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P R O F I L E : D R . P E P P E R ’ S L A R R Y C U L P E P P E R I S F R O M O M A H A • F I LM : W HY O LD M O V I E S S U C K • O V E R T H E E D G E : T HE N U M B I N G E F F E C T • M U S I C : N A T H A N M A ’ S L O N E S OM E H E A R T L A N D

An Interactive Beatles Experience Featuring Billy McGuigan

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ProKarma, Inc. has mltpl openings for Senior Software Engineer in Omaha, NE; may also work @ unantcptd locatns. Roving pstn-employee’s worksite & residence may chng based on client & busnss demands.  No trvl rqurmnt; prfrmng daily job duties doesn’t req trvl.  S/he will create & maintain web applctns; dvlp functionalities; modify exstng SW to correct errors & improve prfrmnce; & will dvlp & direct SW system tstng & vldtn prcdrs, prgrmmng, & dcmntatn.  Req’s master’s, or for. equiv, in CIS, IT, CS, Eng (any) or relt’d tech/anlytcl field + at least 1 yr exp in job offrd or IT/Comp-relt’d pstn. Emplyr also accpt bachelor’s, or foreign equiv, in CIS, IT, CS, Eng (any) or relt’d tech/anlytcl field + at least 5 yr progressive post-bachelor’s exp in job offrd or IT/Comp-relt’d pstn. Req’s prof. exp with: PHP, MYSQL, Javascript, Angular JS, HTML, CSS, Drupal.  Suitbl combo of edu/training/exp accptbl.



222 S. 15th St., Ste 505N, Omaha, NE 68102 or email:

222 S. 15th St., Ste 505N, Omaha, NE 68102 or email:

ProKarma, Inc. Attn: Jobs

with Job Ref# in the subject line of the email


JOB HUNTING TIPS ENTRY LEVEL: HOW TO START AT THE BEGINNING Being the lowest person on the professional totem pole should be considered a necessary step toward a successful career. Whether you’re a graduate new to the workplace or someone who seeks a new career, an entry level job has myriad benefits.



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ProKarma, Inc. Attn: Jobs

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Publisher John Heaston Managing Editor David Williams Graphic Designer Katiuska Nuñez Assistant Editor Mara Wilson Assistant Editor Tara Spencer CONTRIBUTING EDITORS heartland healing: Michael Braunstein arts/visual: Mike Krainak eat: Sara Locke film: Ryan Syrek hoodoo: B.J. Huchtemann music: James Walmsley over the edge: Tim McMahan theater: William Grennan SALES & MARKETING Dinah Gomez Kati Falk DISTRIBUTION/DIGITAL Clay Seaman OPERATIONS AND BUSINESS MANAGER Kerry Olson PHOTOGRAPHY Debra S. Kaplan






Breaking the cycle of poverty in Omaha BY LEO ADAM BIGA PHOTOGRAPHY BY DEBRA S. KAPLAN


n 2007 local media reported the stark dimensions of concentrated poverty for many African-American families in North Omaha. It was, sadly, old news to impoverished residents long beset by low income, high debt, unstable, substandard housing and food deserts. It confirmed, too, what human service professionals like Voices for Children in Nebraska executive director Aubrey Mancuso already knew. “Unfortunately,” she said, “things haven’t gotten much better. I think we’re largely in the same place. When we think about poverty in Omaha and Nebraska there are two main stories. One, poverty continues to be highly racialized. Children of color, particularly black and Hispanic children, have much higher poverty rates. So poverty’s gone up in general and the groups disproportionately affected by it continue to be. We haven’t made progress addressing those disparities. “Secondly, there’s poverty despite work.” Experts say want isn’t exclusive to the unemployed but extends to the underemployed working poor. Mancuso said, “We often think just finding a job is the solution, and it is about jobs, but it’s about quality jobs that allow you to afford all your expenses, save for a better future, own a home, have a retirement cushion and something to hand down to your children and have a buffer against unexpected health-related expenses, job losses and all those things. It’s about the opportunity to stabilize your income by building assets.” She said “the reality is more complicated” than pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. “People are doing the best they can with the situation they’ve been given. As a children’s advocacy group our position is we have a collective responsibility to all our kids. Kids are vulnerable and we need to think about how we can help them.” She noted the recent presidential election revealed how the disenfranchised “sense somehow the deck is stacked against them, and when we’re talking about families in poverty, that’s really true.” She said generational poverty means “families and kids start off behind and face barriers that pile on top of each other.” “We know poverty is very damaging for children and I think that starts even before birth. Prenatal care, early healthcare visits and




early learning experiences are crucial. If parents don’t provide those things, you see consequences later in life.” Chronic poverty can lead to hopelessness, said Jim Clements, executive director of the Heart Ministry Center. As a society I don’t think we appreciate the choices people in poverty have to make on a daily basis. Maybe your car breaks down and you don’t have another way to get to work. so you take out a payday loan to get it fixed, but the exorbitant interest rates get you caught in this cycle of debt you can’t escape. It’s day-to-day survival. It’s not through any lack of trying, it’s just super complex and really hard. But I’ve seen enough people who have turned it around with help and by working hard to know it can be done.” Clements said even many middle-class Americans are a few big life bumps away from tough times. “You don’t always know how close to the other side you are. All it takes is a bad series of events.” Geo LaPole invested everything in his own flea market, where he also lived. Things went well until business dried up. Unable to make the rent, he lost his business and home. He struggled keeping a roof over his head. Then he lost a job. He went through Heart Ministry Center’s Fresh Start program and now works there. “You’re given the basic things you need to start fresh. It helped me immensely. It gave me access to the pantry, mental health counseling, somebody to listen and to point me in the right direction.” LaPole said pride prevents some from asking for help. “I almost didn’t accept the help. I finally said, ‘I deserve help just like everyone else does, why not make myself normal so I can help somebody else.’ Until someone grabs you and helps you, there’s no helping yourself because you don’t know how to help yourself.” Trust can be an issue, Clements said, “If you’re poor, you’re probably taken advantage of.” Together executive director Mike Hornacek said the poor struggle finding quality affordable housing, often settling for run-down properties owned by unresponsive landlords. Poverty is not just confined to inner city neighborhoods either. Experts say there are pockets of suburban poor who also utilize helping services.

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Everyone coming to Together or Heart Ministry Center has a story. Clements said, “We were able to help a woman who fell on hard times pay her mortgage. I’m glad we were there to help her avoid sliding further down the poverty scale. We were able to get a woman living on the streets on general assistance and into the Literacy Center. Now she’s reading at a seventh grade level. Maybe she’ll get her GED.” Big Lou Parker battled addiction, then buried his wife, leaving him to raise five children. He found sobriety and opened a soul food eatery only to suffer a massive heart attack. Medical bills forced him


Negotiating poverty’s cascade of effects and harsh decisions, such as forgoing regular healthcare or letting one bill ride to pay another, is reality at Minne Lusa Elementary School, where 94 percent of the students receive free or reduced lunch. Principal Kim Jones admires the fortitude of parents and kids who confront it daily. “I’ve learned so much about resilience and about how much we’re needed.” Lisa Utterback, an Omaha Public Schools administrator who turned around nearby Miller Park Elementary as its principal, said contrary to perceptions, “a child from these circumstances can be molded and influenced and can achieve – you can change their lives and give them a sense of hope that things will be okay.” She said too often society imposes artificial limits. “There’s just a lack of believing in potential. Sometimes adults don’t know how to fathom the obstacles kids face. If you can’t even wrap your mind around it, you can’t help problem-solve.” Utterback said OPS provides additional supports to low performing schools, including a social worker and a school support liaison, literacy coaches, math and science coaches and more technology. Mental health support is also offered through Project Harmony. Voices for Children’s Aubrey Mancuso said, “If we want to set youth on a course that leads them to higher education, we have to start with very young children. Early childhood education opportunities are part of it. We need to think about giving kindergarten students college savings accounts that grow over time and give them a resource to put towards higher education. That would help offset some of the disparities in being able to build wealth and access higher education. It’s important we get to kids much younger on the spectrum and really build that aspiration to take that next step after high school.” She said more can be done for poor families. “There are things that work to help build wealth that aren’t reaching lower income families that we can better leverage. One is the earned income tax credit for working families that puts more money back in their pockets and gives them an opportunity to save or pay off bills or whatever. Our state earned income tax credit is too low. We also have a state child and dependent care tax credit whose income eligibility levels haven’t increased since the 1990s, so we need to revisit that.” Mancuso and her team worked with outgoing state Sen. Tanya Cook to write and pass LB 81 that allows families two years of transitional assistance at a much higher income level before they have to bear the full cost of child care. Mancuso also advocates a public pay-in program that does for poor kids what Social Security does for seniors. “We haven’t collectively made those same investments in our kids, and SOURCE: U.S. CENSUS BUREAU 2013 COMMUNITY SURVEY I think that’s what we really need to do next. We need to have the will to carry it forward.” She said the widening division between haves and have-nots compel into bankruptcy. The center helped him get back on his feet and ing in property causes trauma. If we connect people to jobs without addressing their mental health, they’re not going to keep us “to work harder, be kinder, be more thoughtful and be more inclusive.” he now owns a successful lawn care business. Heart Ministry’s Jim Clements said in lieu of neighbors directly helping those jobs.” Homeless veterans and LGBT youth comprise subgroups of the Most poverty services address urgent basic needs or crises, neighbors, centers like his as well as churches and shelters are the frontpoor seen at Together, 812 S. 24th Street. After making clients safe, any addictions or mental health issues get treated, and then such as eviction, utility shutoff, hunger and clothing. The immedi- lines “to give people a lifeline and help pull them out. It takes some resources, some time, some patience,” he said, “but helping turn people’s lives pathways to education, employment and housing are found. To- ate goal is stability. “Through our pantry we give out between 1.2 and 1.5 million around strengthens the entire community.” gether refers clients to partner agencies for services as needed. Together’s Mike Hornacek said real strides addressing poverty will hapIt works the same at Heart Ministry. “It takes a lot of different pounds of food and feed 20,000 people a year,” Clements said. touches to get somebody through it,” Clements said. “That takes “You don’t want to feel you’re just a stop gap – you want to see pen when people stop making judgments, assigning blame or viewing it as time. It’s baby steps. People can work on specific goals here. We change. When you see the tide of need, it makes you wonder … someone else’s problem and “come around to saying, ‘That could be my neighbor or friend, that’s something that can happen to me.’” try to find ways to connect them to mentors. The more people we Is this going to end, is this going to get better for people?” Humanizing poverty and having compassion is a start. Longer-term goals get addressed with case management supcan put in their life to build that personal infrastructure and to Experts advocate more avenues for the poor to acquire skill sets that port, much of it dealing with financial counseling. have in their corner, the better. Unresolved debt can further trap people in poverty and ex- net living wage jobs and to access capital for startups, asset-building ”Just by being involved in their lives, things tend to improve. It’s part of this puzzle. When they know somebody cares, they feel pose everything they own to collectors (see related story in this and home ownership. Paths to self-determination should lessen the need issue). If someone’s already low wages get garnished, they may for safety nets from crises and protections from predatory forces. , better about themselves.” Clements said Heart’s Fresh Start job readiness program uses fall behind on rent or car payments and find themselves without a holistic approach that includes mental health counseling. “Liv- a permanent place to live or a vehicle to drive. Read more of Leo Adam Biga’s work at





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Nebraska law feeds an avalanche of debt collection horror stories



ebraska is a national leader in suing poor people out, on the face of the collection complaint, what the claim was for for the most minor debts. More debt collection cases or to whom he or she was indebted,” he wrote in his ruling. “Nebraska’s flood of suits isn’t merely a reflection of residents’ are processed in the state of 1.9 million than in Cook County, Illinois and it’s population of 5.2 million people, inability to pay their bills,” ProPublica noted. “About 79,000 debt collection lawsuits were filed in Nebraska courts in 2013 alone, acwhich includes the city of Chicago. In 2014, ProPublica’s award-winning consumer finance reporter cording to a ProPublica analysis. That was about the same number Paul Kiel and his team “set out to find out more about the growing of cases as Cook County, Illinois, which covers 5.2 million residents use of the courts to collect consumer debts. How many lawsuits are and includes the city of Chicago. “In New Mexico, a state with a population, like Nebraska’s, of filed? Who is filing them? Who is getting sued?” The result is “Unforgiven,” one of the ongoing investigations for around two million, about 30,000 suits were filed. Yet by virtually ProPublica, a nonprofit, investigative news powerhouse. “The way any measure, households in Nebraska are significantly better off lenders and collectors pursue consumer debt has undergone an ag- than those in New Mexico: Income is higher. Poverty is lower. And gressive transformation in America,” ProPublica states. “Collectors fewer families fall behind on their bills. “The reason for the difference is simple. Suing someone in Netoday don’t give up easy, often pursuing debts for years. For many braska is cheaper and easier.” people, these changes have profoundly affected their lives.” Legal Aid of Nebraska (LAN) decided to look closer, with nearly ProPublica was most recently recognized for their coverage of the high-interest, pay-as-you-go retailer USA Discounter and its debt 17% of its 2015 cases related to consumer law and debt colleccollection practices targeting military families. That investigation tion. Launching it’s own analysis of debt collection cases in Douglas helped spur 49 state attorney generals to force the company to a County, out of the 17,535 judgements in collection cases between settlement that cost it $40 million in penalties and helped reduce January 1, 2014 and June 30, 2016, LAN reported the following: $95 million in debt owed by past customers, mostly helping soldier’s family’s nearby the more than two dozen stores placed right outside • The minimum judgment amount was $2.50 before legal and of military bases. collection fees. ProPublica’s look at Nebraska debt collection was released to little local media attention in April. • 43% of the judgments were for $500 or less Focusing on the state’s largest debt collection agency, Grand Island’s Credit Management Services, the story starts with a family • 66% of judgments were for $1,000 or less buried in medical debt from their 8-year-old daughter’s failing kidney. While the president of CMS was presenting the family with the • 54% of the total judgment amount was against individuals donation of a 2007 Mercury Grand Marquis, CMS itself had sued residing in high poverty zip codes, disproportionately affecting the family eight times over unpaid medical bills and was garnishing low income and minority populations. their wages. The family was eventually forced to seek bankruptcy. “In almost any other state, such a barrage of lawsuits against a Looking closer at these high poverty zip codes, LAN took a samfamily in desperate financial straits would be remarkable,” the story ple to look closer at what type of debt it was: reported. “Not in Nebraska. There, debt collectors frequently sue over medical debts as small as $60 and a simple missed doctor’s • 32% from check-cashing and payday loans bill can quickly land you in court.” Legal Aid of Nebraska’s own analysis of Douglas County debt • 42% from medical debt collection cases found a judgment for as low as $2.50. CMS filed almost 30,000 lawsuits in Nebraska in 2013, a pace “Nebraska has a number of collector-friendly policies, such as of about 120 per business day with a staff of six attorneys, the most looser standards for serving debtors with a lawsuit,” National aggressive litigation of any debt collection agency in ProPublica’s Consumer Law Center attorney Amy Kuehnhoff told ProPublica. study. “From 2008 through 2014, CMS seized at least $88 million “Tougher standards – such as requiring collectors to serve defenfrom Nebraskan’s wages and bank accounts,” the story reported. dants personally with a suit or provide more documentation of In February, the company settled a class action federal lawsuit debts – can decrease the number of suits and make the process after U.S. District Judge Joseph Battaillon ruled CMS “had deceived fairer to consumers.” , consumers with its collection suits by wrongfully claiming interest and attorney fees.” Legal Aid of Nebraska is hopeful some state senators are preparThe judge noted CMS used legalese to confuse its victims. “With- ing legislation for this upcoming session. To find out what you can out any special knowledge of the law, a layperson could not figure do, please contact




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Tickets are FREE, but you must register to attend.


All across the country, payday lenders are creating additional challenges for working families by turning one-time loans into perpetual debt traps. Moreover, this industry operates largely outside of the regulations that govern other financial transactions.  Join us for a screening of The Ordinance to learn how the state of Texas stood up to predatory lenders. After the film, there will be a panel discussion on what each of us can do to address payday lending in Nebraska.


