An Insider’s Guide to Napa Valley—100% Cliche-Free

Gargiulo Vineyards
Gargiulo Vineyards Photo: Allie Foraker for The Wall Street Journal

THOSE WHO’VE never been to Napa Valley—or haven’t been in a while—assume this California wine region is a series of clichés: hills draped in grapevines, Cabernet connoisseurs holding court in fancy tasting rooms, fine dining at every turn. The reality can be a little different, however: bumper-to-bumper traffic and throngs of tourists wedged shoulder-to-shoulder on winery tours. Those fine meals ring true, but they usually come with a grisly bill. To sidestep the stampede and the searing price tags, you’ll need the guidance of shrewd locals. We’ve asked four insiders to divulge their favorite places, from old-school hideaways to worthy newcomers. Unsurprisingly, many of the new spots they recommend are in the town of Napa, at the entrance to the valley. Once a drab county seat, it’s now a cliche-free destination in itself.


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Chef Charlie Palmer’s second restaurant in downtown Napa, Sky & Vine Rooftop Bar, opened on the roof of the year-old Archer Hotel in April 2018.
Allie Foraker for The Wall Street Journal

An Insider’s Guide to Napa Valley—100% Cliche-Free

THE ENTERTAINER

Dave Graham

CEO of Latitude 38 Entertainment, producer of BottleRock Napa Valley music festival

PLUCK AND POUR / Oenotri This husband-and-wife-owned place serves southern Italian cuisine made with ingredients from their garden. The sommelier can guide you to great affordable wine. 1425 1st St., Napa, oenotri.com

IN A JAM / Blue Note Napa You can see world-class jazz musicians in this intimate, small-town venue. 1030 Main St., Napa, bluenotenapa.com

Erin Martin Design Showroom in St. Helena.
Erin Martin Design Showroom in St. Helena. Photo: Allie Foraker for The Wall Street Journal

FUN HOUSE / Erin Martin Design Showroom You never know what you’re going to see in the eccentric showroom of this cutting-edge interior designer. Right now it’s a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton. 1350 Main St., St. Helena, erinmartindesign.com

GAINING PERSPECTIVE / Gargiulo Vineyards This boutique winery abuts the legendary Screaming Eagle vineyards, but their wines are much less expensive and the views are stunning. 575 Oakville Crossroad., Napa, gargiulovineyards.com

An Insider’s Guide to Napa Valley—100% Cliche-Free

THE WINEMAKER

Deneen Brown

Co-owner and president of Brown Estate Vineyards and Brown Downtown Tasting Room

GO GREEN / Hudson Greens & Goods This produce purveyor at Napa’s Oxbow marketplace has the most dazzling market-fresh produce I’ve seen anywhere in the Bay Area. 610 1st St., Napa, oxbowpublicmarket.com

NOTES OF OAK / Whetstone Wine Cellar Outside of downtown Napa, the tasting room is in a French-style château set amid giant oak trees. It has a laid-back vibe; you feel like you’re visiting a fancy friend’s home. 1075 Atlas Peak Rd., whetstonewinecellars.com

CALL TO CHARM / Pennyweight It’s an artfully curated gallery of gifts like corkscrews, wine keys, candles and charms.1337 Main St., St Helena, pennyweightnapavalley.com

OLD-WORLD LARDER / Napa Valley Olive Oil Company A true time capsule, this must-see market has been around since the 1930s and is exactly how I remember it as a kid. It’s perfumed by cheeses and salamis. 835 Charter Oak, St. Helena, nvoliveoilmfg.com

An Insider’s Guide to Napa Valley—100% Cliche-Free

THE BAR OWNER

Colleen Kretchmer

Co-owner of Cadet Beer & Wine Bar

LATE BLOOMER / Miminashi This Japanese izakaya has a really cool design and an awesome cocktail program. It’s open until 11 p.m. on weekends, which would have been unheard of just a few years ago. 821 Coombs St., Napa, miminashi.com

The bar at Miminashi.
The bar at Miminashi. Photo: Allie Foraker for The Wall Street Journal

BEER ME / Mad Fritz Brewing The owner sources his hops and wheat from a lot of small farms nearby and makes wonderful wild ales and farmhouse-style ales. 393 La Fata St., St. Helena, madfritz.com

