to relock door

 - Jack move: (from Donny) deliberate, lateral move
 - Jane face: stripper speak
 - Bibendum: Michelin Man
 - Pilates

(11) Boone Chu

Boone's Rice friend noticed hidden footage data

Cayce mentions watermark, sets things in motion

 - Britain, Japan: don't import much, make their own.  Things different from the ground up
 - Cibachrome, Turner print

(12) Apophenia

Win - father?

Pamela Mainwaring

Cayce gets Voytek to hold onto Damien's new house keys

Cynthia, Cayce's mom

 - EVP: Electronic Voice Phenomena
   - dead voices in tape background
   - sixth sense
 - Apophenia: spontaneous perception of connections and meaningfulness in unrelated things
   - coined by Win (Cayce's father)

(13) Little Boat

Aboard British Airways
 - Billy Prion and Velcro Kitty girlfriend on board (coincidence?)

Cayce's new iBook has CD-ROM with indexed F:F:F

Ivy introduced (sysop for F:F:F)

 - Agnes B Homme

(14) The Gavin Face of Bikkle

Cayce lands in Tokyo.  Narita->Shinjuku

Veiled 9/11 reference

White gloves

Jennifer Brossard, Blue Ant

Cayce walks through seedy district at night

Gibson riffing on Tokyo

Parkaboy sends Cayce (with "Judy Tsuzuki" present) to catch Taki
 - Taki knows hidden message in footage
 - Parkaboy lured Taki in with young Asian girl persona. 
 - Darryl provides the translation
 - Real Judy Tsuzuki is used for photographs

*Tokyo: "floating jumple of electric lego"

 - Crepuscular calm
 - Kabuki-cho: Sleepless castle

(15) Singularity

Story of Win Pollard's disappearance

Cayce reliving 9/11

Soul-delay gone

*9/11: "It will be like watching one of her own dreams on television.  Some vast and deeply personal insult to any ordinary notion of interiority.  // An experience outside of culture"

(16) Going Mobile

Cayce asks Broassard for a new Rickson's

Cayce gets a lavish haircut and new CPUs

Judy Tsuzuki photo printed and signed

Parkaboy sets up Taki meeting
 - Mystic group has the number
 - 9/11 in the US
 - Meet at bar in Roppongi
 - Nomiya: Red Lantern Bar

 - Hello Kitty, Kogepan, Boneless panda
 - Muji, parco

(17) Making Mayhem

Cayce finally meets Taki
 - gives him photo, he goes away quickly
 - gets number hidden in footage: 8304 6805 2235

Cayce "makes mayhem" on two men outside bar that tried to attack her
 - headbutt, stamp

Boone Chu rescues her on scooter
 - Boone had been following her in Kabuki-cho, outside Starbucks clone
 - Switch clothes and scooter with Yakuza kids

*"Making Mayhem": self defense appropriate for a British prison
 - Taught to Cayce by SAS Scot
*"Blade Runnered"

 - Roppongi: border town
 - Henry Africa's: Ex-pat bar
 - Noren
(18) Hongo

Boone and Cayce go to Boone's ex's apartment in Hongo
 - Marisa.  Pre-war apartment

Boone reveals that they have been followed since Camden Town by Italian-speaking men.  Cayce suspects Dorotea.

Boone examines Cayce's laptop for bugs.

 - Hongo: near Tokyo University
(19) Into the Mystic

Cayce gets a new Rickson's courtesy of Blue Ant

Parkaboy sends Cayce "wondrous strange" map
 - split-t bone

 - Beat Takeshi reference: "existential gangster films"

(20) Uber-Bones

Cayce and Boone fly to London.  Bigend picks them up.

Boone withholds info on map and head-butting.  Also doesn't mention Dorotea.

