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December 2022 | volU me 29 | ISSU e 10 JOBS: Mental Healt H W O rker S HO rtage | ne WS: S O ccer and S M all Bu S ine SS e S | ne WS: i nequitie S and nO rt H & S O ut H O M a H a i nve S t M ent | M u S ic : q & a Wit H Saddle c reek’ S Pal M | HOO d OO: Find Y O ur J OY, Brig H ten Y O ur d ece MB er | di SH: 2022 Bring S tOO Man Y gOO d BY e S | Fil M: ‘Wakanda FO rever’ iS a l SO t H e M O vie’ S l engt H | O ver t H e edge : tO ur S k ee P Mi SS ing O M a H a | P lu S: Pick S , cOM ic S & c r OSSWO rd FLIPCOVER PREsEntIng thE 12 Days OF ChRIstmas mOVIE maRathOn by reaDer FIlm crItIc Ryan SyRek PLUS The ReadeR’S: 2022 WinneRSannoUnced

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publisher/editor John Heaston graphic designers .......... Ken Guthrie Albory Seijas news Robyn Murray production editor .. Michael Newgren lead reporter Chris Bowling associate publisher ... Karlha Velásquez report for america corps member......... Bridget Fogarty creative services director ...................... Lynn Sanchez editorial & membership associate Arjav Rawal


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OUR SISTER MEDIA CHANNELS OUR DIGITAL MARKETING SERVICES PROUD TO bE CARbON NEUTRAL table of contents TR: RISE Offers New Hope For Past Incarcerated Nebraskans TR: A Deadly Dining Debacle TR: Anton on Local Government 36 30 FILM: High Potential Falls Short in ‘Wakanda Forever’ 33 32 CUTTING ROOM: Holidays and COVER: Film Critic Ryan Syrek Asks: “What Isn’t A Christmas Movie?” 34 IN MEMORIAM: Mystery Manor Owner Gave Us Stories, Scares That Will Live On DISH: Twenty Twenty-Two Brings Too Many Goodbyes 26 JOBS: A Shortage of Mental Health Workers, and Nebraska’s Solutions 06 38 OVER THE EDGE: Tours Keep Missing Omaha. Is it Something We Said? HOODOO: Find Your Joy, Brighten Your December NEWS: Ahead of Major North and South Omaha Investment, UNO Highlights Key Inequities 29 11 15 MUSIC: A Q&A With Saddle Creek’s Palm PICKS: Cool Things To Do in December 17 08 NEWS: Soccer and Small Businesses: Investing in Immigrant and Refugee Youth 37 COMICS: Jeff Koterba, Jen Sorensen & Garry Trudeau 20 MENU OF MENUS: The Full List of Winners for 2022 are Announced! December 2022 4 online only

As the weather turned cold, the sound of backhoes tearing into concrete, steel and glass began filling downtown. After a year-long struggle filled with protests, anonymous Twitter threads and heated proclamations about the city’s lack of transparency during public meetings, the W. Dale Clark Library finally began to fall. During October and November crews carved away at the brutalist structure that was once a centerpiece of downtown Omaha and the city’s downtown library branch. This photo, taken on Nov. 10, captures some of the last days of the structure before being leveled to make way for a 677-foot, 44-story Mutual of Omaha skyscraper.

A THOUSAND WORDS December 2022 5

Nebraska’s Behavioral Health Workforce

DeSpite prOgreSS, CHAlleNgeS

COVID-19 placed a strain on Nebraska’s behavioral health system. In a 2021 poll by the University of Nebras ka-Lincoln, 51% of metro-area Nebraskans and 40% of rural Nebraskans reported feeling the pandemic’s effect on their men tal health. Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Preven tion reported a 2.5% increase in unmet behavioral health needs in a matter of months as the pan demic took hold.

The crisis could not have hit at a worse time for Nebraska’s be havioral health workforce, which was already experiencing severe shortages. It led Gov. Pete Rick etts to loosen restrictions on outof-state licensed practitioners, allowing them to offer telehealth services for 30 days past the duration of the COVID-related emergency declaration. That declaration ended in June 2021, but the story of Nebraska’s be havioral health workforce woes begins much earlier.

In 2004, the Nebraska Legisla ture passed LB 1083, a bill that de-institutionalized the state’s behavioral health system and expanded community-based health care. A 2008 report from the University of Nebraska Med ical Center found that there was both a shortage and an unequal distribution of behavioral health care providers across the state. The report recommended the creation of a state health work force center, which would col lect and analyze workforce data to predict the state’s future health workforce needs and sug gest policies to address them.

A year later, the Legislature passed LB 603, which created

the Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (BHECN for short, pronounced “beacon”). BHECN’s initial report to the Legislature in 2011 described a system in crisis: Professionals trained in Nebraska leaving the state after graduation, problems with basic clinical education, and training and licensure chal lenges.

BHECN’s efforts have large ly been successful over the last decade; however, the shortage persists. The already increasing need for mental health care, compounded by the pandemic, has only exacerbated the prob lems Nebraskans face in finding services.

Nevertheless, the workforce has grown. Dr. Marley Doyle, BHECN’s director, said that’s unique from the rest of the na tion.

“In most states, they’re seeing a plateau or decline … [Nebras ka’s increase] is uncommon,” Doyle said.

The success, Doyle said, comes from a simple mantra: re cruit, train and retain.

“We work very closely with the colleges and try to have as many mentorship and network ing events as possible. Right now we’re developing an app that will match students with mentors, no matter where they’re located in the state. That helps with the recruitment side,” Doyle said.

Then there’s the training piece. Based at UNMC, BHECN provides scholarships and tui tion aid for trainees, from resi dents to interns and everything in between. Doyle said a con sortium of graduate behavioral health programs comes up with ideas for how to meet students’ needs. BHECN also provides free assistance for licensed providers that need to do continuing edu cation to keep their licenses.

To address retention, BHECN funds studies on the barriers to working in Nebraska and how to


make the state a more attractive place to work.

Between 2010 and 2020, the number of behavioral health providers in Nebraska has grown 38%. Doyle said that’s still not enough.

“That’s really an anomaly. We’re successful at recruiting people into the workforce, but it’s still not enough to meet the demand, particularly in rural ar eas,” Doyle said.

The Health Resources and Services Administration, a feder al government agency, reports the U.S. has 14 psychiatrists per 100,000 residents. In urban Nebraska, there are 12; in rural, there are three. Even so, Doyle said the numbers don’t paint the full picture.

“They don’t really tell us any thing about what type of prac tice that person has. Are they full-time or part-time? Are they using telehealth? … It’s really dif ficult to see if you have the types of services that you need,” Doyle said.

The number of psychologists and psychiatrists has remained relatively stagnant over the last decade. In 2010, Nebraska had 162 practicing psychiatrists. In 2020, that number hadn’t changed. The state added just 80 psychologists in the same time frame.

“It isn’t that surprising … Those are the two areas of our workforce that take the longest amount of time to train. They’re hard programs to get into. It takes a long time, it’s a big sac rifice and they’re very expen sive. It takes 12 years to train a psychiatrist. There’s so many

December 2022 6 OMAHA JOBS
In the last decade, the number of behavIoral health provIders In nebraska has grown 38%. but professIonals say It’s stIll not enough to meet the demand for mental health support In the state. Graphic by bridGet FoGarty

barriers … Even with the efforts we’ve made, we’re not necessar ily going to see the full benefits of them for probably a decade or more,” Doyle said.

That raises the question: If the number of psychiatrists and psy chologists in the state is so stag nant, where’s the growth among overall behavioral health care providers coming from?

That’s been concentrated largely in licensed independent mental health practitioners (LIM HPs). Consequently, the state has seen a drop in licensed men tal health practitioners (LMHPs).

The key difference in the ac ronyms is the I. That stands for “independent,” meaning the practitioners can work inde pendently without supervision. Once LMHPs accrue enough hours under supervision, they can become an independent practitioner.

Between 2010 and now, the number of LIMHPs has shot up

by 163%. Doyle said the efforts of BHECN are easier to see there than elsewhere.

“LIMHPs get through their training a lot quicker … We’re seeing a jump in those areas where the training turns over faster,” Doyle said.

Doyle said the simultaneous growth and drop is a natural progression of LMHPs accruing enough supervised hours to es tablish an independent practice. The decline in LMHPs has largely plateaued in recent years, with minimal growth between 2018 and 2020.

Addressing provider supply, of course, is just one piece of the puzzle. Douglas County is pre paring to invest $55 million into a mental health facility. In the months to come, The Reader will do a deep dive into how Omaha cares for its most mentally ill.

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December 2022 7 OMAHA JOBS Shop Safe. We also know who’s been naughty or nice. @BBBOmaha Start With Trust® Shop Smart. Now Hiring t H o BS Ha

Soccer and Small Businesses

The Simple FoundaTion inveSTS in immigranT and reFugee YouTh

Before 5 o’clock on any given weeknight, the South Oma ha building at 3003 Q St. is relatively quiet. Then the kids start to arrive.

Some come by bus from North and South Omaha neighbor hoods; others get dropped off by family or walk over from their homes at the neighboring South side Terrace Apartments, Omaha’s largest public housing complex.

By 6 o’clock, the building that used to be a YMCA is alive with the echoing sounds of sneakers hitting the gym floor, upbeat mu sic and kids’ laughter.

This is the hallmark soundtrack to after-school programming at The Simple Foundation, a South Omaha-based nonprofit that supports immigrant, refugee and low-income youth and their fami lies through sports, tutoring, col lege prep, entrepreneurship and life skill development programs.

On the first floor, younger kids — some as young as age 5 — flock into a classroom to watch an ed ucational video before they get their reward of play time with vid eo games, foosball and toys in the adjacent game room. Upstairs, dozens of girls, some of whom wear colorful head scarves and brightly patterned long skirts, giggle and smile as they dance, mimicking their instructor’s movements.

In the main gym, teenage boys from high schools across Oma ha descend onto the basketball courts. Hassan Musa, 16, said The Simple Foundation has helped him a lot – from giving him trans portation to his first job to tutor ing him when he struggled in sci ence and math last year.

“Science is now my favorite subject,” the Central High School student said, before running off to dunk on a basketball hoop. To Bakar Ibrahim, 14, The Sim

ple Foundation feels like family. Now a student at Bella Vista High School, he’s been a part of the or ganization’s soccer academy for years.

“We grew up together,” he said, motioning to his peers play ing basketball nearby. “I wish people knew how fun it is, what they do here for the kids.”

Simple BeginningS

Since 2014, The Simple Foun dation has created spaces for young people in Omaha’s grow ing immigrant and refugee pop ulations to thrive in a city that hasn’t always met their needs. Fifteen percent of North Omaha’s population and 24% of South Omaha’s population were born outside the United States. Facing language and cultural barriers in a new home that has gaps in cul turally specific resources, many immigrant and refugee families work hard but face higher risks of

poverty and low incomes. Kids of immigrant parents often walk the line of multiple cultures — Ne braska’s population of U.S.-born children in immigrant families is one of the highest in the nation, and many Simple Foundation kids are from African and Latin Ameri can families.

The Simple Foundation pro vides resources that can’t be rep licated — staff members who can truly relate with the kids. Like the young players they coach and stu dents they tutor, the majority of staff members grew up in North and South Omaha or in immigrant households, and many played soccer with the program as kids.

As change comes to these communities — in the form of lawmakers’ historic investment into easternmost neighborhoods of Omaha and new development at the nearby city housing com plex where many participants live — The Simple Foundation

December 2022 8 (DIS)INVESTED
Young participants dance upstairs during evening activities at the simple Foundation

is teaching youth how to build businesses, fight gender roles and generate wealth as their own investment in their communities, families and selves.

Before the multilevel facility and big gym the organization owns today, the nonprofit start ed as a small, community effort. Co-founders and brothers Os uman and Sal Issaka saw little to no resources for families like theirs that had moved to Oma ha from another country. Being born and raised in Ghana, taking care of your community like you would your own family, “is part of our culture,” said Osuman Is saka, who is the current CEO of the organization. The brothers created a soccer academy hop ing it would double as a support system for kids of immigrant and refugee households.

The group’s soccer academy gained popularity as participants spread the word to their siblings and friends — that’s always been all the organization needed to grow its numbers, Issaka said. As more girls showed up to play soc cer with the boys, they added a girls’ team. All jerseys, shoes and gear are provided for players free of charge. Tutoring and academic support came next, since Issaka wanted his players to do well in school and feel confident to grad uate high school, go to college and get a good job.

