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by Cheril Lee

EXCLUSIVE! Alexander Payne Talks Downsizing P O L I T I C S : W e st O C it y C o u n cil R a c e s F I L M : W e ’ r e All G oi n g to D i e O V E R T H E E D G E : A D riv e rl e ss F u t u r e EA T : B or n & G r a z e d B O O K S : I L ov e Yo u W ith All M y B u tt A R T : H u m a n H y brids a t B e mis

















Events held at Battery Park are open to all ages. No carry-in food or beverages allowed. Management reserves all rights. If you or someone you know needs gambling treatment, call 800.BETS.OFF.


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AM h dA In y SI dE

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Earth Day Omaha ‘17EXCLUSIvE! ALEXAndER Top 10 Green Challenges PAynE TALkS downSIzIng Program (INSERT INSIDE) Think Global, Act Local


HEARTAND HEALING: Health Expo Turns 10



POLITICS: City Council Races– Midtown to West O


BOOKS: I Love You With All My Butt

POLITICS: WeST O CIT y COunCIL R aCeS FILM: We’Re aLL GOInG TO DIe OVeR THe eDGe: a DRIVeRLeSS FuTuRe e a T: B O R n & G R a z e D B O O K S : I L O V e y O u W I T H a L L M y B u T T a R T: H u M a n H y B R I D S a T B e M I S


EAT: Born and Grazed – Local Food Grows

April 7, 6-8 p.m.

Modern Arts Midtown ‘ELusiVE MoMEnTs’ Exhibition at Modern Arts Midtown gives representational art a sort of reality check.

artists seem like a good the work of each is a variation on a theme. “My mission as an artist,” McCuen says in her own statement, “is to capture and communicate the essence of classic modern architecture and design through stylization and abstraction,” ….a stylized minimalism, as it were, giving us instead a concept, her concept of reality rather than representation.

Earth Day Omaha 2017 Program (INSERT INSIDE)


PICKS: Cool Things To Do in April

Sunday, April 2, 3 p.m.

Opens April 5 - Though April 9

Presbyterian Church of the Cross 1517 South 114 St

Lied Education Center for the Arts 24th and Cass Weds-Sat 7:30 pm, Sun. 2 p.m. Tickets: $5-$18

The Harp Trio at The Vesper Concerts

A Sunday sun may shine when two Omaha Symphony musicians and one from the Lincoln Symphony offer special colors in which to bask. Violist Brian Sherwood, flutist Maria Harding and harpist Kathleen Wychulis perform “Le Soleil Multicolore” (“The Multi-Colored Sun”) by France’s Jacques Bondon. He wrote it in 1970, showing impressionistic reflections and rhythms akin to those of Debussy, by whom he was decidedly influenced. You’ll hear their kinship when this offers the 1915 “Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp,” known to many music lovers as Debussy’s most special and appealing chamber work. The program further includes Benjamin Britten’s 1950 composition “Lachrymae: Reflections on a song of Dowland” for viola and piano, a set of variations, actually, on two of John Dowland’s songs “Flow My Tears” (1600) and “If my complaints could passions move (1597). Glowing.



Little Women— The Musical

During and shortly after America’s Civil War many women sought to overcome traditional gender restraints. Their story became epitomized in Louisa May Alcott’s famed, best-selling novel, Little Women. A musical version comes to life at Creighton University Theatre. The 1869 semi-autobiographical novel, focuses on the four March sisters, strong-willed aspiring writer Jo, traditional Meg, self-centered Amy, and shy Beth — and their beloved mother Marmee. The music is by Jason Howland; he won the 2015 Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album of Beautiful, The Carole King Musical (coming to the Orpheum this month.) The lyrics are by Mindi Dickstein who wrote the book for Toy Story: The Musical. This book is by Allan Knee, creator of the play which became the basis for the movie Finding Neverland. A Newsday review of the 2005 Broadway production of this show called it “a heartwarming story that hits the right emotional notes.” Sweetness and light?

MUSIC: The Art & Family of the Open Mic - Gordon Spencer

- Gordon Spencer

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Modern Arts Midtown’s next exhibit, Elusive Moments, which opens Friday, April 7, from 6-8 p.m., not only highlights accomplished realist painter Merrill Peterson, its supporting cast of Barbara McCuen, Clifford Bailey, Justin Meyers and Don Williams might also change one’s own concept and appreciation of representational art.


ART: Creature Discomforts, Fascinating Human Hybrids

As the show statement says, though Peterson’s subjects are meticulously rendered by careful observation, his “critical eye has found circumstances for inclusion of complex reflections, patterns and light sources that have expanded and at times subverted our idea of reality.”


STAGE: A Refugee Sings of His Plight

The result is often a fascinating mix of depth perception and distortion, yet an altogether enjoyable experience.

Publisher/Editor John Heaston Graphic Designer Ken Guthrie, Sebastian Molina Assistant Editor JoAnna LeFlore

Most of Bailey’s still life paintings, equal parts formalism in composition and process and hyper-realism in style, will remind viewers of the Old Masters. Each is a careful study, not only a realistic rendering of the subject, but also of the technique and craft of applying oil paint to canvas. As for Myers, his more organic, gestural works in graphite and charcoal explore the use of simple material to portray simple subject matter and composition with a borderline eccentric approach to detail.

“The ordinary becomes extraordinary, and the real seemingly unreal. Peterson’s newest work invites intellectual and psychological response as well as an appreciation for his masterful painting in oil.”


Finally, photo-realism is represented here with the “elusive” pastels and oils of Williams who, in contrast to Peterson, achieves low-key reflection on the peculiarities of representation without undue fussiness, knowing how suggestive it can be. A sense of place without extreme detail.

MUSIC: Big Wade Premiers His Tribute

If a heightened sense of reality, a hyperreality actually, is the order of the day for this exhibition, then the accompanying

For details and gallery hours, go to or call 402502-8737. ~Michael J. Krainak


HOODOO BLUES: Catch the Buzz

TOP 10



50 4

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FILM: We’re All Going to Die





OVER THE EDGE: Hold on to Your Seats




FILM: Alexander Payne Exclusive on Downsizing

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS heartland healing: Michael Braunstein arts/visual: Mike Krainak eat: Sara Locke film: Ryan Syrek hoodoo: B.J. Huchtemann music: James Walmsley over the edge: Tim McMahan theater:



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Green Jobs Can Sustain A Living


job that’s environmentally friendly not only lets you earn a paycheck, it lets you feel good about your work. That your livelihood contributes to sustainability and doesn’t harm the planet can be one of the biggest perks of “green” jobs. The good news is such jobs increase steadily as businesses and consumers strive to live green. Jobs are emerging to accommodate this new mindset. According to National Geographic, certain green jobs grow faster than others:


Recycling is big business. National Geographic says nearly two-thirds of the paper used in the U.S. is eventually recovered. Professionals are required to make the process work. Truck drivers, sorters, mechanics and managers are needed to assure recycling programs run smoothly.


Scientists who specialize in “green” fields help sustainability efforts. Whether it’s coral reef deterioration, ”acid rain,” climate change or other ways we impact nature, these scientists provide valuable insights, fact-based research and potential solutions into what happens to the Earth.

Green by design

“Green” houses, vehicles and commercial spaces are just a few examples of functional things environmental responsibility in action. and architects e Government regulations dictate what buildings and vehicles can be designated “sustainable.” People who can devise and produce ways to make things greener are in high demand. Harness natural energy Wind turbine technicians and solar cell technicians are among the workers who focus on sustainable energy production. As people turn away from fossil fuels, the need grows

for professionals in this field. Wind turbine technicians in particular are highly paid.

Provide food and water

Sustainable farming that provides locally produced goods can range from small- to large-scale operations. As consumer support grows, so has the sustainable farming industry. With the predicted increase in world population, so will the need for food and fresh water. Sustainable producers, with the science and technology that support them, will be at the forefront of global environmentalism. Water quality technicians check water quality to assure it meets EPA standards. These technicians also brainstorm creative solutions to water issues. Good analytic skills are important for this job because accurate record keeping is important.

Highest paying green jobs

The Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests those who seek the highest salaries in green ca-

reers should focus on management and engineering. Chief sustainability executives top the list with a median annual income of over $165,000. Natural sciences managers follow with a median annual income just under $115,000. The bureau’s list is largely comprised of managers, engineers and scientists.

Find green jobs locally

Some employers include their stance on sustainability in job postings and on their corporate websites. It’s also something you can ask about during your initial interview. Hiring managers should be well-versed in their company’s green initiatives. If not, it’s quite likely the company does not place great weight upon sustainability. The Green Omaha Coalition is an excellent resource if you want to find which local companies have a commitment to the environment. The organization partners with businesses and community leaders to endorse sustainability and provide educational resources.

NOW HIRING INTERESTED IN A GROUND-LEVEL OPPORTUNITY WHERE YOU’D PLAY A KEY ROLE IN TRANSFORMING A LEADING ALTERNATIVE LOCAL MEDIA COMPANY AS IT EVOLVES INTO A DIGITAL MARKETING POWERHOUSE? Your work supporting digital and team operations here directly impacts our long tradition of watchdog journalism and cultural coverage for our community, while writing and executing the new playbook for the future of marketing and local business. We are leading this charge nationally for alternative media and it’s a mission to revitalize what makes local unique.



ARE YOU DIGITALLY DANGEROUS BUT LIKE PEOPLE? Directly responsible for a broad range of activity, including helping to manage overall team operations (making the trains run on time), responsibility for basic digital functions (from managed websites to internal platforms to digital processes) and other duties as needed to meet our mission. This includes overall operations in our two core functions -media operations and digital marketing service operations -- media and marketing that matter.

ARE YOU DETAIL-ORIENTED AND NEED THINGS COMPLETE? Direct responsibility for event listings in our media operations and Local SEO directories/citations in our digital marketing operations. This position is very hands-on, also supporting basic office functions and the entire team. High growth potential.

This position is very hands-on, with an established and growing freelance network for support. We’re expecting significant growth over the next 5-10 years. Most team members have been here at least that long.


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Coalition partners include Creighton University, NMC and Metropolitan Community College. Maybe your desire isn’t necessarily to work in a job specific to sustainability. Maybe you prefer to work for an employer with a solid commitment to sustainability. To make a job greener might be as simple as allowing telecommuting from home. You don’t have to be at the forefront of sustainability to make a positive impact through your job. Every little bit can count a great deal.

Senior Quality Assurance Lead for InEight, Inc. (Omaha, NE)

Duties: Develop, execute and implement test plans, test cases and test scripts for applications built upon a .NET application platform. Requirements: Master’s* degree in Information Technology, Computer Science, Electronics Engineering, or related. Three years’ experience as a Programmer Analyst or Test Lead. Post bachelor’s experience (3 years with a Master’s or 5 years with a Bachelor’s) is required and must include: Agile method (incl. designing and developing Test Strategy Documents, Test Plans, Test Cases, Test Reports and Defect Reports with HP’s Application Lifecycle Management (HP ALM), Microsoft Team Foundation Server (TFS) and Microsoft Test Manager (MTM)); Cloud system testing (incl. Azure, Web Jobs, APIs, Enterprise Service Buses), database testing (including Oracle, DB2, SQL server) and mobile testing (IOS and Android Mobile devices). Testing experience must include, functional testing, performance testing, stress / volume testing, regression testing, user acceptance testing, integration testing, system testing and business validation testing; and Developing quality technology solutions (incl. review of solution architecture, business and system requirements, design, testing and deployment support). Must include at least two years experience leading a test team (including experience and mentoring new hires/junior team members, interfacing with developers, architects, integration and customer support, and reporting to senior leaders. * Employer will accept a bachelor’s degree and 5 years experience in lieu of a master’s degree and 3 years experience. Apply on-line at and reference requisition # 3401.



“I Second That Emotion” “The Tracks of My Tears” “Cruisin’” “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” “The Tears of a Clown” A true icon of American Pop, R&B and Motown, Smokey Robinson takes the stage with your Omaha Symphony for a stellar one-night-only event!


Professional Weekend Retail Team Manager-Coordinator (West Omaha) Established sports facility in West Omaha is looking for a bright, reliable person to manage all aspects of retail location including Team development, stock control, and facility management. This position will have P&L responsibility for all aspects of the facility and oversee about 10 team members and understanding of retail sales management and inventory control. Experience developing a sales-focused retail service team is a must. Salaried position with profit sharing.

presenting sponsor

concert sponsor

Send resume to:



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ustainability and resiliency are the new reduce, reuse, recycle. We’ve all heard these phrases before and for many of us, when we think about Earth Day, those words come to mind. But what does it mean for us here in Omaha? To answer that question, we looked at 10 different environmental challenges and issues—ranked roughly in order of importance—we are working with right here and asked the experts to weigh in. At the end, we have a shining example here locally that every municipality could follow.

“Every action each person takes adds to the total of good,” explained Bellevue City Councilman and former state senator Don Preister. “While it may seem small, collectively we can change the world.” He knows from personal experience, starting with his corner of the metro. by C h e r i l L e e

1. Climate Change Almost every other challenge shares one thing -- the impact on reducing climate change. Tucked here in the heartland, we might seem somewhat insulated from its effects, but it’s already disturbing the growing season and its impacts will hit even closer to home than we think.


P h o t o graph y b y D e b r a K a p l a n

increase in very heavy precipitation events in the Great Plains Region. “The Paris Agreement on climate change which came into force on November 4, 2016 with 134 signatories to the Agreement reaffirmed the political commitments and puts in place the policy and institutional frameworks to combat climate change. This gives impetus

“Climate change will exacerbate the severity and frequency of health problems that are already affected by climate and weather factors and create unanticipated health problems or health threats in places where they have not previously occurred,” according to Dr. Ali Khan, Dean of UNMC’s College of Public Health.

Ali Kahn, MD, MPH, UNMC

Dr Khan said climate change is happening now as are known effects on the environment, agriculture and fisheries. In Nebraska, the temperature has risen 1⁰F since 1895. This has been associated with 5-25 increased frost-free days since 1895 and a 16%

to the several legislative and administrative frameworks already in place in many countries and brought the issue of climate change to the forefront of international and national attention,” he said.


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For their part, UNMC works with state and community organizations on climate change issues and supports research aimed at understanding the environmental and public health implications of climate change. Climate change must be addressed through both mitigation and adaptation interventions. Mitigation strategies consist of measures aimed at reducing the emission of greenhouse gases that are the cause of global warming. In other words, using renewable energy resources, implementing energy efficiency interventions, reforestation, using new technologies or changing consumer behavior.



mate emergencies, using water scarce resources more efficiently, and developing drought-tolerant crops.

“While we mitigate against climate change as a first line of defense, we also need to implement measures that help communities prepare for and manage the risk posed by climate change,” Dr. Khan said. Some of these include disease surveillance to detect outbreaks early, putting measures in place to respond to cli-

Senator Carol Blood

2. Bringing Solar Home “Nebraska is ranked 48th among 50 states. The Solar Energy Industries Association said that our state has the potential to rank higher; 38th for rooftop solar in urban areas and 10th in rural areas,” said State Senator Carol Blood. She said many things can impede the process of solar installations including local ordinances, restrictive building codes, landscaping such as trees and grid connections.

But that ultimately, solar energy is worth exploring. She said in order for more individuals to take advantage of solar, Nebraska needs to continue to strengthen its policies for driving renewable energy investments. “Congress needs to support the Federal Tax Credits for solar. It declined from 30% to 10% in 2016. Nebraska needs to continue to plan to reduce emissions to comply with the EPA’s carbon standards,” Blood said. The state also needs better science when it comes to energy storage. And utility companies really need to modify their business models to encourage solar development at all levels she said. Right now, solar energy is just not economical in its current format, with the net metering law of 25kw. It’s fine for most homeowners. But, “utility companies are fighting increases which prevents mid-sized farms and businesses from participating,” said Blood.

division manager of Energy Marketing & Trading for OPPD. But is natural gas the answer? Via said depending on the type of technology, natural gas units tend to start and “ramp” (the speed at which a generator can produce electricity) much faster than coal-fired generators. However, since natural gas is not stored on site, it is dependent on the reliability of the natural gas transportation system (pipelines). “Natural gas pipelines require large users to anticipate how much natural gas they will use during the following day and schedule that expected consumption a full day in advance to ensure surety of delivery. As you can imagine, with changes in weather, availability of other generation and customer usage, accuracy of predictions can sometimes be challenging,” he said.

And that’s a real problem. Even so, cities like Bellevue are marching ahead and embracing solar where they can.

He said this incremental renewable generation has helped reduce our dependence on natural gas generators for electricity production. As environmental conditions persist, Via said the trend towards new renewable generating sources and natural gas consumption should continue.

But lead can also cause health problems in adults including kidney damage and hypertension. Unfortunately, there is lead in soil, paint, dust, imported pottery, vinyl mini blinds, some imported candies, makeup, batteries and cigarettes. According to the Douglas County Health Department, in the majority of cases where a child has been identified with a high blood lead level, there is an interior lead-based paint hazard present. “The City Planning Department’s Lead Hazard Control program spends an average of $12,000 to replace windows and stabilize lead-based paint

4. Getting the Lead Out

Did you know that Omaha is the largest residential EPA - d e s i g n a t e d Superfund Site in the country as a result of lead-contaminated soil? A d d i t i o n a l l y, Omaha has over 84,000 homes Kara Eastman, Healthy Kids Alliance built before 1978, the year leadbased paint was banned. In addition, in homes of children in our city. But we our city has over 12,000 lead service know that an investment of $1 in lead lines; the lines that connect the water hazard control yields a savings of anymain in the street to your house. where from $17 to $221 in lead-assoKara Eastman, President & CEO of ciated ADHD treatment, incarceration Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance, said the for lead-related crimes, and in general health care costs,” Eastman said. issues with lead are manifold.

