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99% Invisible podcast

99% Invisible

Design is everywhere in our lives, perhaps most importantly in the places where we've just stopped noticing. 99% Invisible is a weekly exploration of the process and power of design and architecture. From award winning producer Roman Mars. Learn more at 99percentinvisible.org.

Design is everywhere in our lives, perhaps most importantly in the places where we've just stopped noticing. 99% Invisible is a weekly exploration of the process and power of design and architecture. From award winning producer Roman Mars. Learn more at 99percentinvisible.org.

 

#550

496- The Rights of Rice and Future of Nature

The Ojibwe name for wild rice is Manoomin, which translates to “the good berry.” The scientific name is Zizania palustris. It’s the only grain indigenous to North America, and while it might be called rice, it’s actually not closely related to brown or white rice at all. It has long played an important role in Ojibwe cultures, but last year, Manoomin took on a new role: plaintiff in a court case. Last August, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources was sued by wild rice. The case of Manoomin v Minnesota Department of Natural Resources alleges that the Minnesota DNR infringed on the wild rice’s right to live and thrive. But can wild rice sue a state agency? The short answer is: yes. This is the story about what might happen if rice wins. [The Rights of Rice and Future of Nature] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=39261&post_type=episode) Support for this episode was provided by the  [Robert Wood Johnson Foundation] (http://www.rwjf.org/?cid=xgo_partners_pd_ini%3A99%25%20invisible)  (RWJF). The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation. RWJF is working to build a culture of health that ensures everyone in the United States has a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being. For more information, visit  [www.rwjf.org] (http://www.rwjf.org/?cid=xgo_partners_pd_ini%3A99%25%20invisible) . If you have a hunch about how changes to the way we live, learn, work and play today are shaping our future, share it here:  [www.shareyourhunch.org] (http://www.shareyourhunch.org/) ... Read more

21 Jun 2022

44 MINS

44:31

21 Jun 2022


#549

495- Meet Us by the Fountain

No teenager in America in the 1980s could avoid the gravitational pull of the mall, not even author [Alexandra Lange] (https://www.alexandralange.net/) . In her new book, [Meet Me by the Fountain] (https://amzn.to/3mjUF7p) , Lange writes about how malls were conceptually born out of a lack of space for people to convene in American suburbs. Despite the fact indoor shopping malls are no longer in their heyday, malls have not gone away completely. Lange writes about the history of mall culture, and how the mall became a ubiquitous part of American life. Meet Us by the Fountain ... Read more

14 Jun 2022

35 MINS

35:47

14 Jun 2022


#548

494- Flag Days: Unfolding a Moment

Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag. At least, that's what we were taught in school. But when historians go searching…there’s no proof to be found. In this collaboration with the podcast [Sidedoor] (https://www.si.edu/sidedoor#seasonseven) , we unravel this vexillological tall tale to find out how this myth got started, and who Betsy Ross really was. Plus we talk about the real flag that inspired the song, The Star Spangled Banner. [Flag Days: Unfolding a Moment] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=39249&post_type=episode)   ... Read more

07 Jun 2022

31 MINS

31:14

07 Jun 2022


#547

493- Divining Provenance

Priceless cultural artifacts have been plundered and sold for hundreds of years. You can find these relics in museums and in private collections. In recent years, with the advent of online marketplaces, researchers have begun to find a lot of artifacts for sale on the web. The Syrian War has resulted in hundreds of thousands of casualties. Not to mention, hundreds of billions in damages. And that battle has played out on land considered to be the cradle of civilization -- a place rich with layers of archeological history. Producer Zeina Dowidar and her team on the [Kerning Cultures] (https://kerningcultures.com/podcasts/) podcast tell stories about the Middle East and North Africa. For this episode, they took a comprehensive, inside look at how one country struggled to retain its cultural heritage in the midst of a brutal conflict. [Divining Provenance] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=39235&post_type=episode) Plus we have an interview and preview of the podcast [Real Good] (https://www.stitcher.com/show/real-good) ... Read more

