This week on the No Tracers Podcast I am joined by the super creative Sekondtry, an urban explorer and photographer based out of St. Louis, Missouri.
Welcome to No Tracers the podcast. My name is K, just the letter K. And I'm going to be your host here on this podcast. If you are new to the podcast, please go back and listen to the previous episodes. I started this podcast off with a bunch of tips and tricks and gear that I think you need for urban exploring to, to get you started. So if you guys are new to Exploring, please go back and listen to the previous episodes of this podcast. I had a few guests on before this podcast. So go listen to some other stories and then come back and listen to this, or listen to those. After this podcast, this week on the podcast, I have SekondTry from St. Louis on to share his stories and his insights on exploring he does abandoned stuff, but he also does a lot of rooftop, climbing cranes, all kinds of city stuff in St. Louis. And he also travels a fair bit outside of St. Louis, but St. Louis is his main hub where he explores and I've been following him on Instagram for quite a while now. So I figured, Hey, why not reach out to second, try and see if he would want to be, be a guest on this podcast. So second try, thank you for coming on the podcast and sharing your stories with everybody. Before we jump into this episode, just a little couple of things for housekeeping purposes. So I have a new website called No Tracers dot com. If you guys want to go see my photography from abandoned places, or if you want to read blogs, if you're into that kind of thing, I have a bunch of blog posts about my urban explorations all over the world. So if you go to No Tracers dot com, you can check that out.
0 (1m 28s):
If you want a photo print for me, or if you want to copy of my book, No Tracers, an urban Explorer, his diary, you can go to No Tracers dot com slash shop and pick up a print or a book today, and I will sign everything and mail it out to you as soon as possible. Thank you guys so much for the support on the book. It has been huge. It's been instrumental in me making this podcast because of the book, because of the feedback with the book, I figured why not make this podcast and have some guests on to share their stories. So another thing I need you to let you guys know about is that down into the description, there are a bunch of Amazon links to products that I think would help you in your urban exploration, endeavors, things like backpacks, solar chargers, camera gear, even some lighting, you know, it's, it's dark and a lot of these abandoned places.
0 (2m 13s):
So you need some good lighting. So definitely check out the links below, but without further ado, we are going to jump into this episode of No Tracers, the podcast. If you guys like what you are hearing at any time throughout this podcast, please do me a favor, take 30 seconds to leave a rating. And some feedback. If you leave feedback, I will actually send you a signed photo print. Just take a screenshot of your feedback and DM it to me on Instagram at No Tracers. And I'll get you a signed photo print sent out immediately. The, the ratings and the feedback really helps this podcast grow, especially on the iTunes charts. So if you're listening in apple podcasts, please be sure to leave a rating. I need to take a second to think our first partner, which is liquid death water.
0 (2m 55s):
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0 (3m 51s):
All right, let's jump in to this episode. Second, try to please introduce yourself and what it is you do to the No Tracers audience.
2 (3m 57s):
What's up everyone. My name is Larry, or also known as SekondTry. And I'm a full-time freelance photographer, also urban Explorer and yeah, pretty simple. It's me. So
0 (4m 9s):
Let's go back to the very beginning of your exploration tale. When did you start exploring what got you into it?
2 (4m 17s):
I was exploring really, really early on, like, I mean, like, as like a kid, I had always been like with the neighborhood group of people who skateboarded around and like saw being on buildings and wondered what was in there. And that was like, you know, 12, 13. I always had like that, that curious mind, I guess you could say. And then whenever I started taking photos and like late 2016, I was just a really, really easy transition to kind of just make that happen and be like, oh man, I should probably go back on these old buildings and see what's going on. So it's kind of like where it all stemmed from. It's really my old friends as a pre pre team.
2 (4m 60s):
0 (5m 0s):
I started exploring around the age of 13 as well with my older brothers. And we went out into the woods and found an abandoned place. And that's how I got hooked. I like caught that bug. You know what I mean? So for people that are trying to get into like photography of either abandoned places or you do other things, you do rooftops, you do all kinds of shit around St. Louis. So let's talk a little bit about the gear that you shoot with. What was your first camera? What are you on now? What would you recommend to people that are just getting into
2 (5m 31s):
It? My very first camera that I had was a GoPro hero, four silver. And that was just like, that's, I know it's comical, but that is what, that is, what it all started. Everything that I have, like my, my field of view, my perspective on things like literally seeing things through GoPro changed my life, honestly, to be like, damn, like there's a bigger world out there than what I'm seeing now with my eyes and it all fit in my pocket. So, but right now my current setup is I have a Canon five D mark four. I have a Canon L series 16 to 35 to eight, and then I primarily shoot most of my city stuff and all my portraits with a Sigma art 24, 1 4.
