Sunday, September 7, 2008

Metallica: Master of YouTube?

By Eliot Van Buskirk

Metallica, whose leaked album Death Magnetic is slated for a September 12 release, launched a promotion on YouTube today featuring the band's favorite Metallica cover songs on the site. Drummer Lars Ulrich introduces their selections in the video to the right.

"It makes us feels alive and special that you guys can be out there doing that cool stuff that you guys do... we're mighty proud of what you do out there." says Ulrich. Later, he explains one reason the band is doing this. "You've all seen enough versions of us playing Enter Sandman and Master of Puppets on German MTV for the last ten years. Who needs that, right? Let's check out some really cool interpretations of all the Metallica songs that you guys out there are so cool to put up on the net and share with everybody in the world."

Other reasons behind Metallica's YouTube promotion are a bit more complicated. More than eight years have passed since Lars Ulrich took that fateful elevator ride up to Napster headquarters with the names of 300,000-plus Napster users who had shared Metallica songs through the network, and the band is trying to salvage its reputation by embracing, at long last, the realities of online music.

The band has continued to take a beating from some fans nonetheless, but Ulrich's recent admission that he was unconcerned about the leakage of their upcoming album and this embrace of YouTube show they really are thinking about the internet differently (although it should be noted that they stand to make royalty money from their compositions being played as part of the promotion).

Below are the ten Metallica cover songs that Lars and other members of the band chose to be selected on the front of YouTube.

Eight-year-old Robin busts out a respectable rendition of the solo from Metallica's "One":

Scbene, t0ko and titovincenzo tackle "I Disappear" in four-way splits-screen:

Carmen Jiménez, Carmen Luzón and Elisabeth Derrac document the connection between classical and heavy metal fans with their interpretation of "Nothing Else Matters" for violins and viola:

Sembaijo and friends rock ""Master of Puppets" in the top floor of what looks like some sort of teenage rock academy (note the guitar cases lined up along the back wall):

Francisco Meza plays both parts of "My Apocalypse" in believable style:

Azuritereaction plays the drum part from "Enter Sandman" on Rock Band on expert mode, with an interesting hack: socks rubber banded on to the game's drum heads "for increased sensitivity and lowered double-hits":

Scott D. Davis makes "Nothing Else Matters" sound sort of like Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata in this solo piano interpretation:

Stop animation brings Lego characters to life for an air-guitar version of "Whiplash":

Roozbeh067 and his Persian "tar"-playing friend play a precise, lilting version of "Nothing Else Matters":

Qlsuc1 solos along with various Metallica songs (what, was Guitar Center closed?):

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Most Memorable, Dirty & Naked Music Festival Moments

With the Virgin Festival approaching this weekend, we thought we'd take a look at some of the most memorable festival moments that have happened when a bunch of fans go somewhere outside and listen to live music. Some of these are messy, some are crude and there's one that's tragic, but all of these have earned their place in the history of rock for one reason or another.

Radiohead + Baseball = Awesome? (Lollapalooza '08)


Radiohead are well known for putting on absolutely brilliant performances, although when they played in Chicago back in 2004, they got a bit of help from an unexpected source. While playing "Everything In Its Right Place" and "Fake Plastic Trees," some fireworks from what was believed to be a Chicago Cubs baseball game started lighting up the sky. Unbelievably, the pyrotechnics seemed to effortlessly sync up with Radiohead's performance, leaving folks to wonder if MLB Commissioner Bud Selig was branching out into the entertainment business.


Green Day Take A Mud Bath (Woodstock '94)


Woodstock '94 was a revisit to one of the first musical festivals ever, although it wasn't quite exactly the festival of love that the original was, what with artists like Nine Inch Nails and Red Hot Chili Peppers being headlining acts. Or with Green Day on the roster, for that matter. Still a young punk band learning their way, the lads in Green Day sparked one of the messiest moments in festival history when a piece of sod ended up on stage and the band called attention to it. End result? Half of the field getting ripped up by fans which devolved into a huge mud fight. No one was spared, either: bassist Mike Dirnt wound up absolutely filthy, to the point where that security didn't recognize him and punched him out, breaking his jaw!