• James Goddard, Nebraska Appleseed • Nick Bourke, Pew Charitable Trust • Pastor Tony Sanders, Koinonia House of Worship • State Senator-Elect Tony Vargas


 ACLU, Anti-Defamation League, Black Men United, Coalition for a Strong Nebraska, Inclusive Communities, Legal Aid of Nebraska, Nebraska Appleseed, Nebraska Families Collaborative, Nebraska Youth Advocates, Urban League of Nebraska Young Professionals and Women’s Fund of Omaha. Tickets are free, but you must register to attend at Eventbrite - Film Screening: The Ordinance

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Agressive creditors exploit Nebraska law BY LEO ADAM BIGA


hether born or thrust into it, poverty takes a toll. Just getting by is a struggle but things really get tough when creditors hound you for a debt you can’t pay, target whatever little income or assets you have and even threaten taking away your home and freedom. Not only is Nebraska one of the worst states in the county for low-income debtors according to an April investigation by ProPublica, but a study of recent Douglas County Court debt collection cases by Legal Aid of Nebraska shows that it’s hitting Black and Latino households hardest (see related story in this issue). Janet and her pastor husband thought they were comfortably set, looking ahead to retirement in a few years, when he lost his job in a major downsizing at a local medical center and with it the couple’s only earned income. Janet. who can’t work due to a disability, said things soon went from bad to worse when they had trouble paying off a major purchase they made on credit with a local retailer. The couple paid down a previous credit card debt with the same store, though they still owed some $1,500. Then the creditor upped the pressure by putting a lien on their home. Unable to pay their mortgage, the couple lost their home in a foreclosure. The foreclosure occurred despite working with the lender on a loan modification. One day a sheriff arrived to inform the dumbfounded couple they had 24 hours to vacate. They moved into an apartment. “Forty years of stuff in there,” Janet said of giving up their home. Meanwhile, the store pursuing the debt collection refused the couple’s entreaties to work out a partial payment plan. Then, to the couple’s dismay, legal action resulted in a warrant being issued for Janet’s arrest. Janet said, “I was like, How in the world? I think it’s a disgrace to society. We’ve never had anything like this happen to us before and people shouldn’t have to live in fear for not being able to pay a bill because of losing a job or getting sick or being incapacitated. They intimidate people to the point where you’re afraid to answer the phone or the door or to ever apply for credit again.” She contacted Legal Aid of Nebraska (LAN) for advice and an attorney represented her at a court hearing.




“Like I told the judge, I don’t even know why I’m here, because I offered to pay it and they wouldn’t let me. After they put us through all of that, the store’s attorney didn’t come to court. The judge just said, ‘Don’t worry about. It’s over.’ But I have to carry a letter with me in my car should I get pulled over that says the warrant was rescinded.” The store never contacted her again. Janet’s appalled how far the store pushed things. As she learned from LAN attorneys, her experience is not uncommon. “If the public knew what these creditors are doing, there would be an outcry,” she said. “This is working people they’re preying on who’ve had outstanding credit and then something’s happened to them. When you ask them to help you work with them and they won’t, there should be laws protecting you from that, especially from being threatened to be put in jail. “There’s always another way.” LAN attorney Jen Gaughan, who helped advise Janet during her legal travails, said some clients face arrest when they fail to appear at a court-ordered debtors exam to review income and assets. “Not all creditors ask for it in all situations,” Gaughan said, “but it’s something that happens.” Often, LAN attorney Kate Owen said, clients don’t even know they’ve been ordered to attend a debtors exam or served with an arrest warrant as the law doesn’t require personal or actual notice, but only an attempt to serve at someone’s last known residence or place of employment. She cited the case of a single mom who missed a debtors exam when notice was left with a colleague at her employer and it never reached her. “The police came to her home and arrested her in front of her kids. She didn’t have the $100 for bail to get out of jail, so her dad had to come into town to bail her out.” Gaughan said creditors sometimes agree to set aside a debtors exam or arrest warrant. When they don’t, she said, “then we have go to court with the client.” She said Legal Aid invariably gets exams and warrants set aside or quashed. That’s what hap-

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pened in Janet’s case. But that doesn’t wipe away the stress it puts people under. Owen said Legal Aid is challenging the constitutionality of a state statute that allows a bench warrant be granted if someone misses a debtors exam. “In theory it’s not for owing money, it’s for missing a court hearing. Our point is in no other civil or criminal proceeding can you be held in contempt of court without first being offered a reasonable opportunity to explain why you weren’t there.” Owen said creditors have overly broad leeway in Nebraska to collect. “There’s no limit on how many different ways a creditor can target your assets. A bank account can be wiped out while your wages are being garnished. Often the last resort is bankruptcy. To say it’s stressful would be an understatement. It’s not uncommon for people who come see us to be in tears.” She said creditors often overstep their bounds and even violate the law. She recalled a case in which a creditor unlawfully garnished a client’s Social Security savings. “I claimed an exemption. She was a little old lady on oxygen and she only owed $10 but it was a lot of money to her.” Owen said the judge dismissed the action and cancelled the debt. “Another case we’ve filed opposes garnishment of a student loan from a bank account, which is exempt.” Exemptions are handy, Owen said, “but they only help when you assert them – they are not automatically applied. You have to make that argument. “In another case we’re challenging what methods a sheriff used to collect on an execution. We’re arguing he created an impression in a reasonable person’s mind that the sheriffs department was the agent of a debt collector.” Owen said a recent ProPublica study documented “the poorer you are, the more likely you are to be sued multiple times because you lack the funds to pay.” She said client debt is “not for frivolous purchases” – it’s for medical bills, child care, rent, transportation.


Predatory practices clearly target minorities. She said “there is vast, cumulative debt in the most impoverished African-American and Latino areas, adding, “Many individual debts are well under $1,000. But even $100 is a lot to these clients.” “We’re litigating a lot of cases where a year or two after moving out of a rental unit somebody gets sued for alleged damages. We’ve been trying some of those cases and I can’t say we get down to zero – every once in a while we do – but creditors will offset the security deposit and everybody just walks away.” She said the aggressive tactics of creditors send even small accounts out for collection and exploit the situation by bundling accounts. “For a lot of our clients, whether they owe $50 or $500, it’s equally unpayable. The more accounts that get bundled together, even though these are distinct debts, it becomes even more overwhelming. It’s death by a thousand paper cuts. Most states do not allow such bundling of debt.” She said among Legal Aid’s “wish list of changes” to current state law is limiting collection filings to a single debt rather than bundling debts together. “That would make it less economically advantageous for creditors to file for some of these really small debts.” She said it would also help discourage predatory and nuisance cases if the state imposed higher filing fees. Voices for Children in Nebraska executive director Aubrey Mancuso (see related story in this issue) said there is “an entire industry of financial services – things like Payday lenders, small debt lawsuits, check cashers, pawn shops – that make it even harder for families who are trying to gain any type of financial stability. These companies are profiting off of families in difficult financial situations.” Mancuso said, “It’s a huge problem. Payday lenders are a good example. Nebraska has one of the highest allowable interest rates in the nation for those types of loans. Small debt lawsuits are another way creditors are making money off of people’s poverty. It’s big business.” Experts advise educating yourself about credit practices before making a purchase or getting a loan. Never borrow, even small amounts, against your paycheck and thus be trapped paying high interest rates. If you feel financially abused or harassed by a creditor, seek legal aid as soon as possible. ,

Read more of Leo Adam Biga’s work at



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pton Sinclair wrote, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” Substitute “social existence” or “lifestyle” for “salary” and you’ll get a good idea why a lot of people will have difficulty understanding what I’m about to write. When you read, do your best to banish that toxic word “but” from your mind. “But…” will lead you down the road of distraction into the Sea of Despair. Save your “but.” Also when you read, bear in mind that as with any exposition, there will be exceptions found in the microcosm; the nefarious “devil in the detail.” That is why we are looking at this globally and not microscopically.

Map It.

By far, most America’s population lives in the big cities, urban areas. That means that most of our population is dependent on someone outside themselves to a vast extreme. To a large degree, that “someone” is the government. In cities, our roads are plowed by government in the winter. Our water is from government. Our trees are pruned and planted by government. Our energy is brought to us by government. Our greenspaces are mowed by government. Even our shit is flushed away by the government. City dwellers are not exactly self-reliant. There is another group of Americans who don’t live in the Big Cities; another group of Americans who live in the countryside, on the land. By and large, they take care of a lot of their own business with septic tanks, well water, their own ingenuity and sweat. They chop wood, carry water. Peek into the experience of these two groups. In the city, I get up on a Wednesday morning and step onto my front porch and my concerns are whether the trash was picked up, how much traffic is on the freeway, if my favorite barista will get my latte just right. My day is dictated by society and a closed system of government directive. Down in Pawnee County, my friend Paul steps out onto his front porch in the morning and looks at the sky, the wind, the grass, the weather. He looks at his

HEARTLAND HEALING is a metaphysically-based polemic describing alternatives to conventional methods of healing the body, mind and planet by MICHAEL BRAUNSTEIN. It is provided as information and entertainment, certainly not medical advice. Important to remember and pass on to others: for a weekly dose of Heartland Healing, visit .




Looking at an Election Holistically BY MICHAEL BRAUNSTEIN

animals and where they may have roamed and what predators may have visited in the night, where the flocks and herds have to go today for food and water. What he will do that day is determined by Nature, something bigger than he. Look at the map. Humans live in the cities. The planet lives outside the cities. Humans in the city know … the city. Humans outside the city know the planet.

Death Star.

Is it possible to kill a planet? No one really knows. I say it is possible. We don’t know if perhaps that one, last chunk of polar ice may fall off and the weight of the poles is displaced and the whole ball tumbles offaxis into a wobble that spins off our protective atmosphere. We’d be toast, literally, within maybe minutes. The planet would end up resembling those glaring examples we have so near by, Mars and Venus; as far as we know, lifeless. It could happen. What we do know is that we’re polluting water. We’re polluting air. We’re melting polar caps. We’re raising temperatures globally to near intolerable levels. We’re killing a planet as we live. Now anyone who is beyond the “milk comes from cartons” stage realizes of course that the greatest damage to the planet is occurring from the areas outside the cities. Corporate livestock production and corporate farming are the two biggest polluters. Fossil fuel extraction isn’t happening in the cities, though when I first moved to Los Angeles there was an operational oil well right on the corner of Beverly Boulevard and La Cienega. We’re extracting fossil fuel in rural areas. (How’s that working, Oklahoma, current earthquake capital of the world?) Now, jump easily here. Who — and I write “who” correctly since Citizens United has given corporations anthropomorphic status — who is perpetrating this destruction of the planet and where do they live? Yes. It’s the global corporations that exist in those same strongholds of the “blue” vote. Those corporations do not live in Chadron, Abie, or Steinauer, Nebraska. They don’t live in small towns in the Dakotas or Kansas or Nevada or even the small burgs of California or upstate New York. Those corporations live in the crowded cities

heartland healing

and urban areas along with the humans who depend on them. Those corporations are well-entrenched but their tendrils roam far and wide, controlling the corporate farms and shale-fracking enterprises of the Bakken, building the pipelines across the land where those “other” Americans, Native Americans, live. Forget “blue states” and “red states.” Drill down into the map by counties and you’ll see how overwhelmingly the people who live close to the planet see things. They want less government and more Nature, by and large. And as far as saving this planet, looks like government hasn’t gotten it done. Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency by Executive Order in 1970, the Clean Water Act followed in 1972. How’s that working for you 50 years later? No president or politician is going to get it done. Only we are. And not by mobilizing to elect yet a different politician who won’t get it done. Duh.

We Are Not Alone.

City-dwellers live and see only human society. We are basically onanistic navel-gazers. Oh, for sure, there are those who “support” our brethren at Standing Rock or the whales or organic farming or green energy then go home to their city life. But bear in mind, intellectualizing something is not the same as experiencing it, living in it, immersion in it. News Alert: Humans are not the only species on the planet. We may not even be the most important one. We are certainly the most destructive one. No plague of locusts or frogs or emerald ash borers compares to the wanton destruction humans can do with one blown-out oil platform in the gulf. Make no mistake. These words are not an endorsement of an elected candidate or even a political statement. This is an observation of the interests and environment in relation to how people voted, just looking at the map. Social issues are important. But nothing is more important than planetary issues. Maybe, just maybe, we should listen to the few people left who still experience living in and with Nature and the planet. We don’t have anywhere else to live. Be well. ,

BREAK OUT YOUR BATTERY-POWERED STRING LIGHTS, GLOVES, AND BALACLAVAS! IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR TO DECORATE YOUR BIKE AND RIDE IN DOWNTOWN AND MIDTOWN OMAHA TO SEE HOLIDAY LIGHTS! This is the 8th Annual Bike De’Lights, a social ride at a casual/conversational pace, enjoying holiday decorated homes and displaying decorated bicycles. Prizes for the most festively decorated bikes/riders! START/FINISH LOCATION: BANCROFT STREET MARKET, 2702 SOUTH 10TH. This is a nighttime ride on public streets. Nebraska law requires you to have a white front light and a red rear reflector when riding after dark. Visit for more details.



As THE BOOKWORM celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, “We work hard to be the remaining general independent bookstore in Omaha to serve the community and be a place for book clubs, special orders and other needs,” says Ellen Scott, who manages community outreach to authors and educators for the bookstore, which is locally owned and managed by Phillip and Beth Black.

new facility with over 6,000 square feet of sales space located just north of 90th and Center Streets in Loveland Centre. Over the years, The Bookworm has earned a reputation for an excellent selection of books on a broad range of topics, and for a friendly staff that reads and knows the books they sell. The store also carries works by local authors and supports them through booksignings and other events. In addition, The Bookworm hosts several book clubs and offers a wide range of regular events and activities for readers of all ages.

Scott is also one of the founders of Omaha Local Independent Business Association (OLIBA), complementing The Bookworm’s three-decade role as a successful independent local retailer. Originally located in the Regency neighborhood, The Bookworm operated for The Bookworm is open seven days a week. For more many years in Countryside Village. In October information, visit, call 4022014, the bookstore moved to a beautiful 392-2877 or email









have been encouraged that there’s been some interesting discussion going on before this next legislative session begins in 2017.” That’s Graham Christensen, President of GC Resolve, LLC, talking about the conversations going on regarding climate change, specifically what’s happening in the environment right now. He said this is the first time he can remember jumping into a preliminary hearing in which state senators as well as representatives of different organizations and government agencies from all sides of the political spectrum got together to talk about what can be done in the state of Nebraska to deal with climate change. There was no hesitation, just focused discussion. “I know the legislature is working in a bipartisan fashion right now to try move some things in Nebraska that can help with environmental issues,” he said. Christensen said we should be hearing more about those ideas in the coming months and that he was looking forward to that. “And there is a piece in this package that I am a little bit more familiar with that has been more focused on trying to make Nebraska a more competitive state when it comes to solar development,” he said. As Christensen explained, the state is currently regulated in such a way that only allows a program for a small portion of the people in Nebraska. Specifically, there’s a cap on the amount of energy you can produce and sell back to the utility and that is covered by the net-metering law. “That cap only allows for a 25 kilowatt maximum. After you hit that 25 kw max, if you want to develop more, you lose that one-toone offset and everything goes back to what the utility calls an Avoided Cost Rate. This very low rate discourages individuals who want to develop solar arrays larger than 25 kw,” he said. According to the Independent Energy Producers Association, “Avoided Cost” is essentially, “the marginal cost for a public utility to produce one more unit of power. Because Qualifying Facilities reduce the utility’s need to produce this additional power themselves, the price utilities pay for Qualifying Facilities’


green scene


power has been set to the avoided, or marginal, cost.” Christensen doesn’t feel this is right and is discriminatory against middle and larger-sized businesses out there that are trying to do the right thing regarding the climate change issue. One of the key questions Christensen believes will be in front of the legislature this year is whether or not we can raise the net metering cap. Another focus area is whether we can have a program for those larger energy users that helps them be a part of the solution to environmental problems. This would include businesses in Omaha as well as other larger businesses around the state, including mid-sized farms. “With the natural resources we have here in Nebraska, we should definitely be on the front lines in the battle of climate change. And, of course, reaping the economic rewards for doing the right thing. It’s all there if we can just clean up our policy a bit,” said Christensen. He said early conversations have been very encouraging. There has been a lot of discussion about how a little bit larger business and larger farm operations included could really be a driver for the state. Christensen described the current system for residents to develop solar energy as “adequate.” But he said we are going to need more focus on how to make that choice a little bit more efficient and attractive. “If we want to be a leader in the state, we have to allow communities as a whole and businesses to develop in this way and lead the way,” he said. Many larger businesses in Omaha are getting orders from their boards as well as executive leadership telling them that they are going to be implementing solar energy into part of their program. “We need to learn about it. This is the future and the time is right for the conversation. It doesn’t matter what your political leanings are because there’s a piece of this for everyone,” he said. Christensen said solar development offers the state a chance to create a new business industry that is focused on doing the right thing. He’s happy that these early talks seem to be moving in the right direction with that mindset.

There is a positive future for energy. Nowhere is this clearer than when you look at the markets for fossil fuels like coal and natural gas versus renewables. The price of fossil fuels keeps rising while renewables continue to go down as the process for creating renewable energy becomes more efficient and less expensive. The good news is that most of these decisions regarding renewable energy are being made at the state and local level versus the federal level. And Christensen reminds us that the utility boards will also dictate a lot of what happens at the local level so there probably won’t be a lot of direction coming from the federal government regarding how businesses, farmers or homeowners develop solar energy on their respective properties. “The future looks bright here,” he said. Christensen said we are extremely lucky in Nebraska to have such an abundance of natural resources in our state. For his part, Christensen said he thinks a primary focus in the state needs to be making sure we are in the position to find a new market that would incent farmers to raise their commodities in a way that is more sustainable and easier on the environment. “Markets like that encourage farmers to implement practices on their farms that are scientifically proven to reduce greenhouse gases,” he said.This is not really a new conversation. In fact, there were serious talks about this idea going back to 2005 and 2006. At the same time people were talking about Obamacare, there was also a robust climate change conversation going on. “At that time, this would have created new markets that allowed farmers and businesses to participate and take advantage of incentives for doing the right things. The way we figured it out, it would have created a billiondollar industry in the state, primarily through the sequestration of carbon and storage of it into the ground. The U.S. Forest Service describes carbon sequestration as, “The process by which atmospheric carbon dioxide is taken up by trees, grasses, and other plants through photosynthesis and stored as carbon in biomass (trunks, branches, foliage, and roots) and soils.



