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jian-ghomeshi

Jian Versus the CBC

First you broke my site with traffic (Yay!) then I fixed it after breaking it worse myself. Welcome to my temporary theme. Lots of links are broken right now and I can’t fix it with the traffic madness, sorry! Stay tuned to use functioning links in coming days.I’m @snarkysteff, by the way.

It’s strange when a shooting can bring my country together and then, just four days later, a radio guy accused of serial aggravated abuse can rip us apart. Weird week, bro.

Last night, I had to brace myself so I didn’t explode in anger and unfriend everyone I felt was jumping to defend a guy who’s doing Scandal Management 101 to the tee.

The problem when you jump to defend the accused is it ends up making the accuser or victims feel like they’ve just been assaulted all over again. That’s easier to stomach when you can say “But HEY, they’re not coming forward, so they can’t be serious.” No, it’s you who can’t be serious. You can’t hear the accused’s spin-cycle and then make your decision then and there — but so many of you already have.

I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s look at this from all the angles.

The Background & a BDSM Primer

Jian Ghomeshi jumped into action Sunday the moment CBC fired him. It was within a couple hours that he had stated there’d be a $50 million suit to defend his good name, and then he posted a long “My dad is dead, my show was wrenched from my hands, and I’ve been a good soldier for the CBC” kinda sob story that masterfully framed the conversation.

(A “good soldier” the week one of our own is gunned down in cold blood? Motherfucker. Don’t even — And 100,000 likes in under 24 hours? I weep for objectivity.)

But here are the allegations he was jumping in front of, according to The Toronto Star:

The three women interviewed by the Star allege that Ghomeshi physically attacked them on dates without consent. They allege he struck them with a closed fist or open hand; bit them; choked them until they almost passed out; covered their nose and mouth so that they had difficulty breathing; and that they were verbally abused during and after sex.”

Ghomeshi, though, wants you to think this is all about BDSM and how he’s forward-thinking but his bosses aren’t. He “framed” the discussion by claiming he has edgy sex preferences, and the big, boring government broadcaster isn’t hip to alternative sex lives.

Anyone involved in BDSM knows BDSM is not how the public perceives it. People joke about “safe words,” but in the BDSM community, the safe word is sacred. There is a widespread understanding amongst even hardcore BDSM fans that sadomasochism is all about trust and power — except that power is never held by the person with the whip in hand.

In the BDSM world, it’s the person being hit, choked, bound, or whatever else they fancy, that holds 100% of the control. It’s understood that if that safe word is even whispered, fun time is over. Period. No discussion, no whining, no pleading. Over.

Why is it so strict? Because folks in this lifestyle understand that these beatings, the choking, it can all go horribly awry and death is an accident away. That’s why you actually very rarely ever hear of deaths stemming from BDSM practice — there are rules and ethics in play. Always.

You Spin Me Right Round

Ghomeshi and co. (since his Facebook letter was almost certainly orchestrated by the country’s leading “reputation recovery” and “crisis management” PR firm, Navigator Ltd.), decided to frame this whole thing as an invasion of the bedroom and mutual consent.

After all, this is Canada, where “What Happens in Bedrooms Stays in Bedrooms.” This has been thus since 1969, the year itself a cute little joke. That’s when Trudeau declared the government had no business in the bedroom of consenting Canadians. As a result, gay rights took hold here long before they did in most countries, and we’re more sexually relaxed than our southern neighbours will ever be. We can consider ourselves a leader in the bedroom, and that’s awesome.

For that reason, Canadians take bedroom privacy very seriously, and rightly so. I’m a huge fan of sexual freedoms and the right to practice, and love, as you like — as long as it’s with consent and including folks over the age of 18.

So whether it’s Ghomeshi or the victim, this all comes back to consent. And consent is what the alleged victims in this case insist they either did not give, or they rescinded.

That takes us back to the point of BDSM and how Ghomeshi has framed all this.

Consent Can Be Rescinded

If you read the Star’s take on these events, it seems like Ghomeshi is trying to set groundwork for a legal defense, should this escalate to court. The defense he seems to be aiming for will likely include submitting evidence via texts, etc, that he told the women ahead of time he liked it rough. They might have even talked about blindfolding, spanking, and all kinds of other behaviour some say is “alternative” in tastes.