Damien is home with "uber bones" model, Marina Chtcheglova

 - Tokyo airport security
   - "cat scan" for shoes
   - blush detector: IR aimed at skin around eyes.  Tries to detect lies

(21) The Dead Remember

Fergal, Voytek, Marina, Damina, and Cayce at Damien's

Voyte wants Marina to fund gallery project

Damien's description of Russian site
 - Part 3-month '68 rock concert, mass public grave robbing, Apocalype Now
 - securing more funding

Boone gets copy of map

Cayce's move send her exp of "Win"
 - mystery of Win's disappearance

 - "Its more the way now than it's ever been" - Ike
 - Count angels on pinheads

(22) Tarn

Coffee with Damien
 - Damien going back to Russia
 - Marina's father connected (old new Russian), helps with project

 - tarn/flecktarn: camo cloth
 - Glaswegan accent
 - Old new Russian: made money looting new Russia

(23) Dickheads

Cayce ponders changes in her life, new-found secrecy
 - result of 9/11 wake?

Judy Tsuzuki mad at Darryl
 - Darryl showed her Taki e-mails
 - Judy wants to write Taki
 - They're all dickheads

Bigend summons Cayce to Blue Ant
 - Cayce runs into Franco (Dorotea's driver) entering Blue Ant
 - Franco's face is injured - he was on the receiving end of Dorotea's headbutt in Tokyo
*Covent Garden, covered in snow.  Snow hides imprint of modern times

(24) Cyprus

Cayce meets with Bigend, Dorotea, Boone
 - Dorotea hired by Blue Ant on the fast track - client liason

Boone told Bigend about Cayce's Dorotea suspicions.  All of them true.

Dorotea hired by Russian in Cyprus to prevent Cayce from working with Blue Ant - make her uneasy.
 - got copy of Cayce's shrink's notes.

Pamela Mainwaring betrayed Cayce in Japan for Dorotea

Bigend relying on Dorotea's allegiance to her career.

(25) Sigil

Starbucks does not trigger Cayce's allergies

Boone explains himself to Cayce
 - Cayce mildly trusts him again

Watermark possibly done by Sigil Technologies

Boone going to Sigil HQ in Columbus, Ohio for a social hack

(26) Sigint

Magda invites Cayce to dinner
 - Voytek and Ngemi also there

Voytek talks about his art project, scaffolding, funding

Ngemi buying Stephen King's Wang instead of funding Voytek as previously promised.

Magda spills the beans on Hobbs
 - Hobbs worked in intel community

Hobbs unable to secure bid on rare curta

Magda et al want CP to fund them

(27) The Shape of the Enthuisiast

Cayce Pollard Central Standard

F:F:F still discussing #78 and Brazilian satanic footage

Boone e-mails from Ohio, nothing special

Parkabody e-mail: Judy falling for Taki even though he's a perv.  Judy living with Darryl now

Ivy e-mail
 - found out from La Anarchia that Cayce was in Tokyo
 - La Anarchia clumsily (deliberatly?) fishing for info on Cayce
 - Mentions Cayce's post that maker had possible backing of Russian Mafia or the like for funding (hint?)

Margot e-mail: mentions that someone may have broken into Cayce's apartment.

Cayce has dream of seeing man from footage in West Broadway with fresh snow
 - Followed by vision of dad holding curta.
 - "The dead can't help you, and the boy's no good."

 - Man from U.N.C.L.E.
(28) Within the meaning

Cayce accompanies Ngemi to visit Hobbs
 - Bournemouth, Gypsy caravan

Ngemi loves the artifact history, Hobbs loves idea of artifact
 - Boone: ultimate provenance of the curtas: maker continued work/vision through the concentration camp

Find Hobbs place, next to former MI6/MI6 training ground
(29) Protocol

Ngemi gets curtas for deal from Hobbs

Hobbs threatens Cayce with a dirt-filled gun
 - Ngemi: "this is England, girl.  People don't have guns"

Cayce offers Hobbs a deal
 - Hobbs gets curtas that Lucian Greenaway out-negotiated Hobbs for
 - Cayce gets e-mail address of person that received watermarked Kiss segment

(30) .RU

More Hobbs background (Harvard/Grandfather of Echelon)

Hobbs calling in old favors, of which he has a limited amount

e-mail from Parkaboy: Judy still at Darryl's

Boone e-mail: no info

Hobbs already has e-mail.  Ends in .ru
 - uses "H-B", hyphen

(31) The Protocol

Cayce annoyed by British attention to class

Cayce purchases Curtas from Greenaway with Ngemi to verify
 - Poses as daughter of a collector

Hobbs gives her the maker's e-mail:
 - Hobbs: "Baltic Oil, is it?"

