Living in a Bubble

So the other day the ten year old boy that lives across the street got his first electric guitar (he got it at an arcade, spending $100 to win enough tickets to get it & I didn’t have the heart to tell him it’s a $50 guitar, though maybe $50 guitars go for $100 these days) & his grandmother asked me if he could come over & I could help him tune it. I tuned his guitar & gave him a couple tips on hand position for his fretting hand & showed him that he can do picking patterns with his picking hand (previously just doing the chord strumming). It ends up he already had an acoustic guitar & had been occasionally taking lessons from his cousin for a couple years, so he already had some music stuff installed on his tablet that he brought over. Including a full version of Garage Band. I think the last time I messed with GarageBand was probably 2004 or something like that & things have changed & playing with it for five minutes really enlightened me about music. It was really easy to get good sounds out & using it really made it apparent that the defaults in there are being used a lot for the production music in various TV shows, commercials, video games, & YouTube videos which kinda points to why it seems like the music placement thing seems to be drying up. I mean, there have to be better versions than this & it’s pretty good. It reminds me of the rise of cheap keyboards that everybody got from their mom at Christmas & I feel like eventually made a whole generation of musicians (including me) not really respect the instrument. But it’s fun, it makes music accessible & non-elitist to make & I get why that devalues music in a way, makes it seem more like a game than work, & puts another nail in the coffin in the working musician class. Making music seem more of a hobby than a career. Music being the same as my dad playing tennis is a weird idea to me, but maybe if I can start thinking of music in that way instead of as a failing career I’ll be happier with it anyhow. Anything to let me walk into the future instead of being stuck in the past.

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A Remora Show

So a week ago now I did a Remora ensemble concept show.  The idea isn’t new, I’ve appeared in ensemble concept shows like Triangle Rhysing & the Electric Bird Noise Live at The Basement series; but it was my first time organizing one.  The concept was super loose, make a guitar feedback & try not to be the loudest one doing it with 6 guys & 8 guitars & a bass on stage.  I was stoked to get three of my frequent collaborators on board (Nic Slaton of slicnaton, Martin Newman of Goddakk/Plumerai/DRLNG, & Michael Wood of M is We) plus two guys I’ve only recently met (Michael Madsen of M is We & Rowland Yeargan of Sportsmanship).  I haven’t gotten all the audio sorted out yet (I have three source recordings that were located in different spots in the venue), but I imagine this will be a release at some point.  Everyone who took part said they’d do it again, so maybe it will happen again.  Though I have to check if all the amps survived.  Anyway, here’s the video.

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Harlan Ellison, Rest Restless

So Harlan Ellison died the other day.  He has been pretty inspirational to my aggressive ambient work as far as getting me in a headspace for the post apocalyptic soundscapes to exist.  I probably should’ve told him because you should let people know when you appreciate them.  People post “rest in peace” for him & while I admit I never had a conversation with him, I think he’d find the idea of resting in peace somewhat offensive.  He always said he wanted people to know he could still shock them & to me that’s not the sign of wanting to rest in peace,  so rest restless sir.  Anyway here’s a piece inspired by “I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream.” https://silbermedia.bandcamp.com/track/something-organic-to-service-the-machine

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Silber Newsletter June 27, 2018

Hey Kidz,


Sorry there hasn’t been too much news coming out lately.  A lot going on to completely zap me lately & gum up the gears at Silber.  So even though stuff is happening, I’m not really getting the word out well.  But here I am trying to fix all that.


The main impediment to Silber at this point is that we’re facing the same death of a thousand cuts as most labels & artists with a little less money coming in each month & that means me needing to get more income from day jobs, which limits my time to work on Silber which lowers the new content & promotion which of course further reduces the income & that means more work at the day jobs & you see where that means things are headed.  But I love Silber & I’m as incapable of stopping it as I am of keeping it from slowing down.  That all said this past couple of months has been pretty rough, my wife’s grandmother died & it was a pretty hard hit to the family & a week later when we were at the funeral our cat Iris died (fun fact: the Small Life Form piece “It is not safe, but it is warm” is about her sleeping on cooling electric burners).  There’s nothing to be sad about because the grandmother was 92 & the cat was 16 & they both lived full lives, it’s just a problem of missing them giving comfort when needed in ways they did that no one else does.  So we’ll keep moving on.  Working & helping others in the way we uniquely do.