So even the would-be defense, then, would have you believe this amounts to consent.

But that’s the amateur’s take on the BDSM world and everyone should understand that expressing a mutual interest in sex before a date doesn’t mean it’s carte blanche for hours, days, or weeks later. Their exchanges should not be considered evidence of what might’ve happened much, much later.

The nature of the safe word is that it means EVERYTHING STOPS the moment it is said. It doesn’t matter if you’ve paid a million dollars to do what you planned to do next, the safe word is like a giant “void” stamp that makes the entire sexual roadmap null and void.

And anyone who truly embraces the BDSM community gets this. Do you know who doesn’t get this? People who want to use the alternative lifestyle to camouflage their desire to beat, rape, and commit other crimes against unwilling parties.

Because, sometimes, not having consent is its own fetish for those for whom sex is a pathological need.

A Denial Is Always True — WHAT?

Let’s drop the BDSM and alternative lifestyle arguments and get down to the rest of it.

So many folks were babbling on with this argument last night: “But if he really did it, there’s NO WAY he would write such a long thing saying that he didn’t do it!”

Yeah, and Clinton would never have said “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” if he’d slept with Lewinsky. And Richard Nixon would never have said “I am not a crook” if he were guilty.

Are you serious with this? Really? Someone who’s committed a crime would be suddenly so scared of being caught that they wouldn’t tell a lie? I’d like to know what it is you’re smoking, because I want some too, if you please. Sounds fun to live in that land of rainbows and kittens.

If they have committed the crime, then they are absolutely inclined to lie about it. That’s Criminal Behaviour 101 and it makes Ghomeshi’s entire Facebook session a moot story.

But His Voice Is Like Chocolate And I Love Him

Of course, let’s not forget the fans. The people who think Ghomeshi is charming and spins a good yarn. But of course a storyteller couldn’t possibly be a serial abuser. That would never happen.

Just like such a lovely, quirky old guy like Jimmy Savile, the darling of the BBC, a knight of the British Empire, and a popular TV host for DECADES could never be guilty of sexual abuse either. His defenders said he was such a visible persona for so long there was no way he could hide his deviance.

In fact, Savile was so insulated inside the BBC that rumours swirled for decades and allegations of a cover-up even today are so far-reaching it’ll make your head spin. There are at present well over 200 witnesses in the Savile case and yet it was kept quiet for DECADES.

There’s a sticky wicket for those in charge: Do you stand by your star that has made an empire inside your broadcasting corporation, or do you distance yourself?

Before Ghomeshi, BBC was alone in this corporate-star-scandal experience. Perhaps they felt if they cut Savile off, they’d open themselves up to litigation from claimants. Who knows. But now he’s dead and the victims are emboldened by the day, and the ripples are still spreading.

CBC’s left looking across the pond at the Motherland and realizing this case could have cash and legal implications for the BBC for years. Do they want to stick their neck out and defend a guy who, by all appearances, has had a pretty solid case shaping up under the deft hands of one of Canada’s premiere investigative reporters?

CBC’s Walk-Walk-Walkin’ Right Out That Door

As a taxpayer, I think CBC has done the only thing it can do. It’s walked away, likely on strong advice from lawyers who have probably seen the evidence brought forward by acclaimed media/investigative journalist Jesse Brown.

So now the general public’s argument is, “Well, if the Star doesn’t have proof, they should shut up.”

Well, not having hard proof didn’t stop the Star from doing one hell of an investigative case on Mayor Rob Ford and his crack addiction. They went after him like a dog on a bone, and everything they wrote proved so true that the OPP were involved, and still are.

The Toronto Star has a long history of investigative reporting. They do it very, very, very well. In 2012, their massive local investigation led to widespread sackings and reform in the Toronto School Board.

Because this is what good journalists do, and I don’t give a shit what your thoughts on journalism are — there are a LOT of good journos out there who got involved in the industry because they were tired of powerful people getting away with stuff, little guys getting the shaft, and corporations writing new rulebooks as they go along.

There are idealists in journalism, and more than a few can be found at the Toronto Star — and other papers across the country.

And You Would Come Forward?

