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November 15, 2023
Beatles scholar explores one of the Fab Four’s untold stories -- superfan-turned-confidante Mal Evans

By Gary Graff, special to 

Kenneth Womack is no stranger to writing about the Beatles.


One of the foremost Fab Four scholars in the world, the English and popular music professor at Monmouth University in New Jersey -- and a regular contributor to various publications -- teaches a course on the band there and has lectured about the Beatles at Harvard, Princeton, the Grammy Museum and the Smithsonian Institution, among others. He’s penned several books, including “The Story of Abbey Road and the End of the Beatles” and “John Lennon 1980: The Last Days of His Life.”


Womack’s latest, meanwhile, fills what’s been a major void in Beatles lore.


“Living the Beatles Legend: The Untold Story of Mal Evans,” published this week, is a comprehensive 580-page account of one of those people who could credibly be called a “fifth Beatle,” alongside cohort Neil Aspinall and record producer George Martin. Befriending the band at Liverpool’s Cavern Club during the early ‘60s, Evans became indispensable as a roadie, logistics coordinator, confidant, Apple Records executive and even a musical contributor, banging the anvil, for instance, on “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” and playing harmonica on “Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite” and trumpet on “Helter Skelter,” and more. Evans also offered lyric suggestions for several songs. He’s particularly visible in Peter Jackson’s “Get Back” docuseries, and Evans also worked privately for Paul McCartney.


Evans -- who was fatally shot by Los Angeles police during a domestic disturbance on Jan. 4, 1976, at the age of 40 -- was also a chronicler, keeping extensive diaries complete with hand-drawn illustrations. At the time of his death, Evans had a publishing deal for a memoir, with the same title; after lengthy legal machinations, the manuscript and his diaries were returned to Evans’ family in England, who reached out to Womack -- via filmmaker Simon Weitzman -- near the start of the pandemic.

“Living the Beatles Legend” is the first of a number of planned Evans projects, including a documentary. With the book, however, Womack has shined an enormous light on a Beatles adjunct whose enormous contribution and heart-rending personal story has not been told until now...


Why do you like the Beatles so much?


Womack: I do know that answer because I get to revisit it every fall when I teach the Beatles here at Monmouth. It’s an incredible creative arc that they represent. I can’t find another version of that in any art form...that seven-year arc of almost unremitting growth. I can’t find anything else like it and I love to re-experience it. And the short 14-week semester we have here on the shore is perfect. Every week, you almost get whiplash; last week it was “Revolver,” the week before that was “Rubber Soul,” next week is “Sgt. Pepper’s.” You can’t pause and catch your breath. It’s just still a remarkable story, and John Lennon had it right; shortly before his death, he said, “I know everybody wants a reunion, but you’ve got all these records. Don’t you know what’s gonna be the thing?” and, man, he was damn right.


As a Beatles scholar, your thoughts on “Now and Then?”


Womack: I love it. I love the concept of it. I like that it adds to the Beatles’ narrative. The only thing I’ve been bracing against a little bit is this talk about that it’s a kind of ending. I suppose it is a kind of ending in terms of not having new Beatles material, but what we’ve learned about the Beatles lo these 53 years since they last had a No. 1 song -- in the United States, at least -- is there is no ending for the Beatles, right? They will resound for centuries and people will enjoy them and discover them in new and different ways for as long as people have ears.


The story of the Mal Evans book during the past nearly 50 years is almost as good as the story of Mal Evans. How did it wind up with you?


Womack: Well, I had no plans to work on Mal Evans. Like all of us, I was fascinated by him and interested in him and his role. And once you know who Mal is you can’t help but see that wonderful figure photo-bombing so many Beatles pictures -- on purpose. He loved to be part of it. Still, I had no interest other than sort of surface level. But when Gary Evans, his son, contacted me...and he wanted someone to tell his father’s story, well, Gary is loveable like his dad in all the wonderful cuddly ways. Within two minutes I knew I was gonna do whatever he wanted. And he’s grown into such a wonderful friend.


Give us the “elevator pitch” about Mal Evans. Why do we need to know about him?