3. Eliminating Coal, Keeping the Lid on Natural Gas “Coal facilities benefit from having significant levels of fuel on site which can be used at a moment’s notice and increases the overall reliability of coal generators. Conversely, coal generation does produce more emissions, specifically mercury, than most new natural gas units,” said Troy Via,

Brad Underwood, director of Corporate Planning & Analysis for OPPD, explained over the last few years OPPD has reduced its dependency on coal generation by procuring more renewable wind generation from Nebraska wind facilities.

“Lead is a neurotoxin that causes IQ deficits, behavioral problems and even criminal behavior later in life in children. A child who has high levels of lead in his or her body is seven times more likely to drop out of school. Children are more susceptible to lead exposure as a result of their rapidly developing brains and bodies and the hand to mouth behavior of young children,” said Eastman.

In Omaha, Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance, the City of Omaha, the Douglas County Health Department and the Methodist College of Nursing are all working together to address lead exposure in our community. In October of 2016, the Lead Free in Five Plan was launched, which lays out how everyone in the community can be involved in solving the city’s lead issue.

Baker, Via and Underwood, OPPD

continued on page 10 y



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5. Boosting Urban Development

According to Jay Lund, Principal at GreenSlate Development, one of the environmental challenges with urban development is trying to build on a site that has been one or many other things in the past. He said often times

you have to remediate hazardous materials that may exist from former uses. For example, underground fuel storage tanks and asbestos. Lund said storm water management could also be a big challenge. He explained urban areas typically have dense populations and land use types. When you have a large amount of dwelling units, employment centers, and retail stores, city services become that much more efficient.

Jay Lund, GreenSlate


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“Think about it, you don’t have to rebuild that street and sidewalk, sewer system, or any of the other infrastructure that you otherwise would have to recreate with suburban sprawl. A dense urban area


also allows for services to be provided for about two to three times the amount of people in a concentrated area, compared with less dense suburban areas,” said Lund.

But how close are we to becoming less dependent on our cars in the omaha metro?

He said the greenest building you can develop is the one that is already there.

Transportation Options

“There have been over 20 buildings restored in the Blackstone District in the last three years. Many of these structures were in substantial disrepair and were in danger of collapsing. When you save an old building you don’t have to re-produce all those building materials and the existing materials do not end up in a landfill,” he said. And living in the urban core allows people to better take advantage of public transportation and other modes of transit. “What better way to live green than to get rid of your car,” said Lund.

6. expanding

Angie Eikenberry, of Mode Shift omaha, said a major issue relates to the omaha Metro area’s air quality problem. According to the Little Steps, Big Impact program, run through the omaha-Council Bluffs Metropolitan Area Planning Agency (MAPA), on an average hot day, the omaha-Council Bluffs Metro is close to “non-attainment,” or exceeding the regulated threshold level for one or more of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). “Reducing the daily use of one low occupancy vehicle and using public transit can reduce a household’s carbon footprint by between 25-30%,” she said. continued on page 12 y

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MAY 5 – JUNE 4, 2017 On sale now

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APRIL 14– MAY 7, 2017

sponsor: Mutual of Omaha orchestra sponsor: HDR specialty sponsor: Children’s Hospital and Medical media sponsor: WOWT

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MAY 26 – JUNE 25, 2017

JUNE 15 – 25, 2017


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Angie Eikenberry, Mode Shift Omaha

How do you alleviate the issue? Well, the simple answer is to provide residents with alternate transportation options. Metro has received a federal grant to pay for a large portion of the cost to bring Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to the Dodge Street corridor, set to start in fall 2018. As far as bicycles go, Eikenberry said the city already has a great trail system but unfortunately, it provides few east-west options for commuters. “The Papio Missouri River Natural Resources District (NRD) and City of Omaha Parks and Recreation have tried to address this through new trails projects, such as the recent addition of the South Omaha Trail. The City of Omaha Planning Department has also worked with Live Well Omaha and Omaha Bikes on trying to get a 20-mile bike loop (the Bike Omaha Network)

She explained walking is a great alternative to driving a car but it often gets the least amount of attention, “The City makes little investment in walkability. Again, when they do help fund projects, they are typically paid for by private philanthropy rather than through regular transportation dollars.”

“We vote three times a day on how we can influence local food support. If we can show people how to easily and consistently do this, we will begin to truly effect our developing local food system,” said Berna.

7. Growing More Local Food One of the biggest drivers of climate change is transportation fuel, a significant portion of which is used to deliver our food. As food systems across the world face disruption from climate change, growing more local food becomes even more important. Ed Berna, President of Paradigm Gardens, believes growing your own food is the single biggest component of changing the local food “paradigm.” “If everyone truly knew how difficult and rewarding it is to produce food themselves, they would have a renewed respect for “real food” and all the systems that effect it, such as weather, seasonality, water quality, air quality, sustainability-greenhouse gas/transport emissions, etc.,” he said.


composting, how much water it takes to grow food and how water quality affects plant growth.

Eikenberry said for the same cost of widening one mile of road on 96th Street, the City could fund the entire capital costs of the Dodge Street BRT running from downtown to Westroads Mall.

Ed Berna, Paradigm Gardens

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implemented to address connectivity issues,” said Eikenberry.


Berna speculated that it would also begin to help people understand and appreciate things like organic waste systems, local

James Cavanaugh, Legal Counsel for the Nebraska Sierra Club, said the Sierra Club is launching a major public information program to Green the Stream of solid waste in the Omaha Metro area by returning to separate pick up of residential waste, yard waste and recyclables and by continuing the Omagro program.

“As part of its Green the Stream program, the Sierra Club is launching a major public engagement campaign calling on the City of Omaha to take immediate action James Cavanaugh, Sierra Club to stop the “Education ing of co-mingled would also be inyard waste and residential waste at the clusive of how to develop sustainable landfill, restart the Omagro composting year-round production systems that are operation and institute an ordinance esconsistently profitable,” he said. tablishing a fee to correctly price plastic Ultimately, even if you don’t want to bags at point of retail sale,” he said. grow your own food, you can still supThe fee revenues would then be dedport the local food movement by buying icated to funding recycling, composting local. and waste reduction educational proOne of the biggest challenges in terms of growing your own food is education. Berna said that’s closely followed by the existing scale and scope of the local food infrastructure.

Berna said, “If we could encourage incremental support of local producers, over time our community would see huge measurable results. This would include job creation, tax base increases, health and wellness improvements and much more.

8. Improving City Waste Options

The Sierra Club recently completed a commissioned Solid Waste Study of the Omaha Metro Area that found that the City of Omaha’s 2015 decision to discontinue separate yard waste pickup and composting for Omagro is actually causing a huge spike in greenhouse gas emissions at the landfill.

grams to reduce the harmful impact of solid waste disposal in the Omaha Metro Area and to Green the Stream of solid waste in Omaha.

9. Keeping Clean Water The quality of water in the Metro is good. That’s according to Tracey Christensen, Director of Communications for M.U.D. She said M.U.D. provides safe water that meets or exceeds all state and federal drinking water regulations. The Safe Drinking Water Act requires public water supply systems to prepare annual

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water quality reports for customers to provide accurate, comprehensive information about their water supply,” she said. M.U.D. performs hundreds of tests daily from the source water to the customers’ taps. “We will continue to monitor emerging water quality issues, including contaminants and adapt our treatment to meet current and future regulations. To improve system safety and reliability, M.U.D. began a program in 2008 to replace more than 1,200 miles of aging cast iron water mains over the coming decades,” she said. This initiative is funded through water infrastructure fees on customers’ monthly bills. She said M.U.D. is working diligently to ensure a safe and reliable drinking water supply to its customer-owners, as well as safeguarding the water system for future generations. To keep our water clean, never flush drugs down the toilet, don’t dump waste into storm sewers and don’t overuse toxic cleaners. Another green step you can take right now? Beautify your landscape. “Plant flowers, trees, grasses and other natural buffers to help reduce water pollution,” said Christensen. Monitoring industrial agriculture developments, like the planned Costco poultry plant in Fremont, will also be critical.

10. Being More like Bellevue

Green Bellevue is a Green Team that is made up of more than 600 volunteers who work all year long. And they’ve been quite busy. As Don Preister, Green Bellevue President, said, the group has accomplished a lot since its inception including passing a tree ordinance establishing regulations and oversight by a Tree Board with City Code and planting 1,000 trees with grant funds, improving parks equipment and accessibility and enacting the first Complete Streets ordinance in Nebraska with a Citizen Panel and measurable objectives. “We also retrofitted three existing buildings rather than build new ones. We have a larger consolidated City Hall campus complete with solar panels and electric car chargers. And we used grants to buy four electric cars for city work,” he said.


“These tening n e ligh ms progra v a h e d create le valuab ch u and m d e d e ne ion.” s s u c dis - Rudy Smith,

M GPBH m u e s u M Chair

And Preister said they did all this with will, leadership, patience, persistence and determination. “you need to keep asking how it can be done and not accepting, ‘no we can’t’ as an answer.” What are the benefits of changes like these? of course it improves efficiency by reducing consumption of utilities which means cost reductions are realized but what about the benefits that are a bit more difficult to see? “These changes improve health quality, air quality and water quality. And this enhanced quality of life aids economic development, common well-being and reduces our carbon footprint too,” said Preister.


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Six 90-minute presentations at the GPBHM Exhibit Space (Across from Barnes & Noble Books) CROSSROAD Mall | 7400 Dodge St.

10AM APR 15 (Saturday)
 BLACK-OWNED BUSINESSES: Who Were the First in Omaha? presented by LeClara Gilreath

 Using Primary Sources To Tell The Story presented by Jade Rogers

That’s not all; Green Bellevue also upgraded all city buildings for energy efficiency, approved community gardens and streamlined the process for residential and business solar electric generation.

Don Priester, Green Bellevue


Photo from the collection of Catherine Meehan Blount


 How Politics Moved the Culture of Omaha presented by LeClara Gilreath

3PM MAY 21 (Sunday) WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE: Genealogy Workshop presented by Jade Rogers

6:30PM JUNE 6 (Tuesday) RICH HISTORY OF MUSIC: In Omaha’s Culture presented by LeClara Gilreath

 An Oral History Project presented by Jade Rogers FREE ADMISSION
 Middle-school to Adults

Registration Preferred,Walk-ins Welcome
 Email (preferred)

or Call 402.401.9893


This project made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services [MA 21-15-0037].



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he Mayor and City Council primary elections are Tuesday, April 4. Here are the profiles of the candidates running in District 1, 5, 6, and 7, from Midtown Omaha heading west..

District 1 - Midtown and North Central Omaha


Pete Festersen Democrat, Incumbent Councilmember Pete Festersen was elected to the Omaha City Council in 2009 and re-elected in 2013. Festersen is the Vice President of Community and Government Affairs for CHI Health. He has held senior management positions with the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, the Peter Kiewit Foundation and the Mayor’s Office. Festersen has served as Chairman of the Omaha Planning Board and on various community boards such as the Omaha Children’s DISTRICT 1 - GRANT STUREK Museum, College World Series Inc., AK-SAR-BEN Future Trust and the United Way of the Midlands campaign. Festersen says he has focused on public safety improvements such as adding police officers and passing a property crime ordinance to deter burglaries and theft as well as balancing the budget, pressing for pension reform and cutting property taxes during his tenure. He wants to see the continued redevelopment of the Dundee, Benson and Florence business districts. Festersen’s wife, Paige, is a preschool teacher at Dundee Presbyterian Church. They have two young children, Anna and Caroline.


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Paul Anderson, Republican Anderson is a native Nebraskan and has lived in Omaha for most of his adult life. He is a retired journeyman mechanic for Union Pacific Railroad and served in the US Navy Reserves. Anderson says he believes in the old fashioned values of serving God, family and community. Among Anderson’s priorities are to reduce taxes, including abolishing the restaurant tax. He believes high taxes are the main reason for the “brain drain” in our state and the reason many retirees leave the state. He would push for the Crossroads Mall redevelopment and says the city must focus on improving the condition of our roads.




Grant Sturek Democrat Grant Sturek grew up in the DundeeMemorial Park neighborhood. He graduated from Omaha Central High School in 2015 and is currently a student at the University of Nebraska-Omaha majoring in economics and political science. Sturek’s wants to replace the city property taxes with income and excise taxes to lower the cost of living. Sturek says he would like to see the city partner with school districts and community organizations to keep kids off of the streets and reduce the systemic poverty that leads to criminal behavior. He also believes in campaign finance reform for local races. Currently, Omaha has no laws restricting the amount of money that candidates for local office can accept from individual donors. He believes this leaves the system vulnerable to having our democratic institutions suppressed by profit-motivated political machines.

District 5 -Southwest Omaha Rich Pahls, Republican, Incumbent Councilmember Rich Pahls was elected to the City Council in May 2013 and is running unopposed. Pahls represented southwest Omaha’s District in the Nebraska Legislature for two terms. He has lived in the Millard area for more than 30 years while serving as a Principal at many of the Millard Elementary schools and an Administrator for the Millard Public School District. Pahls says he enjoys visiting many of the local restaurants in the mornings, listening to his constituents’ viewpoints and discussing municipal and state government issues over a cup of coffee.

District 6 - Central/West Omaha Brinker Harding Republican Brinker Harding is a commercial real estate professional at Colliers International and was Chief of Staff to former Mayor Hal Daub. While working in the Mayor’s office, Harding was deeply involved in the redevelopment of the downtown arena and convention center, Gallup University and the downtown Northeast Redevelopment Plan which led to the building of First

DISTRICT 5 - RICH PAHLS National Tower, Union Pacific Headquarters. As a councilmember, Harding wants to address violent crime, promote economic development and attract new jobs, ensure fiscally responsible leadership, and prioritize funding for public safety and maintaining neighborhood streets and other city services. Harding is married to Rebecca Harding, co-owner and founding partner of TACKarchitects, an Omaha architectural firm. They have two daughters, Elizabeth and Grace. Dwite Pedersen, Republican Former State Senator Dwite Pedersen served four terms in the Nebraska Legislature representing Elkhorn and West Omaha. As a Senator, Pedersen sat on the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee, was vice chair of the Judiciary Committee, and chairman of the Committee on Committees. He believes his experience enables him to be an effective voice immediately on the City Council. Pedersen says he will ensure the City of Omaha continues to efficiently and effectively deliver needed services to neighborhoods, including street repairs, snow removal, well-maintained parks and public safety. He opposes further annexation which he believes is a financial burden on Omaha taxpayers. Pedersen is a licensed Alcohol and Drug Addiction

APRIL 21 & 23, 2017


DISTRICT 6 - DWITE PEDERSEN Counselor in private practice. Pedersen’s beloved wife, Poe (Priscilla) Dougherty, passed away in 2011 after 41 years of marriage. They raised three children together.

District 7 - Northwest Omaha Aimee Melton, Republican, Incumbent Councilmember Aimee Melton was elected to the Omaha City Council in 2013. Aimee serves as Chair of the City Council’s Human Resources/ Library Committee, the Human Rights and Relations Committee and is a member of the Public Works and Law Committees. She is proud that the City Council and Mayor have turned Omaha’s budget deficits into a surplus, cut property tax rates twice, added more police officers and invested in new technology. Melton believes much progress has been during her time on the council and would like to continue that work. Melton grew up in Omaha, attending St. Robert Bellarmine and Marian High School. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Nebraska-Omaha and a J.D. from Creighton University School of Law. She is a former Deputy Douglas County Attorney and managing partner of Reagan, Melton & Delaney, LLP. She and her husband, Scott, have three children, Jacob, Thomas and Jimmy.

Brian Thommes Democrat Brian Thommes has lived in Omaha since he was five years old, graduating from Roncalli Catholic High School. Thommes earned a degree in Continuing Studies from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. After starting his career with the QuikTrip organization, he returned to school to earn a Master’s Degree in Business Management from the University of Phoenix. Currently, he is a store manager for QuikTrip. He lives with his partner Vince, and pets Casey, Molly and Kona. Thommes believes the city needs to invest in physical infrastructure, public health and safety, and education initiatives. He would like to see a bold, long-term vision for Omaha that includes road and bridge repairs, citywide wi-fi, light rail and improved public transportation, and enhanced public green spaces and trail systems. Thommes says it is imperative that the City ensures businesses stay in Omaha while attracting new companies, fostering entrepreneurship, and increase tourism opportunities. For more information visit Ballot Hero at City elections are nonpartisan with the top two vote-getters moving on to the general election on May 9.




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Maifest 11 AM-11PM

SATURDAY MAY 6, 2017 Come Celebrate Spring after a long cold winter at the German-American Societies traditional Maifest.


