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Fastest-growing Careers By Pay

A career field expected to have near-term growth in open positions and expected salaries is attractive. Such in-demand jobs requiring specific skills often yield the better salaries. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics is the authoritative source for salary trends and predictions. Most experts make further predictions about salary patterns based on their insights into the BLS data. Some salaries soar Fortune Magazine pinpoints several professions that had significant salary growth in the past few years, a trend expected to continue. These require specific skill sets, and while not all are big money makers, each experienced a climb in average annual salary. The highest paying is communications manager, which commands a median base pay of $84,000 in 2016, up 5 percent from $80,000 in 2015. Although on the lower end of salaries on the list, certified nursing assistants experienced an impressive 11 percent median base pay increase from $45,000 in 2015 to $50,000 in 2016. Sales managers also experienced an 11 percent increase, going from 2015’s $66,040 to $73,000 in 2016. Demand spurs professions The demand for some professions is increasing, which means higher salaries as companies scramble to find qualified people. The BLS list of fastest growing occupations is

topped by wind turbine service technician. That field typically involves on-the-job training and doesn’t always require college or previous experience. Occupational therapy assistant comes in second on the fastest-growth list. This career field is expected to grow much faster than average, followed by physical therapy assistant and physical therapist aid fields.

CIO questions whether the tech field can keep salaries increasing. It suggests employers soon may favor larger bonuses over increased salaries. Location impacts growth Salaries vary regionally, just as they do among careers. Certain cities provide bigger salary growth

potential. Unfortunately, they may also have higher costs of living. Omaha does not appear on the list of largest growing salaries by metro area provided by Headlight Data. The closest metro area on the list is Kansas City, with a one-year salary growth of 3.5 percent. Compare this to San Jose, Calif., which boasts an annual salary growth of 7.5 percent.

Healthcare booms Health care is a recurring theme on this list of growing occupations. The U.S. Census Bureau suggests that the older population (age 65 and older) within the U.S. will grow at an increased rate through 2050. The largest salary listed is optometrist at a median annual salary of $103,900, which grew much faster than average. As the population ages, health care will continue to be a booming career field. As the need for qualified medical professionals grows, so should the salaries and benefits used to lure new candidates. Technology salaries grow The website CIO reports technology careers enjoyed an annual salary increase of 7.7 percent from the year 2015 to 2016. The website also says bonuses rose alongside salaries. While reportedly half of these salary increases resulted from internal pay increases, the other half were from tech employees moving on to other employers for better wages.

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ProKarma Jobs

ProKarma Jobs

ProKarma, Inc. has mult opnings for Sr Software Engineer in Omaha, NE; may also work at various unanticipated lctns. Roving position-employee’s worksite & residence may chnge based on clnt & bsnss dmnds. No trvl rqurmnt; prfrmng daily job duties doesn’t require trvl. Anlyz user needs & modify/develop SW using cmptr skill sets;  dvlp & drct SW system tstng & validation prcdrs, prgrmmng, & dcmntatn. Requires 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/Cmptr-relt’d pos. Emplyr also accept bachelor’s, or for. equiv, in CIS, IT, CS, Eng (any), or relt’d tech/anlytcl field + at least 5 yr prgrssv post-bachelor’s exp in job offrd or IT/Cmptr-relt’d pos. Requires prof. exp with: Java, J2EE, JMS, SOA, Web Services, Weblogic/WebSphere/App server/JBoss, Oracle/SQL Server, Maven, HTML.  Suitable comb. of edu/training/exp accptble.

ProKarma, Inc. has mult opnings for Sr Software Engineer in Omaha, NE; may also work at various unanticipated lctns. Roving position-employee’s worksite & residence may chnge based on clnt & bsnss dmnds. No trvl rqurmnt; prfrmng daily job duties doesn’t require trvl. Anlyz user needs & modify/develop SW using cmptr skill sets;  dvlp & drct SW system tstng & validation prcdrs, prgrmmng, & dcmntatn. Requires 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/Cmptr-relt’d pos. Emplyr also accept bachelor’s, or for. equiv, in CIS, IT, CS, Eng (any), or relt’d tech/anlytcl field + at least 5 yr prgrssv post-bachelor’s exp in job offrd or IT/Cmptr-relt’d pos. Requires prof. exp with: Object oriented analysis and design, Microsoft.Net Technologies, C#,,, XML, Web Services, Oracle / SQL Server.  Suitable comb. of edu/training/



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

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

Senior Software Engineer #SRJAVA0117

ProKarma, Inc. Attn: Jobs

with Job Ref# in the subject line of the email

Senior Software Engineer #SRNET0117

ProKarma, Inc. Attn: Jobs

with Job Ref# in the subject line of the email

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OF DREAMERS AND DOERS EDITOR’S NOTE: The new administration is issuing its first immigration orders as we go to press. Local groups, especially the ones mentioned in this story, are organizing now to respond to changes in enforcement priorities that threaten to tear apart families and lives without any review process while diverting resources away from deporting the worst criminals. Stay tuned to them at the links at the end of this story and follow-up coverage in our sister publication El Perico and online at




DACA youth and supporters hope protections are retained B Y L E O A D A M B I GA PHOTOGRAPHY BY DEBRA S. KAPLAN


ith immigration reform caught in the gap of a divided U.S. Congress, the long-proposed DREAM Act never got passed. In 2012 President Barack Obama issued an executive order creating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as a temporary stop-gap giving young students who grew up here protections against removal and permits to work, allowing many to obtain drivers licenses and other basic privileges. Conservative Nebraska officially opposed DACA. Then-Gov. Dave Heineman blocked issuing drivers licenses (Nebraska was the only state), welfare or other public benefits to DACAeligible youth. Gov. Pete Ricketts continued the stand. But a broad coalition of rural and urban Nebraskans spanning party lines and ages, along with faith, law enforcement and business leaders – the Bibles, Badges and Business coalition – along with such organizations as Justice for Our Neighbors Nebraska, Heartland Workers Center and Nebraska Appleseed, successfully advocated for legislation granting DREAMers drivers licenses and professional-commercial licenses. The state legislature twice overturned governor vetoes to preserve these bills as law. While never a panacea, DACA provided DREAMers and supporters hope that real, permanent immigration reform might follow. However, President Donald Trump made campaign promises to repeal DACA and crack down on undocumented immigrants. With his administration only weeks old, no one knows if or when he’ll end DACA and thus undo everything attained.  DREAMer Alejandra Ayotitla Cortez, a senior psychology student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is one of about 3,275 DACA recipients in Nebraska. As more young people age into DACA, that number will grow as long as the program continues. She echoes other recipients in saying, “Right now we are facing a lot of uncertainty. As much as I wish I knew what was going to happen with the program, it’s very hard to predict, and that’s what makes it harder. We’re in this limbo place. Obviously, if it does end, that would have a lot of negative consequences. Right now we are trying to focus on working with our representatives at the federal level to try to draft legislation that would protect the program.”  She was part of a contingent of DREAMers who met with Nebraska Congressional leaders in the nation’s capitol in January. A coalition of Nebraska supporters signed a public letter to Nebraska members of Congress urging them to endorse DACA’s continuation on the grounds it allows aspirational young people like Alejandra the ability to reach their potential. The argument is that the work they do, the commerce they create, the taxes they pay strengthen, not deplete America. Recently proposed federal legislation called the BRIDGE Act would provide some safeguards in the event DACA isn’t renewed or until more lasting immigration reform emerges.


Nebraska Restaurant Association executive director Jim Partington said at a recent press conference in Lincoln announcing the letter, “There is no logical objection to anything about supporting these youths who were brought here at a very young age, have been educated in our school systems, and are now ready to go out into the work force and contribute to our economy and our society.” Ayotitla Cortez also spoke at the conference. She previously testified before state senators. “It’s important for us to share our stories so that we can show that DREAMers are here, we’re contributing, we’re doing the best we can to serve our communities,” she said. Former DREAMer Lucy Aguilar, a University of Nebraska at Omaha student, advocated for DREAMers’ rights through Young Nebraskans in Action (YNA), a program of Heartland Workers Center (HWC). She’s since gained permanent residency status. She stands by what she said two years ago: “I don’t think DACA-recipients should be tied to immigration policies or immigration terminology because we’re a much different thing. I know my status and it’s definitely not breaking the law in any sense. I’m here just like everybody else trying to make something out of my life, trying to accomplish goals -- in my case trying to open a business and be successful in that.” She supports DREAMers retaining their DACA protections. HWC Senior Organizer Lucia Pedroza, who supervises YNA, said the issue’s catalyzed young people to participate and raise their collective voice and take collective action. Coalescing support for the bills that gave DREAMers licenses was a case in point. “Young people started organizing themselves after coming to meetings and learning more about the legislative process and the issues in their community,” Pedroza said. “They knew what they had to do. They started organizing students and teachers at South High School. They were able to speak up for the bills and proposals. “I’ve seen some who were afraid to speak up and share their own stories a few years ago now speaking their truth and working with us at the center. I’ve seen them grow and want to share their interest and passion with other young people. It’s a cool thing. They’re not just wanting to stay on the sidelines and complain, they want to do something more. They understand it’s not going to be just about them, they can’t do it alone, they need to have community support.” Pedroza said YNA’s grassroots work “impacted the effort statewide in support of DACA.”  She and others make a pragmatic, do-the-right-thing, make-good-policy case for DREAMers being given pathways to full participation. Ayotitla Cortez uses herself as an example of how DACA impacts lives. “As soon as I enrolled at UNL I started working at a daycare center at the university thanks to the work permit DACA provides. That was the first job I ever had. It helped me to support continued on page 10 y






y continued from page 8

myself and paid for my living expenses and some of my school and participate in the workforce towards your dreams in the only what are their rights in any defenses they may have,” Ellison said. expenses. That was a great opportunity. Then my sophomore year country you’ve known. “If DACA is done away with, that’s going to be really important. We I got the opportunity to work as a service assistant in the Nebraska “Though inadequate and imperfect, it’s difficult to overstate the want people to know there are certain constitutional legal protecCenter for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools. importance of what DACA’s meant to these young people.” tions they may have and other forms of relief they may pursue that “Now I work at El Centro de las Americas -- a non-profit that For St. Paul United Methodist Church (Lincoln) senior pastor Da- exist in law as opposed to policy. While the President can change serves mainly the Latino Community. I’m the coordinator of the vid Lux, embracing DREAMers is about social justice.  immigration policy by doing away with the program, which is just Adult Education Program. Helping my community is my main way “They live here and are part of our communities and have been an executive memoranda, he does not have the authority to unilaterof giving back some of what has been given to me.” for years. This is their home. Regardless of legal documentation ally undue the law.  She wishes opponents would look past fears and stereotypes.   they’re human beings worthy of fairness and a chance. They also “There may be legal protections that exist for some DACA youth “I guess some people have a hard time seeing the human side or contribute a lot to our communities and add to their richness.” they don’t know about until they consult with an attorney. We prothe social contributions DACA has provided. We’re working and Besides, Pedroza said, with small population Nebraska strug- vide referrals for the Nebraska Legal Immigration assistance hotline.” putting money into city, state, federal revenues.” gling to retain young talent and America ever aging, the state and Meanwhile, Pedroza, a Guatemalan immigrant, finds solace in Then there are myths that need overturning. nation can’t afford to lose its best and brightest of child-rearing age. the confederacy of common interests around the issue, such as the “As DACA-recipients we have to pay $485 every two years to Not everyone eligible for DACA applies for it. Bibles, Badges and Business coalition that’s championed DACA. renew our work permit, so it is something These coalitions signal to her America may we are paying for, we’re not just getting not be as divided as the media portrays, but it for free. If you multiply that by the nashe concedes more consensus building is tion’s 700,000 DACA-recipients, then needed. that is bringing in money and helping the “What keeps me motivated is knowing for economy of every state. It’s creating jobs a fact we can do better to be a more welbecause we’re working, spending and coming community, state and nation and that some of us are even starting businesses.” we can work together to improve the quality Pedroza said, “It’s about families and of life for underserved people. Not everyone the well-being of human beings and givwill see the same things I see, but we don’t ing opportunities to people who work have to have one way of doing things. The - LUCIA PEDROZA hard and contribute as equally as citizens more collective and different perspectives we of the United States.” can add to the larger vision, the more impact Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) Exwe can have.” ecutive Director Emiliano Lerda feels the issue found enough supEllison said, “Nationally, 700,000 have been granted DACA With DACA up in the air and the path of immigration reform port to buck the governor in the “very diverse coalition pushing for since the program’s inception, I believe initial estimates of those eli- anybody’s guess, Pedroza hopes for bridges to dreams, not walls these changes,” adding, “you had strong, traditionally conservative gible were well over a million. There’s a number of factors why only to exclusion. and Republican-leaning organizations advocating side by side with 700,000 applied. Some people are very risk averse, other people “I have two children and I really care about their future. I want what are traditionally known as more progressive organizations. are not. Those who are risk averse, [do they] feel like paying fees to them to know there is something that can be done when you work This truly is a bipartisan issue that unfortunately has been utilized apply for a program soon to be done away with or potentially done with community members and elected officials. We can have diaby politicians to galvanize a certain segment of the population for away with, in addition to giving the government your private infor- logue. We don’t have to be on the defensive or offensive all the time. political support. But the vast aspects of this issue affect people mation they would need to apprehend you and seek your removal, We need to have that space to negotiate in, and it’s possible. I think across the aisles equally and the solutions will come from across [that] is not a very good bargain. So they’re not interested or willing the national rhetoric doesn’t help. A lot of times, not everybody the aisles from people who understand the economic impact and to apply for it even if they qualify. is open-minded or familiar with the other side of the story. That’s benefits of immigrants and the economic disaster we could face if “A lot depends on the individual facts of the case. If a person’s something we have to deal with. We’re not going to convince evwe don’t have access to immigrant labor.” already on immigration’s radar, they’re not really giving up much erybody. Not everybody’s going to see the issue the same way. But Charles Shane Ellison, JFON deputy executive director-legal di- by applying. we can’t give up. We have to work with what we have and to do rector, said it’s a win-win for everyone as employers benefit from “If they’re not on immigration’s radar, by applying with the poten- what we can do.”  DREAMers’ labor and DREAMers’ income boosts the economy. tial the program will be done away with, they are taking some risk. She senses however things play out, DREAMers and supporters Then there’s the advanced degrees DREAMers earn, the expertise “I’ve actually been surprised by how many people want to apply, have started a movement that won’t go away. they practice, the services they provide, the products they produce, even post-election, who say, ‘I still want to renew my applica“One thing we can do is help people empower themselves, so et cetera.  tion because I feel like it’s worth a shot. If I don’t apply, I know I that they can continue to work for those solutions and look for other For Ellison, it’s also an issue of fairness and of undoing an overly won’t get it. If I do apply, maybe President Trump will change his options. A lot of times as immigrant communities we feel powerless broad application of law. mind or something else will happen.’ It just shows how desperate and so we don’t try to be a part of that change for our community. “Many of my clients who qualify for DACA came as babies. They folks were before DACA.” Ellison added, “Certainly among my “But that collective power really makes people feel they can do don’t know any other country other than the United States. The law’s greatest concerns is that DACA will be done away and not be something. It can be like a domino effect where one thing leads to very unforgiving. It doesn’t make allowances for the fact they didn’t replaced with any kind of protection … that in addition to lack of something bigger or we inspire people to get involved.” have any control over entering the country without status. These kids compassion in immigration enforcement that tears families apart Being seen and heard is a start. found themselves growing up blocked out of any opportunities to and disrupts communities.” obtain work, to achieve dreams, so DACA was huge because it was JFON urges recipients to prepare for DACA’s demise. Visit,,,  this breakthrough, finally saying you can come out of the shadow “We want folks to get plugged in with counsel so they can analyze Read more of Leo Adam Biga’s work at ,









PATHWAYS TO FREEDOM EDITOR’S NOTE: The new administration is issuing its first immigration orders as we go to press. Local groups, especially the ones mentioned in this story, are organizing now to respond to changes that threaten decades of proven, peaceful resettlement processes, with little to no promise of improving safety, while feeding into and supporting extremist narratives and recruitment. Stay tuned to follow-up coverage online at or the website listed at the end of this story.




