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FE B RUARY 2 0 1 8 | volU M E 25 | ISSU E 02

The FBI and


Black Panthers ART: Poetry in Motion Eat: Eating the Cost of Cheap Labor HooDoo: Jazz Comes Home Heartland Healing: Past Lives, Cosmic Connections and the 100 BB Theory Over the Edge: Uber Confessions Film: Movies Didn’t Suck in 2017 Theater: Centering the Margins

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EAT: Eating the Cost of Cheap Labor


COVER: The FBI and Omaha’s Black Panthers: COINTELPRO, the Minard Bombing and the life sentences for the two men blamed

HEALING: Past Lives, Cosmic Connections and the 100 BB Theory


PICKS: Cool Things to do in February

President John F. Kennedy meeting with 2-term Nebraska Governor Frank Morrison in 1961. Morrison later served as a volunteer Public Defender in the Rice-Poindexter trial JFK Presidential Library & Museum

Publisher/Editor John Heaston Graphic Designer Ken Guthrie, Sebastian Molina Assistant Editor JoAnna LeFlore Rock Star Intern Cheyenne Alexis


ART: Poetry in Motion


THEATER: Centering the Margins


HOODOO: Jazz Comes Home

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: SALES & MARKETING Kati Falk DISTRIBUTION/DIGITAL Clay Seaman OFFICE ASSISTANT Salvador Robles PHOTOGRAPHY Debra S. Kaplan

25 2

MUSIC: Backbeat Column FEBRUARY 2018


FILM: Movies Didn’t Suck in 2017




OVER THE EDGE: Uber Confessions



Nominations Have Started for 2018

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Love Your Job


f you’re in a phase where you absolutely hate your job and can’t stand to start the workday because of it, take solace. You’re probably not alone. Of course, switching jobs remains an option, but one with potential hassles that include lost benefits, seniority or even unemployment if you don’t find another job right away. According to experts, it’s entirely possible to switch your attitude without actually switching your job. There are steps you can take to like – or even love – your job again so you don’t have to find another one.

Are people the problem?

Sure, clients and customers can be a big reason a job seems unbearable. Sometimes, however, the problem is more about the people with whom you work. Gossiping coworkers, tense bosses and unreliable team members can make an otherwise-enjoyable job miserable. Look at your surroundings and decide whether it’s the people you work with who make things difficult for you. If yes, seek a change. Perhaps switch teams or telecommute from home where you can do your work without facing stress-creating co-workers.

It’s not them – it’s you

Maybe the problem isn’t actually your work. Maybe it’s a result of not taking care of you. Before you decide your job needs to go, take a close look at yourself. Inventory how everything is going. Do you eat right and get enough sleep and exercise? If you’re run down and unhealthy it’s only a matter of time before you try to blame something outside yourself. You might decide outside circumstances, like your job, make you unhappy when it’s actually your own doing. Make some healthy changes to your lifestyle and see if this makes you feel better about your life – and your job.

Climb the to-do mound

It’s no wonder you hate your job if every workday entails a pile of tasks you can’t shrink no matter how hard you try. If “too much work” is caused by too much procrastination, get a grip on your productivity and focus on what’s possible now. But if “too much work” is caused by your boss’ unrealistic expectations, it’s time to have a frank discussion to show your workload is unmanageable. An effective supervisor will respect your concerns and help you delegate or step away from parts of your unmanageable workload. An ineffective supervisor, however, will likely just get mad things don’t get done and toss blame around. If you get no help after you ask for it, the problem’s not your workload – it’s ineffective leadership. Bottom line – get organized however you can to assure you don’t fall too far behind.


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It’s hard to not allow work to permeate your life. People are far more accessible than they used to be. Work calls and emails can pop up regardless of the time of day or night. Telecommuters may find they’re quite literally unable to step away from their work because it’s always there, even at home. Set firm boundaries with your co-workers. For example, don’t answer work emails late at night. Instead, save them for when you’re actually “at work.” To unwind and forget work is an important defense against hating your job. Not vacationing is detrimental to your health and also to how you feels about the way you earn your living. If you’re always on the clock and thinking about work, you’re more likely to resent it and feel unhappy. After all, distance makes the heart grow fonder. If you never distance yourself from the job, how will you ever grow to love it?

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The FBI and


Black Panthers

A look at COINTELPRO, the Minard Bombing and the life sentences of Edward Poindexter and Mondo Eyen we Langa

Pictured left to right: Ed Poindexter, Clarence Williams and Linda Clark

by M i c h a e l R i c h a r d s o n

the Crime

ripped through the walls of the empty house and shook the darkened neighborhood. Minard died instantly. Another officer was badly injured.

On August 17, 1970, at 2:07 a.m., police received an anonymous 911 call from a man who described a screaming woman being dragged into a vacant North Omaha house.

the Context

Omaha Deputy Police Chief Glen Gates took command 20 minutes after Minard’s death.

Six officers responded. Instead of a desperate woman, 2867 Ohio Street was empty except for a suitcase inside the front door. Omaha police officer Larry Minard tripped over it. A deafening blast

Minard’s death was immediately blamed on the Black Panther Party, a revolutionary, socialist organization FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover called “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country.” The Black Panthers were targeted by a clandestine FBI operation named COINTELPRO, designed to undermine the era’s social justice movements. An acronym for COunter INTELligence PROgram, it used fraud and force to disrupt constitutionally protected political activity. The program is best known for its efforts to discredit Martin Luther King Jr. by secretly tapping his phones.





That started shortly after his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C. The operation also sought to widen the rift between Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam by placing undercover FBI agents around Omaha native Malcolm X prior to his still-unresolved assassination. COINTELPRO also worked extensively with local police to initiate raids, withhold evidence and produce false testimony in criminal prosecutions across the country. An example was Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton, who died from two bullets to the head while unarmed in a joint Chicago police and FBI raid.

continues to serve his sentence in the Lincoln Correctional Center. (Requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) have since revealed the FBI files related to the Minard case. Unless noted, quotes in this story come from those FBI files.)

Two former Black Panthers in Omaha, Edward Poindexter and David Rice, later known as Mondo Eyen we Langa, were convicted of Minard’s murder and sentenced to life in prison. Mondo Eyen we Langa died there in 2016. Poindexter, now 72 years old, continued on page 8 y



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the Initial

No Caller ID


the FBI’s

“Omaha advised it had notified military and Secret Service, was following closely, and alerted its racial informants in pursuit of investigation.”

FBI Director Hoover had repeatedly pressured Special Agent Young to be “imaginative” and shut down Omaha’s NCCF chapter. Minard’s murder was the perfect crime to pin on Rice and Poindexter.

In Omaha, Special Agent Young again heard from his informant. “OM T-7 advised that he had heard that certain members of the NCCF supposedly knew who had set the bomb at Ohio Street and that the bomber was from out of town who was trained by the BPP (Black Panther Party) for constructing bombs of this type.”

“(OPD’s) Gates stated he understood these terms and stated the Police Department would be extremely appreciative of any assistance in this matter by the FBI and would not embarrass the FBI at a later date,” Young assured Hoover.

Supervisor Bradley sent a second memo to Conrad at the FBI Laboratory. He noted Young advised “maximum immediate assistance, particularly since the existing recording of the false ‘bait’ complaint to the police is the most important present tangible evidence.”

In Washington, D.C., FBI Assistant Director Charles Brennan learned of the bombing.

Before daybreak, Detective Jack Swanson, who headed OPD’s Intelligence Unit, looked for “militants” who might be involved. Swanson worked from a list of members and associates of the National Committee to Combat Fascism (NCCF). The committee was created by former Black Panthers in Omaha as a break-away from the Oakland-based national party. Swanson focused on David Rice. He put him first on a list that included Edward Poindexter, Frank Peak Jr. and Raleigh House. Community activist Ernie Chambers made the list, as did Luther Payne, one of three men Swanson had arrested in July 1970 with stolen dynamite. A county prisoner, George McCline, told police dynamite was for sale in Omaha. McCline knew about Payne’s arrest for possession of dynamite that went unreported by Omaha news media. McCline said “Bussie,” an uncle of Vivian Strong, a fourteen-year-old girl killed by Omaha police in 1969, was behind the bombing. The next day, the Social Security card of Johnnie Lee Bussby was found in the crime scene debris. FBI Special Agent in Charge Paul Young and OPD’s Deputy Chief Glen Gates discussed the recorded voice on the anonymous 911 call. They sent a recording to the FBI Laboratory for analysis, but they deliberately did not request a written report. The recording was about to disappear.




Young advised Hoover that informant OM T-7 told Young the NCCF did not seem to be involved.

Assistant to the Director William Sullivan initialed Bradley’s memo. Assistant Director Charles Brennan, who led the Domestic Intelligence Division, was on its distribution list. The assistant director of the General Investigative Division also got the memo. The head of the Racial Intelligence unit indicated his approval. Hoover’s inner circle knew Poindexter and Rice would likely take the fall for Minard’s murder, before the investigation was done. None dissented.



The search for Duane Peak led police to Rice’s home. Rice was at a Black Panther rally in Kansas City. Swanson claimed he found dynamite in Rice’s basement. Shortly after the raid, he wrote, “When the above Homicide happened, we felt RICE was a good suspect.” Rice was returning to Omaha when he heard on the radio his house was searched and dynamite “found.” “The knowledge that I was being set-up, that I would have to face a scenario which I would probably have no control over, scared me,” he said later. “I had never known such fear. And the fear proved to be justified.”

“OM T-7 advised that the members of the National Committee to Combat Fascism were pleased over the death of the ‘pig’ but that their actions did not indicate that they had any knowledge of who set off the blast, and at this time seemed unaware of who could have committed the crime.” At FBI headquarters, supervisor William Bradley sent a memo to Ivan Conrad at the FBI Laboratory. He, too, requested analysis of the 911 recording without a resulting written report. Conrad called Hoover and noted, “Dir advised telephonically & said OK to do.”

old brother Duane and said he heard Poindexter made the bomb.

In the pre-dawn, Omaha police and two FBI agents surrounded a house on Bristol Street. According to OPD Lieutenant James Perry, the FBI paid Donald Peak, who was present, for his brother’s location. The younger Peak was arrested there.

Arrests Made

But then Assistant Special Agent in Charge Tom Dugan in Omaha called Bradley and canceled analysis of the recording. The search to identify the anonymous 911 caller was called off just four days after Minard’s burial.

Duane Peak

An informant called Detective Swanson with Donald Peak Jr.’s location. Swanson had Peak Jr. arrested. Donald quickly implicated his 15 year-

Fifteen-year-old Peak was interrogated by police, ATF agent Sledge and Douglas County prosecutors. Peak’s story kept changing. Exasperated, County Prosecutor Arthur O’Leary told him truth did not matter. “As a practical matter, it doesn’t make any difference what the truth is concerning you at all,” O’Leary said. ”Eventually you’re going to have to testify about everything you said here and it isn’t going to make one bit of difference whether or not you leave out one fact or not.” On August 25, Deputy Chief Glen Gates and ATF’s Tom Sledge flew to

Washington, D.C., with evidence for the ATF Laboratory. Sledge had some of Poindexter’s clothing and vials of dynamite particles. Kenneth Snow, a forensic chemist at the ATF Laboratory, testified particles removed from Poindexter’s jacket pocket were similar to particles in the vials Sledge brought.


On January 28, 1971, a recording of the 911 call was mailed from the FBI Laboratory “for return to Omaha police for trial.” But the jury never heard the tape. On March 8, 1971, an eight-member team of anti-war activists called the Citizen’s Commission to Investigate the A musical rooted in religious, political and racial tension.

Initial Hearing

At the preliminary hearing on September 28, Duane Peak recanted his story, testifying instead that neither Poindexter nor Rice were involved. Under cross-examination, he admitted he said differently when police threatened him with the electric chair. County Attorney Donald Knowles told the judge Peak’s faltering memory “had taken us by surprise.” After a two-hour recess, Peak again implicated Poindexter and Rice. Peak wore dark glasses that he removed at the request of Rice’s attorney, David Herzog. Peak appeared to have been crying. Herzog asked Peak if he was threatened during the recess and whether he discussed his confession to help him remember it. Peak said answered yes. He said his lawyer was not present when he rehearsed his confession with County Attorney Arthur O’Leary. “When he came back in the afternoon, his face was swollen around his eyes, he had glasses on,” Ernie Chambers said. “When Duane took his glasses off, his eyes were red, you could see he had been crying, and there was an audible gasp in the courtroom. His answers were scarcely audible. A young man who knew nothing about anything in the morning, and suddenly gave the answers that the police, the prosecutors needed to implicate David and Ed.”

Feb. 9 – March 11


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FBI burgled a Bureau office in Media, Pa., and stole more than 1,000 COINTELPRO documents. The Washington Post, after affirming their veracity, ran a front-page story on March 24, 1971. The revelations led to a Senate investigation headed by Sen. Frank Church, D-Idaho.

the Trial

The murder trial of opened at the Douglas County Courthouse in April 1, 1971. County Attorney Donald Knowles and his assistants Arthur O’Leary and Sam Cooper sought death by electrocution.

