by MICHAEL BOWEN & r & & r & June Machala & r & & r & Age-group record holder; Spokane & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & hirteen years ago, June Machala ran a 54:42 at Bloomsday. At the time, she was 63. She's 76 now and probably still faster than you are.

Machala is one of only four people (Colleen De Reuck, John Keston and Jeff Corkill are the others) to be the record-holder in two different Bloomsday age groups. For women in their early 60s or 70s, she's a trend-setter.

"I am lucky to be 76 years old so I can still try to finish," she says. Six years ago, she set the American single-age 12K record (for women who are age 70) at Bloomsday with a time of 58:22.

"I've been in Running Times. They've put me in all sorts of books," Machala says. "They used to invite me to New York or Hawaii for runs, pay my way. But now they don't do that anymore because I don't run that much!"

She's only done one 5K race so far this year. "Usually I do more," she says. "But I had surgery on both eyes, for cataracts." And bunions and other foot problems have sent her to the doctor.

Machala won her age group last year -- of course -- but the injuries have slowed her down: "I'll try to do 1:05 this year, if I can," she says. She's down to running about four days a week: "I do about three miles at a time, if it's not too hurting," she says. "I'm getting chicken!"

Machala didn't start racing competitively until she was 55. "I did a three-miler in Medical Lake," she recalls. "Oh, my legs were shaking -- I don't know if I'm going to be able to finish."

She's had to negotiate some cultural differences along the way: "My two older sisters, back in Japan, they ask me, 'Are you still running?' And I say yes. And then you know what one of them asked me? 'What time are you going to quit?!'"

But Machala can respond that there's at least one clear advantage to being a running septuagenarian: freedom of diet.

"I eat everything," she says. "Candy bars -- everything. I eat half a pie if I want. If we go out to a buffet like Granny's, people crowd around me -- they say, 'Where you put it all?' I go back about five times! Nothing stays on me."

Nothing but age-group records.

Jerry Tanner & r & & r & Average walker; Spokane Valley & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & W & lt;/span & hen we label Jerry Tanner an "average walker," we mean what we say. Last year, Turner walked Bloomsday in 2 hours, 10 minutes and 54 seconds -- a time that placed him exactly midway between the winning mark of 34:14 and the dead-last time of 3:47:35.

Which got us to thinking: If Jerry Tanner is Mr. Average Bloomie, he's probably typical in other ways too.

"Well, I work on my car a little," he volunteers. "It's a 2005 PT Cruiser. Just the lube-oil-filter stuff."

Tanner, 44, works for Verizon as a directory assistance operator. He gives out not just phone numbers but also movie listings and driving directions to people who call in from around the nation.

Verizon customers can rest assured that they're connecting with a regular guy when they talk to Tanner, because he's an average American in all the following ways. He lives within three miles of a McDonald's. He lives within two miles of a public park. (In his case, just four blocks!) He's a fan of both NASCAR and American Idol. He is not on a diet. (Only one-quarter of American men are.) He believes in God. He believes that the Bible is literally true.

Here are some ways, however, in which Tanner is not typical. He is 6 feet tall. His grade point average in high school? "Three point zero eight," he proclaims. He has never been to Normal, Ill., or even to Peoria -- "I've never even been east of the Mississippi," he says.

Tanner grew up in Hillyard, has lived all over the Northwest, and moved back to Spokane seven years ago. He and his wife have walked every Bloomsday since. Last year, they walked the entire distance -- earning them results that were really quite, uh, mediocre.

But this year, they have an improved race strategy: "We're going to walk the downhills and run the flat parts," says Tanner.

Sounds typical.

Dennis Johnston & r & & r & Limerick-spouting near-Perennial; Spokane & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & W & lt;/span & ith all the hoo-hah last year over Bloomsday's 30-year Perennial runners, what about the poor folks who have run all but one of Spokane's races?

Back in 1977, Dennis Johnston missed the inaugural run because he was wrapping up 15 years as a schoolteacher in South Bend, Ind. But this Sunday, Johnston will stretch his streak to 30 consecutive Bloomsdays.

He may be a 68-year-old with bad knees now, but as part of Wonder Bread's 1984 Corporate Cup team -- back when he was 45 -- he ran a 48:20.

