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September 25, 2008

Fact for the Day

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

In the midst of the global economic meltdown, can we spare a moment's attention for the things in life that really matter? In this case, women's pubic-grooming habits. A study recently done in Australia found that ...

Three of four college women shave their crotches, and half go completely bald.

(Cue sound here of Peter weeping.)

Source: Men's Health, the paper version.

One of the study's lead authors sums her findings up this way: "Women today are more exposed to TV shows and magazines that freely talk about pubic-hair removal, so it becomes this cool and glamorous thing to do."

As someone who did most of his catting-around in the wild and (er) wooly '70s, I can testify that today's harshly-tonsured, super-smooth crotches represent quite a cultural change. Back in the day, an encounter with a woman's crotch was often a powerful and raw experience. (NSFW.) Grrrr-woof.

"Sex and the City," you have a lot to answer for.

If any of our female visitors should care to share some personal experience where the pubic-grooming thang is concerned, I can guarantee a respectful hearing. Dudez: No hooting allowed, you hear me?

Semi-related: The Rawness goes to Amsterdam. Though the Red Light district prompts an unexpected spasm of Catholic agony, he recovers quickly and soon enjoys the pleasure of intelligent discussion with friendly women. Don't miss T's night out with the Swedes either.



posted by Michael at September 25, 2008


God bless 'em.

But they don't pick it up from "TV shows and magazines" -- they pick it up from the popular girls, whose pulse the teen-oriented media keep their finger on.

Popular girls always try to set themselves apart from the bitches who aren't worth their time. At some point, they turned even pubic hair into the subject of fashion cycles. In another 30 years, the full bush may be back in style.

Whatever happens, the media is just a spectator. Hypothetically, it could quicken the cycle, by letting the sub-popular girls figure out more quickly and accurately what the popular girls are doing -- but let's get real, they don't need to read magazines to figure that out!

They'll directly observe what the popular girls are wearing, sneak a peek at their crotch in the locker room or changing room at the pool, overhear or eavesdrop when they're talking about shaving, and so on. That's more accurate than whatever rumors the media reporters are relying on, and it's gotten more quickly than waiting for an article about it to pop up in Us Weekly.

Posted by: agnostic on September 25, 2008 4:37 AM

Michael I've been working as a GP (Family Physician) here in Australia for nearly 20 years. I can pretty much confirm the findings. There was trend for less hair down their when I first started, with much more "grooming". The really big change occurred once Sex and the City became a phenomena. The "Brazilian' was really pushed by that show. Overnight hair pretty much disappeared in the under 40 crowd. Sure makes gynae exams easier.

Television is influential.

Oh and another thing.Lots more boys shaving there scrotums. Now there's something you wouldn't have expected. Porn, I imagine.

Posted by: slumlord on September 25, 2008 7:09 AM

I don't understand this whole shaving-one's-crotch thing. Why is that supposed to be good? But then I haven't managed to get why sticking metal pins in your face is supposed to be attractive, either. Jest too derned old, I guess.

Posted by: Lester Hunt on September 25, 2008 11:04 AM

I'm debating whether I should buy a gun, or just jump off a bridge.

Posted by: Peter on September 25, 2008 11:12 AM

Can we get some women in here to comment, please? My girl right now has a full, full bush (she's South American...very luxuriant). I'd like to get her to trim it back a little (for more, ummm, convenience in certain mutually enjoyed activities). But she doesn't like stubble, etc. (and neither do I). Are there ways to keep trimmed without stubble?

No, Peter, you can't have her number.

Posted by: MQ on September 25, 2008 12:05 PM

Don't ask me why I'm a hairy guy. I'm hairy high and low...which brings me to my crotch.

I need to shave along my yoodledingus because it sprouts hair at all points on its length, and believe me women do NOT like getting hair into their mouths while doing the French thang on my thang-itty-thang.

I also trim my own ample bush, not only to prevent Peter from looking my way in the event of an outbreak of insufficiently repressed homoeroticism, but a) reason given would get into her mouth, and the wimmins, SHE NO LIKE DAT. And b) it makes my yohoho-and-a-bottle-of-rum look bigger--to be precise, longer. While I'm not a shrinking schwangschtucker down there, I acquire porn star dimensions when I trim down my excessivley ample bush from about the root of my roto-rooter. (I use my nose-hair trimmer, by the way. The final trim only of course. It would take forever if I tried to do the initial hair-cull with it. Scissors!)