Everything Goes To Hell With The Stones (Altamont Free Concert '69)


Festival security guards are notoriously known to be dicks, moreso than regular concert guards. No one really knows the reasons why; it could be that they're getting paid to face away from the band in hot weather, or it could be that they have to wear those stupid security shirts regardless of the weather, or it could be that they just hire the surliest people imaginable to work the festivals. But no matter how bad the bouncers are, they can't compare to the Altamont Free Concert's security detail. The Rolling Stones, of all people, decided to arrange the security details for this show. Now, I love Mick and the boys, but I can't help but wonder if placing a group with known chemical substance lover Keith Richards in charge of something important like security was the wisest of ideas. Anyway, The Stones were part of a large concert festival that included other artists like Santana, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Naturally, there needed to be some good folks to work security, so who did the Rolling Stones tap? The Hells Angels. Yeah, the notorious outlaw biker gang was working the festival, who were paid to work the festival in exchange for $500 worth of beer. Things ended somewhat predictably, with the bikers getting rowdy with the fans, attacking them with pool cues or their motorcycles. In one incident, Marty Balin (of Jefferson Airplane) was beaten senseless onstage by one of the bikers.


My Chemical Romance get "Slayed" (Reading Festival '06)


One of the biggest problems with music festivals is that there is always some sort of schedule problem for people attending: two of your favorite acts are going onstage at the same time, you have to sit through some boring band you've never heard of so that you have good spots for the band you actually want to see, and so on, etc. Well, The Reading Festival had its own scheduling snafu back in 2006, which resulted in one of the festival's greatest bottling incidents of all time. For those who don't know, The Reading Festival has a long history of bottling unpopular acts, which involves throwing as much refuse (generally in the form of plastic water bottles) as possible at the acts in question. Due to one of the most colossally ridiculous scheduling decisions ever made, metal gods Slayer played a set directly before current rock darlings My Chemical Romance took the stage. This would be akin to having Avril Lavigne choosing to have Cannibal Corpse as her opening act. Needless to say, a bunch of jacked up metal fans, having seen one of the best metal acts ever perform, decided to stick around and perform target practice on the Black Parade.


Rage Against The Machine Bare All (Lollapalooza '93)


Rage Against The Machine have never been ones to shy away from controversy, as anyone who knows even a little about the band would knowis aware. The band has been known to make bold statements, most notably with their impromptu march in Minnesota at the Republican National Convention earlier this week. Back in 1993, though, the band was facing a ton of scrutiny from the Parents Music Resource Center and decided that they would make a statement regarding this in the city of Brotherly Love. Onstage in Philly, the band came out stark naked, with duct tape over their mouths and stood there naked for 15 minutes. Not exactly what you would expect, but the band did make it up to disappointed fans, performing a free gig later on.

Josh Homme Loses His Mind (Norwegian Wood Festival '08)


Music festivals are a great source for spontaneous moments: random incidents happening due to the nature of the event. Sometimes, these events can be absolutely awesome and spontaneous. Other times, unfortunate crap can happen which leads to some unique incidents. Such a thing occurred at the Norwegian Wood Festival earlier this year, when a kid in the crowd threw a shoe at Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme. Homme, understandably ticked at someone throwing a friggen shoe at him, flipped out and got the kid tossed from the venue, while letting loose a stream of profanity that would probably have George Carlin spinning in his grave. Homme's comments were also construed as being somewhat homophobic, although he later apologized and recanted for his actions.


Courtney Love Does Her Best Courtney Love Impersonation (Big Day Out '99)


Courtney Love has a notorious reputation for being completely bat shiaatee insane, and her antics at Australia's Big Day Out Festival, which had her competing with folks like Marilyn Manson and Korn on the Crazy-O-Meter, had...well, just take a look and judge for yourself. Keep in mind that this is the "clean" version.


Tragic Moments In Denmark (Roskilde Festival '00)


While fests should be all about the music and fun, sometimes some really bad stuff can happen at festivals. This could probably be best exemplified with Pearl Jam's appearance at the Roskslide Festival in 2000. As the band took the stage, fans surged to the front of the stage, unfortunately trampling 9 fans who died as a result of the pressing crowd. Pearl Jam attempted to call attention to what was going on, but by then it was too late. The incident had an profound impact on the band, with Vedder immortalizing those fans who died in the 2002 single "Love Boat Captain."


