Tag Archives: Gonzo

Movie Review: The Rum Diary

( #HunterSThompson, #RumDiary )

If you read this blog (or look on the left panel for “Gonzo Stories”), you could tell pretty quickly that I am a Hunter S. Thompson fan. Outside of his epic drinking and drug abuses, he was a man that understood the fine line between a news article and a story and then he pissed all over it. I read the Rum Diary 5 or 6 years ago and enjoyed it. Hunter had yet to discover the Gonzo form of journalism he made famous, but this book (and Thompson’s alter-ego “Paul Kemp”) was clearly a proto-form of his later style.

All that being said, Johnny Depp does an excellent job of creating a coherent storyline out of a book that does not really have one. All the characters are there, but in the book version, Thompson zones in on the drinking, the hangovers, the parties, and the sweating. It was less about the story and more about feeling what was happening. In the movie version, Depp cleans up the story and makes the antagonists more clear.

The movie also does a great job of explaining Kemp’s dealings with the real estate holdings group and his involvement with Sanderson. In the book, Thompson seemed more focused on screwing Sanderson’s girlfriend, the movie makes the whole situation more layered (and makes Thompson seem a little more gentlemanly). Johnny Depp does not do a balls out Hunter Thompson impression like he did in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but as I said, Thompson was not Gonzo yet. Depp does a very good job at playing a twenty-something Thompson, not once did I think “hey this guy is almost 50.” The standout performance of the movie might have to go to Giovanni Ribisi’s portrayal of Moburg. Ribisi taps into the classic frantic Thompson energy and of anyone, he is the one paying homage to Dr. Gonzo.

I really liked this movie, but I give the warning that it is not for everyone. As the title might indicate, it is about a guy who gets drunk, not in a fun “Arthur” kind of way. It is essentially the story of how Hunter S. Thompson found his writing voice and got really messed up along the way. As Thompson once said, “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

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Hunter S. Thompson and Friends

( #TGIF, #HunterThompson, #JohnCusack )

Hunter Thompson, John Cusack, and Johnny Depp in a convertible with a blow up doll. I kinda wish I was a fly on the wall (or car).

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PJ Whelihans is Decadent and Depraved

( #Gonzo, #PJWhelihans )

Walking into the bar, I was immediately repulsed by the smell of cheap perfume, over cooked chicken wings, and something else… The building was schizophrenic: part pub, catering hall, concert venue, and whore house. The women surrounding the bar looked defeated, their breasts heaved upwards slightly exposed with ovals cut in the center of their shirts – I was unaware that this establishment had a dress code. My wife and I were modestly overdressed.

My thoughts were broken by the recognition of acquaintances. This was no place for human beings still in possession of their souls. My eyes once again started to scan the patrons of the bar. Groups from all walks of life: Hipsters, slackers, sportsters, families, and the chronic losers all assembled here, which I quickly determined to be the Walmart of bars – accommodating all demographics, but none of them well and certainly without character.


Image Credit: Ralph Steadman

Most people had bewildered looks in their eyes with their mouths stretched open – puzzled, forgetting the feeling of being in a crowd. The others looked overly enthused to be in such a location. A bearded slacker approached me and offered a fist-bump. I immediately understood that the poor bastard was stuck in some kind of time warp (since fist-bumps have not been socially acceptable for several years). I offered my fist in sympathy and promptly applied sanitizer to the back of my hand.

After several minutes, we were seated. I assume we were not deemed attractive enough to be near entrances or windows – instead we were seated directly next to the bathroom and the makeshift stage. I felt the sudden urge to flee. I became more alarmed when I noticed the fist-bumper seated behind me. I decided it was preferable than making eye contract – but I felt his beady eyes burrowing holes in my head. The pressure was getting intense when the waitress arrived and asked our group if we need a drink.

God Yes.

The alcohol took an unacceptable amount of time to arrive and our waitress looked different yet the same. Then I noticed her on the other side of the bar while she was still at my table, and there she was again at the table next to us. Could this girl multiply or did someone slip something in my drink? Walmart mass production at its finest, I didn’t know they were in the business of making people, but it was inevitable. I decided to call her Tripli-kate.

