RAJDULARI GOES TO BOLLYWOOD ~ Bombay Bling by Neela Vermeire Creations

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They chose her for her small ankles and her lovely movement. It had been a long way to come to win the role of Princess Beloved in the new musical film “Bombay Bling” But for little Rajdulari it had been well worth the effort.

Back home in the jungle of the south everyone had laughed at her when she said she wanted to go north to Mumbai to be in the movies.

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“Oh little silly,” her mother said when they were washing down at the river. “You can not be a movie star. You are too little and you have rough skin. They do not like girls like you from the country in Bollywood. For goodness sake!” Her aunts who were close by giggled and stamped in unison.

Her brothers were much meaner to her. “Bollywood, Ha!” Gourab trumpeted.  “You are ugly and you can not sing or dance like the pretty girls in the movies.”

“I can too sing! And I can learn to dance.”  Rajdulari protested.

“Maybe you can learn dance like a monkey. But what about that nose?  Not long enough, and your eyes! Ha, they are too far apart. And those tiny ankles will not support you for long.” Said the eldest of the brother’s Chandramohan. “No stop day dreaming stupid girl.”

“They have make-up in the movies. They can paint you pretty.”

The brother’s laughed so hard the ground shook.

“Stop this at once!” The sound of his voice was enough to send the birds above them who were watching from the jungle canopy aloft in fluttering feathered terror. From behind a Jacaranda tree Gajendra appeared in all his great splendor.

The brothers lowered their heads as they always did when their grandfather approached. He glowered at them. Then with one swift movement he plucked a fragrant purple blossom from the Jacaranda tree and gently placed it behind Rajdulari’s ear.

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   “You are beautiful little princess. The others are too blind to see.”

Rajdulari looked up into his brown eyes and smiled. “I know they are blind!”

Gajendra laughed. “We will go to Mumbai together and show them all.

Now months later on the first day of shooting her very first movie little Rajdulari stood very still while the dressers bedecked her with garlands of flowers and the makeup man painted her pretty.

“You have perfect skin and the most beautiful eyes.” The makeup man said. “Wide set eyes photograph best you know.”

When Rajdulari stepped on to the set for “Bombay Bling” her grandfather was watching from the sidelines. He saw at once that she was the most beautiful Elephant in all of India.

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Bombay Bling by Neela Vermeire Creations is bright and young and full of glittering pizzazz.  It has a personality that is big, charismatic and cinematic. It is all about being in the joy of the moment. One glorious over the top musical number after another rolls out from the bottle as you spay it on. It is a big bold Bollywood star of a perfume.

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The opening is frenetic and brightly colored blending of Labdanum, succulent Mango, cardamom, litchi, caraway seeds and black currant. Sweet is the theme here and the litchi and mango mixed with the black current create an effect that verges on the pink spun sugar of cotton candy. Not my favorite scent at all but thankfully short lived.

With the fireworks out of the way we now enter the heart of the perfume. The garden of unearthly delights in fact for here we have a beautiful Jasmine full of dark twilight richness blooming on a warm night in Mumbai. Not to be outdone by this favorite white of the perfume world the air is enriched by a stunning gardenia with support from tuberose, ylang-ylang, a rocking rose and saffron like silky frangipani. Yes it is stunning, the kind of exquisiteness you find in women who grew into great swan like beauty from a pond of full of ducks.

The dry down carried echoes of the jasmine and gardenia as more earthbound notes of woods, patchouli, tobacco and cedar move up the keep them company.  Here the scent is becomes one with the skin and lingers in lovely wafts of memory and light.  Sandalwood and vanilla flicker in and out like shadows on a wall on a late afternoon in the tropics.

I was very impressed with Bombay Bling for the very fact that it is a sweet perfume that manages to move past the sugar and find its heart in the most beautiful arrangements of floral notes. It sings and entices us to explore the wonders of the gorgeous complex music and stunning intricate dance that lives in the heart of India.