Jay-Z Plays Tribute To Oasis (Glastonbury '08)


Probably the greatest things at any sort of live music venue are the surprise songs that artists love to throw out to please the fans. Usually, these sorts of things aren't recorded in the studio, so fans are treated to something truly unique and new when they check their faves out live. Recently, notoriously polite Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher shared his admiration for Jay-Z's body of work in an interview, giving his thoughts on the rapper's appearance at Glastonbury. Hova, apparently flattered by Gallagher's kind words, expressed what he thought of Oasis at the start of his set, giving the fans watching the show a unique treat, as he belted out into a truly amazing rendition of "Wonderwall." Honestly, it is moments like these, where musicians are able to check their egos at the door and have a good time, that make these festivals so goddamn captivating.

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Why The Dark Knight will Beat Titanic

Box Office analysts are predicting that The Dark Knight will finish with $530-$540 million domestically, about one Forgetting Sarah Marshall away from breaking Titanic’s $600.7 million record. But I believe they are wrong - and here’s why.

I’m sure that Warner Bros will rerelease the film in theaters eventually. The film has made a record $55 million on IMAX screens alone, and IMAX Filmed Entertainment chief Greg Foster tells The Hollywood Reporter that there is “a real possibility” of an IMAX rerelease in future years. Robert Zemeckis’ The Polar Express 3-D has been rereleased in IMAX theaters every holiday season, resulting in a four year total of $70 million. “Ultimately, it’s a decision that Warner Bros. has to make, Foster says, adding: “We’d certainly support that.”

Last month, The Dark Knight overtook Star Wars to become the second highest grossing domestic film of all time. But many people forget that Star Wars spent only a fraction of the last 31 years in the top two placements. Shortly after surpassing Jaws to become the highest grossing film of all time, Star Wars was knocked off the top by E.T. Overtaken by both Jurassic Park and Forrest Gump, Star Wars dropped the #4 of all time. It wasn’t until the late 90’s rerelease of the trilogy special editions that the film reentered the top two spots.

The stage has been set, and I’m sure it will eventually happen folks. It’s just a matter of when and how. Could Warner Bros rerelease the film in a special edition with additional footage that was cut from the theatrical release? If the studio wasn’t set on releasing a DVD in time for Christmas, they probably could have attempted some kind of special edition rerelease with extra footage. But alas, home video sales will be more profitable, especially during the holiday season.

From what I understand, there were no actual scenes that were completely cut out of The Dark Knight, only trims here and there. So I’m not sure if it would be worth it. But it didn’t stop Paramount/Dreamworks, which added a couple minutes of footage for the IMAX rerelease of Michael Bay’s Transformers. I seriously doubt Warner Bros would attempt to up-convert the film to 3D as the technology just isn’t there yet. Plus the action sequences would probably make your eyes bleed. One thing is or sure, the enviable digital conversion of IMAX theater will make the distribution of such a rerelease more cost effective.

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The Dark Knight To Become An Annual Event?

Now that The Dark Knight has broken another box office record and become the highest-grossing first run Imax movie ever, theater-owners are wondering what to do for a follow-up. They've come up with what they think is a pretty good suggestion: More Dark Knight.

Talking to the Hollywood Reporter, Imax Filmed Entertainment chief Greg Foster explained that The Dark Knight has finally overtaken The Polar Express in terms of box office - a movie that is re-released to Imax screens every holiday season. Would Foster like to see a similar thing happening for Batman's latest adventure?

"That sounds like a really great idea," the Imax exec said. "Ultimately, it's a decision that Warner Bros. has to make. We'd certainly support that."

Warners distribution president Dan Fellman said there was "a real possibility" of such a re-release. Imax's imminent conversion of many of its venues to digital distribution would make cost considerations of such a move more negligible, though Fellman stressed nothing regarding an eventual "Dark Knight" re-release has been decided.

It could be the new way to celebrate the holidays! Trim the tree, wrap the gifts, go and see a nihilistic movie about the sacrifices a superhero makes for his city. Who could resist?

