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Kinda Hot: Ben Slater on writing the book

The Trail of A Million Flowers
Feature by: Ben Slater

"Jack leaves a scent. A trail of a million flowers."
Desire Paths

APRIL 4 2007
Last Saturday, I made my way back to Yousuf's frame shop in Little India. Was picking up a poster that I wanted framed. The image is a colourful, stylised illustration of a man smoking a cigar. He's seen in profile as he looks towards a woman in a blue dress with purple hair; the latter facing away from him. The smoke from the man's cigar seems to float into rows of vertical hanging letters. Above the man and the woman, in bold black lettering against a field of blood red are the words "Saint Jack". The image is by Jan Mlodozenic, a celebrated illustrator who designed dozens of movie posters for the cinemas of Poland. Way over a year ago I had made a promise to myself to buy this poster; a pledge that I have finally been able to fulfil. And now, as I type, it's hanging there in my peripheral vision. I don't even need to turn and look at it - it's up there and that's that.

You see, I wrote a book about this movie, Saint Jack. Haven't heard of it? Don't worry, hardly anyone has. I was barely aware of it myself until I first came here (Singapore). So, it's about this guy.

JUNE 29 1998
I didn't book my plane ticket until two weeks before. Never been on a long-haul flight in my life, much less traveled to Asia. The trip with KLM was a torturous twenty-four hours - six of which were spent in transit at Schipol airport - followed by an hour-long stop in Calcutta airport that conveniently wasn't mentioned on my itinerary. It had me convinced for seven hours that I was on the wrong plane. After that ordeal, Singapore, despite the wet wall of heat, was a blessed relief. Where am I? Two months before the only thing I knew about Singapore was that my friends Paul and Kaylene lived there. Since then I'd done some low-level research, and knew a few more elementary facts - which mainly involved devouring the contents of William Gibson's devastating mid-90s write-up of a long weekend in and around Orchard Road - "Disneyland With The Death Penalty".

Paul, my host, woke me at 8 a.m. the day after I landed. He lived in a flat opposite one of the country's richest families, the Khoos. Their son Eric, he tells me, is probably Singapore's most famous film director. I'd never heard of him. My knowledge of Asian cinema was restricted almost entirely to the obviously canonised (from Akira Kurosawa to Zhang Yimou) and to Hong Kong post- Police Story. At that time in the UK, John Woo and Wong Kar-wai were still very hip names to drop.

We ride into town on a bus; my jet-lag casts heavy, dark shadows all around me, but I feel strangely calm, even after Paul tells me he's leaving me on the bus after a few stops. He instructs me to ride it until the end of the line to a place called Bedok, then catch a train back into town and meet him in a couple of hours at a shopping centre named Raffles City. That sounded so absurdly grandiose - I imagine an entire cityscape dedicated to Singapore's colonial "founder" Sir Stamford.

The reason I was there in 1998 was to perform in a piece of experimental theatre, playing a "stranger in town". I learned the local expression for Caucasian - ang moh - which means "Red Head" in Hokkien, one of the most widely spoken dialects among the 70% of Singaporeans who are ethnically Chinese. But everyone says ang moh in Singapore, even the ang mohs.

Paul and his partner Kaylene tell me about Saint Jack and the name is familiar. It was a novel written by Paul Theroux in the early 70s, and then made into a film in the late 70s that starred John Cassavetes regular big-man, Ben Gazzara, and British TV and film stalwart Denholm Elliott. That was all I knew. They told me more.

Set in Singapore, it describes the life of an American pimp living and working in the Lion City amidst the changing climates of vice and post-colonial drift. The film had been shot in Singapore, but they tell me, banned and never screened there. Then, a year earlier in 1997, the Singapore International Film Festival had secured special permission to show it one time only. Paul and Kaylene wanted my character in the performance to be a bit like the main protagonist - Jack Flowers, as played by Ben Gazzara. With no way to watch the film, I just had to imagine. And, strangely enough, from the bare-bones description they gave me I developed a very strong impression of Jack Flowers - his outward confidence, his way with tall tales and bad jokes, and the sadness, the regret that was visible just below all the bonhomie.