01 Jun 2022

32 MINS

32:45

01 Jun 2022


#546

492- Inheriting Froebel's Gifts

In the late 1700s, a young man named Friedrich Froebel was on track to become an architect when a friend convinced him to pursue a path toward education instead. And in changing course, Froebel arguably ended up having more influence on the world of architecture and design than any single architect -- all because Friedrich Froebel created kindergarten. Frank Lloyd Wright’s son, John, was an architect, but his most famous creation wasn’t a building. It was a toy set that kids have been playing with for over 100 years. [ Inheriting Froebel's Gifts] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=39227&post_type=episode) ... Read more

24 May 2022

32 MINS

32:19

24 May 2022


#545

491- The Missing Middle

Downtown Toronto has a dense core of tall, glassy buildings along the waterfront of Lake Ontario. Outside of that, lots short single family homes sprawl out in every direction. Residents looking for something in between an expensive house and a condo in a tall, generic tower struggle to find places to live. There just aren’t a lot of these mid-sized rental buildings in the city. And it's not just Toronto -- a similar architectural void can be found in many other North American cities, like Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston and Vancouver. And this is a big concern for urban planners -- so big, there's a term for it. The "missing middle." That moniker can be confusing, because it's not directly about middle class housing -- rather, it's about a specific range of building sizes and typologies, including: duplexes, triplexes, courtyard buildings, multi-story apartment complexes, the list goes on. Buildings like these have an outsized effect on cities, and cities without enough of these kinds of buildings often suffer from their absence. [The Missing Middle] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=39187&post_type=episode) ... Read more

18 May 2022

37 MINS

37:29

18 May 2022


#544

490- Train Set

The greatest mode of transportation is the funicular, which is a special kind of train pulled by a cable that runs up steep slopes. But trains are great even when they're not going up treacherous terrain. And in that spirit: here are some of the most ambitious, fascinating, and downright crazy trains that the world has ever seen. [Train Set] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=39149&post_type=episode) ... Read more

10 May 2022

32 MINS

32:43

10 May 2022


#543

Roman Mars on Blank Check with Griffin and David

Bonus episode: Roman Mars on [Blank Check with Griffin and David] (https://www.blankcheckpod.com/) talking about The Quick and The Dead (Sam Raimi, 1995) Roman note: I LOVE this show!  Many of us on the 99pi staff are huge fans and follow it religiously. If you've never heard or it, search through to find a director you like and listen to a whole series. You'll be hooked. Not just another bad movie podcast, Blank Check with Griffin & David reviews directors' complete filmographies episode to episode. Specifically, the auteurs whose early successes afforded them the rare ‘blank check’ from Hollywood to produce passion projects. Each new miniseries, hosts Griffin Newman and David Sims delve into the works of film’s most outsized personalities in painstakingly hilarious detail. Subscribe! It will make you happy! [Apple] (https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/blank-check-with-griffin-david/id981330533?ls=1&mt=2&uo=4) , [ Stitcher] (https://www.stitcher.com/show/griffin-and-david-present) , [Spotify] (https://open.spotify.com/show/4zmVd1CGeUCxAAMwGAwsFD) ... Read more

06 May 2022

2 HR 17 MINS

2:17:10

06 May 2022


#542

489- Pandemic Tracking and the Future of Data

Data is the lifeblood of public health, and has been since the beginning of the field. But essential data gathering for the COVID pandemic was hindered by a couple of of underlying weakness in the US public health apparatus. We have a fractured system where the power lies in US states that don't always coordinate effectively. Also there has been inconsistent funding. When there was an immediate crisis, there would be an infusion of cash. But then, when the crisis passed, the resources would evaporate.  We take a look at data gathering in regards to public health from the 1600s to today and how it might change in the future. Support for this episode was provided by the  [Robert Wood Johnson Foundation] (http://www.rwjf.org?cid=xgo_partners_pd_ini%3A99%25%20invisible)  (RWJF). The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation. RWJF is working to build a culture of health that ensures everyone in the United States has a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being. For more information, visit  [www.rwjf.org] (http://www.rwjf.org?cid=xgo_partners_pd_ini%3A99%25%20invisible) . If you have a hunch about how changes to the way we live, learn, work and play today are shaping our future, share it here:  [www.shareyourhunch.org] (http://www.shareyourhunch.org/) ... Read more

