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Andy Warhol Biography

ever before have I encountered more intriguing works of art than those done by Andy Warhol. I have been curious about his life ever since I saw his work in Milwaukee. I saw his famous work of the Campbell’s Soup Can. By viewing this, one can tell he is not your average artist. I’m sure his life is full of interesting events that shaped him into who he was. As an artist myself, I would like to get to know the background of his life. I may then be able to appreciate his styles and understand why and how his works were created. His life is as interesting as his artistic masterpieces.

Andrew Warhola (his original name) was born one of three sons of Czech immigrants, somewhere in Pennsylvania on either August 6, 1928 or on September 28, 1930 (the date on his birth certificate). His father died when Andy was at a very young age. Thus, it forced Andy into a deep depression containing lack of self confidence. Much of his young life has been kept secret. However, he did report being very shy and depressed because he never felt comfortable with his homosexuality. His childhood life may have been full of the torture that children threw at him for being the different person he was. He was able to attend college.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in pictorial design from Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1949, he went to New York City with Philip Pearlstein, who was a fellow student that later became a well-known realist painter. In 1960, Warhol finally began to paint in earnest and to view art seriously as a career. He began his career with commercial drawings of women’s shoes. In 1961, an early manifestation was his Dick Tracy, an enlarged version of the comic strip that was placed in the window of Lord & Taylor’s department store. He followed in his own ootsteps to keep going in the ever-so-famous pop art track.

Warhol’s use of images are so close to the images themselves, thanks to the photographic silkscreen technique, which is a process of applying the same image over and over again without changing the original. In 1963, he began turning film into his next aesthetic. He was the recorder of the world around him. Warhol saw this world as populated by hustlers of various sorts, motivated largely by money and the goods it would buy. Later that next year, he started to experiment in underground film. In the late 70’s he began to use sex and nudity to gain attention in his films.

Whether this was moral or not; it did, however, work. The rest of his short life was spent visiting with celebrities and keeping up with the world’s times. He tried to understand how the rest of the world saw things, but just never got there. Sadly, Warhol died of a heart failure on March 9, 1987, still wearing his famous blond hair wig. Andy’s diaries are not actual written records of his day to day accounts, but they are audio recordings of his phone conversations to Pat Hackett every Monday through Friday (from Wednesday, November 24, 1976 to Tuesday, February 17, 1987, just weeks before his death).

Warhol originally intended these daily records to be documentation of his minor business expenses. He was just audited and felt the need to be extra careful. In a word it was a diary. But whatever its broader objective, its narrow one, to satisfy tax auditors, was always on my mind (Warhol xvi). Later on, he felt the diaries were a great way to explain his everyday occurrences for more than a decade of his life. This view of his life from his eyes is probably the most balanced view ever given. He may have changed since the 60’s, but it is still the truest representation of Andy, himself.

He never xpressed the key happenings of his life; it’s as if we, the readers, already knew them. He just usually mentions the quick everyday type things such as a cab ride to uptown New York. The first major influence on Andy Warhol’s life was the stepping stone of his artistic career, his enrollment in and completion of Carnegie Institute of Technology with a bachelor degree in pictorial design. After graduating he moved out to New York City, where his life blossomed. He lived for a couple of years with Philip Pearlstein, who he had met at school.

Warhol, with his education centered around design, set out to begin his career on the right foot. He started doing drawings for advertisements in a women’s shoe catalog. It may not have been much to brag about, but it was at least something he could learn and gain from the experience given to him. Andy may have acquired his use of media exploited images through his beginning attempts at commercialism. He knew what sold to society, whether he agreed with it or not. He continued on with simplified pop art and he made it famous. He is the person most people think about when pop art is mentioned.

Through his advertising projects, he was conditioned to think only in glorification of people, products, and style. One of his popular works, the silkscreen of the Campbell’s Soup Can, is an example of this. It is an image that everyone is familiar with, and it is so common that sometimes it is overlooked. Many times, Andy took something simple and glorified it. This is how he made his designing skills useful in promotion. One would compare Warhol to the pictorial hyper-realism of Norman Rockwell, and to the surrealism of Marcel Duchamp, and the radicalism of Jasper Johns (Sagan 1).