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Max Payne Director Pissed About R-Rating, Blames Batman Blowjob

John Moore, director of the Max Payne movie adaptation, is pissed. Moore has a bone to pick with the Motion Picture Association of America for slapping his movie with an R-rating, something he tells Das Gamer he didn't seek out; Payne was supposed to be PG-13.

Moore says that the MPAA hobbled his movie, financially, with an R because it's dark and "feels R," theorizing that the ratings body "gave The Dark Knight a PG-13 rating and basically sucked Warner Bros. cock."

The Dark Knight, Moore thinks, was "pretty gnarly for PG-13" and that his own film was going to get the same treatment. Not so, despite the film being "not yet rated" officially.

The Max Payne director says that Wahlberg intentionally avoided some salty language and that Moore "didn’t go cutting people’s heads off and ripping their eyeballs out just for the fun of it" to help nab the PG-13, something he's still lobbying for. Perhaps a reversal of MPAA and film studio roles could help, John? MPAA volunteers need blowjobs too.

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There's only one thing the boy wizard wants now that he's all grown up—to play a drag queen.

-By Chris Norris
-Photograph by Steven Klein

It's a brilliant June day in Manhattan's Bryant Park. Small white clouds dot the wide arc of midtown sky. Children's voices mingle with music from a gilded carousel. And, sitting on a green folding chair, as moms pass with strollers and idlers sip iced tea, the world's most famous English schoolboy is talking dirty.

"Stepping out the motherfucking carr, they in awe," says Daniel Radcliffe. "I'm looking like a starrr, bitch."

He looks up. "How was that?"

Bright-eyed and bushy-browed, the British actor is gamely reciting some phrases we've come up with to test his American accent, in preparation for becoming a full-time New Yorker when he moves here this fall to star in the Peter Shaffer play Equus. We started with some conversational basics—softened t's ("Can I get a bottle of water?"), smashed syllables ("Look at the size of that squirrel")—and are now in the extra-credit section: Lil Wayne lyrics. Radcliffe tries again.

"Stepping out the motherfucking carrr, they in awe, I'm looking like a starr, bitch. When you see me make a wish."

Britain's richest teenager, who will turn 19 in a few weeks, sure does look like a star: knockabout-natty with a choppy brown coif, olive designer tee, navy blazer, and dark skinny jeans—these last are made by Absolut Joy, he says, looking down to check the button on his fly. "And I would like to say that that's what lurks beneath."

Ah, yes, this would be the virile Dan Radcliffe, he of the bare-torso cover shots and professions of girl-craziness, the young man who appeared at last night's Tony Awards still trailing tabloid buzz over his harrowing, occasionally naked performance in Equus, which was originally staged in London. Radcliffe plays Alan Strang, a self-flagellating, stable-boy mental case, a role that fans of him as a certain bespectacled boy wizard—whose presence looms over us even now in a sunny New York City park—might find unsettling.

"Whenever I can I want to leave Harry there on the screen," Radcliffe says. "I don't want to bring him into my normal life."

Even without the signature glasses and inky hair, Radcliffe retains a slightly otherworldly aura, as if he wandered out of some early-seventies Disney musical costarring Angela Lansbury. A slight five feet five, he has fine features and large blue eyes that appear designed to widen in amazement.

The trailer for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Radcliffe is a little manic. He leans forward as he talks—arms tightly folded, eyes darting about, speaking quickly through a clenched jaw that's lightly dusted with stubble. It's likely that Radcliffe is a bit jumpy about being in public—since we left his Manhattan hotel against his handlers' wishes, a bodyguard trailing by a discreet half-block, our stroll has attained the frisson of a Compton roll with Snoop Dogg.

"Not particularly," Radcliffe says when asked if he's nervous. "No, no, no, not at all! The reason I'm looking around is 'cause I always like to clock where everybody is in terms of who's recognized me. 'Cause they try to be subtle and they never are."

What's the latest count?

"Well, there were those two Japanese girls, and that couple over there, and those other two girls, and that mother and daughter . . . "

Like any maturing child star, Daniel Radcliffe is carefully plotting his career after he leaves the role that made his name. Two things make his case unusual: (1) He may be the most eerily adult such actor since a post?Taxi Driver Jodie Foster, and (2) that character happens to be the most popular literary hero since the invention of the printing press.

