JU LY 202 2 | vo lU M E 29 | ISSUE 5
PC OV ER
‘The Fund Just Keeps
Nebraska Has Access to $108 Million for Needy Families. Why Aren’t We Spending IT? by LEAH CATES Photo by Chris Bowling
NEWS: Omaha Housing Segregation | DISH: Waste Not: Keeping Excess From Becoming a Mess | BUZZ: Omaha’s Summer 2022 CocktailS | OVER THE EDGE: The ‘Real’ Best Restaurants List | FILM REVIEW: ‘Jurassic World: Dominion’ is a Hot Mesozoic | FILM REVIEW: Lightyear | Backbeat: Under The Radar Festival Adapts To Community Needs | HOODOO: Hot, Hot, Hot | PLUS: IN memorium, Picks, Comics & Crossword
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(DIS)InvestED: Omaha Housing Segregation– Hidden No More
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C O V E R
S T O R Y
‘The Fund Just Keeps
Nebraska Has Access to $108 Million for Needy Families. Why Aren’t We Spending It? by LEAH CATES
This story closes out a series, published in The Reader and on omahajobs.com from September 2021 — June 2022 that spotlights the experiences of low-income, working families in Omaha. This is also part of a larger series about inequity in Omaha, titled “(Dis) Invested.”
[going] back to the streets and selling drugs … But I took a step back and realized I'm pregnant. I need to be healthy and sober for this baby. I need to get my kids back.” It’s not uncommon for public benefit denials to perpetuate poverty and crime, according to state Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh, who said people turn to crime to support their –– and their children’s –– basic needs. Aditi Shrivastava, a senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) in Washington, D.C., told The Reader the drug felony ban is counterproductive.
n 2010, Melinda Jacobs was a 20-year-old single mom struggling to make ends meet as a certified nursing assistant. Working night shifts to boost her wages wasn’t enough to support her family, said Jacobs, whose story was featured in the April 2022 edition of The Reader, so she applied for Aid to Dependent Children (ADC), a public benefit program providing cash assistance to low-income families with kids.
“When we see families struggling … that tells us they need more help, not less,” she said.
Stories like Jacobs’ are common in Nebraska, Jacobs was denied where being denied ADC because her income was is the norm for families over the state cutoff levthat apply to the program. Morghan Price poses with her son, Ezra, 13, and her daughter, Jada, 5, el, which, as of July 2021, In 2020, around 90% of at their North Omaha home. Price recalls the emotional toll of living was $741 per month, families that applied for in poverty: “It’s like, OK, I have to stay here all my life and look at … or $8,892 per year, for a ADC were denied, acdepression, anxiety [and] stress, on top of raising my kids in it and cording to federal data. family of two. Despite inteaching them to look at that, too,” she said. “And that's all that you flation, that amount has Denials happen because increased by only $74 in of a drug conviction, incan see.” Photo by Chris Bowling. come slightly above the six years. ultra-low cutoff, time on using or distributing a controlled sub… having the weight on my shoulders the program exceeding the lifetime More than a decade after being stance is permanently ineligible for and being by myself,” said Jacobs, denied assistance, Jacobs learned she limit of 60 months, or because appliwho told The Reader she still can’t get cants just didn’t cross their T’s and dot was permanently disqualified from assistance, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human ADC despite completing drug treatADC, this time because, she said, their I’s when filling out the 23-page ment and getting sober. “[When I was Services (DHHS). she’d been to prison on drug offensapplication, according to Jenaime disqualified] … I felt like giving up, Besley, who works with underserved es; anyone convicted of possessing, “It was hard, being a single mom
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S T O R Y
Morghan Price spends a balmy afternoon at home with her son, Ezra, 13, and her daughter, Jada, 5. Photo by Chris Bowling. families at the Child Saving Institute. But the rules and red tape don’t mean Nebraska is strapped for ADC cash to distribute. ADC money comes from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), an annual federal block grant given to each state to support low-income families. The state can use the money for programs such as Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG), which helps young people secure quality jobs, or for direct cash assistance via ADC –– or the state can decide to allocate the money to a rainy day fund.
cates and legislators on both sides of the political aisle are concerned about the bloated balance –– and the families that aren’t being served. “The level [to which the fund has] grown year after year is just inappropriate when people are struggling,”
reason is fewer families are being served due to strict eligibility rules and work requirements. In 2021, Nebraska served an average of 3,451 families per month; in 2000, it served nearly three times as many, according to federal data.
“We really make poverty a full-time job in Nebraska.” – State Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh
The balance of Nebraska’s rainy day fund was more than $108 million as of September 2021, according to the state’s Legislative Fiscal Office. By September 2022, the amount is projected to exceed $110 million. The balance decreased between 2013 and 2017, when it was around $52 million –– but since then, it’s ballooned upward by an average of $14 million each year.
As of 2020, Nebraska was one of just 11 states with a TANF rainy day fund that contains more money than its annual TANF grant of around $57 million, according to the CBPP. Advo-
said James Goddard, senior director of programs at Nebraska Appleseed, a social justice nonprofit in Lincoln. “[We need to get] the dollars in the hands of low-income folks in Nebraska … instead of sitting on the funds.” Goddard said he can only speculate as to why the number has ballooned. But he believes part of the
That doesn’t mean the need isn’t there though. According to the CBPP, Nebraska has experienced the fourth-steepest drop of any state in the number of families receiving cash assistance. Fifty-two families out of every 100 living in poverty got assistance from 2005-2006; by 2019-2020 –– the year 90% of ADC applicants were denied –– it dropped to just 20 out of 100.
“Nebraska is in a position to provide so much more with those reserves. This is a policy choice the state could make,” Shrivastava said. “The fact that 90% of families are being turned away is also an active policy choice … Many more families [should be] served.”
Nebraska isn’t the only state not spending hundreds of millions intended for underserved families. According to a ProPublica article published in December 2021, states aren’t using $5.2 billion worth of
TANF money. And not using more of the money is a fiscal fiasco for Nebraska, Cavanaugh said. “When we don't utilize these programs and [people] commit crimes to get the essentials they need, it's costing the state money to the tune of increased incarceration, [and it] takes people out of the workforce because they are incarcerated. It's this very illogical circle we as a state are perpetuating by not using these dollars,” she said, also noting that people quit work to apply for benefits full-time because the process is so time-intensive and their incomes are slightly above the ultra-low cutoff. “We really make poverty a full-time job in Nebraska,” Cavanaugh said. Shrivastava agrees that public benefits like ADC boost a state’s economy –– just look at COVID-19 relief efforts, she said. “The poverty rate has been … measurably impacted because of [COVID-19] assistance going out,” said Shrivastava, who believes states should focus TANF spending on direct cash assistance programs like ADC. “When families have their basic needs met, they are better able to plan for the future, including looking for work and participating in educa-
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Aditi Shrivastava, a senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) in Washington, D.C., believes Nebraska can –– and should –– serve many more families than it does with the TANF rainy day fund. Photo courtesy Aparna Shrivastava. tion and training programs that will increase their earnings in the future,” she said. “That is … good for the state as a whole.” It’s also good for children, according to advocates and legislators. After all, individuals with minor children get the money, which is intended to help make sure kids thrive. And when families are denied, kids don’t get their physical, social and intellectual needs met, according to Besley. “[For example], school's out, [and] mommy may not have enough money to send them to [extracurricular activities],” she said. “[So kids] stay home all day, every day during the summer, and [don’t get] stimulation.” It’s prudent to have some money in reserve for when disaster strikes, for example, keeping six months worth of TANF spending –– which is around $28 million –– in the rainy day fund, according to Goddard. But in 2020, when COVID-19 ravaged the world, the rainy day balance swelled from over $92 million to more than $108 million. Advocates asked: What kind of a rainy day is Nebraska waiting for before it draws down the funds?
Pointing Fingers and “Gaslighting” In February 2021, Cavanaugh called the rainy day fund a “slush fund” while testifying in support of a bill to expand eligibility for the Child Care Subsidy program. “I'm concerned that [DHHS is]
James Goddard, senior director of programs at Nebraska Appleseed, said DHHS has rejected legislative proposals to spend TANF funds saying the department has its own plans. “Then they don't [spend it] … It's happened more than once.” Photo courtesy Nebraska Appleseed. starting programs without any input or insights from … this legislative body,” she said, “[and] that you continue to come in opposition to programs that various senators have introduced to support families and children.” Cavanaugh and other senators wanted to use TANF to fund the Child Care Subsidy program. But Stephanie Beasley, director of the Division of Children and Family Services in DHHS, insisted the department was adding new programs for underserved families and, if the allocated amount was spent each year, the state would spend down the rainy day fund by fiscal years 2024 and 2025. Goddard isn’t convinced the state will spend the rainy day fund anytime soon. Neither is Aubrey Mancuso, deputy director of the Women’s Fund of Omaha, who used to be executive director at Voices for Children in Nebraska, for which she argued for the state to use more TANF funds during the COVID-19 crisis. “They've been [saying they’ll use more funds] for a decade. The fund just keeps getting bigger, ” she said. “When we think about what Nebraska has been doing with [TANF] money … item A [is] they're not spending it.” The Reader reached out multiple times to DHHS and the governor’s office about this story but was not granted an interview. DHHS was, however, responsive to numerous records requests. According to its TANF plan, DHHS intends to gradually increase spend-
S T O R Y
AUBREY MANCUSO, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF THE WOMEN’S FUND OF OMAHA, SAID AID TO DEPENDENT CHILDREN REQUIRES PEOPLE TO WORK A LOT OF HOURS FOR MINIMAL FUNDS. Photo by Bridget Fogarty.
STATE SEN. MACHAELA CAVANAUGH SAID SHE DOESN’T UNDERSTAND DHHS’ PLAN FOR USING TEMPORARY ASSISTANCE FOR NEEDY FAMILIES’ MONEY –– OR WHY THE TANF RAINY DAY FUND HAS BALLOONED TO $108 MILLION. Photo by Chris Bowling.
ing on ADC, in addition to other resources and programs for underserved families. The department says it will reduce the fund to less than $97 million by September 2023; less than $79 million by September 2024, and approximately $4.5 million by September 2028. But Goddard doesn’t think DHHS' plan for how it'll spend the money is as granular as it could be. And Cavanaugh said, despite her best efforts to get more information about the expenditures listed, she doesn’t understand what many of the expenditures mean. “It's a circular conversation that ends with the same outcome, which is, we don't know what they're doing, we don't know what their plan is, and they insist that they've told us what their plan is,” Cavanaugh told The Reader. “Have you heard of the term ‘gaslighting’?” Cavanaugh said lawmakers could raise the income requirement so more people are eligible for assistance and/ or increase the monthly amount families receive. But they haven’t done any of that yet because, according to Cavanaugh, they don’t have the votes. A bill introduced by then-Senator Kathy Campbell in 2015 to increase the maximum ADC payment and let families continue to get some benefits even if they get a small raise, so they don't have to choose between ADC and their jobs, did get votes in the Legislature –– but it was vetoed by Gov. Pete Ricketts, who called it “unsustainable,” saying it would drain the rainy day fund, and Nebraska would ultimately incur the cost. (A lower-cost version later passed as an amendment to another bill.) And in
JENAIME BESLEY, WHO WORKS WITH UNDERSERVED FAMILIES AT THE CHILD SAVING INSTITUTE, SAID SHE’S SEEN FAMILIES GET DENIED ADC SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T CROSS THEIR T’S AND DOT THEIR I’S ON THE 23-PAGE APPLICATION. Photo by Bridget Fogarty. March 2021, the Heritage Foundation said “unsustainable entitlement programs” are a “primary driver” of the federal government’s failing fiscal health. The Reader reached out to multiple senators who might vote against expanding ADC access, as well as the Platte Institute, a conservative think tank, and did not get any interviews. But conversations about TANF might be on the legislative horizon. At the end of the 2022 session, state Sen. John Arch introduced a resolution (LR407) calling for an interim study of Nebraska’s past and future use of TANF funds.
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The resolution is co-sponsored by both Democratic and Republican members of the Health and Human Services committee –– the state’s use of TANF funds is a bipartisan concern. In December 2014, then-State Auditor Mike Foley, who’s now lieutenant governor, wrote a report to Kerry Winterer, then-DHHS CEO, pointing out a “significant deficiency” in Nebraska’s handling of TANF cash reserve funds. At the time, the rainy day fund totaled more than $55 million, according to Foley’s report. Even when Nebraska puts some TANF money to use, however, community members, legislators and advocates say it doesn’t necessarily help –– and sometimes perpetuates poverty.