Next you have the crowd shouting “Well, the victims won’t come forward. If they’re really victims, then they would come forward. Cowards!”

Oh, and you would?

Let’s imagine this. You’re some young girl, about 25, with dreams of making it in journalism or music. You somehow run into Ghomeshi at an event. He wows you with his pretty smile. Next day, he finds you on Facebook and says how he found something you wrote, or heard a song you did, and would love to talk to you about it.

Somehow, you’re flustered and proud, and the exchange gets flirty as it progresses, you say a few things that position you as a fan of sexual escapades, favourable towards BDSM, and yes you’d love to have a crantini at 9.

But then everything goes sideways. Choking, beating, whatever it is. That happens.

In the morning, you wake abused. But you’re still a 25-year-old kid who hasn’t even gotten her career started yet. The guy you were with is a millionaire radio guy who’s the face of a national broadcasting corporation.

First you need to contend with a well-sculpted public persona. Then you need to lose credibility in the press as some nobody-nothing who’s got “everything to gain” (except a career, respect, trust, or friends) from making accusations. Then you need to deal with the cops investigating you, and finally, your mom, dad, and whole family being embarrassed that you’re not only sexually promiscuous, but you’ve explored BDSM and were apparently willing to do it with a guy you only met once.

And all of this is before it ever reaches a court. This is all in WEEK ONE of a drama that could conceivably drag on for years, all with you at the forefront as the evil bitch who’s wrecking the career of everyone’s favourite cultural radio dude.

But, hey, yeah, you, you’re tough enough to do all that. You’re big enough to take on the machine. You’d have no excuses. You’d “trust” that the authorities and the media were going to treat you fairly. YOU WOULD DO THIS.

Is that about right? You’re that big on making a stand that you could handle this — even if you were some naive fresh-outta-school girl dreaming of a new career?

When’s the last time you busted someone at work for stealing supplies? When’s the last time you called someone out for a racist comment? When’s the last time you put your reputation on the line to fight someone in a position of authority? When’s the last time you stood up to anyone about ANYTHING — not to mention in front of police, the media, and an entire country?

Oh, never? Then shut the fuck up about why these girls aren’t coming forward. They’ve more to lose than you ever will.

But How Do I Really Feel?

Every single person giving Ghomeshi the benefit of the doubt and then saying “Why doesn’t his accuser come forward? How dare they?” is kidding themselves that they’re simply “waiting for facts.” They’ve already picked their sides.

I’m opting to believe that a massive broadcaster who has stood by its star’s side through YEARS of industry insider gossip about what a creep its star is, but then finally severs the relationship after an investigative journalist pores over his life for MONTHS, probably had pretty good cause to walk away.

I’m gonna believe a newspaper who’s made their name around the world through high-quality, groundbreaking investigation in the last three years probably decided it was worth the risk of a $50,000,000 lawsuit to expose someone who’s claiming he’s Mr. Good Guy and that it’s all “jilted ex-lover” innuendo — if only for public safety.

I’m choosing to remember people like Phil Spector, who was legendary in the music industry but had a widespread reputation for violence and extreme behaviour, and who couldn’t be touched, until one day he killed someone.

Where I come from, being a pretty, well-spoken man doesn’t mean you can’t be an absolute monster behind closed doors.

If these accusations were levelled against Don Cherry instead, for instance, we’d have had a very different discussion this morning.

It might be “innocent until proven guilty,” but that gives no one the excuse of calling the accusers names, belittling them as having something they’re after, or accusing them of being greedy little whores who just want their fame and limelight.

Oh, and not for nothing, all this discussion is about a man who wanted to “debate” whether “rape culture” even exists. Or have we all forgotten that little explosion from March of this year?

All She Wrote

Talk to anyone well-established in the music promotion business, and they’ll tell you rumours of Ghomeshi’s behaviours have circulated for years, but no one has dared kill the goose who laid the public broadcasting golden egg.

I, for one, can’t wait for this investigation to proceed, and I’m pretty confident that there’s no road back for Ghomeshi after this story breaks wide, wide open.

And I’m wishing for all it’s worth that every woman who may have had this happen to her at his hands will come forward.

Can’t get enough? I did a radio interview on Vancouver’s CKNW (Tuesday, Oct. 28) about both BDSM and consent, and why those claims kind of don’t wash here. You can listen to that on this page at CKNW.

