The Boardman Review and that Northern Michigan thing


By Chris Loud

Sun contributor

The Boardman Review is an attempt to capture the essence of northern Michigan through an array of multimedia formats, presented in both a print and digital quarterly publication. After launching in July 2017, together with my brother, Nick, we found that the people and stories of this area have already surpassed our hopes and dreams for the project, and have started to fill in, piece by piece, the northern Michigan vibe puzzle. What does that actually mean? You tell us, please.

First it was a cabin in East Jordan (EJ); we called it “Scott’s place.” It had a dock on the south arm of Lake Charlevoix for our small aluminum boat and Sunfish, and a loft bedroom to launch secret aerial assaults with highly trained plastic “parachute guys.” My dad would take me up to a shipwreck on the lake, and the only thing I loved more than that was the sound of the little Johnson outboard at full throttle, with the wake behind getting thinner and longer as we went faster and faster. At the time I was pretty sure we were going somewhere between 150 and 200 miles per hour. I don’t remember the exact speed because I was like 5 or 6 years old, but I think that’s a safe estimate.

One fall day, in EJ we sat outside by the fire and saw a massive flock of geese takeoff. The flock was 5 to 10 miles long, I was pretty sure. The lead goose at the front let out a quick single honk, communicating “Alright fam, I know it’s a huge bummer, but we have to fly south now. We’ll come back soon, I promise. Please take note of your cross winds as we get above the trees, as the wind from the big lake will be coming in from your starboard. Godspeed.” Then the others honked wildly, and almost in unison began to launch out of the water and fly away. I know this happened exactly as I tell it because we have grainy, zoomed in camcorder footage as proof. My brother’s first trip to northern Michigan as a baby was to “Scott’s place.” He doesn’t remember that, but I’ll never forget.

Next came a small cabin on Northport Bay, just up North Shore Drive from the village. We called it “Alice’s Place.” My brother was older at this point. He helped me collect Petoskey stones, watched me play on the old pinball machine on the screened porch, and listened as I read my favorite book of all time, Paddle to the Sea. We had chickenpox together, because my mom splashed the infected bath water on my brother. My parents figured if we were going to be miserable for a few days, we might as well do it Up North. So in the dead of winter we drove to “Alice’s Place,” and my brother watched me play Nintendo for the better part of a weekend, both of us caked in Aveeno oatmeal lotion. It was the best.

A few more random cabins and cottages came and went through the years. There were Glen Arbor jaunts to the Totem Shop for baseball cards and bouncy balls, ice cream cones at Fishtown in Leland, holiday shopping in Suttons Bay, Italian subs from Folgarelli’s in Traverse City, and skiing on the infamous Sugar Loaf Mountain. If you never had a chance to hit the slopes of Sugar Loaf before it closed, I’m telling you, the mountain used to be about 10,000 feet in elevation, but has since shrunk because of sadness.

Then, I went off to college. I moved to New York, and then to Los Angeles. My brother went to the same college five years later and joined me out in Los Angeles for several years. We worked in television & film, had a love/hate relationship with the sun, and honed our ability to stay sane in traffic. This is where I’m supposed to tell you I wasn’t able to get back much to the area for years after leaving home, but I’m sorry to disappoint. In fact, it was the opposite. After living downstate near Ann Arbor for 18 years, my parents decided it was time to be honest with ourselves. We are northern Michigan people. They sold the house downstate and bought land in Northport, a little over a quarter mile from “Alice’s Place.” Nick and I visited any chance we got, and it felt like home.

Well, it actually feels like home now because we both moved here full time. I got married in Omena, bought a house in Traverse City, and had a daughter at Munson Hospital. My wife works at Munson, and my brother and I started Loud Brothers Productions, a media production company ranging from TV & film projects, to print & digital publications like The Boardman Review.

It’s all of the above, and infinitely more, that we are trying to bottle up and showcase with our quarterly. I could spend days trying to tell you what I think defines northern Michigan, but we think it’s best to just let northern Michigan do that. Through photo essays, lifestyle pieces, short fiction and nonfiction narratives, travelogues, poetry, music, podcasts, short films, graphic novellas, and whatever else the creative folks up here can muster, we hope to tell a complete story of tangible examples of why this area has such an intense, intangible gravity.

On June 21, from 7-9 p.m. at The Parlor in Traverse City, we’ll hold our fourth release event, capping off our first full year with the publication. All of our release events are live versions of our issues. For this upcoming issue release, we’ll have a unique photo essay and short film about Rabbit Island in Lake Superior, music videos and a live performance by northern Michigan sibling duo Oh Brother Big Sister, an inside look at the Riverside Inn in Leland, a creative nonfiction piece about cliff jumping, a profile of the artist behind Book Lover’s Lark, the story of the live storytelling project Here:Say, and a short film and sneak peak of a larger documentary about watershed education across the state of Michigan.

For more information on the event, The Boardman Review in general, and to purchase past issues and t-shirts, follow us on social media @boardmanreview or check out our website at