Jon Reep is an American stand-up comedian and actor, known as the “That thing got a Hemi?” guy in Dodge commercials, and more recently as the winner of the fifth season of Last Comic Standing on NBC. In 1995, Reep was at a Carolina Panthers football game, when the Panthers mascot, Sir Purr, called him to the field. Reep started dancing in the endzone until the police arrested him. He was then sent some Panther memorabilia for the incident.


Greg Warren has been building a strong fan base around the country with his act inspired by stories from his Midwestern upbringing. Greg Warren hails from St. Louis, MO, where his father was a high school wrestling coach and his mother made him play clarinet in the band. Greg has captivated audiences with anecdotes about the conflict inherent in meshing two high school identities-varsity wrestler and band geek. He is a favorite on the nationally syndicated Bob & Tom radio show.


Paul has won an Emmy & Peabody Award for his work on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” He has a very unique and fascinating background, having worked as a lawyer and banker on Wall Street, he left to pursue comedy full time after being hired by Jay Leno to write jokes for “The Tonight Show.” Paul is heard by millions of listeners nationwide in his recurring segment, “Paul Mecurio’s Image Makeover” on the nationally syndicated morning radio show, “The Bob & Tom Show.”


Johnny Beehner puts on a funny show. He’s got everything you want from a comic: He’s silly, he’s likeable, and he’s fun. With a background in improvisational theater including training at Chicago’s prestigious Second City, as well as the Upright Citizens Brigade in Los Angeles, Johnny brings a very unique style to the stage. Johnny was recently named one of 2015’s Top10, “Hot Comics to Watch” by his wife.


GRAHAM CHRISTENSEN, PRESIDENT OF GC RESOLVE The sink of carbon sequestration in forests and wood products helps to offset sources of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, such as deforestation, forest fires, and fossil fuel emissions.” Christensen said a lot of farmers and ranchers around the state are trying to do the right thing. But he knows if there were a market-based program that Nebraska could participate in and take our agricultural practices to the next level, there

would be a lot of opportunity for the state as a whole. Not only that, but he believes it would have a powerful impact on the climate change issue. “I haven’t seen any legislation coming forth on that,” he said. “This has been part of the discussion at a few of the hearings though, and I think we are just starting to scratch the surface and revive that conversation.”,


SPECIAL ENGAGEMENT One of the foremost kinds of comedy, J Anthony Brown is a staple on the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show for over nine years. His sidesplitting antics & sensibilities have set a precedent that many now follow. He is a titanic comedic force, either by murdering hit songs with his off-key versions or donning a pink pimp suite to evoke a laugh, he will definitely get to your funny bone. BET recognized his comedic drive when he hosted Comic View & Club Comic View, which had some of the comedy world’s biggest names.


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Through Jan. 29, 2017 SOME OF ALL ROOTS Gallery 1516, 1516 Leavenworth St. Opens Wednesday, Dec. 9, 6-9 p.m. Gallery 1516 continues its celebration and exhibition of some of Nebraska’s most established contemporary artists with its upcoming Larry Roots: A Survey, which opens Dec. 9 and continues until Jan. 29, 2017. This survey, not unlike previous exhibits of work by Allan and Lisa Tubach, and Dan Boylan, will feature some 40 paintings and 10 sculptures created since 2000. Roots, owner/ director of Modern Arts Midtown, shows regionally and nationally, and is included in numerous corporate, public and private collections. The painter/sculptor creates mostly in the style of abstraction, which he says suggests a common opportunity for interpretation for both artist and viewer. “Our world view of reality is increasingly complex and abstract, which offers an imaginative, complex response,” Roots said. “I’m not personally moved by ‘the Renaissance window’ and conventions of representational imagery.” Likewise his abstract imagery, while neither objectified nor completely familiar, is “most reliant on an emotional, psychological or intellectual interpretation of the viewer.” Overall, the survey will focus on an evolution of Roots’ mark-making, diverse painterly styles and sculpture over more than 15 years with an emphasis on recent work. If anything at all like his retrospect, On the Surface, in 2012 at the Sioux City Art Center, this survey promises an update on what he has referred to as “improvisational abstraction.” Though that implies a certain amount of spontaneity, it also explains the numerous types of abstraction he has explored and experimented with during his maturation. What seems to tie it all together, besides sophisticated mark-making and a refined palette, is a somewhat understated and reserved variation on a style of art Roots has delivered successfully with a degree of professionalism over the years as both artist and curator.

—Michael Krainak





Through Dec. 30 YESTERDAY AND TODAY 7:30 p.m., $40-75 Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St. On November 25, Omaha’s Yesterday and Today begins their annual tradition of performing for just over a month at the Omaha Community Playhouse. Yesterday and Today features Billy McGuigan, his two brothers, and a variety of musicians performing your favorite songs by the Beatles. The show is interactive as members of the audience submit their requests and the band creates a setlist that night based on the audience’s requests. The show features both performances of Beatles songs and playful banter with the audience. While they may not dress the part, (sorry, no Sgt. Pepper’s costumes here), they do show up to have a good time with the music they love. Yesterday and Today has the unique ability to perform any song from the Beatles’ large catalog. The McGuigan brothers are originally from the Bellevue area.

—Trent Ostrom

Through December 30 GRAY AREA Connect Gallery, 3901 Leavenworth St. Artist’s reception Friday, Dec. 9

Through Dec. 31 ROBERTA AND ROBERT ROGERS COLLECTION: SELECTED WORKS Gallery 72, 1806 Vinton St. Receptions: Thursday, Dec. 1 and Friday, Dec. 2 Roberta and Robert (Bob) Rogers opened Gallery 72 in 1972, but before this achievement, they had acquired a collection of contemporary art. They built a collection of works by artists that includes Chagoya, Clemente, Dali, Fish, Himmelfarb, Matisse, Paladino and Sorman. Their sons, Robert Jr. and John, have chosen works for their collection and the remainder is being offered in honor of their parent’s memory. They are promising affordable prices so everyone is able to purchase and add to or begin an art collection. There are over 30 regional, national and international artists featured in this exhibit. For a full list please visit the gallery’s website. 

Thursday, Dec. 8 SICK PUPPIES Sokol Auditorium, 2234 S. 13th St.  7 p.m., $25-$75

when the dust settles at the end of the day, they can agree to disagree as friends.

—Mara Wilson

The Australian rock band formed in 1997, but they are not the same band. In 2014 Emma Anzai and Mark Goodwin parted ways with their guitarist/vocalist and added a new member to the band, Bryan Scott. In the music industry, changing a band member can mean ending a career, but Sick Puppies have not only kept it together, but risen from the experience. Their newest album, Fury, proves their sound has grown with them. They are still as rocking as ever and moving right along. 

—Mara Wilson

—Mara Wilson Saturday, Dec. 3 and Sunday, Dec. 4 16TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE Hot Shops Art Center, 1301 Nicholas St. 12 p.m., Free The Hot Shops Art Center states this event is for anyone. From children to adults and the amateur art admirer to the serious art collector. With four Artisans ‘Hot Shops’, 50+ Artist Studios, and four Art Galleries, the Holiday Open House features entertaining and informative art demonstrations. On top of this unique experience, local acoustic musicians will be performing throughout the center. How do the artists make a bronze sculpture or glaze a pot? The artist’s process is revealed as Hot Shops residents open their studios and perform their craft. The type of art displayed at Hot Shops ranges from drawings, paintings, prints, photography and digital imagery to sculptures, installations, pottery, glass art, weaving, custom furniture and architectural pieces. Hot Shops encourages viewers to tour the whole building to receive the full experience.

—Mara Wilson


Thursday, Dec. 8 KOTERBA & BECKA: A PICTURE AND A THOUSAND WORDS Kaneko, 1111 Jones St.  7 p.m., Free Tom Becka, talk radio personality, can be seen every night during Omaha’s Fox 42 News at 9 where he discusses the 411 in Omaha and the world. Becka is also the host of a talk show on the Kansas City radio station KCMO. Editorial cartoonist, Jeff Koterba has worked at the Omaha World-Herald since 1989. Koterba has been a finalist and winner of many acclaimed Editorial Cartoonist awards and his work has appeared in such publications as The New York Times and USA Today. During this event, the two men will discuss their craft and how,


Sunday, Dec. 11 HELMET WITH LOCAL H Slowdown 729 N. 14th St. 8 p.m., $18-20 The month of December is often laced with nostalgia. So if you’re feeling a little yearning for some good oldfashioned ‘90s alternative hard rock, you should plan on heading to Slowdown to see Helmet on the 11th. But don’t expect to hear just a rehash of their old stuff, because their seventh album is one of their most ambitious. Plus, with this show you also get to see an energetic performance by Local H, another great band who’s been killing it since the ‘90s.

—Tara Spencer Monday, Dec. 12 STAR WARS HOLIDAY HOUSE PARTY  Nobbies, 120th & Center and 42nd & Hwy 370 12-3 p.m., Free Wookiees, Jedi, members of the light and dark side assemble to Nobbies’ Star Wars Holiday House Party where you have the opportunity to win movie tickets to  Star Wars VII, prizes, apparel and gift cards to the store. You will also meet the one and only, the leader of the dark side, Darth Vader. If you wanted to plan ahead of schedule, the Star Wars Halloween costumes will be on sale as well. 

—Mara Wilson

Artist Courtney Kenny Porto finds herself in a gray areaboth figuratively and literally in her next solo exhibition at Connect Gallery. The Gray Area focuses on the use of grayscale to convey metaphorical gray areas in meaning. Known for much of her black and white work, Kenny Porto relies more heavily on grayscale as it gives her a greater depth to work with. Considering themes such as feminism, Porto addresses its ambiguous interpretations and meanings. By working in a variety of mediums, the artist finds many ways to interpret the rules of art and redirect expectations of the subject matter. She finds that art itself is part of a gray area where agreements are seldom had.

—Melinda Kozel






Thursday, Dec. 15 BLU BOI MUUSIC SHOWCASE The Waiting Room 6212 Maple St. 8 p.m., $5

synthesizers. The group has had eight Christmas albums peak in the Top 40 of Billboard’s 200 albums. Mannheim Steamroller is a local favorite because of both the music and being led and directed by local legend Chip Davis.

If you have any desire to learn more about Omaha’s rap and hip hop music scene, you need to get yourself to this show. Presented by Blu Boi Muusic, Gooseneck Productions, and local rapper TKO, the show is an effort to unite the local music scene. It will include performances by TKO, Grownkidz, Jay Why with Caleb Baldwin, Fifth Star Legacy, J Shah, Nugz & Sterba, Raetulo, and special guests Nicson & Gio D. If you’re already a fan, you’re probably already going to this show. If you’re not, this is an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the scene. And you definitely should, because it’s not going anywhere!

Through December 30 MERRY CERAMICS Sunderland Gallery 701 N. 40th St.

—Trent Ostrom

—Tara Spencer December 16 THE RAT PACK TRIBUTE Orpheum Theatre 409 S. 16th St. 8 p.m., $35-85 The Rat Pack, a tribute to the original crooners, will be coming to Orpheum to spread classic holiday cheer. The group channels Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and Dean Martin as they sing Christmas classics. To set the tone, the group makes you feel like you are traveling back to the Copa Room of the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas when the Rat Pack originally performed for the first time. On top of performing Christmas melodies, the group will sing such standards as “That’s Amore,” “You Make Me Feel so Young,” and “Mr. Bo Jangles.”

—Trent Ostrom Through Dec. 20 CHRISTMAS AT UNION STATION  The Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St. Sun. 1-3 p.m., Tue. 5-8 p.m., Sat. 10:30 a.m.12:30 p.m. and 1-3 p.m. Christmas is just around the corner and in some places it is already here. The Durham Museum is holding off until the turkey is gone then you can ring in the celebration for the holiday season immediately after Thanksgiving. With the largest indoor Christmas tree, a lighting ceremony, visits from Santa and holiday concerts, these events will bring you good tidings and cheer. The tree lighting ceremony will kick off the festivities and will be filled with entertaining fun for the whole family, including cookie decorating and holiday crafts. The museum will open their traditional Ethnic Holiday Trees exhibition, which will stay open through the month. Also through the month, every Tuesday night, Santa and his reindeer visit the museum. There are many more events, including a Noon Year’s Eve celebration. For full information on the specific events and hours, visit the museum’s website. —Mara Wilson 



The Cathedral Art Project opens the holiday season with a Christmas show, Pottery, currently on view in the Sunderland Gallery in the St. Cecelia Cathedral Cultural Center. Featured artists include Mari Dailey, whose pieces include unique bowls and vessels, Herm Rauth’s stoneware pottery and Dan Toberer of the clay studio at Hot Shops Art Center. All pieces are available for purchase as part of the gallery’s Christmas Market. The Cathedral Art Project’s mission is to promote the performing and visual arts, which uplift and challenge the human spirit by offering free events open to the entire community.

Saturday, Dec. 17 I LOVE THE 90’S Baxter Arena 2425 S. 67th St. 7 p.m. The I Love the 90’s tour will feature a collection of 90’s favorites, everyone from your old friend Vanilla Ice, to Kid N Play, to Coolio. And who could forget Salt n Pepa, with Spinderella? These dominant acts of the ‘90s are sure to bring an unforgettable rush of fun and nostalgia. Coolio’s “Gangster’s Paradise” blew up the charts in 1995, after being featured in the movie Dangerous Minds. Vanilla Ice is most best known for his breakout hit “Ice Ice Baby,” while Salt N Pepa are largely remembered for their songs “Whatta Man,” “Shoop.” and “Push It.” If you grew up in the ‘90s, we shouldn’t even have to remind you about Kid N Play’s music and infamous House Party movies. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster and the Baxter Arena box office.

—Melinda Kozel

—Trent Ostrom Wednesdays, through Dec. 21 WOMEN CRUSH WEDNESDAYS Reverb Lounge 6121 Military Ave. 9 p.m., $10

Friday and Saturday, Dec 30 and 31 THE FAINT Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St. 9 p.m., $20-25

If you don’t know, WCW stands for “Women Crush Wednesday” on social media, and now you can experience it in real life at Reverb Lounge. Throughout the month of December, women, and even some men, will be performing at and crushing the DJ booth at Reverb. Go celebrate the hardworking women of Omaha and have some fun!

The indie rock and new-wave dance legends hailing from Omaha will be performing at Slowdown to start the year off right. The Faint, signed to Saddle Creek Records, has been making music since 1999 and over their career has found major success. The group is most commonly known for their 2001 album Danse Macabre which found popularity in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Their song “Agenda Suicide” from the standout album resonates as a fan favorite. The Faint’s show on the 30th will consist of a normal set while their performance on the 31st will be the major draw to Slowdown’s tenth annual New Year’s Eve party, Goo! What better way to say goodbye to 2016?

—Tara Spencer Thursday and Friday, Dec. 22 & 23 MANNHEIM STEAMROLLER Orpheum Theatre, 409 S. 16th St. 7:30 p.m., $56-70 Iconic Christmas instrumental group Mannheim Steamroller will be coming to the Orpheum to spread holiday cheer just before Christmas. Since their rise to mass popularity, the group has often been credited to have revolutionized the sound of Christmas. Mannheim Steamroller’s iconic sound features a wide variety of traditional orchestration accompanied by guitars and



tury Art Guild, a nonprofit that offers professional, recreational and therapeutic services to veterans and their families through the medium of art. The exhibit features drawings, paintings, photography and sculpture created from pairs of veterans and professional artists. Veterans would share personal narratives with the artists (some of whom are veterans themselves) and together would create pieces to tell a story. One of the participants, Erin Colson said, “I wanted to show the daily struggles that veterans with PTSD go through. The range of emotions they fight with every day.” Participating Artpost professional artists and their emerging veteran artist pairing include: Jamie Burmeister and Andrew Atkinson, Bill Dunn and Marie Payer, Steve Elliott and Scott Smith, Larry Ferguson and Erin Colson, Tim Guthrie and Roberta “Bert” Leaverton, Hal Holoun and Bryon Line, John Miller & Mario Lopez, Kristin Pluhacek and Kyle Foster, Stephen Cornelius Roberts and Ronee Smith and Bart Vargas and Imo Lax.

—Melinda Kozel Through Dec. 31 MEMOIR Michael Phipps Gallery Omaha Public Library, 215 S. 15th St. Layering the written word with delicate thread and distressed textile, Memoir, the current exhibition in the Michael Phipps Gallery downtown in the Omaha Public Library, weaves Camille Hawbaker’s subtle, yet powerful aesthetic with personal narrative. Omaha-based Hawbaker works in both printmaking and fibers revealing and complicating the techniques of both to create works of transformed materiality. Feeling constrained by the written word, Hawbaker produces visceral artwork that resembles pages of a book—a book that has literally been burned away, along with quiet line drawings, and foggy installations. The artist uses an intense detailing process to layer “inherited words” with wandering lines and material destruction. Poetically reworking materials and typologies of writing, Memoir suggests the power of absence, spontaneity, and rituals to mark the passage of time within the artist life. “Words as I have known them are living, growing, evolving concepts in the landscape of human language,” Hawbaker said. “Words construct my perception of the world. Sometimes they are brimming with meaning. In other circumstances they are placed in the wrong context, or they are so overused that they lose their original connotation.” Memoir is curated by Alex Priest and organized by the Omaha Public Library.

