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December 28, 2023 32 mins
After a tour of the Museum, Stormy and her guest share details about the new Black American Museum exhibit. Hurry to see it before it's gone. Check out this show to find out more.
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Episode Transcript

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(00:00):
All right, ladies and gentlemen,it is that time again. It's time
for the pulse. We keep ourfingertips on the pulse of our community.
I am Stormy and welcome. Allright, we're going to talk the Brooks
Museum today. Have you been there? If you haven't, well, hopefully
these young ladies are going to giveyou a whole lot of reasons to come

(00:22):
see the Brooks Museum. I've been. It's beautiful. Okay, ladies and
gentlemen. Patricia Lee Daegel and EffieIgor Coleman. Hello, ladies, Hello,
Hi everybody. And I already toldyou they're with the Brooks Museum.
But Patty or Patricia, which onewould you like for me to call?

(00:43):
Okay, Patty, tell us whatyou do at the Brooks Museum. So
I'm the curator of Modern and ContemporaryArt, and I was the site coordinator
or curator sorry for the exhibition BlackAmerican Portraits that we currently have up at
the museum. Okay, what doesthat mean the Yeah, so that's a
great question. So as a curator, sometimes you organize your own exhibitions that

(01:06):
you generate. This show actually wasorganized and created by the Los Angeles County
Museum of Art in California, andso sometimes exhibitions also tour as well.
So that's a show that came tous from LA It also was at Spelman
College Museum of Fine Art prior tocoming here. And so you know,

(01:29):
as we actually I actually curated ashow called Harmonia Rosales Master Narrative that toured
out and then that went to SpelmanCollege, and so we kind of did
this crossing of ships in the night. And so as Black American Portraits came
to us, our show that wegenerated at the Brooks went out into the
world into at Spelman in Atlanta.Okay, all right, so you are

(01:55):
the person who actually makes the decisionon what comes here. Yeah, So
the way that works when the showalready exists is that you know, the
site curator for the new venue doeshave some say and you know, selecting
works, but by and large alot of the works that were selected were
chosen by the originating curators. Butthe biggest sort of step that we do

(02:17):
as as a sort of a coordinatingcurator is to actually install the works and
figure out how an exhibition will actuallyfit and exist and look like in your
space. Because nobody knows you knowyour gallery spaces as well as the person
who you know works at that musuum. Okay, okay, And so that's

(02:38):
really largely what my contribution was inthis show is really taking an existing exhibition
and making it fit for Memphis.And we did, you know, add
a few works to the show.And one thing that Fie and I really
wanted to do was to also makethis show which really originated about you know,

(03:00):
certainly black portraiture, but a lotof the works are from the La
County Museum's collection, So how tomake these works also really relevant for us
here. And so we added afew Memphis artists. Yeah, added the
works of the Hooks Brothers Photography Studioand they're from Memphis. So just providing

(03:20):
a Memphis context to this existing kindof conversation. Thank you, Patty,
and young lady tell us your title? What do you do at the Brooks
Museum. So I'm a figra coleman, as you mentioned, and I'm the
Blackman Perry, Assistant Curator of AfricanAmerican Art and Art of the African Diaspora.
So i have the distinguished pleasure tothink through and about blackness and how

(03:43):
we can interweave it in different spaces. I collaborate a lot with Patty and
I had the pleasure of supporting heron this project, and that looks like
generating my own shows, but alsothinking through the legacy of blackness in the
city, how they interweaves in conversationsabout what we have on display and the
lack of stuff, and how wecan like fill gaps and help our community

(04:04):
feel more at home in our space. Yes, our museum, our museum,
you know you guys. I wentto the Brooks Museum. They gave
me a tour. Thank you toMelanie Strickland and Carl Pearson. Thank you
guys for you know, being thereand everybody that helped out with that,

(04:24):
Jeff and Zoe. But listen,I went and it was amazing, and
I plan to take some young folksover there because I think sometimes if you
see a representation of of who youare and the works that people that look
like you the their hands can do, sometimes it might change, you know,

(04:46):
the trajectory of your life. Youmight decide you want to be an
artist or you know what I'm saying, or do something spectacular with your life
like those artists. But the onething that I told them when I was
at the museum, Patty, youwere not there, but I told,
I said, this, this thesepieces. Well, seeing all of this
beautiful, these these paintings and representationsof African Americans in different ways and and