When the pandemic hit and many school districts went re mote, the group stayed focused on its promise to help kids keep school attendance and grades up. Participants masked up, grabbed their devices and attended their remote learning classes at The Simple Foundation, helping out parents who needed child care and kids who couldn’t focus at home in isolation.

“No matter what, everybody is always here for you,” said Nurto Ibrahim, a 15-year-old who has attended programming for years, volunteers at the center and is the older sister of Bakar. She first found out about the group when she decided to join her brother

at his soccer practice about two years ago even though she’d nev er played the game.

“I didn’t know much about soccer other than watching it, un til the staff at Simple Foundation convinced me to play soccer,” Ibrahim said. “That was probably the best experience ever because I’m really good at it now.”

Ibrahim might have come for soccer, but she stayed for Bodu ri — an all-girls peer group that meets to chat, explore interests and develop new skills. After meeting her peers and getting to know them, Ibrahim started to see Boduri as a big family to Ibra him. It became a place to share issues girls were having at school or home and help one another solve them.

“We understand each other,” she said.

“an anchor institution”

Before 2020, The Simple Foun dation served almost 400 youth. Now, the group serves more than 600 and continues growing to meet families’ needs as business owners and community members recover from the pandemic’s dis

proportionate impact on North and South Omaha.

With the goal of alleviating those inequities, lawmakers are deciding how to disperse $335 million in pandemic relief and state money for North and South Omaha, with the goal to “create sweeping economic growth” through investment in employ ment, small businesses, housing and more, according to the Oma ha Economic Recovery Act Coor dination Plan website.

The community investment comes at the right time for The Simple Foundation, which is planning its own big changes. In November, the Douglas Coun ty Board of Commissioners ap proved $250,000 for the organi zation to purchase and renovate a facility at 4724 N. 24th St. to create a “safe place to play and learn’’ for refugee and immigrant youth and families.

The new building will house workforce, wellness and educa tional training programs for North Omaha youth, including schoolbased academic tutoring admin istered by Omaha Public Schools teachers, according to the non profit’s proposal, and will contrib ute to its overall goal of upward economic mobility for the com

munity. The money comes from pandemic relief funds allocated to Douglas County.

At the South Omaha building, Chandra Wrightsell, a consultant working with the foundation, said the group is ready to start a mul timillion dollar renovation of the building in 2023 thanks to grants and funding they’ve raised over the past few years. The nonprofit hopes to reach 1,000 youth with its greater capacity, Wrightsell said.

That change to the program’s building will come close to an other big change in many par ticipants’ lives. The neighboring Southside Terrace Apartments — where many families of The Simple Foundation reside — is preparing for its own renovations. Omaha is one of four cities recent ly awarded a $50 million grant by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to rebuild the city’s largest public housing complex.

At a press conference in late September, Adrianne Todman, the deputy secretary of HUD, acknowledged how The Simple Foundation has supported fam ilies living in Southside Terrace as the development prepares for changes.

“Thank you for being an an chor institution here and doing the heavy lift with the families even before it got to this point,” she said.

While investing in youth, The Simple Foundation teaches par ticipants to invest in themselves and their community as well. The “Simple Path to Build Lega cy’’ entrepreneurship program equips participants with the re sources and knowledge to build their own businesses and then helps them actually create them. Five businesses owned by The Simple Foundation participants in their teens and early 20s have emerged from the entrepreneur ship program, including a janito rial business, catering and a cloth ing shop, according to Wrightsell.

The entrepreneurship pro gram started from a class project staff member DeValon Whitcomb thought up while in school at the University of South Dakota. He

December 2022 9 (DIS)INVESTED
“EvErybody is al ways hErE for you”
“No matter what, everybody is always here for you,” said Nurto ibrahim, a 15-yearold, loNgtime program participaNt aNd voluNteer at the simple f ouNdatioN.

wanted to create a program that was “budget relieving, but also added value to the foundation.”

Overall, the staff members hope to show young people that they don’t need to be dependent on a single job to create economic stability and generational wealth for themselves and their families, according to Wrightsell.

“As an entrepreneur, you’re going to learn those workforce skills,” Wrightsell said. “But at the same time, you’re putting your talents and your experience and things that you love to do into something that can actually grow and be profitable for not only you, but your family and your community.”

Through the program, Apia Madut, 22, created and owns

three businesses: Imperial Events, an event planning business, Why Me, a clothing line, and Import Village, an African artifacts shop. Like many other girls at The Sim ple Foundation, she first got in volved by joining her brother one day when he came to play soccer.

As the oldest girl in her family, she had many responsibilities in her household growing up and often had stricter rules than her brothers. But The Simple Founda tion became one of the few plac es her parents allowed her to go besides school.

“The Simple Foundation is one of my strongest support sys tems,” Madut said while sitting at the building’s front desk where she now works as an employee. “We’re very open and we wel

come everybody. We don’t care what you look like, your skin col or, what language you speak — we’ll put on Google Translate.”

Gabriela Pedroza, the pro gram’s civic engagement coordi nator, has seen young girls flour ish and feel empowered at The Simple Foundation when they have freedom from the gender roles often placed on them at home.

“Simple is here to push us to be the better version of our selves, and believe that we de serve everything that we want to achieve, ” Pedroza said. “There’s no ‘women do this, men do that’ here; you have dreams, and you have achievements to ac complish, and we’re gonna work hard for it.”

December 2022 10 (DIS)INVESTED
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By(Dis)Invested, the Numbers

AheAD of MAjor NorTh AND SouTh oMAhA INveSTMeNT, uNo hIghlIghTS Key INequITIeS

The goal of the $335 mil lion in pandemic relief and state money for north and South Omaha has never been about one-time fixes. From issues like housing to crime, poverty to education, the easternmost neighborhoods of Omaha have long stood out as areas of static inequity. as leaders decide how to disperse these funds — which include $250 million in federal money and $85 million from the state, according to the Omaha


Where we live is one of the key indicators of health. It coin cides with income level, educa tional attainment, access to health care, proximity to good schools and so much more. In Omaha, living in north or South Omaha means you probably rent, have more problems with your home and spend a larger share of your monthly income on housing.

Historically, these trends can be traced back to practices such as redlining, racial covenants and discriminatory housing practices that have built dramatically dif ferent Omahas. Today, programs exist to help people find housing, but many people continue to be trapped in a cycle of settling for housing that’s unsafe, too expen sive and, in some cases, operated by landlords who accrue code vi olations with little oversight from the city.

Economic Recovery act Coordi nation Plan’s website — the Uni versity of nebraska at Omaha’s Center for Public affairs Research released a report in October highlighting differences between these communities and the rest of douglas County. Researchers identified areas that roughly cor respond with north and South Omaha and summarized the strengths, weaknesses, challeng es, opportunities and threats in each community.

north and South Omaha both have dense, young populations and lively immigrant communi ties with engaged labor forces and comparatively high rates of self-employment, the report reads. although diverse, both ar eas’ segregated populations have high poverty concentrations and high percentages of “working poor.” While north Omaha’s pop ulation has decreased and South Omaha’s has grown in the past decade, the historic infusion of

funding presents opportunities to invest in education, workforce training and housing access.

The Reader has also been hard at work this past year reporting on how investments (or the lack thereof) of time, energy and mon ey impact the place where we live. Here are some key findings from UnO’s report along with supple mental reading from The Read er’s (dis)Invested project that can contextualize the numbers.

renters v. homeowners

December 2022 11 (DIS)INVESTED
Contact the writers at and
ALL INFOGRAPHICS SOURCE: University of Nebraska at Omaha, Center for Public Affairs Research • Created with Datawrapper
to rent their home
In north and South Omaha, people are nearly twice as likely
than others in douglas County or the state.
north south rest of douglas County nebraska
Owner-occupied housing units Renter-occupied housing units

Omaha Struggles with Lower-Quality Housing

If you live in North or South Omaha, you are more likely to struggle with a housing problem that the University of Nebraska at Omaha defines as: 1) Lack of complete kitchen facility 2) Lack of complete plumbing facilities 3) Household is overcrowded/more than one person per room 4) Household is severely cost burdened, meaning monthly housing costs exceed 50% of monthly income.

stories: Omaha Explained: Redlining –Oct. 9, 2020

North and South Omahans Pay More in Rent

While rent is cheaper in North and South Omaha, people make much less. As a result, they pay more of their monthly income toward rent.

Digging up the Roots on Oma ha’s Housing Segregation – July 18, 2022

Locked out in the Heartland: In Omaha, Your Ability to Achieve the American Dream Depends on Where You Live. And That’s Not by Coincidence. – Feb. 10, 2022

“This is home.” Omaha Organi zations Help Low-Income Home buyers as Obstacles Increase –March 7, 2022

In Omaha, Bad Landlords Get Off Easy and Tenants Pay the Price –April 7, 2022


Education is a pathway to high er-paying, more fulfilling jobs, homeownership or better op portunities for children. Howev er, those opportunities are not obtained equally across Omaha. If you live in North and South Omaha you’re about half as likely to have a college degree as the rest of Douglas County, accord ing to UNO.

In many Omaha public high schools, the pandemic and dis trict officials’ responses to it ac celerated a wave of white flight.

Educational Attainment

December 2022 12 (DIS)INVESTED
North and South Omaha have half the number of college graduates as the rest of Douglas County. North south rest of Douglas County Nebraska North south rest of Douglas County % of owners who have one or more housing problem % of renters who have one or more housing problem Renter occupied median monthly household income Renter-occupied median monthly housing costs High school graduate (includes equivalency) Some college, no degree Associate degree Bachelor’s degree Graduate or professional degree North south rest of Douglas County Nebraska 27% 24% 20% 21% ——————————— Renter-occupied median monthly housing costs: ———————————

Meanwhile Black, Latino and Na tive American students in Oma ha’s schools were chronically absent and suspended at higher rates than their white counter parts, signaling to professionals that students need more support that’s culturally resonant from adults who look like them. Com munity-based behavioral health programs, such as the Center for Holistic Development, are criti cal solutions to giving youth the care they need, especially in the wake of the pandemic. Others


In Omaha, accessing basic gov ernment services, knowing how to pay a traffic ticket or enrolling a child in school becomes a lot harder if you don’t speak En glish. While local government, nonprofits and other entities strive to make information avail able in a variety of languages, gaps still occur. In the summer of 2022, the city received criticism for failing to provide multilingual updates as a massive chemical fire burned in South Omaha.

are trying to erase these educa tional gaps by offering free bilin gual GED classes that can help immigrants and people seeking higher education.

stories: Omaha GED Classes Open Doors, Help Immigrant Parents Support Kids In School – Aug. 30, 2022

But there have been some strides toward progress, espe cially for Spanish speakers in the area.

In August, the City of Oma ha opened emergency rental assistance funds to people who are undocumented. The Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless, the agency tasked with distributing Omaha’s emer gency rental funds, created a contact form for Spanish speak ers to connect with a Span ish-speaking specialist to guide them through the rental assis tance application. Other non

In one heavily segregated city, the pandemic accelerated a wave of white flight – March 15, 2022

the Cracks: “Everybody Should Have the Resources I Have.” –April 12, 2022

Experts Say Students Need Help, Not Punishment as They Cope with Pandemic – May 9, 2022

Income and Poverty

The consequences of these in equities, and others, lead to a variety of challenges, includ ing more poverty. The share of

North and South Omahans, par ticularly children, living in pov erty is multitudes higher than the rest of the county or state. Though fewer Nebraska children live in poverty today than previ ous years, higher rates of child hood poverty persist for Black, Native and Latino children.

In Caring For Omaha’s Most Ab sent Kids, Many Still Fall Through

profits are also stepping up. The Latino Center of the Midlands’ Siembra Salud program equips Spanish speakers with home gar dens and bilingual community health workers to prevent health disparities. stories:

Omaha Opens Pandemic Rental Assistance to All, Regardless of Citizenship. Here’s How to Ap ply. – Aug. 26, 2022

“I’m Still Gasping For Air:” Chem ical List Released after Nox-Crete Fire, Residents Still Concerned –June 11, 2022

For Some Latino Omahans, Solv ing Health Disparities Starts in the Garden – Aug. 8, 2022

Percent of Residents Who Don’t Speak English “Very Well”

People in South Omaha are nearly six times more likely not to speak English very well compared with the rest of the county. People in North Omaha are nearly three times more likely not to speak English at a high level.