MARCH 30 2005
It was 9 a.m. Singapore time and 9 p.m. New York time. I walk through my flat in Bedok with a mug of instant coffee and plugged a contact mic into a dicataphone and then fixed the sucker onto the phone receiver. This is how you record phone conversations. Otherwise known as bugging. It is not illegal if you alert the person you're talking to in advance. I dial the number and moments later I am asked politely if I could hold for a few minutes - the voice, smooth and mellow, is incredibly familiar. I'm calling Peter Bogdanovich. Director of Targets, The Last Picture Show, What's Up Doc? Paper Moon and other much less successful films, including Saint Jack.

It's taken three months to set up the call. Dating back to when the book contract finally landed in the post. Bogdanovich's assistant sets a date for me to call his New York apartment, and every time we get close, she e-mails to post-pone it for another time. Eventually a date is set, and I receive no e-mails from her. Finally, I make the call. He answers after a few rings and asks me to hold while he finishes something off. I hear him saying goodbye to another caller, wishing he could be there, and then back to me. "Hi Ben," he says as if it's the most normal thing in the world to be speaking to a stranger on the line from Singapore, and its time to begin. We talk for about seventy minutes, mainly about Saint Jack. It's the first of three long calls I'll make to New York.

JANUARY 18 1988
On my 14th birthday, my mother gave me a life-changing present--a VHS recorder. It was the inevitable gift for someone who was clearly going film-crazy. From that day on I began to tape as many films off the television as possible. Programming it to record two films while I was asleep, rushing down at seven in the morning to watch the opening sequences of that night's haul. Dragging myself away from the TV to school, cathode-ray-headache kicking in, but eager to see more, all classes go by where I think of little else. Hurriedly cycling back home at 3:45 p.m., slumping on sofa with remote in hand. The opening sequences again. I always loved opening sequences. This was the 80s, when British TV had a glut of great films showing. Phantom empires from all over the world were being broadcast directly into the living room.

And one day as I went through the daily ritual of checking the TV listings for interesting films I note that Saint Jack was playing in the middle of the night on ITV (the commercial channel which has regional variations) and for some reason I decided not to bother setting it to record. Not sure why I made that decision - it's likely that something else was on that night that I really wanted to see. One other possible explanation is to do with my bible at that time, the Time Out Film Guide, which had panned Saint Jack upon release in 1980, to such an extent that even the heady promise of female flesh was not enough to tempt this adolescent movie buff (who had really enjoyed Bogdanovich's Targets) to watch a supposedly terrible movie. But as I would find out over ten years later, Saint Jack wasn't terrible.

APRIL 12 2002
I finally watched it a few years later on a DVD ordered from America. By then my knowledge of Singapore had grown and deepened; I'd been there several times. Saint Jack was the film that Singapore needed. It captured places that didn't exist anymore like the the Bugis Street night market, which was once a celebrated gathering for transvestites. Boat Quay was shown as a working quay, teeming with boats, life and activity. Generally it depicted an energised, seedy old town - which was all but unrecognisable - it was a different city now. Saint Jack came out of the past.

It also captured people. There were actually very few professional actors; most of the cast were local "amateurs" and the way they interplayed with Ben Gazzara as the avuncular, wise-cracking but clearly end-of-his-tether Jack Flowers was a joy to watch. Not a trace of condescension or concession. As any filmmaker will tell you, to make a film that looks this relaxed is bloody hard work.

By this time I'd read Theroux' book, and knew the anger that underpinned the author's own documentation of Singapore's disappeared history. I knew that Bogdanovich had shot the whole thing on location, and that he considered the shoot a "life changing experience". I knew that control of the film rights had been wrestled from Hugh "Playboy" Hefner by Cybill Shepherd. I knew that the film had been basically shot in secret in Singapore under a fake title - Jack of Hearts. And I also knew that the first person to raise the idea of making Saint Jack had been Orson Welles. Each of these delicious factoids hooked me in further. Seeing the thing only confirmed what I already believed, that this was a special film, an unfairly, unjustly neglected work, and that I would have to do a big project where I found out everything I could about the circumstances of its making.