Checking on the fist-bumper, I noticed a figure setting up a drum set. I began to wish I brought some mace. The drummer had a greasy look that was all-too-common for Southern New Jersey cover bands. The rest of the group remained hidden from my view but I could hear them plucking away…preparing for an audio onslaught that the Nazis themselves could not conceive.

At the first struck note, a herd of wild-haired, fake-breasted, buffalo woman stampeded towards the back. Their bovine glares focused at the half-empty stage of has-beens preparing to play their brand of South Jersey Soul Music (Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Van Morrison, and a dash of Black-eye’d peas). Men soon followed the women, quietly coming close to their ample posteriors in order to make contact with their Wrangler sheathed crotches.

The unknown scent that I detected was becoming stronger. I determined it was a mixture of grease, sex, and broken ambition – a potent and dangerous concoction. It was entirely plausible that the rapture of bad food, bad music, and unfulfilled dreams could instigate a flash-orgy. We needed to leave. Immediately.

The music started as we got up. The crowd converged. Through a fetid vaginal cavity made of small gaps, cracks, and armpits—I found freedom. Out the doors, we barricaded ourselves in the car. Hearing the music reach a crescendo, the smell attained its own malodorous peak, infecting my nostrils and lungs even outdoors.


Image Credit: Ralph Steadman

I scrubbed myself raw when I got home to ensure I was not contaminated by any form of contact. I wrapped a blanked over myself and watched TV for several days until the thought of that horrible place left my mind and I was able to venture out into the world again.

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Hunter S. Thompson Job Reference

( #HunterSThompson, #Gonzo, #JobReferences )

This is a letter Thompson wrote to the editor of the Vancouver Sun…

By the time you get this letter, I’ll have gotten hold of some of the recent issues of The Sun. Unless it looks totally worthless, I’ll let my offer stand. And don’t think that my arrogance is unintentional: it’s just that I’d rather offend you now than after I started working for you.

I didn’t make myself clear to the last man I worked for until after I took the job. It was as if the Marquis de Sade had suddenly found himself working for Billy Graham. The man despised me, of course, and I had nothing but contempt for him and everything he stood for. If you asked him, he’d tell you that I’m “not very likable, (that I) hate people, (that I) just want to be left alone, and (that I) feel too superior to mingle with the average person.” (That’s a direct quote from a memo he sent to the publisher.)

Nothing beats having good references.

UPDATE: Boing Boing found the whole damn letter:

Vancouver Sun
TO JACK SCOTT, VANCOUVER SUN

October 1, 1958 57 Perry Street New York City

Sir,

I got a hell of a kick reading the piece Time magazine did this week on The Sun. In addition to wishing you the best of luck, I’d also like to offer my services.

Since I haven’t seen a copy of the “new” Sun yet, I’ll have to make this a tentative offer. I stepped into a dung-hole the last time I took a job with a paper I didn’t know anything about (see enclosed clippings) and I’m not quite ready to go charging up another blind alley.

By the time you get this letter, I’ll have gotten hold of some of the recent issues of The Sun. Unless it looks totally worthless, I’ll let my offer stand. And don’t think that my arrogance is unintentional: it’s just that I’d rather offend you now than after I started working for you.

I didn’t make myself clear to the last man I worked for until after I took the job. It was as if the Marquis de Sade had suddenly found himself working for Billy Graham. The man despised me, of course, and I had nothing but contempt for him and everything he stood for. If you asked him, he’d tell you that I’m “not very likable, (that I) hate people, (that I) just want to be left alone, and (that I) feel too superior to mingle with the average person.” (That’s a direct quote from a memo he sent to the publisher.)

Nothing beats having good references.

Of course if you asked some of the other people I’ve worked for, you’d get a different set of answers.
If you’re interested enough to answer this letter, I’ll be glad to furnish you with a list of references — including the lad I work for now.

The enclosed clippings should give you a rough idea of who I am. It’s a year old, however, and I’ve changed a bit since it was written. I’ve taken some writing courses from Columbia in my spare time, learned a hell of a lot about the newspaper business, and developed a healthy contempt for journalism as a profession.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s a damned shame that a field as potentially dynamic and vital as journalism should be overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity. If this is what you’re trying to get The Sun away from, then I think I’d like to work for you.