Womack: I would say it’s a subject of interest to people whether you love the Beatles or not. Fortunately, most people love the Beatles, but it is the story of the people we need in the world of art to make our work possible. Everybody needs a Mal. Nobody lives in this kind of artist vacuum, and the greatest musical fusion of the 20th century and beyond, which was the Beatles, didn’t happen in a vacuum It happened because of people like Mal, Neil, George Martin, etc. they’re absolutely essential. And since we’re so interested in fan culture, particularly at this moment, I would say it’s also an example of what happens when you have perfect access to your idols every day of the week, every month of the year. It is kind of a cautionary tale, too.


How did doing the book and gleaning all this insight, from the horse’s mouth, change the perspective you had about Mal?


Womack: Well, I simply didn’t know about Mal’s inner life, right, what his thoughts and aspirations and dreams were, and how he saw the kind of explosion of Beatlemania right before his eyes. I really felt like I was naive to those things and I learned Mal had this deep inner life. He’s a person who read, watched a lot of movies. I suppose I should have known he had some level of intellect because how else do you hang with guys like Lennon and McCartney and Harrison and Starr? They’re witty, they’re clever, they’re thinkers in their own way, so Mal couldn’t be a slouch. The diaries in particular have demonstrated how thoughtful he was, about what was happening around him. What I was trying to do was bring a little color to what Mal was saying and to make sure I was treating him like...not really a hostile witness, but since I had access to 33,000 written words from Mal Evans I thought it was right to go out and get the flavor of what other people thought...just about everybody who I can think of.


Were you able to get any Beatles input?


Womack: I did try Mr. McCartney and Mr. Starr; I didn’t hear back from their folks, which is OK because they have a lot of commentary that’s contemporaneous, that’s on the record -- as were George and John about how much Mal meant to them. There would always be a place for them; this is their beloved, lost friend. I think they would only miss him more to read the materials and participate.


What kind of unique insight did that allow Mal to have about those events?


Womack: There was a moment when reading the diaries, reading his manuscript, it becomes very clear that he’s thinking about posterity. I’ve been thinking of him lately as the Beatles’ first historian. He kind of realized earlier than most that this was going to be important someday, so quite early on he’s saving receipts and documents, keeping the diaries from 1963, filling notebooks with points and discoveries about the Beatles, taking all these photographs. He really was acting in a kind of historical fashion, and fortunately for us, he was also privy to the recording of all those great songs and probably had a sense, maybe even more lucid than the Beatles themselves, that they were doing something that was otherworldly. And he was a pack rat, but a pack rat with a purpose.


As a reader, you want to love Mal, but there are aspects of his life and behavior -- especially abandoning his family in England -- that give us pause.


Womack: He’s a deeply flawed man, and to Gary Evans’ and Julie Evans’ credit, they said, “We want you to tell the whole story. You don’t need to hold back because of us.” They figured out a long time ago, particularly when their dad died in the home of a girlfriend thousands of miles away, he wasn’t like other dads. This wouldn’t be one of those stories.


But you can see in the book that Mal recognized that about himself, too.


Womack: He did have a strong recognition of himself and who he was, and that’s both to his benefit and to his detriment -- his benefit because he recognizes his role inside the band. He’ll do anything whatsoever to help (the Beatles) and serve their cause. His detriment in the sense he realizes that his family’s losing. He realizes that he can’t change. he wants to change. He really does want to be the guy who’s the great correspondent with his wife, who makes the phone calls regularly. And he learns it’s not just the circumstances of the whirlwind of Beatlemania that prevents him from doing that; it is himself and his own appetites. Fortunately for us, he was also privy to the recording of all those great songs and probably had a sense -- maybe even more lucid than the Beatles


Do you have a favorite Mal anecdote or story out of all this?


Womack: My favorite anecdote in the whole thing was that Mal had quit the Beatles. We didn’t know this out in the world. On or around April of 1974 he decided he needed to have a clean break so he could go become a producer or a songwriter, and he goes and tells them, “I’m out.” And they say the most wonderful things, beautiful platitudes about how much he means to them, etc. Only one of them got it right -- that was George Harrison. He didn’t believe it, and he was right. It wasn’t true. Mal couldn’t quit the Beatles and never does. He’s never not in their employ. That goes to that cautionary tale of what it means to be the ultimate fan. You can’t quit.


There’s another Mal Evans book coming, and the documentary still in the works. He’s becoming a sort of industry for you, isn’t he?