Johnston also writes limericks. Lots of them. During our first phone call this week, he recited five of them to me -- from memory. And when I called back, Johnston was at the ready: "I wrote three more this morning," he said. Then he declaimed the following:

Spokane's Bloomsday's a tough 12K race.

Of good downhills, there's barely a trace.

If that long Pettet Drive

You can somehow survive,

Your earned T-shirt you'll gladly embrace.

Johnston claims to have written 3,500 limericks in the past three years, and I for one believe him.

When it comes to the history and theory of limericks, Johnston is prolix. "I can fit 18 on a page," he says. "But I don't have them organized into political, comical, running-related and so on. So if I brought them in, it would sort of be Dennis Johnston Unplugged."

Johnston uncorks a few limericks, no doubt, at the Bloomsday brunch he holds at his Shadle Park home every year. One year, sometime in the early '80s, he hosted about 40 family members who had run the race -- "my four brothers ran it with their kids, and about 15 or 20 nieces and nephews," he recalls. But there's a sense that the Johnston Bloomsday tradition is winding down. "Nobody runs it competitively any more, not even me. I have a sister-in-law from Kennewick who's gonna walk it. None of my kids signed up for it this year."

Mark Zahner & r & & r & Walks with family; Troy, Mont. & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & F & lt;/span & or Mark Zahner, Bloomsday is basically just an excuse to have a family reunion.

"Let's see, there's me and my wife, and we've got three grandkids," he says. "And two friends who have a brand-new baby, and my two parents. So probably eight or nine of us altogether."

The Zahner clan travels all the way from Troy, Mont., for the event -- "this will be our 13th time," Mark says. "We go downtown to the park on Saturday and we take the kids through all the shows they've got down there. And we walk through downtown near the park. We go down and look at the river and we have dinner and stuff. And then after the race, we go to my folks' place on the South Hill."

The Zahners do Bloomsday "in about two and a half hours. The first couple of miles are so slow when you're back in the stroller section."

Zahner works for Montana's state highway department; this spring, he's been helping to construct a new highway in the area around Libby and Kalispel. "I do a lot of walking on the job, surveying," says Zahner, 44. "And I run on and off. I've run Bloomsday a few times. But I've never gotten so serious that I wanted to run seven miles all at one time."

He's more focused on spending time with family.

Jim Hudec & r & & r & Wheelchair competitor; Salmo, B.C. & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & J & lt;/span & im Hudec journeys south to Spokane from Salmo, British Columbia, every year to take part in the masters wheelchair competition at Bloomsday. "This will be my 19th year," he says.

Hudec is a middle-of-the-pack wheelie competitor -- he usually finishes a dozen minutes or more behind nine-time wheelchair champion Saul Mendoza -- but he keeps returning because of Bloomsday's atmosphere. "I don't go to a lot of races," says Hudec, "but they treat you so good it's unreal. The crowd along the route, the musicians -- they're cheering you on constantly. It's like they can't do enough for you. They kind of spoil you, really."

In the limited world of masters (over 40) wheelie racing -- even at a big race like Bloomsday, "there's only about eight or 10 of us" -- Hudec has a great deal of experience. He's done "30 or 40" marathons, he says. "I used to train more, but I'm 51 now and I've slowed down. I used to do 200 kilometers a week. Now I probably go 15K, five times a week -- I just do this little route that I have -- and I have a hand-cycle at home. I don't really train that hard -- I just go out and wheel around and enjoy, it, eh?"

Hudec competes in a wheelchair race series up in B.C., so he's accustomed to pre-race jitters. So what's it like up there in the wheelie division before a race? "Well, we do our warming up all together," Hudec says. "The top guys are very good to us. I'm just an average Joe, but that's when you can talk with the best rollers, the best racers in the world. In other sports, I don't know if you can do that. And the night before the race, they have a special dinner for us." So what do wheelchair competitors talk about when they get together?

"Oh, just general," says Hudec. "We just blab, eh?"

The Zywiaks & r & & r & Run in the family; Spokane & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & he Zywiak family has the distinction in our Souvenir Results Booklet of being alphabetically last.

But they run/walk faster than that. Last year, Rich, Michele and Zoe (who's 8 now) all walked it in about two and half hours; son Zack, who was 13 at the time, ran it in 1:38.

