A Trip to the Orthodontist – Part 2

Philadelphia, PA – Spring – 1976

I was hanging with my buddy, Michael. We were kindred spirits. Neither good at sports, both had bad skin and bad teeth. But where I had terrible pimples all over my face, chest, and back, Mike had full-blown acne. Which is worse. My skin would eventually clear up once I exited puberty in a couple of years, but acne-scarred his face. The classic pockmarks that seem unfair for a kid to have to live with just for being a teenager. Mike also had buck teeth, but for whatever reason his parents never got his teeth fixed. I never understood why. I don’t remember his older brother or sister ever having buck teeth. Why not fix the one kid who needed a little help? But, not my business.

Mike and I had become close over the years. Just two peas in a pod trying to navigate our way through our young lives. When he was punished his dad beat him with his belt. My father never did that, he just used his hands. But there was one time he made me pull down my pants and took off his belt. He laid the leather against the back of my legs and said, “Do you feel that? Because that’s what you’re going to get the next time you do what you did.”My dad never did fulfill that promise. It was an empty threat. I get his frustration. I brought nothing to the table as a kid. I was bright and simply bored with school and had no interest in learning all the nonsense they were feeding me in that institution. I could somehow see through to who they all really were. Just like when my dad told me that if I didn’t straighten up and fly right he was going to send me off to military school. That sounds terrifying to a young boy, but I learned from an older kid that it was way too expensive to send your kid there. So, I knew his threats were hollow.

But can you imagine in your adult life how that sort of behavior towards a child or anyone for that matter would be acceptable? Violence and the threat of violence. Being terrorized by the very person who loved you and took very good care of you. If the father is violent, you normally would run to the mother, but she could be violent as well. There’s nowhere to go and no one to tell. You’re a prisoner in your own home. It was terrifying.

“Why are you crying? I’ll give you something to cry for.”

“I’ll beat you within an inch of your life.” He would say.

Where does that come from? What made him that way? I can’t even imagine getting that angry with anyone. Especially not my own child. It’s inconceivable to me.

Michael’s father was a decorated policeman. He worked highway patrol and rode a cool motorcycle in the thrill show and everything. He was a tough Irish cop who knew only the bad side of Philly during the Rizzo administration in the 70s.

Michael and I both agreed that we wished when our dads were hitting us when we misbehaved that they would accidentally injure us. Then we’d have to go to the hospital and they’d be sad and maybe never do it again. But that never happened.

Mike told me that his dad would knock his older brother around for whatever misdeed he’d recently committed, and he in turn would take it out on him. He said he was so frustrated after a beating he would go over and kick his dog, Greta because he had nowhere to channel his rage. He told me he would always cry after that and hold her begging his loyal canine’s forgiveness. Praying the cycle of violence wouldn’t continue anymore.

I remember my mom telling me she stopped hitting me because I had gotten so big it hurt her hand too much to give me a good thump. My dad probably stopped hitting me around 14. He would turn to use his words to hurt me after that. He was great at that. Words are far more cutting than any blade you can ever wield.

But, I digress.

He and I were sitting on the curb at the corner of Newtown and Passmore Street. We were just taking a break from our adventures to smoke a cigarette. We were a couple of punks, but all kids smoked back then. Cigarettes were still beloved in the 60s and 70s despite the obvious health warnings from the Surgeon General.

Michael was sitting there counting his dollars to see how much he had on him, in case he wanted to buy some candy or a soda. I was holding one of the bills and we were looking at it. We were trying to figure out what all of the weird symbols on the bill meant. Why the unfinished pyramid with the eye over it? Why does money have reference to God on it?

With my cigarette, I burned the corner of the bill just for badness. I think it was just to see if you could burn money. Michael snatched it from me and put it out. It was just the corner and I told him it was still good and that I was sorry. I was just fooling around. He stuck it back in his pocket and off we went.

I told him I had to get ready to go to the orthodontist later. He told me he’d walk up there with me. This was nice because then you had somebody to talk to on the long walk there and we could check out different surroundings. If you’ve been reading these stories, we all loved going on little journeys to see new things. The orthodontist’s office was miles away, but like I said… if you’ve got the time.