(05:14):
all of that, Uh, itreminded me of every black person's home I've
ever been into. Yeah, everyblack person's home. From the time that
I was a kid, we alwayshad art in our homes. If it
could have just been Black Jesus,like on good times, Florida was always
praying the Black Jesus. But wealways have something in our homes, whether

(05:40):
it's expensive or not, you know. And so to me, it was
like walking in there was like goinghome. I'm so glad you mentioned that
and picked up on that too,And I think that's partially how we Also,
the show always was a show thathad a large number of works too.
And and you know, our ourexhibition has one hundred and twenty nine

(06:01):
works of art spanning photo, painting, sculpture, video, you name it
and so and there's so beautiful andit spans two hundred years of art history.
And but you know, I thinkthe way the show was conceived and
the way we installed it as well, like we really wanted to evoke that

(06:23):
idea of sort of like a domesticspace or like a home, you know,
for black visitors, but also forany visitor to have that kind of
ability to access that sort of intimatesort of domestic space. And you bring
up really good points also about justsort of museums and this idea of like
who is this for and the importanceof feeling represented and also welcomed into certain

(06:48):
spaces. And I think, youknow, the home is certainly like one
of the most sort of sacred spacesthat we have, and so and a
lot of the artists and the exhibition, you know, speak to some of
that as well. You know,there are a lot of artists working with
family album photos and things of thisnature, and so you know, this

(07:09):
idea of being able to display animage in your house, you know,
like that might have been the onespace where you had that power to do
that, and people still do it, and so for us as a museum
to be able to do that,I think is really important in making that
possible. I'm thinking about when yousaid said that, I was thinking about

(07:30):
the portrait that has or it wasactually I guess a picture that's turned into
a portrait of two men. Yeah, two men. It looks like they're
standing in possibly a living room.It speaks volumes, y'all. You've got
to go see it for yourself.Just these two African American men. You

(07:53):
can tell they're different generations. Andto me it said a lot. Was
that pictures say to you guys somethingthat I one. I'm so impressed that
you've remembered that picture because it's oneof my favorite pieces, and just playing
with representation. What I love aboutDiana Lawson's brick in general is that she
creates these scenes so they're not actuallydocumentary. Those two people may not know

(08:18):
each other. She creates this familiaritythat a lot of people, if you're
part of the black community or knowthe references to you see images on the
table, coffee tables that seem familiar. It's a long, like a deep
belonging and belonging in that image,and it plays with our sense of reality.
Something that I love about her workin general is that now with social

(08:39):
media, we're very aware of howfilters can play with our sense of reality,
but she does it in camera throughthis design and kind of curating and
putting things together in an image andthen putting it on display. But there
is just the sense of in generationalbelonging together. They seeing the sun and
this far like the assumption, yesI'm the title, and this domestic space

(09:03):
going interior in this nice way thatwe get to see black people in all
of our iterations. That's the thingI love about this exhibition in particular.
We get a portrait of the multitudenessof blackness. Yes, so much of
us. Yeah, it's you gottago see it. There's one portrait that
you guys have of a woman who'ssitting in a chair. It's very elegant,

(09:28):
very true to life because it's somethingthat you would, you know,
as a black woman, Like I'veseen that lady before. I don't know
her, you know what I'm saying, But it's like you've seen that somebody
that looked like that, somebody youknow pondering. I'm not you know,
I don't know what was on amind. But it's just amazing how these

(09:48):
pictures, y'all, they just staywith you. There are pictures that I
saw in that museum that just havestayed with me. And the way you
guys put it together and how youhave the one room you said, is
black love? Would you call itthat? So that was another sort of
intervention that we took in our iterationhere was I really wanted to give the

(10:11):
exhibition a little more guidance in termsof, certainly there's the topic of black
portraiture, but within that, youknow, I chose to organize the three
spaces around love, personality, power, and joy as well. And you
know, I think when you seea portrait of somebody, you know,

(10:33):
I think for me what stood outwere those three notions, And those are
the sort of themes that really cameout of a lot of the imagery.
So there's a lot of family imagery, a lot of community based imagery,
and one thing that the show alwayswanted to do was to center black spaces,
and so in our section on joy, that's where we put a lot

