Rockabilly , Psychobilly and everything in between.

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April 2015

Slim Jim Phantom, the Rockabilly cat!

in Interviews
Slim Jim Phantom in action

Slim Jim Phantom

He’s banged the skins for rock ‘n’ roll supergroup, Dead Men Walking.

He’s drummed for the rockabilly star-studded 13 Cats.

He’s played with the Head Cat, Col. Parker, his own Phantom Trio, and…did I mention a little band from Long Island, New York called the Stray Cats? He’s Slim Jim Phantom, rockabilly’s man of a thousand faces.

Since picking up his first pair of drumsticks at the age of ten, Slim Jim Phantom has become widely recognized as rockabilly’s premiere drummer. With a distinctive standup drumming style inspired by the genre’s musicians of yesteryear, Phantom’s skin skills are in high demand.
by Denise Daliege-Pierce

Who taught you to play the drums?
Slim Jim Phantom I pretty much learned from—took lessons from—Mousie Alexander, an old time jazzy guy. Benny Goodman’s drummer, I think. At least, that’s what he said. I’d like to believe him.

How did your love of rockabilly—both the music and the lifestyle—develop?
Slim Jim Phantom I had always liked rhythm and blues music. There were no Hootenannies, no Viva Las Vegas’s kind of thing—none of that existed. I think that we [Stray Cats] first discovered it with the Beatles and Carl Perkins kind of records. Nothing like that was available at the time, really. We rediscovered Elvis, really. We knew the fat Elvis; that was it. From there, we met English kind of guys: teddy boy types. It was just really trial and error.

The Tomcats - 1979
The Tomcats – 1979

Was it difficult to switch from drumming in a sitting position to drumming while standing?
Slim Jim Phantom I don’t remember it being difficult. It was the cool thing that no one else was really doing. It was a different concept. I kind of kept pushing it all forward. It was pretty easy.

Who, would you say, have been your biggest musical influences?
Slim Jim Phantom Really, any of the original rock ‘n’ rollers. Elvis, of course; Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Carl Perkins…Little Richard was a big influence—any one of those original rock ‘n’ rollers. The Beatles; Led Zeppelin…anything that was true to rock ‘n’ roll. Ricky Nelson; the Johnny Burnette Trio—we played a lot of songs off of those records.

The Johnny Burnette Trio was just incredible. I recently read a book titled Rockabilly Legends, in which the author claims—I’m not sure if you’ve heard this story—that the term “rockabilly” was started by the Burnette brothers’ song “Rockabilly Boogie”, which they wrote for their sons, Rocky and Billy.
Slim Jim Phantom I don’t know. I’d heard that “rockabilly” was first used by some record executives or [Sun Records founder] Sam Phillips. It’s all stories, and you never know which ones are true. I just did a gig with Rocky Burnette. I had about twenty minutes’ notice!

What brand of drums do you play?
Slim Jim Phantom Gretsch.

Why do you prefer the Gretsch brand?
Slim Jim Phantom Well, they kind of endorsed me. I think a lot of it has to do with Gretsch having a certain history with rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll. Fred and Diane Gretsch met me as a teen. It’s American…it’s just a great product.

I know that you are frequently asked about your least favorite Stray Cats album, but which is your favorite?
Slim Jim Phantom Almost every guy’s first record is their favorite. Look at the Beatles; the Rolling Stones. It’s your greatest accomplishment. The fact that the gigs and the hard work have finally paid off…you did this. The first record that anyone makes is always their favorite. You didn’t really make demos then. The fact that we had a pretty unique story—we moved from New York to London. We had everything against us: no money, no place to live; no one was recording this music. We were All-American, like the Yankees. Now, new fans of rockabilly are rediscovering our music. Our music is like the “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Rockabilly Boogie” of today. “Rock This Town” and “Runaway Boys” are like that.

Phantom, Rocker and Slick - 1985
Phantom, Rocker and Slick – 1985

How was Phantom, Rocker & Slick formed?
Slim Jim Phantom Wow, Phantom, Rocker & Slick. Right after Stray Cats, we all had to take time off. I think that Earl Slick had just done John Lennon’s record when he was killed. I think that I met Julian Lennon, and he said, ‘You should all get together.’ Brian was doing a solo thing. We had a deal with EMI and we had just gone off a record with Stray Cats, and didn’t want to do that, but everything I play winds up sounding like me. We were young and trendy. The first record was really good. Phantom, Rocker & Slick sounds a little more rock ‘n’ roll; a little more metal. I think we made the Top 20 with that first record.

