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June 14, 2006 12:23 PM   Subscribe

Entertainment NewsFilter: the surviving Beach Boys, including Mike Love and Brian Wilson, appeared together in public today, for the first time in ten years, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of Pet Sounds. Mike Love recently sued Brian Wilson for royalties and co-writing credits, again, after Brian released SMiLE, a mere 38 years after originally starting on it. The strife between the two has been ongoing for decades. As Brian grew more musically ambitious in the Pet Sounds and SMiLE era, Mike legendarily admonished Brian not to "fuck with the formula." [m.i.]
posted by ibmcginty (59 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Mike had sued earlier to get songwriting credits for songs like “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” for which Brian's Pet Sounds-era collaborator Tony Asher assessed Mike's level of contribution at "none, whatsoever." During the trial, in response to Mike's attorney's theory that Mike could have discussed the song on the phone with Brian and Asher, Asher responded, "Mr. Love did not then and I pray does not now, have my home phone number."

Mike's comments at the Beach Boys' Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction led another Brian collaborator from that era, Van Dyke Parks, to give away “Golden Mike” Awards, given to entertainers caught on tape expressing bizarre views.
posted by ibmcginty at 12:24 PM on June 14, 2006


Good news I guess, but I'm surprised Brian even cares given the decent succes he had in recording and touring on Smile. The only people with something to gain here are the John Stamos-era Beach Boys.

That said, among my many fly-on-the-wall/time-machine/rocknroll fantasies, I'd love to spend a weekend with the guys in the early days, when they were hangin' with Charles Manson, soaking up all those good vibrations that led to drug abuse, manic depression, and catatonia. Actually, just a day is probably all I could handle.
posted by bardic at 12:30 PM on June 14, 2006



posted by Mayor Curley at 12:40 PM on June 14, 2006


Huh. For some reason I thought Mike Love was finally dead.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:43 PM on June 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


So, wait, has Mike Love become more bat shit insane than Brian Wilson in the last twenty years? Or is he just a raging asshole of unmeasured proportions?
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:45 PM on June 14, 2006


My impression is that Mike Love was always the douchebag. He was certainly always the one making "special guest appearances" on Full House all the time...
posted by stenseng at 1:02 PM on June 14, 2006


Every account I've ever read of the Beach Boys history posits Love as a prick with a good singing voice. Brian, well I saw Brian on the Pet Sounds Orchestral Tour in Florida and it was astounding. Although "Don't Worry Baby," will always be their best song. As far as him and Love appearing together, if they want to reconcile that's their business, I guess.
posted by jonmc at 1:26 PM on June 14, 2006


I used to feel that the BB's were such overrated crap. Then one day I listened to the opening chords of God Only Knows, and In My Room, for probably the hundredth time with no sense of curiosity, and my heart and head almost exploded.

The sad thing is most people still regard them as bubble-gum tripe from a distant era and get none of the beauty of their harmonies and arrangements. At least the balance of critical analysis is on our side, I guess.
posted by docpops at 1:47 PM on June 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


Good call, docprops. My appreciation for what the Beach Boys - or more specifically, Brian Wilson - achieved musically between approximately 1964 and 1966 continues to grow.

It's funny, because you hear a record like "Good Vibrations" not and it's part of the backdrop; nothing remarkable about it because you've heard it so many zillions of times. But what must it have been like to have heard that "pocket syphony" on the radio for the first time? It had to have been revelatory; and in the context of what the Beatles were also doing at the time, where pop music seemed to be headed... heady days, indeed.

The demise of the original "Smile" was always my favorite rock and roll myth. How would pop music history have been different had Love not advised Wilson to stop fucking with the formula; what might have happened had the Beach Boys gone along with Wilson's trippy musical genius instead of undermining his confidence and dragging him - and ultimately the band - back to earth?

