Author Archive for

22
Oct
14

stupid

too stupid ti insult

Yesterday I called my friend Mary Ellen and asked her to save me from doing something stupid. I explained that I’d received a hateful email from a woman named Teri Wadsworth about one of our kids:

“He’s guilty as sin he needs to serve his sentence he shows no remorse cocky and creepy a serial killer in the making I will start a campaign to keep him in prison he knew what he was doing let him be it’s the best place for him and society.”

I rarely receive such vitriolic emails, and the few I do receive bother me more than they should. I am upset by such expressions of unmitigated hatred being vented towards someone the hater obviously knows nothing about.

Where does this woman get off using words like “cocky” and “creepy?” Her assertion that he is “a serial killer in the making” is completely unfounded by scientific fact and is said simply to inflame others who are as ignorant as she is. The child she has targeted for her fury has been shielded from the media and has done or said nothing that could be interpreted by any rational person as anything but remorse, regret, shame, and embarrassment.

I told Mary Ellen that I wanted to write back to Teri Wadsworth and say that the only creepy person I could see in this picture is Teri Wadsworth.

Mary Ellen said that while most advocates would advise that I just let the comment pass and not engage the hater, ignoring the comment does nothing to diffuse the hate. She surprised me and said maybe I should engage this Teri Wadsworth. But how?

In the past I have “outed” these haters, drawing public attention to their dark hearts and lack of compassion, forgiveness, and understanding… and I can think of no reason not to do the same in this case, too. There are only four Teri Wadsworths on Facebook (my apologies for drawing attention to the innocent people who share her name), and she goes by the email moniker of “ladybug.” But on reflection, it seems to me that pointing out the shortcomings of others does only half the job.

Last week Matt sent me this link to a story of forgiveness that provides a positive example that has received a lot of praise in the media. If the parents of a slain son can see fit to take in their son’s killer, why can’t an uninvolved person like Teri Wadsworth find a place in her heart to feel compassion for a young boy who made one terrible mistake in his life?

To view this remarkable story, please click here.

I don’t know whether Teri Wadsworth will even get by the fact that I have used her name extensively in this post and go on to explore her motives for being so angry, but I really don’t care. There are lots of people in the world whose views create an unflattering impression, and I consider myself fortunate to have so little to do with them.

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Groove of the Day

Listen to Brendan MacLean performing “Stupid”

21
Oct
14

new a***ole

just around the cornerI am no economist, but my son Henry is. That is why I took notice a couple weeks ago when Henry reamed me out for parroting in this blog what the mainstream media has been saying, that the general economic condition is beginning to improve. You would have thought I’d said something to besmirch the sacred memory of his mother. He couldn’t believe I would suggest such a thing.
In my own defense, my cycles research says that the timing of the dominant cycle says we are due for a recovery about now. Perhaps it is simple wishful thinking that I am looking at the trends and hoping that they are the harbingers of better days ahead.
But on the ground where Henry is, he feels no such optimism. Says Henry: “Here is a nice summary article, with several graphs included, that proves beyond a doubt that only the top of the top have experienced anything that might resemble a recovery.

“What’s even more astounding is that, while reports of slowing activity and falling sales have appeared over the summer for nearly every industry, since last spring not one single one can admit that the reason might be a lack of sufficient income or confidence. Not only has there been no recovery, the monetary policies enacted since 2008 are deliberately ensuring that there will be no gains for the vast majority of people and businesses.

“It’s like there is some prohibition to telling the truth. All declines in data are blamed on the weather, geopolitical instability, or even worse, spun to suggest that the slump is only temporary and that “unleashed demand” or “cash on the sidelines” will reappear shortly to restart growth to the moon. I simply cannot understand why no one can admit that sales and profits are down because people are broke.

“Infinite growth is impossible in a closed system with finite resources. There is nothing at all on Earth that is infinite in supply.

“Our entire way of life as it is arranged currently, from every angle, be it financial, environmental, human, etc., is sustainable only in a hypothetical world of infinite and inexpensive resources. It must collapse upon itself sooner or later and central bank counterfeiting has only been an experiment to see how far we can walk on air before falling, having walked off the cliff a long time ago, as in those Wile E. Coyote cartoons.”