Some low-income families qualify for help in the form of government assistance. How ever, many find themselves de nied as the state continues to accrue more and more unspent funds that should be going to Nebraska’s most needy. Because of many aid programs’ strict in

come requirements, many peo ple also find themselves working full time but remaining in pov erty. Strict federal immigration policy is a significant barrier to jobs for many North and South Omaha immigrants, who offer proven economic benefits to their communities.

December 2022 13 (DIS)INVESTED
North south rest of Douglas County Nebraska

While many people are strug gling, investment in child care, STEM programs and research studies about how we could handle welfare differently are moving toward solutions to the cycles of poverty in North and South Omaha. High entrepre neurship and self-employment rates in both communities show an opportunity for investment, according to the UNO report.


While Fewer Nebraska Children Live In Poverty, New Data Report Shows “A Long Way To Go” For Racial Equity – Sept. 19, 2022

Percent of People Living in Poverty

People in North and South Omaha are much more likely to live in poverty than others in the county or state. Children are also nearly five times more likely to live in poverty in North Omaha than the rest of the county.

‘The Fund Just Keeps Getting Bigger’: Nebraskans Denied Help as State Stockpiles $108M in Federal Funds – July 11, 2022

Percent of People Working and in Poverty

Many people in North and South Omaha remain in poverty despite working full time. North Omahans in particular are 10 times more likely to be in poverty despite working full time than others in Douglas County.

Being Poor Is Pricey – May 23, 2022

When Low-Income Parents Work Long Hours, Where Do Their Kids Go? – Sept. 2, 2021

Breaking Down STEM Barriers for Girls – July 8, 2021

Income by Area

North and South Omahans make significantly less than others in Douglas County as well as Nebraskans statewide.

This Is Your Brain on Poverty: Omaha Is One Site in Nationwide Study – Sept. 6, 2022

December 2022 14 (DIS)INVESTED
North south rest
Nebraska North south rest
Nebraska North south rest
poverty Work full-time year round and in poverty
poverty Under age 18 and in poverty 65 years and over and in poverty
of Douglas County
of Douglas County
of Douglas County
Percent in

A Q&A With Saddle Creek’s Palm

The drums and guitars shift from clashing rhythms that threaten to pull the song apart to locked-in attacks. Ethere al voices float in the stratosphere. Clattering percussion blinks in and out of the chaos. Eventually a simple melody pulls everything together.

Palm (Eve Alpert, Hugo Stan ley, Gerasimos Livitsanos and Kasra Kurt) can be hard to describe. Psy chedelic, indie and avant-garde get close to pinning down the band, founded in New York in 2009 and now based out of Philadelphia, but records such as “Shadow Expert” (2017) and “Rock Island” (2018) showcase a unique blend of exper imentation and pop. The group’s latest album, “Nicks and Grazes,” released in October of this year on Omaha’s Saddle Creek records, is another evolution.

The Reader sat down with Palm to talk about the new album, Dec. 5 show at Reverb Lounge and what’s next for the band.

This interview has been edited for brevity.

The Reader: So you guys met in 2009 at Bard College (a liberal arts college about 100 miles north of New York City). What were you majoring in?

Kurt: I studied history.

Alpert: I studied photography.

Stanley: I studied mathematics. I actually was a music major, but the concentration was electron ic and experimental music. But I didn’t start out there. Most of the time I was actually studying cre ative writing and literature.

The Reader: Yeah, I ask that because I know you guys aren’t formally trained musicians, but there’s clearly a lot of thought going into your music.

Stanley: My dad’s a musician and my mom’s a music fan. My dad’s mom was a singer and my dad’s brother’s a musician. I grew up with my parents playing re cords around the house. Once I got to late middle school, early high school age, I started to active ly seek out new music and broaden my horizons. And I played drums and guitar from the age of like, 13 or 14, but it was mostly self-taught.

In college, we had places to play and practice spaces where you can make noise. We met pret ty early on in school, and at this

point most of our musical experiences fall within the timeline of the band be cause we’ve been togeth er more than 11 years.

Kurt: I don’t think I ever actually thought about doing music pro fessionally. Not that we always are doing that now. I wanted to be a historian or something, but I don’t think I was smart enough. So music was like a fallback option. But, yeah, if I was trying out a gui tar at Guitar Center or something, I would sound notably more am ateurish than the vast majority of people there. But I think all of us, as a result of our love for music, take our craft seriously.

Alpert: We’re highly trained to gether.

The Reader: How have you guys seen your style or ap proach to songwriting progress through the years?

Kurt: My impulse is that I want the next thing we make to be somehow more confrontational and more inviting than the last thing. Like trying to see if we can get noisier but more melodic at the same time.

We also all like sounds, which sounds silly. But those records we grew up with, there can be a mo ment where you’re listening and hear a sound from an instrument, or something achieved in the studio, that is as immediate and present as a lyric or a note choice. Sometimes it’s like you want to lis ten to a song over and over again to hear this crazy sound. [As for songwriting] there’s always some collaborative element. I don’t think any of us, individually, would make music that sounds like Palm. It real ly is the combination of our voices and instincts.

The Reader: You guys pull a lot of interesting sounds into your recordings. The one that

December 2022 15
Sound To
BringS A honed, exPAnSive
omAhA Along
iTS neW
‘niCkS And grAzeS’
Palm (from left to right: hugo Stanley, gera SimoS livit SanoS, eve alPert, and Ka Sra Kurt). Photo by EvE AlbErt.

sticks out to me is this steel drum effect you play through a guitar, but I wonder if you could talk about how you build texture.

Kurt: So the steel drum guitar sound was primarily on “Rock Is land,” our previous recording, and that’s a MIDI guitar pickup. I don’t know how we ended up incorpo rating that, but it came earlier on in our explorations of incorporating non-traditional rock sounds. But that MIDI guitar is from the ’80s or ’90s. It’s really limited and misfires a lot so it’s hard to be expressive.

With “Nicks and Grazes” we really tried to widen the sonic pal ette. There’s a lot of different stuff going on, ranging from samples of things we recorded out in the world, guitars with rubber wire wrapped around the strings and other more traditional percussion. There’s also a lot of synthetic, made-in-the-computer sounds.

The Reader: I think I read you guys were unsure if you’d do another album. What prompted you to return?


Stanley: The last record came out in February 2018 and we had recorded it nearly a year prior. So we’ve been working on material [for “Nicks and Grazes”] since late 2017, early 2018. A lot of ideas were getting scrapped, and we were all really fried from touring. And then other life stuff happened. We all got jobs as well.

But I think we all felt we had put so much work into the music and wanted to make something to reflect that growth. Once we started preparing to record there was a little bit more excitement again. And we worked with a pro ducer for the first time, which also was really helpful. We just started to feel like we had this momentum again.

Kurt: Maybe all artists have a habit of thinking all previous work was a steppingstone to get to where you are now. With this re cord we took [what we started on “Rock Island”] as far as we could, and we’re really proud of the re cord we made.

The Reader: How did you guys connect with Saddle Creek?

Kurt: They reached out to us and we only got good vibes. I can’t speak highly enough about Saddle Creek. They’re super genuine, nice and supportive.

The Reader: It seems like you’re in good company, too, especially with Spirit of the Beehive, another Saddle Creek signee that tries to strike the balance between abrasive and beautiful.

Albert: We’re friends with them.

Stanley: Yeah, it seems like the label is diversifying their sound. They’re more known for sing er-songwriter stuff, which we love, but our band is obviously not that. So it may be that having [Spirit of the Beehive] on the label was en couraging — that stylistically we would have some company.

The Reader: Yeah, I saw them in Omaha a while back and was floored by their show.

It sounded as good if not better than the record. I was curious if you guys have to sacrifice some of that sonic expansiveness when you play live.

Albert: Most people like our live shows a lot because they think it sounds better than the record, or just as good.

Kurt: I definitely understand why this might not come across on the first couple of listens, but “Nicks and Grazes” was primarily recorded live. So I think it’s less that our live set is going to sound like the record and more like the record sounds like our live sets.

The Reader: So what’s next for the band? Are you guys thinking about another album or leaving that up in the air for now?

Albert: We’ve never expected each other to commit to the band beyond what we do in the now. And I think that’s a really healthy way for us to grow as people. So never say never, like this is not deemed our last re cord at all.

December 2022 16

December 1 – January 29

Jeff Sedrel

Garden of the Zodiac Gallery

Bright floral bouquets enliven Omaha artist Jeff Sedrel’s second solo show at the Garden of the Zo diac Gallery, with an opening from 6-8 p.m. on Dec. 1. The show con tinues through Jan. 29.

Long a staple of still-life paint ings, flower arrangements are often presented as metaphors for growth and decay. In Sedrel’s hands, they are also the basis for explorations in color and spatial composition, melding his cal ligraphic expressionism with an impressionistic style. Expect an array of paintings on canvas and paper with vivid sprays of color that emphasize Sedrel’s tactile re sponses to bouquets seen at home and at work.

December 2

Trisha Gurnett: Recovery BFF


Trisha Gurnett, a visual artist from South Omaha, focuses on her journey to recovery from addiction in her mixed-media exhibit at BFF Gallery. The exhibit opens from 6-9 p.m. on Dec. 2, including “the dark and uncomfortable parts.”

“As an addict in recovery from alcohol, fear of being vulnerable has been a barrier to my healing,” Gurnett said in her show state ment. “Art has been my method in expressing these complex feel ings with others. The works in this show will examine my own per sonal struggles, as well as share the viewpoints of other addicts on their own journeys to recovery.”

December. 2-18

I AM SEEN: Group Exhibition  Petshop Gallery

stop-motion, dark-fantasy musi cal, directed by Henry Selick and scored by Danny Elfman, became the first animated film to be nom inated for the Academy Award for best visual effects.

Tickets are $5 and can be pur chased at the box office or at film Screenings will be on Dec. 3-4 and Dec. 10-11.

I AM SEEN, BFF’s ongoing LGBTQIA2S+ youth and artist men torship program, will host a large group show Dec. 2 at Petshop Gallery in Benson. The titular ex hibit, “I AM SEEN,” features local high school students who identify as members of the LGBTQIA2S+ community. “I AM SEEN” asks the artists to “reflect on what it means to be yourself and to be seen for who you are.”

The exhibition will open during First Friday in December from 7-10 p.m. and remain on display through Dec. 18. This project is supported by the Equality Fund through the Omaha Community Foundation.

December 3-4 & 10-11

Tim Burton’s The BeforeNightmareChristmas

Film Streams Dundee Theater

December 7

Oddisee with Good Compny

Waiting Room

Film Streams’ Forever Young se ries, which has shown classic fam ily films on Saturday and Sunday mornings at 10 a.m. at the Dundee Theater, will showcase “Tim Bur ton’s The Nightmare Before Christ mas” in early December. The 1993

Embark on a musical odyssey. Oddisee will visit the Waiting Room with his trademark flows and perform alongside a five-piece band on Dec. 7. The D.C. rapper has created a buzz by staying au thentic to his style and building a platform of consciousness.

The artist’s discography speaks for itself, releasing nearly 30 al bums or EPs since 2008. Touring with a groovy band is just the lat est example of how Oddisse stays busy with the craft.

The show starts at 7 p.m., with doors at 6. Tickets are $20 before fees.

December 2022 17 PICKS W
Opulence: Performative Wealth and the Failed American Dream The Bemis

The Bemis Center for Contem porary Arts will host an opening reception for its next exhibit, “Op ulence: Performative Wealth and the Great American Dream,” from 6-8 p.m. on Dec. 8. Through a di versity of influences and medium, eight artists examine and critique America’s obsession with wealth, the ways it shapes class and status and how systemic barriers deny some communities opportunity and restrict their social mobility.

Curated by Bemis exhibitions manager Jared Packard, the show will feature painting, sculpture, video, fashion and nail artistry. Fea tured artists include Larry Buller, Caitlin Cherry, Max Colby, Yvette Mayorga, Rashaad Newsome, Faleasha Savage, Devan Shimoya ma and Imagine Uhlenbrock.

Go to for more information.