A second major influence in Andy Warhol’s life is his participation in the underground film scene. It started in 1963, when he called himself the ecorder of society around him (Moritz 590). He would find people for his movies in a club-type warehouse called Max’s Kansas City. Every night, celebrities of art, fashion, music, and underground film-making crowds gathered in the back corners of Max’s to try their chance at working with Warhol. In 1968, he was nearly killed by a woman who was in one of his short films. She shot him on the side of his chest, but fortunately he was not killed.

He still continued to make films; such famous ones are Eat, Haircut, Sleep, Kiss, and Empire. He would make them boring on purpose to possibly prove a point. Again it was glorifying something thought of as being extremely pointless. In the late 70’s he began to use sex and nudity, featuring films concerning sexual bondage. He may have been simply looking for a shock value content. Many artists work off shock value, it takes only the true to admit it and still continue with it. The last and most important influence on Warhol was his mother, Julia Warhola.

When Andy first arrived in New York, he would share apartments with friends and acquaintances. Eventually he could afford a place of his own. Then his mother suddenly arrived in town and moved in with him. Her eason was to look after him. She would constantly keep an eye out for a wife for Andy. Little did she know he was interested in the opposite sex for marriage. Andy appreciated his mother, and never wanted to explain how she had an impact on him. Maybe it was the fact that she meant well, and tried her hardest to take care of him.

She lived with him on 89th Street and Lexington Avenue until 1971. By then, suffering from senility, she required constant care and Andy sent her back to Pittsburgh to be cared for by his two brothers, John and Paul. After suffering a stroke, she died in her nursing home in 1972. Andy did not except the fact too kindly. He would even go as far to say his mother was doing fine, when people would ask about her, even though she had already passed away. Andy stayed quiet and tried to hide himself from the rest of society. He would avoid emotional interaction as much as he could.

He did this so he could shrink away from human touch (Moritz 591). A man who started his life shy and uncomfortable, blossomed into an outspoken artist, now finished his life with feelings even worse than the beginning of his life. After extensive research I found that Andy had much more to his life than I had originally expected. He was involved in the classic rock band The Velvet Underground, with famous singer Lou Reed. He actually even designed a few of the album covers. Most people remember the self-entitled album with the picture of a banana on it.

Directly to the left of the banana read the words peel me. If one would peel it, it would reveal the pink insides of a banana. Truly a work of Andy, I must say. Another thing I found was that Andy was not only homosexual, but he was omnisexual. It was rumored he had no problem with sex with anyone or anything. Men, women, animals, you name it, it was probably thought of. And last of all I ound he was unusually kind and appreciative to others, especially the ones who worked for him. Pat Hackett, his editor, once said that she has never met a person who says thank you as much as Andy does.

Not once have I been more informed on a person’s life. In the beginning I thought I knew a lot about. This research on Andy Warhol definitely reinforced my positive view of him. It may have possibly enhanced my appreciation for him as well. I enjoyed the honesty of the entire diary. Nothing was hidden from the reader and I felt as informed as a good friend of his would feel. His life is an interesting one and I believe more eople should try to investigate other lives of the unusual. It expands your own viewpoints to accept those of others.

Many critics have different viewpoints on Warhol’s autobiography. He was still appreciated by those who understood his ideas. But he had to have had some sense of history, or he wouldn’t have left the diaries behind to try to explain everything to future generations (Plagens 1732). Some realize that the diaries are rather boring, but seem to see the true Andy come through in the entries. Despite their virtuoso triviality, their naive snobbery and their incredible length, the diaries are not without a ertain charm (Amis 1732). Others saw the diaries as a simplistic record of events.

His diaries are more or less just records of who went where and did what with whom, that anybody else who’d been along could have kept (Plagens 1732). It’s too bad he didn’t start the diaries earlier in his life, such as the 60’s, when it would have been more interesting to know what he did and whom he was with, instead of waiting until 1976 to begin (Plagens 1732). Some even complained of the editing job done by Pat Hackett. One problem with the diaries is their postmodern polish, such as he casual proofreading and editing (Trebay 1732).

The reason the editor didn’t fit up to par was the mere fact she wanted it to sound how Andy explained the day. … still the book is great social history with its lip-smacking tales of loveless, sexless marriages, its gimlet-eyed view of other people’s success, and its rampant unclosetings (Trebay 1732). I, myself, found the book very entertaining and a great nonchalant look at the famous and their everyday lives. It may have been organized better and condensed a bit, but none-the-less it was still interesting and kept me reading.

