Tag Archives: Ridgewood

Mini-documentary features ‘remarkable stories’ from Queens magic shop


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Michael “Six” Muldoon


America already knows he’s “Got Talent.” A new mini-documentary is now showing how one Queens magician has helped a pair of local tricksters and countless others through his shop.

“The Magic Man,” a six-minute film recently released on YouTube as part of Bacardi’s The Untameable Series, features Rogue Magic and Funshop on Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst.

The store is owned by 35-year-old Briarwood magician Roger “Rogue” Quan who appeared on the July 1 episode of “America’s Got Talent,” and also owns Rogue Magic Bar & Theatre in Rego Park.

Quan opened the store in 2000, and in addition to selling tricks, the business became like a sanctuary for local youngsters.

“I pushed these kids. If they needed money, needed a place to stay,” Quan said, he helped them out. “I created another family and they helped me out.”

Two of those people’s stories are the focus of “The Magic Man” — Ridgewood resident Michael “Six” Muldoon and Brooklyn native Devonte Rosero.

Both men have made careers out of magic after dealing with personal struggles.

At a young age, Muldoon, now 25, coped with having a sixth finger and weight issues. His Maspeth house burned downed when he was 11 and his parents separated around that time.

Muldoon found magic at about age 13, and bought his first trick from Quan’s store.

“It kind of became an addiction after that,” said Muldoon, who eventually started working at the shop.

Quan not only helped give Muldoon the confidence he needed, but also his stage name — ”Six.”

“He gave us a place to connect, to be open, to find ourselves,” Muldoon said.

After Muldoon nearly died from a ruptured spleen at 18, and was looking to give back, Rosero, who had just met the founder of Magicians Without Borders, suggested that Muldoon work with the organization.

Today, the two are still involved with the group, which travels to more than 30 countries “using magic to entertain, educate and empower.”

They also both started System 6 Magic, a company that produces playing cards and DVDs, and have each become accomplished performers and entrepreneurs.

Though he became interested in magic at an early age, in his teen years Rosero, now 24, started associating with local street gangs.

After landing in the hospital, Rosero received a call from Quan, whose shop he used to go to four or five years earlier, urging him to try out for a magic competition, he recalls in “The Magic Man.”

“If Rouge had not called me, I would be in jail or dead,” Rosero said.

The mini-documentary is not the first time Quan’s magic shop and some of the people it’s helped have been captured on film.

A full-length documentary called “The Magic Men,” featuring Rosero and another local magician, Miles Thorn, was screened at the Woodstock Film Festival in 2013. The film’s producer is trying to get it distributed for full release in New York City, according to Quan. He believes it may have been the reason the filmmakers behind the Bacardi piece came calling.

The aim of the Bacardi series is to tell “remarkable stories of irrepressible spirits from around the world.”

Some of that spirit is summed up in how Quan answers the question about why he does what he does in the documentary.

“Why do I do it? Because I want people to believe. That’s what magic’s all about.”

 

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Ridgewood Theater’s residential conversion approved


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

The Department of Buildings approved a permit to turn the Ridgewood Theater into a multi-purpose building last week, according to neighborhood news and real estate blog Curbed NY.

The approved permit reveals plans to add two more stories to the three-story building that once housed an almost century-old movie theater. The first floor will be an entertainment venue while the other floors will be used to create 50 apartment units. The owner, Bushburg Properties, told Curbed that they are still in the planning stage and that a completion date has not been set. The movie theater is landmarked so any plans require the owner to preserve the façade of the building.

The permit shows that there will be 13,638 square feet of commercial space but the venue hasn’t been leased yet. Community leaders are brainstorming ideas for what kind of entertainment would work best in the first floor space.


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Influx of hipsters revives 90-year-old Ridgewood German bar


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Gottscheer Hall was on its way to closing down two years ago. But the Ridgewood bar and grill turned a profit in 2012 because of younger, more affluent patrons who began to appear in larger and larger groups.

People packed the Gottscheer Hall on Sunday to watch the World Cup final. The patrons that afternoon were either older and of German descent or younger and attracted to the German appeal of the bar and grill that derives its name from a region in Europe that was once part of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

“I like the history of the bar, the kitschiness. The beer is good and cheap,” Jonathan Deentler, 25, said as he ate a German pretzel and sausage with sauerkraut. “I guess you could say I’m being a cultural tourist.”

Deentler and his friends, who all live in Bushwick, began to come to the bar two years ago and have since often frequented it. Around that time, the Gottscheer Hall began to turn a profit, something that hadn’t been seen for 15 years, according to the bar’s secretary Roland Belay.