Pathetic? Nope. Considerate to the needs of my orally-inclined friends, of whom I have memories both fond and lustful, yep. And besides, it feels damn good to have such friends, as they unveil my now rampant and ready-to-rock rama-lama-ding-dong-e-roony, get wide-eyed and breathe, "Wow, you're really big."

Yes. I am.

Especially when you're able to see me down there: my rodinsky, my package, my heat, my Colonel Blimp, in all his fatuous splendor, proud, turgid, reactionary, erect, nativistic, paleo, tumescent, unprogressive and...bald.

No cloud of wiry black curlicues to obscure my magnificence from his adoring fans. Ladies, Behold The Man!

Posted by: PatrickH on September 25, 2008 12:43 PM

Agnostic -- I'm puzzled why you're so determined to maintain that the media have no impact on how people behave. It's certainly clear that the media react to and capitalize on life-as-it's-led. But it seems just as clear that people also react to the media, and take many cues from them. The culturebiz reacts to life; but life also reacts to the culturebiz. I mean, look at Slumlord's comment. And where do the popular girls get their ideas from anyway? And how do kids in the boonies even know what, say, "punk style" is?

FWIW, one thing that has struck me in the lockerroom recently is the number of guys who seem to be taking "grooming"-type care of their body hair -- glossily naked chests, "shaped" pubic hair, etc. I ran across a "men are now having body-image complexes just like women have" article in the Guardian -- I'll link to it when I turn it up again.

Still awaiting comments, stories, reactions, etc from the ladies ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on September 25, 2008 1:04 PM

The media, at their strongest, are only middlemen -- conveying what other people are doing to those who couldn't see it on their own. That's a very different view from the media as setting their own agenda, and consumers eating it up.

Where do popular girls get their ideas from? I don't know, but not the media -- haven't existed long enough to account for what shapes people's interactions with others. Could be something as simple as "do whatever the plebes aren't doing, and that is still basically socially acceptable."

Posted by: agnostic on September 25, 2008 1:12 PM

That has to be one of the funniest things I've ever read. Brilliant! BTW, I also trim the shorties and have had the misses remark at the length of my tallywacker.

Posted by: Darby Shaw on September 25, 2008 1:37 PM

It comes from porn in the first instance, without a shadow of a doubt, to my mind. But it comes from porn as a kind of truth, that just emerges from witnessing large amounts of full nudity and all kinds of sex will tend to impart.

The vehicle of persuasion is oral sex. It's obvious from porn that bald, or bald in the critical areas (aka a Brazilian, landing strip, etc.), facilitates oral and makes it WAY more inviting, not to mention unobstructed.

Since it's chic for women to experiment with lezzy action, or at the least be open to that possibility in a hot bi chic, lipstick lovin kind of way, they can as well easily see it from the licker's point of view these days. It's just a mouse click or two away, or a click on that link your gff or bf sent you.

As well, hairlessness except on the top of the head is simply far more a female than a male secondary sex characteristic and hence is inherantly more feminine. That which is more feminine isn't ALWAY sexier. Sometimes a more aggressive edge can seem very sexual in a woman, esp. as a partial counterpoint. But most men aren't looking for that around the vajayjay. Like none are.

Further oral often serves as a lengthy waystation prior to pregnancy risking full penetration, particularly in these college feminists shunning the pill cause "it's an artificial hormone in their body and besides there are stds and the man should take responsibility too" == days.

So, if you shave your underarms to look more feminine, and it's clear that shaving your publes makes you look a lot more tasty and lickable to both genders, why exactly is it that you AREN'T sharving or plucking or waxing down there.

It goes rather like that, I think.

To sum up, preference for bald isn't a fashion. It's a revelation.

Posted by: dougjnn on September 25, 2008 1:45 PM

Slumlord --

I would guess that if "Sex and the City" was as big an influence as you say, it was in the sense of the final nail. What was regarded as clearly sexier but also in danger of being seen by less hip (but perhaps husband material) guys as slutty, suddenly became clearly avant guard and a safe enough choice for girls wanting it both ways.

Hey, it's a theory.