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As O’Leary summarized Duane Peak’s story, he said Raleigh House supplied the suitcase for the bomb and added Poindexter was present. But Peak soon contradicted O’Leary when he claimed he and House went together alone for the suitcase. “Rollie parked his car and went in the house and told me to wait.” Peak said he waited 15 minutes for Raleigh to return. “Rollie came from behind the house with a suitcase.”

continued on page 10 y

April 13 – May 6

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Peak introduced the only white out of 60 people arrested. He said Norma Aufrecht gave him a ride to pick up and transport the bomb. Peak testified Norma waited in her car while Rice let Peak into the house to get the suitcase. Aufrecht never testified.

Jack Swanson testified he found dynamite in Rice’s basement. “Well, there were at least four or five other parties because we examined this carefully before we moved it.” Asked

Poindexter’s and Rice’s Denial

Poindexter said he never showed Peak how to make a bomb. Poindexter also denied giving Peak instructions or meeting Duane at Frank Peak’s house. Poindexter denied going to Rice’s home with Raleigh House or building an explosive. Poindexter said he did not know how dynamite particles got into his jacket pocket. “I was unjustly accused of a crime, or accused of a crime I haven’t had anything to do with.” Questioned about the construction of a bomb, Rice flatly denied any role in the fatal bombing. No secret meetings with Duane Peak, no suitcase, no bomb. Knowles asked Rice about dynamite and blasting caps. Rice was blunt: “Not in my house.” The jury deliberated 25 hours between Wednesday afternoon through Saturday morning, April 17. Within an hour after Rice and Poindexter were found guilty, they were shackled and transported to Lincoln to begin life sentences.

again who saw the dynamite before it was removed, Swanson tightened his answer. “Well, Agent Curd was there and Sledge and Bob Pfeffer.” Contradicting Swanson, Pfeffer said he never went into the basement. Curd was not asked. Sledge said he saw dynamite in the basement. Roland Wilder, an ATF tool marks examiner, testified he compared a piece of copper wire purportedly from the bomb with Rice’s pliers. Wilder said he found 15 “points of identification.” But he admitted there were 25 points of dissimilarity. Wilder also didn’t conduct a comparison test with similar pliers.




Ten days after the trial, Assistant Director Charles Brennan realized the FBI documents stolen in Media, PA, endangered counterintelligence operations. Brennan sent Sullivan, Hoover’s assistant, a recommendation. “These programs involve a variety of sensitive intelligence techniques and disruptive activities which are afforded close supervision at the Seat of Government. ... It is felt they should now be discontinued for security reasons because of their sensitivity.”



Hoover ended COINTELPRO the next day.

the Appeals

In July 1972, the Nebraska Supreme Court denied the appeals of Poindexter and Rice. The affidavit for the search of Rice’s house was a central issue. Rice claimed there was no probable cause to allow a search of his home, where they had allegedly found the dynamite. “Were we to uphold appellants in this case the bloody shirt (the dynamite) worn into the police station by the murder suspect would be kept from the eyes of the jury.” Two years later, U.S. District Chief Judge Warren Urbom differed sharply with the Nebraska Supreme Court. “Since it is clear that the introduction of the evidence seized in the illegal search and the dynamite particles substantially contributed to the petitioner’s c o n v i c t i o n, that introduction was not harmless error. Therefore, the petitioner must either be released from custody or granted a new trial free from the tainted evidence.”

In July 6, 1976, the Supreme Court declined to rule on the merits of Rice’s conviction. COINTELPRO and its counterintelligence actions were not part of the Supreme Court’s deliberations. The ruling, known as Stone v. Powell, meant federal courts no longer had to consider claims of illegal search and seizure if those claims were already considered in state courts. The ruling applied retroactively to Rice’s case. Instead, the Supreme Court sent the case back to Nebraska courts. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan predicted a return to Nebraska courts would be futile. That same year, an investigation led by U.S. Senator Frank Church (DIda.) issued its final report on COINTELPRO. “Many of the techniques used would be intolerable in a democratic society even if all of the targets had been involved in violent activity, but COINTELPRO went far beyond that,” the final report stated. “The Bureau conducted a sophisticated vigilante operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise of First Amendment rights of speech and association, on the theory that preventing the growth of dangerous groups and the propagation of dangerous ideas would protect the national security and deter violence.”

“Many of the techniques used would be intolerable in a democratic society even if all of the targets had been involved in violent activity, but COINTELPRO went far beyond that...”


Supreme Court

In January 1975, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Eighth Circuit upheld Judge Urbom and concluded Rice’s rights were violated. The court also noted “a negligent disregard by the Omaha police for the constitutional rights of not only petitioner but possibly other citizens as well.”

The committee’s final report can be found at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense & Security archives, the Homeland Security Defense Library. It lists multiple COINTELPRO actions targeting the Black Panther Party across the nation.

Post-Conviction Appeals

In May 1980, Douglas County District Judge Paul Hickman presided over Rice’s post-conviction appeal. Jesuit lawyer and law professor William Cunningham represented Rice. Police Chief Richard Anderson testified he did not know of any FBI involvement in the investigation. Anderson said he did not know the whereabouts of the original 911 recording or if police erased the tape.

Recovered Call

Although he failed to obtain Rice’s freedom, Cunningham helped recover a long-forgotten copy of the 911 emergency call. A dispatcher made a copy found in a box at Central Headquarters. County Attorney Donald Knowles denied he heard the tape. He said he did not know if a copy was submitted to the FBI. When Knowles was asked if he had any communication with the FBI, his memory failed. “I don’t remember.” Prosecutor Arthur O’Leary could not say if the tape was turned over to the defense. When asked if the FBI was sent a copy, O’Leary went blank. “I do not know whether it was or not.” Cunningham asked O’Leary if he ever said to Peak, “As a practical matter it doesn’t make any difference what the truth is concerning you at all?” He couldn’t remember. Cunningham asked if O’Leary said, “It isn’t going to make one bit of difference whether or not you leave out one fact or not.” O’Leary’s memory again failed him. Judge Hickman denied Rice’s request for a new trial. The Nebraska Supreme Court did likewise, as they also had after the Supreme Court returned the case to Nebraska.

Additional Appeals

In January 1991, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals denied Rice’s third federal appeal. “Rice failed to show that the tape recording would have created a reasonable doubt about his guilt had it been introduced at trial.” “Peak testified at Rice’s trial that he never entered into a deal with the prosecution and the prosecutor denied that any bargain was struck with Peak.” However, Peak was allowed to walk away from a first-degree murder charge in exchange for a finding of juvenile delinquency. In a post-trial hearing, OPD Sergeant Robert Pfeffer contradicted his trial testimony and claimed he, not Swanson, had found dynamite in Rice’s basement. When confronted with his contradictions, Pfeffer became enraged and said he was misquoted by the court reporter. Pfeffer also claimed he found three suitcases with wires sticking from them during the search of Rice’s house. He described how he dragged the three suitcases with a rope through their handles. Pfeffer could not account why no police report or other witness confirmed the existence of the three suitcases or why they were not seized as evidence.

exter were behind this murder and put this kid up to it, they were out to get them regardless of the lengths they went.”

“They weren’t convicted of murder. They were convicted of rhetoric.”

In December 1999, Fred Whitehurst, a retired FBI Laboratory supervisor, provided a series of consultation reports to Nebraskans for Justice.

“This is a damned tragedy,” he wrote. ”There is mention of dynamite particles found. I still find ... something wrong with the fact that dynamite particles were found on the evidence items. ... I am still troubled by where the dynamite particles were allegedly found in Rice’s pocket. That makes no sense.” In January 2006, Douglas County District Judge Richard Spethman ordered Duane Peak to submit a voice sample. “The identity of the person who placed the 911 call was, without question, a matter of considerable controversy during the prosecution,” wrote Spethman, who ruled “the caller’s identity was not conclusively determined.” Thomas Owen, an internationally known voice identification expert, who testified approximately 180 times as an expert witness, conducted an analysis of Peak’s voice and concluded Peak had not made the 911 call.

a System Failure Requests Denied Former Governor Frank Morrison, the Douglas County public defender who represented Poindexter, wrote in July 1997. “The self-confessed murderer was turned loose after a slap on the wrist. ... I feel both I and the system failed Ed Poindexter.” In a later deposition, he elaborated. “I had no idea the extent to which J. Edgar Hoover would go to secure a conviction. ... These federal agents were so convinced Rice and Poind-

Despite this new evidence, Fourth District Judge Russell Bowie in Omaha denied Poindexter’s request for a new trial. Bowie said Pfeffer’s contradictions did not matter. “Who found it is immaterial.” In June 2009, the Nebraska Supreme Court upheld Bowie. “The particulars of who found the dynamite and who was with that person at the time are relatively insignificant.” COVER

Four years later, District Judge James Gleason denied Rice’s final appeal. “Defendant has failed to set forth any claim of actual innocence.” Yet Rice’s appeal clearly stated, “Defendant Rice is entitled to a new trial because he did not commit the crime charged and he is not guilty of the crime.” Refusing to explain why it rejected Rice’s claim of innocence, the Nebraska Supreme Court simply said “overruled.”

Death in Prison

“I cannot say with certainty that each cop, FBI agent, member of the County Attorney’s Office, and every other person who participated in the unlawful, unethical, and fraudulent process that resulted in my being in the joint knew that he or she was going after a person who was innocent,” Rice said. “But I do know that most or all of them did not care whether I was innocent or guilty.” On March 11, 2016, Rice died in the Nebraska State Penitentiary hospital unit. Poindexter remains imprisoned, his appeals exhausted. He continues to maintain his innocence and won’t seek parole because it requires an admission of guilt. “The reason they were suspected was because they were members of the Black Panthers,” former Governor Frank Morrison said. “They weren’t convicted of murder. They were convicted of rhetoric. The only thing these young fellas did was try to combat all the racial discrimination of the time, the wrong way.” Photos courtesy of the Douglas County Historical Society






With immigration reform hot on our lips, we look at the agricultural impact of losing migrant workers BY SARA LOCKE

The Corn Husker State It’s a rite of passage in Nebraska. Around the age of 13, on summer mornings you climb onto a bus at 4am and head out to a hot, humid cornfield to work for minimum wage. It’s an initiation into the workforce. You prove you can do a hard day’s work for about 6 weeks. It feels more like a hazing into adulthood, and all teens can do is grit their teeth and remember it’s only a few weeks. They can earn up to $2000 by the end of the season, which is astronomical to a 13 year old with only data overages to cover.

Nebraska in July means 100 degree temperatures in rainy or wet fields; so humid you’re required to wear a poncho to stay dry. You work no matter what the weather is doing, in the blistering sun, and then you ride the bus home. The brutal conditions and low pay make it a job generally only suitable for teens. They have no bills and healthy bodies. Even still, many of the workers don’t stick it out for the entire season, but that doesn’t reflect poorly on a resume since it’s not a “real job”. Prospective employers and colleges are just impressed you took the initiative. Most of the applicants are between 14 and 16 years old. By then, students are looking for better jobs, higher pay, and more suitable working conditions. They take positions at supermarkets, sandwich shops, and departments stores.Farm work is back breaking, exhausting, and often dangerous. It’s hard to find workers who will show up for an entire season. They’re Stealing Our Jobs Aside from the season of teen detassling, produce needs planted and picked year-round. It may be America’s worst kept secret. Most of what you find on your plate wasn’t put there by a middle-class Caucasian, but by the hands of undocumented workers. It’s known to the point of parody. Do a Google Image search of the words “Field Worker”, “Factory Farm Worker”, or “Harvest Worker” and at least acknowledge that it isn’t a secret. The factor keeping our food affordable is the sweat of migrant workers. The Statistics Immigration is an emotionally charged topic, but numbers are numbers. According to U.S. Department of Labor’s National Agricultural Workers Survey[1], NAWS, approximately 48% of farm workers lack work authorization. The Labor Department concedes that this number is low, and estimates the true number to be slightly greater than 70%. Even in an anonymous survey, workers are afraid to admit their status, and nearly half simply refused to disclose the information. This means that of approximately

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2.5 million people planting, weeding, harvesting, tending to chickens and livestock, and slaughtering your meat, an estimated 1,750,000 are undocumented workers.

to sexual harassment by crew bosses. Crew leaders say that while the sexual harassment is being addressed, other demands were largely dismissed.

Strawberry Fields Forever

Picking Poverty

Many families are finding their American Dream turning into a daily nightmare, and sending word home that their lives in the US aren’t much better than the lives they left behind. Harsh conditions, unfair labor practices, unsafe working environment, and the constant fear of discovery take every moment of peace from these families. Immigration has been declining, as America is no longer the place families can make a dream come true. They are doing their best to push back without invoking the anger or disappointment of companies that offer a paycheck, however small. In March of 2015, we brought you a story of unsafe practices and threats of deportation at the Hormel plant. In spite of petitions, workers report that the pushback from management has silenced them. Driscoll’s, the best-known name in Strawberries, claimed they issued a “major wage hike” to end a worker boycott. The boycott was to raise worker’s pay to $13 per 10-12 hour day, and for safer work environments, including an end

Labor leaders claim that BerryMex, one harvester contracted by Driscoll’s, pays $3 per hour during peak harvest in safe conditions, and half of that in off-peak periods. More can be earned, but the conditions workers must endure are far more treacherous. In addition to the meager pay, harsh quotas are enforced, and that $1.50 an hour could be fined against, or a job lost completely if the quota isn’t met. The laborers did return to the fields, but with their demands still unmet. Many returned out of fear or desperation. Having taken two weeks off without pay, many were facing homelessness, and others feared deportation for noncompliance. Driscoll’s is by no means alone in this treatment. In fact, workers say that Driscoll’s offers more humane conditions that many other contractors, but it’s a name you know, which is why they are leaned on so heavily by groups like Democracy Now. The public needs a name, a face, and a story before they feel involved enough to take action. They need an emotional response.