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For 90% Of Americans: There Has Been No Recovery

 by Lance Roberts, Street Talk

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Lance Roberts is the General Partner and Chief Portfolio Strategist for STA Wealth Management. He is also the host of “The Lance Roberts Show”.

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Groove of the Day

Listen to The Carson Robinson Trio performing “Prosperity is Just Around the Corner”

20
Oct
14

as good as it gets

Hazmat-Suit-US-Flag(1)

My neighbor, who is a nurse, told me her hospital has instructed its staff to don two paper gowns in instances of suspected Ebola. Two paper gowns when health workers in the big cities find that full hazmat suits are insufficient?!

Admittedly, the chances are extremely slim of Ebola making its way out here. Plus, this is the healthcare equivalent of local police lusting after all that Pentagon-issued assault equipment to deal with, what… their speed traps? But it does underscore the small-town reality of what it would mean if the handful of infections in the US should blossom into an epidemic that makes its way to the margins of civilization.

The place to fight Ebola is in West Africa, not here. Our country should help.

But I predict that if Ebola doesn’t get us, something else will. In the early part of the 20th century it was the flu. Sometime later in the 21st century it will be something else. The world is so overpopulated and crowded, we are due for a devastating pandemic. My son Henry tells me that a number of financial websites he visits predict it will hit any day now.

I don’t think so.

The fear of disaster is more dangerous than any real threat. (God, I am sounding like Franklin Roosevelt.) It’s more dangerous to talk on your cell phone while driving (we don’t have cell service out here, either… so we dodged the bullet again).

The other day my doctor asked me if I wanted a flu shot, and I told him we are already quarantined at Estrella Vista. That’s good enough. We’re safe.

We will be able to see it coming and avoid it… whatever “it” is.

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Groove of the Day

Listen to D12 performing “The Ebola Song”

19
Oct
14

such great heights

rbz Sam Beam Musician 3.jpg

This song was covered in 2003 by Iron and Wine, the stage name of American singer and songwriter Samuel Beam. It was originally recorded in 2002 by The Postal Service, and released on January 21, 2003. So it’s been around for more than ten years.

I was originally introduced to the song several years ago by my friend Marcus Kenney when I was visiting his family in Savannah GA during one of my many road trips. While Alex and I were returning home the other night, I heard the song on the radio and realized I haven’t yet posted it for your benefit.

During the two years 2005 and 2006, “Such Great Heights” consistently ranked in the weekly top five most-frequently-played tracks on the social music site Last.fm. I hope you enjoy it, too.

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Groove of the Day

Listen to Iron and Wine performing “Such Great Heights”

18
Oct
14

juvenile suicides in adult facilities

 iinmate-commits-suicide-in-jail

Teenagers in prison have a shockingly high suicide rate

On any given day in 2012, there were about 2,400 teenagers serving time in adult state or federal prisons. And those teenagers were more likely to commit suicide than were inmates from any other age group.

This chart, based on new data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, shows the suicide rates of state prisoners from 2001-2012 and drive home just how at-risk teenage inmates can be:

teens more likely to commit suicide

In other words, teenagers in adult prisons are twice as likely to commit suicide as are adults in adult prisons. And they’re far more likely to commit suicide than teenagers who are in juvenile detention or in alternative programs. A 2007 report from the advocacy group the Campaign for Youth Justice found that juveniles in adult prisons are 36 times more likely to commit suicide than are juveniles in juvenile detention.

Fortunately, the number of teenagers in adult prisons has declined over the last decade. In 2002, there were 3,000 teenagers in state or federal prison; throughout 2008 to 2012, there were 2,500 or fewer.

“I can’t take it anymore. I give up”

recent New Yorker feature covered what it’s like to be a teenager in an adult criminal-justice system. The subject of the New Yorker piece, Kalief Browder, was in jail on Rikers Island for three years waiting to be put on trial for stealing a backpack. (The trial never actually happened; instead, the prosecutor dismissed the charges and Browder was released.)