Resettlement in America takes a village B Y L E O A D A M B I GA PHOTOGRAPHY BY DEBRA S. KAPLAN


hose tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free in America include refugees and asylees fleeing war and persecution. Displaced persons also include victims of international trafficking. Regardless of what’s uprooted them, these souls without countries come from homelands too risky or unstable to remain in or return to. Most newcomers escaping duress lean on enclaves of fellow countrymen who preceded them here to show them the ropes. “In Nebraska, 95 percent of our families coming here are reuniting with friends and family already here,” said Lutheran Family Services (LFS) program development officer Lacey Studnicka. “It’s really those ethnic communities that show the new arrivals the most support and you see that historically in our country. It’s the ethnic community that does the heavy lifting in welcoming them and getting them going. That just happens organically. “Our agency provides newcomers a network of American connections.” Whatever their story, she said, new arrivals “are here for their children,” adding, “They want a better life and they want their children to never experience what they had to go through. When you see them get an opportunity for a second chance and what they do with that opportunity – the parents starting businesses, buying homes, their children excelling in school and just thriving in their new surroundings – it’s the American Dream. And it gets played out every single day.” Those looking to resettle don’t care if its crass calculus, noble ideals, human compassion or luck of the draw that gets them out as long as they touch freedom again or perhaps for the first time. Subsisting in camps or war zones awaiting release means base survival marked by uncertainty. Resettlement is bittersweet. It means leaving everything you know for a fresh start in a safe new place. Relocation and assimilation bring stressors but mainly brings opportunities. LFS, the state’s largest resettlement agency, offers access to medical, behavioral health and legal services, ESL classes, career and life skills mentoring and employment searches. “We have an 85 percent success rate placing refugees into jobs within the first 60 to 90 days they’re in the U.S.,” Studnicka said. Most caseworkers are former refugees. “It’s very demanding work,” she said. “You really are helping rebuild people’s lives and you have a lot of responsibility in that. They’re looking to you for guidance at all times. Refugee caseworkers get it because they lived it. They have a different commitment and passion. We try to have them set boundaries but when your home and worship place is in the same community you serve, you can’t shut it off.” The U. S. is a major safe harbor, though ever tighter screening means individual cases can take years to clear. Nebraska’s done its part receiving and resettling folks, especially since the 1970s.  “We have seen our numbers double over the last five years,” said Studnicka, who estimates 25,000-plus refugees reside


in the metro. No one knows if President Trump will follow through on vowed policies to close America’s southern borders and restrict Muslim arrivals. Middle East crises have propelled a migration flood in Europe. Refugee numbers worldwide are at levels not seen since World War II. An estimated 14 million await return or resettlement. Only a fraction will be permanently resettled due to capacity, security and political considerations. America annually receives 75,000 to 100,000 refugees. Each year the President in consultation with Congress decides how many and from what countries of origin will be accepted. Who Nebraska takes depends on what groups the state’s best resourced to accommodate in terms of available language-cultural-technical support. After past waves of Vietnamese, Russian Jews, Bosnians, Croatians, Afghans, Sudanese, Somalis, Iraqis, Burundi, Rwandans, Butanese and Karen, the newest groups include Congolese. Despite objections by Gov. Pete Ricketts, Syrians are being resettled, too. LFS officials say they receive little opposition to its refugee work and are unaware of any hate crimes directed at refugees in the area. Studnicka said the state’s proved to be “a very favorable place for resettlement because we have an excellent economy and a friendly welcoming environment.” She added, “Refugees can find jobs. It’s a really good place to live.”  Still, she conceded, “It’s hard. There are language and transportation barriers.” Most newcomers find their education and professional training doesn’t meet certifications here and that forces them to fill the same unskilled jobs as immigrants – meatpacking, hospitality, transportation.  Former Somali refugee Dekow Sagar said, “I do remember thinking if I had the means to go back to the refugee camp I would.” But his persistence paid off and he’s now program director at the International Center of the Heartland, an LFS operation that extends services as needed to refugee clients beyond the initial federally funded 90 days. Sagar was 8 when he and his family left the carnage of the Somali war for a camp in Kenya. They expected to be there a short while but remained years. He grew to adulthood there and after assisting Doctors Without Borders and the United Nations, he came to the U.S. in 2007. He lived and worked in Des Moines, Iowa before taking a job with the state of Nebraska and then joining LFS. The thousands of clients served by the International Center yearly, Sagar said, “have high motivation to be self-sufficient and to be economically independent. Most work two jobs to make ends meet.” “Their resiliency” in the face of obstacles is what Studnicka most admires. “They’re aware of how challenging it’s going to be and they’re like, ‘Let’s do this.’ They’re the hardest working people I know.” “Part of the benefits from the federal government are eight months of cash assistance, food stamps and medicaid or until

FORMER U.S. MILITARY INTERPRETER AND AFGHAN REFUGEE KHALID KHAN they start working,” she said. “A lot of our families start working quickly, so they’re off that assistance quickly. This is not a handout, this is a hand-up. We’re going to give you an opportunity but it’s very American – you’re going to work for it.” Abdullah Alalo was a married, 26-year-old medical school graduate when the terror threat in Syria forced him to seek asylum. He came to the U.S. in 2013 and after living in Los Angeles and Phoenix, he moved to Omaha, where he works as a machine operator. He and his wife, who joined him in the States a year after his arrival, just bought their first home and are expecting their first child. After despairing he couldn’t follow his intended career field here, he’s found contentment. “We live very comfortably now. We’re happy here. We like the city, we like the people, we’ve made a lot of friends. Everybody’s been very supportive.” Khalid Khan worked as a U.S. military interpreter for 10-plus

years in his native Afghanistan until it got too hot to stay. He and fellow interpreters were made hard targets by the Taliban. He came here as a Special Immigrant Visa holder under the Afghan Allies Protection Act. He works in IT and drives a Uber. Once, Khan said, a local passenger questioned his fealty as a Muslim to America. He replied he helped defeat a common enemy to persevere America’s freedom, faced death threats, suffered a stroke and PTSD and left his life to move here. “He thanked me for my service to America,” Khan said. He, his wife and children spent months in hiding before coming to the U.S. in 2014. Studnicka said as the public learns the sacrifices newcomers make and hardships they face, more assistance flows. “In the past, refugees in our community were invisible. That’s not true anymore. People are more educated and seeking out information and wanting to help. We’re trying to keep up with the demand.


We didn’t have the infrastructure we do now.” As a result, she said, “We’ve never been more prepared.” LFS partners with Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith communities and local businesses to outfit the residences of new arrivals. They welcome them at the airport, do grocery shopping, teach English, make home visits, mentor, et cetera. Staff are often asked to present on resettlement. Some refugees tell their stories before audiences. Where there may be service gaps, refugees fill them. “We didn’t have a strong enclave of Congolese before they started coming, so the Burundians and Rwandans stepped up and welcomed them. They’re from the same region and lived in the same refugee camps together. That sense of of solidarity and community is awesome.” Studnicka said. “People struggle when they don’t have enough continued on page 14 y




y continued from page 13

resources around them. The more resources, the more success they have,” adding that resources are no problem here. “The goal,” she said, is for newcomers to reach “selfsufficiency.” How much help a family needs varies. “If the parents are working and the kids are in school and they’ve gotten their routine down, they might not need us. They might come in if they get an unexpected or unfamiliar bill in the mail or need to sign up for health insurance or a 401k or something else they need guidance on. Then we have some cases where a child might be disabled or the family really needs someone to help navigate the health care system, and there we’ll do more intensive case managing for a period or long-term basis.” Regardless, she said, “the door is always open.” Omaha has some fairly well-established refugee communities. “The Sudanese have been here a (relatively) long time and they have quite a robust community,” she said. “The Karen from Burma are just exceptionally organized and cohesive. They’re building a multi-million dollar church and community center. We have about 5,000 refugees from Burma that live in Omaha and over 400 families have purchased homes -- a lot within the first two years they lived here. They’re working at meatpacking plants, their kids are going to college with full ride scholarships because they’re such excellent students. “The Bhutanese community is really rising.” Whatever the group, Studnicka said gratitude and generosity abound.  “They may have nothing but will always want to feed you and give you gifts, et cetera. Hospitality is a common thread amongst all the groups we welcome.” For Studnicka, it’s a no-brainer that an immigrant nation like America should welcome newcomers who bring good spirits, high aspirations, strong work ethic and rich culture. “It really just blows my mind anyone would be afraid of refugees. What are you afraid of – delicious food?” Those who’d block certain groups, she said, have unfounded fears inflamed by rhetoric. “I think fear is a powerful political tool. It wins elections and races. It’s a lesson to all of us to be mindful and to get education.” She invites the public to be neighbors, not strangers. “Come to the airport and welcome them. Tour our center to meet them and learn about them. Let’s just get it all on the table.” Two events this summer offer meet and greet opportunities: The June 30 World Refugee Day festival at Joslyn Art Museum and the August 4 New American Arts Festival in Benson.



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he City of Omaha will hold elections for Mayor and all seven City Council seats this spring. The primary is April 4 followed by the general election on May 9. City races are nonpartisan. The top two candidates from each primary will move on to the general election. Four candidates have announced their intention to run for Mayor: Mayor Jean Stothert, former State Senator Heath Mello, martial arts instructor Christopher Geary, and financial planner Taylor Royal. Most experts expect this to be fight between Stothert and Mello.

Jean Stothert

The Battle for Mayor Takes Shape BY JIM ESCH, BALLOTHERO.COM

she took office. “Omaha’s homicide rate at the end of 2016 was the lowest in 13 years, and gang activity and gun violence are down. Our relentless and daily focus on public safety has included the addition of 56 new police officers over the last three years, restructuring of police department operations, expansion of the gang unit and gang specialists, expansion of the ShotSpotter technology and the introduction of body cameras.” She believes the city must continue to provide financial support and work with community partners who offer job training and placement for youth and adults as well as re-entry programs for those leaving prison. Stothert views Nebraska’s level of taxation as a serious challenge. “Because of economic growth and more efficient management, we have lowered Omaha’s tax rate twice since I’ve been mayor. However, more needs to be done in this area by all policymakers, including those in the legislature, to make Omaha and Nebraska the most competitive and appealing places possible for businesses, employees, and families.” Stothert sees a bright future for Omaha. “Our citizens are hard-working, collaborative, optimistic and compassionate. Among our many opportunities are the benefits of more growth among our young professional and young family communities, enhancing the city’s transportation system, and leveraging civic partnerships in what is one of the most generous cities in America.”

build more community spaces, improve our streets and trails, and expand public transit. Crime and equal opportunity are some of his top concerns. “Everywhere I go, I hear that Omaha residents are concerned about crime. Crime remains a problem because we are not addressing the root causes of crime, such as intergenerational poverty and lack of access to living wage jobs, affordable housing, and reliable transportation,” said Mello. He wants to develop programs to connect residents with educational resources, employment opportunities, behavioral health services, and other programs. Mello wants Omaha to become a “smart city”, driven by data and technology. “We have the opportunity to become a more connected city through innovative, future-focused approaches to transportation and infrastructure, including public-private partnerships to build more community spaces, improve our streets and trails, and expand public transit,” said Mello. “I would collaborate on designing infrastructure projects, such as high-speed internet access, that are vital to growing Omaha’s economy.” He has detailed a 5-point “Reinventing City Hall”