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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. .




Cosmic Connections and the 100 BB Theory BY MICHAEL BRAUNSTEIN

lright, let’s get started with a point of agreement: that there is some kind of conscious, living force that animates human beings — actually all living things but for our purposes we’re talking humans. It’s a fact that the Universe is filled with energy. Can’t go anywhere and not find it. And it affects all things, flows through all things. And you can call it whatever you want. Now at this point you may want to read and reference the previous column that is the primer for this one. (Just visit and search “Past Lives? No, One Life to Live”). This is a brief review. When a candle is extinguished, there is a window of time where if a flame is reapplied to the column of smoke rising from the “dead” wick, the flame jumps back down the column and reignites the candle. The molecules of smoke have not dissipated enough for the candle to be permanently “dead”. Now imagine that is sort of what happens when a human being dies only the “molecules” are actually globules of “life force”. Some Theosophical educators might call them When Bob first came to life, he had to be made of 100 BBs that existed “orgone” elements, an admittedly controversial approach. in the boxcar. When the Magnet came down to make an entirely new So back to our human being. Imagine a person “dies” and their life composite human, Bob, Magnet went to the floor of the boxcar and force starts to dissipate but within that window of time, a Source of life picked up 100 BBs. Whose BBs did it grab? It was a random selection energy reapplies that force and the person comes back from the edge of of 100 BBs. Magnet may have gotten 10 BBs previously used by Tom death, just like that extinguished candle comes back. We know people Scratchit, born 1897, died in WW I in 1917. Magnet picked up 12 BBs have “near death experiences” and often “come back” feeling changed. from someone who lived in 524 A.D. named Hussein, four BBs from a The 100 BB Theory can explain that as well as more. 16th century poet named Johann, four from a prehistoric cavewomen New Metaphor Okay, now hang in there. We’re gonna switch with no name and 20 from Jacque Robard from the 18th century. In total, metaphors from orgone or smoke molecules to little magnetic BBs like Bob got 100 BBs to call his own… but they had history. those little round things used by a kid’s BB gun. Imagine if you will, that a So Bob is living his life in 2017 with his assembly of pre-owned BBs, human being, let’s call him Bob, is made up of 100 BBs of life energy, all just as we all are. He’s not intellectually aware that he has 20 BBs from neatly held together by a Source of “magnetism” applied to it. Imagine Jacque but he knows he likes brie and French sourdough and watching a Magnet stuck to the top of his head holding all those 100 BBs that are the Tour de France on TV. Then one day he meets a lovely woman named “Bob” together and thus he’s alive. Now, imagine all humans are riding Tamara. He almost feels like he “found” her. They recognize a connection together in the Universe like they’re riding in a train boxcar. Next to “Bob” the moment they shake hands. Tamara feels the same way about Bob. in this boxcar is Sally, Tom, Mary, Larry and so on, all animated humans What they don’t consciously know is that Tamara has 12 BBs from the made up of organized bodies of 100 BBs. But check this out: also in the previously noted Jacque, the same Jacque that provided Bob’s 20. No boxcar, rolling around on the floor as the train moves along the track of wonder they feel connected. They have some common BBs gathered Time, are the loose BBs of people who have gone before, lived before. from the bottom of the boxcar! On top of that, Tamara has a few other It’s a jumble of BBs that used to belong to Aidens, and Melanies and BBs that once were used by Bob’s great-grandfather. Bob has a couple Freds and Ethans and Isabellas — billions of BBs from “dead” people just BBs from a woman who once cheated on his great-grandfather. Are you rolling loose. They are all spread out far and wide. starting to get the picture? It can get pretty complicated. Okay, as Don Henley sang, “Are ya with me so far?” Now, back Look, it’s not a theory that is going to be proven in a laboratory any to “Bob”. Say Bob has a near death experience (NDE), the Magnet has day soon. But it has a bit of basis in science and quantum physics and detached from his head and his BBs start to roll away. But what if the facts about energy. All I know is that the 100 BB Theory helps explain a Magnet comes back soon enough to recapture the BBs and reassemble lot of things: why and how we are eternal beings, what happens in a near Bob as a human again? He comes back to life after a NDE. But consider death experience, why we have certain connections — and conflicts — that when he does, maybe one or two or ten BBs managed to roll far with people in this world. Just watch out for those women who got a few enough away that they don’t make the renewal. Well, the Magnet picks too many BBs from a dancehall girl in a Wild West brothel. Or men who up whatever BBs are close enough to fill out the 100 needed. What if had a roving eye in the Roaring Twenties. Not all “magnetic attractions” Magnet picks up a couple BBs from the late Ethan, a BB from the late are the good kind. Mary, two from the passed on Fred and so on. Bob no longer has all the same BBs he had before the NDE. So Bob feels “different” after the NDE. Be well. That’s a common observation. There’s More. Now, let’s backpedal. We’ve been describing the Heartland Healing is a metaphysically based polemic describing original Bob as if Bob were made of all-new, Bob-specific BBs at his alternatives to conventional methods of healing the body, mind and conception. But he wasn’t. We are all made from recycled BBs that have planet. It is provided as information and entertainment, certainly not been around and used to make humans for a very long, long time. Not medical advice. Important to remember and pass on to others: for a that there aren’t an occasional new BB or two made once in a while. But weekly dose of Heartland Healing, visit and like they are as rare as Bitcoins and of a limited number. So think this over. us on Facebook.



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LIVE MUSIC SCHEDULE - FEBRUARY, 2018. THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 1 Finest Hour 6:30 to 9:30 pm FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 2 The Six 9:00 to 1:00 am SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 3 The Confidentials 9:00 to 1:00 am MONDAY, FEBRUARY 5 Gooch And His Big Las Vegas Band 6:30 to 9:30 pm

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 12 Gooch And His Big Las Vegas Band 6:30 to 9:30 pm TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13 Bill Sammon 6:30 to 9:30 pm WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 14 Valentine’s Day Pam & The Pearls 6:30 to 9:30 pm

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 6 Spontaneous Combustion 6:30 to 9:30 pm

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 15 The Bishop’s 6:30 to 9:30 pm

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 7 The 70’S Band 6:30 to 9:30 pm

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 16 Envy 9:00 to 1:00 am

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 8 Mighty Jailbreakers 6:30 to 9:30 pm

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 17 Lemon Fresh Day 9:00 to 1:00 am

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 9 Joystick 9:00 to 1:00 am SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 10 Soul Dawg 9:00 to 1:00 am

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 19 Presidents’ Day Gooch And His Big Las Vegas Band 6:30 to 9:30 pm

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 21 The Brits 6:30 to 9:30 pm THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 22 Cuban Missle Crisis With Joey Gulizia 6:30 To 9:30 pm FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 23 Peace Love Etc 9:00 to 1:00 am SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 24 Hi Fi Hangover 9:00 to 1:00 am MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26 Gooch And His Big Las Vegas Band 6:30 to 9:30 pm TUSEDAY, FEBRUARY 27 Billy Troy 6:30 to 9:30 pm WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 28 Bozak & Morrissey 6:30 to 9:30 pm

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resentational as she has described her journey as a quest, “searching for the abstract soul,” the title of a 2015 mixed media exhibit at the Burkholder project in Lincoln. As a member of the Artists Cooperative Gallery, Johnston participated in a cultural exchange in 2016 organized by the Sophia Wanamaker Gallery in San Jose, Costa Rica with four other artists who share her wanderlust: Lori Elliott-Bartle, Cheri Ginsburg, Katrina Methot-Swanson and Linda Hatfield.

February 1-25

Venus in Fur Bluebarn Theatre 10th and Pacific

Venus in Fur is a two-person play by David Ives set in modern New York City. The play had its premiere off-Broadway at the Classic Stage Company in 2010 and on Broadway in 2011. In 2012 it was nominated for a Tony for Best Play. Inspired by the classic 1870 erotic novel, that inspired the term “masochism,” Venus in Fur goes behind the scenes at an audition, where a playwright/director and a mysterious young actress blur the lines between fantasy and reality. As the two work through the script they become caught up in the characters they are reading, and enter into an increasingly serious game of submission and domination. The balance of power is reversed, and the actress establishes dominance over the director. ~ Reader staff

The fellow travellers then collaborated in a popular group show at the Hot Shops Center motivated by their Costa Rican tour. Johnston’s contribution continued to reflect her themes of spirituality, non-conformity and morality, which also unify her work seen in Walk with Me.

Artist Cooperative Gallery, 405 S. 11th The Artists Cooperative Gallery in the Old Market will feature member artist Judith Anthony Johnston in February in her first solo exhibit at this venue. Self-titled Walk with Me: a journey in silence, the exhibit includes an opening artist reception Friday Feb. 2, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Co-op, 405 S.11th St. Though Johnston has a portrait studio and gallery in West Omaha, the well- travelled artist says this exhibit reflects work that is more personal in nature on several levels. “My situation is unique,” Johnston said, “because I incorporate my journeys walking Camino’s in Spain and Portugal into every aspect of my art. Walking by myself for over 800 miles has deepened my connection to my art, my community, and my family.” Working in gold and metal leaf, oils, charcoals, wax and wire sculpture, her art is only subtly rep-

His stencilstyle works feature references to the famous and the infamous and often touch on the cultural and political. His work is in the permanent collection of the Sioux City Arts Center.

Not only can Johnston’s art be seen at the Co-op, she has shown with Connect Gallery at 3901 Leavenworth Omaha, the Burkholder Gallery Lincoln, NE and with Revolve Omaha. Walk with Me: a journey in silence runs from Jan. 29 to Feb. 24 at the Artist Cooperative Gallery, 405 S. 11th St. with an artist reception, Friday, Feb. 2 from 6:30-9 p.m. For details and gallery hours go to ~ Mike Krainak

February 2-24

Walk with Me

form. Chelstad, known for his large-scale public murals, also claims a street upbringing and was an active graffitist in the New York street scene in the 80s and early 90s.

February 2

Curly Martin


February 2-23

Rough Riders Modern Arts Midtown

Artist Brian Gennardo’s outsider stylings, once referred to as “raw art,” headline the next exhibition at Modern Arts Midtown with an opening reception, Feb. 2, 6 -8 p.m.

Brent Witters, a self-taught artist with formal training in photography, specializes in sculptural assemblage and painting. His family background in antique dealing often comes through in his use of discarded and technologically obsolete objects in his assemblages along with photographic and optical elements. Similarly, Witters uses found and discarded fluids and paints in his paintings, combining and experimenting with the chemical reactions resulting. He often contrasts these amoebic, abstract results by adding sharp, hard line geometric and linear elements as man-made intrusions into these organic forms created by the paints. Brian Gennardo and company are featured in Modern Arts Midtown from Feb. 2-23 with an opening next Friday from 7-9 p.m. For details and gallery hours, go to

Celebrating at last this masterly career, Joslyn Art Museum will feature an exhibition of his work in Word/Play: Prints, Photographs, and Paintings by Ed Ruscha, opening February 3. It promises to be a rangy show highlighting the artist’s wry aesthetic through several of his favored media, united by his interest in the written word and visual clichés as conceptual vehicles for object making. Word/Play: Prints, Photographs, and Paintings by Ed Ruscha opens February 3 and runs through May 6, 2018, at Joslyn Art Museum. There is an admission fee for this show. The museum is located at 2200 Dodge Street. For further information, visit or call 402/342-3300. ~Janet L. Farber

~Kent Behrens

February 3-May 6

Gennardo is known for his savage, graphic, expressionist canvases that congeal into a choreography of line and symbolism, eruptions of gesture, marks, line and color.

Homecoming King

His artistic symbolism is culturally and politically charged and often bitingly humorous. His roots in street culture and the graffiti style have evolved more recently into quieter, more deliberate, personal expressions and color field abstractions.

Every state loves claiming its native sons and daughters, especially those who went on to fame and fortune. In Nebraska, for instance, one can reel off a stunning cast of actors who are household names. In the visual arts, however, deeper thought is required to assemble a similarly deep list of notables.

Gennardo is joined by Paul Chelstad and Brent Witters, equally adept at alternative subject and

Among its forefront must be artist Ed Ruscha, who was born and reared in Omaha, then in Oklahoma City before making his way west for art school. Today, Ruscha is recognized as the king of LA Cool, a left coast participant in the nascent Pop Art movement and a leading light of Conceptualism.

Joslyn Art Museum





February 3-May 6

February 6

February 8

Diet Cig

Forgotten Corner

Déjà New

Waiting Room

Gallery 72

We in the Heartland know what it is like to be geographically and culturally ignored. After all, this IS “flyover country.” A similar term, the Forgotten Corner, is used in Great Britain for a small but picturesque area in the southeast of Cornwall. Now more permanently grounded in Omaha, painter Steve Joy was raised in the Forgotten Corner of Cornwall and still keeps a house and studio there. He spent several months recently in his Cornwall studio, and the works in Gallery 72’s new exhibit, Paintings from the Forgotten Corner, are the results of that endeavor. Joy’s paintings draw heavily from Byzantine, Russian and Greek icon paintings. Abstract, but carefully executed, they are known for their translucent and glowing color fields and modern composition that invokes spirituality and a classical history.

