MATILDA MIDNIGHT

March 23, 2019


If you follow my posts you know I love to talk about Chattanooga.  Chattanooga, or Ross’s Landing, as it was known in the days of the Cherokee Indians, is in east Tennessee and situated on the Tennessee River.  My home town.  One of the great things about Chattanooga is the amazing number of events the city offers and hosts AND the great number of really unique home-owned restaurants.  My wife, shown below, and I visited one of those unique restaurants this past Friday—MATILDA MIDNIGHT.  Let’s take a look.

Matilda Midnight is located in the Dwell Hotel at 120 East 10th Street—right downtown.  From the Dwell, you can comfortably walk to just about any location in Chattanooga including the Northshore and the Southside.  Both are rapidly growing areas hosting retail shops, wonderful dining and events at Coolidge Park, the Walnut Street Walking Bridge, Riverwalk, and other really interesting venues in the downtown area .

A picture of the Dwell is shown below.

Three very interesting and unexpected facts about The Dwell Hotel let you know you’re entering a facility that is wholly original: Colorful treats prepared by an in-house pastry chef magically find their way to your room each day; the hotel’s  sixteen (16) rooms all feature a unique design complemented by vintage furniture and curated art pieces; and the hotel is the realization of a dream that has lingered in the mind of owner Seija Ojanpera since she was a little girl, the evidence of which can be found in journals from her youth. Today, that young girl is a first-time hotelier who is ensuring that guests have a truly unforgettable experience in her dream-come-true property. Chattanooga’s first luxury boutique hotel presents an interior which exudes the energy of Old Hollywood and South Beach, while its exposed brick and limestone outer shell gives a gentle nod to Chattanooga’s industrial heritage. The result is a swanky take on midcentury modern that creates a luxury-meets-retro feel, with each room evoking a journey into another era. Meanwhile, nightlife now thrives at The Dwell thanks to its boldly imagined cocktail bar, Matilda Midnight.

Shown below is the small lobby where a guest checks in and discover information about the city.

My wife and I went directly to the bar where tapas are served from four P.M. till well into the evening each day.  The bar is fairly small with somewhat limited seating but extremely well stocked as you might expect, or at least hope. One thing very evident is the number of paintings and sculpture located within the bar area itself. You can see that from the JPEG below.

You can get a better idea as to the size by the following JPEGs.  I might note, we always eat fairly early, and we were there about 5:10 in the afternoon.  When we left around 6:45, the place was full with just about every seat taken.  Definitely a meeting place for after work individuals.  The empty seats in the digital pictures really gives you an incorrect impression.

Seating is very comfortable and quite intimate.  Areas shown below are duplicated within the bar itself.

I mentioned paintings.  They are numerous.

 

The alcove area below is a very comfortable place for guests to relax and “chill” as my grand-kids might say before going out on the town.

The menu is REALLY interesting with the fascinating cover as shown below.

The wine list is completely adequate as are the dishes or “cravings” shown on the right side.

You never outgrow you need for a 5:30 P.M. hamburger.  That’s what I had and it was “fully loaded”. My wife had four (4) wrapped chicken rolls with curry sauce.  They were equally delicious.

One distinctive thing about the Dwell, it’s tucked away on an unobtrusive, somewhat narrow, very quiet street. One would never know it was there.  That’s one of the charming things about the Dwell.  You will find other boutique hotels in Chattanooga such as the new Moxy and the new Edwin.  All located in areas that most non-tourists would never realize exist.   Both the Moxy and the Edwin have marvelous bar areas and great food just as the Matilda.

YOU REALLY NEED TO VISIT CHATTANOOGA.