It'd be nice to report that the family that run/walks together stays together, but Rich has to work this year, and Zack (who runs on the cross country team for NC and can run three miles in 17 minutes) plans to go after a fast time.

Michele Zywiak lived outside Spokane for awhile, so she's only done five Bloomsdays. But she did the very first one in 1977. "I was 13 and in the seventh grade," she says. "What was funny is that we shouldn't have been running it at all. Back in those days, nearly everybody in it -- they were really pretty experienced runners.

"My friend and I just did it for fun. We made it, but -- back then, the course went up Monroe and turned west on Broadway, did some looping around and then came back down on Broadway. Some of the runners were coming back on us!" she says, laughing. "We almost got trampled."

Last year, all four Zywiaks walked together from their home to the Bloomsday starting line; this year, it'll be just Michele and her daughter walking together.

"I'm a little sad about that," says Michele. "But I'm excited for Zack.

The question is: Will he be able to weave through all those people? But he's a skateboarder, so he'll be good at that."

(Some folks put Aaaaa in front of their names so they'll appear first in our Results Booklet. No word yet on how the Zywiaks would respond if some guy preceded his name on the sign-up sheet with Zzzzz.)

Julie and Stephanie Tucker & r & & r & Mother-daughter running tradition; Spokane & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & S & lt;/span & tephanie Tucker may be only 12, but she has participated in Bloomsday every single year of her life.

Back in 1995, recalls her mother Julie, "We carried her in a front pack. I just remember having to stop and feed her. And we had to stop at one of the first aid stations to change her diaper." When Stephanie was young, her father Eric would join them, but now he plays in one of the course-side Bloomsday bands, P.F. Flyer -- "so now we just run by and wave," says Julie.

The stroller years "took us a lot longer," says Julie, laughing. "We'd get bogged down, and it would take us, like, three hours."

They started walking the race when Julie was 6. "We'd carry a backpack, and we'd always stop to get ice cream where those people were selling popsicles and stuff over there by SFCC," Julie recalls.

The Tuckers started running Bloomsday when Stephanie was 9, and that's led to mother-daughter two-mile runs through Manito Park or up on High Drive. It has also led to Stephanie developing a competitive attitude. When Julie yells upstairs, "Hey, Steph, what was our time last year?" the answer comes back: 1:30.

Actually, it was 1:39:43. Stephanie has apparently already learned another time-honored Bloomsday tradition: When asked, shave a few minutes off your actual finish time.

The Tuckers have other mom-and-daughter traditions, "but this," says Julie, "is the big one."

Surely she's thought about how even a 12-year-plus streak might someday come to an end?

"You know what? Just last year she started showing an interest in doing this with her friends," says Julie. "So last year, two or three of her friends joined us. And they're going to join us again this year. So I said, 'Now, Steph, even if you go to college...'

"And she said, 'Yeah, Mom, I'll be sure to come back.'"

Julie Tucker thinks that she and Stephanie will keep doing Bloomsday "until we graduate to where she's pushing me in a wheelchair."

Nicole Hunt & r & & r & Elite runner; Deer Lodge, Mont. & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & n high school, Nicole Hunt could barely run a six-minute mile. But she walked on to the University of Montana track team, trained hard, and has now fashioned herself, at 37, into a premier runner. Just last year, she finished 10th among the women at Bloomsday (41:34), ran a half-marathon in Houston in 1:16, and represented the United States at running championships held on mountain trails in Turkey and Nigeria.

She ran Spokane's 12K at an average of 5:34 per mile last year -- her best ever, but not her best-ever Bloomsday memory: "One year, I was leading the race down the hill [toward Latah Creek]. That was thrilling."

As for training, Hunt normally runs between 60 miles and 75 miles every week. But lately she's only been "in the high 30s. Training was going excellent until I aggravated my plantar fascia while skate-skiing in February. I cross-trained hard for six weeks and returned to running three weeks ago." Her goal this year is to finish in the top 15.

And on the day after the race -- when most of us are soaking in hot tubs and popping Ibuprofens -- what do elite runners do? If they're like Hunt (who lived in Spokane in the early '80s and again in '99), they go for a run. "I think Spokane has some of the best trails in the nation," she says. "I really like the Bowl and Pitcher trails. I love to explore that area and I make certain that I run there the day after Bloomsday."