It’s been a swift and steady rise for Brooklyn indie pop duo Diet Cig, who first gained traction in the underground rock scene in 2015 when they dropped their debut EP Over Easy. The album stood out most with its hit single “Harvard,” which was pop rock stripped back to the basics — Noah Bowman’s straightforward drum rhythms, power chord riffs and Alex Luciano’s emphatic, bubblegum voice. In early 2017, the band released its debut full-length, Swear I’m Good At This, which brought the duo’s powerful hooks the robust production they deserved, most notably on tracks like album closer “Tummy Ache.” Nearly a year removed from that album’s release, Diet Cig is back on the road with Seattle’s Great Grandpa and Scottish indie pop band The Spook School, stopping at Reverb Lounge on Feb. 6. Tickets are $13, and head to for more information. ~Hear Nebraska

February 7-10

Lincoln Exposed Multiple Locations

His recent work specifically addresses certain periods of English history, more specifically the Elizabethan Period and the reign of King George III. He finds inspirations from Tudor and Elizabethan portraits of the sixteenth century, and works in contrasting and associative references to geometry, engineering, “Mayan Cosmology and recent NASA exploratory interplanetary vehicles.” Concurrently, Joy starts a major show at Sioux City Arts Center, February 3 through May 6th, Icons, Elizabethans, and Elegies for a Mad King: Paintings by Steve Joy, with a reception February 3, from 5 -7 pm. Paintings from the Forgotten Corner runs from February 9th through March 3rd with an opening reception Feb. 9 from 5-9 p.m. and a gallery talk Feb. 10 at 1:30 p.m. at Gallery 72 (1806 Vinton Street). For more details and gallery hours go to ~Kent Behrens



Moving Gallery, Garden of the Zodiac

There’s something hauntingly, achingly familiar in the noirish photographs of French photographer Nicolas Dhervillers. His landscapes scenes feel like someplace that you’ve been, a movie you’ve seen, an artwork you’ve viewed, a novel you’ve read. Yet they are new to audiences here in the Metro, and will debut at the Moving Gallery’s Garden of the Zodiac venue on February 8. In part, that feeling of déjà vu is due to Dhervillers’ deliberate homages to distinctive moments in film or the attitudes of people and environments in old master paintings. Adept at creating theatrical and cinematic effects, he produces images that have been perfectly described as “dripping with atmosphere.” Dhervillers is particularly enamored of dayfor-night technique of mid-century movie makers, who outfitted their cameras with filters allowing broad daylight scenes to have the appearance of having been shot at night. Applying that aesthetic in his digital darkroom, Dhervillers achieves deeply moody settings for his isolated figures, adding up to ambiguous yet portent-laden dramas.

Lincoln Exposed is back, and in its 13th year, it’s bringing more than a hundred Lincoln-area bands to five downtown venues near the intersection of 14th and O streets — Duffy’s Tavern, Bodega’s Alley, Bourbon Theatre, The Zoo Bar and 1867 Bar. It’s a stacked lineup with highlights including Sower Records singer-songwriter Andrea von Kampen, longtime Lincoln punk band The Killigans and the reunion of emo ragers Giant’s Arrow. KZUM, the Lincoln independent radio station, is holding a coinciding Saturday night showcase at The Bourbon celebrating the station’s 40th anniversary with local heavyweights Evan Bartels & The Stoney Lonesomes, Jack Hotel and Mesonjixx. All-access passes are available for $25. Tickets for the festival $8 on the Feb. 7 and Feb. 8, and $10 on Feb. 9 and Feb. 10. Search “Lincoln Exposed 2018” on Facebook for the full lineup and more information.


centering on the female form as his dominant subject. A longtime artist, teacher and arts community advocate, Chiburis passed away in 2015.

~Hear Nebraska


The Moving Gallery’s Nicolas Dhervillers is on view at the Garden of the Zodiac beginning Thursday, February 8 from 7-9pm and runs through April 1. The gallery, located at 1042 Howard Street in the Old Market Passageway, is open Tues-Sat from noon-8pm and on Sun from noon-6pm. ~ Janet L. Farber

February 9

Public Figures Connect Gallery, 3901 Leavenworth Street

Connect Gallery will celebrate the legacy of late Omaha artist Nick Chiburis in an exhibition of selected works from his estate opening Wednesday, February 7. A wide variety of work spanning over 40 years includes drawings, photography and sculpture

Chiburis’ artwork was displayed in galleries in North Dakota, Ohio, Illinois and Nebraska, including the Artists Cooperative Gallery in the Old Market and the Museum of Nebraska Art in Kearney. He helped create the busts of Gerald and Betty Ford that are outside the Gerald Ford birth site at 3202 Woolworth Ave. A reception for the exhibition will be held on Friday, February 9 from 5:30-9pm and the show will run through March 3 at Connect Gallery, 3901 Leavenworth Street. ~ Melinda Kozel

February 10


Hot Tunes for Cold Nights

St. Luke’s Lutheran Church of Omaha, 2315 I Street

American music sparkles, as if sparked for a cold night propelled by Anthony DiLorenzo’s “Fire Dance” from 1996. His music is all over TV: themes for ABC’s College Football Series, ESPN, HBO, FOX, NBC plus film trailers for “Toy Story,” “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” “The Lost World” and more. And there’s a revisit to Jan Bach’s “Blowout” which the Brass world-premiered in 2008. Add to that the warmth of Gershwin’s “Summertime” arranged by Jack Gale and Luther Henderson’s re-working of Nick LaRocca’s famed Original Dixieland Band piece re-titled “Tuba Tiger Rag,” Plus there’s Stravinsky’s Suite for Brass Quintet as transcribed by Arthur Frackenpohl.

The performers are Richard Ricker playing horn, Dean Haist and Brad Obbink on trumpets, Nancy Vogt on trombone, and tuba player Kevin Madden, all from Lincoln. Hot times in our old town that night.

At the center stands the trial of Jewish northerner Leo Frank, accused of murder in 1913 Marietta, Georgia where racial tensions and religious intolerance thrive. Press sensationalism and mob violence jeopardize the outcome.

~Gordon Spencer

~Gordon Spencer

February 9-February 25

Sure it is that Martin McDonagh has grabbed your attention these days. His Golden Globe, Oscar-nominated film THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI has people everywhere thinking about him. Brigit Saint Brigit Theatre Company offers a fresh connection. The Britain-born Irish writer has been on the theatre map for more than 20 years, often dwelling with dark humor on life in Ireland. In this 1996 play he satirizes romanticizing daily rural existence exemplified in Robert Flaherty’s 1934 “fictional documentary” THE MAN OF ARAN. In this part of BSB’s Irish Festival, outcast orphan “Cripple” Billy Clavan hopes for a film role to straighten out his life and escape his relentlessly dreary time amid ceaselessly unhappy neighbors on a tight little island. Other characters include ferocious, foul-mouthed Slippy Helen, Billy’s “auntie” Helen who talks to a rock in her pocket and Johnnypateenmike who hopes to murder his formidable mother with drink. BSB says McDonagh “possesses a kind of unique ‘double vision’ … drawn to the magic and magnetism of Ireland’s West as he is skeptical of it… -always shadowing the light or darkness on the surface with a glimmer of its opposite just beneath.” ~Gordon Spencer

February 9-March 11


Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St. A musical that won Tony Awards for Best Original Score and Best Book clearly deserves our attention. This triumph marches forth here and now, bringing us Alfred Uhry’s powerfully disturbing re-telling of tragic real events with songs by Jason Robert Brown, striding and soaring, edgy and beautiful.

Mac Sabbath The Waiting Room

S’wonderful ‘cause Gershwin brothers songs resound all over the place, sung and danced by the 20 plus cast. Rob Fisher adapted and arranged such delights as “I Got Rhythm”, “But Not for Me, “The Man I Love,” the title ballet, highlights from the Concerto in F and the “Cuban Overture.” MultiObie Award-winner Craig Lucas wrote the book on this new turn of the tale about an American soldier, a mysterious French girl and the indomitable city, all yearning for new beginnings in the aftermath of war.

“It’s power lies not just in its fabulous score – which draws on blues numbers, spirituals and hymns”– said THE GUARDIAN, but that it “packs a real punch as it demonstrates a cruel truth: that individuals fall victim to societal pressures and political expediencies.” Issues as much alive today as they were 20 years ago when this opened on Broadway. Uhry won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama (“Driving Miss Daisy,” 1988), an Academy Award and two Tonys. Brown created songs for, among others, “The Last Five Years” and the musical version of “The Bridges of Madison County.” Expect to be moved. ~Gordon Spencer

February 12


Tango Romantico Kaneko

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, shielded from outside chills, the warmth of sultry, seductive Latin tempi resound inside these walls. Six Omaha musicians take on the romance of tango and, from time to time, dancers move to the rhythms. Accordion and guitar, elements of Piazzolla- style, meld with flute, piccolo, violin, viola, cello, bass, bringing life to such music by that famed Argentinian and his countryman Exequiel Mantega, along with pieces by Basque composer Gorka Hermosa, Quebec’s Patrick Roux, Latin Grammy winner Pablo Aguirre and more.

Pirouette, plié, jeté. The way they wear the hats. The way they sing on key. The memory of all that, they can’t take that away from thee. Mais oui, they parle français, those Americans striding, gliding, shining, singing in a live version of the 1951 milti-Oscar triumph. An 18-month triumph on Broadway too, with four Tonys to its name, among which is the one for Best Choreography. That honor went to Christopher Wheeldon who also adapted the screenplay. It figures he’d move the figures; he’d moved from New York City Ballet to the Bolshoi and London’s Royal Ballet.

February 12

The Cripple of Inishmaan

First Central Congregational Church, 421 South 36th St.

The ensemble is led by Omaha Symphony principal flutist Maria Harding. She is joined by Canadian guitarist Louis Trepanier, professional accordionist Julia Williams and Symphony colleagues violinist/violist Bozhidar Shopov, cellist Samuel Pierce-Ruhland and bassist Robert Scharmann.

Who could ask for anything more? ~Gordon Spencer Everyone’s favorite Black Sabbath parody/ drive-thru metal band Mac Sabbath returns to The Waiting Room to caution audiences about the dangers of eating healthy. They’ll bring fastfood themed songs like “Frying Pan” and “Never Say Diet” (you can probably guess which Sabbath originals that band is mocking). And if ridiculous lyrics like “Happiness your child will feel as he eats his Happy Meal” aren’t enough to sell their greasy message, the band dons costumes for each show mocking the McDonald’s advertising characters Ronald McDonald, Grimace, Mayor McCheese and the Hamburglar, creating an eerie world where fast food is rules all. Tickets are $18, and more information is available at

February 14

Whitey Morgan The Waiting Room

~Hear Nebraska

February 13-18

An American in Paris Orpheum Theater, 409 S 16th St.

What does tango look like? Rebekah and Derek Pasqualetto, ballroom dancers from Vintage Ballroom and their students provide the visible answers. You’re invited to even add your feet to the floor, with the professionals gladly stepping in to guide you. Plus savor chocolate from the Old Market’s Chocolat Abeille.

Dateless on Valentine’s Day and want to hear some lonesome tunes for comfort? Head to The Waiting Room, where outlaw country superstar Whitey Morgan will bring downtrodden cuts like “Still Drunk, Still Crazy, Still Blue” and “Waitin’ ‘Round to Die.” Both tracks come from Morgan’s most recent LP, Sonic Ranch, which reached number 30 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart after the album’s 2015 release. That feat alone is rather impressive for Morgan, as his discography is decidedly outside of the pop-country realm — opting for Haggard-esque songwriting and honky tonk guitar leads. Morgan’s stop at The Waiting Room is with Indiana-based Americana songwriter Alex Williams. Tickets are $20, and you can find more info at ~Hear Nebraska





Febuary 14


“The Challengers” Tour Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas Street YAMATO, a Japanese drumming ensemble, is coming to Omaha Feb. 14 to the Holland Performing Arts Center for their The Challengers tour. Founded in 1993, the drummers have traveled all over the world performing more than 2,500 shows and are celebrating their 25th anniversary. YAMATO’s tours around the world last six to 10 months every year. YAMATO plays taiko, traditional Japanese drums. The drummers believe in the “unique value of Taiko,” and are “committed to preserving its traditions and exploring new possibilities for this majestic instrument.” YAMATO drummers start their day with a 10km run, and can play drums weighing 500kg. YAMATO currently has 16 drummers and their artistic director, Masa Ogawa. Tickets for YAMATO are $15-$32 and can be purchased at ~ Staff Pick

February 16

Closeness, Universe Contest and FiFi NoNo The Sydney A stacked local lineup hits The Sydney bar in Benson when the Todd and Orenda Fink-led electronic project Closeness joins forces with Lincoln experimental rockers Universe Contest and recent Omaha hardcore punk startup FiFi NoNo. Closeness released its debut EP Personality Therapy in March 2017, featuring some of the gargantuan hooks that made The Faint famous, coupled with the methodical pacing of dream pop acts like Beach House.