Michael sat patiently in the waiting room, while Dr. Beiler performed his medieval deviltry on my teeth.

When I was finished, I picked up my next appointment card from the front desk and we left to head home. As we walked South on Castor avenue, a shaggy-looking dude approached us. He wasn’t threatening or anything. He just looked like a drug addict or something. I sort of slid past him, but he caught Michael. I thought Mike was right behind me, but the guy had Michael close to a wall and was speaking intently to him. The whole incident didn’t last longer than a minute or two, and Michael soon stepped away from him and joined me a few feet away.

“Do you know that guy, Mike?”

“No.”

“What did he want?”

“Money.”

“Did you give him any?”

“Yea. I was scared so I gave him what I had and he walked away.”

See? You didn’t think this story was going this way, did you? You thought it was going to be about a bunch of buck teeth and humiliation.

We chalked it up to just a weird guy bothering us and talked about it on the way home. Neither of us was injured in any way so we were just happy to be away from him.

But when we got back to our neighborhood, Michael and I went into his house and told his father who was sitting at the dinner table drinking a cup of coffee. We gave him a full account of what had occurred earlier on Castor Avenue.

He immediately gathered both of us and put us in the backseat of his car. We both sat in silence glancing back and forth at each other.

When we got up to Castor Avenue, Mike’s dad drove up and down the street looking for the guy. He flagged down a police car and identified himself. He must have conveyed the story to him because within a few minutes there were more cops suddenly appearing in the area.

Michael and I sat quietly in the car for what seemed like forever but it was probably only a half hour. Mike’s dad came back to the car and parked, and asked us to get out. There was a paddy wagon that had pulled up behind us. Mike’s dad took us to the back of the paddy wagon where the doors were open so we could see who was inside.

It was the guy who had taken Mike’s money! He was handcuffed and looking out at us.

Mike’s dad spoke. “Is this the guy?”

We both nodded yes.

“Is this the money he took from you?”

“I think so…. no wait. It is. Look! The corner of that bill is burned. I burned it earlier today down on Passmore street.”

“With what?”

“Umm… a cigarette?”

“I don’t like that you boys are smoking, or that you damaged US currency, but you just gave us the proof we need to lock this guy up. Thanks guys. Now get back in the car. Both of you.”

We both climbed into the backseat of his father’s green Chevy Caprice.

“Do you think we’re in trouble?”

“No, Mike. We’re innocent. We didn’t do anything wrong.”

We peeked out the back window of the car and could see through the windshield, past the cage, and into the back of the paddy wagon.

Out of nowhere, the bad guy started bouncing around inside the back of the van like he was having some sort of seizure. The wagon was literally shaking from his violent movements.

Mike’s dad got back in the car and we drove off. He looked angry and his face was red. He wanted to stop at the station to let the precinct know what had happened. We had a couple of questions for Michael’s father on the way there.

“What was going on with that guy in the back of the paddy wagon?”

“What? Nothing.”

“It looked like he was bouncing around back there.”

“I bounced him around.”

When we arrived at the station, we saw the other police officers unloading the perp from the van. He was handcuffed as they walked him into the precinct. His face was looking pretty beat up. We went inside with Mike’s dad. One of the cops there spoke with him.

“This is the guy they called in about. He’s been trouble in that neighborhood. What happened to him?”

“He fell.”

All of the officers just smiled and went about processing the guy. We left and Mike’s dad drove us home.

About a month later we all had to go to court and identify this guy as the man who frightened and robbed my friend. It was a short process and I was glad the whole mess was over. But it was nice to get a day off from school.

It wasn’t right what happened that day. Not to Michael or to the guy that mugged him. But that’s how it was back then. It showed the violence in his father. But, you never know what that feeling is like until you’re a parent. I understand. I mean… if anybody ever did anything bad to my daughter, I wouldn’t mind a little time alone with the guy.

But in the end, we’re all equal. We’ll all depart this place and leave little behind but our children and our memories.

But looking back… Michael Mitchell was my very best, and enduring friend in Lawndale growing up.

 

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One in seven young Australians say rape justified if women change their mind, study finds

Appalling!

Almost one in seven young Australians believe a man would be justified in raping a woman if she initiated sex but changed her mind, while almost one-quarter of young men think women find it flattering to be persistently pursued, even if they are not interested.