POLITICS In 2013, Jean Stothert, 62, became the first woman elected Mayor of Omaha. Stothert was born in Wood River, Illinois and attended Seattle Pacific University earning a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. She began her career as a critical care nurse, later becoming a head nurse and department head of cardiovascular surgery at St. Louis University. Stothert, a registered Republican, was appointed to the Millard Public School Board a few years after moving to Omaha in 1992. She served 11 years on the board, including three as president. In MAYOR JEAN STOTHERT 2006, Stothert ran unsuccessfully for the Heath Mello state legislature losing by a mere 14 votes. In 2009, Stothert was elected to the Omaha City State Senator Heath Mello, 37, is a native Omahan Council representing District 5. Stothert and her husband and graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He Joe, a trauma surgeon at UNMC, have two grown chil- served eight years in the Nebraska Legislature repredren, Andrew and Elizabeth, who are both married, liv- senting South Omaha. During his tenure, he served as ing and working in Washington, DC. Chairman of the Appropriations Committee and was a “In 2012, I decided to run for mayor because I recog- member of the Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee. nized opportunities to enhance public safety, manage Mello is a registered Democrat. He currently works as HEATH MELLO city government more efficiently, improve public sector the Executive Director of the Nebraska Career Educaunion agreements, restore trust in city hall, and reduce tion and Innovation Foundation, a nonprofit organization tax rates,” stated Stothert. developing public-private partnerships and initiatives for plan. These plans include two new websites: OpenOmaShe sees attracting and retaining millennials as criti- career and technical education. He and his wife, Cath-, which will help city departments and residents cal to Omaha’s continued success. “This group of entre- erine, and their two children, Angelina and John, live in talk to each other, share feedback and build better plans preneurs, employees, artists, and parents represent the South Omaha’s Robin Hill neighborhood and attend St. for the future of the city and that future of Omaha,” she said. “We will continue to encour- Thomas More Catholic Church. would allow Citizens to monitor infrastructure projects. age our young people to remain in Omaha, or move Mello envisions Omaha becoming a national leader “City Hall needs to be transparent because these projects back if they’ve left, by making our city safer, improving in creating 21st-century jobs, by nurturing tech startups are funded by our tax dollars,” he explained. our neighborhoods, maintaining an exciting urban core and providing training and resources for entrepreneurs. Mello sees his experience in the Legislature as a for housing and employment, and providing safe and “Too often, our children and grandchildren are leaving primary reason citizens should elect him as mayor. “I efficient transportation options.” Omaha for other cities like Kansas City, Denver, or Chi- brought Republicans and Democrats together to pass Stothert said in the months ahead she will announce a cago to find work, but we have an incredible opportunity balanced budgets that made record investments in pubnew neighborhood planning division in the Planning De- to make Omaha a city that is welcoming and supportive lic education, workforce development, early childhood partment so the city, neighborhood organizations, and for current residents and future generations,” he stated. education while also providing significant property tax partners can work better together to strengthen families, Mello imagines a more connected city through innova- relief and major income tax reforms,” he stated. “By housing, employment and neighborhood safety. tive, future-focused approaches to transportation and addressing key issues like criminal justice reform, equal Stothert said public safety was her top priority when infrastructure, including public-private partnerships to pay, ridesharing (such as Uber and Lyft), and economic





development, I earned a reputation as a public servant who will work with all sides to build consensus and get things done.”

Taylor Royal Taylor Royal, 26, was born and raised in Omaha. He holds degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Southern Methodist University. Royal is a Certified Public Accountant who provides financial planning services. He is recently engaged and attends Citylight Church in Midtown Omaha. Royal, a registered Republican, felt an urgency to run for Mayor after moving back to Omaha from Dallas, Texas. “Dallas is energetic and vibrant; their business footprint is expanding, and they have a great entertainment climate for all ages. Moving back to Omaha in 2015 was a different story,” explained Royal. He said he saw the same old problems that plagued Omaha while growing up with new challenges emerging. “I want to be Mayor of Omaha to create a more businessfriendly and community-friendly Omaha. I believe my new vision for Omaha will join our community together to solve our challenges and make Omaha the place to be for families and businesses.” Restoring and revitalizing North Omaha is a top priority for Royal. “There is so much untapped potential all around our city, and I am going to rally our churches, charities, and businesses together to restore and revitalize north Omaha,” he stated. Promising to office in North Omaha a couple of times a week, Taylor says he will seek more robust skills initiatives in area high schools and place more value on careers in the trades. Taylor says the delivery of city services to the taxpayers is often inefficient and costly. “A welldesigned and effectively managed outsourcing initiative will allow us to find strategic opportunities to drive down costs and improve the quality, scale, and efficiency of city services to our taxpayers.” Taylor sees an incredible opportunity for Omaha to continue to grow and expand. “My administration will encourage continued investment to further develop our city and create more holistic and walkable business and entertainment districts,” he explained.Retaining and attracting businesses and millennials are among Royal’s priorities. “We’ll create an environment to incubate new ideas, so the startups can advance and grow in our community. This will create opportunities for millennials to find jobs locally that match their education skills and provide opportunities for advancement.” Royal aims to modernize Omaha’s city planning and street maintenance. “Omaha’s street design has been uninspiring. My administration will better collaborate with Douglas County and adopt a forward-thinking, growth-oriented city planning mentality, so we’re efficient with taxpayer dollars,” he stated.


Christopher Geary Christopher Geary, 45, is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and small business owner, teaching Martial Arts. His vision for Omaha is one that brings government, business, and citizens together to improve living conditions for everyone. Geary says he is not accepting campaign donations, instead encouraging would-be donors to donate to a charity in his name. Nor will he participate in debates. “Political debates end up being personal attacks on one another and rarely stay on point,” Geary stated. “Candidates will only say what people want to hear. In the end, these candidates will do what the people who gave them money want them to do.” He believes Omaha’s economic future depends on attracting new industrial development and jobs. Geary looks to curtail wasteful spending by objectively reviewing the budget, looking for items that can be reduced or eliminated. He sees crime and taxes as the biggest challenges facing the future of Omaha. Geary wants more after-school and job training programs to keep kids away from gangs. He says it is important for police officers to develop trust through constructive conversations with parents and children. He would also seek stronger penalties for gun crimes. Geary pointed to the need for adequate revenues to maintain streets, upkeep parks, and city buildings, fund the sewer separation project and provide other city services. “No matter what the project, or problem, I would make sure that taxpayer dollars are spent the best possible way they can be.” Geary is a registered independent and has run several times for public office. In 2012, Geary ran for the Legislature to represent District 7. During the general election, he caused some controversy when he offered to drop out of the race if his opponent, State Senator Jeremy Nordquist, would be willing to pay off his campaign debts. Nordquist declined the offer. ,






Standing on the front lines of climate change impact







hen Milo Mumgaard, Executive Director for Legal Aid of Nebraska, made his way back to the legal aid world a year and a half ago, he had a very specific thought he wanted to pursue.“I wondered how we could do more to address the intersection between the vulnerability of low-income people to climate change impacts and the work we do at Legal Aid,” he said. He explained Legal Aid of Nebraska represents low-income people and addresses any legal problems they may have as a result of being in poverty. Mumgaard’s background is almost entirely legal aid and public interest work. He said he had the good



fortune of working with Mayor Chris Beutler for six years as his general counsel. “I primarily used stimulus funds to develop sustainability and energy programs for the City of Lincoln. During that time, I became conscious of the overlap between the equal justice work I had done for lowincome people, the social inequity associated with the impacts of climate change and the ways in which public policies and laws operate with respect to lowincome people and their vulnerability to those impacts,” he said. Though he admits there’s nothing new about the fact that there’s a relationship between the inequities facing low-income people and the impact of climate

change, it’s not often talked about in the United States. “You might think about it in terms of places like Bangladesh. There are a lot of people thinking about what will happen when the sea overtakes the lowlands. But you sure don’t think about it in the context of poverty and climate change in the United States, much less Nebraska,” said Mumgaard. He explained that Legal Aid of Nebraska already has a program focused on training attorneys and reaching out to partners around the state to get everyone up to speed on how to educate low-income individuals about ways to prepare for disasters. “This program is largely an outgrowth of concerns on the part of big philanthropy groups about commu-

nities that have had tornadoes or major flooding Ultimately, Mumgaard said the public utilities events and how the people and those communi- have some responsibility to assist but if Legal Aid ties were not prepared to deal with the impacts,” or a good lawyer does not represent you, you’re he said. not going to get much in the way of relief. The other issue in these types of situations is And though flood insurance is not required at that lawyers haven’t always been well versed in present, Mumgaard thinks it might be wise for how to help people with these disaster problems. public bodies to start thinking about how we And, as Mumgaard said, most of these disas- can help low-income people by requiring propters are the result of or generally associated with erty owners to buy flood insurance. He said this climate change. would protect low-income renters. “Scientific analysis of climate change indicates When a disaster occurs, low-income individuthere will be more floods in the Midwest, more als can face a mix of problems, from loss of asintense rain events and storm events that lead to sets, important tax papers and documents to the significant storm water and flooding problems. loss of employment because they can no longer It’s something that’s talked about as a likely con- get to work. sequence of climate change,” said Mumgaard. “When people have big disaster events in their He wants to build on what Legal Aid of Ne- lives, things can quickly spiral out of control, esbraska is already doing concerning disaster re- pecially for low-income people,” Mumgaard said. lief. Mumgaard said it’s important to train more Low-income individuals will feel impacts in othlawyers and to get information out to low-income er areas too such as energy, food, transportation, individuals about their basic legal rights. and water. Mumgaard said all of these things Not only that, but these people also need to have costs to them and are considered limited know what protections they have from floods, resources. When climate change happens, these what type of flood insurance is available, if any, resources become more expensive and difficult and what laws exist that protect individuals in the to find. event of a flood if they are renters versus owners? One example is the colder winters we have Mumgaard said flooding is a good example in Nebraska. He said if we don’t prepare lowbecause the individuals who live in the flood income people to better deal with the weather plains tend to live there because the housing by properly insulating older homes and providis more affordable. He said this means renters ing more efficient heating, those people are not and owners are more likely to be low-income in going to be able to pay the bills they are facing. those areas. “Low-income families and workers should not “We’ve expanded our thinking in legal aid re- be the ones that absorb the higher cost or risk garding disaster relief. We are focusing our think- due to climate changes,” he said. ing on what can be done to provide outreach to Mumgaard explained Legal Aid thinks about people living in the flood plains. We want to find how they can isolate out the types of impacts out if they are aware they live in a flood plain, if people will face. They want to help educate lowthey’ve done anything to find out whether they income individuals about the best ways to preare protected in the event of a disaster and if they pare. He said they also want to get the attention or their landlord have flood insurance,” he said. of lawmakers and public policy makers and get It’s part of a general effort to educate the com- them to think about how to better protect lowmunity about the risks they run living in the flood income people from these likely impacts from plains as well as the dangers of being exposed to ongoing climate change. potential floods coming down the road. He said once you start looking at the impacts Mumgaard explained it’s not just the renters’ of climate change and environmental degradaor homeowners’ responsibility to prepare. He tion, you tend to have a situation where folks said there needs to be some effort on the part with higher incomes are more concerned about it of public officials and public entities to step up from an environmental and quality of life context. and help. There have to be protections provided Mumgaard said while this is a legitimate point for low-income folks, not just insurance, but also of view, these people often forget how these isbenefit programs that help them get back on their sues play out in the lives of low-income people, feet after a disaster “in ways that compound problems they are al“When I worked for the City of Lincoln I was ready experiencing, like making ends meet, livattentive to what the city’s responsibilities were ing in decent housing, and having security and in the event of a disaster, especially related to stability in their homes.” low-income people living in flood plains. And we He said low-income people are on the front did see floods and sewer backups and buildings line of climate change impact and we all need to destroyed as a result of that. We had people in think about that. basement apartments losing all they owned due has a disaster relief to sewage backups,” he said. page on its website. ,

FEBRUARY 10 & 12, 2017







Our award-winning mixed repertory program‌

momentum Saturday, April 1, 7:30 pm Joslyn Art Museum Saturday, April 8, 7:30 pm Iowa Western Arts Center

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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 and like us on Facebook. .


n October of 1965, Helen Schucman thought she was going crazy. It didn’t make sense to her that she was sitting up nights with a steno pad taking notes from an internal voice. In fact, she found it pretty upsetting. Here she was, a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, a tenured Associate Professor at Columbia University Medical Center and she was hearing inner dictation? That wasn’t the least of it. She was Jewish by descent and atheist by decision and the voice, when queried, told her that she could call him “Jesus.” All this did not sit well with the 56-year-old researcher. Plus, it was costing her sleep. Her boss, Dr. William “Bill” Thetford, noticed Helen’s apparent preoccupations after a few weeks. When prodded, she told her colleague about the nightly scribing. He asked to see the manuscripts. Thetford was mightily impressed with what he read. There was a clarity and consistency of content that convinced him that something important was happening. Over the next seven years, Helen and Bill compiled the product of her nightly mission. Daily, she would dictate from her handwritten notes and he would dutifully transcribe into typewritten text. That manuscript, that urtext, became what the world would know as A Course in Miracles. The result of Helen Schucman’s experience was a three-volume set of hardcover books titled A Course in Miracles (ACIM), a spiritually-based, psychologicallyoriented, self-study course intended to gently guide the student toward a shift in perception and the experience of inner peace. Neither Helen nor Bill claimed authorship and it was generally acknowledged by them that the content was directly channeled to Helen from the source who called himself Jesus. A United States copyright was granted to the Foundation for Inner Peace, which published the set in 1975.

A Course in Miracles is Set Free BY MICHAEL BRAUNSTEIN

But that copyrighted version wasn’t the first copy of ACIM to see print. Copies of ACIM had been previously disseminated and in April of 2004, that caused a federal court to void the 1975 copyright, putting ACIM into public domain. Jesus got his copyright back. How the court came to see the evidence is part of our story.

How the Course Came to Be

After nearly seven years of laborious transcription, Helen and Bill had a finished manuscript that up till then had been seen by only a few acquaintances. In 1973, copies of that manuscript were given to more people, including Hugh Lynn Cayce, the son of the late psychic, Edgar Cayce. Others who received copies included a co-worker and fellow psychologist named Kenneth Wapnick, a Catholic priest and another friend. All of them were similarly impressed with the work. In 1975 A Course in Miracles (ACIM) was published in three hardcover volumes: a 622 page Text, a 478-page Workbook for Students and an 88page Manual for Teachers.             The original publishers were two friends of Helen and Bill named Judith and Robert Skutch. They published the Course through the Foundation for Inner Peace and there was no author credited. (Helen and Bill were reluctant to be identified with the Course because of concern over what some of their colleagues in the scientific community might think.) The Course became known as a self-study curriculum that could help the student shift or change his or her perception of the world. It taught that cause was within rather than without and that a connection with the energy of the universe (love) would manifest miracle-mindedness. ACIM flourished and propagated around the world. By 1999 there were about 1.5 million copies in print and thousands of study groups.