Posted by: dougjnn on September 25, 2008 1:51 PM

Ya know, back when I was a young single guy (25 years ago, give or take) and had a, shall we say, active social life, part of the fun and enjoyment was getting to discover "does the carpet match the drapes?"

Posted by: c.o. jones on September 25, 2008 2:32 PM

I think that this goes a lot further than cyclical fashion or media influence. This is a cultural change, the move towards an antiseptic, anti-European/Latin-type life. Americans want things to be simple and flat and shiny, like a sitcom or a McDonalds hamburger or a ten year old's crotch. We are afraid of germs, and life -- they are the same thing. We shower too much. We don't smoke!

I still love bush. And imperfect teeth and curly hair. There is so much drama in surface, but American's don't want drama. Oh America...

Soapless hand sanitizer? Fucking kill me.

Posted by: Brandon M on September 25, 2008 3:22 PM

For me this falls in the same category as tattoos. I've never seen one that was prettier than the original bare skin.

But I can see the logic behind it from an oral sex point of view. No need to floss at the same time...

Posted by: Todd Fletcher on September 25, 2008 3:41 PM

It's funny, the whole hairlessness thing. The WWII Greatest Generation seemed to fantasize about canned foods, convenience, frozen stuff, in ways that suggested evolving-towards-hairlessness. My mom for instance loved sanitation, boxes, pruning plants 'way back ... She was a little weird. But the hippie thing was partly a reaction against this kind of overvaluing of impersonality. We'd be natural, dammit. And "natural" certainly implied natural where pubic foliage was concerned. These days the taste-preference seems to be for cyber-sleek everything. Life shouldn't just include iPods, it should be like an iPod. Hence the taste for the sleek and swoopy female pubic mound. Or maybe it's all part of some general zeitgeisty thing. Me, I think it represents a general caving-in to fantasy values myself, but maybe that's just me.

Hey, does anyone else agree with Agnostic that the media are nothing but a conduit for what people already do? Seems nuts to me -- seems more accurate to say that people influence culture, culture influences people, and it's all one big ball of wax anyway. (Hey, I just said "wax" in the middle of a posting about pubic grooming! Hahahahaha.) But the idea that the cultureclass adds nothing to the conversation strikes me as completely bizarre.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on September 25, 2008 3:49 PM

The Gaeten Dugas of extreme pubic grooming is the J. Sisters Salon, a beauty shop run by seven Brazilian sisters, on 57th St. in Manhattan. I used to go there for their manicures when I had more time, because they really like to remove every bit of cuticle from the nails, and they slathered on so much nail polish that their manicures lasted for at least three weeks. They were also the first in town to do full Brazilian waxing, which I am still too squeamish to try. Sometime in the mid 1990s Gwyneth Paltrow went there for a wax and then sent them an autographed picture with the words “Thank you for changing my life.” The salon began to be featured in Allure, Vogue, etc. and now you have an entire continent of women without hair down there.

Posted by: CL on September 25, 2008 4:23 PM

It's people on the cultural vanguard both creating and influencing art/media, which in turn influences the rest of us. It's a pretty clear path, to me.

Agnostic, I know you're too young to fully remember this, but in the mid-80s, MTV absolutely introduced white suburbia to rap. Before that, white suburban kids simply did not listen to rap, nor were influenced by their dress or speech. I'm not kidding when I say the show Yo MTV Raps was the most influential cultural phenomenon of the past 30 years. Without it, why the hell would kids in Indiana walk around like they were in Compton? There is no indigenous reason for them to adopt that style. It came directly from hip hop, and was delivered via MTV.

Posted by: JV on September 25, 2008 4:36 PM

FWIW, my understanding is that the popularity of the shaved beaver look derives from the porno industry. Those who make such movies wanted to be sure that the audience got what it was paying to see (i.e. insertion) and too much hair gets in the way of that.

Posted by: c.o. jones on September 25, 2008 4:42 PM

Sculpture is usually hairless on the body, hair being difficult to portray there. Insofar as sculptural bodily ideals manifest, it seems hairiness must retreat, since it blurs clean edges, smooth curves and planes generally. Even head hair today is often "sculpted", as if the loose wooly softness of seventies women's hair (which I love) ruins the effect of the marble-toned Farnese Hercules looks of the guys and the (???) look of the women. Athletes go hairless for all sorts of athletic reasons (Tour de France guys shave legs IIRC to make road scrapes less painful and easier to heal), boxers, wrestlers, martial artists shave for similar reasons, swimmers for aerodynamics.