The findings from the National Community Attitudes Towards Violence Against Women Survey (NCAS) youth report released on Wednesday reveal that while young people increasingly believe in equality in the workplace and in leadership, they are less likely to recognise sexism, coercion or other problematic behaviours in their own relationships.

Of 1,761 people aged between 16 and 24 surveyed, 43% supported the statement: “I think it’s natural for a man to want to appear in control of his partner in front of his male friends.”

The survey, commissioned by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women and Safety (Anrows) and VicHealth, is conducted every four years. The latest analysis comes from data collected in 2017.

While the proportion of young people agreeing that men make better political leaders than women declined from 24% in 2013 to 13% in 2017, almost one in three young people still believe that women prefer a man to be in charge of a relationship. Young men (36%) were more likely to support this statement than young women (26%).

More than one in five young people (22%) believe there is no harm in making sexist jokes about women when among their male friends, and young men (30%) are more than two times as likely than young women to agree with this statement (14%). While attitudes towards women in leadership had improved, young men (17%) were more likely than young women (8%) to say men make more capable bosses than women.

“A large proportion of young people support attitudes that deny gender inequality is a problem,” the report found. “Young men are substantially more likely to express these attitudes than young women across all questions in this theme.” For example, 45% of young people believe that many women exaggerate gender inequality in Australia, with young men (52%) more likely to hold this belief than young women (37%).

Nearly three in five young men believe that many women mistakenly interpret innocent remarks or acts as being sexist. Meanwhile, 37% agreed that women make up or exaggerate claims of violence to secure advantage in custody battles. The same proportion agreed with the statement “It is common for sexual assault accusations to be used as a way of getting back at men”, with young men (45%) more likely to agree than young women (29%).

Lead researcher Dr Anastasia Powell from RMIT University said the good news was that young people’s understanding of the nature of violence against women had improved over time, and so had their support for gender equality.

But an area where understanding has backtracked was around the unequal nature of domestic and family violence, she said.

“A lot of young people believe it’s a gender-neutral issue where men and women are equally using violence, but we know from police statistics and surveys this is largely a problem of men’s violence against women.”

Also concerning was that 20% of young men did not understand that repeatedly keeping track of a partner’s location was a form of violence against women, she said, while 11% did not think stalking is a form of violence.

“We must continue to invest in prevention strategies to continue to make ground on these attitudes and to make this the generation that ends violence against women,” Powell said.

The principal program officer for mental wellbeing at VicHealth, Renee Imbesi, said: “We can’t sit back just because women’s role in public life has improved.

“Many people still hold outdated views of women in the home, and it is clear that many young men and women are going into relationships with different expectations around things like gender roles and consent.

“We need to get the message out there that control in relationships can be a precursor to violence. The other aspect is if young people see more respect and equality in their own families and workplaces, then they will start to see that as the norm.

“If we don’t change our world to make it more gender equal, we can’t expect young people to be on board with equality.”

 

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Pennsylvania must do more to protect transgender people from violence

Last Sunday at 5 a.m., a trans woman named Michelle Washington — who also went by “Tamika” — was found shot in the head and left for dead in North Philadelphia. Coming just a day after another trans woman, Muhlaysia Booker, was found shot and killed in Dallas, this homicide marked the fifth trans woman violently killed in the United States this year. Last year, we lost more than two dozen trans women to violence. More than half of those women were African American, and this year, all five recorded trans victims of homicide are African American women as well.

In April, a video surfaced in which a man named Edward Thomas savagely beat Booker until she was unconscious, while a crowd of people watched and other men joined. Eventually a group of women intervened and pulled her to safety, possibly saving her life at that moment. But a month later, the same woman would be found dead due to homicidal violence, without a suspect identified.

With two trans women of color found dead within 24 hours in different parts of the country, and 2018 being one of the deadliest years on record for trans women — especially black and Latino trans women — it’s past time we address this violence. This includes adding measures to combat anti-trans violence to the top of the page on progressive agendas. In particular, we need to end shoddy legal defenses used to justify this violence.