ACIM cannot accurately be described as a movement or a cult or religion: there was and is no titular head or organization, though many of its better-known students wrote books and became closely associated with it. Oprah mentioned it often and author Marianne Williamson wrote about it freely in best-selling books. Ministers and clerics quoted it in sermons while others, notably fundamentalists, criticized it as “new age.” Its proliferation and recognition led to its increased stature. Willis Harman, a scholar and Regent of the University of California, professor at Stanford and major player at the highly respected Stanford Research Institute said of it, “A Course in Miracles comprises perhaps the most important writing in the English language since the translation of the Bible.” That feeling was shared by many scholars and students of the Course. In the early years, the Foundation for Inner Peace, the original copyright holders, had a very laissez-faire attitude toward reprinting or citing passages from the Course. That suited students and groups using it in their materials. In 1999, nearly 25 years after initial publication, the copyright changed hands and became owned by Kenneth Wapnick and his Foundation for A Course in Miracles (FACIM). Things changed. In 1999, Wapnick sent letters refusing permission for a number of ACIM study groups to publish excerpts from the work. This had been unheard of in the past and what followed was as American as apple pie: lawsuits. What followed that was a serpentine story of revelation and fortune that freed the Course and allowed students to once again use the Course without hindrance. That story begins in Omaha. Be well. Next: The Omaha Connection. ,







Friday, Feb. 3 MONA2OMAHA PHOTO STORIES: SELECTIONS FROM THE MUSEUM OF NEBRASKA ART Through March 26 Gallery 1516, 1516 Leavenworth St. As an integral part of its mission, Gallery 1516 will host the second coming of MONA2Omaha, Photo Stories: Selections from the Museum of Nebraska Art, which opens to the public this Friday, Feb. 3rd, from 6-9 p.m. MONA’s first collaboration with Gallery 1516 in 2016 featured an impressive array of landscape art from the museum’s collection as well as work assembled from area galleries and private collections. All of it consistent with both venues’ goal to exhibit the work of artists who were born, lived, trained, or worked in Nebraska or who created artworks that reflect the culture of Nebraska. This time around, Photo Stories includes selections that span 150 years of diverse photography from 20 regional, national and international artists. While the exhibition is not dominated by a particular genre or style, MONA curator Russ L. Erpelding said that “the earliest images in the exhibition focus more on documentation of the area and its inhabitants, Native American and pioneer settlers.” These, as well as more modern photos of Nebraska landscape and culture, include the following hightlights: the earliest Albert Bierstadt stereoview, “Unpacking Goods for the Indians,” 1860; seven original Solomon Butcher sod house images; 18 Wright Morris images from MONA’s collection of over 170; MONA’s newest purchase, Robert Adam’s “Nebraska Highway 3, Box Butte County Nebraska,” 1978. In addition, viewers may enjoy a famous image from former Lincoln Journal-Star photographer Bill Ray, “Happy Birthday, Mister President,” from his series of photos of Marilyn Monroe singing to President Kennedy taken at said event while he was working for Life Magazine. Gallery 1516 will also hold a special members opening Thursday, Feb. 2, from 6-9 p.m.

—Mike Krainak





as a trans- male anarchist. The very large array: adultery, sexual abuse, drug addiction, incest, alcoholism. Does that sound like a barrel of laughs or a slide down the sewer? This is the focus of Bluebarn’s production of HIR, a comedy by actor, singer-songwriter, performance artist, director and producer Taylor Mac. It placed on the top ten theater of 2015 lists of The New York Times, and New York Magazine. The Times called it “brilliant… sensational…audacious… uproarious” drawing attention to “the flawed and real humanity that simmers beneath” the surreal surface. No acronym, “hir” is a newly emerging gender-neutral, politically correct pronoun. Mature audiences, yes?

—Gordon Spencer Friday, Feb. 3 LUCKY 13 Omaha Design Center, 1502 Cuming St.

Thursday, Feb. 2 CASSILS: THE PHANTOM REVENANT Through April 29 Bemis Center, 724 S. 12th St. Montreal-based performance artist Cassils debuts this week at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art with a three-part exhibition that addresses violence and trauma against transgender bodies. Cassils: The Phantom Revenant, which opens to the public next Thursday from 6-9 p.m., speaks to timely concerns for the experience of LGBTQ+ people with multi-media presentations and objects inspired by sculpture, feminism, body art and gay male aesthetics. Included in Cassils’ exhibition is “Becoming an Image,” a one-time performance Wednesday, Feb. 1, from 7-9 p.m., in which a large clay block is repeatedly attacked in a dark room lit only by a photographer’s flash. The event by reservation has reached capacity Bemis reports, but if you would like to be added to the waiting list in case of any cancellations, call at 402.341.7130. The performance broaches questions on the role of the witness, the aggressor and the documenter. The resulting sculpture joins others in the exhibit as part of the “Resilience of the 20%” project where the pieces are bronzed and place at sites where acts of violence toward gender-nonconforming people have occurred. Cassils: The Phantom Revenant opens to the public Feb 2, with an art talk at 6 p.m. at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art.

—Melinda Kozel Thursday, Feb. 2 CHIMERAS Through April 29 Bemis Center, 724 S. 12th St. An internationally diverse group exhibit by female artists, Chimeras, reopens the Bemis Center Thursday after a long respite this winter. The exhibit is curated by Risa Puleo, Bemis Center’s new (and first ever) curatorin residence. The ubiquitous notion of Chimera -- the joining of two or more, cells, limbs, species, and/or mythological monsters into one -- goes back to Homer and probably beyond to the first “stories” shared by humans. The Chimera started life, as far as we know, as a mythological female beast; part lion, part fire-breathing goat, and part serpent. Appearing in everything from poetry and storytelling to cinema and music, Chimera now includes any entity of mixed species or modern scientific classifications of mixed cells and DNA, to intriguing pairings with technology, society and culture. Modern



uses of the term now stretch it to an adjective and verb describing the fantastic, improbable and unrestrained. This exhibit “explores how the presumably fixed categories of technology, animal, and human are increasingly challenged and blurred in contemporary society.” Chimeras runs concurrent with two other provocative shows, Cassils: The Phantom Revenant and Paula Wilson: The Backward Glance. The Feb. 2 opening for all three shows features an artist talk at 6 p.m.

—Kent Behrens Thursday, Feb. 2 PAULA WILSON: THE BACKWARD GLANCE Through April 29 Bemis Center, 724 S. 12th St. Paula Wilson, multi-disciplinary artist with featured work all over the United States and overseas. Her work in painting, printmaking and video is said to generate a world that clashes, but somehow makes sense. Bouncing from realism to the strange through layering of color, image and pattern. Her exhibit, The Backward Glance, creates a ceremonial space where ancient themes meet contemporary expression. This setting Wilson has created, places viewers in a mythical creation story with all of her art skills combined. In her world she explores the ideas of race, identity and the objectification of the female body. Wilson chose to place in the center of the gallery, six columns which are reimagined Athenian Acropolis’s caryatids – marble pillars carved as draped female figures. The Bemis Center has a full description of Wilson’s intriguing exhibit along with her biography.

—Mara Wilson Thursday, Feb. 2 HIR Bluebarn Theatre, 1106 South 10th St. Dishonorably discharged Isaac returns from his wartime burden in Mortuary Affairs; he picked up body parts. He finds his family decomposing. His formerly abusive dad has become a tranny clown. His mom has taken over the running the family and his sister is out



Thirteen juried artists will participate in the second CSArt program designed by the Omaha Creative Institute as a “fun way to connect artists directly to community patrons.” And a profitable one as well for both artists and collectors alike. Selected from over 70 applicants the following artists are part of two separate groups. The Patron Group includes Dan Crane, J.R. Dawson, Tim Guthrie, Amy Haney, Sophie Newell, Russ Nordman, Reagan Pufall, Torrey Smith and Patty Talbert. The Collector Group is composed of Josephine Langbehn , Angie Seykora, Bart Vargas and Brian Wetjen. Through its CSArt program, OCI is making available an opportunity for art lovers to help finance the creation of, and take home the “harvest” of, a kind of limited edition art portfolio. A set number (50) of “shares” are available at the patron level ($350 supporting 9 artists) and 10 shares at the collector level ($1000 supporting 4 artists). Those interested in this “investment” are invited to view typical work by the jury-selected artists for this year’s CSA at an event on Feb. 3, from 5-8 p.m. at the Omaha Design Center. CSArt shares go on sale to the public Monday, Feb. 6 at 10 a.m. Artists will then return to their studios to produce the artworks that become part of the share holders return on investment--a portfolio of original artwork to take home. CSArt is modeled after the ethos of community supported agriculture and described as a way of patrons, or “shareholders” getting to know artists and their work through a variety of events leading up to the final art pickup in June. Shareholders will benefit from a sort of crash course in collecting art in Omaha via a gallery tour, guest lectures and studio visits while getting to know the 13 selected Omaha artists. They then benefit by receiving a stipend to create new work and develop lasting relationships with local art patrons. Artwork by the Lucky 13 chosen for OCI’s CSArt program is on view Feb. 3, from 5-8 p.m.

—Michael Krainak

Friday, Feb. 3 NUANCE Through Feb. 24 Modern Arts Midtown, 3615 Dodge St.

Nuance, the latest show opening at Modern Arts Midtown on February 3, offers a strikingly different view of abstract art from its recently closed exhibition of vivid geometric paintings. Through the canvases of Rick Johns, Jean Gaudaire-Thor and Larry Roots, it traces the subtleties of surface, variety of forms and openness of space that inspire its featured artists. Johns, based in Vermillion, SD, wears multiple hats as painter, woodworker and builder, and finds that his craftsman’s activities of sketching, designing and constructing have analogues in the more amorphous creative process of composing on canvas. In Johns’ paintings, marks and forms float underneath and atop a veil of neutral color. Gaudaire-Thor builds up his surfaces often with collaged forms, adhered or sewn to his supports. Colorful elements, patterns and natural shapes activate the broad, open spaces of his compositions. Roots, who is also the owner of Modern Arts Midtown, brings to view a selection of complementary canvases from his wide-ranging oeuvre. Roots is ever experimenting with the possibilities of mark-making, from spare calligraphic gestures to dense prismatic fields of color, from highly controlled compositions to those that engage a push-pull between randomness and order. —Janet L. Farber Friday, Feb. 3 BRI MURPHY/IAN TREDWAY & CHASE MCCLAREN Petshop Gallery, 2727 N 62nd St. Petshop Gallery kicks off its 2017 calendar year with two exhibition openings this February 3rd, 2017 during Benson First Friday. Exhibits will feature three Lincoln artists: Bri Murphy solo in the South Gallery and an installation by Ian Tredway & Chase McClaren in the North Gallery. In the South Gallery: Case Study featuring new work from Murphy. After graduating in

May of 2013, she moved to Lincoln, Nebraska to be an Artist-in-Residence at the LUX Center for the Arts. She was appointed to the position of Gallery Director at the LUX in January 2015 and continues to work in her studio. Her work exists in the space between science and art, with her application of 3D medical imaging software to slipcast porcelain forms. Murphy has always been compelled by the relationship of our physical selves to our psychological beings and her work draws on the resulting tension of this dynamic. In the North Gallery: Dissipation: An Act of Balance, installation work from Ian Tredway and Chase McClaren. In this exhibit, the duo will explore contrast while finding balance, especially in a world that is increasingly complex and daring. Through materials they will attempt to construct situations that tackle ideas such as complacency versus growth, synthetic versus organic materials, and the idealizations human need to try to control the uncontrollable. Lincoln artist Chase had a residency at the Santa Reparata School of International Art in Florence, Italy. Using natural elements and man-made materials, McClaren creates compositions that pair human design with subtle organic variations. Tredway, received a Bachelors of Fine Art from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, with an additional residency at Santa Reparata School of International Art in Florence, Italy. Tredway uses materials such as cloth and plastic weed barriers, stains mixed with stain-remover, tapes, and adhesives to entertain multiple contradicting ideas at once in an attempt to find structure.

animals normally would inspire danger and fear, which makes the connection they share even more beautiful. As he presents each photograph, Musi will share the stories and adventures that lead up to the captured moment.

—Ronny Sheridan Tuesday, Feb. 7 ARIANA GRANDE: DANGEROUS WOMAN TOUR CenturyLink Center, 455 N. 10th St. 7 p.m., $29.95-$199.95 Ariana Grande, multi-platinum selling and Grammy Award-nominated artist brings the party to Omaha with her Dangerous Woman Tour. Grande kicked the tour off Feb. 2 in Ariz., so be sure to bring your concert A Game because this artist will not be worn out. Grande began as an actor in a Broadway musical, but gathered notice in her role on the Nickelodeon television series, Victorious. Within less than a year she captured No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 twice with her Republic Records, “Yours

—Michael Krainak Sunday, Feb. 5 ALYSSA GRIGGS Presbyterian Church of the Cross, 1517 South 114 Street 3 p.m. Free English composer Madeline Dring’s name may not be familiar to you, but the sound of her 1968 Trio for Flute, Oboe and Piano will have recognizable resonance when you hear it. Dring much admired Francis Poulenc’s music and this charmer reflects that. Something dwelling on different inspirations comes from Béla Bartók, his folk music-derived 1914-1917 “Hungarian Peasant Suite” the result of researches into the rhythms and melodies of nearby countrysides. A quite popular score. Also evidently likewise well-known is Swiss composer Frank Martin’s 1938 “Ballade for Flute and Piano,” going is own personal way with Schoenberg’s 12-tone concepts, full of sudden changes of mood. And there’s the romantic and spirited Trio for Flute, Cello and Piano (1818-1819) by Carl Maria von Weber. Flutist Griggs is joined by Omaha Symphony colleagues, oboeist Heather Baxter, cellist Tim Strang and pianist Christi Zuniga. Something to warm a Sunday afternoon.

—Gordon Spencer Tuesday, Feb. 7 WHERE THE WILD THINGS LIVE Holland Performing Arts Center, 13th & Douglas Street 7:30 PM National Geographic’s veteran photographer Vincent J. Musi is coming to the Holland Performing Arts Center. His show, “Where the Wild Things Live,” captures breathtaking moments where the deep connection between animals and the humans they live with can clearly be seen. Not ordinary household pets, many of these wild

Truly” and “My Everything.” Along with this recognition her pop song, “The Way” featuring Mac Miller gained triple-platinum. Grande is a pop woman to be reckoned with. Joining her on stage will be Little Mix and Victoria Monet.

