Archive for September, 2010


by on Sep.30, 2010

For those interested, I present PLUTO, by Maggie Wells – the latest from Jon Leon’s LEGACY PICTURES series of ultra rarities, now called WRATH OF DYNASTY

It’s available until October 11 only (then out of print forever), at the Wrath of Dynasty site

And in case you missed it, you missed it:

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Loser Occult

by on Sep.30, 2010

I have the pleasure of being included in the new 2nd Avenue Poetry dedicated to the occult. It’s a very ghostly and spooky format which obscures all the names of authors and even blacks out some of the text. However, if you can perservere with the format you can read my essay. Here’s an excerpt:

Loser occult is a rejection of any concept of literature still trying to worship at that old altar of patrilineage, of literary inheritance. Do even poets, the most marginalized, penniless and emasculated of cultural producers, have to work day and night in the salt mine of that old sexist and property-obsessed hierarchy? Yet we, more than almost anyone, are supposed to celebrate an exclusive, narrow and harrowing traditionalism. We’re supposed to be its guardians, after all, like those old ladies sweeping the streets in Soviet Russia with twig brooms, as photographed for Newsweek magazine. This generation did this, that generation did that, this old man was the forebear, this young man is the inheritor. The loser occult knocks that edifice down, hangs out in the rubble huffing, hallucinating, gossiping, making out, wasting time, confecting new and obscene humanoid and nonhumanoid forms. Loser occult envisions a kind of leveled, ambivalent, invisible perpetuity without precedence or antecedence, not based on permanence but on decay, infloration, contamination. It rejects youth, youthful promise, power, vigor, resonance, and shared experience but allows for the possibility of weird mutation, arbitrary reanimation, coincidence, corrosion, drag and psychic twinship.

I, Miss Ronald Reagan: I have to live in squalor, (chewing noises) all day long playing hide and seek with odors. I want to be uncommercial film personified. That’s the…. oh wait… have to live in squalor all day long playing hide and seek with odors… no kidding folks. They love dead queers here. (music) [Jack Smith, ‘What’s so Underground about Marshmallows?’]

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Sabrina Chap on creativity & self-destruction, pt. 2 (of 3)

by on Sep.29, 2010

The following is the second part of a three-part excerpt of my interview with musician/writer/performer Sabrina Chapadjiev for Mildred Pierce. You can read the first part here.

These questions are about Live Through This: On Creativity and Self-Destruction (Seven Stories Press, 2008), an anthology edited by Chapadjiev that collects stories, essays, and art by mostly feminist and queer artists and writers who have lived through periods of self-destructive acts.

Sabrina Chapadjiev / photo by Jolene Siana

MILDRED PIERCE: Can you talk about your conceptualization process?

SABRINA CHAPADJIEV: I was in touch with a few publishers about possibly publishing my book length zine, “Cliterature – 18 interviews with women* writers” (*anyone who’s had the experience of being a woman) when one press said they really enjoyed the way I thought, and wondered if I had any other ideas for books.

I was pissed off when I read that. I was pissed off because I’m an idea person – more than anyone I know, and I knew I could come up with fifty ideas for books, but I was already exhausted and aching to do my music. I didn’t want to do another book project. But I had a publisher asking me for a book idea, how do you pass that up? So I spit out a couple of ideas; one of them was ‘For Smart Girls Who’ve Considered Suicide,’ and purportedly would be a collection of women writers who’ve thought about killing themselves but then didn’t. It possibly was that poorly worded. Nonetheless, they bought it, and asked me to start working on it. Again, I was pissed off, but I started rallying the troops.

As proposed submissions came in, I became a bit uncomfortable. I really wanted to talk about anorexia and cutting and such, and I wanted to fit those stories in the book. I also didn’t want twenty stories that were essentially, “I was going to kill myself, but then I didn’t!”

Also, something interesting was happening. Every time I talked to someone about the book, and how it would be based on people who’ve considered suicide, they would get very still. This was because 1. They’ve considered suicide themselves and were on guard or  2. They knew someone who had killed themselves and were on guard. Either way, the resulting conversation would often be very combative. People were highly sensitive about the topic of suicide, such that even talking about the book was exhausting. Once I was able to change it to self-destruction, which covered more of what I was interested in, and also turn it towards surviving, it became a much more bearable topic to work on.