 

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For most of us, the city where we were born is the “best city on earth”.  EXAMPLE:   About ten (10) years ago I traveled with three other guys to Sweetwater, Texas.  About sixteen (16) hours of nonstop travel, each of us taking four (4) hour shifts.  We attended the fifth (50th) “Rattlesnake Roundup”. (You are correct—what were we thinking?)  Time of year—March.  The winter months are when the critters are less active and their strike is much slower.  Summer months, forget it.  You will not win that contest.  We were there about four (4) days and got to know the great people of Sweetwater.  The city itself is very hot, even for March, but most of all windy and dusty.  The wind never seems to stop.  Ask about Sweetwater— “best little city on the planet”.  Wouldn’t leave for all the money in the world.  That’s just how I feel about my home town—Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Public Art Chattanooga decided to add a splash of color to the monolithic grey hulk of the AT&T building, located on the Southside of Chattanooga proper.  This building is a tall windowless structure resembling the “BORG” habitat detailed in several Star Trek episodes.  Not really appealing in any sense of the word.  When Public Art received permission to go forward, they called internationally respected artist Meg Saligman.  Meg was the obvious choice for the work.  This is her largest mural to date covering approximately 42,000 square feet.  It is definitely one of the five (5) largest murals in the country and the largest in the Southeastern part of the United States.

The ML King District Mural Project reinforces the critical role public art plays in lending a sense of place to a specific neighborhood, and certainly contributes to future neighborhood beautification and economic development efforts. The images and people in the mural are inspired by real stories, individuals, and the history of the neighborhood.  For approximately six (6) months, people living and visiting the Southside were interviewed to obtain their opinion and perspective as to what stories would be displayed by the mural.  The proper balance was required, discussed, and met, with the outcome being spectacular.

This is a Meg Saligman Studios project.  Co-Principal Artists are Meg Saligman and Lizzie Kripke. Lead Artists Hollie Berry and James Tafel Shuster In 2006, Public Art Review featured Meg Saligman as one of the ten most influential American muralists of the past decade. She has received numerous awards, including the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program’s Visionary Artist Award, and honors from the National Endowment of the Arts, the MidAtlantic Arts Foundation, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and Philadelphia’s Leeway Foundation.  Saligman has painted more than fifty murals all over the world, including Philadelphia, Shreveport, Mexico City, and now Chattanooga.  She has a way of mixing the classical and contemporary aspects of painting together. Prior to the M.L.K mural, Saligman’s most famous work is “Common Threads” located in the Philadelphia area. It is painted on the west wall of the Stevens Administrative Center at the corner of Broad and Spring Garden Streets. Other major works include “Philadelphia Muses” on 13th and Locust streets, a multimedia “Theatre of Life” on Broad and Lombard streets, “Passing Through”  over the Schuylkill Expressway, and the paint and LED light installation at Broad and Vine streets, “Evolving Face of Nursing”.  Saligman’s work can be viewed nationally in Shreveport, Louisiana, with “Once in a Millennium Moon”, and in Omaha, Nebraska, with “Fertile Ground.”

A key component of the M.L.K. Mural in Chattanooga was the local apprentice program offering an opportunity for local artists to work with the nationally recognized muralist and to learn techniques and methods for large scale projects such as this. From thirty-three (33) applicants, Meg interviewed and hired a team of six (6) locals who constituted an integral part of the program itself.  Each artist was hired for their artistic skill sets and their ability to work collaboratively as team members. Members of the local team are: 1.) Abdul Ahmad, 2.) Anna Carll, 3.) Rondell Crier, 4.) Shaun LaRose, 5.) Mercedes Llanos and 6.) Anier Reina.

Now, with that being said, let’s take a look.

From this digital photograph and the one below, you can get a feel for the scope of the project and the building the artwork is applied to.  As you can see, it’s a dull grey, windowless, concrete structure well-suited for such a face-lift.  Due to the height and size of the building, bucket trucks were used to apply the paint.

The layout, of course, was developed on paper first with designs applied to quadrants on the building.  You can see some of the interacies of the process from the JPEG above.

The planning for this project took the better part of one year due to the complexity and the layout necessary prior to initiating the project.  As I traveled down M.L.King Avenue, I would watch the progress in laying out the forms that would accept the colors and shades of paint.  In one respect, it was very similar to paint-by-numbers.  Really fascinating to watch the development of the artwork even prior to painting.

The completed mural covers all four (4) sides of the AT&T building and as you can see from the JPEG below—it is striking.

This gives you one more reason to visit Chattanooga.  As always, I welcome your comments.

WESTIN—CHATTANOOGA

November 18, 2018


Just about every Friday evening my wife and I celebrate the weekend by going to dinner.  We like to go early, i.e. 4:30 or 5:00 P.M. In other words—happy hour.  The crowds are smaller and the prices are much more in line with a reasonable budget.  This past Friday, we tried the Westin—Chattanooga located at 801 Pine Street. Pine Street is just west of the “main drag” and close to I-27.  Great location for a restaurant.  We heard the Alchemy Bar and Restaurant on the tenth (10th) floor of the hotel was great.  We were not disappointed in the least.