“The hipsters revived us,” Belay said. The German restaurant is celebrating its 90th anniversary this September but up until recently the business suffered a loss of patrons. Belay attributes this loss to the fact that the German immigrants who drank at the bar are getting older and dying off. The last big wave of Germans to the neighborhood was during WWII when the war displaced many Germans from the Gottschee region, now part of Slovenia.

“Every year we get fewer and fewer Germans coming here,” Belay said. “So we have to look forward and it seems like the hipsters will keep this business alive.”

Brian Questa, 26, lives in Williamsburg but decided to watch the World Cup match between Germany and Argentina in Gottscheer Hall. He, too, was attracted to the bar’s “authenticity,” something he thinks Williamsburg lost when it became gentrified. Questa plans on moving to Ridgewood soon because of cheaper rent and the charm of the neighborhood. He noted the irony of contributing to Ridgewood’s gentrification.

“I concede the fact that because there’s more young people taking an interest in it does make it more attractive to me,” said Questa, who identifies himself as a musical composer. “Unlike places like Maspeth where it’s all families living there.”

When Germany won the match, the bar erupted into cheers and German chants, with both the older Germans and the hipsters celebrating the moment. In the coming years, Belay and the other owners of the bar will have to juggle the necessity to make money with “preserving the German heritage,” as Belay put it. But he will also have to try not to make the bar “very fake,” like Questa said Williamsburg is.

“People come there to live in Williamsburg but it’s full of people just there to see and live in Williamsburg,” Questa said.

 

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Last surviving Ramones member, Ridgewood resident dies


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

The last surviving original member of the punk-rock band The Ramones, Tommy Ramone, died at his Ridgewood home Friday, according to published reports. He was 65 years old.

The drummer, whose real name was Thomas Erdelyi, had reportedly been in hospice and battling bile duct cancer.

Erdelyi was originally from Hungary and raised in Forest Hills, where he attended Forest Hills High School with the band’s other three founding members, Dee Dee (Douglas Colvin), Johnny (John Cummings) and Joey (Jeffrey Hyman) Ramone.

He performed on the band’s first three albums and was later replaced by drummer Marky (Marc Bell) Ramone. He then went on to concentrate on producing, reports said.

 

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Ridgewood, Glendale German ancestry revealed in World Cup


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Gottscheer Hall

Most bars will be broadcasting the World Cup game this weekend but to celebrate it in true Deutsch fashion, Ridgewood and Glendale maintain a healthy group of German bars that harken back to the German ancestry of the area.

Gottscheer Hall on Fairview Avenue will be open on Sunday, a day that they usually close on, for the game. Roland Belay, who is the secretary for the bar and grill, plans to meet the game between Germany and Argentina with a full force of potato pancakes with applesauce, goulash , bratwurst, German pretzels and a whole menu of German-Austrian food that is sehr gut.

“The whole purpose of this building is to maintain our heritage,” said Belay, whose parents left the once Austrian-owned Gottschee region. “It’s a very homey atmosphere and we keep all the traditions alive here.”

Other German bars in the area to watch the game include: Zum Stammtisch and Celtic Gasthau on Myrtle Avenue, and Manor Oktoberfest on Cooper Avenue.

“This is definitely the area for German fans to hang out,” Belay said. “But we won’t be mean to the other side.”

 

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New Ridgewood restaurant criticized for ‘soft-core porn’ wall art


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Eric Jankiewicz

A new Ridgewood restaurant hoping to capture the influx of hipsters has alienated them with a series of photographs of nude women.

The bar stocks Brooklyn-made vodka. One wall is lined with exposed brick cobbled in California. The handmade chandeliers hanging over the oak-wood bar cost $600 a piece. Cream offers food that would be found in higher-end restaurants, such as pan-seared striped bass, herb-marinated rack of lamb and crème brûlée. Besides two floors for seating and a bar, Cream also has a backyard garden with wooden benches.

“You can have a drink here and really good food without going to Williamsburg or Manhattan,” owner John Black said.

It should have been an instant hit.

Many of the restaurant’s features appeal to reviewers but then they get to the photos.

“Wall décor is tasteless, with faceless women in various states of undress. Downloaded, low-res black & white nudie pics don’t make a restaurant’s décor artsy or sexy — just tacky,” one reviewer wrote about the restaurant on Yelp. “Even the bathroom has an 8×10 of a naked woman sitting on a toilet … gross.”

Others have complained of staring at “a crotch shot while eating” and that the photos border the line of “soft-core porn.” All of which made one reviewer on Yelp feel like they were “in some strange restaurant in NJ.”

