November 26, 2018

Laguna Beach 2018 Holiday Events!


Laguna Beach is a destination for many families and couples for the amazing holiday celebrations available in this fair city. We've got a great shortlist for you of amazing Holiday Events in Laguna Beach this year! If you know of any that aren’t listed, please let us know!

❄️ Sawdust Winter Fantasy: 5 Weekends 11/17 - 12/17 Admission price: Adults $8.00; Seniors $6.00; Kids (6-12) $4.00. Season Passes: $12.00

❄️ LCV Tree Lighting Ceremony at The Hive: 11/30 2:00 - 8:00 PM Admission price: FREE

❄️Cystal Cove Beach Tree Lighting: 12/1 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM Admission price: FREE & Parking $5 per hour or for a maximum of $15

❄️ ANNUAL SURFBOARD MENORAH CELEBRATION at Main Beach: 12/2 2:00 PM Admission price: FREE

WILD & WACKY MENORAH WORKSHOP at The Chabad Jewish Center of Laguna Beach: 12/4 4:30 PM Admission price: $7

❄️Hospitality Night: 12/7 5:00 - 10:00 PM Admission price: FREE


OurLagunaBeach, @OurLagunaBeach or send us a DM us on Instagram of Facebook for topic requests!

November 26, 2018

The Laguna Canyon 133 Expansion: Pros vs. Cons

Laguna residents are very concerned over the impending proposed $39 million expansion and extension of the SR-133, a.k.a. Laguna Canyon Road, by Caltrans. This expansion, although very beneficial for a number of commutes and thousands of drivers, will take ages to complete, making the traffic even worse in this area for a temporary amount of time. The purpose of the proposed expansion is the Improve roadway deficiencies by bringing SR-133 to design standards, to improve safety in the vicinity of the SR-133/El Toro Road intersection, and to reduce flooding by improving drainage flow. For more information about this project, please visit Caltrans’ informational site, [], about this project.

The SR-133 Safety Project (0N060) is included in the 2015 Regional Transportation Improvement Program (RTIP). It is also included in the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) 2015 Federal Transportation Improvement Program (FTIP). The project is funded through the State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP), Collision Reduction, under Program Code for the 2019/2020 fiscal year.

SR-133 was originally added to the State Highway System as Route 185 in 1933. The section between State Route 1 (SR-1) and Canyon Acres Drive was adopted as part of the State Highway System in September 1950. A freeway portion of SR-133 was added to the State Freeway and Expressway System in 1954. The Proposed Freeway Resolution, including relocation and improvements as a freeway (to Route 185), was adopted in November 1954. This resolution proposed realignment to a freeway from Canyon Acres Drive to just south of Interstate 405 (I-405). In 2003, Caltrans initiated a project to widen SR-133 from two-to-four lanes between I-405 and SR-73.

Today, over half of SR-133 remains “unadopted” as part of the State Freeway and Expressway System (from SR-1 to I-405). The “adopted” portion of SR-133 that is part of the State Freeway and Expressway System is from I-405 to the end of the toll road section (PM 8.08–13.64).

This expansion will also cut into the open space and nature along the sides of Laguna Canyon Road. This has raised alarm among the conservation-minded Laguna Canyon Foundation, which has problems with the costs associated not only the project’s pricetag but the visual and environmental tolls. Taken together, the impacts are “severe and irresponsible,” according to the nonprofit’s site [].

“While Laguna Canyon Foundation supports making our roads safer for drivers and bicyclists, we do not believe that the proposed project actually accomplishes this,” states a note on the site. “We are very concerned about the environmental impacts of the project.”