04 May 2022

58 MINS

58:25

04 May 2022


#541

488- It’s a Small Aisle After All

If you’ve ever been to a supermarket in the US, you’ve probably seen an ethnic food aisle. Maybe it was called the "international aisle," or "world foods," but it was the same idea. This is the “It’s A Small World After All” part of the shopping experience. It’s where you’ll find ramen next to coconut milk, next to plantain chips next to harissa. Although ethnic aisles look different in every supermarket, they’re often variations on the same theme. And while so-called “ethnic food brands” get a chance to feed the American masses, they’re still confined to the ethnic aisle. And they may never leave. [It's a Small Aisle After All] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=39083&post_type=episode)   ... Read more

26 Apr 2022

36 MINS

36:50

26 Apr 2022


#540

487- Atlas Obscura

Standing on Beechey island, a peninsula off Devon Island in the Canadian Arctic, are four lonely graves: three members of an ill-fated expedition to the Northwest Passage, and one of the men who went looking for them. In 1845, Sir John Franklin led an expedition to find the Northwest Passage, a direct route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean across the arctic, on two ships that were called "unstoppable" at the time. They were stopped, though the exact circumstances remain murky. The story of the graves is chronicled on the [Atlas Obscura Podcast] (https://www.atlasobscura.com/podcast) , a short, daily celebration of the world's strange and wondrous places. The podcast has a mission similar to 99pi, which is to inspire wonder and curiosity about the world.  Today we're featuring two stories from the show. The second story visits the [Unclaimed Baggage Center] (https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/unclaimed-baggage-center) in Scottsboro, Alabama, which bills itself as "the nation's only retailer of lost luggage." If you've ever lost a bag during air travel, it probably wound up there, along with many other treasures and oddities. Subscribe to Atlas Obscure on [Apple Podcasts] (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-atlas-obscura-podcast/id1555769970) , [Stitcher] (https://www.stitcher.com/show/the-atlas-obscura-podcast) , [Spotify] (https://open.spotify.com/show/0s0c4Z99PwbW8efTmHckyT) or wherever you get podcasts. ... Read more

20 Apr 2022

45 MINS

45:36

20 Apr 2022


#539

486- Rumble Strip

Every year in the spring, small towns throughout New England host their annual town meeting. Town meetings take place in high school gyms or town halls, and anyone can come. In fact, in Vermont, Town Meeting Day is a public holiday. Everyone gets the day off work to make sure they have the chance to participate. It’s a moment when everyone who lives there can come together to talk out the issues facing the town and decide how they want to spend their money. Radio producer Erica Heilman lives in Vermont and is the host of a  jewel of a podcast called [Rumble Strip] (https://rumblestripvermont.com/) . It’s ostensibly all about life in Vermont, but it may just also be about life in general. ... Read more

13 Apr 2022

47 MINS

47:06

13 Apr 2022


#538

485- Murder Most Fowl

While urban parks are safe havens for birds, parks are often surrounded by condos and hotels and office buildings with floor-to-ceiling windows. And these all-glass building facades are the absolute worst for migrating birds. Because unlike people, birds don’t really understand glass. It’s believed that building collisions are one of the biggest causes of bird death. Birds crash into buildings during the day because they don’t see the glass, and they run into buildings at night because they are lured in by artificial lighting. Most of these collisions happen below 100 feet, because that’s where birds are used to landing in trees. [Murder Most Fowl] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?post_type=episode&p=39023) ... Read more

05 Apr 2022

27 MINS

27:37

05 Apr 2022


#537

484- Dear Hank and John and Roman

So why don't we have mouth Roombas? Is the universe full of chickens? What scientific advances are happening? What was the first internet purchase? How do I convince my parents to let me check a bag? What is Twitter? What's the difference between a telescope and a camera? Are sea monkeys natural? Hank Green and Roman Mars have answers! In their podcast [Dear Hank & John] (https://open.spotify.com/show/6e4HNBdPvjDOHKVf82oMEk) , hosts John and Hank Green (who are also authors and YouTubers) offer both humorous and heartfelt advice about life’s big and small questions. They bring their personal passions to each episode by sharing the week’s news from Mars (the planet) and AFC Wimbledon (the third-tier English football club)." [Dear Hank and John and Roman] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=39004&post_type=episode) ... Read more