What caused the group to split up?
Slim Jim Phantom Well, Brian called and wanted to do the band again. The Stray Cats are first priority.

I own a copy of the Carl Perkins television special from the mid-1980s in which you, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and numerous other musicians performed with the rockabilly legend. What was that experience like for you?
Slim Jim Phantom I’ve been very lucky to get these historic kind of events. David Edmunds—he produced three or four of the really good Stray Cats records—was the musical director for the show. He called the Stray Cats, but we’d split up. He hired Lee and me for the rhythm section. The cool thing was we rehearsed about a week before the show. Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, George Harrison—all the older guys kind of kept to their selves. We were the young guys. I went up to George and broke the ice. We became pretty friendly after that. The show went so well; such a positive kind of experience.

George was reclusive—was out of music for about six years. For a good three years, we became friendly. He gave me some things, like some old boots from the Beatles. You could sense a certain enlightenment about him, or elevation. I spent the day with him before he died—he was just an amazing character.

How did you obtain your role in the Charlie Parker biopic Bird?
Slim Jim Phantom I got it pretty much by accident. I can mention that I worked with an Oscar-winning actor and director at the same time. How many people can say that? Forest Whitaker is, probably, the best actor around. Clint Eastwood’s an award-winning director.

It—somehow—had to do with the agency I was with needed a drummer who looked like they were playing the drums, but not, and who could talk, at the same time. And my wife at the time was an actress. So, I did it—five, six, eight lines—for a month. I didn’t really want to do it, but my son was being born, and SAG [Screen Actors Guild] insurance kicked in and covered it. I was nervous about my lines, I repeated them a billion times. So, I get down to the set; there’s an old little trailer. Someone took me inside and introduced me to Forest. We were hanging out and talking. Forest and I became good friends for a few years after that.

Did you ever consider pursuing acting on a larger scale?
Slim Jim Phantom No, it seems too hard, going to auditions; the rejection of it.

How did you become a member of Dead Men Walking?
Slim Jim Phantom Dead Men Walking is just another chancy, cool thing. On the first Stray Cats tour of England in 1980, we got to the first gig. Mike Peters of the Alarm, his band was the opening act. Mike and I became pretty good friends. After a few weeks, we found out they’d just brought their instruments and started playing. They made believe they were the opening act, but they weren’t. But, by then, they were so entrenched in the tour…

How often, in rock ‘n’ roll, do you meet someone and stay friendly with them for 25 years, putting together a thing of a group with three or four hit songs each that everyone knows? It was Mike, [Spear of Destiny’s] Kirk Brandon, [the Damned’s] Captain Sensible and me. We did it mainly acoustic. Mike called me one day at home and said, ‘I’ve got this concept.’ I said, ‘I’m doing it.’ I can’t say no to Mike. We made a record this year.

I’ve heard that you sang lead vocal on “Runaway Boys” during a recent DMW tour. How did that feel?
Slim Jim Phantom Oh, it was good. I can warble my way through it, I sing most of the Stray Cats songs, I can warble my way through most of the songs, except “Stray Cat Strut”. Brian and Lee can sing. You have to be a singer to sing “Stray Cat Strut”. Mike Peters has a great voice and sings it on the tour. I know what Ringo felt like when he sang with the Beatles. I think that the audience appreciates me singing those songs.

For those who may not know, you have recently become involved with the Love Hope Strength Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing treatment and support for cancer patients. How did your affiliation with the group come about?
Slim Jim Phantom That’s Mike Peters. Like I said, I can’t say no to Mike. Mike Peters is a cancer survivor. Twice. The first time, he had it nine years. Nine years. It came back when we were on tour. We only cancelled one show, because he had to have tests done. After six months of lockdown—chemo and remission—we walked the steps of the Empire State Building. We recorded the performance on the deck. It was another one of those great historic events. We’re gonna do the Eiffel Tower [in the future].