Sheelytown Polka Band Bobby Z - Polka Joy


Come See the 40 foot Maibaum. Celebrate with Great Food, Great Beer, Beer Poking, Dancing in our Giant Ballroom, Large Beer Garden


GERMAN-AMERICAN SOCIETY 3717 S. 120TH ST. • 402-333-6615 16

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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. .



axter Arena, April 8 & 9. Drive down Dodge Street any day of the week. Read the billboards stretching from the Elkhorn River east to the Missouri. You’ll learn who to call with a sick child, what hospital has the most celebrated heart doctors, which medical group can smooth your cheeks, plump your butt, or suck the fat off your tummy. The conventional medical system owns the airwaves, the billboards, the ad market. There is no shortage of media barrage on the subject of drugs, surgery or hip replacements. Turn every corner, flip every channel, peruse every page and you’ll be bombarded with ads for Big Pharma and Big Medicine. You can be an informed consumer just by driving down the street. Be an Informed Consumer. But is that mainstream media information good information? That mainstream medical mega-system has the most money, gets the most attention, has the most powerful lobbyists, receives the most government support. Where can you learn about options that may be just as good but far less invasive, far less expensive? How often do you see a billboard technical. Massage has more benefits than we about acupuncture? About meditation? About realized. Chiropractic is finally recognized as a herbal therapies, homeopathy, neurofeedback, medical practice. To stay in touch with the leading hydrotherapy or even chiropractic? How about edge in all areas, folks who are well-acquainted ayurveda or yoga or reiki or tai chi or energy with holistic and natural medicine need to explore medicine? All of these are viable, successful for more. People unfamiliar with them need to find medical therapies that millions use every day and out their benefits. millions more would find help from if only they had This year it’s special. This year, the Expo the chance to learn more about them. is featuring Vaccine Summit Omaha. Heartland Twenty-some years ago when I moved back to Healing and the Omaha Expo are bringing Omaha from Los Angeles, few people here knew Chicago physician Dr. Toni Bark to present at the how to spell echinacea let alone knew what it was Expo. Dr. Bark is a national speaker on the topic of good for. Now you can (thankfully) find it on the vaccines and has appeared in the documentaries shelf in any drugstore. But there is more to know “Vaccines Revealed,” “Bought,” “Silent Epidemic” about holistic and natural medicine than those few and many more. She has paneled with vaccine ultra-popular herbs and practices like yoga. That’s critic Robert Kennedy, Jr. and will be coming to the where the Omaha Health Expo can help. Expo immediately after addressing the National The Omaha Health Expo is celebrating ten years Press Club on the topic. of providing the Midwest with a chance to meet The public continues to question the safety, the with and learn from practitioners who won’t be effectiveness and the number of vaccines our seen advertising on billboards down Dodge Street. children receive. Research used to justify their With dozens of workshops and presentations, use can be confusing and often obscure. Dr. Bark hundreds of exhibitors and a new, shiny venue that will deliver a Keynote Address on Saturday that is as welcoming as it is warm, the Expo brings just can help clear some of that up. Following the such an opportunity to Omaha. address, a panel discussion featuring local experts, Nutrition, massage, clean water may sound like including four doctors, will share what they have the simple things in life that can keep you healthy seen and learned about vaccines and their effects. and happy. But in a world that is increasingly For any parent or interested party, it’s a one-time complex, those simple things can become evasive opportunity to learn more. and confusing. Conventional nutritionists are still… Friday, April 7. Universal College of Healing conventional. Water systems have become more Arts (, also an exhibitor at the Expo, will


host a VIP event with Dr. Bark on Friday before the Expo. Plan to attend for a chance to meet and greet the speaker along with others who share an interest in the topic of vaccines and holistic therapies in general. For massage therapists, this event will include a one-hour CEU. Information and tickets for the VIP event are available at Room for More. Omaha Health Expo founder and promoter Bob Mancuso said there are still a couple exhibitor booths available and with its affordable pricing, the Expo (OmahaHealthExpo. com) offers a cost-effective way for practitioners and businesses to reach an engaged demographic with an interest in therapies and activities that promote health in a natural and holistic way. Admission to the Expo is free and parking at the Baxter Arena is easy and free as well. Plan now to attend the events and save yourself a drive down Dodge. Be well. Heartland Healing is a metaphysically based polemic describing alternatives to conventional methods of healing the body, mind and planet. 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.


APRIL 2017






s The Reader’s Choice nominations begin to roll in, I am noticing a very specific trend among your favorite eateries. From established Omaha restaurants like La Buvette and Jams to new favorites like Coneflower Creamery and Baela Rose, Omaha has been choosing local.

Here’s the Beef


When you think of “farm fresh”, you might instantly think of a big hearty breakfast. A fried potato concoction and a rich, delicious egg dish. When you order breakfast or lunch at Over Easy in West Omaha, your meal comes with a side of local support. A chalkboard in the dining room proudly lists the growers owner Nick Bartholomew considers part of the team that has helped him become a success at all 3 of his establishments. Over Easy, Market House, and his upcoming venture Boho Rice all utilize local suppliers whenever possible. Maybe when you think “local” you’re thinking that there isn’t anything like Nebraska beef. Block 16 and Farnam House are famous for their ability to bust out a great burger. A steak from Spencer’s or J Coco’s Braised Oxtail Bourguignon will cure that red meat craving in two shakes of a cow’s tail. When you’re heading out for a date night, want to impress a guest, or have a special occasion in mind, you don’t leave it up to chance. You find the fanciest place in Omaha and sit down to something decadent. Chicken Confit at Le Bouillon, Berkshire Pork Loin from The Boiler Room, or Wagyu Peppersteak from VMertz.


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The Secret Ingredient The thread that ties so many of Omaha’s most celebrated chefs is their dedication to the product. Respect for your ingredients begins long before you take it to the cutting board, and chefs like Paul Kulik, Dario Schicke, and Jennifer Coco aren’t afraid to go straight to the source. There is one thing each of these menus have in common. Not a favorite dish or signature cocktail, but the name of a trusted grower. Salt 88 and Dante’s Pizzeria proudly support Branched Oak Farms. TD Niche Pork, Morgan Ranch, and Rossman Family Farms are growing and supplying all of your favorite establishments with the ingredients that will become your favorite meals. Matt and Terra Hall know how to make even the simplest ingredient special. The couple is responsible for showing love and compassion to the dirt that makes your meal delicious. They carefully till and fertilize their land at Rhizosphere Farm by hand. Specializing in heirloom and organic [let’s just call it what it is]. Some years the paperwork is late or the certification is too costly, but their practices are organic] herbs and vegetables, Matt and Terra are key players in Omaha’s restaurant industry. They care about their product, whether they’re supplying Grey Plume or preparing a CSA basket for you to take home and experiment with in your own kitchen. Plum Creek shows up on menus from Twisted Cork to Le Voltaire, and for a small fee, will deliver directly to your front continued on page 20 y



A Few Blocks From Trendy You’ll really want to tell your friends, but you won’t. Rotating tap of old standbys mixed with some newer craft beers and a nice variety of cans and bottles. Plus, a fully stocked bar for good, stiff drinks. Pick your poison. Here for you when you need us! 3PM-2AM Drink specials every day, Karaoke Tuesday and Friday

4721 NW Radial Hwy •

Celebrating Over 25 Years Of Making Ice Cream The Old Fashioned Way Old Market Two Omaha Locations:

Downtown 1120 Jackston 402.3415827


6023 Maple 402.551.4420

First Friday Old Market

FRI APRIL 7th 6-9 PM

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 |

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LIVE MUSIC SCHEDULE - APRIL, 2017. SATURDAY, APRIL 1 Red Delicious 9:00 to 1:00 am

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 12 The Brits 6:30 to 9:30 pm

MONDAY, APRIL 3 Gooch and His Big Las Vegas Band 6:30 to 9:30 pm

THURSDAY, APRIL 13 Uno Jazz Combos 6:30 to 9:30 pm

TUESDAY, APRIL 4 Billy Troy 6:30 to 9:30 pm WEDNESDAY, APRIL 5 Bozak & Morrissey 6:30 to 9:30 pm

FRIDAY, APRIL 14 Secret Weapon 9:00 to 1:00 pm

SATURDAY, APRIL 22 Eckophonic 9:00 to 1:00 am MONDAY, APRIL 24 Gooch and His Big Las Vegas Band 6:30 to 9:30 pm

SATURDAY, APRIL 15 Joystick 9:00 to 1:00 am

THURSDAY, APRIL 6 Joey Gulizia & Cuban Missle Crisis 6:30 to 9:30 pm

SUNDAY, APRIL 16 Easter Buffet Reservations Only 10:00 UNTIL 2:00 pm

FRIDAY, APRIL 7 The Six 9:00 to 1:00 am

MONDAY, APRIL 17 Gooch and His Big Las Vegas Band 6:30 to 9:30 pm

SATURDAY, APRIL 8 Avaricious 9:00 to 1:00 am

FRIDAY, APRIL 21 Lemon Fresh Day 9:00 to 1:00 am

TUESDAY, APRIL 18 Billy Troy 6:30 to 9:30 pm

MONDAY, APRIL 10 Gooch and His Big Las Vegas Band 6:30 to 9:30 pm

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 19 Bill Chrastil 6:30 to 9:30 pm

TUESDAY, APRIL 11 Julie Baker 6:30 to 9:30 pm

THURSDAY, APRIL 20 Prairie Cats 6:30 to 9:30 pm

TUESDAY, APRIL 25 Scott Evans 6:30 to 9:30 pm WEDNESDAY, APRIL 26 The Grease Band 6:30 to 9:30 pm THURSDAY, APRIL 27 Kevin Kelly Band 6:30 to 9:30 pm FRIDAY, APRIL 28 Hi-Fi Hangover 9:00 to 1:00 pm SATURDAY, APRIL 29 The Confidentials 9:00 to 1:00 pm



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Come In Early And Enjoy Dinner And Drinks!! No Cover Charge Monday Thru Friday

“Happy Hour” 3:30-6:30


TILLING AT RHIZOSPHERE FARMS y continued from page 18

door. The Dvorak family supplies natural, fresh chicken and eggs to dozens of Omaha restaurants who swear by the superior flavor and quality of the meat. Free range, the animals are actually given space to roam and exist outside of a cage. The Dvoraks don’t rely on antibiotics to keep their animals from becoming sick, choosing instead to raise them in a healthy, clean environment.

Threat Level: Walmart While we do live in an agriculturally rich community, big box stores are offering organic produce cheap and easy. The idea is to slowly suffocate the family farm, eventually cornering the market and having sole discretion over what is bought and eaten, and at what cost. Nebraska is currently home to just north of 790,000 households. If each household spent a measly $10 a week on locally sourced foods, we would manage to keep more than $410 million here in our local economy. That’s without considering the environmental impact of reducing our carbon footprint by not shipping food halfway across the country.

Fresh Food Fetish “We’re not redesigning the wheel, we’re just building it by hand.” Colin Duggan casually remarks. The chef and owner of Kitchen Table in the Old Market may not be redesigning the wheel, but Kitchen Table is redefining the meal with their motto, “Slow food, fast”. Since opening their establishment they have used their time wisely, cultivating relationships with several Nebraska farmers in an effort to keep their kitchen clean and local. The menu remains fluid to account for the relatively uncooperative nature of Nebraska’s weather. Most of Omaha’s chefs and restauranteurs are very modest when you ask them about their local sourcing practices. It’s a fine balance, wanting to support your local growers, but not wanting to fetishize something that should be a natural choice. Kyle Anderson of Baela Rose was almost off-put by my persistence on discussing it. His thoughts are that the onus should be on menus that don’t use local growers to out themselves. A passion for food should lead you only to the best sources, not the cheapest, and if what you want your guests eating is cheap food, be honest with them up front. While we’re not likely to open a menu and see “proudly supplied by Cheap Foods Benefitting 3 Billionaires Intl”, it’s refreshing to see the tides change. While you may or may not be able to recreate Noli’s perfect slice at home, you can buy your ingredients where your favorite restaurants do and come pretty close! Every one of the growers we have mentioned offers a seasonal CSA. They’re all present at your weekend farmer’s market, and many of them maintain real estate on HyVee’s produce and meat aisles. ,





he debut book from Martin Bruckner, I Love You with All My Butt!: An Illustrated Book of Big Thoughts from Little Kids, cleverly highlights the funny, sad, ridiculous, and, sometimes, creepy things young children say. “The title is really just a little kid who is so excited to tell her parents something sweet, but she made a mistake, and it came out butt rather than heart. It’s just so sweet, which is essentially the essence of the whole book,” says Martin. The novelty book illuminates the brilliant and beautiful ways children see their world, and how the adults in their lives respond to it. The Omaha native, known as Spaghetti Toes, first created an illustrated book of silly sayings, and presented it to his wife as a Mother’s Day gift, which is where the food-themed moniker began. When their daughter, Harper, was 2 she decided to play with her dinner rather than eat it. Martin overheard his wife say, “Please don’t put spaghetti between your toes!” The phrase left a lasting image in Martin’s mind, which inspired him to not only write down the quips and phrases of family life, but also illustrate them. “My daughter is very witty, and sensitive. My wife, is very witty, and tells it like it is. Between the two of them I never run out of content,” said Martin during a recent phone interview. He said he has 200 quotes from his family written down, which are still waiting for him to add his artistic interpretation.


“Big Thoughts from Little Kids” BY SUMMER MILLER

Word of the clever and heart-felt gift idea quickly spread among friends and family via social media, and eventually multiple online and traditional media sources including Today,, CNN, BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post picked up his story. Soon, people from around the world wrote to him asking that he create custom prints of the sweet, silly and sad things that tumbled from the mouths of their own children. From the culmination of personal quotes and those from parents near and far Martin created, I Love You with All My Butt! which will be released by Workman Publishing on April 7. Some of the illustrated quotes show how a child hears words we take for granted, like replacing the word hamper with hamster, leading to an image of a furry rodent eating the child’s laundry or the space themed: “Daddy, I love you past the moon and Mars and all the stars where there’s nothing. I love you where there’s nothing.” He and his wife, Michelle, both have design backgrounds, and had collaborated on other projects in the past, including Creatureland Studios, where Martin essentially acted as a colorist for a child’s original artwork and Harp and Squirrel on Etsy, where they sell prints, pacifiers and burp cloths, among other creative takes on the tools we need to raise children. For Martin, Michelle and Harper, art and creativity is a truly a group effort, and he expects the family business to evolve as their daughter grows. “She’s five now, so she doesn’t stumble over words, and ideas like she used too. She has a stronger command of language. She’s also becoming more of her own person, and I’m careful of how much of her life I put out there in the world,” said Martin. “I see us collaborating on projects as she grows up, rather than just illustrating the things she says.” A quick check of the Spaghetti Toes Instagram feed or Facebook page shows places where he and his daughter work together on prints about Spiderman and colorful dinner plates about Harper’s latest obsession, Teen Titans. She often draws the outlines while her dad colors them. Spaghetti-Toes is a side hustle for Martin, who spends his days working as the Art Director for Wes and Willy, a boys clothing company. “I do all of my work for Spaghetti-Toes in my basement with Harper dancing nearby, and Michelle is always crafting something, so even though this has been my nights and weekends for the last three years, we are all together and we are all part of this. I think that’s what makes it so special.” To find out more about Martin Bruckner visit his website www. or follow him on Instagram at spaghettitoesdad. You can preorder I Love You with All My Butt: An Illustrated Book of Big Thoughts from Little Kids at The Book Worm in Omaha, NE or online at


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April 7, 6-8 p.m. Through April 28

Modern Arts Midtown ‘ELUSIVE MOMENTS’ Modern Arts Midtown 3615 Dodge St

artists seem like a good the work of each is a variation on a theme. “My mission as an artist,” McCuen says in her own statement, “is to capture and communicate the essence of classic modern architecture and design through stylization and abstraction,” ….a stylized minimalism, as it were, giving us instead a concept, her concept of reality rather than representation.

Modern Arts Midtown’s next exhibit, Elusive Moments not only highlights accomplished realist painter Merrill Peterson, its supporting cast of Barbara McCuen, Clifford Bailey, Justin Meyers and Don Williams might also change one’s own concept and appreciation of representational art.

Sunday, April 2, 3 p.m.

Opens April 5 - Though April 9

Presbyterian Church of the Cross 1517 South 114 St

Lied Education Center for the Arts 24th and Cass Weds-Sat 7:30 pm, Sun. 2 p.m. Tickets: $5-$18

The Harp Trio at The Vesper Concerts

A Sunday sun may shine when two Omaha Symphony musicians and one from the Lincoln Symphony offer special colors in which to bask. Violist Brian Sherwood, flutist Maria Harding and harpist Kathleen Wychulis perform “Le Soleil Multicolore” (“The Multi-Colored Sun”) by France’s Jacques Bondon. He wrote it in 1970, showing impressionistic reflections and rhythms akin to those of Debussy, by whom he was decidedly influenced. You’ll hear their kinship when this offers the 1915 “Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp,” known to many music lovers as Debussy’s most special and appealing chamber work. The program further includes Benjamin Britten’s 1950 composition “Lachrymae: Reflections on a song of Dowland” for viola and piano, a set of variations, actually, on two of John Dowland’s songs “Flow My Tears” (1600) and “If my complaints could passions move (1597). Glowing. - Gordon Spencer

Little Women— The Musical

During and shortly after America’s Civil War many women sought to overcome traditional gender restraints. Their story became epitomized in Louisa May Alcott’s famed, best-selling novel, Little Women. A musical version comes to life at Creighton University Theatre. The 1869 semi-autobiographical novel, focuses on the four March sisters, strong-willed aspiring writer Jo, traditional Meg, self-centered Amy, and shy Beth — and their beloved mother Marmee. The music is by Jason Howland; he won the 2015 Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album of Beautiful, The Carole King Musical (coming to the Orpheum this month.) The lyrics are by Mindi Dickstein who wrote the book for Toy Story: The Musical. This book is by Allan Knee, creator of the play which became the basis for the movie Finding Neverland. A Newsday review of the 2005 Broadway production of this show called it “a heartwarming story that hits the right emotional notes.” Sweetness and light? - Gordon Spencer


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As the show statement says, though Peterson’s subjects are meticulously rendered by careful observation, his “critical eye has found circumstances for inclusion of complex reflections, patterns and light sources that have expanded and at times subverted our idea of reality.” The result is often a fascinating mix of depth perception and distortion, yet an altogether enjoyable experience.

Most of Bailey’s still life paintings, equal parts formalism in composition and process and hyper-realism in style, will remind viewers of the Old Masters. Each is a careful study, not only a realistic rendering of the subject, but also of the technique and craft of applying oil paint to canvas. As for Myers, his more organic, gestural works in graphite and charcoal explore the use of simple material to portray simple subject matter and composition with a borderline eccentric approach to detail.

