What I hate about Boston

KentXie

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Now change Casino to a "new Patriot Stadium" in South Boston and you'll see why the whole "football stadium brings new business and jobs" doesn't work.
 

Ron Newman

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And Shanghai in 2040 will be ruing some of what was lost after 1990.
 

underground

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Is there a single city in the world that compares to Shanghai's growth in the last 20 years? Seems a little unfair to single Boston out for that particular complaint.
 

Hutchison

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That entirely depends on what district you are in. As for Pudong in the picture, basically yes.
 

Tension Member

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My biggest complaint about Boston is that I hate that Boston isn't the cultural capital of the US. While it's true we have and amazing amount of arts and culture for a city our size (see below) we still play a weak second (third?) fiddle to places like New York and Chicago. I'm fine with Boston not being the financial capital of the US. The book Invented Cities does an excellent job of explain why New York got that title. But the arts and culture title is Boston's birthright. I understand that New York got the money and the population followed the money and the arts followed the population, but Boston should be putting up a bigger fight. We have such a rich cultural history but in the last century or so we just stopped trying.
  • I hate that The Atlantic Monthly left Boston.
  • I hate that very few (if any) 'big name' authors and artists choose the live in Boston.
  • I hate that Boston live theater scene is so weak.
  • I hate that the MFA (as good as it is) isn't considered the premier fine arts museum in the US.
  • I hate the fact that the ICA isn't even in the discussion.
  • I hate the fact that Boston isn't known for our restaurants (we're getting better, but we not really on the map yet, as far as I can tell)
  • I could not care less that Boston isn't a fashion capital, but I hate the fact people consider fashion to be part of arts & culture.
I hate that the natives of Boston are seen as unfriendly and hostile to outsiders.

I hate the fact that Bostonians don't want to see their city as a CITY but rather as a large town.
  • I hate the fact that fewer then a million people live within the city limits. And city has no really desire to grow past that. We need more people living in the city so that our cultural institutions can grow.
  • I hate the blind desire for 'open space' and 'green space'. Yes, places like the Esplanade and the Public Garden are wonderful spaces, but they were perfectly planned to interact with the city around them. Open space for the sake of open space rarely works.
  • Thus, I hate 90% of the Greenway. (the North End and Chinatown parks are OK)
I hate people bitching about snow and cold weather. It's New England. Strap a set on and go to work.
I hate that T doesn't run late at night. And even more so, that there are people who don't want the T to run late at night.
I hate that bars close so early. And even more so, that there are people who don't want bars to close later.
I hate that the Pat's lost the Super Bowl.
Boston has a tradition of being a staid, old fart town, probably due to the original sticks in the mud, fun-DESPISING Puritans who founded this City. In contrast, NYC was founded by the freewheeling Dutch and take note of the fact that the Dutch peoples of our own time maintain their far more liberal free-spirit ways, as evidenced by their handling of prostitution, drug use, and the like for examples. I have lived in the Boston area all my life, except for 4 years in Amherst, MA during my college days, and I must state forthrightly that many people in Boston are truly far more rabidly anti-development, anti-high rise, and in fanatic, zealous opposition to anything flashy and grandiose than in ANY OTHER City of the USA, be it smaller or larger than Boston. These people ardently cling to the notion that Boston must be maintained as a "big Small Town!", and high rise buildings, such as those in Chicago, NYC, San Francisco, Seattle, LA, Houston, and the like only serve to disturb that wish to maintain that big small-town ambiance. I think it somewhat odd and comical when I view aerial shots of smaller Southern and Southwest US Cities such as Tulsa and Nashville with their more numerous, much taller, and elegant skyscraper high rises thrusting head and shoulders above those few high rises built here in "BANNED IN BOSTON". Will the crushing, anti-flash, anti-development Puritanical attitudes ever disappear? Maybe someday, but my guess is somewhere in the vicinity of perhaps 75 to 100 or 150 years from now when HOPEFULLY Boston moves on well past the mirthless, joyless drudgery of the year 1630 Puritan Founders and relegates their legacy to the dust bins of history. I won't be around then, but for my remaining years I am sure Boston will hold on tight to the "small, vastly understated, dowdy, and far less is more" outlook!
 