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BOMBAY BLING ~ FIVE GOLD STARS *****

VISIT NEELA VERMEIR CREATIONS! http://www.neelavermeire.com//

FOOTSTEPS ON THE CEILING ~ Ambre Nuit La Collection Privée by Christian Dior

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“Whoever said Paris is for lovers is a liar!”  Barbara thought as she stomped into the Place des Vosges. She dodged a smartly dressed woman who was walking her impeccably groomed poodle.  Blindly, blurrily she stepped into the crosswalk only to stumble into the little park in the center of the Marais. This particular tourist was completely unaware that the beautiful woman with the tiny dog was really an elegant man in drag or for that matter she was unimpressed by the particularly Parisian beauty of the setting that surrounded her. She had been crying for the last three blocks. Nino was gone. Back to Rome and his wife, the wife he had just admitted to having only thirty minutes ago when he got into the cab for the airport. It was a sudden and brutal goodbye that left her reeling between anger and astonished shock. Now, this very afternoon, here she was in the Palace des Vosges with her vacation ruined by romance in the city of love. She had three days left in Paris before she would have to board United flight 991 back to San Francisco.

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    Suddenly surrounded by greenery and flowers her pace drained to a crawl. Meandering in her morose maroon mood she paid no attention to the handsome old men playing checkers under the Horse-Chestnut trees. She would have taken a photograph of the scene an hour ago. But now her camera filled with photos of Nino was burred under tearstained Kleenex at the bottom her Dior tote bag. The bag  he helped her pick out the day she met him in the Place Vendome, seven and a half days ago when the whole affair began. Well that camera would stay buried there forever for all she cared. She felt the warning sting of fresh hot tears welling up. She looked up and in front of her was a huge statue of Louis XIII on his horse looking impressive in his wig. (Not as impressive as the drag queen with the poodle but a close second.) There was a place to sit, or in her case collapse on a green double sided bench. She crumbled on the spot and gave over to fresh sobs.

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   People passed her by, as did the shadows of the overhanging branches tracing the sun’s passage west over Paris. She saw none of it. Only the widescreen memories of her last week with Nino ran over and over on the loop in her brain. That wonderful first night at Maxim’s where she tasted her first Amber Moon with a grapefruit twist.  The boat ride on the Seine in the rain that made them laugh, the Eiffel tower and the May roses in the gardens beyond it. Perfumes sniffed at Guerlain, Chanel, and Dior, endless wandering hand in hand heart in throat though the Rive Gauche. Only yesterday the little spice shop where she had smelled fresh peeper for the first time, the tour of Versailles where he kissed her in the hall of mirrors and snatched her heart away from her under the chandeliers like an Italian highwayman. Had it been real or a romance made from slight of hand and pretty lies?  Now that she understood it. What it was, that she had been Nino’s Parisian fling it seemed tawdry and dirty. At forty eight that was not who she wanted to be, that middle-aged woman who goes to Paris for one last chance at romance. Nothing in her future but footsteps on the ceiling.  She studied her scuffed Chanel shoes and tried to pull something of herself together. The sun was  now at three o’clock and she didn’t want to move.

“Bonjour Madame!”  She looked up into the cerulean eyes of an eight year old boy. He was dressed in his school uniform and held out his manicured hand to be shaken. Despite it all she shook his hand in bewilderment. A second boy stepped up and a third, “Bonjour Madame” from each boy as he passed. The thirteenth boy, the last handed her a rosebud. He didn’t shake her hand but kissed her wet cheek. He smelled of citrus, pepper and the rose. His teacher behind him nodded as she passed. It was a smile of recognition and kindness.

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Barbara smiled back at the woman and wiped away the last tears of her broken heart. Her smile deepened and she looked around her and saw where she was. She knew now that Paris was filled with love, love of every kind.