CalTrans is proposing widening the 133 at El Toro Road, extending the second northbound (outbound) lane by 1,200 feet more and the second southbound (inbound) lane by an additional 900 feet. The project is currently in the environmental review phase. Besides extending lanes for motorized vehicles, the project would also add: Eight-foot wide shoulders and bike lanes on both sides of the 133; an underground utility line on the northbound side between El Toro Road and the 73 freeway; and an articulated concrete block channel in the riparian area on the southbound side just before El Toro Road. All of these improvements are greatly needed for safety and long-term balance in this area. The Laguna Canyon Foundation is extremely passionate about keeping the open space and nature preserves as the foremost concern in Laguna Beach, and although they don’t seem to care about improving the safety of this area, they have developed these comments about the CalTrans proposal: • The second northbound (outbound) lane from El Toro Rd. could reasonably be extended 1200 feet without significant environmental impact. • The addition of an eight-foot-wide bike lane and shoulder alongside that northbound (outbound) lane from El Toro Rd. can be accommodated with minimal environmental impact with careful design. However, the current plan calls for undergrounding utilities outside this additional eight-foot shoulder and travel lane. The additional land needed for undergrounding (which requires a hard surface), dramatically expands this proposal’s environmental impact. It will require a significant additional take of open space. We support this portion of the project only if the utilities are undergrounded within the proposed eight-foot shoulder. • The channelization of the riparian area on the inbound side will have serious visual impacts and riparian habitat impacts. While we understand the desire to make this channel easier to maintain and thus reduce flooding, offsite mitigation or the purchase of mitigation credits is not acceptable in this area. This fragile riparian habitat must be mitigated both visually and habitat wise, at least in part, on-site. • The 900-foot extension of the southbound (inbound) lane on the 133 past El Toro Rd. is the area of most concern. The road widening would dip into parkland where Stagecoach South Trail runs along the 133. The existing hillside would be engineered into a 1 ½:1 slope, extending 40 feet into the park. In addition, their proposed lane extension would move the merge location down past the Willow park entrance parking lot. We do not believe this proposal could be completed without dramatic impacts on the park and the parking lot. Specifically: – Existing rock structures and native habitat would be destroyed. – Up to 14 mature oak trees would be removed, to be mitigated within OC Parks but not on site. – The slope steepness would require erosion control and stabilization measures that would make effective restoration of the slope difficult. Think about the southbound side of Laguna Canyon Road across from the Sawdust festival. – Traffic in and out of the Willow parking lot would now require crossing two lanes of incoming traffic, making an already difficult turn even more treacherous. CalTrans has not studied the traffic patterns of this parking lot. This project is based on incomplete data that does not take into consideration the thousands of cars that use this parking lot each year. – All aspects of this project include CalTrans style guard rails, turning Laguna Canyon Road past El Toro into the same freeway style roads we see all over Orange County.

Please let us know what you think about this SR-133 expansion!

Photo by D. Ramey Logan.

October 22, 2018

Laguna Beach: Home to the Stars


When movie stars needed a place to get some peace and quiet away from the fishbowl of Hollywood, many chose to visit and some lived in Laguna Beach. With its proximity to the ocean, natural beauty and safe distance from inquisitive Hollywood reporters, Laguna Beach was the perfect place to get away from it all. Let's take a look at some of the notorious stars that have fallen in love with Laguna Beach...

In 1931, author John Steinbeck and his wife, Carol, rented a room in Laguna Beach at 504 Park Avenue. The shingled cottage was built in 1912 for volunteer fire department worker George Garbarino. Steinbeck, who was still unknown at the time, rented the room from Garbarino from 1931 to 1932 for $15 per month.

Steinbeck wrote a great deal of his second novel, “The Pastures of Heaven” at the Park Avenue house. Released in 1932, the book wasn’t as successful as his later work, and the Steinbecks weren’t well-off financially during this period.

The publication of “Tortilla Flat” in 1935 would bring Steinbeck recognition and financial success. He went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for “The Grapes of Wrath” in 1939. Today, the house at Park Ave. is something of a landmark. It’s the place where a great author spent time honing his craft before being recognized as one of the most important American authors.

Before he became a renowned playwright and screenwriter, Tennessee Williams was known by his given name of Tom. In 1939, while working at a job plucking pigeons at a ranch in Hawthorne, California, Williams and his friend, clarinet player Jim Parrot, decided to ride bikes down to Tijuana and Agua Caliente, Mexico.

On their way back from Mexico, the duo found themselves in Laguna Beach. Pedaling along Bootleg Canyon (now Canyon Acres), they came upon a chicken ranch. The elderly couple who ran the ranch offered them use of a small cabin on the property in exchange for looking after the chickens.

“I don’t know why I was so committed to occupations involving poultry in those days,” Williams wrote. “No analyst has ever explained that to me.”