2 (6m 19s):
And that's, that's it, that's a setup,
0 (6m 21s):
Sigma art. I love, first of all, Sigma is a great brand. I've done a lot of behind the scenes work with Sigma. And I hope to continue doing that after this Corona virus bullshit is over. I think, I think we're on the, on the MINDD if you will, but Missouri is open. Okay. I was going to say, speaking of like, you know, coronavirus and all this stuff, like, so have you been exploring during quarantine during quote unquote lockdown?
2 (6m 46s):
There hasn't really been a lockdown for me, I'm kind of privileged, I guess, in a sense that like, I live, I live directly in the middle of downtown. Like I moved downtown for a reason to like, be in the action all the time. And so during this whole thing, since March 15th, I have woken up, drank my coffee and went exploring every day. Wow. Like I haven't, it's been a pretty normal, you know, system that I have going on right now for the simple fact that I don't really go around a lot of people anyway. And the city doesn't really look any different St. Louis, this kind of a ghost town, like we're a major city, but there's not like anybody in the streets, even when there's not a Corona virus pandemic going on.
2 (7m 32s):
So it's like, it's not a different place, like New York or Chicago, like where you would visually see something different St. Louis kind of has almost stayed the same in a weird sense.
0 (7m 44s):
That's so fascinating. That's crazy to hear that like, part of it is, you know, part of the country, especially St. Louis. I've been there many times, you know, and you're right. It's almost like it's own ghost town all the time. So it's super interesting that you've been able to like continue to capture it.
2 (7m 59s):
It's this weird little pocket. I'll say that it's. I mean, I think we only have, I think we have like over a little over 300,000, like in the city limits, and then we only have confirmed cases, I think like under 11,000 right now, like total as a state, like not even St. Louis, you guys are, so, yeah. Yeah. Like I take photos out of a nightclub here in St. Louis and we actually opened up for the first time last night. Wow. Like a nightclub, like, like bars and restaurants and like clubs are open. So
0 (8m 35s):
Wow. And are people like wearing masks or is it just like normal everyday
2 (8m 40s):
People, people are practicing social distancing. People are wearing masks. There's a bunch of like, the whole place just smells, smells like hand sanitizer, but you know, it, it is cool to see, like, to have some type of normalcy and people are just like, really, you know, it is not our nature to just sit around and not do anything. So it's like, people are itching to be out. And a lot of these people are going out with people that they've already been around, you know? So it's not really like, you know, oh my God, this person everyone's sick. Let's just go out and get everyone sick. Like people are being very, very smart about it. So, which is really reassuring for sure.
2 (9m 21s):
So, so you've created a photography book, right? Yeah. So I've done. Yeah. It's actually right in front of me, I did a book called views from the loo and it was just like, it was 20 photos of like some of just like my favorite photos that I've shot only in St. Louis. Like, I didn't do any type of travel. I really like, I absolutely love St. Louis. Like, I'm such a hometown homegrown kid. That's why I've really stuck around here and not move somewhere else. But yeah, I, I did a book about a little over a year ago now, and I only did like a limited run of like 20, 25 copies.
0 (10m 6s):
So with that book, what, how long did it take you to create that? Is there any writing in it? Did you add stories or is it just strictly photos?
2 (10m 16s):
It's strictly photos. It's a, it's a hardback book. I really, I did stick with like some themes. Like I would do like, you know, a symmetry set or I would do like an abandoned set. And then I do like a street set, but it was all photos from St. Louis that I had pretty much just taken over the last year. Prior to that.
0 (10m 38s):
I like the idea of doing, sorry to cut you off. I liked the idea of you doing a limited run of books. I think that makes the adds to the value of it. You know what I mean? What made you want to do that versus like printing a bulk, bulk them out.