It was never a book that I had in mind, more ambitiously I imagined a documentary. It would open with a helicopter shot of modern Singapore, before dissolving into an archive of the past. My pitch was: 1978, the end of two eras. The last gasp of sleaze and naughtiness in Singapore before the bulldozers and police moved in. And the death rattle of the New Hollywood era, as Bogdanovich, one of the guys who'd started it all, travelled as far away from Burbank as possible to make an independent film. Art and architecture. Different kinds of freedom. I even practiced my patter on Saint Jack's cinematographer, Robby Müller when he came to the National Film Theatre. As he rolled up another cigarette, the Dutch master smiled benignly in agreement. A commissioning guy from Channel 4, an old pal from University, was less sympathetic - "Making ofs only work if everyone knows the film," he told me, "This one is too obscure, but Singapore is interesting, perhaps something about WW2?"

On April 12, 2002, only a few months after I'd seen the film, I moved to Singapore and proceeded to do nothing about the project whatsoever. The charming, collapsing Jack Flowers continued to haunt me, along with other ghosts of Singapore's past. He was echoed in a character I played, another Jack, in an audio tour of Little India called Desire Paths, but I could never deal with the film directly. It took me another two years before I realised that if I couldn't film the story behind Saint Jack, I could damn well write it.

It's worth saying that when I began the research into Saint Jack, I had been living in Singapore for nearly three years and I had never met a single person here who had been directly involved in the film. Singapore is a small place, but life moves quickly here, and people are so wrapped up in their personal velocities that they often lose sight of everybody else.

All of my initial local leads led nowhere. I'd been told that Eric Khoo, whose films I was by then more than familiar with, had hung around on the set as a teenager (the crew had stayed at his father's hotel, The Goodwood Park, and as I would later discover, filmed there). But my various requests to interview him about "those days" were rebuffed. Another contact had a colleague who'd known some of the "girls", including Monika, who had been Jack's main squeeze in the film. I spoke to him on the phone and he promised to dig up some contacts. Despite repeated harassment, he never got back to me. Then at a gallery opening I met a friend who asked me what I was up to, then he tells me that his girlfriend's father told stories about being an extra with a few lines in Saint Jack. This felt like the start of something and I went to bed that night buzzing. Later she called to say he'd got his memories mixed-up, it wasn't Saint Jack he'd been an extra in, but Pretty Polly, a British adaptation of the Noel Coward short story, which had been made in Singapore over a decade before.

Ironically, my first contact with a local cast member from Saint Jack came through Peter Bogdanovich. Much to my surprise he'd kept in intermittent touch with Monika Subramaniam, who, it was widely known, had been his girlfriend during the shoot.

Monika had moved out to Arizona with her husband only two years before. Bogdanovich's assistant sent me her number, and I sat on it for a month, busy with other things, and worried that this was an episode of her life she might not want to rehash. Finally I ran out of reasons to procrastinate and dialed Mesa, Arizona. Her husband picked up, a rich businessman who politely listened to my request to speak with his wife. When I mentioned Saint Jack I caught a note of mild disdain - "Oh, that. ", but then he passed on the good news - she was in Singapore that week, visiting, and here was her mobile number. I called her immediately - and she answered loudly "Bon Giorno!" One of her first lines in the film is: "I like Italian men. Good lovers." And when I told her what I was doing, I could feel her tone cooling. What did Saint Jack mean to all these people 27 years later, how had it changed their lives, how had it affected their loved ones? She agreed to meet that afternoon, at a condominium on the East Coast where she was staying with a friend. I watched over her scenes in preparation, and then showed up at the address with a good bottle of wine. Monika had certainly changed physically, and I suspect quite a bit in other ways too. She was very friendly, but seemed like she could be quite a tough lady. In the 70s she had wanted to have a good time in ways that weren't fully accepted yet, especially for a nice Indian girl. She had brazened it out and I warmed to her. She didn't like her performance much in the film, blaming it on no rehearsals and the awkward chronology of the shoot. She said her final scenes (the emotional farewell) were shot first. But later, when I got the documents from Bogdanovich's archive, I found that there had been rehearsals for her scheduled (although they may never have taken place), and that all her big scenes in Jack's apartment on Tew Chew Street were the last things they shot.

There were other contradictions and confusions in her recollections, and it was the first time I really appreciated the difficulty of this task of sifting through people's memories and the tricky art of the interview. Asking people questions, trying to draw out something new and interesting - it's one of those jobs that's easy to do okay, but very hard to do well. It's obvious in retrospect, but once you are the researcher it becomes very clear: Everyone mythologizes their own past -- over days, weeks, years, they eventually hit upon a version of how things were, a story they tell themselves (and others) to explain away certain moments and decisions. And then, generally, they stick to it and forget everything else. The idea of "truth" is less important than what's remembered -- and how the tale is told. People hide behind stories and anecdotes, but they also reveal a lot more than they intend.

