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No Hollywood Ending for Harvey Weinstein

| Opinion | October 20, 2017

Hooray for Hollywood.

Actors, actresses, producers, writers, directors, executives, and those who run around and do their dirty work are jumping up and down on the casting couch, attempting to trample it once and for all. Too little, too late.

The salacious details emerging over film producer Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual assaults on actresses, writers, models, and journalists in The New York Times and The New Yorker sound as though they’ve sprung from the pages of The National Enquirer, “TMZ” or “Access Hollywood.” The facts of each incident, as reported by Weinstein’s victims, read like scenes in a bad episode of “Law and Order: SVU.” But this is no screenplay, nor is it a story about the dark side of Hollywood.

Sexual misconduct by people in power has made the news repeatedly in recent years. We have heard allegations of assault against the likes of the president, comedian Bill Cosby and many other well-known performers including, most recently, the brothers Affleck. These allegations have repeatedly been denied, ignored, swept under the carpet, or buried in as deep a hole as a backhoe can dig. Intimidation, threats of reprisals, and legal action have been taken. Careers have been threatened. Payoffs have been made.

Sexual impropriety is not a partisan issue. It is perpetrated by Republicans, Democrats, Independents, liberals and conservatives, men and women — famous and otherwise. It takes place in boardrooms, around the water cooler, and in barrooms, restaurants and fancy hotel suites.

Reports of environments hostile to women have emerged of late in seemingly progressive bastions like Silicon Valley. There, the behavior is part of what has been labeled “bro culture.” It has been conspicuous at the headquarters of Über, but has also been found in the offices of other one-named tech brands, as well as many of the venture capital firms who fund them.

Similar episodes have long been experienced by government workers, by women and men who serve in our nation’s armed forces and law enforcement agencies. Sexual assaults occur at colleges and universities. The sports world – especially at the college and amateur level – is rife with tales of harassment and assault.

Sexual harassment and abuse is not only a physical act. With these latest revelations, we must also address what constitutes “locker room talk” or “boys being boys” and acknowledge that words and suggestive comments may be just as gut-wrenching and violating to the victim as any bodily intrusion; sticks and stones be damned. Any man or woman who has ever made an untoward sexual remark or gesture toward or in the presence of a member of the opposite or same sex is complicit in this behavior.

It would be hypocritical of me to address this topic without confessing my own culpability. Despite having attended a formerly all-women’s college and being steeped in feminist ideology and the concept of gender equality, I have made tactless, inappropriate remarks and insensitive comments in the past that I deeply regret. It requires effort, understanding and mindfulness to keep impulsive language at bay. I do my best. If you are a man or woman who has done so and choose to remain in denial or ignore your own past actions, I urge you to look in the mirror at your earliest opportunity.

The aggressive behavior attributed to Harvey Weinstein is especially disheartening for those who have benefited from his financial and professional largesse. Perhaps even more so, due to his support of liberal social and political causes many of them hold dear. But sexual harassment and abuse is apolitical. It is as equally unacceptable for Hollywood producers and others in powerful positions as it is for the president.

The growing number of Harvey Weinstein’s alleged victims may take some solace in knowing they are not alone, that their stories are being corroborated, and their courage to come forward may be a defining moment in the battle to confront sexual assault, intimidation, and harassment in the workplace and in our society. It would be nice if episodes like this will one day be nothing more than a bad flashback, a distant memory that fades out and away. That, unfortunately, is unlikely. It would be too much of a happy Hollywood ending.

Non Profit of the Week – In Care of Hope

| SC Living | October 19, 2017

In 2009, local business owner Brian Schneider was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After undergoing eight rounds of chemo and 17 sessions of radiation, he was told he was in remission on April 13, 2010.

He wanted to give back, so together with family and friends they formed “Hodgkin’s Haters,” a Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Light the Night team for the local Santa Clarita fundraising walk. They held numerous fundraisers as Hodgkin’s Haters’ “Party For A Cure,” which included celebrity bartending at the local Drifters Bar in 2012 and the Party For A Cure Casino Nights at the W in Hollywood for the following two years.