“The ordinary becomes extraordinary, and the real seemingly unreal. Peterson’s newest work invites intellectual and psychological response as well as an appreciation for his masterful painting in oil.” If a heightened sense of reality, a hyperreality actually, is the order of the day for this exhibition, then the accompanying

Finally, photo-realism is represented here with the “elusive” pastels and oils of Williams who, in contrast to Peterson, achieves low-key reflection on the peculiarities of representation without undue fussiness, knowing how suggestive it can be. A sense of place without extreme detail. For details and gallery hours, go to or call 402502-8737. ~Michael J. Krainak

Friday, April 7, 7-10pm

DEREK COURTNEY ‘Sameness Without End’ Benson Petshop Gallery

memoir details the journey of becoming an urban environmentalist aiming to hunt for the food she eats every day. The general admission is minimal at $20 and includes the exhibition viewing, light snacks and one free drink ticket. ~ JoAnna LeFlore

Through May 26th NEW Gallery Hours: Fridays 6-8 p.m.

April 8 and 9

TEN YEARS AFTER: The Omaha Health Expo 17 Baxter Arena

mustache and a lone suitcase as the base while he strums the guitar with a broken bottle tip. Currently on tour and working on his fourth project, The Suitcase Junket is sure to hit the airwaves soon with a fastgrowing fan base. Catch the performance this month at the Reverb Lounge for a deal admission of 20 bucks. You’ll be guaranteed to pay more the next time he comes around. ~ JoAnna LeFlore

Opens April 14 - Through May 7


Omaha Health Expo and Vaccine Summit Omaha: Both under one roof

Visual artist Derek Courtney has a way with words, describing his exhibition and creative process as a series of exercises and an escapism from reality. He notes this idea of a perceived security that people experience as ‘sameness’ while seeking to engage the audience through contemporary art. Derek’s works are a 2-D expression presented often from an abstract purview. This exhibition is devoted to presenting a brutally honest perspective on the meaning of contemporary visual art. Curated by gallery owners Alex Jochim and Jamie Hardey, check out this First Friday opening and bring a friend, the kind that has a sense of humor and enjoys a good conversation about social issues. - JoAnna LeFlore

A Benefit Concert for Immigration and Arts Advocacy Slowdown, Tickets $15

A collaboration between Justice for Our Neighbors and Nebraska Cultural Endowment, this benefit concert will host a number of Omaha favorites on stage including Icky Blossoms, High Up along with the headliner Dolores Diaz and the Standby Club. Get your fix of country music covers, punk soul and indie rock inspiration while supporting community services focused on immigration rights and arts advocacy. There’s a chance that the initiatives these two organizations pursue could be affected by legislative issues in the near future so all ticket sales will be donated to both respectively. General admission is only $15 a person. This is an all ages affair so bring the whole family. ~ JoAnna LeFlore

April 7, 7-8:30 p.m.

CALL OF THE MILD with Lily Raff McCaulou

April 9

Joslyn Art Museum

Reverb Lounge

As an additional program in tandem with the current exhibition Wild Spaces, Open Seasons at the Joslyn Museum, a special talk with author and hunter Lily Raff McCaulou discusses issues around ethical hunting. While Lily began her writing career as a journalist living in Oregon, her

Objects like electrical tape, steel wool, and organza are crafted together to add new textures and mass that impart a spatial awareness and interaction beyond the original functionality of the materials. Part to Part opens with an artist reception on April 14 and is on view through May 27.

Sunday, April 9, 6 p.m.

Dolores Diaz and the Standby Club

The Suitcase Junket

Witnesses are calling the sound of The Suitcase Junket a mystical rehab of music as the lead artist Matt Lorenz uses vintage salvaged materials to win over your soul. His raspy voice brings up emotions you forgot about while he performs with what sounds like a 10-man band. But it’s just him, a cool

Hawks Mainstage Theatre Omaha Community Playhouse 6915 Cass St. Weds.-Sat.: 7:30 p.m. Sunday: 2 p.m.

~ Melinda Kozel

Monday, April 17, 7 p.m.

A couple of English actors are down on their heels performing Shakespeare crisscrossing the U.S. and find that donning women’s heels and cross-dressing may be the most lucrative roles they’ve ever had. That’s the frame for this Ken Ludwig farcical farrago. Leo Clark and Jack Gable take on new roles in a late 50s Pennsylvania town endeavoring to cash in on a wealthy widow’s yearning to pass on her bucks to dear English relatives. Turns out those kin are feminine. Underneath those skirts, by the way, the boys are quite straight. Mix-ups, double entendres, snappy banter and slapstick bounce around to a fare-thee-well. Present too are other earmarks of Ludwigism: vain, erratic, confused show biz types along with, here, subtexts on what lies beneath the surfaces of art and of artists. He’s has made his name for such stuff like Lend Me a Tenor, Moon Over Buffalo and Crazy for You. - Gordon Spencer

April 14, 6-9 p.m.

‘Part to Part’ Union for Contemporary Arts 2423 N 24th Street Seykora sculptural exhibit at UCA reimagines perception of every day objects


Currently on view in a two-person show with Dan Crane at the Michael Phipps Gallery in the Omaha Public Library, Angie Seykora will solo beginning April 14 in the Wanda D. Ewing Gallery in the Union for Contemporary Art’s newly renovated Blue Lion Building. In her exhibit Part to Part, Seykora sculpts in an act of transformation, turning plastics and everyday objects in more mysterious and seductive pieces. Concentrating on the material properties of these objects, the artist highlights the tactile and visual experience with repetition and handiwork to transform our perception from an actual object’s use to questions of the object’s value and sustainability in its role in a mass-produced world.

‘Tumble, Rag, Freylakh, Hop’ — an EKO NOVA Concert Kaneko, 1111 Jones St.

The title says it already. Feet, toes, shoes on the move in music of our time, threefourths from Americans. “Tumble” comes from Argentina-born Alejandro Vinao citing African, Latin American and Asian traditions, performers unfolding shifting rhythms in pulses changing with every step. Violin. Marimba. Computer. Four rags actually, for clarinet and piano by John Novacek, inspired by the granddaddy of them all, Scott Joplin, plus striders James P. Johnson and Fats Waller. Re “Freylakh,”


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you don’t have to be Jewish to recognize that, but it could aid you get set for a clarinet/violin/piano combo in Hassidic modes, klezmorim-like in a trio by Paul Schoenfeld. “Hop” is the title for a Paul Lansky marimba/violin item. He’s often tuned into jazz and folk and plenty of percussion. Clarinetist John Klinghammer, Susan Chen at the piano, Noah Geller playing violin and percussionist Mari Yoshinaga take it all on. The essence of the resonance of Eko Nova. - Gordon Spencer

~ JoAnna LeFlore

Through April 21

‘Close Imaginary Time’ Hillmer Gallery, College of St. Mary Hillmer Gallery exhibit continues increased interest in artist Simcoe’s work

April 19

Mike Kronschnabel TRIBUTE

Close Imaginary Time, which opened at the College of St. Mary’s Hillmer Gallery on March 2, is the latest installment in a resurgence of interest in the work of Barbara Simcoe.

The Waiting Room Lounge

A special tribute show is held to honor the legacy of Mike “Kronch” Kronschnabel, a music historian and a leader to the Nebraska music scene since the early 90’s. The event will kick off with performances featuring local groups who cherish the contributions that Mike made. Artists set to the stage include Anonymous American, Brad Howshaw, Janglepop, Wakanda One, Bill Arab, Michael Campbell, Pat Gherman and Jason Birnsthil. While Mike was only 56 when he passed from a failing heart, his impact will ring for decades on as a music scholarship has been created in his name. ~ JoAnna LeFlore

April 20

Khalid Slowdown

Khalid is the new kid on the block traveling from El Paso, Texas to the big stages while on tour under Sony Music Entertainment. Presented by the local radio station Power 106.9 FM, Khalid shows promise as an emerging teen acoustic pop artist being featured in the Billboard magazine and now touring across the country. He’s also now an international touring artist with about 265,000 followers on Instagram and thousands more on Soundcloud. His nationwide hits “Location” and “American Teen” are the top choices for plenty of spotify playlists these days. How did this young


guy come to so much fame? He credits social media to his career launching after he uploaded songs on Soundcloud and then Kylie Jenner gave a sound bite shout out to him on Snapchat. The sky is the limit for this guy so be sure to check him out.

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The last year has seen her exhibit indepth bodies of work in Omaha, Nebraska City and Wayne. With the Hillmer show, Simcoe offers an update to the painting retrospective she had there in 2006; Close Imaginary Time offers a range of works in oil on canvas, oil on panel and oil pastel that trace her activity since that time. Simcoe is a professor of art at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where she has taught painting and drawing since 1998, as well as worked steadily in her own studio in the media of paint, printmaking and drawing. For many years now, Simcoe has been creating montage-based compositions that combine the female figure, architectural fragments and natural elements into metaphorical narratives--artworks that suggest, but do not define, deeper meanings and connections. Her particular interest in historical fragments and antique archetypes give the works a timeless sensibility. Close Imaginary Time runs through April 21 at the Hillmer Gallery in Walsh Hall, College of St. Mary. The gallery is free to the public and is open Mon-Thu from 9am-7:30pm, Fri from 9am-5pm, and Sat from 8:30am-12:30pm, except during University holidays. ~ Janet L. Farber

Through April 23

BOB BOSCO: ‘A Painter’s Yoga Journey’ Gallery 1516



Yoga might be better for us than we think. Physical benefits aside, artist Bob Bosco has found a muse in yoga, and his solo exhibition, A Painter’s Yoga Journey, opening March 30 at Gallery 1516 may save your brain as well.

April 28, Friday 7:30 p.m.

KICKIN’ BRASS: A Nebraska Brass Concert

We’ve all heard of studies touting the psychological and stress-relieving benefits of making and viewing art. A study, published in 2015 in the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, found clear evidence that yoga can help protect us from age-related decline in gray matter, especially in the brain’s left hemisphere. Subscribers to either cerebral hemisphere (or both) are invited to reap the benefits of Robert Bosco’s paintings. Bosco, an avid yoga practitioner and Associate Professor of Art at Creighton University, has created over the last eight years a body of work devoted to the practice of yoga, each a deep study of a different asana, or yoga posture. The images will illuminate an upcoming book, Yoga: The Discipline by Omaha Yoga School founder Margaret Hahn. An award-winning artist, Bosco’s work spans several public arts projects, including the Yoga Piano, a public interactive art project, and he has participated in more than 70 exhibitions nationally/regionally, often in collaboration with choreographers, dancers and musicians. Those interested should note the artist will hold a special performance event April 20th focusing on the refugee cause and featuring the Yoga Piano. ~ Kent Behrens

April 26

The Black Swan Theory 44 Alamo Drafthouse Theater 12750 Westport Parkway, La Vista Live Jazz band performance and screening w/ Big Wade & The Black Swan Theory

April 27

John Németh


Chrome Lounge Catch the Buzz: Blues, Funk and Jazz music scenes of Omaha

St. Thomas Lutheran Church 17007 Q Street

Lots of American music strides the stage in this event. A stomp from the Aaron Copland ballet Rodeo, as arranged by Nebraska’s Jay Pralle, a Scott Joplin rag and blues by W.C. Handy. Speaking of rags, Claude Debussy portrays a child’s rag doll striding forth in “Golliwog’s Cakewalk.” Expect a graceful waltz by Cuban-born jazzman Paquito D’Rivera. Zipping along too is the “Sabre Dance” by Aram Khachaturian. And sizzling ever so busily comes a transformation of a famed Rimsky-Korsakov item, known this time out, “Flight of the Tuba Bee,” Howard Cable’s reworking for his homeland fellows of the Canadian Brass. Plus something by J.S. Bach, Tomaso Albinoni, more Copland and Debussy. Performing are Mark Mendell, trombonist, a music instructor in the Council Bluffs school system and, from Lincoln, Dean Haist and Brad Obbink on trumpets, Richard Ricker playing horn and Ben Arunski on tuba. Steps lively, wouldn’t you say? - Gordon Spencer

April 28, 7-9 p.m.

Art rEVOLVEd Kaneko Kaneko event showcases Revolve Fine Art’s corporate mission: ‘Buy local,’ art that is.

Revolve Fine Art, an Omaha-based public benefit corporation focused on promoting local artists to corporate clients via art leasing, sales, and commissions, is taking its “show” on the road. RFA and Kaneko will present, Art rEVOLVEd: Local Art & Local Business: Concontinued on page 25 y


GENERAL INFORMATION Free Tree Climb Opportunity! Climb Nebraska’s state champion swamp white oak with a rope and harness from 11am-4pm. -Presented by Nebraska Statewide Arboretum “Dust of your Bike” & Valet Bike Parking! A kids safety course will be taught from 1-2pm and limited supply of free helmets will be given to the first kids to complete the safety training. -Presented by Omaha Bikes Electronic Recycling! Recycle anything with a cord, motor or battery! (Small fees apply for televisions and CRT monitors.) – Presented by Cross Electronic Recycling Food Court (402 BBQ, Dante Pizzeria, Lauren Beth’s Popcorn, Lindsey Enterprise, Prairie Fire Pizza, Renear Inc, Scotty’s Go Go Grill, Smokin’ Lefty’s BBQ & More!)

Health & Wellness Circle

Participate in these active demonstrations! 11:00 AM: Capoeira Angola 12:00 PM: Yoga Rocks the Park 1:00 PM: The Omaha International Folk Dancers 2:00 PM: Omaha Belly Dance Instruction with Della 3:00 PM: Omaha Tai Chi Association

Demonstration Tent

Thanks to the Green Omaha Coalition for sponsoring the demonstration tent

11:00 AM Rain Barrel Demonstration – Andy Szatko, Omaha Stormwater 11:30 AM Tree Planting – Diana Failla, Urban Bird & Nature Alliance and Midtown Neighborhood Alliance and Kyle Johnson, Joslyn Art Museum 12:00 PM Worm Composting – WeCompost 12:30 PM Storm Water Management & Rain Gardens – Andy Szatko, Omaha Stormwater 1:00 PM Monarch Butterflies – Nancy Scott, Master Gardener 1:30 PM MUD Home Savings – Sarah Campbell, Metropolitan Utilities District 2:00 PM Rain Barrel Demonstration – Andy Szatko, Omaha Stormwater 2:30 PM Urban Chickens – Friends of Extension & 4-H Douglas/Sarpy County Foundation


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Stage Schedule 11:00 a.m. Dr. David Corbin, Welcome and Folk Music 11:30 a.m. OPPD Director Craig Moody 11:45 a.m. Omaha Area Mayors and the Hefty Energy Bag Program 12:05 p.m. Young Spirit Dancers 12:40 p.m. Friend of the Environment Awards 1:00 p.m. Southpaw Bluegrass Band 1:40 p.m. State Senator Rick Kolowski, Environment & the Unicameral 1:50 p.m. Brad Ashford, Midtown Vision 2050 2:00 p.m. Closeness 2:40 p.m. Kara Eastman, Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance, Lead Contamination 2:50 p.m. James Cavanaugh, Sierra Club, Green the (Waste) Stream 3:00 p.m. Clarence Tilton 3:40 p.m. Kevin Flatowicz-Farmer, Modeshift Omaha, and Jason Rose, Metro Area Transit 3:50 p.m. Heath Mello - Omaha’s Green Future 4:00 p.m. Icky Blossoms 4:40 p.m. Linda Anderson, Bold Nebraska 4:55 p.m. Kris Lager Band 5:35 p.m. Dr. Ali S. Khan, Dean, UNMC College of Public Health - Climate Change 6:00 p.m. March For Science Starts



Beer Garden

Benson’s Jake’s and neighbors Infusion Brewing are doing all local brews for the beer garden. Our focus with teaming up with our neighbors for this event is to “Think Global, Act (or drink) Local”. We will be serving 6 Infusion beers, along with an exclusive Earth Day IPA which Jake’s and Infusion recently brewed together. It is a bright IPA that is perfect for enjoying while being out in the sun. Before the Earth Day event in Elmwood, we will be serving our Earth Day IPA at Jake’s, Infusion, and also Beercade and St. Andrews to promote the event. We will be serving our beers in reusable Earth Day cups which can also be rinsed and taken home to be used again and again.




Hiking/Biking Trails

Wehrspann Lake at Chalco Hills West of Highway 50 and Giles Rd. Featuring Fishing Pier • No-wake Boating • Picnicking and Much More! Park Hours 6:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Metro Area Hiking/Biking Trails The NRD cooperates with other government agencies to provide safe, and enjoyable trails for all ages and ability.

The Papio-Missouri River is one of 23 NRDs in Nebraska Protecting Lives, Protecting Property, Protecting our Future

Finding Solutions | EARTH DAY OMAHA |

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Find out what you can recycle at





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Omaha is playing a leading role in recycling industry innovation Hefty® Energy Bag is a groundbreaking initiative helping Omaha-area residents recycle previously non-recycled plastics – like juice pouches, candy wrappers and plastic dinnerware – at curbside, for conversion into valuable energy resources.

Coming soon to a neighborhood near you! Sustainable Presenting Sponsor of


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Check for Exhibitor and Booth Assignments Some of this year’s Exhibitors & Vendors American Red Cross - Heartland Chapter Audubon Society of Omaha AWA Junk Removal & Donation Pickup Baxter Subaru Benson Theatre Benson Plant Rescue / Community Produce Rescue Big Dogs Huge Paws Center for Biological Diversity The Center for Mindful Living City of Omaha / Omaha Recycles City of Omaha Stormwater Program Clover Leaf Botanicals College of Saint Mary Green Team CommonGround Nebraska Countryside Community Church - Faith and the Environment Douglas County Environmental Services Exist Green Fontenelle Forest Friends of Extension & 4-H Foundation in Douglas/Sarpy Counties Futureamics Clean Water GC Resolve/ReVOLT Green Omaha Coalition Happy Faces Face Painting Hefty Energy Bag Hyatt Keep Omaha Beautiful Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail - National Park Service Metro Transit Metropolitan Area Planning Agency (MAPA) Metropolitan Community College Millard Oaks Chiropractic


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Mode Shift Omaha MOTAC Nebraska Environmental Trust Nebraska Ethanol Board Nebraska Forest Service Nebraska Master Naturalist Program Nebraska Recycling Council Nebraska Science Festival Nebraska Sierra Club Nebraskans for Solar & Nebraska Solar Schools Norwex Omaha Astronomical Society Omaha Biofuels Coop Omaha Farmers Market Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium Omaha Metro Area Humanist Association Omaha Organics Omaha Public Library OPPD Omaha TM Center Papio-Missouri Natural Resources District Paradigm Gardens Renewal by Anderson Sahaja Yoga Meditation Saving Grace Perishable Food Rescue Spartan Nash Takoda Green Thrasher, Inc. University of Nebraska at Omaha - Sustainability UNMC & Nebraska Medicine Werner Enterprises Whole Foods Zoo Academy & MORE!