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Home » Andy Warhol Biography

Andy Warhol Biography

“I just paint things I always thought were beautiful, things you use every day and never think about… I just do it because I like it. (Beckris 110) I just do it because I like it is Andys philosophy on life. Andy might just be the most interesting and and at the same time the most confusing individual you will ever read about. Andys work is like none others. His art brought common day people together and showed the impact of contemporary society and the idea of mass media on values. Andys father Ondrej Wharhola is best described as a bald, burly man with a bulging belly and massive upper arms, pudgy nose and ristling sideburns.

Ondrej was born in 1889 in Minkova. (Bekris, 6) He was married and living with Julia Warhola, mother of Andy, for three years in Mikova. In order to avoid being drafted into the Balkan conflict in 1912 he immigrated to Pittsburgh without her at the age of seventeen to work in a coal field in the industrial district of Philadelphia. (Bekris, 7) Julia Warhola was born in a small village in the Capathian mountains outside of Czechoslovakia. Julia was the oldest and prettiest of her fifteen other siblings. She was also said to be the artistic one of the bunch. (Bekris, 7) In 1914 Julia gave birth to a baby irl.

Because of the conditions due to the war the infant contracted influenza six months later and died. Julias mother was so depressed about the news of the infants death that she died one month later. (Bekris, 8-9) Julia was now reliable for her only two surviving sisters of ages six and nine. For the next four years Julia fled from the soldiers, hiding in woods and barns. She was supposed to be receiving money from Ondrej but because she was always on the run she never saw the money.

From 1918-1921 she raised 160 dollars to go to the united states to find Ondrej. Bekris, 9) Andy Warhol was born on September 28, 930 in Forest City, Pennsylvania. Or so we think. This is what the original birth certificate read but Andy wanted people to believe he was born in Mc Keesport, or even Hawaii. He also stays true to believe the certificate is a forgery. Most books and other reportable sources confirm that he was indeed born in 1930 but the dates do range from 1925-1931 (Bekris, 10).

Andy was raised in a coal mining town in Philadelphia. It was a dark musty town were the sky stayed black. The town was overrun with poverty and crime. Bekris, 10) Being raised in an environment as such would greatly affect a persons personality in their ater years. This might explain Andys later fascination with death related topics. In 1930 Andys father got a steady job laying roads and moving houses. This was a high paying job at the time because of the mass rate of growth in the cities. Ondrej saved his money and one-year later moved his family into a larger house on Beelan Street. Shortly after moving into the house Ondrej lost his job and was forced to move into a two-bedroom apartment.

The rent was six dollars a week and Andys father had to work odd jobs to just barley pay the rent. It was not just Andy and his parents. Andy had two other brothers, one older and ne younger. All three of the children were said to be afraid of their father. “Dad didnt like us to start commotion because he was so exhausted and he would get emotionally upset. Usually all he had to do was look at you. ” (Beckris 12) Andy always had a problem with grammar school. He was not a social child and preferred to keep to himself.

As most children do, they saw this in Andy and picked on him frequently. Bekris, 18) Andys brother Paul stated, “At age four Andy cried a lot at school and one day a little black girl slapped him” (Beckris 15) He was very traumatized by this incident and asked his other if she could keep him home from school. As the loving mother she was, she took Andy out of school and kept him home for two years. Over this time he became very close to his mother. When it was time for him to return to school he threw a temper tantrum. It took his mother, brother and neighbor to drag Andy back to school. Because of this incident he developed a nervous tick. Rateliff, 11)

Fortunately, Ondrej got his old job back and earned enough money to move back into a larger house in Oak Land. This town was much more suitable for raising a child and had better school systems. In this town Andy made new riends, which were particularly girls. This would later explain Andys homosexual tendencies. Margie Girman was one of his closest friends. She was said to be bright and stimulating which would encourage Andy to do better in school. Andy began to have a fascination with the cinema. Every weekend he and Margie would go to the movies.