Meanwhile, Universe Contest dropped its latest LP, Get Cot Livin’, in October 2017. It was a step forward for UC, sporting the best production of any of the band’s records and boasting sprawling songwriting owing as much to the prog of The Mars Volta as Soundgarden’s hard rock. FiFi NoNo’s follow-up to last May’s Songs For The Anxious lo-fi demo tape is due out this month. Admission is $5, and more information can be found by searching “Closeness/Universe Contest/FiFi NoNo” on Facebook. ~Hear Nebraska

February 17

House Fest II Pre-Party Lucy’s Pub, 8932 Blondo St. Last March, Omaha house show venue Lucy’s Pub and Austin-by-wayof-Omaha record label We’re Trying Records added new life to Nebraska’s DIY community, staging the first annual House Fest, which featured 30 local and touring bands on two makeshift stages — one in the garage and one in the basement. The festival was unquestionably a success, squeezing hundreds of music fans into the house and holding strong on the fest’s no alcohol and drugs policy. In March of this year, We’re Trying and Lucy’s will try to replicate that success, but first, Lucy’s is hosting a House Fest pre-party with six bands, including locals Doom Lagoon, Uh Oh, The Regulation, The Wood Notes and Illinois-based bands Ghoul Jr. and Bottom Bracket. The House Fest lineup has yet to be announced, and coordinator Dave McInnis said there’s a chance the lineup could be announced at the pre-party. Admission is free, and more information can be found on Facebook by searching “House Fest II Pre-Party.” ~Hear Nebraska

February 18


Australian Violin Virtuosity

Presbyterian Church of the Cross 1517 South 114th St. Franz Biber’s “Mystery Sonatas,” written late in the 17th Century, remained mysterious for over 200 years. They were not discovered until 1905. By now that famed German, evidently considered one of the most important composers for the violin in





that instrument’s history, has become especially known for these thus-titled evocations of The Rosary. “The Annunciation” is performed by visiting Australian violinist Holly Piccoli on her baroque violin with a baroque bow, joined by Omaha’s Micah Fusselman playing gamba and Dana Sloan at the harpsichord.

modern (and hilarious) sensibility when it comes to very strong adult language and ousting political tyrants.

Georg Phillip Telemann, Biber’s contemporary countryman, has long had a major reputation as an impetus for J.S. Bach’s solo violin sonatas and partitas. In this concert witness Telemann’s “Fantasie No. 3 for Solo Violín,”

~Staff Pick

You can also hear Debussy’s final work, his only Violin Sonata, and the last such by Brahms as well as pieces by France’s Jean Marie Leclair and Eugene Eugene Ysaÿe. Christie Zuniga is the pianist

Tag Nite Out will be February 21, and audio description will be available on March 1. Contact the box office at 402.554.PLAY for more information. All shows are at 7:30pm. Tickets: $6-16

February 23

Kris Lager Band and Sophistafunk The Bourbon

Ms. Piccoli has an international career, playing baroque music from Peru and Bolivia, participating in the first New York performance in 40 years of Ginastera’s monumental “Passion” and pop dance music on Australian TV. ~Gordon Spencer

February 18



February 21-24 & March 1-3

The Revolutionists by Lauren Gunderson

UNO, Weber Fine Arts Building, 6001 Dodge Street Four beautiful, butt-kicking women lose their heads in this irreverent, girl-powered comedy set during the French Revolution. At the height of the Reign of Terror, playwright Olympe de Gouges, assassin Charlotte Corday, activist Marianne Angelle and former queen Marie Antoinette hang out, plot murder and try to beat back extremist insanity in Paris. A fantasia by one of the country’s most exciting young playwrights considers how we actually go about changing the world. Advisory: These four women may wear corsets and wigs, but they have a distinctly

Kris Lager Band is as much a jam band institution as any group in Nebraska, inducing audiences to boogie with their bouncing party soul-rock and Lager’s onstage charisma since forming in 2002. KLB has built up a dynamic back catalogue of records in those 15 years, and the band’s most recent, Rise & Shine, is more than an hour of funky grooves and Lager’s wailing guitar solos. The band is in the midst of close to three months of shows, and their stop at The Bourbon is with Sophistafunk, the Syracuse, New York-based hip-hop/funk trio creating “blues-infused grooves” and blending influences from Rick James to A Tribe Called Quest. Arkansas roots rock band Opal Agafia & The Sweet Nothings open the show. Tickets are $12, and more information is at ~Hear Nebraska

February 23


Matt Whipkey February 23rd-March 11


The Rose Theatre When Kim decides to turn the rat-infested lot next to her apartment into a place to plant some beans, she activates each and every member of the community around her. Unflinchingly honest and unabashedly heartwarming, Seedfolks is filled with raw, inspiring stories you’ll never forget. Slowly, the people around Kim begin to sow seeds of hope amid the dirt and grit, tending dreams to full bloom. Ivey Award-winning actress Sonja Parks brings more than 20 characters to life as stunning

projections and animation bring Fleischman’s world to life. The 2 pm show on Saturday, March 3 will be interpreted for people who are deaf or hard of hearing; this show will also include audio description services for audience members who are blind. The 7 pm show on Saturday, March 3 is designated as sensory-friendly, with special accommodations made for families attending with a child on the autism spectrum.


Contact The Rose Box Office at (402) 3454849 for more information. By Paul Fleischman | Produced by Children’s Theatre Company, Minneapolis, MN - Appropriate Ages: 8+ | Show times: Fridays: 7pm, Saturdays: 2pm and 7pm, and Sundays: 2pm | Tickets: $20 ~Staff pick

February 27

Palehound and Weaves Slowdown In just four years, Boston-based indie rock outfit Palehound has risen from frontwoman Ellen Kempner’s bedroom pop project to a Polyvinyl Records signee playing festivals across the U.S. And it’s not without merit. Early tracks like “Pet Carrot” draw heavily from ‘90s lo-fi indie bands like Pavement and Modest Mouse, but it’s Kempner’s off-kilter lyricism and angular songwriting that gives Palehound its own identity. Guitar riffs often descend down atonal chord progressions as Kempner’s understated voice whispers lyrics about bedroom picnics and stomaching constant frozen meals. It’s slice- of-life rock for a generation twenty-somethings who would rather spend their nights watching Broad City and talking with their cat. The band makes its second Nebraska stop in less than six months (they played Lincoln Calling in September) in Slowdown’s front room with Toronto indie pop quartet Weaves. Tickets are $10, and more info can be found at ~Hear Nebraska

WEDNESDAY MARCH 28 All Ages Show | 7Pm Doors | 8Pm Show

$10 Tickets at | 7300 Q St FOLLOW US ON PICKS





‘Monarchs’ exhibit marks the cultural passage of its ‘Brown and Native Contemporary Artists’ BY KENT BEHRENS








he first Curator-in-Residence for the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Risa Puleo, took a final extravagant bow this last December with her organization and presentation of Monarchs: Brown and Native Contemporary Artists in the Path of the Butterfly. This extensive swan song of a group exhibit, which continues until Feb. 24, fills all five of the main galleries at the Bemis Center. The vast multimedia exhibition is an invitational featuring thirty-seven artists chosen by Puleo considerable research and studio visits. Puleo’s inspiration came from a personal interest in political and social concerns related to migration and immigration, displacement and cultural violation. She saw the Monarch butterfly, with its international migratory lifestyle, as an apt metaphor offering a structure with which to both conduct her search and codify the exhibit. The show consists of video art, installation, sculpture, paintings, drawings, quilts, performance, and even museum-style displays. Spatially, it is divided into three subgroups: Migrations, over both space and time; Inheritance, of purpose and culture; and Transformation, the manifestation of rebirth. The Monarch butterfly moves over vast distances from Canada south, following a path through various states, finally to Mexico, and back. Due to their short lives, the entire process spans about four generations of butterflies. They tend to follow paths and patterns exactly as their ancestors, indicating an inherent memory or an unknown means of communication, or both. In mythology, the butterfly is inherently a paradox, flitting between the visible and the invisible, life and death.




It is also a symbol of freedom and escape. Puleo focusses on concept, process, and materials rather than on final outcome, but there is certainly no shortage here of quality or craftsmanship. Overall, the works span a wide range of mediums, materials and concepts. The artists, of native or mixed native heritage, represent a range of states, countries, tribes and cultures. Some highlights: Josh Rios and Anthony Romero jointly explore identity migration with “Is Our Future a Thing of the Past?”– A collection of sci-fi related paraphernalia mixed with various cultural items; from book covers to photographs, to David Bowie posters and references to the Vietnam War. These are presented as artifacts, arranged in a glass case, and accompanied by a digitized version of an 8mm film of high school students putting on a play inspired by Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. Over the glass case hang three drawings in frames of primary red, green and yellow. This seemingly disparate collection, when experienced together, examines alienation, social and political boundaries, stereotypes, and, especially, the transmutations of cultural identity. An educational but wordy pamphlet accompanies the display. “Nopales Hibridos: An Imaginary World of Rascuache-Futurism” by Salvador Jimenez-Flores, a terra cotta and porcelain installation consisting of a large, colorful cactus-human hybrid totem of disturbing reality, displayed with a backdrop of various eagles in the form of the stereotypical American Eagle emblems, each with alternative “heads”. The disembodied human heads of the cactus, most with irreverent or mocking expressions, seemingly draw life and strength from the resilient cactus itself.

Several pieces of the exhibit fall into the Rasquachismo style. Originally a negative and derogatory term describing impoverished artists with limited resources, Rascuache is now more accepted, describing pure survival and inventiveness of the underdog artist and as a reference to bicultural inspiration. Ronny Quevedo, originally from Ecuador and now of New York, brings together construction debris and a deep personal connection to soccer in “The History of Rules and Measures #1.” Utilizing a canvas of paper from gypsum board and inspired by both Mayan gaming fields and modern court markings, Quevedo creates a mysterious game with complex but unknown rules. The “court” creates a territory conscribed by unexplained boundaries and foul lines. Guillermo Galindo, a visual and sound artist, composer and performer, collects discarded items found at the Mexican-American border. His “Flag” series consists of discarded and worn flags once used to indicate humanitarian water stops in the Calexico Desert. In “Cartography of the Spirit” and “Following the Steps of the Lost Child” he applies symbols and notation in the graphic style of avant-garde composers like John Cage or Leon Schidlowsky, creating something like a coded map or journal. Francisco Souto, an art professor at University of Nebraska, Lincoln, is represented by a series of delicate graphite drawings of quintessentially mid-west landscape views, boldly underscored with bright bands of color. The scenes seem as if viewed over the dashboard of a car, possibly a child’s first image of a new home. Truman Lowe is a sculptor and former curator at the National Museum of the American Indian. He works primarily with scavenged wood from nature. His sculpture, “Waterfall,” is several fine strips of pine flowing from high on the wall, stopping cold on the concrete floor. Some of the art in this show directly references the historic plight of the Native American Indian, such as the quilt work of Gina Adams and the installations and fabric works of Natalie Ball. “Its Honor is Hereby Pledged” by Adams, consists of five huge vintage quilts hanging from the ceiling, onto which Adams has added her own fabric letters, text from several treaties between the US Government and various tribes. Ball’s “Battlefield Medicine Flags” and “June 12 & 13, 1872” in similar fashion remind us of specific events and solidifies trespasses. Nathan Young’s “Hatkiraar/STUTTER” is a most intriguing performance. One entire gallery is devoted to his sound sculpture. The gallery is empty save for a bit of electronic equipment and some speakers. The base recording is of two Pawnee elders speaking. For the performance, the artist adds vocal meanderings and accompaniments over the recording.

The live performance, with the artist accompanying the recording, was much more potent and moving. He “sings,” drones, hums, and slowly moves around, touching the floor at times. The elders speak in their native language, but a translation pamphlet is provided. Jeffrey Gibson’s “Like a Hammer” is a performance/ Installation consisting of a sixminute video featuring the artist donning a ceremonial robe, performing what appears to be a sacred dance in which he beats a drum, seemingly entering a trance and writing various phrases on a large paper backdrop. During his dance, the robe he wears teeters between burden and accoutrement. The robe, which in the gallery hangs like crucifix from wooded poles over the drum and opposite the video screen, is a complex collection of weaving, beadwork and hundreds of jangles that during the dance make a mesmerizing chinking sound. In addition to this show, a satellite exhibit by photographer/artist Mark Menjivar is on display at El Museo Latino, on South 25th street. The show, “Stations”, is fourteen 8 x 10 color photographs of a historical “memory event”. The photos depict altars created by the community to commemorate their flight from violence and subsequent harsh journey back to repatriation in 1989. The photography is strictly journalistic, and the “art” is found in the elaborate and poignant altars made by the people. Although written reference is made to current specific controversies of border walls, oil pipelines, and identity politics, these influences, as important as they may be, are not blatantly obvious or forced. There is much more than can be covered here, and the variety and depth is both daunting and exciting. A show to be experienced fully and perhaps more than once, which often happens with the best, most demanding exhibits. Make sure you block some time to go through and watch the video pieces. You might feel a little claustrophobic at times, and some of the art seems to compete due to proximity or placement. Also, be careful where you step, as a few works are partially or fully on the floor. Inspired by a similar migratory motif, Puleo and the chosen 37 share with us the deeply rooted and complex values of their ancestry and heritage. Using traditional materials and processes, modern technology and alternative mediums, curator and artist combine nature and art to mark a singular path in Monarchs. Monarchs: Brown and Native Contemporary Artists in the Path of the Butterfly continues until Feb. 24 at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, 724 S 12th St, Omaha, NE. For details and gallery hours, go to









CENTERING THE MARGINS Denise Chapman continues to lead the way for creative representation on Omaha’s stages

B Y B E A U F I E L D B E R R Y- F I S H E R







Denise Chapman has built one of the most versatile and impressive creative resumes in regional theater. A run-down of the organizations she’s worked closely with reads like a dossier of successful examples of intrepid leadership, community engagement and art-led education. From her beginnings at Creighton Undergrad, to ensemble and later co-artistic director with The Witching Hour, founder of B-rated theater, performer and teaching artist with Omaha Community Playhouse, creating dynamic pieces for Great Plains Theater Conference, Denise is a multitasking, highly-driven, creative entrepreneur whose work is reshaping the landscape of Omaha theater and building her legacy in tomorrow’s Black theater history. Denise’s most recent and biggest venture has been becoming the Associate Director of the Union for Contemporary Art’s Performing Arts Collective, a fully integrated program within the Union’s mission and championed by the Union’s founder, Brigitte McQueen Shew. “The Performing Arts Collective began with a conversation with Brigitte, she knew they needed a new building and was excited about a theater being part of that expansion-- and she wanted me to be a part of that process,” Denise recalls. “When we moved into the new space we also opened a 50-seat theater dedicated to the diversity of the experiences of the African American and African-Diaspora experience. And that is an exciting thing, for it to be on North 24th street, continuing its legacy as a cultural hub in North Omaha.” Though many Omahans seem to have never learned the history of North 24th street, but the reemergence of creative and growing business economies are a return to its origins as a bustling Jewish and Black neighborhood built out of segregation, before the police riots of the 1960’s. That’s another story.