The hairless look in the pubes seems clearly (as c o jones and others have pointed out) to come from the porn industry's need for maximum visibility what's going on down there, and the trend for the rest of the body can perhaps be traced to a) influence of gay men on fashion; b) influence of athletes as physical ideal; c) need to exert control over every surface, inculding hair on head, by showing tats, piercings, body mods to utmost advantage; d) hatred of the fleshiness of flesh.

Whew. And yes, where are the ladies? My own rant above could not possibly be modified to express a female point of view about self-shaving (my own poor Anima covered her ears as I extruded that mass, rocking back and forth and crying out, "I'm not listening! I'm not listening!") I do wonder why the ladies go to the trouble of having themselve waxed...I mean, ouch!

Perhaps it's one of those female kinks, like eating disorders. Female paraphilias often take the form of things like cutting, plucking and purging. Maybe there's some of that going on too.

Posted by: PatrickH on September 25, 2008 5:10 PM

In the Lysistrata (Aristophanes, 500 BC), the women threaten to stop shaving and perfuming their pubes if the men don't stop fighting wars. Nothing is new.

Posted by: MQ on September 25, 2008 5:19 PM

I don't watch Sex and the City, never have and the reason I am virtually hairless is personal preference. I can make up my own mind and am not influenced by porn, fashion trends etc. As far as men go, it matters not whether he has hair, soap and water, half the fun of showering together, again a personal preference. Completely bald is almost child like and creepy. Now why don't you do a post on why it seems most men want a woman who swallows? Why does that seem to be so important? Just as with some women, not all men taste that great either. Amused view from Down Under.

Posted by: An Aussie Devil on September 25, 2008 8:22 PM

It's because it's one of old Aggie's idee fixees.

You see, when he sees a small set of numbers or words, he then suddenly receives a brilliant flash of scientific insight, much like Tesla, if Tesla were as intelligent, sexually virile and able to rock the bodies of 18 year old girls on the dance floor as he is.

In this case, the Holy Writ of the GSS and/or JSTOR advanced search functions revealed unto him that;

"Lo! Media counts for naught in transmission of culture! We adults have forgotten the lore of teenagers, the secret cabal to which I have the magic key. They are the true masters of taste and trend and not Madison Avenue!"

Instead of television, music, or any cultural medium transmitting a fad about shaven pubic mounds quickly across the nation, it becomes apparent that the teens themselves have taken the power into their own hands to dictate the cultural mores from their locker rooms! One can imagine in high schools and public pools across the nation cliques of girls gathered around their own Tiffany Durdens who saith "Remember chicas, the first rule of Bald Beaver Club is you don't tell anyone about Bald Beaver Club. Now pass the Lady Schick and soothing gel."

"But wait!" you say, "How can Agnostic know about these secrets, see through the lies in our modern culture?" You see, my friends, if you read his blog, he's a regular Svengali, Franz Mesmer and Casanova all in one, able to woo married and engaged women with the gyrations of his slender hips and his wonderful suit o' seduction, to the impotent rage of their husbands and boyfriends. Even large Samoans will be cowed by the awesome power of his animal magnetism. Don't believe me? Read his blog and find out God's (or uncertainty about God's) Truth!

With such seductive powers and with such a brilliant mind, he has unlocked the secrets of the Teenage Cabal, and unmasked the lies right before our eyes. Cower, before he demolishes you with his mind and wit and ability to grind to Boy George.

Posted by: Spike Gomes on September 25, 2008 8:39 PM

But they don't pick it up from "TV shows and magazines" -- they pick it up from the popular girls, whose pulse the teen-oriented media keep their finger on

Well who decides who's popular or not? I mean most girls in Australia would not have heard of Britney et al, if her carry-ons were not reported by the media. There was no prior knowledge of Britney before hand to have piqued their interest. Her following occurred after local media decided that she was worthy of notice. She did not have priori popularity. The media is both a spectator and spectacle maker.

It helps though that she is conventionally attractive and has some talent. About three or four years ago, the winner of Australian Idol was an obese but talented individual. Her career post idol bombed, while the runner up who was conventionally attractive did very well. The media put the effort into the runner up since he was easier to "sell"; the media made him. He was a nobody before.