Most of my experience has been in sports writing, but I can write everything from warmongering propaganda to learned book reviews.

I can work 25 hours a day if necessary, live on any reasonable salary, and don’t give a black damn for job security, office politics, or adverse public relations.

I would rather be on the dole than work for a paper I was ashamed of.

It’s a long way from here to British Columbia, but I think I’d enjoy the trip.

If you think you can use me, drop me a line.

If not, good luck anyway.

Sincerely, Hunter S. Thompson

This letter and many more like it were published in The Proud Highway (links to Amazon in case you are interested in purchasing – I think I am going to buy it).

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Fear and Loathing when the Ball Drops


It was the last day of the year; the wind was wild, angry, and biting with cold. I had spent several hours running errands with a friend in preparation of the evenings festivities. There was a dull haze in everyone that we encountered that day, and I was beginning to become concerned that this New Years celebration might not shine like past events. Perhaps “W’s” war on common sense has taken its final toll on the American populous. While I am no fan of the New Years (and growing more weary of it with each passing year), it is a good excuse to watch people get drunk and potentially dismember themselves with large amounts of explosives, I’d be a fool not to look forward to it in some perverse way.

My house-guest had waited as long as possible to get ready and was delousing himself when the taxi service arrived. The cab driver looked like a poor man’s John Getz. He quickly informed us that he was the greatest cab driver to ever live. This was line was delivered with as deadly serious a tone as I have ever heard. I immediately wanted to throw him out of the driver’s seat and run him over with his “sparkling clean” 12 year old cab. At one point the driver insisted that someone behind us was driving with their high beams on and pulled over and waited for this person to pass. I didn’t notice high beams, but I did notice the driver reaching for something under the seat. The faster we got the out of this animal’s cab, the better. He half-bragged about sports players doing illegal things in the back of his cabs and how he was a such a good driver he would never say anything. Its hard to drive and pat yourself on the back, but this man was adept at both. I was glad when the drive finally ended.

When we walked into the hall, I noticed I was surrounded by the remaining members of “The Greatest Generation”. The mocking grin of the grim reaper met my gaze while waiting to move these poor old bastards along the River Styx. My thoughts were interrupted when the Mongolian appeared from the back area. He had arrived with his entourage a few minutes earlier and already drinking. If you may remember from our previous adventures, inebriation and Mongolians always make for an interesting evening, I was apprehensive to see what would happen.

While there were a few groups of people born after 1970, by 9 PM it became apparent that this evening would be dominated by the walking dead. I meet their confused gazes with grins and glass raising, they soon learned to ignore me except for one woman. While socializing at the bar, an elderly woman struck up conversation which quickly devolved into her wanting to take me home. I couldn’t blame her, but I flashed my wedding ban (which I discovered was useful for something) and quickly left with my drinks. As I moved around the hall noticing the elderly guests getting drunker and their mobility becoming more impaired, I felt the need to remove myself from the stink of death.

Many of the key players from the Maryland storywere seated with their wives or dates at the next table. One man had a date that my house guest was familiar with and as the night went on they were spending more time together and her date was spending more time at the bar with me. I started asking some light questions to ensure there wouldn’t be a fist fight between the two; there wouldn’t – he could have cared less. But he was more concerned with another member of the group popping the question and creating a scene. In the bathroom a man who looked like a cross between a conventional porn star and used car salesmen stared into the mirror saying “you can do it, you can do it”. This happened several times that night, the guy spent more time in the bathroom than in the ballroom. As for the object of his affections, I overheard her saying marriage is over-rated as she just ended her second.

I had made an unlikely friend at the hall the week before. His name was Tony and he was the owner of the establishment. Tony is an older man with brown shoe-polish died hair. Tony is old school Italian with a bum leg which he informed me was received for not keeping his cool. He took a liking to me and the Mongolian (mistaking him for a southern Italian, and me correcting that he was from eastern Italy) when we purchased seats the week before. From that point on, he had greeted me with affectionate terms such as “cocksucker” and “mother-fucker”. On New Years Eve, Tony made an effort to point us out to the guests. This would prove to be a mistake.