They developed a desire to hold more events locally, so in 2015 they held their first Par Tee Fore A Cure golf tournament at Robinson Ranch (now Sand Canyon Country Club). Parker Christensen, a local 15-year-old Hart High School football player and Hodgkin’s lymphoma fighter was the first Honorary Warrior. He came out to the tournament and shared his personal journey during the awards banquet and helped bring awareness to blood cancers. Parker is now 17 and enjoying his new cancer “free”dom.

In 2016, due to the unfortunate Sand Fire and the damage to Robinson Ranch, the second tournament was moved to the Valencia Country Club and was, again, a success. A courageous 3-year-old, Kylie Lynn Branch, was the honorary Warrior for 2016, and hid behind her mother, Katie, as she shared Kylie’s story and told participants about the treatments that lay waiting for her.

It was clear at that time that more needed to be done to eradicate this terrible disease. The tournament was gaining momentum and getting larger each year, but still encountered road blocks when trying to obtain large sponsorships and donations from local businesses. It was determined that becoming a nonprofit is what was needed in order to reach a higher level of financial support. In 2016, Brian and Sandra Schneider founded In Care Of Hope, a 501(c)(3) organization, and they chose the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) as their charity of choice, which means LLS receives nearly 80 cents of every dollar donated. The support raised goes directly for blood cancer research and patient services.

In Care Of Hope hosted the Hodgkin’s Haters’ 3rd Annual ParTeeForeACure Golf Tournament at TPC Valencia Golf Club last week. Although it was an extremely windy day, golfers comprised of local contractors, business owners, and contractor vendors from as far away as Orange County came out in full force to enjoy a day of golf, on-course contests, raffles, and laughs, all the while chipping away at a cure!

Sponsors from local businesses such as Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, Valencia BMW, Roma Jewelers, and Phyl-Mar Electrical Supply, In Care Of Hope / Hodgkin’s Haters, along with all who participated, sponsored, donated, and volunteered raised over $17,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society! This brings the total raised by the Hodgkin’s Haters since 2011 to more than $100,000 for LLS. (See all sponsors at Hodgkins-haters.com.)

With the help and support of many local volunteers, friends, family and cohorts each year, the ParTeeForeACure Golf Tournament becomes more and more successful. In Care Of Hope will be hosting the 4th Annual Hodgkin’s Haters ParTeeForeACure in September of 2018. If you’re interested in sponsoring, volunteering, and/or participating in any way, it’s never too early or too late to get involved.

In Care Of Hope Organization is all about giving back and is now in the early stages of planning an event with actress Kristen Renton for a cause near and dear to her heart, saving the Manatees. For future In Care Of Hope events, visit www.Incareofhope.org.

Hero of the Week – Kylie Lynn Branch

She is our four-year-old Warrior Princess. In January of 2015, at just two years old, Kylie was diagnosed with T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, and her life changed rapidly after that. Instead of her Mickey Mouse birthday that was planned, she was put on a clinical trial for her uncommon form of cancer. Her first days battling the disease consisted of several procedures, numerous pokes, and lots of tears.

She endured 11 months of intensive chemotherapy and 2 ½ years of chemo in total. She hated it all, but forgave quickly. She feared the new people in her life that wore scrubs and stethoscopes, but learned to love them and call them her friends.

Over the next several months Kylie went through so many obstacles that she had to learn to overcome. In the beginning her body became septic, went into shock and started to shut down. She was sent to the ICU for days to recover. Kylie endured numerous infections, which caused her to spend well over a hundred days hospitalized on and off during her first year of treatment. She suffered chemo burns, an actual open wound from the toxicity of chemo through her body. She lost her voice due to a side effect of her drug treatment. Next, she was unable to walk because of the effect of intensive steroids, which caused her whole body to swell. She was almost unrecognizable. Then, she endured pain in her legs and damage to her nerves because of another chemotherapy drug.

Though she quickly became accustomed to her “new normal” and regular visits to the hospital, she missed how things used to be before cancer came into her life. But that didn’t stop her from being able to smile while she fought through it all. Soon she would have a life that resembled some normalcy again.

Now, Kylie is in remission and celebrated the end of her treatment in May 2017 with a “No More Chemo” party. She is currently kicking butt in physical therapy to gain strength and coordination that was weakened by chemotherapy. She has just started preschool and is really enjoying making new friends like a normal child. You wouldn’t know by looking at her, all that she has accomplished in the past years. But she truly is a Warrior Princess. Our family will never take for granted each day we have with Kylie.