How did you meet fellow Head Cat members Lemmy Kilmister and Danny B. Harvey? How did the three of you come together to form the group?
Slim Jim Phantom Lemmy is another guy I’ve known—27 years. He was one of the first guys at a Stray Cats gig at a pub in London. There were, like, ten people there—Keith Richards was there; Chrissie Hynde was in the audience. Lemmy’s a very hip guy, very knowledgeable; a big Buddy Holly fan. We became friends back then and stayed friends.

He moved to L.A. on the street next to me. We played one track on a tribute album to Elvis. Me, Lemmy, Danny B. and Johnny Ramone—who we also lost to cancer—got two or three songs we wanted to play and came back every day for two weeks, until we had a record. I’ve known Danny B. since [his days with] the Rockats.

Headcats in action.
Headcats in action.


Danny B. Harvey is just tremendous. He can, pretty much, do anything musically.
Slim Jim Phantom Danny is as good as everybody: as good a guitar player; as good a producer.

Our readers may be unaware that you own a West Hollywood, California nightclub called the Cat Club. How do you juggle your numerous music projects—Stray Cats, Dead Men Walking, the Head Cat, Slim Jim’s Phantom Trio, 13 Cats—with your Cat Club duties and family life?
Slim Jim Phantom Me, my little trick is I have a very big calendar with big squares that I hang on the wall. I have bad handwriting. I use a Sharpie. Like music—when the Cats call, that kinda trumps everything. E-mail’s great. E-mail’s perfect, ‘cause the time doesn’t matter. If I have a question for Captain Sensible, I can send an e-mail anytime. Everyone has it, except Lemmy. Sometimes, things overlap. Guys in rock ‘n’ roll are more together than you think.

On a different note, are there any contemporary rockabilly musicians that you enjoy listening to?
Slim Jim Phantom Guys who I became very friendly with is Living End. [Guitarist/vocalist] Chris Cheney’s become a very good friend of mine, and they wanted to meet me. My son played a record for me, and I loved it. I think that Big Sandy’s very good. Hot Rod Lincoln’s very good. Sue Moreno; Tiger Army. Reverend Horton Heat is very good. He’s become a friend.

Danny B. has a group called Lonesome Spurs with Lynda Kay—she’s a star. She’s the real deal. Lonesome Spurs is like a country version of White Stripes, which is my favorite band. I just did a couple gigs and needed a bass player, so I used Rory Justice. He’s very good. Eddie Angel’s great. He has a band, the Neanderthals. I think the Neanderthals are the most entertaining band around. We’re gonna try to plan a little tour with the Neanderthals and the Head Cat.

I know that Brian Setzer has developed ear problems as a result of years of playing electric guitar. Have you had any wrist pain after drumming for so many years?
Slim Jim Phantom No, I’ve been pretty fortunate, somehow.

What is your favorite Stray Cats-related memory?
Slim Jim Phantom It’s my whole life, really. So many things that have happened came from that. Probably hearing the first record for the first time; hearing “Runaway Boys” on the radio for the first time. The odds were stacked against us for making it. No one was playing this music. There was no template for it.

Jim, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me today. Do you have any final thoughts that you would like to share with our readers?
Slim Jim Phantom I do a lot of work with They don’t want any money, just an e-mail address. Go check it out; sign up. It takes two seconds. Just two seconds, and you’ll be doing something nice for me.

or more information on Slim Jim Phantom, the Love Hope Strength Foundation,, or to purchase some of Slim Jim’s music, check out the following websites:

The Shadowmen

in Albums/Contemporary artists/Reviews/S
The Shadowmen - True Love Highway - Rhythm Bomb
The Shadowmen – True Love Highway – Rhythm Bomb

The Shadowmen – True Love Highway

Rhythm Bomb RBR 5785 [2014]
Revenoorman – Sleep Rock-A-Roll Rock-A-Baby – Aint That A Dilly – Rebound – Oh Sally – True Love Highway – Warm Love – Baby’s Gone – See It My Way – Poor Boy Blues – Cant Find The Door Knob – Don’t Mean Maybe, Baby – Have A Ball – Love Bug – Kitty Kat – Baby We’re Trough

