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2007 UDATE: New Orleans still needs our support. Letter from Roselyn February 2007

Dear Stephen,

Thank you for all that you do to help.

Yes there is still a deep and continuing need for help down here. Those of us who are rebuilding are operating on shoe strings. Singing on the streets is not exactly profitable right now although Mardi Gras Day was pretty good.

Contributions to both the New Orleans Musicians' Health Clinic and to the Hurricane Relief Fund are beneficial as well as your generous grants to individuals.

We continue to invite people to come down to work on rebuilding efforts.

We beg you to contact your Senators and Congresssional Representatives to get serious about rebuilding the levees 30 ft deep and 30 ft high and 50 ft wide (preferably by the Dutch since we helped rebuild their dikes after WWII, they could return the favor.)

We need to protect and expand the wetlands which are the first line of defence. We need to close

MR GO (the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet which was so instrumental in the deluge which took out so much of southern Louisiana.) Only about 16 ships a month use MR GO and hundreds of houses were swept away and hundreds of people were killed because the hurricane waters come right up the outlet as though it were an inlet to murder.

We also desperately need a CCC type project to rebuild the sewerage system, the water system and the streets. It has to be done in that order as there is no point in repairing streets if they have to be dug up again to repair the sewerage and water systems. We are still losing millions of gallons of purified water and a lot of it is seeping out underground which further undermines out homes.

The terrible streets doom our autos to broken springs and shake them to pieces. If they just rebuild the 11% of the worse streets every year, they MIGHT just catch up.

There are few doctors and nurses and neither Charity Hospital nor the VA hospital have been reopened although both could have been repaired and up and running by now, but the beaurocrats have decided they don't want to do that.

The VA hospital was not that badly damaged, but it continues to be closed because the Pentagon, which had projected to build a new hospital, refuses to build a new one if the old one is repaired. This should be a both/and rather than an either/or situation, but the head of the VA, hospital when given the news that repairing the old hospital would jeapordize the new hospital, closed the old one.


The "powers that be" were already fighting to close Charity BEFORE Katrina so they are happy to have an excuse to keep it closed.

A major part of the problem with the hospitals, of course, is the lack of universal, one payer medical insurance under medicare. With "for profit" hospitals and "for profit" insurance companies taking 65% or more of the medical dollar, not much is left for the actual care of the sick. This city is hard put to pay medical insurance, even GM is hard put to pay medical insurance any more.

The schools were a mess before Katrina and they are worse now. Many teachers have left. The good ones can get jobs in other places paying more money AND get paid with greater regularity. Some teachers went months without checks BEFORE the storm.

Turning the schools over to the state means that rednecks outer state now have THEIR hands in the cookie jar. NOT a good situation.

Computer access is pretty good up town and in the central business district and in the Quarters but not so good elsewhere and non-existant in the 9th ward.

On the bright side, a lot of us have gotten insurance checks and are rebuilding as rapidly as we can.

And that's the situation in Woebegone New Orleans today friends, so please keep those checks and money orders coming and come on down with your churches and clubs and help rebuild the schools and muck out the homes.






New Orleans Community Spaces in Crisis By Jordan Flaherty, March 7, 2007

From: (Parts of this article originally appeared in the March/April issue of Colorlines Magazine, on newsstands now. Check out Colorlines online at, and

Community centers have long been central to New Orleans organizing, serving as a gathering location for people, culture and ideas. One activist recently explained, "organizing here looks like neighborhood get-togethers, potlucks, block parties, and conversations on a neighbor?s porch. Its about culture and community." But 18 months after Katrina, many of New Orleans? community spaces, vital resources in the reconstruction of the city, remain shuttered. Traditional sources for support, such as foundations or charities, often miss this aspect of New Orleans' community, and many of these spaces have received little outside assistance.

In a city where many people are still in crisis, most federal support still has not arrived, insurance companies have evaded responsibility, and every repair seems to take longer than expected, a lot of these spaces need help. Few of have received anything close to the funding, resources, or staff they need for their work, and some are working unsustainable hours while living in a still-devastated city. Because New Orleans? education and health care systems have been dismantled, many have either personal or family issues around health or school that they must deal with.