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Ambre Nuit from La Collection Privée by Christian Dior is blended with memories of love and its loss. It is a sweet remembrance of things that may never have been real but were none the less as tangible as a kiss in the rain, a look from a passing stranger who has the answer to unanswered prayers. It is a dream wrapped in smoky images and misty forms that make one never want to awaken to the dawn.

This is Dior’s Amber star. It is from beginning to end a lush romantic embrace of the most lustrous amber of the very best quality. Rich and full bodied like a great golden cognac.  Even more so it is musical and holds this note as a beautiful deep tone from a great old cello played by a master. It is not the whole orchestra booming majestically but a beautiful solo in Amber.

There is in the opening spray a sparkle of bergamot and a twist of grapefruit that shimmers like champagne for a few minutes. Pink pepper is the pop of the champagne cork. The Amber is the goblet these citrus and pepper are pored into. As they settle down but never quite abandon the mix a gorgeous Turkish rose is added to the perfume. Like petals tossed in lazy abandoned onto a midnight pool this rose swirls in the center of the perfume to give it an oriental resonance of such splendor the senses are left reeling.

It opens boldly but never goes wild; it has restraint and an elegant dignity that never flags. It is beautiful on a man of great personal charisma and just as beautiful on a woman of magisterial mystery. As with all the perfumes in La Collection Privée, Ambre Nuit is outstanding in its unique signature. Nothing else smells like it in the line.  It lasts for a good eight to ten hours on my skin. The projection is very good and never fails to get a complement or two.

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Ambre Nuit is a sensuous silken experience that most certainly is for those with an understanding of and a desire for something rich but not overpowering. Of old world elegance and sophistication, it is a supper at ten and a ball that begins at midnight and ends in a barefoot walk along the Seine at sunrise.

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AMBRE NUIT FIVE GOLD STARS *****

CREDITS FOR FOOTSTEPS ON THE CEILING BY LANE TIBBS

MUSIC BY VICTOR YOUNG

FLIRTING WITH SPRING ~ CALIGNA by L’Artisan Parfumeur Launch Barney’s San Francisco

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Pink winked at me this morning. In the east the sky was that very flirty shade you get on a clear spring morning. At least that’s how it looked to me when I peeked from under my duvet ready for my perfumed Saturday adventure to begin.

Spring has landed in Hayes Valley with the trees along Octavia Boulevard busting out with over-sized soft pink pompoms blooms so heavy they pull the branches downward. Warm at 6:30 in the morning is a rarity here.  At 65 degrees and climbing what passes for “summer” in foggy San Francisco comes twice a year, at spring and again in the early fall. When summer bakes the rest of California we are usually socked in with icy fog, our second winter.  So, early this unusually warm morning as I readied myself attend the launch of L’Artisan Parfumeur’s newest spring perfume, Caligna I felt the spirit of Maggie Prescott move me to “Think Pink”!

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   Dressed for this spectacular spring morning I ascended from the Muni subway onto Market and Stockton decked out in beige slacks, canvas Converse sneakers and a think pink shirt. It was a glorious morning on Market just before 10 a.m. and still relatively quite for downtown. Market is magical in the morning, with the Ferry Building standing at attention at the Eastern foot of the street and Twin Peaks watching over the city from the west, the last great hills before the Pacific. With its newly leafed Kelly green Sycamore trees marching up one side and down the other the main artery to the heart of San Francisco was breathtakingly gorgeous. The beauty of it always knocks me out each time I come up out of the subway.

    No time to dally on the sidewalk this morning, on I forged to Barney’s just a short block up Stockton. I arrived at 10 just as the doors were opening. This launch of Caligna was to consist of a personal one on one presentation of the perfume by the Sales and Marketing Director, North America of L’Artisan Parfumeur, Brian Kurtz to a select group of Barney’s clients. I owe my spot to my perfume pal Mary Eddington who couldn’t be there and offered me her 10:30 spot. She is off in Paris and most likely at this very moment is in the flagship store of L’Artisan Parfumeur having a ball. Thanks to Mary I was about to have a ball myself.  Having arrived a tad bit early and not sure of just what was going to happen I went into Barney’s fragrance salon to wander around until my appointed time arrived.