“Kind of an insult” During the first winter of COVID-19, Jen Miller, whose name has been changed for this story to protect her identity, spent 30 hours a week taking resume-writing courses on LinkedIn and attending Zoom meetings about local job opportunities. “I just have to finish some classes,” the single mother told her then-9-year-old son, who was in remote schooling. Miller never mentioned to her son that those classes were required for her to stay on Aid to Dependent Children. “I was embarrassed,” said Miller, who said she previously earned $27 per hour at Facebook, where she installed and terminated fiber optics, before being laid off in December 2020 and applying for every public
benefit program she could. “There was a feeling you were a bit looked down upon by the people running the programs,” she said. “A stigma.” Miller also felt uncomfortable with the 30-hours-per-week work requirements for single-parent families (35 hours per week for two-parent families). Struggling parents must meet these federal mandates to earn just $408 per month for a two-person family. Although $77 is added for every additional family member, for a two-person family like Miller and her son, $408 per month, which is the current level as of July 2021, translates to about $3.13 an hour –– well below Nebraska’s $9 per hour minimum wage. A CBPP report titled “TANF Policies Reflect Racist Legacy of Cash Assistance” recommends prohibiting mandatory work requirements altogether, arguing they’re based on harmful stereotypes about public benefit recipients not wanting to work.
jobs that led them to TANF in the first place.” Miller said employers joined Zoom calls with participants and promoted low-wage opportunities, such as factory worker and cleaning jobs. “That's kind of an insult,” Miller said. “They [seem to] feel as if the people they're speaking to would
“Every time they come up with a plan they estimate caseloads are going to grow,” she said, “[but] the program has become so inaccessible and unworkable for families that caseloads have consistently gone down. Estimating that caseloads will continue to grow is not actually based on … [how] the program has been trending for a couple decades.”
“The fact that 90% of families are being turned away is also an active policy choice … Many more families [should be] served.” – Aditi Shrivastava, senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
The CBPP report also suggests TANF isn’t helping participants secure jobs with liveable wages. “TANF policies have done more to limit access to the program than to help parents find quality jobs,” the report reads. “Most parents end up returning to the unstable, low-paid
S T O R Y
only be eligible for these lower-paying jobs.” According to Mancuso, DHHS’ spending plan doesn’t take into account how work requirements have caused Nebraska’s ADC caseloads to decline.
TANF also makes assumptions about what a family should look like, according to Cavanaugh, affecting the non-ADC programs offered via TANF. Two of TANF’s core purposes at the federal level are promoting two-parent families and discouraging out-of-wedlock pregnancies.
“It's judgmental that you can only thrive in a certain way,” said Cavanaugh, who wants Nebraska to ensure its TANF-funded programs serve a range of family types. “Every family looks different [and] has different needs. We should be adaptable [to] that, [not] trying to fit people into some sort of normative view of what a family should be.” Morghan Price, a 40-year-old single mom who’s been on ADC in the past, believes opportunities for upward mobility are limited in the program.
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S T O R Y her to this place. ADC, she said, didn’t open career paths or educational opportunities. “[They want us] to understand the rhythm of the hamster wheel so we can make everybody else's machine function,” Price said. “There’s no ladder there … They say it's supposed to be to pull yourself up by your bootstraps … [but] what can a person with multiple children do with $300 or $400 a month?” Price loves policy reconstruction and advocates for Nebraska to make the most of its bountiful funds. She believes ADC should offer coursework on saving and investing money, and provide grants for ADC recipients to attend Nebraska colleges. And she thinks the people who are creating policy have never experienced poverty.
Morghan Price sits on the front steps of her North Omaha home — where she grew up — with her son, Ezra, 13, and her daughter, Jada, 5. PhotoS by Chris Bowling. Today, Price is the director of her own substance abuse recovery business, having herself overcome addiction, and said she is preparing to pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology at
the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Price acknowledges that ADC helped her to an extent, but she believes it’s ultimately her own drive, fueled by her mother’s “warrior” spirit, that got
“They're making … decisions based on their assumptions,” said Price, who recalls getting smirks when, growing up, her family pulled out their benefits card at the grocery store. Cavanaugh agrees Nebraska hasn’t stepped up to the plate to help families like Price’s, Miller’s and Jacobs’.
She said she’s currently looking for ways to use TANF money as productively as possible, given the rising costs Nebraskans are incurring with inflation. “[TANF could be] a great way to combat intergenerational poverty and break down systems of poverty if we start using these federal programs that are meant to lift people out of poverty,” Cavanaugh said, “not just perpetuate poverty by making it hard to be poor.” Price believes poverty can feel all-consuming, describing the stress, anxiety, depression and sense of hopelessness that can be part and parcel of life as a low-income mother. But Nebraska has the money to change that, Price said –– the state just needs to act. “Poverty is not simply a financial state. It is a mental, emotional and spiritual [state] … You know you are destined for more, but opportunities keep getting closed in your face … Policies maintain this lower-class mentality,” she said. “If this money is there [to help people], utilize it.”
Your Path Forward Starts Now KNOCK OUT YOUR GEN EDS •
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Students will be responsible for tools, textbooks and any other associated course fees.
Use your credits toward a degree at MCC, or transfer them to another college or university.
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N E W S
Omaha Housing Segregation: Hidden No More
A New Research Project is Uncovering Old Efforts to Keep Omaha Neighborhoods White by Chris Bowling
he cursor hovered idly as thousands of rows accelerated across the spreadsheet. Natasha Winfield leaned in close to the monitor, the mechanical click of the mouse wheel filling the silent University of Nebraska at Omaha lab. Suddenly she found something. “See, restricted cov right there,” the 25-year-old graduate assistant said. It was a clue. And after panning through another spreadsheet, then searching a Douglas County website, Winfield found what she was looking for. “It is further covenanted and agreed that the lots hereinafter described, shall not be sold … to any person or persons of any other race than those of the Caucasian race,” reads a protective covenant for a North Omaha neighborhood from July 18, 1946. Language like this was part of a nationwide practice banning non-white people from living in certain areas. While redlining, which barred people of color from obtaining mortgages, and inequitable development patterns, like highways that decimated many communities of color, are harsh examples of segregation in the 20th century, they are rooted in housing covenants. These agreements, created by individuals, neighborhoods and real estate developers, codified, if not started, segregation in cities like Seattle, Minneapolis, Chicago, St. Louis
and many others.
just places you [there].”
They were legal, affirmed by Supreme Court decisions in the early 20th century, until the Fair Housing Act of 1968 made them unenforceable. However, the documents were not destroyed.
Rogers, a community engagement manager at the university’s Schwalb Center for Israel and Jewish Studies, grew up on 27th and Pratt streets. Her home had a racial covenant created to keep non-white people out. The people who wrote that covenant left, along with many others during the period of white flight that was common in the mid-1900s, and families like Rogers’ moved in. But the community didn’t last.
Locally, they sit inside thousands of books kept by the Douglas County Register of Deeds, each containing thousands if not tens of thousands of the variety of documents properties accrue — all mixed together. So finding them, which has led to new laws and assisted in long-term city planning in some places, is less like looking for a needle in a haystack and more like searching an entire field — and then doing that 30,000 to 50,000 more times, which is the number of homes UNO researchers estimate have covenants in Omaha. But that’s the goal of the Omaha Spatial Justice Project at UNO. The project is in its early stages and includes a team of four people using software to identify covenants. Eventually the team hopes to enlist the community to map the data and connect systemic racism with the past and present in a more concrete, personal way than ever before. “When you have been in the margin of history for so long,” said Jade Rogers, one the project’s researchers, “and then you're learning these new aspects of history, and then you see this primary source document completely tied to you and your family, it
“We [didn’t move] because my mom wanted a bigger house or because she wanted a better neighborhood,” Rogers said. “It was because something was coming.” That something was the North Freeway, which displaced people and economically wounded the north side of the city. The highway didn’t happen by accident. A 1938 Federal Housing Administration (FHA) underwriting manual suggests highways protect good neighborhoods from bad ones — the ones with more people of color, the ones home loan lenders considered “hazardous.” What’s missing from understanding this history is where it all started. And researchers believe covenants help us get there. There’s no timeline for finding the answers yet. The project has grant funding allocated for the next three years, though if results are informative, the team hopes to pursue more, because they think this wealth of in-
formation could add a new, challenging chapter to Omaha’s history. Deciding what to do with it? That’s up to Omaha.
Words on Paper On a hot August afternoon in 1917, Charles Smith, a 32-year-old Mississippian who had recently moved to Omaha, hopped a train near the northwest corner of town. Not long after, the Omaha Police Department arrested him for murdering a 40-yearold woman. Smith maintained his innocence through two trials. A local expert in “criminals, murderers and degenerates” agreed. Even the county sheriff doubted the case. But Smith, a Black man, was still sentenced to life in prison, spurred by the hysteria of the woman’s husband, Claude Nethaway, who many thought was guilty of the crime himself. Two years later Nethaway helped lead the mob that lynched Will Brown on the Douglas County Courthouse steps and adopted racist marketing for his business. “C.L. Nethaway,” his business card from 1920 reads. “Real Estate." "I Never Sell or Rent FLORENCE Property to N******, Japanese or Chinamen.” While Nethaway wasn’t advertising covenants, his sentiment wasn’t far off.
N E W S Racial covenants appeared in the late 1800s, but their use was scattered. By the early 20th century, a real estate broker in Kansas City started sharing his racial covenants with colleagues in a newly formed national association of people who buy and sell property. The idea spread and subsequent Supreme Court rulings upheld the practice.
said researcher Jeannette Gabriel. “Just looking at those mortgage company maps does not explain the complexity of housing discrimination … there's something wrong with this narrative. There needs to be more here.”
The Research Begins
tive, which joins leaders in Christian, Muslim and Jewish faith.
The idea for the Omaha Spatial Justice Project grew out of a conversation on reparations at the Tri-Faith Initita-
Members of Tri-Faith asked Gabriel, director of the university’s Schwalb Center, how they could quantify the harm of racism in Omaha.
As they grew in popularity into the 1930s, the federal government used covenants to help determine which neighborhoods in U.S. cities posed risks to mortgage lenders in its 1938 FHA underwriting manual. “Generally a high rating should be given only where adequate and properly enforced zoning regulations exist or where effective restrictive covenants are recorded against the entire track, since these provide the surest protection against undesirable encroachment and inharmonious use,” it reads. Effective covenants prohibit “the occupancy of properties except by the race for which they are intended,” it goes on to say.
A protective covenant for a North Omaha neighborhood signed in 1947.
Covenants guided decisions to deny loans to certain people, a practice known as redlining. While redlining maps offer easy conclusions on systemic racism, the topic lacks the hard, localized data covenants can provide. “When people pull out those redlining maps and are like, ‘This is what was going on.’ It's like, it was much more complicated than that,”
Paul Hunt, a researcher with the Omaha Spatial Justice Project and coordinator in UNO’s geology/geography department.
The front page of The Omaha Star on June 13, 1946, carrying a story about the local NAACP opposing racial covenants.
Jade Rogers, researcher with the Omaha Spatial Justice Project and community engagement manager at UNO’s Schwalb Center.
A PROTECTIVE COVENANT FROM UNDERWOOD HILLS NEAR 72ND AND CASS STREETS. THE COVENANT, SIGNED FEB. 14, 1950, ALLOWS NON-CAUCASIAN PEOPLE TO LIVE ON THE LAND ONLY IF THEY ARE A SERVANT OF THE FAMILY.
Christina Dando, researcher with the Omaha Spatial Justice Project, associate professor and chair of UNO’s geology/ geography department.
Jeannette Gabriel, researcher with the Omaha Spatial Justice Project and director of the Schwalb Center for Israel and Jewish Studies at UNO.
Photos courtesy of the University of Nebraska, Omaha.
N E W S Mapping Prejudice
“I was like, ‘Well, we have no data,’” she said.
the key projects that informed content for [a phase of Minneapolis 2040] was Mapping Prejudice,” reads a City of Minneapolis report.
Gabriel had wanted to find that data for more than a decade. In 2005 the University of Washington’s The Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project was founded to identify racially restrictive covenants in the city. By combining data and storytelling the project made an impact on Gabriel. In 2021, she and Christina Dando, an associate professor and chair of the university’s geology/ geography department, put together a similar proposal, which was accepted by UNO’s grant program for social justice, inequality, race and class research projects. The Omaha Spatial Justice Project started by analyzing documents from the Douglas County Register of Deeds with optical character recognition software to scan pages for restrictive covenants. That returned about 60,000 “hits,” said Paul Hunt, a researcher with the project and GIS Lab coordinator.
Chris Rodgers, a Douglas County commissioner and president of the county’s health board, believes the Omaha Spatial Justice Project can provide key data for policymakers. "People knew about the covenants, but now we're really uncovering a lot of them and trying to remedy it through policy,” Rodgers said. “You have to document the history. Once you do that, then you could probably make the case of how do you now use policy … to eliminate the inequity.”
26,000 racial covenants identified in Hennepin and Ramsey counties in Minnesota by the University of Minnesota Mapping Prejudice project.
Alternate phrases, misspellings and other abnormalities mean the software yields too many results. That's where Winfield comes in. The graduate student checks which “hits” are duds and which may be legit. By mid-June she’d worked through about 13,000 of them. The next step is checking for the actual covenants, which can range from clear to subversive. “We have found weird language that doesn't say anything racial, but it says, ‘Subject to the matter of approval by the board,’” Hunt said. “That’s why we want human eyes on it, because it won't say anything about not being white. There’s lots of things that go beyond looking for jargon.” To unravel problems like that, the UNO team said it's necessary to engage the community both to witness this hard history and to be part of its solution. “In order to have any kind of reconciliation,” Gabriel said, “there first has to be reckoning.”