30 Mar 2022

58 MINS

58:50

30 Mar 2022


#536

483- Grid Locked

In February 2021, it began to snow in Austin, Texas, which was unusual, and exciting for some, at least until the power dropped out for millions of people. To many, this came as a shock – how could a state known for its energy production have such widespread, prolonged power outages? To understand the situation, one has to look at the history of the grid, and how Texas came to be what we call an “energy island.” It's the only state in the lower 48 that operates its own independent electric grid. For more on the Texas grid by Mose Buchele, be sure to check out [The Disconnect] (https://www.npr.org/podcasts/1004840920/the-disconnect-power-politics-and-the-texas-blackout) . [Grid Locked] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=38977&post_type=episode) ... Read more

22 Mar 2022

49 MINS

49:38

22 Mar 2022


#535

482- Natalie de Blois: To Tell the Truth

Natalie de Blois contributed to some of the most iconic Modernist works created for corporate America, all while raising four children. After leaving this significant mark on postwar Park Avenue, she transferred to the SOM Chicago office, where she became actively involved in the architecture feminist movement and was one of the leaders in the newly formed Chicago Women in Architecture advocacy group. Later, she finished her career as a professor at UT Austin, where she trained a future generation of architects. In the  [New Angle: Voice] (https://bwaf.org/resources/podcast)  podcast, “Hear from historians, family, colleagues, and the women themselves, how it was to be an architect coming up in the early 20th century. Imagine sitting with these pioneering women, who opened up the magic of the built environment professions to all who had the gifts, grit and persistence to endure.” ... Read more

15 Mar 2022

49 MINS

49:52

15 Mar 2022


#534

481- The Future of the Final Mile

While something like dial-up might mostly be a thing of the past, the truth is copper phone lines still connect a lot of people to the internet over DSL. And even many people’s coaxial cable connections aren’t fast enough to meet the federal government’s definition of broadband (25 megabits per second download speed, and 3 megabit upload). Who gets fiber is determined by the market, and the market is determined not by who wants fiber, but really just who can already afford it. So for a lot of the country, the last mile remains a deep and vexing problem. Different cities have tried to solve that problem in different ways. Support for this episode was provided by the [Robert Wood Johnson Foundation] (http://www.rwjf.org/) , which is committed to improving health and health equity in the United States. In partnership with others, RWJF is working to develop a Culture of Health rooted in equity that provides every individual with a fair and just opportunity to thrive, no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they have. [The Future of the Final Mile] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=38907&post_type=episode) ... Read more

11 Mar 2022

43 MINS

43:19

11 Mar 2022


#533

480- Broken Heart Park

In the 1990s Dave Davis worked as the groundskeeper at a small neighborhood park in a suburb of St. Louis called Creve Coeur. It was an unpaid position, but it came with a strange perk: as part of the job, he got to live in a house on the grounds. On the outside, it looks like an ordinary ranch-style house, but once you got inside, something seemed a little off: it looked like someone had completed it in a hurry. It turns out that this house wasn’t supposed to be the home for the groundskeeper, and the park was never supposed to be a park.  It was private property that belonged to a prominent Black doctor back in the 1950s. But the land was taken from him before he could even finish building his home. [Broken Heart Park] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=38894&post_type=episode)   ... Read more

08 Mar 2022

37 MINS

37:09

08 Mar 2022


#532

479-According to Need wins duPont-Columbia Award

The Columbia Journalism School recently announced the 16 winners of the 2022 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, including [According to Need] (https://99percentinvisible.org/need/) , a project of 99% Invisible produced by [Katie Mingle] (https://katiemingle.com/) . We listen back to a couple stories and get an update from Katie Mingle. [According to Need wins duPont-Columbia Award] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?post_type=episode&p=38844) ... Read more