The seven Harry Potter books have sold more than 400 million copies. They have been translated into 67 languages. They've made their author, J.K. Rowling, the highest-earning novelist in history. And they've spawned the top-grossing film series of all time, which has earned Harry Potter's cinematic representative a fortune the London Times this year estimated to be $39.7 million. Having just signed a contract for $50 million to see Harry Potter through to graduation, Radcliffe is tied with the ubiquitous Miley Cyrus on Forbes' "Hollywood's Top-Paid Tweens" list. Today he occupies a sphere of fame, wealth, and public imagining that approaches the supernatural. Escaping Harry Potter may be his biggest magic trick of all.

We first meet in the hotel lounge, a book-lined nook with Edwardian aspirations: Beaux Arts shelves, a carved-wood fireplace, tables for chess and backgammon. The vibe is somewhere between Kipling-era smoking room and Oxford-don study—an effect that's amplified when Hogwarts' own bursts in and takes a seat at the cribbage table. When Radcliffe marvels at the surfeit of ice in his glass, I counsel him to order booze neat—when he's old enough.

"Well, I am old enough to drink," he says with mock indignation. "But not in this country, apparently." Ever since Equus added a kinky twist to the end of one of the most well-attended puberties of the decade, Radcliffe's passage into adulthood has been the stuff of feverish speculation. For the record, Master Radcliffe does drink—in moderation and in private. Vodka and Diet Coke is his cocktail of choice, he says, "'cause I'm a pansy-ass civilian." Also for the record, he celebrated reaching Britain's age of consent, 16, almost three years ago, in the customary manner, with an older girlfriend. The age difference "wasn't ridiculous," he says. "But it would freak some people out."

Maybe because he's surrounded by people at least twice his age, Radcliffe tends to date older women. He's currently single, although he explains that this is primarily due to time constraints. "Most of my friends have been girls, and I see how they are with their boyfriends and I think, I couldn't do that," he says. "I just don't have the time."

Some people might reasonably assume that the Harry Potter kid is an impending train wreck of a former child star, a Ritalin-addled, Humvee-carousing little egomaniac the appearance of whose first mug shot is only a question of time. But aside from random street shots and headline puns about nude wizards, Radcliffe is notably absent from the tabloids. Instead, his image is that of an autodidact with a heavy-duty reading list (Nabokov, Joyce), hipster rock tastes (Arctic Monkeys, the Hold Steady), and modest spending habits.

A scene from My Boy Jack

"The only thing I'm likely to spend on is artwork, 'cause that's the only thing I'm interested in that costs a lot of money," Radcliffe says. His grandest vehicular ambition is, heartbreakingly, a Golf GTI, which he describes as "a good, small German car that zips around." For the multimillionaire teen, wealth's greatest luxury is not material but creative. This means roles in carefully selected films: He was in the Australian coming-of-age movie December Boys and the World War I drama My Boy Jack and has recently been attached to a film about the British photojournalist Dan Eldon, who was killed in Somalia in 1993. I ask him about other dream parts: Super-villain? Terrorist? Sex fiend? "I think part of me would love to play a drag queen," Radcliffe says, "just because it would be an excuse to wear loads of eye makeup."

Since he'll soon be playing psych patient Alan Strang eight times a week, it seems fair to ask if he's spent time on the couch himself.

"No," he says. "Please. No. Never. I've been pretty happy. I've got a great family. We're a very tight-knit group—we work very well as a team and as a tribe. I owe it to that."

David Yates, who directed 2007's The Order of the Phoenix as well as The Half-Blood Prince, due out in July (he'll also oversee Deathly Hallows, which will be released as two films in 2009 and 2010), calls his star "one of the most grounded people you'll ever meet." "He's under extraordinary pressure, with all this fame and the success," he says. "But he is just a very down-to-earth, sensible lad."

The son of a literary-agent father and casting-agent mom, Radcliffe made his acting debut at age 10 (in a BBC version of David Copperfield) and was cast as Potter a year later, entering what would become an ongoing alternate reality—leaving a private school for on-set tutors and communing almost solely with film folk and fellow wizards.