The gay and trans “panic” defense is “a legal strategy which asks a jury to find that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for the defendant’s violent reaction, including murder,” as the National LGBT Bar Association defines it. This strategy can include arguments that the gay or trans victim of violence made a sexual advance that caused “panic” in the attacker, or that the victim’s identity was reasonably viewed as “threatening” by the attacker, who then acted in self-defense. These defenses may even be employed when the attacker and the victim had a prior relationship, and the attacker wants to claim that they were “tricked” regarding the victim’s identity.

These arguments wrongly suggest that gay or trans identities pose an inherent safety risk, and that violence against LGBTQ people is justifiable simply when another person objects to their identities. Such an excuse for violence is flat-out wrong — yet it succeeds in some cases, reducing the sentences of those who commit hate crimes. This defense was put forth to justify, for example, the 1998 beating and killing of 21-year-old Matthew Shepard in Wyoming.

In recent years, lawmakers have pushed back against this line of defense. Here in Pennsylvania, State Rep. Michael Schlossberg (D., Lehigh) introduced a bill addressing gay and trans panic defense, but the bill didn’t make it out of the Judiciary Committee. In July of last year, State Sen. Larry Farnese (D., Philadelphia) began to lobby his colleagues to pass similar legislation, but we have yet to have anything for the governor to sign.

Pennsylvania — which still does not include LGBTQ people in its laws protecting against hate crimes — needs to step up on this issue. It’s time to start protecting women like Michelle Washington, and like Shantee Tucker, a 30-year-old black trans woman shot and killed in Philadelphia last year. Those are two lives we cannot bring back. But we can do more for the trans community in the future.

 

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Theresa – Halloween

 

Here’s another random blast from the distant past…

There was a girl at the place I worked. She claimed she had an abusive boyfriend. I encouraged her to leave him because she didn’t deserve that. She says she left him and needs someone to talk to. We go out a few times. We start seriously dating. We have a stupid five month anniversary date planned for Halloween.

She calls and says she can’t make it on account of work and will be too tired afterwards. The next day she calls me over to talk. (That’s never good) When I get there she informs me that she wasn’t at work she was fucking her ex all day and they’re getting back together. We get into a shouting match. She’s not responsible; Bullshit. They have history; Yeah, he hit her. He never really hit her; Lying snake. Why am I so mad; Because she’s a trollop. And so on. I left (Yes, in the heat of the moment I wanted to hit her. (Not really!) That’s why I left. Should I be applauded for that? No, it’s just something that happened. I shouldn’t have ever admitted to feeling anything. I’m sorry.) and she spent the day begging me to come back. I refused to speak to her because I was angry and confused and needed some space.

Naturally when she can’t reach me she calls into work and claims I sexually assaulted her. I don’t know this, go to work, and get taken aside. The company is concerned about the allegations and wants to call the cops. I swear it was an ongoing relationship, completely consensual, and they didn’t need to call the cops. They point out we’re still both employees and the company can’t have us both working there if it is true. There are liabilities to consider and the police will sort everything out. I’ll just sit in jail for a couple of days while they do that. So, I offer to quit in exchange for them not calling the police as I really didn’t want to go to jail. I was in an independent contractor position. I didn’t even really work for them. The company didn’t need to get involved. This is a private issue. They agree and let me go under the condition that if they ever see me again they’re calling the cops on me for harassing her. I go home, crawl into bed and pray for death.

A little less than a week later she emails to tell me her boyfriend told her she couldn’t see me so she wants to see me to make sure I’m okay. I explain that I’m not okay because she is a lying cheating whore who ruined my life and I wish all the evil in the world upon her (Yes, including that her boyfriend would actually beat her to death. It’s shocking I know but I liked her less now than before and was still hurt so I said mean things to her. I’m literally Hitler and Satan’s bastard child right?) and want nothing to do with her. She claims nothing that happened was her fault, he made her say I raped her, and the beatings have gotten worse. I din’t respond.

 

 

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Andrea – 2014 – S&M Girl

“Hi Lorelei. Daddy’s just going to take this fat, drunk bitch back to his room and tie her up. Then you’re going to hear a lot of slapping and squishing sounds. You’re also going to hear Daddy say a bunch of really foul sexually degrading things to this woman, so you better put your ear buds in and crank that shit up.”