The sold-out VIP package in cludes a meet and greet with Elwes and a signed copy of his best-sell ing book, “As You Wish: Inconceiv able Tales From the Making of the Princess Bride.”

organize and pull off a perfor mance in one day.


December 9

The Princess Bride w/Cary Elwes

Holland Performing Arts Center

December 9

Patricia Davis & Amanda Durig Project Project

This year’s play is “How The Grinch Stole Christmas,” the fa mous Seuss tale of a grumpy green outcast who sets out to sabotage Christmas but has a change of heart along the way. For the per formers, participating in the pro cess is a valuable experience.

The event starts at 9 a.m. and runs until 5 p.m., with the per formance starting at 4. Tickets are $90.

December 12

The Sheepdogs with Boy

Golden Slowdown

Two-person shows typically re quire the viewer to engage in a game of compare and contrast, piecing together the reasons for the visual pairing. Not so in Project Project’s latest exhibition “Just be cause I carry it well, doesn’t mean it isn’t heavy,” a true collaboration between Lincoln artists Patricia Davis and Amanda Durig, opening with a reception from 6-10 p.m. on Dec. 9.

Both painters and printmakers, they found kinship not only in their shared love of medium, process and botanical subjects, but also in the ways their works pivoted around the slipperiness of memory and the chaos of uncertainty in “a canopy of weirdness.”

Are you searching for a much-needed, anti-pop reprieve, wanting everything from folksy piano playing to glitzy guitar glam out of your live concert experi ence? The Sheepdogs will head line the Slowdown on Dec. 12 alongside Boy Golden, who will open.

Dig music that pushes the boundaries and uplifts?

Bartees Strange will play a rad show at the Slowdown on Dec. 15 alongside Pom Pom Squad and They Hate Change. Supporting his 2020 breakout record, “Live Forever,” the England-to-Okla homa transplant Bartees Strange continues to make an international splash. With smooth indie-soul fu sion, the band offers a sunny, mel ancholic sound that is refreshing.

And openers Pom Pom Squad and They Hate Change shine just as brightly.

The all-ages show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18-$20 before fees.

December 15

Mike Zito & Hector Anchondo Waiting Room

A special screening of a beloved 1980s film is making its way to the Holland Performing Arts Center on Dec. 9.

“The Princess Bride: An Incon ceivable Evening with Cary Elwes” will feature a viewing of Rob Rein er’s 1987 fantasy-adventure come dy followed by a Q&A with Elwes, who played Westley/Dread Pirate Roberts in the movie.

The screening will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets, between $39.50$49.50, can be purchased at tick

December 10

Play In A Day

Omaha Community Playhouse



After almost 20 years, Canadian roots-rock revival band The Sheep dogs has herded a devoted Ameri can following. With multi-platinum album sales and four Juno awards, the band resonates beyond its neck of the woods.

The all-ages show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets are $18-$22 be fore fees.

Ever wonder how Omaha has held onto a vibrant blues scene for generations?

Mike Zito and Hector Anchondo will remind the city when they play the Waiting Room on Dec. 15.

December 15

Bartees Strange, Pom Pom Squad, They Hate Change

Zito is a nationally respected blues guitarist from KC, and An chondo is a hometown hero, sixstring slinger, and soulful singer. The expansive universe of blues music — in all its glorious strippeddown and amplified emotion — has destined the show to be a sure fire way to end the year strong.

The show starts at 6 p.m., with doors at 5. Tickets are $20-$25.

December 2022 18 W PICKS W
epic theater
wonder how
7-14 who enroll in Play In A Day will learn how to

December 16

A Drag ChristmasQueen



“A Drag Queen Christmas” will visit the Orpheum on Dec. 16. The event is part of an annual tour involving exciting drag perfor mances, presented in a high-scale production fit for Omaha Perform ing Arts’ treasured venue.

Omaha’s show marks one of 36 national stops on the 2022 season tour.

Trinity “The Tuck” Taylor and Nina West will host the night’s fes tivities, featuring performers from “Ru Paul’s Drag Race.”

Ticket prices start at $85, and the show starts at 8 p.m.

— Matt Casas

album release show at the Waiting Room Lounge on Dec. 17.

Joining the rockers are The JV All-Stars, Names Without Num bers and Feel Good.

December 17


The Waiting Room Lounge

On Nov. 18, local rock band Ha ven21 released its first full-length album. To celebrate the release of “Radial,” the band is hosting an

Doors will open at 6 p.m., with music starting at 7. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 the day of the show and can be purchased at

Maryland ska punk band Stacked Like Pancakes is embark ing on its Satellite Winter Tour and making a stop in Omaha just before Christmas. The trio’s final show of the tour will be at the Down Under Lounge on Dec. 23.

December 23

Stacked Like Pancakes

The Down Under Lounge

Some of the band’s career high lights include appearing on the Vans Warped Tour multiple times and playing support for ska punk legends Reel Big Fish and Save Ferris.

Music will start at 9 p.m., with tickets $12 in advance and $15 the day of the show.

December 2022 19 W PICKS W Together again! 7020 Cass Street 402.556.6262 Sundays IN PERSON @ 10:50 am ONLINE via Facebook We WILL NOT be resuming other activities. Back Masks & social distancing will be required.
for an exciting, musical and inclusive event to ring in
$5/month or $50/year Member Support Recognition Page: Kinda like having your name on a brick on a fancy walk, but on a special page on Aliases or honorariums allowed. The Reader Home Delivered Every Month: Stay safe, take The Reader at home (or your other address) by USPS delivery. $10/month or $100/year Everything in the Starter Plan, PLUS Our Secret Social Media Group: What are we saying, who’s talking about what? Join and find out! But don’t tell anyone else, it’s secret. (Currently only available by Facebook Group.) The Reader Gift Subscription: Keep social distance, hold on to your own copy of The Reader, and send a gift subscription to family and friends. (Can be the same address if it’s that hard to share.) $20/month or $200/year Everything in the Supporter Plan, PLUS, THERE’S EVEN MORE An Invite to a Publisher Chat: Held virtually for now, meet with the publisher in a small group setting to give him a piece of your mind or hear more about the future plans for The Reader and its sister publication, El Perico. If you don’t care about that, we could also give you another gift subscription (more schwag coming). j PIllar Plan YourSupportLocally Owned Newspaper! SIGN UP NOW AT THEREADER.COM Look for The Reader circle logo in the bottom right corner OR send payment to POB 7360, Omaha, NE 68107 with your subscription information and email j SuPPorter Plan j Starter Plan
Full list of winners for The Reader’s 2022 Menu of Menus CongRaTulaTions! Best Appetizer  Baked Spinach and Artichoke Dip at Jimi D’s  Crab Rangoon Tots at 402 Eat + Drink Best Apple Pie  Farm House Cafe  Le Quartier Bakery & Cafe Best Bacon  Million Dollar Bacon at First Watch  Lisa’s Radial Cafe  Bailey’s Breakfast and Lunch  Meats-Regular Bacon at Saddle Creek Breakfast Club  WheatFields Best BBQ Brisket  Porky Butts  402 Eat + Drink  Hartland Bar-B-Que  Smokin’ Barrel  Wayne’s New Skoo Best Biscuits & Gravy  The Heavy at Lisa’s Radial Cafe  Bailey’s Breakfast and Lunch  Over Easy  Dad’s Biscuits and Gravy at Wheatfield’s Eatery and Bakery  Biscuits and Gravy with bacon or sausage at Cracker Barrel Best Breakfast Burrito  Potato Egg Breakfast Burrito at Abelardo’s Mexican Fresh  Burrito Envy and Tequila Bar  El Gordo Morning Burrito at Early Bird Brunch  Breakfast Burrito at Lina’s Mexican Restaurant  Breakfast Burrito at Sunnyside on Center Best Breakfast Potato Casserole  Potato Casserole at Farmhouse Cafe & Bakery  Breakfast Skillets at Lisa’s Radial Cafe  Potato
 Signature
 Dusseldorf
Best Breakfast Sandwich  Radial Breakfast Sandwich
Radial Cafe  Elevated Egg Sandwich
First Watch  Sandies at Early Bird  Cali Club at Saddle Creek Breakfast Club  Egg and Cheese BS Combo at Sunnyside on Center December 2022 20  AWARDEE  FINALIST The resulT s are in for The reader’s Menu of Menus 2022. noMinaTions were Made in augusT and final voTing in sepTeMber To deTerMine This year’s winners — boTh awardees and finalisT s. froM new eaTing spoT s To legacy resTauranT s, TradiTional dishes To fusion creaTions, The following lisT is a huge TesTaMenT To our incredible culinary scene and iT s sTrengTh in Trying TiMes and iT s nonsTop innovaTion. bon appéTiT!
Casserole at Garden Cafe
Skillets at Village Inn
Casserole at Wheatfield’s Eatery
at Lisa’s
Best Brunch  Bailey’s Breakfast and Lunch  Upstream Brewing Company Sunday  Mantra Bar and Grill  Herbe Sainte  First Watch Best Burger  Dinkers Bar and Grill Blue Burger  Block 16 Block Burger  Nite Owl Nite Owl Burger  Naughty Buddha Burger Bar Buddhalicious Burger Best Burrito  Burrito Envy & Tequila Bar Cuban Burrito  Abelardo’s Mexican Restaurant Beans and Cheese Burrito  DeLeon’s Taco Rico Hashbrown Burrito  Taqueria El Rey Burritos  Fernando’s Burritos Best Cake  Wheatfield’s Strawberry Wedding Cake  Buttered Marshmallow Buttered Marshmallow Cake Best Carrot Cake  Nothing Bundt Cakes Carrot Cake Best Cheesecake  Cheesecake Factory Original Cheesecake  V. Mertz Cheesecake Best Chicken Entree  Railcar Modern American Kitchen Asiago Crusted Chicken Schnitzel  Longhorn Steakhouse Parmesan Chicken  Fizzy’s Fountain & Liquors - Fried Chicken Platter  Astoria Biryani House Chicken 65  Timber Wood Fire Bistro Timbird Best Chicken Sandwich  Big Mama’s Kitchen DS Hot Fried Chicken Sandwich  Dirty Birds Original Classic Chicken Sandwich  Block 16 Brooke’s Chickenwich  Fizzy’s Fountain & Liqours- The Rooster  72 Table & Tap Honey Habanero Crispy Chicken Best Chocolate Cake  Cake Gallery Best Cinnamon Roll  Sweet Magnolia’s Bake Shop  Farm House Cafe and Bakery  WheatField’s Eatery and Bakery  Culprit Cafe and Bakery  LaQuartier Bakery & Cafe Best Cocktail  Nite Owl Mr. Balloonhands  Krug Park Thai Bloody  Fire Bird Black Diamond  Barrett’s Barleycorn Tippy Irish Chata Coffee Best Coffee  Dundee Double Shot Salty Irishman  Zen Coffee Company - Coffee Flights  Hardy Coffee / Ruby Red Cold Brew Best Craft Beer  Benson Brewery Blonde Bunny  Brickway Blackout Stout  Blatt Beer &Table Devil’s Gap  Scriptown Honey Lager  Upstream Brewing Firehouse Red Best Curry Dish  Curri Fine Indian Cuisine Chicken Tikka  Salween Thai Red Curry  Hyderabad House Biryani - Chicken Dum Biryani  Laos Thai Restaurant Panang Curry  Bangkok Kitchen Green Curry Best Deli Sandwich  Little King Italian Royalty  Swartz’s Delicatessen & Bagels Reuben Treatment  Ethnic Sandwich Shop CJ’s Toasted Turkey  Star Deli Cubano  Ansel’s Pastrami and Bagels Reuben December 2022 21 WINNER 2022  AWARDEE  FINALIST