—Micheal Krainak

—Trent Ostrom Through December, 31 ARTPOST PROJECT Joslyn Art Museum 2200 Dodge St. Joslyn Art Museum has opened its community gallery to the Artpost Project, a partnership with the New Cen-



Through Feb. 5, 2017 LET THERE BE LIGHT Darger HQ, 1804 Vinton St. Opens Dec. 9, 6 p.m.

Through March 4 CREIGHTON BLUEJAYS BASKETBALL CenturyLink, 455 N. 10th St.

The early dark of December brings together the pairing of artists Nancy Friedemann-Sanchez and Leigh Tarentino at Darger HQ. Each in her own way creates work embodying transformation expressed through values both light and dark. Friedemann-Sanchez describes herself as a “visual novelist,” whose works invoke cultural memory and migration. A resident of Lincoln, NE, Friedemann-Sanchez is originally from Columbia, and much of her imagery derives from botanical illustrations, lace and crochet patterns and designs from Spanish Colonial art. These she typically places against or atop black backgrounds—whether glossy car paint on aluminum panel or Tyvek—contrasting her delicate, feminine traceries within what she regards as a patriarchal Minimalist framework. Providence, RI-based Tarentino reconfigures views of domestic dwellings and urban spaces as her touchstone for landscape-based works in paint, paper, photography and installation. With interests rooted in fairy tales, science fiction, literature, history and film, she elicits the transformations that turn everyday scenes into something wonderfully extraordinary or unsettlingly surreal, whether the terrain becomes blanketed in snow, bathed in moonlight, or artificially illuminated. Nancy Friedemann-Sanchez and Leigh Tarentino opens on December 9 from 6-9pm with an artist’s talk at 6:00. The exhibition runs through February 5, 2017, at Darger HQ, 1804 Vinton Street. The gallery is open on Saturday from noon-5pm, on Sunday from noon3pm and by appointment. For more information, visit www. or call 402-209-5554.

—Janet Farber

Sitting at No. 12 in the AP Top 25 at press time, the Creighton Bluejay men’s basketball team faces the Akron Zips at CenturyLink Center Dec. 3 before travelling down Interstate 80 for its big-big-big annual showdown with the Huskers Dec. 7. Then it’s back to their home court for the Longwood Lancers Dec. 9 and the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles Dec. 17. Home game Big East battles begin Dec. 28 as the Seton Hall Pirates travel from New Joyzee. But all eyes will be on the epic clash that will come on New Year’s Eve as the No. 2-ranked (at press time) and defending national champion Villanova Wildcats hit the parquet floor after beating Creighton twice last season.

—Mara Wilson







Ice-cold Dr Pepper here! BY KARA SCHWEISS





At an age when leading-man types’ ca- my place, my calling.” He spent several postwas surprised the first time we went out and made personal ap- reers begin to wind down, the 56-year-old college years in Boston where he worked as a pearances at how much people Connor is getting more work than ever. He carpenter while pursuing work in theater and like Larry,” L.A.-based character credits past improv training with helping him short films and earned his SAG, AFTRA and actor and Omaha native Jim Connor said land the Larry Culpepper role and its asso- Actor’s Equity union cards. He also did some of his “Larry Culpepper” character, now ciated public appearances, and said those improv work. Then it was on to grad school at featured in a third year of Dr Pepper tele- skills are also now being embraced in some the National Theatre Conservatory in Denver followed by a two-year stint with the Denver vision commercials. “And how many people of his more recent parts. “The reason I’m acting a lot more now is Center Theatre Company. In 1992, he moved thought I was a real vendor or concessionaire who worked out of a stadium. I get asked because of the improv skills … Now you to Los Angeles for TV and film opportunities. a lot, ‘Which stadium do you work at?’ That’s have Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Community, Parks To date, he’s also starred in more than 150 an incredible compliment.” and Rec. All of those are improv-based,” he TV commercials. Connor has a long list of television series, said. “But back in the 90s you could not “I think what I’m doing now is what I wanted film and theater work on his resume, but it’s change one word. I worked, but you couldn’t to do at the beginning. When you’re doing his role as the pop pitchman that’s led to his change a word because the writers were king improv you’re sort of writing as you’re acting. widest recognition. of TV. Improv was not respected back then, You’re definitely making the words your own “I wouldn’t exactly say it’s my niche, but wasn’t asked for; it was like a bad thing. But … it’s more exciting. When you can do it well, Larry’s great,” Connor said. His visor-topped, that all changed … [Now] the writers write the writers appreciate it,” he said. flip-up-sunglasses-wearing, I.D. nametagged stuff, but you can add to it. It adds to the Connor said the role he has liked least was and uniformed character is not merely a Dr spontaneity, it adds to the realism. And that’s a six-week stint on a soap opera called PasPepper stadium vendor, but an exuberant fan the whole thing about Larry, too; he has to sions, where he played a creepy henchman/ with grandiose claims of inventing the col- come across as real, he has to come across sexual assailant. “That’s a really weird unilege football playoff system. “He’s a man of as spontaneous.” verse to work in.” His favorite role so far was the people, literally — he’s actually among Connor, the youngest in a family of seven one of his most recent and also one that gave the people in the stands. He serves the peo- kids, said he “loved attention and being en- him ample room to improvise: dramatic arts ple. He can talk to anybody; he’s engaging. tertaining; a lot of actors are the youngest.” teacher Martin Seychulles on HBO’s dark He definitely gets distracted by football but But he originally envisioned weightier roles. comedy Vice Principals. “That was a lot of he’s a true believer.” “I wanted to be Robert Conrad on The Wild fun,” Connor said, adding that episodes are Before Larry, Connor — usually billed as Wild West, I wanted to be like Paul Newman continuing into 2017. James Michael Connor or James M. Con- or Robert Redford in The Sting, this smart ac“I’ve been fortunate to have as much work nor — was more likely to be recognized for tion character,” he explained. “Then, as I got as I have, the career that I have. I never rea 2000 two-episode role as a despicable older, I did forensics in high school and went ally wanted to be famous; I just wanted to scientist on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for a to nationals for humorous interp.” be working, and I kind of found my niche He also joined an improv troupe at Creigh- in commercials. You can make a living, you 2001 Holiday Inn spot, or for appearing as the best man in a wedding scene in About ton Prep, where he discovered that he was can buy a house, you can support your famSchmidt (2002), directed by friend and fellow fast on his feet. He graduated from Prep in ily,” he said. “But we don’t sit around on our 1978 with a modified dream that incorporat- yachts waiting for the phone to ring.” Creighton Prep alumnus Alexander Payne. Connor said although he worries about With a filmography including widely rec- ed his obvious gift for comedy. “I guess what ognized movies and series like Parks and I wanted to do out of high school is move to possible eventual overexposure in the Larry Recreation, Scrubs, X-Files, Blades of Glory L.A. and revolutionize the sitcom industry. I Culpepper role, he’s enjoying the newfound and Watchmen over several decades, Con- wanted to write, I wanted to act, I wanted to recognition. And he remains solidly downto-earth, especially at home. His 8-year-old nor said when he’s not in Larry costume that do all that stuff,” he said. son, Lars (with wife and former agent Brooke “I didn’t.” people tend to find him familiar but can’t Instead, he went on to earn a bachelor’s Nuttall), isn’t exactly awestruck with seeing quite place him. “Depending on their age, they think they went degree in theater from Saint John’s Univer- his dad on TV. “He likes it, but it’s just normal to school with me or I was their high-school sity in Minnesota, where he “got into the to him,” Connor explained. His 22-year-old theater department there and kind of found son Liam gets an occasional “You’re dad guidance counselor,” he said.



is Larry Culpepper? Oh, my God!” Connor added, but isn’t particularly impressed, having grown up as the child of two actors. Both sons show creative talent, but Connor said he doesn’t anticipate launching the next Hollywood acting dynasty. In fact, he’s more interested in a different kind of legacy: his production company, UW Productions. “UW for Union Working. We’re doing prounion PSAs because there’s a lot of non-union work that’s sort of destroying the commercial industry. So we’re trying to get the message out there that unions are good for the better actors and you have to support them in a class,” he said.

Connor still maintains ties to Omaha and visits family here. He’s also part of a group of Creighton Prep alumni who work in the entertainment industry and said he enjoys his meetups with “Hollywood Prep” several times a year. “Being from Omaha, It makes you a more genuine person, it makes you a better actor because you come from a place in the middle of America where you are an observer … You don’t think you’re the best thing in the world or better than anybody, you’re out to discover the world,” he said. “And that is what commercials are about. You have to be a real person. You have to be relatable and genuine.” ,










n October, The Reader covered Food Insecurity in Omaha, and the fact that one in five children in our community goes to bed hungry every night. We discussed programs that support food banks and soup kitchens, and addressed food waste and its role in skyrocketing food costs. There are numerous programs to bring better nutrition to school lunches and to make them more affordable for struggling families—but these programs have a capacity approximately the size of your average school day. While most children sit on the edge of their seat waiting for the bell to ring, many others know that they are heading home for a 17 hour fast. Weekends are a two-day sentence to hunger, and holidays and snow days aren’t filled with hot soup after a day of sledding, but exhaustion and empty bellies. The anticipation of summer vacation is replaced with anxiety for kids and parents who worry about nearly 90 days of missing school breakfasts and lunches. That could add up to almost 200 missed meals over what should be a relaxing break and fun with friends.

Let it Snow Some of the most Rockwellian scenes play out over a cancelled day of school, filling the house with the warmth of cookies baking, and a cup of hot chocolate as the snow falls. This picture turns grim when you think of keeping the thermostat set to 58, keeping the lights off, and nothing but an empty refrigerator to greet you.

Adrielle Griffin knows exactly how common this scene is. As Director of Marketing and Communications for Completely KIDS, she gets to see the effects of childhood hunger first hand. “Kids were coming into school on Mondays hungry and unable to focus after missing meals all weekend. Their educations were suffering; you can’t focus when you’re on edge like that. That’s an anxiety kids shouldn’t be facing.” And the weight of this heavy burden falls on parents who are often working two and three jobs to keep lights on, bills paid, and enough gas in the car to get to and from their next shift. As a mother, I tried envisioning my sons telling me they were hungry and not being able to do something about it. It brought me to tears, and a lengthy conversation with Griffin.

More Than Hunger Pains Not only are these parents struggling to feed their children, often skipping multiple meals themselves to make sure their children are able to eat something, but they’re missing out on time with their kids. These families are struggling on the deepest levels imaginable. Kids are facing issues with anxiety, aggression, isolation, and the prospect of a vicious cycle continuing into the next generation. The Completely KIDS Program offers so much more than a simple after-school solution for kids whose parents work. The program breaks the cycle of poverty and hunger by continued on page 26 y







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offering education and support to children and their families. A GED program for teens and adult family members, cooking and sewing lessons, family game nights to strengthen the bond, and fitness classes for whole-family whole-body wellness. “We offer family strengthening programs that teach families how to set goals, communicate, and solve problems together,” Griffin said. “On Family Nights, everyone comes in and has a hot meal together and engages over an activity — art project, board game, science project. We value that family time.” What we’re really trying to do is develop the needs of the whole child. Address the basic hierarchy of needs.”

Taking a Bite Out of Food Insecurity And among the most basic of these needs is not wondering when you’ll have access to food again. Completely KIDS took to addressing this as fast as they could, and initially sent a handful of kids home with a few canned goods every Friday. The families were grateful for the relief, and the program grew. Every week, volunteers come to fill bags with donated items from a host of local food suppliers. About 450 children now go home every weekend with a bag full of about 20 items. The effects were staggering. They quickly showed that the more a child attended Completely KIDS, the better their attendance at school. On average, kids who take part in the Completely Kids Program have a 96 percent attendance rate, missing an average of less than eight days of school per year. Additionally, math and reading skills quickly improved.

More Than Mac and Cheese “We have been able to diversify the menu so families are getting a more complete diet.” Griffin explained, “Cereal, oatmeal, fresh fruit like apples and oranges, fruit cups, canned goods, easy mac, tortillas, beans, Mexican corn — we have fresh produce from Tomato Tomato, cantaloupe and kale. We like to send recipes home with harder-to-identify items”,, she added. “Our kids are very generous! When they take part in our cooking programs, we find them squirreling away food to take to siblings at home. One told me ‘I like to take our food bag home and put it in the cabinet like we’ve

been to the grocery store!’ They have such simple dreams. They want the kitchen to look like they’ve been to the store.”

Hope for the Holidays A large monetary donation this year has allowed the program to put together a full holiday meal to send home with children this Christmas break. Something taken for granted by millions of Americans, a hot meal together over the holidays, is a luxury many of these children will be experiencing for the first time, thanks to Completely KIDS. The program is set up as close to the need as possible. When families are pulling change from couch cushions to try to gas up the family vehicle, you can’t ask them to drive across town for dinner and board games. Completely KIDS after-school programs take place in several local schools, including Field Club, Gomez-Heritage, Highland, Jackson, Liberty, Marrs Magnet, Norris Middle School and All Saints School, as well as Phoenix House, The Salvation Army and The Stephen Center. This gives whole families easy access to the many programs Completely KIDS offers. A Teen Empowerment Program gives young adults the opportunity to gain real-world skills and work experience, while teaching them to set goals and become leaders in their community.

How You Can Help This program is kept on its feet by donations of money, time, and talents. Donations are taken to task and stretched to mind-boggling lengths by the clever crew at Completely KIDS. A mere $10 provides 65 children with art supplies, while $350 pays for the time, groceries, and supplies to offer 15 children a cooking class. This single cooking class will send home a meal with each of those children that will feed whole families. Volunteering your time as little as once a month can help promote literacy and cognitive skills with the Reading Buddies Program. Tuesdays and Thursdays, volunteers pack Weekend Food bags for an hour. Other helpers assist children with their homework and then engage in fun academic games. If you have a hobby or talent you would like to share, you are invited to sign up and engage with the students over music or other interests. Whatever you have to give, Completely KIDS has a way to put it to use changing the lives of area youth. ,


FOUNDATIONS SESSION TUESDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2016 3:00 P.M. - 4:30 P.M. UNO BARBARA WEITZ COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT CENTER 6400 SOUTH, UNIVERSITY DRIVE RD. NORTH OMAHA NE 68182 Join the Greater Omaha Chamber and our community partners to get your business the online presence you need to compete in our digital world. Experts in digital marketing will provide an overview of the tools available for building a digital marketing foundation – website, email, social media and more – and best practices for how these fit into your digital strategy and achieve your business goals. Set a Foundation for Marketing Your Business Online In this hands-on workshop, you will:

■ Explore the elements of a good digital marketing foundation and

the two most common things undermining your entire digital strategy

■ Identify the best platforms for your business with an overview of

how they can and should work together and measure their impact

■ Get direct help from digital marketing experts on your foundation and which platforms would best suit your goals

NEED MORE INFORMATION? Contact Kristy Fortenbury, manager – Special Events, 402-978-7915.