2 (10m 54s):
I really, you know, it's weird to think that like we're living in this digital age right now, but 15 years from now, 20 years from now, if I'm, you know, as morbid as it sounds, if I'm not alive or something changes, if I'm not around or if I become some famous photographer, you know, like I've always, I've always kind of thought like, it's really, really cool to have like rare things. Like, I'm always, I've always been a big fan of like shoes and like sneakers. And I know like obviously the rarer, the shoe, the higher, the value and the, the, the more like it's an accomplishment to have something like that, you know? So I think I kind of took that whole mindset of it. And anybody can make a book and make a thousand copies and like make a bunch of money, but I didn't want to do it for that.
2 (11m 38s):
I wanted people who genuinely like what I'm doing to have something that's super intimate for me to them. And that's why I did like a very limited run. I did that. And that's, it's honestly a reason to why I noticed a lot of photographers and a lot of videographers, like you will, you'll be able to tell they take photos because they'll have a bunch of selfies or people that have taken photos of them holding a camera and taking photos. And they don't actually showcase any of their work. So home my, I always wanted to never like be known. I never wanted to be seen. I never, I never wanted people to care about what I look like or what I'm doing.
2 (12m 21s):
I always wanted people to care about what my work looked like and what I was doing. Definitely like in my photos. So it kind of goes back to like why I did the book the way I did it. No, I
0 (12m 34s):
Love, I love the idea of doing, like I said, a limited run. I think that's so unique. And you know, I have a book as well, but I, I printed a ton of them, you know, I was like, yeah, let's see how much money I can make off of my phone to us. So, I mean, yeah,
2 (12m 48s):
It is the way it is. And that's not a bad thing. Like, I, I am totally transparent with all that. Like, yes, I never thought in a million years that I would be a person that is taking photos for a living as a full-time career and making money off of it. Never, that was never the, that was never the goal. That was never even a thought. I was just like, this is what I like to do right now. It's fun. It helps me take my mind off bullshit and, and I'm going to keep doing it until, you know, I don't like it anymore. And if that happens to be 10 years from now, or two days from now, it's like when my time comes and I don't like taking photos anymore, I'll just stop.
0 (13m 27s):
Yeah. So as a freelancer, how long did it take? I have another podcast called Project Freelance. So now I got to ask you to freelancing question. So how long did it take for you to go from just being a photographer, to making money full time, you know, being able to pay your bills, be able to pay your rent, all that kind of stuff. How long did that take for you?
2 (13m 46s):
I would say probably about two and a half years. And it was a really slow process. It wasn't just like a, oh man, I got this $10,000 gig. And like someone saw me like, no, like I wish, but it was a lot of, it was a lot of me just doing what I normally like to do. Like I wasn't really trying to, I didn't go out on my way to be like, oh, this is what's making money. I need to take photos of this. That never happened at all. It was, it was, oh, you know, oh, you take portraits, you know what your session costs, you know, at the time it was like, oh, I'm targeting 50 bucks.
2 (14m 27s):
And they're like, oh, great, perfect. And I was like, wait, you want to pay you to take photos of you? Like that? Like whole, like when that bomb went off in my head, I was like, wait a minute. I like doing this. And people will pay me to do it. I'm like, okay. And that's like, when the gears really started like turning and be like, okay, now I can, I think I'm taking photos good enough to where people are buying prints. And they were, and I had the mindset of, well, if people were buying my prints and I started just like going to like hotels in St. Louis and be like, Hey, you guys have shitty photos in your lobby. How about you support somebody local in and put some real artwork in here?
2 (15m 9s):
You know, some real photos that aren't like, you know, stock imagery. And that worked a couple of times. And then like, that's really what kind of led me to doing the book. I was like, man, like this would be like almost a great hard copy portfolio in a way. Like, that's really where the book idea came from. And then I just kept moving forward from that. And now, like I take photos in a nightclub and that like is a salary job. Like that pays my bills and I still get to dig around and do everything I want during the day. And I get to travel and it just worked out really, really well. Wow. So it's like, and that was never the mindset. I was just like, man, like I just really, really liked doing it.
2 (15m 50s):
And I put so much time and effort into it. I mean, I like to eat, sleep and breath taking photos. That's an amazing, I love it out. And I think it shows off
0 (15m 59s):
Yeah, 100%. I mean, your stuff is clearly, I mean, I reached out to you for a reason. I've been following you on Instagram for quite a while, and I love seeing your work and the places you get to explore. How are you finding these places that you've you find? I mean, you, you do cranes, you do rooftops, there's this like really cool clock image that you did that was featured in St. Louis mag. How are you finding these occasions? Is it word of mouth? Are you just doing the footwork yourself?