After midnight, all in attendance were gathered together to sing “God Bless America”. I must have forgotten the words after grade school and had no desire to fake it, so I left the singing masses and went back to the bar, when I returned the Mongolian and his wife were getting into a heated argument with an elderly woman. Normally I would allow this to continue but we were the visiting team and old people love a show, so I pulled the Mongolian outside to cool down. Tony and one of his goons followed us out. The goon had a crude weapon in his hand that I spotted immediately, but to my relief and surprise, Tony called him off. The old bastard did a good job of calming the enraged Mongolian down and managed to get the offending party to leave. It turns out that the woman said something rude and racist to the Mongolians wife after “God Bless America” and the Mongolian’s wife not being a meek woman by any means, laid a verbal smack down. Unfortunately a woman that was sympathetic to my companions walked over to confront the OTHER woman and ended up getting the full force of the Mongolian’s anger. This is when I walked over.

A few minutes before the incident the Mongolian drunk dialed the taxi service and they arrived shortly after everyone had settled down. While I was sad that the party ended, I was glad to see the night end without a fist being thrown or a hip being broken. They left without issue, but the minute their cab pulled away the elderly hordes started circling asking me questions. Most of these guys were Italians and I guess I fit the part of someone they could talk to.

My wife called the cab service, and 30 minutes later she got through and we had to wait another 30 minutes for the cab to get there. Waiting at the door for the cab was like a receiving line for the nosy. They all asked, and they all got the same answer, which they accepted happily and went on their way. A younger man with a very tall and very drunk wife came staggering up to the doors and proclaims “I heard there was a cab out front”. I told him there wasn’t and gave him the number to the service warning him it could take a while. Then he went outside. I knew the bastard was going to try to steal my cab, so I had to wait in the cold and was thinking about ramming his head through the glass doors. My thoughts were interrupted by his wife who drunkenly blasted through the doors and fell down. She started yelping about wanting to go home and he helped her up and got her back inside where my house guest started chatting her up. The distraction worked out for me because the cab pulled up. I told the driver my name and it was indeed my cab, as I got my wife and friend, the snake tried to bribe the driver to take him home instead. While he talked at the drivers side, I loaded my group in the passenger side. This guy kept at it saying we could share a cab, I said sure and when the man left to collect his wife, I told the driver to leave.

The ride home ended with my house guest requesting McDonald’s and the driver agreeing enthusiastically (more money for him). This man was much more to our liking and made fun of the previous driver with us. My house guest ordered several items off the midnight menu happily sharing with all as we pulled up to my house. As I watched him stagger through my door as I paid the driver, I wondered how many more years would we go through this ritual and I as I walked though the threshold and I decided it would be the last.

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Fear and Loathing in Maryland

The wind coming inland had a ominous moan on Saturday afternoon. My driving partner, who claimed to be a direct decedent of Genghis Khan himself was itching to get out of the car. He claimed it was a sugar rush, but I knew better. We were apprehensive about what we were walking into and the three hour drive made us quite thirsty. We didn’t plan for the drive and were late as the car parade was starting. The bastards we were meeting had been known to do harsh things to the tardy, I heard one of the beasts had threatened to twist a homosexual man’s head the night before. What kind of heathens threatens to twist a man’s head without at least offering a happy ending? Strange days indeed.

Checking into the hotel presented many large physical obstacles in the form of people. The all-you-can-eat buffets of Ocean City has caused man, woman, and child alike to become moving, semi-agile boulders that me and my Mongolian companion had to maneuver around. It was already far to much for my delicate mind. We managed to get to the desk, I was already sweating like a beast, the desk attendant had a bovine look on her face and a figure to match. She managed to find keys after bending under the desk far too much and we entered an elevator that was last serviced in 1852. Forty minutes later we had gotten to the second floor and to our room. It had a decor and size that matched the elevator, we quickly left.

We managed to find a few of our friends at their hotel’s bar. The room was packed with idiots of some form or another. Many had come to see the baseball game, others came to make friends; they would find no friends in me this day. Our associates had a wild look in their eyes, they spent the previous evening drinking and they were looking to continue. I offered whiskey as penance for being late which they gladly accepted, but later regretted due to reflux.