GET SCHOOLED / The Culinary Institute of America at Copia At this campus next to the Napa River you can take classes on wine, baking or pasta-making, or just grab a sandwich at the deli. 500 1st St., Napa, ciaatcopia.com

TALL ORDER / Sky & Vine Rooftop Bar This bar at the Archer Hotel has a great view of the valley—a rarity since there aren’t many tall buildings in Napa. Go at sunset. 1230 1st St., Napa, archerhotel.com

An Insider’s Guide to Napa Valley—100% Cliche-Free

THE CHEF

Christopher Kostow

Executive chef of the Restaurant at Meadowood, chef-owner of the Charter Oak

SERIAL MILLER / Bale Grist Mill Historic State Park On weekends, you can watch flour-milling demonstrations. It’s fascinating to see the craftsmanship that goes into the process. 3369 St. Helena Hwy, parks.ca.gov

SCREEN TIME / Cameo Cinema Originally built in 1913, the theater has love-seats and sells wine and beer. Sometimes I take over the concession stand and do the food. 1340 Main St., St. Helena, cameocinema.com

Bothe State Park
Bothe State Park Photo: Allie Foraker for The Wall Street Journal

HERBAL SUPPLEMENT / Bothe State Park The trails run alongside creeks and remnants of an old apple orchard. You’ll see wild plums, bay leaves, lemon balm and mint. 3801 St. Helena Hwy., Calistoga, parks.ca.gov

PLAY DOUGH / Redd Wood The menu is always changing, but I really like the chorizo and pineapple pizza. It’s also pretty kid-friendly—the staff will give children a ball of dough to occupy themselves. 6755 Washington St., Yountville, redd-wood.com

Fried Chicken to go at Addendum.
Fried Chicken to go at Addendum. Photo: Allie Foraker for The Wall Street Journal
Plus, Don’t Miss…

Meadowood Napa Valley On 250 acres, the hotel offers a three-star Michelin restaurant, hiking trails, golf, tennis and a spa. For assured privacy, reserve one of the secluded Estate rooms or suites. From $750 a night, meadowood.com/Addendum Tucked behind Thomas Keller’S Ad Hoc restaurant is a fried-chicken shack that also serves ribs and pulled pork sandwiches. Take a boxed lunch to go or dig in at one of the outdoor tables. 6476 Washington St., Yountville, thomaskeller.com / Napa Valley Bike Tours Rent wheels at one of the two shops, in Napa or in Yountville, and spin car-free along the paved 12.5 mile path between the two towns. napavalleybiketours.com/ The Charter Oak Brunch family-style at this new spot in a historic building, where the open-hearth cooking is modern and hyper-seasonal. 1050 Charter Oak Ave, St Helena, thecharteroak.com

Hip-Hop Is Huge, but on the Concert Circuit, Rock Is King

‘You don’t really make a lot from record sales anymore,’ says Patterson Hood, onstage left. His band Drive-By Truckers, shown last month at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta, generates the vast majority of its income from live performances.
‘You don’t really make a lot from record sales anymore,’ says Patterson Hood, onstage left. His band Drive-By Truckers, shown last month at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta, generates the vast majority of its income from live performances. Photo: Melissa Golden for The Wall Street Journal

Everyone thinks hip-hop is king, but in the concert business, rock rules.

Older rockers like the Rolling Stones get most of the credit for driving North America’s $8 billion concert-touring industry, but an underappreciated reason for live music’s boom is the strength of smaller acts.

Drive-By Truckers is one example. The Athens, Ga., band, which has released 11 studio albums over 20 years, isn’t dominating streaming services like Spotify or Apple Music. Yet it has a loyal following that spends $30 a ticket every year for its shows.

The group, which revolves around singer-songwriters Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley, plays literary, punk-infused rock. Unlike pop stars, Drive-By Truckers doesn’t leave the road for long: It averages 100 shows a year, usually two to three hours long, selling 1,000 to 3,000 tickets in most markets.