Browder tried to commit suicide at least three times while in jail. The chart above covers prisons, not jails, but Browder’s story is  good reflection of what teenagers in adult facilities have to deal with:

For one thing, (Browder’s brother) says, Browder was losing weight. “Several times when I visited him, he said, ‘They’re not feeding me,’ ” the brother told me. “He definitely looked really skinny.” In solitary, food arrived through a slot in the cell door three times a day. For a growing teen-ager, the portions were never big enough, and in solitary Browder couldn’t supplement the rations with snacks bought at the commissary. He took to begging the officers for leftovers: “Can I get that bread?” Sometimes they would slip him an extra slice or two; often, they refused.

Browder’s brother also noticed a growing tendency toward despair. When Browder talked about his case, he was “strong, adamant: ‘No, they can’t do this to me!’ ” But, when the conversation turned to life in jail, “it’s a totally different personality, which is depressed. He’s, like, ‘I don’t know how long I can take this.’ “

Browder got out of the Bing in the fall of 2011, but by the end of the year he was back-after yet another fight, he says. On the night of February 8, 2012 — his six-hundred-and-thirty-fourth day on Rikers — he said to himself, “I can’t take it anymore. I give up.” That night, he tore his bedsheet into strips, tied them together to make a noose, attached it to the light fixture, and tried to hang himself. He was taken to the clinic, then returned to solitary. Browder told me that his sheets, magazines, and clothes were removed — everything except his white plastic bucket.

Imprisoning teenagers as adults is unsafe for them and others

As I’ve written, putting teenagers in adult prisons doesn’t just increase their danger to themselves. They’re much more vulnerable to assault from other inmates. And teenagers who get treated as hardened criminals while they’re still high-school-aged are more likely to engage in violence when they do get out of prison.

The problem with trying and incarcerating teenagers as adults is that it’s something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Juveniles get treated as adults, in theory, because they’ve committed particularly serious or violent crimes—but even when controlling for the seriousness of the crime, and other factors, kids who have been imprisoned in adult prisons are more likely to commit further acts of violence than those who serve their time in juvenile facilities.

Much of this is because adult prisons don’t have the counseling and education resources that juvenile ones do. If juvenile facilities are, at their best, designed to prevent kids from being incarcerated again, adult prisons have mostly given up on that aspiration. Instead, staff at adult prisons just hope for order—even if it comes at the hands of prison gangs and ethnic or regional cliques. Anthony Pleasant, a young man from DC who spent ten years in federal prison starting when he was 16, says,  “A warden, anybody will tell you, they allow the yard to run itself.”

For teenagers, serving in adult prison is a basic risk to their personal safety. “I was with a lot of people who had life, and I had peanut time compared to them,” Pleasant says. “If they had wanted to harm me, they would have done it and smiled afterward, because it meant nothing to them. Because they got life.”

Juveniles can also develop unsavory associates that will encourage them to commit more crimes after they get out. Pleasant knew one boy in prison who was sentenced to adult prison at the age of 16, and ended up “put in a situation where he had to harm somebody.” He got a new conviction after the incident, for 25 years.

What are the demographics of the prison population?

Prisoners are much more likely to be male, black or Hispanic than the average American.

Here are the demographics of the general adult population of the United States compared to the demographics of people in prison or jail:

comparative demographics 1comparative demographics 2
The racial breakdown of people who commit a crime does not always match up with the racial breakdown of people who are incarcerated for that crime. For instance, the people who use drugs are demographically similar to the broader population, but the people in jail for drug crimes are overwhelmingly black or Hispanic.

One theory for this: In many cases, police have used drug crime as a proxy for violent crime. It’s much easier for a prosecutor to guarantee a conviction on a drug charge—where there’s physical evidence that the defendant had drugs—than on a violent charge, where proving what happened is more complicated. And police target drug enforcement in high-violence neighborhoods, which are overwhelmingly black and Latino.

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Dara Lind is a writer for

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Groove of the Day

Listen to Scott Stapp performing “Slow Suicide”

17
Oct
14

please help us buy a pickup truck

50 gmc

No, this isn’t the one. It would cost too much money because it’s my age and classified as an antique, just like me. I posted this picture just to get your attention.

