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HAIKU 5*7*5* FACEBOOK “friends.”

January 21, 2020 1 comment

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BASEBALL: HIGHLIGHTS OF THE OFF SEASON: Wayne Garrett, The Young & Mismanaged. (Or how a constellation of errors revolved around a 3rd. baseman who was too good to be good enough).

November 27, 2019 1 comment

WAYNE GARRETT

would be on my mind if I were were 12 at this time of year.

Indeed, the annual revolving door regarding the Mets 3rd. base situation was a true sign of highlights of the off season as surely as a Joe Namath injury.

At 61 baseball is once again occupying  my mind during this off season.

This has transpired during the 50th, !?!?!, anniversary of the Miracle Mets triumphant ascent to their 1969 World Series victory.

We Mets fans have an affinity, perhaps even a predisposition, to bipolar fandom.  2019 has given us the good; Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil and Jake deGrom,  the bad; relievers Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia being worse than the BoSox arson brigade and the ugly 1st. half of  Amed Rosario and the better than O.K.ish 2nd. half of Amed Rosario.

Wayne Garret’s career personifies the essence of the binge and purge nature of the Mets history.

Wayne Garret was one of the Mets of my years’ ages 9 through 20 in Port Washington, Long Island, New York.

Wayne Garrett was not destined for the National Baseball Hall of Fame(NBHOF) and in this case a round-about determinism, deliberate, yet unintentional, prevented him from being the pretty good player that he pretty much usually was.

https://www.baseball-reference.com

Ronald Wayne Garrett was originally drafted by the Milwaukee Braves following his brothers James and Adrian, who played for the Cubs among others in a 163 game career spread over 8 years, in the 6th. round of the very first 1965 amateur draft.  Wayne hailed from Sarasota, FL and attended the high school of the same name.  After 4 years in the Braves system he was selected by the Mets via the Rule V draft for the princely sum of $25,000 in the only minor league transaction of the Mets prior to the 1969 season.

https://sabr.org>bioproject

Biography by Ron Masterson

Wayne Garrett’s rookie year at age 21 found Garrett being the left handed side of a  3rd. base platoon along with the 36 year-old Ed “the Glider” Charles.  Garrett was primarily a 3rd. baseman but also saw some time at 2nd. and shortstop as Mets manager Gil Hodges juggled the Vietnam era National Guard commitments of second sacker Ken Boswell and shortstop Bud Harrelson.

Wayne’s 1/39/.218/.290/.268 slash line hardly excited  anyone, least of all Strat-O-Matic’s Harold Richman, but as a 21 year-old rookie winning a World Series on the the very first winning season in the Mets history one would think that he had dibs on the job.

Wayne hit a HR off the Braves’ Pat Jarvis in Game 3, the NLDS being best-of-5 in 1969, which was the first playoff victory by a Mets team.

One would think…but the Mets didn’t… bringing in Joe Foy from the Kansas City Royals after having been dispatched to expansionville from Boston and putting up a semi-bounce-back season. 

Foy was acquired for Amos Otis and Bob Johnson and was thrust into the starting lineup but was ineffective and developed what would now be called “issues.”

(Otis went on to be the Royals’ CFer for more than a decade but that is another story… which I might tell.  Stay tuned).

Wayne Garrett was back in the starting lineup on a full-time basis after the 1970 All Star break.  In spite of only playing 114 games Wayne exceeded all expectations, including mine, with a 12/45/.254/.390/.421 HR/RBI/BA/OBA/SLG slash line.  Of course, this was a time in which walks were often overlooked but a .390 OBA should have given someone a heads up.  While these numbers didn’t threaten the status of Ron Santo as the N.L’s top 3rd. baseman they are substantial in the light of the Mets team slash line of 120/640/.249/.333/.370.

About this time WOR 9’s Bob Murphy began to regularly refer to Wayne as “the Mets Huck Finn” for his red hair.  Upon visiting Shea to see the Expos, Carl Morton pitched, with my folks and brother Peter I remember looking at Garrett from the box seats my father had bribed an usher $5 for and thinking he looked like a high school kid.  Wayne Garrett was 22 and had taken a huge leap forward to where he looked to be a regular at a position that had been a perennial problem for the Mets.