The Westin was at one time Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Chattanooga.  A digital picture of that building is shown below.

This building was called the “Gold Building” for obvious reasons.  The gold windows reflected sunlight, thus keeping the interior office areas much cooler and saving considerable utility expense.  Blue Cross basically outgrew these facilities and relocated some miles away.  Westin purchased the building some time afterwards and spent millions and over one year of time in refurbishing it and turning it into a marvelous hotel and commercial facilities.

As mentioned, the Alchemy is located on the tenth floor.  We will take a pictorial tour of the facility.

You are greeted with a plaque indicating the location and name.

One of the great features of the Alchemy is the lighting.  Lights everywhere and beautifully done.

I hope you can tell the restaurant is “kid-friendly”. When we were there, there were children ranging from infant to young teen. All very respectful of the furnishing and QUIET.

The dining area is very spacious with plenty of room to move around.  I did not include it in the pictures but here are high tables along the picture windows to the left of this JPEG and to entry of the facility.

You get a great view of the famous Lookout Mountain.  Lookout Mountain is noted for the “Battle Above the Clouds”—a famous battle between the North and the South during the Civil War.  This profile is on the City seal just as you see it here.

The picture below shows a small portion of the Chattanooga skyline.

LOBBY:

The lobby is really inviting with an exceptional amount of space.  The pictures below will definitely give you that reality.

I want to note the “picture wall” below.  The Westin has hung pictures of Chattanooga new and old to show a very brief “evolution” of the city center.

CONCLUSIONS:

You really need to make Chattanooga one place on your agenda while driving South.  We have become a destination for visitors due to the following: 1.) Great dining, 2.) The Tennessee River and all the “stuff” you can do on that river, 3.) Great accommodations, 4.) Wonderful tourist attractions in the downtown area and the surrounding tri-state areas. It’s a great destination summer, winter, spring and especially the fall.  Come on down.

THE STATE OF CONFUSION

September 2, 2018


One of the most interesting new restaurants in Chattanooga is called The State of Confusion.  The history of its location will indicate how the name came about.

Fifteen months after the eclectic salvage outlet known as Estate of Confusion closed, the Main Street facility has opened as a unique, indoor and outdoor restaurant and bar known as State of Confusion.  The next two digital pictures will give you some idea as to what existed on that location prior to becoming Chattanooga’s newest eating facility.

The Estate of Confusion served as the location for art-related artifacts needed for photographers, sculptors and fabricators seeking something different.  In other words, it was a high-class junkyard.

The new facility at 301 East Main Street features made-from-scratch Latin American, New Orleans and low-country food, including Peruvian ceviche and wood-fire grilled meats and vegetables.  Their Peruvian ceviche menu is remarkably complete and with an extensive variety.  Approximately $2.5 million was spent to renovate and reactivate the former junk yard, which was owned by Greg Ross for nearly two decades of operation.

The new 330-seat restaurant includes indoor and patio seating in a variety of casual settings.  The design has retained the metal hangar, concrete buildings and foundations of the former salvage yard while adding locally made and unique bars, picnic tables and seating around wood-fired grills.  The outdoor terrace and indoor area are shown as follows:

(I want to apologize for the picture below.  I did not realize I had the bright light in the frame.)  You can get some idea as to the construction of the indoor eating area.  The owners made great effort in retaining the overall design, which explains the ceiling.

“State of Confusion is all about levity and fun with the highest quality, authentic food and fusion of flavors and dishes that you can’t get anywhere else,” said Allen Corey, CEO of Square One Holdings. “We traveled to Peru, the birthplace of ceviche, to understand ceviche; to New Orleans to craft the best muffuletta bread and bologna, and up and down the East Coast to curate the best seafood boils.”

The nearly 11,000-square-foot restaurant opened two weeks ago for lunch, dinner, brunch and special occasions and will offer both sit-down meals or just a place to hang out and sip ice-cold beer (served in ice buckets), cocktails or aguas frescas — a traditional chilled Spanish beverage of water and fruit.