The Other Games in Town & r & & r & by JOEL SMITH & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & his weekend isn't strictly about running until your eyes bulge. It's about tens of thousands of people jammed into Spokane, buzzing with energy and hormones. Runners look forward to their one hour of glory, but the rest of the time they want to be out and about. So, too, do the people who are rooting them on. Their presence and excitement brings out people who just want to be part of the party. And the party means people who want no part of Bloomsday have to plan their weekends accordingly.

Here, then, is our rundown of the weekend's non-run-until-you-throw-up highlights, broken down by the four types of people mentioned above.

Athletes & r & & r & Get in a little pre-run cardio exercise at the Crooked Kilts' CD release party. The three-piece contra-dance ensemble blends bluegrass, jazz and traditional fare into one danceable bundle. Friday at 8 pm * $14; $12, with a non-perishable food item * Woman's Club * 1428 W. Ninth Ave.

Load up on precious energy at Carbs for a Cause, a hearty meal and "virtual education odyssey" to East Kenya, featuring speakers, exhibits, food, music, etc. Saturday from 2-6 pm * $10 * East Central Community Center * 500 S. Stone St.

The Bloomsday Trade Show is the perfect place to ogle fit specimens from both sexes while pretending that you're stocking up on Hammer Gel, nipple lube and dumbbells. Friday, 11:30 am-8 pm; Saturday, 9 am-6:30 pm * Exhibition Hall

Your physique's all tuned up -- now tune up your mental game at the Zen Center of Spokane's weekly Saturday morning meeting. Three 25-minute sitting sessions will have your brains at the finish line in no time. Saturday, 8-9:30 am * 35 W. Main Ave. * 534-2617

Athletic Supporters & r & & r & Sue the T-Rex has been the talk of the town this week; don't miss her at the Museum of Arts & amp; Culture. While you're there, check out "If the Shoe Fits" -- an exhibit exploring 200 years of shoes -- for some insight into why your running friends go on and on about "pronation" and their "heel-strike pods." $7; $5 for seniors and students; kids 5 and under are free * The MAC * 2316 W. First Ave.

We arrived at our highly scientific predictions for this year's T-shirt color by browsing through old shirt designs. Check out 30 years' worth of Bloomsday posters at the Downtown Library and see if you can out-guess us. 906 W. Main Ave.

Go watch a production of Philip King's popular 1945 comedy, See How They Run and try to answer the more baffling question: Why do Bloomsday runners do it? Friday-Sunday at 8 pm; Sunday also at 2 pm * $12 * Ignite! Community Theatre * 1003 E. Trent Ave.

Tuck your runner into bed Saturday night, slip into something a little less comfortable and make your way to Dempsey's Brass Rail, where even the pistol-packing PD go to dance until dawn. 909 W. First Ave.

Gawkers & r & & r & Riverfront Park will be a magnet for runners, wheelers and spectators this weekend. Ideal for people-watching. Check out the booths, drop a quarter in some musician's hat, buy something crafty and keep an eye out for the Kenyans running through.

For a mere $485, the Spokane Parks Department will teach you the essentials of whitewater rafting. Sounds like a lot until you consider that the two-day course's second day is in the middle of the big race, and a rubber raft on the Spokane River might be the rarest, coolest place to watch the groaning ascent up Doomsday Hill. Saturday and Sunday * 9 am-3 pm * $485 *

The cognoscenti know Bloomsday starts long before the pistol on Sunday morning. Go check out one of the event's most exciting and overlooked components -- the wheelchair racers' prologue -- on Saturday morning at 8:30 am * Don Kardong Bridge, Centennial Trail, near Gonzaga's Martin Centre

It's been scientifically proven that the frenetic pacing of bluegrass music triggers hidden switches in runners' brains. Show up to see Mighty Squirrel's brand of bluegrass, klezmer and folk music and you'll be sure to find a horde of jittery-looking runners. Saturday, 9 pm * Brooklyn Nights * 122 S. Monroe St.