Best French Toast

Oven Fried Catfish

Best Fufu Dish

Best Fried Fish

Best General Tso Chicken

Best Korma Dish

Best Hunan Dish

Best Egg Rolls  Vietnamese Egg Rolls at Saigon Restaurant  Egg Rolls at Three Happiness Express Best Enchilada  Rivera’s Mexican Food Enchiladas Rancheros  California Tacos and More Enchiladas  Abelardo’s Mexican Fresh Enchiladas  Taqueria El Ray Enchiladas Best
 La Mesa Mexican Restaurant Fajitas  Azteca Mexican Restaurant Azteca Fajitas  Roja Grill Fajitas  El Ranchero Veggie Fajitas  Romeo’s Grande Fajita-rito Best Falafel Sandwich  El Basha Mediterranean Grill Falafel  Amsterdam Falafel & Kabob, Spicy Falafel with Green & Garlic Sauce  Oasis The Falafel Joint, Falafel Pita
Sandwich  Shucks Fish House and Oyster Bar The Codwich  Joe Tess Famous Fish Sandwich  Upstream Brewing Company Fish Sandwich  Sean O’Caseys Fish Sandwich
Best Fish
 Lisa’s Radial Cafe French Toast  First Watch French Toast  Le Peep French Toast  Early Bird Brunch French Toast  Saddle Creek Breakfast Club French Toast
 Alpine Inn Fried Chicken  Big Mama’s Kitchen and Catering Oven Fried Chicken  Dirty Bird Original Pickle Fried Chicken  Time Out Foods Chicken  Fizzy’s Fountain & Liquors Fried Chicken Platter
Best Fried Chicken
 Dundee Dell Fish and Chips  Big Mama’s Kitchen -
The Surfside ClubCatfish DInner
Sean O’Casey’s Pub Fish Sandwich
Big Way Chicken Catfish Basket
Chaima’s African Cuisine Fufu & Peanut Stew
 Crystal
 Yamato
 Taipei
Three Happiness Express General Tso Chicken
Jade American & Asian Fine Dining General’s Chicken
Sushi & Grill General Tso’s Chicken
Grand Fortune Chinese Cuisine General Tso’s Chicken
Asian Cuisine General’s Chicken
 Crystal
Restaurant Hunan
 Jade
 Dragon
 Chopstick
 Grand
 Gold Mountain RestaurantShredded Beef Hunan Style Best Ice Cream Dish  Coneflower Tart Cherry Crumble
 Okra African Grill Jellof Rice  Chaima’s
Palace - Hunan Chicken
Wok - Hunan Pork
HouseSpicy Hunan Shrimp
FortuneCrispy Shrimp
Best Jollof Rice Dish
 Maharaja
 Jaipur Chicken
 Zaika
 Hyderabad
 Kinaara Goat
Best Kung Pao Dish  China Wok Kung Pao Beef  China Palace Kung Pao Beef  Three Happiness Kung Pao Delight  PF Chang’s Kung Pao Best Lasagna  Mangia Italiana Lasagna  Lo Sole Mio Lasagna December 2022 22  AWARDEE  FINALIST
Indian Shahi
Lamb Korma

Best Pad Thai

Best Pancakes

 Vincenzo’s Ristorante Lasagna  Cheesecake Factory Lasagna  Kitchen Table Lasagna Best Macaroni and Cheese  Twisted Fork Smoked Gouda MacN-Cheese  Porky Butts BBQ Macaroni and Cheese  Leadbelly’s LB Mac & Cheese  Blatt Beer & Table Blatt Mac  Modern Love Mac n Shews Best Mocktail  Nite Owl Jessica Rabbit  Blue Sushi Sake Grill Hibiscus Squeeze  Kobe Steakhouse Madame Butterfly  Via Farina Old Fashioned Best Mulligatawny  Mulligatawny at Kinaara Indian Cuisine Best Naan  Taj Taste of India Garlic Naan
 Early Bird Brunch Omelettes  Bailey’s Breakfast and Lunch Omelettes  Lisa’s Radial Cafe Deluxe
Omelette  Saddle Creek Breakfast Club Omelettes  First Watch Omelette
Best Omelette
 Pad Thai Combo at Salween Thai  Thai Spice  Saigon Restaurant  Mai Thai  Thai Kitchen  Khao Niao
 Bailey’s Breakfast and Lunch Pancakes  Lisa’s Radial Cafe Pancakes  First Watch Pancakes  Saddle Creek Breakfast Club Pancakes  Early Bird Pancakes Best Pasta Dish  Pasta Combination at Pasta Amore  Michelangelo at Lo Sole Mio  Cheese Tortellini at Sgt. Peffer’s  Kickin’
 Fettuccine
 Fettuccini
 Cheese Tortellini Alfredo
 Rigatoni
at Dante  Lasagna Mediterranean at Nicolas  Spaghettini il Gamberetto at Via Farina Best Peanut Butter Chicken  Golden Palace  Three Happiness  Crystal Jade  Mai Thai  Chopstick House Best Pie (not Apple)  Charleston’s Key Lime Pie Best Pizza  Orsi’s Italian Bakery & Pizzeria Cheese Pizza  Copp’s Pizza 5 Cheese  Lighthouse Pizza  Pitch Pizzeria Margherita  Noli’s Pizzeria Fungo Pizza Best Popcorn  Vic’s Corn Popper Premium Classics  Alamo Drafthouse Movie Popcorn  Huskerland Butter and Low Salt  Kitchen Table Popcorn  Film Streams Movie Popcorn Best Ramen Dish  Ika Ramen Miso  Rizin Japanese Ramen Shoyu Ramen  Ika San Vegetarian  Yoshi Ya Ramen tonkotsu  Jinya Ramen Bar Flying Vegan Harvest Best Red Beans and Rice  Herbe Sainte Red Beans and Rice  The Hunger Block Bandeja Paisa  Mouth of the South Red Beans and Rice  Wayne’s New Skoo BBQ Red Beans and Rice  Lutfi’s Fried Fish Red Beans and Rice December 2022 23 WINNER 2022  AWARDEE  FINALIST
Chicken Pasta at Mouth of the South
Carbonara at Roma Italian Restaurant
Gamareti at Malara’s Italian Restaurant
with Chicken at Mangia Italiana

Best Rum Cocktail

Mouth of the South Hurricane

Barrett’s Barleycorn Bahama Mama

Nite Owl Le Tigre Lilly

Lake Lona Zombie

Inkwell Wray and Some (ting) Close

Best Salad

Walt’s Champagne

Chicken Salad at Charleston’s

Asian Peanut Crusted Chicken Salad at Greenbelly

Best Seafood Entree

Angry Crab Linguine at Shucks

Cedar Planked Salmon at J. Coco

Crab-Crusted Cod at Bonefish Grill

Crudo at Yoshitomo

La Torre Imperial at Isla Del Mar

Best Sesame Chicken

Sesame Chicken at Three Happiness Express

Sesame Chicken at Golden Bowl

Sesame Chicken at Rice Bowl

Sesame Chicken at Tapei

Sesame Chicken at Grand Fortune

Sesame Chicken at Chopstick House

Best Smoothie

Juice Stop Freestyle

Ital Vital Living Bob Marley

Zen Coffee Company Dragon Colada Smoothie

Smoothie King The Activator Blueberry Strawberry

Jones Bros Cupcakes Great Wall

Best Somosa

Fried Samosa Triangle Puffs at Salween Thai

Best Soup

Smoked Gouda and Beer Soup at Upstream Brewing Company

Best Specialty Burger

Stella’s Bar and Grill Stella’s Staple Burger

Nite Owl

Barrett’s Barleycorn Pub and Grill Husker Burger

Best Steak Dinner

Whiskey Steak at The Drover

Omaha’s Finest Prime Rib at Jericho’s

Top Sirloin at Johnny’s Cafe

Prime Porterhouse at Mahogany Prime Steakhouse

Slow Cooked Prime Rib at Brother Sebastian’s

Morgan Ranch American Wagyu New York Strip at V. Mertz

Ma Brown’s Steak at Farmer Brown’s

Best Stir Fried Dish

Crispy Orange Chicken at Fu Asian Grill

Shrimp Stir Fry at Three Happiness Express

Stir Fried Seafood Curry at Salween Thai

Stir Fried Lo Mein at Saigon Restaurant

Happy Family at Gold Mountain

Best Sushi Roll

Crunchy Blue at Blue Sushi

88 Roll at Hiro 88

Spider Roll at Kona Grill

Crunchy Roll at Matsu Sushi

Sushi Lover at Umami

Khalessi at Yoshitomo

Gojira at Yoshitomo

Rainbow Roll at Tokyo Sushi

Ichiban Sushi at Sakura Bana

Best Sweet and Sour Entree

Sweet & Sour Chicken at Rice Bowl

Sweet & Sour Shrimp at Three Happiness Express

Sweet & Sour Chicken at Buddha Belly

Sweet & Sour Shrimp at Chopstick House

Sweet & Sour Chicken at Golden Bowl

Sweet & Sour Pork at Dragon Wok

Sweet and Sour Chicken at Gold Mountain

Sweet & Sour Chicken at Tapei Best Taco

Maria’s Beef Taco

Taqueria El Rey Carne Asada

Nite Owl Burger  Modern
Modern Cheeseburger  Blatt Beer
Table Blatt Burger 
December 2022 24  AWARDEE  FINALIST

Best Thai Tom Yum Soup

Best Tikka Dish

Best Vegan Entree

Best Tiramasu

Best Veggie

Most Exotic

 Hook & Lime Overnight
Taco  Taco
Taco  Burrito
Co. Chicken
Envy PBJ
 Tandoori
 Mixed
 Tandoori
Best Tandoori Dish
Chicken at Kinaara
Tandoori Grill at Jaipur
Tiger Shrimp at Curri
Paneer Tikka Masala at Hyderabad House Biryani
 Shrimp
 Shrimp
 Seafood
 Vegetable
Cocktail  La Mesa Mexican Restaurant Watermelon-Jalapeno Margarita  The Corner Kick Sports Bar, Tacos and Tequila
Margarita  Taco Co Sangria  Nite Owl Mangonada  Fizzy’s
Best Tempura Dish
Tempura Dinner at Hiro’s
Tempura Maki at Blue
Tempura at Sakura Bana
Tempura at Tokyo Sushi Best Tequila
Fountain & Liquors - Bonita Euphoria
Tom Yum Gai at Bangkok Kitchen
Chicken Tikka Korma at Jaipur’s
Tikka Masala at Maharaja Indian
Paneer Tikka Masala at Kinaara
Chicken Tikka at Flavor’s
 Lo
 Harold’s Koffee House House Special  Lisa’s Radial Cafe The Works Breakfast  First Watch The Traditional  Herbe Sainte Andouille Sausage Scramble  Saddle Creek Breakfast Club Saddle Creek Standard
Sole Mio
Spezia Omaha Best Traditional Breakfast (Eggs + protein + starch)
 Falafel Classic at Amsterdam Falafel  Classic Mac & Shews at Modern Love  Zy’s Plate at Little Ve’s  Classic Fauxmaha Dog at Fauxmaha
Burger  Modern Love Modern Cheeseburger  The Benson Brewery Black Bean Burger  Nite Owl - Vegan Burger  Naughty Budda Burger Singing Budda Burger  Blatt Beer & Table Root Burger Best Vodka Cocktail  Jam’s - Mule  Tiny House Areola Grande  Nite Owl Cheugy Chugger  Inkwell Mule Varietal Best Whiskey Cocktail  Wicked Rabbit Old Fashioned  Nite Owl Old Fashioned  Inkwell Dueling Banjos  Green Room Black Sage Best Wings  Oscar’s Pizza and Sports Grille Kujo Wings  Benson Brewery Charred Brew Wings
 Afro Original at Big Mama’s Kitchen  Yebeg Alicha at Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant  Bandeja Paisa at Hunger Block  Spicy Samgyubsal at Maru Sushi Korean Grill
Dish  Spicy Malwani Chicken Bowl at Curry In A Hurry  Nashville Chicken Waffle at Jojo’s Diner  Diablo Enchiladas at Rivera’s Mexican Food  Original Buffalo Style XXX-Hot at Rays  Spicy Fish at Salween Thai December 2022 25 WINNER 2022  AWARDEE  FINALIST

Twenty Twenty-Two Brings Too Many Goodbyes


You can blame stagflation, sup ply-chain breakage, the pan demic, worker uprising or burn out, but the simple fact is that the closure of some of Omaha’s most be loved restaurants in 2022 was a com plex matter. In many cases, a powder keg of inconvenient issues went up against the flame of razor-thin mar gins, while others simply took this time to retire after long and success ful careers.

Which Omaha establishments will you miss most? Drop us a comment or email

We fudged the numbers just a bit on our first two entries, both of which closed in December of 2021.

|J Coco



After a decade of elevating the Omaha culinary culture with creative twists on classic American dishes, Jen nifer Coco closed her doors on New Year’s Eve. The First Lady of Omaha Dining hasn’t officially hung up her apron just yet as she continues to collaborate and pop up in the most unexpected places. While J. Coco is gone and missed, its namesake con tinues to deliver delicious dishes. Fol low J. Coco on Facebook for dates and updates.