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I Got My Phone a Battery Case, Thank God

So I bought myself a Mota battery case for my phone as one of my many recent “birthday presents,” which were all things I’ve needed but I’ve put off for too long.

It conveniently arrived last Friday, the day before I went on a Victoria Tourism Instagram promo day with some other photographers, and I couldn’t be happier. I’d charged it up and didn’t know what to expect from performance.

Well, by the time we finished our little Goldstream Park tour at 12:50, all the Instagrammers were all panicky about who could charge their batteries first. A couple had little doohickeys they could attach for their own charging purposes, but it was a bit of a production.

Me? I just played on my phone. In fact, I never once charged my phone during the day and wound up still having 45% juice when I got home after our 13-hour extravaganza.

The battery pack’s a little heavy but there’s zero pain in the ass with operating it once it’s on (if you don’t use it to dock with any apps, that is — I live in a Bluetooth world). The battery charging’s a little hot to run, but if you choose your moments for recharging, you can do it when it’s in your pocket or something. The charging turns off when you reach 100% and you can push the button for another refill when it’s sinking down again, until the battery pack runs out, which has been quite a long time indeed, for me.

I was gonna just use the case on special event days, but the iPhone battery sucks so much that now I’m just gonna leave it on. After a week, the pain in the ass factor with my phone is far lower than it has been in, well, ever. Or since the 3G days.

Later, I’ll post the fun photos I took while enjoying a day in the Greater Victoria District with Tourism Victoria and their #VictoriaBoo! endeavours. They think this spooky old city is the perfect place to take a Halloween weekend. Guess what? I agree! There’s so much cool history nerd stuff going on, a weird occult and burlesque crowd to follow, lots of funky art and theatre. Victoria just has a lot of fun when it’s Halloween.

 

 

 

 

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My Birthday Status Update

I was suddenly touched (probably the wine) and felt like writing something meaningful as a Thank-You for birthday wishes on Facebook, when all of a sudden I exploded with words. I thought I should post it here because I really want everyone who hasn’t had this feeling of pride on a birthday to be able to experience it for themselves. If I inspire ANYONE to make any moves on life goals, I’ll be so proud. So here’s what I wrote:

***

People, birthdays are better when you know you’re accomplishing your goals. What haven’t you started? Isn’t THIS the year you want to say YOU DID IT?

I haven’t done anything “special” with people this weekend because I’ve seen a lot of folks of late, and have a lot of events coming up. Keeping to myself this 41st birthday of mine has been really nice. I know it’s the end of a lot of chapters in my life, and the start of many more.

My 40s, however short they’ve been, have been much better than my 30s. 3 weeks before I turned 30, I had what could’ve been a fatal accident. I just happened to be adjusting my stereo while turning left 1 block from home when someone ran a red light at 80km and T-boned the front of my car. Had I been “paying attention” and driving faster, I might have been killed. Thank god for distracted driving on my part.

ONE YEAR to that week, I had another very serious accident and spent the next two years rehabbing.

And that pretty much set the tone of my 30s, until I pulled the plug and moved to Victoria.

Here, I’ve been healing. I’ve been reconnecting with work. I’ve rediscovered photography (I did photojournalism in college, was darkroom staff there too, and managed photo labs, then walked away for a decade). I’ve published my first ebook, expanded my freelance life, doubled my income for a while (and then opted out to focus on my own writing), and more.

All of that took making choices, sacrificing, and focusing on the end goal rather than dwelling in the present. I have more choices to make, more focusing to do, but I want to enjoy my present more because Victoria has been good to me, I know I will always look upon this apartment as one of my best homes ever, despite BaconHater, and I know my time is not long left here in the Queen’s favourite Canadian city.

So, yeah. I’ve enjoyed keeping to myself today. I’ve had a lot to reflect on, a lot to be proud of, and a lot to choose to look forward to.

And that’s why I’d like to encourage some of you to stop thinking of all the reasons why you “can’t” do the shit you’ve got on your list, and start realizing the only person holding you back, really, is you.

I’m glad I got the fuck out of my own way.