The Drive-By Truckers, from left: Jay Gonzalez, Brad Morgan, Matt Patton, Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood.
The Drive-By Truckers, from left: Jay Gonzalez, Brad Morgan, Matt Patton, Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood. Photo: Melissa Golden for The Wall Street Journal

Touring provides more than 80% of the band’s livelihood. “The way the music business is—that’s our income,” Mr. Hood says. “You don’t really make a lot from record sales anymore.”

The record business has rebounded after years of decline, thanks to royalties from streaming-music providers like Spotify. Hip-hop and R&B, America’s most popular genre, accounts for 38% of U.S. on-demand audio streams, versus 20% for rock.

But in the live-show realm, rock is thriving. When Billboard ranked last year’s 50 highest-earning music acts, using U.S. record sales, streaming, publishing and concerts, there were three times as many rock acts as hip-hop ones. The reason: Touring accounted for nearly 80% of the 50 acts’ combined earnings, compared with 8% from on-demand streaming.

Rockin’ Out

Among last year’s 25 top-grossing music tours, more than half of them were rock.

2017 Worldwide Gross (millions)

Guns N’ Roses

Bruno Mars

Depeche Mode

Paul McCartney

Ed Sheeran

The Rolling Stones

Garth Brooks

Celine Dion

Justin Bieber

Roger Waters

Billy Joel

The Weeknd

Tim McGraw,

Faith Hill

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Ariana Grande

Tom Petty &

The Heartbreakers

Elton John

Neil Diamond

Robbie Williams

2017 Worldwide Gross (millions)

Guns N’ Roses

Bruno Mars

Depeche Mode

Paul McCartney

Ed Sheeran

The Rolling Stones

Garth Brooks

Celine Dion

Justin Bieber

Roger Waters

Billy Joel

The Weeknd

Tim McGraw,

Faith Hill

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Ariana Grande

Tom Petty &

The Heartbreakers

Elton John

Neil Diamond

Robbie Williams

2017 Worldwide Gross (millions)

Guns N’ Roses

Bruno Mars

Depeche Mode

Paul McCartney

Ed Sheeran

The Rolling Stones

Garth Brooks

Celine Dion

Justin Bieber

Roger Waters

Billy Joel

The Weeknd

Tim McGraw,

Faith Hill

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Ariana Grande

Tom Petty &

The Heartbreakers

Elton John

Neil Diamond

Robbie Williams

2017 Worldwide Gross (millions)

Guns N’ Roses

Bruno Mars

Depeche Mode

Paul McCartney

Ed Sheeran

The Rolling

Stones

Garth Brooks

Celine Dion

Justin Bieber

Roger Waters

Billy Joel

The Weeknd

Tim McGraw,

Faith Hill

Red Hot Chili

Peppers

Ariana Grande

Tom Petty &

The Heartbreakers

Elton John

Neil Diamond

Robbie Williams

In terms of concert-tour revenue, rock accounts for 55% of the $5 billion generated by last year’s top 100 highest-grossing tours worldwide, excluding nonmusic acts, compared with 11% for R&B and hip-hop, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from the trade publication Pollstar. Of the 25 highest-grossing tours globally last year, only two—Bruno Mars and the Weeknd—were hip-hop and R&B acts.

Collectively, smaller rockers have considerable clout. While the top 25 is full of household names like Paul McCartney and Billy Joel, the top 200 in North America, excluding nonmusic tours, is half rock acts, including bands like Muse, the xx and Deftones. In that ranking, rock still represents over half of revenue.

There are many reasons that rock remains so powerful on the road, including that, as an older genre, it had a head start on pop and rap. Giant tours by older rap icons like Jay-Z aren’t as common. Fans of newer hip-hop artists skew younger, including teens with less disposable cash, making festival gigs more economical than lengthy, sprawling tours.

Josh Dun and Tyler Joseph of Twenty One Pilots onstage in Los Angeles.
Josh Dun and Tyler Joseph of Twenty One Pilots onstage in Los Angeles. Photo: Getty Images

“Drake can do four Madison Square Garden shows, but Phish can do 17,” says Peter Shapiro, a New York-based independent concert promoter. Especially in the day-to-day business of clubs and theaters, rock bands, he adds, “still have a huge impact.”