(10:56):
of imagery related to you know,like night clubs, bars, the sort
of music scene, the joy ofdance and music making, and the joy
of community as well. So that'swhere a lot of that kind of imagery
went. And then another thing thatwe wanted to do was really, like
Effie was saying so beautifully in termsof the sort of multi dimensional quality,

(11:18):
to just certainly blackness generally, butalso looking at these three ideas about joy,
love and power and really exploring thecomplexities of those ideas. And so
you know, there are many waysto evoke power through a portrait. There's
many ways to capture love. Lovecan be really it doesn't have to be

(11:43):
happy all the time. And Ithink, you know, it was really
an honor, honestly to have thisbody of work to think through and to
express ourselves in this way was reallyquite an on earth. Yeah, I'd
like to add the site curators atLackman did a fantastic job at originating curators

(12:07):
Christine Kim and Liz Andrews, selectinga work that had so much breath and
what I loved about Patty's intervention,and I distinctly remember our first meeting as
we were like kind of going throughthis. These three anchor points were away
also to help Memphis gets a lotof bad press in terms of thinking about
crime rates and all of that,but this was the way to center the

(12:28):
things that we know to be true. Kind of going back to domestic spaces
and thinking about blackness is like allthe familiarity of the pieces and what I'd
like to highlight. And you knowthe exciting part of the intervention for these
three rooms is that you see Memphisreally shine in the Joy section. It's

(12:48):
where you have the Hooks Brothers collectionstudio that's start in the early nineteen hundreds
Hook's Brothers from Memphis, Tennessee,from Memphis, Tennessee, and where you
see the and Patty said, it'sso eloquently the display of the extraordinary ordinary.
So you have little girls in Tutuo'son stage celebrating a performance. You

(13:11):
have w D I A yeah,yeah, and their amazingness. And then
you also have Derek Forger's work andlike you know, seeing marching bands and
just the way to celebrate the thingswe know as Memphia. Yeah is true
about Memphis, Memphis. You've gota piece in there that that is celebrating
the southern heritage classic. Yes,that's Derek Forger. It's just amazing and

(13:35):
he is Memphian. And it's justlike seeing the way in which we have
contributed to art Western the Western artcannon and the importance and then love and
I what I loved about what Pattydid in that room and what she was
thinking through was self love, hero, veneration, because we had a beece
of Butler's piece celebrating Chad Chadwick Bosemanand just like you mean, not know

(14:00):
him personally, but what he representsbeing black panther. How so many people
love that and want to feel connected. And then you have more complicated pieces
that deal with biological families and thenyour chosen families, and that was something
to see, like, oh,even the multitude multiple expressions of these words,
like love isn't just about romantic love, opening it up in all these

(14:24):
great ways. And then with ourpower section, there are a series of
images by Roy Decarva, who Ilove. He's a photographer, and you
see these anonymous figures and I thinka lot about being anonymous these days and
power of aminity and what it meansto just be in a space and even

(14:45):
thinking about that. We're really playingwith what it means to be powerful,
because that's contrasted with portraits of theObamas, portraits of Martin Luther King.
So it's really interesting the way we'rekind of even touching people's idea of certain
words. So that's great, Likeyou're just seeing multiples in multiples and multiples,

(15:07):
which is really the giving gift ofthis collaboration. And it's so great
that an institution like BLACKMA has recognizedour connection. Yeah, and you know,
allows for those kind of connections here. And if you're listening to the
show and you think, and thisis stormy by the way, talking to
Patty and Effie with the Brooks Museum, if you're listening to the show and

(15:28):
you're thinking, oh, it's probablymaybe you think we sound boring because we're
excited about art. You need togo and step in there and see it
for yourself. Yes, I'm goingto tell you it is powerful. It
is black, and it is Memphis. When I walked into the room that

(15:50):
represents Memphis, Al Green Lord Emersonin all his fineness, he's almost the
person you see and you look tothe right when you walk in and you
look to the right, there heis. And just all of the the
art that's on the wall. Whois the man in the back of the

(16:10):
wall with the portrait where he's he'she drew himself small and then there's these
loud like echoes around him. Ohthat's a work by Rico Gatson. It's
a black and white work. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. He
uses imagery of you know, musiciansand really activates them with his own kind
of geometric kind of it's to me, it's almost though, it's almost as