I saw Hilary across the gleaming perfume counters talking to a tall handsome young man. I popped over to say hello and let them know that I would be back at 10:30. I apologized for being early but that was not a problem it turned out. Hilary introduced me to Brian and he kindly began my introduction to Caligna.

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Brian Kurtz and Hilary Rayvis Randal

   Brian was completely charming and warm as he told me the story of Caligna. This new perfume for spring 2013 is a part of the new Grasse Collection along with two equally new scented candles, Le Printemps and L’Eté. (L’Eté, “summer”, was my favorite!) The inspiration for Caligna was to capture the essence, indeed the feelings and smells of the beautiful countryside around the village of Grasse, the very birthplace of French perfume. The name comes from the provincial dialect of the area and means to “court” or “flirt”.

As Brian told me about the perfumer behind the fragrance, Dora Baghriche-Arnaud he opened small vials of essential oils and let me sample the individual notes that go into the fragrance. Dora Baghriche-Arnaud who grew up in the south of France over the course of a year meticulously selected scents that evoke the feeling of a warms spring morning in the Mediterranean climate of Grasse.

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The Nose, Dora Baghriche-Arnaud

The fist ingredient he presented was Fig. The rich lush and flesh sensuous note was earthy and so delicious in its fruity fullness. Thus the stage was set by this quintessential Mediterranean fruit for the next notes that Mademoiselle Baghriche-Arnaud added into the elixir. The signature fragrance of the south of France and Italy was presented to my nose by Brian with an expectant smile, Clary Sage. This bright warm aromatic fragrance was somewhat familiar to me having grown up in Southern California where sage is everywhere. Not the elegant bright Clary Sage which is new to me but a sage none the less.  This note was sunny and wonderful. I didn’t want to go on to the next note but rather just stand there engrossed in the lovely pictures of southern France the Clary Sage brought to mind. Brian presented the next note on a blotter and explained that this was Jasmine, not your ordinary Jasmine but Jasmine Marmalade. It was brilliant and just the right note to add to the Clary sage and Fig. It smelled like the most amazing jam made of pure sweet luscious Jasmine flowers. I asked him how Dora had made it, what was in it to make it so magnificent. “Every Perfumer has his or her secrets that we will never know.” He said. I laughed “But of course.” I told Brian if they could only make a real marmalade of this I would eat it every morning on hot buttered French bread with a steaming bowl of coffee. Then the resin olibanum like Lentisk was presented bringing with it the olfactory equivalent of cool morning earth heated by a rising sun. This was enhanced by a lush full honey like Oak that rounded it out nicely.  Pine needles are part of the perfume as well but we had to skip that blotter since Brian forgot to bring along the vile. It was no effort for me to bring up my own scents memory of pine needles.

 

The Elegant Presentation of Caligna

At this point I would wait no longer and asked if I could test the perfume. Caligna to my nose is light and soft on my skin and the notes blended into a pure tingling effervescent pop of spring. Lovely and bright, luminous in fact, Caligna is really the perfect uni-sex perfume for springtime or even in the cold months to recall the joys of May in bloom in the south of France. Breakfast in early spring on a terrace in Provence sprang to mind and we all agreed that airline tickets to Grasse were in order.

 

L’Artisan Parfumeur Perfumes, Candles, Amber Ball and much more!