Bananarama

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Boston has a tradition of being a staid, old fart town, probably due to the original sticks in the mud, fun-DESPISING Puritans who founded this City. In contrast, NYC was founded by the freewheeling Dutch and take note of the fact that the Dutch peoples of our own time maintain their far more liberal free-spirit ways, as evidenced by their handling of prostitution, drug use, and the like for examples. I have lived in the Boston area all my life, except for 4 years in Amherst, MA during my college days, and I must state forthrightly that many people in Boston are truly far more rabidly anti-development, anti-high rise, and in fanatic, zealous opposition to anything flashy and grandiose than in ANY OTHER City of the USA, be it smaller or larger than Boston. These people ardently cling to the notion that Boston must be maintained as a "big Small Town!", and high rise buildings, such as those in Chicago, NYC, San Francisco, Seattle, LA, Houston, and the like only serve to disturb that wish to maintain that big small-town ambiance. I think it somewhat odd and comical when I view aerial shots of smaller Southern and Southwest US Cities such as Tulsa and Nashville with their more numerous, much taller, and elegant skyscraper high rises thrusting head and shoulders above those few high rises built here in "BANNED IN BOSTON". Will the crushing, anti-flash, anti-development Puritanical attitudes ever disappear? Maybe someday, but my guess is somewhere in the vicinity of perhaps 75 to 100 or 150 years from now when HOPEFULLY Boston moves on well past the mirthless, joyless drudgery of the year 1630 Puritan Founders and relegates their legacy to the dust bins of history. I won't be around then, but for my remaining years I am sure Boston will hold on tight to the "small, vastly understated, dowdy, and far less is more" outlook!

I'm in full agreement with you about the development restraint in the region. It's pathetic. Some absurdly conservative attitudes in regards to the built environment that only harm the long term health of the city...

Contrast the scene here to say D.C. which I find comparable for its size, historic roots, and general lack of height (on the extreme). But D.C. isn't afraid of mixed-use zoning, urban infill, or... alcohol? Just a massive difference in street life and culture from the way they've welcomed development while preserving the historic charm of their neighborhoods. It's not some all-or-nothing stance. The quintessential D.C. multi-colored row houses co-exist peacefully among many modern infill projects. Squares with life that haven't been gutted and replaced by bank chains.

Liquor licenses here are a complete scam and stifling any kind of bar scene; the same applies for restaurants. The city let the expanded sidewalk usage provision expire and didn't even attempt the full street closure strategies every other major city did. Which I'm sure can be blamed partly on the garbage road organization that makes a rational strategy in this impossible.

I don't care about the skyline. It looks good enough now. We have a simple set of recognizable towers that work well enough with the neighborhoods they spring from. Elegant super-tall skyscrapers look nice from outside the city (and on a postcard, woo...) but are wildly expensive to build and just add to the hyper-luxury market. What we need is much more small-mid scale, mixed-use infill (ground level commercial, residential above).

Not sure where I'm going with this either, just some frustrations. Boston is a cute sleepy city... but damn is it outmoded and soulless sometimes...
 
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ra84970

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Boston is a cute sleepy city... but damn is it outmoded and soulless sometimes...
To my friends, I've compared Boston to bits of suburban Tokyo or secondary city in Japan. Pretty. Static. Staid.

Wish we had more of the features that made central Tokyo (inside the 23 wards) dynamic, cultural, and fun.
 

Tension Member

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I'm in full agreement with you about the development restraint in the region. It's pathetic. Some absurdly conservative attitudes in regards to the built environment that only harm the long term health of the city...