I think that there are certain priori features of "popularity" which the media use to to help them push an "product". Goebbels--who was the evil god of advertising--did a similar thing stipulating that "Aryans" were to be positively potrayed in the media while Jews negatively. Soviet art was the same, ever see a non-heroic worker or a heroic capitalist? More importantly, have you ever seen a conservative portrayed positively in recent Hollywood movies? Who says the media does not have an agenda?

People are very insecure and take their social cues from daily experiences, since the media plays quite a part in most peoples waking hours, it makes sense that it has a profound influence in their effort to conform to group norms as portrayed by the media.

Carrie and her friends were very positively portrayed in that show. I suppose their life was a fantasy for a lot of women. It's not surprising that as people with "perceived ideal lives", people would assume some of their behaviors. I don't think porn was that much of an influence with regard to shaving. According to what they tell me, a lot of women now prefer to be hairless down there because they feel "cleaner", not sexier.

Posted by: slumlord on September 25, 2008 8:46 PM

The Gaeten Dugas of extreme pubic grooming is the J. Sisters Salon, a beauty shop run by seven Brazilian sisters, on 57th St. in Manhattan ... The salon began to be featured in Allure, Vogue, etc. and now you have an entire continent of women without hair down there.

Christ, I hope nobody fire bombs the joint. I'd be the prime suspect.

Posted by: Peter on September 25, 2008 9:32 PM

Spike, I'm glad you've been taking notes from one of your superiors -- it's the first step toward self-improvement.

All of the arts / humanities people here are twisting what I said -- I said that the media doesn't cause fashion cycles. This is a truism because fashion cycles existed before the mass media -- read Stanley Lieberson's book *A Matter of Taste*, which shows this quantitatively for fashion in first names. No one ever bothers to read that very readable book, though, so I'll quote a summary of the data (p. 66):

Contrary to what many assume to be a truism, there is no indication that the mass media introduced fashion into the naming process. The ascent of radio and, later, movies as forms of entertainment, as well as the subsequent importance of television, in no way accelerates the increase in the rate of turnover that was already evident in the naming process.

The mass media did not invent punk or hip hop -- like I said, they were the middleman and introduced it to people who otherwise wouldn't have seen it. That is, it's easier now to find out what others are doing, but the dynamics of imitation, anti-imitation, forming an in-group, etc., are the same as before. That's what leads people to go through fashion cycles.

Posted by: agnostic on September 25, 2008 9:47 PM

There have been studies that correlate hemlines with the state of the economy and AFC teams winning the Super Bowl with a declining Dow Jones. There must be some correlation here, but I'm just not, um, seeing it.

And I know, Michael, you said no hoots, but that picture is scary.

Posted by: Bill on September 25, 2008 10:16 PM

Sculpture is usually hairless on the body, hair being difficult to portray there.

What is arguably the most famous nude statue of all time is an exception to the hairless rule. I refer, of course, to David.

Athletes go hairless for all sorts of athletic reasons (Tour de France guys shave legs IIRC to make road scrapes less painful and easier to heal), boxers, wrestlers, martial artists shave for similar reasons, swimmers for aerodynamics.

True, but we're talking about a particular sort of hairlessness. It's anyone's guess whether athletes engage in that sort of hair removal. Bodybuilders are perhaps the sole exception, as their posing trunks are so tiny as to make some fairly extensive trimming (though not necessarily complete removal) necessary.

Posted by: Peter on September 25, 2008 10:54 PM


Sorry, but the "I know what you are, but what am I!" school of defense went out with Pee Wee Herman. You kinda of remind me of him on a roid-rage bender.

Also, it's called a feedback loop, you pompous little underread dolt. You see, us "culture types" don't stop after reading just one book. We read books we agree with and disagree with and synthesize from facts and opinions to generate our own. Also we know better than to take one author's conclusion and twist it around to support crank theories. I've read the book and I don't think Leiberson would recognize what you're attributing his thesis to. Apples and oranges and seeing what the original argument is. Don't tell us we're stupid till you master basic critical reading skills and rhetoric, boy. Besides it's not like your stats skills are all that great anyhow. You may impress the innumerate and the ditto-heads, but not all of us skipped math in college. Stick to the tall tales about the betrothed teenage hotties throwing themselves at you on the dance floor.