 - Curtas IV Prototype
(32) Participation Mystique

Cayce writes really long e-mail
 - father disappeared
 - mentions F:F:F
 - "Parkaboy thinks you're dreaming [for us]"
 - Cayce surprises herself by sending it

Andrei Polakov introduced 
 - owner of, 
 - Dorotea's financer

Cayce calls Boone who's busy with woman

Stellanor responds
 - father also dead
 - curious

Sylvie Jefferson (Blue Ant) help Cayce with Russian Visa

Cayce heads for Aeroflot

 - Coleridge, DeQuincey
 - Liminal, Katherine McNally

(33) Bot

Cayce e-mails mom, tells her she's headed for Moscow

Cayce e-mails Parkaboy, tells him she's found the maker, more info later

Cayce e-mails Stellanor, will be in Moscow

Cayce reviews her flippant remakr on F:F:F post about Russian Mafia
 - Mama Anarachia's post start after this remark

Parkaboy criteria for authentic Anarchia post: "hegemony" and "hermeneutics"

*"Hitler had entirely too brilliant a graphics department"

*Poland from the air looksl ike Kansas farmed by elves

 - Derridean "play" and excessiveness
 - Foucauldian limit-attitude
 - Lyotardian language games
 - Lacanian imaginaries
 - Praxis
 - Jamesonian Nostalgia
 - Habermasian fears of irrationalism

(34) Zamoskvarech

Cayce tells Parkaboy that she's been working for Bigend

Parkaboy = Peter Gilbert - Russian Oil

 - Moscow: Like Vienna, but not really
 - Moscow: Like Stockholm, but not really

(35) Caffeine

Cayce meets Stella Volkova at Caffeine

Beginning of footage
 - Nora made three films prior to injury, one shown in Cannes
 - After injury, recut Cannes film to one frame (blurry bird in
 - Nora notices footage of nurse outside.  Doctors bring her editing
   equipment.  Takes frame of staff member and reconstructs it in

Stella responded to Cayce b/c she felt she was legit
 - Bolshov Kamennii Most: Big Stone Bridge
 - Fish sculpture: Medaglia d'Oro coffee can scales
 - Fish sculpture: Kandinsky coffee cans
 - Fish sculpture: Gehry construction
 - Unmarked car with blue lights for vips, get to speed around
(36) The Dig

Damien dig update
 - unearth a stucka in museum condition
 - pilot still in cockpit
 - got footage of diggers tearing apart pilot for belongings

 - The Face

(37) Kino

Cayce meets Nora in old squat, popular in 80s

Don't know if footage is linear narrative

Nora completes footage by taking small elements from actual footage
 - mapping t-shaped city, brain
 - couple resembles parents, but not their story

Cayce cries, wants to take metro home

 - Victor Tsoi

(38) Puppenkopf

Cayce bounces around on metro for two hours

Checks e-mail, tells Parkaboy Stella's e-mail addy

Returns to hotel, confronted by Dorotea
 - Dorotea is Anarchia
 - Dorotea drugs Cayce's water
 - Cayce grabs knuckleduster

Andrei Volkov: the invisible oligarch

Cayce's only EVP experience, pg. 315
 - Subway platforms are "subterreanean ballrooms"
 - Bankers War 1993
 - Puppenkopf: puppethead

(39) Red Dust

Cayce wakes up in institutional hospital

Hops fence, ruins second Rickson's

Collapses, hallucinates dad

Helicopter approaches

 - Bikkle
 - Parco Boots

(40) The Dream Academy

Dream Academy
 - only prison that people to break into
 - Volkov's privatized hospital
 - cleaner, less risk of TB
 - Rendering farm for footage