1319 S 50th St.

The grand opening of the vegan hotdog’s brick and mortar at 1319 S 50th St. took place in August 2019, but as 2021 came to a close, so did the beloved establishment’s doors.

|801 Grill

10387 Pacific

Sister establishment to 801 Chop house, 801 Grill called it quits in April after four years at One Pacific Place.

|Anthony’s and Ozone

7220 F St.

After more than 50 years in busi ness, Anthony’s Steakhouse gradually closed earlier this year when owner Tony Fucinaro retired. The announce ment was made well in advance to give diners and staff the opportunity to say goodbye, cash in gift cards, and to find a home for the massive bovine statue, which now resides outside of T-Bone Truck Stop in Columbus, Ne braska.

and have been cooking up a storm to make supply issues support customer demands.

|Piccolo Pete’s

115 N Washington and mobile venue

Opened in 1933, Piccolo Pete’s was a family outfit from the start to the ul timate end. Piccolo Pete’s and Antho ny Piccolo’s mobile venue closed on March 17, 2022. The establishments never failed to draw a crowd, but that many loyal and hungry patrons became too much in the face of staff shortages and food supply-chain is sues.

dent restaurants were granted short, 25-day leases on bays, to allow for experimentation with little risk. The food hall closed again in June and is undergoing an overhaul. The original plan was to reopen in the fall as Kamp Food Hall featuring a new roster of restaurants, but setbacks have kept Kamp on hold for now.

|Hunger Block

11036 Elm St.

|Craft Sliders + Beer

1213 Harney

Opened in April 2018, Craft Sliders + Beer announced its closure via so cial media in February 2022.


3909 Twin Creek Drive, Bellevue

The closure of the Bellevue loca tion wasn’t a harbinger of the end for the pizza parlor, whose 4601 S 50th St. location is still going strong.

|Lighthouse Pizza at Capitol District

1170 Capitol Ave.

Opened in September 2018, Light house closed its Capitol District loca tion in 2022.

|Tired Texan and Poppin’ Smoke

4702 S 108th St. | 230 W Lincoln St.

Chip and Christine Holland han dled an endless string of bad luck, contractor conundrums, a pandemic pounding, and a kitchen fire before finally waving the white flag on Tired Texan in the summer of 2022. They weren’t down for long, meeting the public demand for more of what the tired twosome was slinging by open ing Poppin’ Smoke Southern Grill in October. They announced their intention to steer Poppin’ Smoke to the end of the year in November

|Garden Café

11040 Oak St.

The Garden Café announced via social media that the doors of the chain’s final location would be clos ing. The Rockbrook establishment ended service in June.

|eCreamery and

Carson’s Cookie Fix 763 N 114th St.

The original eCreamery is still churning up your favorite frozen dish at the Dundee location, but the Mir acle Hills collaboration with Carson’s Cookie Fix closed earlier this year.

|Paradise Bakery and Café

120 Regency Parkway

Paradise got a little harder to reach this year with the closure of the Re gency location. Paradise Bakery at Village Pointe is still serving at 17305 Davenport.

With little fanfare, and almost no notice, The Hunger Block ended ser vice on Saturday, May 28. While the establishment was much lauded for its over-the-top milkshakes, it was the delicately spiced and reverent small plates that set THB apart from what little competition it had in Omaha.

|Joe Tess

5424 S 24th St.

Named for its original owner after it was bought by William Fault in the ’60s, Joe Tess Place served its famous carp sandwich from the 1930s until this year, when pandemic repercus sions, staffing, and inflation played a part in the decision to close the estab lishment.

|Lo Sole Mio

3001 S 32nd Ave.

After more than 30 years serving Omahans, the LoSoles made the dif ficult decision to step away from the family business. A new Italian dining establishment in the same location called The Mio will open in its place, backed by former Husker Lance Brown.

|The Switch

3618 Farnam

Launched just as Covid sunk its teeth into Omaha’s economy, The Switch underwent a makeover in April through the inventive eye of local en trepreneur Nick Bartholomew. Resi

|Fuzzy’s Taco Shop

17305 Davenport St.

The franchise dealt with a great deal of hardship over the last two years, including bankruptcy and the closure of several of the chain’s loca tions across the country. The Village

December 2022 26 DISH
continued on page 28 /

Thanks Omaha for voting us BEST BREWPUB, AGAIN

Proud pioneers of the fermenter-to-table movement.

It would be wrong to say the freshest beer is automatically the best beer. But the best beer almost always tastes its best when it is, in marketing speak, at the peak of freshness. And it’s hard to get any fresher than beer brewed thirty feet away from your table. And it’s doubly hard to get any better than when that table is here at Upstream. But we suspect you already knew that.

December 2022 27
Celebrating Over 30 Years Of Making Ice Cream Th e Old Fashioned Way Two Omaha Locations: Old Market Downtown • 1120 Jackston 402.341.5827 Benson 6023 Maple 402.551.4420 Home of America’s Most Premium Ice Cream Ted & Wally’s Ultra-Premium 20% Butterfat Made from Scratch with Rock Salt & Ice 3125 S 72nd St, Omaha, NE 68124, USA (402) 391-2950

couragement along the way.”

|Ethnic Sandwich Shop

1438 S 13th St.

July 29 was the final day of business for the popular Ethnic Sandwich Shop. In a post on Facebook, owners said: “Thank you for supporting our family business, for your patience while we learned to pivot through many chal lenges and for the kind words of en

|Homestyle Café

2822 N 88th St.

This summer marked the uncere monious closure of Homestyle Café without notice or much in the way of explanation.

year. The establishment known for its festive and friendly atmosphere, comfort foods, and drink specials was instantly missed.


Mexican Food 12051 Blondo

li Osteria, his Italian establishment. Dario’s closed on Oct. 1.

|Oasis Falafel

1620 Harney

|Pipeline Tavern

1300 S 72nd St.

After nearly 33 years, Pipeline Tav ern shut down for good in June of this

It wasn’t a trick, and it certainly wasn’t a treat when Rivera’s said its final goodbyes on Halloween this year. After 18 years, the family owned establishment had amassed a vast and loyal following, and wait times stretched for hours in the restaurant’s final weeks.

The Mediterranean restaurant ini tially planned to take off from May 11 until June to give staff a break and time to regroup, while addressing re pairs the establishment. This tempo rary pause turned into a permanent closure announced in August. The establishment’s signature hummus can still be found at a number of local grocers, including Hy-Vee, Fareway, Natural Grocers and Costco.

Marshmallow? love at first bite

We enrobe a soft, jet puffed marshmallow in real butter. Then we torch it carefully. The butter begins to melt, slowly. Then it starts to penetrate the marshmallow creating a caramelization. The marshmallow gently begins to brown as the butter continues to seep into the inner works. The marshmallow develops a tender shell that houses the gooey, creamy and silky softness of warm, melty marshmallow. As you take a bite, the entire thing explodes all over your face and tongue creating a party in your mouth.

|Culprit Café

3 locations

A staff walkout this summer result ed in the closure of all three Culprit Café locations. For more details, see The Reader’s recent feature, Compas sion and Closure for Culprit.


4920 Underwood Ave.

After a successful 16-year run in Dundee, Dario Schicke announced that he would be closing his French Brasserie to focus on the nearby Avo

|Rebel Monkey Pizza

16919 Audrey St.

Just shy of its first birthday, Rebel Monkey Pizza announced via social media its immediate and permanent closure in November.

|Stokes Old Market

1122 Howard

In October of this year, the Old Market location of Stokes Grill and Bar ended operations. A location at 13615 California is still serv ing the Tex Mex dishes Oma ha continues to love.

December 2022 28 DISH
Thank you for naming the Buttered Marshmallow Signature Cake “Best Cake” on The Reader’s Menu
You’re right! The Buttered Marshmallow Signature Cake will change your life. 402- 541-4340 |
is a Buttered
WINNER 2022 Stella’s Bar and Grill “ServingWorld FamousHamburgers since1936” 106 Galvin Rd. Bellevue, NE 402-291-6088 Open Monday-Saturday, 11:00 am - 9:00 pm Pointe location was not immune to the company’s troubles and closed after just over a year.
of Menus.

Find Your Joy

The Blues Society of Oma ha’s weekly Thursday series brings Chicago blues man John Primer to town Thursday, Dec. 1, at The Strut (5402 N 90th St). Primer has gone on to an ac claimed career as a bandleader after his years as Magic Slim’s sideman. In his early career, he was part of Willie Dixon’s band and then toured with Muddy Waters. See johnprimerblues. com. The show for Thursday, Dec. 8, is TBA. Look for updates on the BSO Facebook or website. Audience favorite Mike Zito and his band plug in at The Waiting Room on Thursday, Dec. 15. Omaha’s award-winning Héctor Anchondo Band opens. Tony Holiday takes the spotlight Thursday, Dec. 22, at The Jew ell. Holiday is an award-winning entertainer and blues harmon ica player based in Memphis.


All Thursday shows are 6-9 p.m. Find details and late-breaking information at bluessocietyofomaha and omah, on which you’ll find a curated list of local blues and roots shows, including early Fri day night shows at The B. Bar.

Omaha’s Jewell

The Jewell features impec cable acoustics that showcase a varied schedule of American music in one of the most beau tiful rooms in town. Friday, Dec. 9, the club presents a strippeddown, acoustic version of Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal playing tunes from Hoyer’s latest release “Green Light” along with oth er original material. There are two shows, 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. The Jewell presents special holi day shows, including jazz trum pet player Mi chael “Gooch” Gurciullo and his quintet, Satur day Dec. 10, with shows at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. The Holiday Jam with the Hegg Brothers takes the stage Thurs day, Dec. 15, with 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. shows and a wide va riety of holiday arrangements.

Omaha sax man Matt Wallace is part of the band. Find out more at .

Joy From The Jewell: A Holiday Celebration fea tures acclaimed

Omaha vocalist Camille Metoy er Moten and music director Doyle Tipler leading a lineup of Omaha musicians. The con certs happen Saturday, Dec. 17, 6:30 and 8:30 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 18, 5 p.m. Héc tor Anchondo Band takes the stage Friday, Dec. 23, 7-10 p.m. Popular vocalist Jason Birnstihl, former frontman for the band The 9s, plays a solo acoustic show Wednesday, Dec. 28, 7 p.m. See

Zoo Bar Blues

In 2023, Lincoln’s Zoo Bar celebrates 50 years as one of the country’s most iconic blues venues. Some highlights on the December calendar include the return of Jason D. Williams on Sunday, Dec. 4, 5-8 p.m. Williams is a keyboard showman who has long been purported to be the il legitimate son of Jerry Lee Lew is. In a 2018 interview, Williams said that a DNA test had proved “not conclusive.” Whether he is or not, his high-voltage show is a link to “The Killer’s” musical heri tage. Lewis passed away on Oct. 28 at the age of 87, after an illness. Other shows coming up include Mike Zito Dec. 14, 6-9 p.m. Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal celebrate their 10-year anniver sary on Friday, Dec. 23, 8:30 p.m., with a show that includes appearances by former members of the band. Keep up with the rest of the venue schedule and plans for the 50th anniversary at and zoobarblues

Hot Notes

Kris Lager Band is the New Year’s Eve late show at Lincoln’s Zoo Bar, Saturday, Dec. 31, 9

p.m. Lager also has announced plans for his second rock ‘n’ roll variety show, The Conduit Live, on Friday, Jan. 6, 7 p.m., at the Benson Theatre. Find the details at The November show was a sellout.

For a blast of rockabilly inflect ed, swingin’ big band holiday fun, make plans for The David George Orchestra’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas Show on Satur day, Dec. 10, 8 p.m., at Lincoln’s Bourbon Theatre. George is a KC-based musician who has put together the big band with in spiration from the musical he wrote, “Christmas Ain’t a Drag.”

The electrifying country-blues inspired Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band performs at Reverb Lounge on Dec. 1, 8 p.m. The band’s tour sup ports its last recording “Dance Songs for Hard Times.” Find out more at

Local bands the Filter Kings, with Left Hand Country and Edward Spencer, are scheduled at Reverb Lounge on Saturday, Dec. 17, 8 p.m.