‘Did we ever fix anything?’ Even after racial covenants were outlawed, it didn’t end the idea some parts of town weren’t meant for nonwhite people.
When Rogers’ family left her childhood home, her mother fought to see homes outside North Omaha. Eventually she got a house in Florence. But it came with tradeoffs. Rogers, who had excelled in school, hit a wall. As one of three Black students, she felt isolated. Family was much farther away, and almost everyone in the new neighborhood was white. She remembers people throwing beer bottles in their front lawn, covering their cars in toothpaste, stuffing snakes in the mailbox and painting the N-word over their garage door. In 1987, Franklin Thompson also wanted to move out of North Omaha. The director of Omaha’s Human Rights and Relations Department was getting married and applied for a mortgage on a home in West Omaha. Months went by with no updates from the real estate agent. At the time, Thompson was a teacher at Creighton Preparatory School and one of his students, who interned for the real estate company, offered to help. “He looks inside the boss’s drawer,” Thompson remembered. “There was the file and it was never submitted.” After the threat of a lawsuit, Thompson, who later represented the area on the Omaha City Council, said he and his family were, and still are, the only Black people there. Wounds
from patterns like racial covenants are hard to heal, but Thompson hopes this project can do more to start those conversations. “You have to ask yourself, ‘Did we ever fix anything?’” Thompson said. “How can we fix something if we didn’t know it existed, or you’re in denial about it?”
‘Where my hope is’ It doesn't matter how many times Kirsten Delegard sees a restrictive racial covenant. The words still get to her. “They still have the ability to make the hair on my arm stand up,” said Delegard, who co-founded and directs the University of Minnesota covenant project, Mapping Prejudice. “It's such dark language; it's just so brutal.” She’s not the only one. When Delegard presented Mapping Prejudice to the Minneapolis City Council, it shocked people, she said. The project accrued 6,000 volunteers and helped inform the city’s 2040 Plan, which aims to address inequities and improve the lives of all Minneapolitans. “Areas of the city that lack housing choice today were built that way intentionally due to zoning regulations and federal housing policies … One of
Thompson doesn’t think reparations should be left out of the conversation. Cities like Asheville, North Carolina; Detroit, Michigan; and Evanston, Illinois, either have plans to financially assist historically disadvantaged Black residents or commissions on the subject.
“For one person [reparations] might look like a check, for another person it might mean ‘Let’s have greater housing development in places that were financially depressed,’” Thompson said. “For others it might be funds that you can go to college on.” Other possibilities could be legislation to rid property records of the racist language, or pass laws that allow property owners to modify their records to repudiate earlier discriminatory language, as has been done in Washington. Jade Rogers doesn’t know what will come of this work. But she isn’t expecting it to be a bombshell. To her, the story of how Omaha’s minority communities have been mistreated is plain for anyone who wants to pay attention. What she does have hope for is the next generation, which seems to have more of an appetite to talk about social and racial inequities. “We've had opportunities to fix a lot of things, and we're not going to do it,” Rogers said. “My hope is always in what young people will do with it, and that maybe this reaches curriculums and it becomes a teaching tool, something that helps support a narrative that is being talked about. So that's always where my hope is.”
D I S H
HyVee and Baker’s Supermarkets (Multiple locations, many locally sourced and each equipped with a bulk-food health section.)
WHEN ABUNDANCE ABOUNDS, KEEPING EXCESS FROM BECOMING A MESS IS PRIORITY ONE FOR OMAHANS
Trader Joe’s 10305 Pacific St.
Story and Photos by Sara Locke
s prices continue to climb everywhere from the grocery store to the gas station, you may be infuriated to find out that a big part of the rising cost comes from food waste. Each year, the United Nations estimates global food waste costs an estimated $11,000,000,000,000. I had to put my glasses on to make sure I’d typed enough zeroes, so let’s just agree it’s obscene. While nobody you know can touch a number that absurd, many Omaha-area entrepreneurs, restauranteurs and food connoisseurs are finding meaningful ways to hit waste where it hurts. From moving to compostable flatware and to-go containers to skipping the shipping on produce, everyday answers might hold some of the solutions to skyrocketing costs, both monetary and environmental.
Where to Shop While some shoppers become loyal to whatever grocer is closer, and others will cross town to cash in on a coupon, finding a low- to no-waste spot to shop is the cleanest and most sustainable option for looking not to necessarily save a lot of green, but to live a little green. In all cases, bring your own washable bamboo or canvas totes, coolers, or boxes to negate the use of single-use bags.
Farmers Markets Local sourcing is a one-two punch of avoiding the cost of
shipping and keeping money local. Supporting local growers means you’re getting the very best Nebraska and Iowa have to offer, and keeping factories from driving out family farms. Find food from local farms at your nearest seasonal market, and be sure to sign up for shares of Community Supported Agriculture with the growers of your choice for the freshest seasonal fare delivered weekly. Aksarben 2285 S. 67th Street – Sundays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Village Pointe 170th and Burke – Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Old Market 11th and Jackson – Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Bellevue Washington Park, 20th and Franklin – Saturdays, 8 a.m. to noon Papillion City Park 84th and Lincoln – Wednesdays, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Florence Mill 9102 N. 30th – Sundays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Exist Green 4914 Underwood Ave. The only local grocer that is fully dedicated to the cause, Exist Green is not only a model of a clean, green, zero-waste machine, but proof that sustainability can be done not simply well, but elegantly. In this solar-pow-
ered, package-free, and plantbased boutique, BYOB is the law of the land. That’s Bring Your Own Ball Jar. Goods are sold by weight and cover the kitchen from snack drawer to seasonings. Produce is sold “ultra-seasonal” — meaning it isn’t shipped from a faraway pennies-a-day hothouse sweat shop, but sourced locally from farms run by your friends and neighbors. Browse the fragrant teas and spices, rich oils, alternative flours, and the freshest of fruits and vegetables Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and learn more about Exist Green by visiting the story by Regan Thomas in our March issue. (thereader.com/news/)
This addition to our list is somewhat controversial, as TJ’s doesn’t offer a bulk-food section or provide incentives to customers for reducing their individual impact on the environment, but it has certainly taken the issue to heart in more ways than one. In 2019, Trader Joe’s vowed to reduce non-recyclable plastic use in its stores by one million pounds per year. Before the end of the first year, TJ’s had smashed the goal and now pledges to eliminate four million pounds every year. It has done this by replacing Styrofoam trays with recyclable PET1, cling wraps and plastics with compostable film, and reducing or replacing packaging on items from the deli to the flower department. Additionally, Trader Joe’s is committed to reducing food waste within every community it works. Food waste not only increases greenhouse gas emissions but raises food costs that result in further food waste. Trader Joe’s abides by a strict
You could call the rest of the spots on our list “mindful” if not specifically dedicated waste reduction, but each offers sustainable steps toward cutting our carbon footprint one shopping list at a time. From locally sourcing wherever possible to offering bulk items to be purchased by the pound in your own reusable receptacles, you’ll find less plastic and more opportunities to upcycle by shopping at any of the following markets. Natural Grocers 7831 Dodge 17602 Wright St. Whole Foods 10020 Regency Circle
It’s never been easier to buy only what you need, and to skip the excessive packaging you don’t.
D I S H food rescue policy that sees all safe-to-consume foods that are no longer fit for sale donated to local pantries and food recovery programs. In 2017, more than $350,000,000 worth of food was donated by the grocer.
BesT BrewpuB, AgAin
Growing Solution Some items you find yourself repeatedly putting in your cart could very likely be sourced a lot closer to home. Regrowing fruits and vegetables from the seeds and trimmings of what you’ve bought is a sustainable solution for even micro-growers. From resprouting romaine leaves to potting potato eyes, you can become an urban farmer even without an acre to your name. Window boxes, deck pots, and trays of microgreens all become hyper-local produce without a trip to the store. Check out Regrow Food Scraps from FoodRevolution.org for easy tips and tricks to get the most use out of your produce.
Leftovers Go Further An important step to reducing food waste is to take an honest inventory of how much food we are throwing out each week. Take the time to weigh your waste for a week before it finds its way to the bin. On average for every American, 30.8 pounds of trash makes its way to the landfill each week. That doesn’t mean you personally throw out 4.4 pounds of waste each day, but finding out just how much of that number you’re contributing to can make a meaningful impact. Once you’ve assessed the damage, learn how much of your family’s total is food waste. You may find your family can cut costs by simply buying less. With supply chains making more items harder to get, and gas prices adding major dollars to each dash to the market, buying less kills two birds with one stone. Avoiding food waste completely isn’t possible, with vegetable peels, fruit cores, and mashed
Thanks Omaha for voting us
Proud pioneers of the fermenter-to-table movement.
Resprouting foods you used, saving seeds to start them new, and repotting trimmings to grow again are easy ways to get the most bang for your buck.
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.
potatoes that touched the peas on your toddler’s plate, a significant amount of once-edible fare will find its way to the trash. Instead, consider compost. Composting does more than make richer soil, it reroutes food waste that quickly turns to greenhouse gasses in the landfill. A simple step toward lower emissions is to separate organic waste from your trash and recyclables. What you do with it from there is up to you. You can add scraps to your backyard garden (break down tougher items like banana peels and melon rinds by baking them, finely chopping them, or giving them a quick trip through the blender before they find their final resting place) or you can partner with one of Omaha’s innovative compost and vermiculture companies. Great places to start are www.hillside.solutions, wecompostomaha.com, and omagro. com. There are billions of reasons to be weary of waste, and dozens of steps you can take every day to take a little of the load off local landfills.
B U Z Z
The Envelope Please And the Winner of Omaha’s Summer 2022 Cocktail Is … by Sal S. Robles | Photos by Jessica Rangel
o say it’s been a minute for The Buzz column might be an understatement. Granted, there was a pandemic that shut down life as we know it about two years ago, affecting a lot of nightlife rendezvous/happenings for many Omahans. So it was a welcome notice when our wonderful editors at The Reader wanted to know what “The Buzz” has been in and around. If you haven’t yet guessed what this article is about or what we are about to explore, I can only assume you’ve skimmed over the headline or simply might be buzzed yourself. You might want to get coffee or a tall glass of water before reading further. It’s safe to say that, for most of us, taste buds change with time, age and even on a seasonal basis. (Nebraskans know a thing or two about our multi-polar weather.) You find yourself bellying up to the bar, ready to ask your bartender for the same gin and tonic, tequila on the rocks or Long Island Iced Tea (no judgment there), as you chap your lips because your palette is second guessing you and telling your brain, wait a minute, hold up, I might be in the mood for something different. That, my friends, is where I come in. After visiting a number of carefully selected metro-area cocktail bars and speaking to some of Omaha’s bartenders, we came up with some of Omaha’s best cocktails for summer — along with the coveted award of Omaha’s Summer 2022 Cocktail. At almost every bar we went to around Omaha, the cocktail that almost everyone is drinking is a French 75 or some version of it.
You might have heard of it or seen it on a menu because of its resurgence in popularity, especially at brunch. According to liquor.com, “it’s a fan-favorite because the effervescent drink offers a boozier kick than a Mimosa, while still providing ultimate refreshment before, during and after your eggs Benedict.” Doesn’t that sound sublime? The standard recipe is as follows:
and shake until well-chilled. Strain into a Champagne flute. Top with the Champagne. Garnish with a lemon twist. Although French 75s are in high demand at local cocktail bars, that doesn’t mean it’s my pick for this summer. It’s somewhat of a suggestion. What you will find, though, is that most bars around Omaha serve their own spin on the classic French 75.
• 1 ounce gin
So Here’s The Buzz:
• ½ ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Pageturners Lounge off 50th and Dodge in Dundee serves a Pimm’s 76. It has cucumber syrup and lemon prosecco, making it cooling to the tongue as soon as you drink it. Head bartender Drew Shuck also loves serving Green tea cocktails in the summer. It’s his favorite kind of drink to make for clients. I must give a shoutout to the “Punch on Tap,” which has been Pageturners’ favorite for a number of years. Pageturners is an “intentional neighborhood destination,” as Shuck describes it. Not only are the cocktails reasonably priced, but Pageturners offers great Happy Hour specials daily. Salud!
• ½ ounce simple syrup • 3 ounces Champagne (or other sparkling wine) • Garnish: lemon twist Add the gin, lemon juice and simple syrup to a shaker with ice
Pageturners Drink Menu. Located in Dundee off 50th and Center, Pageturners has a laid-back atmosphere with a great happy hour.
