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Posts by Barbara Stevens:

f in sunglassesBeginnings and Endings

1960s- NYC

MacFie and Maslansky

The Farm 1965-1968

Various Trips 1959-1970

Out West 1970s

Out West ’70s – ’80s

1990s – May 2008

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Franklin MacFie by Jack DowlingFranklin 2 1973

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Franklin MacFie by Magda Stullf with nephew

Franklin at the bar










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VIDEO: FRANKIE AND NANCY AND DREDLIGHT

BY: NANCY BARICKMAN & ELLEN CASEY (AKA: DREDLIGHT)

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NEW YORK CITY  FEB.2011 . FRIENDS OF FRANKLIN HAVE A PARTY — ABIGAIL   MCGRATH BROUGHT A CIGAR BOX OF FRANKLIN,s full of favorite pictures-thanks Abby!

Hosting the Party with Ray and Barbara was Harriette Phelps, who’s daughter is a professor at NYU and has a fine apartment on Washington Square Park and travels a lot, hence Harriette has met Franklin when we stayed there before. Harriette unbeknownst  to anyone- no one knew it! , took a few  little videos,  Thanks so much Harriette!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBXXY7txils

FIRST OF 4

THOSE PRESENT:

ABIGALL AND TONY MCGRATH , BILL FARRAR,

EAMON CONNOLLY, JACK DOWLING,  MAGDA STULL,

RAY AND BARBARA STEVENS  WITH HARRIETTE PHELPS


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBXXY7txi
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FRANKLIN’S ASHES: RIO CHAMA, New Mexico May 2011 – EILEEN SOPANEN & RAY & BARBARA STEVENS

  Ray and Barbara driving toward Eileen Sopanen   and Mel Vigil’s place in  Rio Chama. Eileen has been a friend of Franklin’s since they both were   working on a film together back before Franklin met Jean Michel. Then they all lived next door and near each other in Rio Chama during the ’70’s to early ’80’s before Frank and Jean Michel went off to San Francisco. Finally, Eileen and I are connected again in time to put some of Franklin’s remains in the Rio  Chama.

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NOV. 13, 2011 FRANKLIN DID A “FAMILY ” (Mom, Dad and Sister) VIDEO!    

Contributed by JACK  DOWLING     click here  Letter from Jack Dowling




 

“Franklin’s memorist piece about mother, father and sister is likely very much what he felt and saw. From everything he ever told me, it was his sisters who stood up for him.

Of course Franklin would lose the video camera the same week he got it. He probably left it on one of the bars at Fire Island while he was gabbing away with someone and then walked out without it. It didn’t give him an angst. It was just something else he didn’t have to carry around anymore was his probable reaction whereas everyone else on this planet would be racing from one place to another looking for, what they considered a precious possession.

JACK DOWLING Nov.13,2011

  Ray and Barbara driving toward Eileen Sopanen   and Mel Vigil’s place in  Rio Chama. Eileen has been a friend of Franklin’s since they both were   working on a film together back before Franklin met Jean Michel. Then they all lived next door and near each other in Rio Chama during the ’70’s to early ’80’s before Frank and Jean Michel went off to San Francisco. Finally, Eileen and I are connected again in time to put some of Franklin’s remains in the Rio  Chama.

   Here is Ray and Eileen on the way to the  Chama river with ashes from Franklin’s New York City memorial in late spring 2008 that Magda gave us at the get together of friends of Franklin  in Manhattan Feb. 2011.

Here is Eileen and Barbara getting ready and then   pouring  the ashes into the Rio Chama  near to where Franklin built his Hobbit House and Jean Michel built his adobe  with a  Moroccan  Horno  fireplace  where they lived until the early 1980’s.

Then we came to Eileen’s Musala a special place that Mel built -an Islamic Study and Prayer Place.

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Nearby  the great Egyptian architect, Hassan Fathy, designed and oversaw the building of Dar al Islam, a North African style mosque, with an attached madressa (school), and library near Abiquiu, NM.  Hassan Fathy was in his late 80’s when he arrived in New Mexico along with an 80-year-old Nubian dome builder.  Together they taught the native New Mexican builders the art of dome building.

Frank Macfie was closely connected to the Muslim world – due to his passion and his travels in North Africa.

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When we got back to Mel and Eileen’s house, we saw  a Macfie  New Mexico Crucifix (possibly the only remaining one for sure in existence) titled “Black Christ /with Peter”. The way Eileen remembers it -Franklin was destroying the whole series but she saved one, Ray and I appreciated them at the time and are happy to see this one. There may be more out there!

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Some of Franklin’s  ashes had gotten spilled into the bag -perhaps when  airline security decided to open my suit case and inspect every thing in it, unwrapping the bottle of ashes.

So, reinforced by  recently finding a true story I wrote about finding a snapshot of a raging Chama River in flood season in the high desert paradise behind our  house in Chimayo- the snap shot  had fluttered into my hands while walking in the high  desert  in 1989 . On the back of this photo  of the Chama River  in Franklin  Macfie’s  handwriting   was the date 4/28/84. Then I found out that while I was walking Mel and Eileen had just unloaded a pick-up full of Franklin’s things to be stored at our place but  that day was not noticeably windy- so still a mysterious phenomenon.He had been out of touch with us all for a long time. Soon after this snapshot of the Chama was  found in the desert .the Macfie  Santa Nino ( saint of things lost) fell out  a book, then Franklin  called  from NYC and we got togather again.

So Ray and I spread this last bit of F. ashes with some Holy Dirt from the Santuario  de Chimayo  out in the high desert in the view of the Pinnacle!

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NEW YORK CITY  FEB.2011 . FRIENDS OF FRANKLIN HAVE A PARTY — ABIGAIL   MCGRATH BROUGHT A CIGAR BOX OF FRANKLIN,s full of favorite pictures-thanks Abby!