Womack: I hope not. I love Mal. I love the subject, and I’ll work on any project with Gary Evans, that’s for sure. But there are other Beatles stories we need to mine.


What’s the next one you’d like to tell most?


Womack: Well, the one that is really missing, and maybe the last one that’s really missing, is Neil Aspinall. I made a point of the several hundred people who I talked to about Mal, if any of them were in the orbit of Neil, too, I had questions. I want to know how (Evans and Aspinall) operated in the universe together. I think they operated as a kind of good cop/bad cop a lot of times because they had to say “no” so often. I feel like I only barely got to the edge of Neil Aspinall, who he was and why did he abandon his career -- he wanted to be an accountant -- and what was going on there. So I have a lot of interest in learning more about Neil and writing about it. That would be a great next project.

Kenneth Womack discusses and signs his new book, “Living the Beatles Legend: The Untold Story of Mal Evans” -- joined by Evans’ children Gary and Julie -- at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17, at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1100 Rock and Roll Blvd., Cleveland. 216-781-7625 or

− End of article.

DJ Al Pascal for CFRA radio in Ottawa boldly predicted that "No Matter What" would be a chart-bound hit contender. Released by Apple Records, the song was recorded by Badfinger and is produced by the Beatles roadie Mal Evans.


November 14, 2023
The Beatles Chart Their First Hot 100 Top 10 Hit In America In Nearly 28 Years

by Hugh McIntyre, Senior Contributor for Forbes


The Beatles reached several Billboard charts last week with their first new single in decades, “Now and Then.” The tune arrived on a handful of lists, but not the Hot 100—the most closely-watched and competitive of the bunch. Now that a full tracking frame has passed in which millions listened to and purchased the song, it makes a grand entrance onto the main tally.


“Now and Then” debuts on this week's Hot 100 at No. 7. It marks the band’s first new top 10 on the chart in nearly 28 years.


Their last new entrant inside the highest tier on the tally came to them back in 1996. That year, The Beatles hit No. 6 with “Free as a Bird.” That tune was taken from their Anthology album, and it was also new to fans, who flocked to buy the cut.


“Now and Then” debuts so high on the Hot 100 thanks largely to strong sales. The single sold 73,000 copies between digital and physical offerings, according to Billboard. That large a number would be enough for almost any act to reach the highest space on the ranking.


The Beatles’ new single also racked up 11 million streams. Radio programmers and DJs across the U.S. didn’t hesitate to put “Now and Then” into rotation as well, and the cut scored 2.1 million impressions at radio.


“Now and Then” is being billed as the last song from The Beatles. It was based off of a demo recorded by John Lennon but left unfinished before his death. With the help of new artificial intelligence technology, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were able to finish the tune and share it with the world, who clearly loved it.

November 13, 2023
Now & Then - The Beatles Take a Sad Song and Make It Better
by Andrew from Parlogram Auctions

With the Beatles at number 1 in the UK for the first time in 54 years, we look at the reaction and review the record that everybody is talking about. In this in-depth review we cover everything from Paul's surprise announcement to Peter Jackson's video and how Taylor Swift threw Apple's release schedule into disarray. We also take a deep dive into the sound quality of the single and its b-side 'Love Me Do' on 12" and 7" vinyl.

Ringo Starr reacts to “incredible” news that The Beatles are Number One

"It’s a beautiful day"

by Alex Rigotti for New Music Express

Ringo Starr has shared his reaction to The Beatles hitting Number One in the charts.


The band recently announced their single ‘Now And Then‘, the last track to feature all four Beatles members. The song stems from a demo tape recorded by the late John Lennon. The Beatles used AI to complete the song, and waited nearly “a quarter of a century” to have the technology to finish ‘Now And Then’.

‘Now And Then’, which was released November 2, has topped the UK Charts 60 years after their first Number OneIt is the band’s 18th Number One single, with the last being 1969’s ‘The Ballad Of John And Yoko’.

Yesterday (November 11), drummer Starr took to Twitter to react to the news.

“What’s happening it’s all happening number one in England UK incredible a few more facts will come on the screen” he wrote, attaching a video to his tweet. “Peace and love
everybody. It’s a beautiful day.”