—Mara Wilson Friday, Feb. 10 JENNIFER BOCKELMAN/ ROSWITHA WEINGRILl Through April 9 Darger HQ, 1804 Vinton St. Local artist Jennifer Bockelman and Austrian artist Roswitha Weingrill will continue Darger HQ’s preference for avant-garde, two-person exhibitions with their own mix of the eccentric and conceptual. Their exhibit opens with an artist talk at 6 p.m. and continues through April 9. Bockelman is known to explore everything from involuntary interactive performance to artist residencies in her home, often requiring mandatory collaboration, to creating pieces of art that others should have made, to creating modern versions of the Country Sampler, embroidered thoughts, stories, even police calls, illustrated with graphic elements and chimerical entities. At Darger HQ she plans to investigate the idea of sound portraits, elusive and shifting “drawings” developed by tracing her body with a recording device. Inspiration provided by quantum superposition (think Schrödinger’s Cat.) It is often humorous, strongly provocative, and occasionally juxtaposed with drawing, video, and photographs. Weingrill joins Bockelman in this two-person exhibit to create conceptual excursions that rely on varied materials and ideas, an eclectic CV of installations, each very

specific and requiring a rethink of how we look at socially accepted traditions and outcomes. Past projects have included a book, “Weiss auf Weiss” (White on White) involving a two-year research project into the “talc sorters,” women workers at an Austrian Talc mine, and an installation, “Cargo Guts,” a soft-sculpture of cartoonish entrails stuffed with hay harvested by her grandmother. Further information for the artists’ work can be found at their websites, and

—Kent Behrens Friday, Feb. 10 THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE Howard Drew Theatre Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St. Through March 12 Guns. An American way of life. And death. The ubiquitous weapons which made the West wild. A young New Yorker, Ransome Foster, seeking a better existence, finds it threatened on such lawless plains. He the fulcrum of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence, a play by young British theatre director Jethro Compton. Three years ago he set his sights on the themes of good versus evil, revenge and justice adapting a story by Dorothy M. Johnson, the basis for the John Wayne-starring 1962 movie. Fresh love supports Foster against the odds, giving him courage. The script “boldly treads its own path” said London’s The Stage for a “a highly atmospheric, visceral adaptation” resonating “loud and clear.” The Playhouse walls reverberate with menace.

—Gordon Spencer Friday, Feb. 10 OEAA VISUAL ARTS NOMINEE EXHIBIT Through Feb. 25 Gallery 72, 1806 Vinton St. Gallery 72 will host the annual OEAA Visual Arts Nominee Exhibit opening Feb. 10 from 5-9 p.m. The exhibit, which closes Feb. 25 with a reception, is organized


by Melinda Kozel, the Visual Arts Committee chair and sponsored by G72 owner John Rogers. This exhibition honors the more than 120 area artists who have been nominated for an OEA award in the following nine categories: Best 2D Artist, Best 3D Artist, Best New Media, Best Public Art, Best Solo Show, Best Two-person Show, Best Group Show, Best Emerging Artist and Best Visual Artist. Nominees were chosen by the public first, based on a list of qualified exhibits from Sept. 1, 2015 to Aug. 31, 2016. Then their choices were vetted by the Visual Arts Committee, which added a few of their own. A full list of the nominees and their category can be found at Final winners in each category, chosen by a committee of qualified voters in the arts community at large, will be announced at the 11th annual awards showcase, Feb. 10, 6-9 p.m. at the Omaha Design Center. After that event, patrons can see the work of the winners/ nominees at G72 for one week more until the exhibit’s closing Feb. 25. Virtually all of the work will be for sale as well. The exhibit features art in a variety of 2D and 3D media, and it includes work from established artist such as Joseph Brogrammer, Watie White, Susan Knight and Phil Hawkins to emerging artists Bzzy Lps ( Mike Bauer and Dustin Bythrow), Shawn Teseo Ballerin, Anthony Deon Brown, Hugo Zamorano Geoff Johnson, Federico Perez and Katie B. Temple.  2017 OEAA visual arts nominee exhibition opens Feb. 10 until Feb. 25, from 5-9 p.m. at Gallery 72, 1806 Vinton St, Omaha, NE. For more info and hours, go to or call 402.496.4797.

—Michael J. Krainak aturday, Feb. 11 KAREN MEAT Milk Run, 1907 Leavenworth St. With songs like “Pizza And Beer” and “I Made You a Card,” it’s easy to get the impression that the group, Karen Meat, doesn’t really take itself too seriously. While the lyrics tend to be a little cheeky, the music has a bit more impact. It’s poppy, with some punk and old-school electronic stylings thrown in. Regardless of how the music is “classified”, the Des Moines based group looks like they know how to have a good time. Well, my kind of continued on page 26 y




continued from page 25 y good time, anyway. Check out their fun videos to see if you think it could be yours, too, and then check their live show. You know, just to be sure.

—Tara Spencer Friday, Feb. 10th & Saturday, Feb. 11th LOVE AT THE ZOO Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium , 3701 S 10th St. 6:30 PM Ever curious about how animals choose their mates? Well, come to the Henry Doorly Zoo after hours for an entertaining night at the aquarium, learning about the mating habits of the animals who live there. As a fun alternative to the normal Valentine’s day routine, this event includes cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, dinner and a cash bar. Take this opportunity to explore the romance and peacefulness of the aquatic life with your loved one and enjoy a unique experience neither one of you will forget. (This event is not intended for children due to adult content and possible language in the presentations. )

Omaha Symphony. Filipino pianist and major recitalist Victor Asuncion joins them.

—Gordon Spencer Wednesday, Feb. 22 BLUE WATER HIGHWAY BAND Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. 9 p.m., $10 The Blue Water Highway runs outside of Freeport up towards Galveston along the Texas Gulf Coast. This is said to be the part of the world where the cultures of Texas and Louisiana clash in a unique melting pot steeped in the traditions of the people and the two states. This is where Zack Kibodeaux and Greg Essington became friends in high school and this is how the story of the Blue Water Highway band’s story began. According to the biography on the band’s website, the men went

—Ronny Sheridan

Friday, Feb. 24 FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE: DIG YOUR ROOTS TOUR CenturyLink Center, 455 N. 10th St. 7 p.m., $29.75-$75 Country rap, rural pop or my favorite, hick-hop is a developed subgenre of country and hip-hop/rap music. Florida Georgia Line definitely fits into this category as they bounce back and forth from singing to rap with lyrics on diverse topics. Dig Your Roots is their third album and the duo Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley are heading towards a different style. On the band’s website, they discuss their changing and growing attitudes not only in their lives, but with their music and stage presence. The men recognize how much has developed as they have grown older, gotten married and are starting families. They want to make sure their audience knows they know how to party and will keep it strong all night long, but their music is digging deep into the things that really matter in life. Come party it up with them and dig deep.

—Mara Wilson

Saturday, Feb. 11 SWING UNDER THE WINGS Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum, 28210 West Park Highway, Ashland, NE 6PM

Friday, Feb. 24 CAMILLE HAWBAKER Lied Gallery at Creighton, 2500 California Plz. Through April 9

Love is in the air at the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum. If you are looking for something unique to do this Valentine’s day, consider the SAC museum’s swing dancing event. Their 1940’s theme includes live swing music by Gooch and the Guys, a dinner buffet, a night of dancing and a cash bar after your drink ticket has been used. Guests are encouraged to dress up in their best vintage clothing. Prizes will be given out during the event, including one for the best dressed. So don’t spend your Valentine’s day doing something mundane, take a trip to the 1940’s instead!

their separate ways for college, but the two friends were reunited and created the band which was easy for them to name due to their hometown’s unique landmark. The band released a self-titled EP in 2013 and began touring in 2015. Their sound is incredibly different in the sense you can’t truly define it. This is what makes it so smooth and has your ears, clapping hands, dancing shoes and soul begging for more.

—Ronny Sheridan

—Mara Wilson

Camille Hawbaker, emerging print and fiber media artist, focuses her craft on printmaking, weaving, dyeing, papermaking and bookmaking. Hawbaker’s art has been shaped from her experiences, she lived in multiple cities in the central United States and travelled abroad. According to the biography on her website, her nomadic past revealed to her how moving from one city to another can transform an individual. In her artist statement, Hawbaker says, “words are living, growing and evolving concepts in topography of human communication. Words construct my perception of the world.” Hawbaker has a full description of her process on her website which is worth checking out, then head to the Lied Gallery for the end result.

Monday, Feb. 13 EKO NOVA: “FIERY RED” Kaneko 1111 Jones St. Mon. 7 p.m. $15

Wednesday, Feb. 22 THE GUARD Through March 4 UNO Theatre, Weber Fine Arts Building, 6001 Dodge St Weds.-Sat. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $5-$16. UNO students: free.

“Can music reflect colors and can colors be reflected in music?” asks composer Jennifer Higdon. “Can colors actually convey a mood?” Contemplate the concept where stimulating hues and shapes surround you. Kaneko. Higdon’s 2003 Piano Trio unfolds in an Eko Nova concert titled “Fiery Red.”  Nearby you may be moved to reflect on a different kind of musician during “Meditation (In Memory of John Lennon)” written in 1981 by America’s Aaron Jay Kernis. Or wonder what Australian composer intended titling a 2000 piece “Coat Hanger Music.” Such potential variations in mood and atmosphere seem to dovetail with the idea within Béla Bartók’s “Contrasts.” There, in 1938, he was exploring the culture of his homeland, varying Hungarian and Romanian dance melodies. The performers are violinist Susanna Gilmore, cellist Greg Clinton and clarinetist Carmelo Galante of the



Several modern museum visitors dwell on the wonder of Rembrandt’s “Aristotle with a Bust of Homer.” A guard is so touched with empathy that he crosses into forbidden territory, his fingers connect with the canvas. A time portal opens up and there are encounters with the artist himself as well as the legendary Greek teller of tales.  This is Jessica Dickey’s play The Guard, on view at UNO. Dickey says that it “speaks to the permanence of art and the impermanence of life.” Debuting in 2015 at D.C.’s Women’s Voice Theater Festival this was also described as a “human and humane comedy” seeking to frame “the power of creative expression and sacrifices made in pursuing love and beauty.” Major themes. With swift brush strokes. 


— Gordon Spencer


—Mara Wilson

Friday, Feb. 24 BEN FOLDS Holland Center, 13th & Douglas St. 8 p.m., $59-$99 Perhaps you are not into the hick-hop genre and are looking for something more aesthetically appeasing to fill your ears on a Friday evening. Extraordinarily talented singer-songwriter and producer, Ben Folds will perform on the stage of the Holland Center with the accompaniment of the Omaha Symphony. Conducted by Thomas Wilkins, this event is said to be a unique crossgenre performance. With piano-pop, rock and jazz this concert will be sure to entertain and includes Folds’ critically acclaimed Concerto for Piano and Orchestra.

—Mara Wilson Saturday, Feb. 25 AGAINST ME! Slowdown, 729 N 14th St. Still kicking ass and taking names after 20 years of touring and performing their anthemic punk songs, Against Me! clearly isn’t going anywhere. With lead singer Laura Jane Grace recently coming out as transgender, some may have worried about the sustainability of the group. But one listen to their last two albums, Transgender Dysphoria Blues and Shape Shift With Me, and it’s easy to see the band hasn’t lost anything. The heart of their music remains intact, though perhaps a bit bruised if the songs on Shape Shift are any indication. So go. See them. Listen to the brutally personal, earnest songs they’re putting out and let them help you heal.

—Tara Spencer

The Down Under OMA
















FRIDAY, JULY 28 7300 Q St, Ralston, NE | 402.934.9966 | | | THE READER |





hen you think of true love, there are a few stories that stand the test of time. The Princess Bride, Romeo and Juliet, Keith Garcia and Pizza. Oh, you haven’t heard that one? It’s a classic tale, boy meets Baxter’s by-the-slice, late night pizza and vows never to love another. Then on Halloween night in 2015, Baxter’s closed its doors – to be replaced by Burrito Envy. Mr. Garcia was, as you might imagine, despondent. Known specifically for his mad pizza love, Garcia never did find a new slice to call his own. He dabbled, of course. A cheap takeout affair here, a frozen philandering there – but nothing filled the void. He’s a good enough guy, and I couldn’t let him go on this way. We set out to find the sickest slice Omaha’s plethora of pizzerias had to offer. “Did you know that ‘Omaha Pizzeria’ returns 290 results?” I asked Garcia as we sat across from one another developing our battle plan. We decided not to bite off more than we could chew – literally. And with only so many words with which to divulge our findings, I’m simply not going to mention places that left a bad taste in our mouths.

La Casa


5021 Underwood in Dundee Opened by Godfather’s founder Willy Theisen, Pitch has firmly established itself as the hangout for Omaha’s upwardly mobile. Young professionals congregate over a craft beer and a slice, while networking events and business meetings take place over a whole pie. The coal-fired marsala pizza is the easy winner on the menu. Figs, goat cheese, pears, arugula, truffle oil, and mozzarella are a fun frolic of sweet, tangy, and savory. The Verdict: Pitch seems to be popular more for the scene and less for the slice, but manages great things with interesting ingredients.




tioned the first time I stopped with my boys for lunch, they were utterly disappointed by it. My 2 and 3-year-old sons had a kid’s slice, and my older son’s slice was just crust and sauce. He informed me that if I called it sauce toast, it was ok, but if I called it pizza it was “pretty dumb”. We returned a few months later and ordered the kid’s slice and it was completely different, the same delicious crust, but this time included a generous amount of toppings. Garcia echoes that the place has changed a great deal since it first opened last year. His favorite slice, “The Butcher”, now contains less of the well-seasoned meats that it originally held, but he still enjoys the sauce and the spicy pepperoni. The Verdict: In Garcia’s words “it’s bomb! It’s my favorite ‘puffy’ crust.” [Garcia isn’t shy about his loyalty to a New York slice, so this is a pretty big departure].