 

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Friday Night Films Screening of ‘CinemAbility’ Educates and Entertains

| Entertainment, News | October 12, 2017

Like many award-winning documentary films, the latest release by Gold Pictures seeks to amuse viewers while turning the spotlight on an unfamiliar, and sometimes uncomfortable, topic. A screening of “CinemAbility” at College of the Canyons on Friday is a golden opportunity for Santa Clarita residents to take a fresh look at the ways Hollywood has shaped the worldview of disabled individuals.

But if your mental image is that of a depressing, difficult film, think again.

“It’s funny, it’s uplifting, and entertaining,” said Jenni Gold, director of “CinemAbility.”

Viewers will see Geena Davis, Ben Affleck and Jamie Fox, among other A-listers, in the film.

“I put in as many people as I possibly could to make it attractive,” Gold said. “You hear ‘documentary’ and ‘disability’ and you run for the hills.”

Typically, Gold Pictures’ productions are narrative films. One of the company’s releases is about killer cockroaches that attack a college campus, for instance. In this case, the director said, “CinemAbility” is “a love story to Hollywood,” but also an informative look at how the public’s perception of disabilities has been shaped by media portrayals.

Gold works in Hollywood while grappling with the challenges of muscular dystrophy herself, which is one reason she was interested in the project. She is one of only two members of the Directors Guild of America with a visible disability, she said.

“We have a lot of truth that people either overlooked or never knew,” Gold said.

The movie never would have come to town if it wasn’t for the will of Santa Clarita resident and “CinemAbility’s biggest fan,” Leland Lewitt.

“He was very determined,” Gold said. “He wouldn’t come to any of our screenings — Leland insisted that we come to Valencia. It really meant something to him.”

And despite the fact that scheduling a screening is no small feat, Lewitt was successful.

“I was born with an intellectual disability,” he explained. “When I was attending junior high school, I was called ‘retard’ and made fun of almost daily. This film will show the people in my community that people with disabilities have feelings and deserve to be treated with respect. No one in my community has even heard of this film, and I want to change that.”

The 101-minute film will be followed by a panel discussion, all part of College of the Canyons Friday Night Films program.

“The film fits nicely into our program and Leland is very persistent, to say the least,” said Gary Peterson, COC cinema department chair, who has not seen the film yet. “We are happy to show the film to the community.”

The filmmaker seeks to inform the public about the experience of anyone underrepresented or misrepresented in the media.
“We’re united in one front — inclusion,” Gold said.

It took Gold about 10 years of research, pulling in celebrities and putting the filmmaking pieces together. Once it was “in the can,” she joked that it’s a whole second career promoting it.

“CinemAbility” is only available through specialty screenings and will be officially released in 2018. That means they show the film at corporate events, industry events, etc.

“It’s a slow, grassroots campaign,” Gold said. “We are independent and under-funded.”

Viewers will see both sides of the story, because Gold is careful not to inject her own opinion. She wants audiences to develop their own opinions, never forgetting to keep it light and engaging.

“We realize we’re just here to entertain,” she said. “We can’t educate unless people are having fun.”

Even famous comedy filmmaker Peter Farrelly said that “CinemAbility” got more laughs than some of his films, according to Gold, who added, “People leave in a very good mood.”

The program begins at 7 p.m. on Friday, October 13 in Hasley 101 on the COC Valencia Campus, 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road in Valencia. It is free and open to all, starting with an introduction by the director and a Q & A after the film. For more information, email Gary.peterson@canyons.edu or visit Cinemability.com.

 

Always Advocating Alan – September 11, 2001: Never Forget

| Opinion | September 7, 2017

by Alan Ferdman

Sometimes important dates slip by, but next Monday should not be one of them. I hope we will all come to think about what day it is, what happened and why it is important to keep the memory of 9/11 alive.