The truth of the matter is we have no idea which make and model we will be shopping for. It will be determined entirely by how much money we can raise within a month or so. I have driven very little since the stroke (and that suits me fine), so the truck will be registered in Alex’s name.

This is also part of a strategy I have—a theory really—for keeping Alex engaged with Estrella Vista. None of us likes being compelled to do anything or be anywhere against our free will, and I believe that a secret to keeping Alex here is to provide the means of his escaping anytime he wants to. He has spent enough of his life a prisoner—but no more. Chances are, he’ll mainly use the truck to go into town to get supplies and make friends there (and nearby)… but I could be surprised (though I don’t think so).

Anyway, having a pickup truck will make it possible for a great many tasks to be completed at Estrella Vista, and this productivity will add to Alex’s satisfaction and minimize his frustration.

I have my good friend Allison, an engineer who works at the Firestone test track in Fort Stockton, keeping her eyes peeled for a good deal and a reliable, economical vehicle. She called last week and told me about a Chevy pickup that is Alex’s age, and its owner is asking $2,000. That struck me as a stiff price for a 25-year-old truck, but I guess it depends on its condition… and it does give you the beginning of an idea of what vehicles out here are going for.

We’re in no great rush, though. We need to raise the cash first before we’re really in the market. We’re doing this without debt and living within our means.

If you’d like to help with Alex’s truck, you can earmark your gift for his benefit.

donate hands

To make a contribution to the Redemption Project, please use the link at the top of this page or click here. Thank you!

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Groove of the Day

Listen to Rodney Carrington performing “Pickup Truck”

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PS: Alex got an eye exam and ordered his new glasses when we made our trip to Alpine on Tuesday. I’ll ask Alex to take a selfie to post for your benefit when the new specs arrive. Thanks to everyone who contributed!

I also got some good news on the same trip: my doctor said the reason I have been so unsteady on my feet and sleeping so much may be that it is time to reduce my blood pressure medication. He eliminated one drug and halved the dosage of a second. I already feel much better.

So maybe Alex will have to list me on his insurance as a second driver!

16
Oct
14

a nation addicted

chemistry

Prescribed Drugs Kill

by Bonnie Young

America is always shocked, bewildered and then angry when a child kills his/her parents. The media goes into a frenzy every time a shooter takes multiple lives. We all wonder why these things happen? Why do these people escape the notice of neighbors, teachers, co-workers and even medical professionals? The truth is they don’t.

The American public has been programmed to seek “the magic pill”, through suggestive advertising and the focus of the medical community on symptoms instead of life changing cures. We are told that if you aren’t quite “feeling like yourself”, there is a pill that will make it better. Our friends talk about their medications, it comes up in workplace conversation and drug companies are allowed to advertise, promote and challenge you to ask your doctor about the benefits of their product. As a result of these fabrications and misconceptions Americans have become addicted, if not to the pharmaceutical itself, to the idea that we should always feel at our best.

The majority of addicts are not in prisons but in our communities because the drugs that they are dependent on are legal, publicly accepted and widely prescribed. Some of these drugs may also be the cause of the walking time bombs that go off in the form of mass shootings and other violent disasters involving children, teens and adults in our cities. The travesty in all of this is that the medical community. drug companies and the FDA are completely aware of these potential dangers and have done little to address the problem. While we hear about the teen who was diagnosed as having mental problems, we are not told of the drug cocktail prescribed to try and help him to “act normally”. We think that the mentally ill person who just committed that terrible crime was not under medical supervision and he/she committed the terrible act because they were mentally ill. We think that the mentally ill person was probably “too far gone” and needed to be institutionalized. We hear about a person who committed suicide and we shake our heads thinking that they lost the battle with their illness.

Let us deal with the term “mentally ill” first.  This is from the website of Mental Health America.

What is mental illness?

A mental illness is a disease that causes mild to severe disturbances in thought and/or behavior, resulting in an inability to cope with life’s ordinary demands and routines.