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Seven notable regional artists exhibit their ‘Legacy’ in current show at Modern Arts Midtown B Y DAV I D T H O M P S O N

overs of contemporary art can be demanding, distinct form of still life arrangement as his vintage rigs carry contradictory sorts. We enjoy new trends in vi- around a precarious pile of cubes, spheres, cylinders, cones, sual expression and ask our artists to show us the and pyramids masquerading as engines, pumps, cranes, canfreshest work from their studios. We want to be isters and the like. His works combine invention and imaginacontinually intrigued and provoked, reminded that we live in tion in a typically colorful, jaunty manner, and nearly always a dynamic world. elicit a smile. We are ever scanning for undiscovered talent — emerging Among the new works on view, “The Ink Truck Is Here” is artists who will redefine some genre or completely invent a a large woodcut on canvas showing the exaggerated front new one. At the same end of a truck with its deeply treaded tires, massive grill, time, we like revisiting curved hood and big round headlights. Seen from this view, those whose art has the truck takes on the characteristics of a face of a fearsome interested us for years. creature bearing down on the viewer. This anthropomorphic With mature artists in quality has been hinted at before in his work, but perhaps particular, our expecta- never so explicitly. tions are higher, both New powder-coated steel sculptures, the result of a colwanting to see signa- laboration with Omaha artist Les Bruning, are also on hand. ture style reaffirmed They are lighter and leaner than Himmelfarb’s earlier bronze and hoping to see new and ceramic sculptures, which emphasized density and mass. avenues of inquiry. In “Deadline,” with its glittery silver coat and thin, elongated short, we want our ex- forms nearly flying out of the truck bed, feels like a child’s pectations both met erector set was being carted off in a toy truck. Himmelfarb’s and exceeded. translation of his linear impulses into three dimensions seems Just how late-career increasingly ecstatic. artists have been naviFerguson’s followers have come to anticipate this artist’s exgating the poles of perimentations with media, which have encompassed everyfresh and familiar is, thing from bronze, steel, glass, twig, wire, hair, paper, found perhaps, the subtext of objects, ink and charcoal utilized in the service of installations, Modern Arts Midtown’s large and small-scale sculptures, drawings, photographs, and current show, Legacy, even opera sets. running through DeThough her materials are varied, Ferguson’s works are cember 30. It features seven artists with oeuvres well known bound together by her curiosity about transformation. It is evito the local art community: John Himmelfarb, Judith Burton, dent in the way she has combined decorative and utilitarian Stephen Dinsmore, Catherine Ferguson, Peter Hill, Martha glass items into dark bronze totems, as well as the way that Horvay and Michael James. the back sides of player piano music rolls become delicate The occasion for the exhibition came as the result of recently abstract drawings with the strategic addition of ink lines jointouring museum survey of the truck-themed work of John Him- ing perforations in the paper. melfarb that closed last month at the Sioux City Art Center. To Transformation is symbolic as well as material in Ferguson’s pieces selected from that exhibition were added several shown work. A series of new wall reliefs in wire become drawings in past MAM shows, a set of new sculptures and a few other in three dimensions, enhanced by the effects of shadows on seldom-seen gems. the wall. As exemplified by the swimsuit-inspired “Janzen,” Chicago-based Himmelfarb has moved fluidly throughout each is related in some way to the female body and ideals of his career among many aspects of art production. He is a beauty, a recurrent theme in her work. painter with a draftsman’s penchant for line; he is a sculptor Equally at home with an emblematic set of motifs is Lincoln in wood, bronze, ceramic and steel; he is a printmaker in painter Horvay. Her work has drawn inspiration from the built lithography, screenprint and etching. and manufactured found in the domestic environment. Her Himmelfarb also tends to work in years-long cycles using forms echo swimming pools, patio furniture, saucepans and particular themes as his springboards; since 2005, the truck stand mixers; her patterns derive from printed drapes, linohas been his motif of choice. In it, he’s found a vehicle for a leum and day dresses. continued on page 30 y









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Horvay gravitates toward optical patterns, which generate a push-pull of suggested dimension within her compositions of otherwise outlined shapes. Overall there is a retro sensibility in her work, as if sourced from 1950s magazine ads and their modeling of family life. Also notable in her more recent work is a gravitation toward creating tableaux — kitchen- and bath-scapes as you will — rather than focusing on single utilitarian objects. It’s contributed to an increased openness in her compositions that works well in counterpoise with hard textured surfaces of her paintings. Pattern, of course, is essential in the studio quilts of James. It comes in the form of fabric shapes cut and pieced together in the various images printed on each swatch and in the stitched lines that run across the quilt tops. James’ forte, among other things, is in digitally developed and printed cotton, allowing him to control all aspects of creating what are essentially collages in fabric. A number of James’ quilts from the ‘00s demonstrate his interest in building compositions combining pictorial and abstract elements, many quite disparate in nature. His work has had an increasingly diaristic quality, as evidenced by the “Daybook” themed works. James’ most recent quilts are his most personal. Having taken several years away from the studio to care for his wife as she struggled with dementia, James has returned to producing works increasingly inspired by nature, its growth and change, ebb and flow, as evident in “Each of these Leaves.” Higher-keyed colors of past endeavors have turned to a more close-valued, often monochromatic palette; a greater sense of poetry seems to reside in his juxtapositions of image and texture. Big, bold statements were never of interest to Burton, who might be described as a color field painter with an eye toward organic abstraction. Working in oil, Burton strives for softly luminescent surfaces characterized by muted colors and gracefully stylized shapes derived from nature. Equally as often, Burton deliberates on geometric form, painting soft floating bands of color pulse on the surface of the canvas. Examining the changes within her oeuvre, it might be fair to say that they have been evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Differences among her works are subtle but nonetheless notable; a series of small oils on panel here demonstrates the continued flexibility of the stripe form, with its infinite variables of weight, color and interval. Even more measured are the changes within Hill’s compositions. By choice, Hill is no longer a prolific painter, so MAM is displaying works dating from 1983 to the last decade. Clearly



Hill has remained firmly allied to his squareformat, brightly colored hard-edge acrylic geometric abstractions. Hill’s compositions are variations on qualities of balanced form, edge and pure color, as tilted squares, rectangles, triangles, and the occasional delicate curve engage in delicate acrobatics. A style once pioneering, it now feels comfortably retro, a survivor of the vicissitudes of tastes and trends; since Hill rather disappeared from the radar some time ago, it has been refreshing to be reminded of his work. Finally, Dinsmore once again displays aspects of an expansive repertoire built of wide-ranging interests and experiences. Based in Lincoln, he also maintains a studio in Maine, and the light, life and landscapes in those locales are favorite subjects for landscapes, domestic interior and still life paintings in his loosely brushed, casual and sunny attitude toward modern figurative realism. Some of Dinsmore’s newest canvases in the show are painterly excursions into pure abstraction, with translucent panes of luminescent color layered on the canvas in a manner recalling (perhaps too directly) Richard Diebenkorn’s light-filled “Ocean Park” series. In all, Legacy hits that sweet spot between fresh and familiar by doing what Modern Arts Midtown has really done for years — provide a space for some of the area’s enduring visual talents to remain a relevant part of the art scene conversation. ,

Legacy continues until Dec. 30 at Modern Arts Midtown, 3615 Dodge St. For further information, contact 402/502-8737 or visit














he staccato chirping of crickets ranks right up there with that of a needle being ripped across an LP when it comes to clichéd sound effects used to denote an emphatic FAIL. But to John Gibilisco, a cacophony of crickets is never a cliché … it’s an art form. “When Ablan [Roblin] directed To Kill a Mockingbird earlier this year,” the Omaha Community Playhouse sound designer said, he had a specific soundscape in mind. We went with a symphony of sounds in all of the outdoor scenes — crickets, swamp frogs, tree frogs, cicadas. “I wanted the audience to be right there in the action,” Gibilisco added, “so we installed tiny speakers under every fourth seat — we’d never done that before — so you got everything that you would hear if you were right there on the porch with Atticus and Scout. But I didn’t what the audience to be overtly aware of sound. I didn’t want them to be consciously thinking, ‘Wow, those crickets are awesome.’ I only succeeded in distracting you if that would have happened. I failed if you left here thinking about crickets.” And Gibilisco, who knew that Roblin had once lived in Louisiana, wouldn’t settle for generic effects, so he made sure to select those from data files that had been geotagged with such identifiers as ‘Recorded in July in Montgomery County Alabama.’ The sound artist whose full title is Master Electrician/Resident Sound Designer, stumbled into the Playhouse in 1977 as a 15-yearold hell-bent on landing a smallish role in a production of Cabaret. “I wanted to be an actor, he said, “but I didn’t know what I was doing or even what an audition was. Couldn’t sing. Couldn’t dance. Didn’t bring my own music. So I was gently directed to the tech table” and instead started volunteering backstage in building sets. Four decades later, audiences benefit from the fact that Gibilisco was unprepared for his big audition. Instead of being in the centerstage spotlight, he now creates backstage magic in a subtler but no less vital leading role at America’s largest community theatre. After 10 years of volunteering in various capacities, Gibilisco took a fulltime lighting and sound job with the company.



Letting your brain fill in the rest B Y DAV I D W I L L I A M S PHOTOGRAPHY BY DEBRA S. KAPLAN

“There were a lot of raised eyebrows in to the suspension of disbelief in devising all the family,” he said. “They didn’t quite un- manner of creative solutions in a demanding derstand that there were real jobs in the arts. environment where the highest standards in They didn’t get it that you could make an ac- production values rule. tual living in theatre.” And sounds can be deceiving. His introduction to sound and the physical The musket fire he planned for the battle act of splicing reel-to-reel tapes came before scenes in Les Miserable (2013), Gibilisco exthe dawn of the digital age. plained, was downright underwhelming. “If you wanted to do atmospheric sounds “All the musket effects I could find ended up back then, the audience knew it was coming sounding like pop guns on stage,” he said, because of the technology. The tape hiss and “so what you actually heard was cannon fire, background hum was so loud,” he said as he not muskets, in that production.” covered his mouth and made that “crackly Has the man whose career was launched microphone noise” you remember from the because he once bombed an audition ever morning announcements over the loudspeak- similarly bombed in his sound work on that er in elementary school. “That background same stage? noise telegraphed to the audience, “Okay, In the 2013 production of Ella, a scene here comes a sound effect.’” called for Kathy Tyree (as Ella Fitzgerald) Even though sound designers are now but and the audience to hear a series of recorda few clicks away from finding just about any- ed, in-her-head voices, one after the other. thing they could possibly need, Gibilisco, ever Instead, a sequencing error led to them all a stickler for detail, still records about half of erupting at once in a jumble of overlapping his own sounds. noise-noise-noise. “I found a million chainsaw sounds, for ‘”Oh, all these voices in my head! I can’t example, to use in Evil Dead The Musical take it anymore!’ Kathy ad-libbed without [2013],” he said, “but none were … none missing a beat,” Gibilisco recalled. “The way were quite right. I had a friend who had a she played it was totally transparent. I don’t chainsaw and we recorded our own sound think many people in the audience knew for that one. Easy.” I had goofed, but everybody backstage A chainsaw is an in-your-face sound effect, gasped. Kathy saved my butt that night.” but Gibilisco is also masterful when it comes


There’s an old adage in sports that umpires and referees are supposed to be invisible. The only time you really notice them, it is said, is in replay after replay following a blown call. Gibilisco nodded knowingly at the parallels to his own work. “It’s easy to go overboard and make your sounds front and center in an audience experience,” said the man who is forever clad in a stuffed-to-thegills, 18-pocket tactical vest, “but my job is to enhance a director’s vision. I want to be part of the storytelling like everyone else, but I must remain true to the conceptual framework of the director’s creative vision.” Among Gibilisco’s greatest challenges, he said, was the fight scene in Deathtrap (2013). “The scene started with an approaching storm churning in the distance and it grows as does the action on stage,” he explained. “The fight choreography was very complicated — more so than most — because I had to sync thunder, lightning and the actor’s jabs.” Just as in a badly dubbed Japanese B-movie, the scene could easily have turned comical if his timing had been off by even the tiniest margin. And when it rained in the Howard Drew Theatre in Twelve Angry Men (2009), Gibilisco was not satisfied with the natural sound of the water dribbling down the windows of the jury’s deliberation room. “It sounded like somebody was just splashing around in a sink,” the sound artist said, “so I mixed in a rain sound effect I recorded myself to get it just right. Half of what I do is to just get things to a certain point so that your brain can fill in the rest. I need you to stay in the show. I need to give you just enough to set the scene, but no more.” While much of Gibilisco’s work dwells in that “just enough” realm of understated nuance — bucolic crickets, gentle rain — there are times when teethrattling bombast is in order. That’s when the topic of South Pacific (2008) arose in the interview. “It’s funny that you should mention that,” Gibilisco said, “because whenever I meet somebody new and I tell them what I do, I can’t tell you how many times they’ve brought up those planes in South Pacific. It happens all the time, even now,” eight years later. Those of you who saw the production need no reminder of the scene where belching smoke and blinding lights preceded the take-off (literally) of those U.S. Navy Vought F4U Corsair planes. (Trivia Time … Yes, Gibilisco used actual stomach-rumbling, shake-you-to-the-core and crank-itup-to-11 Corsair engine sounds because nothing else would do in a town that is home to StratCom and its many retired airmen who once flew the legendary fighters known as “Whistling Death.”) “It’s the only sound I’ve ever done,” Gibilisco said, “that drew applause — applause for sound effects — every single night of the run.” ,









TheNumbingEffect… overtheedge


figured I had a better than 50-50 chance of getting the election right. My reasoning was laid out as succinctly as possible in the column printed here last month— poll numbers, bad press, Trump stepping into one reputation-killing pot-hole after another. Sure that there was no way he could pull up numbers that, in some cases, showed him at close to double-digit deficits, I made my “assumption” — which you could confuse with a prediction — and put it in writing. And, of course, I was wrong. Along with most of mainstream media, the pollsters and everyone I know. And while the column was never placed online, it most certainly made it into print, prompting reactions like this one from reader Mel G.: I have to apologize for not reading your article until after the election was over ... but I was at Finnegan’s Bar, and just sobered up. I’m not familiar with your professional background. Where did you work before this current gig? Was it at the Psychic Hotline with Miss Cleo ??? You are probably one of the Husker fans who thinks they should be in the Top Ten! Touché, Mr. G. I can only assume you are a Trump supporter (though, considering my track record, I may be wrong). If so, congratulations on your candidate’s victory. My only defense (and it is a weak one) was the closing paragraph, wherein I sarcastically hedged my bet, saying I could be wrong and we could now be living in The Trump Era, “in which case, we’ve got bigger problems to deal with…” And here we are, at a place I never thought we’d be. Looking back to October of last year when I wrote my first column about this election, the thought of a Trump presidency seemed so outlandish, so utterly preposterous. Though now I admit, the possibility gnawed quietly in the back of my mind. I write this column on Nov. 20, less than two weeks after the election. You’ll likely read it two weeks from now, in December. Something tells me even by then, nearly a month later, I’ll still be wrestling with the reality of a Trump presidency, and so will most of you.

For white guys, it’s easy to become complacent BY TIM MCMAHAN

But who knows. The first few days after the election, angry and disappointed people took to the streets to protest. What they were protesting, I do not know. Democracy? Despite everything leading up to the outcome, the actual mechanics of the election were fair and valid. Now, two weeks later, the protests are dwindling. A numbness has fallen over those who at first were so frightened. Even for me, this election has become less of a tragic American blunder and more of a humorous set piece, as if we are now merely binge-watching the beginning of Season Two of a very long reality series, following Season One’s cliff-hanger ending. It didn’t start out that way. The only feeling I can equate to what I felt on elec-

tion night was when a good friend of mine committed suicide a few years ago. The call came late and left me reeling. In addition to a deep, heavy stone that burned in my gut was the unshakeable thought that there was nothing I could have done. I didn’t sleep that night; just like I didn’t sleep on election night. On top of my ideological fears, my anxiety was spurred on by solely personal concerns. The weeks leading up to the election, I had hemmed and hawed over whether to pull my retirement savings out of the stock market. A Trump victory, I assumed, would result in a massive Wall Street crash. But a couple days before the election, the Dow blossomed by more than 300 points; traders were convinced of a sure-fire Hillary victory. I figured my 401k was safe and sound.

over the edge

By 8 p.m. election night, I was kicking myself. As the map continued to turn red, business reporters braced themselves for the worst. U.S. and European stock futures cratered, while benchmarks in Asia slid into an abyss, and the Mexican peso crashed. Financial pundits were predicting a U.S. market “adjustment” the following morning of between 7 and 11 percent, or more. The Dow dropping by more than 1,000 points wasn’t out of the question. So in addition to everything else that a Trump presidency meant for the future — a conservative Supreme Court, repealing ACA, reversals of trade agreements, deportations, threats to the LGTBQ community and a return to ‘50s-era gender and race relations — I was about to see my retirement savings gutted. I told my wife that, all things considered, we were young. The markets would probably recover before we reached retirement age. We all know what happened the next day. Shortly after the market opened, I checked my iPhone’s stock tracker app. Something must be wrong, I thought. It said the Dow was up 5 points. An hour later, it was up 20. It ended the day closing up 256 points. I felt like I’d dodged a bullet. As of this writing that well-boasted border wall is beginning to turn back into a border fence. Mass deportations are becoming less probable. And Trump has begun to hedge his position on Obamacare. Donald is beginning to realize the enormity of the task at hand, and that he was elected president, not king. Every day my anxiety lessens a bit more. It’s easier for me. I’m a well-employed, well-educated white guy. Trump is supposed to make things better for people like me, right? That’s certainly what his supporters think. It’s easy to become complacent about moral decay when you’re personally comfortable. And slowly, over time, you become numb to it, as the world changes around you and you no longer recognize your country. And by then, it’s too late. ,

Over The Edge is a monthly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, music, the media and the arts. Email Tim at tim.