(continue reading…)

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On Debris– 1

by on Sep.28, 2010

I’m looking around at the debris.

A shelly pink-enamelled oval palm-sized frame, a gilt inner lip, and then a photo of a dead or sleeping newborn, a pale pink bow in my thick black cap of hair. The photo is like an image coming back from space; crossing light years with the image of a dead thing. Light returning from a form that once entailed a wondrous sensitive limit, total media, skin, sensaround technology, a medium I literally grew through, atomized, obliterated.  And whatever consciousness I was assembling at that time has been sundered, leveled, pushed back, overbuilt by my current state, its bitter fosse and mad stadia, my cruel regime of consciousness.

But the picture hangs around, treasured debris. My mother treasured it. The baby hangs around, as something else— a dead form, a dead medium.

Artaud:  The old totemism of animals, stones, objects capable of discharging thunderbolts, costumes impregnated with bestial essences—everything, in short, that might determine, disclose, and direct the secret forces of the universe—is for us a dead thing.

For Artaud, all forms—if mere forms— are dead things.

A brochure from the incredible Musee royal de l’Afrique Centrale outside Brussels, Belgium. This extraordinary palace was part of Leopold II’s infernal public relations campaign. He filled it with handicrafts and biological specimens, wondrous goods from his personal concentration camp in Central Africa, cruelly and deceitfully called the “Free State”. The museum stands to this day as a place for tourists and school groups to go to learn about Africa.  That’s what the brouchure shows—children, stuffed birds, baskets.  

Dead things, dead things.

When I visited, temporary exhibits huddled in hut-like structures inside the central great hall. These offered slightly more recent updates on the Congo—newsreels, say, from World’s Fair of 1958, when Congolese elites came to Brussels as exhibits of themselves—but these ‘contexts’ were themselves contextless, and were marked, by their strange plywood structures, as temporary,  wretched compared to the displays in the cases.

Where even the tools looked taxidermied.

There was a nice café there.

The café at our zoo in South Bend, Indiana is called ‘Congo Café’.

The Potawatabmi Zoo in South Bend, Indiana, is the oldest zoo in Indiana. I hear this while on a ride on a train through the outbuildings. We see the zoo hospital and the corporate picnic area, also the parking lot, and we ride through the train storage shed and see the spare train. We repeat this ride every time we come to the zoo.

894 Potawatami men, women and children were made to march 660 miles from Indiana to Oklahoma in from September 4 to November 4, 1838. The Potawatami Trail of Death.

Leopold also went on a building campaign which literally converted the physical bodies of the people of the Congo—their labors of extraction, their deaths from overwork and insane abuse— into buildings in Europe. Severed hands into triumphal arches.  Villages into villas on the Riviera. Generations into footbridges linking his palaces so he could visit his mistress at night.

Plus a tramway to take daytrippers to visit his museum. Tourists like me.

The Number 44 Tram.

Roberto Bolaño: “Then we walked down the Avenida Guerrero; they weren’t stepping so lightly any more, and I wasn’t feeling too enthusiastic either. Guerrero, at that time of night, is more like a cemetery than an avenue, not a cemetery in 1974 or in 1968, or 1975, but a cemetery in the year 2666, a forgotten cemetery under the eyelid of a corpose or an unborn child, bathed in the dispassionate fluids of an eye that tried so hard to forget one particular thing that it ended up forgetting everything else.”

Souvenirs, treasure, monuments, transportation, dead forms, mausoleums, debris.


The Artaud is from The Theater and Its Double, Preface. Bolaño quote is from my fave, Amulet. All information about Leopold II and the Congo came from King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild; the idea that Leopold literally converted Congolese bodies into European buildings also came from Hochschild (will find page later).  The Potawatami Trail of Death is from Wikipedia. The trip to the museum is my own experience. The photo was mailed from my mother’s condo.