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There are more than 200 classified forms of mental illness. Some of the more common disorders are depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders.  Symptoms may include changes in mood, personality, personal habits and/or social withdrawal.

Mental health problems may be related to excessive stress due to a particular situation or series of events. As with cancer, diabetes and heart disease, mental illnesses are often physical as well as emotional and psychological. Mental illnesses may be caused by a reaction to environmental stresses, genetic factors, biochemical imbalances, or a combination of these. With proper care and treatment many individuals learn to cope or recover from a mental illness or emotional disorder.

According to the first sentences of the description we could all be classified mentally ill because of the life events we have endured.  Lost your job of 10 years and can’t find comparable employment?  Is this leaving you anxious, depressed, hopeless?  Do you spend most of the day staring out the window instead of doing your chores, interacting with your family or taking a walk?  You are mentally ill.  Yet these life events are something every single one of us experience (or something like it) in the course of our years on earth.  There are wonderful professionals who help by listening, encouraging and motivating individuals.  They help develop action plans, changes in habits and encourage and applaud every little victory.  More often than necessary professionals prescribe drugs to help these individuals get through those little bumps in life….just until they can get back on track.  The same holds true with our children.  Ask any parent who has dealt with a teenager and they will tell you that those years are more difficult that the terrible two’s and three’s.  Teenage kids have mood swings, they rebel, they talk back, they argue, they ignore their responsibilities in favor of hanging with friends and they make questionable decisions.  There are professionals that help parents deal with this time of raging hormones by prescribing medications “just until they get through this phase”.

The most dangerous of all this information is that the drugs often prescribed for these life events have lethal and debilitating side effects and consequences.  Even more important they have been prescribed for our children without clinical trials, without medical research and we have paid a very high price.  The death of our children.

Most of America is aware of the Columbine Shooting that happened in Colorado in 1999.  Many were horrified by the scenes unfolding on their television sets as police surrounded a school that was under attack by shooters.  America was equally shocked by the revelation that the shooters were boys and members of that school.  What was never widely publicized was the connection between that day and prescription drugs.

Between 1988 when Prozac was approved and 2006, there were 46 incidents of school violence involving 48 children and adolescents. Of these, 38% were reported in media, websites or books to be taking psychiatric drugs or were withdrawing from them at the time of their shooting spree. The relationship of psychiatric drugs in the remaining incidents of violence has not been publicly disclosed or the person’s records are sealed. Frequently, antidepressants were implicated.

1999

April: In Idaho, 15-year-old Shawn Cooper fired two shotgun rounds in his school, narrowly missing students. He was taking a prescribed SSRI antidepressant and Ritalin.

April: Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold went on a shooting spree in their Columbine, Colorado school, killing 13 and wounding 23. CCHR and others pressured to have the Coroner re-test the teens’ blood for psychiatric drugs. The Coroner subsequently confirmed that Harris’ blood contained a therapeutic dose of the SSRI antidepressant, Luvox. Clinical trials showed that 4% of children taking the drug experienced mania, a condition known to result in violent behavior. Colorado State Rep. Penn Pfiffner, chaired a hearing on the possible connection of violent behavior and psychotropic drugs, stating, “There is enough coincidence and enough professional opinion from legitimate scientists to cause us to raise the issue and to ask further questions.” “If we’re only interested in debating gun laws and metal detectors,” said Pfiffner, “then we as legislators aren’t doing our job.”

May: CCHR produced a White Paper “Psychiatry and The Creation of Senseless Violence” detailing examples of psychiatric-drug induced crime and medical studies proving that such drugs precipitate murderous acts. More than 10,000 copies of the report were distributed to legislators, educators and media in the US.

May: Kelly Patricia O’Meara, a former Congressional staff who was writing for Washington Times’ Insight Magazine wrote a story based on CCHR’s and her own research, titled “Guns and Doses.” It showed the common link between high-school shootings and psychiatric drugs.