A few days after I spoke to Monika she calls me up and gives me the number from a friend of hers from "those days", Cynthia Wee-Hoefer, one of the original 1970s party-girls who had married a German photographer and founder of the Insight Guides imprint, a precursor to Lonely Planet and Rough Guide, that provided a witty, urbane gateway for white folks in Asia. Monika promises me Cynthia knows some of the old crew who will give me "another side" to the story. Finally, I am getting somewhere.

Ronni Pinsler, the "other side" guy that Cynthia puts me in touch with meets me eventually in his extraordinary condo at Leonie Hill, not far from Orchard Road. His place is stuffed with dusty books, sculptures, photographs, paintings, knick-knacks, documents, VHS tapes of all kinds - the accumulated flotsam of a life spent in Asia, largely at leisure (although he keeps his hand in the family gemstone business), pursuing his passions, one of which is Chinese folk mythology, the other is documenting the past. Ronni was born in Singapore to European merchant parents from the pre-Independence era and remembers his Hokkien amah taking him as a child (when his folks were away) to a festival in the kampung, an experience he never forgot. Private schooling in England explains his faded plummy accent, but then he came back East, and stumbled into the fledgling party scene and from that found himself on the Saint Jack set. He claims to have been a sort of production assistant until he walked out halfway through, after he angrily let loose at Bogdanovich. No one I spoke to, including Bogdanovich or Monika, has any recollection of Ronni, and his name doesn't appear on any of the crew-lists I retrieved from the archive. The only reference to him I found was in a pile of notes related to casting, where the name "Ronni" followed by a question mark is written beside a list of the types of extras needed for one of the bar scenes.

Its obvious he's not bullshitting me however. We watch the film on his enormous television, both of us reclining on the foot of a four-poster bed, which serves as a sofa in one room, and it's clear he knows the film and the locations intimately. He says he found the setting for Jack's brothel, a memorably grand old colonial mansion that had been abandoned to the jungle, and I believe him. He promises to find some photographs from that time and scrabbles fruitlessly about in various drawers where volumes of negatives and positives are loosely filed - the National Archives had already commandeered a lot of this stuff to restore and digitize. Unable to find anything better, he grabs a snap off a notice board which shows him, in his early 20s, arms round a gang of serious-looking Chinese guys - "That's what I looked like in those days". Later he'll explain that he joined a secret society as part of his research into Chinese mythology, and that the Saint Jack team were keen for him to provide connections with real gangsters. It never happened. He passionately sings the praises of George Morfogen, Bogdanovich's right-hand man on the shoot and says very little about the main production chief, Pierre Cottrell, whom at that point I hadn't tracked down - "I don't think I liked him" is all he can manage. A year later, when the book comes out I give his contacts to a journalist from The Straits Times (Singapore' main daily newspaper) he changes his story for her - it was Pierre who was the great producer, the brilliant fixer who brought authenticity to the film. So, even mythologies can change.

From early 2005 onwards I'd been bugging The Straits Times to run a story about me, the book, and the quest to find cast and crew from the film. If you aren't a professional PR person, navigating the baroque hierarchies behind the most precious publication of the country's biggest media company is no easy task, and after months of e-mailing and phoning in proposals and pitches I heard they had agreed to do the piece. Then, a week later, when I hadn't been contacted by the assigned journalist, I rang again, and this time was abruptly told to give up. So, I passed the story over to another rival newspaper - and they went for it. But they could never give me a date for when the article was to be published, and more weeks went by until I had forgotten about it entirely.

The day it came out I was on the last day of a long weekend in Bangkok. When we came back from the hotel breakfast I was surprised to find seventeen missed calls and a bunch of SMSes. The messages were mostly from extras and two from people who had speaking parts - one of those was Noel Joseph, who had a significant role as the errand boy at the ships chandlery where Jack works. In the days that followed I got several text messages from anonymous people simply wishing me luck with the project.