A video set to ‘Now And Then’ showed a slideshow of photos with some more impressive statistics: “Beatlemania is BACK”.


The video claims that ‘Now And Then’ is the fastest-selling single of 2023 and fastest-selling vinyl single of the century. It also claims the song had the biggest one week physical sales in almost a decade, and it has the most streams in a week of any Beatles song ever.


Just a few days ago, Starr revealed that he didn’t think the band would last during the early days of the group: “When we started, we thought that, maybe, we’d have ten years.” He also said that he predicted that as he saw it as “the maximum span for a rock’n’roll group” at the time.


“None of us thought it would last a week!” he said. “Paul was going to write, I was going to open a hairdresser’s, George would get a garage. But it went on and then it ended. And at the right time, I think. But, you know, that didn’t stop us playing with each other.”


The band have also released new expanded editions of ‘1962-1966 (The Red Album)’ and ‘1967-1970 (The Blue Album)’, mixed in stereo and Dolby, this Friday (November 10).


Sidebar commentary from John Whelan of the Ottawa Beatles Site

This website prides itself in trying to present different viewpoints on Beatles music. With the release of the "Red" and "Blue" albums mixed so differently, there are bound to be some opposing viewpoints of what should have and what shouldn't have been done to the Beatles classics. In particular, the ending mix on "I Am The Walrus." I am of the strongest opinion the Giles Martin mix gives us a chance to hear the Beatles in a new way not heard before. Think of it this way: It's like looking at a different side of coin which gives us whole new perspective (that's what the Beatles Anthology was all about!) Kudos to Giles Martin and his team for giving fans something different to listen to in the new "Red" and "Blue" releases.

Having said that, may I present Michael Noland's viewpoints on "I Am The Walrus."

New Beatles song is Anthony D’Amato’s biggest-selling record since 1997

'Now and Then' was written and sung by Lennon in 1978

by James Cummings for Times of Malta

The Beatles’ final single release is Anthony D’Amato’s biggest-selling record in almost 30 years.


According to Anthony D’Amato, owner of the historic record shop bearing his name, the Fab Four’s recently released single Now and Then is the shop’s biggest-selling record since Elton John’s Candle in the Wind CD in 1997.


D’Amato is the store’s current owner and the fifth generation of his family to run the store also known as D’Amato Records. He told Times of Malta he had been surprised by the volume of sales.


Record store owner Anthony D’Amato said The Beatles’ ‘Now and Then’ single was the store’s biggest-selling record in almost three decades. Photos: Matthew Mirabelli


“This record has taken the world by storm... we’re struggling to find more stock,” he said.


“Nobody was expecting this volume of sales – we underestimated demand by around tenfold.”


Stressing the song was proving popular among people of all ages, D’Amato said teenagers through to those in their 80s had gone to the Valletta outlet to buy a copy.


And while The Beatles’ music has always proven popular, D’Amato thinks this record is special.


“It’s a great song and the way they did it was very touching... for me, it’s up there with Yesterday,” he said.


D’Amato said the strong sales reflect revival for the record shop business, which 10 years ago was “completely dead”.


A decade ago, sales of vinyl records were non-existent and CD sales were dying, D’Amato explained.


“Over 90 per cent of record shops worldwide had closed; we only survived thanks to our loyal clientele,” he said, adding some of the shop’s customers had been visiting the store on a weekly basis since the 1960s.


Now and Then was released 60 years after The Beatles’ Please Please Me album of 1963.


Now, however, with popular artists like Taylor Swift increasingly choosing to release their music on vinyl, the fortunes of record shops have improved, D’Amato said.


“Business is healthy, it’s one of the best times for record shops,” he said.


Released on November 2, Now and Then is the first Beatles song to be released in decades and more than 40 years after it was first recorded as a demo by John Lennon.


Written and sung by Lennon in 1978, the track was one of several on a cassette that was later given to Paul McCartney by Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono in 1994.


The track was completed by McCartney and fellow surviving band member Ringo Starr with the help of artificial intelligence (AI), which was used to include Lennon’s vocals and the guitar playing of George Harrison.


According to the UK’s official singles chart, the single has already become The Beatles’ most-streamed track in one week by Thursday.