The 14th Annual Frostival takes over Waiting Room and Re verb Lounge on Friday, Dec. 23, starting at 6 p.m. with a mostly rock lineup benefit ting the Open Door Mission. See

The Toy Drive for Pine Ridge has shifted to focus solely on life-sav ing donations to the emergen cy propane fund, which helps elders and families during the cold winters on the reservation. Residents can freeze to death without this assistance. To read the update from Larry “Lash” Dunn and find out more or do nate to the propane fund, look for the 2022 update at toydrive

December 2022 29 HOODOO
Blues, FuNkY sOul, JOYFul JaZZ, special acOusTic seT s, FuNdraisers aNd MOre Will BrigHTeN YOur deceMBer
Mike Zito PHOTO cOurTesy
Of mikeziTO.cOm.

‘Wakanda Forever’ is also the Movie’s length

sOMehOW, the neW ‘BlaCk Panther’ is BOth BlOated and rushed

People who say they know how Disney should have handled the death of Chadwick bose man are wrong. In the face of any death, let alone one this unspeakably tragic, there is no one right way to do anything. Grief is the messiest chaos, the unkindest calamity that cannot be sorted into “do this, not that.”

That goes for individuals processing the loss and, as it turns out, not for a multi-gajillion-dollar company look ing to keep profiting on intellectual property without looking like a soul less vulture. Capitalism ain’t got time for five stages of grief, baby.

Should Disney have recast the role of black Panther? That seems pretty callous, especially so quickly. Should it have shut down the film? That would have been wildly disap pointing to a legion of young black children finally given a mainstream pop-culture hero. Should it have done what it did do here, make bose man’s very real passing into a fictional plot point in a sprawling series about spandex-clad fisticuffs? Let’s talk …

Writer/director Ryan Coogler and co-writer Joe Robert Cole navigate a myriad of thorny, impossible ques tions admirably. They chose to steer into the depressive ditch, to make grief the epicenter of “Wakanda For ever.” The MCU has been here be fore, as the first hour or so of “Aveng ers: Endgame” was a meditation on half of all life on the planet being snuffed. but there’s a reason for the persistence of the quote about how millions of deaths are a statistic, but one man’s death is a tragedy. Also, when driving home profound sor row, it helps to have Angela bassett.

Right, smack at the top of what “Wakanda Forever” gets right is how it centers the women involved. Queen Ramonda (bassett) wails for her child while fending off advanc es from Western powers that want to plunder her nation. Shuri (Letitia Wright) rages at her impotence and sharpens her remorse into a blade. Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) is pulled back into her past by the black hole T’Challa (boseman) left. Okoye (Da nai Gurira) is a spear in search of a body to puncture, as much for re venge as for protection of what she has left.

They gnash and mourn while Namor (Tenoch Huerta) rises. He demands the life of a young scientist, Riri (Dominique Thorne), who creat ed a device capable of exposing his secret underwater nation. His peo ple and the Wakandans are linked by vibranium, the magic MCU material found only among those two groups.

He vows to make the African power his only ally or his first surface-dwell ing enemy. Given there is no black Panther, the question is how the leaderless tribe will respond, who will respond, and what the fallout will be.

Philosophical questions and ex istential meditations on death don’t make great blockbusters. It’s why nobody has made a $250 million adaptation of Camus’s “The Strang er,” though let’s not give Amazon Prime any ideas. What doesn’t work in “Wakanda Forever” is the need for gigantic, silly spectacle amid intro spection. The results are lots of really dumb, awkwardly placed sequences that interrupt the natural flow.

What’s maddening is that every individual component works. Namor is a spectacular villain, an anticolonial God who is disarmingly charming and exceptionally powerful. but he feels like an afterthought, a ringing

alarm meant to heighten tension but just noisy nonsense. Thorne pops as Riri, who is blissfully set to get her own Disney+ show, but she feels grafted on from another mov ie set in another universe. bassett, Wright, and Nyong’o turn in top-tier tears. Isolate their scenes, and you’d be convinced you were eating up awards bait. Then they put on silly costumes to willingly lure underwa ter fish people into a fight in the mid dle of the ocean, which is an F- idea if ever there was one.

Coogler is a master storyteller, but the pacing feels all wrong. Scenes that should be slow and creepy, like when Namor’s merperson mafia lure Navy SEALS to death with siren songs, are rushed to make room for Martin Freeman and Julia Louis-Drey fus. They are horrifyingly shoehorned into the film so that it connects to the larger MCU, which feels gross in ad dition to the awkwardness it has giv en off lately. Thematically, the ending also lands wrong, with an unearned emotional pivot and muddled mes sage about responsibility and re venge or something.

To be all that it aspired to be, “Wakanda Forever” would have taken at least that long. It is a convoluted and tangled, well-intended jumble that is punctuated with out-of-place set pieces, every bit of which works individually while failing to congeal into a whole. It is almost as forgivably flawed as a broken human heart. Grade: C

Sherin Nicole at says: “The emotional punches just don’t land. I’m guessing that is why our screening ended in an uncomfortable silence. Some of us liked it but weren’t entirely enthusiastic, some of us were mad, and others of us (like me) didn’t know how to feel. I still don’t.”


December 2022 30 FILM
Other Criti C al V O i C es t O C O nside r Kathia Woods at the Philadelphia Tribune says: “‘Wakanda Forever’ is a love letter to motherhood, women, and patriotism.” Kelechi Ehenulo at Movie Marker says: “Coogler’s profound film is both heartfelt and spiritually reward as a fitting tribute to Chadwick Boseman and the resilience of Black womanhood. By universally tapping into the human frailties of heartache and sorrow, like the collective power of cinema so often reminds us, we never face these challenges alone.” It turns out that makIng a gIant, bIllIon-dollar blockbuster about grIef whIle also furtherIng a colossal soap opera about spandex enthusIasts Is kInda hard. IMAGE: MArvEl And dIsnEy
20 The 2022 F Saturday, O accomplis judges' nom feature acti Learn mor "At Food Day affordab anima

The 12 days of christmas movie remix

The chAoTic 2022 ‘holidAy’ mArAThon you need

The debate over whether “Die Hard” is truly Christmassy is exhausting and lame. That being said, malicious compliance with the “‘Die Hard’ Standard” has led me to conclude that literally anything can be counted as a holi day classic. Thus, I present to you a marathon masterpiece. Inspired by the classic song, to which everyone knows about half of the lyrics, here’s a visual advent calendar: 12 movies to watch for the 12 days of Christ mas this year.

A PArTridge in PeAr Tree

Clearly, your only option here is the 1994 emo-goth action opus “The Crow.” Bathe in the alt-rock soundtrack that features both the Violent Femmes and Nine Inch Nails, as you celebrate the season with murdery revenge.

Why it counts as a Christmas movie: Seems crazy, right? I don’t know — how would a film about a guy who is resurrected possibly fit … Boom! Christmassed.

Two TurTle doves

Tonight, you will dine on a feast of “Before Midnight,” the realistic tale of two lovers. The cul mination of the “Before” trilogy’s slow-paced decade of romantic storytelling, this isn’t rose-colored glasses but a shot of honest lovin’.

Why it counts as a Christmas movie: Family matters are central to every holiday season, and this one gets more right than almost any other.

Just a reminder that any movie is a Christmas movie if you truly believe. even one set speCifiC ally on the day before halloween. IMAGE: MIr AMAx

Three French hens

Next up is 1997’s “The Fifth Element.” Why? Be cause it is directed by the Frenchie Mc French French, Luc Besson. He is a gross person, and the film is a “born sexy yesterday” trope. I encourage you to feel bad while loving Gary Oldman and Chris Tucker doing B-movie space stuff.

Why it counts as a Christmas movie: The whole thing centers on opening the truest “gift” of all. That sounds positively Hallmarkian, don’t it?

Four cAlling Birds

Ignore the num ber and focus on what a calling bird is: A singer. Thus, tonight you’ll be spinning “Wild Rose,” which fea tures the impossibly talented Jessie Buckley as a Scottish lass who wants to sing Nashville tunes. It’s good enough to make me want to listen to country, so you know it’s good.

Why it counts as a Christmas movie: The movie starts with the main character getting out of jail for narcotics possession. We’re go

ing to assume it was cocaine, which looks like snow. Boom! Christmas sed again!

Five golden rings

Almost too easy given how obvious it is, but you’ll be seeing 2002’s “The Ring” on the fifth day. Naomi Watts fighting for her life against a well-dwelling water ghost is exactly what you need to remem ber the reason for the season.

Why it counts as a Christmas movie: It’s basically an advent calen dar for death, right? And watching home videos at the holidays used to be a thing for people. And it end ed only slightly worse than it does here.

six geese-A lAying

A goose that is laying clearly refers to the death of An thony Edwards in the original “Top Gun.” Do not watch the new one, which is a weird celebration of aw ful themes. Watch the one in which Goose dies and volleyball gets sexy.

Why it counts as a Christmas movie: You know who else was a top gun? Jesus.

seven swAns-Aswimming

Arguably one of the best scenes in all of “Hot Fuzz” is the recurrent chas ing down of a swan. Sure it’s a hilarious spoof of a very particular brand of now-dead ac tion films, but any excuse to watch Simon Pegg and Nick Frost goof off is a good one.

Why it counts as a Christmas movie: There’s a Santa in it! And he stabs someone! Which I believe is something Santa really wants to do more than he does.

eighT mAids-A milking

“Alien.” That’s right, you’ll be watching the 1979 space-horror clas sic because the android in it is clearly powered by milk. White fluid is what this day of Christmas is clearly all about in the song, and the man who would one day be Bilbo Baggins is covered in it in this one.

Why it counts as a Christmas movie: You better watch out. You better not cry. This is really just a more graphic retelling of what hap pens to those on the naughty list.

nine lAdies dAncing

At some point in “Black Swan,” there are at least nine la dies dancing. You will primarily be fo cused on the mental breakdown of Natalie Portman who may or may not be Mila Kunis. Nothing screams

December 2022 32 FILM

“seasons greetings” like disassocia tion and doppelgangers.

Why it counts as a Christmas movie: The bulk of the movie is about how much Portman’s mom messed her up, which is a thing that many grown-ups realize happened to them when they gather for the holidays. Right?




Kick back and relax with “The Muppets Take Manhattan,” which features the bestknown leaping lord, Kermit the Frog. It also features one of my alltime favorite Fozzie Bear gags, as he hibernates with bears, and really cements Rizzo as a star.

Why it counts as a Christmas movie: Sure, the Muppets have a Christmas movie, but a frog doesn’t get karate chopped out of a false identity as Phil in that one. Sorry, what were we talking about?

eLeven pipers piping

On the secondto-last night, you’ll watch “The Sound of My Voice,” which is a movie about a cult that develops around a prophet or “pied piper.” It fea tures potential time travel and Brit Marling, which is all anyone should need to know.

Why it counts as a Christmas movie: Honestly, this kinda works, as it is an exploration of faith and miracles. And Brit Marling, did I mention that?

TweLve drummers drumming

You’ve done it! You have reached the last of the 12 days of Christmas movies (that aren’t really Christmas movies). You’ll finish with “The Sound of Metal,” which is a nice complement to last night’s film as a title but is also great. It is about a drummer who is losing his hearing, so just pretend there’s a dozen Riz Ahmeds.

Why it counts as a Christmas movie: Come on, not only does it feature a “silent night,” but it is all about attaining peace while on this earth. Boom! Super Christ massed.

CuTTing room

Holidays and movies go togeth er like cold temperatures and seasonal depression or “hot chocolate and marshmallows,” if you prefer your similes with more smiles and less … seasonal depression … In December, just about every theater in town has “retro” showings of Christmas classics because nostal gia and capitalism go together like shorter days and seasonal depres sion. Sorry, I think I may be working through something here. My top five picks are as follows.

•“Gremlins” at Alamo La Vista (Dec. 3), ACX12 and Aksarben Cinema (Dec. 7), and likely others not scheduled yet – ’Tis the season for Gizmo to thwart gnarled goblins, fa-la-la-la-la-la.

•“Rare Exports” at Alamo La Vista (Dec. 6) – The only recommen dation on the list with full-fron tal elf.