4432 Leavenworth We had to cover some Omaha traditions, so LaCasa was obviously mentioned early on. Garcia remembered not liking it as a kid, which was funny to me, as I hated it as a child. The thin cracker crust and the texture of the finely crumbled meat on top was somehow off putting to me then. I realize that I now have nostalgic bias and can’t mention to him just how much I grew to love it. He confirms my own feelings on the topic and says he really likes the sauce, the crunch of the crust, and the distribution of toppings. Yes, it’s still Via Farina minced ground beef on top, but there is enough 1108 S 10th st that you’re actually able to count it toward your At this point, I begin to worry that Garcia may protein allowance for the day. be on the verge of burnout – but when he sees the The Verdict: Either Nos- oven parked just behind the counter, I lose him for talgic or an Acquired Taste. a while. A man in white feeds delicate raw dough Either Way, Thumbs Up into a pasta press. Garcia watches, entranced as the burly chef gently stretches the dough that will Weirdough Pizza become the pie we’ve ordered before throwing Flagship Commons it into the white-hot oven. I explain to him the Weirdough Pizza is days long process the pizza dough takes to reach a pretty new kid on the the chef’s hands, but it wasn’t until he lifted the block, but has already first slice that the reason for the grueling process made several impressions becomes clear. “Whoa – it’s like lifting paper! It and improvements. I men- feels like nothing” he marvels at the lightness of


The Pizza Guy Speaks



NOLI’S PIZZERIA the crust. Our chatter about important matters like whether or not his niece is the cutest kid alive, and whether Tinder is the best or the worst thing to come out of the digital age instantly ends. We sit in silence for several moments, which was exactly how long it took for our pizza to disappear. The Verdict: Incredible. Amazing selection, excellent toppings, impeccable crust.

Noli’s Pizzeria

4007 Farnam St After Via Farina, it seemed almost unnecessary to add another pizzeria to our adventure. As much as Garcia felt he had met his new love, I knew we needed to make one last stop. I had just the place in mind. I hadn’t actually heard much about Noli’s Pizzeria before we went, I only remembered it always lingering in my mind as a place I ought to try. Toppings are sourced locally when possible, and imported from Italy if local sourcing isn’t going to cut it. Even the water Noli’s Pizzeria uses is specially designed to bring you a light, chewy New York style crust. I stop at the counter on my way in and order a caprese [fresh tomato, mozzarella, fresh basil, and balsamic] and a Filet Mignon pizza. I knew the caprese would be a hit. It’s a proven profile, and it was good. Very good, actually. That’s not what I want to talk to you about. Di-

Manzo -- The filet mignon. Guys – you need it in your life. Gorgonzola white wine sauce, Portobello mushroom, fresh mozzarella, basil, caramelized onions, garlic oil, balsamic glaze. It’s hard to say who it was who mumbled obscenities after those first few bites, but I will say they were merited. Even The Reader’s mild-mannered [and much milder mouthed] photographer, Debra Kaplan, took a momentary break from vegetarianism to sample a slice. A scathing “Oh my!” escaped her lips before she sunk them into a second, and then a third slice. It’s never easy losing your first love, and there will never be a day when Keith Garcia doesn’t miss Baxter’s. That’s not how love works. The world continues spinning, and one day we love again. As we walked out of Noli’s that day, I felt good about having been part of this successful matchmaking process. I know there have already been many nights since that I have gone to bed almost able to feel the heat of the wood burning pizza oven, and can almost smell the gorgonzola cream sauce. I can’t taste balsamic without thinking of leaving my salad behind and heading to The Blackstone District for one more taste. I know Garcia has found a new place to lay another little pizza his heart. The Verdict: It’s a Love Connection. ,

First Friday Old Market


First Friday is a free event celebrating local creativity in Omaha's most historic neighborhood.

Visit galleries to explore fresh perspectives and meet the artists. Ride Ollie The Trolley No Charge!

For event information, go to or email: | THE READER |



Union for Contemporary Art borrows from tradition SOMETHING OLD, and reopens in something Blue, Lion that is SOMETHING NEW… BY MICHAEL J. KRAINAK PHOTOGRAPHY BY DEBRA S. KAPLAN



he Union for Contemporary Art, a multi-purpose venue dedicated to the Omaha community and its social and cultural development, celebrated its grand reopening in the new Blue Lion Center on Saturday, Jan. 14, with an extra added attraction. The dedication of the Union’s new facility in the revitalized Blue Lion, located at 2423 N 24th Street, began with a ribbon cutting at 11 a.m. and followed with performances, art demonstrations and artist talkbacks until 4 p.m. But patrons and viewers alike were also treated to the opening of the new Wanda D. Ewing Gallery with its inaugural exhibit, Try a Little Tenderness, featuring its first commission artist in its new space, Alexandria Smith of Brooklyn, New York. This two-fold accomplishment, the Union’s new digs in North Omaha and the establishment of an annual commission to artist Ewing’s legacy, is more than a dream for the venue’s founder and executive director, Brigitte McQueen Shew. It’s been a vision ever since McQueen Shew left the commercial art scene, which began with the popular Pulp art gallery in Benson in BRIGITTE MCQUEEN SHEW, UNION FOR CONTEMPORARY ART FOUNDER 2006 and a brief stint as Manager AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, IN THE WANDA D. EWING GALLERY of the Underground for the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in 2010. She began the Union start-up in 2011 in a 3,000-squarefoot space on 2417 Burdette Street, nearby but a far cry from the newly refurbished 22,000-square-foot Blue Lion after a 2 1⁄2 year, $5 million renovation. For over 100 years, the Blue Lion has served as a cultural institution and gathering space for the North Omaha community. The location may have changed but not the Union’s commitment “to restore a center of culture and community within North Omaha while also providing access to arts services previously lacking in the area and city wide. The building beautification also aims to spur cultural and economic development within the North 24th Street corridor.” The fully restored facility provides a gallery, studios and creation spaces for ceramics, fiber arts, photography, printmaking, woodworking, digital media and performing arts. The lower level hosts a multifaceted workspace for The Union’s free after-school and weekend youth programs, while the top level features private studio spaces for artist fellowship participants. The new Union also includes a 50-seat performance space, a 6,300-square-foot community garden, a newly stocked and expanded North Omaha Tool Library, and the 1,700-square-





foot gallery named after the late Omaha artist. The latter of which is something near and dear to McQueen Shew’s heart as she and Ewing shared a kinship and similar devotion to aiding underserved neighborhoods while building stronger ties in the greater Omaha community. They also fostered issues of personal identity based on race, gender and sexuality through the former’s curatorial work and the latter’s art. It’s fitting then that Alexandria Smith is the first recipient of the annual Wanda D. Ewing Commission, which supports production and presentation of new work by a woman artist of the African diaspora. Smith’s exhibit, Try a Little Tenderness, will run until March 25, 2017. Admission is free and the gallery is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fitting because Smith and Ewing’s art share a similar aesthetic and point of view even if subject matter differed. Ewing was well-known and appreciated for her images of adult Black women influenced by pop cultural and media in such series as “Bougie,” “Video Grrrlzzz” and “Black as Pitch, Hot as Hell.” The work was popular, personal and provocative. In all her work, Ewing explored subjects of race, beauty, sexuality and identity with bold color and diverse mediums such as paint, sculpture, fiber arts and printmaking. Though Smith’s narrative is quite different, as seen in her imagery of pigtails, dresses, and Mary Jane shoes, her artist statement reveals a shared exploration of youth, gender, race and culture: “Interweaving memory, autobiography and history, my mixed media work explores the awkward terrain of the developing stages in forming a sense of personhood,” she says. “Through amorphous, hybrid characters, I create a fictional, coming of age narrative that brings up complicated notions of identity, gender, sexuality and the psychology of self-discovery.” And like Ewing, Smith employs the use of various printmaking methods such as silk-screening, mono-printing and collograph printmaking to create collages and flat silhouetted figures made of disparate and homogenous elements “as metaphor for the ways in which our identities develop and how our environment influences who we become.” These shared themes of identity and becoming are what mirror the Union’s mission in face of all the environmental, political and social challenges and changes one faces in 2017 no matter what age. Only six years after inception, it appears this is one Union whose position and identity will emerge stronger than ever.   Try a Little Tenderness will run through March 25, 2017 at The Union for Contemporary Art’s Wanda D. Ewing Gallery in the newly renovated Blue Lion building at 2423 N 24th Street in Omaha, Nebraska. Ms. Smith was in attendance for the Opening Reception of her exhibition, which will took place during The Union’s GRAND OPENING event on January 14. ,













NO Theatre Scenic Designer Robbie Jones will not be hammering nails, spraying paint or fastening brackets this semester. The associate professor is on his first- ever sabbatical, after 10 years on the faculty. “When classes started and I wasn’t part of that, it was weird,” he said in an early-January interview. During this time away from University duties the mind of this “man behind the curtain” will still be on his craft and on passing along to others what he knows. He’s writing a book laying out his ideas and recommendations for creating set models. Models are essential as far as he’s concerned. They serve audiences. Models give directors clear ideas about what can be seen from the other side of the stage, witnessing every significant development in the action. “Design has to support the audience,” he explains. “Sight lines count and models allow us to look from the house perspectives. The play  has to be accessible to every person watching. That’s always my goal.” Although you may not be aware of it, he and Professor Steven L. Williams, UNO Theatre head of design and production, who likewise creates sets, often alter the playing space and seating arrangements at The Weber Fine Arts Center Theatre, forming a thrust stage, or a proscenium, or something in the round. For example, Jones eliminated seats in the back of the auditorium to accommodate the playing space he needed down front late last year for Shakespeare’s Dog  and A War of Roses: Foreign Flames. Jones has always been eager to make models; he’s been doing something like that since childhood, “Colors, figures. You name it.” He started sculpting when he was six while growing up in a family of builders. His grandfather was a contractor and the young man got involved in house construction. “I like to make stuff. Plus I grew up with a garage full of tools.”   At present he has quite an unusual hobby involving models and miniatures. He creates props for a burgeoning, worldwide-connected, on-line hobby series of small scale replicas of movie sets wherein the human figures are 12 inches tall. There is a collector community that posts such creations in chat rooms and on Instagram, and for six years he’s been collaborating with artists all over the world in this pop culture thing. For example, Jones crafted a miniature trike replica for a scene from The Shining. And a tiny wrist watch for one of the characters.    It’s not theatre, of course, but it does dovetail with his selfdeclared passion for movies. “I  go as often as I can.”  And actually did production work for a couple of short films in 2006 and 2007 which  isn’t on a par with watching films, of course. “And making films does nothing for me. Making theatre does.”  When he was young, he had no idea that his skills would lead him to involvement with theatre. At first he didn’t see any shows growing up in Kansas, until, while studying visual art at Garden City Community College in his small home town, a girlfriend asked him to come to a rehearsal of a play in


which she had a role. Seeing how primitive the sets were, he volunteered to improve them, given his construction know-how. Thereafter he helped build two more at the College. That was not where he intended to go professionally. Painting and sculpture were Jones’ thing. Not exactly a profitable way to live. Nonetheless, he studied theatre arts at University of Central Missouri. Eventually, in 2001, he landed work at Denver Center’s Theatre Company where, for the first time, he saw what he felt were beautiful sets when working as scene carpenter and in the prop shop “more into building than design.” That’s where he got exposed to set models and learning their significant value. Of course, in every production everywhere, precedence is given to directors’ concepts about what is to be communicated.  “I’m most interested in what directors want to do,” Jones makes clear. “I need that personal connection, and what’s important to them is important to me.”  Jones is emphatic and quick to make clear that the role of the scenic designer, here and anywhere else, must be a collaboration—not just with stage directors, but also tech directors, costume and lighting designers. All equal components. “Theatre is the actor plus the idea plus the audience. All three have to be the combined focus. The set has to work with all three. The emphasis is not on the set itself, nor costumes, nor lights.” In addition he feels that the tech director is a major element. Jones quotes internationally famed scenic designer Ming Cho Lee:   “Scene designers are problem creators. Technical directors are problem solvers.” The scenic designer may generate the image but the tech director decides how it will be realized. Jones ought to know, he was also Tech Director at UNO from 2007-15 until Grant Hilgencamp, formerly at The Rose Theater, took over supervising how things are built. The feelings a director wants to communicate are the core of the design, Jones points out, and the set should be the place not only where everything happens, but also something that reinforces the underlying theme and sense of the play. “If I use metaphors on stage that are so disconnected with the audience that the audience doesn’t get them, I’ve pulled people away rather than inside. The audience should feel the effect without having to think about it. I must put together intellectual and emotional ideas that speak without words.”  Of course, at UNO, unlike at a professional theatre, many practical considerations are involved. “There is never one clear-cut way to approach a technical problem. The outcome relies on how much time is available to work on it, the physical resources available and the materials that work best. Math and engineering are the building blocks.” Budgets too. They have been quite limited recently, in some cases even cut. Jones used the entire budget for last semester on one set. It was devised for two productions: the afore-mentioned Shakespeare’s Dog  and A War of Roses: Foreign Flames.  A perfect dovetailing, the first being about the playwright and the second by him. Jones had no choice but to create one performing space, given that the first play closed only


two weeks before the second opened. They certainly didn’t look the same, but the floor, the frames, the spatial relationships were ingeniously unchanged. Asked to choose one of his favorite projects, he cites the 2013 production of Female Transport by Steve Gooch. It takes place on a 19th Century convict ship en route to Australia. Jones worked with a theatre concept called “action design,” i.e., the set moves. He had four stagehands moving it to create the effect of churning waves surrounding and unsteadying the already disoriented women in the story. “There our set directly influenced the performers, and their movements also affected it.”      Jones doesn’t mind being behind the scenes and not getting public recognition. But the absence of sufficient credit also applies to others equally unseen, like those who do physical work on the sets, the shop foreman and the painters, for example. “Turning the design into a real thing is challenging and requires many more skills than drawing a picture or making a model. There’s a a lot of work involved.” Yet, he loves what he does. “I know how it all works and I understand much about what makes good theatre. Creating things and connecting with everyone is what I’m about.” ,