Hermits & r & & r & Bloomsday, schmoomsday. Escape the lithe and well-heeled jocks downtown and exult in Mexico's triumph over French occupational forces at Spokane Community College's Cinco de Mayo celebration. At least have an horchata and check out some lowriders. 10 am-11 pm * $5 * SCC, Lair Bldg. * 1810 N. Greene St.

Friday is Free Comic Book Day at Merlyn's. Get a free comic and bring a camera for a photo op with a storm trooper. Brag about how you used to bull's-eye womp rats in your T-16 back home and you're sure to scare away any approaching jocks. 9 am-9 pm * Merlyn's Sci-Fi Fantasy Store * 19 W. Main Ave.

Runners are going to be out looking for some uplifting, pump-you-up power ballads on Saturday night. Best place in town to avoid them, then? At the Big Easy, for the Morrissey show. Nothing induces athletic flaccidity like "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me." Saturday at 8 pm * $55 * The Big Easy * 919 W. Sprague

No better way to ignore the tens of thousands of sweaty, grunting, masochistic athletes outside than to slip into an early matinee at AMC downtown. Besides, Spider-Man 3 is out this weekend.

It Keeps You Running & r & & r & by TED S. McGREGOR JR. & r & & r & This year, there are 28 bands/entertainment acts peppering the 12 kilometers of Bloomsday track. That's up over last year -- turns out, live music has become one of the big attractions for runners and walkers. And as in previous years, you can help pick the best -- call it "Bloomsday Idol." After the race, just log on to and vote for your favorite entertainer -- they can win as much as $500.

And the competition is fierce (although no Kenyan bands have signed up -- yet). Old favorites like Accordion Joe and Bluegrass Conspiracy will be bringing their A game, along with upstarts like the Let Up and Spokane scene mainstays the Trailer Park Girls. Outside the norm, we've even got the American Cheerleader University (now that's a degree worth pursuing) and the Northwest Renaissance Society (sorry, jousting has been forbidden by King Kardong).

Whatever your musical taste, when you're out among the masses Sunday morning, and your legs are protesting, remember -- there's another band just up around the next bend.

1 The Let Up Bloomsday Office

2 Emma's Nasty Apple (Blues) Riverside and Cannon

3 PF Flyer (Classic Rock) The MAC

4 Accordion Joe (Elvis) Partway down Riverside Hill

5 WaggyPlank (Punk/Alternative) Just before the Marne Bridge

6 Good Ol' Stuff (Accordion/Bass) On the left, just before the Mile 2 marker

7 Firecreek (Country, Classic Rock) Government Way and Pacific

8 Small Town Nation (Pop/Punk) Second entrance to River Run

9 If You're Lucky (Pop/Punk) Government Way and Fort George Wright Drive

10 Rhythm Envy (Precision Bucket Drum Corps) Unitarian Universalist Church

11 Maxwell Friday Fort George Wright Drive and River Ridge Blvd.

12 Billy Hay & amp; Rampage (Classic Rock/Pop) Ft, George Wright Dr. & amp; Randolph Rd.

13 NW Renaissance Society (Renaissance Performers) On the right, just past Mile 4 marker

14 Vax Lavala (Rock) Fort George Wright Drive and Elliott Drive

15 American Cheerleading University Driveway at Dominican Center

16 Saturday Night Confession (Rock) Bottom of Doomsday Hill

17 Backbeat Revival (Rock/Blues) Top of Doomsday Hill

18 Erik Smith and the Yes Men (Rock/Blues) Mission Avenue and Hollister Drive

19 Spokane Christian Church Band (Pop/Rock) Mission Avenue and West Point Drive

20 Sisters of Selket (Belly Dancers) Summit Boulevard and Maxwell Avenue

21 Iron Fanboy (Rock) Lindeke Street just before Sinto Avenue

22 Cross Country Band (Country/Rock) Lindeke Street and Gardner Avenue

23 Last Chance (Rock) Lindeke Street and Dean Avenue

24 Stranglers of Bombay (Classic Rock) Lindeke Street and Broadway Avenue

25 Bluegrass Conspiracy (Bluegrass) Broadway Ave. and Cochran Street

26 Melvins and the Loose Ends (Rock/Country) Broadway Ave. and Chestnut St.

27 Trailer Park Girls (Pop/Rock) Broadway Avenue and Oak Street

28 Breanna Abell (Country soloist; last year's "Best Entertainer") Broadway Avenue and Maple Street

These People Are FAST & r & & r & by MICHAEL BOWEN & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & "O & lt;/span & n the men's side, this is the deepest field we've ever had at Bloomsday," says Jonathan Neill, elite race coordinator and the new president of the Lilac Bloomsday Association.