Parkaboy's story
 - Cayce made mayhem on Dorotea
 - Three men with black coats showed up, took away Dorotea
 - Parkaboy e-mailed Stella, was picked up
 - ended up in the same room with Bigend, Volkov, Stella, Boone
 - Boone hacked Cayce's e-mail

 - MAWG: Middle-Aged White Guy
 - Steven Sisters skyscrapers

(41) A Toast to Mr. Pollard

Cayce has dinner with guests
 - meets Volkov, who has to take off
 - Bigend, Wiktor, Parka, Sergei

Sergei Magomedov
 - Translator
Wiktor Marchwinka-Wyral
 - new security chief to Volkov
 - split between old guard and new guard in Volkov's camp

Sergei helped plan productions of footage, Stella wanted global

Volkov had two security operations
 - 1) to protect him (KGB like)
 - 2) monitor Web
 - poorly coordinated WRT Cayce, didn't like her father's intel
   background or her mafia post.
 - Hired Dorotea to track Cayce.
 - Had Cayce's shrink records stolen
 - Didn't like Cayce working with Bigend

Volkov's folks eager to know how Cayce got Stella's e-mail, thought
her father had a role, even though he's probably dead
Toast to Win

Volkov paid American grad students to monitor F:F:F 

Marchwinka gives Cayce folder of everything they know about Win's
disappearance, also receives briefcase gift from Volkov

 - Systema-Russian martial art

(42) His Missingness

Bigend didn't know Boone was hacking Cayce's e-mail
 - asked Boone to leave
 - "Because he pretends to be better at what he does than he is.  I
   prefer people who are better at what they do than they think they
 - Dorotea didn't know who she was workign for until late, panicked
   and tried to get information on how Cayce learned Stella's e-mail
 - "I think it's all actually about money for him... ultimately I find
   that was the whole problem, with most of the dot-com people."

Volkov's gift is $5M

Cayce reads account of Win's last moments

"Her mother had once said that when the second plane hit, Win's
chagrin, his personal and professional mortification at this having
happened, at the perimeter having been so easily, so terribly
breached, would have been such that he might simply have ceased, in
protest, to exist."

(43) Mail


Followers of the Footage
 - Kim Hee Park, The Chinese Envoy

 - Footage surfaces anonymously on the Net
 - Completists vs. progressives
 - "garage kubrick" (ch. 6)
 - Is lack of period-making a statement on the fluidity of history? (ch. 6)
 - Complete footage can be reassembed (e.g. Phantom Edit).  The footage, by its incompleteness cannot.
 - No one can profit off the maker (yet)
 - Brazil vs. Vatican: is auteur the devil? Hoax?
 - Spielberg's Closet (Boone, ch. 11)
   - CGI requires too much for Garage Kubrick
 - Is footage apophenia (ch. 12)
 - Footage: (ch. 13)
   - blurred skyline
   - girl in formal park

Beginning of footage
 - Nora made three films prior to injury, one shown in Cannes
 - After injury, recut Cannes film to one frame (blurry bird in
 - Nora notices footage of nurse outside.  Doctors bring her editing
   equipment.  Takes frame of staff member and reconstructs it in
Footage #78 (Kiss)
 - source of original watermark that was discovered
 - watermark done using Sigil software
 - 8304 6805 2235
 - "wondrous strange" map hidden within
"wondrous strange" map
 - split-t bone
 - aves, squares, circles
 - 135 numbers, 4-digit x 3.  8304 6805 2235 among them.
 - "streets" align with borders
 - decrypted from whiteout during the kiss
 - found hidden number in footage
 - Taki managed to get number from them, probably a peripheral helper
 - Mystic more likely info-heads not footage-heads
The Dig:
 - Stalingrad youth digging up old WWII Russia/Germany trench battlegrounds every year when ground unfreezes
 - Part 3-month '68 rock concert, mass public grave robbing, Apocalype Now
 - inspired by actual dig at Kirishi, close to St. Petersburg
 - guitar player from Blondie mentioned to Gibson