Dunno, but with few execeptions - "Sunflower" springs to mind - the Beach Boys were never as relevant as they were in that summer of '66, when it all seemed possible.
posted by kgasmart at 1:57 PM on June 14, 2006


You know, Brian Love is the reason "Kokomo" became a hit in the 1980's and for that alone he has earned a place in some sort of rock and roll purgatory.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:04 PM on June 14, 2006


Sorry, Mike Love. Clearly I am the bat shit insane one.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:05 PM on June 14, 2006


Brian Love?
posted by doctor_negative at 2:07 PM on June 14, 2006


On preview, oops
posted by doctor_negative at 2:07 PM on June 14, 2006


I'm with jonmc-- everything I've ever seen says that Mike Love was always a prick, ever more self-deluding over time. My dad's friend punched him in the face this one time, I don't really know much more than that, but I don't doubt that Mike deserved it.
posted by ibmcginty at 2:09 PM on June 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


nobody's stopping Love from coming out with his own original musical masterpiece (my proposed title: 'scowl') and thus getting his fair share out of the beach boys name (that he hasn't gotten already from sucking all the life out of the old songs...as if playing every county fair and beer fest coast to coast has done nothing to water down the beach boys name)...

...i know a lot of people who didn't give beach boys much attention until smile, and then proceeded to buy up a ton of their stuff...so i'd like to see some statistics that would indicate that smile's release did anything but drive up sales of beach boys stuff...

...i spent a good deal of last summer learning 'smile' on piano (admittedly, out of a sheet music book--i'm not great, so it's painstaking), and picking it up again this summer with the hopes of eventually memorizing it beginning to end...it's a neat thing to look up close at how those songs are put together...
posted by troybob at 2:19 PM on June 14, 2006


I just wanted to say:

it's ALL about "Heroes and Villains". That song blew my mind.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:24 PM on June 14, 2006


I realize opinions here are pretty firm regarding music hipsters and/or Pitchfork writers, but I'd suggest that a lot of the critical regard for Wilson, Pet Sounds, and Smile (as opposed to the BB=bubblegum notion that docpops mentioned) came during the late 90's/early Naughts from a renewed interest in classic rock generally, and pyschedelic music in particular. Anecdotally, it wasn't until critics at PFM started name-dropping Wilson that I decided to dig up some of my parents' Beach Boys albums. Full House snark aside, the BB's (and their legacy) were a joke during the 1980's. They'd become as square as Lawrence Welk in terms of public perception.

Now maybe someone could argue it was an ironical type of love, but I think contemporary groups like Animal Collective have nothing but reverence for Brian Wilson.
posted by bardic at 2:36 PM on June 14, 2006


I used to feel that the BB's were such overrated crap. Then one day I listened to the opening chords of God Only Knows

Same here for "Feel Flows" at the end of "Almost Famous"... I looked up the soundtrack and thought "Beach Boys? There must be some mistake."

You know, [Mike] Love is the reason "Kokomo" became a hit in the 1980's and for that alone he has earned a place in some sort of rock and roll purgatory.

The years 1985 - 89 were dark, dark times for rock and pop.
posted by kurumi at 3:02 PM on June 14, 2006


Bardic, the 80's touring Beach Boys with Mike Love and Bruce Johnson may have been a joke but I don't think the real legacy of the Beach Boys or Brian ever were. He was labeled a genius by critics back in the sixties and Pet Sounds has always been recognized as one of the most influential of its time.

That said, Mike Love is an asshole.
posted by gfrobe at 3:27 PM on June 14, 2006


Eye of the beholder and all that. If you went to see the Beach Boys in the 1980's, you saw Mike Love and John Stamos. I'm just making a small case that some of the very music hipsters mefites tend to despise had a part in saving precisely that legacy. I was just fine and dandy with my Pixies and my Replacements and my loathing of much classic rock. I would never have wound up liking Pet Sounds if not for "those guys."

Just sayin'.
posted by bardic at 4:24 PM on June 14, 2006


Well, here they are in 1971 muddling their way through a Pet Sounds masterpiece. It's not all their fault (the sound mixing is horrid)... but Al Jardine bungles up the lyrics trying to sing lead. And is that Mike Love on the far left with the mountain man beard?
posted by evilcolonel at 4:25 PM on June 14, 2006


bardic writes "I was just fine and dandy with my Pixies and my Replacements and my loathing of much classic rock. I would never have wound up liking Pet Sounds if not for 'those guys.'"