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Joyelle McSweeney on Lady Gaga's Blasphemy

by on Sep.28, 2010

Joyelle has a post up at Gaga Stigmata. Here is the beginning:

1. I read that singer Katy Perry called Lady Gaga’s Alejandro video ‘blasphemous’ so of course I had to watch it again.
2. I was the 82, 307, 530th person to do so. That is, mine was the 82, 307, 530 viewing on YouTube. Am I a person or a viewing?
3. Je suis un visionnement (Rimbaud.)
4. Blasphemy: it is a verbal injury against the name of God. The concept of a ‘verbal injury’ is already a mixed metaphor—that is, it’s mixed media. The word hurts the flesh of the name, and the name in the flesh. That’s Jesus, after all. In-carn-ation.
5. Flesh itself, the meat dress.
6. Jesus dialed up the spirit telephone in 1843 and told Carmelite nun Sister Marie of St. Peter that blasphemy pierces His sacred heart like a ‘poisoned arrow’.
7. 82, 307, 530 poisoned arrows from this video alone.

[There’s more.]

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Out of Nothing, Out of the Body Possessed by Media

by on Sep.27, 2010

There’s a new issue of [out of nothing] up. I wrote the “foreword“, pretty much plagiarizing Joyelle’s ideas about “the body possessed by media.”

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Switchback Books Benefit

by on Sep.25, 2010

[I’m going to try to make it to this:]

A Salon & Fundraiser

with readings and talks by

Arielle Greenberg on the Gurlesque and Rock Music
Becca Klaver on Songs for Girls in their 20s
Dolly Lemke on Best American Honesty
Sarah Carson on Awful Country Western Music

Music, literature, talks, and snacks.

Midwestern microbrews from Saugatuck Brewing Co.

PLUS: An 18-liter bottle of wine!

Saturday, October 2, 2010
4745 N. Beacon St. #3S
Chicago, IL

Doors at 7:00 p.m.
Salon at 8:00 p.m.

$10 donation at the door for a Switchback book
$20 donation at the door for a book and all-you-can-drink

All proceeds support Switchback Books’ mission to publish and promote women’s poetry. Switchback Books is a 501c3 nonprofit small publisher of contemporary women’s poetry. For more information, visit:

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Sabrina Chap on creativity & self-destruction, pt. 1

by on Sep.24, 2010

I’ve been interviewing Sabrina Chap/Chapadjiev for Mildred Pierce; the book she put together, Live Through This: On Creativity and Self-Destruction (Seven Stories Press, 2008), a collection of pieces by various mostly feminist and queer artists and writers, addresses a lot of the issues I, and others, have been approaching on Montevidayo. So I’m excerpting part of the interview.

Chapadjiev’s stage name is Sabrina Chap – she’s a musician and burlesque performer as well as writer and editor, and also a playwright. Her most recent album Oompa! traverses genres, pledging allegiance to ragtime above all. She’s also part of the Schlapentickle Family, a burlesque troupe that toured for the first time this fall.

For Live Through This, Chapadjiev tapped folks like Eileen Myles, Kate Bornstein, Diane DiMassa, and bell hooks to contribute essays and art on the relationship between creative and destructive forces, with an emphasis on creativity and artistry. Chapadjiev’s approach to these issues very much moves away from the medicalization and pathologization of self-destructive behaviors, while also escaping romanticizing them and providing any kind of autopedagogy (thanks, Joyelle!) for self-destruction. The collection is wildly varied in form and content — musician and mental health activist Bonfire Madigan Shive shares her wellness plan; comics artist and illustrator Diane DiMassa visually narrates her turn away from anger and addiction and toward art and journaling; poet and essayist Eileen Myles emphasizes self-care in a meditation on flossing.

In her introduction, Chapadjiev writes:

We have been taught that self-destruction is an awful thing. ‘It is bad,’ we’ve been told by therapists, psychologists, and those who do not understand its seduction. I would like to edit that. Instead of ‘It is bad,’ I would like for it to read, ‘It is.’ It is what we do naturally. We smoke too much, we drink too much, we drive sobbing in the rain. Our hearts break and we do not eat. At times we drink to forget, and at times, we forget for years. …

I offer this book as a discourse, not as an answer, but as a way to help women begin to understand the potential in the power of their self-destructive acts. … Now, what you’re dealing with is the deepest thing, the worst thing, and it could possibly be the thing that destroys you. But it could possibly be the thing that makes you as well.  (12-13)

Chapadjiev gives workshops and lectures in colleges on these issues; anyone interested in inviting her to their campus can see her touring newsletter here.