The Mets had other ideas… none of them very good.  They went out and acquired Brooklyn born Bob Aspromonte from the Houston Astros, the last Brooklyn Dodger to play in the big leagues.  Aspromonte had been an All-Star but his better days were in the past and Garrett was reinserted into the hot corner.

Being jerked around didn’t suit Garrett well; he regressed in power but retained his batting eye.  However the Mets, and most of their fans, focused on Garrett’s low BA and loss of power.  Garrett didn’t seem to be the man for 3B.

In 1972 Jim Fregosi was acquired from the California Angels a a classic ‘highlight of the off season’ trade in exchange for future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan and perennial prospect Leroy Stanton.

Fregosi had 6 All Star seasons behind him and about 6 weeks as a Met regular in front of him.  I vividly remember seeing Fregosi’s pot belly cascading over his belt on a Mets WOR-9 telecast and wondering why Fregosi looked to have the physique of one of the guys manning the deli counter at Bohack rather than that of a professional athlete.

Once again Wayne Garrett stepped into the void and while a 5/29/.232/.374/.315 slash line hardly inspired euphoria it was the production of a player with a future rather than that of a player with a past. 

Fregosi was sent on his way early into the 1973 season.

“You Gotta Believe” was the Tug McGraw inspired rallying cry of the 1973 Mets.  And while the 83 win Mets did not scale the Olympian heights of the 1969 Miracle Mets they provided almost as many thrills. 

At 15 years of age I was embarrassed by being a MLB fan.  I was  past the age of where being a Mets fan was cool and my shoulder blade length hair, fondness for Steely Dan and hitchhiking the local bi-ways concealed a heart that still bled orange and blue.

1973 saw a pennant race described by Bill at the Sherwin Williams  store at ‘4 one-legged men in a ass kicking contest’ as the Mets outlasted the Pirates, Cubs and the newly ascendant Expos to weasel out 83 wins.

The Ya Gotta believe Mets featured the highlights of Garrett’s career.

In September Garrett clubbed 6 homers of his 16 round trippers while compiling a  16/58/.256/.348/.403 season which proved to be his career pinnacle.

Garrett also turned 36 double plays, second only to the 39 DPs of the Dodgers Ron Cey.

The playoff against the Reds had Cincy 3rd. sacker Dan Driessen, playing out of his usual 1st base role, tagging the base rather than a hustling Garret speeding into 3rd. on Felix Millan’s sacrifice bunt.  Cleon Jones’ double plated Garrett with what proved to be the winning run as the Mets vaulted to the World Series to face the defending champion A’s,

shock the Reds in the N.L. playoffs and give the A’s all they could handle in the World Series before losing in 7 games.

Garrett contributed 2 home runs in the 1973 World Series with the first coming in the 3rd. inning of Game 2 off Vida Blue.

However, Garret’s homer would be overshadowed by the 10-7 12 inning contest which is best remembered for Oakland A’s owner Charlie O. Finley’s attempt to force A second sacker to claim to be injured following his 2 crucial errors in Game 2.

Game 3 saw Garret tag Catfish Hunter with a 1st. inning from the leadoff slot as the Shea faithful roared their approval and I watched from the Sherwin Williams store.  Unfortunately, the A’s won, 3-2, but once again Garrett had  shone in the October spotlight.

Ultimately, the Mets lost to the A’s in 7 games and there are still Mets fans posting on Ultimate Mets Database that manager Yogi Berra should have started George Stone in Game 6 and saved Seaver for Game 7 but that is another story…

1974 finally gave us Wayne Garrett as a full-time player.  Garrett played in 151 games and posted a 13/53/.224/.337/.337 slash line.  Defensively a Range Factor per 9 of 3.12 was a tad above the N.L. average of 3.04, although the extreme flyball tendencies of Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Jon Matlack and Tug McGraw may have forced Garrett’s numbers down a touch.

However, 1974 also gave us Mike Schmidt and Ron Cey maturing into prominent  N.L. third basemen and the slender statistics of Garrett surely looked less than the competent contribution that they were.

1975 saw another retreat on Wayne Garrett’s career trajectory as the Mets had acquired Brooklyn born Joe Torre to man the hot corner.  Torre wound up starting 76 games but his 6/35/.247/.317/.357 resembled that of Garrett’s all too much while demanding that Wayne  fill in as a late inning defensive replacement.