At the end of every show the ushers would hand out autographed photos of the actors and actresses. Andy would end up using these same images in his prints. Andy started to distance himself from boys and became closer to girls and his new found talent of drawing. Andys brother John said, ” When Andy was out in the field by the time you hit the ball he wasnt there. ” (Bekris, 16-17) He would go back to the house and draw in his notebook. Andy soon got the reputation as a “mamas boy”. If he was not with his girlfriends or sketching in his notebook, he was out with his mother helping her pick out hats and skirts.

At age six Andy had entered the second grade. His teacher Catharine Meta said that Andy would walk through the halls with his head down wishing he was invisible. This made him a prime suspect for abuse by his fellow classmates. From early on in Andys life he had been a sickly child. Because Andy was known to be a mamma’s boy and a crybaby his parents paid little to no attention to him when he whined about being hurt or sick. At age two Andys eyes swelled shut due to an infection and his mother had to use daily doses of boric acid to get rid of the mucus.

At age four he was playing on the train tracks and broke his arm. The wound went unnoticed for several weeks until someone saw an unnatural bend to his arm. The bone had to be re-broken and set. At age six Andy contracted scarlet fever, which would later effect his overall development. His illness went unnoticed until Andy began not eing able to control his limbs or speech. He had trouble holding his own arm and completing a sentence. This part of Andys life greatly contributed to his mistrust in people and his art. (Bekris, 19) Andys art talent in high school was amazing.

He drew everything he laid his eyes on. Even though he had such a great talent he was still singled out. Lee Karageores says “But sorely he was sort of left out. He wasnt even in the art club because his talent was so superior. ” Andy attended Scheley High School. During his senior year he applied to both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Institute of Technology. Andy was accepted to both but chose to attend Carnegie Tech. Carnegie Tec’s academic standards were high and the courses extremely competitive. (Rateliff, 12) This was because his graduating class consisted of about only one hundred students.

The school motto best describes its standards “Laborare est Orare” to labor is to pray is what it means in Latin. Andys freshman courses consisted of drawing, pictorial and decorative design, color, hygiene, and thought and expression. Andy had a great struggle with all of his courses but thought and expression was his worst. This was probably so because of Andys phobia of expressing himself orally. Andy was a man of few words; also another reason was because he had such poor grammar. Fortunately, Andy made two friends in this class who tried to get Andy a passing grade.

Even with their combined effort he failed out of the course. At the time Andy was attending school, there was an economic depression, and the war was ending. (Bekris, 37) Because of the war veterans that were returning, jobs became scarce and Carnegie Tech was forced to drop students in order to make room. Andy was one of them. Because Andy showed such passion to his work his teachers fought to have Andy attend summer school and go for re-admissions the following year. Feldman, 9) While Andy was attending summer school he got a job delivering fruit with his brother.

As he worked he carried a sketchbook drawing whatever appealed to him. An eyewitness recalled “He drew what he saw, you could see the nude bodies of the women through their battered clothes, babies hanging on mothers necks. He really got the essence of this depressing side of life. ” When Andy returned for readmitions he presented the sketchbook. They allowed Andy back in. Along with being able to come back to Carnegie Tech, his sketches were put on display and Andy received forty dollars. This was the first time Andy had ever received oney for his work.

At the time of Andys graduation he was skeptical about leaving his mother. He was debating whether to pursue his talent or become a schoolteacher and live with his mother. Fortunate for us he became an artist and created some of the worlds most interesting paintings. Andy decided he wanted to move to New York City. His mother was very disappointed. She told Andy that he would end up in a gutter, penniless. A good friend of Andys, Philip Pearlstine convinced Andy to move to Manhattan with him. (Bekris, 50) He did and ended up spending eight years there.

In June 1949, Andy and Pearlstine moved nto a small apartment on Saint Marks Street. (Bekris, 51) Later on Andy would move out of this apartment and get his own studio in an abandoned hook-and-ladder firehouse only a few blocks away from Pearlstiens. The only minor set back was that the floor was littered with hole and the ceiling leaked, sometimes destroying entire paintings. Over the next few years Andy would move around from rat hole to rat hole. Over this time Andys mother came to live with him and he also began to get noticed.