The Shadowmen are a five-piece band from Albuquerque and “True Love Highway” is their debut album. This excellent piece of music is sure to make the delight of 50’s sounding rockabilly lovers, espacially those who dig the Texas style of Alvis Wayne, George Jones, Sid King or Buddy Holly.
Their originals, 6 out of 16 songs, are solid and don’t detract from the very well chosen covers. Their main singer, Josh Garcia, can easily switch from hillbilly to hot rockabilly and his hiccups, unlike too many singers, don’t sound like a gimmick. Lead guitarist Tom Sanderson plays tasty licks and one can hear the influences of the greats like Hal Harris or Hank Garland. Jeremy McDonald is the band’s second singer and sings harmonies on their hillbilly number and Jimmy and Johnny influenced stuff. He also engineered the recordings and a special kudos must be given to his excellent work. You’d never believe it’s been recorded in 2014 but think of the Gold Star studio in the second half of the 50’s instead. The mix is clear and it allows you to hear and appreciate each instrument and musicians (too often modern bands think that “authentic” means “muddy”).
Really looking forward their nexty efort.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Charlie Feathers

in Reissues/Reviews


Charlie Feathers – Can’t Hardly Stand It – The Complete 50’s Recordings

El Toro ETCD 1020
Peepin’ Eyes – I’ve Been Deceived -Defrost Your Heart- A Wedding Gown of White
– Tongue-Tied Jill – Get With It- Everybody’s Lovin’ My Baby- Can’t Hardly Stand It- One Hand Loose – Bottle to the Baby – When You Decide – Nobody’s Woman – Too Much Alike – When You Come Around – Why Don’t You – Jungle Fever – One Hand Loose (alternative take) – Can’t Hardly Stand It (alternative take) – Bottle to the Baby (alternative take) – Bottle to the Baby (alternative take) – Everybody’s Lovin’ My Baby (alternative take) – Too Much Alike (alternative take) – My My/ Jody Chastain (Ch. Feathers on guitar) – Jody’s Beat/Jody Chastain (Ch. Feathers on guitar)
I’ve Been Deceived (demo version) – Runnin’ Around (demo version) – Defrost Your Heart (demo version) – Runnin’ Around – I’ve Been Deceived (alternative take) – Someday You Will Pay/The Miller Sisters (Charlie Feathers on spoons) – Defrost Your Heart (alternative take) – A Wedding Gown of White (alt. take) – We’re Getting Closer to Being Apart – Bottle to the Baby (Sun demo version #1) – Bottle to the Baby (Sun demo version #2) – Frankie and Johnny (take #2) – Frankie and Johnny (take #5) – Bottle to the Baby (Sun take #1) – Bottle to the Baby (Sun take #2) – Honky Tonk Kind (take #3) – Honky Tonk Kind (take #4) – So Ashamed (take #1) – So Ashamed (take #2) – Corrine Corrina – The Man in Love – This Lonesome Feeling – Johnny Come Listen

May the gods of Rock’n’roll bless ElToro. Here you have the complete 50’s recordings of Charlie Feathers, in other words “the ultimate rockabilly album” :47 songs from the best stylist of the genre, a great country singer (Sam Phillips once said “He could have been the George Jones of his day.”) and an even greater rockabilly singer, the man that brought up the hiccup to the rank of art. His singles for Sun, Meteor and King are now legendary. They’re all here of course, and much more, including numerous alternate takes and demos (I’ve Been Deceived, Runnin Around, Defrost Your Heart, Bottle to the Baby). Also present are songs he played as a guest musician like Jody Chastain’s single on Kay on which he played rhythm guitar and The Miller Sisters’debut featuring Charlie on spoons. A 8 page booklet completes this absolute must have.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Deuces Wild