“The PAC is about creating a theatrical home for artists of color in Omaha it is a space where we are not surprised when we walk into and see brown people on stage. Having a space that is dedicated, that challenges and inspires but also allows for artistic growth within the African American theater community in Omaha.” Representation onstage has long been a heavy topic of conversation for non-white performers and actors and it’s one that the PAC addresses simply by being. They continue to bring that truth to light with Centering the Margins, Denise’s latest directorial venture, inspired by 365 Women A Year: A Playwriting Project that aims to write women back into the social consciousness and promote and empower female playwrights around the world. 365 Women A Year, is an international, women-led playwriting project that attracted many local women writers who were familiar with the guidelines, including Beaufield Berry-Fisher (me!), Peggy Jones and Kim Louise who were eager to work in the new space. Centering The Margins, is an evening of short plays all dedicated to the stories of historical Black women, some famous, some not, all underknown for their grand achievements, both locally and internationally. UNO professor Peggy Jones, penned the one-woman show Flo, starring the accomplished TammyRa’ Jackson as Florynce Kennedy, a Kansas-City born attorney, feminist, and civil-rights activist once called “the biggest, loudest and indisputably the rudest mouth on the battleground.” Prolific novelist, playwright and educator Kim Louise brings to life the mythology and history of Queen Nyabinghi, an Ugandan tribe queen who was said to have possessed bodies and led revolutions against oppressive colonizers. Louise’s lyrical angle on this story, UMURAGE, takes place in a HooDoo shop, in modern times. And Berry-Fisher’s Branch & Bone, a surrealistic

Gage County Historical Society’s Classic Film Institute presents

Gene Coon: From Beatrice Nebraska to Star Trek and Beyond March 2-4 Beatrice, NE

DENISE CHAPMAN - PERFORMING ARTS COLLECTIVE take on the things passed from Grandmother to exercises, centering of the actors’ mind and body Granddaughter, and life’s transitions. These plays and then an awakening into their characters. although written separately have found many As an actress, she is grounded and dynamic, common threads tying them together, those of delivering powerful performances and breathing family, history, and story-telling. All three pieces whole life into her characters. Her one-woman, were being newly written, and will make their hour long show, Northside Carnation, premiered premiere at the Union this month, a luxury for to audience accolades at the 2016 Great Plains playwrights to be able to move so quickly from Theater Conference, with Denise both behind the pen and on the stage. As a writer Denise is a pen to production. “Within the Union we really do have a focus risk-taker, seeing the possibilities from all three on contemporary arts. I was very excited to have disciplines she is able to master the big scope three Black women who were writing in the 365 of a piece and foster the nuance as well. That’s Women program in 2017 and I thought it would why having her at the helm of a theater space be great to hear the pieces and once we heard like Performing Arts Collective at the Union is so masterful. When a multi-disciplinary artist hooks them, I wanted to produce them.” The playwrights and Denise held auditions up with their beloved community to foster change over two evenings, seeing a wide range of new and is backed by an arts organization with talent, stage veterans, men and women of all radical growth and has access to artistic fundingages and types walk into the open process. This -the possibilities are boundless. Looking into the future the Performing Arts alone was a testament to the culture that is at the heart of the Performing Arts Collective, each new Collective at the Union for Contemporary Arts face being warmly greeted, gently directed and will continue to fulfill and advance its mission encouraged to come back. The aspiring actors in of creating a place of growth for Black theater the community felt welcome to come and try out artists and furthering community outreach. The their chops at the theater on the corner of 24th PAC will be hosting a summer reading series that and Lake, the panel impressed more and more explores intersectionality in the Black community, including one of Donna Michele St.Bernards with each audition. “It comes back to how we support artists, pieces and Spunk, an adaptation of Zora Neale compensate them, fitting all of that into our Hurston’s work. They will also be premiering their mission at the Union.” And the title ‘Centering the first fully-produced musical in Kristin Childs, The Margins’, helps drive that even further home, the Bubbly Black Girl Shed Her Chameleon Skin. brainchild of a casual chat between Denise and Centering the Margins runs February 16th-March writer, Peggy Jones. “We were thinking of the project title that 4th Thursday-Saturdays at 7pm brings these pieces together and Peggy brought Sundays at 4pm about that we were in the margins and we were For tickets visit tired of that so...we put them in the center,” she *The Union is committed to making the arts remembered with a laugh. Working with Denise has always been a accessible to everyone in our community and tremendous privilege because she just gets it. As believes that money should not be a barrier to a director she is an advocate of the playwright participation. With this in mind, our Performing being in the room, being open in the process and Arts Collective follows the radical hospitality extremely intuitive with the needs of the text and ticketing model set forth by Mixed Blood Theatre of the writer. Rehearsals begin with breathing in Minneapolis, MN.

Tickets $35 ® $25 before Feb. 16 Featured Guest: David Gerrold — A TV writer and author who got his career start working with Gene Coon on the Star Trek episode "The Trouble With Tribbles." Gerrold wrote one of the first in-depth books about the series, The World of Star Trek. About Gene Coon (1924–1973) — born and raised in Beatrice. He was involved in writing for many popular TV shows, including Wagon Train and Star Trek. He is credited with developing the Klingons and the interpersonal dynamics between Kirk, Spock and McCoy.

For complete schedule and ticket information, go to


South 24th St • Taste of South Omaha Heritage Murals • Omaha & South Omaha History


South 24th Street • Ethnic Groups Stockyards • Omaha History • South Omaha History Mexican American Baseball Leagues • Cinco de Mayo

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Great touring and local blues acts and an exciting Omaha jazz musicians’ homecoming show are among February’s highlights.



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





he Thursday Blues Society of Omaha (BSO) series at Chrome Lounge continues with JJ Thames & the Violet Revolt Thursday, Feb. 1. Thames is a dynamic, soulful vocalist and entertainer. See Popular East Coast blues-rock guitarist Tinsley Ellis plugs in Thursday, Feb. 8. His newest release, Winning Hand, finds him returning to Alligator Records. Astonishingly gifted harmonica player and vocalist Jason Ricci takes the stage Thursday, Feb. 15. The Nace Brothers are up Thursday, Feb. 22. Thursday shows at Chrome happening from 6-9 p.m. Omaha Legends of Jazz After a series of “jazz lab” shows at Hi-Fi House, acclaimed Omaha jazz drummer Curly Martin brings local and visiting Omaha-born jazz artists together at the Holland’s 1200 Club Friday, Feb. 2, 8 p.m. The performance, dubbed Curly Martin & Friends, No Place Like Home, is an all-star Omaha jazz celebration. Performing with Martin is guitarist Wali Ali who has worked with The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, The Jacksons, Aretha Franklin, Eddie Kendricks, Teena Marie, Rick James and Patrice Rushen. Also in the band is vocalist and sax player Stemsy Hunter, whose credits include working with The Electric Flag, Buddy Miles and Gil Scott-Heron. Guitarist Calvin Keys worked early on with Eddie Cleanhead Vinson, ultimately working with organ greats the Jimmy Smith Trio, Jimmy McGriff, Jack McDuff and Groove Holmes. Sax man Hank Redd has worked with artists from Stevie Wonder to Johnny “Guitar” Watson to Buddy Miles. Expect some special surprise guests too. Tickets for this extravaganza of Omaha jazz talent are $20 and available at Zoo Bar Highlights Lincoln’s Zoo Bar’s shows of note include Wayne Baker Brooks for the FAC, 5-7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 2. Harmonica master Jason Ricci performs Wednesday, Feb. 14, 6-9 p.m. Lloyd McCarter plays Friday, Feb. 16, 9 p.m. You can get your karaoke on fronting a live band with the longstanding Sh*thook, Live Karaoke show



MESONJIXX - PHOTOGRAPHER: BRIDGET MCQUILLAN Thursdays, 9:30 p.m. Keep up with the latest on the Zoo’s schedule at Road Trip Central Iowa Blues Society’s annual Winter Blues Fest Friday and Saturday, Feb. 9-10, in Des Moines has a great line-up this year. If you are up for a mid-February road trip, check out and follow the link to the 2018 Winter Blues Fest for set times and details. The event takes place in Des Moines’ downtown Marriott with music on multiple stages. Make your plans in advance as the Marriott sells out quickly but there may be rooms in nearby hotels. Performers include Omaha’s Rex Granite Band featuring Sarah Benck, along with Amanda Fish Band, Steepwater Band, Kilborn Alley, Grand Marquis, Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal, Eric Jerardi, Anthony Gomes, Jason Ricci and Reverend Raven & the Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys. Hot Notes An excellent triple bill of Mesonjixx with Marcey Yates and CJ Mills is up at Reverb Lounge Saturday, Feb. 3. Mesonjixx is led by the marvelous singer-songwriter Mary Elizabeth Lawson. The band also performs at Lincoln’s Bourbon Theatre Saturday, Feb. 10, as part of Lincoln Exposed. Hear their music at Blues-based vocalist, songwriter, guitarist and harmonica player ZZ Ward hits Waiting Room Monday, Feb. 5 with Black Pistol Fire and Billy Raffoul. Ward mixes blues roots with contemporary rock and rap for a sound all her own. Take a listen at Vocalist and accomplished keyboard player Kelley Hunt plays a special show Thursday, Feb. 15, 8 p.m. at Lincoln’s Bourbon Theatre. See for details and tickets. Frontier Ruckus is out on their acoustic tour and they hit Reverb Lounge Feb. 18. Kris Lager Band is back from their winter tour and plays Bourbon Theatre Friday, Feb. 23. Music starts at 8 p.m. with Sophistafunk and Opal Agafia & The Sweet Nothings opening. KLB plugs in at Waiting Room Saturday, Feb. 24, 9 p.m. with Domestic Blend opening.


Stop in on Friday's from 2/9 - 3/23 after the Holy Name Lenten Fish Fry and enjoy $2 Busch Lite Pints Omaha Beer Week - 2/16-2/25 - Specials: $10 Fish Bowls - $5 pints with glass/$4 refills February Entertainment fun includes: 2/16 Infusion


2,21 Deschutes


2,22 Pint 9


2/24 New Belgium

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maha’s legendary indie rock label Saddle Creek is off to a hot start this year, announcing in January that one of its current biggest bands, Philly indie rockers Hop Along, has a new album titled Bark Your Head Off, Dog dropping on April 6. The announcement came after a few weeks of the band stitching the album art together on its Instagram page one photo at a time, then on Jan. 22, Philadelphia radio station WXPN debuted the album’s lead single and opening track, “How Simple.” The song sees the band taking a more pop-focused approach to the often nonlinear structures they became known for on past records Get Disowned and Painted Shut. Frontwoman Frances Quinlan’s voice is even a bit more reserved — her trademark raspy shouts are nowhere to be found — but the new direction Hop Along takes results in an early contender for the most addictive hook of the year: “Don’t worry, we will both find out, just not together.” Also in Omaha, indie pop singer-songwriter Jocelyn unveiled some big news that she has signed to European record label BMG, making the announcement via a Facebook video. BMG has American presences in New York, Nashville and Los Angeles, and Jocelyn will head the LA base to shoot for stardom. BMG has been involved with artists as well-known as Morrissey,