Many spaces were in poorer neighborhoods, which were more damaged during Katrina. This is the case for The Marcus Garvey Resource Center, a community space for African American youth located near the former Magnolia housing projects, which received several feet of water.

Many of these centers are Black-owned businesses which nurture the city?s culture, while supporting the community and local organizing. For example, in the legendary Creole restaurant Dooky Chase, Martin Luther King, Jr. held strategy meetings with local community organizers, the walls featured stunning artwork by Black artists, and figures from James Baldwin to Ray Charles would stop in to eat. For almost 65 years, the restaurant stood as a community anchor across the street from the Lafitte projects. Today, 18 months post-Katrina, both are still struggling to reopen. After months of work and the support of many prominent national allies, Dooky Chase is scheduled to open its doors in April. Lafitte remains shut behind metal gates, and is the focus of grassroots struggles, congressional hearings, and a federal lawsuit.

Other community spaces were part of public housing developments ? such as the Sojourner Truth Center, which hosted a 2005 performance tour sponsored by INCITE Women Of Color Against Violence. The Sojourner Truth Center is located inside the Lafitte, and remains closed along with the nearby apartments.

Rising rents and costly repairs forced the Neighborhood Gallery, a Central City-based venue for everything from theatre, paintings and sculpture to dance parties and community meetings, out of their home.

More than damage from the storm, the Neighborhood Gallery was a victim of a housing market that has doubled in many areas. With much of the city still blighted, speculators snapped up non-flooded properties and affordable spaces became scarce. With tourism down and the population decimated, businesses around the city are suffering, and for Black-owned businesses and community spaces, the situation is at a crisis.

Before closing post-Katrina, Neighborhood Gallery had been open, in various locations, for almost twenty years. ?Every neighborhood we?ve gone into, we?ve enhanced it,? Gallery co-director Sandra Berry tells me. ?We take the arts to the ?hood. We?ve taken artists to a deserted field and built a playground.? Neighborhood Gallery co-founders Sandra Berry and Joshua Walker are now organizing events at schools, coffee shops, and other spaces.

Two community spaces that share a Central City building, Ashe Cultural Center and Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center, faced no storm-related damage, but were given a choice to either buy their spaces, or be kicked out, as the building they were located in transformed to condominiums. Ashe chose to embark on fundraising to buy their space, while Zeitgeist spent several months searching the New Orleans housing market. ?The best offer I received was for a space in Shreveport,? complained owner Rene Broussard.

The Community Book Center, a vital seventh ward gathering spot, reopened in December along with several other businesses on the same block despite still having no front windows and a floor in major need of work. ?Step carefully,? founder Vera Warren-Williams warned guests as they entered the store during the reopening celebration. After nearly a year and a half of shuttered storefronts, this street?s rebirth is a precious spot of hope in a city where 60% of the population remains displaced and many businesses still have not returned.

During the reopening, the owners of Community Book Center and other businesses on the block spoke of their dedication to their community and to the city. This is a theme echoed by other community spaces and small businesses. ?We must have spaces that support all of us,? Sandra Berry of the Neighborhood Gallery explained. ?We have to spread the art, support the culture. From prisons to church. Wherever there are people, we need to be.?


Jordan Flaherty is an editor of Left Turn Magazine and a community organizer.

To contact Jordan, email:

On myspace:

Podcasts: (click on "podcasts")


For more information on some of the places mentioned in this article:

Other Resources for information and action:

This is a low-volume email list for Jordan Flaherty's emails from New Orleans. To subscribe, email To unsubscribe, email

Boston and Cambridge area artists and musicians have begun to organize benefit events and activities to raise funds for New Orleans Artists and Musicians who have been devastated by hurricane Katrina. Community Arts Advocates will provide the nonprofit support and structure for the efforts and donations. Our fundraising focus will be instruments, props, supplies and funds for folk, Creole, and street performers and street artists. Artist can make specific requests which will be published on the Wish List page.

A donation form is located here and can be downloaded as a printable pdf file. Funds will be sent to New Orleans Musicians Clinic, Preservation Hall, Jazz Foundation of America, and individual New Orleans street performers after a review by an independent committee.