The Green Room at 306 South 16th Street is an industry favorite. By industry favorite, I mean this is where bartenders and people who work in the service industry go to hang out, chill and drink (party people, please don’t mess this place up for us). The Green Room is an amalgamation — if you haven’t guessed already — of everything Green. It’s a bright spot on Omaha’s cocktail scene. The Dignified Delight, which is crisp, refreshing and, as bartender Matt Owens describes, “(expletive***) delicious and packs a punch.” It’s
Bartender Matt Owens tends to a customer. The Green Room is an industry favorite and one of Omaha’s top cocktail musts. The Green Room’s play on a French 75. What sets it apart, though, is the rosemary ginger simple syrup that is made in house. Another top cocktail that Owens recommends is Merlin, which can be described
Bar manager Paul Zahn sits with one of his curated cocktails at the Red Lion Lounge.
B U Z Z Alice is located at 17070 Wright Plaza Suite 10. You won’t find signs on the building to point you to this hideaway — it’s in the basement at Jam’s Bar and Grill. Alice is “The” cocktail experience in West Omaha, with plush seating and dim lighting to make you feel as though you are in a cozy yet chic rabbit hole, because it draws inspiration from “Alice in Wonderland.” And that brings us to — drum roll please — my pick for Omaha’s Summer 2022 Cocktail. The Lemon Flower Crush, made by bartender Amanda Wackel of Alice.
The Red Lion Lounge menu sports classic cocktails with Wackel’s creation is not even an original being The Party on the menu so you will have to Dog. Red Lion Lounge features ask her to make it. Lemon Flower the best and classic French 75. Crush is Omaha’s summer cocktail as an adult juicy scenario kind of drink. Also The Strawberry Cough, which is a tequila-based cocktail with guava puree and strawberry shrub. Think guava meets strawberry smoothie. What makes the Green Room an industry favorite is not only does it serve unique cocktails, but if you are in the mood for a Hamm’s Tall Boy, it has that, too. The Red Lion Lounge off 38th and Farnam has been highlighted before by The Buzz. It is on our list again for this reason: The best and classic French 75 can be found here. Bar manager Paul Zahn not only curates a classic cocktail menu, but enjoys serving Red Lion original cocktails to patrons. The Party Dog is not only easy to drink, but also is a way better and boozier version of an Aperol Spritz. The Red Lion offers a comfortable lounge atmosphere in The Blackstone District. Zahn describes it as “a little more adult, a little more chill and a little more comfortable.”
because of its elderflower liqueur and fully balanced flavor. “A lot of bartenders might throw their noses up to the use of elderflower liqueur because it has become overused in making newer cocktails,” Wackel said. “But I truly think it uniquely fits Omaha because of the abundance of elderflower trees we have in and around the city. When the trees bloom, they give off a great scent which you can smell everywhere in Omaha. It’s not overpowering, it’s subtle.” The cocktail is not only extremely balanced, but the combination of the light floral notes with the slight spiciness from the tequila and hint of lemon quenches your thirst. It has a fully rounded effect. The recipe: • 1½ ounces of blanco tequila • ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice • ½ ounce cocchi Americano • ½ ounce falernum
The Lemon Flower Crush: The official Omaha summer cocktail of 2022. Created by bartender Amanda Wackel of Alice, this drink is subtly tart and well balanced.
Bartender Amanda Wackel of Alice serves her Lemon Flower Crush
cocktail bars/experiences this summer. Remember to have fun, drink responsibly, and tip your bartenders. Read more of The Buzz on TheReader.com, and don’t forget
to follow us on Instagram for updates @thebuzz_thereader. Message us your favorite bar suggestions. They could end up featured in The Buzz.
Celebrating Over 30 Years Of Making Ice Cream Th e Old Fashioned Way
Two Omaha Locations:
Downtown • 1120 Jackston 402.341.5827
6023 Maple 402.551.4420
• ½ ounce elderflower liqueur
Last but not least: Alice. A cocktail bar and experience in West Omaha, Alice teeters on the brink of being a speakeasy and a hard place to find. That’s not by mistake.
Combine ingredients and shake with ice. Strain and use your own lemon peel creation to garnish. Bottoms up: Make sure check the Lemon Flower Crush at Alice and other seasonal drinks and
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The ‘Real’ Best Restaurants List My Favorite Places to Dine Soon Will Be Yours … by Tim McMahan
executive who flew a private jet into Omaha from Bethlehem, Pa., who would call in an order from the air so it would be ready when he hit the tarmac. Look, I don’t care if you hate La Casa. That just leaves more for me.
his being The Food Issue, I thought I’d do you a big favor and pass along my favorite restaurants discovered after living my whole life in this crazy town. I know as soon as you read this you’ll feel compelled to correct my errant thinking with your own wizened suggestions. I look forward to receiving your kind-hearted, hand-written cards and letters via The Reader, 4734 S. 27th St., 68107. Au Courant in Benson — I bought my dad a gift card to what I consider to be, hands down, the finest restaurant in Omaha. And what did he say after he ate there? “It was all right, but we got something to eat afterward because the portions were so small.” I probably should have got him a Sonic card. OK, dad’s right, the portions are small, but they’re exquisite, like eating little precious jewels prepared with love and grace. Every dish is a journey, and their risotto —
a triad of angels will appear above your head and sing a chorus the moment it touches your tongue. I have eaten at the finest restaurants in New York City, and Au Courant stands shoulder-to-shoulder with them.
Au Courant Regional Kitchen’s pappardelle pasta features housemade sausage, local garlic scapes and porcini mushroom. Photo: Au Courant Facebook page
Trini’s in the Old Market — I’ve gone to Trini’s so many times over the years that I used to be the Mayor of Trini’s in Foursquare back when people used Foursquare. What more do you want from a Mexican restaurant than a giant basket of tortilla chips, their bright red salsa, a bowl of “hot chili” so hot you’re going to hurt for days, a puffy taco like Paltani’s used to make and, of course, their bright green margaritas. And if you’re lucky, Rich, who runs the place, will drop by your table and say hello. Tell him the mayor sent you.
La Casa Pizzaria is celebrating 69 years of rectangular pizzas in Omaha. They must be doing something right. If you know, you know. Photo: La Casa Pizzaria Facebook page
La Casa Pizza on Grover — Here we have the most divisive food known to man. You either love La Casa pizza or you complain about it. My pal Ian, the best audio engineer in the city, calls their hamburger pizza “meat carpet” because, well, it resembles meat carpet. The crust is thin like pastry, the hamburger is granular like meat gravel, and the cheese is pure, smelly Romano. I knew an
The Drover — It’s like walking into a cowboy mafia lounge circa 1970, all dark wood and low ceilings — the kind of place that probably should still allow smoking. Like any sane person, I go there for the legendary Whiskey Filet — eight ounces of perfectly cooked cow served with a baked potato and a red pineapple ring. Even at $59, it’s still a decent value and the best steak in a town known for steak. I miss the salad bar, but hey,
COVID, what are you gonna do? Cheeseburgers in Blackstone — If they’re not arguing about the best pizza, they’re arguing over who has the best hamburgers. Yeah, Stella’s is great. So is Louie M’s, Dinkers and Dario’s. But when it comes to burgers, I prefer a loose-meat sandwich, and Cheeseburgers has a great one. It’s called The Hang Loose — ground beef and onions and American cheese on a toasted bun. You might as well add a handmade vanilla malt and a side of fries, all of which will run you around $20, but it’s worth it. And when it comes to loose meat, they’re the only game in town, until someone resurrects B&G’s.
A platter resplendent with shrimp tacos, rice and beans will satisfy your jones for Mexican at Trini’s. Throw in a marg and you’ve got a full-on fiesta. Photo: Trini’s Mexican Restaurant Facebook page
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for the spaghetti and says their meatballs are almost as good as the ones I make at home (impossible). Psst … order the garlic bread.
You know what you’re getting at The Drover, every dish starring: MEAT! Photo: The Drover Restaurant and Lounge Facebook page Mangia Italiana — Yeah, blahblah-blah pizza again, and Mangia in Irvington indeed has great freakin’ pizza, but it’s the lasagna that gets me to drive all the way out there. Very traditional, with layers of noodles and their patented sweet red sauce. My wife goes
Mai Thai in Aksarben Village — I once ate a bowl of Tom Kha Chicken soup while legendary ’90s indie rocker Matthew Sweet sat at the table across from us eating a plate of something that looked gray and very spicy. OK, that’s not a very interesting story. Nonetheless, Mai Thai’s Tom Kha is like drinking from the teat of a god — a coconut milk soup with big chunks of chicken, tomatoes and mushrooms and pieces of lemon grass that will get caught in your teeth. Get a side of their crunchy egg rolls (with the sweet & sour sauce), along with one of their giant Mai Thai drinks (but trust me, drink only one). The Jaipur in Rockbrook or Dundee — I’ve ordered the same thing from Jaipur for years — chicken tikki masala, stuffed paratha, mulligatawny soup and a side of papadum — perfect dinner for
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two. Their creamy green mint chutney brings it all together, which by itself is a reason to go to Jaipur. That, and the housebrewed raspberry ale. Namaste, baby. The Mandarin House in Blair — So you take Blair High Road about 20 miles north just past the Rodeway Inn but before you get Mai Thai soups and curries are to the lawnmower place delicious FIRE that you probably cleverly titled Mow Town. You’ve just found The can’t get at home unless you are Mandarin House, a restau- a Thai grandma. Pictured: Panang rant whose dingy carpetcurry. Photo: Mai Thai Restaurant ing, worn booths and fake Facebook page wood paneling will have you questioning your decisions. You’ll be eating alongside dudes on lunch break from laying pavement or stringing power lines. Over The Edge is a monthly Ah, but once you take a bite of column by Reader senior contheir sesame chicken it’ll all make tributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, sense. Bon appétit.
music, the media and the arts. Email Tim at tim.mcmahan@ gmail.com.
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Inclusive Communities Humanitarian Happy Hour Brunch is back in-person.
This year it’s the Humanitarian “Happy Hour” Brunch on Friday July 22, 2022 from 4 – 6pm at The Venue at the Highlander. The organization is delighted to celebrate this year’s awardees with the community. S P O N S O R E D
c on t en t
Inclusive Communities youngest ever awardee is intent on causing good trouble
take action – an essential part of causing good trouble.” Right away, the Inclusive Communities Team knew that they needed to meet Maddi, and that her story needed to be shared with the rest of Nebraska (with some help from KETV). Since her spotlight on the local news, Maddi has started a Kindness Club at her school.
addi Intravartolo fought for her place in this world. Born in Italy at 26 weeks, a newborn Maddi weighed just over one pound. She was given a 20% chance for survival. Three weeks in the NICU, and the hospital burned to the ground. Yet Maddi clung to life and was transported to the US where she received better medical care. When Maddi was one year old, she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Her mother Christina was told that she would never walk, talk, or feed herself. But Maddi had different plans. Maddi wanted to paint. To say that she has overcome incredible obstacles would be an understatement. However, Maddi has never faltered. She has instead taken up the charge of making this world better for those around her. From the time she was seven years old Maddi has been
doing acts of service through her art. Each summer for the past five years, Maddi has hosted art shows in her garage, always painting on a theme – dancers, donuts, social justice figures. This year her theme is women. The money that she raises from the display and sale of her pieces is then donated in full to a nonprofit or charity organization whose cause she believes in. This is how Inclusive Communities was first introduced to Maddi
in the Summer of 2021. She took it upon herself to research the organization’s mission and activities and determined that it fit within her 2021 theme of painting social justice figures. Executive Director Maggie Wood said, “We didn’t have to go looking for Maddi; she came to us. She put herself out there to raise dollars for her community. She didn’t ask for or need anyone’s permission. She forged her own way to
What resonated with the organization is that Maddi’s goal is to create good trouble. Through her paintings, she has been raising awareness and money in support of crucial causes. “We think that there’s nothing more impressive than Maddi’s sheer grit. The kind of drive she has to elevate and bring attention to the lives of people who are completely outside of her scope at such a young age is the epitome of this award. We are so honored that she placed herself in our path, and that we get to be close to her as she grows up and continues to do this meaningful work. When you see someone with her attributes and values, it should be encouraged and elevated so she can keep going and not have her drive be squashed by the world’s pessimism,” said Cammy Watkins, Inclusive Communities Executive Director.
S P O N S O R E D In Maddi, there is the evolution of a kind heart and a spirit of activism. For being the best kind of troublemaker, Maddi is the second Inclusive Communities Necessary Trouble Awardee and the organization’s youngest awardee in history.
Dr. Bradley Ekwerekwu considers himself a living testament to the power of volunteerism
nclusive Communities is fortunate to be just one of many agencies supported by Dr. Bradley Ekwerekwu. He is the 2022 Volunteer of the Year. Dr. Ekwerekwu, who is the CEO of the Learning Community of Douglas and Sarpy County, first connected with our organization in 2015 through his work with young people at Avenue Scholars. Brad would arrange a student delegation to attend IncluCity each year. In 2019, he joined the inaugural cohort of LeadDIVERSITY and his contributions became an even greater gift to the organization. Of LeadDIVERSITY he said that it was a powerful experience, to be in community with people who were ready to lean in, become activated and be accountable afterwards to improving inclusion in their spaces.