Two bars with inside seating open to the outside terrace and face each other across the patio. State of Confusion will have its own sugar cane expeller to make its mojitos — a cocktail made from white rum, sugar cane juice, lime juice, soda water and mint.

At the front of the new restaurant in the former Main Street storefront, a small bar and takeout facility is being developed known as the Pump House. Sit-down dining will be in both the bigger building on the rear of the lot as well as outdoors in a giant patio, where the restaurant developers plan to put in Igloos in the winter for patio dining in colder weather.

To offer something new to the Chattanooga market (and also not available yet even in Atlanta or Nashville), the ownership decided to bring to the  Chattanooga market a seafood dish popular in the Pacific coastal regions of Latin America known as ceviche, which is considered a national dish in Peru. Ceviche is made from fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices, such as lemon or lime, and spiced with ají or chili peppers.  According to the owners, “This is something totally unique for our area and we think will be very popular.   “It’s light eating, very healthy and sophisticated and has a unique and great taste — if you do it right.” “We really had a crash course with some of the best ceviche chefs in Lima because we want to make sure we offer genuine, Peruvian-style ceviche here in Chattanooga,” Heckler said.

The new restaurant also plans to offer Argentina-style wood-grilled entrees, including house-ground burgers, steaks and seafood and its own unique Bologna. Most of the menu entrees will range in price from $9 to $10 for sandwiches up to $40 for the most expensive ceviche, steak and seafood items. Appetizers will start around $6.50.

To prepare other menu items, restaurant crews traveled to New Orleans and Miami to study menus and food and drink preparation styles and techniques.

“When we started out on this project we knew we wanted authentic cuisine so we traveled to Peru, New Orleans and Miami to be able to deliver these specific culinary items,” Walton said. “We also want to have the levity and the ultimate hang out place that is very casual to allow you to have this great made-from-scratch, unique food in a very fun atmosphere.”

State of Confusion is one of the biggest restaurants to open on the Southside and is among a half dozen eateries that have or will soon open in and around Main Street and the Choo Choo in the past couple of years.

My wife and I walked in about 5:30 P.M. on 31 August to give it a try.  It was already packed with a capital “P”.  Take a look at the experience.

Our waitress was Trystan who turned out to be extremely knowledgeable and very accommodating.  She had sampled all of the entrees and side dishes and came with great recommendation.

We decided to order from the “STARTERS” menu so we might sample multiple dishes. My wife, LOVES shell fish so she had the muscles.

I, on the other hand, really enjoy calamari.

One of the most interesting dishes is the “Monkey Bread” shown below.  It was fabulous. I can certainly recommend it to you when you visit.

CONCLUSIONS:

Reviews are important so let’s take a look at what others are saying. As I mentioned earlier, it’s only been open two weeks so the number of responses is, for the time being, somewhat limited although we loved it and definitely will go back.

I keep saying it’s about time you visit Chattanooga, Tennessee to put “some south in your mouth”.  You are going to love the dining experiences and the scenic experience.  To be a “river city” we offer a great deal. Come on down.

SOCIAL MEDIA

June 27, 2018


DEFINITION:

Social media is typically defined today as: – “Web sites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking” – OxfordDictionaries.

Now that we have cleared that up, let’s take a look at the very beginning of social media.

Six Degrees, according to several sources, was the first modern-day attempt of providing access to communication relative to the “marvelous world” of social media. (I have chosen to put marvelous world in quotes because I’m not too sure it’s that marvelous. There is an obvious downside.)  Six Degrees was launched in 1997 and definitely was the first modern social network. It allowed users to create a profile and to become friends with other users. While the site is no longer functional, at one time it was actually quite popular and had approximately a million members at its peak.

Other sources indicate that social media has been around for the better part of forty (40) years with Usenet appearing in 1979.  Usenet is the first recorded network that enabled users to post news to newsgroups.  Although these Usenets and similar bulletin boards heralded the launch of the first, albeit very rudimentary, social networks, social media never really took off until almost thirty (30) years later, following the roll out of Facebook in 2006. Usenet was not identified as “social media” so the exact term was not used at that time.

If we take a very quick look at Internet and Social Media usage, we find the following:

As you can see from above, social media is incredibly popular and in use hourly if not minute-by-minute.  It’s big in our society today across the world and where allowed.