(16:34):
if you can hear sound, yes, yes in his painting, you know
what I'm saying, playing with thebecause you could tell it's the echo,
it's it's it's sound just from lookingat it. Y'all. I'm telling you,
you gotta go see it for yourself. Not grew up with a brother
who could draw two of them andso and you know, dabbled with art

(16:56):
myself a little bit. But tobe able to see these pieces, they
are beautiful, y'all, I'm tellingyou. And they're done by black hands
and the way you guys put themtogether and then after you're done, I
really like how you did the portraita little like a studio where you can
make your own pictures, and onyour way out of the Brooks Museum you

(17:18):
can, you know, take yourown snapshots to post on social media.
I hate I didn't take one shoutout to our wonderful education team because they
do a really great job in tryingto make our work in the curatorial department
accessible and really share and make itreally immersive. So they did a really
great job and breaking down what aportrait is language we take for granted sometimes,

(17:41):
but showing you how to show upin one. So that's the ABC's
of portraiture attribute. So like whatthings in an image help you tell people
who you are? And then bebody language? So what kind of post
do you want see? Costume?How do you style yourself so you look
the way you feel? And thenas setting, so you get to pick

(18:03):
the background you would like based oninspired by the selection of images in the
actual exhibition. And I like howyou got the mirror in there so you
can see yourself exactly. And Ithink it's important to see yourself in art,
and that's a lot of what thisexhibition is doing, helping black folks
who don't usually get to see themselves. We don't get to see ourselves in
these spaces, we can see ourselvesand that interactive space is a way to

(18:26):
celebrate no matter who you are,that you belong here. And this is
kind of the gift of being ableto support Patty on this exhibition is that
even as one of my first curatorialprojects at the Brooks, I got a
sense and even on the curatorial side, I belong here. The black person.
I take up space here. Itake a big amount of space because
there's one hundred and twenty nine piecesdedicated to works by artists both living and

(18:52):
have passed over two hundred years.It's just really important as a statement of
how epic and the contributions to blackyeah artists have made in Western arts.
So it's really just really incredible.The two things that struck me other two
more things of walking in and assoon as you turn the corner to the

(19:15):
right to walk in, you seethis gorgeous picture of a woman and all
an array of colors. It's gorgeous. Yes, that's one I'd like to
take to the house. That's howbeautiful it is. It's gorgeous. That's
something you guys got to see foryourself. If you got a young girl

(19:37):
who's never thought she was beautiful,or you know, you know somebody who's
feeling bad about take her to theBrooks Museum so that she can see the
representations of herself. The other thingthat struck me is walking out. Whose
idea was it to put it was? I want to say to me,

(19:59):
the picture that I saw was kindof a last supper kind of a picture.
The long picture on the wall that'sgoing out, but it seems like
everybody's in conversation. Something's going on. We don't know, but all of
these black faces and it and itseems like they're from all different eras of
life and times of life, andthey're all doing something in this picture.
It makes me want to know whaty'all do, And I can't talk to

(20:22):
them, you know what I'm saying. I'm so glad. I mean,
I love how like perceptive you areand how much you took away from your
visit to the Brooks. But that'sa photograph by Renee Cox. Oh,
and it's a it's called the Signing, and it's sort of a rethinking of
the signing of the Constitution. Andwhat you're seeing is, as you said,

(20:42):
you know, people from different erasblack people from dressed in sort of
different costumes, evoking different time periods. And for me, you know,
I chose to put that work there. That space is both the beginning and
the end of the show. Yeah, because it's sort of a circular space
in terms of how you expect experienceit. And it felt really important to

(21:03):
me that I explained when I dotours, it's like that work for me
really encapsulates the whole show in termsof the way in which you know,
artists use history and reinterpret history likecontemporary artists can do that, and that's
sort of the power of art makingis you can imagine anything and what you're

(21:25):
making, and you can you canimagine a different past, a different future.
And I love how that work.You know, it speaks to so
many things. It speaks to us, you know, being erased out of
history, imagining yourself back there,imagining what our present and future could have
looked like had people had a voice. And then it has that beautiful sort