01 Mar 2022

59 MINS

59:59

01 Mar 2022


#531

478- Art Imitates Art

There's a small neighborhood within the SEZ of Shenzhen that is known for mass-producing copies of the most celebrated works of Western art, all painted quickly and by hand. The place is called Dafen Village. There is a very good chance that you've been in the presence of a painting made in Dafen. Perhaps you passed by one at the dentist’s office, or in a conference room of a Marriott in Orlando. You may have even hung one up in your home without even realizing it.  To learn more about the origin of Special Economic Zones listen to the previous episode [Call of Duty: Free] (https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/call-of-duty-free/) [Art Imitates Art] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=38819&post_type=episode)       ... Read more

22 Feb 2022

40 MINS

40:58

22 Feb 2022


#530

477- Call of Duty: Free

On the west coast of Ireland, on the banks of an estuary dividing county Limerick from county Clare, lies a small town called Shannon. But Shannon is not a quaint fishing village or farming community. Its industry is its airport. And Shannon Airport is big. It handles up to 1.7 million passengers and 20,000 flights a year, most of them from other countries. It looks like a cosmopolitan international airport, but it has a unique claim to fame: the world's first airport duty-free store. Today, the store has what you would expect -- designer perfumes, jewelry and various fine foods, with a lot of local (in this case Irish) products in particular. But like the area around the airport, the shop started out small, with a local boy from the area who would go on to change the world of tax-free commerce in and beyond Shannon. [Call of Duty: Free] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=38763&post_type=episode) ... Read more

16 Feb 2022

49 MINS

49:54

16 Feb 2022


#529

476- Reaction Offices and the Future of Work

People have been going back and forth about what makes a healthy and productive office since there have been offices. The 20th century was full of misbegotten fads and productivity innovations that continue to this day, even when the whole notion of what it means to be in an office has shifted during the pandemic. In this first episode of our series "The Future Of..." we look at the past, present, and future of the office through the lens of the office furniture that has been designed to solve all our problems. Support for this episode was provided by the [Robert Wood Johnson Foundation] (http://www.rwjf.org) , which is committed to improving health and health equity in the United States. In partnership with others, RWJF is working to develop a Culture of Health rooted in equity that provides every individual with a fair and just opportunity to thrive, no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they have. [Reaction Offices and the Future of Work] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=38699&post_type=episode) ... Read more

09 Feb 2022

42 MINS

42:37

09 Feb 2022


#528

475- Rock Paper Scissors Bus

When the two greatest auction houses in the world – Christie’s and Sotheby’s – vied for the privilege of auctioning off $20 million worth of art in 2004, little did they know that they would be forced to engage in an ancient form of ritualized combat known as rock paper scissors. Plus, we get a hilarious breakdown of the Shang-Chi bus fight scene by a real San Francisco Muni bus operator, [Mc Allen] (https://twitter.com/that_mc/status/1459613123590066180) . [Rock Paper Scissors Bus] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?post_type=episode&p=38606) Subscribe to [Snap Judgment] (https://snapjudgment.org/how-to-listen/) ... Read more

02 Feb 2022

31 MINS

31:01

02 Feb 2022


#527

474- The Punisher Skull

The Punisher has always been a complicated Marvel antihero: a man whose creator imagined him as a reaction to the failures of government at home and in the Vietnam War. So why is the Punisher’s trademark dripping skull insignia — a menacing image used throughout history to denote imminent death — being painted on police vehicles, adopted by members of the military, and donned by white supremacists? This episode of [Endless Thread] (https://www.wbur.org/endlessthread/2021/10/29/memes-punisher) explores the story of The Punisher’s symbol [ as a meme] (https://www.reddit.com/r/comicbooks/comments/oro4e7/found_in_the_wild_how_i_feel_about_the/) , and looks at how well we understand its origins, its use today, and whether its creator — or Marvel — can take it back. ... Read more