Rock is also a big tent. There are touring veterans like My Morning Jacket and the Killers, which Jay Marciano, chief executive of concert-promotion giant AEG Presents, calls “the biggest unknown rock band”; older emo bands (Fall Out Boy); newer retro acts (Greta Van Fleet); jam bands (Lettuce); metal bands (Ghost); punk bands (Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires); along with indie rockers (Courtney Barnett), folk rockers (Avett Brothers) and Christian rockers (Casting Crowns, which grossed $12 million in North America last year).

Twenty One Pilots, a Columbus, Ohio, duo that incorporates rap, pop and reggae, is one of rock’s most commercially successful newcomers, graduating over the past seven years from 200-capacity rooms to 10,000- to 18,000-seat arenas.

‘It’s schizophrenic,’ says Phoebe Bridgers, who played at New York’s Forest Hills Stadium last weekend. ‘I’m small, but I get to open for big people.’
‘It’s schizophrenic,’ says Phoebe Bridgers, who played at New York’s Forest Hills Stadium last weekend. ‘I’m small, but I get to open for big people.’ Photo: Angela Owens/The Wall Street Journal

“Building a live business does not always align with what, on the surface, might be called ‘pop-culture’ success,” says Chris Woltman, Twenty One Pilots’ manager. “You are creating your own culture.”

Today’s rock acts may not fill the void when legendary acts like Elton John, U2 and Metallica call it quits. And it isn’t easy to make a living on the road. Smaller acts often lose money. If you tour too often, fans stop buying tickets.

Phoebe Bridgers, 24, a Los Angeles singer-songwriter, performed as a teenager at a farmers’ market in Pasadena, Calif., making $35 to $200 a day. Last year, “Motion Sickness,” one of her singles, won over critics. She shared a bill at a festival last month with the rock band the National. Next month, she starts a co-headlining tour with singer-songwriter Julien Baker.

“It’s schizophrenic,” she says. “I’m small, but I get to open for big people.”

Patterson Hood plays during the Drive-By Truckers show in Atlanta.
Patterson Hood plays during the Drive-By Truckers show in Atlanta. Photo: Melissa Golden for The Wall Street Journal

Messrs. Hood and Cooley, now in their 50s, first tried to be rock stars in Alabama in the late 1980s. This year they resurrected their original band, Adam’s House Cat, releasing a “lost” album in September and performing a few shows.

Drive-By Truckers, which they founded in 1996, toured relentlessly, playing as many as 250 shows a year and running four vans into the ground. In 2003, a few years after their 2001 breakthrough album, “Southern Rock Opera,” they upgraded to a bus.

The road took a toll on them, too. Band members fought, and some departed. Touring “has broken us a few times,” Mr. Hood says.

Now the group tours in three-week spurts so members can go home to their families. “I don’t want to be a shitty parent,” Mr. Hood says. “I may be about to play a show, but I’ll be answering an email from an eighth-grade math teacher.”

The 11 band and crew members pile into a single tour bus. It can be hard to find one’s shoe at times, Mr. Cooley says, but it’s rare everyone is awake.

“It’s not like being in a station wagon going to Disney World with your wife and kids,” he says.

Drive-By Truckers recently finished recording the follow-up to its 2016 album, “American Band,” but it isn’t planning to release it until next year. Messrs. Hood and Cooley are booked solid through the spring and need family time next summer.

“We’re too busy to put it out,” Mr. Hood says.

So far this year, the band’s ticket sales are up 10% over the same period in 2017.

In November, the Truckers play three nights at Saturn, a 525-capacity club in Birmingham, Ala., roughly 100 miles south of Florence, Ala., where Messrs. Hood and Cooley first shared an apartment in 1985. The next day, it’s back out on the road.

Write to Neil Shah at neil.shah@wsj.com

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Is It Ethical to Choose Your Baby’s Eye Color?

Is It Ethical to Choose Your Baby’s Eye Color?
Photo: Photo Illustration by The Wall Street Journal; iStock

Blair and James are trying to start a family. Like many parents, they hope their future offspring will be healthy. They’d also like the baby to have blue eyes.

The couple, both 35, describe themselves as type-A personalities who research everything. When they decided to try for a baby, they looked into DNA testing to rule out disease-causing genetic mutations they might pass along to their child. Then they learned about a test that might help predict a future baby’s eye color.