Brian, Hilary and I talked about the beauty of the perfume and the history of the entire line. So many wonderful perfumes are in L’Artisan Parfumeur’s line-up. If you haven’t tired their perfumes do yourself a favor, get thee to Barney’s pronto or the nearest store in your area that carries the line and try a bit of French magic.  Brian and Hilary share a great passion for perfume and it was a joy to visit with them and share my passion for perfume with them as well. When fume heads get together it is always a party! My half hour visit with the brilliant and fun Brian and the ever lovely Hilary stretched into a full hour, how lucky was I? There were more guest due at eleven so with many thanks and a little sadness that my magic time was over, I bid my hosts goodbye.  I was so honored and lucky to have had this opportunity to discover in a very special way this new and exciting perfume Caligna. I hope you get a chance to try it and all of the other incredible fragrances from L’Artisan Parfumeur.

As I headed off down Stockton Street I was whistling and feeling quite in the pink!

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WINTER MEETING ~ Grey Flannel by Geoffrey Beene

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It was more than I could bear the thought of being in Manhattan and not doing it.  So with very little planning or thought I was up an hour before the sun and out of the Park Central Hotel on 7th avenue. My pajamas were cleverly covered with wool slacks and my feeble California winter jacket, a small bath towel was standing in for a muffler all in an effort to stay warm on my trek. Still the shock of the February freeze was paralyzing and the wind that came with it took the top layer skin of my cheeks off as quick as powdered sugar flies off a donut in a hurricane. It was the coldest I had ever been. But it didn’t stop me. In few brisk blocks and I would be warmed up I was sure of it.

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   I was struck as I headed north on 7th toward Central Park at how deserted the streets were. Not a cab or bus, not a person, pigeon, rat or cat. I was as alone in The City as Harry Belafonte was in “The World, The Flesh and The Devil”. Only there had been no atom bomb to leave me alone on the streets. It was just a Saturday morning in the dead of winter.  I loved the feeling. For the time being New York belonged only to me.  I trudged past Carnegie Hall as a blast of steam from a manhole engulfed me and carried Judy’s ghost within its comforting fog. “We’ll sing em all and we’ll stay all night! ”  The wind grabbed the memory of her and whisked it away down 57th street toward the East River and on to the morning star.

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I pushed on up the Avenue. The street lights along Central Park South winked in the icy mist that swirled around them.  There ahead where West Drive cut into the park I saw a man crossing heading east on Central Park South. We would meet at the corner to head east together if indeed he was going to continue east. There was something familiar about his walk, his shape, his aura, just before he stepped up on the curb I smiled in my recognition. As I turned and we fell into step beside each other I nodded.

“Good Morning.”

“Good morning” He smiled. He was dressed like a proper New Yorker for winter. And very stylishly too.

For the next long block we said nothing but kept time with our feet. I could hear music in the air sharp with the threat of snow. Music I had heard since childhood. I was comfortable walking and not talking to him, both of us pretending that I didn’t know who he was.

Just before the Plaza Hotel the man nodded. “Have a nice day kid.”  He disappeared into a glowing golden foyer before he could hear my response.

“You too sir…”

Walking in the predawn darkness with Tony Bennett and not a soul around added magic to my mission.

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When I reached the Plaza I knew I couldn’t go another block without getting warmed up. I scooted in the side door as quickly as Cary Grant heading for a cocktail and his date with destiny in “North by Northwest”.  As I warmed up a bit along the walk past the Oak Room to the main lobby I remembered that Grant had lived here, also a little girl by the name of Heloise. “Psst! Hey Mister want to have an Elevator race?” Her real name was Liza Minnelli and she had inspired Kay Thomson to tell her tale to the world.

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Sweeping out the doors of the Plaza like I too belonged there and down the red carpeted stairs onto Grand Army Plaza I pushed into the wind and nearly ran to the shelter of good old Bergdorf Goodman and its glamorous glittering imperious widows. My face was instantly numb nullifying my visit to the Plaza. There was nothing to do but cover my lower face with the bath towel like Omar Sharif in Doctor Zhivago and solder on down 5th Avenue. At 57th on the sidewalk next to Van Cleef and Arpels was salvation, a little silver coffee wagon, more like a small mobile home steaming and gleaming with the promise of hot coffee and Danish.