The pair also took part-time jobs as pin-setters at a Laguna bowling alley, partook in the night life, and lounged around the local beaches. Williams wrote:

In the thirties, [Laguna Beach] was a fine place to pass the summer days. There was constant volleyball, there was surfing and surfers, there was an artist colony … and all of it was delightful. It seems to me that the best part of all was riding our bikes up the canyon at first dark, in those days when the sky was still a poem.

Williams later referred to that summer as “the happiest and healthiest and most radiant time of my life.” Williams and Parrott stayed in Laguna until August 1939.

The Balboa Inn and the Hotel Laguna were both popular with Hollywood celebrities and stars during the 1930s and 1940s. The Hotel Laguna was rebuilt in 1930 after the original wood-frame building was torn down. The mission-style hotel was host to many denizens of Tinseltown, including John Barrymore, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Errol Flynn, Joan Fontaine, Dick Powell and Rosalind Russell.

Actor Ozzie Nelson’s love for the ocean drew him and his wife, Harriet, to Laguna Beach, where they bought a weekend home on Camel Point in the late 1940s. They sold it and built a beach house in 1954 in the community of Lagunita.

Harriet Nelson told a story of the time in 1954 when the Nelsons were eating dinner, looked up, and saw a family peering at them through the sliding glass door. “They were staring at us like in a department store window. I said, ‘Can I help you?’ They said, ‘We just heard the Nelsons lived here.’”

Ozzie Nelson took a half-mile swim in the Pacific twice a day. Three years after Ozzie’s death in 1975, Harriet Nelson decided to live in Laguna Beach full-time. She eventually moved to a smaller home in Laguna, where she lived until her death in 1994. Their son, Rick Nelson had a condominium at Blue Lagoon in the late 1960s.

Former Laguna Beach resident Harrison Ford received his big show business break while living in the city. He moved to California with his wife, Mary Marquardt, where he landed a role in a 1965 Laguna Playhouse production of “John Brown’s Body.” This led to a contract with Columbia Pictures for the princely sum of $150 a week. “I was so naïve, I thought I had to pay them the $150,” said Ford. An auto accident in Laguna Canyon left Ford with the scar on his chin.

In 2004, Ford returned to Laguna Beach for a Laguna Playhouse fundraising dinner. He was quoted in a Los Angeles Times article as saying, “The people here were pivotal to the good fortune I've had.”

In the late 1980s, singer and actress Bette Midler bought a home in Laguna Beach on a bluff overlooking Victoria Beach. When the house went up for sale in 1998, it was described as:

Built on a 5,000-square-foot lot, the Laguna home features a French Norman tower, which has stairs circling down to the beach. It has four bedrooms and three fireplaces, including one in the master bedroom, plus a large brick entry courtyard. It's historic too by local standards, dating to 1925.

The property included the landmark 60-foot “Pirate Tower,” which was built in 1926 by then-owner California State Senator William E. Brown to provide access between the beach and his house atop the cliff.

During the time Midler lived in Laguna, she was occasionally spotted around town. While working out at the Laguna Health Club, a procession of cars crawled by the club’s picture window for weeks, the drivers hoping to get a glimpse of the star.

“It used to make us furious,” said Robert Unger, the club’s co-owner. “The phones were ringing off the hook. They’d call up [and ask], ‘Is Bette there?’”

Actor Robert Englund, who played Freddy Krueger in the "Nightmare on Elm Street" films, moved from Los Angeles to Laguna Beach in 1989, where he still lives today. He was often spotted surfing with local residents. Originally from Glendale, Englund spent summers in Laguna Beach as a child. His grandfather owned an apartment off Coast Highway.

When asked what his neighbors thought about having the infamous horror movie star living in the neighborhood, Englund quipped: “I think they’re just happy Robert Englund keeps his leaves raked.”

Other luminaries who have called Laguna Beach home throughout the years include astronaut Buzz Aldrin; and actors Robert Armstrong, Mike Connors, Lorne Greene, Sterling Holloway, Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter, Elmo Lincoln, Frederick March, Victor Mature, Polly Moran, Mickey Rooney, Slim Summerville and Claire Trevor.