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About Earth Day Omaha Earth Day Omaha is made possible by the Earth Day Omaha Coalition, which is comprised of volunteers from organizations and the community.

Proud sponsor of Earth Day Omaha 2017

The Earth Day Omaha Coalition is dedicated to increasing public awareness of environmental issues through annual Earth Day events and activities. The Earth Day Omaha Coalition is affiliated with Earth Day Network, the international organization coordinating Earth Day events worldwide. Our Mission The mission of the Earth Day Omaha Coalition is to organize, direct and produce the city’s annual Earth Day event, providing a showcase for the many charitable, scientific and educational efforts advocating for sustainable environmental practices and lifestyles. Board of Directors Liz Davis, President Karri Martin, President, elect Angie Remington, Treasurer Carla Bobier Secretary Sasha Forsen Zachary Lutz-Priefert

Cassandra Zywiec Candy Bless Supporting Staff Brittany Dabestani, Logistics John Heaston, Sponsorships Candy Bless, Volunteers



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Must be 19. Please play responsibly. Problem Gambling Help Line: 800-522-4700.

Celebrate Earth Week with us! Proud Sponsor of Earth Day Omaha

Earth Week is one of our signature Corporate Responsibility programs.

Visit our Family Fare stores to: Enter to win a $100 gift bag of environmentally friendly products. Vote April 10 - 13 on our website for the reusable bag design that best reflects the Nebraska culture. Enjoy fREE lOcal bEER taStingS on Sat., April 22 from 2 - 4 PM at select stores. Participate in our Bellevue Family Fare’s Earth Day Extravaganza event on Sat., April 29 from 11-1. Receive a fREE SEED PackEt on Sat., April 22 (50 customers per store). More information: Share the Love: using #SNEarthWeek | EARTH DAY OMAHA |

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BIKExtravaganza at Earth Day Omaha Saturday, April 2, 2017 11 am - 6 pm at Elmwood Park

DUST OFF YOUR BIKE Ride or bring your bike to have master mechanics from Community Bike Project Omaha and Ponderosa Cyclery for a FREE safety inspection, chain cleaning, and minor adjustments.

BIKE TO EARTH DAY No need to bring a lock! Save the parking hassle and Bike To Earth Day for FREE bike valet parking right in Elmwood Park! Your bike will be safe in our corral and supervised by Earth Day volunteers.

GREEN KIDS LIDS Have your kiddos brains outgrown their helmets? Bring them by (1 - 2:30pm) for FREE bike safety eduction and helmet fittings for the first 50 kids by Live Well Omaha certified instructors.

for more information visit

Driving alone is one of the leading contributors to pollution, and it’s a common habit built into most of our lives. Single-occupancy vehicles emit more toxins, add more congestion, and cost more to the city and the individual than other modes of transportation. Every day, Metro Transit helps protect and improve our region’s air quality by helping thousands of citizens move around the city without a car. At Metro, we’re proud to be a 2017 sponsor of Earth Day Omaha. We’re working hard to provide high-quality public transportation that is useful, convenient, and environmentally-friendly. And, we’re excited that our upcoming Bus Rapid Transit service will incorporate the metropolitan area’s first 60-foot articulated compressed natural gas buses, a trend that will continue into our existing diesel buses. Stay up to date with news from Metro Transit through our website: or our Facebook page: Metro Transit Omaha. Whether it’s a part of your daily commute, a trip out to lunch, or a night on the town, we invite you to give transit a try. Welcome aboard!

Eat the Most Delicious Things on Earth

We Believe in Real Food




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We help make every day Earth Day. As one of America’s leading producers of renewable biofuels, Green Plains is proud to support Earth Day Omaha and everyone who helps make sustainable living a reality in our area and beyond.

About Werner Enterprises Werner Enterprises, Inc. was founded in 1956 and has evolved from a one-truck operation to the full-service premier transportation and logistics company it is today, with coverage throughout North America, Asia, Europe, South America, Africa and Australia. Werner is among the five largest truckload carriers in the United States. We invest in the best at Werner, providing all of our professional drivers with more home time and competitive pay along with some of the best benefits and newest equipment in the industry. Our philosophy, unlike many of our competitors, is to stress quality over quantity, and this principle is evident in every aspect of our company. In 1998, Werner was the first carrier to receive FMCSA approval to implement electronic logging devices and eliminate paper logbooks. Werner is committed to conservation and sustainability. Since 2007, Werner has saved more than 180 million gallons of fuel and reduced the company’s carbon footprint by 2 million tons. As a leader in freight transportation, Werner developed the first military apprenticeship program in the industry approved by the Department of Labor and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Through this innovative work-based learning program, eligible veterans can receive their taxfree GI Bill benefits for up to two years, in addition to their normal pay. Werner is a proud supporter of military veterans and veteran spouses, who comprise approximately 20 percent of the company’s workforce.



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nected. Empowered. Inspired. April 28 from 7-9:00 p.m. The program, which is free and open to the public, will demonstrate how Revolve Fine Art benefits both corporations and represented artists as well as the general community. Art rEVOLVEd will feature presentations from five of RFA’s artists, Andrea Schmitz Stein, Daniel Boylan, Bart Vargas, Watie White and Mary Zicafoose who will speak with on their creative processes and ap-

Friday, April 28, 9 p.m.


The Waiting Room Lounge

Hip Hop junkies who know about the sound of the southern bounce should be excited to hear that artist Juvenile will perform the favorite jams of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Songs that hit the Billboard charts like “Slow Motion” and plenty of collaborations with veterans Mannie Fresh, Lil Jon and the Cash Money Record group. If you know nothing else about Juvenile, note that he was a part of the same group that helped Lil Wayne get on the map back when he was a teen rap star. You won’t leave this concert without learning a few new dance moves so bring your very best friends. You can also get a VIP ticket which includes a meet and greet and early entry. Then your friends will think you are really cool. ~ JoAnna LeFlore

proaches to the visual arts with examples of their work on display. In addition to the artist presentations, Revolve Fine Art will present its philosophy that living with art improves life, at home and at work, while serving its mission to “represent and promote local artists in an accessible, alternative way: by leasing their artwork to local businesses. “Leasing provides a 100% tax-deductible alternative to purchasing art that not only supports our local artists, but also infuses your work environment with original works of art.” Perhaps best of all is Revolve Fine Art’s commitment to supporting the work of local artists. It’s not unusual to see works of art at some level in the lobbies and offices of Omaha’s corporations, medical facilities and other professional buildings. But how often are these original works of art and not merely reproductions? And how often are the originals one sees created by Omaha or area artists? “Buy local” takes on new meaning and offers the opportunity for some of the area’s most accomplished to become household names beyond even the ordinary art scene. And it gives the corporate community the chance to display original art in revolving exhibitions without capital investment. For details and more information about the program and the artists, go to ~ Michael J. Krainak

Friday, April 28, 9 p.m.

Satchel Grande The Slowdown

Sometimes you just need to dance and Satchel Grande can give you the inspiration. The 10-member band has catchy lyrics mixed with funk and party-time themed beats. Their music is perfect for creating memories and they often grace stages across Omaha since forming over 10 years ago. While you’re listening, the group reminds you to put having a good time first on your list and do away with worries and regrets. Don’t come to this show unless you plan to enjoy yourself. ~ JoAnna LeFlore

April 29 & 30

Hot Shops Art Center SPRING OPEN HOUSE Saturday, 12-8 p.m. | Sunday, 12-5 p.m.

This Spring, Hot Shops hosts its 16th Annual open house fit with live demonstrations from artists on bronze pouring, glass blowing, ceramic pottery and a tour

of the facilities. Visit open studios to witness artists in the creative process of painting, photography, sculpture and plenty more. This is a great chance to do something fun and free with the whole family, plus grab some grub while you’re there. If you miss this one, you’ll have to wait until December for the next one. - JoAnna LeFlore

Saturday, April 29, 4 p.m.

‘Resilience of the 20%’ Cassils, community join at Bemis in a world premiere performance against LGBTQI+ violence in Omaha Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts

Interdisciplinary artist Cassils will take their gritty, provocative performance and video exhibition, Phantom Revenant at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts on the road Saturday, April 29, with a highly touted phase II world premiere. As a performance artist now based in Los Angeles, Cassils produces potent evidence of unseen violence while questioning the act of witnessing in contemporary media culture. The overall exhibition and its title, Phantom Revenant, speaks to the double invisibility of LGBTQI+ people across the world and the ways this violence is ignored and thus perpetuated. What began as phase I, Becoming An Image (2013–present), a body-intensive attack on a 2,000 pound clay block performed in total darkness and visible to viewers only through the flash of a camera, will escalate and evolve into the next stage titled Resilience of the 20%. In this phase, beginning at Bemis at 4 p.m., Cassils, along with advocates and allies, will physically push the battered clay block, now cast as a 1,300 pound bronze monument, to sites of resistance and places where violence against marginalized peoples have occurred in downtown Omaha. Preparing for this public performance, The Bemis Center and Cassils are currently working with community members and the Omaha Police Department to identify locations where violence has occurred against gender non-conforming and other disregarded people. With the world premiere of Resilience in Omaha, Cassils calls attention to overlooked trauma and the perseverance of the human spirit—raising questions about memory,


witnessing, and forgotten and ignored histories. When cast in bronze, the clay block became The Resilience of the 20% (2016), a title that points to 2012 when murders of trans individuals increased by 20%. The umbrella exhibition Phantom Revenant, curated by Alex Priest, Bemis Center Exhibitions Manager, includes a six-channel video installation Powers that Be that further extends the theme of witness-as-participant in violence. In the 2015 video, Cassils staged a brutal two-person fight with an invisible opponent in a parking garage. Viewers of this performance were encouraged to document the event with their cells phones, calling attention to the trend to document violence while failing to intervene. ~ Michael J. Krainak

Through May 14

CATHERLAND Shelterbelt Theatre, 3225 California St. Thurs-Sat.: 8 p.m. Sun: 6 p.m. 5/14: 2 p.m. Tickets: $15-$25

South-central Nebraska’s Red Cloud has gained fame for being the home of novelist Willa Cather. Thus when a play bears her name, you could wonder if it’s about her. This one isn’t…exactly, although advance publicity mentions “mysterious guests” and Cather’s “looming shadow.” At the heart of this 2015 musical by Becky Boesen and David von Kampen, Jeffrey and Susan, move to his home town of Red Cloud to slow down from more intense living in Chicago. Evidently, their lives start to unravel with what the playwright calls “an immediate life or death problem.” A ghost materializes. Boesen was honored as an “Individual Playwright of Merit” by the Nebraska Arts Council. 30-year-old composer Von Kampen received a 2015 ASCAP Young Jazz Composer award and was a winner in the 2014 San Francisco Choral Artists New Voices Project. Both hail from Lincoln, but not-too-far Red Cloud has become large in their lives. - Gordon Spencer

Wednesdays, 8 p.m. - 2 a.m.

Open Mic Night


Down Under Lounge What you should know about Omaha’s Open Mic scene


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Chimeras group exhibit at Bemis creates fascinating human hybrids B Y J A N E T FA R B E R



rom atop our perch in the animal kingdom food chain, we humans enjoy a particular point of view. Evolution, we reason, has been kind. Yet, how separate are we really from those we share the planet? And if, as the Puritans decreed, Nature is what we were put into this world to rise above, why the continued fascination with the beast within? Greek mythology got to this idea early: it included such human hybrids as satyrs, centaurs and harpies. The creature it called Chimera was a monstrous and fearsome combination of lion, goat and snake. Science fiction now provides a range of provocative examples of human chimeras. Think Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau, George Langelaan’s The Fly, Margaret Atwood’s MaddAdam Trilogy and the like. They deal with the potential of scientific engineering, and the societal and ethical questions and consequences that arise from its use. In a similar vein, Chimeras, one of the trio of current exhibitions at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, was organized to explore six artist/collaborator’s responses to the slippery boundaries between human and animal bodies, since they are “increasingly integrated in medical, pharmaceutical, and biotechnological realms.” The artists’ starting points are diverse; some are inspired by love of the natural world while others are intrigued about how culture values reproductive technologies. And it is notable that each artist is multi-disciplinary--a hybrid of ideas translated through sculpture, video, photography and installation. The show opens with “The Timber”, a 17-minute video piece by Julia Oldham, a performance artist/ choreographer/animation and live action video artist. Oldham, who describes a lifelong fascination with nature, math and science, creates work whose intention is to cross a communication divide between humans and critters by adapting the latters’ conventions and behaviors. The result of a residency in Marshalltown, Iowa, Oldham spent time studying the ritualized motions and habits of the spiders and insects that she observed in the forest and prairie landscapes there. In “The Timber”, Oldham assumes the role of interpretive dancer, acting out repetitive sets of movements inspired by invertebrate behaviors. The resulting video is a composite of several performances filmed on location and edited to show the performance at speeds ranging from real time to greatly accelerated, to mimic actual rates of insect movements. It is enhanced by an overlay of nature sounds, especially the clicking and whirring noises of bugs (many fabricated by the artist in the studio). Oldham seems to remind of the significance of non-verbal expression—those gestures and social cues that may be understood at the most


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instinctual level, with which humans have lost sensitivity in the wake of verbal and virtual communications. Working along a similar vein of exploring animal nature in humans is the mesmerizing art of Kate Clark. The Brooklynbased artist is essentially a taxidermy sculptor who takes unwanted and imperfect hides and painstakingly reconstructs each mammal accurately, save for the startling addition of human facial features derived from Clark’s sessions with live models. Two such sculptures are on view here: “Rivalry”, which features two baboons, and “Bully”, presenting a pair of wolves. Each grouping exhibits posturing behaviors associated with but certainly not limited to their species—competition in the former, dominance and submission in the latter. The addition of the human faces brings into sharp relief the anthropomorphism to which art so often only alludes. Clark’s level of attention to detail and expression renders the mashup beguilingly possible. In fact, various forms of animism—a belief in the spiritual qualities of objects, plants and animals—run through the folk and religious lore of many world cultures. The hare was of particular interest to the late German conceptual artist Joseph Beuys, for whom it represented a creature able to transcend physical and spiritual realms. Reaching beyond the polarities of life and death, artists Lucie Strecker (a performance and hybrid art researcher and practitioner) and Klaus Spiess (a specialist in mindbody relationships) collaborated on a Beuys-inspired project to incorporate the economic and physical life cycle of an artwork into the mix. They transferred rabbit DNA from an artwork by Beuys from which they created new, living cells whose growth or death rates they timed to both auction values of Beuys’ artworks as well as livestock futures on the New York Stock Exchange. As presented at Bemis, “Hare’s Blood +”, consists of a diagrammatic wall drawing roughly describing the conceptual and technical underpinnings of this undertaking, as well as an accompanying video on the wall, and gavel and block on a pedestal. It is a complex work to unpack in anything close to its entirety, given its already complicated intermeshing of Beuysian social art practice with broader considerations of science, economics, and ethics. It is clear that these interdisciplinary artists wish us to find points of discussion along a wide spectrum of value systems, many of which we didn’t imagine could be related. Replication is also at the heart of the installation “Lost and Found But Still Can’t Be Seen (An Altar for My Aura)” by Rashayla Marie Brown. At its center is the winning photograph Brown made of herself as her grandmother, ensconced entirely in leopard print, “You Can’t See Me, Fool”. As part of her overall body of work, it was just one of

many she creates to explore the “role of the artist as an agent and object of desire.” This particular image, however, took off virally across the internet and became its own phenomenon, which the artist continues to document and archive. Multiple instances of its publication, authorized and otherwise, are part of the display, as is a rather unique contract she has fashioned that extends her control of her artwork beyond retaining copyright (use of the image) to the conditions of its resale in perpetuity. When and how, she questions, does an artwork belong to the artist once it has left the studio, when its image is more treasured than the object? Rounding out the exhibition are not one but two artists dealing with the human body’s capabilities for reproduction, more specifically, with a woman’s ability to produce breast milk. Leah DeVun’s suite of color photographs entitled “In the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” consists of unglamorized portraits of lactating women matter-of-factly wearing their breast pump devices. The artist, who is also a noted historian of gender studies, was inspired by her own “very medicalized” birth experience to examine such functional interactions of body and technology. Of course, anything that classifies as a “bodily function” is bound to be a bit of a taboo, visually or otherwise. But at a time when we are daily reminded in commercials that certain toilet papers will make eliminating more enjoyable and that prescriptions are available for all sorts of physical deficits, it may seem curious that breastfeeding, no matter its form, is TMI. The women depicted by DeVun have neutral expressions, masking their individual responses to appliance-enhanced motherhood, which serves to make the portraits that much more discomfiting. Interdisciplinary artist Miriam Simun also collaborated with breastfeeding mothers, intrigued by the informal sale of excess breast milk through such grey markets as Craigslist. For her initial project, she sourced milk from three women, which she made into small batches of artisanal cheese and served with regional food pairings in an installation called “The Lady Cheese Shop”. (Related video, paperwork and diagram are part of the Bemis presentation.) Riffing on such contemporary obsessions as locavore food culture and culinary craftsmanship, Simun also raises questions about the use of the human body to produce food. In a world that benefits from donated blood, semen and organs, what are the necessary technical, legal and ethical boundaries? Unlike the beasts of Greek mythology, there is nothing truly monstrous about the hybridity represented in Chimeras. Its artists instead posit that we benefit from understanding our animal nature, and should acknowledge it as one of the essential parts of ourselves. Chimeras runs through April 29 at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts at 724 S. 12th Street in the Old Market. Open hours are Wednesday-Saturday from 11am-5pm and admission is free. For more information, call 402/341-7130 or visit www.