Hosting the Party with Ray and Barbara was Harriette Phelps, who’s daughter is a professor at NYU and has a fine apartment on Washington Square Park and travels a lot, hence Harriette has met Franklin when we stayed there before. Harriette unbeknownst  to anyone- no one knew it! , took a few  little videos,  Thanks so much Harriette!

THOSE PRESENT:

MAGDA STULL Soul Mate w/ franklin last 10 years of his life.

EAMON CONNOLLY  A great long time  friend (F. told of some glorious Bar Fight stories)

JACK DOWLING  Friends the whole time since Franklin was 17 !

this one is so great … can we persuade Jack to let it be here – who does it hurt? Please Jack give us permission to post this!

ABIGAIL  MCGRATH AND TONY MCGRATH   Abigail  went to Bard… a Bardian..along with Michael Maslanksy  therefore with  Franklin  since college days. Benefactress  for Franklin with great NYC apartments… after 1997- 2008! (Thanks for Cigar Box photos!)

BILL FARRAR  A Bardian as well, long time friend  – New Yorker ,  was at the “Farm” often in the 60’s, Story Teller! collector of fine piece of Macfie Art.

Recent NYC Belladonna Story

RAY AND BARBARA STEVENS,  friends since the very early ’60’s because B. went to NYC from Oklahoma with Carolyn Brady and Bill Epton -Carolyn made connection with Franklin when they both worked at Jack Prince Studio. Franklin lived part time at Ray and B farm in Maryland, all lived  in New Mexico at the same time .. Stevens moved back to East coast when F. returned after ’91.

HARRIETTE PHELPS ( secret videographer!)

Franklin’s Magic  ( Barbara interrupts!)

SO, NOW LOOK  AT A LOT OF THE  FRANKLIN MACFIE CIGAR  BOX PHOTOS………

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1.LOTS OF POST CARDS, SOME HAD HAND WRITNG AND STAMPS, SOME LIKE ON THE LEFT HERE WERE CHOSEN BY F, 2.FAVORITE BOOTS. 3 FRANKLIN AT YOUNG AGE.

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1. HOUDINI IN CHAINS SENT BY SOMEONE WITH CRYPTIC SIGNATURE. 2.MICHAEL MASLANSKY IN JACKET, FRANKLIN IN FRONT, AND  WHO?. 3. PAINTING BELONGED TO JMB (F.M  SAID IT REMINDED HIM OF BSTVNS)

””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””’

1.FRANKLIN’S FAVORITE, BILLIE HOLIDAY. 2.CHRIST FROM CHARTRES. 3. MACFIE AT FIVE.

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1.HAS TO BE ALI, AT MOROCCO  COASTAL CAVES. 2. POLAROID ART, MACFIE MADE OF JEAN MICHEL. 3. POST CARD SAVED BY F.M.

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1. NO WRITING ON BACK -ANDY WARHOL AND BASQUIAT. 2.SISTER AND FAMILY  OF MACFIE (A NEPHEW)SEE BELOW: MAGDA STULL’S  COMMENT  ON PHOTOS 3.MACFIE AND NANCY IN PHOTO BOOTH( SEE BELOW NANCY BARICKMANS COMMENTS RE: LOTS OF PHOTOS..# ON PHOTOS NO LONGER CORRESPOND!


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1. CASABLANCA  -F. SOUVENIR CARD. 2. FRANKLIN AND WHO?  STANDING IN FRONT OF FRANKLIN’S MEDANALES, NEW MEXICO HAND MADE HOUSE “CHURCH” WINDOW. 3. PHOTO ’84 BOULIMAIME (?) MOROCCO.

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1. FAMILY PHOTO.  BLUE MASK  -MACFIE 1980. 2. POLAROID PORTRAIT OF JMB.


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1. FRANK WITH HIS BROTHER JOHN  AND SISTER-IN-LAW ON LONG ISLAND 2. SEEMS TO BE THE SAME DAY (SEE NANCY B.COMMENTS BELOW) . 3. CHURCH ART FROM VEZELAY CATHEDRAL-NOTE FAR RIGHT GUY – A LITTLE LIKE MACFIE.

2015 note: Re The middle photo of from the  60th birthday Party on  the Show Boat at Liberty Marina in 1997  Franklins grand nephew -Nina’s grandson  Jim Dragon writes:

“Franklin was my uncle and I was at his party on the boat in NJ and remember that picture of my grandfather with the huge video camera.  I never got to know him that well, I was born when he was in Morocco, but he was always memorable when we did meet.  One of his other sisters, Winnie, just passed away, and I hope they are having fun together.”..

“My memories of Uncle Franklin are sparse. …. I can’t really say much about Franklin from my grandmother’s generations perspective, but from my mother’s generation and mine, he was loved by all. I know he was my Grandmother’s favorite brother, she would talk about him with a smile any time he was mentioned. Jim adds this Side note: Franklin and Nora died a few days apart in the exact same manner. Aspiration Pneumonia from broccoli . Bstvns (?!)   Ray and I remember how close Franklin felt with Nora.

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1. LINDA EPTON WINRICK…SEE HER  COMMENT BELOW. 2.1997 60th BIRTHDAY PARTY FRANKLIN THREW ON THE SHOWBOAT IN THE LIBERTY MARINA  IN NEW JERSEY, FOR FAMILY AND FRIENDS AROUND AT THE TIME. (B and Ray Stevens behind center pole) 3. MAYBE A FAMILY WEDDING?

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linda

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1. NOT SURE WHO OR WHEN OR WHERE. 2. SEEMS TO BE IN NEW MEXICO BUT WHO?. 3. ANOTHER PICTURE  OF 6Oth BIRTHDAY PARTY ..ANYONE WHO CAN COMMENT ON WHO IS IN THE PHOTO- OR WHO WAS THERE ?