One night a couple of years ago, I was out with a friend of mine. We were having drinks outside at Misconduct at 15th & Locust. He was telling me a story about this girl he met on Tinder. Pure hookup. She comes over to his apartment. Sadly, she doesn’t look like her Tinder pics. Which is not good. That’s like seeing a photo of a car you want to buy in the Auto Trader and when you get to the lot to check out the car, it’s an older model and a little banged up and maybe even a bit more car than you saw in the photos.

But he was drunk and up for the foul deed. He said she was a thick girl but he went to town on her anyway. Like my tinder profile says: “If you don’t look like your photos, you’re going to buy me drinks until you do.” So he said it was good sex except for one thing. He didn’t like that she wanted him to spit on her and hit her. There’s nothing wrong with what two consenting adults do with each other behind closed doors. Especially if everyone’s on board with what’s happening. But he didn’t like it. Just not his thing.

He told me that he wasn’t comfortable with that situation. He said at that point no matter what he was into or what he would do, he couldn’t do that again.  It just wasn’t him. (He didn’t spit on her or hit her at all) At that time, back in the beginning of 2014, I had just come off a break up and told him to send Andrea pics of me. Because I was up for whatever she wanted dished out. The key here is when it comes to dominance, be firm…not mean. There’s a big difference. I would discipline and correct her if necessary. And remember, the submissive party is ALWAYS in control. They have the safe word and hold the power to cancel the fantasy at anytime. That’s the rules of S&M play.

Well, nothing came of it. Until earlier this year when she connected to me on LinkedIn. LinkedIn of all places! Can you imagine with all of the dating websites out there, LinkedIn brings me the crazy S&M chick? So we chatted and did some texting. She wanted me to text her all of the things I was going to do to her, so I did. I have a pretty good imagination. She said she was getting really turned on and that we should meet.

I set it up that we should meet at the Ranstead Room. It’s just a good spot normally to hideout with somebody. I get there and I’m just chilling with a drink. She arrives shortly thereafter. My friend was right about her. In her Tinder pics she looks really hot, but in real life she is a lot bigger, and what was with that low tranny voice? Not good. I just wasn’t feeling it. I would have to drink a LOT of cocktails for Andrea to start to resemble her profile pics on Tinder. So I figured what the hell, I was already here and the drinks were flowing. She wasn’t that hot but at least I was someplace where nobody knew me.

Then the manager from the restaurant where my daughter works suddenly comes through the door and walks right up to me and says hello using my name.

Now I’m made. He can see who I’m with and now everybody there knows my name.

Andrea starts telling me about her life. She hates her job and wants to leave Philly. (Probably a good idea for us all.) She was seeing some crazy drug dealer loser guy. He’s suicidal, and does tons of coke. It’s bad, and she’s not much better.  I always thought if you did a bunch of cocaine you were skinny. Certainly not the case here.

After awhile we’re getting pretty tipsy. We went outside for a cigarette. She was on me like a northern pike hitting the bait. So I’m making out with her and people are walking by on Ranstead and she just pulls her boobs out. She’s losing her shit. She wants to take me back behind the building and give me a blowjob.

Yea. Great. I’ll just go stand behind my daughter’s manager’s Mercedes-Benz and you can give me oral. What if he walks outside and sees that shit? That’s not going to be good for me or anybody. Now, if this was Los Angeles and it was 1982, yea I’d be down for that, but not now. That’s gross. Sure, I’m flattered that she’s turned on enough from my words and the alcohol to want to blow me in a filthy alley, but no. Just no. I don’t roll like that.

She’s drunk. We go back inside and we’re in the vestibule and all sorts of things are happening with lips and fingers. If somebody comes through either door, we’re going to jail. So after that brief encounter, we go back inside. I kind of want to go home. In the right environment, some S&M play could be fun with her, but I’m just not getting a good vibe from her in this moment. She’s calling me daddy and all that shit. She says she loves older men, etc. I tell her I have an early sales meeting in the morning that I have to travel to so we should wrap it up. (A bold-faced lie)

She wants to go back to my place and have sex. Great idea. I can see it now. Me walking through the door to my apartment with Andrea and my daughter sitting on the sofa.