The seventeen missed calls were all from the same person, a hairdresser who claimed to have auditioned for the key role of the male prostitute who gets picked up by George Lazenby while Jack observes from the shadows. I was intrigued, and hoped he could give me some insights into the gay milieu of that time, and so agreed to meet him. We rendez-vous-ed at a coffee place and his memory of the audition was as elusive as vapour. He told me he'd watched the film in Europe, and I became sure that having seen it, he had the basic knowledge to have fabricated his connection to the film. He was lonely was all, and wanted to meet someone who knew about the movies, which he clearly loved. A week later I get a call late at night from an American expat called Dan, who is obviously drunk, he totally adores the film, he says, "Saint Jack" is his email address, and can we meet up to grab drinks and check out the girls at a bar he likes? As I gently decline the offer I realize that whatever the reason I'm attracted to Saint Jack, it isn't because I want to be Jack Flowers.

The weekend before the article came out, the guys at Noel Joseph's condo at the further eastern part of Singapore called Pasir Ris, had been installing the new karaoke system in the building's function room. The latest spec, it included DVD playback and a pair of huge monitors. Noel thought he'd play a gag on them by bringing along a DVD to test. It was his copy of Saint Jack, which he'd bought off Amazon about a year before. He thought it was about time he owned this film he had acted in as a young man, and knowing it was banned in Singapore had ordered it along with a bunch of other items and hoped for the best. Surprisingly, the DVD arrived with no questions asked, and he finally got to see the film on a decent copy. Better than the crappy, umpteenth generation VHS bootleg which he'd got hold of many years before and couldn't bear to see all the way through. Much to his neighbours' amazement, Noel pops in the disc with no introductions and in a few minutes, his 20-something self appears on those big screens, pottering around a Chinatown shophouse with Ben Gazzara circa 1978. And it was one of those guys, not Noel, who saw the newspaper about a week later, with Noel's name on a list of people I was trying to find.

So, the microcassette tapes are piling up from all my bugged phone calls and recorded conversations. And I haven't yet mentioned all the European crew members, most of whom are still working in the film business, the lighting crew, the sound recordist, the costumes supervisor, the French assistant director who replaced the assistant director from Hong Kong (who is now a very famous actor); various other local cast members who had by chance met up with the film's old unit manager, Tony Yeow, who I had met through Singapore Cinema author Raphael Millet; and then all the amateur expat actors, mainly Americans who had long-since left Asia for the mid-west, whose striking names - Bill Snorgrass, Charles Longbottom, Keith Masavage - made them easy to find with Google; and then there's Ben Gazzara drifting away from me as I talk to him in Italy; and finally, Pierre Cottrell calling me up at all times of the day from Paris.

And there was also the archive. During our long telephone conversations, Bogdanovich never told me he had an archive. With most of his Hollywood fortune lost in the 80s, he must have at some point sold all his papers and correspondence to the University of Indiana's Lilly Library - home to the letters and manuscripts of Orson Welles and other giants. I found it quite by accident during one of my deep web-trawls for everything and anything related to Saint Jack; long after the point where I thought there was anything left to find. The search result linked to a simple text inventory for a list of thirty boxes relating to the film, with the barest description of their content - "Locations", "Casting", "Miscellaneous", "Publicity", etc. At first I though I'd have to fly out to Indiana, and go through it in person. But the library was amenable to photocopying and sending selected items (within reason, and for a modest fee) as long as Bogdanovich granted permission. His assistant e-mailed them with the okay, and I was suddenly free to go fishing. "I'll have 100 sheets from 'Locations', 50 from 'Correspondence'" and much more.

When it finally arrived, those pages were a revelation, a time capsule, the closest thing I had to "truth". Invoices, reports, lists, notes, bills, official letters, job applications, contracts, legal statements, scrawled reminders to self, drafts of speeches to the crew, budgets, maps, inventories, contact sheets for staff and actors, thank-you notes - a whole wad of secret literature that could confirm, contradict or complicate so much of what I'd already heard. In a pre-mobile phone, fax or email era, when people are coming and going in all directions, hand-written memos were the only way to communicate. In 1978 leaving such a note with the hotel desk clerk was the equivalent of a text message or a voicemail, and it was through these documents that I found out so much about how people dealt with each other. How they actually communicated.