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1.WHO IS THIS? 2.FRANKLIN :ON WHAT LOOKS LIKE MOVING DAY-HOUSE BOAT IN LIBERTY MARINA.3. THE HOUSE IN PORTUGAL /WITH JEAN MICHEL BELLUC WITH ADDITION BUILT BY FRANKLIN ( AND LENA’S HUSBAND ? HOPE TO HEAR FROM LENA)   * NEW 2015:  Now a New Photo sent by Ali’s younger brother : Left is Ali, his father and another brother..

photo below:          NOT ALI- after all..so no one knows who the policeman and  others are….

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1.JACK DOWLING HELPING FRANKLIN WITH THE HOUSE BOAT PROJECT. SEE JACK’S COMMENTS BELOW.2.NANCY BARICKMAN AND FRANKLIN 1997. SEE N.B. COMMENTS BELOW. 3. NOT SURE OF THIS PHOTO, BUT THINK OF ALI AND FAMILY.

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1.  THIS IS IN PORTUGAL IN THE PART OF THE HOUSE FRANKLIN BUILT BUT DONT KNOW WHO THIS IS? 2. THIS MOST LIKELY IS LENA WITH FRANKLIN IN PORTUGAL(SEE JACK DOWLING’S COMMENTS BELOW THIS POST.) 3. NO ONE CAN IDENTIFY-ANYONE KNOW WHO HE IS?

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1. PORTRAIT -FRANKLIN, WITH NANCY B, LENA, P. 1997  SF VISIT. 2. F. HOUSE IN NEW MEXICO – labeled ” Going back in time——–Settlement 800 BC”.3.?

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1.NEW MEXICO 1997 COTTON WOODS ALONG THE CHAMA WHEN LENA  CAME FROM PORTUGAL  TO NYC AND TOOK FRANKLIN TO NEW MEXICO . 2. FRIENDS IN PORTUGAL ? 3. JEAN MICHEL BELLUC -WHEN, WHERE?

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1. P. AND FRANK. 2. ANYONE KNOW WHO THIS IS? 3. FRANKLIN AFTER 1991.

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1.MACFIE IN STUDIO OF LAST APARTMENT. 2. WHO IS HE? 3. JMB – IN THE CHAMA MAYBE? 4. WHO ? DEFINITELY HE IS VISITING FRANK’S PIGS IN MEDENALAS AT THE MOMENT.

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1.FRANKLIN AT THE BISTRO WITH JOHNNY MOSISMO (SEE MAGDA’S COMMENTS BELOW). 2.FRANKLIN AND MAGDA . 3.ON BACK OF PHOTO IS WRITTEN FRANKLIN AUG. ’38 -1 YEAR.

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Jack Dowling sent the photo he mentioned at the party of  Michael Maslansky and Franklin Macfie

“It is credited on the back to Terry Stevenson, a friend to all of us.…On the back is the date, October 1970. So this is well before Jean Micheal and probably taken in NYC  and before, certainly, Michael had his stroke which took him from us and kept him in such a devastating place for so long.” Jack 

THERE ARE MANY IMPORTANT PEOPLE IN MACFIE’S LIFE THAT THE FRIENDS OF FRANKLIN MACFIE KNOW AND HAVE NOT BEEN IN TOUCH WITH . ABIGAIL GRAFTON -CALIF., EILEEN IN NEW MEXICO, FRANKLIN’S FAMILY MEMBERS, KATE ROUNDS IN NYC, LENA IN PORTUGAL, TO NAME A FEW!  PLUS ALL  THE MISSING NAMES OF PEOPLE IN THIS POST! HOPE TO HEAR FROM MORE.

FRIENDS COMMENT HERE OR CONTACT STVNS@GREENBELT COM

NEXT POSTS : ANOTHER PARTY?- A POST FROM A MEMORIAL IN NEW MEXICO AND RE; ABIGAIL MCGRATH’S MACFIE COLLECTION AND PROPOSED MEMORIAL GALLERY IN UPSTATE NEW YORK.

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(Uploaded to Vimeo w/permission)

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Franklin at the bar

“I miss my best friend Franklin every day, we had 10 years of such a great bond. When we met we felt like we knew each other all our lives. Everyday we met and we both went through health problems and were always perking each other up. We laughed an awful lot and called each other every night to say goodnight. We went to the movies sometimes the theater, boy could he snore loud in the movies. He had a wonderful apartment, I cleaned it once for him .He loved his plants and worried when he went to hospitals if they would be still alive when he came back. Many weekends he used to go to his brother on long island and was deeply hurt when he was not welcome there anymore, he never got an answer why and that hurt him the most. I was invited on fire island at Jacks where we had long walks and sailed around and I cooked dinner and we all got stoned and laughed some more, listened to music. He was so brave and deep within so scared, he loved my kids and grandchildren and his friend Larry from the Bistro never was the same anymore after he died. They did the crossword puzzle together and smoked cigars. Sometimes we went out for lunch to a French restaurant and pigged out and made believe we were in France we just could fantasized forever all the things we were going to do when he felt better, I was going to take him to Italy etc. Now I have his ashes in a beautiful glass bottle in my window a bottle without a cork because he has to be free with two cute little buddhas next to him and flowers and more colored glass bottles around it and he is overlooking 7th avenue I took some of the ashes (just a little) to the museum in the city because we used to visit museums at times. I can go on and on, he gave me strength and love and friendship as I never felt before. I talk to him everyday as if he is here and I am so glad we are doing something on the website. He was such an incredibly talented human being.”

Franklin at Magda's retreating  from a poker game

Franklin at Magda's retreating from a poker game.

“When I went to Fire Island with Franklin and Jack, it would all go better because they didn’t fight. I was in between and they wanted me to come all the time. Jack’s place was a beautiful home, a lot of art work from Franklin, some things he made, a lot of pottery. Jack is a lovely guy. They used to argue a lot like it was with Franklin and Amon. He was the instigator all the time, you know. Oh, and that story with the Flowers! He called me and said there are people in my apartment! and I said no they are not ! Call the cops. It was the middle of the night.!”