2000

March 1: Matthew Smith, aged 14, died of a heart attack after being prescribed Ritalin for several years. A Michigan coroner determined that his heart showed clear signs of the small blood vessel damage caused by stimulants, concluding that he had died from the long-term use of Ritalin. Matthew was forced onto the drug through his school, with the parents threatened with charges of medical and education neglect if they refused to put him on the drug. Psychiatrists at the time dismissed the coroner’s findings. [See January 5, 2006 entry on warnings the FDA eventually issued, more than 40 years after Ritalin had been on the market.]

2001

May 25: An Australian judge blamed an SSRI for turning a peaceful, law abiding man, David Hawkins, into a violent killer. Judge Barry O’Keefe of the New South Wales Supreme Court said that had Mr. Hawkins not taken the antidepressant, “it is overwhelmingly probable that Mrs. Hawkins would not have been killed….”

June: A Wyoming jury awarded $8 million to the relatives of a man, Donald Schell, who went on a shooting rampage after taking Paxil and killed his wife, daughter, granddaughter and himself. The jury determined that the drug was 80% responsible for the killing spree. (excerpts from Citizens Commission on Human Rights)

You can read the full report from the Citizens Commission on Human Rights on the testimonies, clinical studies, reports and hearings concerning the documented dangers of drugs like Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Ritalin and others. Not only are the drugs dangerous when the patient is taking the drug but the effects of withdrawal from the medication can be equally as dangerous.  It was also finally admitted that there was no lab test available to prove a chemical imbalance in the brain causing any mental disorder. It was all a marketing hoax. (see the closing quote).

Most outrageous of all is the extremes with which drug companies, medical institutions and even our government have kept this information from being widely distributed to the public. The public has been submitted to the pain and loss from violent outbursts but has not been made aware that it’s own actions (or inaction) may very well be the cause. We have and continue to give very dangerous drugs to our children. We have questioned the increase of depression, suicidal behavior, the increase of violence, the increase of obsessive behaviors such as cutting and eating disorders that have become all too familiar in our youth. The answer may well come in the form of drug treatment given to children and our own lack of connection to each other as people.

What are we too expect? We are a nation that looks for the quick fix for everything from depression to weak knees to sore muscles and a lack of energy. We don’t exercise, eat right, sleep well and we don’t connect with others, the very things that promote wellness in people. We don’t take the time to educate, direct and listen to each other….we certainly don’t have the time to do it with a teenager who is trying to figure out the world.

We need to take a good hard look at ourselves, our decisions, our lack of knowledge and our ability to be deceived by pharmaceutical companies (the modern day snake oil salesman). Then we need to ask the most difficult question: Who is ultimately responsible for Columbine, Virginia Tech and others?

These kids were under the supervision of adults who trusted medical professionals. These kids were under the jurisdiction of their parents and doctors and ultimately had to take (or in some cases, refuse to take) mind-altering drugs with known side effects that destroyed their lives and the lives of others. We are the responsible adults, and our children have payed the price for our ignorance with their very lives. It is time to stand against drug companies for our children.

Then we need to figure out how we are going to correct the damage caused to families, to the lives of the children who have been sentenced to dwell in cages for the rest of their lives, and to the communities who have witnessed these tragedies. We need accountability from the professionals and the drug companies who cared more about profits than our children. We allowed this to happen through our ignorance and it is time we acted responsibly to fix it. Only by repairing the harm can we truly heal and become stronger.

In 2005, the APA’s president, Stephen Sharfstein and other psychiatrists were forced to admit there is no lab test to prove a chemical imbalance in the brain causing any “mental disorder.” The marketing hoax was finally exposed but by then 30 million Americans were taking the drugs. In January 2008, the New England Journal of Medicine vindicated CCHR when a study it published revealed the effectiveness of antidepressants had been exaggerated and that many negative studies of the drugs were never published. In fact, the drugs are no more effective than taking placebo (dummy pill).

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Bonnie Young is a minister in Colorado, and passionate about this and related issues. Her son was caught up in a sensational crime and as a juvenile he was railroaded into prison for 68 years. She has website, “FreeJonny,” which I encourage you to visit.

schoolshooters1

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Groove of the Day

Listen to The Music performing “Drugs”




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