We will update this page as events and activities are scheduled. To volunteer and additional information contact: Matthew Fishman aka Fish the Magish <>

Jeremy Lyons has entertained thousands on the streets of the New Orleans, armed with no more than his naked voice and National guitar. He moved to Cambridge from New Orleans in September of 2005, and has since begun performing around Boston and New York. For more about Jeremy Lyons, email <> or visit his web site at

Jeremy Lyons and his "Soggy Guitar" at his flooded home in New Orleans.

NECN Did story on NOLA Arts with Fish the Magish 4/26/06

In Focus: Magician on a mission -- Matthew Fishman, also known as 'Fish the Magish,' is a street performer known as one of the best magicians in Boston. He joins NECN to discuss projects he's currently working on.

New Orleans Artists Relief Fund (NOLA Arts), April 14 -15, 2006 at 7:30 PM, at Jimmy Tingle's Off Broadway Theatre

Jimmy Tingle's Off Broadway Theatre presents a unique spin on what may seem like the ubiquitous Katrina benefit. On Friday and Saturday, April 14 & 15, help support New Orleans street performers adversely affected by the hurricane and enjoy a great evening of comedy and music.

Jimmy Tingle will perform his trademark combination of comedy and commentary, bringing wit and his own unique perspective to the day's political events.

Jeremy Lyons has entertained thousands on the streets of the New Orleans, armed with no more than his naked voice and National guitar. He moved to Cambridge from New Orleans in September of 2005, and has since begun performing around Boston and New York. He will perform solo and be joined on stage by local talent, including members of Session Americana: Ry Cavanaugh, Sean Staples, Jimmy Fitting, Billy Beard, Dinty Child and Kimon Kirk performing blues, country, rock and folk -- the music that has become known as Americana., Fish the Magish and Morphine. For more about Jeremy Lyons, go to

Jeremy Lyons Jimmy Tingle Fish the Magish

Bringing everything home, there will be a photographic display of the destruction of Jeremy's New Orleans home as well as salvaged artifacts, such as Jeremy's ruined guitars.

Join Jimmy, Jeremy, and special guests as they raise money for some of Katrina's forgotten victims. Show time is 7:30. Tickets are $20 for Friday and $25 for Saturday night, and can be purchased in advance at or by calling 1-866-811-4111.

New Orleans, Louisiana Arts and Artists Relief Fund (NOLA ARTS):

Boston and Cambridge area artists and musicians have begun to organize benefit events and activities to raise funds for New Orleans Artists and Musicians who have been devastated by hurricane Katrina. Community Arts Advocates will provides the nonprofit support and structure for the efforts and donations. The fundraising focus will be monetary assistance, as well as instruments, props, supplies and funds for folk, Creole, and street performers and street artists. Details here -- On-line donations here --

Seeking Book Donations

The New Orleans Public Library (New Orleans LA) The New Orleans Public Library is asking for any and all hardcover and paperback books for people of all ages in an effort to restock the shelves after Katrina. The staff will assess which titles will be designated for its collections. The rest will be distributed to destitute families or sold for library fundraising. Please send your books to: Rica A. Trigs, Public Relations New Orleans Public Library, 219 Loyola Avenue New Orleans, LA 70112 If you tell the post office that they are for the library in New Orleans, they will give you the library rate which is slightly less than the book rate.

Rise Up! Art, Sounds and Shrines: A Benefit for the New Orleans Arts Council

ARTSomerville and the Somerville Arts Council invite you to join in upcoming month-long fundraiser for the New Orleans Arts Council.


Feb 2 to March 3: Exhibit dates

Thur, Feb 2, 6-8pm: Shrine decorating event

Fri, Feb 3, 6-9pm: Opening reception; music by Shaun Wolf Wortis and Gato Malo; beaded necklace making with Spark Craft Studios

Sat, Feb 4, 3-5pm: New Orleans Photojournalist Donn Young discusses Katrina, its aftermath and rebuilding New Orleans' arts landscape

Fat Tues, Feb 28, 6-8pm: Mardi Gras Pancake Feast; acoustic music by Eric Goodrich

Thurs, March 2, 6-9pm: Closing celebration with Revolutionary Snake Ensemble plus New Orleans Delta Blues musician Jeremy Lyons