(21:48):
of depiction of fashion history. Inoticed that too. Just yeah, I
mean it makes you think about thecultural contributions of black folks around time and
how you know that's a bit historical. Whoever that person, Yes Cox,
she's a genius. I mean thatpicture says so much. It's almost like

(22:14):
a movie in a picture, becauseyou could stand there and just look at
it all day and imagine different thingsfrom this person to that person. Look
because it's one of those pictures thatyou have to take it. You know,
you don't look at it and walkaway. You you actually kind of
study it. I was just lookingat it. Melanie was talking to me,

(22:37):
like, Melanie, Honey, I'mbusy. I was looking at that
picture and just looking at all ofthe everything in it, trying to just
take it all in because I knowthat, you know, it's not some
space that I can be in allthe time, and I can't take it
home with me. So it waslike, you know, going and seeing
that I wanted to remember. Iwanted to you know, be able to

(22:59):
see, especially the ones that Iloved, and there was so many in
there that I love. Just seeingthose pictures of young black children and you
know that that looked like my kidswhen they were growing up, and you
know, then the simplest and purestform of you know, being a child,
a young black child, you know, and just just and from the

(23:22):
gorgeous pictures of those amazing women inthere, just and the strong black men
Algreen, you know what I'm saying, just it to me. It literally
blew me away. It's so I'mjust loving this conversation because I'm a historian

(23:42):
by trade. I'm doing my PhDin history at Yale right now, and
I think a lot about the past. But and this piece, or this
exhibition is really important because of historyand show how long we've contributed to our
history, but also the empower ofimagination, because that's what unlocks the future.
And I think this as much asthis is a nod to the past,

(24:04):
it is about bringing us into ourpresent and helping us imagine a new
future that is more diverse, thatcelebrates the contributions of black folks and what
they've done both in America and howthey've launched that elsewhere. And it's just
really beautiful to hear how much theimagination resonates and how much we need it

(24:26):
to be to feel good and full. And I think picturing ourselves, I
think it'll change your life. Ido. I think that if we expose
ourselves to you know, art likethis and even other things that's happening in
our city that is art and cultureand music, all of it. You

(24:47):
know what I'm saying, It willchange your life if you let it.
You know what I'm saying, Becauseit's powerful, yes, And it can
be powerful enough to make you wantto be better and to do better or
to you know, in your careeror whatever it is that you do.
It just there's something about it thatelevates you it made me want to be
a better person. Let me justsay that that's wonderful. I mean,

(25:10):
yeah, if that you know,that's like our dream as curators of and
I know it had to be atough job. It's not easy, but
it's I mean, it's such ait's true. I mean, I keep
coming back to this idea of beingreally honored to be able to do this
kind of work and to have anany kind of impact. But the fact

(25:30):
that you know, I think youmentioned you know, children and and sort
of that experience of how important itis to see yourself and to also feel
like it's something within reach but alsosomething that you can aspire to if you
you know, you want to bean artist. And I wanted to mention
that, you know, annually wehost this scholastic art exhibition in January for

(25:55):
local students. And you wouldn't believehow many really well known artists, including
Derek Forge or who's in this exhibition, but many, many others have participated
in this exhibition as a young kid, you know, attending public schools here
in Memphis, in this region,and so it really is true, like
the impact of you know, seeingart and experiencing art at such a young

(26:18):
age can be really life changing.As he said, it can be.
I think it's just it was powerful. But you guys told me too,
Effie, you when we were there. You do at the Brooks Museum.
Tell me about how to get inthere. For people that want to know
how to come to the do,they go to the Brooks Museum dot com.

(26:41):
You can just show up if youwould like. You're welcome to buy
tickets in advance on our website,but you're also welcome to just come.
We are free on Saturday every Saturdayfrom ten am to noon. We used
to have a free Wednesday evenings,but we found, you know, for
people who are working or have families, we found that weekends are also really

(27:03):
great to have. Weekends are great. So yeah, and then we are
open Tuesday through Sunday. Okay,Tuesday through Sunday and free on Saturdays ten
to noon. Okay, that's whenwe come in. We're coming on Saturday.
Yeah, and then come back,you know, I mean, the
show is so big, there's somany works. You know, we found