Brad’s involvement in Inclusive Communities evolved from being an active LeadDIVERSITY Advocate, to a dedicated alum, and to a volunteer moderator and facilitator at Omaha Table Talk. He has become an individual who the organization can consistently rely on despite his full schedule of community activities. We are proud to recognize him not only for his work with Inclusive Communities but also for the way that he brings his individual passions and lived experiences into every aspect of his service to others. Brad is actively engaged in weekly volunteerism with the Good News Jail and Prison Ministry, the African Culture Connection, the Men Against Domestic Violence Action Coalition – where he has been the education chair for the past five years, and Survivors Rising. At the Learning Community his service leadership shines through where he works with a talented team of dedicated professionals using a two-generation approach to early childhood education, which entails working with both children and their caregivers to edify families. He engages caregivers in workforce development, ESL, and developmental education. His current goal is for the organization to expand its outreach in south and mid-southwest Omaha. His impressive mentorship work helps families navigate the education system and connects them to new opportunities for advancement. Brad attributes his spirit of volunteerism to his own experiences with mentorship. He describes his mentors as speaking into him and developing him throughout his life so he could achieve his full potential. He views himself as a living testimony of the power that volunteer work has to elevate an individual and aims to reciprocate that in his
spheres of influence. Brad’s desired impact draws from his oracle mentor, Dr. Patrick Ivey, in that he asks himself what he’s leaving on the table - to examine what opportunities are out there and fully use his resources and abilities in his community.
Pamela Duncan has made a career of connecting our communities through language
ou might recognize interpreter Pam Duncan from the steady stream of COVID-19 briefings we’ve received over the past two years. She was often the one making these broadcasts accessible to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community by providing ASL interpretation. Inclusive Communities is recognizing Pam as the Partner of the Year with the Otto Swanson Spirit of Service Award. Pam comes from a large family where deafness has run through six generations. ASL was her first language. Even though she was encouraged by her family to become an interpreter and she did some interpreting locally, Pam’s career path initially started in corporate America. In 2006 she made the career shift as a
full-time interpreter, becoming state, then nationally certified and pursuing her degree in interpreting. She also got involved with Project CLIMB which specifically encourages interpreters from minority backgrounds to get involved in legal interpreting. It was important to Pam that she chose spaces that honor the advocacy that she wants to do and that she leaves a legacy that builds an understanding that while interpreting certainly empowers the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community, it also serves the hearing community. Pam says, “People should understand the need for that bridge in communication and honor that they are equivalent individuals who don’t share a common language. I’m not here to “help” the Deaf community but to bridge that gap.” She encourages us to move away from the mindset that interpreters are simply “helpers” and advocates that they are professionals who must be licensed and certified in ASL to create that necessary bridge between two groups who do not share a language. For the past four years, Pam has worked with Inclusive Communities to improve the accessibility of our events and programs through the provision of ASL interpretation. Executive Director Cammy Watkins said, “In addition to the service that she’s provided over the years, Pam has become an incredible resource for us as we think about equity in our communications, and as we aim to reach a wider community through our programming. She helps us stay intentional about inclusion for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community.” For Inclusive Communities, Pam is a trusted resource and co-conspirator in equity-building work. Ms. Watkins said,
S P O N S O R E D “We appreciate her perspective and insight immensely, and are grateful for the work we are able to do and the spaces we can reach through her partnership.”
Nancy Williams is helping communities thrive across Nebraska
’ve never had a conversation with Nancy that wasn’t transformative,” says Cammy Watkins, Executive Director at Inclusive Communities. She describes Nancy Williams as an authentic impactful, intentional, and compassionate leader. Inclusive Communities Executive Director Maggie Wood says, “Nancy’s radical self-care is truly inspirational. She has taken dramatic steps to ensure her own sustainability because she is dedicated to continuing to achieve, serve, and build relationships with longevity.” Nancy describes her self-care as coming from the realization that you must fill your own cup before you can give to others in a meaningful way. She has made the decision to treat each day as though she is accepting an invitation to a party, so she shows up as her best self. This, she says, has improved her outlook, her physical health, and her relationships across the board.
Nancy is the Co-Founder and President/CEO at No More Empty Pots (NMEP), a grassroots non-profit organization based in North Omaha that supports the development of local food systems, food security, and economic resilience for both rural and urban populations. Their values are to use education, stewardship, and sustainability to promote self-sufficient communities. The NMEP concept is a testament that Nancy has made a career of centering humanity and making the community better for everyone. This was evident during the pandemic when in recognition of the reality of food scarcity, NMEP pivoted immediately to provide meals for the community through its Feeding Our Neighbors program. This program extended their meal delivery services to provide emergency food assistance to families experiencing pandemic-related economic hardship or illness. What started as delivering 200 meals per week in March 2020, grew to 3,000 meals per week as well as pantry, hygiene, and other relief items to 48 different zip codes across Nebraska and Iowa by August of that year. The organization developed relationships with local farmers and various community partners to ensure that they always had a supply of fresh food, and that they were connected to the people who were experiencing a need. As the eldest of six siblings and from rural Louisiana, Nancy grew up working in gardens and growing her own food. She leveraged this knowledge in her studies on horticulture, plant pathology, and weed science, which launched her career as an agronomist. Her work experience ranges from advising local farmers and consulting in a Fortune 500
corporation, to grassroots organizing and management for nonprofit community organizations. She has a love of learning and achievement that underpins her work, her service on multiple boards, and her mentorship. Ms. Watkins says, “Nancy doesn’t normally accept awards and she said she took this recognition to shine a light on the folks who are also doing this work and this mission at NMEP. We know that those folks are successful in large part because of her incredible leadership. She’s one of those folks behind the scenes, who lifts people up, and doesn’t seek or usually get recognition.” Nancy explains that she does not do this work alone. She feels an enormous sense of privilege to lead, saying “It’s the staff and volunteers who make the difference. They are the ones who are in direct service and through that service we are building trust within our community.” For her work in developing spaces in which people’s basic needs are met so that they can thrive, Nancy Williams is the Inclusive Communities Humanitarian of the Year.
Inclusive Communities celebrates and honors the first LeadDIVERSITY Advocates,
Joyce Cooper and Mart Sedky
oyce Cooper may not always have had a job title that named diversity and inclusion, but she has been creating that foundation throughout many facets of her career. As a middle and high school teacher, it was important to her that every student had a voice. Her work with science & technology museums included outreach to communities that typically would not visit them. Through the program INROADS, she helped connect BIPOC youth to employment opportunities in corporate America. Over the past fifteen years, Joyce has been leading the inclusion, diversity, and equity work at Omaha Public Power District (OPPD). Three years ago, she was promoted to the Director of Diversity and Inclusion. It is the culmination of her lifelong investment in the journey to build equity across diverse communities. Just as much as she has moved the internal culture of OPPD forward, she has created opportunities for the organization to show up in the community in ways that embrace diversity, build equity, and strengthen inclusion. This passion for equity work comes from Joyce’s shrewd recognition of the importance of creating professional spaces that are welcoming for diverse talent. She referenced a study conducted by the Greater Omaha Chamber on what the metro area would look like by 2040. The projected growth in minority demographics indicates that for Nebraska to retain skilled talent, it must begin now to create inclusive environments where people want to stay. In 2018, Joyce created the bridge between Inclusive
S P O N S O R E D Communities and OPPD that enabled the organization to launch LeadDIVERSITY. Joyce had learned that our Ohio affiliate had established a year-long diversity leadership program and she saw the intrinsic value and impact that such a program would bring to Nebraska. While DEI programs and workshops existed in Nebraksa, none required such a time commitment. Joyce understood that a sustained long-term approach is a better way for people to take this information, shift individual mindsets, and apply it to their professional spaces. She saw the immense investment in the human capital of Nebraska that the LeadDIVERSITY program could be.
The LeadDIVERSITY program launched in July 2019 and is moving into its fourth successful year. To date, 89 leaders have graduated from LeadDIVERSITY. Joyce has remained steadfast in her support of both the program and the continued partnership between Inclusive Communities and OPPD. She has pushed both entities to grow through this partnership. Inclusive Communities Executive Director Cammy Watkins says, “Joyce is a bridge builder. She envisions the possibilities and makes connections to build a team of people around an idea so it can be successful. She recognizes the need for deep meaningful collaboration, and she sees the strengths in others that are needed to get
something done and brings those skills together into the DEI space.” Inclusive Communities honors Joyce this year with the first offering of the Mart Sedky Corporate Leadership Award. The award is named for Joyce’s longtime friend and Vice President at OPPD, Mart Sedky, who passed away in September 2021. Joyce says, “Mart used her voice and she created spaces for others, like me, to use their own voices when they weren’t being heard. You can have a vision but if you don’t have others who see it too or are willing to get behind it, promote, fund it, then it just ends up being a great idea. Mart was the kind of person who would work alongside you to move that vision forward.”
Mart played a pivotal role in amplifying Joyce’s efforts to build the LeadDIVERSITY partnership. When Inclusive Communities accepts individuals into LeadDIVERSITY, they are referred to as Advocates. In so many ways, Mart and Joyce are the first LeadDIVERSITY Advocates. We honor Mart and recognize Joyce with this award for corporate leadership. It is their recognition of the myriad ways that organizations can be progressive in their DEI work, can become engaged in our communities, and can be the leaders of overarching societal and systemic change, that makes them so deserving of praise and remembrance.
B A C K B E A T
The Nature of Culture & Creation
Festival founder Amanda DeBoer Bartlett and Omaha Under the Radar attendees. Photo by Aleksandr Karjaka.
Omaha Under the Radar Festival Adapts to Community Needs by Virginia Kathryn Gallner
manda DeBoer Bartlett has been involved in contemporary and experimental music for over ten years. She earned her undergraduate degree in music at DePaul, her master’s at the University of Buffalo, and her doctorate of musical arts in contemporary music at Bowling Green State University. During graduate school, she ran small experimental and contemporary music events. When she moved back to Omaha, she decided to try something bigger. During her student years, Bartlett had attended a number of contemporary music festivals. The experiences continued to resonate with her. “It was so transformative to be surrounded by all these amazing artists, musicians, composers, performers,” Bartlett said. “I wanted a way to, in a way, recreate that.” Contemporary classical music is mainly comprised of western classical tradition, but written by living composers, especially those who have been active within the last 1020 years. “A lot of classical music organizations don’t program music written after 1920,” Bartlett said. “They’re really missing out on what’s happening today.” In experimental music, artists use sounds and styles in ways that challenge our perception of what music and performance can be. Experimental music can include improvisation, as well as sounds that would not usually be considered musical: Environment, noise, long and expansive silences. In 2012, when she moved back to Omaha, Bartlett decided to try her hand at organizing a festival. The first Omaha Under the Radar (OUTR) festival took place in 2014.
consider the factors that make an event welcoming. “Is the location physically accessible for all people? Is it comfortable? What is the atmosphere we’re creating?”
Hannah Weaver, assistant professor and coordinator of percussion at UNO, will perform at this year’s Omaha Under the Radar festival. Photo by Ben Semisch.
With this festival, Bartlett said that “at our heart, we are trying to build community through experimental performance.” Hannah Weaver, assistant professor and coordinator of percussion at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, heard about OUTR when she applied to work at UNO, and she was intrigued. “You think about Chicago and New York being the places for contemporary music,” she said. “I was so excited there’s this oasis in Omaha.” Weaver appreciates the democratic process in contemporary music, with players having more of a voice in the ensemble — as well as the composers. Weaver said that “partially because I’m a percussionist, and most of our pieces tend to be newer, I really love working with living composers, to have their insights in a collaborative process.” This year, Weaver will be performing with her duo partner Christine Beard, professor of flute and piccolo at UNO, as XY Duo, representing two generations. For the festival, Bartlett aims to represent a blend of approaches, including pure experimentalists and those who are doing more traditional performance styles, such as dance, poetry, and performance art.
Bartlett works with all venues to create a kaleidoscope of events with different atmospheres. Whether a rock club or an art institution, OUTR tries to program artists whom people would want to see.