Another year has passed since September 11, 2001, when 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four jetliners for use as weapons of destruction. This evil team crashed two of the aircraft into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon, and the last, Flight 93, crashed in the Pennsylvania countryside, when passengers yelled, “Let’s Roll” and bravely attempted to take back the plane. In less than two hours, the two World Trade Center buildings collapsed and the Pentagon Outer Ring had been severely damaged. Approximately 3,000 people died, and over 6,000 innocent people were injured in the worst foreign attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor.

I remember exactly where I was when it happened. It was early morning. I was getting ready for work and, as normal, had my bedroom television tuned to the news. I was surprised to learn a first plane had hit one of the World Trade Center buildings. At the time, the newscasters did not know if the crash was caused by a horrific accident or something else. But then, as we watched the second plane impact the second building, the motive became clear. This was a terrorist incident. It was an attack on our country and our way of life. The event ended my rush to get to work, as I sat on the edge of my bed, watching the drama unfold in disbelief. I remember being angry, disheartened, and upset, all at the same time, knowing there was nothing I could do to change what was occurring before my eyes.

But then, I started thinking about the need I was feeling to show solidarity with my friends, neighbors and the rest of the country. Up to that time, I was one of the citizens who put out my American flag on holidays. I retrieved my flag and immediately set it in its holder on the front of my house. Right then, I made a pledge. Flying an American flag only on holidays was going to change. I am proud to be an American every day and, as such, an American flag would fly in the front of my house every day.

Well, I finally did get ready for work and headed to JPL in Pasadena, only to find the facility was on lockdown and closed for the day. Making the drive back and forth gave me time to think. I wanted to do something more than just flying a flag.

I decided the American flag, put up in the front of my house, would fly for an entire year. Each morning I go out to my front atrium for some “wake up” coffee and look at my flag. As my flag becomes weathered and torn by the wind, it serves to remind me of all the brave men and women around the world who devote their time, energy, and sometimes their lives protecting our freedom. I have since put up a permanent flag pole and I replace my flag each year on the morning of September 11. I do not retire my flags, because like those individuals who have served our country, I believe my flags also deserve a place of honor and remembrance. Each year, when taken down, my flag is marked for the year it flew, carefully folded using the appropriate triangle method and placed in a special container, hung on the wall in my home office in clear view. On

The ten flags on display

the 10th anniversary of 911, the Santa Clarita Elks Lodge hosted a remembrance of that fateful day. As a part of the event, I provided a display of my 10 flags, allowing them to fly again, representing an unbroken daily reminder of those who perished, those who were injured and those who came running toward danger to help others in need. I intend to bring my flags out again, to fly and be seen, on the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

You might wonder why I am so passionate about remembering and highlighting such a terrible event. It comes from realizing that time goes by very quickly. In an instant, 16 years has gone by. When I was growing up, I remember all the times I was made aware of December 7, 1941. Even though it was a year before I was born, our “Greatest Generation” made sure the attack on Pearl Harbor, “a day that will live in infamy,” would remain vividly clear in our minds, as an example of why America needs to stay strong and ready to defend our freedom. Today, I realize my oldest grandchild was very young and my four other grandchildren were not even born on September 11, 2001. The message for our country to stay strong and ready to defend our freedom is no less true today than it was when I was growing up. Yet, today, I notice a trend of the news media marginalizing our history, as well as, our country’s accomplishments. In recent years, Pearl Harbor and 9/11 don’t even seem to get front page coverage in many of our newspapers. I think that is just wrong.

So, even though on September 11, 2001 there was nothing I could do to change what was happening, I realize today is different. While I may be a member of the “Silent Generation,” I will not be silent about remembering September 11, 2001, Pearl Harbor, Independence Day, or other important American historical dates and stories. I refuse to accept Facebook representations of our history, particularly those written by individuals who only take one word and use it to forward their own agendas. I will continue to study our history in order to factually understand our past leaders, celebrate our successes and learn from our missteps.

We live in the greatest country the world has ever known and I have no desire to move to the one in second place, whichever one that might be. We are all Americans, no matter our race, color, creed, religion or political party, and we always band together in time of need.

So, make me proud on Monday. Take a moment to pray for and remember all those who died, were injured or were impacted in any way by the events of September 11, 2001. But, most of all, be strong and never forget.