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Stranded and Abandoned Amid Weary, Bewildered Travelers BY GORDON SPENCER




refugee from a mostly Moslem country is not given Weitz observes, these are people going through internal journeys, asylum when he arrives at an airport. He also cannot discovering each other and themselves. leave. His time in limbo seems endless. Travelers Ten characters closely intermingle and connect. They are coming and going offer him sympathy. But he remains the airport Controller, the Immigration Officer, a lonely older fixed while they move on. Could that be happening today? woman, a pregnant one and her husband, plus another couple, It happened in 1988. A true story. Iranian Mehran Karimi Nasseri, as well as the Stewardess and the Steward. And the Refugee. refused entry in several countries, lived for 18 years in a departure Some people are not clearly named, but rather identified by lounge at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle Airport. There have been what they do “They are dislocated,” says director James Darrah. multiple spin-offs from his story. One is Stephen Spielberg’s 2004 “Their own time and places are suspended; all are forced to movie The Terminal, starring Tom Hanks. remain. Yet, in this quite psychological story, their lives are “Another spin-off arrives at Opera Omaha this month, the like anyone else’s,” with heavy and sad moments, frustrations, opera “Flight” by Jonathan Dove and April De Angelis, chosen extremes of happiness and joy. And, being stranded at length for this season two years ago. Before any Trump travel ban. “The between flights is hardly a rare experience. “This opera is its plight of refugees has been present for a long time,” says Opera own world, dream-like and a little weird,” he observes, with General Director Roger Weitz, reminding us that conflict in Syria nothing entirely realistic. For example, trying to represent an was already raging. “But we couldn’t have imagined back then airport on stage. Then there are the sound effects. Not recorded. where we are today.” Live, as played by the 60-member orchestra. Dove and De Angelis wrote this sometimes serious, sometimes Yet, Darrah wants us to feel that these people are real, even comic work at a time when Nasseri was still living at the airport. though the libretto is “poetic, rather sparse and obtuse. There’s At the center is a character only identified as the Refugee. Equally a lot of humanity in it. You want to believe their motivations. generic, no specific time and place of the story are named. Their hopes and dreams seem true. There is the sense, actually, However, the people who revolve around the Refugee are not of a dreamscape, where elements make some kind of sense, archetypes. As their stories take off, they remain complex and but not entirely.” However, he suggests not to take everything human, stranded in an airport while a storm rages outside. As literally; “it’s not naturalism. It is a kind of human expressionism.”


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Airports themselves are otherworldly in a way, micro-cosmic universes with internal orbits and constant arrivals and departures spinning off in all directions. Not a place to land and stay. Except for the Refugee. As for the music, composer Dove says he’s always been inspired by that of Benjamin Britten and how he used it to tell stories, as well as the comic scores of Rossini, Mozart and Verdi. In this case “my looking for new and satisfying sounds was enormously influenced by Britten, Stravinsky and the American minimalists.” There are also colorful touches suggesting Verdi and Rossini in lighter moments. Conductor Christopher Rountree hears things which also remind him of Leonard Bernstein, while countertenor Nicholas Tamagna, who plays the Refugee, notices moments which feel like Renaissance polyphony, and “a kind of baroque simplicity, with a hint of Broadway in the dance rhythms.” Such a voice as his is still quite rare in contemporary opera. He believes here it is used to suggest “a sort of psychological disconnect with his own reality. And there are some elements which could seem supernatural plus a child-like vocal range.” “The point is that the voice sounds distinctively ‘other,’ ” Dove explains. Which makes sense; the Refugee is the only alien. “This sets him apart, and, at the same time, puts him right in the middle of the vocal textures. This corresponds to his role: he is the center of the action, yet remains separate.” Speaking of vocal textures, Weitz mentions that there is every voice type from bass on up, baritone, tenor, contralto, mezzo, countertenor, soprano. “The whole spectrum. An amazing sound world.” They are a true ensemble. That is an essential element. These people interact constantly, musically, simultaneously. It’s very special in that way, conductor Rountree thinks, hearing so many voices overlapping. There are rarely arias where other characters stand aside and react while listening. “However there will be clear ideas about who’s singing what words; the cast’s voices are so distinctive. They define the characters.” This is a large scale orchestral work and Rountree is thoroughly impressed with Dove’s orchestrations. They remind him of John Adams’s “A Flowering Tree” which he conducted here two seasons ago. “This is very much like Adams’s waves of music with many styles to express the characters. They drift into their own sounds. The orchestrations especially fill that out, often humorously, a kind of unassuming comedy. That feels contemporary.” He adds, “And the writing for the countertenor voice is brilliant.” The way Dove wrote that part delights Tamagna. Moreover, he is excited to be in a contemporary work, given that he is best known for roles in Handel operas and earlier music, the more standard repertory for a voice type such as his. However, he did interpret the title role in Sung Jin Hong’s Hannibal with the One World Symphony. The text is based on the NBC’s TV series about the cannibal. Hong also created other TV-derived operas inspired by Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. Plus Tamagna had the title role several times in Philip Glass’s “Akhenaten.” “Hannibal has a kind of dark intensity,” he points out, “while Akhenaten is more ethereal as if above the clouds. They are quite different vocally, although there’s a kind of madness in both. The Refugee is a little more comic, more physical, almost close to musical theatre.” Tamagna is very happy that more contemporary music is being written for men with a voice type like his. He sees it as a change in attitude towards the sound and the idea, in parallel with altering social attitudes and openness about gender. Re contemporary music, one could wonder how other kinds, such as pop, fit into and influence “Flight.” It was written in the 90s and, not updated or revised, could be considered some kind of period piece. (“There are parts that feel nostalgic,” Darrah remarks.) Asked whether such influences were there, Dove replied “I have no idea.” Rountree finds that elements of 1990s pop may resonate inside, but that’s something subtle which no one might notice. “It has an awareness of that musical period, an awareness of pop music without resembling it. I don’t think any of these melodies could have been written without an awareness of classic rock, especially the use of rhythms which also seem to come from minimalist models.” There’s no question then that “Flight” is a truly modern opera. And that’s what Weitz wanted. “One that’s right for our audiences, very approachable, poignant and funny. It also fits perfectly into this season, along with ‘La bohème’ and “Cosí fan tutte’, being about relationships and their complications, about fidelity and self discovery.” Advisory: this opera has adult content and “may not be suitable for younger audiences.” In “Flight,” indeed, the characters do discover much about themselves. Watching them and hearing them are bound to be discoveries for everyone just outside the confines of that airport. The audience. Opera Omaha’s production of Flight is Friday and Sunday April 21st & 23, at Slosburg Hall, Orpheum Theater, 409 S 16th St. Friday: 7:30 p.m. Sunday 2 p.m. Tickets $19-$99. http://www.




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7 Years and Counting, Every Wednesday at the Down Under B Y L I N D S AY B Y E R S




t feels like an exciting time to be a creative in Omaha. I’ll admit I haven’t been around all that long (I’m old enough to get kicked off my parent’s health insurance next month), so my perspective on the phases of this city’s creative scene may be limited, but I’ve personally witnessed some creative magic bubbling up in recent years as artists of all types find and experiment with their voice and the impact that comes with utilizing it, frequently at open mic nights. Long an opportunity for burgeoning musicians, comedians and poets, who may not otherwise have venues, to perform their work for an audience, open mic nightsgive them the cathartic chance to show the world, or a small bar full of artists, what they have been quietly working on night after night. It’s the opportunity to face fears of embarrassment and grow as an artist by expanding the feedback loop. These nights don’t only draw performances from newbies, but more seasoned performers frequent the stage to debut new pieces, work out the kinks in collaborations, or just enjoy a night in community with other artists. Different open mic nights have different atmospheres and draw different artists and crowds, and this is largely dependent on the host. One of the longest on-going open mics in this city is hosted by musician, momma, and activist Aly Peeler at the location of the Down Under (DU), formerly the Sidedoor Lounge, for nearly seven years now. Peeler started in 2010, she said, when she moved into a house behind the then Sidedoor. Due to proximity and a fondness for the vibe, Peeler said she became a regular at the


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bar and performed her music publicly for the first time from its stage. The bar already had an open mic night when she started, but after filling in for the hosts a few times while they were on tour, Peeler eventually became the main host and organizer of the weekly event. She has been hosting this open mic night, rain or shine, every Wednesday since, only briefly taking breaks around the births of each of her two children. On a Wednesday evening at the DU’s open mic night you could potentially hear a full rock band, a rapper, folk singers with soaring vocal harmonies, or a beginning guitar player sharing tunes, all in one hour. A hippie crowd tends to frequent this bar, and around 11 p.m. , along with music you will likely find the place filled with tie-dyes and smiles. Peeler said that she wants people to feel the freedom to be themselves at the weekly gathering. “I feel like every Wednesday is a mini-festival,” she said. “Every 15 minutes I’m blown away by the talent!” She said she didn’t understand why open mic nights have a stigma. “You don’t like someone, personal preference, give it 15 minutes,” Peeler said. “Go outside, have a smoke, go play darts… and really I think there’s no reason to not listen to everyone because I do believe everyone has something really valid to share.” According to Peeler, participating in the DU’s open mic night is about more than sharing your creations or attending a free display of local talent every week. “It’s our church,” she said. “I’ve seen it save people, myself continued on page 35 y




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n North Omaha, there lies a recording studio formerly housed in a basement which documented the careers of a few well-known soul and hip hop artists. Artists like Al Green, Childish Gambino, Lalah Hathaway, Carl Thomas and Al Jarreau, just to name a few, are all iconic names who demanded time in this studio to record their precious tracks. This music oasis was co-founded by local jazz musician Lewade “Big Wade” Milliner, the star of a new band called The Black Swan Theory. Initially released as a 40-minute cinematic film called The Exxperience, the band’s first project encases an intimate audience while Lewade leads a 5-person soulful ensemble through classic jazz and funk cover songs. The film tributes moguls including Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, the SOS Band, Stevie Wonder and Bobby Womack. The film also features original music both written and produced by Lewade. A chance to witness their sound live is easy to fix as they hit the stage on April 26 at the Alamo Drafthouse Theater in La Vista for a public premier of The Exxperience performed live. If the sound of this project doesn’t intrigue you, it’s possible that you are not a true jazz or funk music fan. However, Lewade does not perform or create for the sake of attention, although he’s developed a community around his soulful sound just the same. He’s been on tour a handful of times. He’s produced four albums and played at venues like Sokol Auditorium, House of Loom, Loves Jazz and Arts Center and The Waiting Room. While music has always played a significant role in his life, Lewade recalls plenty of highlights that regenerated his 15-year career. “I remember touring with The Last Few after I got back from college,” Lewade said. “We toured Las Vegas for a year and back then the hustle was that everybody was trying to get signed. So we were out there doing our thing but what I learned is that sometimes everything ain’t meant to be. You may think you should be doing one thing when you should be doing another.” He goes on to share how the band initially got signed to a major booking agent when the lead drummer, J. Shannon, got saved and wanted to rededicate his life to God (his daddy was a preacher). So the band couldn’t go through with the deal and everybody returned back to Omaha. When Lewade returned, that’s when he decided to open up the The Lab Recording Studio. Felicia Webster, an artist and friend, collaborated with Lewade on his first album released in 2006 for The Last Few. The album featured Lewade as lead musician with J. Shannon on drums, plus vocals with Darius Greir, Amir Flanigan, Arthur Youngblood and Felicia. “I have known Wade since we were little kids,” Felicia said. “My Aunt Mattie went to his father’s church, Liberty Baptist, and invited my family to come on Sundays. We not only went to church together, but later in our adulthood we reconnected and I was blessed to be a part of The Last Few; an eclectic, neo soul collective. Working with Wade is magical because of his keen




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Jazz musician and studio owner Lewade Milliner brings attention to Omaha music scene BY JOANNA LEFLORE

ability to grab just the right sounds and manifest music that reflect the artist his is producing! He really is a musical genius.” “I remember booking him for the 4-year anniversary of The Love Down Below at Loves Jazz and Art Center last December. Let’s just say, Big Wade and The Black Swan Theory brought the house down. I will always work with him; hands up, down, all around. WORD!” Lewade speaks of his upbringings in the church as what encouraged his musical growth. He played through childhood into college, attending Louisiana’s Grambling State University on scholarship and playing in the legendary Tiger Marching Band under the direction of Coach Eddie Robinson, Sr. Grambling State University, of course, is one of the top universities in the South offering crowd-rocking half-time drumline performances. Not to mention the legendary football tradition led by Coach Robinson who won 408 games during his career, helping at least 200 players into the NFL. The memories continued when Lewade was asked to start a music studio after college focused on the business side of things. “The story of our first studio is pretty crazy,” Lewade explained. “We decided to start it because we couldn’t find the right sound at other places. So with the things I learned, I connected with Reggie Clark (the studio was in his house) and we just started it on our own. So when I got back to Omaha that’s what we did.” In 2004, the two guys opened Versatile Entertainment together and kicked off with promotion and recordings. They started with hip-hop shows and the Midwest Poetry Vibe using Reggie’s contacts to book the venues and Lewade’s connections to bring the talent. “When I started the studio, the main goal was just to record music,” Lewade shared. “But once I got kinda good, people started asking for help. It was therapy at the same time because I was in there 12-16 hours a day sometimes. So people started coming in from other states. I don’t think they were coming for the studio but for the production that came out of it. And I knew we had something when a platinum selling artist wanted to come to the basement, you know what I’m sayin!” As his hustle continues, Lewade mentions some of his favorite moments working with artists like Lalah Hathaway, soulful jazz vocalist and daughter of Donnie Hathaway; and M1 of Dead Prez, a prolific writer and hip-hop rapper. “M1 was the first guy that ever gave me a chance,” Lewade said. “I’ve had a lot of artists come in who sold some records but not as many as him. He’s a real cool dude and he would call me and ask me to send him some tracks, and say he was working with certain artists like Erykah Badu and some others but call me up and say ‘let’s work!’ ” These memories inspire him frequently. While feeding the family is always a priority, Lewade prides himself in the pas-

WADE MILLINER SINGING sion he has for music and this city. But a few times he thought about quitting and moving until a close friend, Houston Alexander, radio personality and professional UFC fighter, convinced him to give Omaha another chance. “I was actually considering leaving in 2009,” Lewade admits. “I had already moved out of my house and everything. But one day I was doing an interview with Houston at the radio station and told him that I was outta here and that’s when he told me why he chose to stay. Houston was the man and he told me he wanted to give Omaha an identity. And at the time Houston could have stayed anywhere, he was that guy! So he told me, ‘Man you should consider staying in Omaha because there’s no other studio like what you have. So if you stay, you can give Omaha an identity too.’ ” After running the basement studio for a few years, the location moved to The Lab Recording Studio in 2010, still in North Omaha, on Lake Street. Here Lewade continues to open the doors to record great talent but the journey doesn’t stop here, he feels. The band and Lewade have recently secured a partnership with the HiFi House, a major game changer in the music industry for artists booking at a national level. Tomás Contreas, now the Director of Operations for The Lab Recording Studio, began his relationship with Lewade as an artist and recording engineer 15 years ago. He learned from Lewade about his business skills and inspired Tomás to join in on the efforts with The Black Swan Theory. “A year ago Lewade and I sat down to come up with a plan and from then on we committed to launching this new project,” Tomas said. “What makes this so special is that Wade, as humble as he is, is finally coming out with this new album and accepting his gift. It’s a chance for him to spread his legacy within Omaha and throughout the midwest.” Lewade can attest to being originally comfortable with the music production and being behind the scenes. But when he first started singing, he was just experimenting in the studio to help other artists. He didn’t know that this singing, which he calls an accident, would lead to both his first solo album, released in 2009 and his recent project with The Black Swan Theory. The Black Swan Theory includes Lewade and four other players including J. Shannon on drums, James White on guitar, Jonathan Brooks on organ and Mariole Sanders on Bass. The band also plans to go on tour showcasing the live album The Exxperience in Summer 2017 to include a performance in Bellevue’s Hullabaloo Music Fest on August 4. Regardless of his musical background, Lewade promises to bring just as much passion with this album as he does working in the studio. He just wants people who listen to it to know that he has Omaha in his heart and wants to be in yours too. “All I hope for is that for this album, like most artists want, I wanna live with you,” Lewade said. “When you clean up, when you head to work, or when you’re in a certain mood, let me live with ya for a minute! Even when you want a Netflix and chill moment, let me live with you then. ‘Cause the best CDs you remember had a lot of memories and I wanna help you create some memories too!” ,



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included, just that accountability of getting together. I love being able to facilitate that, and I’ve been inspired by so many people.” And, to Peeler, accountability is important in the creative community. “Because we are so creative,” Peeler said, “we create these very imaginative lives for ourselves and problems and things. We get into ruts, and so it’s good to be surrounded by people that hold us accountable.” Beyond that accountability from other artists to keep practicing your craft, musicians and poets can inspire each other when they are all in the same room together. Local artist Jamire Graye, who plays what he describes as “electro-pop-soul,” has been performing at open mic nights in Omaha for about four years. Graye said he performs at the DU on Wednesdays as much as possible, and every time I’ve seen him play there, the crowd excitedly sings and dances along. “All my music is shaped from everyone’s energy and happiness,” Graye said. “Being around everyone helps pave the way for a song being written. I take some of the energy I get and put it back out through my music” It’s no accident though that the DU’s open mic feels so warm and accepting, that’s part of Peeler’s intention. “I like to have the approach like a momma would, even before I had the babies, having that unconditional love,” she said. Though Peeler makes an effort to provide a welcoming environment, nervousness is common among new performers. She encourages people not to let that keep them from sharing their art and growing in the community. “I myself was very insecure,” Peeler said. “It took me so long to even get on a microphone, but when you realize ‘no, what we have to say is important,’ then you believe in your voice and you find your voice and you share your voice.” Graye experienced anxiety when he began sharing his music as well. “I used to be so nervous my legs would shake visibly,” Graye said. “I had so many insecurities, but being in this music scene has helped me get better every day. That’s why I love Omaha.” Gathering local musicians together regularly also provides opportunity for collaborations. Peeler told me some of her favorite albums and projects have stemmed from the DU’s open mic, such as Collin Smith and the Cosmic Smiths, Chris Doolittle and Side Talk, and Valerie Electricradbolt and Kristen Taylor. But Peeler feels it’s beneficial for people who are not musicians or poets to be present as well. “There’s something really special to watch the creative process, and there’s no better place I’ve found than at the Down Under Lounge,” said Peeler. “I love looking out and seeing so many artists and musicians, but where are all the music appreciators? Where are all the people who love to just move with music? Because those people have a very active role in this as well.” For those who would like to come check it out, the Down Under’s open mic night occurs every Wednesday from 8 p.m.-2 a.m., with minors being allowed to perform from 8-9:15. Peeler encourages people to come as an observer at least once before signing up to perform. She currently fills the night with performers one to two weeks in advance, so when you’re ready to sign up, you can talk to her in person on a Wednesday night.