It's worth noting that Black Francis/Frank Black is a huge Beach Boys fan, and he was giving them their props back in the late 80s and early 90s. They also were pretty prominently name checked by The Jesus and Mary Chain, Yo La Tengo, and many others in the College/Underground scene that I'm sure I'm forgetting (there must be a Replacements angle, too, but I don't know about it for sure). Reading interviews with those guys led me to listen to the Beach Boys seriously...
posted by mr_roboto at 5:01 PM on June 14, 2006


Preview: I see the latest Beach Boys greatest hits album is selling pretty well. Have you been working on any new material?

Love: Actually, there's an album we just released this month. It's called, "Songs From Here and Back." It has seven live tracks and three new studio tracks from Al (Jardine), Brian (Wilson) and me. It's only available at Hallmark stores. If you buy three cards, you get the CD for like $7.95. There's a song on there I wrote called "Cool Head, Warm Heart" that I'm really proud of.


Operators are standing by.
posted by blucevalo at 5:38 PM on June 14, 2006


The Blondie Chaplin era Beach Boys of Sail On Sailor vintage had their moments, on vinyl and in person, despite the presence of Mr. Love. I saw them at the Paramount in 1973-- with Billy Joel as the opening act:

Billy Joel: Play me a song, Mr. Piano Man...

Audience member: YOU SUCK !

Another audience member: GET OFF THE FUCKIN" STAGE, LOSER !

And so on...

Boy, did we ever razz his ass.

And did we call it right or what ? His suckitude only grew...

Ah, golden memories....
posted by y2karl at 6:26 PM on June 14, 2006


Brian Wilson released a solo album that was competely ignored in 1988. It was self titled, and it is one of my favorite albums. The reviews were out of control positive. Wilson said in an interview at the time that he was concerned that his album was so good that it would turn people's attention away from the Beach Boys. Wilson's album bombed. The Beach Boys had a number one hit with Kokomo.

I can't recommend that album enough to anyone who likes Wilson's music. He has continued to play "Love and Mercy" and "Melt Away" from it. He does an all parts a capella harmony on "One For the Boys." It is just tremendous.
posted by flarbuse at 7:06 PM on June 14, 2006


The Beach Boys were never my cup of tea - not counting God Only Knows - but the fact that Paul McCartney considered Wilson & Co. legit competitors is more than enough reason for me to respect their accomplishments.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:14 PM on June 14, 2006


Another audience member: GET OFF THE FUCKIN" STAGE, LOSER !

What I would have given to be there to see that. Sigh .....
posted by blucevalo at 7:27 PM on June 14, 2006


The years 1985 - 89 were dark, dark times for rock and pop.

Not so.

My 1978 theory of Rock n' Roll :

Any band that was popular before 1978 sucked to high hell during the 1980s.

The only exception I can think of is Bowie, and he doesn't count because he's technically from Mars.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:23 PM on June 14, 2006


were the Ramones popular or unpopular before 1978?

either way, Aerosmith had a pretty nice run in the 80s.
posted by tsarfan at 11:53 PM on June 14, 2006


Full House snark aside, the BB's (and their legacy) were a joke during the 1980's. They'd become as square as Lawrence Welk in terms of public perception.

Maybe in the US. I understand that their image was always better in England.

Now maybe someone could argue it was an ironical type of love, but I think contemporary groups like Animal Collective have nothing but reverence for Brian Wilson.

Not to mention the Elephant 6 bands.

I'm just making a small case that some of the very music hipsters mefites tend to despise had a part in saving precisely that legacy.

Mefites tend to despise? I have no idea what you're talking about.
posted by ludwig_van at 6:02 AM on June 15, 2006


I'd suggest that a lot of the critical regard for Wilson, Pet Sounds, and Smile (as opposed to the BB=bubblegum notion that docpops mentioned) came during the late 90's/early Naughts

Actually, critics like Dave Marsh & Lester Bangs had praised The Beach Boys and Pet Sounds in particular years before the Pitchfork puds were even born.

I was just fine and dandy with my Pixies and my Replacements and my loathing of much classic rock. I would never have wound up liking Pet Sounds if not for 'those guys.'"