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   The East Indian man served me pronto and then slammed the little window in my face against the winds hands that threatened to slap him hard across the face. Mitten-less I cupped my java and turned to behold my objective.

“When I get the mean reds the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and head straight to Tiffany’s!” I barley whispered the line.

There it stood in the very grey blue light at 5:56 a.m., Tiffany’s. I wasn’t cold anymore. I walked to the corner and crossed the empty intersection against the light on the diagonal from the northwest corner of 57th to the southeast corner. I sipped my coffee and looked down 5th… Picture 46

A cab was coming along at a good clip, an old one from the early 1960’s. It bounce gracefully twice on the dips along the street and pulled up in front of me and stopped. The back door opened and a black satin evening pump extended to touch the street. In a blink of time it was gone. I turned back to look in the window. Just the setting for the jewels was there, the jewels themselves were locked away. I nibbled on my Danish and walked to the next window see what wasn’t there and imagine what might be.

“Here’s to you Truman, and to you Holly and most of all to you Audrey.”  The wind kicked hard against my back and grabbed my empty Danish bag out of my frozen hand sending up against the building and around the corner to disappear down 57th. My breakfast at Tiffany’s was over.

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Grey Flannel by Geoffrey Beene is a classic from 1975 created by Andre Fromentin. This Woody Oriental has been a part of my perfume life almost since it hit the market back in the first years of the rise of Disco and a new age in men’s fashion and style, along with the ascent of the GQ man and the death of the hippie as fashion god.  It is a classic that to me embodies New York and the sartorial glamour of that city as few other American fragrances can.

It opens with a stylish warm citrus blast of Neroli, bergamot and lemon which are made unusually sophisticated by the addition of a very bitter rich green galbanum and a woody citrus petitgrain. This opening is bright and sharp and swiftly over to be followed by what I think is the showstopper surprise.

Here we move into a floral perfume for men that is stunning in its complexity and daring by today’s standards and ideas for a masculine fragrance.  Spring is in full bloom along 5th avenue atop the gardened terraces of the deco apartment buildings that face Central Park; it is all here in the middle notes. A sensuous blend of bold Violet, irreverent Iris, rose over flowing the planters, golden Mimose, green heady Narcissus, are tethered to a grounding desert sage, and dirty earthy geranium.  This Sage and the geranium keep the notes all low like a humming baritone cello and pull the chorus of soprano florals into a beautiful masculine tone. It is Tony Bennett singing “Maybe September”, smooth, sophisticated and a little melancholy.

The base notes are a strong foundation of the old standards of Oakmoss, Tonka bean, Cedar and a sharp very green vetiver. This is spiked with a bit of almond that gives the perfume a woody nutty warmth in the dry down.  There is a bit of a soapy feeling too but not detergent or cheap bar soap, but rather a very superior rich soap reminiscent of some of Roger e Gallet’s fine soap scents.

As for longevity it is a real long distance runner. Well paced for the long haul and comes in a winner every time. People always comment in the positive when I wear Grey Flannel. The sillage is out there as is the norm of these old classics from the 70’s so it is something to use with discretion. After 8 hours it moves in close and stays there.

This fine woody oriental fragrance is something for a man of taste and a well developed nose. Often younger noses find Grey Flannel to be a bit more than challenging.  I believe that is from the over glut of the Cool Water’s and Aqua Di Gio’s of the last twenty five years. Not to mention the supper sweets of A-Men and sickly bubble gum 1Millions. The watering down of the public tasted in perfume. Mainstream perfumers have moved away from complex and challenging creations to meet the demands of the buying public that only want to smell “clean and fresh” One only hopes that time will bring style and originality back into the mainstream.

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GREY FLANNEL BY GEOFFREY BEENE FIVE GOLD STARS *****

(MAYBE SEPTEMBER ~ TONY BENNETT)

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