Contrast the scene here to say D.C. which I find comparable for its size, historic roots, and general lack of height (on the extreme). But D.C. isn't afraid of mixed-use zoning, urban infill, or... alcohol? Just a massive difference in street life and culture from the way they've welcomed development while preserving the historic charm of their neighborhoods. It's not some all-or-nothing stance. The quintessential D.C. multi-colored row houses co-exist peacefully among many modern infill projects. Squares with life that haven't been gutted and replaced by bank chains.

Liquor licenses here are a complete scam and stifling any kind of bar scene; the same applies for restaurants. The city let the expanded sidewalk usage provision expire and didn't even attempt the full street closure strategies every other major city did. Which I'm sure can be blamed partly on the garbage road organization that makes a rational strategy in this impossible.

I don't care about the skyline. It looks good enough now. We have a simple set of recognizable towers that work well enough with the neighborhoods they spring from. Elegant super-tall skyscrapers look nice from outside the city (and on a postcard, woo...) but are wildly expensive to build and just add to the hyper-luxury market. What we need is much more small-mid scale, mixed-use infill (ground level commercial, residential above).

Not sure where I'm going with this either, just some frustrations. Boston is a cute sleepy city... but damn is it outmoded and soulless sometimes...
In agreement with your agreement of assessment, if that makes any sense....LOL.....I love this little boring Boston as it is my hometown - I lived in the inner-city neighborhood of Mattapan for 8 years growing up, then nearby Milton, currently I live next door in Newton, and my family-run business (founded in 1955) first started on River Street in Mattapan, then moved to Walk Hill Street (again Mattapan/near Dorchester), then moved to Centre Street in West Roxbury where it remains as of 1/5/2021, so I feel I have a greater right to knock little Boston than ANY OUTSIDER who does not have anywhere close to my connection to this Town. Still, Boston does need to come to life, it does need to throw off that ridiculous Puritanical BULLSHIT strangle-hold upon Boston which keeps it in a state of BORING, BACKWATER provincialism. Sorry to say, and sorry if you are Irish (YES, it is true, MANY of my good friends are Boston Irish, though admittedly LACE CURTAIN IRISH), but the working-class Irish of South Boston, Charlestown, and to a lesser degree, Dorchester, are in effect perpetuating the KEEP IT SMALL, GET OFF-MY-STREET CORNER mindset. To wit, a Boston Herald (a very FAR-RIGHT publication) Editorialist (NO NAME GIVEN) and one-time radio talk show host of Irish descent quite literally shits all over the notion of tourists coming into Boston (TALK ABOUT BEING PROVINCIAL and UNWORLDLY!!), as if this attitude will keep the economy of Boston growing - I DON'T THINK SO!!! As to high rises, yes, I agree with you on this matter too in that the number of high rises built within any Metro Area OR the absolute number of residents within that Metro Area should NOT determine the greatness or lack thereof of a given city. FTR, DC has a Zoning Mandate that requires limiting ANY building to 135 FT in height which is some sort of ratio to the width of DC thoroughfares, and of course, NOTHING may be built to top out the 555 FT tall Washington Monument! Small town, keep it small, anti high rise Bostonians aside, the REAL and actual logical scientific/engineering (Architectural Engineer here) keeping Boston from looking like a 1/10 scale of Manhattan is the proximity of Logan Airport to the CBD. Note that the tallest buildings (though built on VERY POOR fill over former swampland) are the tallest structures in Boston's Back Bay area as the FAA has the final word on building heights and the still under construction Winthrop Sq. Tower was knocked down to 691 FT, probably the limit for the foreseeable future in DOWNTOWN Boston until perhaps, jetliners of some far future time are able to BOTH VERTICALLY take off and land since as of this writing, commercial aircraft require a needed low vertical to horizontal EMERGENCY GLIDE PATH without the potential for collision with nearby high rise obstructions in order to safely operate. FTR, I believe San Diego, with an airport close to the CBD, has an identical lock upon building heights for the very same reason.