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Bruno Mars and Big K.R.I.T., and, according to its website, prides itself on using the tools of a major label to promote its artists while giving them the care of an independent label. It was that concern for its artists that drew Jocelyn and her manager Jeff McClain to the team. “We just really saw eye to eye on the approach and direction for Jocelyn, and they were willing to work with us on that,” McClain said. “So, ultimately, that made the decision for us.” Jocelyn’s signing comes on the heels of a May 2017 appearance on CBS’s Undercover Boss, on which former Hootie & the Blowfish frontman turned country star gave the songwriter $10,000 to kickstart her career. McClain said live dates, new music and another TV appearance — he couldn’t yet disclose which program — are on the way for the 20-year-old songwriter. In Lincoln’s Railyard, Vega, one of the entertainment district’s first businesses and only music venue, shut its doors after four years handling the steep downtown rent. In its time in the Railyard, Vega consistently booked established and up-and-coming indie acts like Built To Spill, Conor Oberst and Le Butcherettes. But as Lincoln loses one music venue, Vega coowners Eli and Carrie Mardock reopened a former Lincoln concert hall institution, The Royal Grove, just northwest of downtown. The Royal Grove first held rock shows back in 1967 and featured shows with iconic artists like Pat Benatar and Edgar Winter before new ownership turned the venue into a country bar in 2005. The Mardocks celebrated the reopening on Jan. 25, when Finnish EDM producer Darude, best known for his hit “Sandstorm,” performed. With The Royal Grove’s substantially larger square footage compared to Vega, look for the venue to book more shows with more well-known acts in the future. In more Lincoln concert news, Lincoln Exposed, the annual festival showcasing almost exclusively artists based in the Capital City, announced the lineup for its 13th edition. Among the 100-plus acts playing the festival are soul-rock-fusion

ensemble AZP, up-and-coming abstract rapper Sleep Sinatra and dance-funk six-piece party band A Ferocious Jungle Cat. Lincoln Exposed takes place Feb. 7-10 at five downtown Lincoln venues: Duffy’s Tavern, The Zoo Bar, The Bourbon Theatre, 1867 Bar and Bodega’s Alley. Following the end-of-year album release lull, Nebraska’s music scene quickly changed course, dropping a slew of new records in January. Lincoln rapper HAKIM has wasted no time on his journey to success, dropping mixtape after mixtape since turning from a career in basketball to hip-hop in 2014. On his latest, Young Drifter II, the rapper reaffirms his standing as an ambassador for Nebraska rap, drawing from influences as contemporary as trap artists like Migos and as underground as Clams Casino. Through the album, HAKIM toys with numerous flows as the record’s production bounces from auto-tuned, 808s & Heartbreak-indebted instrumentals to dreamy, cloud rap trunk-rattlers. Young Drifter II is unquestionably HAKIM’s most instrumentally ambitious project thus far, as eerie squelches and futuristic squeaks lurk on the other side of every bar. Though the tape’s lyrics aren’t entirely novel for HAKIM — often revolving around his goals of putting the “Corn Coast” on the map and reaching hip-hop stardom — there’s no knocking the man’s hustle. As far as hip-hop goes, there’s no other rapper in Nebraska right now with such consistently strong output and such a clear vision for success. Young Drifter II is available on all streaming services. In Omaha, political punk four-piece No Thanks delivered their debut full-length The Trial after four years of consistently releasing EPs railing against capitalist ideals and fascist leadership. For much of 2017, the band teased The Trial with a pair of singles, “The Harvest” and “Flying Columns,” on which typically-shirtless frontman Brendan Leahy shines with his assertive shouts and spoken word verses. And the full album is no different, as Leahy’s lyrics depicting an America in disarray are littered from song to song. On each track, Cam Stout’s bass growls like a bear ready to pounce, melding into drummer Gabe Cohen’s plodding, ever-intensifying rhythms — built with drum production that could have easily fit on a Christian Death record in the early-’80s. And on songs like “Lurch,” Michael Huber’s guitar progressions creep along before abruptly transforming into watery blasts of dynamic soloing in the chorus. It’s the kind of spooky post-punk you’d expect to hear at an ‘80s movie Halloween party. But what’s most impressive on The Trial is how No Thanks manages to make each solo or crowd vocal hook as gratifying as the those on the track before. No Thanks commemorated the album’s release with a show on Jan. 26 at OutrSpaces with Omaha experimental band Screaming Plastic and Lincoln

punks Death Cow. Fellow indie band Jacob James Wilton dropped its first full-band release, Distant., which follows the early-2017 acoustic EP Watazoa, SC. The project, which Jake Newbold spawned after the demise of his former band, Super Ghost, now features as many as seven live performers, with five of them contributing on Distant. Musically, the album casts a wide net, fitting earnest powerpop (“Coat”), ultra-melodic dream pop (“Ville De L’Amour”) and towering post-rock (“Waiting”) into the six-song tracklist. And according to the album’s Bandcamp listing, the songs are meant to be listened to as a direct narrative, which seems to follow a relationship through the honeymoon phase to a perfect love to one lover patiently waiting for the other to regain the feelings they once had. But the lyrics are vague enough that any listener can craft a meaning for themselves. Newbold’s songwriting talents have always been clear, but Distant. Finally sees those talents fully realized. Jacob James Wilton hosted a pair of album release shows, one on Jan. 12 at The Bourbon Theatre in Lincoln and the other on Jan. 20 at Lucy’s Pub in Omaha. Back in Lincoln, Hana Zara, the Sower Records singer-songwriter with a pair of albums already under her belt, released the luscious hourlong LP Where Amanda Is King. Despite Amanda’s singersongwriter nature, to call it simply an acoustic album discounts a clear effort to create dreamlike soundscapes accentuated with subtle electronics. Songs like “The Toy” take medieval, baroque guitar plucking and pair it with Zara’s wispy voice and tasteful xylophone, making it feel like it could have been played live at a renaissance fair. But the album’s greatest strength is in Zara’s lyrical imagery, which often sounds structurally as if it were pulled straight from her poetry notebook, with lyrics like “You say the whole thing holds a sin, I guess I worry that it won’t” on “House of Mirrors.” As a whole, Amanda is folk music drawn back to its roots — way past Bob Dylan’s social commentary or the aching remorse of Nick Drake — to a simple but refreshed look on the genre’s beginnings and a template for the future. Zara celebrated the album’s release on Jan. 6 with a show at Lincoln’s Parrish Studios with Oatmeal ‘97 and Amber Stevens. Want more Nebraska music news? Keep up with local music happenings at and make sure to check out next month’s Backbeat Column. This column is part of an ongoing collaboration between The Reader and Hear Nebraska, a music journalism and production nonprofit seeking to engage and cultivate Nebraska’s music scene (and now, a program of new nonprofit umbrella Rabble Mill). Here, we’ll break down the biggest Nebraska music news from the last month.

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n part because Buzzfeed listicled the world into numerical oblivion, clickbaiting American pop-culture criticism into a never-ending sea of countdowns, many top 2017 top 10 lists sucked super-duper bad. From preening pretentious nonsense—like Nick Gazin at Vice claiming he “wasn’t able to find ten good comics for this top ten list”—to attentionseeking nitwits putting music videos, television series or Cthulu-knows-whatelse in their movie countdowns, the core rationale for these annual lists has been abandoned quicker than an away team on Star Trek ditches the prime directive. More and more people are asking “Do we need culture critics?” and “What makes a critic’s opinion better than mine?” and “How do you do a blog? Lots of people say I should blog about movies.” Thus, those of us lucky enough to do this professionally (in any way) have a three-fold responsibility: First, we must create, further or change the communal discourse on art. Second, we must captivate and entertain through an educated, experienced lens. Third, we must expose key creative works and record their significance for others. A top 10 list should do all of that. It’s our annual thesis. It’s the job, in a nutshell. I enjoy reading top 10 lists of dedicated movie reviewers I cannot stand as much as I salivate when the best-in-the-business unveil their year-end roundups. Because doing this right doesn’t mean everyone likes you or agrees with you; it means justifying our collective continued existence as critics. I hope you appreciate this list, even if you hate it (and/or me). I hope you respond (joyously or angrily). And I hope to see you again next year. Oh, and as always, this is a top 10/worst 5 list for last year published in February because studios still think midwest critics write meaningless reviews in cow dung with corn quills.

Everything Else Did: Top 10/Worst 5 Movies of 2017 B Y R YA N S Y R E K

mother! Darren Aronofsky’s biblical analogy played like an amateur slam poem written by a dude trying to score chicks by talking about what an asshole he is. I’ve seen this on many “best of 2017” critics lists, a fact I find far more repellant than watching a human baby served as cannibalistic finger food. Live by Night With two films in the worst 5, allegations of behaving monstrously towards women and the interview skills of an unfrozen cave man, Ben Affleck somehow had a worse year than the one in which Gigli was released. He wants to forget Live by Night ever happened. I will not let him forget. I will never let him forget. I will stand atop his grave with a picture of him in those eye-gouging suits until his ghost is summoned back to earth and will then imprison his wayward spirit in a theater showing this on repeat. This is who you are now, Affleck. This defines you. The Top 10 Movies of 2017

The Worst 5 Movies of 2017


Rings Resurrecting a movie about a monstrous viral video should be timely in an age where I know what a Logan Paul is. Somehow, inserting the waterlogged corpse of Vincent D’Onofrio as a blind lunatic didn’t save things, which was an early sign of how bad 2017 would get.



Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales This movie is violently awful and gross, which makes it spectacularly onbrand for Johnny Depp. From a marble-gargling Javier Bardem pronouncing “Jack Sparrow” like “Yak Butthole” to Orlando Bloom cosplaying as someone cosplaying as Axel Rose, not even ghost sharks could save this one. Justice League Like fan fiction written by someone who once saw half an episode of Super Friends, this flaccid turd from directors Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon deservedly did less money than the last Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman movie, and that one featured a jar of Jesse Eisenberg’s pee. DC fans deserve better, even if they don’t seem to think so.




Girl’s Trip The funniest movie of the year somehow isn’t ending up on enough top 10 lists. I wonder white—sorry, “why.” Featuring a performance that finally made Tiffany Haddish as famous as she deserves to be, this is relentlessly funny, surprisingly endearing and endlessly rewatchable. People should celebrate the joy of black women with the same force they celebrate when black women routinely vote to save this country from itself. Blackcoat’s Daughter Because the whole year was a hellish nightmare, almost half this list is composed of horror movies. Writer/director Oz Perkins makes this