“Hi Lorelei. Daddy’s just going to take this fat, drunk bitch back to his room and tie her up. Then you’re going to hear a lot of slapping and squishing sounds. You’re also going to hear Daddy say a bunch of really foul sexually degrading things to this woman, so you better put your ear buds in and crank that shit up.”

No. Not happening. We pay the bill, and we walk over to 18th Street. I hail her a taxi and send her on her way. I was actually relieved when she was gone.

If somebody I met and was in a relationship wanted to experiment with some things, I’d be down with that, but Andrea just isn’t that person.

Update! She appeared at the salon tonight for a tan before she goes to L.A!

She’s leaving Philly for good!

 

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Tales of Rock – David Bowie Thinks Witches Are Stealing His Semen

In fall 1975, David Bowie went into the studio in Los Angeles and made Station To Station, one of the best albums of his career. It saw him transition from playing conventional if fantastic rock and roll to recording a series of genre-bending masterpieces that set a template for ’80s pop and whose influence is still being felt decades later. Pretty impressive, considering he was doing so much coke at the time he later couldn’t remember recording the album at all.

According to David Buckley, the author of the book “Strange Fascination: David Bowie: The Definitive Story,” Bowie’s diet at the time consisted of cocaine, peppers and milk, and he lived in “a state of psychic terror.” Interviews published in Playboy and Rolling Stone depicted Bowie surrounding himself with burning black candles and Egyptian artifacts and believing that bodies were floating past his window, witches were stealing his semen and that the Rolling Stones were sending him secret messages. He lived in fear of Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, owing to his supposed practice of witchcraft. In Station To Station‘s title track, Bowie yelped, “It’s not the side effects of the cocaine; I’m thinking that it must be love,” which was definitely the wrong diagnosis.

If Bowie wanted to clean up after this album, he made the wrong move by decamping to Berlin with Iggy Pop. Still, the trio of albums he recorded during this period—Low, Heroes and Lodger—honed his legacy. This trilogy along with Station To Station was cherry-picked to create a perfect soundtrack for Christiane F. We Children from Bahnhof Zoo, a German film released in 1981 that captured the harrowing lives of teenage junkies in West Berlin.

Check it out. I saw it at a midnight showing in LA in 1982. It’s great!

 

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Tales of Rock – Metallic K.O.

“Listen, asshole, you heckle me one more time and I’m gonna come down there and kick your ass.”

Iggy Pop is one of the most flamboyant performers in the history of music. He has an incredible stage presence and has given credit to Jim Morrison for introducing him to a free attitude and wild stage antics. Iggy Pop is credited with being the first performer to do a stage-dive. Some of his more descriptive exploits include rolling around in broken glass, exposing himself to the crowd, and vomiting on stage. He has been known to spark riots and has the ability to whip the crowd into frenzy.

On February 9, 1974 The Stooges performed at Detroit’s Michigan Palace. It was the band’s last show together before they broke up for three decades. Before the 1974 concert, Pop gave a radio interview in which he challenged a Detroit motorbike gang (the Scorpions) to a fight. He called them all a bunch of cats. In response, the gang attended the show and pelted the band with broken glass, beer jugs, urine, eggs, ice, jelly beans, and shovels. Despite the hostility, Iggy continued to taunt the crowd and said: “You pricks can throw everything in the world… your girlfriend will still love me.”

The Stooges fed off the crowd’s anger and continued to perform. During the show Iggy finally told the bikers: “All right you assholes, want to hear Louie, Louie, we’ll give it to you.” The Stooges continued to play a forty-five-minute version of Louie Louie, which included improvised lyrics by Pop. During the song he continued to yell and verbally assault the gang.

The concert finally ended after Iggy Pop focused his attention on one particular heckler and said: “Listen, asshole, you heckle me one more time and I’m gonna come down there and kick your ass.” The biker told Pop to come over, so Iggy jumped off the stage and confronted him. The biker continued to beat the crap out of Iggy, which ended the event. Luckily, the concert was captured on a reel-to-reel tape machine and recorded live. In 1976, The Stooges released the recording in an album titled Metallic K.O. It is the only rock album where you can hear beer bottles breaking against guitar strings. The album remains a favorite among Iggy Pop fans.

 

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