And, if sales of Now and Then are anything to go by, this could signal a new golden age for a record store which claims to be the oldest in the world, having first opened its doors in 1885. 

November 12, 2023
Some examples of the new 2023 Beatles mixes


November 11, 2023
The Beatles - Now And Then
by the Epic Orchestra

The Beatles' Now And Then is UK's Official Number 1 song in record-breaking return
The Fab Four make UK Official Chart history as act with longest ever gap between first and last chart-topping hit
by Carl Smith for Official

The Beatles make UK Official Chart history today with Now And Then, as the Liverpool legends’ ‘last’ track storms to Number 1 with some incredible stats.


The Fab Four - Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon and George Harrison – vault 41 places to the summit, having debuted at Number 42 last week based on just 10 hours’ worth of sales following the track’s Thursday release.


Now And Then uses WingNut Films' groundbreaking MAL audio technology to ‘reunite’ the inimitable group one last time, returning them to the top of the Official Singles Chart a whole 60 years after their first Number 1 single From Me to You, marking the longest-ever gap between an act’s first and last chart-topping hit.


Their 18th Number 1 hit, The Beatles extend their record as the British act with the most UK Number 1 singles in Official Charts history. Only Elvis Presley, with 21 Number 1 hits to his name, has more.


Delve into Now and Then's unbelievable achievements below.


The Beatles' Now And Then in numbers this week: all the chart facts


Celebrating the news, The Beatles' Paul McCartney exclusively tells Official Charts:


"It’s mind boggling. It’s blown my socks off. It’s also a very emotional moment for me. I love it!"

“The beat goes on Peace & Love”, adds bandmate Ringo Starr.

On The Beatles’ incredible success, Martin TalbotChief Executive OfficerOfficial Charts Company comments: “Beatlemania has returned this week - and what an amazing few days it has been for The Fab Four.  

“The return of John, Paul, George and Ringo with the last ever Beatles single, Now And Then, has cemented their legend by breaking a catalogue of records - and in doing so underlined the extraordinary scope of their enduring appeal, across all the generations, with huge numbers of streams, downloads and vinyl singles.  

“If there were ever any doubts that The Beatles are the greatest band of all time, they have surely consigned them to history this week.”

Ottawa Beatles Site Footnote: The remainder of this article, which was non-Beatle related, was edited out for brevity sake.


November 10, 2023
The Beatles Chart The Two Bestselling Rock Songs In America
by Hugh McIntyre, senior contributor for Forbes

The Beatles are back in a major way this week, proving once again that even though they’ve been broken up for decades, they are still one of the top rock bands in the country. Impressively, the group doesn’t only see their just-released single succeed, but one of their oldest cuts as well.


This week, The Beatles chart the two bestselling rock songs in the U.S. The band’s new single “Now and Then” debuts atop the Rock Digital Song Sales chart, the weekly ranking of the bestselling tracks in America labeled by Billboard as rock. The tune opens in first place with 16,254 copies sold, according to data shared by Luminate.


As “Now and Then” rules, The Beatles also claim the second-bestselling rock song in the country. Their debut single “Love Me Do” re-enters at No. 2 on the Rock Digital Song Sales chart. That smash sold just under 5,500 copies in the past tracking frame.


“Now and Then” marks The Beatles’ first No. 1 on the Rock Digital Song Sales chart. That’s not entirely shocking, given that the band’s heyday came decades before the introduction of any digital sales of music. Their catalog was also initially kept off of platforms like iTunes, which impacted their sales for a few years.


The Beatles have now charted nine top 10 hits on the Rock Digital Song Sales chart. Also included in that roundup—which now also features “Now and Then”—are beloved cuts like “Here Comes the Sun,” “Let It Be,” and “Hey Jude,” among others.


“Now and Then” and “Love Me Do” aren’t just the bestselling rock songs in America; they're also some of the top-sellers among all tracks and all styles this week. The former cut opens at No. 1 on the all-genre Digital Song Sales chart, giving the band their first champion on that list as well. “Love Me Do” simultaneously debuts at No. 5, giving the group their first pair of top 10 wins.


The following article was first published by Fast Company and is written by Rob Walker on November 10, 2023...