October 4, 2018

It's Good to Live in Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach is one of the most popular destinations in Southern California, for visitors and affluent residents. This small beachside town is one of Orange County's most fashionable cities, as well as one of the most culturally rich, but the beach is a big draw, too. The water here in Laguna is clean and calm, there is regular surf available, and great hiking or mountain biking options. Laguna Canyon is a gorgeous natural canyon that also acts as a protector of the coastal city, keeping the pollution to a minimum and offering a kind of imaginary security wall for residents. As you enter through that canyon, you feel as though you are approaching a place of importance and grandeur—and you’re right.

Laguna Beach is a unique community and unlike any other beach community in Southern California. Surrounded by hills/greenspace, it’s got a certain geographic isolation that borers on secluded paradise. It also has a certain small-town feel. Compared to the rest of Southern California, it’s not very transient; people move in and then figure out how to stay forever. Although the tourism industry in Laguna Beach is the main contributing industry to the city, most people that come to visit for a while end up staying.

The diverse population is another huge draw for people—both residents and visitors. It’s a very eclectic mix of residents. Lots of artists of various disciplines, and a lot of entrepreneurs. There is such a wide range of successful people that live here in Laguna, the amazing and fascinating stories of residents’ success or journeys to greatness is never-ending. This range of experience and perspectives provides for a very interesting mix of friends and a diverse community. The wide variety of perspectives enriches the lives of all residents, bringing different cultures, different tastes in art, cuisine, entertainment. All of these things are extremely beneficial for creating a well-balanced and authentic creative ecosystem.

Our population is 23,147 which is pretty small considering how many visitors we get per year (over 6 million). We take care of our guests here in Laguna Beach, and we also take care of our homeless population. We preserve the nature around us, the land that was here before us, and the animal life that live in harmony around our town. Laguna Coast Wilderness Park’s 7,000 acres are part of the South Coast Wilderness area, that includes Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, Crystal Cove State Park, The City of Irvine Open Space, and Laguna Coast Wilderness Park (totaling almost 20,000 acres). We have made an effort as a community to preserve our open space, as well as our local cultural heritage.

Although Laguna Beach's cost of living is 284% higher than the U.S. average and the median income is nearly $100K, the population in Laguna Beach is anything but average. Within this predominantly wealthy community, there’s less of an inclination to display one’s wealth than you see just a few miles up the coast in Newport. Many wealthy residents here do not treat people any differently, they do not dress any differently, and they do not work any less than any other person. That’s quite refreshing in Southern California.

The summer months are of course the busiest time of year and full of tourists and events and traffic, but the flows of people and cars are easy to anticipate and working around them is quite easy in this city. There are secret beaches as well, offering residents special access to places that the tourists simply do not know about.

Additionally, the city of Laguna Beach has a rich history dating back to the over 8,000 years ago. A portion of a female skull, dubbed the “Laguna Woman”, possibly 8,000 to 17,000 years old, one of the oldest in the Western Hemisphere, was found on St. Ann’s Drive in 1933. When President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act in 1862, it began a larger interest for settlers to move in and improve the area for others to come and visit or settle. While many people moved in and grew our tiny town into something magical and hospitable in the late 1800s, it wasn’t until 1903 that artists began moving here, after the economic crash. The flood of artists moving into Laguna Beach created the first art colony here, which later built the Laguna Art Museum.

From the cottage-like South Laguna to the swanky and trendy Emerald Bay, Laguna Beach offers a rarefied small-town feel that is unmatched anywhere else. Add the stunning architecture, amazing ocean and mountain landscapes, world-class art of all types, trend-setting eateries, and mind-blowing sunsets, it’s no wonder no one wants to leave this place after arriving.

In the crazy tumultuous world with a thousand things going on at any one moment, take a second to stop and look around you. Take stock on your life here in Laguna Beach, and how fortunate we all are to live in a place like this.

September 30, 2018

Durlin Brayton and the History of Laguna Pottery

Laguna Beach is renowned for its long history as an artists’ colony. Perhaps not as well-known is the story of the emergence of Laguna Beach as a world-famous pottery and ceramics center.

It all began in 1926, when Durlin Brayton, a California native and Chicago Art Institute graduate, acquired a parcel of land in Laguna Beach beside what is now South Coast Highway. After setting up a painting and sculpture shop in his home, he borrowed $300 from his father in 1927 and bought a kiln. He and his wife began to create their iconic, vibrantly colored ceramic dinnerware sets: plates, bowls, pitchers and teapots.