So what’s up here? New music out from Rowland Yeargan, P.D. Wilder, Small Life Form, & a couple remixes for Azalia Snail from Anda Volley & Alan Sparhawk of Low (more info on them all below).


While I’m writing this, there’s a Remora show coming up tonight as a feedback drone ensemble.  We will attempt to record it & see if it’s interesting enough to unleash on the world.  Next month will have the debut live appearance of my Muscle Mass project (primitive dance/drone).  Still planning to record some of the Remora music box material from last year & the Small Life Form organ ensemble stuff before I forget about having done those things.


There’s a lot of new music on Silber waiting on me to come out including Space Sweeper, slicnaton, Goddakk, Stoic Automaton, Luka Fisher, Chvad SB, Philip Polk Palmer, Jon Dawson, Petri Dish, & Nebh.  I just gotta start making a dedicated effort to getting things to come out first & worry about the time to promote them second or things aren’t going to happen at all.


There are a couple comics that came out, but they aren’t even available to order on the website as yet.  One was written by the drone cub & is a two panel comic that was interpreted by half a dozen cartoonists.  The other is the third installment of Seabase 17, which is turning into a near future Cthulhu story.


QRD has a ton of interviews ready to go, but I just haven’t had the time to make it all come together.  I have a goal of proofing an interview a day & catching up, but it’s been hard to get that habit started!


So that’s most of the news from here.  Spread the word if you can.  Let us know if you want to be removed from the mailing list.  Thanks for your interest & support.


Hrt
Brian John Mitchell
www.silbermedia.com
https://www.facebook.com/silbermedia
http://twitter.com/silberspy


NEW FROM SILBER

“Field Rep” from the album Neon Resistance remixed by Alan Sparhawk of Low.

Azalia Snail - Field Rep Azalia Snail – Field Rep (Alan Sparhawk Remix)
MP3 Remix Single 2018 | Silber 264
1 track, 3 minutes
$2 download
Listen on Bandcamp

 

Azalia Snail - Head On Over Azalia Snail – Head On Over (Anda Volley Remix)
MP3 Remix Single 2018 | Silber 265
1 tracks, 3 minutes
$2 download
Listen on Bandcamp

“Head On Over” from the album Neon Resistance remixed by Anda Volley.

 

Rowland Yeargan - Close Your Eyes Rowland Yeargan – Close Your Eyes
MP3 EP 2018 | Silber 263
5 tracks, 5 minutes
$1 download
Listen on Silber | Listen on Bandcamp | Listen on Spotify

Five minutes of drone from new Silber ally Rowland Yeargan.

: Press Release
: Reviews

P.D. Wilder - Remember to Remind Me P.D. Wilder - Remember to Remind Me
MP3 Album 2017 | Silber 261
5 tracks, 62 minutes
$5 download
Listen on Silber | Listen on Bandcamp | Listen on Spotify

P. D. Wilder, ex-Hotel Hotel, continues in the age-old tradition of hillbilly beardos playing ambient drone music solo armed with a guitar & a dozen pedals. Now a father, Wilder recorded much of “remember to remind me” during the nine months before his son’s birth. A reflection & meditation on life with change during the anticipation of change. Birth, life, death, birth, always changing always moving forward, always the same – yet always building & changing, drone is forever.


: Press Release
: Reviews

 

Small Life Form - Fragments Small Life Form – Fragments
MP3 Album 2018 | Silber 260
10 tracks, 80 minutes
$5 download
Listen on Silber | Listen on Bandcamp | Listen on Spotify

Small Life Form started as a studio project of sound exploration in 1998 & became a live project in 2007 focusing on electro-acoustics & super simple synthesizers. Fragments collects studio recordings from 2012-2014 dominated by the live rig of the era complimented by a few computer sound sculptures (“slow silence”, “so sincere”, “BPM65″, “fluorescent”, “buzz”). The stage is set with “something organic to service the machine” inspired by Harlan Ellison’s short story “I Have No Mouth, & I Must Scream” for a slab of post-apocalyptic sci-fi doom drone. After mankind has fallen, sound still needs to be explored.