We were asked back to their hotel room. It smelled of ass and axe body wash. The faint smell of smokes of various creeds also permeated the room. My closest friend, Nate, was celebrating his 28th birthday by spitting into the ferocious winds; his spittle took flight and surely ruined some obese car enthusiast freshly waxed obsession. He had an evil glint in his eye and I knew this evening would prove to be perilous to at least one of us, probably him. I had noticed there was someone I didn’t know in the room. He had a redneck look about him with a waft of “surfer-dude”. He was ironing his jeans as I stared… What an odd activity especially as his companions surely had not seen much less used an iron in years.

Plans were solidified to go to another, less attractive bar a few blocks away. When we arrived it was full of dim-witted sports baseball fans who for some reason were cheering for the Philadelphia football team (The Eagles) instead of the baseball team (The Phillies). The waitress informed us that domestic drafts were two dollars. When I ordered a Sam Adams, she told me that was considered imported. I told her that I wasn’t aware of Boston succeeding from the union and she looked at me with dull, dead eyes not understanding and most definitely not caring. Nate had somehow gotten lost in the shuffle between bars and finally arrived. Several rounds of drinks and food were ordered and delivered. During this time another member of the group arrived with a friend. This gentleman was pasty with large, psychotic eyes. I watched him behind my glass waiting for him to make his inevitable attack. The waitress came over to inform us that a change in shifts was occurring and we could pay out or continue to run a tab. I suggested paying out so the dim-witted girl could be tipped and a new tab started. The tab was paid, our waitress left, and we were left without drink or any service for about an hour. Nate demanded two pitchers from a greasy, long-haired bartender who begrudging complied. Looking at his greasy strands of hair, I grew concerned that one of his head pubes would makes it way to my mead so I suggest we depart again and go to our planned final destination… The Brass Balls.

With each passing block the aroma grew larger… sweat, steamed crabs, stale beer, sexual fluids… it filled the air and as we walked into the bar, it coated everything. The wait staff seemed eager to have reliable customers and knew my friends from the night before. The Mongolian was quiet, never a good sign, and I started to look around for him. He was in the back of the bar yelling at an older white couple while playing with an electronic shooting game. Shots continued to flow, everyone loosened up including the crazy pasty man who I started to suspect was a certified serial murderer. I wasn’t the only one with that assumption either as several patrons shot him terrified glances. As I began to get lost in the countless possibilities of this man murdering me or my friends I noticed the Mongolian had disappeared. Knowing his affinity for water I ran to the beach and saw him climbing a small grouping of rocks leading to the ocean.

He was crouched over and staring at the waves. I could sense that this calmed him, but Mongolians are an unpredictable lot and he was one of their finest. I suggested we leave which just agitated him more. “I love the water man, it is awesome” he said. I knew this was trouble. As I began to inch closer he slipped on a rock and cut open his leg, pouring the blood onto the rocks. The injury didn’t phase him. He continued to make Mr. Miyagi style formations on the rocks until I reminded him that it was our friend’s birthday. His manners got the best of him and he lead me back to the bar.

The release of the Mongolian’s blood into the air awoke a dark and menstrual goddess on the beach. When we got back to our table, we were greeted by two new female friends. The sharks could smell fresh meat in the water and started circling their prey, half of these animals were married or had girlfriends, I think they just didn’t know how to operate without a woman telling them where to stand. The voices in the air must have been talking to the psychopath and I was trying my best to avoid him as he began to talk to me. Seeing my friends enjoying a cigarette on the deck I promptly made my exit. With each exchange between us I grew more concerned that this nut could pose some harm to the smaller members of the group and surely some of the local wildlife, I needed to collect more information. Nate didn’t seem to know anything about him, but the women also shared my sense of alarm. I offended the people smoking on the deck by telling them they were paying a corporation to kill time 5 dollars a pack and I was admonished back inside, the murderous bastard was waiting for me.

I had selected “The Weight” by The Band on the jukebox and it was playing in all its glory when I got back to the table. The psychopath told me his name, (for sake of this story I will call him Tom) and began to ask me questions about Rush; his interest in prog-rock confirmed my suspicions that this man ate children. Tom caused all the men to start squawking about the best band, I took my opportunity to become as offensive as possible to cull any more conversation attempts. He suggested that the Beatles were the best and I told him they where hacks and sucked, this did nothing to deter him. I attempted to insult his tastes more, but he just stared deeply at me, I decided that cancer was better than being skinned alive and went back outside. Tom and the rest of the table followed me out much to my horror.