Separated out amongst all these papers, I found something curious, a hand drawn map of certain parts of Singapore, with references to Saint Jack locations, not from the film, but from the book - including the places that the book was based on - such as Serene House, where the American R & R club that Jack runs was. It also contained nuggets of advice to the filmmakers about Singapore, such as "Don't take on the government unless you have a Chinese millionaire on your side". My guess was that it had to have been authored by Paul Theroux, original author of Saint Jack. And when he came back to Singapore in April 2006 for the first time in decades, I gave him back a copy of the map, which he'd drawn nearly 30 years ago. I'm sure if I had flown to Indiana and spent a few short days at the Lilly, confronted with all those boxes I wouldn't have found such details and clues.

When I was close to finishing writing the book, Bogdanovich decided to send me a few copied pages of the script on a whim, apparently picked at random. Seeing the vast changes that were made spontaneously on set (lines crossed out, and hastily scribbled replacement dialogue) confirmed that I would have freaked out at the library, lost in a labyrinth of minor script alterations that captivated me, but would probably been of little interest to anyone else. But one day I would like to go, just too see what I missed.

I received a request from Pierre Rissient to meet with him when he passes through Singapore. He's read my book, and wants to have a chat. A legendary, extraordinary cinephile, promoter of new talent and champion of the underappreciated or forgotten, Pierre provides the connection (if one were needed) between Clint Eastwood, Fritz Lang, Lino Brocka and Jane Campion. He exists in a world where everyone lives and breathes cinema. Pierre's personality might be described as feline in the sense that he can slide easily between playful pussycat and proud lion, with a hint of ferocity. He's sweet, funny, mischievous and deadly serious all in the space of a single anecdote. Even if you haven't met him, everyone in the "business" has heard about him countless times over the years. Pierre stories are an alternative economy for late night drinkers at film festivals.

On this early December day, he launches himself out of a meeting with various local film VIPs at the Goodwood Park Hotel (where he always stays), draped in colourful batik, and greets me warmly. He wants to eat at one particular restaurant, a place that specialises in herbal Chinese cuisine, and the journey to find the place is far from straightforward, and traffic is bad that day, and it rains. Consequently, we end up spending most of our time in the back of a cab, talking. Pierre has a Saint Jack connection too, he came out just before the shoot and visited the crew at the Goodwood. This pilgrimage that he makes from France to Asia via Singapore, has been going on for three decades - he is the linkman. Pierre also provided the introduction to Roger Corman that allowed the print of Saint Jack to be shipped to Singapore in '97 for its only real big screen outing in the Lion City.

He likes the book, thinks its rare for a book like that to be accurate about the people involved. So often when he reads these things, like Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, he can see the wide gap between the real person (whom he has met, and spent time with) and the writer's version on the page. I'm flattered of course, but then he says he doesn't think the film is so great. That it could have been much better. That it doesn't capture Singapore as well as it could have, etc.

Impossible for me to take that step back. The film has been part of my life for so many years, inextricably bound up with my choice to live in Singapore and make my home here. When I came to live here five years ago, I had little idea about what I could achieve in this strange town, or even how long I would stay. I needed a project, some mystery that needed to be solved. A subject for investigation. That was Saint Jack.

There's a decision that we make, when we decide we love a film, to embrace its flaws, not to pretend they don't exist, but to revel in them. Pop songs can be perfect, but they only last three minutes; paintings and photographs are just one image. Its another reason that feature films are like novels, they are the long-haul artworks, and if it clicks with you, then you have to find wonder in the totality of the thing. You can't compromise beyond a certain point. You are too passionate, too obsessed. And the film has somehow earned your love. You don't just fall for any movie. Learning about that film, talking to the people that made it, visiting the locations, reading their documents, looking at on-set photographs - watching the film is not enough - you need to get closer and deeper. Trying to understand where it came from, how it happened.

When I see Saint Jack now, it's like meeting an old friend; the moments and rhythms are a comfort. Even the things I don't like, or like less, are reassuring. And there's always something else to notice, a new piece of business that strikes me afresh. A camera movement, a throw-away line, a pause that goes a beat longer than you expect, an awkward gesture, a line of dialogue that doesn't sync, a street full of "extras" watching the camera, and all the cars rushing by in the opening and closing sequences. Having seen it for the millionth time I find myself thinking - who was in those cars? They had no idea that they were being captured forever on film. Just driving to work one morning, and then, "action", and they are printed on an image forever. Part of me won't ever stop the research. It's over. The book is out. But the process continues.

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