As per Boston's "SLEEPINESS", unfortunately, the COVID crisis, which must be attacked with a WWII BATTLE to the DEATH mindest, needs to be eradicated in order for ALL USA cities (as well, all cities throughout the World) for Boston to have a Rennaissance, most specifically with respect to recharging the sorry state of nigh life here in Boston (sad to say, Boston ONCE HAD A MUCH, MUCH BETTER NIGHTLIFE AND LIVE MUSIC SCENE decades ago!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). Yet, Boston is currently slated to have some VERY LARGE live music venues and LIVE THEATER venues opening up, but again, WE ALL NEED TO TACKLE COVID in order for these venues to become viable by eradicating the pandemic.
 
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shmessy

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Boston has a tradition of being a staid, old fart town, probably due to the original sticks in the mud, fun-DESPISING Puritans who founded this City. In contrast, NYC was founded by the freewheeling Dutch and take note of the fact that the Dutch peoples of our own time maintain their far more liberal free-spirit ways, as evidenced by their handling of prostitution, drug use, and the like for examples. I have lived in the Boston area all my life, except for 4 years in Amherst, MA during my college days, and I must state forthrightly that many people in Boston are truly far more rabidly anti-development, anti-high rise, and in fanatic, zealous opposition to anything flashy and grandiose than in ANY OTHER City of the USA, be it smaller or larger than Boston. These people ardently cling to the notion that Boston must be maintained as a "big Small Town!", and high rise buildings, such as those in Chicago, NYC, San Francisco, Seattle, LA, Houston, and the like only serve to disturb that wish to maintain that big small-town ambiance. I think it somewhat odd and comical when I view aerial shots of smaller Southern and Southwest US Cities such as Tulsa and Nashville with their more numerous, much taller, and elegant skyscraper high rises thrusting head and shoulders above those few high rises built here in "BANNED IN BOSTON". Will the crushing, anti-flash, anti-development Puritanical attitudes ever disappear? Maybe someday, but my guess is somewhere in the vicinity of perhaps 75 to 100 or 150 years from now when HOPEFULLY Boston moves on well past the mirthless, joyless drudgery of the year 1630 Puritan Founders and relegates their legacy to the dust bins of history. I won't be around then, but for my remaining years I am sure Boston will hold on tight to the "small, vastly understated, dowdy, and far less is more" outlook!

I don;t think it was so much the free-wheeling morals of the early NYC settlers. I think it is more that the Dutch of the 1600's and 1700's that settled Manhattan were the flag bearers for Mercantilism/Capitalism. It was as if the Netherlands of that era were run by the Carnegies/Mellons/Forbes, etc. A quick walk through of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam hits one square in the face of what the primary goal of that era was for those people.

Bostonians were Purtitans/Poets/Educators. Boston never thought "big" until very recently and is now fighting against a centuries-long ingrained handicap.

It all stemmed from there.
 

Blackbird

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Irish of South Boston, Charlestown, and to a lesser degree, Dorchester, are in effect perpetuating the KEEP IT SMALL, GET OFF-MY-STREET CORNER mindset.
I hate to say it, but the Irish might've even made it worse compared to the WASPs that they inherited the city from. While it was certainly a more national or at least regional trend in the 60s, the city government that oversaw the destruction of the West End, New York Streets, and Lower Roxbury was Irish lead, iirc. In general, I think Irish immigrants tended to be anti-urban as the big cities in Ireland (like Dublin and Belfast) tended to be more British controlled compared to the rural and suburban areas which were more Irish.
 

George_Apley

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I don't think it was so much the free-wheeling morals of the early NYC settlers. I think it is more that the Dutch of the 1600's and 1700's that settled Manhattan were the flag bearers for Mercantilism/Capitalism. It was as if the Netherlands of that era were run by the Carnegies/Mellons/Forbes, etc. A quick walk through of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam hits one square in the face of what the primary goal of that era was for those people.

Bostonians were Puritans/Poets/Educators. Boston never thought "big" until very recently and is now fighting against a centuries-long ingrained handicap.