But owner Black argues that the pictures are beautiful and that people who complain about the naked pictures are being obtuse. “I’m not showing any dirty girls,” Black, 76, said. “The hipsters should go back to the south or wherever it is they came from. They want me to be like Williamsburg.”

Black owns the Myrtle Avenue building that houses Cream and lives in the neighborhood.

He bought the building on Myrtle Avenue, in 2006 but due to Department of Building inspection problems, he wasn’t able to open the business until this May.

“We did everything twice and I had to spend an extra $300,000,” he said. “But in the end I said, ‘I’m not a quitter’ so I finished the job.”

 

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Queens graffiti legend electrocuted by third rail at Brooklyn subway station: report


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

A Queens graffiti legend was killed earlier this week when he was electrocuted by the third rail at a Brooklyn subway station, according to a published report.

Jason Wulf, 42, known as “DG,” died around 10 p.m. Wednesday at the 25th Street Station in Sunset Park, the New York Post reported. Wulf was heading to his Queens home at the time, but it wasn’t clear what he was doing when he was found dead on the tracks and the MTA is investigating, the Post said.

An online fundraiser was also set up to raise money for his funeral service that reached its goal of $10,000. According to the Post, on Monday a wake for Wulf will be held at Seneca Chapels followed by a funeral service at St. Matthias Church in Ridgewood.

Wulf, a writer, artist and founder of NWC (New Wave Crew) comes from Ridgewood, and started his career in 1985, even “[painting] subway cars during the clean train movement, a time period in the 1990s when many writers continued to hit trains regardless of the MTA’s strict buff policy,” according to Animal New York.

“DG was able to pull off what many of his fellow writers couldn’t: Create a body of artwork that is intrinsically graffiti, but not a redundant reiteration of his work on the street. Despite his outpouring of creativity, he never embraced the art world or graffiti circuit. Although he sold canvasses, he represented that older school breed of graffiti writer who had no interest in mainstream recognition,” Bucky Turco of Animal New York wrote.

 

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Escaped prisoner who struck cop in Ridgewood caught in Manhattan


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of NYPD

ANGY ALTAMIRANO AND CRISTABELLE TUMOLA 

Updated Wednesday, June 18, 9:45 a.m. 

An escaped prisoner who struck a detective with an unmarked police van in Ridgewood as he attempted to flee Monday evening has been caught in Manhattan, cops said.

A Queens Narcotics Detective sustained an injury on his right leg at about 6:55 p.m. at Cooper Avenue and 59th Street while trying to catch 38-year-old Bryan McMenamin, an escaped prisoner who was arrested by Queens Narcotics for selling drugs within the confines of the 104th Precinct, police said.

McMenamin was apprehended at about 2:20 p.m. Tuesday inside an apartment on 15 Saint James Place in downtown Manhattan, according to officials.

In addition to facing charges for criminal sale of a controlled substance and criminal possession of a controlled substance in connection to his initial arrest, McMenamin faces charges of second-degree attempted murder, grand larceny, escape, resisting arrest and tampering with evidence following his escape, cops said.

 

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Stats show universal pre-K’s limited reach in western, central Queens


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo by Rob Bennett for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio

Only 30 percent of 4-year-olds in parts of western and central Queens got into the pre-K of their choice, the lowest percentage of matched applicants in all of New York City.

Parents in Queens District 24 — Corona, Glendale, Ridgewood, Elmhurst, Long Island City, Maspeth and Middle Village — must now search for an alternative to public schools.

According to the Department of Education, the majority of parents with 4-year-olds — 70 percent — in the district recently received letters informing them that the public pre-K of their choice was already full.

In comparison, in Manhattan’s District 1 only 10 percent of applicants were unmatched and, overall, 38 percent of applicants throughout New York City were unmatched.

“Every single school in this district is overcrowded,” said Nick Comaianni, president of School Board District 24. “In the past we’ve actually had to get rid of pre-K seats to make room for kindergarten to fifth grade.”

As the city changes gears for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s aim to make pre-K universal, the DOE is using community-based organizations like local YMCAs and mom-and-pop pre-K programs to scoop up the applicants that didn’t get into a public school pre-K.

But Comaianni, who has been president of the board for 11 years, believes that the mayor’s office and the DOE are moving too fast.

“Someone should’ve done their homework before pushing pre-K through so quickly,” he said, noting that since the schools in the district are already overcrowded, there is no extra space for more students. “You can’t have pre-K if you don’t even have second grade.”

The DOE is opening up 53,000 full-day seats through community-based organizations in time for the new school year in September. While this will still leave some toddlers behind, by next year there will be 73,250 seats, enough to put every 4-year-old in New York City in school, according to education officials.