1975 saw a diminishing of my interest in baseball as Steely Dan and shoulder blade length hair had changed my vision.

However, I still perused the NEWSDAY box scores on a daily basis, which I would never admit to my friends at the North Shore Unitarian Universalist congregation, with slack-jawed incomprehension as the Mets diddled away what was left of Garrett’s potential while investing in the 34 year-old Torre…but, of course, Torre was a Brooklyn born name player.

1976 saw a revival of my baseball interest as my long delayed pubescence was near completion and I felt free to return to my boyish passion for baseball.

1976 proved to be the last full season that Garrett spent in Willets Point.  His 4/26/.223/.359/.311 slash line offered some redemption with a more than decent OBA but 58 starts were all that manager Joe Frazier saw fit to offer the now 28 year old Garrett as the “promising” Roy Staiger was the primary player at the hot corner.

In October of 1975 principal owner Joan Payson passed, plunging the Mets into an abyss from 1977 to 1983, although 1976 was an 86 win team. 

The Yankees, under the ownership of George Steinbrenner returned to Yankee Stadium after having spent 1974 and 1975 sharing Shea with the Mets, and with the Jets AND Giants of the NFL in 1974.

1976 also saw the Yankees return to the World Series, and although vanquished by the Reds, the Yanks had claimed the title of “New York’s baseball team.”

Garrett was traded July 21st 1976, along with Del Unser, to the Montreal Expos for Jim Dwyer and Pepe Mangual.

Garrett became a utility infielder in The Great White North, starting 44 games at 2nd. base and only 1 at the hot corner.

1977 saw a further diminishing of Garrett’s role as the Expos had obtained former Philly All-Star Dave Cash for 2nd. base and manager Dick Williams was committed to the potential of Larry Parrish at 3rd.

A sore shoulder and a strained knee ligament contributed to a lack of playing time

By this time I rarely though of Garrett as anything other than ‘a guy who used to play for us’.

Garrett’s trade, oddly enough on the very same July 21st. that sent him to the Expos, to the Cardinals confirmed his utility status even as he hit .333 in 39 games.

Facing professional extinction Wayne Garrett accepted a 2 year contract with the Chunichi Dragons of Nippon Professional Baseball.

By the time the 1978 season ended I lived here in Boston and upon reading of Garrett’s plan to play in Japan all I could do was sigh.

“If I could have played well, run, and thrown normally, that would have been different. I went to Japan, took the money, and did as well as I could. I earned my salary there. It wasn’t the same. It was just to make a few bucks. It wasn’t a lot of fun,” he told Maury Allen, After the Miracle: The 1969 Mets Twenty Years Later (London: Franklin Watts, 1989).

https://sabr.org>bioproject

Mets fans still have considerable affection for a Met who played in 2 World Series.  Indeed, fans reminiscences on

https://ultimatemets.com

praise Wayne Garrett as a friendly, approachable man to the many of us for whom the Miracle Mets were one of childhood’s great events.

The 1973 Mets who fell just short of triumph represented the high tide of Garrett’s career and my fond memories of watching the ‘Ya Gotta Believe Mets’ in the Sherwin-Williams paint store on Main Street of Port Washington, N.Y are always highlights of the off season.

A great player?  Hardly.  An All Star…well…he wasn’t; but he certainly made a contribution more than any of the “real” 3rd basemen who the Mets went through like the used hot dog wrappers that swirled above the Shea Stadium field.

Wayne Garrett was too good to be good enough.