"Rise Up!" Closing Reception with the Revolutionary Snake Ensemble: Thurs, March 2, 6-9pm The Revolutionary Snake Ensemble is a riotous funk & street beat brass band, playing New Orleans-style and other modern improvised celebratory music--from '60s R&B to West African funk. Led by saxophonist Ken Field, the group has performed at the Krewe of Muses 2005 Mardi Gras Parade (New Orleans), the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Following the Snakes' performance in the Nave Sanctuary, there will be a closing reception in the gallery with music provided by New Orleans Delta Blues musician Jeremy Lyons, who has been living in Boston after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Lyons, who mixes up fluid finger picking with searing slides on his steel guitar, is not to be missed. Admission for this event is a $10 suggested donaton

"The City of New Orleans," Arlo Guthrie Two Week Train Benefit - December 2005

Arlo Guthrie plans to send the train he made famous in his recording of the Steve Goodman song, "The City of New Orleans," on a mission to help the musicians and the music of the city of New Orleans. Guthrie says he and other musicians will set out on the train two weeks before Christmas: Beginning in Chicago, the train will make stops along the way to collect donations, as well as musical and sound equipment to be delivered as a Christmas present to the musical venues in need in New Orleans and other Gulf Coast cities Details at: Rising Son Records, 10741 US Highway 1, Sebastian, FL 32958 (772) 589-5438

From: "Peter Bennett" <>

Date: Mon, 31 Oct 2005 00:53:09 -0600



Subject: RE: How you doing?

Hey, Stephen ---

Thank you for your note and for your kind thoughts. I think it is just great that you have been able to negotiate a suspension of the Cambridge performers' fee for N.O. refugee entertainers -- it has been a revelation to see the outpouring of love and the desire to help by so many people and organizations. The N.Y. Philharmonic Carnegie Hall concert in support of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra brought tears to my eyes knowing several friends from N.O. were privileged to be a part of that historic event.

I have returned to N.O. and spent the day today playing on Jackson Square for, mainly, relief workers and local returnees who were, to a person, very supportive and welcoming. Willow and Tara, also, were on the square.

The smell of rotting food in refrigerators abandoned on the street is at times overwhelming, but then there always have been noxious smells to deal with here and this new one will get cleaned up in due time. My own apartment suffered no major damage and I feel blessed after seeing the devastation so many suffered not a half a mile away in the Ninth Ward to the East and Uptown to the West.

One more name should be added to your list of those not yet heard from. Although she is not a street entertainer, street performance in N.O. would probably have died years ago but for her tireless advocacy. I hope Monday to bike up to S. Dorgenois St. to see if attorney Mary Howell is at her office.

Your N.O. Buskers' page is a treasure and was a source of solace as I sat in Central New York trying to piece together a degree of truth about the situation from conflicting reports. Although it may take a year to get the tourists and the conventioneers back I know it will happen. In the mean time the outpouring of affection from returning locals is enough to make me want to stay and do what I can to help with the reanimation of this historic district.

Thanks again for your concern and support of our extended community of buskers!


Peter (The Glassharper) Bennett



1000 Bourbon St. #290

New Orleans, LA 70116

Cell: 504-481-4987

NYC Village Halloween parade hosts

New Orleans Second Line and Symbolic Jazz Funeral

Monday, October 31st 7pm

The Rebirth Brass Band and Hot 8 are rollin!!!!

Seeking 25 New Orleans evacuees to Volunteer and represent!

Volunteer ŒMain Line‚ steppers and lantern carriers to meet at 4:00 p.m. Monday, October 31ST to organize, practice, and meet the press. Volunteers will receive complementary admission into the AFTER PARADE BENEFIT at Satalla featuring THE REBIRTH BRASS BAND, New York's Hungry March Band, the Sugar Tone and the Pontani Sisters Burlesque Trio. Volunteers please R.S.V.P with contact information to

New Orleans Second Line and Symbolic Jazz Funeral

  • To honor our collective grief, loss, and struggles
  • To celebrate the joy of our unique cultures and diversified communities
  • You are invited to roll in the Second Line with The Rebirth Brass Band and Hot 8 Brass Band. If you want to Second Line with the Bands come to 6th Avenue one block South of Spring Street, 6:15 p.m.
  • Parade map route:

This year NYC‚s theme will respond to the crisis in New OrleansˆNYC‚s sister City. There will be a lantern in the image of a coffin to symbolize our collective grief and loss, and lanterns in the shape of New Orleans landmarks ranging from Preservation Hall to the Magnolia Projects. This year they will revive the Phoenix Puppet which will rise out of the waters that swamped New Orleans. The puppet and lanterns will be carried by evacuees from New Orleans who are living in NYC.