(This is part one of three excerpts for Montevidayo.)

MILDRED PIERCE: Live Through This is really its own thing, very nurturing in a certain way — perhaps because it emphasizes the creativity side of the [creativity and self-destruction] equation — and also far, far from any self-help books I know. Can you talk about your conceptualization process? What prompted you to put this together?

SABRINA CHAPADJIEV: Those are three questions- well, the first point wasn’t a question, but I’ll respond to that first.

1.  I was very, very conscious to focus on the creative aspect of the book, not only because I was talking about the role of art in the process of self-destruction, but because my entire desire was to promote creativity as a way to help those dealing with these tendencies.

Too often, self-help books end up being instructional manuals for self-destructive behavior. Most of the ones I read were written from two very different perspectives, 1.  Doctors trying to deal with self-destructive patients, and 2. People who’ve survived and had their stories become a major part of their public lives. In the first case, the doctors would always fascinate in how these self-destructive tendencies manifested, i.e., ‘The subject came to me with cuts made by…’ — there was always some sort of explicitly gross fascination by the variety of ways ‘patients’ would hurt themselves.

Well, those types of details often intrigue and teach people different ways to hurt themselves. People reading those types of books for help, actually might learn other ways of self-destructing. I didn’t want the book to be an instructional manual for the variety of ways we can hurt ourselves, especially because this is the first book that I know of that was grouping all of these behaviors into one mass group ‘self-destructive’. There are many books on cutting, anorexia, alcoholism, drug abuse. This is the first one I know of that talks about the variety of ways that women can destroy themselves, and while I wanted to create a communal spirit in the lives of powerful women who’ve felt these inclinations, I didn’t want someone that starved themselves suddenly read an essay about cutting and try that instead.

(continue reading…)

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Occult Events this Weekend

by on Sep.24, 2010

Ok, only one of these events is actually occult. But if you can teleport yourself across the country, and/or, like Cher, turn back time, you can attend both of these, occultly.

1) Explosive Plastic Inevitable Zurita/Perez Reading Party and Book Launch. In the great city of Chicago, from 7-9 PM on Saturday, Sept 25, at Myopic Books. Come here to hear the verbal stylings of Daniel Borzutzky, Kristen Dykstra, John Keene and Paul Martinez Pompa as they celebrate the publication of Song for his Disappeared Love by Raul Zurita (Action Books) and Did you hear about the Fighting Cat by Omar Perez (Shearsman). A very hot bill!

You may find yourself on fire for the second time that evening, having already attended

2)2nd Avenue Poetry: The Occult Issue Launch. Soon the URL for ‘2nd Avenue Poetry’ will link you to an issue full of many occult musings by various poetes maudits, including myself, viz. a piece called ‘Loseroccult.’ But for the nonce, it presents a ghostly invite to a spooky launch party on Saturday from 5-7 in NYC. Halloween starts early, thanks to Paolo Javier and his guest ed., Alan Clinton, and it lasts for 36 days like some spooky men(s)t(ru)al cycle. Go if you dare, you lucky hipsters!

I myself plan to spend that evening in palatial splendour here in our condo in Indiana, making cotton ball art with Sinead, feeding the baby prunes, and watching ads for our local Teaparty candidate, who will go unnamed here.

The (infernal) lives of the poets (maudits)!

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Where Else I Come From

by on Sep.24, 2010

CA conrad in the bathtubAntony Hegarty

What does it mean to be Earth Mother? As the planet dies, what does Earth Mother do? Does she throw her hands up in the air and weep? Does she shit in the bathtub in protest? Does she make everyone get a divorce and kill off their offspring? Is her motherhood, which is like the presence of a mother raven, enough? Maybe it’s best for Earth Mother to make the children cry by stuffing Kafka inside their assholes and singing with Boy George?