Categories: 12 YEARS OLD, 1969, 1973, 70's, AGING, BASEBALL, BLESSINGS, BOB MURPHY, BOYHOOD, BROOKLYN BORN, CALIFORNIA ANGELS, CATFISH HUNTER, CHANGE:, CHARLIE O. FINLEY, CHILDHOOD, CINCINNATTI REDS, COMING OF AGE, CULTURE, Dad, Defeat, Doria Gallanter, FAMILY, FANDOM, FELIX MILLAN, GEORGE STEINBRENNER, HISTORY, HITCHHIKING, JAPAN, JAPANESE BASEBALL, JERRY KOOSMAN, JOAN PAYSON, JON MATLACK, LIFE IS DOING, LINDSAY NELSON, LOVE, LRY, MAURY ALLEN, METAPHORS, Mets, MIRACLE METS, MLB, Mom, MONTREAL EXPOS, NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME, New York City, NOLAN RYAN, NORTH BAYLES AVE. PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y., NORTH SHORE UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST, North Shore UU, NPB, NY Mets, NY Yankees, OAKLAND A'S, October, OLD AGE, Parents, PORT WASHINGTON, PROFESSIONAL SPORTS, RALPH KINER, sentimental, Shelly Gallanter, SHERWIN WILLIAMS, SPORTS, STEELY DAN, Steven Gallanter, STEVEN GALLANTER, TEENAGE YEARS, TOM SEAVER, TUG MCGRAW, ULTIMATE METS.COM, Uncategorized, UNITARIAN, VIDA BLUE, WISTFUL, WOR-9, WORDPRESS, World Series, YANKEES, YOGI BERRA, YOU GOTTA BELIEVE METS Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

HAIKU 5*7*5* HAPPY HALLOWEEN

October 28, 2018 Leave a comment

I was a pre-teen

 

Candy corn caught in my teeth

 

Happy Halloween

HAIKU 5*7*5* March snow

March 15, 2018 1 comment

March snow slicks the street

Salt and gravel mitigate

Lather, rinse, repeat

Merry Christmas 2019: Santana ABRAXAS, Version 6.0

December 23, 2013 4 comments

Steve Gallanter’s Blog: https://stevegallanter.wordpress.com

is a modest enterprise.  I usually sent out about 40 or so Facebook copies and another 20 email copies of my brain candy with the occasional response from a friend being more than welcome as were the pass alongs which on 2 occasions reconnected me with folks from the past.

(On one occasion I was connected with someone who felt it “necessary” to comment on my real and perceived personal and professional shortcomings for 1200 words).

In April 2014 I began tweeting and my number of views exploded to about 200 altogether.

Oh joy!

However my Christmas 2013 blog was passed along quite a bit; long enough to break into the Top 5 of my Google page.

More gratifying were several comments along the lines of “Thank you for this acknowledgement of a personal Christmas tradition, as I too have one.”

I responded to all of these comments gladly.  I was pleasantly taken aback at the number and intensity of these very private traditions and their importance to their adherents.

One gentleman took the time to send a message about his private tradition of chewing Trident spearmint gum after Christmas dinner as his now gone father had.

The last 7 years have brought thoughts of other Christmases to mind as my memory bank is thankfully  still accepting deposits.  Indeed, this blog has precipitated thoughts of Christmases past to the extent that an addition is appropriate.

In that spirit I am once again sending:

Merry Christmas: Santana ABRAXAS

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is a time when we, even those of us who do not share in the religious meaning of the holiday, each have our own meaning for this day.

Santana’s ABRAXAS LP signifies Christmas for me. 

I bought it for my Mom for Christmas 1970.  Mom, Peter and I had seen WOODSTOCK and Mom was mightily impressed with Mike Shrieve’s epic drum solo on “Soul Sacrifice”.  While Mom always tried a little too hard to like what I liked her enthusiasm was more than sincere.

I saved my .75 a week allowance, pestered my Dad for money and raked some leaves to conjure up the $3.49 to buy the LP at Port Chemists.

(I gave Dad innumerable promotional packs of aftershave and Borkum Riff pipe tobacco.  My brother Peter got Johnny Lightning 500 while I received several slot cars and Joe Paterno’s FOOTBALL MY WAY from Dad, a Penn. State grad.

It was my first “adult” gift-giving.

In 1970 I was 12.  It was to be my last boyhood Christmas.

Turkey, homemade cranberry sauce, (my Mom never served that jellied, canned… stuff), and visits from neighborhood kids fulfilled every expectation.

Mom was surprised and delighted with ABRAXAS even with its “dirty”, actually racist, cover.  It played endlessly on the turntable of the Gallanter household’s Harman-Kardon Turntable, AM-FM Stereo with Recording Cassette Compact Stereo.