here’s an unintended irony that back on his sleeve when writing a song. He’ll sonalized for you at that point. And not all tapes sound the same.” lurks within the liner notes of Na- strum his acoustic guitar with it, even. The majority of Lonesome Heartland was Ma said he developed his love of casthan Ma’s Lonesome Heartland, a no-fi acoustic pop album that navi- written and recorded about eight months settes listening to Unread Records & Tapes gates the dark void of human loneliness: Ma ago in a span of roughly 30 days. Ma acts such as Ed Rooney, Kyle Jacobson and recorded it in his bedroom with the help of shows me the field recorders he positioned Nutrition Fun. The “homemade” label, which about 40 of his closest friends. around his room to pick up every creak in his once had a home in Omaha, has been reBut the company Ma keeps and the amount house. One of the recorders still has a thrift sponsible for over 170 releases since 1994. of individuals that group includes is beside store price tag. It reads, “$9.99.” Ma said Founder Chris Fischer, who now operates the the point of his ambitious 30-track cassette, his songs were performed in different loca- label out of Pittsburgh, wrote last month that which will be released by Unread Records tions in his bedroom to give each one its own Unread’s taste favors “the spontaneous and & Tapes around the time this article is pub- unique quality or lack thereof. For example, pure,” the same qualities that resonate with lished. If anything, it’s a testament to the “lalala” sounds like it was recorded in Ma’s Ma’s LP. “I think this thing has been cookseverity of the can’t-get-out-ofbed hopelessness Ma has either ing in his [Ma’s] brain for a few been fending off or embracing years,” Fischer wrote, “and now it’s “THE MOTIVATION OF FEELING for more than a year. all spilling out into an epic and — ALONE JUST DRIVES YOU TO DO “I have a lot of great people what will sadly be, I’m sure — overTHE THINGS YOU DIDN’T HAVE THE around me and people that looked album that’s as fragile as influence me in so many great glass, yet retains purified juice and ENCOURAGEMENT TO DO BEFORE.” ways and I’m so appreciative of memory. His solo songwriting cait, and it’s not to say that I’m not reer is just beginning. It takes nerve being supported by my friends and family,” mini fridge whereas “Jenny doesn’t love” to record the way he does and slap your birth Ma, 24, said from his punk-rock bedroom, sounds like it was performed in the bedroom name on it. I think he is realizing that and which is located at the crest of the historic across the hall. becoming confident enough to recognize that Middle House. “But there’s still just something The songwriter said he recorded the first what he is doing not only means a lot to him missing — I’m just still lonely.” few ditties solo and then thought it would be but has merit for others.” Ma is not a victim and certainly not a “sob cool to collaborate with his friends, including Ma said Fischer began encouraging him story.” He made sure to tell me as much last members of Omaha expatriates Navy Gangs to write a solo album even before he knew month while the music of Strawberry Switch- and Oklahoma City’s Cherry Death. how to play chords on a guitar. Ma was 18 blade occupied the pauses between his sen“It was pretty much organic,” he said. “I’d at the time and was singing and drumming tences and a haze of incense fogged up his tell everyone, ‘Just do what feels comfortable for the indie act Places We Slept. Unread cut-and-paste living quarters. Ma said he — this is the general idea, but you don’t have eventually put out his band’s first EP in 2013 was just feeling the feels and decided to do to abide by it,’” he paused for a moment. “I and soon after released Ma’s first solo matesomething creative with that energy. want my friends to feel comfortable, more so rial on a 2014 split with local act Razors. “I was feeling a lot of crazy emotions at than imitate something that I want them to “It’s an understatement to call Chris a hero the time,” he said. “I’m still pretty young and do. I think it sounds so much better when ev- of mine,” Ma said. “I look up to him so much. I was in a long term relationship that ended eryone is doing what they feel sounds good.” I think if it wasn’t for Chris, I don’t know and I just didn’t really know how to deal Stylistically, Lonesome Heartland is lethar- where I’d be in music — I definitely wouldn’t with that.” gic and sloppy. Flubbed notes and discord be making music by myself.” To respect the boundaries of his former aid in the album’s punk aesthetic and remind While Lonesome Heartland hasn’t healed partner, Ma didn’t go into further detail the listener that Ma is in too much pain to all of Ma’s emotional wounds, the songwriter about the breakup. Besides, that’s what his give a shit. Songs like “She moved to L.A.” said he feels lighter now that his feelings songs are for. But the singer-songwriter — and “My baby loves the sea (why not me?)” have been dubbed to tape. And looking who, when not concentrating on his solo ma- cut to the bone with pop precision, chan- back, Ma said he can finally appreciate how terial, sings in the hardcore act Bib and plays neling Gene Clark of the Byrds. Ma is truly he got here and, ultimately, where his pain drums for Sean Pratt and The Sweats — also a budding songster who follows his vision will take him. shied away from discussing death, another all the way to the atmospherics of his pre“The motivation of feeling alone just major theme throughout his album. Indeed, ferred medium: drives you to do the things you didn’t have Ma wears his heart in his chest when strang“I love the concept of listening to a tape the encouragement to do before,” he said. ers ask him personal questions in his bed- so much it sounds like shit after a while,” he “You’re just like: ‘Fuck it, I don’t have anyroom, but he isn’t uncomfortable slapping it said. “It’s cool. Why is that not cool? It’s per- thing else left.’” ,







OMAHA ENTERTAINMENT & ARTS AWARDS PERFORMING ARTS NOMINEES BEST MUSICAL Caroline, or Change, Omaha Community Playhouse Disenchanted!, The Candy Project Heathers, Blue Barn Theatre Honk!, Rose Theater The Producers, Omaha Community Playhouse BEST DRAMA Animal Farm, UNO Theatre The Christians, Blue Barn Theatre The Feast, Shelterbelt Theatre Frost/Nixon, Blue Barn Theatre Macbeth, Nebraska Shakespeare The Quality of Life, SNAP! Productions BEST COMEDY Beertown, Omaha Community Playhouse and Dog & Pony DC Calendar Girls, Omaha Community Playhouse Red, White and Tuna, Bellevue Little Theatre The Singularity, Shelterbelt Theatre Untitled Series #7, Shelterbelt Theatre BEST PREMIER OF A NEW, ORIGINAL, LOCAL SCRIPT The Curious Disappearance of Mulder, the Cat by Madeline Radcliff-Reilly, FireBelly Rep The Singularity by Crystal Jackson, Shelterbelt Theatre The Feast by Celine Song, Shelterbelt Theatre Animal Farm by Jack Zerbe, UNO Theatre Untitled Series #7 by Ellen Struve, Shelterbelt Theatre


Noah Diaz, Red, White and Tuna, Bellevue Little Theatre Michal Simpson, The Quality of Life, SNAP! Productions Aaron Zavitz, Frost/Nixon, Blue Barn Theatre BEST LEADING ACTOR (MUSICAL) Dan Chevalier, Honk!, Rose Theater Steve Krambeck, The Producers, Omaha Community Playhouse Jim McKain, The Producers, Omaha Community Playhouse Cork Ramer, Man of La Mancha, Omaha Community Playhouse Dan Tracy, Sunday in the Park with George, Creighton University BEST LEADING ACTRESS (PLAY) MaryBeth Adams, The Singularity, Shelterbelt Theatre Sarah Carlson-Brown, Macbeth, Nebraska Shakespeare Kim Jubenville, The Quality of Life, SNAP! Productions Mary Kelly, The Feast, Shelterbelt Theatre Laura Leininger-Campbell, Untitled Series #7, Shelterbelt Theatre BEST LEADING ACTRESS (MUSICAL) Echelle Childers, Caroline, or Change, Omaha Community Playhouse Jennifer Gilg, Man of La Mancha, Omaha Community Playhouse Roni Shelley Perez, Heathers, Blue Barn Theatre Alissa Walker, Disenchanted!, The Candy Project Melanie Walters, Disenchanted!, The Candy Project

BEST DIRECTOR (PLAY) Vincent Carlson-Brown, Macbeth, Nebraska Shakespeare Susan Clement-Toberer, The Grown-Up, Blue Barn Theatre Noah Diaz, The Feast, Shelterbelt Theatre Lara Marsh, Lost Boy Found at Whole Foods, Omaha Community Playhouse Beth Thompson, The Singularity, Shelterbelt Theatre

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR (PLAY) Ben Beck, Frost/Nixon, Blue Barn Theatre Raydell Cordell III, The Christians, Blue Barn Theatre Noah Diaz, The Feast, Shelterbelt Theatre Beau Fisher, The Feast, Shelterbelt Theatre Nils Haaland, The Grown-Up, Blue Barn Theatre Andrew Prescott, Cloud 9, UNO Theatre

BEST DIRECTOR (MUSICAL) Susan Clement-Toberer and Randall T. Stevens, Heathers, Blue Barn Theatre Susie Baer Collins, Caroline, or Change, Omaha Community Playhouse Cynthia Gendrich, Honk!, Rose Theater Matthew Gutschick, Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Rose Theater Amy Lane, Sunday in the Park with George, Creighton University Kaitlyn McClincy and Noah Diaz, Disenchanted!, The Candy Project

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR (MUSICAL) Thomas Gjere, Heathers, Blue Barn Theatre Noel Larrieu, Man of La Mancha, Omaha Community Playhouse Ryan Pivonka, The Producers, Omaha Community Playhouse Robby Stone, Heathers, Blue Barn Theatre Nik Whitcomb, Caroline, or Change, Omaha Community Playhouse

BEST LEADING ACTOR (PLAY) Paul Boesing, Frost/Nixon, Blue Barn Theatre Anthony Clark-Kaczmarek, The Christians, Blue Barn Theatre Anthony Clark-Kaczmarek, Red, White and Tuna, Bellevue Little Theatre

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS (PLAY) Jill Anderson, The Christians, Blue Barn Theatre Leanne Hill Carlson, The Feast, Shelterbelt Theatre Kaitlyn McClincy, The Christians, Blue Barn Theatre



Colleen O’Doherty, Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England, SNAP! Productions Kathy Wheeldon, Calendar Girls, Omaha Community Playhouse BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS (MUSICAL) Katy Boone, Heathers, Blue Barn Theatre Aguel Lual, Caroline, or Change, Omaha Community Playhouse Regina Palmer, Caroline, or Change, Omaha Community Playhouse Samantha Quintana, Disenchanted!, The Candy Project MacKenzie Zielke, Heathers, Blue Barn Theatre BEST YOUTH PERFORMER Danny Denenberg, Caroline, or Change, Omaha Community Playhouse Danny Denenberg, To Kill a Mockingbird, Omaha Community Playhouse Chloe Irwin, Mama’s Girls, SNAP! Productions Chloe Irwin, To Kill a Mockingbird, Omaha Community Playhouse Justice Jamal Jones, Lost Boy Found at Whole Foods, Omaha Community Playhouse BEST DANCE PRODUCTION A Celebration of Storytelling: Voice of African Instruments, African Culture Connection Cleopatra, Ballet Nebraska Momentum: Go West!, Ballet Nebraska BEST PERFORMANCE POET Devel Crisp Greg Harries Olivia Johnson Brok Kerbrat Lite Pole BEST COMEDIAN Mollie Bartlett David Burdge Jordan Kliene Cameron Logsdon Dylan Rhode BEST COMEDY ENSEMBLE The Backline Badland Girls Big Canvas OK Party Comedy The Weisenheimers

PERFORMING ARTS TECHNICAL NOMINEES OUTSTANDING LIGHTING DESIGN Joshua Mullady, The Feast, Shelterbelt Theatre Jim Othuse, Man of La Mancha, Omaha Community Playhouse Steven L. Williams, Kwaidan, UNO Theatre Steven L. Williams, Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods, Omaha Community Playhouse Carol Wisner, Heathers, Blue Barn Theatre

For more information go to

OUTSTANDING PROP DESIGN Sharon Diaz, The Feast, Shelterbelt Theatre Darin Kuehler, The Producers, Omaha Community Playhouse Darin Kuehler, Caroline, or Change, Omaha Community Playhouse Ivania Stack, Colin K. Bills, and Darin Kuehler, Beertown, Omaha Community Playhouse and dog & pony dc Amy Reiner, Heathers, Blue Barn Theatre OUTSTANDING SCENIC DESIGN Holly M. Breuer, Macbeth, Nebraska Shakespeare Sharon Diaz, The Feast, Shelterbelt Theatre Martin Scott Marchitto, Heathers, Blue Barn Theatre Jim Othuse, Man of La Mancha, Omaha Community Playhouse Jeff Stander, Honk!, Rose Theater OUTSTANDING COSTUME DESIGN Amanda Fehlner, To Kill a Mockingbird, Omaha Community Playhouse Amanda Fehlner, The Producers, Omaha Community Playhouse Zachary Kloppenborg, The Feast, Shelterbelt Theatre Georgiann Regan, Man of La Mancha, Omaha Community Playhouse Valerie St. Pierre Smith, Cloud 9, UNO Theatre OUTSTANDING SOUND DESIGN Martin Magnuson, The Grown-Up, Blue Barn Theatre Craig Marsh, Frost/Nixon, Blue Barn Theatre Hannah Mayer and Shannon Smay, The Feast, Shelterbelt Theatre Shannon Smay, The Singularity, Shelterbelt Theatre Aaron David Wrigley, Kwaidan, UNO Theatre OUTSTANDING CHOREOGRAPHER Julian Adair, Man of La Mancha, Omaha Community Playhouse Sue Gillespie Booton, Honk!, Rose Theater Nichol Mason Lazenby, Heathers, Blue Barn Theatre Melanie Walters, The Producers, Omaha Community Playhouse Wai Yim, Macbeth, Nebraska Shakespeare OUTSTANDING MUSIC DIRECTION Jim Boggess, Man of La Mancha, Omaha Community Playhouse Doran Schmidt, Caroline, or Change, Omaha Community Playhouse Doran Schmidt, Heathers, Blue Barn Theatre Stephen Sheftz, Sunday in the Park with George, Creighton University Jennifer Tritz, Disenchanted!, The Candy Project


VISUAL ARTS NOMINEES BEST VISUAL ARTIST Phil Hawkins Susan Knight Stephen Cornelius Roberts Sarah Rowe Jar Schepers BEST EMERGING ARTIST Shawn Teseo Ballarin Anthony Deon Brown Hugo Zamarano Geoff Johnson Federico Perez Katie B Temple BEST NEW MEDIA ARTIST Sue Knight Sarah Rowe Jamie Danielle Hardy Sarah Kolar Bzzy Lps (Dustin Bythrow & Mike Bauer) BEST 2D ARTIST Stephen Cornelius Roberts Shawn Teseo Ballarin Joseph Broghammer Steve Joy Dan Boylan Shea Wilkinson BEST 3D ARTIST Sora Kimberlain Jar Schepers Phil Hawkins Michael Villareal Christopher Prinz Luke Severson BEST GROUP SHOW FRIENDS OF KENT - GALLERY 1516 Marc Chickinelli, Edgar Jerins, Paul Otero, Stephen Cornelius Roberts, Greg Scott FLATLANDERS - DARGER HQ Kenny Adkins, Jennifer Bockelman, Kim Darling, Charley Friedman, Nancy Friedmann-Sanchez, Camille Hawbaker, Anthony Hawley, Qwist Joseph, Michael Ian Larsen, Craig Roper, Sarah Rowe, Luke Severson, Matthew Sontheimer, Steve Snell, Sheila Talbitzer, Ying Zhu NEBRASKA RISING – BEMIS CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ART Heron Bassett, Mary Elizabeth/ Mesonjixx, Phil Hawkins, Roberta Leaverton, Joey Lynch, Liana Owad, Kristae Peterson, Christopher Prinz, Craig Roper, Barbara Simcoe, Michael Villareal ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM MODERN ARTS MIDTOWN Brian Gennardo, Rick Johns, Cathy Palmer, Larry Roots, Teresa Schmidt, Robert Spellman ONCE UPON A TIME - RNG GALLERY Lauren Baird, Jamie Heit Craig, Shelby Geitsfeld, Norm4eva, Xuan






Pham, Courtney Kenny Porto, Nicole Roberts, Alma Becerril Salas, Marie Elena Schembri, Nadia Shinkunas, Torrey Smith, Sam Danger White BEST SOLO SHOW Stephen Cornelius Roberts “The Figure: Paintings, Drawings and Studies” - Garden of the Zodiac “Jar Schepers: Repetition” - Garden of the Zodiac Phil Hawkins: “Paradox” - Sunderland Gallery Charley Friedman “Wet & Shiny” - Project Project Troy Muller “Honey Mushroom Wonderfuls” - Modern Arts Midtown BEST 2-PERSON SHOW Justin Beller & Mads Anderson “Full Yet Hungry” - Project Project Jacqueline Kluver & Larry Roots “Common Origins/Separate Destinations”- Modern Arts Midtown Steve Tamayo & Paul High Horse “Revitalize” - Hot Shops Art Center Kristine Allphin & Lori Elliott-Bartle “ Waxing Poetic” - Fred Simon Gallery RT Murphy & Bzzy Lps (Dustin Bithrow & Mike Bauer) “The Swamp” - Project Project BEST PUBLIC ART Tiny Mural Project with Autumn Armstrong, Ransom Bennett, Christopher Vaughn Couse, Sarah Craw, Maggie Heusinkvelt, Joe Nicholson, Jonathan Riggle, Barrett Ryker, Maggie Weber Polish Mural - Mike Giron, Rhianna Giron, Quin Slovek, Richard Harrison Plaza de la Raza mural - Hugo Zamorano, Mike Giron, Gerardo Vazquez, Jair Rodriguez, Ian Rodriguez, Sedra Caseneda, Rhianna Giron, Quin Slovek, and Richard Harrison Indian Hills Elementary Murals - Watie White in collaboration with Justice for Our Neighbors Old Market Art Project with 37 artists

MUSIC NOMINEES BEST ROCK Carson City Heat FREAKABOUT Jump the Tiger Matt Whipkey Naked Sunday Time Giants BEST HARD ROCK Arson City Before I Burn Bloodcow Save the Hero Screaming For Silence Through the Stone BEST ALTERNATIVE/INDIE High Up Kait Berreckman Mitch Gettman Oketo See Through Dresses

The Hottman Sisters

State Disco

BEST SINGERSONGWRITER Aly Peeler CJ Mills Emily Ward Jocelyn Tara Vaughan The Shineys

BEST ETHNIC Djem Esencia Latina Band Mariachi Zapata Rhythm Collective The Bishops The Prairie Gators