Cayce Pollard
 - Logo-free
 - Cool hunter
 - Blue Ant
 - Cayce Pollard Units (ch. 2)
 - Cayce Pollard Central Standard (ch. 27)
 - Member of Fetish:Footage:Forum
 - "Specialized marketing litmus paper"
 - allergic (not emotional) reaction to bad logos
 - especially allergic to Tommy Hilfiger
 - work allergic reaction is to Bibendum
 - not allergic to Starbucks
 - Music director
 - Anti-decor
 - Based on Chris Cunningham (Bjork robot video)

Hubertus Bigend
 - Blue Ant founder
 - Lombard
 - History (ch. 7)
 - Industrialist father in Brussels
 - British boarding school
 - Harvard
 - Independent Hollywood producer
 - Brazil
 - Blue Ant founding
 - Interested in footage b/c it is a work of marketing genius (ch. 7)
 - 'Trans' is a pet project

Boone Chu
 - Chinese child in Oklahoma (ch. 11)
 - Orca Island home
 - Lives out of suitcase (laptop + cellphones)
 - failed start-up
 - social hacks (sleeping with women)
Dorotea Benedetti
 - Bitch
 - Heinzi & Pfaff shoe logo account
 - Responsible for break-in at Damien's apartment
 - Former French Industrial spy (ch. 7)

Andrei Polakov 
 - owner of, 
 - Dorotea's financer
 - F:F:F friend of Cayce
 - hates La Anarchia (ch. 13)
 - real name: Parkaboy

La Anarchia
 - poster to F:F:F
 - starts posting after Cayce's Russian Mafia post (ch. 33)
 - Parkaboy criteria for authentic Anarchia post: "hegemony" and "hermeneutics" (ch. 33)
 - Actually Dorotea with help of hired translator
Stella and Nora
 - Stella is the distributor, Nora is the artist
 - Twins
 - Parents died in a bombing assassination
 - Studied in Paris
 - Bomb exploded in tree leaving Grandma's funeral, kills parents,
   injures Nora
 - helps Parkaboy with Japanese translations

 - Sysop for F:F:F
Win Pollard
 - Father of Cayce
 - former member of intelligence industry
 - disappearance
   - disappeared on 9/11
   - possibly visiting CIA contact at WTC
   - no known reason for being in NY
 - made humane crowd-control barriers
Pamela Mainwaring
 - Bigend travel assistant
Bernard Stonestreet
 - Blue Ant

Cynthia Pollard
 - believes in EVP

Sergei Magomedov
 - Translator
 - helped plan production of footage
Wiktor Marchwinka-Wyral
 - new security chief to Volkov
Jennifer Brossard
 - Blue Ant

 - former member of intel community (NSA)
 - still sells sigint
 - now a squatter in caravan in Poole drinking himself to death
 - brokered many deals with Ngemi
 - loves idea of artifact (ch. 28)
   - ultimate provenance of the curtas: maker continued work/vision through the concentration camp
 - Harvard
 - father a Soviet diplomat
 - mother weathly English
 - importance of hyphen in name, or lack thereof
 - has limited number of favors from previous life that he deals for important things
 - grandfather of Echelon, perhaps

 - buyer/dealer
 - loves artifact history (ch. 28)

Voytek Biroshak
 - ZX81 collector

 - pet project of Bigend
 - marketing agency

 - Voytek's sister (ch. 9)
 - viral marketer for Trans

Billy Prion
 - Former lead singer for BSE
 - Gallery owner
 - Paralyzed half of his face with Botox intentionally

 - Otaku clan member, nows hidden message
 - mouth breather (ch. 17)
 - Japanese uber-geek
 - Probably not part of mystic, just a peripheral tool (ch. 19)

Marina Chtcheglova
 - difficult
 - "uber bones"
 - Damien's girlfriend

Fergal Collins
 - Damien's Irish accountant

Comments (1)

G. David Nystrom:

Curt Herzstark, the inventor of the Curta mechanical calculator, did not die in a concentration camp. In fact, he had his calculator mass produced in the fifties and sixties, and he lived to be an old man.


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