Why House of Loom quit while it was ahead B Y L I N D S AY B Y E R S




here we stood, champagne in hand, as the minutes ticked Together we counted down to the arrival of 2017: “3…2…1… away on our last night in 2016 and our last night in House of Happy New Year!” Balloons were released, money confetti rained Loom. The nightclub would be closing its doors to the public down and a frenzy of champagne drinking, hugging, and balloon in the early hours of 2017. stomping ensued. House of Loom was stunning in its final hours, with its usuThe night was filled with dancing, laughter and tears as people al charming velvet couches, exposed brick and chandeliers. Ad- said their goodbyes to the place they loved so much. On the patio, ditional twinkly lights draped in chiffon shimmered from the walls patrons and employees alike shared stories of how much Loom had and hundreds of white balloons clung to the ceiling, restrained by meant to them throughout the years. a thin net. But the most beautiful sight to behold that night was the “I actually work 50 hours a week at an animal hospital,” said bargathering of diverse individuals who had come together to honor tender Amy Hetzler. “I don’t need the money, but I want to be here and celebrate their last five years at the club. — I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s more than a job; it’s a family.” Minutes before midnight, part-owner Ethan Bondelid took the While the final night at House of Loom was momentous and full mic as the crowd gathered to listen from the worn dancefloor. of love, it was not unlike a typical night at the venue. The nightclub “Loom’s future is uncertain right now,” he said. “But one thing that opened its doors over five years ago, but its story began before that. is certain is that all of these love connections that have happened I sat down with part-owner and co-creator Brent Crampton to learn here have nothing to do with these walls — you leave here tonight, more about what brought his vision to its bittersweet end. and the love that you created in this space goes out to the world, Crampton began his career as a DJ in 2001, he said, at the age and that is how Loom lives on!” The crowd cheered and sniffled. of 17. By late 2005 though, Crampton said he was experiencing a





continued on page 36 y

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lack of meaning in the rave scene. He took some time out to go inward or, as he called it, “hibernate in the creative womb.” At that time, he said, Crampton was also becoming immersed in the history of dance music. The DJ was discovering how house music emerged from disco, which was created and embraced by gay, black and Latino communities. Inspired by his newfound appreciation for late 1970’s New York dance culture in historic venues such as The Loft and Paradise Garage, Crampton said he emerged from his hiatus with an idea. “Taking the model of what I studied of the early disco underground clubs, of the inclusive, openness, multicultural environment, I wanted to create an entirely new type of dance music experience in Omaha,” Crampton explained. So he, with his friend Jay Kline, created Loom: a monthly pop-up dance party with an emphasis on culture and inclusivity. These gatherings went on steadily for five years. Then in September 2010, Ethan Bondelid approached Crampton and Kline with a proposal: he wanted to invest in giving Loom a brick-and-mortar space to call home. Crampton and Kline accepted the opportunity, and the three of them partnered to open House of Loom in July 2011.



Upon entering the building on the first day of the lease, he said, Crampton faced the common anxieties of a new business owner, questioning what he had gotten himself into. Then, as Crampton told it, something happened that set his mind at ease. He received a call from his parents out of the blue. They happened to be downtown, so Crampton invited them to see his new place. After being in the space for a few moments, his mother looked at him and said, “This is where you came from.” You see, Crampton was adopted from birth. On the day his parents chose to adopt him, they were on their way to brunch downtown when they saw a bumper sticker that read, “Expect a miracle, accept a miracle.” When they received a call that afternoon about the possibility of adopting Crampton, they pursued the adoption because they felt like that particular sticker was a sign. Crampton had heard this story all his life, but a detail that he didn’t learn until the first day of the House of Loom lease was that his parents were on their way to brunch at a restaurant that was in his exact location all those years ago. “What that meant to me was that I was born to do that,” he said. “It made me go, ‘No matter what happens, it’s going to work out.’”



But just because opening House of Loom seemed destined, did not mean it was easy. In the first six months of operation, the club nearly went bankrupt. “We assumed we just open the doors and people come,” Crampton said. “We found that people only came when we had events happen.” So they went into emergency mode and decided to host events every night of the week. To accomplish this, Crampton reached out to people in his network, took inspiration from events in other cities and identified subcultures in town with no place to gather. Once they began getting events in place and adjusted their craft cocktail program slightly to accommodate crowds, they were able find a sustainable way of operating. Throughout the years, House of Loom continued to cultivate a safe and inclusive environment. They were the first nightclub in the city to incorporate safe-space practices and institute a zerotolerance policy for harassment and assault. “I think we created this really unique fusion of inclusiveness, creativity, open-mindedness,” Crampton said, “which gave permission to people to express themselves more fully.” When House of Loom opened its doors in 2011, the club’s ownership group signed a five-

year lease. As the end of the lease drew near, they had to come together and decide if they wanted to renew. Crampton began doing market research, and what he found did not make him eager to commit more time to the nightclub model. “When you survey Millennials and ask them about nightclubs, there is, in general, a negative view of them,” he explained. “This is not the time to be in this particular industry. Could we do it? Sure, I bet we could, but how much harder than we already are working will we have to work to achieve that?” And so, the ownership group chose to follow the “Seinfeld Model” and quit while they were ahead, preserving the legacy of the club. Loom will likely return to a pop-up format, at a more irregular frequency than before. Now that the House-of-Loom-era has ended, Crampton is retreating back into the creative womb to discern his next steps. This is the same womb from which Loom originally emerged, so I’d say this city has a lot to look forward to whenever Crampton’s ready to give birth to his next project. ,





Indigenous, The 24th Street Wailers, Lil’ Ed, Nick Schnebelen, Selwyn Birchwood, Zac Harmon, Jeff Jensen and Valerie June are among the artists lighting up February’s hearty music offerings. BY B.J. HUCHTEMANN



ato Nanji’s popular band Indigenous performs two local shows starting with an early show Saturday, Feb. 4, 6 p.m. at Lincoln’s Zoo Bar. Then Sunday, Feb. 5, 6 p.m., Indigenous plays The Waiting Room with opener Hector Anchondo Band. The shows are part of a handful of Indigenous dates before Nanji joins the high-profile 2017 Experience Hendrix Tour. See

Fiery 24th Street Wailers


Nick, Lil’ Ed & Selwyn

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



The high-octane rockabilly and roots-rock of The 24th Street Wailers returns, fueled by fiery vocalist, drummer and songwriter Lindsay Beaver. This band throws down a hot sound that is equal parts Little Richard, Nick Curran and Wanda Jackson. Or, in their words, our “major influence? The sounds from the freewheeling period in the ‘40s and ‘50s when the Blues gave birth to Rock and Roll in black communities in major American cities. When showmanship mattered. When the sax player, not the guitarist, got the girls.” This Canadian band is a Juno award-nominee and an audience crowd-pleaser. If you like JD McPherson, Nikki Hill, The Paladins or Davina & The Vagabonds, you should check this group out. See and catch them Wednesday, Feb. 22, at Lincoln’s Zoo Bar and Thursday, Feb. 23, at The 21st Saloon. Both shows are 6-9 p.m.




details at or He and his band hit The Zoo Bar Wednesday, March 1, 6-9 p.m.

More 21st Saloon

Other big shows coming up at The 21st Saloon in February include the 2016 BMA Nominee For Best New CD by a New Artist, Slam Allen, Thursday, Feb. 2, 6-9 p.m. Also on the books are K.C.’s Nace Brothers Saturday, Feb. 4, 8-11 p.m., the Zac Harmon Band Thursday, Feb. 9, 6-9 p.m. and rising Memphis guitar star Jeff Jensen and his band Saturday, Feb. 25, 6-9 p.m. Find The 21st Saloon on Facebook to keep up with their busy schedule that includes jams featuring local artists on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Winter Blues Road Trip

The Central Iowa Blues Society’s annual Winter Blues Fest in Des Moines offers what may be their best line-up ever. The multi-band event features multiple stages at the downtown Des Moines Marriott. Performers include local favorites Davina & The Vagabonds, Brandon Santini, Scottie Miller Band, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Toronzo Cannon and the Blues Society of Omaha’s 2017 International Blues Challenge representatives the Tim Budig Band plus ten more bands. See cibs. org/2016/10/2017-winter-blues-fest for prices and details. Advance tickets are highly recommended. Regular attendees say that the hotel rooms are already sold out for the event, but downtown Des Moines has a variety of hotel options event-goers can look into for reservations.

Other Omaha-Lincoln dates to watch out for include the Nick Schnebelen Band at The Zoo Bar Wednesday, Feb. 15, and The 21st Saloon Thursday, Feb. 16. Both shows are 6-9 p.m. Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials also have two local shows in Hot Notes Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal play their last February. MOJO magazine included the new CD, The Big Sound Of Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials (Al- local gigs for a few months with two shows, Sunday, ligator), in their influential Top Ten Best Blues Albums Feb. 19, 5 p.m., at Fremont’s Corner Bar and Friday, Of 2016. Ed and the boys have been making music Feb. 24, 9 p.m. at The Zoo Bar. Spectacular vocalist Valerie June and her together for over 25 years and bring their boisterous celebration of straight-up Chicago blues to The 21st “eclectic blend of folk and soul and country and R&B Saloon Thursday, Feb. 16, 6-9 p.m. and to The Zoo and blues” takes the stage at The Waiting Room Friday, Feb. 24, 9 p.m. The Waiting Room also hosts Bar Friday, Feb. 17, 5-7 p.m. Rising blues star Selwyn Birchwood is an Al- Lucero and Esmé Patterson March 2. Mark your ligator recording artist who has taken home the Blues calendar now for Austin’s funk-and-soul-influenced Music Award for Best New Artist and before that won Black Joe Lewis & The Honey Bears Tuesday, the 2013 International Blues Challenge. Birchwood March 7, at The Waiting Room.Sunday Roadhouse plays The 21st Saloon Sunday, Feb. 26, 6-9 p.m. presents Lake Street Dive at Slowdown Tuesday, for a Blues Society membership drive event. Look for March 7, 8 p.m. See ,

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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.



And the End of Hipsterdom B Y J A M E S WA L M S L E Y

n the biggest “no shit” moment of the last half year, Time detailed a small German study that had tested the effects of lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD, on the brain. Turns out, the psychedelic drug “might make you more creative.” (A trip through The Beatles’ Revolver would’ve saved them the time and drugs.) Nevertheless, it’s pretty far out when you apply the University of Kaiserslautern’s findings to the early career of folk hero Joan Baez, who’ll be enshrined in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this April. Baez released three gold records amidst the acid era of rock and roll without ever dropping the performance-enhancing drug (PED) herself. She denies partaking in all drugs for that matter, as if she’s sitting before a congressional hearing on steroid use in baseball. It’s hard to imagine what Baez’s peers, first-ballot hall of famers The Beatles, would have become without LSD, or if they ever would’ve completed Malcolm Gladwell’s arduous 10,000 Hour Rule in Hamburg without “prellies” keeping them animated. JOAN BAEZ The same goes for Barry Bonds, the juiced-up home run king who allegedly used steroids and can Apparel tee shirt, or the preferred canvas of HGH to break baseball’s most sacred record. The End of Hipsterdom American Apparel is closing its doors for good Detroit-area indie bands. Bonds was denied entry into The National BaseOf course, we weren’t actually in Detroit. The and so officially ends the hipster counterculture. ball Hall of Fame last month for a fifth straight It’s a bit underwhelming considering it was the gentrifying dynamic of hipsterdom was still exyear because of PED allegations. And should his Manson Murders or perhaps the liquidation of the clusive to Williamsburg, Brooklyn at the time. The bigheaded bust ever breach Cooperstown, it’ll be haunted by designer Marc Ecko’s five-blunted Vietnam War that symbolically did in the hippies. term “hipster,” even, was still just a synonym for But hipsters have never been as serious as all that. “scenester” and was sparingly used. But I imagasterisk, incanting Bonds’ tragic legacy: He was In fact, for the once anti-consumerist movement, it’s ine our music scene’s predilection for fine jersey great, but not by the merit of his own physiology cotton, like most other music scenes at that time, the perfect irony, hipsterdom’s “Blue Steel.” and work ethic. Last month the American-made, sweatshop-free is partly to blame for the rise of the once billionOf course, in the competition that is rock and roll, with its rankings and trophies and its hall of leg- clothing brand announced that it would be shutting dollar corporation. Now American Apparel is dead, like the person ends, drugs are celebrated. In sports, not so much. down its entire operation by April. The company had been bleeding cash since 2009 and was no all corporations claim to be, and at the hands, no It all makes sense; there’s something romantic stranger to controversy, including former CEO Dov less, of its aging demographic, which eventually about the substance-abusing artist, just as there’s something romantic about the bootstrap athlete. Charney’s multiple sexual harassment lawsuits. Still, grew out of its self-indulgent irony to combat corBut what of the bootstrap musician who went toe- American Apparel will be remembered for its “Le- porate personhood in arenas such as the Occupy galize Gay” and “Legalize L.A.” activism, its Hel- movement; that still fights corporate greed, but in to-toe with the synthetic minds of the ‘60s? There’s vetica Black font and its over-sexualized advertising. less-fluorescent attire. Indeed, hipsters brought something especially romantic about Baez’s story Before all that — before it was cool, I mean American Apparel into the fashion world and (not to mention the whole trying to get ahead as a — American Apparel was DIY; it was thrift-store hence were able to take it out by simply existing as woman musician thing). chic without having to wear a stranger’s weird something else entirely. The powers that be in Cleveland would be remiss Of course, it had nothing to do with a sudnot to include an asterisk next to the singer-song- smell. I had the privilege of living in a punk-rock house (code for proto-hipster house) in the early den distaste for spandex bodysuits and tri-blend writer’s name when she officially becomes a hall of famer this spring. Baez, with her immense catalog, aughts, which hosted a screen-printing compa- Deep-V’s (okay, maybe a little). It was just time to ny’s gear in its garage. It was then and there that get serious., was great: by the merit of her own physiology and I fell in love with the plain, anti-fashion Ameriwork ethic.



FEBRUARY 17 - 26, 2017


















’ll make this annual preamble short: This is a 2016 Best Movies list in early 2017 because Midwestern critics don’t get to see the year’s most acclaimed films until early the next year. That’s okay, because nothing shocking has ever happened because the opinions of people outside of major population centers were underrepresented, has it, Nate Silver? The torrent of memes haranguing 2016 was mass therapy. If you, like me, were one of the countless who considered the year the temporal equivalent of a shart, here’s a neat thing: you only have to keep what you want. If bad things made you stronger or better, take them with you. Leave the other shit. Combine what you keep with the love and hope I know you felt, however fleetingly and sparingly. It’s like “leave the gun, take the cannoli,” only without the nostalgic glorification of organized crime. Every year can be useful, even 2016. Here’s what I’m taking.