Between moves Andy held many different jobs. In 1951 Andy got a job as a major assistant to illustrate a Complete Book of Etiquette by Amy Vanderbits. Bekris, 53) For the next two to three years Andy did illustration work for magazines and store windows. He devoted all his time to work and was making a decent amount of money. He also got the reputation as a workaholic. Pearlstine said that Andy was “a workaholic who sat at a table and worked all day and often late at night. He would do several versions of each assignment, showing all… art dealers loved him for that. (Bekris, 53)

These were the golden years for art designers and magazine publishers, which attracted some of the most desirable graphic designers. In 1963 Andy moved into a flat at 231 East 47th street. Bekris, 141) This location would later be known as the “Factory”. Andy did most of his recognized art here. He was said to be like a machine. A quote from the artist. “The reason Im painting this very way is because I want to be a machine. ” (Cameo, 8) The Factory had a large freight elevator that took you to the loft.

The doors opened up to a 140-sq. ft room with a couple of toilets in the back and a payphone buy the door. The Factory soon became the “in crowd hang out”. Its tripy lighting and tin foil walls attracted every type of person. The Factory was now a cultural Mecca, part film studio, and part Salvation Army for the struggling artists. The majority of the crowd was called the “amphetamine rapture group” but better known as the “mole people” because they lived in the underworld of the city and only came out at night. (Cameo, 8) Andy continued to make money and turning out electric chair prints as part of the death-and-disaster series.

As you the viewer can tell from a variety of Andys paintings, he had an erotic side to him. Andy has never come entirely out with the truth but some interesting facts have been found. Andy first discovered he had a homosexual taste when he was a student at Carnegie Tech. Andy also had an off and on relationship with a friend whom he met in the autumn of 1945. (Shanes, 11) Most of Andys Advertisements and window displays incorporated shoes. The majority of the time he was asked to redo them because they came across as being too sexual. He was also known to have a slight foot fetish.

Boyfriends of Andy have admitted that Andy enjoyed licking their shoes while making love. He also published a quite graphic series called “Drawings for a boy book” (Shanes, 11) Although Andy never “came out” he was known to be a part of the “lavender” social world, which was an underground social world with gays and transvestites. Andy wanted to bring avant grade artists and the public together. The common people are the ones intended for Andys art. In 1958 Andy made the transition to this idea from commercial artist to “Fine Artist”. (Shanes, 15) This was after a similar artists movement of John Rauschenburg.

After his work with I Miller Shoes in the 1960s, which was a large shoe manufacturer, his subjects started to move to common day objects. In 1961 Andy started to play with the idea of mass production. (Cameo, 8) He chose common day items such as Campbell soup cans, money, Coca-Cola, and newspaper headlines. He also did work n famous people such as Marilyn Manroe and Jackie Onasis. In starting pop art Andy called upon everything he had learned from advertising. Also from TV where the dollar sign and the gun were predominate symbols, where the subliminal message was sexual desire without gratification, and were the immediate aim was to shock.

Andy chose to paint a series of big black-and-white pictures of what artists were supposed to hate most. The look from the backs of cheep magazines. The simplest crummiest ads for jobs, TV, wigs, and canned food, Andy made into art. Andys transition is only best explained visually. In his early works ith portraits such as “Ladies and Gentleman” 1917 (1) and “Truman Capote”1979 (2) they show how Andy uses vibrant colors to emphasize specific features. In his “Untitled” (Hernia) 1960-62 (3) painting it shows his work with common day ads and simplicity.

This print almost looks like it came from a textbook. “Front and Back of Dollar bills” (4) experiments with the use of silk screen and mass production. This painting is quite striking because when you think about it money might just be the most mass-produced object in the world. Andy also had a tendency to paint unordinary things like his “cow” (5) painting. He stayed within his style of color but the cow is neither a famous portrait nor a mass-produced object. After the tragic suicide of Marilyn Monroe in 1962 Andy became somewhat obsessed with her beauty. Bekris, 113)

He would use pictures of her lips and produce them hundreds of times using bright sexy colors. He always focused on her most sexual features such as he hair, eyes, and lips. “Marilyn Monroe Lips” 1962 (6) and “Marilyn”. Andy had another artistic style to him, it was one that came from his childhood. Being raised in poverty and being exposed to such horrific sights contributed to his next “Movement” of work. Andy was curious in the acts of God whether it is from Mother Nature to killings or atomic bombs. Andy would make reproductions of all these incidents.