Vote for Best of Canyon Country

| Canyon Country Magazine | September 1, 2017

It’s not too late! Vote for your favorite businesses in Canyon Country! Show some love to the best of Canyon Country – here’s the link!

 

Best of Canyon Country

Doug’s Rant

| Doug's Rants | August 31, 2017

Writer’s Cramp:

As I sit down to peck away at the keyboard, it’s hard to concentrate on normal ranting stuff with the horrible mess happening in the Houston area. Hopefully, by the time you read this, things will have improved down there. For now — I’ll have to grasp the slogan from my Arizona Wildcats of “BEAR DOWN!” and get this done.

Do I?

Do I need to get a new life? It seems my life is fairly consumed with news and information from various media (mainly politics, some sports), which I use to help assimilate my thoughts for this space each week. Imagine my shock when I come across folks who aren’t like me. Examples: “I can’t believe what the media is doing to Trump” … “What are they doing, I haven’t been following it.”  “What do you think we should do about North Korea?” … “Why, what’s going on with them?”  “It could be worse; we could be living in Houston” … “Oh yeah, someone was telling me about that, I don’t follow the news.” “You don’t follow the news? How do you live a meaningful life?” (My wife did say she was glad football is starting so “Fox News” wouldn’t be on so much.)

But, you know what? These are all normal, well-adjusted people who just don’t care or want to know what is going on outside of the important realms of their lives. Could it be these folks don’t want to know what’s going on in the world so they can live a carefree life — and who can blame them? (It reminds me of what my mom, who has Alzheimer’s, said: “I don’t have problems anymore, because I don’t remember them.”)

Could this work for me? Should I chill out, relax, quit following this stuff and start writing a puff gossip column? (A friend from high school in Tucson who reads the rant on SantaClaritaGazette.com said, “Dude, you’re gonna die from a heart attack if you keep this up.”) Should I give up this weekly diatribe and retreat into blissful retirement? (That ain’t happening, I’m in the newspaper business!)

Naw, I’m not changing. I’ll be the guy writing this stuff until my last breath (or last coherent thought), doing my tiny part trying to save the world (or at least some of the people in Santa Clarita) from the horrible, nonsensical, emotion-driven, liberal, progressive, absurdly back-ass thinking!                                       

Defend This!

 I want to thank The Signal newspaper for helping me to alleviate my writer’s cramp by publishing the column by a young man entitled “In Defense of Millennial Snowflakes.” It’s a good thing I ate lunch a while ago or I may have lost it.

He wrote: “Certainly it is true Millennials have had a tougher time growing up than previous generations — our high rates of depression and anxiety show this. This is perfectly understandable, however, for we also face tremendous burdens that our parents and grandparents did not.” (See what I mean about losing my lunch?)

He goes on:

“So to the Trump-tie wearing bully boys of the older generation, my message is this: Know that when you call kids snowflakes you speak from a place of weakness, not strength, and implicitly admit your own ignorance of the world around you.” 

I don’t have the time, space or emotional energy to counter each of these ridiculous statements, but I’m most certain any person with even a loose grip of reality, including Millennials I know, can see the snow flaking, delusional blame game this represents.

“But they far too often prefer the lazy route of condescension, insults and scorn — and when conservatives take this posture, they place their boot on the neck of kids today, spit in the eye of our ancestors, and weaken the social fabric of this great country.”     

How’s this for a “lazy route of condescension”: GROW UP AND GET OVER IT. I don’t have a clue how this will “place my boot on the neck of kids,” or “spit in the eye of our ancestors,” and lord knows, I don’t want to weaken social fabric, but this type of nonsense is what heightens the proof that snowflakes flourish in our land today. It’s like when our president was elected and Millennials across America went into a paranoid frenzy of crying and needing the comfort of safe spaces to exist. Or when someone spray paints the name Trump on a campus sidewalk and the reaction from students requires mental wellness intervention.

He finished with:

“One cannot engage in such dastardly behavior and make any claim to patriotism, maturity, good sense, principle, constructive citizenship, basic ethics, moral hygiene or human decency.”   

 Good gosh, I have no claim to basic ethics, good sense or human decency? I didn’t realize I am such a wretch of a person! Talk about condescending insults, these comments reveal this writer is snow blind and can’t see his way through the snowflakes to realize this is the typical hypocrisy that liberals frequently fall into when they can’t handle the unfairness of life. I’ll say it again — Get Over It!         