Keeping the Spirit Alive !!!

Volunteers must R.S.V.P reply to

Or call 1-845-758-5519 ( please give name& contact info: email and phone number)

Parade map route:

This is a big New York Parade, 2 million people! Lets roll with it !



Adah Hann, New Orleans Performing Artist

NOLA/NYC Event Liasion

New Music New Hope New Orleans

October 5, 8 PM, $12

Somerville Theater, 55 Davis Square, Somerville, MA

Apollo Sunshine, Furvis Protokoll with special guest Mieka Pauley

SUN, Oct. 2, 12 Noon - 6 PM

Fish the Magish and Jeremy Lyons and others at Harvard Square October Fest

Street Stage on corner of JF Kennedy and Mounty Auburn Streets during festival.

The donation box.

A donation form is located here

Fish the Magish, The Third Life (,

John Bigelow Apollo Web Site, Jeremy Lyons

Stephen Baird, Matthew Fishman aka Fish the Magish <> and Jeremy Lyons <> met on September 13th in Harvard Square to begin planning for events here in Boston.

Jeremy Lyons lost his home in New Orleans and is looking for housing in Cambridge for his family of three.

Summary of Meeting:

  1. Planning "Busking for New Orleans Artists and Musicians" for end of October. Will seek speical event permit from Cambridge Arts Council for Harvard Square. Do advance publicity so checks can be written for fund. Produce button and signs to identify buskers who are part of event. Goal: $25,000 to help artists and musicians who lost instruments, props and supplies needed to continue professional work.
  2. Expand this web site to include "Wish List" for inkind donations of instruments, props and supplies needed to continue professional work. by New Orleans Artists and Musicians
  3. Expand this web site to include contact lists of New Orleans Artists and Musicians
  4. Develop larger benefit event around Mardi Gras next February in collaboration with area clubs, unversities and organizations.

Americans for the Arts

Emergency Relief Fund

September 15, 2005-Americans for the Arts, the nation's leading arts advocacy organization, announced today that it has established the Americans for the Arts Emergency Relief Fund, a permanent fund developed to provide timely financial assistance to areas impacted by a major disaster for the purpose of helping them rebuild the arts in their communities. Created with an initial contribution of $100,000 from Americans for the Arts' own reserves, the relief fund will distribute support directly to local arts agencies to assist with their own recovery or to provide needed services and funding to local nonprofit arts groups and individual artists and to other relief efforts dedicated to helping the arts. One-hundred percent of the contributions to the Emergency Relief Fund will go directly to these efforts.

Learn more about the fund, how to apply, and how to donate through our Emergency Relief Fund page

Americans for the Arts Response to Hurricane Katrina

September 02, 2005-I know you join with us in expressing grief and concern about the devastation from Hurricane Katrina that has affected our colleagues in the mid-south region. Americans for the Arts staff are working hard to connect with our members in the affected regions and to offer help in any way possible. Learn more about our efforts <get_involved/membership/katrina/default.asp>, tell us about yours <get_involved/membership/katrina/katrina_share.asp> and find out more about how arts organizations <get_involved/membership/katrina/organization_resources/default.asp> and others in the arts community <get_involved/membership/katrina/stories/default.asp> are responding to this tragedy.

New York Times article on New Orleans street musicians September 21st.

Marguerite Smith, one of the few remaining musicians in the city

"Jake, Casey, Grandpa - he plays the blues like you read about - Jacob and..." Ms. Smith paused, moving from foot to foot, her battery-powered sandals lighting up with each shuffle as she tried to remember. It was about the only light on Bourbon Street.

"And Robin, that little dude who plays the harmonica," she finally concluded.

Johnny D's, 17 Holland Street, Davis Square, Somerville, MA 617-776-2004

Two Benefits:

Sunday, September 18, 4:30-8:30 PM $15 Boogaloo Swamis plus Hot Tamale Brass Band

Wednesday, September 28, 8:30 PM Henry Butler (who lost home in storm) plus Amadee Castanell

Also will be working on truck of instruments and supplies.....