It wasnt until Henry Geldchler shoed Andy a more productive direction. In June of 1962 Geldchler suggested that Andy start looking at the “dark side of American culture” in a more artistic way. (Bekris 126) Andy new he had to come up with a new idea that would shock his audience as much as the soup cans and dollar bills had. Andy began doing paintings such as “car crash” 1963 (7) and “electric chair” (8). These images were extremely powerful. You were not just looking at an image in the newsprint you were looking at an image that was twice as large as you were and repeated ten times.

Also he always chose a color to tint these images in. The color gives a mysterious side to it, which makes you want to know the rest of the story. The “Death-and-disaster” series became recognized as some of his best works, but at the same time many of his supporters found the images unacceptable. None of his supporters wanted to hang a picture of a man mangled in his car over their fireplace. The prints did do extremely well but only over seas in Europe and Germany. Some other famous prints are, “Sixteen Jacques” 1964 “Lavender Disaster” 1963(9) and “Sucide”1963 (10).

Oxidation Painting” 1978 (11) is in the death-and-disaster series but has a different twist to it. It is two large sheets of copper that had been treated with patina. While wet they were urinated on showing the given effect. Along with his artistic style his physical appearance began to change. He began wearing a silver blond wig that fit on his head haphazardly. (Bekris, 99) He even went as far as to change his speech and mannerisms. For the next several years Andy continued with his death and isaster series. He was now a world-renowned artist and had private shows throughout the world.

In 1986, Andy flew to Milan for the opening of his last show. During the last two days in Milan Andy did not leave the hotel. “He was in much pain” recalled Daniel Morear. “He was in bed” which was quite unusual for Andy to be in bed let alone for two days. At the end of 1986 his gallstones had become so enlarged that they had become life threatening. Andy refused to go to a hospital because of his great fear of them. In the first week of February his illness stopped him dead in his tracks. For he first time in his life Andy abandoned his friends in the middle of a night out on the town to go home and spend the evening in his bed.

A sonogram taken by Dr. Cox showed the gallbladder to be severely infected, inflamed, and filled with fluid. The next day Andy was scheduled to be admitted into New York Hospital. The operation was supposed to take place on Saturday and have Andy home by late Sunday. Saturday morning Andy locked all his valuables in his safe and headed to the hospital. He had also made it very clear that no one, not even his mother should know he was going to the hospital. When he was admitted they put him under the name of Bob Roberts.

A report from the New York Times Magazine by M. A Farba and Lawrence Altman stated: After fifteen hours of preparation, Warhols surgery was preformed between 8:45 am and 12:10 p. m. on Saturday February 21, 1987. There were no complications at the time – and none were found during the autopsy or by any of the doctors who had received the case. Warhol spent three hours in recovery after the surgery, and at 3:45pm was taken to his private room on the twelfth floor of Baker Pavilion. For comfort precaution and on the recommendation of Dr. Cox, his regular physician, Warhol was placed in the hands of a private duty nurse, rather than the normal complement of staff nurses.

He was examined during the afternoon and early evening by the senior attending physicians, who noted nothing unusual. Alert and seemingly in good spirits, Warhol watched television and around 9:30 p. m. spoke to the house keeper at his east side home, a few blocks away. Min Chou was the private nurse attending to Andy. It was not known whether she kept her post but it was clear that she did not record his vital signs and neglected to give him medicine. At 0pm and at 4am on Sunday February 22, Min Chou, the private nurse who had been selected by the hospital from a registry, took Andys blood pressure and found it stable.

She gave a progress report to the chief surgical resident by telephone at 11pm; presumably while the patient slept. At 5:45am Ms. Chou noticed that Warhol had turned blue and his pulse had weakened. Unable to waken him she summoned the floor nurse who in the words of a colleague, “almost had a stroke” A cardiac arrest team began resuscitation efforts but according to hospital sources, had difficulty putting a tube in Warhols indpipe because rigor mortis had started to set in. At 6:31am the artist was pronounced dead.

The art world suffered a great lose with the death of Andy Warhol. His personal style will always move forward touching and changing peoples lives every day. Andy was a one of a kind and will never be recreated. To understand his art is a feeling many people over look. It is an every day reminder that we dont take the time to look at what goes on around us. Now when I walk I wont just look down but all around me. At the trees, clouds, bricks under my feet, and the entire world moving around me.

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