Blue eyes, says James, who has brown eyes, “is icing on the cake.” (The couple asked not to reveal their last names to maintain their privacy.)

Many prospective parents already use DNA testing to check for potential genetic anomalies that could lead to serious medical conditions. But as technology advances, they may also learn about characteristics that have less bearing on a future child’s health, like eye color.

In the area of reproductive medicine, parents wield great discretion in making decisions about their future children. But the notion that parents might someday select embryos based on what some deem as aesthetic preferences—a future child who is a certain height or good at sports or looks a certain way—raises challenging ethical questions. Perhaps, some ethicists argue, DNA testing will create a society that further values certain types of children more than others.

Many in vitro fertilization clinics that once offered genetic testing of embryos to prevent sex-linked medical disorders now also allow prospective parents to select the gender of the embryo because of a personal preference.

Eye color pushes the debate further. Like many human traits, it isn’t determined by a single gene, but a complex interaction of many genes. The test that Blair and James took emerged from work done by forensic scientists trying to predict eye, hair and skin color for unknown suspects in criminal cases for which minimal amounts of DNA is available. In published papers, these researchers determined that testing for six key DNA markers allowed them to predict if someone had brown or blue eyes with greater than 90% accuracy.

The scientific advances enabling predicting traits that involve multiple genes go beyond eye color. A company called Genomic Prediction received regulatory approval in New Jersey in September to market its Expanded Pre-Implantation Genomic Testing in many states. It will cost $400 per embryo. Genomic Prediction says it can accurately predict which embryos are at high risk for complex health conditions, like diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

Researchers at the company demonstrated how the approach could be used to predict height in a paper published this year in the journal Genetics. Someday, new techniques might allow predicting the likelihood of an embryo’s future academic potential.

In a blog post, Stephen Hsu, a founder of Genomic Prediction, posed an ethical question: An IVF doctor has two healthy, viable embryos and must choose which to implant. One has a hypothetical risk score that indicates the embryo is at high risk for struggling academically in school. The second embryo has a score indicating the future child likely won’t struggle. Do you tell the parents?

“It seems ethically not defensible to withhold the information from the parents,” he says, “and ethically defensible to reveal it to them.”

Some IVF doctors say it’s too soon to routinely offer people risk scores about their embryos. Mandy Katz-Jaffe, a reproductive geneticist and scientific director at CCRM, a Denver fertility clinic, says that outcomes are often a mixture of genetics and environment. Moreover, the data sets upon which the algorithms are based involve geographically and demographically narrow groups.

More on Genetic Testing

Nathan Treff, chief scientific officer of Genomic Prediction, says the company is only offering risk predictions involving disease and has no plans to predict an embryo’s eye color or level of educational attainment. “It is not always black and white what people consider a disease,” he says, “but we pay attention to what the community thinks is ethical.”

Jeffrey Steinberg, founder of the Encino, Calif.-based Fertility Institutes, believes his group is the only one offering the test Blair and James took. His team is working to develop the technology to test embryos for genetic markers related to eye color at the same time as genetic-disease screening. For now, the clinic only offers the eye-color test to some prospective parents. The institute charges $370.

Paula Amato, a fertility doctor at Oregon Health & Science University, and an ethicist, says the general view in the field is that genetic testing to prevent disease is ethically permissible. So is sex selection, although it is more controversial.

No one has inquired about eye color at Dr. Amato’s clinic. But thinking about sex selection has changed over time, and the same may happen with other traits, she says. Still, when it comes to eye color or other nonmedical traits, she says, “Not a lot of clinics are interested in getting into that business.”

Josephine Johnston is director of research at the Hastings Center, a Garrison, N.Y.-based bioethics research institute. She studies genetic testing in embryos. To her, selecting embryos based on traits like eye color “can seem awfully close to a eugenic mind-set, where we thought we can sort the worthy and fit from the unworthy and unfit.”

Parenting often comes with “the understandable desire to give your child advantages,” like height, or musical talent, she says. Yet people are part of a society that fights prejudice. “These kinds of decisions can feed into the discrimination, not fight against it,” she says.

While genetic testing of embryos is considered safe, there may be unexpected long-term effects. Many people feel uncomfortable about selecting embryos for aesthetic traits, worried about the difficulties of drawing a line about what should be left to chance. Dr. Steinberg, for one, says he already gets calls from people who want to know if it is possible to also select embryos with an aptitude for music or athletic ability. (He says he tells them not yet.)