“When Franklin was young and he worked at a laboratory at Columbia University, he loved working with that Professor! When he was little, his mother use to go to the race track and she would park him somewhere and say I’ll be right back. And he would wait and wait and wait and wait -aah! such a good feeling when she’d come back! His sister used to work at the CopaCabana and she would come home with pockets full of tips. In the morning when she was sleeping he would pull his hands through the drawer and he would have pocket money.”

F with nephew in high chair

Franklin with his sisters children

F holding baby

Franklin holding his nephew

“He was a very great man and he was very sick. I bought some of his work (from the exhibit at Jack’s Gallery), they are hanging in my apartment. He was an incredible artist and storyteller. I miss his arms around my shoulders. We used to sit in the window, like two old cats in the sun in the afternoons in the Corner Bistro. We made up life stories for the passers by. We enjoyed each other.

Franklin and Magda

” I am so happy making this memorial . He’s back, alive! And he is in my window with flowers all around. I have his ashes here and I am going to Morocco and I will take some ashes with me. I am going for 3 weeks in April. He was my soul brother.”Magda Stull October 2009

In June I went to Morocco  with Franklin’s ashes  and  left some of his Ashes in Lisbon, Portugal
he loved it there.and his mother was Portuguese, the rest  in the Ocean in Morocco…..

Magda Stull November 13, 2010

Magda in Morocca with Franklin's Ashes

into the Ocean


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Jack and Franklin

Jack and Franklin

This is a photo of Franklin and myself at Fire Island (off-season (obviously). He came out to stay with me on a regular basis both summer and fall. Now when I am there I miss his presence.

I met Franklin and Michael Maslansky in 1956 (?) at the San Remo bar. They were both just out of high school.But, he was in his teens.

We spent a lot of time together, I visited him at New port when he and Michael were doing summer theatre and there were times that he stayed with me between apartments.

More recently, since I have a car, when he was living in the houseboat in Jersey City, I was the designated driver to bring him kerosene for his stove. But eventually that plastic sided craft became too cold and in January/February he came and stayed with me. This would have been 8 years ago or so.

He was very broken up at the death of Carolyn (Brady) and I, an artist and great admirer of her work shared that grief. He often mentioned  Barbara and Ray Stevens, but Franklin liked to keep his friends separate and it was rare that he would introduce one to the other. I knew Abigail and Tony from Westbeth and so it was “OK” that Franklin and I went together to visit them at Oak Beach.

When he lived in the various houses that Abigail was buying in Harlem I would move him. When he finally settled in her coop on Broadhurst I helped him there. Whatever brother John was thinking I don’t know. When I asked about Franklin’s things in the apartment he simply said he left everything for Abigail to deal with. They had an odd relationship, Franklin and John.

For some reason I have not seen or spoken with Magda since that heartbreaking gathering at the bar which all his long time friends found appalling. But it was where he hung out the last couple of years and, as you know, Franklin was a “ladies” man, a charmer with women, a more difficult friend to men.

He and I had a rocky friendship. There are many funny stories, many not so funny. Many times when he and I would have fights and arguments. Nancy knows about that. Nancy Birickman also came to Fire Island and the three of us had a great time. Franklin came as often as he could to Fire Island -the last years.

He told me he had to go in for a minor repair just before I left for Europe in May of 2008> I was staying with friends who had no television, cell phones or email and looking forward to this I never left a contact number in New York. Magda Stull walked to my building to find me and left word with a friend about Franklin. But I did not return until weeks later.

He worked for me at the gallery which I direct and I gave him an exhibit which was quite successful of his gauze pieces. Here are two pieces that I own. From the Mask Series when he was attending Greenwich House a few years ago. He did some pottery heads and then this development. (below).

Franklin. Mask series. 2004

Franklin MacFie Mask series. 2004

And this one  piece from the Gauze Series. What happened to the rest of them I have no idea but they were stunning.

Franklin. Gauze series #1 2005

Franklin.Gauze series #1 2005

In March 0f 2006 I put together, as director, an exhibit at the Westbeth Gallery in NYC titled “Directors Choice”,of Franklin’s gauze hanging pieces. We worked out a method where they were slipped on rods and hung from simple hooks, so they hung freely in the light air that came through the windows. There was a good turn-out but not what I think Franklin had hoped for. Many of his old friends did not come. Abby did; his brother John was there with Mickey and, of course, Kate Rounds from the houseboat days at Hoboken.

He actually sold a number of pieces and to people he didn’t know which delighted him. That someone outside his crowd saw merit in what he did was, in a way, a revelation. He had been building odds and ends of structures, pieces of boats from the waterfront and so on but this was the first I had seen in all the 50 years that I knew Franklin that he devoted himself to developing a style and carrying through with it to the point the work…many, many pieces… were exhibited in a New York City gallery.

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THESE SHOTS (BELOW) WHEN THE TWO OF US WERE IN MOROCCO SHARING CAVES IN THE 1970’S  ARE MY FAVORITE.

Jack Dowling Oct. 19, 2009

Franklin  1973

Franklin 1973

Franklin 1973

Franklin 1973

Franklin 1973

Franklin 1973

Fire Island July 4, 2006

July 4, 2006 Franklin, Liz and Jack at the dock on Fire Island.  Liz is an old friend of mine who was visiting on the Fourth. She had met Franklin years before on the many occasions that he stayed with me between……..well, just between. Jack


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A Santo Nino made by Frank MacFie

A Santo Nino made by Frank MacFie: found art-collage (with various bits)on the inside of (gold colored ) aluminum 7up can

We hadn’t heard from Frank Mac Fie for a long , long time. In 1991, we were packing to move back East Coast to take care of Ray’s mother. Our daughter Susan was already back there. So, at the end of the school year, our son Philip was in school, I was teaching – some how the Found /Collage art piece made by Franklin, (which included a halo of ? franklin’s pubic hair from sometime in the 70’s) that had long been lost, just like Franklin MacFie as far as we knew was lost, it was the Santo Nino de Atacha – a favorite saint in Chimayo, the patron saint of The Lost., resurfaced. This piece with the DNA of Franklin flew out on to the floor from no where after 2 decades of being lost as was Franklin. It seemed like it was heralding Franklin’s call from New York City two days later saying he was back! BStevens