I remember Neill saying something like that last year. But there's some truth in it, if only because of the return of Bloomsday's defending champion and the dominant force in international road running in recent years: Kenya's Gilbert Okari.

In five months (April-August 2006), Okari won six major American road races, including Bloomsday. This season, Okari, 28, has already won the "World's Best 10K" in Puerto Rico in February with a time of 28:08. In fact, four of the top seven men's finishers from the Puerto Rican race are coming to Spokane to form a Kenyan-dominated field, including Cosmos Koech -- who finished just a second behind Okari -- Peter Kamais and John Yuta.

John Korir -- third at the Cherry Blossom 10-Mile on April 1 in Washington, D.C. -- will be in the lead pack, as will George Misoi ("the Misoi Missile"), who won New Orleans' Crescent City 10K on April 7 in a time of 28:15.

"The best American in the field," says Neill, "will probably be Matt Thull of Milwaukee. He ran a strong half-marathon -- 1:05 -- a couple of months ago, and figures to place in the top 15." Celedonio Rodriguez of Alamosa, Colo. -- 14th here last year -- also returns.

A magical name at Bloomsday this year is Henry Rono. WSU track fans will remember how Rono, who started the parade of Kenyan runners to the Palouse, won three NCAA cross country championships and set four world records (3K, 3K steeplechase, 5K, 10K) in the late 70's. After struggling with alcoholism and even homelessness, Rono, 55, is back training to break the world record in his age group for the mile.

& lt;span class= "dropcap " & A & lt;/span & s for the women, Catherine the Great will be here. Catherine Ndereba, 34, has a royal running resume: four-time Boston Marathon winner and silver medalist in the 2004 Olympic marathon at Athens. However, Teyba Erkesso of Ethiopia -- who's a decade younger than Ndereba -- comes in as the favorite, having won Cherry Blossom by more than a minute. She also won the Vancouver (B.C.) Sun Run 10K on April 15 in 32:05.

Emily Chebet of Kenya -- who finished six seconds behind Erkesso at Crescent City -- will challenge for the lead, as will Great Britain's Kathy Butler, who finished fourth at Bloomsday last year.


"I swear, a gang of crazed moms trampled me with their strollers back at the bottleneck!"

"I got stuck in a Honey Bucket and it took, like, a half an hour for the firemen to find those Jaws of Life thingies."

"A couple volunteers tackled me around Mile Four and ripped off my rollerblades, so I had to run in my bare feet."

"The docs at the First Aid tent said they'd never seen such a wicked case of raw nipples."

"I guess I just lost track of time after I stopped for that beer."


Box o' maple bars from the Donut Parade

The pastrami/salami/liverwurst special at Domini's

Get into an eating contest with the regulars up at the all-you-can-eat Old Country Buffet

The Wagon Master at the Longhorn -- barbecued beef, ham, chicken, spare ribs, German sausage and turkey

A bagful of Whammies from Dick's


The Lilac Man Group

Don Kardong -- Hint: Try to do media interviews on "how the race is going"

A centipede -- with eight of your friends, connected and running in perfect unison

Nothin' but cellophane

A salmon -- then run the race upstream, from the finish back to the start


"Running on Empty," Jackson Browne

"Born to Run," Bruce Springsteen

"Run Like Hell," Pink Floyd

"Harder to Breathe," Maroon 5

"I Will Survive," Gloria Gaynor


The Spokane River Falls

All that beautiful surface-level parking -- your friends back home won't believe it

The Garbage-Eating Goat in Riverfront Park

That enormo pothole out in the middle of (insert favorite street/avenue here)

The vulture at the top of Doomsday Hill

Cheap Skate Tuesday @ Numerica Skate Ribbon

Tuesdays, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Continues through Feb. 22
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About The Author

Michael Bowen

Michael Bowen is a former senior writer for The Inlander and a respected local theater critic. He also covers literature, jazz and classical music, and art, among other things.