(27:25):
a lot of people who come backjust to spend more time on focusing on
different works. Yeah. Well,the good thing too is when you give
money or when you do pay fora ticket, it goes back into the
community basically, So it's like awin win whether you go on a free
day or whether you go and payto see what's happening over at the Brooks
Museum. And I know you guysare getting ready for some new spaces and

(27:47):
all that good stuff, and Iguess I do want to know if there's
a number, and if you gotyou do have a website, right,
yes, we do. It iswww dot Brooks Museum dot Okay, all
right, here you go Brooks Museumdot org. That will be a place
that you can go and find outall that information as well. And like

(28:08):
you said, they could show up. What's the address. It's nineteen thirty
four Poplar Avenue in Town, Memphis. Yeah, it's nice. If you
haven't seen it, I'm telling youit's a great something to do with your
family. If you've got relatives comingin town, it's a great place to
take them. A lot of peoplewill take there, will go out of

(28:30):
Memphis to go see art like this, and you don't have to drive out
of Memphis. You can stay inMemphis and you can tell your family members,
Hey, We're going to the BrooksMuseum in Memphis, Tennessee, and
we're about to see something. Nowyou told me this. The name of
the exhibit is what is it calledagain, Black American Portrait. Y'all need
to see a Black American portraits.It's beautiful. You need to see it.

(28:52):
But the one of the pieces thatanother piece that really struck me because
you told me this came from Spelman, right this. Yeah, so it
was organized by the La County Museumof Art and then it toured to Spellman
and then to us and then toyou guys. But you've got a piece
in there that seems to be acontribution or a dedicated to Spellman. Yes,

(29:14):
so there's a work in the showby Kalida Ralls. It's called Thy
Name We Praise, which is namedafter their sort of school song. Spelman
is, you know, obviously aI think the oldest HBCU exclusively for women
and so and Kalida Ralls actually wentto Spellman, she's an alum, and

(29:37):
that was a work that Spelman collectedsort of in the context of this exhibition.
So they lent it to us tocontinue on the exhibition tour. But
it's in their permanent collection. Wow, it's beautiful, you guys. I'm
telling you, you've got to gosee it. So it's it's everything.
It's it's the blackness. Sounds blacknesshad a song. What it just said,

(30:00):
the blackness, And that's what itis to me. It's it's it's
the blackness. You just go seeit for yourself and experience it for yourself
Brooksmuseum dot org and you can goby to see them at what is the
address again, nineteen thirty four PoplarAvenue, and you'll be glad you did.
You're welcome. Let me just saythat right now. You're welcome because
you're going to go down there andyou're gonna be blown away like I am.

(30:23):
And let me just say thank you, thank you, thank you so
much. I think this work isso important to this community, to the
city, and definitely to the world. Yeah. And our youth, man,
they need to see these kinds ofthings. So if you've got a

(30:44):
youth group, take them to seeart at the Brooks Museum. If you've
got a youth group, if you'vegot a class at school and you're wondering
what to do with them, takethem to the Brooks Museum. And see
this art. They do have thefree day on Saturdays, tend to noon,
get in there, take the kids, have them use the selfie piece

(31:04):
of the of the museum that theyadded to it is did that and I
think that's fabulous. Was this isthis something that they did in the initial
stages of this or did you guysadd that selfie portion of it? We
added they had something similar, butwe we sort of made it our own
here. Okay, okay, Yeah, I like it. And as I

(31:25):
also mentioned, you mentioned school groups. Not everybody always realizes this, but
for teachers also, bringing your classesto the museum is always free, so
you know, schools don't have topay for each student's ticket or anything like
that. So we we've had several, you know, tour groups coming from
area schools near and far. Soyeah, if you're ever interested in that,

(31:51):
please, you know, reach outto our education department and we'd be
happy to welcome you. Yes,there's nothing better than seeing a whole group
of kids, oh my god,absorbing little sponges. Yeah, and they're
gonna love it. They're gonna loveit. Patty Effie, thank you,
thank you for having us. Thankyou, thank you guys for what you
do and what you've done and continueto do in our community. We appreciate

(32:14):
you. Thank you. It's thepulse. I'm stormy, and we keep
our fingertips on the pulse of ourcommunity. And I believe we've done that
today talking about the Brooks Museum.You need to see it. And again
you're welcome because you don't thank melater. We'll see you next week,
same time, same station. Godbless you have a great week.
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