One late September afternoon, Blair and James meet with Dr. Steinberg and his colleagues at the Ferny Clinic in New York City, where Dr. Steinberg also sees patients, for the results. “We’ve got some pretty good news for you,” Dr. Steinberg tells the couple. Based on the results of the testing, he says, “You absolutely can make a blue-eyed baby.” The doctors say that they estimate that in a group of five of their embryos, one is likely to have blue eyes.

For now, the couple plans to try to get pregnant the traditional way. “We will be thrilled to start our family,” Blair says, no matter the eye color.

When they told their parents and friends they were doing a DNA test to determine if they can have a blue-eyed baby, they got mixed responses. James’s father was fascinated. But Blair says that some family and friends thought using technology to learn about a baby’s eye color was a step too far.

She views things differently. “It’s screening to see what’s possible,” she says. Her husband agrees. Once you start looking at an embryo to rule out diseases, he says, what’s one more thing like eye color?

“You are there already,” he says.

Write to Amy Dockser Marcus at amy.marcus@wsj.com

Don’t Mess With This ‘Nuclear Carrot’ Corvette

Jeni Yeakel-Swanson, a real-estate lawyer in San Diego, with her 1964 Chevrolet Corvette race car. Ms. Yeakel-Swanson’s father owns the car, but she is the primary driver and competes in vintage races in it.
Jeni Yeakel-Swanson, a real-estate lawyer in San Diego, with her 1964 Chevrolet Corvette race car. Ms. Yeakel-Swanson’s father owns the car, but she is the primary driver and competes in vintage races in it. Photo: David Walter Banks for The Wall Street Journal

Jeni Yeakel-Swanson, a real-estate lawyer in San Diego, on her 1964 Chevrolet Corvette “Nuclear Carrot” race car, as told to A.J. Baime.

When I was growing up, my dad, Fred Yeakel, raced a 1957 Corvette. I went to races with him, and when I was old enough, I told him, “Dad, I want to drive!” He said, “First you have to learn how to work on the car.”

He taught me all about how that 1957 Corvette worked, and ultimately, I started driving on a racetrack. I said, “There’s no horsepower in this car.” He said, “You don’t need horsepower to drive well. Learn to drive well, then we will add horsepower.” Which is exactly what we did.


Photos: A Corvette, Restored to Its Former Glory

This Chevrolet Corvette, nicknamed ‘Nuclear Carrot,’ was restored using old photos, and now looks like it did in the 1960s.

The 1964 Chevrolet Corvette raced by Jeni Yeakel-Swanson. The car has been restored to look like it did when it was originally raced in the Midwest in the 1960s.
David Walter Banks for The Wall Street Journal

In 2007, he found the car pictured here in an ad in Vintage Motorsport magazine. It was painted red and the owner had it in storage outside Milwaukee. When we bought it, it came with documentation on its history. An Illinois-based driver had purchased the vehicle (it had been a theft recovery) and built it out as a race car in the 1960s. A piece of the front was missing, so he used parts he got from a junkyard.

Using old photos, my dad restored the car to what it had been in the 1960s. He was driving a Bill Thomas Cheetah race car at the time, and I like to think that he bought the Corvette for me. I have been the primary driver and my name is painted on the car next to the original sponsor from the 1960s—Tero Corvette of Rolling Meadows, Ill.

We started going to races up and down the west coast, from San Diego to Portland, Ore. We trailered our cars together, had our pits side by side, and sometimes even raced against one another. Along the way, a family friend, the late Mike Scott, gave this car its nickname: Nuclear Carrot.

Last year, under my dad’s supervision, I rebuilt the 327 V8. I took it apart and put it back together with new rods, pistons, the works.

Our next race will be at Sonoma Raceway, in the spring. To get the car ready, I will drive from San Diego on Saturdays to Anaheim, where the car resides. Sometimes my husband, daughter and best friend, Leslie Verfaillie, will come, and my dad will be there. I love to race and I love working on this car, but what I love most is doing those things with my family.

Contact A.J. Baime at Facebook.com/ajbaime

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