BEST DJ DJ Madix DJ Mellie Mel DJ Mista Soull DJ Shor-T Houston Alexander Spence Love BEST AMERICANA /FOLK Clarence Tilton Jack Hotel Pleiades & the Bear Ragged Company The Electroliners The Wildwoods BEST COUNTRY Belles & Whistles Dylan Bloom Band Jason Earl Band Jimmy Weber Ryan Osbahr Sack of Lions BEST R&B/SOUL Dominique Morgan Edem E Rawq Jus.B Mesonjixx Rothsteen BEST HIP HOP/RAP Conchance Greco J. Crum Mark Patrick Mola-B TKO BEST BLUES Brad Cordle Band Dilemma Levi William Band The Rex Granite Band featuring Sarah Benck Steve Lovett Blues Band Tim Budig Band BEST JAZZ Clark & Company Curly Martin Kellison Quartet Mitch Towne Omaha Guitar Trio Steve Raybine BEST PROGRESSIVE/ EXPERIMENTAL/EDM Citizen’s Band Chemicals Human Teeth Parade Kethro SharkWeek

BEST COVER BAND 3D In Your Face Hi-Fi Hangover Lemon Fresh Day Polka Police Sailing in Soup Secret Weapon ALBUM OF THE YEAR Jack Hotel – Voices from the Moon J. Crum – Black Sheep Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal – Running From Love Jus.B - PartySoul Kait Berreckman – Battle Scenes McCarthy Trenching – More Like It Ryan Osbahr – Easy Way Out Tara Vaughan – Dandelion Wine The Electroliners – The Common Clay of the New West Through the Stone – Through the Stone ARTIST OF THE YEAR All Young Girls Are Machine Guns Arson City Belles & Whistles CJ Mills Dominique Morgan Hector Anchondo Band Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal Kris Lager Band Satchel Grande Tara Vaughan BEST NEW ARTIST A Ferocious Jungle Cat Born on Leap Year Chemicals Mark Patrick Tiny Monsters Skyloft

MUSIC TECHNICAL NOMINEES BEST RECORDING STUDIO ARC Studios Hidden Tracks Recording Studio Icon 1NE Recording Studio Make Believe Studios SadSon Music Group Screen Door Studios Ware House Productions BEST LIVE MUSIC SOUND ENGINEER Dan Brennan - Slowdown Keith Fertwagner - Lookout Lounge Jeremy Garrett - Freelance Brenton Neville - Vessel Live Jon Pitts - Reverb Lounge Ben Stratton - Waiting Room Lounge Mark Wolberg - The Zoo Bar/Vessel Live







Jocelyn Muhammad Makes Herself Heard in Pop World


f the triumph of pop stardom is universal name recognition, then those who only need a first name, whether given or invented, are the royalty amongst royalty. Beyoncé, Elvis, Madonna, Prince. Perhaps even Adele, Kanye, Rihanna, Bono and Björk. Each of these singular names generates a face so burned into our collective consciousness that it claims sole ownership of its moniker. There





will never be another Prince, just as there has never been, say, another Cleopatra. And even if your mom’s name just so happens to be Björk, you might have a tough time not picturing Ms. Guðmundsdóttir first. In the case of Jocelyn Muhammad, or just Jocelyn, as she’s known on stage, her name remains universally unclaimed. But the 19-yearold virtuosic singer-songwriter has been mak-

ing a strong bid for it this past year with her soulful yet spirited acoustic pop sound, not to mention that thing, whatever it’s called, that only emanates from the kind of people mentioned above. She’s currently putting together her first record with multi-platinum producer Jim Huff (Skylar Grey) and Grammy Awardwinning engineer J.J. Blair (Johnny Cash, Kelly Clarkson). And, of course, a live snippet of

her song “Just Like Everybody Else” recently stage performance, Jocelyn said, and eventuwent viral to the tune of almost 5 million plays, ally introduced her to her current manager Jeff even before the studio version was released McClain of Midlands Music Group (MMG), which has a free mentoring program for budlast month. “I was kind of just bubbly about it,” Jocelyn ding musicians. But before McClain would take on Jocelyn, said about her unexpected breakout this past the MMG co-founder said he had one request: summer. “I was like, ‘Okay, you guys are makShe needed to learn how to be a good student. ing me look cool or something.’ People would “I said well here’s the deal,” McClain excome up to me: ‘Hey, you’re the girl on Twitter. plained. “The exact same work ethic and disYou’re famous.’” cipline you use to get an ‘A’ in school, you Filmed on the phones of a few passersby, use to get a Grammy or gold record. So if the 23-second video of Jocelyn belting out you want to make it in this business, get your the chorus to “Just Like Everybody Else” while grades up.” sitting on a downtown Omaha stoop brought McClain describes his mentoring program a foot-tapping sense of wonderment to the as a sort of vetting process in which 99 perTwittersphere, among other social media platcent of his recruits get “dropped for not folforms. “She deserves to be heard,” a sort of lowing through.” Not only did Jocelyn put in motto that was attached to the video, became the work for MMG when she was a junior in the consensus. And the song’s ambiguous lyrhigh school, but she said the semester she ics gave meaning to thousands, if not millions, began working with McClain was the first seof listeners. mester she hadn’t failed an academic class. Though, Jocelyn said she has her own inter“I graduated,” Jocelyn said. “I’m happy pretation of the song: about that, because I was really slacking.” “To just chill, relax. Chill out everybody, just Jocelyn said she owes a lot to Peeler and flow with life kind of vibe,” she said. “And McClain for showing her the ins and outs when I sing ‘just like everybody else,’ I mean of the music biz and life in general, but she like all the successful people. Not meaning credits her older brother, Deven Muhammad, richness as success, but success as in what’s inside of you. ‘Cause I have this belief: Once an accomplished dancer, for unlocking her you as an individual can achieve things for potential as a singer. As Jocelyn tells it, afyourself, you’ll be able to fall in love, and find ter watching Muhammad perform in his high school choir a half decade ago, the eager-tolove, just like everybody else.” Jocelyn’s growing legend began with an learn songstress wanted to know if she could Arthurian episode in which the then 14-year- hack it vocally. She sang him a Gavin Deold musical neophyte rescued a black Indiana Graw song. “When I sang that to him, he goes, ‘You acoustic guitar dubbed “Black Bastard” from the flames of a friend’s bonfire. She said she suck,’” she said, bursting out into laughter. took it home, studied her favourite British “And I did, I totally did. So he laid me down songsters, including Ed Sheeran, and then on the ground and he put a book on top of had her friend, Jaime, teach her how to play me and taught me how to breathe. He kind of just pushed me. He kept pushing me. I kept a G and Cadd9 chord. “Two weeks later, I wrote my own song,” Joc- coming back to him singing him stuff, and I elyn said. “It was called ‘Burn It Down’ and it’s just kept getting better and better every time to like the cheesiest song ever. And I remember a point where he was like, ‘Alright girl, you’ve showing it to Jaime and he was like, ‘Whose done it. Alright, stop showing off now.’” When the name Jocelyn is uttered 10 years song is that?’ And I was like, ‘It’s my song.’ And he was like, ‘You what? You already from now, our brains might be wired to genwrote a song?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, dude, of erate the image of Jocelyn Muhammad, if they aren’t already. And in 50 years, it might course.’ And I just kept writing after that.” If her origin story wasn’t serendipitous seem like she’s the only Jocelyn to have ever enough, Jocelyn said she began playing existed. Of course, the potentially once and originals and covers in the Old Market a few future singer-songwriter will have her own immonths later and was quickly scooped from ages, and they’ll probably include the faces outside of Spaghetti Works and plated in front that helped her along the way. “Open your mind,” she said. “It’s all about of local musician Aly Peeler, who at the time was in charge of an open mic night for the having an open mind in anything, in any type then-named Side Door Lounge. Peeler was of enterprise. If you want to be in any business, impressed with the high school freshman’s first you have to work with other people.” ,








JAMES WALMSLEY is The Reader’s contributing music editor and a longtime touring musician. The Michigander-turnedNebraskan came to Omaha by accident on an aimless road trip. He lives in Benson with his wife and daughter and runs a vegan restaurant (another accident) in his spare time.



Punk’s still dead (for now) and House of Loom is on its way out BY JAMES WALMSLEY

hen I spoke with Fat Mike of NOFX a few weeks ago before his gig at Sokol Auditorium, back before we plunged into this nightmarish alternate universe where a former reality TV star and outspoken racist and misogynist ascended to the world’s most powerful office, I asked the skate punk legend if he thought art or, more specifically, the punk rock genre was voting for a Trump presidency. Meaning: Did he think the music of the punk counterculture, which has been tamed by Top-40 sellouts and poseur audiences alike, would be reignited by the election of a pussy-grabbing fascist who unabashedly won the hearts of the Kremlin, KKK and a minority of the popular vote? After all, the early ‘80s L.A. punk scene, where Fat Mike cut his teeth and watched some of his friends lose theirs, got a cocaine-esque shot in the arm from the election of a different GOP celebrity. Indeed, Ronald Reagan, and all that he stood for, became the target of Gen X punker ire in circle pits across the continent. L.A.’s Wasted Youth featured an evil-looking Reagan on the cover of their debut record Reagan’s In. Farther north, the Dead Kennedys dubbed the sitting president “Emperor Reagan” in the song “We’ve Got a Bigger Problem Now.” And even farther north, Vancouver’s D.O.A. were a touch more curt: “You’re fucked up, Ronnie,” they chanted. But Fat Mike didn’t think a Trump presidency would necessarily be good for punk. The 49-yearold said his Fuck Everything Generation differed from Gen Y and Z’s Everything’s Fucked Generations and that writing anti-Trump hymns today would probably end up being pretty cliché. “Of course you’re against him,” Fat Mike said HAROUKI ZOMBI from his California home. “How could you even sing about him? He’s so terrible; you can’t even make light of him. You can’t say anything that ation of Orenda Fink (Azure Ray, High Up) and early ‘90s dance party promises to be all that and hasn’t been said — it’s like singing a song about Nina Barnes (Of Montreal). Opening is a DJ set a bag of chips. Charles Manson.” Correction: In last month’s issue, I made the asby Todd Fink (The Faint) and closing is the dark As of the early hours of Nov. 9, there might not techno of Cult Play; Club ABBA will be sending off sumption that Hillary Clinton would be our next sitbe another choice. House of Loom with a “Thank You for the Music”- ting president. I got it wrong. She didn’t win by a House of Loom’s Last Dance style event Saturday, Dec. 17, 8 p.m. The mysteri- landslide. She didn’t win at all. After consuming House of Loom is setting its faders to done at the ous DJ Disco Daddy is slated to spin ‘70s disco months of news, fake news, polls, fake polls and end of December and we’re all stunned. But before classics, “early ‘80s gems from the Paradise Ga- Facebook back-and-forths, I couldn’t not think the club owners Brent Crampton, Ethan Bondelid and rage” and contemporary iterations of the eclectic way I did: The 2016 presidential election was, at its Jay Kline turn off their strobes and pin spots for dance genre; Club 1993 is offering a similar bon most basic level, a referendum on hate and there good, the trio is primed to burn the House down voyage Friday, Dec. 23, 8 p.m. DJ Travis Howe will was no way enough Americans were going to vote with a slew of final dance events: Harouki Zombi is be reacquainting event goers with the sounds of “yea!” or “fine, as long as I can save a few bucks” returning from the dead Saturday, Dec. 3, 9 p.m. “embarrassing boy and girl bands,” while pepper- or “fuck you, I’m proving a point!” The “neo pathetic cabaret dance party” is a cre- ing in some hip-hop and house music. Indeed, the Like I said, I got it wrong.,



THURSDAY, DEC 1 Daddy Mac & The Flak

MONDAY, DEC 12 Gooch and his Las Vegas Big Band

FRIDAY, DEC 2 Bozak & Morrissey

TUESDAY, DEC 13 Billy Troy


WEDNESDAY, DEC 14 The 70’s Band

MONDAY, DEC 5 Gooch and His Las Vegas Big Band TUESDAY, DEC 6 Grace & Logan



Join these and others* in a plea for clemency for Native American activist and artist, Leonard Peltier.

WEDNESDAY, DEC 7 The Grease Band THURSDAY, DEC 8 Bob Fields & Swingtime FRIDAY, DEC 9 The Six SATURDAY, DEC 10 Jailbreakers

THURSDAY, DEC 15 Clark & Company FRIDAY, DEC 16 Hi-Fi Hangover SATURDAY, DEC 17 Soul Dawg MONDAY, DEC 19 Gooch and his Las Vegas Big Band TUESDAY, DEC 20 Steve Dunning WEDNESDAY, DEC 21 Bozak & Morrissey THURSDAY, DEC 22 Finest Hour

FRIDAY, DEC 23 The Confidentials SATURDAY, DEC 24 Christmas Eve Closed SUNDAY, DEC 25 Merry Christmas Closed MONDAY, DEC 26 Closed TUESDAY, DEC 27 Billy Troy WEDNESDAY, DEC 28 The Brits THURSDAY, DEC 29 Working Man’s Band FRIDAY, DEC 30 On The Fritz SATURDAY, DEC 31 New Year’s Eve Blast

*see the full list at Nobel Laureates Jose Ramos Horta | The Dalai Lama | Mearaid Maguire | Nelson Mandela | The Late Mother Teresa | Rigoberta Menchu Tum | Archbishop Desmond Tutu | Betty Williams Literary Artists, Musicians and Celebrities Sherman Alexie | The late Steve Allen | Ani Difranco | Michael Apted | Ed Asner | Jimmy Baca | Harry Belafonte | Jackson Browne | Chumbawamba | Peter Coyote | Vine Deloria | E.L. Doctorow | Chris Eyre | Jane Fonda | Danny Glover | Whoopi Goldberg | Rodney Grant | Indigo Girls | Kris Kristofferson | Peter Matthiessen | N. Scott Momaday, The Buffalo Trust | Shawn Mullens | Michael O’Keefe | Bonnie Raitt | Rage Against the Machine | Robert Redford | Robbie Robertson | Winona Ryder | Steven Seagal | Pete Seger | Joanne Shenandoah | Gloria Steinem | Little Steven | Rose Styron | William Styron | Buffy St. Marie | Oliver Stone | Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. | Tom Waits | Alice Walker Sty


Call the White House: 202-156-1111 | 202-456-1414 Send an email: Write to the President: The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500





December Roots Music Highlights include Jon Dee Graham, Bruce Katz, Mike Zito and the Nebraska Funk and Soul Alliance plus many Other Special Events to Celebrate the Season and Give to Our Community BY B.J. HUCHTEMANN



n this season of light and dark, bringing the light are many great artists including Hoodoo favorite Jon Dee Graham, who plays Lincoln’s Zoo Bar Tuesday, Dec. 13, 6-9 p.m. Graham is touring in support of his newest release, Knoxville Skyline. says Graham “has always been at his best when he sings of hope, strong hearts and the majesty of love. It’s a truism proven once again on Knoxville Skyline, a disarmingly sweet and unabashedly sentimental” collection of songs. There is nothing better or more hopefilled than Graham delivering his music live from the stage. Catch him in an intimate performance at one of his favorite touring venues, Lincoln’s Zoo Bar. See

Toy Drive for Pine Ridge

There are lots of folks in our music community teaming up to give to others this holiday season. Lash LaRue’s annual Toy Drive for Pine Ridge has been giving toys and holiday hope to the children and families on the Pine Ridge Reservation since 2003. The Reservation is one of the poorest zip codes in the U.S. To learn more visit toydriveforpineridge. org. I’ll be joining LaRue on Rick Galusha’s “P.S. Blues” radio program on 89.7 The River Sunday, Dec. 4, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Toy Drive events are scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 3, 8 p.m-1 a.m., at the Waiting Room and Reverb Lounge, and Sunday, Dec. 4, at The 21st Saloon. Visit the webpage for the complete artist lineup. Admission to the Benson events is $10 or a new unwrapped toy for one venue or $15 or two unwrapped toys for admission to both. Sunday, Dec. 4, 3 p.m., the Blues Society of Omaha hosts their holiday party and benefit for the Toy Drive at the 21st Saloon. Performing are Little Joe McCarthy, Big Daddy Caleb & The Chargers, Lash LaRue & The Hired Guns and Hector Anchondo Band. Admission is $10 or a new, unwrapped toy.

From The Center. Katz is a keyboard virtuoso who blends blues, jazz, boogie and New Orleans R&B for a rollicking good time. In addition to his solo work, Katz has toured with Gregg Allman, Delbert McClinton and John Hammond. This is a real don’t-miss artist whose talent and passion will please hard-core roots music fans and casual listeners. See Local CD release parties are set at Lincoln’s Zoo Bar Wednesday, Dec. 7, and at The 21st Saloon Thursday, Dec. 8, 6-9 p.m.