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here are lots of great shows creating a buzz this month including the return of the all-star Golden State-Lone Star Revue fronted by Mark Hummel Wednesday, April 13, 6 p.m. at Lincoln’s Zoo Bar. Texas guitarist Mike Keller, formerly with the Fabulous Thunderbirds, takes over the second guitar slot alongside Anson Funderburgh. The Blues Society of Omaha continues working to honor the touring band contract dates that were left without a home when The 21st Saloon closed at the end of January. In addition to the weekly BSO Presents Thursday series at Chrome Lounge, that puts a few other shows of note around town.


BSO Presents at Chrome Lounge Southern Avenue debuts at Chrome Lounge Thursday, April 20, 6-9 p.m. This Memphis quintet features church-bred sisters Tierinii and Tikyra Jackson. Guitarist Ori Naftaly, from Israel, has been seen in Omaha previously under his own name. The Memphis Flyer calls them “simply the best band in Memphis…[the] coolest music to come out of Memphis in years.” And Elmore Magazine says they are “the spicy, vivacious new sound of Memphis soul.” They just released their debut. It’s a self-titled disc under the muscle of the revived Stax label name and it has already hit Number Six on the Billboard Blues chart. Get a taste at

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


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Women Who Rock Katy G & The Girls throws down high-energy, blues-inflected rock at Barley Street Tavern Saturday, April 8, 9 p.m. Soul Tree opens. If you think you don’t like “the blues,” drop into the Barley and check this rockin’ K.C. trio out. Reviewers have praised their “natural sound and fury,” noting “it’s almost as if Blondie meets The Clash meets The Pretenders.” They also gig Wednesday, April 5, 6-9 p.m. at Lincoln’s Zoo Bar. See Jane Lee Hooker is a badass bunch of New York City women on Ruf Records. They are hitting the Midwest fresh from a lengthy European tour. The fivepiece features two guitarists out front, Tracy Hightop from the band Nashville Pussy and Tina “TBone” Gorin from Helldorado. High Octane magazine says the guitar duo delivers “face-melting firepower.” raves “Jane Lee Hooker seem to be all about the best things in blues and punk – driving rhythms, coruscating vocals and tearing guitar riffs.” See Openers are BluesEd band Far & Wide. This show is Saturday, April 15, 7 p.m., at Omaha’s new Bourbon Saloon downtown. This is the former location of Whiskey Tango above Jazz A Louisiana Kitchen, entrance at 311 S. 15th Street.



Mary Jo Curry starts off the Thursday series at Chrome Lounge on Thursday, April 6. Her debut disc hit the #5 spot for the Roots Music Report’s wrap of 2016. The Jimmys are scheduled Thursday, April 13, laying down a mix of blues, soul, funk and R&B with a four-piece horn section. Their 2016 release landed in the best albums of the year at Downbeat Magazine. Southern Avenue, as mentioned above, takes the stage Thursday, April 20. John Németh is back Thursday, April 27. His forthcoming release, Feelin’ Freaky, officially drops May 19 and was produced by Luther Dickinson. See It’s a triple-bill with Salt Lake City’s 2016 Best Blues Band Tony Holiday & the Velvetones and special guest Hector Anchondo. Americana songwriter and vocalist Randy McAllister is back Thursday, May 4. All Thursday shows are 6-9 p.m. Mark your calendar now for a special Tuesday show, Tuesday, May 9, 6-9 p.m., when Chicago’s powerhouse Nick Moss Band featuring contemporary harmonic great Dennis Gruenling hits Chrome Lounge. All are Blues Music Award nominees for 2017. Hot Notes A few other dates of note at Lincoln’s Zoo Bar include The Jimmys Friday, April 14, 9 p.m. and John Németh Wednesday, April 26, 6-9 p.m. New Orleans favorite The Iguanas bring their mix of roots, rock and soul to Lincoln’s Zoo Bar Saturday, April 22, 6-9 p.m. The band plays Omaha’s Ralston Arena Sunday, April 23, 4 p.m. in a benefit for the Fraternal Order of Police. See for details. Hector Anchondo Band released a new CD, Roll the Dice, at the beginning of April with a Reverb Lounge show. Their Lincoln CD release show is Friday, April 21, at Gray’s Keg Saloon, 104 N 20th St. Check the details or buy the disc at Sunday Roadhouse presents The Suitcase Junket, an eclectic one-man band and self-described “artist, tinkerer, tunesmith, swamp-Yankee,” Sunday, April 9, 5 p.m. at Reverb Lounge. See Shooter Jennings is up at Waiting Room Thursday, April 13, 9 p.m. Boston’s garage-soul band Evolfo brings horns and glitter to Reverb Lounge Saturday, April 15, 9 p.m. Kris Lager Band is back in town with a rare local show at Waiting Room Saturday, April 22, 9 p.m. Engaging songwriter, storyteller and showman William Elliot Whitmore gigs at Waiting Room Friday, May 5, 9 p.m. .

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Omaha Reader 04-01-17.indd 1


APRIL 20173/16/17


10:44 AM


it may be next big thing on the world cinema landscape BY LEO ADAM BIGA




APRIL 2017

ust as Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey marked a seminal movie event, Alexander Payne’s Downsizing has milestone written all over it. Kubrick’s 1968 landmark inspired by writer Arthur C. Clarke’s musings pushed special effects to new heights and gave sci-fi films higher standards to aspire to in terms of visuals and ideas. Now, a half-century from the release of that opus, Payne’s putting final touches on his own bold vision of imaginative fiction. The big budget, visual effects-laden Downsizing confronts relevant social, political, ecological issues. Only once previously, with Citizen Ruth’s hot takes on abortion, has Payne been so thematically current. With its withering look at corporate greed, hyper consumerism, minority marginalization and ego-maniacal pitch men, Downsizing hits the zeitgeist on a global scale. “It’s a big movie,” he said. “Not just the visual effects but the scope of the story with more of an episodic structure that spans many years and different locations.” Just as the late Kubrick made elaborate satiric observations on human frailties, so does Payne. Their films register cold for many, but there’s more warmth there than you recall. Where 2001 is a speculative adventure about the role of extraterrestrial life on Earth and beyond, Downsizing’s own meditation on what it means to be human remains firmly planted here. Months away from its December theatrical release, Hollywood’s curious to see what a filmmaker identified with intimate human comedies does with a picture of this scale. Ironically, for Payne to achieve a film about miniaturization he worked with a larger crew and budget, on more, bigger sound stages and in more practical locations than ever before. Locations spanned Los Angeles, Omaha, Toronto and Norway. Second-unit director Tracy Boyd traveled to South Korea, Malaysia, Morocco and Spain to accrue crucial montage footage. Downsizing’s every bit as ambitious as 2001 but both films are relatively simple at their core. Amid all its visual interstellar trappings, 2001 intimately rests on astronaut David Bowman’s interior time-space journey. Just as Kubrick distilled epoch events into an intimate tableaux, Payne distills human kind’s hopes, fears, vagaries in the intersection of three people meeting in a



strange new world. Paul (Matt Damon) is the Everyman mensch whose surreal ride from normal to small, from nobody to pioneer, we hitch onto. Goran (Christoph Waltz) is the Euro-trash hustler who befriends him. Ngoc Lang (Hong Chau) is the Vietnamese human rights activist who becomes his love interest. To naturalistically realize the small world, Payne relied on visual effects supervisor Jamie Price. The former Industrial Light and Magic wizard oversaw artists from ILM and other companies in making micro humans more believable than ever seen before on screen. Pulling this off is critical because the film’s entire vision hangs on audiences investing in characters and incidents without the distraction of callattention-to-themselves effects. Downsizing, like 2001, depends upon intact illusions without seams or wires showing. Where 2001’s monumental effects depict deep space and infinity, Downsizing depicts human discourse. Co-writer Jim Taylor said he and Payne took the same approach to their original story as with all their films. “Really what we love are the details – the tiny, every day interactions people have. It’s such a great irony and a lot of people don’t necessarily realize this – that the more specific you get, the more universal it is.” Sure, the story’s replete with big concepts revolving around global warming’s dire consequences, but Taylor said, “We’re not making An Inconvenient Truth because that’s not our job. The themes are an excuse to enter this realm of relationships and personal struggles.” Price said upon first reading the script he realized this project represented a whole new animal. “What struck me about it immediately is that it really is an atypical visual effects movie. It’s a movie where the visual effects are used purely to serve the dramatic needs of the story. That’s a very refreshing and clever use of visual effects that drew me to it. “Unlike building a set or having actors standing in a practical environment, there’s a lot that’s just not there when you’re rolling the camera and so you need to forge a good relationship and build the trust so that the director feels he’s going

to get what he needs to tell the story the way he wants to tell it. Similarly, in visual effects, it’s our job to inform the director and the rest of the crew so that everyone has a good understanding of what we need to achieve the work successfully.” In this case successful means making the effects look so real they blend in with the mundanity of everyday life that Payne so exactingly extracts – just as Kubrick did. “What I think makes Downsizing unique is its fresh take on a genre that’s been around for a long time,” Price said. “Movies in the past with small characters interacting with normal-sized humans have broadly fallen into three categories: science fiction, comedies, family movies or some combination. They often have a very different aesthetic than what Alexander intended. “At one point producer Jim Burke asked me which movie in the past do I think most embodies the look we’re going for in Downsizing and I said, ‘I don’t think there is one.’ There’s pieces of movies with similar elements to what we want to achieve but there isn’t a movie that really has the same aesthetic.” Downsizing’s its own thing, Price said, because it’s a movie crafted by an auteur. “Early on, Alexander asked me, ‘How do we make this special?’ And I said, ‘Well, the way you make it special is you make it an Alexander Payne movie, because none of these other movies are that. If you bring your sensitivity and style to it then it will become something unique and new,’ and I think it has.” Payne said Price did things to “trick me into thinking I’m making a real movie, not a visual effects movie.” “He did it in such a way that I could focus on what’s important, which is the story, the characters, the acting, and keep that front and center,” Payne said. “That’s not to say a lot of thought was not put into the look and to how the sets should be and what we we’re going to build and what we’re going to extend digitally. That’s a constant discussion. But through all of that I knew my job was to keep the eye on the ball of the story. “I never want the heft of this film to mar any intimacy of tone or idiosyncrasy of humor.” Payne relied on Price’s team to make actors at ease with the effects work. Even though this was Payne and Price’s first production together, they go back eight years to when Payne first tried getting the movie made. An advantage of the long wait between conception and production was technology advances. A constant was Payne’s desire to not interfere with the actors’ process. “Alexander was very interested in maintaining the spontaneity of the performances, which is difficult when one of the actors isn’t there and is going to be shot later,” Price said. It helped having a star in Matt Damon whom Payne confirms is “the total professional” he’s reputed to be. “For Matt Damon or any actor isolated in a visual effects scene, I made sure there was a person opposite

them,” Payne said. “The actor still had a true acting partner in the scene (reading lines off-camera).” Price said, “We made some choices during the production process, such as the way we built sets or how we staged certain things, so that Alexander could sort of forget the fact there was a green screen back there or there was only one half of the performers in the scene because we were going to be shooting another element green screen later. “We used 5-inch tall dolls as stand-ins. We placed them in the scene for the actors to look at and so the camera could frame them up. That way Alexander could see the relationship between the two. We paint them out later. We tried to recreate as much as possible the scenario described in the screenplay even though we were ultimately assembling it digitally later.” Payne found Damon to be the Everyman he plays. “Genuinely a delight. He is who you hope he is. And the ease with which he can do anything is really something to watch. He’s only too ready to help,” For the lead, casting director John Jackson said he and Payne concluded Damon was the only marketable star “that could be that lower middle-class Omaha dude. He is our generation’s Jack Lemmon. He can do comedy, he can do drama, he can do everything. An audience can project whatever they need to project onto him.” Even though protecting story was Payne’s overriding concern, there’s no escaping technology with 650 visual effects shots. He said the great challenge is “having always to match the digital extension of what those sets would be.” Not just sets, but actors, too. Payne wore a motion capture suit to act out scenes’ physical movements. He knew them better than anyone having inhabited the characters and actions while writing them. The data recorded from his walk-through guided CGI artists in creating 3D-animated Previs (pre-visualization) views that served as digital storyboards. Though the demands of visual effects sometimes required extra takes, Payne said, “I still tried to be as economical and precise as possible. I might have done more takes to get certain things right because of all the moving parts, the number of extras or something technical about the shot. Even Matt Damon told me, ‘You like to do a lot of takes, but at least I know almost every shot’s going to be in the film.’ He meant there’s a lot of films where they shoot a ton of footage with little idea of how it might cut together. I may overshoot in takes but not too much in actual coverage.” Payne depends on various departments to get things right. Director of photography Phedon Papamichael was among many Downsizing crew who go way back with him. The DP felt having this family of creatives around was important on a project with so many new elements, “He was surrounded by a very experienced crew and team he’s familiar with and we were able to preserve some of that family environment on the set

despite the scale,” Papamichael said. “He still knew every driver’s and grip’s name and not only their name but if they have a kid in college who plays football. All of that is different than your average big movie where the director doesn’t know the dolly grip’s name even after 14 weeks.” Jim Taylor isn’t normally on set much but, he said, “On this movie we thought I needed to be there all the time, so I was. There were contributions I could make. It doesn’t come up that often but Alexander likes to have someone around he can turn to and say, ‘What do you think? What does that look like to you?’” Being there for the full 75-day shoot gave Taylor insight on where his writing mate’s come as a director. “It was really interesting for me to see how much more masterful he was working with the actors, knowing what he needed and getting what he needed and all that.” Payne’s primary casting director since About Schmidt has been Council Bluffs native and resident, John Jackson. On Downsizing he and Payne filled a larger than usual roster of speaking parts and background extras to reflect the story’s global reach. “I had many more extras than I’ve ever had on a film before,” Payne said, “and extras of different races and nationalities as we tried to portray certain worlds accurately. And so just on the casting side John Jackson and I had to expand our personnel to corral all the right extras and then on the set to direct them well. That has huge impact down the chain – the assistant directors, costume, even props, get hit harder.” Jackson usually doesn’t office where the film shoots, but he did at Pinewood Studios in Toronto, where the film’s epic sets filled mega sound stages. He was mesmerized by the production unfolding around him. “It was every fantasy I had as a kid – being on the lot and being able to walk down onto the sound stages and onto the sets. To see it as it was happening, to see the scope of it, to see all the incredible amount of hard work, planning and organization by the different teams from the grips to the construction guys, and watch it call come together was really humbling and very exciting.” One new creative collaborator was Italian production designer Stefania Ceila. “She’s amazing,” said cinematographer Papamichael, “Very passionate, very vocal, expressive and stubborn, but it was a wonderful relationship. Visually, I think we definitely elevated to a new level and Alexander has embraced that. The language still has simplicity and not showing off, not getting in the way, still focusing on the humanity and the emotions of actors. “Even with all the effects and the scale, filling up the largest stage in North America, we still applied the same Alexander Payne language. In the end hopefully the technology will all sort of go away and just blend in – fall into his style of storytelling and people will not really be aware they’re watching an