Which is just fine, Comaianni said, but warned: “In our haste to open these seats let’s hope we have qualified people who can teach pre-K and it’s not just a baby-sitting center.

Queens by school district:

Source: Office of Student Enrollment

 

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Queens teacher accused of sexual encounter with second student


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File Photo

A Queens teacher busted for having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student was arrested again for sexually abusing another teen boy at the Ridgewood high school where she worked, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Joy Morsi, 39, a physical education teacher at Grover Cleveland High School, was charged with two counts of third-degree criminal sexual act and one count of endangering the welfare of a child, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

The Massapequa, Long Island resident is accused of engaging in sexual acts with the second victim, also a 16-year-old student, inside the school on Saturday morning, the district attorney said.

She allegedly had sex with the first student in the basement and other areas of the school during their relationship, according to Brown.

Morsi was charged Tuesday with 20 counts of third-degree rape, 20 counts of third-degree criminal sexual act and one count of endangering the welfare of a child in connection with that case, officials said.

The victim is a wrestler at the school, according to the Daily News, and the relationship started in June of last year.  The relationship continued until recently when the victim told authorities about the affair two weeks ago after Morsi became jealous that he was taking a girl to prom, the Daily News reported.

Prosecutors said Morsi, who pleaded not guilty to the new charges, enticed another student  not long after the first relationship ended, according to the Daily News.

Morsi was again held on $25,000 bail on Wednesday, and is set to return to court on June 23.

 

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Queens teacher arrested for allegedly having sex with student


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

File Photo

Updated 5 p.m.

A teacher at Grover Cleveland High School is accused of raping a 16-year-old student numerous times in a yearlong relationship, according to officials.

Joy Morsi, 39, of Massapequa, Long Island, was arrested on Monday and charged the next day with 20 counts of third-degree rape, 20 counts of third-degree criminal sexual act and one count of endangering the welfare of a child, officials said. If convicted, Morsi could be sent to prison for four years. She did not give a statement at her Tuesday arraignment.

“We find these claims disturbing and reprehensible and she will remain reassigned — far from any student and the school — pending a criminal investigation,” said Department of Education spokesman David Pena. “We will work closely with the school to ensure they are given any needed support.”

The victim is a wrestler at the Ridgewood school, according to the Daily News, and the relationship started on June 10, 2013, when Morsi lured the student into a secluded closet and exposed herself to the teen. She also allegedly sent the student emails asking if he was a virgin.

Things continued until recently when the victim told authorities about the affair two weeks ago after Morsi became jealous that he was taking a girl to prom, the Daily News reported.

Morsi had sex with the student in the basement and other areas of the school during their relationship, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

“This case is particularly disturbing because the defendant is a teacher and schools should be safe havens for children,” Brown said. “Instead, this defendant is accused of sexually preying upon one of her students during rendezvous all over the school.”

Morsi’s next court date is June 23 and her bail is set at $25,000.

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High school brings colorful posters to Queens businesses


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Eric Jankiewicz


A local high school is designing posters and fliers for independent Glendale and Ridgewood businesses.


Andrew Drozd teaches three art and design classes at the Academy of Urban Planning in Bushwick where students work with local businesses in Brooklyn and Queens to apply design techniques to real world applications like advertisement.

“This is something that’s still in its infancy but we’re learning,” Drozd said.

“Students appreciate what they’re learning if there’s a real value attached to it.”

He first started the class this semester in April. The design exercise was meant to only last a couple of weeks.

“And now here we are, nearing the end of the school year and my students are still passionate about it,” Drozd said. “There’s been such an outpouring of support from the local business communities.”

Jesse Ibrahim owns Roma Deli in Glendale. He displays a huge poster at the entrance of his store.  The poster has pastel colors that frame a picture of the deli-front in the center. On the bottom right corner it says, “This poster was created by Jocelyn Perez a student at the Academy of Urban Planning.”

“I love it,” said Ibrahim, who has owned the deli for almost 15 years.  “Now my entrance is brightened. It’s very presentable.”

Ibrahim was first approached by Drozd two weeks ago and was then given an option of about 15 different poster designs all made by separate students.

“So there’s a level of competition,” Drozd said.

In Ridgewood, Armand Baklajan was expecting his poster any day now when it would be hand-delivered by Drozd.

“This is fantastic work,” he said, holding a sketch of his yet-to-be completed poster. “I wish I had such a motivated and passionate teacher when I was in high school.”

Drozd said that he has about 40 other businesses lined up for future posters. He first came up with the idea when he noticed that so many delis have hand-written signs advertising things like breakfast sandwiches.