In the Clubs

Local audience favorite Mike Zito also has a new studio recording just out, Make Blues Not War (Ruf Records). Zito is up Thursday, Dec. 8, 6-9 at Lincoln’s Zoo Bar and Saturday, Dec. 10, 8-11 at The 21st Saloon. Other shows of note at The 21st include Anthony Gomes Dec. 3, Earl & Them with Earl Cate and Baby Jason Dec. 15, K.C. blues artists Lauren Anderson and Katy G & The Girls Dec. 17 and James Armstrong Dec. 22. Biscuit Miller


Soul Connections

HOODOO focuses on blues, roots, Americana and occasional other music styles with an emphasis on live music performances. Hoodoo columnist B.J. Huchtemann is a senior contributing writer and veteran music journalist who received the Blues Foundation’s 2015 Keeping the Blues Alive Award for Journalism. Follow her blog at and on


Josh Hoyer has organized the first annual Nebraska Funk & Soul Alliance for Saturday, December 10, in Lincoln to benefit eight Lincoln and Omaha youth charities. Over 30 bands and DJs perform in staggered sets at the Zoo Bar, Duffy’s Tavern, Bodega’s Alley and 1867 from 6 p.m.-2 a.m. A minimum $10 donation purchases a wristband good for all venues. See the Facebook event for details, bands and the full schedule.

Keyboard Wizard Katz

Shows coming up in December include keyboard wizard Bruce Katz’s CD release shows for Out





& the Mix play Dec. 29. Thursday shows are 6-9 p.m., Saturday shows 8-11 p.m. More big acts on the Zoo Bar’s schedule include Kelley Hunt Dec. 9, 5-7 p.m., Brave Combo Dec. 15, 6-9 p.m., Earl & Them Dec. 16, 5-7 p.m. and Dec 17, 6-9 p.m. and Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials Friday, Dec. 16, 9 p.m. James Armstrong plugs in Dec. 21, 6-9 p.m. and New Year’s Eve at the Zoo features the Tijuana Gigolos at 5 p.m. and Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal at 9 p.m. Watch for the latest updates.

Hot Notes

Check the online Hoodoo for more events and gigs than we can fit in print here. Two-time country-Americana Grammy winner and charming performer, the great Jim Lauderdale, gigs at Sunday Roadhouse at Reverb Lounge Sunday, Dec. 4, 5 p.m. Catch Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal at O’Leaver’s Thursday, Dec. 15. ,

The Down Under





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Old Movies Drool, New Movies Rule B Y R YA N S Y R E K





pparently, a fun thing to do if you ture of movies predating the modern era (after point where the very invocation of names like love movies is to talk about how 1980). But just as we don’t look lustily back on Fellini, Bergman or Godard made me all barfy, much you hate new movies. A covered wagons and butter churns, there’s no owing exclusively to film bros who exchanged paradox? Obviously. Grating? reason to yearn for poor acting and ganky ef- knowledge of those directors for actual opinions Yeahsureyoubetcha. A daily occurrence? At fects. Because much of fuel in the red-hot oven or personal taste. I am not suggesting that Those the very least. of modern cinematic discontent has to do with Who Came First aren’t owed a debt of gratitude. Cut open my trunk and count the rings in misplaced adoration for the films of yesteryear, They are. And not just the art house pioneers but this old tree, and you’ll find me no longer a let’s tackle this bullshit head on. the mainstreamers like Capra, Welles, Wilder, spring chicken. I’ve been reviewing movies for Hitchcock and Keaton. All of those men forged a approaching 15 years now. My critical expe- “You probably haven’t seen (fill in path. All of those white men, all of those straight rience is almost old enough to attend Blue Is the blank).” white men … but we’ll get there. First off, the problem isn’t that stuff like Casathe Warmest Color by itself. And yet, I am no curmudgeon, at least not in this area. While blanca, Citizen Kane, The Bicycle Thief, Breath- The baby of the Artistic ExpresFilm Twitter gnashes its teeth and some of the less and 8 ½ are used as verbal cudgels in film sion family Before we get to that more crucial point, let’s whitest—er, sorry—brightest minds pen obitu- debates; it’s that they’re exceptions and not rules. aries that proclaim “The Death of Cinema,” I Whenever I dismiss older films as a wider group, do a quicker takedown, shall we? The first time a move considered classless and gauche despite people charged audiences to see movies was in find myself ever the optimist. Maybe that’s because I think old movies suck. the willingness of others to do the same thing to 1895, when Woodville Latham and his sons newer films, people assume it’s out of ignorance. did it. Latham was, of course, an ordinance Okay, not suck. I feel a bit like Brad Pitt’s character in Fight Club, officer in the Confederacy during the Civil Just kinda suck. Respect for the past is healthy. Submitting when Ed Norton tells him he’s missed a clever War. Given Birth of a Nation — the one that’s to its supremacy is a logical fallacy. I believe thing. “Oh no, I got it.” Oh, I’ve seen the older awful because it’s racist, not the one that’s any opinion worth having is worth defending films. I may not name-drop them in the hopes of problematic because it’s made by a (likely) openly and publicly. So, in my best John Wick greasing underpants with my super cool movie- rapist — and Latham’s contributions, I’d like voice, let me declare “Yeah, I’m thinking I’m watching creds, but I’ve seen them. If only to shut to remind you that there’s still plenty of room back (to being a dick).” I firmly and completely people up, I’ve seen them… Maybe my naked on Team New Movies. acknowledge the influence and pioneering na- dissent owes to all the posturing. There came a



continued on page 48 y

‘cutting’room n I know I speak for every Gene Wilder fan when I say that news of his death was immediately met by an overwhelming desire to see one of his most beloved works strip-mined for a gross, naked cash grab. Psych. I mean, it’s happening, we just hate it. There is going to be another Willy Wonka movie, and it’s likely to be an origin story. No Johnny Depp, but there’s still time for them to cast Jared Leto, who will immediately begin subsisting on Everlasting Gobstoppers and the sadness of children ... if he doesn’t already. n Technically not a movie, but TV and movies are already friggin’ conjoined twins at this point (let alone ones on Netflix), Stranger Things Season 2 has added Sean Astin and Paul Reiser. I can only hope this means there’s at least once scene of Reiser explaining to 11 why he tried to sedate the Demogorgan and Astin saying a tender goodbye to the monster in slow motion. n I generally don’t like biopics, but I will be front and GD center for the upcoming Bryan Singer-directed Freddie Mercury film because the lead will be played by Rami Malek. If you don’t know who that is, I can now both tell you that he’s an Emmywinner for Best Actor and that you’re the reason I live in constant terror that Mr. Robot may be canceled. n The product of the most regrettable of John Landis’s sperm, national disgrace Max Landis, is going to write and direct a remake of his father’s An American Werewolf in London. No matter how much the elder Landis gives his approval, at least I can die knowing that Max has definitely disappointed at least one person more than me. Lest you think I’m being too hard on the chap, know that he spent time recently mansplaining a joke about Lois Lane being stupid to the only woman writing any of the Superman comic book titles. Let’s all just be thankful Maxie wasn’t born with the resources of the Trump brood. 

The Muppet Christmas Carol December 10, 11 & 15

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— Ryan Syrek Cutting Room provides breaking local and national movie news … complete with added sarcasm. Send any relevant information to Check out Ryan on Movieha!, a weekly podcast, catch him on the radio on CD 105.9 on Fridays at around 7:40 a.m. and on KVNO 90.7 at 8:30 a.m. on Fridays and follow him on Twitter.








y continued from page 46

Given that timeline, it’s been just over 120 owes itself to that as much as to the inability years since cinema existed in anything resem- of early screenwriters to understand how their bling what we know now. It’s been less than content should differ. New movies sound more 90 years since The Jazz Singer incorporated “real” because writers have had longer to dissound into movies. Color wasn’t common until tinguish themselves from stagecraft. Actresses even later than that. So, at best, movies have and actors in new movies have had training, used the entirety of their artistic potential for less both explicitly and through being surrounded time than some grandparents have been alive. by examples, in how to best use the medium. And we think that somehow, right out of the In the way that people don’t point to cave gate, more got it right than wrong? Or that we painters as better than French Impressionists, haven’t been steadily improving in our under- it’s patently insane to suggest that people just standing of how to use all of these tools? Hmm. getting a feel for how this shit works did a There is an enjoyment to be gleaned from better job than those an understanding of the watching the discovery of a new medium. increasingly better tools. Seeing artists find initial boundaries can be In terms of music, film had an early identity adorable and endearing. It’s like watching a crisis. Movie scores had to learn to compete baby fumble with a cardboard box or bang with voices, once the latter shoehorned their pots together. What’s that? It’s kind of annoy- way into the cinema space. Now, the best ing after a little bit? Hmm. musicians of our time slide into and out of movies via soundtracks or composed songs. “We can rebuild it, we have the In terms of cinematography, cameras just technology” keep providing greater and greater potential. Movie acting is not like theater acting. The From Kodak’s 8 mm in 1932 to its Super-8 in stage requires big voices, big faces, big cos- 1965 to the RED camera, which launched the tumes and so on. Cinema performance is best digital filmmaking era out of a canon, the imwhen implicit and subtle. The talents of the- ages are still getting bigger and clearer. And ater are, in a sense, wholly in opposition to let’s not even talk the differences between the the talents of screen. The stunted, unreal way charming — and that is not condescending in which dialogue is delivered in older films — early days of con-job special effects and





today’s jaw-dropping ability to make whatever the shit comes into somebody’s head look photo-realistic. The potential of the art form just keeps stretching. The knowledge of how to use the art form only gets stronger. The art form, which is still so much younger than its sisters and brothers — painting, writing, dancing, singing — reaches ever higher. How, other than the seduction of nostalgia and the superiority of claiming to have imbibed and enjoyed things younger people couldn’t have, could anyone argue “older is better?”

The voices long silenced

We remain woefully inadequate in the space given to directors/performers/writers/ producers/etc. who are not straight cis white men. But those voices are, at the very least, no longer completely silenced. The farther we get away from Birth of a Nation — the Klan one, not the “can you believe this asshole did that to that woman” one — the better off our art form is. The farther away we get from the Confederate officer who first showed movies for money in America, the better off our art form is. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King once rightfully said “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable.” It’s not “for

sure” things will or have to get better. But progress still takes place in the “new” and not the “old.” Yes, there are powerful, important older movies that mark watershed moments in pop culture progress. But you cannot argue that every year you inch backward on IMDB, it gets thinner in terms of marginalized groups that are given a voice. We need Kelly Reichardt, Barry Jenkins, Lexi Alexander, Dee Rees, Laverne Cox, Ryan Coogler, Clifton Collins Jr and on and on and on. You can argue with me about the excitement and importance associated with New Hollywood or any (Insert Country Here) New Wave movement. But you can’t argue against the vitality and depth of the names I just mentioned and many more that I didn’t. Those voices, those long-silent voices, only really live in new movies. My hope is they won’t just live there, but that they’ll thrive. I have and will continue to offer a twofor-one deal: You give me a movie that you loved prior to 1980, I will give you two that achieved something similar or better since then. In terms of content and composition, in terms of form and function but, most importantly, in terms of who is allowed to participate, new movies kick the shit out of old ones. Come at me, bruh. ,




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PREGNANT? THINKING OF ADOPTION? Talk with caring agency specializing in matching Birthmothers with Families Nationwide. LIVING EXPENSES PAID. Call 24/7 Abby’s One True Gift Adoptions. (866)413-6293. Void in Illinois/New Mexico/Indiana (AAN CAN) ARE YOU IN BIG TROUBLE WITH THE IRS? Stop wage & bank levies, liens & audits, unfiled tax returns, payroll issues, & resolve tax debt FAST. Call (844)753-1317 (AAN CAN) KILL BED BUGS & THEIR EGGS! Buy Harris Bed Bug Killers/KIT Complete Treatment System. Available: Hardware Stores, The Home Depot, (AAN CAN) ELIMINATE CELLULITE and Inches in weeks! All natural. Odor free. Works for men or women. Free month supply on select packages. Order now! (844)244-7149 (M-F 9am-8pm central) (AAN CAN) VIAGRA!! 52 Pills for Only $99.00. Your #1 trusted provider for 10 years. Insured and Guaranteed Delivery. Call today (888)403-9028 (AAN CAN)

$1000 JACKPOT Guaranteed! Blondo Bingo, playing Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 7pm & Sunday at 6pm; 8061 Blondo, 402-391-9088. GUTTER CLEANING Free estimates, also garage & trash cleanups, 402-672-3370. SNOW REMOVAL Commercial only, all plowing & haul away, 402-689-1767. WE BUY HOUSES Any condition, any location; also buying RVs, campers, anything of value, 402660-0590, 402-496-6120. LONELY? FRUSTRATED? Need someone to talk to? You’ve got a friend! Women United Hope Center, now also offering parenting classes and a “12 step Journey to Spiritual & Physical Healing Program” Call for more information 402-591-0354,


Free Code: Omaha Reader

Free Code: Omaha Reader

A Face in the Crowd

One of the strangest features of forthcoming movies will be digital characters that are, essentially, featureless. For an extra fee, moviegoers will be able to have their faces scanned in and superimposed on these characters, putting them in the movies. For just a few dollars, they will be background characters, but for larger sums of money they will be able to be larger supporting characters and even, in home movie theaters, the main character.

Fish Story

As our earth’s temperature rises, it will encourage massive, continent-sized blooms of algae in our oceans, choking the oxygen out of them and leading to the potential extinction of sea life. Ever-adaptable humans, however, will begin to harvest this algae for a variety of purposes. Some will be used as food additives, and some will be used as building materials, some will prove easy to convert into a cheap source of energy. Within three decades, this algae will risk extinction due to over-harvesting, and the seas will teem with fish again.

Let’s Do the Time Warp

A cosmic event will cause a strange breach in our timeline. We will no longer all experience the same timeline, but instead time will become like a river, branching off into multiple alternative timelines, all existing simultaneously. You may meet a friend for lunch, leave each other again, and meet again for dinner, and discover you have lived in entirely different worlds -- in yours, a war broke out, while in theirs a president was assassinated. We will have to accept that our friends and loved ones are living in a world that just grows more and more different from our own, as impossible as it is for us to believe the stories that they tell us. Our stories will also sound to them like lies.



(402) 341-4000 18+


The biggest job growth in the American future will be something known as the street hustle. This will consist of hundreds, even thousands, of improvised jobs provided directly to the customer on the streets of our cities, from food cooked in tin cans to crafts made from refuse to musical busking. America’s city streets will become vast marketplaces, filled with unregulated businesses, and this will provide between 20 and 100 percent of the income of the average American and 50 percent of our gross national product. This will a source of official frustration, of course, as the lack of regulation means it goes untaxed, but since most American politicians will have their own street hustles, they likewise will tend to prefer it unregulated.

INJURED IN TRAFFIC? Money for your injuries. No recovery, no fee! Charles R. Kilgore, Jr., Attorney, 4913 Underwood Avenue, 402-558-5000.


Economic Outlook



(402) 341-4000 18+


Dr. Mysterian

For more on these predictions and others by Dr. Mysterian visit


The New Hotel RL Omaha Opening LIVE January 2017 72ND STREET AT I-80 | 402.393.3950 Ad_HRL-TheReader_03ab.indd 1

Hotel RL Omaha 3321 S. 72nd Street Omaha, Nebraska 68124 Telephone: 402.393.3950 Fax: 402.393.1670 11/11/16 2:00 PM

A SEASON OF EVENTS ConAgra BRANDS Ice Rink Friday, December 9-Monday, January 2 location at 10th & Capitol Ave. * *$5New Admission includes skate rental,

children under five free Closed Christmas Day & New Year’s Day

Sounds of the Season Saturdays, November 26 -

December 17, 7-8 p.m. Gene Leahy Mall and the Old Market Features choral groups from youth to professional performers FREE

Wells Fargo Family Festival Sunday, December 4, noon-5 p.m.

Venues • Wells Fargo, 1919 Douglas St. • Omaha Children’s Museum • Durham Museum • Joslyn Art Museum • W. Dale Clark Library • Omaha Police Mounted Patrol Barn, 615 Leavenworth St. Family activities and entertainment Ollie the Trolley provides transportation between sites FREE

New Year’s Eve Fireworks Saturday, December 31, 7 p.m. Gene Leahy Mall, 14th & Farnam FREE

P ro d u ce d B y


MAYOR JEAN STOTHERT & Downtown Omaha Inc. Foundation

Suzanne and Walter Scott Foundation

Anonymous | Baxter Auto Group | Big Red Keno | Broadmoor | C&A Industries | CH2M | Dixon Family Foundation | Gavilon LLC | HDR The Lozier Foundation | Moglia Family Foundation | Pinnacle Bank | Valmont Industries, Inc. | Webster

Ag Processing Group | Baird Holm LLP | Bank of the West | CHI Healthcare | Circo Enterprises | Colliers International | Fraser Stryker | Gallup, Inc. Great Western Bank | Greater Omaha Chamber | Husch Blackwell, LLP | Kutak Rock LLP | McGrath North | MECA | Mutual of Omaha | Nebraska Medical Center Noddle Companies | Security National Bank | Tenaska | The Chicago Lumber Company | Wade Trim | Waste Management | WoodmenLife

Holly Barrett | Laura Buresh | Richard Callahan | Cubby's Inc. | Aggie DeRozza | Alex Duperval | Ed Ficenec | Cindi Goff | Colleen Hofschulte | Roger Humphries Magical Journey’s Carriage Service | Norita Matt | Methodist Health System | Steve Mulchahy | Park Omaha | RDG | Carl Simmons | Mary Thompson | Werner Enterprises


Vic Gutman, Event Director Heidi Walz, Project Manager

Christine Dunn, Marketing Manager Kylie Feilmeier, Project Coordinator

The Reader December 2016  
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