$85 million effects movie.” Payne acknowledged the experience was more overwhelming than past projects. “I had moments on this film when I felt like not only did I not know what I was doing but I had never seen a movie before. It’s been a hard movie. You just get through it.” Complicating matters, he herniated a disc in Toronto. “I suffered the indignity of directing from a wheelchair for about a week,” he said. Papamichael said despite everything the experience was akin to other Payne movies, adding, “It was just physically and mentally more taxing because of the longer process.” After wrapping in Canada, the production broke before reconvening in Norway the last two weeks. “This was the dessert of the film -– shooting in Norway,” Payne said. “We were bowled over by the beauty of the fjords, where we were shooting north of the Arctic circle in a really beautiful region called Lofoten.” He said the Norway sojourn involved “scouting and shooting from helicopter and boats. In the movie there’s a 1927 English yacht we shot on. We were living on a very large ocean liner currently not in use.” Payne and editor Kevin Tent have been cutting since September. Rough cut screenings yield notes and feedback. Scenes get reassembled “in trying to figure out what the film wants to be,” Payne said. Frequent visual effects meetings, he said, hash out “what we’re going to put in the frame when when we shot there was only green – like literally what is that going to look like, and then tracking the execution of the visual effects artists to make sure it looks good.” With 2001 Kubrick tackled nothing less than the dawn of man and humankind’s place in the universe. Much of his focus in that film and his other films was on the contrast between the ordinariness of life and its extremes. Under pressure, people do very wrong things. It’s an essentially pessimistic view that seems to suggest man’s inhumanity to man is inevitable and inescapable. Meanwhile. Payne celebrates foibles as unavoidable traits of our shared imperfection. Unlike Kubrick, he’s hopeful we can navigate life without total ruin. Though divisions cause angst in Downsizing, a sense of community, sacrifice and even love prevails. Payne said, “This film unites a lot of the themes Jim (Taylor) and I have been using in our previous films and I hope bringing them to a higher level. We will see about that. I don’t think in general it’s that different from what I’ve done before, it’s just a bigger canvas. “When I think about movies with sprawling episodic structure I think of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, 8 1/2 and Nights of Cabiria, where the story follows one protagonist through a series of adventures and by the end a moment happens that kind of in retrospect gives some thematic narrative cohesion to the story. It pulls a seemingly loose narrative thread suddenly


continued on page 40 y

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APRIL 2017



ALEXANDER PAYNE y continued from page 39

taut. I do not wish to compare Downsizing to those greats, but structurally I take inspiration from them.” Payne and his team have given themselves over to this episodic framework. “Phedon, Stefania and I in production and now Kevin Tent and I in editing have to accept that it’s a series of short films within one film. Each visually to some degree but now musically we just have to do what feels right in the film and hope to God it holds together.” Editing is about finding and enhancing the film’s internal rhythms. Payne said, “Getting a handle on a picture of this scope” – he expects it to run 135-140 minutes – “takes a little doing.” Downsizing contains elements that may remind one of other films, from 2001 to The Incredible Shrinking Man, but overall there’s really nothing to compare it to. Papamichael said it’s the one Payne film he couldn’t get a visual handle on from the script “and now that I have done it I know why – it’s so diverse in looks and stories.” He said, “It goes through this arc, starting like a regular Alexander Payne movie in Omaha with an average guy at La Casa waiting for his pizza, to he and his wife going to Leisure Land and her leaving him to go through the downsizing process alone. That’s like the whole Kubrick episode of the film. It’s like going from something in About Schimdt to 2001: A Space Odyssey.” He said the film’s juxtaposition of plastic Leisure Land’s “absurd embrace of American Consumerism” against sterile labs, awful slums, prosaic Omaha sites, world capitals, sublime fjords and an uncharted middle-Earth “really is like a series of short stories or short films that then all connect so beautifully through Paul’s adventure of self-discovery and subtle love story with Ngoc.” Don’t expect anything but another low-key Paynsian ending that implies more than it shows. Like his other films, Payne said, Downsizing will “end with a feeling more than an event.” “I’m glad we’re able to have an ending to this big movie that hopefully will operate in that delicate space,” Taylor said. Second-unit director Tracy Boyd, another of Payne’s longtime collaborators, referred to Payne’s consistent goal of surrendering any conscious, overt style to story. “He so skillfully, masterfully hides the brushstrokes of what he’s doing and you’re fully submerged in what you’re seeing that you forget there’s a director behind all of that. He’s not trying to get you to think about who’s directing the picture as so many filmmakers do. It’s only with repeat viewings you recognize the subtle techniques and clarity behind every vision you see.” Boyd, Taylor and others close to the project express confidence this promises to be a special, stand-the-testof-time film. Papamichael disclosed “Paramount’s fully embracing the film – they actually think they have a commercial hit on their hands.” An awards contender, too. Only the box-office will tell, but Payne-Taylor say it’s their only movie that may have a sequel in the offing. Should it resonate enough to enter the pop culture consciousness, this could be Payne’s The Godfather, Taxi Driver or Pulp Fiction. Taylor said it’s not as if Payne “wants somebody to give him a shot at some franchise movie.” He echoed Payne’s inclination to do anything but an effects movie as a follow-up. Maybe a long-talked about Western. Or shooting in Greece. “I would like to do wildly different things,” Payne said. “That would be fun. I don’t know what yet.” Initial reviews should appear after major fall festival screenings. Omaha’s Ruth Sokolof or Dundee Theater will premiere Downsizing for its theatrical release. Read more of Leo Adam Biga’s work at

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APRIL 2017



A Top 10 Climate Change Cinematic Countdown B Y R YA N S Y R E K


f you’re keeping track at home, the current administration’s list of budget priorities ranks “the president playing golf” a few small light years ahead of “finding ways to prevent or reverse catastrophic climate change.” This is good news for (A) wealthy megacorporations run by the soulless and (B) people who love disaster movies and dystopian futures. If you fall into category A, I look forward to being ground into the human biopaste you use to run your pollution factories! If you fall into category B, do I have a list for you… For this countdown, I have ixnayed nonearthly environmental disasters (no asteroids), nay-sayed incidents not brought on or sped up by humanity (no volcanoes or earthquakes) and poo-pooed diseasebased dangers (no zombies or contagions). Thus, the following are the top 10 movies that have plots that hinge upon or content that is greatly influenced by climate change. Because all that will be left after we scorch the earth and choke the air are listicles. It’s like Ozymandias but with more clickbait.


10) Geostorm

Geostorm doesn’t come out for another nearly 7 months. I do not care. In fact, the only question I had was whether to rank this at number one. This is a movie about space satellites used to prevent climate change catastrophes that go bonkers, unleashing every kind of disaster that doesn’t currently hold a cabinet position in Trump’s America. The only thing that stands between us and the tsunami-fireearthquake-hurricane-tornado is Gerard Butler. I’ll take those odds, goddammit.


9) An Inconvenient Truth


APRIL 2017

Movies about climate change either need to be so crazytown stupid they are escapist nonsense (see Storm, Geo) or super hyperserious and vigilant about substantive reform. Al Gore’s PowerPoint warning-turned-prophecy didn’t result in the concrete changes he desperately wanted but did turn him into the unofficial Earth Day mascot for a time. He has a follow-up movie that’s already on the festival circuit, which is somehow not titled I Told You Stupid Assholes This Was Going to Happen. That’s a presidential amount of restraint right there.

8) The Arrival

No, not the weepfest for which Amy Adams got screwed out of an Oscar nod in favor of anointing Emma Stone before (gasp) she dared get a wrinkle. This 1996 gem features a pre-tiger blood, ante-winning Charlie Sheen who figures out that backward-knee-having aliens are up to no good. Specifically, they are using climate change to kill



off humans and make the earth more livable for themselves. Honestly, discovering that the people actively working against environmental reform are secretly aliens hellbent on our destruction would be the single most believable and morally consistent explanation.

7) Soylent Green

I like to think that, wherever his essence is now, Charlton Heston is aware that I just included one of his movies on a list centered on a subject that has been unfairly turned into a profoundly liberal issue. Filmed in the 1970s, the film is oddly prescient; set in 2022, it foretells of temperatures that never drop below 90°, food riots and secret cannibalism, all of which are already happening. Cronuts are made of people. All joking aside, the movie is pretty much a hyperbolic cautionary tale that has become increasingly less hyperbolic with every passing year.

6) Snowpiercer

You want Captain America to eat a baby? Huh? Do you? Because that’s where this climate change thing is headed. Adorably bearded, nonthreatening muscle man Chris Evans is going to consume a human child if we don’t fix things, according to this fascinatingly weird sci-fi treat. Set entirely on a train that can’t stop moving because of a new ice age, it has heartbreaking character beats, insanely cool action in tight quarters and Tilda Swinton, because we’ve all voted and Tilda Swinton gets to survive, no matter what else happens to the rest of us.

give a shit about plants. Much was made of the depiction of people as morbidly obese when their caricatured appearance was actually a cartoonish representation of amoral gluttony and an unwillingness to consider implications of their actions more than a statement about body shaming. The only shame that’s definitively intended is about our collective planetary neglect.

3) Beasts of the Southern Wild

Maybe the prettiest movie about climate change ever made, Beasts warns us that if we don’t stop what we’re doing, we’ll melt the ice caps and free long-dormant monster pigs that will trample us unless Quvenzhané Wallis asks them nicely not to. This singular coming-ofage/hero’s journey is a lyrical reminder of the connected nature of all life and a celebration of the glorious communities and vibrant pockets of nature we are callously extinguishing. Optimistic and scary, heartwarming and tear-jerking, this is only sitting at number 3 because I’m trying not to put it at the top of every single list I make.

2) Mad Max: Fury Road

The earth is a scorched shithole with gas a nearvanished commodity and a major community of people run by a pasty, pudgy megalomaniac who treats women like absolute garbage as he spreads lies about how important he is. That’s also the description of Mad Max: Fury Road. The reason this installment is on the list is not only because it’s 5) Children of Men easily the best in the series but because of its focus Nobody can get pregnant in this neo-classic on “who killed the world” and the disappearing from writer/director Alfonso Cuaron, and it’s “green place,” which the protagonists seek like likely not just because governmental oversight of sinners cast out of Eden. The value of water, the women’s health is already a profound nightmare. absence of flora and fauna and the blatant finger The reasons are never explicitly laid bare, but pointing at the toxic masculinity and near-sighted pollution and overpopulation are certainly behaviors that set all that into motion makes this alluded to as potential culprits. As Clive Owen the most bad-ass climate change action movie struggles to protect the first potential birth in ever made. years, audiences are reminded about the fragility 1) Day After Tomorrow Is this a bad movie? Yes it is. Does Jake of life and the imperative nature of interreliance. I mean, they are reminded about that while the Gyllenhaal fight wolves in it? You bet your doublefilm is playing and then go back to voting against voweled aass he does. Dennis Quaid snowshoes over a mall that’s covered in ice, teenagers literally their own sustained self-interests. 4) WALL-E “run from the cold” and Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) The nearly dialogue-free first half of WALL-E drinks himself to death with a nice liquor in the is a beautiful homage to silent films and a likely most fastidious and British way imaginable. Sure glimpse into the dumpster we are making out it’s a mess in terms of its science, plot, acting and of Mother Earth. A robot with a single, trash- any other definable metric of quality. It’s the tops smashing purpose displays more humanity than on this list because it is unqualified apocalyptic most humans, as he shows it is possible to fall daydreaming and nonsense. Given the state of in love, have an intergalactic adventure and still things, that’s kinda the best we can hope for, right?


APRIL 2017


CUTTING ROOM a second location there. Proud bearers of the delightful oxymoron “slow-food-fast,” the menu options will use local ingredients, will be portable enough for eating in the lobby or patio or carrying out and will also feature a happy hour because Film Streams and The Kitchen Table love me. Us. I meant us. They love us. And I love them. We love them. You get the idea.


• Every year, Film Streams brings an insanely hella cool movie person to Omaha for their annual fundraiser, Feature. You can tell it’s classy AF because they use Roman numerals, and they’re already up to Feature VII. This year, they have one of my all-time favorite humans, Julianne Moore, who belongs in every conversation of great acting and remains the low- • Finally, director/producer/allegedly-reallykey best part of The Big Lebowski. In advance of gross-sexist-shitbag Brett Ratner made some her appearance at Feature VII on April 24, Film really obnoxious statements about Rotten Streams has unveiled a repertory series of her Tomatoes lately, suggesting that the critic work, a list of films that should be called “The aggregation site is bad news for the movie Oscars Are Illegitimate Until Julianne Moore industry. It’s not, just ask Jordan Peele or any Has a Few.” Starting with Far From Heaven the other talented person making quality movies. It first week of April, the list includes Vanya on can be a boon or a bane, depending on the film 42nd Street, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, The Big and the director. If the director is Ratner, Rotten Lewbowski, The Kids Are All Right, Children Tomatoes is not going to help. Still, there’s of Men, The End of the Affair, Safe and The something interesting to be said for the move Hours, along with Rosemary’s Baby and 3 towards aggregate opinions, lack of dissent Women, two films Moore selected for the series and sophisticated criticism that transcends and from which she draws inspiration. Because “rotten or fresh.” This is me foreshadowing an of course she draws inspiration from Rosemary’s upcoming piece. Oh God, I just foreshadowed Baby because she’s perfect. That list has sci-fi, with Brett Ratner. Pretty sure I have herpes now. comedy, period pieces, dramedies and whatever Magnolia was. She’s a national treasure, and Cutting Room provides breaking local and national movie news … complete with added she’ll be in Omaha. Respond accordingly. sarcasm. Send any relevant information to Check out Ryan on • One other bit of Film Streams news, the Movieha!, a weekly podcast, catch him on Dundee Theater will have a kitchen table! That the radio on CD 105.9 on Fridays at around is to say, when the Dundee Theater reopens, 7:40 a.m. and on KVNO 90.7 at 8:30 a.m. on The Kitchen Table restaurant will be opening Fridays and follow him on Twitter.


TUESDAY, APRIL 4, 2017 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM Ralston Arena • 7300 Q St, Ralston, NE RSVP: Go to and click on the “Fraud 2017” image


APRIL 2017


• Your periodic Star Wars update: First off, Han Solo may not really be named Han Solo. Disney CEO Bob Iger detailed the first plot for the upcoming Solo spinoff, and he mentioned it will cover the smuggler from age 18 to 24, follow him as he meets Chewbacca and gets the Millennium Falcon and also reveal “how he got his name.” Apparently, the answer to that last one isn’t just “Momma Solo picked it.” I hear his birth name was Shootsfirst but Lucas changed it. Second, even though she left this world far, far too early, Carrie Fisher will not be missing at all from Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. She has been confirmed to be “throughout” the film, which is a shallow and silly thing for us to worry about, but since we loved her very much, we’ll take whatever comfort we can get.



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APRIL 2017

Are we headed toward a driverless future? BY TIM MCMAHAN

t seems only fitting that the last car I may ever buy is a Volkswagen Beetle. After all, the first car I drove was a VW Beetle. Supplied by my father, it was a 1966 or ‘67 and the color of chocolate milk except where the paint had faded and rust had covered the fenders and crept over the chrome bumpers. While the exterior merely looked worn, the inside was something altogether different. The seats were ripped, and some sort of straw padding material poked through, sharp enough stab right through your jeans. Every surface was covered in a thin layer of dust — the natural by-product of living on county roads. Conveniently located beneath the mud-crusted floor mat was a rust hole the size of a hamburger, just large enough to drop wrappers or beer bottles. And then there was the smell — not a bad smell, but a unique scent that can only be found in old VWs of any model — sort of a mix of moth-balls, rotting plastic and the ghosts of the fallen Third Reich. No number of pine-tree shaped air fresheners could mask it. On the plus side, the car had a functioning radio and a handcranked sun-roof that still worked. And it ran like a top. Whether in the blazing heat or frosty cold, that little VW started right up — those Germans certainly knew a thing or two about reliability. They didn’t, however, know anything about heaters. Talk to any owner of a ‘60s-era VW and they’ll tell you the same story about how in the winter, the heaters were little more than props. The only time the car’s interior ever warmed up was after you’d arrived wherever you were going, which is why every old VW is equipped with an ice scraper to scrape the inside of the windshield. Despite all that, I loved my shitty VW and drove it most of my junior year until one day, I hit a pot-hole in the high school parking lot and snapped the axle in two. My dad simply replaced it with another VW from his fleet — a slightly newer robin’s egg blue Beetle with the same crappy heater, the same rustic smell. Post graduation and upon beginning a job at K-Mart, I scraped up enough cash to buy my own car — a ‘79 Ford Fiesta. Since then I’ve owned nearly a dozen cars, including my last one — a 2014 Subaru BRZ, a sporty little number but ill fit for anyone my height. After three years of performing a limbo dance to get into it (and literally crawling on all fours to get out), I finally decided last month to trade it in for a Beetle convertible. Doing so meant overcoming a stigma that goes along with these rather cute cars seemingly designed almost exclusively for women and gay men — two groups of people I’ve always admired but don’t care to be confused with. My model, called the Dune, is VW’s effort to butch up the line by making it slightly wider and taller, adding larger wheels and a sporty trim package. Even with these changes the car isn’t exactly macho, but I’ve finally gotten to the point where I don’t care what some dude driving a giant Ford truck thinks about my car. And unlike the Beetles of my youth, my Dune couldn’t be more luxurious, with its heated seats, rear camera and Fender sound system. It’s the most comfortable car I’ve ever driven, and, as I said, could very well be the last car I buy, if you believe Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. During a World Economic Forum last summer, Kalanick said the roll-out of self-driving vehicles in the coming years could make car ownership a thing of the past. “Why would you own a car?” he



asked at the forum’s annual meeting in Tianjin, China, this past summer. He equated car ownership to owning a horse you might ride for fun on weekends. “I think that’s where the world is going,” he said. “People will not own cars, they’ll have a service that takes them where they want to go, when they want to go there. And that’s what Uber is.” He then went on to say this driverless future will be safer and more cost effective, certainly cheaper than owning a car. “You now have 30 people being served by 30 cars,” Kalanick said at the forum. “Those 30 cars are only served 4% of the day; 96% of the day they’re stored somewhere. Around 20% to 30% of our land is taken up just storing these hunks of metal that we drive around in for 4% of the day.” I think about this every time I drive by the massive parking structure UNO is building on its south campus just off 67th and Pacific streets. If Kalanick’s vision is true, what are we going to do with all these parking garages and parking lots? For someone who grew up driving, it will be a strange world indeed where no one owns a car but simply orders via smartphone app a driverless Uber whenever they need to go somewhere, paying only for as much of the car as they use. The World Economic Forum pointed to one estimate that said there will be 10 million driverless cars on the road by 2020 — that’s only three years away. There’s only one problem with the prediction. It fails to acknowledge how much people like their cars. Cars not only provide a sense of pride and an extension of one’s personality, they’re the essence of personal freedom and control. And let’s face it, people like driving. Yes, it can be dangerous, but that’s part of the fun. It’s that danger, that unpredictability of human nature, that could be what forces the government to one day step in and declare driving too dangerous for humans, forcing us to give up our cars or at least our ability to control them. That’s a future so far away that by then, my now new VW will be covered in rust, have holes in the floorboards and will smell like my ‘66 Beetle. And no doubt will be the pride and joy of some other 16-year-old. Over The Edge is a monthly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, music, the media and the arts. Email Tim at


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