I liked the Pixies and the Replacements (and many other punk & postpunk acts) precisely because they reminded me of the best of older artists work. I'm not sure what you're getting at here, either.
posted by jonmc at 6:30 AM on June 15, 2006


Listen you people, how many times do I have to tell you this: The Beach Boys were washed up by the time of Pet Sounds. Yeah, yeah, yeah... it's a good album. But the REAL masterpiece is the 1965 album "Beach Boys Today," with "She Knows Me Too Well," "When I Grow Up," "Don't Hurt My Little Sister," "Good to My Baby," "Please Let Me Wonder," and "Dance, Dance, Dance" -- (and an inferior-to-the-single take of "Help me Ronda [sic]")all of which are better than anything on "Pet Sounds." This album culminates the greatness that began with "Let's Go Surfin," and built through "Shut Down Part II."
"Good Vibrations" is a wonderful song, horribly produced. It's a big, moosh -- but not nearly as bad as the heavy, constipated crap Wilson went on to produce in later years.
"Heroes and Villians" is a half dozen great bridges, looking for a verse and chorus -- and never finding it.
Mike Love may be one of the world's biggest jerks -- no doubt about that -- but he was right. The Beach Boys should have stuck to the formula. Exhibit A: "Smiley Smile."
posted by Faze at 7:20 AM on June 15, 2006


were the Ramones popular or unpopular before 1978?

either way, Aerosmith had a pretty nice run in the 80s.


Well, the Ramones were popular before 1978, but I would argue that they put out their strongest material in the 1970s. Also, while Aerosmith may have had a good run in the 1980s, I would argue that they, too, were better in the 1970s.

Both bands are edge cases, though, as neither one ever experimented with the overproduced synth lameness that many pre-1978 bands failed at in the 1980s.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:26 AM on June 15, 2006


Afro, I'm with you, the omnipresence of synths and drum machines was one of the things that made the 80's such a hideous decade to live through.
posted by jonmc at 7:32 AM on June 15, 2006


Well, this is the thing, though - bands that became popular after 1978 knew how to use the new technologies without sounding like crap. It's just that many bands who were popular before the synth era tried to apply the new technologies to their old styles of music, and it just didn't work out at all.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:55 AM on June 15, 2006


Talking Heads, Clash-- they were big pre-78, were they not? Donald Fagen might be cheating-- plus, he only had 1 solo album in the 80s. Pink Floyd did some ok stuff after 78.

y2karl, that is awesome. What a wise audience you were part of that night.

Faze-- that's the best-substantiated attempt at trolling I've ever seen. You are to be congratulated, then ignored.
posted by ibmcginty at 8:32 AM on June 15, 2006


Hmmm. I may have to give you The Talking Heads. They spanned the decades quite nicely. The Clash, however, were definitely more of a 70s band. With the possible exception of Combat Rock, their 80s stuff was pretty so-so. Never heard of Donald Fagan. The only albums that The Floyd released in the 80s were The Final Cut and A Momentary Lapse, two albums that I'm willing to argue Rock n' Roll would be better off without.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:50 AM on June 15, 2006


I'm going to be in Las Vegas first of July and I recently got tix to the Brian Wilson show on the 1st. Afterwards, I noticed that the Beach Boys are playing at my hotel, Mandalay Bay, on the 2nd.

I figured the chance of reunion was about the same as snow in Vegas. Now I'm not so sure...
posted by BoatMeme at 8:58 AM on June 15, 2006


> Listen you people, how many times do I have to tell you this: The Beach Boys
> were washed up by the time of Pet Sounds.

All the stuff you mention was absolute killer pop. Two conclusions:

1. Rock Snobs be damned: when bubblegum rocks, it rocks as hard as anything.

2. Mike Love made a significant contribution to the group by being the asshole. There's absolutely nothing about being an asshole that's anti-rock. Exhibit A, Mick and Keef. Frankly, if your group doesn't have a trace of the attitude -- let's make wads of money, let's get stoned and throw-up-in-the-ice-bucket drunk, let's fuck anything that moves -- chances are you ain't going to rock very much. When Brian drifted off in search of his own particular muse he made wonderful music but with the very rarest of exceptions he totally forgot how to rock.