Back to the tapes done in April or so -2008). I ask when /where he got AIDS He says. “It could have been Jean Michel -I think we both could have gotten it in San Francisco in 1981 or 82”. I mention that it was his friend Eileen’s theory that you got in a perverse /reverse stance and “kept it zipped up” during that great time in San Francisco and didn’t get it .. where as Jean Michel did……I didn’t quite say all of that but got a bit of it out …. Franklin’s patient response:.” Everybody has a different response to it. His- Jean Michel ‘s was not too good – it just killed him- in the late 70’s early 80’s when it wasn’t known, and at that point in the story -everyone was having as much sex as they possibly could. We both were highly active and we went to the Baths (bath houses) and I was working at a gay bar. My friend Terry Stephenson , like Jean Michel- their bodies weren’t strong enough to fight against it.”

“I didn’t go to the doctor because I felt sick but because I knew I had it. People get symptoms and go on for a long time and then just die ( those that didn’t get the cocktails.) There is an enormous variety in this sickness……(More before ) The Cocktails….the AMA and DDC worked very hard and as fast as they could and lessoned the degrees …. Well, some people got an got it quick and died and some got it and held it and held it and it finally popped out they died. I didn’t know what it was until a couple of weeks before (JM) he died.”

Re: Jean Michel sick in Paris,”They didn’t tell him but they told me and I told them (the family)- he wanted to know why every one was whispering. So I told him, His mother yelled at me for telling him he was going to die. I would rather know, Jean Michel would rather know. I told him and he was very quiet for a couple of minutes he didn’t say anything…so I said well tell me something I’ve just told you that you are going to die soon… and he lifted his hand and very gently rolled it along my face, and he said no only half of me will die- so that immediately put me into tears.”

“Over there, when a person died they put a sheet on the door. I just went in and they said il est decidee I said he is decided quoi! Finally she used the word mort so I understood that. so I went in and saw him wrapped up in a winding sheet -just his head/face exposed… still handsome. He looked like a Huguenot Priest (well, his mouth was closed, he had only one tooth left) I never saw him again, next was the casket. That’s it, he died and I went on – I didn’t (die). I decided not to!”

We begin to talk about the “trip” he told me about recently -He had found a drug growing in New York one time while we were in Amsterdam..(between 2006-2008).Datura ( discussion followed re: was it Loco Weed, something from Castenada) Franklin says “Georgia O’keefe has all those beautiful paintings of the Datura…and I found one here in the park – there’s a tiny park right across the street from me – its not very deep its very steep and very narrow park. (BS -whats that parks name) the Jackie Robinson Park.I found this plant and recognized it right away, I couldn’t remember how to get high from it . I had read the Don Juan books and he’d been using them all the time – they are Brujo plants and you should not use them unless your a Brujo . Anyhow I ate the leaves, I ate the stamen and nothing happened. I ate the whole flower and nothing happened, finally some prickly seed pod came out – they don’t call it prickly pear but some kind of pod -that makes them almost ….. they want to repay you, almost attack …. you have take them off very carefully, I mean you have to have something to take them off with, because you cant just pull them off.. a round seed pod. size of 50 cents.. they came at the end of the season… I tried them (the plant) one year and nothing happened — then (trying the seed pods the next year) so I very carefully took them home and had to slice them with something else so they wouldn’t hurt my fingers and I started eating them the first year..”. end of tape.

Re:The story of the Datura experience in NYC on tape-what’ s missing is the transition from eating the seed pods and — then to seeing people in his apartment! Franklin says: ” Those people were imaginary of course. But at the time it was as real as can be of course, I talked to them , I saw them . When the police came (he had called them to come get the people out of his apt.) I realized they had hidden because the police couldn’t find them. – ( I tell Ray’s memory of when he said that the New York City Police said -“now you give us a call if they come back , But Not too soon!” We Laugh, he says “they’re great, the New York City Police- even if they do shoot people with 50 bullets. but in general with what they have to deal with they do it very well…”

I ask for more outrageous trips, he expresses the idea that “f I can remember then it becomes —- I can’t feel it (any) more …that I am just repeating stories that I have told..”

He remembers a lamp he made out of a top hat – then says “no, it was a fedora – can’t remember the lamp but can remember making it….(then I remind him of the one – the Wooden Fountain he goes on:) “wooden piers -4 or 5 pieces of pier .. it was beautiful – I ran water down it through pieces of pipe -lit it- a simple light bulb down at the bottom…one of best things I’ve ever done – it had both antique and slightly modern quality-magnificent…”( And it truly was- Wish we had a photo.)

There was a conversation( on the tapes) where we were talking about his friend Kate who lived next to him when he made that huge wooden “lamp”/air conditioner/ fountain out of cast off pier at Liberty Marina.* (Ray Stevens and I have a wonderful MacFie lamp made from a smooth hollow log the size of a table lamp, it has a light bulb down in it and the light glows from a huge, curved real bulls horn emerging from it.)

Ray and I met Frank’s friend Kate R. who lived through a winter – with a small wood stove- a year next to him in her beautiful but small old fishing boat -next to his house boat where the great lighted fountain was able to make the boat cool in the hot summer at the Liberty Marina in New Jersey . In view of the Statue of Liberty and the twin towers, this would have been in the mid nineties. My story is about visiting them there, and enjoying the customary early evening event of Franklin and Kate rowing the dinghy across to the large tugboat where their friend was living with her young daughter ( she had once been a pregnant tugboat captain!) . Then they would enjoy the sunset glowing golden on the surface of the twin towers .