“So there’s an element of social justice in this. We’re providing a service to people who could really benefit from it,” he said.

Each class produces about three posters a week using design programs and pictures. Drozd expects the work to continue through the summer and next school year the design exercise will be introduced to another batch of students.

“We’re going to ride this until it crashes,” he said.

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Ridgewood thrift store finds new home for precious junk


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

For over three years, Alberto and Nanci Caceda squeezed antiques and clothes into their thrift shop on Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood until they could squeeze no more.

So now they’re moving a few doors down the street to a store that is twice the size of the current Gotham Thrift Shop.

The new store can hold everything they’ve accumulated over the years, much of which is currently piled in their store’s basement, the backyard and a two-car garage.

“We have too much junk,” said Alberto, who spent 10 years in the military, including two tours in Iraq. “Well, I call it junk but it’s not really junk. It’s precious junk to me and a lot of people.”

Rather than move everything from the old store to the new one, they’re going to try and sell as much as possible by marking everything down by 20 percent in June.

They hope to open the new location on June 14 and mark the opening with a huge sale.

On Monday, Alberto stood in the front of the gutted, empty new store on Myrtle Avenue. Nanci was inside hanging a sign on the glass display that said “Future Home of Gotham Thrift.”

As Nanci put the sign up, Diego Gonzalez, a local, approached Alberto with a blue bike. It was an English-made Dunelt bike, and Alberto arranged to sell it for Gonzalez with a seller’s commission.

With the new space and its 4,000 square feet, the married couple would be able to display more and bigger things like bikes. They also hope to hire a longtime customer. Their current store is hardly 2,000 square feet, according to Alberto, and is crammed with all sorts of things, including a cigarette vending machine, lamps from the ‘50s and ‘60s, cassettes tapes and typewriters.

The store also serves to preserve old things in the community. In 2011, when the thrift shop first opened, the couple bought shoes at an auction that were made in a shoe factory in Maspeth. And in storage, they have stained-glass windows from the almost-century-old Ridgewood Theater. The theater has since been bought by a development company, according to Curbed, and is expected to be converted into a condo.

“It’s fun to go around and see this cool stuff,” Alberto said. “I sometimes see really amazing things.”

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104th Precinct sting finds delis, restaurants selling alcohol to minors


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

police-web11

Updated Saturday, May 17 11:12 a.m.

Two Queens businesses have been forced to close as they were caught selling alcohol to minors for a third time, police said.

Mount Everest Deli, 5609 Myrtle Avenue, and Apulum Bar, 18-19 Palmetto St., were shuttered by cops after allegedly selling alcohol to undercover auxiliary cops who were under 21.

Eight other establishments received summonses for alleges alcohol sales to minors: Optimo Convenience Store, 6693 Fresh Pond Road; Linden Convenience Store, 6661 Fresh Pond Rd; M&A Deli and Grocery, 6920 Fresh Pond Rd; Start Smart Deli, 6042 Myrtle Avenue; Three Family Deli, 801 Cypress Avenue; Eddy’s Grocery, 10-34 Wyckoff Avenue; Sabor and Rumba Bar, 666 Seneca Avenue; and Sabores Restaurant and Bar, 392 Woodward Avenue.

The operation was carried out by the 104th Precinct on April 12, according to Detective Thomas Bell, the precinct’s community affairs officer.

The precinct goes out periodically in their coverage neighborhoods of Ridgewood, Glendale, Middle Village and Maspeth to look for businesses that sell alcohol to minors, Bell said.

Robert Holden, a local and president of the Juniper Park civic association, said that he has witnessed the remains of underage drinking in Juniper Park Valley Park in Middle Village.

“We find dozens of bottles thrown all over the baseball field. They just get wild and crazy,” he said, noting that these findings have been on the rise lately. He worries that if more kids are drinking, they will be putting themselves and others danger.

Holden said he has been pushing the cops to come down on businesses that sell beer and alcohol to minors.

“We hope they expand the sweeps,” Holden said. “We think it’s a good deterrent. The community works with the precinct and we’ve made this a priority.”

 

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Cops looking for suspect who robbed livery cab driver at gunpoint in Ridgewood


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD


A man held up a livery cab driver in Ridgewood Wednesday, taking off with $200, police said.

The victim picked up the suspect at Marcy Avenue and Fulton Street around 2 a.m., cops said.

At 67th Place near Myrtle Avenue, the passenger whipped out a gun and demanded money from the driver, according to officials. He then fled the cab with the cash. No injuries were reported.

Police describe the suspect as a Hispanic man and about 25 years old.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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