approaches sure makes it sound like the sturm-und-drang wailing and gnashing of teeth from certain artists is about something else… because Buzzfeed the Whatn if Ipart told you it—gasp!—is reallylisticled about something else, at least somewhat. The digital revolution world into numerical oblivion, clickbaiting is a democratic one, something we’ll talk more about in terms of distribution below. The loudest voices American pop-culture into a lamenting the digital revolution criticism are, unsurprisingly, wealthy white men. That is, in part, because never-ending sea of countdowns, many Hollywood operates under a “fallacy of merit” that pretends women and people of color have yet top 2017 top 10 lists sucked super-duper bad. to earn their place in the industry when they’re actually barred by an invisible wall that would make From preening pretentious nonsense—like Nick Trump salivate. Digital filmmaking is cheap. Anyone can do it. You can do it on a phone. Hell, you Gazin at Vice claiming he “wasn’t able to find can do it well on a phone (see Tangerine). Film stock is expensive. The production surrounding film ten good comics for this top ten list”—to attentionstock is expensive. Projecting film stock is expensive. I have no doubt that the most vocal detractors seeking nitwits putting music videos, television of digital production do not see their support of celluloid asWARS coming from a position of privilege, but STAR series or Cthulu-knows-what-else in their movie it absolutely does. Demeaning movies that are shot on digital as glorified TV, as Tarantino explicitly countdowns, the core rationale for these annual does, essentially telling creators of lavish studio funding that they can’t make listsishas been abandoned quickerunfairly than an boxed away out Justice League “real” movies. team on Star Trek ditches the prime directive. Like fan fiction written by someone who Luckily, digital is an unstoppable Various theaters, likeFriends, The Alamo Morethe and morerevolution people are asking “Do we juggernaut, once sawbitch. half an episode of Super this Drafthouse, will always provide havens for celluloid-only obsessives to show their work. The need culture critics?” and “What makes a critic’s flaccid turd from directors Zack Snyderonly andactual Joss losers in thisbetter game-changing of film’s Pangea into digital continents aremoney whinythan man-babies opinion than mine?”shattering and “How do you Whedon deservedly did less the last who the mental to consider this a blog meaningful issue when it isn’t. dohave a blog? Lots ofspace people say I should Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman movie, and about movies.” Thus, those of us lucky enough that one featured a jar of Jesse Eisenberg’s pee. Epicenter Every Movie Has have a Red if Your isseem Red to do thisTwo: professionally (in any way) a Carpet DC fansPremiere deserve better, even ifCarpet they don’t three-fold responsibility: First, we must create, to think so. or promise, change the on angry Ifurther sincerely this communal whole thingdiscourse isn’t a long, screed against Christopher Nolan. He just mother! art. Second, weshit must captivate and entertain says a lot of dumb is all. Darren Aronofsky’s biblical analogy played throughthe anpress educated, experienced Third, for like During designed to whip uplens. attention the just-okay Dunkirk, Nolanwritten trashedbythea Netflix an amateur slam poem dude we must expose key creative works and record to score talking what run. an strategy of releasing movies on their service without trying a specific timechicks carvedbyout for aabout theatrical their significance for others. A top 10 list should he is. I’ve seen this on 2017” Speaking to IndieWire, he described Netflix’s strategyasshole of immediately making themany films“best that of they pay do all of that. It’s our annual thesis.inIt’sorder the job, in criticsaslists, a fact I The findAtlantic far more repellant than increasingly gigantic piles of money to distribute “mindless.” was super-duper nutshell. watching human baby as cannibalistic nicea to Nolan, representing his argument that same-day digitala distribution is served dumb and bad as him I enjoy 10 lists of dedicated food. video] experiences.” Yeah, that ain’t “arguing for reading a modeltop that’s inclusive of both movie [theatricalfinger and home reviewers I cannot stand as much as I salivate what he said though… when the best-in-the-business unveil yearLive by Night in which theaters only are able to Nolan praised Amazon’s practice of their offering a 90-day window, end roundups. Because doing this right doesn’t With films in thewrong worst to 5, see allegations of show a movie, as “a perfectly usable model” and “terrific.” It istwo categorically that as him mean everyone likes you or agrees with you; behaving monstrously towards women and the suggesting theatrical and home video experiences are both valuable. He was explicitly praising only it means justifying our collective continued interview skills of an unfrozen cave man, Ben the part with the theaters. Filmmakers like Nolan and buttloads of critics—yes, that is the scientific name existence as critics. I hope you appreciate this Affleck somehow had a worse year than the one for a group of film reviewers—believe seeing a movie in a theater is literally the only “real” way to see list, even if you hate it (and/or me). I hope you in which Gigli was released. He wants to forget a movie. You think I’m kidding? Folks like IndieWire’s David Ehrlich have twisted themselves existential respond (joyously or angrily). And I hope to see Live by Night ever happened. I will not let him about this nonsense. Ehrlich asked, “If a movie premieres on Netflix, is it still even a movie?” Ehrlich you again next year. then also himself, “Movies—at Oh, answered and as always, thisstating is a top 10/worst 5least for the time being—are simply things that play in movie may seemin like a matter of semantics, but I think we’re talking about qualitatively list for theaters. last yearItpublished February because different experiences.” You’re right, David, it’s not just a matter of semantics; it’s a matter of privileged studios still think midwest critics write meaningless semantics. reviews in cow dung with corn quills. As someone whose tush imprint is etched in countless local theaters, it’s safe to assume I prefer watching movies5with an audience in an auditorium. But that’s a personal preference I am lucky enough The Worst Movies of 2017 to be able to afford, both financially and time-wise. The divine Ava DuVernay tweeted at Nolan after his Rings poo-pooing of Netflix, asking “But, what if there’s no movie theater in your neighborhood?” She GET OUT couldResurrecting have also asked “What if you work so much, a movie about a monstrous viral you don’t have time to see movies in the theater?” or “What if you be can’t afford video should timely in tickets?” an age where I know whatstreaming a Logan services Paul is. are, Somehow, inserting on thethe frontlines The again, soldiers of digital make forget. I will never democratization. let him forget. I They will stand water-logged corpse Vincent D’Onofrio as a Is it so that cinematic art isof affordable and available. it the glorious experience watching atop his same, grave with a picture of him inasthose eyeblind lunatic didn’t save which was an gouging suits until his ghost summoned back something in a theater? Nah.things, But just as the impoverished in Shakespeare’s era iswere permitted totoat early sign ofinhow bad 2017 would get. time by snapping earth and will then imprison tickets, his wayward in least partake the blockbusters of their up shitty groundling digitalspirit outlets a theater showing this on repeat. This is who you reduce the time and burden of traveling to a theater (something able-bodied folks rarely factor into the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tellcost. No Tales now,who Affleck. This defines movie-watching equation) and financial I respectare artists desperately wantyou. their messages to This movie is violently awfulwho and only gross, which be heard. I struggle with artists want their messages to be heard by those who can afford makes to do so. it spectacularly on-brand for Johnny The Top 10 Movies of 2017 Depp. From a marble-gargling Javierfilms Bardem The more digital distributors, the more get purchased, the more options for young and diverse pronouncing “Jack Sparrow” like “Yak Butthole” Girl’s Trip filmmakers, the more opportunities to hear and see a variety of voices you’d never have otherwise to Orlando Bloom cosplaying as someone The and funniest movie of the year somehow been exposed to. The move from film stock to digital devices the new digital distribution systemisn’t are cosplaying as Axel Rose, not even ghost sharks ending up on enough top 10 lists. I wonder white— not the “death of cinema.” They’re the death of old, exclusive cinema. They’re the death of exclusionary, could save this one. sorry, “why.” Featuring a performance that finally privileged, gate-kept cinema. They’re the death of outdated ways of thinking about cinema. Cinema made Tiffany Haddish as famous as she deserves is dead. Long live cinema.


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is a monthly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, music, the media and the arts. Tim has been writing about Omaha and the local indie music scene for more than two decades. Catch his daily music reporting at, the city’s longest-running blog. Email Tim at



UBER CONFESSIONS Rocker Matt Whipkey’s new album captures life behind the wheel.



aybe, if you’re lucky, the next time you call for an Uber or Lyft after a hard night of partying, you’ll get Matt Whipkey. He’s the guy who drives the black 2010 Chrysler Town and Country. The guy with the perfect hair. “OK, here’s a weird one I had last night,” Whipkey said during some off time on a drizzly Sunday afternoon at Zen Coffee. “This woman grabbed me too many times during the ride. I felt uncomfortable. She was in her 40s or 50s and told me she’d just done drugs. She didn’t tell me which ones, but by the way she was acting I can only guess. It happens. I wasn’t scared.” But there have been plenty of times when he was scared. “One time I picked up these guys at Oscar’s at around 8 p.m. It was three dudes. Two of them were average people, but one was huge, six-nine, a big guy, bigger than everybody. He was intoxicated and excitable. They were going to this strip club, American Dream off 72nd and F, and this guy gets excited and says ‘We’re gonna see naked chicks’ and he starts jumping up and down, shaking the whole car, then grabs my shoulders and starts shaking me, lifting me up and down. We’re on the Interstate doing 80. I said, ‘You’ve got to stop him.’ But this guy could easily have taken all three of us.” Whipkey, one of the smoothest talkers you’ll ever meet, somehow calmed the monster and got him to put him down. “You get really good at conflict avoidance, de-escalating the situation,” Whipkey said. “I dropped them off and reported it to Uber immediately. The sad thing was that it was on his friend’s account, and that guy — not the big guy — will get banned from Uber for it.” Whipkey’s been driving for Uber and Lyft for two years as a side hustle from his regular job teaching guitar lessons and being a rock star. As a result, he’s got a million stories about life behind the wheel hauling drunks, druggies, bigots, homophobes, horn dogs, celebrities and normal folks like you and me. “I’ve given rides to the most down-on-their-luck people to the most desolate places in Omaha and also given rides to billionaires to their private air strips. It’s a strange equalizer. For that fraction of time, it doesn’t matter. It’s my car. I’m driving you. There’s trust there.” It’s a job that inspired the songs on Whipkey’s latest album, the double LP Driver, which he and his band will showcase Feb. 23 and 25 at Reverb Lounge. The collection is 14 portraits of loneliness, desperation and inner monologues (along with a Beatles cover), all of which rock, at least most of the time.



Whipkey, known for his catchy, guitar-fueled pop songs and bombastic stage presence, stretches in new directions on this record, most notably with the album’s opening and closing tracks that bookend the collection with warm, acoustic touches and unexpected keyboards. The songs contrast nicely with riff-rock ballads that underscore Whipkey’s guitar prowess and his tight backing band consisting of Travis Sing, bass; Scott Zimmerman, drums; Korey Anderson, guitars; and keyboard player J. Scott Gaeta. The thread that ties it together is Whipkey’s breathy, growling vocals, which do their best to coax every last drop of emotion from these lonely stories, like the longing “Amy Knows” about a woman who just transferred to Omaha and has “fourteen days to fix a lifetime” and the rocking, Nugent-esque screamer “The Driver” where Whipkey keeps a tight stranglehold on his blazing ax. Whipkey spent a good nine months recording the album with Scott Gaeta at Gaeta’s Music Factory Productions studio, laying down tracks when he wasn’t on the road. During that same time, he also recorded his previous album, the 2017 pop collection Best New Music. All of this came shortly after opening 30 dates for music legend Dwight Yoakam on his 2015-2016 tours. The week prior to this interview, Whipkey opened for ‘70s legacy act America in Sioux City, Iowa. He hopes to get more of those kinds of large-stage gigs, though he’s just as determined to get his music heard in his hometown. “The goal was to make the best record with the resources we had,” Whipkey said. “I don’t have the national mentality of ‘This song is going to take you to the next level.’ I want this to take me to the next level as a songwriter and as an artist. If you think in that regard, it will translate into other areas where people will recognize that you’re growing and doing something that no one else is doing.” Matt Whipkey and his band perform with Stephen Sheehan Friday, Feb. 23, at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. Showtime is 9 p.m. Whipkey will perform a second show at Reverb Sunday, Feb. 25, with Charlie Ames at 6 p.m. Both shows are $10. For more information, go to 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

approaches sure makes it sound like the sturm-und-drang wailing and gnashing of teeth from certain artists is about something else… What if I told you it—gasp!—is really about something else, at least somewhat. The digital revolution is a democratic one, something we’ll talk more about in terms of distribution below. The loudest voices lamenting the digital revolution are, unsurprisingly, wealthy white men. That is, in part, because Hollywood operates under a “fallacy of merit” that pretends women and people of color have yet to earn their place in the industry when they’re actually barred by an invisible wall that would make Trump salivate. Digital filmmaking is cheap. Anyone can do it. You can do it on a phone. Hell, you can do it well on a phone (see Tangerine). Film stock is expensive. The production surrounding film stock is expensive. Projecting film stock is expensive. I have no doubt that the most vocal detractors of digital production do not see their support of celluloid as coming from a position of privilege, but it absolutely does. Demeaning movies that are shot on digital as glorified TV, as Tarantino explicitly does, is essentially telling creators unfairly boxed out of lavish studio funding that they can’t make “real” movies. Luckily, the digital revolution is an unstoppable juggernaut, bitch. Various theaters, like The Alamo Drafthouse, will always provide havens for celluloid-only obsessives to show their work. The only actual losers in this game-changing shattering of film’s Pangea into digital continents are whiny man-babies who have the mental space to consider this a meaningful issue when it isn’t.

Epicenter Two: Every Movie Has a Red Carpet Premiere if Your Carpet is Red I sincerely promise, this whole thing isn’t a long, angry screed against Christopher Nolan. He just says a lot of dumb shit is all. During the press designed to whip up attention for the just-okay Dunkirk, Nolan trashed the Netflix strategy of releasing movies on their service without a specific time carved out for a theatrical run. Speaking to IndieWire, he described Netflix’s strategy of immediately making the films that they pay increasingly gigantic piles of money in order to distribute as “mindless.” The Atlantic was super-duper nice to Nolan, representing his argument that same-day digital distribution is dumb and bad as him “arguing for a model that’s inclusive of both [theatrical and home video] experiences.” Yeah, that ain’t what he said though… Nolan praised Amazon’s practice of offering a 90-day window, in which theaters only are able to show a movie, as “a perfectly usable model” and “terrific.” It is categorically wrong to see that as him suggesting theatrical and home video experiences are both valuable. He was explicitly praising only the part with the theaters. Filmmakers like Nolan and buttloads of critics—yes, that is the scientific name for a group of film reviewers—believe seeing a movie in a theater is literally the only “real” way to see a movie. You think I’m kidding? Folks like IndieWire’s David Ehrlich have twisted themselves existential about this nonsense. Ehrlich asked, “If a movie premieres on Netflix, is it still even a movie?” Ehrlich then also answered himself, stating “Movies—at least for the time being—are simply things that play in movie theaters. It may seem like a matter of semantics, but I think we’re talking about qualitatively different experiences.” You’re right, David, it’s not just a matter of semantics; it’s a matter of privileged semantics. As someone whose tush imprint is etched in countless local theaters, it’s safe to assume I prefer watching movies with an audience in an auditorium. But that’s a personal preference I am lucky enough to be able to afford, both financially and time-wise. The divine Ava DuVernay tweeted at Nolan after his poo-pooing of Netflix, asking “But, what if there’s no movie theater in your neighborhood?” She could have also asked “What if you work so much, you don’t have time to see movies in the theater?” or “What if you can’t afford tickets?” The streaming services are, again, soldiers on the frontlines of digital democratization. They make it so that cinematic art is affordable and available. Is it the same, glorious experience as watching something in a theater? Nah. But just as the impoverished in Shakespeare’s era were permitted to at least partake in the blockbusters of their time by snapping up shitty groundling tickets, digital outlets reduce the time and burden of traveling to a theater (something able-bodied folks rarely factor into the movie-watching equation) and financial cost. I respect artists who desperately want their messages to be heard. I struggle with artists who only want their messages to be heard by those who can afford to do so. The more digital distributors, the more films get purchased, the more options for young and diverse filmmakers, the more opportunities to hear and see a variety of voices you’d never have otherwise been exposed to. The move from film stock to digital devices and the new digital distribution system are not the “death of cinema.” They’re the death of old, exclusive cinema. They’re the death of exclusionary, privileged, gate-kept cinema. They’re the death of outdated ways of thinking about cinema. Cinema is dead. Long live cinema.

See good movies. American independents. See good movies. Foreign films. American independents. Documentaries. Foreign films. Repertory series. Documentaries. Family classics. Repertory series. Family classics. Soon at two locations. Soon at two locations. 1340 MIKE FAHEY STREET OMAHA , NE 68102


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2200 RIVER ROAD COUNCIL BLUFFS, IOWA 712.328.8888 | AMERISTAR.COM Entertainment may be delayed due to special sporting events. Band lineup subject to change. Must be at least 21 to enter casino. Terms subject to change. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-BETS OFF. ©2018 Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Reader 1802  
The Reader 1802