Also in the November 1997, while Franklin was living on the house boat… put together as an art piece as usual, he had a great 60th birthday party. He Rented a Show Boat…in the Marina, and put on a great spread – We got to meet some of the family. It was a wonderful party.

Franklin dancing with Susan

Franklin dancing with Susan

Franklin and BStevens at Susan's wedding

Franklin and BStevens at Susan's wedding

1998..Sept 20th, Franklin Mac Fie along with Carolyn Brady and Bill Farrar and his wife Vicky Chapman were able to join us for Susan Stevens and Dug Birdzell’s wedding .

There were many visits back and forth mostly the Stevens went to New York- a couple of times Franklin came to Greenbelt, one visit around 1994 was when Ray’s mother was dying but when Franklin was visiting us, Ray’s mother, Alma, had this one amazing incredible good day!

But also that was the day when he heard that Michael Maslansky had died so he left right away for Los Angeles.

Ray and Franklin at Pat's house in 2000

Ray Stevens and Franklin - 2000

In 2000, we were in New Mexico and Franklin’s friend Lena from Sweden and Portugal got Franklin to visit New Mexico with her. So there in Santa Fe, Franklin must connect with lots of his “best ” women friends!: Lena, Nancy B. and Ellen, Barbara Stevens, all at once! were there any others there? It was too much.What I do know is he was a bit green with AIDS , as the cocktails were not perfected as yet, and he missed one important one, Eileen … he just didn’t manage to get up to north to see her.

2006 Carolyn Brady died and we all had celebrated her life at the Quaker type ceremony at the Nancy Hoffman Gallery, but Bill Epton was very ill with a fast moving bad case of Parkinson’s. When we would drive up to NYC/Brooklyn to see Epton IF we could get Franklin to go with us we COULD make Epton laugh, talk, be himself for the duration! Franklin was the component that could dispel for a while Bill Epton’s Parkinson’s!

It is hard to figure out this MacFie magic, his way with people, the power of his friendship. Maybe it’s life as theatre. I do know he made always his surroundings into art, Art as Life, Life as Art, Life and Art as Play!?

One of the last tapes Franklin talks about -getting ready to go to the hospital… has to clean his apartment.. so when he comes back he will come back to a clean apartment…. then we start talking about how he is stretching canvas – he is painting with house paint we discuss that its thick acrylic… a real IN THE MIDDLE OF LIFE talk about making the paintings..for example ..” I am using very basic colors, red, yellow, blue and white and green.. making up the various skin colors but I never have enough , so everyone has different color skin -have to do the whole thing over , it looks they have a skin disease… anyhow I am enjoying it a lot. Unfortunately the one thing that I have been working on for a long time and made many, many changes on … its a beach scene- with a clothed figure – a man standing- it suddenly looked like a Magritte – I loved the clothed man standing there.- everybody is is mostly naked the girl the boy, the other guy. But this clothed man with the black hat. I suddenly saw someone’s going to say ah , like Magritte.”

A life -time of Franklin Macfie’s Magic has led me to this blog. The Franklin MacFie who when the entire Stevens /Birdzell combined families with the Brady- Eptons and the Chapman/ Farrar’s sprung for a state of the art computer for Frank MacFie- that, Franklin, may have just on some occasion or other, might have just thrown that very computer out from his 6th floor window! well it did disappear.

HA! MAY HE LIVE ON on the INTERNET!

Someone needs to describe Franklin’s wonderful last New York apartment, where the Datura people visited, and also his last show. The apartment belonged to Abby McGrath, his New York, Bard friend, who had invested in Harlem Renaissance Houses – giving Franklin a chance to get off the house boat and in to the city – for medical/financial reasons, and he could do his thing, fix it up -(as in restore, though.)

So the last apartment in NYC for Franklin was “the find of the century,” Abby bought a rent controlled co-op at a miraculous price and Franklin could afford the monthly fee, even – huge, with cross ventilation – old and beautiful, funky of course -way up the top of 6 flights and and way up in Harlem.. 119th …. across from a Park! (where the Datura grew), a long subway ride to anywhere..Franklin!

Barbara Stevens Oct. 2009

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Franklin in his handmade house

Franklin in his handmade house

Franklin's photo of Jean Michel

Franklin's photo of Jean Michel

After the houses were built, Franklin never went long without making Art – changing and playing with his surroundings. He did a large number of strange and wonderful multiple exposure Polaroid photos during this time. Below is one, a portrait of Jean Michel – in his various surroundings. I hope to get photo’s to post of an incredible New Mexico series Franklin carved in a traditional style, hand carved wooden Cristos on the Cross. Except there was a subtle -oh so subtle – shape change in the robes -X rated Cristos .

Jean Michel meanwhile was cooking for us all the wonderful memories of his childhood of French cooking. French pastry! even .

The whole Coc au Vin thing was a larger event. At a certain time in everyone’s story who has ever raised chickens with roosters -the aging roosters go crazy -later I extrapolated from farm life experiences that all male animals go crazy eventually! So the aging roosters start trying to kill you at some point with their terrible spurs.

Hence the wonderful French recipe: Get an old Rooster – easy ,almost anyone around has an old rooster that they’d give up for your stew pot for nothing more than the sheer pleasure of revenge.Next pour in a gallon of burgundy little by little -on the stove for a week until the rooster is truly tender. Add a few things . Next cover and bake in a wonderful French pie crust and serve. Viola!

Jean Michel decided he wanted to make Camembert , so he got on the phone to the place in Wisconsin which was known to make it. We were there and heard how it went. The one he got says ” Ahloo!” Hello in French! the rest of the conversation was in French – and Jean Michel ended up with the bacterial starter to make Camembert. Then of course he bought some Guernsey cows and built a barns and a cheese shed and made cheese. What I loved was the amazing sight of Jean Michel going off to sell cheese to chic places in Santa Fe wearing carelessly cut off leather trousers, cut outrageously,scandalously short.