2 (16m 28s):
I don't, I don't really shoot with a lot of people. I know some people will shoot with like a group of people or like a core, you know, three or four people I shoot alone. And it wasn't always that way, but I think that's really what kind of led to me just going around and like driving around and just testing the waters in a sense I've been into active places, plenty of times thinking they were abandoned. That's just because everything looks like shit in St. Louis. So I, you know, it's, it's all trial and error. It's a numbers game. Even with the rooftops. I've, I've tried to go back to a rooftop 12 times and then finally got it the one time, you know, it's like, it's all luck.
2 (17m 11s):
If you, if you're the type of person that can go out and plan and do something, then hats off to you because I do not do anything like that. It's a, it's just a pure impulse thing. Like I don't Google map things. I don't sit for hours and hours in research. I just purposely try to go get lost and see what I find like all the time.
0 (17m 33s):
That's so sick. So I know you mostly do St. Louis. What other places have you been that you enjoyed capturing?
2 (17m 42s):
I really, really enjoyed Philly. Philly was one of my very first photography trips. Very first time we ever being on a plane very first time. You ever traveling alone? I mean, like, it was like really, really me stepping out of my comfort zone. And I met up with my friend at the time when she was there. I don't know if she still lives there anymore, but Jen brown, she was an urban Explorer. And like, we just met through Instagram and it was pretty much just a random, Hey, you know, you should come up here and shoot, like, there's plenty of dope stuff up here. Like, I'll show you around. And I was just, I dunno, impulsive. He was like, yeah, that's a great idea. And I'd never done that before.
2 (18m 23s):
I'd never met nobody on Instagram. And that was like the very first thing I did. So Philly has a very near and dear place in my heart. Like it really kind of like, oh my God, I love to learn because I went back in early 2017. So it was like, there was a lot of good stuff still on Philly. Cause you know, like how it's happened over the years where Instagram obviously, and people have just like swarm, like just absolutely decimated places. Like Detroit is not the same, obviously that I was in like 2012 and 2013 to St. Louis. This is very, very gentrified, you know? Like it's, it just is forever evolving so quick.
2 (19m 7s):
Yeah, absolutely. But yeah, Philly to answer your question fairly is probably one of my favorite cities. I've been all over the world. Like I've been to Shanghai, China, and like Philly, I think still kind of trumps that. Wow. Wow.
0 (19m 22s):
That's an incredible, yeah. I love Philly. I got to visit, you know, the Eastern state penitentiary that's downtown, which is like the most fascinating place. Like you have a giant abandoned prison in the middle of a downtown area. Like what, what
2 (19m 36s):
I know, see, I didn't even do that. I did like RPS, DPS. I did like all the power plants. Cause in St. Louis, we just don't have anything like that. We also don't have any hospitals in St. Louis. It's kind of weird. Super
0 (19m 49s):
Weird. You got to come out to LA. We have an abandoned 17 story hospital. I'll take you to, it's a madness.
2 (19m 55s):
I went to LA, I've been to LA before and I didn't hit one hospital. Dude. You got to give up. I actually, I told him like, I don't know how to do this podcast about me. Actually. I really suck at what I'm doing. Hey, I think you're a great photographer, man. I think you could tell him to do well. I, if I was as good at urban exploring as an photography, I'd probably be doing like I dropped, I dropped the ball so many cities. I want to just like, oh God, I suck.
0 (20m 21s):
You're totally good. I love your shit, man. I absolutely love it. Your spiral staircases are like mind blowing. You know, I don't know. I don't know how you find these places, but I'm continuously blown away and it makes me want to go to St. Louis obviously like, so talk a little bit about social media and how that's helped you in your, in your freelancing career. Like the growth wise.
2 (20m 44s):
If it wasn't, I'll say this and I know a lot of people talk bad Instagram, if it wasn't for Instagram, I would not have a career. I mean, there is a lot of bullshit and like high school drama that comes with Instagram. True. But I mean, like for instance, like I had the St Louis magazine article, like here, they wrote an article about me and I had no idea who the dude was that followed me. And like, it's, it's a very humbling thing to have people reach out to you that have no ties to you whatsoever. And they don't have to tell you that they like your work or that they want to buy a print or that they want to support a complete stranger just because of the, the photos you take.