I feel a vibration in the Earth Mother that is as hard as a weed but as soft as a sad gay bar.

A relentless fucking.

Mother Conrad. Mother Hegarty.

You are the murky lakes in campsites where, as a child, I never got to go.

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On Binding: Queen Pasiphae, Hans Belmer & the Meat Dress

by on Sep.23, 2010

Some of you may know that I recently wrote a book called Maximum Gaga (Action Books, 2009). When I wrote the book, I’d never heard of Lady Gaga, but I’m thrilled by the happy overlap, by our joint interest in gender performance and excessive aesthetics. Maximum Gaga is a book about Pasiphae, the queen from ancient Greek myth who enlists the inventor Daedelus to build a cow costume/machine so she can copulate with an enormous white bull. This machine may have been the first industrial sex toy, the first meat dress (as Danielle notes), the first mechanical abattoir. Since then we’ve created a massive variety of sex toys, both for females and males alike so they’re able to pleasure themselves on their own, each other when together and anything else that people would like to experiment doing, more info at

For Pasiphae, this Miraculating Machine, as I call it in the book, is certainly about pleasure, the pleasure of inhuman cock. Like Lady Gaga’s meat dress, it is unclear what is wearing who, and the lines between live female body and corpse, skin and costume, animal and human, machine and body are thrillingly collapsed. Pasiphae’s fucking results in the birth of the Minotaur: monstrous female pleasure engenders even nastier monsters.

The Miraculating Machine detourns the traditional binding of the female body, the intense bodily manicuring that heteronormativity requires of women: the bleaching, plumping, waxing, sculpting, hiding, painting, shaving, revealing, camouflaging, highlighting, etc. All of which is on fat display in Cher’s get-up at the recent award ceremony. All of which masks the fact that, as Vanessa Place says, “We are nothing but chipped beef.”

(continue reading…)

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Gimme gimme gimme some of that bad girl meat dress!

by on Sep.23, 2010

Over at Gaga Stigmata, you’ll find a conversation between Kate Durbin, (our own) Lara Glenum, Cheryl Helm, Eddie McCaffray, Vanessa Place, Marie Smart,Carolyn Thompson, Meghan Vicks, and (our own) me on Lady Gaga’s meat dress.  And everything else one should light upon when discussing the meat dress, or any meat dress.  There’s a brilliant analysis of Lady Gaga / meat steak / DADT.

Unica Zorn, abjection, interstellar Cher, Carrie, animal rights, bacteria, Bjork, mathematical meatquations, dirty food, food-body, interior, exterior, meaterior, ancient Greek meat, King Lear’s meat beat… It’s a grand ol’ time.  Big thanks to Kate & Meghan for including us in the convo!

P to the S, Montevidayo, Lady Gaga’s meat dress is my favorite/the most problematic piece of detritus.

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Body Possessed by Media: the Bodily Odors of the Saints; Or, Everything Ascending into Heaven Smells Rotten

by on Sep.21, 2010


Fi Jae Lee, "Everything Ascending Into Heaven Smells Rotten"

Some Catholic saints are known as “Les Incorruptibles” precisely because their bodies do not decay after death, which is, circularly enough, a sign of their sainthood, but some also are known (when living) to have released their own perfumes(not in the sense that Britney Spears and JLo released the “Curious” and “Glow” perfumes, although not entirely not in that sense).

Such a perfume is known as the ‘odor of sanctity’, associated with bodily proximity or even proximity to bodily fluids of the saints. Catholic websites relate that a bloody bandage removed from a sore on Padre Pio’s chest released his holy perfume all the way to Rome, where it was being brought for labwork ( I couldn’t find this website again when I wanted to annotate– diabolical intervention?). Odor and sainthood metonymize each other. Both are incorruptible and stick around, taking up space. The persistence of this odor of sanctity, its ineradicability, testifies to the stability and homogeneity of the saint’s moral composition, the solidity of his bodily holiness—even as it performs a countermodality of entropy and (reeky) contagion.

It also gets ahead of the saint’s life narrative, in that it foreshadows the saint’s nearness to God after his death, his ability to intercede with God on man’s behalf. It’s like, this guy’s so close to God, even God can smell this guy. Or maybe, he’s so close to God, we can smell God on him.