The Braytons sold their earthenware from their home, displaying their goods in the front yard to attract buyers. The line of dinner sets they produced in the late ‘20s represented an innovative use of color and glazes. While bright primary colors had previously been used in painted ceramic art in parts of Europe, applying this bold palette to decorate everyday pottery was an American first.

In the early 1930s, Americans began to embrace solid-colored kitchenware, dishware, and gardenware from California’s potteries. Brayton had the talent and the ambition to discover a winning formula—producing cheerful, modern ceramic ware that was affordable. Out of this success, Brayton Laguna Pottery was born.

Brayton married his second wife in 1936, artist Ellen Webster Grieve, who was known as “Webb.” As demand for Brayton Laguna Pottery increased, the couple transformed their home workspace into a larger business. In 1938, they built a new manufacturing facility on five-acres of land between South Coast Highway and Glenneyre Street. Brayton’s new facility housed two tunnel kilns, an area for designers and a store. By this time, the company became less reliant on dinnerware and concentrated on producing decorative ceramic tiles, vases and figurines.

Brayton Laguna Pottery’s work was described by Jack Chipman in his 1992 book, "Collector's Encyclopedia of California Pottery.” He wrote:

“Brayton's pioneering colored pottery was press-molded by hand and then dipped in a remarkable series of opaque glazes including rose, strawberry pink, eggplant, jade green, lettuce green, chartreuse, old gold, burnt orange, lemon yellow, silky black and white. Basic place settings were made along with accessory pieces such as teapots, pitchers and large serving bowls ...”

Throughout the late 1930s, Brayton’s business and reputation continued to grow. In 1938, Walt Disney awarded Brayton Laguna Pottery with the first license to produce figurines of the many popular Disney characters, including Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Ferdinand the Bull. Brayton created these Disney figures from 1938 until 1940.

By 1941, Brayton Laguna Pottery was the world’s largest manufacturer of ceramic gift and art pottery. Brayton's pottery was sold in fine department stores throughout the United States and in stores across the globe. Laguna Beach was already a celebrated artists’ colony, and now movie stars and other celebrities were coming to the city specifically to buy Brayton Laguna pottery and ceramics. This led to an influx of creative talent in the city, as potters, sculptors and other artists arrived.

The burgeoning company employed more than 150 artists, designers and potters who worked around the clock. The resulting noise from the constant firing of the pottery caused a few of the neighbors to complain to the local newspaper.

America’s entrance into World War II brought a halt to imported ceramics from Japan, Germany and Italy. The number of pottery companies in California grew as American companies stepped in to fill the demand. Laguna Beach became a major ceramics center, with a total of about 65 pottery companies operating in the city. Brayton had an advantage though, as his company was already firmly established.

The end of the war brought misfortune to Brayton Laguna Pottery. The United States lifted tariff restrictions, resulting in a flood of inexpensive imported ceramics from Japan and Italy. In 1948, the company suffered a serious blow with the untimely death of founder Webb Brayton. Soon after, in 1951, Durlin Brayton died of a heart attack.

Brayton Laguna Pottery remained open and attempted to compete with the foreign imports. But the combination of a changing market and the loss of its founder was too much for the company. It closed its doors in 1968, ending an important era in the history of both California and Laguna Beach ceramics.

The buildings that once housed Brayton Laguna Pottery are today the Laguna Art Center. While the kilns of Brayton Laguna Pottery have long since stopped firing, the pieces created by the company that began in Durlin Brayton’s home live on in collections in homes and galleries in Laguna Beach and throughout the world.

September 23, 2018

When the Most Dangerous Man in America Lived in Laguna Beach


Throughout its long history, Laguna Beach has been known for many things. It’s stunning coastline and wonderful Mediterranean climate have consistently made the city a popular place to live, work and vacation. At the turn of the 20th century, it was the home of Southern California plein air painting. In the decades that followed, it was a playground for the rich and famous, including many Hollywood stars. And in the 1960s, it became the coolest place south of San Francisco for America’s burgeoning psychedelic culture. Hippies, artists and bohemians flocked to the city by the thousands. And for a brief time in 1967-68, it was home to Timothy Leary, whom Richard Nixon called “the most dangerous man in America.”