In its second year, the festival expanded programming to include an educational component. The Summer Soundry Institute is the brainchild of performer, composer, and educator Stacey Barelos. “What we wanted was people who are maybe musicians but haven’t tried experimental styles, or people who haven’t created music before, and give them an opportunity to try it,” Bartlett said. In Soundry, students of all ages explore deep listening, sound art, and experimental composition. In the past, Soundry has also involved instrument building, improvisation, and professional development. In 2017, OUTR started the yearround Generator Series to expand programming in collaboration with downtown arts institution KANEKO. OUTR has nurtured relationships with other community organizations and educational institutions as well. Since its first festival, OUTR has partnered on programming with Omaha Girls Rock, Girls Inc., Film Streams, and the Union for Contemporary Art. OUTR strives to create a space that is accessible for all. Bartlett notes that it involves hundreds of conversations with community members and collaborators to
“What we are trying to do is help people come together and experience beautiful things,” she said. “When you don’t create a space that’s comfortable and welcoming, you’re taking that away.” After doing this for nine years, Bartlett has seen the ebb and flow of music venues. “It’s the nature of culture and creation,” she said. “You have to maneuver with the community.” This year, OUTR is expanding into new neighborhoods, with venues including the North Omaha Music and Arts Academy, the Jewish Community Center and the Holy Family Community Center. Bartlett’s favorite aspect of the festival is seeing artists who have never worked together experience one another’s art and form new collaborations. But the most exciting thing for her is standing among audience members as they experience something new. “Sometimes people walk away loving something they’ve never heard before,” she said. Omaha Under The Radar will take place July 20-23 at KANEKO, The Slowdown, The Jewish Community Center, The Jewell, OutrSpaces, Holy Family Community Center, UNO, Millwork Commons, and more. Tickets are “pay what you can.” Find more information at www. undertheradaromaha.com.
jarron taylor and cross bearing nation August 20 FREE CONCERT SERIES
Family Empowerment Program IN PARTNERSHIP WITH MANDELA-FEST
Healing & Hope for Survivors of Domestic Violence
nate bray & the soul supremes
June 11–August 20 7:30 PM
enjoli and timeless June 11
FOR OMAHA RESIDENTS ONLY
The City of Omaha – MACCH Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) has funding available to tenants and property owners/managers in Omaha who have been impacted by COVID-19. You may qualify to receive assistance for past due rent and utilities! Go to MACCHConnect.org or call 211 or text OmahaERAP to 898211 to start your application today.
This program is open to those in the city limits of Omaha who are current tenants and property owners/managers. One party per address may apply, so please coordinate with your property owner/manager before submitting an application. Those who received funds previously are eligible for Second Time Assistance. An ERAP representative will reach out to you via email, text and phone call. You may receive communication from unknown numbers regarding your application. It is critical to check your email including Junk, Spam, Promotions folders regularly.
W PICKS W tion bidding on donated African art. Then the show starts, featuring ACC performers alongside three international artists.
The Michael Phipps Gallery of the W. Dale Clark Library will bow out gracefully and purposefully this July with its final exhibit as the main branch awaits its demo and new digs once the dust finally settles. To commemorate this event, four artists will “Bear Witness” to the MPG’s considerable effort to help bring art and community together in the Metro.
( F a c e masks are required.)
The Funny Bone
Famed comedian Tracy Morgan, who starred in “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock,” will be performing in Omaha for a weekend at Funny Bone. In 2009, Morgan received an Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actor in “30 Rock.” He also received a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2016. Morgan will have four performances, with July 8 options at 7:30 and 10 p.m., and July 9 shows at 7 and 9:30 p.m. The shows are restricted for ages 21 and up. Tickets are available for $40 at omaha.funnybone.com. For those looking for front-row seats in the VIP section, tickets will cost $50. — Efren Cortez
July 8 - August 19
A two-person exhibition between Oklahoma artist Lydia Cheshewalla and Omaha-based Sarah Rowe, “GROUNDING” presents ethically sourced soil pigments inside the white cube gallery as a medium to produce body-prints. Using land as a metaphor for the body, and the Earth as an archive, the exhibition, which opens July 8, from 6-8 p.m., touches on the Earth’s capacity to record impressions of lineage and ancestral history. Both Rowe and Cheshewalla are from overlapping Plains Nations, sharing a kinship through their respective Lakota and Dakota lineages, and Ponca and Osage Nations. “GROUNDING” touches on the shared experience of forced removal across distances. — Jonathan Orozco
July 8-August 31
Michael Phipps Gallery, W. Dale Clark Library
Ally Karsyn, Daniel Castaneda, Jacqueline Washington and Jair Rodriguez combine in a multi-disciplinary exhibition with themes that are personal, social and often political as they advocate for change, growth and identity in an urban and multicultural environment. “Bear Witness” opens July 8 with a reception at 4 p.m. and closes Aug. 31. — Mike Krainak
patron party & performance Omaha Community Playhouse
Tickets are $25 for the general performance, which starts at 7:30, and $150 for the exclusive auction, which starts at 6:30 and includes the performance afterward. — Matt Casas
July 8 – 24 SNAP! Productions presents:
The Last Supper
Bellevue Little Theatre
A stage adaptation of 1995’s “The Last Supper” marks the return of SNAP! Productions after two years of inactivity. The series of performances runs during three weekends at the Bellevue Little Theatre. The play is a comedic and thrilling take on impromptu political debates. Dan Rosen wrote the novel, then adapted it to the stage, while Todd Brooks will direct. Performances run from 7:30-10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2-4:30 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $35 or $30 for students, active military, and seniors. — Matt Casas
The African Culture Connection presents the annual Tikpere event at the Omaha Community Playhouse. “Tikpere” translates to “our culture and history will not disappear” in Bariba. For the patron party, Janette Taylor and Emily Mwaja will cochair, while Chaima’s African Cuisine will provide hor d’oeuvres. In addition, guests can visit the cash bar or participate in a silent auc-
Japanese Breakfast, The Linda Lindas The Slowdown
Japanese Breakfast are returning to Omaha after headlining the Maha Music Festival in 2021.
W PICKS W 6-8 p.m. Visitation is by appointment only after the openings. Masks are optional. Please check the website for further information at gallery1516.org.
July 22; noon to 11 p.m. on Saturday, July 23; and 2-9 p.m. on Sunday, July 24. — Matt Casas
— Kent Behrens
July 15-September 9
Joining Japanese Breakfast are The Linda Lindas, a teenage punk band that went viral in 2021 due to a clip of a performance of “Racist, Sexist Boy” at the Los Angeles Public Library. The quartet was quickly signed to Epitaph Records and performed on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” Tickets to catch both acts are $39.50 in advance and $45 the day of the show. They can be purchased at theslowdown.com. The show is all-ages, starts at 8 p.m. and will require proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test to enter. — Efren Cortez
July 15 - August 28
I’ve Been Here Before Gallery 1516
Gallery 1516 will host a public opening July 16 for five emerging Nebraska artists: Sophie Newell, Oria Simonini, Evan Stoler, Katie B Temple and Joseph Vavak. In various media and genre, each artist projects a distinct narrative, but shares in the common threads of blurred and fragmented memories, impermanence and elusive boundaries. The exhibit opens to the public on Saturday, July 16, 6-8 p.m. There will be a members-only reception on Friday, July 15, from
Quiet Witness of the High Plains Fred Simon Gallery
Laura Bentz and Mary Donahue — art professors at Chadron State University — have joined forces at the Fred Simon Gallery to exhibit their visions of the Sandhills of Nebraska, with a show opening July 15. Photographer/printmaker Bentz and painter Donahue evoke the beauty of the grassy plains, wide skies, sentinel trees and rocky scapes of this unique ecosystem. Inspired by their own senses of belonging to the land, Bentz and Donahue also recognize the indelible images of the Sandhills created in the biographies, novels and short stories of Nebraska author Mari Sandoz, whose portrayals of the landscape and its Indigenous residents and homesteaders remain influential today. — Janet Farber
Under the Radar Festival 7+ locations
Under the Radar Festival has announced eight concert venues to help showcase the best contem-
porary and experimental artists – with more to be announced. They are Holy Family Community Center, KANEKO, Millwork Commons, OutrSpaces, The Jewell, The Jewish Community Center, The Slowdown, and UNO. At an Under the Radar stage, guests can also experience largescale individual or group productions curated through a free application process. Then, visit a workshop by SOUNDRY dedicated to teaching experimental music. Nearly thirty artists will perform. Times vary. Visit undertheradaromaha.com for more info. — Matt Casas
Chris Isaak & Lyle Lovett The Holland
Lyle Lovett and his Large Band come to the Holland Performing Arts Center alongside Chris Isaak. They are band leaders who perform jazz, folk, country, and comedy with prowess. Together, the duo holds storied professional backgrounds. Four-time Grammy winner and actor Lyle Lovett has released 14 albums. He hails from Texas.
Meanwhile, Chris Isaak, from California, has released nine records. He received two Grammy nominations and is also an actor.
Little Italy 10th and William
Tickets start at $63.50, with First Tier and Orchestral-level seating available. The performance begins at 8 p.m.
— Matt Casas
Rave On Presents: This summer, the four-day Santa Lucia Italian Festival makes its 98th return to Little Italy. Grazia Caniglia – a Sicilian immigrant mother of six – founded the festival in 1925 based on the Sicilian town of Carlentini’s Santa Lucia festival, now 400 years old. Guests can expect the ceremonies, music, and tournaments that have made this an essential and enduring festival to the Omaha Italian community for almost 100 years. It runs from 5-10 p.m. on Thursday, July 21; 5-11 p.m. on Friday,
Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka Scottish Rite Masonic Center
A set of productions of the classic/original “Willy Wonka” comes
W PICKS W to the Scottish Rite stage for two weekends from July 22-31. This adaptation of the original “Charlie And The Chocolate Factory” — written in 1964 — features original music and direction by Leslie Bricusse, Anthony Newley, and Timothy Allen McDonald. Talented young performers will bring the productions to life. The productions start at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Reserved seating costs $35 for adults and $20 for children ages 5 and younger. — Matt Casas
performance and Q&A, is available for $100. Tickets are available at admiralomaha.com. — Efren Cortez
Jazz On The Green:
Shaun Johnson Big Band Turner Park
The 12th Maha Festival – with international, national, and local artists teaming for two days – equals over 15 hours of live music.
For Friday, July 29, featured acts are Las Cruxes, Bad Self Portraits, Sweeping Promises, and Bartees Strange.
COIN’s synth-heavy pop might be recognized from the 2016 breakout track “Talk Too Much,” which earned the band an RIAA Gold certification.
The Union for Contemporary Art welcomes Brooklyn-based artist Heather Hart to recontextualize the Wanda D. Ewing Gallery with her installation “The Texture of the Weave,” opening to the public on July 30.
Nashville indie pop trio COIN is touring in support of its latest album, “Uncanny Valley,” and is making a stop in Omaha on July 26.
Shaun Johnson Big Band performs alongside the UNO Jazz Ensemble at Turner Park for the reoccurring Jazz on the Green Series. Johnson and his group successfully released the debut album “Capitol” in 2019. It opened at No. 5 on the Billboard Jazz Charts.
The all-ages show will be at The Admiral, with doors opening at 7 p.m. and opening act Blackstarkids starting at 8.
UNO’s jazz ensemble has played with several significant multi-genre artists, and Johnson is no exception.
General-admission tickets are $29.50 in advance and $35 the day of the show. A view from the balcony will cost $50. A VIP package, which includes a pre-show
Bring seating, beer, and wine if you like, but no liquor. The outdoor show runs from 7:30-10 p.m. Admission is free.
On Saturday, July 30, support includes DJ Shor-T, Dominique Morgan, The Real Zebos, Omaha Girls Rock, Marcey Yates, Geese, Sudan Archives, Indigo De Souza, PUP, and Princess Nokia. Friday has a 5:30 p.m. start, with the last act at 9:30, Car Seat Headrest, while Saturday sounds at 1:30, culminating with Beach House at 10:30. Gates open 30 minutes before the first acts.
In a symbiotic follow-up to UCA’s three-year program “Undesign the Redline” that encouraged the community to recognize and reshape historical city housing practices, Hart references domestic and civic architecture as a jumping-off point for framing new interactions with the urban environment. Creating pathways and labyrinths, Hart aims to redraw the relationships between built spaces and the body, interweaving the new and the familiar. — Janet L. Farber
with Uh Oh and Bug Heaven The Sydney
Advance tickets are $35 ($50 day of) for Friday, $65 ($80 day of) for Saturday, or $85 ($115 day of) for both. — Matt Casas
— Matt Casas
July 30-Oct. 1
The Texture of the Weave:
Union for Contemporary Art www.u-ca.org
One of the best up-and-coming U.S. crossover bands visits The Sydney to send July out with a bang. Teenage Halloween is a sixpiece band from Asbury Park, N.J., that is a mixture of Against Me! with Bruce Springsteen. Their power-pop melodies, raw queer punk ethos, and poetic lyrics elevate the punchy perspectives of each song. Local indie/emo bands Uh Oh and Bug Heaven are perfect supporting acts. The stacked show starts at 8 p.m., with doors at 7. Tickets are $10. — Matt Casas
C u l t u r e
The Cheerful Subversive
Omaha’s Dan Mirvish Tackles the Missing Watergate Tapes in His Latest Film by Leo Adam Biga
t should be no surprise Omaha native filmmaker Dan Mirvish keeps finding ways to make indie features. After all, the L.A.-based mensch is the author of the bestselling book, “The Cheerful Subversive’s Guide to Independent Filmmaking,” and cofounder of Slamdance Film Festival.
The motel’s vintage decor helped, too. “We were all immersed in this 1974 vibe because the motel looks and feels like that era. It made it much easier for the actors and crew to method style get into that period. It helped us dial in the tone of the whole piece.”