: Press Release
: Reviews

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I’m Working On It

There’s a lot going on & life is slowing things down.  There are 5 releases up on the Bandcamp (3 of them on Spotify, 2 not at artist’s request) that I haven’t had a chance to get up on Silber yet & properly promote.  There’s a half dozen other releases I’m trying to get ready to go.  The Father’s Day QRD still isn’t done, but will be a massive issue.  Life has been hitting hard lately.  Two weeks ago my wife’s grandmother died & it was a really hard hit even though we knew it was coming.  On & off over the past couple years we talked about moving up to Toledo to be physically closer to her, but didn’t do it & it’s hard to know what the right call on that was (I feel it’s common knowledge I was the primary caregiver to my own grandmother for about ten years), because it would’ve been even harder to balance life in that scenario than the current one.  So leaving town for a week meant a big back up on the day job & then our 16 year old cat died when we were out of town so it’s been really tough to get in the mode for getting work done.  But I’m trying, slower than ever, but surely, to get the work done here.  I also got a couple shows coming up.  A guitar drone ensemble from Remora & part of doing that piece is it won’t show how bad my hands have gotten on the guitar or my feet on the pedals.  Guest musicians will include Rowland Yeargan & Michael Wood.  Maybe a couple others. We’ll see what happens on it, I’ll try to record it.  I also was asked to do the first Muscle Mass show.  I’ve done a few things as Muscle Mass over the past ten years, maybe 20 songs with 6 or 7 released & so being asked to do a show with it is kinda inspiring.  With a month until show time I don’t know that I’ll really find the time to write & record material brought to full fruition, but we’ll see how it goes.  Primitive drone dance.  Anyway, just a mild update.  Hopefully you’ll see & hear new stuff soon.

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Slowly is Surely

So I thought updating the blog was going to be a normal thing when I did four posts close together, but now it’s been six weeks.  A lot going on in the personal world slowing down the art world for me.  I went on the annual trip to SPACE to see like minded cartoonists & it was great to old friends & make a couple new ones.  The one day job has been staying steady at full time while I continue to work a part time & two miniscule ones & it makes getting things done at Silber tough.  Releases are starting to come out on Spotify & Bandcamp substantially before I can get them ready on the Silber site & send out promo, but it’ll all work itself out in the end.

I did start running the Facebook ads to help promote the 5in5 series on Spotify, but because of how the payout works, it’ll take me two months to see if they are paying for themselves (which is the goal).

I just applied for a small business make over contest for $10,000 which I doubt I’ll get, but I do think it’s good to occasionally come up with a little business plan for if money fell into Silber’s lap.  My proposal was to used $2500 towards getting a new label sampler done to send out for promotional use, $500 towards promoting the mini-comics, $2000 towards getting the equipment to start doing a podcast properly, $500 towards making ebooks from the QRD Archives, & the rest on advertisement – which is a huge amount to me.  To be honest I don’t know if being higher profile would result in more sales or just result in more demos.

I’ve been listening to Six by Seven in the car a lot the past few days & I decided the band is important enough to me that I should give them some money, so I ordered $60 worth of stuff from them.  I should do that more often.  It makes me feel good.  But money is in pretty short supply lately.

Some of you may remember my parents’ basement (& Silber storage space) flooded a couple years ago.  It flooded to a lesser degree a couple weeks ago (no Silber stuff damaged), & I’ve been trying to help do some pretty heavy duty landscaping to slow the water flow down.  The city did finally come out & while they wouldn’t admit it was their fault, they did say they would see about expanding the drainage pipe since it is going beyond capacity on a regular basis.

Alright, back to work on both the day job & hopefully some Silber stuff.  A lot going on from Azalia Snail, Rowland Yeargan, Chvad SB, Small Life Form, P.D. Wilder, Goddakk, slicnaton, QRD, Space Sweeper, & more super soon.

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Recent Reviews

Getting back used to doing the blog is hard to get back in the habit of.  Here are some relatively recent reviews of Chvad SB & Azalia Snail.