•“Meet Me in St. Louis” at ACX12 and Aksarben Cinema (Dec. 6), Alamo La Vista (Dec. 14) – Deck the halls with boughs of Judy Garland or you’ll be visited by the ghost of Renee Zellweger.

•“White Christmas” at ACX12 and Aksarben Cinema, B&B The aters, Marcus Theaters (Dec. 12 at all those locations and maybe more) – It’s a sing-along, which sounds like the kind of off-key chaos that will really prep you for the holidays with family!

•“The Muppet Christmas Carol” at the Dundee (Dec. 17-25) –The best holiday film ever made. In Kermit’s name, amen.

In less cheery news, winter is a horrible time to be unhoused. Not that there’s a good time, but when the air is trying to kill you, it’s extra bad. I warned you this one was less cheery. On Tuesday, Dec. 6, at 6 p.m. down at the Ruth Sokolof Theater, Film Streams is partnering with inCOMMON Community Devel opment for a screening of “PUSH,” a film about the housing crisis, fol lowed by a panel discussion. With the midterms over, politicians will suddenly be about 10,000% less worried about the very real, ongo ing, horrifying cost associated with having a place to live. Pretending that this crisis isn’t happening is a luxury, so maybe carve a place

for this conversation then go see “Gremlins”?

This is the last “Cutting Room” column of 2022, so I just wanted to wish y’all the very best. I’m always grateful to get the opportunity to engage in dialogue about film, but this year was an extra special one, as it marked my 20th anniversary here and was punctuat ed with some award nominations. I am sure that 2023 will be nothing but smooth sailing, with few ma jor global or societal problems ex hausting our souls. But even if that prediction shockingly doesn’t come through, I’ll still be here to talk mov ies. Because you, yours truly, and movies go together like Snap, Crackle … and sea sonal depression.

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

Check out Ryan on KVNO 90.7 on Wednesdays and follow him on Twitter @thereaderfilm

December 2022 33
CaTChiNg hOliday Cla SSiCS ON The big SCReeN iS aN ea Sy Way TO geT iNTO a Sea SONally appROpRiaTe mOOd, eSpeCially if ThaT mOOd iS “jOlly buT SlighTly muRdeROuS.” IMAGE: A stIll froM 1984’s “GrEMlIns” froM WArnEr Bros.

Wayne J. Sealy

April 30, 1948November 7, 2022

In 2019, Michael Torson and I decided to make a documentary on Omaha’s longest-running haunted house, Mystery Manor. We knew we had a great story, and within minutes of meeting its owner, Wayne Sealy (the creative force behind Mystery Manor), we knew we had a great storyteller to recount it. Sealy loved putting on a show for all ages. We would regularly run into people whose first haunted house was the Manor and were now taking their kids there for their first time.

When Mystery Manor opened in 1984, north downtown (about 18th and Burt) looked very different than it does today. It was very old and run down, and home to more than a few haunted houses.

Slowly progress caught up with that section of downtown. The other haunted houses closed or relocated and the old was torn down for the new. But the Manor has defiantly remained. It stayed because Sealy cared more about entertaining people than for how much money he could get for the land. For nearly 40 years, once you entered the Manor

you were greeted by Sealy and his hatchet. He would regale you with the history of the Manor. You see, he thought of Mystery Manor as more than just a haunted house. To him, this was a Haunted Theatre, and you were going to get a show.

One of his favorite stories was how he could convince people that snakes had gotten loose in the Manor. He would have people petrified with nothing but a story and an empty aquarium.

We didn’t know at the time we were documenting one of Sealy’s last seasons working at the Manor. He died Nov. 7, at the age of 74. Several generations were scared and enthralled by Sealy and his Haunted Theatre. Omaha has lost a great storyteller, but his stories will live on.

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December 2022 34 IN MEMORIAM
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Ghouls and Goblins were ready to Greet you at Mystery Manor. Photos by Mike Machian. the friGhtful lookinG Mystery Manor Gives a hint of what’s waitinG inside.


Fear of missing out on time with friends and family? Get vaccinated now! The COVID-19 vaccine is widely available throughout the state, but younger people are still getting coronavirus at the highest rates.

Let’s all do right to reach community immunity and get the good life back.

December 2022 35
Get COVID-19 vaccine information at DRRN P3 The Reader_FP_June_VF.indd 1 6/17/21 4:23 PM
December 2022 36 CROSSWORD Across 1. West African amulets (and bad word to open a certain game with) 6. Smoke detector noise 10. Frozen waffle brand 14. Backspace over, maybe 15. Pac-12 powerhouse 16. “Moonraker” villain Hugo 17. Entry at the top of some crossword grids, or a good description of the game’s dimensions? 19. Spice Girl who got a 2022 honor from Queen Elizabeth 20. Phobia 21. “Except ...” 23. Chess rating system 24. Make a choice 25. “You don’t have to tell me” 27. “In Living Color” acting family 31. Malfunctions, like a printer 34. “Easy On Me” singer 35. Radiant glow 36. Light bulb unit 39. Advanced H.S. math class 40. Blend thoroughly (and bad word to open with) 41. Highlight at The Met 42. Norway’s largest city 43. “Sorry, can’t” 44. Snarly kitten, maybe 45. “The Gift of the Magi” writer 47. Goat-legged revelers 48. Shows signs of tiredness 50. Complete collection 51. City area, briefly 52. Spirited gathering? 56. 1% alternative 60. It’s protected by a pad 62. Representation of a synthesizer sound, or the onslaught of game solutions people are posting on social media? 64. “To ___ a Mockingbird” 65. Door word 66. Ending with way or sea 67. Cryptozoological giant 68. “The Lion King” lioness 69. Wood-related isomer derived from coal tar used to make tear gas and dyes (and a *terrible* word to open with) Down 1. “Survivor” host Probst 2. “Ugly Betty” actor Michael 3. Morning mugful 4. Operator 5. Coral or Caspian, e.g. 6. In the toaster for too long 7. Earth sci. 8. Contrarily 9. “Yeah, I’m out this round” 10. Dubstep or techno, e.g., for short 11. Eco-friendly bloc also seen when you win the game? 12. Ernest or Julio of winemaking 13. U-shaped bend in a river (and bad word to open with) 18. Baking measures 22. “Pretty sneaky, ___” (Connect Four ad line) 24. Free throw value 26. Iraq neighbor 27. Home of Baylor University 28. “Law & Order” figures, for short 29. Beginner’s karate wear, or clump you may see when letters are in the wrong places? 30. Tenor sax player who worked with Zoot Sims 31. Nervous from caffeine (and bad word to open with) 32. Indy champ Luyendyk 33. “Mad ___: Fury Road” 35. Love, in a telenovela 37. Stadium section 38. Road materials 40. Tavern 44. Mammal in a cave 46. Snaky letter 47. Fortune teller 48. Bad-tasting (a variant spelling ... and worse word to open with because of that) 49. Schwarzenegger, informally 50. Milan’s Teatro alla ___ 53. “2 Minute Drill” channel 54. Bluish color 55. ___ and void 56. Move back and forth 57. Designer Lagerfeld 58. Judith of “Brighton Beach Memoirs” 59. Jerry Garcia collaborator Saunders 61. Peyton’s brother 63. Das ___ (1990s hiphop group) © 2022 MATT JONES AnsweR to l A st month’s “PAcket And Go” by Matt Jones Wordle Has It — WHen eveRyOne Is postIng results — 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 A F E W O H A R A T M U R S A V O T E R F R A N G O A L I E M A S K A U R A M I L D R E D P I E R C E A I S N A R K M A A C O W A S R A R E S E I G H T B Y T E N P H O T O O S U F L U L A U H F W H A T I F I R E G R E T I T S A F I N E N S E X E C S R E T D B I P M E D I A B L O G G E R S R O S Y N E A R A N D F A R O N C E S A L E M I D L E B O A E R A S E A S K S AnsweRs in next month’s issue oR online At
December 2022 37
Garry Trudeau Jeffrey KoTerba Jen SorenSen

2022 Music Year in review

Our Music scene

cOntinues tO Feel the eFFects OF a lingering PandeMic

Maybe we’ve been spoiled. It’s easy to understand if you (like me) were around during Omaha’s indie music heyday throughout the aughts and into the beginning of the last decade. It was a time when the city was known nationally (even internationally) for its indie music scene, its homegrown talent and as a destination for the best touring acts in the country.

All the great indie bands came through Omaha because of Saddle Creek Records and the hustle of our local concert promoters. Heck, the worst part about that era was being forced to choose among so many amazing rock shows going on at the same time every night — no matter what choice you made, you were still missing something special.

So, maybe we’ve been spoiled. We made it through a global pandemic with (most of) our music scene still intact. The best venues stayed open, and new and bigger venues are on the way. And while the COVID-19 virus is still very much with us (and likely always will be), the memory of being shut inside for months only to emerge wearing masks and gloves (and still being terrified about catching COVID) is beginning to fade like a bad dream.

This past year was the closest we’ve been to “normal” since before 2019. Still, things have changed.

More often than not, when a top-drawing indie band’s tour is announced, Omaha isn’t on the list. “NOmaha” is becoming a familiar sight on social media, a term used to point out when a band skipped our city. Omaha, conveniently located between major tour stops of Denver, Minneapolis, Chicago and Kansas City, used to be a target

market. And yes, we still get good shows, but more often these days you’re going to have to do some traveling to see your favorite indie bands.

Is the return of our “flyover country” status because bands no longer value our scene and are less sure folks will show up for their shows? Is it because local promoters no longer are willing to lay out upfront cash to book niche indie acts that sell out small rooms in larger cities? Or is it because stages once crowded with indie bands are now dedicated to more mainstream or non-music entertainment? You cannot blame promoters or venues for wanting to make an easier, safer buck. They’ve got mouths to feed and staff to pay.

Local talent is also feeling the pinch. Before COVID, it was common for local bands to open for touring acts, but more often touring acts are bringing their support bands along for the ride. The typical rock show now starts at 8 p.m. with only two bands (and sometimes just a headliner). Rock shows that once started at 9:30 and rolled on well past midnight are now over in time to drive home

and catch the end of the evening news. And while my old, workbeaten bones are thankful to be home by 10:30, local bands are finding it harder to get good gigs. Just ask them.

Let’s face it, post-pandemic, things are tougher than ever in music land. Maybe we’ve been spoiled. Or, more accurately, maybe I’ve been spoiled. Times have a way of changing.

And it isn’t as if we haven’t had some great rock shows this year. Among my favorites were Black Midi, Spirit of the Beehive and Belle & Sebastian at The Slowdown, Destroyer and Rosali at The Waiting Room, Bright Eyes and Godspeed You! Black Emperor at the sparkling new Admiral Theater (the venue formerly known as Sokol Auditorium), Night Moves and David Nance Band at Reverb Lounge, Matt Whipkey at The Holland Center, Brad Hoshaw and the 7 Deadlies at the Benson Theater, Simon Joyner at Grapefruit Records and Violenteer at fabulous O’Leaver’s. And, Petfest and The Maha Festival were better than ever this year.

Still, it’s hard to ignore the fact that none of the non-Omaha bands in the following list performed in Omaha this past year. So, without further ado, and in no particular order, here are my favorite albums of 2022:

 Alex G, “God Save the Animals” (Domino)

 Pl Ains, “I Walked With You A Ways” (Anti)

 AlvvAys, “Blue Rev” (Polyvinyl)

 yeAh yeAhs, “Cool It Down” (Secretly Canadian)

 Arc Ade Fire, “WE” (Columbia)

 BiG ThieF, “Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You” (4AD)

 yArd AcT, “The Overload” (Island)

 WeT leG, “self-titled” (Domino)

 horseGirl, “Versions of Modern Performance” (Matador)

 liTTle BrAzil, “Just Leave” (Max Trax)

 simon Joyner, “Songs from a Stolen Guitar” (Grapefruit)

Will this trend of fewer touring indie shows in Omaha continue in 2023? You’ll have to wait for my annual “predictions” column next month to find out.

Over The edge is a mOnTh ly cOlumn by reader seniOr cOnTribuTing wriTer Tim mc mahan fOcused On culTure, sOcieTy, music, The media and The arTs. email Tim aT Tim.mcmahan@gmail.cOm.

December 2022 38 OVER THE EDGE
IndIe band black MIdI, shown here at the slowdown on oct. 8, was one of the year’s top shows. Photo by tim mcmahan
December 2022 39
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