If we look at the fifteen most popular sites we see the following:

With out a doubt, the gorilla in the room is Facebook.

Facebook statistics

  • Facebook adds 500,000 new users a day – that’s six new profiles a second – and just under a quarter (775) of adults in the US visit their account at least once a month
  • The average (mean) number of Facebook friends is 155
  • There are 60 million active small business pages (up from 40 million in 2015), 5 million of which pay for advertising
  • There are thought to be 270 million fake Facebook profiles (there were only81 million in 2015)
  • Facebook accounts for 1% of social logins made by consumers to sign into the apps and websites of publishers and brands.

It’s important we look at all social media sites so If we look at daily usage for the most popular web sites, we see the following:

BENEFITS:

  • Ability to connect to other people all over the world. One of the most obvious pros of using social networks is the ability to instantly reach people from anywhere. Use Facebook to stay in touch with your old high school friends who’ve relocated all over the country, get on Google Hangouts with relatives who live halfway around the world, or meet brand new people on Twitter from cities or regions you’ve never even heard of before.
  • Easy and instant communication. Now that we’re connected wherever we go, we don’t have to rely on our landlines, answering machines or snail mail to contact somebody. We can simply open up our laptops or pick up our smartphones and immediately start communicating with anyone on platforms like Twitter or one of the many social messaging apps
  • Real-time news and information discovery. Gone are the days of waiting around for the six o’clock news to come on TV or for the delivery boy to bring the newspaper in the morning. If you want to know what’s going on in the world, all you need to do is jump on social media. An added bonus is that you can customize your news and information discovery experiences by choosing to follow exactly what you want.
  • Great opportunities for business owners. Business owners and other types of professional organizations can connect with current customers, sell their products and expand their reach using social media. There are actually lots of entrepreneurs and businesses out there that thrive almost entirely on social networks and wouldn’t even be able to operate without it.
  • General fun and enjoyment. You have to admit that social networking is just plain fun sometimes. A lot of people turn to it when they catch a break at work or just want to relax at home. Since people are naturally social creatures, it’s often quite satisfying to see comments and likes show up on our own posts, and it’s convenient to be able to see exactly what our friends are up to without having to ask them directly.

DISADVANTAGES:

  • Information overwhelm. With so many people now on social media tweeting links and posting selfies and sharing YouTube videos, it sure can get pretty noisy. Becoming overwhelmed by too many Facebook friends to keep up with or too many Instagram photos to browse through isn’t all that uncommon. Over time, we tend to rack up a lot of friends and followers, and that can lead to lots of bloated news feeds with too much content we’re not all that interested in.
  • Privacy issues. With so much sharing going on, issues over privacy will always be a big concern. Whether it’s a question of social sites owning your content after it’s posted, becoming a target after sharing your geographical location online, or even getting in trouble at work after tweeting something inappropriate – sharing too much with the public can open up all sorts of problems that sometimes can’t ever be undone.
  • Social peer pressure and cyber bullying. For people struggling to fit in with their peers – especially teens and young adults – the pressure to do certain things or act a certain way can be even worse on social media than it is at school or any other offline setting. In some extreme cases, the overwhelming pressure to fit in with everyone posting on social media or becoming the target of a cyber-bullying attack can lead to serious stress, anxiety and even depression.
  • Online interaction substitution for offline interaction. Since people are now connected all the time and you can pull up a friend’s social profile with a click of your mouse or a tap of your smartphone, it’s a lot easier to use online interaction as a substitute for face-to-face interaction. Some people argue that social media actually promotes antisocial human behavior.
  • Distraction and procrastination. How often do you see someone look at their phone? People get distracted by all the social apps and news and messages they receive, leading to all sorts of problems like distracted driving or the lack of gaining someone’s full attention during a conversation. Browsing social media can also feed procrastination habits and become something people turn to in order to avoid certain tasks or responsibilities.
  • Sedentary lifestyle habits and sleep disruption. Lastly, since social networking is all done on some sort of computer or mobile device, it can sometimes promote too much sitting down in one spot for too long. Likewise, staring into the artificial light from a computer or phone screen at night can negatively affect your ability to get a proper night’s sleep. (Here’s how you can reduce that blue light, by the way.)