25 Jan 2022

39 MINS

39:39

25 Jan 2022


#526

473- Mini-Stories : Volume 14

At the end of the calendar year and into the new year the 99pi staff collects a bunch of short, joyful little stories that are fun to produce and make us happy. We call them mini-stories. This is the third and final episode of this batch and the 14th volume overall and it’s a good one- we have surprisingly architectural sport commentary, Ben Franklin’s role in Daylight Saving Time, and the origin story of the fire pole. [Mini-Stories : Volume 14] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=38482&post_type=episode) ... Read more

19 Jan 2022

35 MINS

35:36

19 Jan 2022


#525

472- Mini-Stories : Volume 13

We're kicking off the new year at 99pi with a fresh installment of mini-stories, including: a strange collision of mundane infrastructure and political insurrection; a graphic design history mystery dating back to the 1980s; what may be the most hated architectural design of 2021; and a record-breaking album cover design so cutting edge it cost more money to make than to buy. [Mini-Stories: Volume 13] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=38474&post_type=episode) Get [Beauty Pill's Instant Night] (https://beautypill.bandcamp.com/album/instant-night) Get [New Order's Blue Monday] (https://store.neworder.com/uk/blue-monday-vinyl.html) ... Read more

12 Jan 2022

50 MINS

50:28

12 Jan 2022


#524

471- Mini-Stories : Volume 12

It's that time of year again! When 99pi producers and friends of the show join Roman to tell shorter stories, many of which have been sitting on our idea shelves, just waiting for this moment. Our first set of minis delves into the surprisingly controversial logo of a major sports league; a wild goose chase into erroneous statistics; the largely forgotten arts competitions of the Olympic Games; and a Modernist penguin pool that is beloved by preservationists but not so adored by actual penguins. And this is the first batch of our turn-of-the-year mini-stories. Tune back in for more minis at the beginning of 2022! [Mini-Stories: Volume 12] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=38428&post_type=episode) ... Read more

22 Dec 2021

47 MINS

47:18

22 Dec 2021


#523

470- The Three Santas of Slovenia

Slovenia is a small country in Central Europe nestled between Italy, Austria, Croatia and Hungary. It's a land of snowy white peaks, green valleys, and turquoise rivers. The country is beautiful in all seasons, but it is perhaps at its most magical around Christmastime. This nation of just over 2 million people is visited by, not one, not two, but three different "santas" every festive season. But it hasn't always been this way. Each Santa has had his moment in the spotlight—each in a different period of Slovenia’s complicated history. And in order to have a Christmas season that reflects that history and speaks to all Slovenians, you need three magical men. [The Three Santas of Slovenia] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=38383&post_type=episode) ... Read more

15 Dec 2021

38 MINS

38:00

15 Dec 2021


#522

469- The Epic of Collier Heights

For Black Americans, Collier Heights became a suburban jewel in the postwar South spanning thousands of acres and packed with nature. Just as amazing as the expansive beauty is how this neighborhood came to be, especially given everything that stood in the way. Collier Heights was established in the early 1950s, when redlining and racial zoning all put hard limits on where black people could live. Driving its development was a team of community leaders who used cold, sharp strategy, flipping the logic of Jim Crow housing segregation on its head. [The Epic of Collier Heights] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=38330&post_type=episode) ... Read more

07 Dec 2021

43 MINS

43:24

07 Dec 2021


#521

468- Alphabetical Order

In much of the western world, alphabetical order is simply a default we take for granted. It’s often the one we try first -- or the one we use as a last resort when all the other ordering methods fail. It’s boring, but it works, and it’s so ingrained that it’s hard to imagine not using it. But despite its endurance for most of its history, the alphabet wasn’t initially used to order much of anything. Judith Flanders, author of A Place For Everything, a history of alphabetical order, says that in societies like ancient Rome and early medieval Europe, writing implements were still rare. So what mattered most was organizing knowledge in a way that helped you to memorize it. And that was usually much easier to do in the order you naturally came across the information, like: chronologically, or by size, or geography, or region, or hierarchically. [Alphabetical Order] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=38299&post_type=episode) ... Read more

01 Dec 2021

32 MINS

32:00

01 Dec 2021