THANK YOU EVERYONE for being a part of a special “me” day. Thanks for all your birthday wishes and anything good and kind you’ve done for me in the last year, or EVER.

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Oh, The Hypocrisy

It’s strange how hypocritical and blind people can become to their own actions.

It’s also weird how it’s things like the launch of a new social site that can spur them on to being their worst person.

This time, I speak of the recent embiggening of the fledging social network Ello.

The short of it is this: Social network launches, pledging to not treat people like sheep and that they’ll never fall into the marketers’ hands a la Twitter and Facebook. Now I’m skeptic and doubt all that is legit, but I don’t really care. I just want a place today that isn’t what the others are becoming. And if I’m in on the ground floor, maybe I can be a part of the force for good to keep it what it begins as.

Well, enter your naysayers.

You know, it’s fine to not like it. It’s fine to disagree with the premise. But to insult anyone who’s liking it? To slam them as trend-fuckers or whatever you want to call them, that’s just not cool.

What’s funny about this is I see some people I’m almost sure were bullied in school and now they’re the ones insulting other people, putting it down, deriding all the users as hip losers who have no soul or depth. (Albeit I’d like it to be a little less white, more diverse, but it’s early days, man.)

My jaw drops at the hypocrisy. It’s so toxic to have those attitudes. Go ahead, don’t like the site. Question its ethos, diss its design, but don’t be such an asshole that you’re painting everyone party to it with the same brush. Ironically, most of the people I know who insult hipsters are the ones who seem to try hardest to be in with the cool kids.

Fact is, I’m beyond tired of the petty fuckery that happens when people dismiss entire groups out of hand.

When I see people saying things like these, behaving like this, I’m not interested in knowing them. Period.

People have realize the things they say about others tend to speak most loudly about themselves.

I try to speak my mind and be blunt but I also try to be fair and not slam entire collectives. This hasn’t always been true. I was once far angrier, more petty, and more judgey. I’m glad I’ve turned the corner on that, for the most part, because it really makes me vomit in my mouth a bit when I want or hear others doing it.

And, yes, I’ve called even my best friends on comments like these at times, which can cause an awkward pause in the evening, but at least I’m being consistent across the board.

Don’t be a hypocrite. Don’t be a bully. Have opinions that don’t require flat-out insulting others.

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The End, My Friends

It’s the tale-end of summer. Leaves are on the cusp of turning. Some early-achievers are already gold and red. Days are shortening at an unsettling clip, but the daytimes are beautiful and sunny and fresh.

The tourists have largely fled, and rain looms at the end of the two-week forecast. It’s not just any rain, it’s the likely start of autumn proper. Once it begins, it begins quickly.

I had beers with a friend last week, one who, in the time since I last saw him, has slept in Everest Base Camp, hiked in India, travelled the States, trekked Nepal, swilled beer in Berlin, cycled in Amsterdam, and so very much more. I admire it, long for it, and can’t wait for that day where my adventures are underfoot.

It’s driving home to me just what a contradictory world it is between the lifestyle I want to lead for five years and the life I lead now. It’s almost comical how opposite the two lives are. It was nice to talk to someone who gets what I mean when I’m talking about the weird mindset that comes when you know you’re about a year away from giving up having a home of any kind.

When I look at things today, I’m deciding whether I really need to have that during the next year, or if instead it’s something I can work around. Because that’s where I’m at now. I’m one year away from compartmentalizing what’s life of my life after I sell off everything I can, so buying anything else just seems so foolish.

That’s one year left of a home that feels homey, having everything I need, not having to live out of bags. I’m trying to not just look forward to the life I’ll lead, but I’m trying to be actively present in this experience of being a homeowner for another year — the stresses, the comforts, the laziness, the extra work — everything.

And today is one of those days where I’m enjoying my life on all fronts in the moment, but also doing little things to help smooth the way for that life I see on my horizon.

It’s a tricky thing, living for today while preparing for tomorrow. It’s no wonder so many people do it poorly.

And so, I’ve stopped. I’ve paused. And now it’s back to work, but for other people. A mistress to many masters, the life of the multi-employed freelancer.

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In Which I Stop and Think About The Week

For days now I’ve been trying to put my new book to bed. It’s now the conversion for Amazon formats posing the problem and I’ll have to deal with more kerfuffling on it until nightfall — except work and real life have to be in the way first.