(Dad was quick to nudge me as a way of reminding me that he had purchased the stereo and had paid me to rake leaves.  On this Christmas I actually found this habit of his endearing).

Christmas 1970 was to be the last Christmas of our family as a unit although neither Mom, Dad, Peter or myself knew so at the time.

1971’s Christmas crystallized the cataclysmic changes, voluntary AND involuntary, familial AND cultural, well-intended AND malicious that would sweep through the lives of Mom, Dad, Peter and myself.

Christmas 1971 couldn’t have all of us in the same room for any length of time. I brought ABRAXAS to our North Shore Unitarian Universalist Congregation’s Jr. High room where I played ABRAXAS very loudly to the puzzlement of many.

By 1972 headphones were clamped over my head as the congas of  “Oye Como Va” reverberated.  Hostility was assumed to be my motivation, and not one completely inaccurate, but astral projection back to 1970 was the guiding star.  It was still my Mom’s LP but she was caught up in her own affairs and didn’t notice it missing.  Dad lived in Forest Hills, Queens as the divorce was now final.

(I remember looking at a snapshot of Christmas 1962 in our home at 86 Henry St, Merrick, Long Island.  There is a tower of blocks in front of me wearing a devilish grin with my Mom kneeling beside me with a bemused expression.  I remember kicking the blocks over.  1962 is my earliest Christmas memory).

For several years I continued to play ABRAXAS at Christmas.  Most memorably in 1975 when my Mom returned home from a hospitalization and I wanted to comfort her.  ABRAXAS proved to be more curative than the turkey I attempted to cook with tomato soup flavored stuffing).

By 1973 I was not speaking to my Dad, an estrangement that lasted more than 3 years.  ABRAXAS’ “Oye Como Va” reminded me of the photo of Mom and Dad celebrating their 1st.anniversary with a grinning Tito Puente, the author of the original “Oye Como Va,” at the Palladium in Manhattan, where my paternal grandfather worked.

ABRAXAS signified Dad as well as Mom and the paternal grandparents who posed with me on their laps but who I have no memories of.

The summers of 1974,1975 and 1976 found me at  Rowe Unitarian Universalist Camp and Conference Center.  ABRAXAS was in the ‘Radio Rowe’ LP pile for the public address system that broadcast on a sporadic basis throughout the camp. Santana was very popular with my brother and sister campers although they would have been taken aback, to say the least, at the talisman it was to me.

Boston gained me as a resident in 1978.  I left ABRAXAS with Mom.  I played it upon my early Christmas sojourns to the ancestral home.

In 1981 a group of we Port Washingtonians had a Christmas celebration at the New York, New York discotheque in Manhattan.  Mom remarked that the percussion of much disco reminded her of ABRAXAS.  The next day I played the now battered LP.  Upon hitching back to Boston I purchased a used copy at Looney Tunes Used Records.

1982 brought the realization that college graduation was beyond my capability.  At home in Port Washington I put on ABRAXAS to please Mom before disappointing her.

By 1984 my Dad had passed.  Yes, “Oye Como Va” reminded me that once upon a time Dad and Mom were deeply in love and Peter and I were fortunate to be the offspring of their union.  I have no recollection of my grandparents on either side but ABRAXAS is a talisman of their lives causing mine.

10 years pass. ABRAXAS PLAYS annually on my Panasonic Plus Cassette-to-Cassette AM/FM boom box.

1995 found my brother Peter and I at odds to the extent that I spent Christmas in Boston brooding ambivalently although I did send presents to Peter, his wife Aida and Mom.

I consoled myself with ABRAXAS “Hope You’re Feeling Better”s theme of ambivalence powered by congas and Carlos Santana’s wah-wah guitar pyrotechnics.

Being well into my 30’s in 1995 I had made my own Christmas tradition of surprising someone that I liked with a gift that spoke to an affection that had not been fully expressed.  Being single, childless and employed in an industry that throws folks together and throws them away with equal speed I had learned that small blessings are sometimes the only blessings one can receive but that can be a good thing.

…I was sitting on the living room floor of 24 Haviland St, Apt. 28 at about 9 P.M. 2 days before Christmas wrapping up 2 gifts while ABRAXAS played through the open door of my bedroom.  My roommate was out of the country for the holidays so I felt little compunction about playing my music a tad louder than I might have otherwise.