His latest offering, “18 1/2,” The shoot is a cockeyed began in March Watergate politi2020. As news cal thriller meets of the COVID-19 screwball-romanpandemic mountFILMMAKER/DIRECTOR Dan Mirvish ON THE SET OF “18½” — Photo by Greg Starr tic comedy. It runs ed, he said, “it through July 14 at added to the Film Streams’ Ruth the transcriber. The earnest pair make a movie,” Mirvish said. sense of paranoia” the story deSokolof Theater. Mirvish’s six navigate eccentrics, villains and “That is a chapter in the book: manded. The isolated environs features make him the most mutual attraction. Vondi Cur- Start with locations.” didn’t hurt, either. prolific living Nebraska filmmak- tis-Hall, Catherine Curtin and Just as he “reversed engi“We didn’t know if we were er outside of Alexander Payne. Richard Kind add local color. neered” past scripts from a lo- going to be the last people we Taking his own advice, the Bruce Campbell, Ted Raimi and cation, he did the same here. saw alive. It was like living on 54-year-old Mirvish devised Jon Cryer voice Nixon, Al Haig Though the budget didn’t ‘Gilligan’s Island’ on a ‘Brady a speculative historical fiction and H.R. “Bob” Haldeman, reBunch’ set. It was very surreal. allow for rehearsal, he noted, premise to attract investors and spectively. But it worked for the film.” actors. The script by Mirvish and The filmmaker followed oth- “The good news is we all stayed As shooting progressed, he Daniel Moya imagines a report- er lessons learned. He secured in the same place. Even after we er and transcriber getting hold a cottage motel property, the finished shooting for the day, said, “we got these sporadic of the content on the infamous Silver Sands in Chesapeake Bay, we still all hung out together, reports – Broadway closing, the 18 1/2 minutes of missing tapes from owner-friend Terry Keith eating Omaha Steaks barbecue, NBA season canceled. A [Direcfrom former President Richard to double as the main set and playing with Willa’s dog on the tors Guild of America] rep came the cast and crew’s housing. beach, talking about the charac- out and said, ‘Con- gratulations, Nixon’s Oval Office. Moya came through with a you guys are social distancing.’ Mirvish’s bet that the scan- nearby diner owned by an un- ters. We all just kind of chilled, which in some ways was just as I’d never heard that term. dal’s “built-in resonance and cle. good as rehearsal. It bred that She informed us, ‘You’re literally gravitas” would land names “When the film gods give familiarity and chemistry that one of the last two films shootpaid off in John Magaro as the ing in North America.’ Then the reporter and Willa Fitzgerald as you locations on a platter, you really helped on set.”
C u l t u r e next day we had to shut down. We’d shot for 11 days, with about 75-80% of the film in the can. I grabbed the hard drive, flew back to L.A., and started editing. About a third of our crew were afraid to go back to New York City, so they stayed at the motel. They all bonded there.” The enforced hiatus was “creatively, a luxury,” Mirvish said, adding, “We made the most of it,” including remotely recording the voices of the Oval Office cabal heard on the tape. “In the middle of this lockdown, via Zoom, we did this radio play within the film. It was a really fun, creative endeavor. Likewise with the music, working remotely with my composer Luis Guerra and musicians stuck around the world.” Mirvish the businessman raised an extra 30% of the budget to pay people to come back
in September for the final four days of shooting. “We were one of the first films using the new COVID-safe protocols,” he said. “Luckily we’d already done the intimate scenes. We didn’t have to drastically rewrite anything.” The pandemic made gauging the film that emerged from the editing room difficult. “We couldn’t do test screenings, so I sent individual cuts to different people for feedback, but I didn’t see the film with an audience until our world premiere at Woodstock. People were laughing a lot, and I was like, Oh, I didn’t realize it was this funny. That was an interesting discovery.” Wherever the film plays around the world, he said, audiences project onto it political misconduct relevant to where they live.
Omaha’s own Dan Mirvish during the pre-pandemic shoot of his film “18½” — Photo by Greg Starr This master at getting his films noticed and distributed said, “If you’re not out there self-promoting your film, no one else is going to do it. In my case, I really embrace the festival circuit.”
There’s also talk of adapting “18 1/2” into a play or limited TV series. He’s back this fall with his pic at the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center in Lincoln.
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F I L M
‘Jurassic World: Dominion’
Is A Hot Mesozoic
Mass Extinction Is No Longer Our Greatest Threat by Ryan Syrek
urassic World: Dominion” dares to ask the question, “What if Steven Spielberg hated movies but made them anyway?” Filled with actors who consistently give great performances and Chris Pratt, maybe the most unexpected thing is how turgid and inert the whole cast is here. You can dress dinosaurs in shoddy CGI all you want, but how dare you make Dame Laura Dern seem awkward! The original film in the series inspired a love of dinosaurs and science in a generation of children. So maybe it’s only right that this “final chapter” of the “Jurassic saga” marks the intellectual dark ages we’re so obviously cruising toward. Bring on the apocalypse comet! Picking up a few years after the events of the last film, the full name of which literally no sentient being remembers, “Dominion” opens with the first of many, many exposition dumps. Writer Emily Carmichael and writer/director Colin Trevorrow flip the script so hard on “show don’t tell” that a scene late in the film has a plan revealed by a recording that is playing for no one, recorded for no understandable reason. Anyway, the first visit to the plot vomitorium produces the following bile: We’re not getting the “OMG, dinosaurs are everywhere” movie that the last one set up. I want to say that last movie was called “Ju-
If the new “Jurassic Park” movies have taught us one thing, it’s that all terrifying creatures can be calmed by holding an open palm toward them. Please do not actually try this. IMAGE: Universal rassic World: Tyrannosaurus XXX.” Am I close?
say it was named “Jurassic World: Velociraptured.”
At nearly 150 minutes, “Dominion” takes forever to do what every “Jurassic” movie does: Put its human characters in a confined setting with dinosaurs. At the beckoning of Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), Drs. Ellie Sattler (Dern) and Alan Grant (Sam Neill) go to a big, evil tech company’s campus to investigate giant locusts that are going to destroy the world’s food supply. Meanwhile, Owen Grady (Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) head to that same location to rescue their adopted daughter, Maisie (Isabella Sermon). If you have intentionally forgotten, Maisie was revealed to be a clone in the last movie. I want to
In what is wildly disappointing news, Maisie is not a hybrid human/dinosaur clone. That is only slightly less upsetting than the film choosing to make insects the central antagonists in a “Jurassic Park” movie. Hilariously, the plot hinges on a biotech company creating genetically modified giant locusts using dino DNA. Sattler and Grant have to gather evidence to prove the company is evil, as if facts still sway public opinion. It’s as exciting as watching people solve a monochromatic Rubik’s cube or watching people watch the previous film in this series. I want to say it was titled “Jurassic World: Be Right Brachiosaurus.”
Here’s the most infuriating, maddening thing: The final moments morph into a lecture on climate change. I’m sorry, but this is not a “message movie,” unless the message is “If bad filmmakers get put into director jail, Colin Trevorrow belongs on cinematic death row.” Fighting climate change is a good thing and a valid theme to weave into narrative fiction. But what the hell is that doing at the end of a dinosaurs rampaging movie? This is like if at the end of the “Transformers” series, Optimus Prime started monologuing against institutional racism. You’re right, Prime. You’re totally right, but it feels like you’re not the right spokesman and this isn’t the right time. There’s so much more to hate, including the way everyone in these movies can now calm whatever dinosaur they want by slowly showing them their open palm like they’re pushing an invisible wall. If mimes had that kind of power, they wouldn’t have been hunted to near extinction. The CGI is unimpressive at best, embarrassing at worst, likely yet another case of hardworking artists forced to slave away against an impossible deadline. This won’t be the last once-beloved franchise to have its intellectual property turned into grist for billionaires’ mills. Let’s just hope it’s the last one Colin Trevorrow steers into the ditch.
Grade = F
Other Critic al Voices to ConsideR Jennifer Heaton of Alternative Lens says: “Yes, the movie franchise defined by dinosaurs has seemingly run out of ideas for what to do with them, demoting them to mini-boss fodder and shifting focus to genetically engineered super-locusts who threaten to cause a global food shortage.”
Catalina Combs at Black Girl Nerds says: “When you work so hard to recreate scenes that once came naturally, it comes off cheesy and forced. I can’t even tally the number of easter eggs I found; if they can even be called that given the amount.”
MontiLee Stormer at Movie Reelist says: “I don’t know when the ‘Jurassic’ franchise lost its way, but as it rambled along, it picked up some bloat and some bad habits, and I think it’s time for a ‘Jurassic Clan of the Cave Bear.’”
F I L M
In Space, No One CUTTING ROO M by Ryan Syrek Can Hear Tim Allen
‘Lightyear’ Is All About Course Corrections by Ryan Syrek
ixar burst onto the scene with unique and imaginative stories. Its latest film is a movie watched by characters from one of its other movies. You are likely asking “Why?” or sighing “Whatever,” depending on where on the frowny-face pain scale the world has put you lately. “Lightyear” isn’t as bad as it sounds. It simply has no purpose or reason to exist. Just like the rest of us! The movie begins with terse sentences that explain the premise better than what had to be $50 million in marketing over the span of a year. This is ostensibly the 1996 movie that Andy from “Toy Story” watched that made him want a Buzz Lightyear action figure. Had Pixar actually made a ’90s-era sci-fi movie that a gradeschool kid would have fallen in love with, there would be a lot more exclamation points in this review. Andy was 6 years old in “Toy Story.” No 6-year-old has ever fallen in love with a movie about learning your limitations and letting go of your dreams by making the best of your circumstances. You do not get a Scouting badge for that. You don’t accept that your dreams are dumb and pointless until after you’re burdened with student-loan debt. Please know that I am not kidding about the moral of “Lightyear.” Buzz (Chris Evans) is a Space Ranger who accidentally maroons a huge ship full of people on a hostile alien world. With the mis-
guided support of his best friend and commander, Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba), he keeps trying to get them home. This involves testing fuel sources for interstellar travel. Because of the very loose “laws” of physics, each four-minute flight keeps him away for around four years, relative to those stuck on the angry jungle planet. After a slew of failed attempts, he returns to find the granddaughter of his BFF, Izzy Hawthorne (Keke Palmer), leading a ragtag group of rejects against evil robots. With only his robot cat, Buzz must soon decide between his commitment to “finish the mission” at all costs or change his outlook on life. It’s a cartoon, so it’s not as hard for him. Something is missing here. The elements all seem to be present: A goofy side character voiced by Taika Waititi, a villainous plot twist, absolutely stunning animation. But the twinkle don’t flicker in the characters’ eyes. Not just because they are 1s and 0s with no soul, Google swears. The Pixar spark is absent. For example, they establish a sci-fi world where literally anything in imagination is possible and they went with … a planet with grabby jungle vines? There’s a gag about how things change in the future that hinges on people deciding sandwiches should be two pieces of meat containing one slice of bread. That is … not clever. Or insightful. It feels like a
Do you remember the unbridled excitement of preparing your summer reading list and then checking off books? Or did you, like, have friends and stuff? Either way, Film Streams has you covered with its ongoing Screen Teens series, which includes movies based on YA-targeted books. All screenings are inflation-proofed at the grand price of free, an invisible admission fee that somehow also covers a free fun-sized popcorn and small soda. On July 14 at 11 a.m., the Ruth Sokolof Theater will show “The Hate U Give,” and on Aug 11 at 11 a.m., they’ll spin “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.” The idea is that teen attendees read the source material and participate in the post-show discussion with Film Streams’ education coordinator and an Omaha Public Library Youth Services specialist, but that’s not a “rule.” But all the cool kids are doing it. Specifically, the very coolest kids are checking those books out of the public library. Those kids will probably grow up idolized and admired, likely being rich behind their wildest imaginations. But, you know, don’t read or attend if you don’t want.
Beyond books and movies for your eyes, Film Streams also has something rad for your ears. They’ve made a Spotify summer playlist that can legally be called eclectic and morally be called imperative. You can get it here: spoti.fi/3mZCQKY. It features a Garbage song from “Romeo + Juliet,” an “Empire Records” track, and “Fade Into You” by Mazzy Star that the Film Streams DJs are attributing to “American Honey,” but we all know best from “Starship Troopers.” If you’re going to come at me, in my own ears, with that kind of Gen X grooving and throw a Prince song into the mix, I have no choice but to call it the definitive set list of summertime jammie jams for 2022. Put it on the books.
I would be remiss and neglectful and other synonyms for in-
placeholder joke that somebody accidentally animated so they had to run with it. After the tsunami of worship for “Top Gun: Maverick,” it is delightful to see a movie in which a militaristic white dude (even a CGI one) accepts his fallibility and grows as a person. The action pieces are crisp and the pace is
ept if I didn’t mention that Alamo Drafthouse Omaha is hyping Sir John Carpenter this summer in the “Summer of Darkness” series. He’s not actually knighted because America doesn’t do that (although we absolutely should). You can see “Christine” on July 15, “Starman” on July 20, “The Thing” on Aug 5, and “Prince of Darkness” on Aug 12. I say you can see them when I mean you should or must. This is such a treat for those of us who grew up only knowing Carpy (not his nickname, nobody calls him that) through cable TV or VHS. From summer book clubs to Gen X songs and VHS mentions, I can only hope that my aging references are outdated enough to be somehow cool?