CHVAD SB: STRUCTURE
North Carolina’s ethereal auteurs Silber Records bring us Structures, a hauntingly charming guitar drone from Chvad SB. The album encompasses two 20+ minute pieces of sculptured sonic hegemony, that swirl, glisten, crackle and shout with stunning effect. The album is minimalist and engaging, with lots of edge to tread and spark to admire. Love this one, and an absolute must have.
~ Floorshime Zipper Boots

The US drone creator Chvad SB released the two track single Structure on the 29th of December.
The two track single (available on bandcamp) runs for roughly three quarter of an hour of immersive soundscape.
The opening track Column sits around an extended note from which half-caught inflections almost imperceptibly surface akin to, invisible to the naked eye, imperfections in glass.
Pillar, my pick of the release, is a blurry flow of frequencies which clear to reveal, again, an extended single note, circled by detuned melodics of guitar.
As is usually the case with drone – be in no hurry having hit play as Pillar lasts the better part of twenty two minutes.
~ Tim Whale, Emerging Indie Bands

AZALIA SNAIL: NEON RESISTANCE
There’s no handy one- or two-word modifier to assign to the music of Azalia Snail. A singer, songwriter, and sculptor of sound and notes, she came out of New York in the early 1990s and cut a distinctive figure even by Gotham’s standard of independent-minded visionary rock.
Over the last 25 years, Snail has worked with seemingly contradictory elements. Her music is low-fidelity to the core and, at the same time, deeply ambient. She has perfected a kind of lo-fi total immersion, where each instrument has the tone of something borrowed or found, but in combination the arrangements give a ragged orchestral beauty to her surreal, catchy compositions.
~ Jen Dan, Stereo Embers

It’s been 13 yeas since I last interviewed Azalia Snail and she remains the creative whirlwind she always was. Starting in the late eighties, she moved prolifically through the US underground rock scene of the 1990s (the Queen of Lo-Fi) and collaborated with many of its soon to be stars like Beck, Trumans Water and Sebadoh. She kept up the pace in the 2000s when the music industry went through something of a revolution (when people stopped wanting to pay for music) and has continued right up to today. As she says in the interview below, “I am a lifer.”
She has always written very personal songs and on her new album, Neon Resistance, that is still very much the case. Its lead track, ‘Celeste (Can You Feel It)’ (video below), is huge, an epic Pop song that will ear-worm its way into your life. Let’s hope there really is that parallel universe where Azalia is a star and appreciated for producing songs like this and then lets all go live there! So many of these latest songs really do stay with you, Azalia has managed to capture her personality in them, produced something unique and original to her and they are just plain catchy.
‘Cherry Blossom’ is said to be a ‘calming song about death’ and it really is like a soothing anthem for everyone. The album was produced by Azalia’s husband, Dan West, who plays with her in LoveyDove. He has done an amazing job and given a track like, ‘Made Out Of Honey’, the perfect measure of everything to make it soar and add to the tally of outstanding songs here that will stand the test of time. Another of the highlights is a cover of Tom Petty’s ‘The Wild One, Forever’. This is a song close to Azalia’s heart and she has been singing it since she was a teen. Her version is quite breathtaking and a wonderful tribute.
‘Every Day is your Day” is said to be the anti-birthday song Azalia has always wanted to write. Why can’t every day be your day, she asks. Whimsical and quirky and very and accessible too, another song destined to last much more than a day. There is a more serious side to Azalia’s music as well, which she delivers with just as much passion, ‘Save this Place’ and ‘Weekend Back’ are described as ‘politically charged mantras that speak about the necessity of revolution and resistance.’ We live in a time when these issues need to be addressed as well.
‘The Moral Chemist’ is brilliant with lovely Latin rhythms and there is even a tribute to Alan Vega of Suicide. The closer is perfect too, ‘I am the Night Sky’, is said to be a song of protection and reflection and it sends us off to our own dreams and realities much the better for spending even this short time in the company of Azalia Snail. The theme of the album is stated as, ‘staying true to yourself, your vision, and the ones to whom you surround yourself. The resistance, after all, is irresistible.’ I couldn’t have summed the sentiments of all these songs better than that. If you love great uplifting and honest songs, then you will fall in love with this album.
~ Stephen Rennicks, Abstract Analogue