It's perfectly true that the Wilson brothers, especially Brian, had the musical ability, while Mike conspicuously had none (which is why the ersatz "Beach Boys" versions he fronted could never do anything but recycle the same old hits.) I claim it's equally true that Brian's fixation on "childlike innocence" was and is fundamentally anti-rock and results in his drifting off in pursuit of the frail moth of whimsy way too much and way too often. I'm perfectly well aware of the stellar work he has turned out by himself over the decades. Nobody was more excited than I when Smile finally appeared. But for every homer he has hit as a solo artist there have been three or four songs that might as well have come out of a Gerber's jar.
posted by jfuller at 9:41 AM on June 15, 2006


In Nick Kent's profile of him, Brian says that "California Girls," is the only Beach Boys song he can listen to these days. Thios kinda makes sense since that single is a perfect balance of his experimental ambitions and the basic pop-rock hooksmithery and beachside mythology at the core of their sound.
posted by jonmc at 10:05 AM on June 15, 2006


Brian once said that the instrumental opening to "California Girls" was the most beautiful thing he'd ever written.
posted by pmurray63 at 10:15 AM on June 15, 2006


I love your second point, jfuller.

As for me, my parents and extended family listened to The Beach Boys (along with other "oldies") a lot when I was a kid. I had forgotten abuot them until about 15 years ago a friend gave me a copy of Smile to listen to. Holy shit was my mind rerouted. I'm always amazed at the bands who rip off the beach boys, whether it be Animal Collective or bands like Blink 182's BB-via-Descendents atrocities. Oooh, and you must track down the Jan and Dean version of "Norwegian Wood," produced by Brian Wilson (Brian has said that it was working with Jan and Dean that taught him the most about layering sounds in the studio as well as brining in instruments not usually heard in rock records, along with Spector). It's the b-side of "Popsicle" and I think it's on that album as well. I found it in a thrift store years ago and it's amazing.

And, as a sidenote, an acquaintance tells the story of taking his sister to see the Mike Love-led version of the band and standing at the front of the stage the entire time giving Love the finger. Love walked over at one point, pointed to them, and held up his pinky while shaking his head. He couldn't even use the right finger for fear of offending those in the audience. A little crude, yes, but I've always loved that story.
posted by sleepy pete at 10:33 AM on June 15, 2006


More pop/rock bands who were popular in the 70s and didn't suck during the 80s: Heart, Hall and Oates (I'm not a big fan of either, but their 80s output is about as good as their 70s stuff), Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young (sure, the 70s stuff is better, but the 80s stuff isn't (all) worthless crap). I feel sure there are plenty of other examples, but I'm not a big pop/rock listener, and, besides, it's my lunchtime.
posted by box at 10:47 AM on June 15, 2006


Heart, Hall and Oates (I'm not a big fan of either, but their 80s output is about as good as their 70s stuff),

Uh, dude, I'd take "Even It Up" and "Rich Girl" over "These Dreams," and "Maneater," and I bet most other music buffs would too. I see your point but those two might nor be the best examples.
posted by jonmc at 10:57 AM on June 15, 2006


But the REAL masterpiece is the 1965 album "Beach Boys Today"

Absolutely agree. One of the Top 10 albums of the '60s, and maybe of all time.
posted by kgasmart at 11:29 AM on June 15, 2006


I'd take most of Hall and Oates' 80s songs over most of their 70s songs any day of the week. Heart, on the other hand ..... did indeed suck in the 80s. (Their execrable cover of Aaron Neville's "Tell It Like It Is" being a perfect example.) As did Bowie, post-Let's Dance.
posted by blucevalo at 11:51 AM on June 15, 2006


I'd take most of Hall and Oates' 80s songs over most of their 70s songs any day of the week.

*boggles*

"Family Man," over "Sara Smile?" I agree that both H&O and Heart are mediocrities in the grand scheme of things but that blows my mind.
posted by jonmc at 12:08 PM on June 15, 2006


OK, I'll give you The Boss, but Neil Young? C'mon! He's a prime example of "artist who rocked in the 70s and sucked in the 80s." He may as well have it written on his forehead. Trans is the ultimate post-1970s synth catastrophe.

So far we've got The Boss, The Talking Heads, and David Bowie. All rare exceptions to the rule, I would say.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:27 PM on June 15, 2006


Trans is the ultimate post-1970s synth catastrophe.