Speaking of nostalgia … Pour out some popcorn for Westwood Cinemas 8. A staple of my and many other Omahans’ youth, the theater shut down a few months back. I would be remiss if I didn’t sincerely speak about the importance of discount theaters. Seeing a movie on the big screen is an increasingly costly experience. It’s also one that shouldn’t be reserved for those with privilege. Yes, we have streaming services and other outlets, but the theatrical experience means something, especially to kids. My folks would frequently respond to me raving at a movie trailer on TV with “We can see it when it hits the dollar theaters.” Beyond the sadness I always feel when a local theater closes, especially one that’s been open for a good, long while, I’m disappointed at the community’s loss of a more affordable cinematic experience. Westwood’s neon is now full dark and will be missed. Cutting Room provides breaking local and national movie news … complete with added sarcasm. Send relevant information to Ryan (film@thereader. com) and follow him on The Reader Film Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/ thereaderfilm
breezy, but it feels so slight and irrelevant. Pixar used to gut you, remember? It used to stab your heart and make you feel in a raw, real way. Other than “Cars.” This one seems to say, “I don’t know, maybe giving up is good?” Pixar, do you need a hug?
Grade = B37
C R O S S W O R D
Any Day Now
AnswerS in next month’s issue or online at TheReader.com
— just not that day — by Matt Jones
1. “Super” campaign orgs.
5. Bullwinkle, for one
17. French scammer’s “find the potato” activity? 20. Olympic bike event since 2008
26. Sinclair Lewis preacher Elmer
27. “Thrilla in Manila” boxer
28. Accepts, as a challenge
33. Motto of the Really Long Word Club? 36. Drain slowly 37. Like some pomades
45. 2010s dance fad 48. Hindering sort 49. 21st-century starter
39. Tanks, based on the noise they make 40. “I’m buying!” 41. Road mark cause, maybe
43. Best for harvesting
44. “Lemon Tree” singer Lopez 40
49 52 55
51. Pindaric poem
53. Supergroup leader with “His All-Starr Band”
55. Fitbit unit 56. Sport vehicles, for short
45. More thoughtprovoking 46. Illinois hometown of Wayne and Garth
34. Choose 35. Norah O’Donnell’s network
57. Rubik of puzzle cubes
60. “Busted!” 50. Second-smallest continent 52. Inflated accommodation
38. Upcoming Billy 54. Wear away Eichner rom-com 55. Former “Great with an almost British Bake Off” entirely LGBTQ main host Perkins cast 58. Zero, in British 42. Result of a scores Benedictine losing at Battleship?
23. Grinding tooth
22. Actress Tierney of “American Rust”
21. “Science Guy” Bill
32. Some tech grads, for short
13. “Nope” 16. Palindromic sibling
10. Dr. Zaius, e.g. 14. Gazelle relative
59. Prods fitness instructors? 64. Poetic word for “before” 65. Fairy tale finish
66. “Cabaret” actor Joel
6. U.A.E. neighbor
67. Appeared in print
7. “Grand Ole” venue
68. Lhasa ___ (Tibetan terriers)
8. “No Ordinary Love” singer
69. Conditional suffix?
9. Santa’s helper
Down 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
18. They’re marked at the auditorium
61. Show streaming interrupters
19. Actor McKellen
62. Co-op retailer for campers
23. Cornfield noises 24. Peter Fonda’s beekeeper role
25. 11. Title Maurice Sendak kid whose name Word with “well” or rhymes with his “shot” catchphrase “I don’t 26. care” “That makes sense” 29. Like some pandemic- 12. Persuasive pieces era pickups 15. Italian fashion 30. designer Giorgio Curly’s replacement 31. Rap battle prop
63. Pt. of iOS © 2022 Matt Jones
First half of a doubleheader, usually Travel via ship Liverpool football manager J¸rgen Secretly tie the knot Flavorful
AnsweR to last month’s “Outside Help” R O A C H
A R I S E
P E R I L
D I G A
A C A I
U C L A
R O O S
R E D M O N D W A
S O B R O M U A S K H E O T F O F M B A S P
F R U I T C U P R E B A G S
L A I L A S T A S H E D S S Y D D O O R B I C S M O R E S O S N I N T E S E C O N P E B Q T R U C T I O O D I M N I P E
I S N T B O O R M U S E N Y X W D A C I D K A T E A R T E N D O S D A N U T A N O N B I D F O T O T O Y S
C O M I C S Garry Trudeau
H O O D O O
Hot, Hot, Hot
July Serves Up the Street Festival Celebrating the 49th Anniversary of Lincoln’s Historic Zoo Bar, Free Blues Concerts in Omaha and Exciting Club Shows From Doug Deming to James McMurtry
by B.J. Huchtemann
f you are an Eastern Nebraska blues fan, chances are that Lincoln’s Zoo Bar had something to do with your discovery of the music. Even if you’ve never made it to the club. If you went to blues shows at Omaha’s old Howard Street Tavern or Kansas City’s Grand Emporium, you felt the impact of the Zoo Bar as promoters networked to book touring acts. And some blues fans turned what we’d now call local influencers, for lack of a better term, including longtime former Omaha bar owner and music promoter Terry O’Halloran and myself in my role as a roots music journalist, learning a lot about the blues, real-deal, soul-driven blues, by attending shows at the little club at 136 N. 14th St. in the state capital. Luther Allison was the first national act to play there, in 1974, on the strength of a contract drawn on a paper sack. The late Larry Boehmer, who first brought live blues music to the Zoo Bar and became the sole owner in 1977, was always proud to tell that story. Since then, as I’ve documented in past years of anniversary coverage, James Harman wrote a song about the Zoo, Chicago blues great Magic Slim moved his family to Lincoln because of his relationship with the Zoo and his friendship with Boehmer. The great Dave Alvin called the Zoo “the Carnegie Hall of the Blues” in an archival Hoodoo interview. Boehmer, Harman, Slim and many artists and community members are gone now, but at
the Zoo Bar the tradition of first-class blues and roots music still burns bright. For more about the history, check out zoobar.com/about-thezoo. Festival-caliber artists like Alvin, Tommy Castro, Curtis Salgado and other top artists still make it a point One of Austin’s most acclaimed to play the small but songwriters, James McMurtry, mighty venue, though brings his powerhouse band to the they can certainly fill Sunday Roadhouse series at Waiting larger area halls. New Room on Tuesday, July 26, at 7:30 artists on the national p.m. courtesy jamesmcmurtry.com scene still clamor for a slot on the schedule. Rush (9 p.m.) and Josh Hoyer The bar survived COVID shut- & Soul Colossal (11 p.m.). On downs with the help of a loyal Saturday, July 9, see Big Dadfamily of regulars that stepped dy Caleb & The Chargers (3 up to support the club with a p.m.), Dale Watson (5 p.m.), Zoo Bar +Plus membership pro- the Phantom Blues Band gram on Patreon. with Curtis Salgado (7 p.m.), Fast-forward to 2022 and Booker T. Jones (9 p.m.). The the bar, under the leadership of exciting Cuban sounds of Andy Pete Watters, is commemorat- William & The Nebraska Alling 49 years as a blues venue. Stars end the festival with an To celebrate, the music takes 11 p.m. dance party. to the streets Friday, July 8, and Saturday, July 9, for ZOOFEST. The annual street festival has been happening for about half the bar’s lifetime. Staged in front of the bar on 14th Street between O and P streets, the event has advance tickets for $35 per day or $60 for a weekend pass. See ticketweb.com. Daily admission is $40 at the gate. Kids under 12 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. The schedule Friday, July 8, presents The Bel Airs (5 p.m.), Melody Trucks Band (7 p.m.), Bobby
Playing With Fire Playing With Fire, Omaha’s long-running free blues series organized by promoter Jeff Davis, is back at Turner Park at Midtown Crossing on Friday, July 15, and Saturday, July 16. Friday, July 15, features the U.S. debut of the Netherlands’ Twelve Bar Blues Band along with Ghost Town Blues Band and Rex Granite Band featuring Sarah Benck. Saturday, July 16, Mike Zito Big Band takes the spotlight, along with another performance from Twelve Bar Blues Band and
a set from Levi Platero Band. Music begins about 5:30. Find details at facebook.com/playingwithfireomaha and playingwithfireomaha.net. Davis’ other concert series, Music for the City, brings a free show celebrating Canadian blues artists to the Dam Bar & Grill on Miller’s Landing at the River City Star on Saturday, July 23. Featured are David Gogo, Paul Reddick and Monkey Junk & Friends. See musicforthecity.net. Music starts at 4:30 with BluesEd band Blue Sunday.
Hot Notes Catch the stellar jumpblues and swingin’ guitar sounds of Doug Deming & The Jewel Tones at The B. Bar on Friday, July 15, 5:30 p.m. Deming has worked with artists from Kim Wilson to Lazy Lester and Alberta Adams. Chris Isaak teams with Lyle Lovett & His Large Band to play the Holland Performing Arts Center on Friday, July 22, 8 p.m. The Sunday Roadhouse concert series heats up at the end of July starting with Austin’s Sunny Sweeney on Sunday, July 24, 5 p.m., at Reverb Lounge. Iconic Austin singer-songwriter James McMurtry returns for a show at Waiting Room on Tuesday, July 26, 7:30 p.m. The Tex-Mex meets New Orleans musical gumbo of The Iguanas rocks Waiting Room on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 7:30 p.m. Find all the details at sundayroadhouse.com.
M E M O R I A M
Alvin M. Goodwin Oct. 13, 1938 – May 24, 2022 In the wake of 1960s turmoil that left stretches of northeast Omaha barren, Al Goodwin stepped up to revitalize his hometown community. He didn’t have far to look for inspiration. His parents migrated here from the Deep South and set down firm roots and bedrock values. Taking a cue from his mother’s advocacy for progressive change and his father’s model of hard work, Goodwin put himself in the mix of hyper-local community redevelopment efforts soon after graduating from then-Omaha University. After stints with the Small Business Administration and the City of Omaha, Goodwin helped form an urban business development center that led to the founding of the Omaha Economic Development Corporation (OEDC) in 1977. Under his leadership, OEDC became a catalyst for change through investments in Omaha’s largely African American Near North Side. OEDC renovated the landmark property that still serves as its headquarters, the Jewell Building, to show commitment to preserving the past, invigorating the present and building for the future. Despite naysayers advising against attempting risky inner-city redevelopment, OEDC forged publicprivate community-based partnerships that raised and leveraged tens of millions of dollars to complete the Kellom Heights urban village.
M E M O R I A M
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During his tenure, the organization built residential and mixedused developments, renovated the old North Omaha post office and Jensen Building and created jobs. By the time he retired and handed the reins to Michael Maroney in 2005, Goodwin felt secure in his legacy and confident that under Maroney’s leadership OEDC was in good hands. It’s gone on to invest millions more in rebuilding the area. The Goodwin legacy extends to relatives who are entrepreneurs (Dan Goodwin Sr.) and community activists (Lasha Goodwin). Goodwin and his wife, Joyce, who preceded him in death, lost two adult children to cancer. The couple were active members of St. Benedict the Moor parish, for which Goodwin helped form the Bryant Resource Center in the former parish school building. — Leo A. Biga
Marlin Briscoe Sept. 10, 1945 – June 27, 2022 As a young boy, Marlin Briscoe looked out onto a sea of cattle and packing houses. Everyone in his neighborhood in South Omaha worked there. The pay was good at $200 a week, and it was some of the only work available to Black people. But that wasn’t the life he wanted. He found a way out through football. From South Omaha High School, to Omaha University, to becoming the first Black man to start at quarterback for a professional football team, Briscoe, who died June 27 of pneumonia at age 76, led a storied life. “The Magician,” as he became known while breaking records at Omaha University, later the University of Nebraska at Omaha, in the late 1960s, seemed destined for a pro career. His arm and quickness held no comparison. But Briscoe dealt with stereotypes that Black quarterbacks lacked the mental ability to pick apart defenses and lead offenses like their white counterparts. So the American Football League’s Denver Broncos took him in the 14th round of the 1968 draft as a cornerback. But Briscoe had a trick up his sleeve — they had to at least give him a tryout at quarterback. The audition generated buzz, but Briscoe got stuck on defense. Then the Broncos’ season fell apart and, on Oct. 6, 1968, Briscoe became the first Black to start under center in the AFL. His time at the helm was short lived, and Briscoe bounced around the league, mostly as a wide receiver, including two Super Bowls with the Miami Dolphins, one the undefeated season of 1972. He retired in 1976. Briscoe moved to Los Angeles and built a career in finance until a cocaine addiction derailed his life. He watched from a jail cell, tears in his eyes, as Washington’s Doug Williams became the first Black quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl, beating the Denver Broncos in 1988. Watching Williams, and knowing he played a part in it, Briscoe was inspired to get clean and become director of the Boys and Girls Club of Long Beach, California. — Chris Bowling
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