But while they may have eaten his childhood, Radcliffe says the Potter films have provided significantly more joy than angst. "They've been a laugh," he says. "They've been great. For the most part I've been happy every single day. And all the times I've been unhappy, it's never been anything to do with Potter. It's just been the normal, boring teenage crap. Insecurities, acne—all the normal stuff."

Whatever "boring teenage crap" means in the world of older girlfriends, A-list costars, and $25 million paychecks, the theme of adolescent turbulence will play an increasing role in Harry Potter's life, at least, as the franchise enters its final chapters. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince promises to be darker and raunchier than its predecessors. As Potter's nemesis, Lord Voldemort, marshals his forces for the series' two-part Götterdämmerung, "the students," according to the Warners Bros. plot summary, "are under attack from a very different adversary as teenage hormones rage across the ramparts."

To wit: Harry falls for pal Ron Weasley's sister, Ginny—in a romance Radcliffe describes as "timid and shy and clumsy"—while Ron and Lavender Brown have an amour fou Radcliffe calls "carnal."

The trailer for December Boys

Although he opted against college in favor of his career, Radcliffe seems to have absorbed a Ph.D.'s worth of cultural material on his own. A Radcliffe fan site includes three pages of Dan-approved books—ranging from Rushdie's Midnight's Children to Zola's La Débâcle to nine different editions of Moby Dick—while his music tastes suggest a 35-year-old critic for the NME.

But for an admirer of Sid Vicious (whose onscreen portrayer, Gary Oldman, taught Radcliffe how to play bass—making Harry Potter, technically, a fourth-degree-separated Sex Pistol), the poet, bookworm, and cricket fan does seem just a tad . . . well-behaved. No?

"I don't pretend to do anything particularly wild," Radcliffe says. "People talk about rebellion and they say, 'Where is the teenage angst?' But I say I try to do it simply by the choices I make in the work I do. I just like wrong-footing people. I write poetry and I love it. I like being different from most other people in my generation."

Radcliffe isn't just different from his peers; it's like he's of another generation. As he walks along Fifth Avenue, he describes the rush of playing a character as thrillingly alive as Alan Strang. "It's because he's absolutely living in the present," he says. "He can only live in the moment, to use a horrible, clichéd, boring phrase. 'In the moment.' It's like 'carpe diem.' After Dead Poets Society, everyone was like, 'Oh, carpe diem.' Shut up!"

I nod at the memory of everyone saying "carpe diem" until I realize something: Dead Poets Society came out in 1989. That was the year of Radcliffe?s birth. Just whose memory implants is he using?

As we walk into Bryant Park, I mention that they often show movies here on summer nights—one recent screening was of the '68 action pic Bullitt. "Okay, who's cooler," Radcliffe says, "Steve McQueen in Bullitt or Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke?" A moment later, I note that the nearby merry-go-round is playing "The Band Played On," just like the runaway carousel in the 1951 Hitchcock thriller Strangers on a Train. "Oh, fantastic," Radcliffe says. "Where the guy is crawling under to stop it and it keeps picking up speed?" Um, yeah, that one.

Conversation turns to the future—all the way to the end of Harry Potter. In February, shooting begins on the saga's terminus, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. That finale will be a bittersweet experience for more than the cast and crew. The film will close an era, one that began back in 2001—before the Olsen twins were legal, before Britney got knocked up, before a whole slew of Fannings came along to turn childhood itself into a performance. It will be the end of an eternal student, whose graduation will mark us all as a bit older.

Radcliffe faced it alone first, when he began reading Deathly Hallows on a plane trip. "It was very emotional, actually," he says. "In the front of the book I wrote something Anton Chekhov wrote to the woman he ended up spending the rest of his life with: 'Hello, the last page of my life.' Which I thought was very appropriate."

The fact is, Radcliffe's life has sort of been magic—at least as magic as lives get these days. He became Harry Potter at 11. He will cease to be him at 21. And when he puts down the wand and broom, he?ll be setting aside one of the most enchanted childhoods of the decade—no longer England's richest or most famous teenager but just another twentysomething actor.

"I can't wait," he says, looking across a dark-green lawn and into a not-so-distant future.

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