The 1960s were a time of civil unrest, student protests against the Vietnam War, and an unraveling of the cultural fabric of America. There was the psychedelic music of popular bands such as the Beatles, the Byrds and Pink Floyd. Even the Beach Boys were experimenting with music influenced by hallucinogens.

The psychedelic experience included partaking in marijuana and drugs such as LSD and psilocybin mushrooms. These were seen by some as tools to expand their consciousness and discover cosmic truths. Others saw drugs as harmful and illegal substances that could cause mental illnesses, or even lead to death.

In the search for enlightenment, Timothy Leary was the high priest and LSD the sacrament. Leary, a former Harvard lecturer who held a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, became an evangelist for the use of LSD. In late 1967, he moved to Laguna Beach to spend time with The Brotherhood of Eternal Love, a group of counterculture hippies who lived together in the Woodland Drive area (known by the police as “Dodge City”) and manufactured LSD nicknamed Orange Sunshine.

At this time, the Laguna Beach police were largely unaware of the scope of the Brotherhood’s massive manufacturing and distribution operation. Police officer Neil Purcell recalled: "The BEL [Brotherhood of Eternal Love] still appeared to be just an unorthodox, goofy location operation, a pain ... but no hippie mafia."

When Leary arrived in Laguna Beach and moved into a home on Gaviota Drive, he’d already been arrested on drug charges. A lightning rod for controversy, he brought the unwanted attention of police to the Brotherhood’s illegal LSD production. On December 26, 1968, the same day Leary announced he was running for governor of California against incumbent Ronald Reagan, Officer Purcell noticed a car parked illegally in the middle of Woodland Drive, blocking traffic. He was incredulous when he realized that one of the vehicle’s occupants was none other than Timothy Leary.

After noticing the car smelled of marijuana, Purcell called for backup and searched the vehicle. The search yielded two roaches found in the ashtray, a pound of marijuana, two ounces of hashish and some tabs of LSD. Leary claimed the drugs were planted by the police.

Leary was sentenced on January 21, 1970. He received a 10-year sentence for the Laguna Beach offense, and another 10 years was later added for his 1965 arrest. When he arrived in prison, he was given a battery of psychological tests designed to determine the appropriate work detail. Since Leary designed some of the tests himself, during his time as a clinical psychologist, he answered them in a way that resulted in his being assigned to a low-security prison, where he worked as a gardener.

Leary escaped by climbing over the prison wall. He was met by a pickup truck that had been arranged by the Weathermen, who had received a $250,000 payment from the Brotherhood. Leary became a fugitive from the law. After traveling to Algeria, Switzerland and Vienna, he was apprehended at the airport in Beirut. After spending time in Folsom Prison, he was eventually released from prison on April 21, 1976 by California Governor Jerry Brown. Leary died from prostate cancer on May 31, 1996, at age 75.

Leary may have attracted some people to Laguna Beach, but it was already home to a large number of artists, idealists, hippies and those seeking alternative lifestyles. Laguna Beach was still a sleepy little town, but it had an active arts scene. And it was still an affordable place to live for artists and other creative people, who earned a living by selling their wares from their front yards, the Pottery Shack, local art galleries or the Sawdust Art Festival.

Since the hippy heyday of the 1960s and ‘70s, each generation of Laguna Beach residents has contributed to and nurtured the arts that are so valued in the city. It’s home to the Laguna College of Art and Design as well as more than 100 art studios and galleries, some of which are featured in the monthly First Thursdays Art Walk. You can see it alive in public art installations and annual events such as the Sawdust Art Festival, Art-A-Fair, Festival of the Arts and Pageant of the Masters.

Even if you don’t live in Laguna Beach, a visit of any length may inspire your creativity. In addition to festivals and galleries, there are many art classes and workshops to enjoy, offered by professional artists through the Sawdust Festival organization, LOCA Arts Education and others. Or you can purchase an original piece of art to remember your visit to Laguna.

Today, Timothy Leary is a footnote in the history of Laguna Beach, but every once in a while, you may find yourself wondering if that was the really the scent of sandalwood incense you just smelled.

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