It all stemmed from there.
New Amsterdam was also incredibly diverse due to the relative paucity of Dutch willing to leave the Netherlands for America as well as the tolerance of the Dutch for religious differences so long as order was maintained. The colony bustled with a variety of denominations of Quakers, Lutherans, Calvinists, Presbyterians, French Huguenots, and Sephardic Jews. Women enjoyed more legal and economic rights than in neighboring English colonies. A fairly large nucleus of free blacks existed from the mid-17th Century. Combine the 17th Century culture of social tolerance with the mercantilist oligarchy and you can draw a pretty clear line to the culture of downstate New York today.

New England Puritans have changed a LOT in their attitudes since the 17th Century (mostly by abandoning religious strictures), but the prevailing snobbish, communitarian, assimilationist, "small-c conservative" culture of respectability is still there.
 

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Someone wrote in a response to my commentaries regarding the Puritans: the Puritans WERE NOT INTO THE ARTS, WERE NOT INTO POETRY in diametric opposition to your assertion that they were- OMG, so wrong! these Bible Thumping STICKS up the BUTT were behind the drownings and hangings of people whom they believed were witches and or in league with Satan. To wit, a section of North Quincy (founded in 1625 by another related Puritan Group) became known as Merry Mount (a section of Wallaston) because this beach side area became the refuge for the freedom loving and joyous people rebelling against the severe KILL JOY ways of the repressive to the max. Puritan Leadership; in Merry Mount, these rebels (Hippies of the 1620s) could revel in song, dance and wine, all of course SEVERELY frowned upon with Hell fire condemnation by the witch hunting Puritan Horde; these Puritan peoples completely eschewed joy, eschewed the arts and eschewed ANYTHING frivolous that had nothing to do strict business or with worship to and adoration for almighty God (primarily Jesus Christ for you Christians). Please get your facts straight - the PURITANS were so given the name for their PURE and joyless, ascetic devotion to God and adherence to ANYTHING in complete opposition to any slight form of HERESY. Obviously, we are reading two DIFFERENT history books, and like within our current times, following two diametrically antipodal outlooks on what is reality, much like how almost half of the USA populace revels in worship of a criminal fascist President, while I and the millions of other Americans with at least an IQ of 95 are completely baffled as to why people worship this Satanic Devil. Maybe we should get back to Architecture, Urban Planning, Metropolitan Growth or lack thereof issues! I will not respond to anything further on the PURITAN vs DUTCH, Boston vs. New york issue per religion and or moral beliefs. If anyone wants to know as why NYC DID beat out Boston as to becoming the GIANT URBAN area of the East Coast in the early 19th Century, I will respond to that. I bury the REPRESSIVE Puritans for good! I have a background in Urban and Regional Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering, should anyone be interested in my credentials.
 

shmessy

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New Amsterdam was also incredibly diverse due to the relative paucity of Dutch willing to leave the Netherlands for America as well as the tolerance of the Dutch for religious differences so long as order was maintained. The colony bustled with a variety of denominations of Quakers, Lutherans, Calvinists, Presbyterians, French Huguenots, and Sephardic Jews. Women enjoyed more legal and economic rights than in neighboring English colonies. A fairly large nucleus of free blacks existed from the mid-17th Century. Combine the 17th Century culture of social tolerance with the mercantilist oligarchy and you can draw a pretty clear line to the culture of downstate New York today.

New England Puritans have changed a LOT in their attitudes since the 17th Century (mostly by abandoning religious strictures), but the prevailing snobbish, communitarian, assimilationist, "small-c conservative" culture of respectability is still there.
It is shocking, however, what a different place Boston/Cambridge is today vs even 25 years ago. It has completely bloomed into an international city. I moved away after college 30+ years ago, and am always amazed at how much Asian/Latin/Euro culture is now there. The plethora of foreign languages heard everywhere in Bsoton now has truly given the sleeping giant a dynamism that it never had. It's almost like that moment in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy opens the door of her previously back and white movie bedroom and all the colors of the rainbow suddenly appear. That is what is so exciting. The brains of the city weren't getting the oxygen before. Add this oxygen and the results have been incredible and gaining momentum. Just look at what is happening in the Seaport, Cambridge, Somerville, Allston, etc - - the city is truly bursting at the seams in the New Economy.
 