 Another Shot across the Bow:

 I’ll tell you one thing “non-news” people should pay attention to, and that’s the test missile North Korea fired a few days ago. That one flew right over Japan and was their 16th test of the year. All Americans need to recognize that the chances of a terrible war on the horizon are growing with each passing day. This war could make the Houston tragedy look like a picnic on the beach.

If we do something preemptive you can bet the liberals will scream that President Trump is a war hawk and is overreacting to these missile tests. OK, so what do we do, let North Korea keep playing Russian roulette with missiles until one hits that is dirty and strikes somewhere, killing thousands of people, and then react?

It’s an incredibly agonizing decision our president has to make, but do we want to see death and destruction on our soil or somewhere else? If the deranged boy dictator keeps playing with his dangerous toys, something will need to be done to prevent major harm to us and it won’t be pretty at all when it happens.

 Cut the Crap and Get It Done:

On Wednesday President Trump started his campaign to enact badly needed tax reform. In my opinion, this is the number one reason the guy got elected and for a very good reason. It is such a no-brainer how much this would help each and every one of us, including many Trump-haters out there. It’s pretty simple and laced with common sense. More money in our paychecks and more money for businesses to expand and grow, creating new jobs equals a huge WIN-WIN! It’s time we pull our heads out of our butts and realize that one of the highest business tax rates in world does nothing but harm the economy.

With all of the common sense permeating through this needed reform, you know it’s going to face “horse excrement” objections from both sides of the aisle. The big cry will be the debt increase. The thing is, the guys who will do the screaming haven’t given three rips about the debt as it has been careening towards $20 trillion over the last several years. Why not let the tax cut horse out of the barn and see if GDP growth doesn’t start a flood of additional revenue into the treasury coffers? Come on, just try it, please just try something different and not allow your hate of Trump or your own egotistical selfishness get in the way of helping us!

Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan need to put on their very big boy pants to ensure this gets done. We don’t want to hear sniveling excuses from them as to why it’s so hard and takes so long! Cut the crap, get it done or get the hell out of the way and give someone else a chance!

 Quote of the Week:

 I want to see days and weeks of coverage about Dickinson, Texas, a town that is approximately one-third Black, one-third Hispanic and one-third White. I want to see editorials discussing how neighbor helped neighbor, regardless of race, sexual orientation or which statues they think are appropriate. I want to see nightly discussions of the human response to seeing their fellow man in need. I want to see video of a white, good-old boy helping a black man and his family onto his boat so they can escape flood waters. I want to see video of a Hispanic man whose parents were migrant farm workers helping a white man and his family onto his boat. I don’t want to hear how Trump supported or antagonized anything. I want to see these things because they are actually happening right now in Texas. This is America today. That’s what I want to see.

 You are purveyors of negativity and divisiveness because that’s what gives you ratings and income. You intentionally deceive us. Because in all this human suffering along the Texas coast, you don’t even see that love and decency abound in America. Maybe you do, but that won’t make you as much money will it?  (Facebook Post)

 Letter to the Ranter:

 Doug,

It looks like the Democrats have added a new page to their playbook and that is to tear down Confederate statues. Then they can blame Republicans and Trump branding us as racists and supporters of the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremists. They have become hysterical about this issue and they seem to have lost their collective minds!! We can then have many more episodes like the one in Charlottesville. These statues have been around for over a hundred years or more in most cases, why now? Collusion and Russian interference in the election has been the Dems mantra for the last year and the reason why Hillary didn’t win. This hasn’t worked. My question when I saw the violence and melee in Charlottesville were one, “Who were these people”? and second, “Where were the police”? Why did the Mayor give the order to stand down and why didn’t the Governor call in the National Guard if the police couldn’t handle this? Just have to blame Trump and the Republicans and brand them as supporters of these extremist groups. Why were these leftist groups, Black Lives Matter and Antifa held accountable for their part in this. Oh, I guess you cant’t blame the left as their motives are admirable. Since all of these Confederate statues are Democrats, the present day Democrats should think again about pulling them down, wouldn’t you think. Phyllis

 

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