in Albums/CD/Contemporary artists/Reviews

deuces_wildDeuces Wild – Brutal Purity

Vampirette VAMPCD106 [1989]
Just Alright ~ Diamonds At Her Feet ~ What Colour Is The Sky ~ Make That Date ~ Never Came Back ~ Decisions On Love ~ Am I Wrong ~ Look That Looks Good ~ Sweet Love From You ~ Deuces Wild ~ Blues So Bad ~ Brutal Purity ~ Radiation Ranch ~ Deuces Wild ~ City Bound
This album was first issued on Fury in 1989 and until now was only available on vinyl, so that’s a good idea from Vampirette to reissue it, especially with 3 bonus tracks. The Deuces Wild were a british neo rockabilly trio. The majority of the songs are rockers influenced by Cochran, Restless (Deuces Wilds #2) and of course Brian Setzer, the excellent and frantic “Brutal Purity” sounds like a mix of Stray Cats “Wicked Whiskey” and Restless’ “Crack Up And Fall To Pieces” (you could find worst references for a neo band) and included in the bonus tracks is a good rendition of “Radiation Ranch” from Setzer’s solo album The Knife Feels Like Justice. Pete Hague’s voice is not that far from Paul Roman (The Quakes) at places and talking about The Quakes if you dig their “Voice Of America” album, you sure wont be disappointed with the stuff contained herein. But their originality comes from the blues elements you can find on some songs (It’s Alright, Am I Wrong), close to the recordings made by The Nervous Fellas around the same period. They try to escape the clichés (and succeed) with some tunes you’re not used to find on “80’s neo rockabilly-slap bass led” albums like the jazzy blues “Blues So Bad” or the acoustic skifflebilly “Diamonds At Her Feet”. Sure this album won’t change your life, but this is a more than pleasant reissue if you dig “Gonna Ball” by The Stray Cats and that typical 80’s rockabilly sound like I do.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Deuces Wild - Johnny Rider
Deuces Wild – Johnny Rider

Deuces Wild – Johnny Rider

Raucous Records RAUC004
Completely Sweet – Cadillac Rust – Shook Shake – Out On My Own – Tear It Up – No Time For That – Johnny Rider – I’ll Be Right Here – Bitter Tears – Sugar In My Coffee – Lodi





Deuces Wild - Cadillac Rust
Deuces Wild – Cadillac Rust

Deuces Wild – Cadillac Rust

Raucous Records RAUC15
Completely Sweet – Cadillac Rust – Johnny Rider – I’ll Be Right Here

Buck Stevens

in Albums/Contemporary artists/Reviews/S
Buck Stevens - Dance Floor Favorites
Buck Stevens – Dance Floor Favorites

Buck Stevens – Dance Floor Favorites

Wild Hare Records
Baby Makin Baby – Bop and Shake – I Wont Be Your Fool – Be Bop Gal – I Tried – You Better Leave – Hot Rod Ford – Mama Said – What Do I Gotta Do – My Heart Holds a Picture of You – Read Between The Lines Laurie Loo – The Hawaian Song – Rock With My Baby – Fancy Pants – Thats Right Baby
Some records are harder to review than others. Take Buck Stevens’ latest output on Wild Hare. What can I say about it but “Excellent, go buy it NOW !”. Man, what a drag, I believe I’ll have to check my dictionnary of synonims… Seriously this record is… excellent (I told ya!). It gathers sides from his previous recordings (cd’s and ep) as well as some unissued stuff. I could tell you that you can hear the influence of Johnny Burnette and the rock’n’roll trio (Bop and Shake), Hank Williams (I Won’t Be Your Fool) and Elvis (I Tried), but it wouldn’t give you an accurate portrait of this talented guy. And most of all it would leave apart a whole side of his music: his personality. Combined with first class songwriting and the great sound we’re now used to expect from Wild Hare, it just gives you a rare and precious album.
If you like your rockabilly raw, exciting with a dash of hillbilly bop, Buck Stevens is your man.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Deke Dickerson

in Interviews
Deke Dickerson

Another interview I did for my old website probably 10 years ago. It focuses mainly on the Deke’s collector side.

Do you remember the first record you bought ?
Deke Dickerson –The first records I OWNED were “hand-me-downs” from cousins.  luckily for me they were 45’s of good stuff–50’s rock & roll and country.Stuff like Bill Haley, Johnny Cash, etc.–the good stuff!What if they had been Led Zeppelin records???  Anyway, the first record I BOUGHT was “Elvis’ Greatest Hits Vol. 1” which I bought the day after Elvis died.  Some readers may think “Wow, he’s really young to have started his collecting in 1977” but some readers may think “Holy cow Deke is OLD!!!”

And the first one that really impressed you
Deke Dickerson –Oh, Elvis impressed me…..I played that record over and over again until the grooves turned white.