I find, sometimes, that the most worthwhile ventures are the most difficult ones to finish off. Little conundrums keep coming up, as if to poke you and prod you and ask “How badly do you really want it? Huh? Bad?”

A friend recently filed for divorce and her papers came back from court with an “error” that prevented processing — 6 months after she filed. My thoughts then were that life was giving her the opportunity to say “Yes, this divorce is REALLY what I need,” whereas six months ago she was probably pleased to file but somewhere deep down inside was hesitating.

Fraught with delays, I find myself with the same kind of second thoughts. I’m more confident in my book now, more agitated about it finding an audience, and more ready than ever to take the next step and begin another one anew.

That certainty and determination can escape us for a while, but when teased with interference from external forces, we get truly motivated and confident about it being what we want.

So that much I know, and for that reason I’m trying to take deep breaths and accept that this is all part of what just needs to go down before I can rise up and face something new.

Weirdly, in the end these delays may offer me another advantage. After all, when’s the last big-bad-news week you’ve seen on this scale? It only happens once or twice a year that a week seems to tumble all over itself with bad news. Robin Williams is dead, Ferguson is inflaming, and people seem collectively distracted, hurting, and angry.

It’s a sad, sorrowful week and the focus deserves to be on these matters, not on little me and my book. I’d feel like an asshole marketing myself in the midst of all that’s going on in the world right now, so if this buys me a few days before the big new release, then so be it. I know I’d rather pay my respects to the dead and distraught this week.

***

I’ve been avoiding the topic of Robin Williams because I really don’t want to consciously “go there” much, but I guess that’s the point of the mental health discussions that have ensued.

I think sometimes about being an introvert, and as much as I love honouring that side of myself, I know it often is as unhealthy as it is healthy. That’s the price of it. Every passing year I tell myself I’ll find a truer balance between being alone and being social, but I still default to my party-of-one mode that feels most comfortably.

Then I hear about someone like Robin Williams and I wonder how much healthier his soul would’ve been had he just been able to take more time alone — because how much time alone can a world-famous family man have?

Today we’re learning he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and it all makes a little more sense to me, why he’s gone now. I imagine there are fewer things in the world that make you do battle with yourself more aggressively than Bipolar Disorder and Parkinson’s, and now he was to be dealing with both. I can imagine the desolation and worry that would come from such an ominous double-dose of mental affliction. I can understand why there might be a night or a morning when it would be all too easy to say “I give up.”

The day after his death, I was scrolling through Facebook and someone posted an image that said “Share this if you would stay up all night to talk someone out of suicide.”

And I didn’t share it. Not because I wouldn’t stay up all night for a friend who needed it, but because I understand suicide in a way that is not readily understood by most people. Having been in the position where I thought nothing could ever improve and that I could never care about life again, I get that feeling.

The difference is, I was only 32 and it’s far, far too young an age to just give up. Eight years later, I’ve significantly increased my income, increased my satisfaction with life, moved to a new city, and have a book about to be sold on Amazon. I’ve really turned things around, and would I have known then what would be here today, it would’ve made it easier to believe the page could turn.

But for someone 63, had lived an incredible life, wasn’t just depressed but bipolar and felt constantly out of control, who then got a diagnosis of Parkinson’s… Gosh, all I could say would be “I understand and hope you stick around to fight things for a while… but… I understand.”

Suicide is sometimes not “killing yourself” but instead opting into euthanasia. If you support euthanasia for ALS or something, then you should also understand suicide as a reaction to long-term despondency and depression. They’re both about ending a life consumed with pain.

And they’re both terribly tragic, but they’re both harder on the person left behind. It’s not about “giving up the fight,” it’s about choosing when to end a fight that’s not going to have a winner.

In the end, I’m thankful we had Robin Williams’ genius in the world. He was a voice of a generation, and I feel like this Time article was exactly bang-on.

But when the most unique voice of his age, the best physical comedian alive, and one of the biggest hearts in the world feels like it’s all over… well, it’s his show, his curtains.

I hope his legacy looms large. I hope we have learned more about ourselves. I hope we all share a bit more, laugh a little harder, and love a little longer. Those were lessons he exemplified.

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