Franklin"s pig down hill from his house

Franklin"s pig down hill from his house

Whenever the Camembert didn’t sell out Jean Michel would take it back and add fresh cream and call it Camembert spread. When ever that didn’t sell it got herbs mixed in , each time it increased in price. When it was too far gone even for Jean Michel he gave to us because Ray Stevens would still enjoy it!

One Spring Day in March 2009 , THIRTY YEARS LATER, Ray and I got a chance to pay a visit to our friend who was also a friend of Franklin’s. She decided to tell her secrets with Franklin MacFie. I told her I was trying to tell his life with the women who loved him, and hopefully men will write as well

So She told us that they really loved each other . She tells how they finally worked up to the female/male sex act. They drank and went dancing at a bar in Espanola . They danced some more and drank some more and ended up in the tent near the house. Later, weeping, he says, joyful and proud to Jean Michel -I am a Man.
( All this, back to around 1979 ?) -the next day Franklin suddenly goes off to the doctor.. comes back feeling horrible- he had a case of syphilis, he hadn’t really known he had, but after the fact, suspected. So, he has to tell his/our friend to go get shots.

So that night, feeling so bad about what he had had to tell this person that he loved, he went to the bar in Espanola alone and got seriously drunk and caused the local Pachuco’s to really hate him. ( At this period of his life he made an art form of driving people to extreme anger- I ( BStevens) responded with my own little drama once around that time and chased him all over the Medenales place with a cast iron frying pan.) So, this new bad behavior angered local Chicanos – so they took advantage of the fact that he had totally incapacitated himself with drink, so they tied his boot to the gas pedal of his truck- and pushed the truck over a bit of a cliff- a ravine… putting him out of commission for a while.

Here is some excerpts from the memoir tapes with Franklin – referring to the time after the house building and cheese /dairy operation in Medenales , New Mexico-approximately – 1974- through the late 70’s .
“So, I went to San Francisco, I said to Jean Michel Cheese,Cheese, Cheese I am sick to death of Cheese and I am going to San Francisco and stay a week. And he said being so smart, don’t be so silly you can go to San Francisco and stay a while if you want to.”

“So I did. And the next thing was- he sent me some cheese in the mail in the summer. It got stuck in Albuquerque for a week and I got home and on my mailbox was a big red notice. It said Urgent! Pick up package at the post office – I went to get it, didn’t need to ask – it was cheese that had been sitting in the heat for a week. It was a big bag.. maybe 10 lb. I went through to see if any of it was not rotten but I tied it back up and threw it. And I took a shower . I was working at a bar on 8th street. I went to work and my boss said your not working tonight. You stink!”

Ray Stevens has a story about helping Jean Michel drive out a huge truck with 2 big freezers full of Cheese. They would plug them when ever they stopped, drove out in one day. and put them in a storage unit in California and plugged the freezers in to a light socket . So ,much later, we heard the rest of the story with the Cheese in the storage unit. The electricity went out and the cops came- thought surely it was a storage unit full of chopped up dead bodies! this was very aged Camembert, rather rotten any way!

Back to the tapes with Franklin: “Eventually he (Jean Michel) came out . He moved to nice part of town, -close to where I lived in Haight -Ashbury Eventually he moved to another part of town. He had a very little money at the time – all the money had been put into the cheese business and the house. So he put it up for sale. So, I sold my house. Jean Michel came and went to the bars (and bath houses) . He got a car and took a trip around and found the beautiful piece of land north of San Francisco. A wonderful farmhouse and instead of making cheese (from our own cows milk) he began to get involved buying milk from our neighbors who had Herefords and made the cheese from that. Fred McMurray was a neighbor. It was Beautiful, cows kept the grass down – so it looked manicured under the trees – swirling landscape, extremely beautiful.”

“But the cheese business didn’t do much better than in Santa Fe. Maybe it didn’t look professional enough . Someone’s comment : People want them (things they eat) to look neat. Being organic is one thing but isn’t this a little bit too much? Don’t you think? I looked and there were maggots crawling around in the cheese. I said you’re probably right this isn’t too good for people who don’t eat meat!”

“Any way we did that a long time, or maybe not so long. Enjoyed it . His brother and his wife came to visit” ( near Healdsburg, California.) I (B Stevens)remember the wonderful visit Jean Michel’s mother made with them to our Chimayo house , like having Madame Currie come -or Margaret Mead – she had a great stick and had been a noted French woman scientist . Jean Michel had we think had a 60th birthday during the 70’s so she may have been 80 something or so when she came to our kitchen in Chimayo.

Back to the Franklin tapes:
” I got a job designing a major San Mateo County Fair exhibit., was also working a lot at Gay Bars and I really loved it – a lot of fun ,before they discovered what AIDS was. I cant remember having so much fun at a job even in the theater.”

“I was working at one of the gay bar below of Market. I lived south of Market in the late 70’s and I did a show which was of all white things, which were white canvases, and muslin folded, all strange shaped- some squared off, anyhow when I finished putting it up someone said I’d hung my laundry up.” (I BStevens have slides from that show- and I have one piece so I will add these to this post).

“So one night late after I had left – people started throwing things at (the pieces) and the owner , a very nice guy comes up and says ,you know when you first put up the show, I really didn’t understand it – I really didn’t like it at all, but when people started throwing things at it I knew it had to be good.! It had to be worthwhile if it could make people get upset. It was a good show and I sold a few pieces but when I took it down some of the pieces has turned a nicotine yellow from every body smoking.”

“I guess when my mother died I came back east in 1982.Very difficult, she was in a coma for 6 mo. I stayed for 3 months. finally after sitting by her side f or 3 months everyday, I decided I had to go back to Calif. and do what I was doing -don’t know how important that could be. But anyhow I went back and then she died, and I had to go back again for the funeral.”