Were you in a musical family?
Deke Dickerson –My grandmother was musical.  She played autoharp, guitar & harmonica and did “shape note” singing.  I have a picture of her on my website, along with my Grandpa who played guitar and my great-uncles who had anold-timey string band in the 1920’s called “the Webb Brothers.”  So yes, I guess you could say I had a musical family.

Do you remember the first time you thought “Oh man,I’m becoming mad about records, I’m a COLLECTOR!!!” (you see like Robert Crumb)
Deke Dickerson –Well….by that point it was already too late.  My dad was a collector, he was into antique cars and antique planes from the 1930’s and 1940’s.   So by the time I was 13 I was already collecting comic books and records.  I didn’t know I was a freak until too late!

Do you know the size of your collection?
Deke Dickerson –Roughly 50,000 LP’s, 20,000 45’s, 5,000 78’s and a thousand CD’s….give or take a few!?

Are you a vinyl “freak”, or the format isn’t important, it’s just the music?
IDeke Dickerson –t’s all about the music.  Unfortunately like a lot of people I bought records to get the music and now kids can get the stuff on their ipod for free by trading files over the internet!  I do love playing records, but I like playing CD’s and my ipod in the van set on “shuffle.”  I find myself playing 78’s less and less…..maybe in 10 years I won’t even like my vinyl anymore!?

Did you ever buy records just for the cover or the name of the band?
Deke Dickerson –I go to garage sales all the time over here, and I have to admit that I constantly buy weird records just because the cover brings me joy.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a monkey on the cover, or a pinup girl, or even a midget singing gospel music, I must have a thousand “weird covers” albums that I would never actually play!

Do you have a record that you are ashamed of, but you won’t sell for nothing?
Deke Dickerson –YES So ashamed of, you can’t tell what it is?Yes, that’s right, please don’t make me say it!  ha ha!!!!

What is the weirdest one you have?
Deke Dickerson –That’s a hard question…..maybe the gospel midget!?

Is there a recording you are particularly looking for? Your “Holy Grail”
Deke Dickerson –I have a few holy grail records left.  Unfortunately about 15 years ago I traded off my copy of “Mr. Ducktail” by Uncle Buck Lipe… And the last one I saw on ebay sold for $866!!!  So that one will probably have to STAY the holy grail for a while….that being said I hope to find a record that’s rumored to exist of “eefing” by Jimmie Riddle….a full LP…..I have the single of “Yaketty Eef” b/w “Wildwood Eef”…..I’m a sick man! Is there a record that was particularly hard to getIt took me forever to get a copy of the Fendermen “mule skinner blues” album, I had to go to Minneapolis to find one!  And then in Green Bay this year I got to play with the Fendermen on “Mule Skinner Blues” and have them sign the album, so it all came full circle!

What is the one you are very proud to have, and / or the rarest one of your collection?
Deke Dickerson –I’m probably proudest of my collection of rockabilly records from Missouri (my home state).  I have almost all of them, and several are really insanely rare, like “Hep cat” by Larry Terry and “Be My Baby” by F.D. Johnson…..obscure names unless you’re a hardcore rockabilly collector!

Your last great discovery?
Deke Dickerson –The last really amazing score I had was finding the Revels “On A Rampage” album at a record store in Fresno, CA.  The Revels were from Fresno, it’s probably the only place this record ever turns up!  I had to pay some good money for it, but I could turn around and double or triple my money if I had to.

Where do you find them? Flea markets, ebay, special stores?
Deke Dickerson –Yes to all of the above!   Mostly I buy cheap records at garage sales and flea markets.  most of my collection are “listening” records as opposed to ‘collectable” records.  Many of them are in beat up condition, but I like them to listen to!

Do you find things when you’re on tour,especially in foreign countries?
Deke Dickerson –When i’m on tour in europe I always buy a big stack of records to take home.I just can’t seem to stop myself!

It’s a classic question, but what is your “desert island record”?
Deke Dickerson –Probably the one record I could listen to until the end of time would be “Gene Vincent & the Blue Caps” his second album for Capitol.

A last one, for all those who bought “Deke’s show-o-rama” and were frustrated : what is The Thing?
Deke Dickerson – I can’t tell you!You have to go there and see it yourself!!!!! That is the rule!

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