It wasn’t long before we started to attracted the attention of other bar patrons. Mostly older couples looking for a good time, we were greeted with cheers and smiles. A somewhat drunk couple staggered to the deck from the neighboring boardwalk and almost instantly started a conversation with Tom. My friend Roland noticed this conversation as well and suggested that their skin would make quite a prize for this sick fuck, we both shivered. Once again I noticed the Mongolian had disappeared and saw him out of the corner of my eye falling backwards on the barrier between the boardwalk and the beach. Roland walked over to keep and eye on him and I sat down next to Nate attempting to spend some time with my friend in between cigarettes. Tom soon came over and asked to bum a cigarette which I promptly told him I didn’t smoke and it was a habit for the mentally and emotionally handicapped, he asked for one of Nate’s anyway. He proceeded to tell me how much of a buzz he got from the nicotine and I informed him that second hand smoke was quite lethal and he should take a few steps back. He complied temporarily. The couple that I was sure would become his trophies informed me that Tom was a nice man, I suggested to the now shit-faced woman that she shouldn’t take any offers to get into a car or dark alley with him, she nodded but I could tell she did not comprehend my warning. Victims, aren’t we all?

I focused my attention back on Nate; wanting to see if he had any interest in the girl he was speaking with and if he did, if he had made progress. The answer was no. I wanted to understand the situation better so I struck up a conversation with the girl while Nate took a reprieve (most likely to talk game plan with his cousin). She seemed nice enough but I was getting the impression that my friend would not be partaking in the ultimate birthday gift for one reason or another. There was another gentlemen brought along that wasn’t part of our normal scene. He seemed nice enough but he was most definitely flying too close to Nate’s honey pot. I tried to fend him off while still being polite as he was held in high regards with the other men in the group, but I eventually told him he was talking too loud and interrupting a very important conversation between me and the young lady. He took appropriate offense and went off to sulk at the bar.

The night continued like this for a few more hours and finally last call was announced. By this point I had retired to the beach so I could keep an eye on both the murderous Tom and the Mongolian, who was locked in a deadly dance with the ocean. By now he was bleeding from several spots on his body and looking as if the beer and whiskey had taken complete control. I could see Nate on the deck quickly dismissing the other men around him so he could make a final play with no competition if he wanted to. Tom stood on the deck staring at me for several minutes, I went to find the Mongolian. Most of the men went down for the night while Nate and a small entourage headed towards the hotel parking lot. The Mongolian and I made our way up the boardwalk and to our hotel with me checking back every few minutes to make sure we were not followed. The stairs were not kind to him, but the kin of Khan found his way to his bed soon enough. I spent the next few hours serenaded by the sounds of the Mongolian intermittently vomiting in the bathroom next to my bed.

I awoke the next morning to the sound of someone yelling in the street. It was 6 AM. I couldn’t sleep so I decided to shower and get myself ready to leave. Once clean I took a stroll on the boardwalk to kill time. By 9 AM I decided to check in on Nate and his crew, I walked to his hotel and knocked on his door. Roland opened to door a bit and I saw body parts mingled with blankets all over the floor like a game of twister gone terribly wrong. I promptly left. When I returned to the hotel the Mongolian was wrapped in a sleeping bag. Against my better judgment, I awoke him so we could get the hell out of this bad twilight zone episode. He rose slowly muttering nonsense. He eventually stumbled into the bathroom and emerged a few minutes later somewhat coherent. We quickly got to my car to avoid any run ins with Tom the murderer and set off on the 150 mile journey home. Halfway home the Mogolian’s previous nights binge reappeared all over I-95. He rolled up into a ball and didn’t say much. Eighty miles later we pulled into my driveway and the Mongolian slithered into his car. As I stood there watching him drive away, wondering if he would make it home without vomiting, I gave thanks that Tom the psychopath let us both leave with our skin.

Happy Birthday Nate

PS – The Birthday boy passed on his gift…

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