I was wrapping 2 gifts for a former co-worker.  Patricia was a beautiful woman who had tended bar at the same venue as I.   Although it had been a brief and occasional job for her the chit-chat of the time when I was an afternoon employee at that venue had crossed over to more chit-chat when we briefly worked the same bar.

Patricia was in the midst of several transitions in her life and I was taken aback, although pleased, when she asked me to call her.

Over the course of more than a year these calls became more frequent and more intimate and I found myself listening as much as I spoke.  Certainly, I was flattered to be trusted but more than that I trusted her with the pure aspects of my heart that had become very distant.

Pure and impure thoughts mingled, as Patricia was a beauty.

I was thinking about how to finesse a meeting with Patricia so as to give her both of her gifts.  One was a sardonic look at the recent past while the other was a light unto what was to come.

The phone rang, landlines had only begun too cede their domain to pagers, and it was Patricia.

“…Steve, I am at the bar. I have a present for you.  Where do you live?”

“I have 2 presents for you. I live 25 yards away I’ll be there in 5 minutes,” I replied.  My heart did a full-gainer and my hands began to shake.  Steeling myself I managed to wind some Scotch tape around my gifts and jetted out the door to the bar.

Patricia was by the pay phone smiling.

I ordered drinks, we took a booth and we spoke briefly of the joy and relief of having finished Christmas shopping.

“What did you get me,” she asked with the slightly turned head that moved my eyes and heart.

I gave her the 1st. package and she ripped off the wrapping with an urgency that was enthralling.  Laughing out loud she proclaimed, “I don’t know what I would ever use this for!”

“I know, that’s why I got it for you!”

I slid the other gift over the booth’s table when the owner of the bar came by to shake my hand and wish me a Merry Christmas.

I thanked him and introduced Patricia who also wished him a Merry Christmas.

“You know him?”

“I’ve been coming here since 1979,” I offered while wondering what Patricia might think of my recreational habits.

Patricia unwrapped the second gift and plugged it into a socket. She smiled a closed mouthed gesture of gratitude while nodding slowly in a way that signaled that all was right in the world if for only this moment.

“C’mon open your present.”

I opened Patricia’s package to find a mustard colored turtleneck that would undoubtedly be a good fit underneath a leather jacket for Boston’s winters.

I blinked involuntarily and held her hands briefly.

“Hey, do you think that the Prudential Mall is still open?”

“If there is any night of the year when it would be open late tonight would be that night.”

“Let’s go, we can leave the stuff in my car.”

My mind was pondering whether this meeting was a gesture of sympathy for being estranged from my family, gratitude for being a shoulder to cry on or just because Patricia was a good kid…or something more.

We walked the 200 or so yards to the Prudential Mall and after determining that indeed the stores had closed at 9, walked back to the car and I removed my gift.

We hugged.

Patricia got into her car.

I returned to my apartment…

1997 found Mom in a nursing home for the final phase of her life.  I bought her a new Walkman with ABRAXAS poised to play.  She was delighted.

1999 found Mom receiving a Discman.  The first CD…?  Yes, she remembered.

2004 brought the end of Mom’s life.  On that Christmas I played ABRAXAS at 2 AM in the living room of 42 North Bayles Ave, Port Washington on my Discman in a private memorial to Mom.

2013 found my now gone friend Steve Boisson offering that he had “never thought of Santana as Christmas music” while offering blues artist Charles Brown as his own eccentric Yuletide troubadour.

2019 has brought the passage from this world and from my life of several folks and places…Looney Tunes records has been gone since 2012 and record stores are right up there or down there with trilobites as fossils.

ABRAXAS keeps record stores and Christmas alive at one and the same time as this mind contemplates Christmas 2019.

To all those folks both present and absent I offer,

“Oye Como Va.”

ABAXAS signifies Christmas with its calling to heart folks who have passed, friends who are missed, places that are gone and the phases of the Christmases past, present and future.

ABRAXAS is a talisman as real as a rock, in LP, cassette,  CD and YouTube formats that holds in its notes the presents, love, tears and hopes of Christmas every time I so much as touch it.

I am listening to it right now.

Oye Como Va

Merry Christmas

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