Perhaps. But "Wonderin'" from the rockabilly album is a nice little nugget.
posted by jonmc at 12:29 PM on June 15, 2006


1. Rock Snobs be damned: when bubblegum rocks, it rocks as hard as anything.

2. Mike Love made a significant contribution to the group by being the asshole -- jfuller


These are great insights, and should be attended to. But as much as I hate to take issue with y2karl (who's excellent posts on the Iraq war are so valuable), he is way off the mark on Billy Joel. "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" as recorded by Ronnie Spector and the E Street Band, as well as about six other Joel originals, go a long way to balancing out "Piano Man" and it's ilk. Come the revolution, I'd let him live.
posted by Faze at 12:31 PM on June 15, 2006


"Family Man," over "Sara Smile?"

I know, I'm a bona fide heretic. I revel in my heresy.
posted by blucevalo at 12:39 PM on June 15, 2006


Me too. And I'll even stipulate that he hasn't done anything worth hearing in years. But his best stuff ('Angry Young Man,' 'Scenes From An Italian Restaurant,' 'Miami 2017') is good to hear once in a while. He may be a tri-state thing. He certainly reminds me of my uncles.
posted by jonmc at 12:39 PM on June 15, 2006


revel away, bruce, but I always considered their 70's work to be legitamite blue-eyed soul, whereas the 80's stuff was simply decent pop-rock (with bad 80's production).
posted by jonmc at 12:40 PM on June 15, 2006


I know I'm supposed to love Abandoned Luncheonette. I just don't get the appeal.
posted by blucevalo at 12:59 PM on June 15, 2006


Dave Marsh & Lester Bangs were writing before I was born--my point exactly. Brian Wilson was a pretty darn obscure figure in say, 1992, in spite of some decent solo work and because of his legendary weirdness and the John Stamos-Kokomo era of his band, which had effectively been hijacked from him. I don't think it's a coincidence that a renewed interest in the Beach Boys (well, the early stuff at least) came along when bands and critics in Brooklyn and Athens decided that it was ok to appreciate classic rock unironically. More specifically, there was a renewed interest in orchestration and production values as opposed to the (admirable) DIY esthetic that dominated underground/hardcore/West and East coast punk through the 80's and up to Nirvana's crossover (although some people will bitch to high heaven that Vig over-produced Nevermind, most people who bought the album did so because it sounded so raw and unfettered, compared to what was on the radio otherwise).

Cause and effect is always debatable, and I'm over-simplifying to be sure, but in my experience some of the same people championing Radiohead were doing the same for Pet Sounds (and to complete the circle, I'd never read any Lester Bangs until indie record stores started carrying the Greil Marcus edition of his writings on the same rack as copies of NME and Magnet. Music makes for strange bedfellows.).
posted by bardic at 2:04 PM on June 15, 2006


Attila.
posted by bardic at 2:08 PM on June 15, 2006


Dave Marsh & Lester Bangs were writing before I was born--my point exactly.

Aren't we around the same age (35)? They were writing in the 80's and even the old stuff was easily available for those who wanted to work backwards.

If the Pitchfork crew and the bands they champion led you to appreciate some of the old stuff, that's great, but the influence of the Beach Boys in stuff like the Ramones, Dictators and Blondie was apparent even back in the early punk daze, at least to my ears.

(Also, I have some Atilla tracks, it's not bad in a wretched-excess greaser-gone-hippie kinda way. Sorta Edgar Winterish)
posted by jonmc at 7:26 AM on June 16, 2006


came along when bands and critics in Brooklyn and Athens decided that it was ok to appreciate classic rock unironically.

Also, why should anyone depend on critics or artists to declare something "ok to appreciate?" That's kinda what soured on me on Pitchfork and it's ilk to begin with. I'll appreciate what I want to appreciate whether they approve or not.
posted by jonmc at 7:32 AM on June 16, 2006


Also, why should anyone depend on critics or artists to declare something "ok to appreciate?" That's kinda what soured on me on Pitchfork and it's ilk to begin with.

Why would the way some people supposedly base their listening habits sour you on pitchfork?
posted by ludwig_van at 10:19 AM on June 17, 2006


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