Posted by: Spike Gomes on September 25, 2008 10:55 PM

Some women shave down there because their boyfriend prefers that. I don't care either way, I'll do whatever the BF prefers. I'm single now so I don't bother to shave. Why do the extra work if no one's going to see it anyway?

Posted by: woman commenter on September 26, 2008 1:29 AM

Just found that piece about how some men are developing "body issues." Link.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on September 26, 2008 2:07 AM

Bless you, woman commenter! My gf has some hair down there, more than many women, but it is a bit short and stubbly, at present; I'm trying to convince her to grow it out, and just trim her bikini line. I'm like Peter, a huge fan of the GNP (Glorious Natural Pelt).

Posted by: anon on September 26, 2008 4:01 AM

Man, that picture was hot. i'm starting to understand Peter's love of the Glorious Natural Pelt.

In Sweden the guys were more weight obsessed than the women, and seemed to be on the verge of eating disorders from how I saw them eat. so I can believe it.

Posted by: T. AKA Ricky Raw on September 26, 2008 5:56 AM

Peter: What is arguably the most famous nude statue of all time is an exception to the hairless rule. I refer, of course, to David.

David's body is as hairless as a Chelsea boy's, the better to show his form. My broader point was about bodily hairlessness in general, so my points about athletes and others stands (I provided 4 reasons for hairlessness, 3 explicitly related to body hairlessness in general, IIIRC). It is possible that the spread of pubic hairlessness is at least partly driven, and perhaps more driven in the case of men, by the still overwhelming dominance of the hairless body as a kind of ideal.

Oh, I owe you a partial climbdown on the term "dogging". I'll stick by my contention that "bareback" is used outside the gay community, but you were absolutely right about "raw dogging". I recognized "dogging" as the UK term of art for public sex enjoyed by both the voyeur and exhibitionist sides involved, but missed the rise of "raw dogging" to describe what it, ah, describes.

Back to this thread, given your, ah, preoccupations, your above points are all valid, as far as they go. Which isn't far from the area at issue for you. :-)

Posted by: PatrickH on September 26, 2008 8:09 AM

David's body is as hairless as a Chelsea boy's, the better to show his form.

Ahem, not quite.

Posted by: Peter on September 26, 2008 10:14 AM

Another woman commenter here - except for a bit of trimming right at the point of entry to facilitate oral, I never have and never will. The upkeep seems absurdly time-consuming, expensive, and uncomfortable but my main issue is that I don't like the way a completely shaved crotch looks (not necessarily childlike as some assert, but sexless, like a mannequin) and the tiny landing strip/Hitler's mustache looks strange to me (why bother?)

Perhaps it's because my first exposure to naked women & eroticism in film was in European art-house movies, but to me a bush on a woman was a signal of adult sexuality, mystery, & womanliness. American representations of the sexy - pristine, streamlined, airbrushed & aerobicized into flawlessness - of course differ.

FWIW, my American lovers have been nothing but complimentary about it, though their enjoyment is tinged with the fascination of spotting a rarely seen endangered animal (in the US, I mostly work in LA & NY - which brings up another question: Is this also common in the midwest & south?)

Posted by: imogen on September 26, 2008 12:32 PM

I'm just curious to see if any of the other gentlemen here fast forwarded to find the women commentators.

Posted by: mike gimble on September 26, 2008 8:20 PM

Do guys really find that picture attractive? Quite an Amazon happening there..

Posted by: An Aussie Devil on September 27, 2008 1:42 AM

The last time I mentioned body hair here, there was hell to pay (in the form of epic harrassment from a crazed Russian woman.)

But I'll step up once again, because I am Sister Wolf, dammit.

I don't shave my armpits or anywhere else. A man who sees THREE PUSSIES and isn't afraid is my kind of man.

Oral sex has worked out nicely, long before wax was invented.

I have never, ever, encountered a man who didn't want to come back for more.

Tatyana - any questions, comments or crazy blog posts?

Posted by: Sister Wolf on September 27, 2008 2:47 AM

Bless you Imogen & Sister Wolf. And yes, that picture is hot.

Posted by: jay on September 27, 2008 3:25 PM

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