Now he talks about after the funeral going back to the house in California, where Jean Michel is (still) making Cheese …” I think I said one more time cheese , Cheese , Cheese I am tired of cheese I think I am going to India. Jean Michel says oh, I think you will like India very much…so I started to go to India but I went to Morocco .. he came to Morocco from California ( just as he had from New York) he was always following me, and I got very drunk , which was hard to do there, in all these back rooms and stuff. I would go to these wonderful bars, where only low lives would go to. Moroccans really look down on drinking ( and on smoking !) and the only people who do it -do it in these back rooms ( for tourists) I used to get drunk and then smoke hash in cemeteries and that what was fun.”

So I ask about JM coming — and selling the Calif. house….etc. He says “I guess he did because he came over and we wanted to buy a place in Morocco, but they wouldn’t let us because we were not Muslim. Other wise we would have lived on the crest of a hill -most beautiful spot overlooking the ocean. And the guy was ready to sell it to us at a reasonable price. But the city elders didn’t want two unwed men. So we never got that.”

“Anyhow then we went to Portugal and found a wonderful farm house on a hill. The house that we bought I built on to it a little house ( with a circular living room.) It was best thing I ‘ve done. Marble was very cheap there, all over the place. Inside cement -like adobe , adobe outside – then cement . We ended up having 13 room house. We had the old part which is where he lived and connected to it was my house. I had lots of English friends and European friends.”

He talks about his good friend Lena ( who is actually Swedish and her husband was English.) “I ended up working for her. Her husband looked out for houses for people, he built a few houses for people and I worked for him, a doer of all things. It was a lot of fun.”

“One day my (long time )friend Nancy came from Santa Fe. Jean Michel was going back and forth to Paris during this period of time.” ( Next Franklin tells about a problem suddenly developing with Jean Michel )And Franklin said. “oh, something is wrong here.This was the beginning. When he (JM)had gotten off the train from Paris (just before this) he did look weak not sick -just weak- I hadn’t seen him for a couple of months. So I wasn’t prepared. The next day I called up his mother and said I am bringing Jean Michel to Paris – he needs to see a doctor. We got on the plane by the time he got off he could no longer walk . Finally got a wheel chair, every thing was locked and blocked – these long halls of glass every time I reach the end it would be locked .and I was getting crazier and crazier…I began to bang on the glass and people in the station were gathering around and his brothers attention was caught by what I was doing, and his brother was very embarrassed by all that and I just said he’s very sick and we don’t have time to take him home or anything like that. We took him directly to the hospital and he lasted only a month. Feb. 1985. .. we knew what it was by then by 1982 everybody knew about AIDS. My friend Terry (Stephenson) had died by then…….everybody was dropping like flies. I had no clothes with me , when we got on the plane I just had what I had on dungarees and leather jacket.and I just stayed in the hospital and didn’t go out to shop. So at the funeral thats what I had on. The French were very tight lipped at the funeral -very austere. I was weeping hysterically like a Greek chorus! I was just weeping ..and one good friend there Virginie said you should go and sit with the mother -thats were you should be.”

“There was this cement hole in the ground and thats where he is.” Then he talks about” Virginie-she was his (JM’s) closest friend (she did come to Medenales he says ) and was marvelous. She met them often in Morocco, and she came to New York.she is marvelous. She was blond and very attractive, very French. She’s divine.”

I ask where he was staying… “a cheap Algierian hotel – could get drunk at 4 am and fall on the stairs..and no body would mind. That was the best thing about Paris.” I ask about Maman and the brother and the trouble. He says “Maman was wonderful.His brothers wife …was very worried that the mother would die and leave half the stuff to Jean Michel and he would die and the American, me, might end up with the country house or maybe the apartment in Paris.. that would have happend but it didn’t happen and I wouldn’t have wanted any of that, couldn’t have lived there.” He had to end the tape.. with out telling about the enormous trouble he had getting the Portugal house. Ultimatly he was able to sell it and get the proceeds to the US. to live on.

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Jean Michel  and Franklin in front of JM's adobe

Frank's sculptured house with Tico and the other dogs

Franklin , Jean Michel and Clipper an JM 's house

Franklin , Jean Michel and Clipper and JM 's house

Franklin Mac Fie and Jean Michel Belluc bought land in Medenales New Mexico . Jean Michel built a somewhat traditional Northern New Mexican style adobe but included a Morroccan style fire place and an inner courtyard not usual in this part of the world. Meanwhile Franklin made a very creative and unusual ferro cement house that changed with various developments. He started out with the idea of geodesic dome, however he didn’t reinforce the frame enough and ended up with sculpted free form that blended into the hill organically allowing Franklin to create an incredibly beautiful interior as well. It had a “Star Trek” like window over looking the field to the Chama River.Sometimes it got referred to as Franklin’s Hobbit House. It included a wall of found glass and gloriously merged organically with the hard adobe earth of New Mexico.

Here is typical type phenomenon that happened while they were living there. The Major Domo of the Chama Accequia ( the Head Boss of the Chama ditch) Reynel Maestes sold them the land and noticed certain leadership qualities of Jean Michel (IBM executive -French aristocrat attributes, he was used to $ and power,etc) Reynel goes to the ditch meeting with his loaded pistol. He shoots the ceiling and shouts that the Frenchman ( the gay Frenchman) will be the new Major Domo! He will get us more water from the big guys in Santa Fe and the Feds -and he did! Later on, when some young fool makes the mistake of stealing from Jean Michel and Franklin – Jean Michel shuts the water off ( their life blood !) until what ever it was got returned..Right away! and it was.

Below: Franklin incongruently on a horse in front of a part of rental house on adjacent property that they lived in while building. A typical New Mexico situation: they had 4 rooms and the largest one had barbwire running through it along the line of Vigas (rough hewned logs supporting the ceiling) to mark where one brother of the family owned part of the house!

Franklin on horse at the rental house

Franklin on horse at the rental house

MacFie's Western Photo

MacFie's Western Photo

these photo’s are part of a huge set of Polaroid photos done at this time

Out West

Franklin in his surroundings

Franklin in his surroundings

Franklin's house

Franklin's house

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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