The 4th annual Pike Market Buskers' Festival, which is happening September 18th in Seattle, WA will be dedicating proceeds to New Orleans charities. Details see:

Matthew Fishman <> wote:

I would like to start by introducing myself. My name is Fish. I am a local Boston magician and street performer known as Fish the Magish. I spent three years living in New Orleans forging a brotherhood and many life long bonds along the way. I have many friends and loved ones who are living through the hell of this.

I am an entertainer and an activist and event planner. As such I feel my best contribution will come by helping to organize a major performance benefit in the Boston area. I also am interested in helping to spawn similar efforts in New York. If you know of other groups doing this please give them my information or pass theirs to me. Right now I am trying to determine with what resources to best serve the goal of a major relief benefit. The scope of this project will be much larger than one persons ideas so if this sounds like a way to help please contact me.

If you share my vision and can see coming together to make a performance network to benefit New Orleans please e-mail me at or call me at 617-930-FISH.Together we can shape a large scale means to effect change through performance.

Thank You, Fish the Magish

Hi Stephen,

Glad to hear from you. Do you know if Grandpa got out?

Stony did, so did Tara and Willow, Grayson and Lisa. We saw Troy on TV playing the blues on Royal St. to no one. We don't know about other street performers.

We are going to tour to raise money for ourselves and for the New Orleans Musicians Clinic which gives free medical care to musicians is a good charity. They can be contacted at or Kathy Richard, 337.989.0001. Send donations to NOMC Emergency Fund, 103 Independence Blvd., Lafayette, LA 70506, fax 337-989-1401 e-mail is also setting us a charity to keep paying their musicians and of course there is the Jazz Foundation of America, We haven't heard of anyone setting up a charity for Street Musicians. Maybe you could help us set one up.

We are at my father's cousin's widow's house with my cousin Gwen Foster at 422 Williamson St. in Alexandria, LA 71302-6046, 318-443-4430. Our cells are working now,D-504-251-6515, R-504-6060-345.

We almost didn't leave either. Autumn was yelling if we died, she was going to kick our casket. She had us in stiches, but she was convincing enough that we left. We couldn't get RR Bill to leave with us. He stayed with Charmaine's and kept Stormy's dog, Cruiser. We know Charmaine got out, but we suspect Bill stayed with her dogs and cats and Cruiser.

We saw our house on satellite at It looks as though we have some roof damage. Everything from Ramparts to the river looks dry. I could drive to our house if I could get past the cops. I would like to get that roof fixed before we have worse damage, but of course the "powers that be" have their own agendas and our wishes don't count.

We are hoping to go on tour and have three gigs set up in Michigan and offers in other places including a gallery in MASS.

Let us know your address and what you hear about the "missing".

Thanks, DaRo

Grandpa and Stonee are the toast of Lubbock TX. From:

Subject: Stoney B and Grandpa

Date: September 11, 2005 12:30:27 PM EDT


A bright spot in the night ....

Stoney B. and Grandpa are alive and well and living in Lubbock. The story as I know it....

Just before the storm hit, Grandpa was in the hospital for x-rays (don't know what the related injury or illness is/was), and eventually was evacuated to the Astrodome in Houston. In the meantime, Stoney went to the Superdome in NO, and eventually ended up on a plane to Lubbock and was here a few days before he hooked up with Grandpa and got him out here.

Shelter time is over, got an apartment yesterday, but Stoney got to be a bit of a celebrity when one of the local tv reporters interviewed him, found out he was a singer, and some folks from MHMR helped put him in touch with some other music folk here.

So now there is a new acoustic guitar, a new electric guitar and amp that you see in the attached photos (aptly named "Katrina"), new cowboy hat, new apartment, and Grandpa, which I suspect was the best gift.

They played last night at the Mean Woman Grill in Levelland, about 30 miles west of Lubbock, also home to South Plains College and their terrific bluegrass and traditional music program. That's where the photographs are from. First ever performance in Texas, and I suspect not the last.

Better days are coming.....

Susan Shore, Lubbock Lake Landmark 806-742-1116


Celebrating self-expression as a basic human right essential for the

healthy growth of youth, individuals and communities


Stephen H. Baird, Founder and Executive Director

PO Box 300112, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130-0030

Telephone: 617-522-3407


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