2 (21m 26s):
And that is just like such a crazy thing to me. Like I wake up every day and I'm just like, I'm, I'm truly humbled. Cause like there's really no, like it almost makes, makes me speechless sometimes to have people who just support someone just from like seeing a photo. And that's all thanks to Instagram and a huge, a huge part of my following here in St. Louis, I think is my buddy Jordan Bauer who runs the St. Louis grand page. Who's like, it's pretty much like the big, big Patriot in St. Louis. And he would like always repost me on when I first started and like really got my really used a bigger platform here in this city to kind of get my work out there to show people.
2 (22m 7s):
So I'm like forever grateful for that.
0 (22m 10s):
That's amazing, man. I love hearing about like connections made over, over Instagram, you know, like you said. Yeah. There's a lot of like high school drama, all that bullshit. But I think
2 (22m 19s):
That the urban Explorer. Yeah. Oh my God.
3 (22m 24s):
Yeah. It's almost off.
2 (22m 27s):
That's why I really don't label myself honestly, as an urban Explorer. Like I, I would just say I'm just a photographer at this point. Like yeah. I break into buildings. So of course like this shit's fun, but, but I w I feel like that's just like such a one sided, like box to we put in. And I think as a creative, like, we never wanna be put in into a, a category or like a sub category. And I would just like, when people ask me like when to take photos, I was just like, I'm just a photographer. Like I just take photos of whatever at this point. No,
0 (23m 0s):
I totally get you yeah. To, to keep from falling into that box. I, I totally understand. What was your scariest exploration?
2 (23m 14s):
Probably in Philly. There was, DPS was really, really bad at the time. It's probably still was bad to, but it's just littered with scrappers all the time. I mean, it, I, I didn't, if I didn't know any better, I would think that they were doing construction on DPS because there was so many hammers and saws and people just like, it was, I was just like, what the hell is going on here? And then like, people would just like hop out of nowhere and it's like, scared fuck out of me. Like we never, I never felt like I was in danger, but it was definitely a very unsettling feeling to be like, hearing this <inaudible> and Celine torches, like 10 feet away from you while you're trying to set up a shot.
2 (23m 59s):
And I'm just like, I don't think I should be doing this. I never, I've never had like a, a super like freak, you know, like knock on wood. I've never come across like a dead body, or I've never like, been like robbed, you know, I've, I've just been lucky, I guess. I've definitely like in north city sometimes makes you feel a little uncomfortable, but I've never, never had a real true, bad experiences as bad, or as cliche as that sounds. I dunno. I know it's not juicy, but I, yeah, I've, I've had a pretty normal, pretty normal like times in an abandoned buildings or whatnot.
0 (24m 35s):
Hey, there's nothing wrong with that. I like safety. Safety is a good thing when you're exploring for sure.
2 (24m 41s):
Safety is good. Yeah. I do carry a gun on me and St. Louis. So it's like, it's like the wild west here. I'm kind of like prepared for whatever, but I never want anything to happen, obviously. Sure.
0 (24m 53s):
No, that's, I mean, like I said, gun safety, you know, any kind of safety is, is great. And the last episode of this podcast, the guest actually did find a dead body. So it's, it's interesting to hear you say that out.
2 (25m 5s):
I hear about it. I hear about it all the time. I mean, I've heard like stories, like going through, you know, friends of friends through Instagram and oh, so-and-so plan to do a body in Detroit, like in the ice, like in a basement. I'm like, what? Like, what are you talking about? Insane. It's just like, honestly, I'm a pussy kind of, I don't know what that would do to me. If I found like a D I mean straight up, I'm like, well, I mean, I wouldn't go back there. I don't think it's true. I mean, that's just the way I am like, ah, nah, that one don't feel right. No more. I'll, I'll edit some raw photos from the past and cut my losses. Yup.
0 (25m 43s):
I feel you. I feel you. So what has been your favorite exploration?