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Original Soundtrack – The God Inside My Ear

If you’ve been following Silber for a while, you know that I did some comics with Joe Badon a few years ago (Built & Bottle Comics: Salvation as well as writing a story for an anthology he put together) & a while ago he was doing a comic kickstarter for his Terra Kaiju comic & I helped put together a soundtrack compilation to promote the comic.  Recently Joe made a movie & he asked me to try to do some stuff for him & it was a lot of fun.  It’s been probably five years since I was actively pursuing soundtrack gigs & close to ten since I really worked on one.  It’s great to have people you work with moving up & doing exciting things & dragging you along with them.  For years I’ve felt like I’ve been trying to be the one dragging people up, so it’s great to feel like someone else is tugging me up when things are a bit down.  So anyway, The God Inside My Ear is on the festival circuit at this point, but hopefully we’ll all be able to see it in the near future.  Meanwhile here’s the soundtrack including at least one piece by me (maybe more, I did three & can’t remember how many he used).

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mixing & mixing & mixing

So I’ve spent the past few days working on a mix for a potential compilation appearance.  It’s not my normal style.  It’s something I wrote & recorded in five minutes on my niece’s piano ten years ago, but found the recording last month & cut up & rebuilt the piece, not exactly knowing what I was going for (I mean it’s clearly closer to Harold Budd in style than Small Life Form, even though that’s the moniker I slapped on it).  I thought I was done with it & sent it off to the compiler.  I asked Brian McKenzie/Electric Bird Noise if he was doing something for the same comp & he said he was & I sent him my piece to hear  & he had some suggestions for making the mix better.  So I made a new mix, then more suggestions & another mix & another mix & he did one for me as well.  It’s great to have someone to bounce your ideas on, but this is one of the problems I have with working on music on my computer.  In the 1990s I would have my 4 track & mix stuff down in real time onto my mini-disc recorder, sometimes playing extra parts live during the mix down. So what I had was the end.  There were glitches all over the place – timing issues, pops, crackles, breath in the mic,  a high noise floor – but it all kinda worked for me.  I think the Remora release Amerse from that era is my most popular album, even if not my best work.  These days even starting to record for me is a laborious process & it all feels more like work than it did twenty years ago & maybe that comes out in the music.  But I’m hoping that’s going to change.  Since having the drone cub, my time to dedicate to Silber & my own music/art has really declined, so maybe when I do figure out a way to get some time to get things done, there will be an immediacy & excitement again.  Last week I played a show where two bands covered “My Brother’s Guns & Knives” & I wrote that song as a 30 second long demo that Brian McKenzie said when listening to my current batch of demos should become a fuller song.  I really want to force myself back into that.  Playing with new ideas on a regular basis, that’s the fun part of music & even I admit that if you aren’t having fun with music anymore, it’s time to let it go because the 1990s aren’t coming back….

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2 Responses to mixing & mixing & mixing

  1. Lullabier says:

    The recording process has become often boring and laborious. I really enjoyed working on my latest Firetail EP, which has been recorded all in one single take. That kind of immediacy is really needed sometimes.

  2. Philip Palmer says:

    I much preferred the do it yourself 4 track cassette days to the do it yourself digital days we live in, but yeah, drive in theaters, milk delivered to your house, typewriters, and the Gaitlin gun.
    ppp

Blogging & Data Mining & a Day

So I guess the decline with Facebook is really happening.  I’m not sad about it because I’ve never really connected to the platform like I did with MySpace.  It’s interesting to me that it’s happening without people having a clear space they are going to as a replacement & in a way it makes me hopeful to rebuilding some of the connections that have been lost for ten years both for me personally & for the world as a whole.  The blog here had pretty much died off in favor of the micro-blogging that is what FB/Twitter are all about, so I’m going to see if I can bring it back as something that feels like an interesting outlet to me & maybe some folks will start reading it again.  So here we are, with some of my inane stuff that may in someway be interesting to you starting with my two stories vaguely relating to Facebook.