November 9, 2023
Giles Martin: The Man Behind The Beatles' "Now And Then" Album
by Chris Evans of Virgin Radio

Giles Martin, the son of legendary Beatles producer George Martin, joins Chris Evans on the Virgin Radio Breakfast Show to talk about the creation of the new Beatles album, "Now And Then."


In this exclusive interview, Giles discusses the process of selecting and adapting songs from the Beatles' extensive catalog, his collaboration with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, and the challenges and rewards of bringing the album to life.


He also shares his personal insights into his father's role as the "fifth Beatle," his contributions to the band's iconic sound, and the impact his work has had on music history.

Paul McCartney Recalls Songwriting ‘Interplay’ With John Lennon as ‘Nothing Short of Miraculous’
“The fact was, it was easier, much easier, because there were two minds at work,” the Beatles hitmaker says
by Jeremy Bailey for The Wrap

Paul McCartney has put new perspective on the effect John Lennon had on him as a musician, songwriter and friend, stamping their chemistry as a miracle.


In the latest episode of the “McCartney: A Life in Lyrics” podcast, the Beatles bassist and songwriter said the duo’s efforts transcended any McCartney could have ever made alone.


“Now I’m conscious that I don’t have him, very much,” McCartney said. “And you know, often we’ll sort of refer to, ‘What would John say to this? Is this too soppy? He would’ve said da da da,’ so I’ll change it. But my songs have to reflect me, and you don’t have this opposing element so much. I have to do that myself these days.”


McCartney was matter-of-fact when describing, as a practical matter, what it was like to work with Lennon.


“It was easier, much easier, because there were two minds at work,” McCartney said. “And that interplay was nothing short of miraculous.”


McCartney illustrated the point with a lyric from “Getting Better,” their hit song off 1967’s “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” their eighth studio album that’s considered by many to be their best.


“One of the good things about writing with John, he would often come in from another angle,” McCartney said. “So if I’m doing a song, ‘It’s getting better all the time,’ John might easily say, ‘It couldn’t get much worse,’ which immediately opens the song right up. That was one of the things I loved about working with him. He could’ve easily said, ‘It’s getting better all the time, yes indeed it is.’” 



McCartney recounted how he and Lennon first striking up the idea of working together musically was a potential collaboration the likes of which neither had experienced before. At one point they simply told each other they’d like to see one another’s song work.


“So that was the start of our relationship,” McCartney said. “We decided to get together, normally at my house. And my dad always left his pipe in the drawer.


“So we would take tea, fill the pipe with it and smoke it,” a laughing McCartney added, referring to tea leaves, not cannabis, which would of course come later.


McCartney dropped the podcast revelations a week after the release of the Beatles’ so-called final song, “Then and Now,” and an accompanying 12-minute short film streaming exclusively on Disney+ that tells the backstory of the song, the finishing touches of which were put together in 2022 by McCartney and Ringo Starr (George Harrison died in 2001 but recorded guitar tracks for it before his death). The song was ultimately possible thanks to AI technology that separated a rough track featuring Lennon’s voice and a piano melody.


In the podcast, McCartney reflected on Lennon for the episode focused on lyrics to McCartney’s 1982 solo song, “Here Today,” written and recorded about Lennon’s death not long after he was assassinated in front of his New York City apartment building, in December 1980.


“What about the time that we met/I suppose you could say we were playing hard to get,” a lyric for the song goes.


McCartney explained the story behind another refrain from the song, “‘What about the night we cried?”


“That was a specific incident in Key West,” McCartney said. “There was a hurricane coming in and we had to lay low for a couple of days. So we were in our little motel room, so we got very drunk and cried about how we loved each other or something.” 


McCartney called it “basically a memory song, that is a love song to John.”


“It was very moving, very emotional writing this song, because I was just sitting there in this bare room thinking of John and realizing I’d lost him,” McCartney said. “And it was a powerful loss, so to have a conversation with him in a song was some form of solace. Somehow I was with him again.”


The Beatles bassist and frontman for the Wings also recalled his first memory of Lennon.


“He was like this slightly older guy, hair grease, black jacket, sideboards as we called them — sideburns was American,” McCartney said. “I just remember thinking, ‘Oh, well he’s a cool guy.’ No idea who he is.”


Listen to the full podcast or other episodes of “McCartney: A Life in Lyrics” here.

November 8, 2023

November 7, 2023