2 (25m 48s):
I'm going to China was probably the coolest, the coolest thing ever to go to China for 10 days and completely be, I mean, just disconnected in every way. I mean, it is a whole new world over there and the, the language barrier, the culture barrier, like that was amazing to me to just like, go somewhere, hop on a plane. It's just such a crazy concept to me. You hop on a plane, you get off that plane and you know, nothing, you know, no one, you don't know how to stay on anything all of a sudden, and it just like really tosses you on your ass and you just, you come out on top.
2 (26m 30s):
Honestly, I like to go over there so carefree. It was great to China. Hands down Shanghai was absolutely amazing that there's just so much cool shit going over there. And we are so far behind a hundred percent here. It's oh, I would just, I went with my buddy Jack and we filmed a little bit of the, this documentary that he's been doing on me for the last three years. He's finally finishing it up here pretty soon. And we filmed a lot over there, like drone shots. I mean, it looked like it looks like an action movie from mission impossible. Like it was crazy like the little alleyways and the culture, like the people.
2 (27m 14s):
I mean, everyone's so nice. The food's great. The architectures unreal. I mean everything about it. Like if you've never been to China, it's gotta be on your list, obviously this, after this stuff to give it a few years, but like, it's definitely going to be worth it when it, when you get there, you know, for sure.
0 (27m 33s):
Yeah. I'm hoping to hit Japan sometime soon. I really want to go there and kind of explore that area. But China is also on my list for you. What are some of your goal places, places that you haven't explored yet that you are dying to go to?
2 (27m 49s):
I would love to go. I would love to finally have the chance to go to Tokyo. I had a trip booked March 24th till April, this year. I about that one. So that one is a, that one obviously was done though. And I did not go. So Tokyo is highly on my list cause I actually did some type of research and had spots for it. So I was like, and exploring with Josh, me and him were like good friends and he kind of plugged me with some spots. So I'm very fortunate of that, but they will be there waiting for me when I get there. I really let's see I'm looking at this math right now, actually on my house. I would love to go to Chernobyl. I think, I feel like that's like everybody urban everybody's urban Explorer, like honeypot, you know, like we got to go to Chernobyl.
2 (28m 37s):
I would really, really love, oddly enough. I would really, really love to go to India. Oh, okay. Like anywhere, anywhere in India or around India, like that would, that would work for me. That would, I'd be cool with that. I would love to go to like super like third world, like this dirty, nasty ratty countries or even Iraq, like a war zone. Like I would be all about that. I don't like the nature ship. I'm going to be like, ah, yeah, I want to go to the dirty shit. I don't want to be like, oh, let's go to work. Let's see you on this map.
2 (29m 18s):
Let's go to Iceland. It's beautiful. I'm like, ah, no, I'm good.
0 (29m 22s):
I go to Cambodia. I've been there. And it's definitely, if you're looking for like dirty grungy, third world kind of place, definitely Cambodia is one of the places you can
2 (29m 32s):
Go on the list. I'm telling
0 (29m 34s):
You, man, they've got an ancient architecture and they've got, you know, crazy grungy street shots that you can get. It's a definitely, I only spent a weekend there with my dad one year and it was, it was very eye-opening to say the least, you know? And I, I saw a lot that I wish I had captured. I had just been new to photography when I went. And so I kind kinda regret not taking more photos. You know what I mean?
2 (29m 59s):
Oh yeah. I mean, every trip I've done that, I went to Mexico city, Mexico for a week for a job actually. And I probably didn't walk within two blocks away from the whole job I was at the whole time. And I'm like, I'm such an idiot. Why did I not just walk around this? Just like the whole fear thing, I guess fear is real. It was real.
0 (30m 21s):
Absolutely. So if you could live in one place you've explored for a week, which place would it be?
2 (30m 30s):
Oh, New York NYC. That city just swallowed me up and spit me out. I mean, that thing is, oh, I still have nightmares about New York about how I didn't get to see anything, even remotely close to what I wanted to see. Cause it's just so massive. It's such a, I would need a month. I would need a month, not a week. I would need a month at least to feel some type of some type of scratch on the surface in New York. Wow.
0 (31m 2s):
Yeah. I got to get back out there. I haven't been there for years, man. And I have one of my clients just moved out there. So now I have an excuse to fly out and explore a little bit and she's really close to like time square. And she's actually been like, she's been exploring during the lockdown there. So I I've been editing videos for her of like bicycling around an empty time square, you know, like it's absolutely insane.