So last week my ten year old cell phone went into a boot loop & I had to put it to factory settings to get it to work again.  I got pretty much all of my contacts loaded back in the phone fine & I’m pretty sure I didn’t even lose any of the demos I record on it since those are on the SD card (though I haven’t checked yet), but it’s so old now that it seems like I might not be able to install the few apps I did have & use on it because the current versions of the apps don’t work with it.  The main one that maybe some folks have already noticed is Instagram where I’d post really crap arty farty photos, which is why Instagram had become pretty much the only social media I used for anything other than broadcasting my own stuff.  On Instagram I didn’t have to read about national politics or the personal politics of people calling each other names for whatever reason.  I just got to see photos my friends took of their art or of their cats or of a show they went to & I could do it while waiting for the drone cub to get out of pre-school or in line at the grocery store, so it really fit my time schedule.  I also lost Spotify & Shazam.  So I’m debating getting a new to me phone, maybe even a semi-legit smart phone, but I’m also kinda fine with only having the ability to only use it as a phone & text device, especially if it in some way makes me more productive.  We’ll see how I go with it.

So I guess part of the thing with people leaving Facebook is they’re upset that Facebook is free because of ad revenue & data mining & the way it works.  I’ve never had a problem with it, though I have thought for the past 8 years that Facebook should offer an ad free option for $9.99 a month or something.  I also feel like it’s worth telling my personal experience with data mining on my favorite social network of the past, MySpace.  So back in 2007 I was using MySpace to find new folks who I thought would like Silber.  It was hard & tedious work & eventually I got a software robot to help do it.  Each time a new release came out I’d collect fan lists for seven “recommended if you like” bands & then I’d run those lists in Excel to tell me who liked at least four of those seven bands & I’d send them a personal message saying I saw they liked these bands & thought they mike like the new release on Silber.  A typical campaign would have 1000 people contacted & I’d get a band 200 new fans, Silber 50 new fans, one person calling me a spammer, & five thank you messages.  It really built the audience to a new level & it felt exciting, like things were naturally growing.  I suppose when the MySpace exodus happened in 2008/2009 I thought about doing the same thing on Facebook/Twitter, but it felt like I’d wasted so much time & energy on it at MySpace that I just didn’t want to do it again, not to mention that neither Facebook or Twitter are art/music friendly in the way MySpace was.  I spent some money on Facebook ads doing the same type of fan targeting & it seemed like it didn’t build any interest or communication in the way MySpace naturally did & I was pretty much done with thinking of Facebook or Twitter or social media in general as useful rather than necessary.  Meanwhile because of the volume of people interested in Silber because of MySpace the blog (originally started to hold me accountable for doing some work every single day) was getting a ton of traffic (a few thousand readers a day) so things still felt exciting, but as the shift happened from people using the internet in general to just using Facebook the readership dropped away & so I eventually quit the blog, but here I am trying to start it back up as the way people can keep up with me & Silber.

So today in the actual music news department, I sent a track in for Levi Fuller’s next Ball of Wax compilation.  It’s a Small Life Form track called “Old Sounds for a Young Piano”  & I recorded it back in 2005 or something on my niece’s piano, but cut it up to fix the timing issues & all that just a couple weeks ago.  I sometimes think one of my mistakes as a musician was not buying a $50 piano when I was 20, but I can’t imagine where I would’ve put the thing at pretty much any point in life.  In other Small Life Form news I got the recordings of the Small Life Form show from last week & while they are fine, I’m not happy enough with my personal vocal performance on it to release it; though it does make me want to bother to record some stuff in the style of the recent sets (droning reed organs & chantish vocals).  In still other Small Life Form news I have a two hour long collection of pieces that I’ve sent to a few folks to check out to see if it’s ready for release in the near future.

Today in the “life is hard” department, I did my taxes & I owe kind of a lot of money ($6000!  WTF!) because I do a thing where my pre-paid taxes each year are based on the taxes from the previous year (both my wife & I are independent contractors in our day jobs, so no taxes are withheld) & I forgot that last year’s taxes were totally thrown out of wack because the flood was a $10,000 right off & thankfully that hasn’t happened again.  In the grand scheme of things, I feel like the amount I pay in taxes is totally reasonable for the general feeling of safety & security living in the United States provides, it’s just scary when you see it in a giant lump.

More later.  Maybe tomorrow.

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