shmessy

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Someone wrote in a response to my commentaries regarding the Puritans: the Puritans WERE NOT INTO THE ARTS, WERE NOT INTO POETRY in diametric opposition to your assertion that they were- OMG, so wrong! these Bible Thumping STICKS up the BUTT were behind the drownings and hangings of people whom they believed were witches and or in league with Satan. To wit, a section of North Quincy (founded in 1625 by another related Puritan Group) became known as Merry Mount (a section of Wallaston) because this beach side area became the refuge for the freedom loving and joyous people rebelling against the severe KILL JOY ways of the repressive to the max. Puritan Leadership; in Merry Mount, these rebels (Hippies of the 1620s) could revel in song, dance and wine, all of course SEVERELY frowned upon with Hell fire condemnation by the witch hunting Puritan Horde; these Puritan peoples completely eschewed joy, eschewed the arts and eschewed ANYTHING frivolous that had nothing to do strict business or with worship to and adoration for almighty God (primarily Jesus Christ for you Christians). Please get your facts straight - the PURITANS were so given the name for their PURE and joyless, ascetic devotion to God and adherence to ANYTHING in complete opposition to any slight form of HERESY. Obviously, we are reading two DIFFERENT history books, and like within our current times, following two diametrically antipodal outlooks on what is reality, much like how almost half of the USA populace revels in worship of a criminal fascist President, while I and the millions of other Americans with at least an IQ of 95 are completely baffled as to why people worship this Satanic Devil. Maybe we should get back to Architecture, Urban Planning, Metropolitan Growth or lack thereof issues! I will not respond to anything further on the PURITAN vs DUTCH, Boston vs. New york issue per religion and or moral beliefs. If anyone wants to know as why NYC DID beat out Boston as to becoming the GIANT URBAN area of the East Coast in the early 19th Century, I will respond to that. I bury the REPRESSIVE Puritans for good! I have a background in Urban and Regional Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering, should anyone be interested in my credentials.
You completely whiffed. The Puritans/Poets/Educators was written as a list of three DIFFERENT leagcy groups that made up much of Boston. NOT one group.

Cute rant, though, "Mr Credentials".
 

George_Apley

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It is shocking, however, what a different place Boston/Cambridge is today vs even 25 years ago. It has completely bloomed into an international city. I moved away after college 30+ years ago, and am always amazed at how much Asian/Latin/Euro culture is now there. The plethora of foreign languages heard everywhere in Bsoton now has truly given the sleeping giant a dynamism that it never had. It's almost like that moment in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy opens the door of her previously back and white movie bedroom and all the colors of the rainbow suddenly appear. That is what is so exciting. The brains of the city weren't getting the oxygen before. Add this oxygen and the results have been incredible and gaining momentum. Just look at what is happening in the Seaport, Cambridge, Somerville, Allston, etc - - the city is truly bursting at the seams in the New Economy.
Indeed. Through all the change the communitarian ethic of the Calvinists has largely prevailed and it's one of the best aspects of the New England political culture. Unfortunately so has the provincialism and hyper-local governance that prevents regional planning.
 

shmessy

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Indeed. Through all the change the communitarian ethic of the Calvinists has largely prevailed and it's one of the best aspects of the New England political culture. Unfortunately so has the provincialism and hyper-local governance that prevents regional planning.
I see the largest part of that as being the structure of every single town and burgh reinventing the wheel with its very own police/fire departments, school committees, etc. I was shocked when I moved to Maryland in 1988 and found the structure of County government and the huge efficiencies that follow vs. the incredible inefficiency of the Massachusetts way.

I know this is "pie in the sky" but, if the Commonwealth could somehow reorganize to County structures, like most other states, it would be on a higher economic plane than just about anyplace on earth.
 

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