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Sweet Harmony 

by Ted S. McGregor Jr. & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & A & lt;/span & s I walk through this wicked world, searching for light in the darkness of insanity, I ask myself: Is all hope lost? Is there only pain and hatred and misery? And as I walk on through troubled times, my spirit gets so downhearted.


So where are the strong? And who are the trusted? And where is the harmony? Each time I feel it slipping away, there's one thing I want to know: What's so funny about peace, love and understanding?


As an editor, finely attuned to the imperfections of the world, I definitely feel this way sometimes. The news can be really depressing. Nick Lowe felt so strongly about it that he wrote those first two paragraphs in a song back in 1974. Elvis Costello's bouncy cover version of it came out in 1979, perfectly articulating the way music can heal us. Be engaged with the world, the song tells us, but make sure to keep your spirit healthy -- try dancing to a catchy tune or throwing a huge party. Or both.


Which is exactly why I blasted "What's So Funny ('Bout Peace, Love and Understanding)" out on the Bloomsday masses from the front steps of Inlander HQ on Riverside Avenue on Sunday morning. It's the kind of song that gets your legs moving, and Bloomsday's the kind of party that lifts your spirits.





& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & L & lt;/span & ike the song, Bloomsday was born in the '70s, and it pulled off the impressive feat of making the most individualized of all sports -- running -- a social event.


Bloomsday started out as a crazy idea bouncing around inside the head of Don Kardong, who quaintly sketched out his race-course plans at the bottom of a letter to Mayor David Rodgers. (I know all about having a crazy idea bounce around your head, as the concept of The Inlander filled mine for three years before we launched the paper in 1993.)


Now, 30 years later, Kardong's brainchild has grown beyond anyone's wildest dreams, with tens of thousands awaiting the new T-shirt design every year. What started as a lark is now a tradition, in the mold of the German volksmarches, the Boston Marathon and even, perhaps, Mardi Gras -- all the while serving the higher purpose of physical fitness.


Now the race has become an annual exercise in excellence: Gilbert Okari and Isabella Ochichi are the very pictures of it. And the daunting logistical challenge Bloomsday's army of volunteers pulls off every year is proof of that Spo-can-do mentality.


Still, despite what it has become, there's nothing cooler than doing something totally nutty and finding out that tons of people love to do nutty stuff, too (kind of like when Forrest Gump started running and all those people start running after him).


Kardong and his crew, however, have no plans for stopping.





& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & I & lt;/span & ncidentally, the late 1970s was an incredibly fertile artistic period, and to pay tribute to that -- and the first Bloomsday in 1977 -- I picked a few other songs from that era to blast out. (Just in case you're looking for some songs for your latest workout mix, these were all hits with the Bloomsday crowd on Sunday.)


"We Are Family" by Sister Sledge (1979) "Living life is fun... High hopes we have for the future... No, we don't get depressed..." Disco may have become a punch line by the '80s, but it's pure feel-good power has stood the test of time.


"YMCA" by the Village People (1978) Call it Pavlov's song: When this baby comes on, people lose control -- they are compelled to sing along and do those arm gyrations.


"Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen (1978) "I'm floating around in ecstasy ... I'm traveling at the speed of light." Freddie Mercury could really belt out a song, and this one will fire you up even more than "We Will Rock You."


"Mr. Blue Sky" by Electric Light Orchestra (1977) "Mr. Blue Sky, please tell us why you had to hide away for so long." The perfect song to signal the return of spring, as Bloomsday does so perfectly (despite this year's light drizzle).





& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & B & lt;/span & ut to get back to Elvis, Nick, peace and love, what gets me so downhearted in these troubled times (the '00s, not the '70s) are all the divisions. It seems like the world is conspiring against a greater sense of community. The TV news makes us fear for our lives, our leaders exploit our differences to keep their jobs, and greed keeps too many in this world -- and in our country -- poor. Meanwhile, the pace of our lives keeps us separate, too, after we close our garage doors at 6 pm and settle in front of the TV at night.


So we should not underestimate the value of any chance to come together as a community. Spokane and the Inland Northwest are very good at this kind of thing, with events like Hoopfest, Pig Out in the Park and ArtFest. Without getting too academic, let's just say that parties like Bloomsday are profoundly important: They counteract the forces that divide us -- and they just make us happy.


And we should be happy, not downhearted. There's a lot more than just pain and hatred and misery. We have very good lives here, so we should get to know the people we share this place with. Getting sweaty with 40,000 of your neighbors is as good a way as any.


So where is the harmony? You can experience it yourself, the first Sunday of every May, when the sound of some 80,000 feet pounding the pavement creates a sweet, sweet harmony.
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