In the case of Padre Pio, his profuse ‘odor of sanctity’ was itself witness to his saintly tendency towards ‘bilocation’, or ability to be in two places at once. Quoth Catholic website EWTN,

“The phenomenon of bilocation is one of the most remarkable gifts attributed to Padre Pio. His appearances on various of the continents are attested by numerous eye witnesses, who either saw him or smelled the odors characteristically associated with his presence, described by some as roses and by others as tobacco. The phenomenon of odor (sometimes called the odor of sanctity) is itself well established in Padre Pio’s case. The odor was especially strong from the blood coming from his wounds. Investigation showed that he used absolutely no fragrances or anything that could produce these odors. The odors often occurred when people called upon his intercession in prayer and continue to this day.”

Here the odor of sanctity, be it tobacco or roses, is in surplus to itself—well, is it tobacco or roses?  It is surplus to presence and also evidence of it; at the same time, Father Pio is capable of multiple bodily locations or presences. His is a sign that stands for flux and surplus. The meduimicity of the saint is also evident in this rhetoric- his odor moves through him, and vice versa.

The most acute rendition of Padre Pio’s bilocation is itself a dense tangle of narrative signs and signals:

“The most remarkable of these reported incidents occurred on January 18, 1905 shortly before midnight. Padre Pio was in the choir at the friary when, according to his description, his mind traveled to a location in Udine where a child was being born prematurely just moments before the death of her father. In 1923 he met the girl and “recognized” her. The girl’s mother recalled very clearly the death of her husband and the vision of a Capuchin monk in Udine on the night when the girl was born.”

What, besides Padre Pio’s saintliness, is signaled to us by this account? What is signaling through this jumble of narrative flames (that is, frames?)? What is the significance of the child’s prematurity, the father’s death, except that they are turned into a kind of chronometer, their own narratives smashed up to secure the temporal timeline of Pio’s bilocation? 

But Padre Pio’s physical body, was, in fact, all too penetrable. In his lifetime, Padre Pio suffered a number of physical ailments, including asthma, bronchitis, acute stomach problems, tuberculosis of the skin. He also suffered from ailments that, like him,  seemed doubly located in his soul and in his body. He suffered stigmata and ‘transverberation’ in which “The soul being inflamed with the love of God which is interiorly attacked by a Seraph, who pierces it through with a fiery dart. This leaves the soul wounded, which causes it to suffer from the overflowing of divine love”. On account of this experience, a “first class relic” of Padre Pio is “a large framed square of linen bearing a bloodstain from “the wound of the transverberation of the heart” in Padre Pio’s side” and is “exposed for public veneration at the St. John Cantius Church in Chicago.” (This paragraph’s quotes from Wikipedia).

Because everything ascending into heaven smells rotten.

Oddly, while Pio welcomed his mundane physical sufferings as a chance to become “a victim of divine love”, Pio was beset with embarassment at these physical manifestations and asked for them to be removed:

“Dear Father, I am dying of pain because of the wounds and the resulting embarrassment I feel deep in my soul. I am afraid I shall bleed to death if the Lord does not hear my heartfelt supplication to relieve me of this condition. Will Jesus, who is so good, grant me this grace? Will he at least free me from the embarrassment caused by these outward signs? I will raise my voice and will not stop imploring him until in his mercy he takes away, not the wound or the pain, which is impossible since I wish to be inebriated with pain, but these outward signs which cause me such embarrassment and unbearable humiliation.”(

It’s pretty hard to imagine reacting to the ultimate sign of holy intervention with humiliation and embarassment. But Padre Pio, it seems, rejected his extreme mediumicity. He did not want the outward signs. He did not want to be a surface of fact.

Not incidentily, when Padre Pio’s body was exhumed for examination in 2008, it was declared intact; he was among the incorruptibles.

“Local Archbishop monsignor Domenico D’Ambrosio, who was present at the exhumation, said: “[…] You can clearly see the beard, knees, hands, the nails – if Padre Pio will forgive me it’s as if he has just had a manicure.”

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