Social media is NOT going away any time soon.  Those who choose to use it will continue using it although there are definite privacy issues. The top five (5) issues discussed by users are as follows:

  • Account hacking and impersonation.
  • Stalking and harassment
  • Being compelled to turn over passwords
  • The very fine line between effective marketing and privacy intrusion
  • The privacy downside with location-based services

I think these issues are very important and certainly must be considered with using ANY social media platform.  Remember—someone is ALWAYS watching.

 


I have been mentioning that Chattanooga has a great number of privately-owned restaurants.  These range from tapas bars, wine bars to truly gourmet offerings.  One of the most unique is CLYDE’S.  Clyde’s reminds me of the bar in Cheers except the seating capacity is considerably greater.  The name comes from an establishment called Clyde’s Auto-glass.  This company existed in Chattanooga for decades after which the owner retired and sold the building.   Located on Main Street, it is THE watering hole for hundreds of individuals on a daily basis.  Not only do you get atmosphere, you get wonderful food.

The facility opened in the fall of 2014.  Hi-Fi Clyde’s is a bar-focused concept with a menu that features a variety of sandwiches and entrees including a handcrafted barbecue. Hi-Fi Clyde’s features activities such as ping pong, shuffleboard, and occasionally features live music.

Peter Melloy is an operating partner and is quite possibly the biggest football fan among the Monen Family Restaurant Group staff. His favorite word is “VOLS!” and he hopes to one day visit every NFL Stadium. Born in Dubuque, Iowa, Peter claims making the decision to move to Chattanooga was the most impactful decision he has ever made. Since moving to Chattanooga, he has become the operating partner of Hi-Fi Clyde’s Chattanooga, and can still maintain his ability to shotgun a beer.

Beverley Urso is the General Manager and always has a smile on her face. She is known for hating all types of beans, reading the user manual to everything she owns, and being able to sew just about anything. Every Halloween she makes her nephew’s costume and loves every minute of it. Bev has always had a love for animals, stemming from her dreams as a little girl to become a marine biologist or a dolphin trainer. This explains her ‘collection’ of dogs – Chloe, Ruby, Ava, Skin, and Judge. Even her first date with her fiancé was at the zoo!

When you walk through the door, you immediately see the bar.  You cannot miss the bar.  It’s huge with an accompanying marquee—also huge.

As you can see from the JPEG below, seating is really no problem.  There is also an outdoor seating area. (Not shown.)  I suspect the entire facility could accommodate close to three hundred (300) people.

Additional seating is to the left of the bar.

If you read my posts you know I generally give reviews issued by other individuals.  That gives a balance.  Here we go:.

As you might expect—I can definitely recommend Clyde’s.  Great food-Great atmosphere.  Bring your ear plugs.

HONEST PINT

June 2, 2018


Chattanooga is very fortunate to have a great number of locally-owned truly wonderful restaurants.  One of the most unique is the HONEST PINT.   It is located at 35 Patten Pkwy in downtown Chattanooga.  You walk through the front door and you are in the heart of Dublin.

 

My family and I spent a week and one-half in Ireland several years ago and visited many pubs in Dublin and several other cities in the country.  The Honest Pint is definitely in line with the atmosphere we became accustomed to with most pubs in Ireland. Starting with the front door as given below, the interior design is absolutely striking.

Attention to detail is amazing and the woodwork was obviously produced and provided by craftsmen.

The first thing you see as you enter is the bar, shown below.

Then you notice the dining areas,

The picture above does not do the dining area justice.  You really need a wide-angle lens to capture the mahogany, oak and maple architectural designs of the woodwork and the overall layout.  The next two digital pictures will give you some idea as to the interior.

 

Well, you go there for the food and not so much the environment—we all know that.  On this one occasion, my wife had the pimento cheese sandwich and I had the shepherd’s pie. Both are shown below and again; the pictures do not really do justice to the appearance itself.  The food-delicious.  Over several visits I have had, bangers and mash, fish and chips, the Ruben, chicken tenders and their hamburger.  All were excellent.

Everyone has an opinion. You just heard mine so I thought I would give you several others, as follows:

 

For my wife and I this has always been a very good choice resulting is an excellent experience.  I would invite you to look at other reviews and form your own opinion.

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