Last Year’s Best (and Worst) Films

The Worst 5 Movies of 2016

5. Jason Bourne – Power Walking With Matt Damon, as I like to call this, is a yawntastic retread of the worst parts of every previous Bourne movie. But no Jeremy Renner, so it’s not higher on this list.

4. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Harry Potter’s Uninspired Footnotes, as I like to call this, is filled with more



implicit racism than magic. It’s as if prequels to super-mega-franchises with scripts penned by the original creator are bad. Yousa think so? Meessa think so. 3. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – I like to call this Batman v Superman: Dan of Justice. It started as a typo, but then I thought about how I’d have rather watched a movie about a guy named Dan looking for any kind of justice than this grimdark fartfest that prominently featured a jar of pee. 2. The Girl on the Train –Gaslighting Be Cray-Cray, as I like to call this, leverages a horrifying and too-common practice for a nonsensical thriller. And the “mystery” has all the intrigue of seeing whether a stain comes out in a Tide commercial. 1. Passengers – If you’re okay with Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence ending up together after what he does to her, you need to look deeply into what that says about how you value women. But I’m a Nice Guy…in Space, as I like to call this, is also as boring as it is inherently gross. Before I dive into the top 10, a few notes. I wasn’t able to see Jackie, Manchester by the Sea, Handmaiden, Fences, Toni Erdmann, Elle, or Silence. I hate me for that too. Also,

O.J.: Made in America is going to blow my mind as soon as I find the 467 minutes needed to watch it. This year’s honorable mentions include The Lobster, Hidden Figures, Sausage Party, Weiner, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Swiss Army Man, Under the Shadow and Arrival. Those last two hurt a butt-ton to cut.

The Top 10 Films of 2016

10. Captain America: Civil War –If we get to put one movie in the time capsule to define this genre’s time of cultural domination, this may well be the film to include. It is a triumph of gaudy spectacle with emotion that is earned by sheer virtue of familiarity with well-cast actors in iconic roles. Oh, and Iron Man hits on Spider-man’s Aunt May. Ballgame. 9. The Nice Guys – I’m not saying I’m a sucker for writer/director Shane Black, but I’d give him one of my kids. I’d have to conceive a child just to give it to him, but I’d do it if he promised to make more whip-smart, film noir, pulpy, action comedies like this. Bonus points for Black finally making all the years Russell Crowe has spent (allegedly) being an asshole in real-life worth it in informing this role. 8. Hunt for the Wilderpeople – Taika Waititi has quickly gone from “promising writer/director” to “I’ll watch anything he does, even pet urine removal infomercials.” Wilderpeople could have been a cloying coming-of-age crapfest, but Waititi has mastered soft sincerity and impeccable comic timing. Now he’s doing the next Thor movie. That means this is the first time anyone whose name doesn’t rhyme with Priss Smellsworse is truly excited about a Thor movie. 7. Hell or High Water – A dry, dusty bit of muted tragedy, this Midwestern neo-Western will be remembered as “one of the last times Jeff Bridges tried.” Chris Pine and Ben Foster are goddamn brilliant as brothers who exemplify the unbridled anger felt by millions of average Americans in the wake of the financial crises of the Bush era. Vital, heartbreaking and probably too low on this list. 6. Hail, Caesar! – “Lesser” Coen Brothers movies always wind up being major hits with me. Everything that everyone projected onto La La Land in order to love it is actually present in this farce. Treating cinema as religion, featuring a classic dance number and a dialogue exchange between Voldemort and young Han Solo that was the funniest scene of the year, I’m willing to die on this hill.

5. I Am the Pretty Thing Who Lives in the House – Sure to be on no other top 10 lists, writer/ director Oz Perkins’s quiet, graceful ghost story stunned my ass. It’s not for everyone, but Ruth Wilson is sweetly creepy-weird and the cinematography makes it feel like an arthouse horror flick, which is a rare beasty. Expect something great and powerful from Perkins. His first name is Oz. I’m sorry. 4. Pete’s Dragon – Writer/director David Lowery’s Ain’t Them Bodies Saints was a lyrical Southern gut punch to the love box. Pete’s Dragon, like Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are, is a magical childhood simulator. Somehow embodying the limitless exuberance and impossible fear that comes when a kid realizes they’re “growing up,” this is what quality all-ages filmmaking looks like. Note the distinct lack of pigs singing Lady Gaga. 3. 13th – This should be shown to every student, to every politician, to every parent, to every… You know what, let’s just download it into the cortex of every American. Writer/director Ava DuVernay’s jaw-dropping documentary examines the evil that taints one of our constitutional amendments. If the election taught us anything, it’s that every one of us could use further education about the roots of racial intolerance, the ongoing harms of systemic oppression and the unholy problem of our prison population. It’s as must see as a documentary can be. 2. Certain Women – Writer/director Kelly Reichardt always slightly missed me. Until she hit me like a sledgehammer dropped from a skyscraper. I haven’t stopped thinking about Certain Women. The nuanced, vital commentary provided in this slice-of-life cinematic short story collection is unparalleled. The conflicts range from mundane to profound, but all resonate with a singular purpose. In a disgraceful year that saw women direct less top box office hits than any year since the 1980s, I am thankful for Reichardt’s voice. 1. Moonlight – I tried so hard to justify not putting this at the top of my list like every other critic has. But it’d be a lie. Moonlight was easily and effortlessly the best film I saw this year. It made me remember why seeing movies and talking about them can be a legitimately life-changing and country-changing experience. We are going to need a hell of a lot of reflection and empathy to survive the cultural slap in the face on its way. In a year blasted for having none, I will most remember Moonlight for its bounty of hope and love. ,

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CUTTING ROOM This time each year, I surrender the space in Cutting Room to offer an alternative take on the best films of 2016. Head to to see his full explanations for what made it and why, along with his list of the top 5 worst films.

of exploration I sorely missed during the last two installments.

5. The Innocents

Honorable mention: Hoon-jung Park’s The Tiger . If you’ve ever wondered what it would look like to see a giant tiger wipe out a small army, then The Tiger is for you.

Every year I see one film that’s such an emotional wrecking ball I have no desire to ever see it again, despite its greatness. Director Anne Fontaine’s film is a brutally honest look at the consequences of rape. Please don’t let me scare you away. The Innocents is tough viewing, but it’s a masterful film that needs to be seen.

10. 10 Cloverfield Lane

4. Captain America: Civil War


10 Cloverfield Lane focuses on the weird stuff happening in John Goodman’s basement. I won’t spoil it, but you can assume Goodman’s basement is not where you want to be.

9. Under the Sun

It feels like the comic book movie genre was just build-up to the moment we finally got to see two armies of superheroes beat the holy crap out of each other. This was the first film of 2016 I watched with a big, goofy grin on my face the whole time. I’m sure some folks are feeling crossover fatigue, but I’m no longer satisfied unless there are at least 15 superheroes crammed into any given frame.

Few documentaries I’ve ever seen had as much guts as Under the Sun. A director asked to produce a North Korean propaganda film secretly leaves the camera rolling between takes. I can’t get over the scene featuring one 3. Moonlight of North Korea’s “most prestigious” factories… What else is there to say? Everybody in the where we slowly realize it’s actually an aban- world fell head over heels in love with Moondoned building. light, and so did I. If major film awards want to prove they matter, they’ll ignore “Oscar bait” 8. The Edge of Seventeen and boost the amazing voices behind Moonlight. This isn’t nearly as light-hearted as the trailers suggest, and that’s for the better. It’s a hilarious 2. The Fits dark-comedy that takes a serious look at grief You just have to watch The Fits. It’s one of those and anxiety. So many coming-of-age films fail films I don’t really know who to recommend to to make us care for boring, whiny brats. Finally, because it’s so damn odd. You might love it, too. Hailee Steinfeld is a whiny, bratty protagonist You could hate it. It’s anyone’s guess. Just make we can actually sympathize with. sure to check it out. Sorry, I don’t have much to say about The Fits. You’ll see why.

7. Certain Women

Certain Women is a film about three exhausted women being supernaturally empathic to the people exhausting them. I’ve heard talk that this film is “pointless,” (it isn’t) but who even needs a point? I just enjoyed spending time with these characters. Pacing warning: even glaciers might get antsy watching this film, but it’s worth the wait.

1. Hunt for the Wilderpeople

6. Star Trek Beyond

Cutting Room provides breaking local and national movie news … complete with added sarcasm. Send any relevant information to film@ 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.

I enjoyed the previous two Star Trek films enough, but Beyond is the first film in the rebooted franchise to get it absolutely, 100% right. There’s plenty of explosions and shakycam fisticuffs, but Beyond plays up classic swashbuckling adventure and a genuine sense





Just like Waititi’s What We Do in the Shadows, Wilderpeople isn’t just hilarious but amazingly good. It’s hard to tell if we even deserve a film this funny and powerful. After the shitshow of 2016, please just sit back and enjoy this wonderful film. — Mason Shumaker


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of knowledgeable professionals includes current and retired educators, and everyone is dedicated to helping shoppers find the right items whether they’re looking for classroom materials, fun gifts or a new game for family game night. The store carries an inventory of thousands of items including a wide range of specialty products from top names like Creative Teaching Press, Shell Education, Gamewright and many more. Online shopping is also available through the store’s website, Learning HQ is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. except for Thursday, when it offers extended hours until 8 p.m. Sunday hours are noon to 4 p.m. For more information, visit or search for @LearningHQ on Facebook, call 402-7638455 or email









Technology and the sheer amount of new music makes repeat listening a thing of the past. BY TIM MCMAHAN

long with cat videos and Trump memes, from about 40,000 per year 15 years ago to well over surveys and lists power social media, spe- 100,000 per year today. I know this is probably true cifically Facebook, where every few weeks a because as a music writer, it seems like I get about new question emerges out of nowhere and is 100,000 emails per year from publicists asking me to repeated endlessly on our newsfeeds. listen to their clients’ new releases. The latest that scoured Facebook was a sequel on Now that almost all top-shelf indie albums are sian old theme: “List 10 albums that have made a multaneously released on Spotify when they hit record lasting impression on you as a teenager, but don’t store shelves, serious music listeners can access all this think too long about it.” This column proves I can’t new music the day it comes out. With only so many follow directions. minutes in the day, bands no longer ask fans to buy I couldn’t get the question out of my mind, and not their albums so much as beg them to simply take time because I was having a hard time coming up with the to listen to them. list. The music I listened to as a teenager was mostly Here’s where it gets weird, at least for me. inconsequential. It was the same stuff any rural MidI’m one of those people who only watches movies western teenager listened to who only had access to once, usually in a dark theater where they’re best exAOR radio stations in the early ‘80s. I wouldn’t hear perienced. For me, watching a movie is like hearing a the good stuff — the stuff that would stick with me for joke — I laugh the first time it’s told, but knowing the the rest of my life — until my college years in the late punchline, the joke is merely amusing the second time ‘80s and early 90s. ‘round (and slightly annoying thereafter). So, too, after Still, I’ll answer the question later in the column, so I’ve seen a movie, I’m pretty much done with it. I don’t stick around. buy DVDs and rarely/almost never rewatch movies For me, the bigger question was who was answering when shown on television or premium cable. I’d rather this Facebook survey. A casual glance at the dozen or spend my time experiencing something new. so folks who posted their lists all were born more than On the other hand, throughout my life I’ve always lisa decade before the advent of Napster, back when tened to albums over and over. Maybe because I grew people still listened to records. Among the clutter of up in an era when buying a record was a true comresponses from my 900 or so Facebook “friends,” nary mitment. It also was a leap of faith, because beyond a response came from anyone under the age of 28. the radio singles, you never knew what else was on That’s because a vast majority of that generation of an album. You plunked down your hard-earned $6.99 music fans doesn’t listen to albums; they listen to indi- and hoped for the best. vidual tracks on Pandora or on a Spotify playlist.  For Sometimes that leap of faith paid off like when as them a better question: “What 10 songs have made a a teenager I purchased Aja, Wish You Were Here, lasting impression on you as a teenager?” Infidels, Stop Making Sense, Under a Blood Red Sky, A headline in SPIN last July declared: “2016, the Houses of the Holy, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, My Worst Year for Album Sales Since the Last One.” The Aim Is True, The Nightfly and Heartbeat City. But all article stated midyear 2016 sales data that showed too often the gamble was a bust, and I was left with the worst album sales since Nielsen started keeping an album that had only a couple good songs and a lot track in 1991. Album “units” — which included digital of stinkers. Still, I listened to them again anyway, often downloads, CDs and vinyl — were down 13.6 percent over and over without tiring. compared to the same period in 2015. That urge to repeatedly listen to albums is disappearMeanwhile, in that same period, listeners streamed ing. I find even with new vinyl records I’ve purchased, I 208 billion songs, a 58.7 percent increase. You see, listen only once, maybe twice, then put them away and it’s not that people don’t like music anymore, they just rarely come back to them because, well, I’ve already don’t consume it the way they did 20 years ago. heard the punchline, and there’s so much new music How 2016 ended sales-wise I’m not certain, though I need to hear. Mike Fratt, general manager at Omaha’s biggest reHaving access to every new release on Spotify has cord store, Homer’s Music in the Old Market, told me effectively changed how I listen to music. And if I’m his store’s business was up 4.5 percent in 2016, driven only going to listen to an album once or twice, why mostly by sales of vinyl albums, which continue to see buy a copy? Or even better, why buy the whole album a boom. Fratt said vinyl sales rose a robust 18 percent when you can buy just the good songs? It’s part of the last year, while his store’s CD sales slumped only 2 reason this generation is living their lives one song at percent. Note: Vinyl costs a lot more than CDs. a time., Despite the national decline in album sales, there’s Over The Edge is a monthly column by Reader senior no shortage of new releases. In fact, it seems like more contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, music is released these days than ever. One source said society, music, the media and the arts. Email Tim at tim. the number of albums and singles released had gone














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